Problems with a popular streaming service…Oils we use…Remembering Tuscany ten years ago…A video…

We’re like many others worldwide. Sure, we’re world travelers, soon to be on the move again, but when we aren’t busy at night, going out or with friends, we hunker down and stream series on our preferred streaming services, which include Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime.

After hearing so much about the popular series, Ted Lasso, we signed up for the AppleTV streaming service. My sister Julie recommended another series, The Morning Show, both fantastic shows on the streaming service, so we signed up for a free trial to see if we liked the two series. We did.

When the seven-day free trial ended, we signed up to pay $6.99 a month, figuring that within a month or so, we’ll have binge-watched both series in their entirety. While we had the streaming service, we stumbled upon another show, Severence, that Tom likes more than I do.

Once we got into the first series, we noticed the screen froze about every 15 to 20 minutes, requiring us to log out of the show to restart it. Somehow, we got through the Morning Show and a few seasons of Ted Lasso, but I was fed up with getting up three or four times per hour to fix it.

The HDMI cord doesn’t reach the sofas, so we keep my laptop on a dining room chair we pull up each night, close to the TV, to stream shows. We’ve had no problems with any other streaming services.

Of course, I looked online only to find that Apple TV is not geared to working on a Windows computer, which I have. It prefers Apple products and only supports Apple products that we do not use. We still hadn’t gotten through all the Ted Lasso and Severance episodes, but I finally told Tom I gave up. I canceled the app, not willing to pay another $6.99.

The app will continue to work until our contract ends on July 19, and since we paid, we’ll try it one more time, but I doubt it will be any different. If any of our readers have encountered a similar scenario with Apple TV using a Windows device and have a workaround, please let me know.

Today, we didn’t have any new photos to share. We haven’t been out in several days due to inclement weather, but tonight, the forecast looks good, and we’ll head out for the evening. We’ll most likely go to the City Fire bar for a drink and then head to Cody’s Original Roadhouse again for another fun atmosphere and a good meal.

The food at restaurants in The Villages isn’t exceptional for us. Many of the restaurants cater to some seniors’ tastes, including burgers, pizza, sushi, and a variety of ethnic restaurants that either I can’t eat, or Tom doesn’t like. We never order burgers, pizza, and sushi. I’ve only found that dinner-type salads work for me when most of the meals have sauces, carb-laden toppings, and sides, which would be good on a regular diet.

Often the only option was salmon and salad, and every other night while in lockdown for ten months in a hotel in Mumbai, India, I ate salmon and veg. Since then, I have had no desire to eat salmon in a restaurant, although I have made it for myself a few times and don’t enjoy it anymore.

Plus, I don’t eat toxic vegetable oils, which many restaurants use to make most dishes. Salads are a safer option without added dressing. Instead, I order sour cream for salad dressing. Sadly, most salad dressings are made with vegetable oils of one type or another. It’s not the fat I’m worried about; it’s the chemicals used in making oils.

Often, olive oil may not be pure and made with other oils, so I avoid that too. Generally, I use pure virgin, unrefined, organic coconut oil or pure avocado oil. These aren’t used in restaurants due to the cost. But they are affordable for home use, especially since we don’t fry anything.

That’s it for today, folks,

Photo from ten years ago today, June 30, 2013:

No photos were posted on this date other than the above video. For the text, please click here.

More stormy weather…Ten years ago…Boveglio, Tuscany, Italy…

This Bed and Breakfast is a few hundred feet from our door. See the post here.

With storms moving through each day and the golf cart being our only means of transportation, we haven’t been out yet this week. The last time we were out was dinner on Sunday night with Lea Ann and Chuck when we returned to the Blue Fin in Brownwood Paddock Square.

I am getting a touch of cabin fever, although we’ve thoroughly enjoyed the past days staying in. We always do. A few days ago, Tom asked me if I was bored. I assured him I am not bored at all. He isn’t bored, either. We always seem to be busy when we stay in, totally entertained.

Here it’s 10:00 am now. Tom has been talking to daughter, Tammy, in Minnesota for the past hour, and I’ve got laundry going. As soon as he’s off the phone, we’ll walk since it’s not raining right now. Yesterday, we missed the walk due to the weather. It was windy and rained all morning.

Initially researching Boveglio, we were excited that this bar and restaurant was within walking distance. Unfortunately, we never asked the owners of our house, Lisa and Luca, if it still was in operation. It has closed down as a public facility, now occupied by its owners. The economy has spared no small businesses in Italy, as we discover as we travel the world.

