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Archive for March, 2020

No matter how much you may love your home,

right now is this how you’re feeling?

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You are not alone. Though most of us can remember whining things like,

“Tomorrow is Monday… but I don’t want to go to work.”

“My calendar is so full, I have no time for myself.”

“Oh, if I just had more time.” 

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Suddenly–for most of us–Monday is the same as every other day. No, you don’t have to go to work. No, you don’t have to set the alarm and get up to go to school.  Our calendars are unnaturally empty. You wake up with that familiar, fleeting question, “What do I have to do today?” At least you do if you’re anything like I am. But it doesn’t take long–mere seconds or milliseconds perhaps–before it hits you. Nothing! 

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It is so easy to see the downside of what we are all forced to cope with during this critical time–the fear, the isolation, our own boredom, and bored children–

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So is this what they meant when they said be careful what you wish for? 

Regardless, this is what we have for now, but we will get through this, and there are things we can do to chase away the blues. As someone very wise told me, we need to take it one day at a time. I can do this–just for today–I can do this.

Just like eating an elephant…

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So instead of putting our focus on the negative–I know, easier said than done–let’s look at the many ways we can lift our moods and stay positive. 

  • Play your favorite music – play something lively and get up and dance (nobody’s watching)
  • Send an email to someone special telling them why they’re special to you – lift their mood too.
  • Meditate – Or find your quiet, peaceful place (your garden, the beach, the bathroom with the door locked) to just be mindful
  • Take a nap
  • Delight your senses – Lift your mood with aromatherapy
  • Get outside and enjoy the sunshine when you can
  • Laugh, laugh, laugh – Tell a funny joke or story, follow someone funny on Twitter
  • Bake something

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I would be remiss if I didn’t mention all those who are not locked down at home but rather are out doing their jobs to help us all stay safe and well. God bless them and keep them safe.

I’d love it if you’d leave me a comment with your ideas for how to stay positive.

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Hungry, Hungry What?

Why it’s a hungry, hungry river horse of course. Doesn’t sound right? Ah, well perhaps hungry, hungry hippo sounds a little more familiar. We call this third largest mammal a hippopotamus (which comes from the Ancient Greek for river horse), and you will find him in or by the water. He can walk under water on the river bed and sleeps in or beside the water.

The cow gives birth in shallow water (the calves are able to swim before they can walk), and hides her baby in the reeds. After a few days, they both rejoin the rest of the herd.

Have you ever heard the myth that the hippopotamus sweats blood? If you look closely at their pictures you may see some of the oily red substance they secrete that was the root of that myth. This substance acts as a moisturizer and sunblock all in one. And under the African sun, we need both!

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We were lucky enough to watch these fellows basking in the African sun, but we did it safely from a blind. You don’t want to get too close to these guys. They are the most dangerous mammal in Africa and responsible for the most human fatalities in the wild.

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The increase in attacks on humans is primarily attributed to people’s arrogance and disrespect while in the wild. I wouldn’t dream of disrespecting this animal who is capable of chomping a wooden canoe in half. How can a puny human weighing a couple hundred pounds have the audacity to mess with a three-ton animal with a mouth like this? 

Hippo

Google Image

So if you’re ever cruising along a river in Mpumalanga or Limpopo and you’re lucky enough to see these eyes, get your pictures, but do it from a safe distance. If you’re doing that kind of touring, you probably have a zoom lens. Use it!

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This will be my last article on the animals of South Africa–for now–unless someone asks for a particular animal we may have seen in our visits there.  I’d love to hear your comments or opinions on this series, and I look forward to starting a whole new series on an entirely different topic next week.

 

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Where Antelope Roam

Let’s look at just a few more of the many antelope that roam in South Africa.

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The Impala is one of the most slender and graceful of the antelopes. The female, as you can see in the first picture, does not have horns. The ram, standing tall in the second picture has the recognizable lyre-shaped horns. 

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Because of the arch-like structure of their horns, they can interlock and throw their opponents.

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But their greatest defense against their predators is their speed and amazing ability to leap up to nine feet and cover distances of thirty yards. Here is a link to the image of such a leap.

