Drunk and Not-So-Drunk Elephants…

I believe that I can hear you say..,”Really?”…the truth has been debated…but I tend to lean towards the probability that it is true…

Drunk elephants or for that matter…or drunken antics by any animals was never even near to being within the scope of things that I might have given a passing hmmmm…🤔

In research for my novel, I am in the process of reading a translation of Adulphe Delegotgue’s two-volume Voyage dans l’Afrique Australe produced originally in 1848…a young 24 year old aristocratic Frenchman, whose lust for adventure and scientific curiosity provoked him to take an incredulous 5 year journey of exploration in southern Africa…BTW…it is a most delightful read…

Delegorgue considered the biological aspects the most interesting part of his travel memoir and devotes a significant portion of his writing to the majestic elephant…

“The elephant has in common with man predilection for a gentle warming of the brain induced by fruit which has been fermented by the action of the sun: the omkouschlouane and the makano of the Amazoulous”

Travels in Southern Africa,1990

Enjoy a little laughter today….

Nature’s great masterpiece, an elephant; the only harmless great thing. John Donne

A few days after starting this blog…Mr. P & I took a needed day in nature…an excursion to Addo Elephant Park only few hours drive from home…although we didn’t see any drunk elephants…the ones we saw were incredibly interesting and humorous…reminding me of my own family get-togathers…a tribe with 5 brothers and sisters…all the accompanying nieces and nephews…and added friends…each holiday was just a noisy and raucous as this herd that we found around a waterhole in the park…

Did you know that you can identify the African Elephant from all their Asian cousins by the fact that they are larger and their ears are larger and bear a resemblence to the continent of Africa…

“One cannot resist the lure of Africa.” ~Rudyard Kipling

Their trunks have over 40,000 muscles and 2 fingerlike features at the end of their trunk that they use to grab things…Their Asian cousins have only 1…

“It was the wildest, untouched Africa, and it was magic.” ~Jane Goodall

“Of all African animals, the elephant is the most difficult for man to live with, yet its passing ― if this must come ― seems the most tragic of all. I can watch elephants (and elephants alone) for hours at a time, for sooner or later the elephant will do something very strange such as mow grass with its toenails or draw the tusks from the rotted carcass of another elephant and carry them off into the bush. There is mystery behind that masked gray visage, and ancient life force, delicate and mighty, awesome and enchanted, commanding the silence ordinarily reserved for mountain peaks, great fires, and the sea.” – Peter Matthiessen

https://everydaypower.com/elephant-quotes/

“The strange rhythm seemed now to be coming from behind me, from the land, so I turned to look across the gorge … where my heart stopped … Standing there in the shade of the tree was an elephant … – Carl Safina

Purest Little Part of Me | African bush elephant, African animals, African  elephant

The Balancing Act

What started out to to be a slightly anxiety producing event morphed into an exceptionally magnificent morning…

Mr. P and I had been tossing the idea of taking a whale and dolphin watching cruise since I arrived…well…even before…since my son-in-law showed me the videos of the jackass penguins and their true-to-life sound of a braying donkeyhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LVF9F28SY4c…so belly laughing hilarious🤣to watch…

In an effort to keep my social skills from totally atrophying I joined a photographic club…this happened to be their first ‘outing’ that I decided to join…Mr. P became a member too…on account that I haven’t learned to drive on the left side of the road with a left-handed stick shift… and sharing the road with crazy drivers and he makes me feel safer…my own personal bodyguard😎…seriously, it was more about being to be able to share the things that we both enjoy…

We were anticipating a distraction from the current situation that we are experiencing at the moment…although surgery had gone well…the previous day’s appointment to the oncologist was difficult for me…a reminder of the anguish inflicted on the the lives of 46 family members who had fought the same darkness and the few who survived it’s aggressive assault on their lives…and the special one❤ who lives with the presence of the gene that she carries with her every day of her life…

It started the night before…the combination of a glass of wine and seasick pills laid me out me out quicker than Tyson’s 90 second knockout…I could not keep my eyes open for anything…and at 8:30 gave it up…Mr. P did promise not to tell the kids that I wasted the night sleeping😂…

The morning dawned and set off early…the early night definitely helped to being “bright-eyed and bushy tailed”…with slight apprehensions about being accepted into the group…being the new kid on the block and an American to-boot…we set out to expand my knowledge of the marine life here in Algoa Bay, Port Elizabeth…it still feels so unbelievable to live so close to all of this miraculous splendor of nature…