If the rain stays away for a few hours, we may head out to go to the post office. I have been ordering a few things from Amazon to take on the upcoming cruises. Usually, Amazon delivers directly to us at the house. But, the items I ordered were from an outside vendor, and they only shipped for free using the United States Postal Service, which doesn’t deliver to the houses in The Villages, which is weird.

Instead, there are mailing stations at each of the various villages, and snail mail for us comes to the Fernandina postal station, which is about a ten-minute golf cart ride. We’ll head out once our Kroger grocery order arrives today between 11:00 and 12:00 am.

We love getting our groceries delivered. When I go to the big supermarkets in the US, I buy too much since I am in awe of all the products I haven’t been able to buy for the past several years. By shopping online, I am less tempted to buy products I may not be able to use in time before we depart.

The houses across the street from us.

It’s been fun shopping online at Kroger. When I notice I am low on a particular item, I add it to my Kroger shopping cart on my phone or laptop. We can use coupons online by simply clicking on the coupon. The credit card we use to purchase groceries has a program whereby they offer discounts on grocery items as they are purchased. We’ve saved hundreds of dollars since we’ve been shopping online while here.

On July 14, dear friend Karen is picking us up to return to their new home we haven’t seen. We’ll spend the weekend with her and Rich, and she’ll bring us back on Monday. We appreciate her willingness to transport us both ways when it’s a two-hour drive each way. We’re excited to see their new home on a river and enjoy what surely will be a fun weekend with them.

Tomorrow, our dear friend Lisa (we’ve been friends since the 1980s) and her friend Vicki will arrive at 1:30. We’ll hang around here for a while and then head out to dinner. We’re also looking forward to seeing Lisa again. We hadn’t seen her since 2017 when we all went to dinner in Minnesota.

Flowers were blooming near our exterior door.

We loved seeing our friends here more than we ever expected when we booked the house in The Villages. We’ve had a great time with our old and new friends.

Tonight, we’ll finish our Chinese food left from yesterday’s takeaway and have another pleasant evening. Life is good.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, June 22, 2013:

In this area, a diagonal line crosses the village’s name as one leaves a village. Notice the hairpin sign, one of many on our ride down the mountains to Collodi, the town large enough to find groceries, a pharmacy, supplies, and sundries, roughly a 30-minute drive from Boveglio. For more photos, please click here.

US conveniences…More houseguests coming…More food photos…

Tom has been enjoying the food in the US. Look at his breakfast at Bob Evans yesterday morning! He was so full; he didn’t have dinner.

For some odd reason, I feel lazy today. Perhaps, it’s a result of a lack of sleep. I awoke at 3:15 am and had an awful time getting back to sleep. Finally, around 5:00 am, I dozed off for another hour, and that was it for the day. Once up, showered, and dressed for the day, we embarked on our usual walk. Upon our return, I worked on this post before I eventually made scrambled eggs with cheese and bacon for breakfast.

Now, I am sitting on the leather loveseat in the living room while Tom works on his computer on the matching leather sofa. It’s all very comfortable. The house is cool since the owner told us we could leave the central aircon running day and night. It is preset for days at 78° and 72° at night.

I forgot to tell the waitress to cook my omelet in butter instead of gobs of oil. I didn’t enjoy it.

These preset temps are perfect for us. As it heats up as the summer progresses, we may have to change it. But, for now, it’s working well. Also, there are ceiling fans in the bedroom and living room which, when added to the aircon, provide additional cooling.

It’s so easy here. The clothes dryer, dishwasher, garbage disposal, and big TV in the living room, where we can stream shows from my laptop using our HDMI cord, make life convenient. Having a chest of drawers for each of us and a large walk-in closet is a bonus. It’s nice being able to hang all of our clothes in the roomy closet, whereas in the past, in many holiday homes, we had small closets with only enough room to hang jackets.

The drive to Colony Plaza was pleasant riding in the golf cart. It’s the closest shopping area to us and takes about 15 minutes.

Many holiday homes have “cubbies” to keep clothes, but they tend to get messy when digging through them looking for something specific. The abundance of electric outlets we can use with our digital equipment is also a huge plus. Most often, in other countries, we’re using converters and adapters.

It’s easy dining out. The US is familiar with keto diets, and they have several options on the menus that can work for me. Also, it’s easy in the grocery stores to find most products we use for my way of eating. Plus, the wine options are many, and now that I can drink regular wine, it’s easy to choose a favorite at each location.

We entered two tunnels via golf cart to Colony Plaza, where we dropped off the packet of documents for the passport agent to complete our file and went to breakfast.

