Monthly Archives: September 2021

Operation Oysterhood: 17 September

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

— @HaggardHawks

“NOT DETECTED” the message from PathCare said. Just an ordinary cold. What a relief. I never thought I would be so happy to be simply sick.

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 16 September

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

— @HaggardHawks

Catssistant and nurse Salieri

A sweaty night, a scratchy throat and the general feeling of suffering from a mild cold. I phoned my GP first thing in the morning, got a phone consultation, a script, a referral letter and a PathCare form for testing in the course of the next few hours. The pharmacy delivered my medicine and I got a test appointment just after receiving all the necessary documents in the afternoon. When you are symptomatic, you do not get out of your car to get tested, it seems. It was as uncomfortable and quick as always, but it was the first time I wasn’t sure what the outcome of the test would show. I spent most of the day in bed – I managed to do some editing work and admin, but the majority of the time was passed worrying and going through all the possible scenarios of ‘what if’. It’s either a cold or COVID-19. If it’s the former, the doctor said I can simply get better and go about my life. If it’s the latter, I have to isolate until the 23rd, independent of how quickly I recover. Thank goodness for contact-free Mr Delivery. I ordered some really nice food for dinner just to cheer myself up. I can taste and smell everything, which is bliss no matter what. Now, I just wait until the test results arrive. I think and hope that it is just a cold, but I need to make 100% sure, primarily because of the people I had been in touch with two days prior to the onset of symptoms. Sigh. Hope.

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 13-15 September

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

— @HaggardHawks

Salieri (the only work-unrelated photo I took since Monday)

The last three days have been so intense, with so many personal and professional ups and downs, that I did not have the headspace and time to write, but now I am being forced to come to a standstill.

Yesterday, I woke up with what felt like an ordinary allergic reaction. It’s spring and I have many allergies. I often wake up feeling like this during the season. I noted the change, but wasn’t too concerned – yet. Today morning, I woke up feeling different, like my body was fighting off something. In the olden days, I would have said that I might be coming down with a cold. I cancelled a coffee date with a future Karavan Press author, just to be on the safe side. I still delivered books to the distributor, but arranged a contact-free delivery. I worked an ordinary working day. In the late afternoon, my temperature started rising. It’s not terribly high; just worryingly THERE. Tomorrow morning, I will phone my doctor and try to arrange for a COVID-19 test. I informed the three people I have been in contact with two days prior to the onset of symptoms. I asked my love to stay away and isolate until we know more. Apart from all the professional commitments, we have so many lovely plans for the next while … Maybe it is just a simple cold. If it is the dreaded COVID-19, I don’t fear it for myself – I am fully vaccinated and feel confident now that I will be okay – but I am a bit worried about the people I have been in contact with. They are also all vaccinated, but still … I can isolate and wait this out, but others have families and responsibilities that make this much harder. What a bloody nuisance! And I am so sorry that I am causing distress to others.

I have tons of literary news to share, but all of it can wait. For now, I pray.

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 12 September

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

— @HaggardHawks

Rafa’s Instagram post yesterday

I miss Rafa. (I was about to write this sentence when a tennis racket got destroyed on centre court at the men’s US Open final; unsurprisingly, it wasn’t Medvedev’s.) Rafa posted the above photo yesterday. I wish him a speedy recovery.

Tonight, there is only one tennis player I am cheering for. At this stage, it looks like he has the chance to write his own tennis history by winning his maiden Grand Slam title. Any other outcome would be deeply disappointing to me.

A quiet Sunday. Morning rain, reading, rugby, some housework, Skype with my family, dinner with my love. I washed my impossibly long hair. I think a visit to the hairdresser can no longer be avoided.

Tomorrow, we move to adjusted level two. I am hoping for more live literary events, theatre and music. I listened to the President’s announcement while driving home. We have enough vaccines to keep everyone as safe as possible. Theoretically, there is no need to face the fourth wave with any apprehension, but I doubt that all those people who believe the vaccine will magnetise them, will suddenly see the light and join the fight against COVID-19 by getting their jabs.

I’ve been typing between points. Medvedev is two sets up. Only one more to go …

Good night.

