Operation Oysterhood: Day Twelve

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



This morning, Salieri and I finished reading Bruce Whitfield’s The Upside of Down, the last physical book I bought at a real bookshop (The Book Lounge) before the lockdown. As you can see, Salieri really got into the book and the title, trying to see the world from the author’s perspective. We both found the “Economy” chapter hard to swallow, especially now, but the book as a whole was highly empowering and inspiring. Our review has been written and will hopefully be published soon. In the meantime, a few quotes:

“We all have biases, whether we know them or not. Just how fixed is your mindset when it comes to South Africa? Take this quick quiz before we move on. Test members of your family… (Don’t cheat. I am watching you.)”

The only family members around were Salieri, Glinka and Mozart, and we DID NOT cheat – that is why we all failed awfully and got only a few answers right. But the book taught us how to think differently, more optimistically about the present and the future and our role in both.

Thinking of Karavan Press, this quote was very heartening: “not one of the dozen or so entrepreneurs I spoke to for this book ever started out on their venture for the sake of the money.” Not one! We salute you all!

And then, this is where the book stole our hearts: “the world is shaped around the stories we choose to tell.”


“Never underestimate the power of stories.” (This in the Acknowledgements.)

If you need one other reason to read The Upside of Down (apart from Salieri’s paw of approval), read it for the Owen Muzambi story.


After horrific nightmares and a long stretch of insomnia that followed last night and the horrible headache that grew from it in the morning, I really needed my coffee. How lucky that my drug of choice is still being delivered to one’s gate? Thank you, kind and smiling Nespresso delivery man! It was amazing to see you, even from a distance.

When my Mom phoned, I was on my third cup and feeling much more human. I told her about the nightmares. I also told my love and my friend Erika. Nightmares are common now; they seem to be a byproduct of the pandemic. So many of us can’t find rest despite relative safety and comfort.


I made an effort at lunchtime and actually cooked something. Also peeled and pitted my beautiful pomegranate, another gift from my love before the lockdown.

On the phone, my Mom reminded me of my potato growing skills. No green fingers, but Slavic blood nevertheless: I have always known how to grow potatoes, even as a child. The last time I had a potato harvest was about three/four years ago. So, I decided to do it again. I have a special big pot in the backyard for the purpose.


Mozart assisted by just being present. He loves building nests, and here is his latest autumn nest in the backyard:

Mozart has taught me resilience and beauty. He refuses to let the fact that he can’t see any longer stop him from leading his ordinary life. He simply adapted, much more easily than I did. We have had a lot of loss in our lives, but we have each other and, together, we somehow always manage to see the upside of every down, no matter how low, no matter how cruel. And we refuse not to thrive, to give up searching for meaning. How to make sense of the present moment? Only time will tell. But there is something unique about the calm that breeds nightmares, the perseverance that refuses to give up against all odds.

Be kind to yourself. Be kind to others. Stay at home. Read inspiring books.

2 thoughts on “Operation Oysterhood: Day Twelve

  1. Cathy

    Hi Karina

    Thank you for these daily musings. They’re a gentle highlight of my inbox every night.

    Wishing you a deep and peaceful sleep.



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