Right now, I am thoroughly enjoying William Hill North Coast Cabernet Sauvignon. I am not experiencing any Afib issues drinking a maximum of two glasses on any evening when we’re out and about. Once I got off the allergy meds, I haven’t had any signs of Afib, which has been an enormous relief. I check my blood pressure every few days and can see my pulse on my Fitbit at any time. Whew!

We heard from friends Lea Ann and Chuck, whom we met on a cruise from Sydney to Seattle in 2017 and hit it off the moment we met. They own a home in Florida over five hours from here. They will be staying with us for one night on June 19. They’ve been traveling extensively since we met, and it will be fun to hear about their travels.

Tom and I laugh that riding in the golf carts is similar to driving those noisy cars at Disneyland and Disney World.

We’ve all agreed to go out to dinner when Lea Ann and Chuck arrive since going to one of the restaurants in the unique town squares will be fun. This way, I won’t have to cook a big meal but will make a dessert when we return to the house. It will be lovely, we’re sure, as it’s been with all of the other houseguests we’ve had so far.

Today, we’re working on projects on our laptops. With the house cleaned yesterday, it’s a breeze today. All we had to do was make the bed, cook breakfast, and clean up afterward. Later today, we’ll freshen up and get ready to go out tonight. We’re heading to Brownwood Paddock Square around 4:00 pm for drinks and dinner, returning to the house while it’s still light outside.

We’ll be back with more tomorrow.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, June 2, 2013:

No photos were posted on this date ten years ago. At that point in time, we weren’t as diligent in posting photos as we are now. A post was uploaded on this date. In a short period, you’ll see more photos in this feature. Please click here.

We’re all set to go except for packing…Posting plans for 90 days The Villages in Florida…

Mom and son, Jasmine and Johnny.

This morning, filling my 28-day pill case with my three prescription meds and vitamins, I started organizing and assessing how many tablets I’ll need to last while we’re gone for 14 months. I still have a little remaining inventory, and when Doc Theo writes me a one-year prescription for the others, I’ll be good to go until we return in mid-June 2024.

I disposed of a massive batch of useless packaging materials and reduced the amount to bring with us, which I’ll do again when I get the years’ worth next week. As for the supplements I take, I will buy those in Florida, most likely from Costco or Amazon. There’s no point in paying to haul those with us.

Each day, I plan to go through a cupboard or drawer to thin out what we’ll need to bring, what we can toss, and those items we’ll leave behind in the black plastic bins in the storage room. Again, there’s no point in paying to bring all the spices and condiments we’ve accumulated in the past 11 months in this house.

This is Jasmine, Johnny’s mom.

We’re trying to use up as much food as possible and won’t be grocery shopping again unless we need a few items for our meals, such as bacon, eggs, and salad ingredients. We’re working our way through all the meat in the freezer.

On top of that, we have lots of wine left from my birthday party, but each time we have sundowners, I have one small glass of regular wine (not light) and perhaps have a second glass of low-alcohol wine with 75% less alcohol than traditional wine. We’ll store the rest of the unopened bottles for our return, along with some items Tom drinks. All of that will stay fresh without a problem.

Also, we’re both leaving some clothing behind. When we return, it will be winter, and we’ll need some warm clothing. However, we’ll need warm clothing for the upcoming cruises to Norway, Greenland, and Iceland, where it will be cool even during the summer months. Also, it could begin to be cool when we arrive in Boston and Minnesota in September.

Johnny was on the other side of the garden while his mom was visiting. He seems to like it better on that side.

One thing I am looking forward to while living in Florida is easy-to-access products we use for cooking and general items one may pick up at a Costco or Target store. Plus, we’ll be able to place orders from Amazon and receive orders while staying at The Villages.

Speaking of The Villages, as mentioned in yesterday’s post and today’s heading, we look forward to sharing the details of what life will be like while living in one of the most popular and desired retirement communities in the United States. We’ll share photos, pricing, and information about many of the venues we’ll experience at our leisure, including dining out, shopping, and entertainment.

Perhaps our expectations are too high for meeting people. We plan to partake in as many activities as possible to improve the odds of making new friends. Plus, we expect some of our readers to live there, and we’re hoping those who do will contact us for dinner or a drink out at our location. How fun that will be! Please don’t hesitate to let us know if you are there and when we can meet.

Jasmine and Gordy seem to get along quite well. Could he be Johnny’s dad?

Even if you live outside The Villages and if it’s convenient, perhaps you could visit us for sundowners on the veranda at our new place. We also have a lot of old friends who live in central Florida, and we hope to get together with some of you while we’re there if it works out for them.

