Operation Oysterhood: 26 January

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

— @HaggardHawks

My love knows how to brighten my day :)

The manuscript mystery deepens. A woman who lives in my neighbourhood, a few streets away from my home, rang the bell this morning and delivered a card addressed to me that she found in her postbox – the card which accompanied the manuscript which disappeared from my property during the weekend … The thief decided to keep the manuscript, but discarded the card – into this woman’s postbox …

I was asked for a shout for a book that will be published later this year and I delivered the shout today, very excited about the publication. I can imagine that the book will cause a bit of a stir in certain parts of the literary community.

I had a really bad night, but work started anyway just before seven and by four-thirty my brain refused to function, so I gave up and swam and then lighted a fire and braaied steaks my love bought for our dinner. Now, I am already in bed, full of hope for some decent sleep.

But how does one sleep with another horror milestone passing: 100 000 Covid-19-related deaths in the UK. And South African excess deaths during the pandemic are at around 85 000 already, I read last night when I was awake. I know that one often cannot help being infected with the Coronavirus, and yet I wonder all the time where we would be if we were just a little bit more careful with one another. And sometimes, I feel a strange anger swelling inside and I don’t even know exactly where it is coming from. My cheeks are sore.

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 25 January

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

— @HaggardHawks

Monday. The fact that I am willing to get up tomorrow in the morning and do this all over again means I have survived. But coping might be only an illusion.

A Karavan Press book had its first ever Afrikaans review in Die Burger today: Let It Fall Where It Will by Lester Walbrugh.

My nose is falling gradually into the keyboard in front of me. Time to rest. 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 January

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

— @HaggardHawks

My love is doing dry January, but he did open a bottle of lovely red for me to drink with my dinners at his place. To get home safely afterwards I cannot drink more than a glass and I am too scared to drive around with a wine bottle, so I took a small takeaway bottle home with me tonight, hidden in my handbag :) It would really be a pity if such great rare wine went to waste when it it is irreplaceable, booze ban or not.

Other illegal activities have been happening on my property this weekend: someone actually stole a manuscript that an author left under my gate for me to pick up. By the time I got home and looked for it, it was gone. Thieves come onto my property and try their luck regularly, but they have never taken anything literary before. I informed the author and he wrote: ‘I rather like the idea of a bergie sitting under the shade of a tree on Rondebosch Common engrossed in my novel.’ I like the idea very much too, but how do we get the reader’s report from the thief?

My love and I had a nice walk around the Common this morning and then enjoyed breakfast at home, scrambled eggs with our favourite bacon. One can get it at Organic Zone or online: Richard Bosman.

I had lunch at The Alma Cafe and picked up a book that The Alma Folks want me to read. I started it during lunch and have an idea that I am going to love it as much as they did.

I did some work today, but it was mainly a day of rest and reading. Tomorrow is going to be intense and the rest of the week also promises to be busy, but I will have one day off: my 44th birthday :)

In the evening, we watched TV and had a simple dinner. Manchester United delivered today! And that winning goal was impressive indeed.

Very good news from the ICU. Covid-19 does not allow for quick recoveries once you end up on a ventilator, but the most important is that eventually you get to go back home. We are all waiting for that day to arrive, when she goes home to her loved ones. May many, many people suffering in hospitals around the world right now get the same opportunity – to go home to their loved ones. And all of us who aren’t in hospital must please do everything we can to stay out of one!

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 23 January

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

— @HaggardHawks

A long hot bath with cold pink wine.

I accidently discovered two bottles of pink wine in the house that I forgot about. My love bought them for me quite a while ago and I put them in an unusual place and then did not remember that they were there. I feel rich. I feel rich in other ways, too, at least all those that matter – it is a richness that sustains me through the toughest times, even if it can’t pay the bills. Today was a tough day, but I can’t complain because, in the end, I spent most of it on the couch next to my love, talking, eating biltong and watching rugby. Really disappointing rugby, but true fans watch even when it isn’t pretty. Western Province lost their last game at Newlands and it definitely wasn’t pretty. No Currie Cup trophy to crown the final season at the legendary stadium.

My bath companion.

My orchids live in the bathroom and they are all thriving right now. Their beauty astounds me every time I look at them.

Not an easy day, but a persistent beauty shining through and it will carry us into many tomorrows.

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 21 January

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

— @HaggardHawks

Fire on the Rondebosch Common earlier today. The area smelled like incense. Closing my eyes, I was back in church during a Catholic Mass. I have never seen a fire spread so widely on the Common in all these years I have been living here. It was contained in the late afternoon.

More editing today. And, literary highlight of the day: a cover reveal!

Truly heartwarming responses to the cover. Nick is not only multi-talented and brilliant, but also beloved by many in the literary community and beyond. It is such an honour to be able to publish his first novel.

I had my own fire at the end of the day. And an alcohol-free beer. I used to have them quite often in Austria when I was meeting with friends and had to drive. The taste is great. And they are freely available, even now.

I braaied chops for my love and moi.

The world feels lighter today. Two people going to work with their staff and we dare to dream of a better future. Humans, not psychopaths, in charge. The end of blatant lies, mass gaslighting and manipulations. And those fireworks! Wow. This still is just The Best:

I love most of the Bernie Mittens, but this one is The One.

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: Day Three Hundred

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

— @HaggardHawks

So, there I was first thing in the morning: at nine (when they officially open on a Wednesday), in front of the Cape Town City Centre SARS office and then, soon after, the Bellville SARS office – all ready to make my contribution to the national efforts of financing the Covid-19 vaccines – but, it seems, the Tax Person does not want my money. I can’t file my tax return online and the SARS branches in Cape Town are closed – despite the fact that one of them has a statement on the door announcing that it “would re-open on 18 January 2021”. The official website has nothing about these closures … No one knows nothing.

