Operation Oysterhood: 14-16 January

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

— @HaggardHawks

Cape Town, summer heat, work, love and adventure – the summary of the weekend.

And we are adding a new word to our pandemic vocabulary: endemic. But, the state of emergency has been extended, so lockdown continues until mid-February, at least.

On Friday, I finished the latest editing project and had a meeting with a fascinating woman. Our encounter involved all these books:

I hope that she and I can work on a great project together. Fingers and toes crossed.

It was impossibly hot on Friday and all I wanted was to get into the pool, but I ran out of time during the day. I did, however, end up in the evening next to the sea, at the Waterfront, in a perfectly air-conditioned restaurant with my wonderful love. PIER is not the cheapest place around, but when you delight in their exquisite food, you know what you are paying for: an experience that is impossible to recreate at home, no matter how good a cook you are.

Saturday during the day was all about reading and continuing with my resolution to clean out the house. This includes the garage. I started the excavation of this terribly cluttered, cobwebbed and dirty space yesterday and finished today. It is now emptier and cleaner than it has EVER been since I came to live in Cape Town in 2005. I even hung up an old painting in the garage, so it is decorated now, too.

I did get to swim on Saturday in the late afternoon and then made my way to my love’s where we watched a transcontinental Zoom wedding in the evening. There was love, a stunning couple, sheer happiness, beautiful wedding vows, laughter and tears of joy (my love was so deeply moved, he cried throughout, blowing his nose and smiling from ear to ear at the same time).

We drank champagne and were content with the world. That’s the magic of love: it multiplies when it is shared (even on Zoom).

Today, my love and I went for a walk on the promenade and I continued with the garage into the afternoon, and then went over to his place again for dinner. And an episode of Survivor 41! We did not know that it was coming, but fortunately the clever TV recorded for us. Great stuff.

I will not spoil my good mood by commenting on a certain covidiot (in this respect I have very similar thoughts and feelings to Oliver Holt). Let me just say that I am very pleased that I will not have to endure his presence on my TV screen in the next two weeks of tennis. I will be cheering for the delightfully named Salvatore Caruso to make the most of this remarkable opportunity. I don’t think I have to name my favourite to win, though :)

Tomorrow, something big begins. It is even written in the stars:

My car is serviced and my bills are paid …

Wish me luck!

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local. Get vaccinated, please. Live.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 12-13 January

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

— @HaggardHawks

When you have children, for the first ten years of their lives they are almost completely, totally dependent on you. Then, they gradually evolve into independent beings who, a few years later, leave the nest and start leading their own lives. When you share your life with cats, it’s the opposite: for about a decade of their lives, they are almost completely, totally independent and free. Then, they gradually need you more and more to keep them healthy and safe.

Salieri and Mozart had their check-ups in the last two days. Some good news, some bad. I am still processing. Salieri’s thyroid is doing really well on the thyroid diet – it is astounding how her test results have improved on this front. But her liver is not in the best of shapes. Some more monitoring is required, and a lot of TLC. The shocker: she might be showing early signs of dementia. Yes, that’s a thing: cats can get dementia.

Mozart’s kidneys are doing partly better, yet not entirely great. But this time, he was much more graceful about the visit to the vet and I knew how to make him feel safe when he got home. He found his way around quite quickly again.

So, I live with one blind, one probably demented, and one feisty old cat. In human terms, they are all in their eighties, so I can’t expect them to be as healthy as they were as kittens. All I can do is try my best to make their last years on this planet as comfortable and meaningful as possible. I love them very much. They deserve nothing less.

Apart from worrying about my Furry Ones, I have been worrying about the humans in my life, but the most important medical news is: our friend is doing well after a quadruple bypass. What a relief! And yay for modern medicine!

What else? I am finally getting to the end of an edit of a book that I have enjoyed thoroughly, but which should have been finished a month ago; I just did not have the necessary headspace to make it happen. But tomorrow it will be done. Thank goodness.