Of course, we plan to see friends Karen and Rich at some point. Karen’s mom Donna lives nearby, so surely we’ll see each other when they get together. Many of our “snow bird” friends will have left Florida for the summer months, and we won’t be able to visit with them. But we’ll see how it goes. Some may stay through May. We’ll be leaving at the end of July.

Once we arrive, we’ll be busy getting our passport applications mailed to the US State Department. We’ve already completed the forms, so all we have to do is send them to the appropriate address. Once we get one good night’s sleep, this will be on our agenda.

This morning, after an excellent breakfast and a few tasks completed, including booking transport from the Orlando International Airport to our holiday home for US $33, ZAR 600 per person, we went for our walk, which we’ll continue until we leave and pick up again, once we arrive and get a night’s sleep in Florida. It feels good to be walking again, but it may take a while to build my stamina after being relatively inactive this past year.

The weather has begun to cool considerably. No longer are we plagued with zillions of insects and courageously high humidity. This could change in a day. After all, TIA and one never knows.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, April 6, 2022:

Tom’s photos of this morning’s sunrise from the veranda of our bedroom at Karen and Rich’s home in Florida. For more photos, please click here.

Another humid scorcher!!!…A busy morning left me sweating…

Four Big Daddies stopped by for pellets this morning. They share nicely with one another.

At the moment, I am in the bedroom at 1:00 pm, 1300 hrs., after sweating in the kitchen for the past three hours. I made breakfast, cooked and chopped the cooled sausages for homemade keto pizza, made three pizza crusts, chopped and diced all the vegetables, and pre-cooked the pizza crusts.

Since we can’t use the oven during load shedding, which occurs at dinnertime tonight, we decided to cook all three pizzas now and can heat our servings in the microwave when it’s time to eat this evening. All I have left is to make the salad which I’ll do once I cool down.

Zebras don’t get along when vying for pellets. They snort, head-butt, and kick one another. But, they do fine when drinking from the pool.

With all the rain lately and the mozzies on a rampage for human flesh, I am again wearing long pants and a long sleeve Bugs-Away shirt with the sleeves buttoned at the wrist on the tighter button to ensure none will fly up the sleeve for a nibble. It’s the only way to protect myself, especially when sweating wears off the DEET repellent. I can’t stand the thought of reapplying that toxic chemical any more often than I have to.

Although I reapply repellent every six hours, when it’s supposed to last in dry conditions for eight hours, I still end up with lots of bites. I wake up during the night itching like crazy when, even with the aircon on, I still sweat under the light blanket. It seems that warmth exacerbates the itchiness.

Recently, I’ve found that using Benzocaine numbing cream stops the itching for several hours, but it doesn’t work well during the day when using repellent with it. It never seems to work out using multiple cream products on the skin, such as applying any body lotion while using repellent.

It’s always a pleasure to see these big boys in the garden.

Once the bedroom cooled down, I turned off the aircon and am fairly comfortable with the fan running at its highest speed. I may end up spending the next few hours in the bedroom working on today’s post and other projects, such as researching holiday homes for upcoming locations.

We feel we’re somewhat on hold from booking much more right now while we await the answer to our visa extensions. If we don’t get the approval to stay until June, leaving in March would impact what we’d do next. We can only wait and see what transpires in the next few weeks.

Last night, we had another fun-filled evening at the bar at Jabula. Locals we’d met in the past were there, and the conversation was lively and animated. Later in the evening, back home, we watched another episode of the Good Doctor, a show we are binge-watching at night. Its quite an enjoyable series with lots of episodes.

Bossy stopped by to see what was on the menu.

We’d planned to go to Kruger tomorrow on my birthday, but the Crocodile Bridge is still closed, and we don’t want to drive an extra three hours to go up and back from the Malalane Gate. We’ll go another day as soon as the river settles down.

I’ll upload a short post tomorrow morning since we’re meeting Dawn and Leon for my birthday lunch at Tamborina, located in Komatipoort. This way, neither of us will have to drive in the dark, if we’d gone for dinner. We rarely go out to dinner to any restaurants that would require us to drive home at night. It’s not safe on the roads.

Today, we’re content to stay home, enjoy our pizza and salad dinner, and later hunker down in the cool bedroom for some mindless drivel, the end of a perfect Sunday in the bush.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, February 19, 2022:

Seigfried and Roy were sharing pellets. For more photos, please click here.

It seems we always arrive in the US at a holiday time…Differences…

Mongooses with some babies stopped by this morning for paloney.

We’re trying to book a hotel for our time in Boston to see my cousin Phyllis at the end of August. From there, we’re flying to Nevada to see Richard and then flying to Minnesota to see the other three kids and grandchildren. But, the dates we’re getting off the ship, which embarked from Reykjavik, Iceland, arriving in Boston on August 30.