The sea was flat and calm after a few days of winds…yet trying to walk gracefully on a narrow floating pontoon bridge was not an easy feat for me…like navigating life (particularly in our now)…finding balance is most important…

Balancing Family Life Through Uncertainty | Resilient Educator
Dr. Seuss said it best…

By the time I got to the boat, evidently I still hadn’t found my balance…Lost my sandal climbing up the boxes to get into the boat…I tried so hard to look like I knew what I was doing…to be elegant and graceful…put the camera bag on the seat…gave my hand to the owner of the boat and most gracefully lifted my leg over the side and promptly my sandal flew off and landed on the floor of the boat…

“It’s about finding that balance where you have one foot in the familiar, one foot in the unfamiliar.
If you have two feet in the unfamiliar it’s overwhelming….

― Humble the Poet

Algoa Bay

oh, well…I was too excited to dwell on it for long…living in the moment…not the past or the imagined future is a critical component to balancing the good and bad in life for us right now…

Looking to the Future

… this day was going to be a positive memory in our lives…

And it was/and is…the postcard perfect day… weather was cooperating fully…acres of bright blue canvas of sky with puffs of white magic…blown with playful gentle breezes…what more could I ask for…

…but it was just the beginning…I became lost in the enchantment of the sea…

“The heart of man is very much like the sea, it has its storms, it has its tides and in its depths it has its pearls too” ~Vincent van Gogh, The Letters of Vincent van Gogh

…and so are our lives

Such a incredible day…warm ocean painted memories to cherish and hold within my heart❤

I’m sittin’ on the dock of the bay
Watchin’ the tide, roll away
I’m sittin’ on the dock of the bay
Wastin’ time
~Otis Redding

..the white heaven bound birds reminding my soul to glide freely from the fear and a wave of sweet earthly joy and hope for the future began to dance…

…with all my love and wishes for magic🎈 and laughter in your life

~Renée

*Special shout-out to Raggy Charters for this beautiful cruise experience

Women Who Roar…

For miles a grey drizzly morning had followed us to our destination…I slumped a little glumly in the front of the 4×4 we had rented…I had been excitedly waiting to give my new telephoto lens a whirl…

With a couple of hours to kill before we were able to get into the cabin…we started driving with no particular end in mind…clouds blanketing the skies …the windshield speckled with drizzle…there were no expectations that we would catch a glimpse of any animal that I would be able to photograph that dreary early afternoon…

Dreamy and picturesque landscapes pulled me from my doldrums…I sat up and became lost in the the mountain highlands and rolling undulating plains…the tall colorful rippling grasslands of the Karoo provided a magical solace that soothed the soul…erasing the grumpiness that I had felt with the disappointment of the less than perfect sunshiny day I had requested…

…and then like a well played magic trick…”poof” they appeared…as if the ladies had been patiently waiting on the sidelines for us to arrive…two splendidly graceful lionesses emerged from the tall grasses sauntering in front of the vehicle as if taking us on a tour…

Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead. Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.
Albert Camus

It was a most incredible show that they put on for us…the younger one showing off…dancing on the outcropping of rocks…hiding among the sparse tree line, scrubby bushes and tall golden grasses that almost hid her unless you were aware…

The mother was sedate in her ambling…letting the younger take center stage…content in just ‘being’…yet she was always aware of where her daughter was and where they were on their search for either intruders to their territory or any potential food that might be available…

The social structure of the pride hinges around the bond between related lionesses, who collaborate in all tasks, from raising cubs to hunting.

http://www.krugerpark.co.za/Kruger_National_Park_Wildlife-travel/kruger-park-wildlife-lions.html

Their journey together was a reminder that…

…although no one can walk our path for us…when the blackness of our night presses against the skin…and the very horror of life and fear freezes the blood in our veins…the presence of those who choose to walk beside imbues us with the courage to keep perservering…in spite of it all…

My Mr. P had major surgery a few weeks ago…totally unexpected…the sunlight, magic and warmth of our world instantly spiraled into a deep dark nothingness…alone in a new country and culture…without even the ability to be together… to visit or even talk with each other…he was beside me and then he was gone…my world disappeared…

I felt his absence…cold, isolated and alone

they came…the beautifully strong, powerful and nurturing women…to walk beside me in support…the magic of their fortitude and courage flowing into my shrunken and shriveled soul…

The lioness pair that I photographed at Mountain Zebra were such an incredible example of that “sisterhood” bond…

There is strength in sisterhood

With all my heart❣…A special thank you to all the wonderful beautiful souls that roar in their own right and chose to walk beside me…I am forever eternally grateful…

🎈Sent with love, laughter and magic for your day!

