"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."

Sunday, April 30, 2023

Itchy Boots Season 5 Notes


Season 7 started earlier this year, but since those videos only come out on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, Andrew and I have continued to catch up on past seasons.

Season 5 starts off with Noraly in the Netherlands as she prepares to relocate due to covid keeping things restricted in Europe. Instead of taking her bike, Rhonin, which she bought at home, she decides to buy a second-hand motorcycle once she gets to Johannesburg, South Africa. Although the official name of this series is Destination Unknown, I believe many refer to it as the Southern Africa season since that's where she went.  (started these notes here on March 12, 2023)

March 2, 2023

watched episodes 1-6 which take place in the Netherlands and South Africa

Noraly bike shops at a place she already researched online, and buys a Honda which she names Savannah

March 3

watched episodes 7-9 which take place in South Africa

March 5

watched episodes 10-13 which take place in South Africa

Of special interest, she went to a wild cats reserve, a place special to Nelson Mandela's life, and went horse riding

March 7

watched episodes 14-16 which take place in South Africa

The Sani Pass ride is just - wow!

March 9

watched episodes 17-18 which take place in South Africa

Noraly spends quite a bit of time with the Xhosa people, and we meet an herbalist/healer.

March 10

watched episodes 19-21 which take place in South Africa

After these were posted, she took a couple weeks break with a friend who lives in S.A. whom she met in India many years ago.

March 12

watched episodes 22-24 which take place in South Africa

We enjoy seeing ostriches and meerkats. Also, Noraly shops and buys an ostrich egg which amuses us as she attempts to cook it. She was told 1 ostrich egg is equivalent to 24 chicken eggs!

The caves she explored were really cool!

Later in the day

March 12

watched episodes 25-27 which take place in South Africa

Cape Town (right on the water) is beautiful!

March 14

watched episodes 28-29 which take place in South Africa

Her visit to the place with fossils was pretty neat.

March 16

watched episodes 30-31  which take place in South Africa

March 17

watched episodes 32-35 which take place in South Africa

Noraly was in Diamond Territory, and spoke of fracking in one video. Also, she tried to visit an active diamond mine near the border of SA and Namibia. Cool video of her tagging along with the security team - wow.

March 18

watched episodes 36-38 which take place in South Africa and Namibia

March 24

watched episodes 39-41 which take place in Namibia

March 25

watched episodes 42-44  which take place in Namibia

I enjoyed seeing Noraly herding cattle - and seeing the farm there. Also, there was a neat geological day trip.

March 26

watched episodes 45-47 which take place in Namibia

The Namib Desert is so pretty, and I loved seeing the wildlife! How cool to see an ostrich running by, giraffes eating by the side of the road, and a few other animals - wow!

March 28

watched episodes 48-49 which take place in Namibia

Those dunes!!

March 31

watched episodes 50-52 which take place in Namibia

Really enjoyed Noraly tagging along with the guys from the Ocean Conservation group, freeing seals from plastics.  Also, I really enjoyed the minerals market and seeing topaz, aquamarine, and so forth.

April 1

watched episodes 53-55 which take place in Namibia

Lots of cool geological stuff like rock paintings and engravings.

April 6

watched the Live Chat from Africa as well as episodes 56-57 which take place in Namibia

What is neat about watching these videos now is that I just started a book from Susan Bauer who worked at a Lutheran Seminary in Namibia with her husband back in the 1990s and early 2000s. She speaks of cities and the desert and even the seal colony and nature preserves that I've seen in Noraly's videos. I really enjoy the timing of reading this book - which my mom read and recommended to me months ago - now while watching Season 5.

April 7

watched episodes 58; 60-64 which take place in Namibia

It's a super-rainy Good Friday so Andrew and I started watching some more videos. We saw the Namibia and Angola border as well as some tribal ladies on the road that I'd just looked up the night before based on the book I mentioned above. We hadn't planned to watch so many episodes, but she went to a nature preserve and got to ride along with Esso whose job it is to ride his motorbike to check the level of the watering holes and the fences. So we were able to see zebras, elephants, lions, antelope, giraffes, and black and white rhinos - fascinating!!