The Labor Day weekend begins a few days later when prices for flights and hotels go through the roof. A hotel we booked in September 2014 is now over double the price we paid at almost US $500 per night, ZAR 8620, more than we’re willing to pay. The other options are hotels with ratings that prevent us from booking them. We’ll have to figure this out in the next few days.

At other times, like when we visited the US most recently, it was the end of the Thanksgiving weekend, where again, prices were higher than usual. It’s not as if we plan to arrive at holiday times. It just coincidentally works out that way.

One of the forms Tom has to sign threw me for a loop. It states that he is also a signer on our bank accounts, and there are enough funds in the account to sustain me while we stay an extra 90 days in the country. There was no such form required for me to sign. No less than 20 years ago, women in South Africa were not allowed to open a bank account without a male signature.

Hmmm…life is different all over the world. I observed this distinctly yesterday when I was getting my prescriptions refilled after my visit to Doc Theo. The pharmacists are helpful and provide suggestions on over-the-counter products customers can use. When we were in the US and went to a pharmacy such as Walgreens or CVS, the pharmacists refused to assist with any suggestions for over-the-counter allergy medications.

This male and female dung beetle were rolling about on a tiny ball of dung. There was barely room for both of them!

Tom and I agreed that pharmacists in the US are especially careful when speaking to customers due to liability and lawsuits, which are much more common in the US than in South Africa or other countries. The pharmacists are kept behind what appears to be locked doors and windows with little access to them unless when submitting or picking up a prescription. They provide minimal information and answers to questions.

We also observed at pharmacies in the US that many of the shelves usually carrying over-the-counter items were practically empty in many cases. In the local pharmacy in Komatipoort, not a single shelf was empty with substantial supplies of most things. Apparently, the supply chain for many pharmaceutical products was severely impacted in the US due to the pandemic.

Also, when we stopped at various grocery stores for a few items as recently as November, there were also numerous empty shelves. Also, “help wanted” signs were at every store and restaurant, both eat-in and carry-out. We’ve yet to see a “help wanted” sign at any of these locations in South Africa.

This isn’t to say that the US or South Africa have figured out anything that makes them better or worse in these challenging economic times. But, what’s the deal with this? We try to stay on top of economic news throughout the world to provide us with a better understanding of countries we’d like to visit in the future.

Yesterday in my prescription refill order, Doc Theo had prescribed two Epipens, one for me and one for Tom, since both of us are allergic to certain bees, hornets, and wasps. They only had one in stock, but they will order the other for the next time we stop by. Below is the bill with the cost of the one EpiPen which we paid yesterday:

The cost of the EpiPen was ZAR 997.52, US $57.91. See below for the cost of EpiPens in the US.

Here’s a chart from the US on the cost of Epipens for 2023:

Cost of Epinephrine auto-injectors by Pharmacy from this site:

Pharmacy Cost of Brand Name EpiPen Cost of Generic Version
CVS $650 $340
Walgreens $735 $341
Stop n Shop $688 $662
Rite Aid $733 $530
Walmart $684 $320
Duane Reade $688 $341
Wegmans $688 $418
Kroger $730 $389
Price Chopper $688 $750

It’s hard to believe what we paid yesterday, ZAR 997.52, US $57.91 for the exact brand name product. Also, the pharmacist explained he’d be able to provide enough meds, based on the fact none of them are ‘scheduled” narcotics, for the year we’ll be out of South Africa, with a one-year prescription from Doc Theo. Then, I won’t have to worry about finding a doctor to prescribe my few medications while we are away.

Hmm…there are numerous financial benefits to spending time in South Africa and other African countries with similar pricing and policies. Some countries don’t require a prescription for any medications which we have discovered along the way.

There’s our news for today, folks. My laptop battery is about to die, so I need to head to the bedroom to recharge it and turn on the fan to cool off a bit in this scorching humid weather.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, January 25, 2022:

Stringy and Chevy, an impala, are getting along quite well. Usually, the impalas that visit for pellets don’t get close to the veranda. But, Chevy is becoming more comfortable with us sitting at the table. For more photos, please click here.

Finally, we shopped in Komati…This season’s hottest day yet!…99F, 37.2C, dew point 72, humidity 50%…Plus load-shedding…

Norman had some branches stuck on his head. It looks as if the branch went through his ear, but it was between his ear and horn. He is fine, thank goodness.