The Rockiest Paths…

Sometimes the rockiest paths lead to the most incredible and beautiful destinations…

Recently we spent an beautiful day with the most incredible people…we were told to bring our walking shoes…

…the previous days skies had been the color of grey wet ash…the coldness of the kind that reaches deep into the center of your bones…biting wind that left goose bumps only alleviated by the warmth of the flickering flames of the fire…and then…only if viewed by peeking from under the covers of the duvet…

…warm baby blue skies…dappled with gauzy pristine wisps gently meandering…the dancing of the ocean waves in the myriad shades of turquoise… ending in the lacy foam that caressed the beach… only a perfect day for our anticipated walk…

St. Francis Bay

“The best way to pay for a lovely moment is to enjoy it.”

Richard Bach

…began with puddles from the previous rainy week…but no one minded..especially Whiskey…splashing through the particular sloppy areas was one of the many highlights of her day…we didn’t really mind either…just sloshed on through…

…like life’s path I couldn’t always see what was ahead and I wasn’t prepared for how rocky the path became…I wasn’t as agile as I would have hoped…stumbled…tripped over myself and only saved my face and knees by sacrificing my hands…

…like life…I have been hurt before and I will be hurt again…but we develop a strength as we fall down and get back up again…one careful step at a time…and with a “little help from my friends”…I made it

…we had to cover quite a bit of unsteady and rocky ground with lots of places that I could have slipped and fallen…there were ups and downs…detours around obstacles…but the view was worth it all…delightful…but for me…even more was the exhilaration of accomplishment…with the love and friendship that I shared that day…

…at then end of the day🤣…hang your socks up to dry…
Quotes about Life Path (206 quotes)
…it’s so worth it!!!

…there will always be rocks…but may they be stepping stones instead of stumbling blocks…

Love, laughter and magic for your life…xoxo Renee’

Day 217…Busy as a Bee

Alone with nature is a soothing balm to the soul…it’s healing blanket wraps the soul in peace…

I walked in the warm enveloping morning soon and found nature all busy…as if life had not changed one iota…nature’s assurance that day will follow the night…and life will continue

Some people are called to leave us, but it is not the ending of the story…just the ending of their part in our story…

We can lament about what was or be grateful for the things that were…even the scars left are a part of their legacy…helping to create the beautiful tapestry of our lives…

…because in the end…it takes both the light and dark threads intertwined to create our mosaic…the tangled and knotted threads that we often obsess over are only part of the story…and often only seen by us…in the end God will reveal the unique and impeccably perfect masterpiece of our lives…

When the needle of life pricks the very depth of your soul…remember it is not the end…morning will come again…just as the day follows the night…

“Don’t be ashamed to weep; ’tis right to grieve. Tears are only water, and flowers, trees, and fruit cannot grow without water. But there must be sunlight also. A wounded heart will heal in time, and when it does, the memory and love of our lost ones is sealed inside to comfort us.”
― Brian Jacques, Taggerung

Day 216…Journey to Forgiveness

Saying Good-bye…

And in the end…he loved
February 16, 1931 – February 24, 2020

…May his heart now rest in peace…and may mine also

My Father’s Family

…quite a handsome young man that looks very happy in this photo…but as I look at this photo, I remember the frequent times that he voiced that he blamed his Mother for all the anger that he felt toward’s women…and I felt the brunt of that anger as the eldest…both emotionally and physically…and more that my mind has ever would allow me to remember…

“Forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past could have been any different.”
― Oprah Winfrey

The year that I was about 9 years old…with a family that he needed to feed and only a seasonal sawmill job…plus the promise of religious fulfillment…he put his wife…all four of his children, our German Shepherd Sheba… in a beat-up jalopy with a huge hole in the back floorboard…and with $50.00 left for Jeffersonville, Indiana…

…and there my life in the religious cult started…the abuse became more profuse there…he was either fervently and brutally religious or demonically violent…the pain traumatizing each cell in my body…until the only way to survive as not be inside of my body… in anguish and agonizing a-loneness…bleeding in my child’s soul…

…my mother was the perfect example of grace and beauty…inside and out…even in the place of her own pain..for once I had wanted to see if she remembered what had happened in a place that we had lived in Wisconsin…to this day, I don’t remember anything about that time…yet when I asked her about it…she replied that it was too painful to remember…