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 11 September

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

— @HaggardHawks

Twenty years later and 9/11 is still a near-blank in my memory. Unlike most people, all I recall about that day is a turquoise sea, a balmy breeze and the laughter of friends. We were sailing in Croatia and it was bliss. Two days after the attacks, we arrived at a marina and, still oblivious to everything else going on in the world, in the bathroom, I overheard two German women discussing the possibility of war. Confused, I returned to our boat and told the skipper what I had heard. We went to the boat next to us and inquired of the crew what they knew …

I found a phone card and a public phone and called home, asking whether it would be wise to continue with our trip or return immediately. My family said to sail on, but to keep in touch.

I saw the first 9/11 images on a small satellite TV on another boat in the marina. We sailed on, haunted, and the rest of the trip was a daze. It felt like the world might be ending, and we had the last opportunity to enjoy its wonders. And the world did end. Everything was different when I finally returned home at the end of that week.

Yesterday, CapeTalk’s Sara-Jayne Makwala King spoke to 9/11 survivor Joe Dittmar, who was working on the 105th floor in South Tower when the first plane hit the North Tower. It was an incredibly moving interview and I had tears in my eyes throughout. In the end, still in 2001, I did see the visual footage of what had happened that day and afterwards watched the documentaries and read many accounts, but the events of 9/11 are not locked into my memory the same way they are for people around the world who not only witnessed everything as it was unfolding, but were directly connected to the tragedy or lived through it. Joe’s memories and his way of dealing with the horrors of that day made me think of our present. The pandemic is an ongoing tragedy in which our lives are threatened every day and perhaps one way of coping with the trauma of it would be to have support groups in which survivors can articulate and share stories, like the survivors Joe is connected to still do even twenty years after 9/11.

Yesterday alone, I heard from two friends how tough their reality is right now, what challenges they are facing and what dreams they have had to give up because of the pandemic. My heart breaks a little every day. And every day I wonder how we somehow still get up in the morning and how so many of us can still give to others – in tiny and huge gestures. The resilience that is keeping us relatively functional, despite everything, is astounding. And the onslaught has been relentless for over one a half years. For me, what – or rather who – makes it all possible are the people I share my life with: my family – including The Cats – and friends. Throughout it all, I have never felt abandoned; I have pulled through because of them.

I spoke to another dear friend on Skype yesterday – she recently lost both her parents, and even though it wasn’t because of COVID-19, her grief and the cruel logistics of wrapping up two estates have been compounded by the pandemic. Her fear of losing another loved one is so much greater. And yet, she remains kind and giving and every time I speak to her, I feel grateful to have a friend like her.

I spent most of the day yesterday reading and editing, and in the evening my love treated me to the Spring menu at La Colombe, so the day ended with a divine meal. The new creations that are part of the menu are a true celebration of a new season and allow you to immerse yourself in a feast that delights all the senses.

When so many restaurants have had to close their doors because of the pandemic, it is heartening to see that a few of our favourites are not only surviving, but pushing their creative energies to new levels and flourishing.

I arrived back home just in time for the curfew and meant to write Oysterhood and watch the women’s US Open final, but I fell asleep in the middle of both. I am catching up this morning. The rain is falling, the coffee is good, and The Cats are sleeping deeply on my bed. Later today, I will be skyping with my Family and spending the afternoon and evening with my love. I would be nowhere without my human and feline loved ones.

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 10 September

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

— @HaggardHawks

My love and I walked on the Rondebosch Common this morning. The flowers were huddling in the wind, but they are still out there – very beautiful. Apart from the walk, the day was chaos. Everything and nothing got done. Most of it was good, but I felt frazzled by the late afternoon and there was no time to go shopping or cook dinner, so: HARU to the rescue!

After dinner, my love and I watched our series and had a few really good laughs.

Driving back home this evening, I listened to people discuss their vaccine hesitancy on the radio with a host who tried to stay non-judgmental. And I remembered the news of Denmark opening up today – fully. No more lockdown, any restrictions, no state of disaster. More than 80% of their population above twelve are vaccinated and now the entire country is returning to personal and professional business as usual. We could also have this – it is attainable – and yet, so many believe that horse dewormers might be a better solution …

I wonder whether they need any more writers or publishers in Denmark …?

