Operation Oysterhood: 26 July

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

— @HaggardHawks

When life gives you lemons, eat them!

My dear friend Helen gave me a jar of her pickled lemons when I saw her last time. They are beyond delicious. These are the kind of lemons that I want from life.

I put in a full day’s work today, and I feel like I have let myself down. I did what I’d promised a while ago that I would, so I did not let somebody else down, but this being on leave is not exactly working out for me how I’d imagined it would … The one thing I did do for myself today was to listen to another Meditative Story in the early morning. And, in the evening, I cooked a really nice dinner for my love and for myself.

But my cheeks are sore again, my OCD and anxiety are through the roof, and I am edgy, distracted in ways where I feel simply lost. Who is this person, tying up her hair in a braid, then in in a bun, all tightly out of the way, so that she feels at least a little bit in control?

The worst about all of this is that, even in good moments, the lack of emotional resources to deal with most things is constantly under the surface of the everyday, ready to erupt. And this at a time when one of the most incredible dreams of my professional life is about to come true. I am bursting with excitement to announce it, but it has to wait a while yet. All I should be doing, though, is wallowing in happiness and pink bubbly (especially now that it can actually be bought for the first time in a month!). But that’s not how depression works …

And my lovely Salieri is getting stronger and more independent again every day. In the last twenty-four hours, she has had the first night and day that she did not require any assistance with eating. And she did not even spend the night on the bed with me. She has been quite clingy since she became ill, but now she is doing more and more of her own thing. It is such a huge relief.

Sadly, the horrible news reached us today that a little dog whom we really liked was brutally killed by another one. The dog’s human family is devastated, and so am I. I did not know her well, but whenever I visited her home, I was always welcomed with the friendliest of smiling tails. I am going to miss her, and I can only imagine how her family feels about her tragic death.

The relentlessness of it all.

Here is a song we played this weekend that I love, especially the bits where Roy Orbison signs (the voice!): “The Traveling Wilburys – Handle With Care”.

Last Week Tonight is back …! Off I go to watch in 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: 24-25 July

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

— @HaggardHawks

Meditating with The Cats

My counsellor recommended that I try meditation. I have been curious about it for years, but never had an opportunity to explore. Because I am a writer, she thought that Meditative Story might be a good place to start for me. This morning, I finally gave it a go and at random chose the perfect episode: “Learning resilience from earth’s edge, by Tony Tjan“. It resonated on many levels and I and The Cats really enjoyed the half hour we listened to Tony Tjan’s story.

I have done some reading this weekend, and spent time with my love. Together, we had a socially distanced lunch with dear friends who have been through much pain lately and are somehow surviving despite impossible challenges. We had a wonderful meal with them and listened to some great music and just basked in one another’s company. It was our first meal with friends in a month.

I watched the first episode of “Reyka”. I am not so sure about all the ‘artistic’ camera work, sound and lighting – it feels overdone, artificial – but the characters and the plot are intriguing, so I will continue watching. Local is lekker, after all.

And it’s Level Three again. I wouldn’t mind getting myself a bottle of pink Miss Molly sometime this week and I will see a few friends socially again, but preferably in their gardens or on their stoeps, or mine. I can’t wait to be fully vaccinated and to be able to meet with people without fearing for their and my own life.

I haven’t gotten into the Olympic spirit yet, but I will work on it soon. I did enjoy this from Dulcé Sloan: “Dulcé roasts the Olympics opening ceremony”.

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 23 July

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

— @HaggardHawks

My love got his second jab today, and the relief is gigantic. We went out to breakfast to celebrate. Our first restaurant visit in nearly a month. We have been supporting local restaurants with takeaways as much as possible during level four, but it was so good to just order the food, sit down and have it.

We also had good literary news on two different fronts. And my love had a bottle of bubbly to celebrate the whole day of positive vibes at dinner. After all the challenges, sadness, loss, relentlessness of the past few weeks, today was simply a good day. Salieri needed help with food only once. And the sun came out to say hello, too.

I did wake up in the night, freezing, and had to put on the electric blanket to fall asleep again, but seeing snow on the mountains while running errands all around the Cape today made up for the cold (Topolino’s heater kept me warm). I did not feel on leave at all today, but the work did not bother me – and that in itself is a sign of healing.

Thank you.

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 22 July

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

— @HaggardHawks

Bloody loadshedding. Fortunately, only for an hour tonight, and I had a plan: I just got into a hot bath with crocheting, a generous glass of wine, a crime novel and popcorn. Glinka sat on another chair next to the bath and kept me company by candlelight. Then, when the power came back on, we had a long Skype chat with Austrian family.

My love was here for coffee in the morning, and in the afternoon, I visited a dear friend whom I haven’t seen for ages. She is now fully vaccinated after surviving Covid-19.

I managed to read a bit this morning and in the bath. Not for long both times, and a bit here and there, but it wasn’t bad.

And Salieri needed help with her food only once during the entire day. What a relief that she is almost eating on her own. She also played with a toy and explored the garden in between rainfalls. All those ordinary things that seem like miracles nowadays. I am infinitely grateful for every little step of her recovery.

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 21 July

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

— @HaggardHawks

Today’s rainbow wishes. There is really only one thing that I really want right now, for my loved ones and for myself – HEALTH.

My second session with a counsellor and a long postponed visit to the oral hygienist – thus, a morning of self-care. It felt comforting.

Salieri is stable, still needs some help with her eating, but the improvements in her well-being are obvious and her test results revealed that the plan the vet suggested for her recovery has every reason to succeed.