April 8

watched episodes 59; 65-67 which take place in Namibia and Botswana

Somehow we skipped episode 59 yesterday so I'm glad that one showed up as Noraly took some food and visited the Himba tribe. They showed her how to get the red ochre that they put on their skin, and she gave it a try.

I enjoyed seeing her cross into Botswana because the Number 1 Ladies Detective Agency takes place in this country so I keep thinking I might eventually see Mma Ramotswe and her family and friends! Wouldn't that be awesome? ;)

Later that day because it was a dreary couple of days ...

April 8

watched episodes 68-70  which take place in Botswana

Loved seeing hippos, elephants, giraffes, and zebra; and a giraffe darted across the street not too far in front of her in the same way deer do here!

April 13

watched episode 71  which take place in Botswana

She rode with James Alexander and some of his friends. He, of Dakar racing fame so ...

April 14

watched episodes 72-74  which take place in Botswana

I loved her chat with the two ladies selling traditional food on the side of the road. I love their fencing around their pots of food.

April 15

watched episodes 75-78  which take place in Botswana and Zimbabwe

Really enjoyed the kind man who went ahead to get petrol for Noraly when she was running low in her last kilometers in Botswana.

Loved seeing Victoria Falls, the warthogs, and Noraly buying, cooking, and trying mopane worms in Zimbabwe!

April 16

watched episodes 79-81 which take place in Zimbabwe

Saw caves and blue water, mountains. Noraly was in the capital looking for US dollars.

April 21

watched episodes 82-84  which take place in Zimbabwe

Extremely muddy roads, a lovely waterfall, banana and tea plants. The Zimbabweans were so friendly, and we saw many of them along the road as she traveled.

April 27

watched episodes 86-87 which take place in Zimbabwe and South Africa

Saw some impressive ruins in Zimbabwe and then Noraly headed back to South Africa as she ran out of countries she could visit aside from Mozambique which had ISIS activity in the north of the country. After meeting with James Alexander a few weeks back, she looked into rally racing, and decided to be part of that although not the formal racing part.

So, she headed back into South Africa, had her friend Mandy help drive her and Savannah (her motorcycle) to the starting point.

We watched the video where she recapped her ride through southern Africa, and then the first three videos of that Kalahari Rally series (there are 9 of those). We saw her getting ready for it (driving there with Mandy; getting her bike inspected; she showed us other bikes and some cars racing there). Then we saw the Super Special and Stage 1 legs of the race which are across a part of South Africa that borders Namibia and Botswana. I liked seeing people along the route watching the race.

April 28

watched Stages 2 and 3 of her Kalahari Rally series which take place in South Africa

April 29

watched Stages 4-6 of her Kalahari Rally series plus her Season Finale which take place in South Africa and the Netherlands

In real life, this series ended in October 2021, I believe, and I noticed Noraly started posting videos from Season 6 a few weeks later. Season 6 is where I was first introduced to Noraly so I've watched most of her videos from her times in the US and Canada, but there are many I missed from where she started Season 6 in South America and traveled towards the US. I look forward to seeing those soon.

In the meantime, as I type this on April 30, 2023, Noraly has been absent from her YouTube channel for nearly two weeks as she was taking a break, getting work done on Alaska, figuring logistics and so forth for the next leg of her Africa adventure. In Season 7 so far, she's taken us through parts of Morocco, the Western Sahara/Morocco, Mauritania, and over the border into Senegal. Last we heard from her, she was in Dakar.

April Books


The Perfect Daughter by DJ Palmer -- Grace is stunned when her teenage daughter is arrested for murdering her birth mother. Penny is hospitalized due to her dissociative identity disorder (DID), and Dr. Mitch does his best to figure out if Penny - or one of her alters - is guilty. Pretty interesting and informative since I wasn't very familiar with DID.

