Monthly Archives: January 2022

Operation Oysterhood: 11 January

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

— @HaggardHawks

Grabouw to Muizenberg, or Tour des Karavan Press Authors. In Garbouw, I met Lester for coffee and lunch – and bread, which he is now baking and supplying to a few outlets in the area (the bread is as brilliant as his writing – the good news on the writing front is that the rewrites of his forthcoming novel are almost done). In Muizenberg, I delivered copies of Theatre Road to CCFM for a book giveaway; they interviewed Sindiwe about the biography this afternoon. Afterwards, I went to see the new venue of Xpression on the Beach, where you can always pick up a copy of Melissa’s novels. Then I saw Joanne and we discussed a writing project – she always inspires me. In between, I posted and delivered other books to readers, entered Karavan Press books for a literary prize and picked up new manuscripts from the printers. My love prepared a simple but delicious dinner for us, and now, here I am, back home, exhausted but full of stories and delicious seed bread and plain sourdough bread.

Spotted in an archival copy of the Southern African Review of Books (July/Oct 1991), which Joanne’s partner used to edit:

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local. Get vaccinated, please. Live.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 10 January

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

— @HaggardHawks

Is amphora hugging a thing? If it isn’t, it should be: they are very huggable. I had the pleasure earlier today at a wine tasting.

Catherine Marshall’s nomadic garagista days are long behind her. She and her stunning wines finally have a permanent home at CM WINES. We tasted our way through the beautiful range, with all its artistry, purity and liquid joy. I even enjoyed the Riesling, which was actually quite pleasant on the nose (I did not believe it possible).

I think one should start every week with a wine tasting. No matter what else the rest of the week throws at you, you will be able to handle it with a smile on your face. At least that is how I feel today.

We returned to work after lunch, and despite the indulgence, I was very productive for the rest of the afternoon and the to-do list for the start of the week does not look so scary any longer.

What does scare me is that antivaxxers are allowed to get away with (potential) murder.

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local. Get vaccinated, please. Live.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 8-9 January

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

— @HaggardHawks

Sunday evening on my stoep. I can hear the traffic in the distance, but otherwise, here, in the garden, only the olive thrushes are scratching in the undergrowth, and the evening descend in peace.

It was a good weekend. Yesterday, we met very dear friends for a braai and caught up with all their news and hopes for the new year. Afterwards, we dived into the pool. When my love went home, I stayed on with my feet in the water and read and drank leftover French rosé in the late afternoon heat. It was the perfect end to a great day. I watched some TV before I was allowed a long, deep sleep.

Today was more of a working day. I finished reading a manuscript I intend to publish and worked on the edits of another book that is coming in the first half of the year. In between there was Rafa’s successful return to competitive tennis and his 89th ATP title. He acknowledges the global suffering caused by the pandemic and has no problem following the scientific advice or safety regulations that are intended to move us into a brighter future. He is fully vaccinated and recently had COVID-19 and yet he dutifully wears a mask when required – it is a show of respect for others. He is an inspiration on and off the court. And it comes naturally to him. He has no need to ask people to like him. We just do.

The second issue of Everyday Journal is out. I dipped into it this morning. Literary magazines are where so many of us cut our teeth. They are precious incubators of literary talent.

I started reading my first Sally Rooney novel. I am not thrilled with the wooden prose, but intrigued enough by the story to see where it will take me. Rome, it seems …

Salieri did not have an easy day. I had to help her eat throughout the day, but she managed her own dinner and I think that she is feeling better now.

My love and I were too lazy for a walk today, but we did have leftovers supper together and will have an early night. I hope some rain clears the heaviness in the air.

I solved my first Wordle today. Hooked!

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local. Get vaccinated, please. Live.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 7 January

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

— @HaggardHawks

The Waterside Restaurant – our latest discovery. It was a beautiful way to end the busy working week (although I still continued with my work after the divine lunch, but it did not feel too strenuous with all these delicious memories swirling around in my head).

A visit to the vet’s with my love’s cat in the morning. She is not great, but being brave. I am convinced that she has nineteen lives. Salieri and Mozart have appointments for check-ups next week. Today, I followed a writer on Twitter who was asking whether he is the only writer on Twitter without a cat :) I certainly do not know how anybody gets anything done without catssistance.

Loss continues: Sidney Poitier (1927-2022) R.I.P.

I remember watching his movies already when I was a child. A true legend.

Good night.

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local. Get vaccinated, please. Live.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 6 January

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

— @HaggardHawks

HARU

Spoiled :) That’s how I feel. By delicious food consumed in lovely company – for lunch and dinner, nogal!

Had one meal at the Gardener’s Cottage with two inspiring women who have been through hell and back during the pandemic and are still full of love and kindness towards others. But listening to them today, I actually did not know how one survives what they and their loved ones have been through. And when I think what difference the access to life-saving vaccines has made in their lives and in the lives of people they care about, I want to spit in the face of a certain ‘detainee’ in Australia and tell him to F@#$% off.

Hang in there, Australia! You can do it. Yes you can!

Had the other meal with my love at HARU. I am so glad that he is fully vaccinated. Such a huge weight off my shoulders.

Remember how one year ago, on the 6th, Americans lost their minds and stormed the Capitol? These are the other outcomes of mass gaslighting.

For me, the 6th of January has always been associated with my maternal grandmother who celebrated her birthday today. One of my cousins, a dear friend and one of my step-grandchildren celebrate their birthdays on this day. Throughout the pandemic I have been very neglectful of my family and friends’ birthdays, but one of my new year’s resolutions is to remember and acknowledge – at least in a small way – the birthdays of the people in my life. I am a bit out of practice, but will try my best.