We procrastinated about going grocery shopping due to the 11½ hours a day without power, wondering if whatever we’d bought would stay fresh. Eskom sent a message this morning stating that load shedding was dropping from Stage 5 to Stage 4 today and down to Stage 3 on Sunday with only five hours of outages. That’s a significant relief, but most likely will be short-lived, especially during the holiday season and here in Marloth Park, with almost every house filled with owners and holidaymakers.

We only wish visitors would be more mindful of not wasting power and water, which has an awful impact on those who diligently monitor their usage. Surely over the next few weeks, the situation will escalate, and we all may be out of power for days, not hours. This is when we worry about our food in the refrigerator and freezer.

When we left on November 24, Tom put a single coin on top of an ice cube in each of the two ice cube trays, one in the refrigerator freezer and another in the chest freezer. When we returned, we could see how much ice had melted in the trays, and the coins dropped down into the cubes. This way, we knew the food in the freezers hadn’t spoiled when the coins had hardly moved. A nifty little test, eh?

This side view clearly illustrates it didn’t go through his ear.

We missed our opportunity to go to Kruger since we returned five days ago. When it rained a few days, there wasn’t a good day to go, and I overslept on a few others. Tom didn’t want to wake me, figuring I needed more sleep than seeing more wildlife. In the long run, he may have been right…today is Day #4, with no headache and no facial pain. Surely, good sleep helped in improving this dreadful long-haul Covid issue.

If any of our readers suffer from long-term sinusitis, please see your medical professional for assistance. Two nasal irrigation products worked for me the most; one Pysiomer used three times a day, and the other, a nasal irrigation kit with a dispenser and added medications used both morning and night, using warm sterilized water (not hot). Again, please see your medical professional for guidance in using these or similar products.

He was finally able to shake it off.

Now, to enter Kruger, we’d have to make a reservation and be faced with crowds at sightings. We’ll wait until the holiday season ends and go again when it’s quiet, sometime in January. In the meantime, we’re content with all the wildlife visitors stopping by each day and evening.

Once back at the house, after shopping, it took every ounce of energy to get everything put away in the heat. Since I had open heart surgery, I have had trouble bending over for any time. As always, Tom pulls a dining room chair up to the refrigerator to let me easily put everything away. He stocks the fridge on the veranda and the chest freezer. Before we knew it, we were done and able to enjoy a fresh mug of iced tea while he caught up on tasks on his laptop, and I began doing the post.

Nina was eating “Norman’s Lunch” along with the deceased Hoppy’s two siblings. Note the duiker in the background, most likely Delilah.

Today, at around 4:00 pm, 1600 hrs, I will put a “gammon,” a ham, in the oven to cook for one hour as suggested by the butcher when we bought it a few days ago. He said it would dry out if we cooked on the braai. I wouldn’t say I like the idea of turning on the oven on such a hot day, but we need to cook it today since it’s been defrosted for a few days and sitting in the fridge during countless hours of load shedding.

Tom will have ham, white rice, green beans, and salad, and I will have the same minus the rice. As always, it will be a lovely dinner, but with the mozzies and the humidity, we may have to eat in the dining room with the veranda doors closed. We’ll see if it cools down by then. However, according to the weather app on my phone, that doesn’t look promising.

Nonetheless, we are fine, cheerful, feeling well, and content. What more could we ask for?

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, December 15, 2021:

Mom and baby hippo on the Sabie River. For more photos, please click here.

Finally, off to Komatipoort after two weeks…Out to dinner last night…We are lucky to know so many locals…

We were thrilled to see a dung beetle with its mate a few minutes after we spotted one without a mate!

When we realize we’ve spent 3½ of the past ten years of world travel staying in Marloth Park, it’s not surprising we’ve met so many people. We’ve met single-visit tourists, frequent tourists, and countless locals who live here part-time or full-time. Since we meet many people when we go to Jabula each week, it has been a fantastic means of meeting new people.

Never in our old lives did we make new friends when out to dinner. Unless we were part of a group and were introduced, occasionally, we may have exchanged a few words with other diners who were seated near us, never to see them again. But, here in Marloth Park, we’ve become friends with many people we’ve met.

First, we saw a dung beetle rolling his ball without a mate.

Last night when we went out to Giraffe, a local restaurant a short distance from here, we ran into several people we know, mostly locals. South Africans are very affectionate when greeting people they know and, sometimes, people they’ve just met. Absent during the pandemic, warm hugs and kisses are now tendered with warmth and enthusiasm.

We’ve invited Gerhard to join us at Giraffe if he can after he is done with his vehicle sale details. After we were seated in  the outdoor dining area, Gerhard joined us, sharing the details of his exciting day working with the dealership and how they would send him the funds from the sale of his “bakkie.” Getting money in and out of South Africa is not an easy task requiring many documents.

