Author Archives: Karina

About Karina

Author living in Cape Town.

Operation Oysterhood: 10 August

Saturday

Heilfontein22

Tesselaarsdal. The first weekend away since the beginning of the lockdown. And it was clear from the start of the journey that we were not the only ones leaving the city: heavy traffic with its usual culprits stuck in the right lane as if their lives depended on it, masses of people at the Peregrine Farm Stall in Grabouw, and every cottage in the valley seemingly occupied by intra-provincial travellers. It was my first time visiting this beautiful area and I am certain it will not be the last. Our cottage on the Heilfontein protea farm – perched high up on a hill with an incredible view over the protea fields, water-lily pond and happily grazing cows – was wonderfully secluded (or: pandemic-proof).

Heilfontein

G&Ts on arrival settled us into the place. We watched an industrious mole re-organise her molehill right in front of our feet while sipping the contraband. It is ridiculous that one should feel legally threatened for transporting one’s own legally bought and always moderately enjoyed alcohol for a weekend away next to a comforting braai fire under the Tesselaarsdal stars. I understand the reasoning behind the ban during the pandemic, but I would like to see real, permanent solutions to the multi-layered crisis that is fuelling the irresponsible, dangerous and often life-destroying consumption of alcohol … (Dream on, Karina.)

After a light lunch, one of us had a nap, the other worked a bit because she is behind with one of her projects and needed to catch up to properly enjoy the relaxation on offer. Then it was time for a glorious two-hour walk around the area. For a while, we were accompanied by a flock of mousebirds! Guess who was smiling from ear to ear all the way back to the cottage? We also saw sunbirds and sugarbirds, all feasting on the rich offerings of the farm. The setting sun brought a peaceful light to the valley.

It was time for a braai and a bottle of smooth Chianti, which we enjoyed next to the fire and with the delicious dinner. The stars came out to say hello and wish us a good night. I was a bit apprehensive about insomnia disrupting the weekend, and it is always more difficult to deal with when one is not in one’s own bed, but although it wasn’t entirely plain sailing, I managed to get some decent rest, even snore up a storm (according to my love’s report), and it was simply wonderful to wake up next to my love again.

Sunday

cof

Rain, morning in bed: coffee, Alma Café rusks, breakfast, reading and watching rainbows appear whenever the sun came out to play.

We brought two Sunrise Beauty Studio DIY Vitamin-C facials with us and had fun applying them after finally getting up.

A long walk along the Yellow Protea trail around the circumference of farm before lunch. It was still raining on and off, but we had come prepared and rain gear kept us warm and dry. The view from the hill opposite our cottage’s slope was spectacular. No mousebirds, but the sugarbirds were undeterred by the weather and kept us company in the protea groves.

Lunch was a lavish leftovers affair with a bubbly treat of note. Despite coffee, I fell asleep reading the Harry Bosch novel I had abandoned quite a while ago because of other work-related reading commitments. But also, reading had become difficult again in the past two/three weeks or so; not sure why. It was good to return to a book again, and to nap in the afternoon – something I don’t allow myself often because I am usually groggy and unhappy after sleeping during the day and thus incapable of further work. But there was none to be done today, so I just relaxed and enjoyed the extra sleep. The rest of the afternoon was spent in front of the fire that my love made for us. And Harry continued chasing crooks through the streets of L.A.

Dinner was again a braai feast – simple but delicious. The rest of the bubbly a welcomed aperitif. The evening ended with books next to the fire. I finished Bosch. Justice prevailed.

Monday

I had been apprehensive about leaving home for an entire weekend again, but I cannot thank my love enough for making it happen. It was good to get away, to be in a alternative space and experience a new landscape and a different light. An African Hoopoe visited us while we were packing to go this morning. And on the way out, we saw a Cape Vulture devouring what looked like the carcass of a sheep.

We stopped at the famous Café De Postkantoor for delicious takeaway cappuccinos.

The return home meant a full return to duties, home-and-work-related, but they were all manageable in the afterglow of a restful weekend.