Spent the morning in bed with Salieri, reading more short stories by Mick Herron. He is an outstanding short story writer! He really understands the magic of the short form. I love his spy thrillers, but Dolphin Junction might become my favourite book by him.

Salieri and I are working on her weight, and we have gained a little again – huge relief :)

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local. Get vaccinated, please. Live.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 4-5 January

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

— @HaggardHawks

Our friend is in there somewhere, awaiting a life-saving operation. It was good to see him and to bring him books, but also so depressing because he is locked up in a ward with no proper visiting allowed – one can only wave and speak at the gate (“It’s Covid, dude!” he explained in his typical fashion and made me laugh). But he also assured me that he is well taken care of. One thing is certain: his wonderful sense of humour is 100% intact.

I did not write yesterday because, apart from the visit to the hospital (and, typically me, I first went to the wrong one!), a walk and meals, I worked from seven a.m. to one a.m. the next day and was so tired at the end of it that I could not fall asleep. And when I finally did, it was only for just over four hours …

Coffee and Salieri helped me to recover from the zombie state. And the work continued until this afternoon. But the thing I had to finish early this month is DONE. Finally.

Only two days and the world has changed completely: Zandile Mafe, Ray Zondo, the Bogdanoff twins and Novax Djocovid making headlines. The truth will set you free in all cases: show us the Parliament video surveillance; prosecute the state capture crooks; trust the science, get vaccinated and don’t die; and, be strong, Australia, and send the antivaxxer home.

I know that Rafa is in Australia and fit to play at the Open, but I am not sure I want to watch and support a tournament that is so reluctant to set a life-saving example to the world.

Something to celebrate: Sloane Stephens got married on the first day of the year, and today is Siphokazi Jones’s birthday.

And I am going to lie on my TV couch tonight and do nothing but lift a glass of lovely red wine to my lips. My eyes hurt after all the computer work and I am totally monstrual.

Good night.

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local. Get vaccinated, please. Live.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 3 January

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

— @HaggardHawks

I worked. From ten to ten with breaks for lunch, walk and dinner. And I did not even scratch the surface of all the things that need to be done this week. Deep sigh. Crawling into bed … Good night.

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local. Get vaccinated, please. Live.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 2 January

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

— @HaggardHawks

Seeing the Parliament fire today brought all the horror memories of the Jagger Library in flames last year. Ominous.

Finished reading The Dark Flood by Deon Meyer – really enjoyed it! But my name is not Markus. And my fictional naked corpse is not stuck in a freezer. And I do not live in Stellenbosch …

A day of cleaning out old cupboards – one of my new year’s resolutions: to get rid of stuff.

My love and I went for a walk and had dinner while watching the Chelsea vs. Liverpool game. Great first half and probably a fitting result, although I did want Chelsea to win.

I loved Evita’s “Happy 20tutu”.

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local. Get vaccinated, please. Live.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: New Year’s Eve – 1 January 2022

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

— @HaggardHawks

It felt necessary, but until I faced the Arch’s humble coffin, I did not know exactly why. We stood in the queue for a long time. Apparently, the Arch’s family arrived when I was about two hundred meters from the cathedral’s entrance and a private, short service was held for them, the bells ringing, the sun baking us in the early afternoon’s sun. Twenty minutes, they told us, but in the end, the cathedral was closed to the public for nearly an hour, and I almost gave up. I am glad I persevered though.

The loss – actual and potential; personal and global; private and professional – of the last two years has been staggering, relentless, at times nearly unbearable. And for most of the time, our rituals of mourning have been brutally disrupted.

To stand all alone, even if only for a few seconds, in front of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Mpilo Tutu’s coffin with my hand on my heart and whispers of gratitude passing my lips in the solemn cathedral was a necessary ritual of mourning. I went home with tears in my eyes, but my heart felt lighter. To be able to say goodbye in person, with hundreds of others, at a time when we have so often been left all alone in our grief, felt like a gift. Even in death, this good man’s generosity gave me comfort. It was one of the last gifts of a truly difficult year.

The other gifts were waiting two hundred kilometres away, in a place near the sea, where the late afternoon’s golden light and a bottle of golden bubbles and, most importantly, the golden hearts of my love and our dear friends welcomed me after a beautiful drive. Before going over to the cathedral, I stopped at the Book Lounge and got a gorgeous book for my love. On my way to our friends’ wine farm, I stopped at Liberty Books and wished Christy and Cleopatra a happy new year. In my family, we have all kind of new year’s eve superstitions. Visits to two of my favourite bookshops on the last day of the year felt like a good omen for the coming year. I also did all my washing – no leaving of dirty laundry for the new year!

Our new year’s feast was accompanied by the most divine wines and a sense of gentle relief. Last year has asked the impossible of our friends – they experienced loss beyond words – but they also lived through miracles. At the end of it all, we were still here, together, sharing good food and drink and friendship. So grateful for what could be celebrated.

We did not wait for midnight and went to bed just after dinner. I phoned my Mom and Krystian just before falling asleep and exchanged one greeting with an old friend. I slept soundly and woke up to the sight of a beloved man next to me and the sound of rain on the roof. Blessings. Outside, the grapes were looking healthier than ever before and the new, beautiful wine cellar stood waiting with its soft light for the first harvest. I read, we had coffee, snoozed some more, and eventually got up to welcome the new year with smiles, greetings and a royal breakfast.

I drove home with a lot of love in my heart. And here, my darling Salieri was waiting. It is her fifteenth birthday today and she has had a good day. She ate well and we cuddled a lot. That she can celebrate another birthday after everything she’d had to endure last year is the first gift of this year. What else will 2022 bring? Belinda Mountain tweeted about respair today: ‘fresh hope; a recovery from despair’.

I wish us all heath, kindness and respair in 2022!

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local. Get vaccinated, please. Live.

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

— NICD