Where are the Children? by Mary Higgins Clark -- I saw on the online catalog that the library would soon be getting a book with a similar title and it mentioned this book which I decided to read. It was kind of interesting reading a book where those leaving the US for Canada in order to avoid the Vietnam war was a current event. Nancy's children are missing and the Cape Cod town that she fled is finding out that this happened to her before. Did she create a new family only to murder her children again?

Survive the Night by Riley Sager -- After the murder of her best friend, Charlie is ready to go home mid-semester, and amazingly (stupidly??) accepts a ride through a university ride-share option with a strange man. Because she quickly sized him up and thought he looked trustworthy and not like a murderer. While on their trip from New Jersey to Ohio, Charlie finds out things about Josh that make her suspect he's lying about his connection to the university, and makes her suspect she won't get out of this alive - unless she can kill him first.

Maybe In Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid -- This book starts with Hannah Martin on her way from New York City to Los Angeles where she grew up and is returning because all the other places she lived so far just haven't felt quite right. Early on Hannah has the choice of staying with Ethan, her long, lost love, or going back to her best friend Gabby's house. Then the book has alternate chapters about her choosing Ethan over Gabby and vice versa. I've read another book or two that had this design and it is pretty entertaining and different.

Any Other Family by Eleanor Brown -- Imagine a couple who had four children - a single girl, boy-and-girl twins, another single girl, and because this couple can't keep their children, they have kept the children together by having the three families who adopted their children get together regularly as if they are one big extended family. Did you follow that?!  Tabitha (mom to the twins) hopes to create what she didn't have growing up - a family who do adventures together, sisters to enjoy while Ginger (mom to the oldest girl and an introvert) finds it oh so overwhelming at times. Elizabeth (mom to the youngest) who struggles with her infertility, realizes she's not really loving being a mother after all. Maybe the universe was trying to tell her something all those times IVF failed and she miscarried!  A different book, but pretty interesting.

Choosing Africa: A Midlife Journey From Mission to Meaning by B. Susan Bauer -- After serving in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, for eleven years, the author and her husband, a Lutheran pastor, decide to take a sabbatical and serve at a Lutheran seminary in Africa. They are sent to Namibia which has a high concentration of Lutherans due to past German and Finnish missionaries. The Bauers enjoyed their three months there, and later decide to do a longer-term stint.  My mom read this awhile back (November 2021) and enjoyed it so I had it on my "to read" list. I love when I saw that they were in Namibia because Andrew and I are currently watching Season 5 of Itchy Boots when she went to southern Africa after the covid lockdowns were lifted in some of those countries. Anyway, she is currently in Namibia - and has been for several episodes - so as I read about the Bauers' adventures, I was like, "yeah, I've heard of this city or this feature of the desert, or that animal" or "I can totally picture that desolation that you mention because I saw it in Noraly's videos just last week!" 

Three Days Missing by Kimberly Belle -- Kat's son is on an overnight camping trip with his classmates when a police officer shows up at her door informing her that Ethan is missing! Meanwhile Stef, the mayor's wife, gets a phone call about her son, the intended kidnapping victim.

The Tuscan Child by Rhys Bowen -- After her father dies, Joanna is cleaning out his home when she finds some curious things from, she suspects, his time in Italy during the war. She knew he'd been a pilot who was shot down, but didn't know the details. While in Italy, she meets people whom she hopes have answers for her. This book alternates between Joanna's story and her father, Hugo's, time in Italy and back in England.

The Stranger Inside by Laura Benedict -- When Kimber returns home from a lake retreat, she is stunned to find that all of her locks have been replaced and someone is living in her house. He says she signed a lease for him to rent it for six months, and has a copy to show the police. As Kimber tries to figure out what has happened, she enlists the help of her ex boyfriend who is a lawyer, Gabriel, as well as some other people in her life. Pretty good.