A friend who had recently recovered from Covid-19 shared a bottle of bubbly with me in front of her fireplace this afternoon. It was amazing to see her and to know that she is well, also to know that we can do no harm to each other. But we still sat far apart just in case. AND WE HAD BUBBLY IN FRONT OF A FIREPLACE. It was truly special because it felt almost normal.

Afterwards, I had dinner with my love. And the fireplace at his house kept us and his cats warm. I am now writing in front of my own fireplace, with Glinka next to the fire, Salieri on the warm bed and Mozart – being Mozart – in his outside nest. I tried to entice him to be with us in the warm room, but he loves his independence more than warmth.

My brother is moving back to Salzburg, our university town, and I saw today that KLM is flying to Vienna for just over R7 000. Mom is fully vaccinated, and my brother and I will be soon, too. The idea that I might be able to go and visit them soon feels like the best of magic.

I just need to work a little bit more on self-care. Talking to the counsellor, I realise that I really have to take care. The alternative is not pretty.

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 20 July

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

— @HaggardHawks

I am still on leave – mostly – but not exactly having much rest with all the feline worries and no headspace to even read properly for pleasure, but for half an hour today, I really loved being back on the job, delivering The Skipper’s Daughter to her author, Nancy Richards. More than three decades in the making, the book tells the story of a truly remarkable woman, Nancy’s mother. At the age of sixteen, she went to sea with her father. The year was 1938 … Now, her tale in book form is ready for its maiden voyage. May it sail straight into readers’ hearts!

Today, her story makes me think of Wally Funk. Another amazing adventure.

I am all for advancing knowledge and horizons, but I would love it to happen simultaneously with the advancement of the rights and working conditions of Amazon warehouse employees.

Anyway …

Salieri is beginning to eat almost without help. She is obviously feeling better. But I feel like a helicopter cat mother, watching her every step with either overwhelming anxiety or relief, often at the same time. Her shaved tummy is turning a beautiful, healthy pink and I kiss it daily with gratitude.

Nearly six hundred people passed away because of Covid-19 in SA in the last twenty-four hours. I can’t wait for 27 August, the date of my second vaccine shot, needle and all. Two weeks later, my chances of getting through this nightmare disease, should it touch me, will become much, much higher. Mid-September, health-wise, I will be safer than I have been in the last sixteen months … Imagine!

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 19 July

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

— @HaggardHawks

Do I understand this correctly: all this time, Zuma does everything he can to stay out of court, and now, he is actually applying to get into a court? Will there be no end to this man’s delaying tactics?

When in doubt, make fire. Mozart and I braaied for my love tonight. Yes, I was wearing my PJs and a winter jacket – the latest in stoep fashion for crazy cat ladies.

Salieri had an unexpected rough night again. She started vomiting at around three a.m. – first time in two weeks. Fortunately, we were seeing the specialist vet today in the morning anyway and he explained what was happening. She had to endure another set of tests and the vet had to endure a full hour of my questioning, but he was very understanding and took the time to explain all options and possible consequences. Salieri was very brave throughout, but we came home exhausted, emotionally and physically. She has been relatively well for the rest of the day. The test results should come in at the end of the week (a lab in KZN has been affected by the events of last week and some things are taking longer even on the veterinary front). We have a plan outline on how to move forward, but details will follow after the test results are in.

While we wait, I try to spend as much time with her as possible and to keep her warm.

Good night.

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 18 July

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

— @HaggardHawks

A day of resting and recuperating. My love and I started watching Mare of Easttown. Great beginning; I am hooked.

Tomorrow is our next appointment with a specialist vet. I have many questions and a lot more hope. To feel less afraid, I had a look at some of Salieri’s kitten photographs that featured on this blog quite a long time ago.

Note that Salieri already understood Olga Tokarczuk’s greatness when she was a kitten (fourteen years ago!). She read Sunday newspapers, studied the thesaurus, and together with Mozart assisted with the writing of my PhD thesis at a very tender age.

She needs to write many more chapters of her life, and the vets and I have to make sure that she gets to share her purring stories.

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 17 July

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

— @HaggardHawks

My days: between cat care and self care. Both are not easy, but we are making a little bit of progress every single day.

Today was the first day of calm (apart from my alarm going off when we were supposed to be sitting down to lunch at my love’s house – no break-in, alarm worked, but lunch was postponed because I had to check up on Salieri and the house). The sun was lovely, balm for the soul. In the late afternoon, I was back in my own garden with all three Furry Ones and for a few moments everything seemed almost ordinary again. Almost.

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 16 July

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

— @HaggardHawks

Someone who loves me very much encouraged me to go to the CTICC and get my Covid-19 vaccine as a walk-in. I have become quite weepy lately, but I think I would have had tears of joy and relief in my eyes today one way or another. The sense of taking the first step towards safety – away from suffering and potentially dying because of Covid-19 – was so empowering and overwhelming, I still feel the excitement of it all. And: I. HATE. NEEDLES. (The nurse administering my vaccine was very understanding and made sure that I did not see the needle at any stage.)

The Vaccination Centre of Hope at the CTICC is extremely well organised, and fair. Older age groups and people with appointments are prioritised, as it should be, but the long queue of young walk-ins kept moving along nicely, too. I arrived at 10.20AM and was free to go home at 12.20PM. Best queue EVER (and I grew up in Communist Poland, so I have quite a lot of experience).

And somehow it felt right to experience the magic of the vaccine at the CTICC, a place where many happy literary memories had been made during book fairs of the past, and more recently, where many lives had been saved when the Convention Centre became a hospital. Now, it is a Vaccination Centre of Hope and that is exactly how it feels.

That moment of the needle going into my arm was one of the happiest of my life.

Thank you City of Cape Town, Discovery and all the amazing, friendly and efficient staff of the Vaccination Centre of Hope.

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

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

— NICD