….Smiling on the Outside

After the age of 18…for many years I didn’t see or have much to do with my Father or any of my family…and life moved on…time moved on…as I had my own family and dealt with another abusive relationship with a cheating husband…

After finding out that my husband had an affair with my sister…all my Father could say was that… it was my fault…for I had not been a good enough wife…and the abuse was still agonizing…

Yet over the years…I realized that I did not want to continue to feel the pain and live a life less than…to continue moving forward and through was by forgiveness…forgiveness and healing is never a one-time process and it took many years of therapy…prayer…and every book that I could find…step by step…small slow steps…backwards…then forward again…day by day…year by year…the healing slowly and gradually covered the open wounds of my heart…soul…and mind…

…when I came back to Indiana in 2013…it was different now when I saw him…he was physically frail…and he was changed…altered somehow…he often talked about how sorry that he was that he was not a better father…and asked for forgiveness…on more than one occasion…with tears in his voice…not for any specific occurrence…but for a lifetime of hurting his children…

Another layer of forgiveness…I knew in my heart that I would probably never have the chance to see him again once I left for South Africa…I spent as much time with him as I could…loving him and letting him know that I forgave him…so he could have some peace…and I could also…

“Forgiveness is not a feeling: it is a commitment. It is a choice to show mercy, not to hold the offense against the offender. Forgiveness is the expression of love.” ~Gary Chapman

In my life I found that…most of the world contains good people that do the best that they can…with what they know and understand coloredand tightly bound by their life experiences…be patient and forgiving…for if they knew and understood…they would do things differently…

Image result for the world is hurting quotes

Love is still the answer…and it will always be…

The most highest and most beautiful form of love is forgiveness…

Dad, may your rest be filled with serenity in the arms of our loving heavenly Father…

your daughter, Renee

Day 196…OMG It’s Hot

and I think I’m melting…no I know I am am…

I was warned that it would be hot in January…that it was the hottest month of the year…but they didn’t tell me that it was going to be HOT as I had no idea of what “hot” meant…at the moment…most of the country is in danger of fires……so totally understand…I felt like I am going to instantaneously combust at any moment…

…and not an air conditioner in sight

In the U.S. any hot day might be miserable with that wet wool blanket feeling…but it usually lasted only from the car to the house…we might sit, eat and sleep in one room in the house for the whole 3 months of summer…but we could breath without flames coming out of our mouths…

Now I understand why all the cars are white…well at least most of them…dresses are more the norm…and there are a lot of swimming pools…and more excursions to the beach…

And the poor tomatoes..

The experience was a great learning experience…I learned you can never take too many showers…I was never cleaner…I had to take a shower after my shower…I would start sweating when I was drying off..it became such a vicious cycle…I learned that I better get my act together because I am definitely not cut out for hell…putting on makeup was an exercise in futility…and that there is no deodorant made specifically for boob sweat…

And then the Rain…the cooling rain bucketing down

…it almost did me in…yet still I fall more in love with South Africa…

Ps…Mr. P. wanted me to add that the reason there are not a lot of air conditioners here was because it only gets to boiling a few days out the year🥵

Day 192…The Lady Slipper

The mountain is said to resemble an up-turned high-heeled shoe

The route description reads…”The Lady Slipper trail starts at Falcon Rock and climbs steeply up the mountain through the fynbos.”

…Just a side-note…fynbos is a Dutch word for fine leaved plants and is a totally unique type of vegetation that makes up 80% of the Cape Floral Kingdom, two thirds of which are found here on the Cape and nowhere else on earth…most of the fynbos is extremely rare and in danger of dying out completely (1,700 fynbos plants are threatened with extinction)…http://blog.sa-venues.com/miscellaneous/fynbos/

…During Mr. P’s holiday…we thought it would be an excellent idea to see how fit the “old” people were…I had spent the first 6 months losing 40 pounds and exercising most days…and off we went to see how “sure-footed” we still were…”the path to the peak is a rough, mountain track rather than a manicured trail. It is steep and loose in places, so should be undertaken only by fit and sure-footed hikershttps://www.nightjartravel.com/hiking/lady%E2%80%99s-slipper-trail

…a cool, overcast and misty day…we had the trail almost all to ourselves…breathtaking views…lots of excuses to stop and take a short breather as I went crazy with the views…the poetry of the earth in each moment spoke to my spirit …the music sang to my soul…and healed the ache of transitions…

…such pleasure in each misty moment on that mountain…

“Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.”

