Hello Everyone!My journey to South Africa is a three-part series.
In November last year, I took a break from writing my latest novel, Leaving Henry, and went on my first Safari Trek to South Africa. Kruger National Park is South Africa’s most famous safari, and I had a fabulous time. Visiting the park for the day was an incredible adventure and an exciting journey with its beautiful vast landscapes and spectacular African wildlife. It took our tour group all day to get there by bus from Johannesburg.
The Safari Lodge
Soon we arrived, and a group of monkeys welcomed us. They sat in trees and stared as we entered the Safari Lodge parking lot., We stayed two nights, and with its 1950s ambiance, tasty food in the dining hall, and breathtaking views, staying at the lodge was quite enjoyable. One could hear wild animals growling and chattering at night, crickets humming, and the mosquitos were relentless. Luckily we had the proper mosquito repellant and had taken malaria pills to protect us from a severe illness.
The Big Five
The following morning at four, we loaded the safari truck with the sack lunches the staff had prepared. Surprised that the sun was already out. It was a beautiful, chilly day. We almost didn’t make it out of the parking lot. Staff working on the safari lodge grounds were protesting low wages. Spilling into the road and parking lot, blocking our passage with huge signs.
Finally, the police arrived an hour later, the people dispersed, and we continued our journey. However, exploring the safari park was an all-day event. We saw Africa’s big five: The Elephant, Lion, Rhino, Leopard, and Buffalo. Afterward, we saw unique wildlife, like the pretty bird and the giant snail in the photos above. Earlier, I found watching a female lion hunt and kill her prey fascinating.
The Bathroom Fiasco
What’s more, bathrooms took a lot of work. The safari guide only stopped every 90 minutes, and the time increased as the day wore on. Unable to hold my water after riding with the guide for over two hours. I complained, and he told me I had to go into the bush. First, I laughed, thinking he was kidding. But he wasn’t. His face remained stern as he stared at me with mocking dark brown eyes.
Hot with anger, the safari guide and I had an intense five minute conversation. I decided to go in the bush after he insisted it would be another 45 minutes to get a bathroom. Tearful and embarrassed, my hubby held up his coat, giving me privacy while I quickly peed in the bush. No wild animal snatched me in the process. Thank goodness!
At last, we made it through. Despite, my bathroom mishap, it was an exciting, fun day at South Africa’s most famous safari park. Next Sunday, I’ll tell you about my journey to Robben Island Prison, where Nelson Mandela spent 18 years! Stay Tuned, and Thank you for reading!
“It was a cold, bleak, December morning in Alaska, a place so far north on planet earth that if there were such things as popsicle people, they could live there quite comfortably.-Dew Pellucid
Happy New Year, everybody! I know it’s late, but as most of you know, I am a clinical social worker and an aspiring Novelist. I’ve been in Alaska, the last frontier, the locals say, on a three-month contract working in a rehab hospital in Anchorage. Between the heavy amounts of snow, the scary-looking ravens, and the humongous moose trotting down the streets, stopping traffic, it’s been quite an experience, I must say.
The people here are friendly, much to my surprise. The mountain range is breathtaking on a sunny day. The seafood in most restaurants is to die for. Halibut, shrimp, salmon , and fresh sourdough bread are the Alaskan favorites, and the sausage reindeer hotdog is an acquired taste.
When I arrived here in early December, adjusting to the below-freezing temperatures ( one day, it was -2 degrees), thirty inches of snow, and darkness until ten in the morning took me a while. When I wasn’t working, I stayed inside, snuggled in my wool pajamas, working on my latest novel, Leaving Henry. Inspired by the snowy scenery outside my window, I’ve written twenty-two chapters since I have been here. Writing my mother’s life story has been a rewarding but tedious journey. I’m halfway done. Only twenty chapters to go. Whew!
Working and writing aren’t the only activities I’ve been doing. Donell and I took scenic weekend excursions, driving along the coast. Navigating the icy, curvy roads is not for the faint of heart. But we were fearless, driving through snow and ice to reach our destinations. We visited the Alyeska Resort, which was forty-five minutes from Anchorage, and the City of Seward, a rough, bumpy ride was two hours away. We visited the gift shops and bought odds and ends, and ate at their local eateries while we were there. On the way back from Seward, we left later than we intended, and it was a little scary. Dark like tar and no street lights to speak of. The only light we had was the oncoming cars in the opposite direction. However, we made it back to Anchorage safely. A close call to say the least.
Two weekends ago, my sister, Crys, came for a visit. We stopped by the Anchorage Museum and saw native artwork and artifacts. The history of the indigenous native people was quite impressive. I love their masks and clothing and their love for nature. Take a look at the face masks below. I found it intriguing that the African masks and Native face coverings were similar. Alaska and Africa are on opposite ends of the world, but the cultural differences are not that far apart.