I am in bed, surrounded by cats, and watching the Auger-Aliassime / Medvedev SF at the US Open with one eye while typing. Good match. And seeing Uncle Toni in the audience brings back many good memories. May he bring the young Canadian lots of luck in the future.

Moi by Dominique Malherbe yesterday in Kalk Bay

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 9 September

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

— @HaggardHawks

We had a very slow beginning to our day today. It was wonderful to go to sleep last night and wake up only when it was morning again. No three a.m. insomnia blues.

Chocolate pastéis de nata from The Hoghouse – divine!

The day was editing, cover design, sunbathing, quick visit at The Hoghouse, a manuscript discussion with a writer whom I would love to publish at Karavan Press and then to crown it all: a live book event!

On Being a Writer in Kalk Bay

It was so heartwarming to chat to other writers and to be surrounded by readers in a space outside a screen. Now that all of us have had the opportunity to get vaccinated and so many of us have had our second jab (all I spoke to at the event), meeting people is so much easier, especially when it is on a beautiful, balmy spring day outside in a garden with a view. We must do this more often! (We might not be able to avoid the fourth wave, but we are so much more prepared now.)

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 8 September

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

— @HaggardHawks

Negative reader’s reports and rejection letters are never easy to write, and I started the working day today by completing and sending one.

Seeing my counsellor this morning was not easy either – stuff does come up – but she always makes me feel better about the world. An amazing human being, brilliant at her job. Facing some of my sad core beliefs is tough, but the process also involves a sense of liberation. The truth will set you free, etc.

“The future tends to occur.” A wonderful piece of dialogue from the series my love and I are watching. I spent the afternoon working at his house and waiting for a delivery while he was at the office. We then had dinner and watched another witty episode.

Great literary news: another Karavan Press title made the longlist of an award – Melissa A. Volker’s A Fractured Land – one of the first two books we ever published. It is so heartening to see that other readers are delighting in the books we bring into the world. Melissa is working on her third novel, but before we get there, her fans have a lovely summer surprise coming their way very soon. Watch this space!

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 6-7 September

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

— @HaggardHawks

Yesterday was a busy and partly frustrating day, but many good things also got done. The problem was, apart from the heavy workload, that I felt worse a week after the intruder invasion than just afterwards. And it also reflected in last night’s lack of decent sleep and today’s impossible headache, but in the end I took some meds and made a fire and allowed most of the tension to burn away in the warmth of the flames.

Today is the official publication day for DISRUPTION: NEW SHORT FICTION FROM AFRICA. A true baby of the pandemic, it came to life under nearly impossible circumstances. But we made it happen and it looks so good. First review is in: Isele Magazine.

I spoke briefly with Mom tonight: my father cut off a significant part of one of his fingers earlier today. The doctors managed to reattach it and, if all goes well, he will be able to keep it, but what a freaky thing to happen to him after decades of working with potentially lethal tools in his bicycle workshop and never hurting himself that badly before.

There are serious rumours of an upcoming family meeting and level two! We have survived the third wave, and now many of us can also face the fourth without fearing for our lives – thanks to the vaccines!

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 5 September

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

— @HaggardHawks

Salieri has not been feeling great this weekend, but she finally had some proper food and is now sleeping peacefully on the bed.

I had a very slow start to the day, getting up and showering only in the late afternoon. I read, watched a recording, did some work, listened to the radio and the rain, and I spoke to Mom and Krystian on Skype. In the late afternoon, I went to my love’s, where we spent the rest of the day together. He cooked a delicious dinner for us. Life’s simple – i.e. most precious – treasures.

Zuma is out on medical parole – surprise, surprise. Sigh. The only questions are: what took him so long? And: is a justice system that allows such abuses of itself still a just system?

But tonight, I will be Scarlett and think about it tomorrow. For now, all I want to wonder about is whether I will be able to stay up long enough to watch Alcaraz Garfia play at the US Open … I am very curious how he will do after the greatest win of his career in the previous round.

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

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

— NICD