Operation Oysterhood: Day Eighty

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

— @HaggardHawks

534

Last night was THE NIGHT: a bath. No ice-cold beer, but I did feel peckish, so cheese and olives and bread, a candle, and the brilliant Recollections of My Non-Existence by Rebecca Solnit. I no longer recall how I discovered her writing, but may that day when it happened be blessed. The insight, empathy and kindness in her work are everything that a non-fiction writer could aspire to. I do.

It wasn’t difficult to fall asleep after the warm bath. But I was still awake enough to receive an unexpected text message from someone who’d thought of me because of seeing a frog… I changed phones a few months ago (held on to my vintage Nokia for as long as I could) and have not transferred all the old numbers to the new one, so it was a lovely surprise to find out before sleep who was behind the message.

Even though I am usually an early riser (at least I have become one in the last few years), I did set the alarm for 5:28 (if you are reading me for the first time, you should know that I have a thing for numbers and would NEVER set my alarm for 5:30) to watch the Blues/Hurricanes game live. But I woke up before the alarm because I was freezing! Winter in Cape Town…

535

My rugby buddies and coffee warmed me up and we began the ‘highly anticipated’ live tweeting of the match, focusing on rugby players’ calves, as requested by Nadia Goetham. What else do women in publishing have to tweet about at 5:35 a.m. (kickoff) on a Sunday morning? Nothing. And Nadia did not even show up on time (wise woman!), but I had enough material to amuse myself throughout the two tense halves – or was it calves? – of the match.

I give you the winning Blues captain, Patrick Tuipolotu:

As you can see, hardly anyone can resist those calves, especially not the opposition. Once she was awake, Nadia agreed that the captain was the (calves) winner of the match.

I am keeping my favourite calves (not to be found on any rugby field, but occasionally on the theatre stages of Cape Town…) to myself. And there is the Frog Prince, of course.

Once I returned to bed, the Cat Ladies were in a fighting mood that resulted in a stand-off, with Glinka simply turning her offended back to Salieri. Eventually we all fell asleep and I woke up with Salieri sleeping under my arm. Bless her.

She was very possessive about the book I wanted to read. Short stories by Sifiso Mzobe. It has been a decade since his award-winning debut novel, Young Blood, but anyone who read it at the time will be excited about this latest publication. No wonder Salieri wants to have the book all to herself.

When I returned to it in the afternoon next to the fire, she showed up after a page and I had to read with her on my lap…

Glinka arrived for some literary work, too. She loves having her favourite blanket close to the fire.

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But before we settled next to the fireplace in the afternoon, I was out in the world and went for a long walk along a path with a distant view of the ocean. I miss walking on a beach, especially my favourite beach in Noordhoek, but just seeing the ocean in the distance was soothing. On the way home, I stopped at a fishmonger to get us some fresh fish for dinner. Fresh fish is the only guarantee that I can have dinner with the entire family.

545

I don’t know how they know, but they do, ALWAYS. The moment that fish hits the pan, three Cats arrive in the kitchen and sit quietly satellite-like around me, waiting. I asked the fishmonger for “a very generous portion for one”, not wanting to explain who I would be sharing my dinner with. It all disappeared within minutes of being served. (I also like my fish.) It has been raining heavily this evening, so all three Cats are in the house and now sleeping after “a very generous” dinner for four. I am about to join them. Will catch up on the news and read a bit and fall into Morpheus’s arms.

Two priceless animal videos on Twitter today. One just heartwarming about Honk, the Goose and the human he found to hang out with. The other one is not strictly about animals, but it features The Tangerine Troll and a voice-over by Sir David Attenborough. I know that if it was someone else being made fun of in such a way, I would probably have a problem with it, but when it comes to this vile tangerine creature, I have no qualms whatsoever. Please – PLEASE! – vote him out of power!

Apart from such gems, social media nowadays delivers a lot of rage, confusion, hatred, sorrow… A lot of it understandably so, but there is also a policing (!) aspect to it all that feels completely out of control, and, as always, it comes primarily from the people who consider themselves in power, thus invincible. People are throwing first stones like there is no tomorrow. What frightens me is how mere cheap gestures and empty words are being thrown right after the stones. There is no reflection. No proper engagement. Just an awkward kind of posturing that will probably do more damage in the long run than we anticipate. Personally, I know very little about everything, but I constantly question my integrity to make sure that my heart is in the right place. I cannot stop thinking about consent and complicity. But above all, there is one thing I do know: kindness. Flowing out of an honest heart, it will guide the way. And when it manifests in gestures and words that are filled with compassion, we will all be better off. All of it takes time and work to accomplish. Before the systems, laws and habits can be changed, focusing on the mundane kindness of the everyday is already a step in the proper direction…

Be kind to yourself. Be kind to others. Stay at home. Think about the stones in your hands.

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

— NICD

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