Operation Oysterhood: 23 November

OYSTERHOOD is reclusiveness or solitude, or an overwhelming desire to stay at home.

— @HaggardHawks

Glinka always insists on driving when we go for our annual vet appointments …

The working day began at five and ended at five, with three visits to the Blue Cross clinic for check-ups in-between. It was a loooooong day. At five in the afternoon, I decided to call it quits and started cooking a stew (my love is coming to dinner later tonight), and ironing and de-stressing in pure domestic goddess mode.

A lot of work got done today and most of it was fulfilling and wonderful, but I also had to end a professional relationship with someone who was simply not doing their job. Luckily, someone else I work with stepped in to take over and I am infinitely grateful. I burst into tears out of sheer relief that something close to my heart is actually going to happen the way it was planned despite terrible obstacles on the way. And I owe it all to people in the industry who are not only super-creative and hard-working, but who have a heart and will assist in one’s hour of desperation and need. This generosity will not be forgotten.

What else?

My onion seed ‘plantation’ is coming along nicely.

I might actually sleep peacefully tonight …

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

“Physical distancing remains one of the key strategies to curb this pandemic.”

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 22 November

OYSTERHOOD is reclusiveness or solitude, or an overwhelming desire to stay at home.

— @HaggardHawks

It was time to leave magical Elgin and go home this morning, back to the Cats and to work. Progress has been made. At lunchtime, I skyped with Mom and Krystian, and in the evening, my love cooked dinner for me. We watched a bit of TV together, and then I continued with my work until a few minutes ago. Time for bed. May the new week be a bit saner than the previous one. Eternally hopeful …

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

“Physical distancing remains one of the key strategies to curb this pandemic.”

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 21 November

OYSTERHOOD is reclusiveness or solitude, or an overwhelming desire to stay at home.

— @HaggardHawks

Elgin Ridge Wine Estate

When Marion of Elgin Ridge Wines offered to host the launch of Lester Walbrugh’s Let It Fall Where It Will on the Elgin Ridge farm a few weeks ago, I nearly burst into tears. The pandemic has made so many things impossible this year, but for seasoned authors who have had the experience of launching books in pre-Covid times, not being able to gather to celebrate their latest offerings has been sad, but not as tragic as for debut authors who have been robbed of this amazing experience of welcoming their book babies into the world, with family, friends and readers all around them to mark the special occasion. Lester’s short story collection was supposed to be launched at Liberty Books in Grabouw in May, a charming bookshop – one of my absolute favourites in the Western Cape – but with a very limited space inside and simply too risky to contemplate for a launch even at lockdown level one (the publication itself was delayed until November because of the early lockdown). But then, at a dinner party a few weeks ago, Marion heard me lamenting the fact and simply said: ‘Let’s do it at the farm.’ Earlier in the evening she’d been telling us that the only way forward through these impossible times is by supporting one another in any capacity we can, in private and professional lives, and here she was generously practicing what she’d preached. A woman of her word. Christy of Liberty Books immediately came on board to support the venture. And Bettina Wyngaard, like Lester a Grabouw author, who had previously agreed to interview Lester at the bookshop, had no objections doing it on the farm. I will never be able to repay their generosity and astounding organisational skills. The event yesterday afternoon was a success on all fronts: fantastic attendance, insightful interview, delicious Elgin Ridge wines and snacks, great book sales and smiles all around. And to top it all, Lester, who’d spent eight years living in Japan, and set two of his stories there, wore a kimono for the interview! I have attended many, many launches, but this one will stand out for me as one of the most memorable ones of all times. Thank you to everyone who made it happen!

The day of magic wasn’t over yet …

In the evening, my love and I celebrated four years of being together with a candlelight dinner at the little stone cottage we rented for this incredible weekend of love and literature in Elgin.

My heart is full.

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

“Physical distancing remains one of the key strategies to curb this pandemic.”

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 19-20 November

OYSTERHOOD is reclusiveness or solitude, or an overwhelming desire to stay at home.

— @HaggardHawks

Waking up in the Elgin Valley

I lost the plot. I have worked myself into a state of physical exhaustion and emotional paralysis, trying desperately to resolve one obstacle after another and not really succeeding (although an insane amount of stuff got done anyway). That is the reason why I did not post for two days; I just couldn’t think straight any longer.