The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz -- Jacob Finch Bonner had one successful novel, but when he finds writing another good book is, well, difficult, he takes a job where he meets aspiring writers. In comes Evan Parker who has a fantastic plot twist, and years later Jacob looks for Evan's book, but instead finds that his former student died a couple of months after they met. Jacob decides to use Evan's plot for his own novel and it is a runaway success! But...then he starts getting messages about knowing this story was stolen. I rather liked this book.

Little Paula by V.C. Andrews -- Faith and Trevor were adopted from foster care. Though they weren't biological siblings, they became a family and were raised as siblings. Their Mama was very influential in controlling them while she was alive, and even after she was dead because Trevor thought Mama talked to him. Anyway...this book was different. Little Paula is their daughter who was sold to a rich couple in town. Faith and Trevor make plans to get her back.

Think of Me by Frances Liardet -- I read this book while alternating with a bigger Bill Bryson book so this took longer to read than it should have. James is a vicar who served as a pilot in World War II. While in Egypt, he met Yvette, an Alexandrian, whom he later married. This book alternates between Yvette's story - that which she journaled before her death from leukemia when she was in her late thirties - and James in current times (actually the mid-1970s.) Pretty good story.

Made In America by Bill Bryson -- This is dubbed "an informal history of the English language in the United States" and was a nice mixture of U.S. history and how different aspects like our founding, place names, military, sports, radio, TV and such contributed to the language we speak today. This book was amusing in spots because it was published in 1994 and a few things have changed since then. Like the author concludes the book with something about how much the average American household has now. Included were two telephones (landlines, no doubt) and a VCR! Also he discusses shopping malls in a way that malls were back then: as in, still existing with anchor stores.  I don't know about you, but in my experience, most of those malls are not thriving. And something not mentioned: online shopping which is likely one reason malls and even stand-alone department stores have faltered in the last decade or so. I enjoyed much of this book and even shared some of it with Andrew. Also I took a picture of one paragraph to send to an American friend who lives in the Netherlands. She had recently commented on a Facebook post about her getting marked down for using "tidbit" instead of "titbit." She (and I) had never heard of titbit, but this book mentioned that, and Sarah said it was "fascinating" to learn.

The Hidden Man by David Ellis -- Jason is a lawyer asked to defend a childhood friend who is up for murder. One problem is, Sammy's trial is in a few short weeks, and the person who hired Jason said he couldn't ask for a delay of trial. This person - who goes by Smith - also has very strict instructions and how everything should go down. Decent book. Not a favorite, but not terrible.

The Sweetgum Knit Lit Society by Beth Patillo -- When Eugenie, the head librarian, finds Hannah has torn out pages from a book, she punishes her by having her help clean the library and join the handful of town ladies who meet monthly for their knitting/book club. Esther, Ruthie, Merry, and Camille aren't quite sure about this troubled teen being part of their group. This was a sweet, easy read. One my mom recommended.

Welcome to Lagos by Chibundu Onuzo -- A couple of Army guys along with a runaway wife, a teenager who lost her family, and a militia man somehow come together and make their way to Lagos where adventure awaits as they try to survive in this Nigerian city.  A bit confusing at times, but interesting in learning a bit more about this African country.

The Writing Retreat by Julia Bartz -- Alex is thrilled when she earns the opportunity to go to a four week retreat hosted by her favorite author, Roza Vallo. Unfortunately her former best friend is also there, but Alex is determined to enjoy the retreat anyway. She enjoys getting to know the other ladies, but then it gets weird when one of them goes missing and the others find her identification - and she's not who she says she is.What is going on?

Saturday, April 1, 2023

March Books


The Retreat by Sarah Pearse -- I read about this English detective, Elin, in this author's debut novel. This time Elin is called to an island that the locals avoid due to its sketchy past. Elin is investigating a murder, but while she's there another murder takes place. Meanwhile travel influencer Jo is traveling to this retreat with her sister, cousin, and a couple of their boyfriends.