This week the Alaskans are having their annual winter festival called the “Furrondy.” The streets of Anchorage come alive with winter sports, native culture, and many unique events, such as “Running with the Reindeer!” This is not your usual race, and the truth is, it’s pretty remarkable. Instead of getting chased by bulls, you get chased by rambunctious reindeer. Hundreds of people participate in this race, running as fast as they can to outrun the reindeer, and at the end, everyone gets a reindeer hotdog, and the reindeer prepare for the next race. Well, I pass on this one. Not my cup of tea. But I plan to go to the Charlotte Jensen Native Arts Market this upcoming Wednesday! I can’t wait to buy some fabulous native jewelry; I got my greens and am ready to shop! Well, that’s all for now. I will settle in for the evening with my novel, Leaving Henry, and hopefully, write and finish chapter twenty-three. As always, thank you for reading!
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I am in the process of writing a novel loosely based on my mother’s childhood years in the south during the 1930s. I just finished chapter thirteen, with 17 chapters to go. Yes, it is a slow process, but shaping up to be a riveting, entertaining, and sometimes ill-fated story.
My mother’s memory has faltered for the last two years, particularly during the pandemic. She has exhibited signs of early dementia. Repetitious statements with occasional confusion about past events have been more prominent this year. Sometimes she forgets to eat, which causes me concern.
Mother has stairs in her home and a very steep driveway. Although she walks better than most people her age, she is at high risk for falls. Last summer, she fractured her foot and had fallen recently with no injuries. I lived in Georgia but have stayed with her for over six months. I help her with the minor chores, such as grocery shopping, meal preparation, transportation to appointments, getting her mail, and pulling the trash cans up the steep driveway weekly to set out on the curb for the garbage collector.
I am on a contract with one of the local hospitals in Washington State that will end this week, and I plan to return to Georgia. I have two sisters who live in the area, but they both have full-time jobs. Anticipating my leaving, my sisters and I talked with our mother about hiring a part-time caregiver in the home one morning over breakfast. My mother spent the weekend with my sister, Cheryl, where the conversation took place. . Needless to say, she had plenty of witty comebacks for every argument we had. It went something like this:
“Mom, you know I’m leaving soon, and we need to talk about what’s going to happen after I leave.”
“Oh, really?” she frowned. “Where you’re going?”
“Remember, I’m going back home next Friday.”
“What are you going to do there?” she asked with big eyes.
“Mom, I lived there. It’s my home!”
“No, your home is where you grew up! Your home is here!” Then she made a face. “Why, you want to go somewhere where they still pick cotton?”
“Mom, Atlanta is a metropolitan city. They’re not picking cotton,” I laughed.
She stared at me with those big hazel eyes of hers. “Mm, you can have the south!”
“Mom, Nita is leaving, and we need to get you help at home because Crys and I work,” Cheryl interjected with wide eyes. “You need someone to do those little chores during the week.”
“Yeah, Cheryl and I will come over on the weekends and help out,” Crys said. But it’s hard to get over there during the week with our work schedules.”
Mom looked around Cheryl’s place with a big smile on her face. “Well, Cheryl, I can stay here with you. I can stay in the room I slept in last night, and there’s a bathroom across the hall. The laundry on the right is at my fingertips. The perfect setup for this old lady.”
“Mom, you’re welcome to stay, but you will need someone to come in every day because I work,” Cheryl reminded her.
“Come in to do what?” Deep creases appeared on her forehead. Mother leaned forward, placing her hand on her thigh. “Let me tell you something. I can bathe and dress. I prepare my own meals, and for an old lady, I can walk better than you! I think I do well for myself for a ninety-five-year-old!”
I took a deep breath. “Mom, that’s true. You can do those things, but you need extra help. That’s all we’re…”
“Help doing what?” she angrily interrupted me. “I have a housekeeper coming in monthly to clean the house. A lawn man to do the yard. What else is there? What are you talking about?”
“Mom, you get confused sometimes. You have short-term memory loss…”
“So, do you, my dear,” she slyly replied with a smirk, cutting me off.
We cracked up laughing. “Mom, I’m serious!” Feeling exasperated. “You forget to eat, and you have lost weight!”
“I don’t need a lot of food. I’m not doing nothing but sitting on my behind! I have worked most of my life, and I deserve to sit on my behind! Besides, I like my weight. I’m trying to get me a boyfriend.”
“How will you do that, sitting in front of the TV all day, watching Jimmy Swaggert?” I earnestly asked, trying not to laugh.
“None of your damn business!” Then her expression turned childlike, and she asked. “Tell me again, what’s this conversation about?”
“Mom, it’s about you getting some help at home,” Crys sighed, frustrated. “If you don’t want someone coming to your home, how about going to that place you like, Patriots Landing.”
“What do I need to go there for?” She stared at Crys with steely hazel eyes. “Are you trying to put me away?”
“NO, MOM!” We all shouted simultaneously.
“Remember we went there to visit last month, and you like the place,” I quickly reminded her. “You said you wanted that one-bedroom apartment. Remember?”