Baby zebra suckling.

Money laundering is a severe problem in this country, and the government has made it difficult to move money in and out. That’s why we never opened a bank account here and only use an ATM card to get cash and use credit cards to pay for products and services. We don’t want to deal with the red tape.

It was fun to have dinner with Gerhard one more time. Most likely, he’ll begin the long return flight to Bali to be with Rita at the beautiful holiday home where we stayed for four months in 2016. We missed seeing Rita too but knew it made no sense for both of them to come for the vehicle sale.

It’s sweet to watch the connection between the mom and her baby.

We’re taking off for Komati right now and will complete this post when we return in a few hours. Tom’s cell phone died, and he’ll buy a basic smartphone at the Vodacom store a few doors from the Spar Market. Once we return to the US next fall for a visit, we’ll both buy new smartphones. Since he barely uses his phone, whatever he buys will suffice for the next several months.

We just returned from Komati. We bought Tom a new Samsung A31 smartphone, the newest phone they had in the store which came out in the US in 2020. But, TIA, “This is Africa” and what is new to them may not be new to us in the US and other countries. Nonetheless, this phone will suffice for Tom’s needs when all he’ll use it for is a few online games he plays.

This mom and baby stood in that one spot for an hour, resting and perhaps sleeping standing up.

He doesn’t make calls or text on his phone and often uses it for internet searches. As Tom always says, if it weren’t for me, he’d “still have a rotary phone on the wall with a party line!” As a result, I handle all his phone needs, including setting up this new phone today as soon as I upload today’s post and helping him with any texts or phone calls.

This mom and baby also stood still for an hour, never moving.

We did all the grocery shopping after, refilling some prescriptions at the pharmacy. As I sit here now at 12:45 pm, with load shedding starting again soon, all the food is put away and I’m ready to get back to my walking and his phone setup.

Have a great day!

Photo from one year ago today, October 27, 2021:

There’s our boy, Broken Horn. He was so happy to see us. He was shaking his head and moving his feet up and down. Funny, boy! For more photos, please click here.

Yesterday, over 12 hours without power…The security alarm woke us this morning, set up by ugly animals!…Scary looking visitor in the garden with photos…

Juan, the snake handler, informed us this is a spotted bush snake which, until we knew what it was, concerned us that it is venomous. Luckily, it is not!

A truck hit a power pole in Marloth Park, resulting in several hours without power. Then, load shedding kicked in, and we spent almost 12 hours without power. We put the metal bowl filled with ice in the fridge, so I believe all those perishables survived. But, numerous packages of meat defrosted in the freezer, and we’re wondering if we should toss them. They stayed cold but not frozen. I’m always uncertain under those conditions.

Then, there was a load of dark clothes in the washer that stopped working when the pole was hit, and we were never able to restart it. It was not worth going outside to the laundry area in the dark, so we waited until this morning. Load shedding was supposed to start again at 9:00 am, so I am busy trying to get the two loads done before we lose power again.

We ate dinner at the dining room table in the dark with the rechargeable lanterns on the table. Tom did the dishes by lantern light, after which we headed to the bedroom with the one lamp connected to the inverter outlet, allowing us to charge equipment and use the one lamp on my bedside table.

We streamed a few shows and finally headed off to sleep only to be awakened, hearts pounding, when the security alarm went off. We both jumped up and led to the glass doors to the veranda. Baboon invasion!!! They tried to get into the house by jiggling the door handles and triggering the alarm.

Tom noticed this snake climbing up this tree and chasing a rodent.

They got into everything we had on the veranda, mainly repellent products. After finding no food in any container, they were about to give up when Tom opened the doors and scared them off. I had to call the alarm company to let them know we were safe, or they’d send out a security vehicle to check on us. There’s a fee for false alarms. We reached them in time. They’d be here in five minutes if we hadn’t called.

Yesterday afternoon while I was inside the house recharging my laptop, Tom asked me to come outside to show me something. He had just taken a few photos, which he showed me on the camera. First, he heard a “plop” on the ground after the snake had fallen from one tree, trying to get to another tree to chase the rodent. Quickly the snake slithered up the tree, barely giving Tom enough time to get the camera and take the two shots he got.