I found and braaied skilpadjies tonight, despite the heat. Delicious. For my love, I braaied chops. That’s the only skill I have acquired during lockdown: I can braai. And I am really good at it :)

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local. Get vaccinated, please. Live.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 11 January

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

— @HaggardHawks

Grabouw to Muizenberg, or Tour des Karavan Press Authors. In Garbouw, I met Lester for coffee and lunch – and bread, which he is now baking and supplying to a few outlets in the area (the bread is as brilliant as his writing – the good news on the writing front is that the rewrites of his forthcoming novel are almost done). In Muizenberg, I delivered copies of Theatre Road to CCFM for a book giveaway; they interviewed Sindiwe about the biography this afternoon. Afterwards, I went to see the new venue of Xpression on the Beach, where you can always pick up a copy of Melissa’s novels. Then I saw Joanne and we discussed a writing project – she always inspires me. In between, I posted and delivered other books to readers, entered Karavan Press books for a literary prize and picked up new manuscripts from the printers. My love prepared a simple but delicious dinner for us, and now, here I am, back home, exhausted but full of stories and delicious seed bread and plain sourdough bread.

Spotted in an archival copy of the Southern African Review of Books (July/Oct 1991), which Joanne’s partner used to edit:

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local. Get vaccinated, please. Live.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 10 January

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

— @HaggardHawks

Is amphora hugging a thing? If it isn’t, it should be: they are very huggable. I had the pleasure earlier today at a wine tasting.

Catherine Marshall’s nomadic garagista days are long behind her. She and her stunning wines finally have a permanent home at CM WINES. We tasted our way through the beautiful range, with all its artistry, purity and liquid joy. I even enjoyed the Riesling, which was actually quite pleasant on the nose (I did not believe it possible).

I think one should start every week with a wine tasting. No matter what else the rest of the week throws at you, you will be able to handle it with a smile on your face. At least that is how I feel today.

We returned to work after lunch, and despite the indulgence, I was very productive for the rest of the afternoon and the to-do list for the start of the week does not look so scary any longer.

What does scare me is that antivaxxers are allowed to get away with (potential) murder.

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local. Get vaccinated, please. Live.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 8-9 January

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

— @HaggardHawks

Sunday evening on my stoep. I can hear the traffic in the distance, but otherwise, here, in the garden, only the olive thrushes are scratching in the undergrowth, and the evening descend in peace.

It was a good weekend. Yesterday, we met very dear friends for a braai and caught up with all their news and hopes for the new year. Afterwards, we dived into the pool. When my love went home, I stayed on with my feet in the water and read and drank leftover French rosé in the late afternoon heat. It was the perfect end to a great day. I watched some TV before I was allowed a long, deep sleep.

Today was more of a working day. I finished reading a manuscript I intend to publish and worked on the edits of another book that is coming in the first half of the year. In between there was Rafa’s successful return to competitive tennis and his 89th ATP title. He acknowledges the global suffering caused by the pandemic and has no problem following the scientific advice or safety regulations that are intended to move us into a brighter future. He is fully vaccinated and recently had COVID-19 and yet he dutifully wears a mask when required – it is a show of respect for others. He is an inspiration on and off the court. And it comes naturally to him. He has no need to ask people to like him. We just do.

The second issue of Everyday Journal is out. I dipped into it this morning. Literary magazines are where so many of us cut our teeth. They are precious incubators of literary talent.

I started reading my first Sally Rooney novel. I am not thrilled with the wooden prose, but intrigued enough by the story to see where it will take me. Rome, it seems …

Salieri did not have an easy day. I had to help her eat throughout the day, but she managed her own dinner and I think that she is feeling better now.

My love and I were too lazy for a walk today, but we did have leftovers supper together and will have an early night. I hope some rain clears the heaviness in the air.

I solved my first Wordle today. Hooked!

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local. Get vaccinated, please. Live.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 7 January

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

— @HaggardHawks

The Waterside Restaurant – our latest discovery. It was a beautiful way to end the busy working week (although I still continued with my work after the divine lunch, but it did not feel too strenuous with all these delicious memories swirling around in my head).

A visit to the vet’s with my love’s cat in the morning. She is not great, but being brave. I am convinced that she has nineteen lives. Salieri and Mozart have appointments for check-ups next week. Today, I followed a writer on Twitter who was asking whether he is the only writer on Twitter without a cat :) I certainly do not know how anybody gets anything done without catssistance.

Loss continues: Sidney Poitier (1927-2022) R.I.P.