“And you been talking lately about how hard it’s getting keeping up with the house,” Crys added.
“Yes, I have friends there. It’s a nice place. If I moved anywhere, I would go there,” she said, smiling. “I really like that apartment.”
“Then you should go! No time is better than now!” Cheryl piped in.
“Yeah, Mom, you should go! After all, you can afford it,” Crys chimed in.
Mom gave Crys a dirty look. “How do you know what I can afford?” she snapped with her head gyrating.
“I have seen your bank account!”
“What you saw was nothing but pocket change!” she frowned. “It’s not enough there to support an ant!”
“Mom, listen. I think you’ll like it!” I tried to convince her. “There’s plenty of activities and things to do there. “
“Exercise classes, gardening, entertainment, even wine tasting hour,” I explained. “Plenty of exercise and activity to keep one busy and engaged.”
“I get plenty of exercise at home,” she quipped.
I rolled my eyes. “Really, mother? Like what?”
“I walk around the house, straighten the pillows on the couch and look out the window. That’s plenty!”
“Don’t forget you watch Jimmy Swaggert!”
“Oh yeah, well, at least it’s doing something!” Blinking her eyes erratically.
“Mom, you’re stubborn, and you’re stalling!” I angrily pushed back.
“Really? I’ll like to see how you are when you get ninety-five!” she snapped, glaring at me.
“Mom, you have to do something different. You can’t stay in your home without help,” I huffed.
“If I need help, I’ll call Cheryl and Crys, and that’s that!”
Cheryl leaned forward, folding her arms on the table. “That’s not going to work, Mom!”
“And why not?” she glared at Cheryl with that stern, motherly look, taking me back to my childhood days in the 70s.
“We have to work! We can’t be available like that!”
Mother pursed her lips and rolled her eyes. “I understand. Let me think about it,” she half-heartedly relented.
“Mom, you had plenty of time to think about it. Nita leaves…”
“Cheryl, pass me that quiche?” Mother gestured. Cheryl pushed the quiche closer to her, and Mother helped herself to a slice, sliding it on her plate. She grabbed her fork and looked up at us, “Now, tell me. What are we talking about?”
Note: Dementia is a slow progression of cognitive decline. Subtle short-term memory changes, confusion, loss of interest in hobbies, difficulty completing tasks, repetitious statements, poor judgment, etc. The risk of dementia increases as you get older with the majority of people developing the condition over the age of 65.
Hello Friends! I know it’s been a long time since I posted on my blog.I have enjoyed retirement, working part-time, and best of all, writing my Mother’s Memoir, Leaving Henry. It’s been enlightening and enjoyable writing her story. I have written ten chapters so far and have learned so much about her childhood life and the history she has lived through. She has lived a long time. She will be ninety-five in October. When she was born in nineteen twenty-seven, Calvin Coolidge was the President of the United States, and the Klu Klux Clan was running rampant across the Deep South.
Her parents nicknamed her Little Ella after her maternal grandmother in the story. My mother was born in Henry, Tennessee, and grew up poor. Her father was a sharecropper and her mother a maid, and together, they raised six children on a small farm they inherited. They weathered through the Great Depression by living off the land and their meager earnings.
Although my mother was a southern girl, she didn’t like the south much. So, almost since she was knee-high and aware, she made it her life goal to leave the south one day. But she stumbled against obstacles such as racism, poverty, and physical threats to her and her family along the way. But with courage and determination, she realizes her dream.
Leaving Henry is due out next year! Look for it on Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble Online Bookstores. In the meantime, visit my website, https://koolstorytellerbooks.com. Happy Mother’s Day Everyone!
Set in rural Tennessee in the 1930s and inspired by actual events, LeavingHenry is the story of a courageous young African American girl who dreamed of a better life.
Born in primitive conditions, life in Henry wasn’t a piece of cake for Ella Ridley. Because of her light skin color, hazel eyes, and auburn hair, her sharecropper father often mistreated her.
By the age of ten, she was working in the cotton fields until her fingers bled. About of malaria, an attempted rape and witnessing her father being terrorized by the Ku Lux Klan inspired her to hope for a day she could escape. Little Ella knew at an early age that the South and everything it represented was certainly not for her.
Poor as a church mouse, every penny she earned went straight to helping her destitute family. Stuck in her perilous position, she refused to resign to her fate. Little Ella prayed every day for a way out, asking God for a miracle that never seemed to come. Sometimes, she wondered if God was even listening to her.
Then out of the blue, on her thirteenth birthday, her uncle from Indiana came for a visit and offered her something she never expected, not even in her wildest dreams.
Hello Everyone! I am currently working on my newest novel which I anticipate will be ready for publication in 2023. The story is loosely based on my mother’s life as a young girl born and raised in the South. Today my lovely mother is alive and in good health, and she will be 94 years old in October. I look forward to writing and sharing her story with all of you. Until Next Time, Stay safe!
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