But last night, after another day of fighting windmills, my love opened a bottle of Hoghouse beer for me, packed me into his car, and together we travelled to the Elgin Valley, where Karavan Press will be launching Let It Fall Where It Will at Elgin Ridge Wine Estate later today.

We had a simple late dinner and opened a beautiful bottle of red and let the tensions of the past few weeks drain away into the Elgin night.

I love this place. My love introduced me to it and we have been visiting here for as long as we have been together, which is four years today! We will celebrate: a wonderful relationship and a wonderful book – the miracles that make everything worthwhile, no matter what.

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

“Physical distancing remains one of the key strategies to curb this pandemic.”

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 18 November

OYSTERHOOD is reclusiveness or solitude, or an overwhelming desire to stay at home.

— @HaggardHawks

Earlier tonight, Joanne Hichens hosted a private launch of her memoir at her home in Muizenberg. Friends gathered to celebrate the author and her amazing achievement. Tracy Going, who endorsed the book with a wonderful shout, kindly agreed to interview Joanne at the function. We all sat around Joanne’s lounge, kitchen and stoep – enthralled!

And earlier today, LitNet published a wonderful reader’s review of Death and the After Parties, written by Barbara Erasmus.

Thank you to everyone who made this book possible, and thank you to everyone who was there tonight to welcome it officially into the world.

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

“Physical distancing remains one of the key strategies to curb this pandemic.”

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 17 November

OYSTERHOOD is reclusiveness or solitude, or an overwhelming desire to stay at home.

— @HaggardHawks

The earth shook for lovers last night, it seems. I slept through the tremors, though, and that’s a good thing. The last thing I want to have to think about right now are natural disasters …

I could not open my eyes this morning. Even the promise of coffee did not manage to get me out of bed. I did sleep for most of the night, but getting up seemed impossible. I was just paralysed in the face of everything that had to be done today. Don’t get me wrong, the to-do list was full of rewarding and wonderful tasks – there were just soooo many of them that I did not know how to begin. Eventually, I just started talking to Glinka to motivate myself and she responded with her usual morning chirping sounds. I took a deep breath and made a plan: shower, coffee, breakfast, easy/short tasks, short walk, more coffee and just one step after the other. I got through the day. For most of the time, I worked in the lounge today, Glinka and Salieri catssisting, and Mozart visiting every now and then to make sure that we were not becoming too lazy.

I am finishing a big archival project that, despite its challenges, is giving me so much joy it is difficult to explain. I will share the good news in about a month’s time, maybe earlier. I am wallowing in literary history like a pig in mud – loving it. But now, after eight hours of it and a few at the computer before it, I am calling it a day and pouring myself a glass of red.

Sad news of the day: Karavan Press’s distributor had to close down today for a few days because of a Covid-19 case. It is a long, difficult road ahead for all of us. Health and a full, speedy recovery for all concerned!

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

“Physical distancing remains one of the key strategies to curb this pandemic.”

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 16 November

OYSTERHOOD is reclusiveness or solitude, or an overwhelming desire to stay at home.

— @HaggardHawks

Elgin, April 2019

I asked Google: how many days since 27 March?

234!

(Just saying.)

How many hours since you sat down at your computer this morning, Karina?

Fifteen. But: there were breaks for lunch and dinner (which my love cooked for me), for watering the stoep plants and all my gorgeous orchids (typical Monday chores) and coffee – always plenty of coffee. And, for most of the afternoon, I had help with my work from my friend Roland. The day felt bearable.

I did not take any photographs today, so the above is one of me segwaying in Elgin last year. This weekend – if/when I survive this week – we will be in Elgin again, celebrating all sorts of wonderful events, including a book launch. Until then: I am chained to my computer.

My legs are swollen, my brain is fried and my cheeks hurt, but I am making progress on all project. And all of them are extremely rewarding.

But now, I need my bed. Good night.

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

“Physical distancing remains one of the key strategies to curb this pandemic.”

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 15 November

OYSTERHOOD is reclusiveness or solitude, or an overwhelming desire to stay at home.

— @HaggardHawks

Early Sunday breakfast with a view at The Bakery on the Jordan Wine Estate was a real treat. I love Eggs Benedict, but not all restaurants know how to prepare the dish in a way that is really and truly what it can be. The Bakery does. Great coffee, too. And right now, a special on their olive oil: buy two bottles (0,5l, cold extracted, extra virgin) for R98 each and get one free. A real bargain! They also sell giant chocolate-chip cookies. We returned home with a bag full of goodies and smiles on our faces.