How exciting! I was sorry I missed it but happy he got the photos. There are several bright green snakes here in the bush: a green mamba (highly venomous), the green tree snake (mildly venomous),  the boomslang (highly venomous), and more, as listed below from this site:

This is the third snake that visited us at a holiday home in Marloth Park. A venomous Mozambique spitting cobra at the Hornbill house in 2014, the boomslang at the Lovebird’s nest house in 2021, and now at the Ratel house, a yet-to-be-identified green snake. I sent the two photos to a local expert snake handler, Juan de Beer, and I’m waiting to hear back from him on which snake this is.

We didn’t see any point in contacting Juan to remove the snake. We weren’t in danger since the tree was less than four meters from the veranda. However, we must keep a watchful eye out in the event the snake decides to come onto the veranda or get into the house, which is a common scenario.

The veranda and the entrance to the house is at ground level with only a small step to enter the house, a step a snake could easily maneuver. Snakes commonly climb full flights of stairs. “Snakes are flexible movers with between 200 and 400 vertebrae with just as many ribs connected.”

We are watching for the snake, easy to spot with its bright green color, but we will feel better once we know what type it is…or will we feel better?

I just heard back from Juan. Yeah! It’s a spotted bush snake…. nonvenomous!

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, July 14, 2021:

Our waiter took the family photo at Maynard’s in Excelsior, Minnesota, last year on this date. For more, please click here.

A warm and sultry day in the bush….Before we know it, winter will end…Baby zebra…

What an adorable visitor, a baby zebra!

Winter is short in South Africa. It begins on June 21 and ends on September 21. Then, the heat, humidity, and the insects return with fervor.  The mozzies come with warmer weather, rain, and moisture, while every puddle becomes a breeding ground for more.

Zebras and Lollie share pellets peacefully.

Lately, I have still been using insect repellent to keep the chiggers, sand fleas, and other minuscule winter insects from biting me. Finally, I have got it under control. I have fewer bites right now than I’ve had since we arrived almost two months ago. Every evening, while we are on the veranda, Tom sprays the bedroom and bathroom, alternating three different products daily; Doom, Peaceful Sleep, and a dust mite spray. We don’t enter the room for several hours after he sprays.

An adult zebra was walking around to the veranda edge for pellets.

We have an automatic Doom sprayer that shoots a burst every 35 minutes. This alone won’t work. It takes all the products, plus wearing Tabard roll-on repellent before bed to keep me from getting bit.  Also, I am wearing a long-sleeved cotton hoodie and long pajama bottoms to have as much skin covered as possible.

The baby hovers close to his mom.

During the day, I use Tabard on all exposed skin and repeat the application every six to eight hours, more often on my hands which I wash frequently. Itchy bites on my knuckles can keep me awake at night.  The past four or five nights, I’ve slept through the night now that we have this under control. Hopefully, these same precautions will work when the mosquitoes appear soon.

It’s always delightful to see the little ones. They are often shy and skittish.

Yes, we are exposed to several chemicals, but for now, the concern over malaria and other insect-borne diseases is the bigger concern. Our friend Jim (married to Carrie, US citizens who came here from reading our posts) ended up getting Tick Bite Fever which can become a severe illness without proper treatment. But even with appropriate treatment, he suffered dearly for a few weeks. Even during the winter months, there are risks from insects and snakes.

Today, the high will be 81F, 27C. The humidity is 61%, and there’s a cloud cover. The holidaymakers are still in the park, but the school holidays are ending this coming Sunday. The number of animals we’re seeing is considerably less than we’ll see next week. We’re looking forward to that! With as many animals as we’ve seen during the holiday, we can only anticipate many more will be coming.

Notice the little one close to his mom at the end of the splash pool.

Load shedding continues an average of three times per day for 7½ hours without power. As I write here, it has been out for two hours and should be returning soon. Sometimes, it goes back on in slightly less than two hours. I plan on doing laundry today, but I must wait until the power is restored. It’s such an inconvenience with no end in sight.

But, for us, the inconvenience of load shedding is considerably less than it is for others. We have WiFi during those periods and pay little attention to it while outside on the veranda, where we spend most of our days and evenings. Once it’s hot again, it will be tough without aircon for those 2½ hours in the bedroom at night. We have a fan we can use via the inverter during those periods, but the heat can be unbearable at night.

Zebras stop by and eat and then head out. They aren’t like many other species who will hang around to beg for more pellets.

We’ll be staying put today. This evening we’ll cook on the braai and enjoy more quality time on the veranda. Oh, the power just returned a few minutes earlier than expected. I can do the laundry and prep some of the food for tonight’s dinner. All is good. We try not to open the refrigerator when the power is out.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, July 13, 2021:

We couldn’t believe our eyes on this date in 2018 in Kruger National Park when we spotted this elephant digging a hole to access water in the ground below.  For more photos, please click here.