The Dressmakers of Prospect Heights by Kitty Zeldis -- Bea uproots her life to move from New Orleans to Brooklyn, New York, after a detective is certain that he's traced the daughter she gave up for adoption over twenty years before. Alice, the girl she's raised for years, is puzzled why they have to move so suddenly. Meanwhile Catherine and Stephen are hoping for a baby, but that dream eludes them. Pretty good story.

The Sisters of Sea View by Julie Klassen -- The first in the "On Devonshire Shores" series. When their father dies without a male heir - and you know how those entailed estates go with hereditary requirements - Mrs. Summers and her four daughters have little choice but to open their house as a guesthouse for those wishing to visit Sidmouth. This alternates between the sisters, mostly Sarah, Emily and Viola and their houseguests. I like these types of books if I can keep all the characters straight so I enjoyed this book.

Shadow Creek by Joy Fielding -- Val is ready to spend some time with her friends in New York City while her teenage daughter Brianne heads to the Adirondack mountains for a camping trip with her father and his fiancée, Jennifer. Only Evan doesn't show up on time and somehow Val and her friends end up in the mountains with Brianne and Jennifer. Weird, I know. Well, then some folks are murdered and people go missing and, yeah, it was quite a mystery.

Run Time by Catherine Ryan Howard -- Adele is a former Irish soap star who escaped her country due to some humiliating work-related things. She is in Los Angeles auditioning for commercials when someone from Ireland calls asking her to have a lead role in a horror film. This book alternates between the set in a heavily-wooded area, and the script... why are there so many similarities between the two anyway?

Code Name Sapphire by Pam Jenoff -- After Hannah flees Germany for Cuba, but is denied entry, she makes her way to Belgium where her cousin Lily takes her in. Eventually Hannah helps the Resistance despite the risk of involving her cousin and her small family. This book also is about Micheline and her brother Matteo. Pretty good.

The Couple at the Table by Sophie Hannah -- A whodunit mystery surrounding a lovely, couples-only resort in England. Lucy is there with her fiancé Peter, but also in attendance is her ex-husband and his new wife, the latter couple being on their honeymoon. Awkward! But when the new wife winds up dead, yet everyone seems to have an alibi or are excused due to forensics ... what in the world happened to Jane?

The Family Game by Catherine Steadman -- Harriet Reed is an English novelist engaged to an American from a super-rich family in New York. When she's finally invited to meet the Holbeck family, Harry (as she's called) is dismayed at her soon-to-be father in law giving her a cassette tape that sounds like a confession of murders. Pretty interesting story.

The Curator's Daughter by Melanie Dobson -- Hanna is a museum curator tasked by the Nazis to record what has been collected so that it can be hidden and protected before the Allies bomb Germany. Years later her daughter, Lilly, is up in years, living in Massachusetts, and wondering about these flashbacks and nightmares she has from her childhood. Ember is on a quest of her own, and travels to Nuremberg to hopefully find some answers.

You Will Never Know by S.A. Prentiss -- Jessica wants to improve her chances for advancement, but is the worst bank teller at up-sells. Meanwhile her husband Ted's real estate business is struggling. What else could go wrong? How about her former sister in law having her investigated in her first husband's death plus...oh yeah, her daughter Emma and stepson Craig disappeared for a few hours the night one of their classmates was murdered. Huh.

The Transformation of Things by Jillian Cantor -- I usually don't care for books that have a lot of dreams, but this one was pretty good. Jennifer is at the salon getting her hair washed when news breaks that her husband, a judge, was indicted for bribery. She had no idea he was in trouble, and thus begins a book about how her country club friends react to her new status, especially when she refuses to leave her husband. Meanwhile she visits her herbalist and, whew, those new herbs are relaxing, but sure do cause vivid dreams - that seem to predict the future.