—John Muir, Our National Parks
The Misty Top
1.5 TO 3 HOURS TOTAL TIME, 3.2KM: UP AND DOWN

It took us a little longer than the 2 hours than most people take…due to the steep, slippery and loose terrain…and stopping every 2 minutes to take another photograph…

…we didn’t make it all the way…we started too late and the last leg was a little too intimidating for me…climbing rock straight up…so back down we came…slipping and sliding…to be completed the next time…

Magnificent Quartzite Outcrops

…the mountain will call and we will go…

Day 125…Rather the Night

“The pale stars were sliding into their places. The whispering of the leaves was almost hushed. All about them it was still and shadowy and sweet. It was that wonderful moment when, for lack of a visible horizon, the not yet darkened world seems infinitely greater—a moment when anything can happen, anything be believed in.” ― Olivia Howard Dunbar, The Shell of Sense

…sometimes the only thing that we need to change is our perspective…our focus…it will change our whole world…and more importantly…it will change our experience of that world…reality may stay the same…but the experience will be totally different…

The time difference between the two photographs was only a short span of time…and a slight turn to the left…from exactly the same point…

Yet…in those few minutes…the lit house directly in my line of sight…seemingly impeding our view…was “poof”…gone…and the evening seemed to be strewn with diamonds and shiny pieces of glass…shrouded in elegant black velvet filigree…

That is what gratitude does for me…it changes my perspective…what I focus on…reality doesn’t change…but my experience of the moment does…

There were days at the office when the girls and I were ready to scream…the boss was unhappy…customers were screaming and needing everything right now…at this particular moment…and all at the same time…our teammates were not being cooperative in helping to find solutions…in a nutshell…swirling dust devils of anger and frustration…

The only thing that gave us perspective was…to take a gratitude break…I would stop and ask, “OK, what are we grateful for?”…it would help to break the negative emotional downward spiral that we were on…the irritation..the exasperation that we felt building…

…working close to work…having a job…flexibility in leaving if we had an emergency…not grandiose ideas…but enough to change the momentum in a breathe or two…

It is the same here…living in this new environment…when the loneliness and frustrations arise…I soften up and breathe…sit in the moment and count my blessings…Mr. P first and foremost…my not dealing with the incredible stress and frustration of my old life…the beauty that I am surrounded with..all of the new experiences that I have the chance to encounter…the dreams and creative and artistic endeavors that I now have the opportunity to explore…

“There is a magnificent, beautiful, wonderful painting in front of you! It is intricate, detailed, a painstaking labor of devotion and love! The colors are like no other, they swim and leap, they trickle and embellish! And yet you choose to fixate your eyes on the small fly which has landed on it! Why do you do such a thing?”
― C. JoyBell C.

people walking near steel rack
…awww yes…perspective really is everything
Photo by Drew Patrick Miller on Unsplash

Day 55…Elephants

Addo Elephant Herd

“There is a mystery behind the masked gray visage, and ancient life force, delicate and mighty, awesome and enchanted, commanding the silence ordinarily reserved for mountain peaks, great fires and the sea.” ~Peter Matthiessen, The Tree Where Man was Born

I unequivocally enjoyed our trip to Addo Elephant Park…with the zebras, ostriches, kudu, water buffalo, warthogs…all the expected and much more…it was the majestic elephants which just took my breath away…incredibly fastinating to watch…and I don’t believe that I was the only one…

Like a Troop of Baboons Around the Watering Hole

Lesson #1…Live in a community…There was such a sense of community…you can see their love and enjoyment of each other… it is rare that they live alone…most thrive by living in clans with family and friends…strong social ties have been proven to increase longevity…

Mud Bath Enjoyment

Lesson #2…Flap your ears…happiness has been linked to a longer life…and definately will increase the enjoyment and quality…

The Gang is All Here

Lesson #3…Eat your veggies…and don’t forget about the roughage…elephants typically eat grasses, small plants, fruits, twigs and their favorite tree bark…and they live to about 70 years of age…

We sat and watch a elephant troop…led by a very large Matriarch…who, you could tell, was utterly frustrated that she had to walk around a stupid group of humans in their tin can cars…she didn’t stomp or scream…or create any huge ruckas…

She just kept walking and dumped a huge pile of excrement next to our cars…we had to laugh…and sometimes, I believe…we need to do that that too…figuratively, of course…when people and situations get in our way…anything that threatens your self respect, peace of mind, or self-worth…just “cluck it” and walk away with dignity (and attitude of course)…just saying…