Despite it being Sunday, a little bit of work had to be done in the late morning, but then it was time for another treat: Sunday lunch with friends and this view …

It was one of those Sunday lunches that turned into a dinner, although we had so much lovely food in the afternoon that we were having bubbly only for ‘dinner/dessert’.

Batteries recharged. I think I am ready to face another week of chasing deadlines. Maybe …

Good night.

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

“Physical distancing remains one of the key strategies to curb this pandemic.”

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 14 November

OYSTERHOOD is reclusiveness or solitude, or an overwhelming desire to stay at home.

— @HaggardHawks

A working Saturday that ended with a feast with dear friends at the Jordan Wine Estate. But it was lots of work first, with Catssistants in support mode from about seven in the morning until about three in the afternoon, and Nadine, as always, watching over my shoulder.

Jordan Wine Estate

I have been here only once before, but the view is simply spectacular, the food and the wines are delicious, and our company last night was The Best. We indulged (as you can probably judge from the time I am posting this …).

The entire meal was a treat from the first to the last bite, but for my starter I chose mussels and they came in this wonderful parcel and tasted like heaven – the best I have ever eaten. Just divine.

We laughed a lot – and it was badly needed after the week we have all had (hellish for all of us for different reasons). Nothing restores one to oneself like loving care and laughter and I am so grateful to have people in my life who always know how to cheer me up, no matter what.

After the indulgence, no one was fit to drive home. Our friends took an uber and my love and I stayed over on the estate. And the bed we slept in had this marvellous furry blanket on it: a comfort in itself.

The blanket made me think of Kristin Lavransdatter (1922), my favourite Norwegian novel, one of my all-time favourites in fact. The author, Sigrid Undset, was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1928. I once sat in her study, at her desk, in her chair – one of the most magical literary experiences of my life.

A day framed by two giants of literature (at least in my head) and filled with friendship, and my love’s love. He does spoil me rotten.

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

“Physical distancing remains one of the key strategies to curb this pandemic.”

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 13 November

OYSTERHOOD is reclusiveness or solitude, or an overwhelming desire to stay at home.

— @HaggardHawks

These goodies from the Hoghouse were supposed to lift my recovering love’s spirits, and they did, but I also profited from the treat big time today. By the time they arrived, my own spirits were low and needed lifting.

A day of unreasonable demands, meetings, tons of work and in the middle of it all a short trip to the printer nearby to pick up some proofs. I parked. A tall, young man wearing a parking attendant’s vest (but no mask) approached the car. The moment I rolled down the widow, he started begging. First for money, then for food. I got out of the car (mistake!) and wanted to direct him to the soup kitchen in the area (which we have all been encouraged to do), but he became aggressive – in gestures and language. Intimidated, completely alone (not a soul in sight apart from the two of us), I gently said: please, I don’t feel comfortable; I cannot help you; please leave me alone. He went off, shouting abuse at me. I picked up the proofs and headed back to Topolino. The young man was back, waiting. I was too scared to properly understand what he was saying, but when I repeated that I cannot help him and started getting into the car, he began once again shouting abuses at me and then throwing things in my direction, hitting the car. Shaking, I managed to get into the car and drive off, with him screaming and gesticulating obscenities behind me.

Turning at the next intersection, I drove right into a road block. I stopped and explained what had just happened to me to the group of policemen next to the road. They promised to investigate immediately. I hope they did, because the next person the young man might have encountered might not have been able to get away … I went to my next appointment with trembling hands. Once the adrenaline wore off, I crashed, and the rest of the day was just a matter of soldiering on. And the whole time I kept asking myself, would this have happened to a man in the same situation? Probably not. I am too tired to be angry.

One of our guests gave me a box of chocolates last weekend. I had them all today and for a while the sweetness of friendship made everything better. In the evening, I had dinner with my love and that made everything better, too.

Today, I feel very vulnerable and it fucks with my mind to try to contextualise my vulnerability within the wider one which I’d encountered today – of existential despair manifesting as violence.

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

“Physical distancing remains one of the key strategies to curb this pandemic.”

— NICD