Back to the tax drawing board. I am as lost as the government, it seems. BUT! I have an idea, or two. And I have until the 29th to figure this out.

With my tax tail between my little rat legs, I stopped at The Hoghouse to get some comfort food on my way home. Food for the soul.

Salieri kept me company during the coffee and pasteis de nata break.

The rest of the day was spent at my computer editing and watching social media sigh with gigantic relief as the Tangerine Troll left the White House. Thank all goddesses and she-devils of this world!

Glinka catssisting earlier in the day.

Three hundred days of lockdown. No end in sight.

In the evening, my love invited me to another delicious dinner at HARU. We decided to miss the inauguration’s live coverage and will watch highlights later tonight. One can relax that way, now that sanity and decency are moving into the White House. And I just love the idea of the first Second-Gentleman.

After the lovely tea at HARU, I am drinking a homemade margarita to celebrate this monumental day in the world’s history. We might have some positive, calm and sane news coming from the States now. No jaw-dropping scandals with every tweet the President makes. Cheers!

“People have no idea how hard this Cat worked.”

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 19 January

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

— @HaggardHawks

A gap in the night seemed inevitable. But I got up, made hot chocolate (Debbie, if you are reading this: thank you for the delicious hot chocolate!), watched some TV and eventually fell asleep again. The cheeks are still sore, but at least I managed a good swim in the evening after work and spoke briefly to Mom and Krystian over lunch.

Retail therapy also helped. I visited two of my favourite bookshops today. Love my new books!

It was also lovely to see Karavan Press books featured on the shelves of both shops. It gives me a little bit of hope for the press’s future.

Otherwise, editing – mostly – and a successful online meeting about a project I am involved in.

I am hoping that no news is good news from the ICU.

Tomorrow, I have to face the SARS-dragon. A glitch in the e-filling system does not allow my brilliant accountant to submit my documents online this year, so I am heading for the SARS queue in the morning. Pray for me.

Getting my gear ready!

I found two lucky coins today! That must be a good sign of something …

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 18 January

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

— @HaggardHawks

Anxiety levels through the roof. My cheeks hurt for the first time in weeks. I can’t pin down the cause, but the horrible visit to the bank and the fact that I have to abandon any hopes for the planned January rest might be contributing factors.

And the bank visit had almost nothing to do with me. It was in connection with an account that I administer on behalf of an independent entity. We had to complete an administrative change to the account, and emails and phone calls to the bank had proven fruitless in the past, so I went into a branch. There were people going in and out all the time while I had to wait for the changes to be made in a small cubicle with people assisting me who were only wearing face shields and no proper masks – partly hovering over me and breathing all over the place – and I was too desperate for their assistance and too meek to protest. I just wanted the task to be completed and to run. At home, I felt small and useless, because I knew that I should have had the guts to call the branch manager and tell them to do everything in their power to make me feel safe. I was helped in the end, but at a great cost to my sanity.

The rest of the day was about comfort eating (double portion of dim sum for lunch and a braai for dinner) and drinking (I tried out something totally new tonight) and attending to all the planned tasks for today and, sadly, realising that with the additional jobs I have taken on to pay for the accumulated bills, there will be no proper rest for me for quite a while. And, of course, all of it comes with feelings of guilt – because I should not be complaining about having paid work to do. Especially not when that work is as rewarding in so many other ways as mine usually is.

Anxiety, sore cheeks, prayers that I did not endanger myself in that bank … When I manage to calm down and feel a little bit stronger, I will try to write to the branch manager. I hope. Something has to be done – I just hate the fact that I have to be the one to do it. As if I wasn’t busy enough. Other people not doing their jobs properly is a large part of my work burden as it is. Anyway …

I had no time for a swim today :(

Good news of the day: positive report from the ICU, my latest batch of kombucha is beyond delicious (it hasn’t tasted that good for a while), the successful submission of a story for the Caine Prize for African Writing (fingers crossed that the judges will love it as much as I did), some good editing done, and I taught myself to make margaritas! My margarita tonight was as divine as the best I have ever had.

I saw this at EB Cavendish: Buy A Local Corker & Support a South African Indie Press

And this appeared on the blog of The Global Literature in Libraries Initiative, curated this month by Jen Thorpe:

SA Womxn Writers – Day 12: A Reflection on Publishing by Karina Szczurek of Karavan Press

Be kind. Wear a mask (properly!!!). Support local by buying a corker (at Karavan Press, we only have those) from a South African Indie Press.

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

— NICD

Note to self: tomorrow is another day and you will get through it; the night, too (at least there will be no bloody loadshedding between ten and midnight! – the small mercies …).

Operation Oysterhood: 17 January

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

— @HaggardHawks

I swear, Flat Eric ate all the Doritos!

My love and I went out to Grabouw today for some book shopping at the fabulous Liberty Books and a delicious brunch at the Railway Market, both a huge success. I thought that I had all the Harry Bosch novels to complete reading the series, but realised that there was one more missing and I found it at Liberty Books :) There was also Gus Ferguson’s Carpe Diem and Bridget Pitt’s Unbroken Wing. Both asked to come home with me. I don’t say no to books. My love took a photo of me with the literary loot at the bookshop and only realised at home that he captured me with a halo :) I love this photograph.

My love had to work in the afternoon and I just settled on the sofa for some reading. And I actually fell asleep, which is quite unusual for me. We then had a swim and he went back home while I put on my PJs and settled on the sofa again for the rest of the day. I did some editing work on my laptop, but not for long because the day felt like a real Sunday and I just could not bring up the necessary energy and motivation to continue.

I am still on the sofa, watching Man U win tonight. Right!?

Best news of today: someone was waving at the doctors in the ICU today. Thank all goddesses!

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

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

— NICD