Our Last Goodbye by Shirley Dickson -- May Robinson lost her mom in a tragic accident while they were out in the dark one night during World War II. I could relate to some of the pangs of grief throughout this book, especially perhaps in chapter two. Even the part about someone being gone just about five months and how you avoid people offering compassion sometimes and all. Well, I just related to some of that. Anyway, May decided to train as a nurse, and I enjoyed her time with the other nurses and the patients. A few times I lost the train of thought, but overall, I enjoyed this book. I was even looking up the Geordie accent because of it.

The Picture Bride by Lee Geum-yi -- this book was translated from Korean by An Seonjae, and the note at the end of the book explained the translation and something I puzzled about for a page or two.I was trying to keep characters straight and it started talking about Willow, the main character, meeting Julie's mom. So I thought maybe I daydreamed during the part about Julie and missed who that was. Looked back. Nothing about Julie, But then I realized it was one of those things people did in some cultures. Kind of like Arabs who are Abu Samer and so forth, I guess. Though it was translated as "Julie's mom" or "Dusun's dad" occasionally. This book was about a few Korean teenagers who became picture brides for Korean men who had moved to Hawaii around the early 1900s. The book focused on Willow and her new husband though a couple other picture brides made multiple appearances. Pretty good book overall.

An Elegant Woman by Martha McPhee -- A pretty good book though at times I lost who was telling the story. Isadora is with her sisters looking through her grandma Katherine's (also known as Thelma (her real name) or Tommy (her childhood nickname)) belongings after her grandma's death. Tommy and her sister's upbringing was difficult with a mother who went to teach in remote areas, but left her little girls to fend for themselves. Tommy did her best raising her sister Katherine. Oh, yeah, when The Original Katherine graduated from school, she changed her name to Pat and went to Hollywood while Thelma (better known as Tommy) used Katherine's school records to win a spot in New York to begin nursing school. So that's how Thelma/Tommy became Katherine. Whew.

The Widow by Kaira Rouda -- Jody is a Congressman's wife who loves all the happenings in D.C. and the perks related to her position. Yet when her husband doesn't toe the line, she's not totally sad about his demise. Meanwhile Mimi, their mutual friend from law school, has her own say in things. Quick read, and pretty good read on a lovely day!

The Personal Assistant by Kimberly Belle -- Alex is a social media influencer, but when one awful post goes viral, she's trying to control the damage to her image. Except her assistant AC is missing. Is the lady in trouble or is she behind this damaging post? Pretty good book from a new-to-me author.

East Winds by Rachel Rueckert -- "A Global Quest to Reckon With Marriage" ; I saw this book on Myrna's blog last year, and decided to put it on my Amazon Wishlist. The author grew up in a Mormon household where her parents were divorced. I used to think divorced Mormons were rare, but she claims it's not that much below the national average so I guess there are more of them than I expected. Possibly due to her upbringing in a split household with a mom who badmouthed her when she decided to live with her father due to his home being closer to her work (and she was fifteen and unable to drive at the time), Rachel has major issues with the thought of marriage (especially since Mormons believe marriages that have been sealed are forever) and what will be expected of her (homemaking, babies, no traveling on a whim.) But when she meets a guy, Austin, who seems okay with her thinking and her fears - and who loves her, they marry and take a trip that she'd saved for. And this is no ordinary trip: it's practically a year of honeymooning while traveling to a bit of South America, parts of Asia, and along one path of the Camino de Santiago. While in these places, she talks to people about marriage in their cultures and constantly questions her own thoughts of marriage and if she'll change her mind about being married to Austin (which that part was a bit tiresome to me after about 200 pages.) Otherwise, this was a pretty interesting story. I especially enjoyed reading about the people she met on the European pilgrimage and her experiences - like wearing sandals while hiking in the snow! Also, jeans. On a thirty-something day hike. Maybe I'm just weird, but I rarely see people hike in jeans, but maybe this is a southern oddity.

What Lies in the Woods by Kate Alice Marshall -- Naomi returns to her hometown where as an eleven year old, she was attacked in the woods. Pretty good.