And then there is the klipspringer–Afrikaans for ‘rock jumper’. The reddish-brown coloring of this small antelope is excellent camouflage for the rocky area which it inhabits. They only stand up to two feet tall and only the males have short horns. Without the zoom lens of the camera, I could barely see these two. I think they’re little beauties.

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The final antelope I’ll share is the magnificent sable.

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Both the male and female of this large black and white antelope species have horns. When attacked by their predators–even lions–the sable will confront them with these scimitar-shaped horns. They often kill the big cats.  This powerful animal is a real beauty.

We’ve been privileged to see these and so many more antelope on our visits to South Africa. Let me know if there are any other species you’d like to see or learn more about.

I’m looking forward to sharing lots of pictures and information on one hungry, hungry animal next time. Guess what it is.

BlondeSig-gkb

 

 

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What is a Kudu?

The Greater Kudu is one of the most majestic antelopes in Africa.

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The male kudu weighs up to a quarter of a ton and is easily recognized by its long, spiral horns–the longest of any antelope–and the thin white stripes on its tawny to gray-brown coat.  In a mature male, if those horns with their double twists were straightened, they would average a whopping four feet long. 

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Kudu can be caught munching on various trees and shrubs, with their favorites being fruit, pods, forbs and creepers.  However catching them at anything is quite lucky. The kudu is a timid and wary antelope, and I didn’t see nearly as many of them as I did the impala which seemed to be everywhere. But that’s a story for another day.

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My husband, Lee, was fortunate (and skilled) enough to get this wonderful shot of a female kudu. She doesn’t have the magnificent horns, but she certainly has the same big ears.  (Lee won best of show at the York Fair with this picture, and I have to thank him for sharing it with me for this post.)  The female isn’t as large as the male but has the same markings and mane. Isn’t she gorgeous?

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Though kudu are distributed widely in South Africa, we found them (with the help of our guides of Van Wijk Safaris)  in dense brush and wooded foothill areas of Kruger National Park and the Province of Mpumalanga. (Final two pictures also courtesy of Lee Bostic, Photography)

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Seeing this magnificent animal in its natural habitat in beautiful South Africa made my heart beat a little faster. Such sightings were such an awesome privilege. It makes the heart long for another chance, another sighting, another breathtaking experience.

 

 

 

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It’s Primate Time

Monkeys — Baboons — What’s the difference?

Well, just like all roses are flowers, but not all flowers are roses…

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So similarly, all baboons are monkeys, but not all monkeys are baboons.

I preferred watching the antics of the monkeys, but let’s first take a look at the baboons.

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There are five species of baboons, but the one we saw in South Africa was the Chacma Baboon.  It is one of the heaviest, with males weighing from fifty to nearly one hundred pounds, and lives in social groups. These troops did not seem at all worried about the humans driving slowly by.

While the monkeys we will see later are both arboreal and terrestrial, the baboons are not arboreal. You will find them on the ground eating, walking, or hitching a ride. Their diet consists of everything from fruit, leaves and insects to rodents, birds, small antelope, and Vervet monkeys,  They are not looked upon favorably because they will also raid human dwellings to feast on goats, sheep, and chicken.

There are two kinds of monkeys in South Africa — The Vervet and the Samango

 

Both Vervet and Samango monkeys are arboreal where they have a diet primarily of fruit, leaves, and insects. The Vervet is more common in South Africa and can cause a lot of damage to commercial fruit orchards.

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This shot clearly shows the silver-gray body and black face of the Vervet. Although my pictures show individual monkeys, they are social animals and also live in troops.

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And I was lucky enough to get this little guy quenching his thirst.

As you can see, their usual diet is often supplemented by anything they might find–or steal–from humans. You will find monkeys anywhere people picnic and at many  outdoor restaurants. While stopping for lunch in Kruger National Park, one jumped down and attempted to swipe my food, but Andries Van Wijk moved quickly to intervene. They were both so quick, I barely knew what happened. By the time I spied the little pilferer, he was already looking for his next victim. 

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Next we’ll take a look at some beautiful and fascinating antelopes. Let me know if there is anything else you’re curious about or would like to see.

There is so much to see in South Africa, and with the help of our wonderful guides Andries and Steffi Van Wijk, I look forward to seeing more on our next trip there. 

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