I remember watching his movies already when I was a child. A true legend.

Good night.

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local. Get vaccinated, please. Live.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 6 January

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

— @HaggardHawks

HARU

Spoiled :) That’s how I feel. By delicious food consumed in lovely company – for lunch and dinner, nogal!

Had one meal at the Gardener’s Cottage with two inspiring women who have been through hell and back during the pandemic and are still full of love and kindness towards others. But listening to them today, I actually did not know how one survives what they and their loved ones have been through. And when I think what difference the access to life-saving vaccines has made in their lives and in the lives of people they care about, I want to spit in the face of a certain ‘detainee’ in Australia and tell him to F@#$% off.

Hang in there, Australia! You can do it. Yes you can!

Had the other meal with my love at HARU. I am so glad that he is fully vaccinated. Such a huge weight off my shoulders.

Remember how one year ago, on the 6th, Americans lost their minds and stormed the Capitol? These are the other outcomes of mass gaslighting.

For me, the 6th of January has always been associated with my maternal grandmother who celebrated her birthday today. One of my cousins, a dear friend and one of my step-grandchildren celebrate their birthdays on this day. Throughout the pandemic I have been very neglectful of my family and friends’ birthdays, but one of my new year’s resolutions is to remember and acknowledge – at least in a small way – the birthdays of the people in my life. I am a bit out of practice, but will try my best.

Spent the morning in bed with Salieri, reading more short stories by Mick Herron. He is an outstanding short story writer! He really understands the magic of the short form. I love his spy thrillers, but Dolphin Junction might become my favourite book by him.

Salieri and I are working on her weight, and we have gained a little again – huge relief :)

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local. Get vaccinated, please. Live.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 4-5 January

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

— @HaggardHawks

Our friend is in there somewhere, awaiting a life-saving operation. It was good to see him and to bring him books, but also so depressing because he is locked up in a ward with no proper visiting allowed – one can only wave and speak at the gate (“It’s Covid, dude!” he explained in his typical fashion and made me laugh). But he also assured me that he is well taken care of. One thing is certain: his wonderful sense of humour is 100% intact.

I did not write yesterday because, apart from the visit to the hospital (and, typically me, I first went to the wrong one!), a walk and meals, I worked from seven a.m. to one a.m. the next day and was so tired at the end of it that I could not fall asleep. And when I finally did, it was only for just over four hours …

Coffee and Salieri helped me to recover from the zombie state. And the work continued until this afternoon. But the thing I had to finish early this month is DONE. Finally.

Only two days and the world has changed completely: Zandile Mafe, Ray Zondo, the Bogdanoff twins and Novax Djocovid making headlines. The truth will set you free in all cases: show us the Parliament video surveillance; prosecute the state capture crooks; trust the science, get vaccinated and don’t die; and, be strong, Australia, and send the antivaxxer home.

I know that Rafa is in Australia and fit to play at the Open, but I am not sure I want to watch and support a tournament that is so reluctant to set a life-saving example to the world.

Something to celebrate: Sloane Stephens got married on the first day of the year, and today is Siphokazi Jones’s birthday.

And I am going to lie on my TV couch tonight and do nothing but lift a glass of lovely red wine to my lips. My eyes hurt after all the computer work and I am totally monstrual.

Good night.

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local. Get vaccinated, please. Live.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 3 January

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

— @HaggardHawks

I worked. From ten to ten with breaks for lunch, walk and dinner. And I did not even scratch the surface of all the things that need to be done this week. Deep sigh. Crawling into bed … Good night.

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local. Get vaccinated, please. Live.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 2 January

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

— @HaggardHawks

Seeing the Parliament fire today brought all the horror memories of the Jagger Library in flames last year. Ominous.

Finished reading The Dark Flood by Deon Meyer – really enjoyed it! But my name is not Markus. And my fictional naked corpse is not stuck in a freezer. And I do not live in Stellenbosch …

A day of cleaning out old cupboards – one of my new year’s resolutions: to get rid of stuff.

My love and I went for a walk and had dinner while watching the Chelsea vs. Liverpool game. Great first half and probably a fitting result, although I did want Chelsea to win.

I loved Evita’s “Happy 20tutu”.

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local. Get vaccinated, please. Live.

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

— NICD