Operation Oysterhood: Day Thirteen

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



It’s not always about the obvious things, splashed with colour across my imagination’s skies. The little miracles matter too.

After a night of insomnia, the day began with Wild Earth. A giraffe, baby elephants, just a dirt road in the middle of the bush. Inspired by Cathy Kelly. I didn’t know that she was reading me while I was reading her each day, feeling exactly the same about her words as she did about mine. But unlike Cathy, I did look at the news first today. I can’t help it. There is a hunger for news and understanding that is difficult to still now. But, of course, none of it makes one feel better. Baby elephants, however, do.

I watched the Wild Earth live safari feed on my cell phone, first in my night bed in front of ‘Mama TV’, then in the kitchen while making coffee, then in my day bed in the bedroom where I should be every night, but somehow don’t manage. It is good for the soul, the wild. The animals, and the dirt road. Both longed for, both unattainable for now.

Another Instagram account that gives me enormous pleasure is the one of Fynboshoek Cheese Farm and, if you know the story behind Dawn Garisch’s Breaking Milk, you will know why. I remember thinking when I visited the farm in November last year that it would be the perfect place to be during an apocalypse. And so it is. I can still taste the cheese…

I opened two new books this morning. One a debut short story collection by Keletso Mopai, the other one about a name: Chanel Miller.

The short story collection, If You Keep Digging, is one of those that introduces you to a writer that you know you will want to read for as long as she is writing. I read the first two stories and knew. Keletso Mopai, you have got yourself a literary fan!

The last time I felt about a short story writer like this, I asked to publish his work: Lester Walbrugh. We are in the process of preparing his debut collection, Let It Fall Where It Will, for publication at Karavan Press. Some people are natural storytellers with a gift that we, mere mortals, can only envy and delight in.

And Chanel Miller: What a Woman! What a Writer! Reading her story is rough in ways that cannot be articulated before they can find their way from my diary into a manuscript. There are many kinds of violations. But the silences they force on people who survive feel similar. Two simple words capture it all: Me too.

Late morning, I got up and washed my hair and went on my garden loop walk to dry it again, marking each round with a heart, pen on paper, this time. Sixty loops, a good half an hour. Dry hair.

Then my brother and I met on Skype and spoke for a long time. It is actually a miracle that we can ever stop speaking, because we never do when we are in the same room. One of those life-long conversations that I am so grateful for.

The sun was shining and after the clouds and rains of the last few days I needed to bask in the warmth of my garden.

A little miracle in the making – spot the green leaves coming out of their seeds:


If only I could remember whether it was the catnip or the coriander that I planted in this pot. It looks like catnip, doesn’t it?


Salieri and Glinka joined me for the coffee and sunbathing, and we read some more in the light.

When it was time to go in and answer emails and attend to admin, I was overwhelmed by a desire to draw something again. I poured myself a glass of kombucha and took out a few colour pencils and sat down at the kitchen table with a beautiful notebook I have had for years, and I allowed my hand to lead the way on the paper road.

Drawing always makes me think of Magda, a young woman who married into my family many years ago, and who was theoretically my aunt but was roughly my age. She was extremely talented and transformed everything that came her way in reality into visions of beauty. I admired her greatly. She died very young (cancer), but her talent and inspiration live on in all of us who have had the honour of knowing her. Her artworks hang on the wall opposite the desk in my study. I see them every time I look up from my computer. I wish she could have stayed longer.

Loss is change, and change is difficult even when it is for the better. When it is loss, it is tragic.

Be kind to yourself. Be kind to others. Stay at home.

2 thoughts on “Operation Oysterhood: Day Thirteen

  1. Cathy Park Kelly

    Oh gosh! I’ve only just seen this now. What a lovely connection to wake up to. Thanks Karina. Seems I missed this on Wednesday night as I opted to have a long, hot bath with a book instead of gadgets. And I too, love these drawings. (I see my opinion is in illustrious company…Andy Martin! Wow.)


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