Be kind. Wear a mask.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 7 August

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

— @HaggardHawks

775

Mr Mozart is in the house.

It’s not that they are bad, but my nights haven’t been great for a while. And I am running out of John Oliver videos to watch. I watched The Wax and the Furious at about four a.m. last night, and laughed myself silly. Sleep returned eventually, but opening my eyes in the morning took a long time.

And during the day, I burst into tears out of sheer relief today. After picking up some more rusk from the Alma Café, I went to the small shopping centre near my home to buy more cat food. I hadn’t been to that particular centre for a while, and the two or three times I had been there during lockdown, I found it quite depressing because of a particular reason. Outside that centre, before the lockdown, there had always been two traders who I spoke to regularly whenever I was there. One of them had sold flowers, the other bead artwork. I had always loved buying things from them and even when I wasn’t buying anything we still shared smiles and hellos and occasional longer conversations. Just before the lockdown, I had gone to see them and bought flowers and a a bead cat, paid more than they were asking and wished them well. I remember I had tears in my eyes when I was walking away because none of us knew what lay ahead.

The flowers lasted a long time and the bead cat is still with me, guarding the fireplace. During lockdown, both reminded me of these two strangers I did not know well – not at all, really – but for many, many years they’d always managed to make me feel better about any day when I had a chance to talk to them or to buy flowers or bead gifts for myself or others from them.

I had hoped they would be all right.

Today, I found out that they had been – are – all right. They were back outside the centre, presenting their beautiful artworks and flowers to the public for sale again. I asked after their health and their families and how they had coped and they said that they’d had no illness in their families and “because of people who supported us, like you,” the man said, “we are okay and back at work again.” I was so happy to see them both! I promised to return after the weekend and bring cash to buy more flowers and a friend for my bead cat. I waved goodbye and turned to leave, and a few steps away from Topolino, I burst into tears. It was sheer relief. I hadn’t realised how worried I had been about these kind, hard-working people, who bring so much warmth, beauty and colour into my world. And we don’t even know one another, not really – and yet …

Despite all the work that had to be done today, the rest of the day was simply filled with lightness.

And the day ended with another treat from my love, a home feast from FYN Restaurant.

The pandemic has resulted in so many losses that they are impossible to count or comprehend. The world is reinventing itself and everyone is trying to survive, somehow. None of this is easy, no matter who you are. But almost every day I am reminded how much kindness there is out there and how even a stranger’s smiling eyes can save one from despair.

And some of these strangers come into our lives with bunches of flowers in their arms and they can make even a desolate heart sing.

Thank you.

Be kind. Wear a mask.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 6 August

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

— @HaggardHawks

Glinka enjoying her morning rusk crumbs.

Provisional tax. Done. That in itself always feels like such an achievement that I don’t know how anything else gets done on days when I have to submit documents and/or numbers for the returns for myself and/or other entities I am responsible for. But the billions for the SAA resurrection have to come from somewhere. And let’s not forget other corruption funds …

Remember how unexpectedly quick and hard our lockdown was in the first three weeks? How proud we were of the government’s swift and concrete actions? Just imagine if they now came down on the relief-funds-thieves with such unexpected fervor …  How the depressed morale of the nation would be lifted if we saw these crooks prosecuted properly. But just as the looting was to be expected, we can expect no consequences for the looters.

Justice. That elusive word.

Bed office.

On a different note: when you are in the process of preparing a book for publication, you end up reading it several times. Today, I read a manuscript for the nth time and still enjoyed it. Always a great sign.

What is also great about this kind of work that it can be done in bed on a cold and rainy winter’s day.

The small – or actually rather big – mercies in life.

Be kind. Wear a mask.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 5 August

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

— @HaggardHawks

769

HARU – at last! I feel awful about neglecting this wonderful restaurant during lockdown for such a long time (I had good intentions in the beginning, and then lost focus), but I finally placed an order and received the most heart-warming welcome from the owner and the staff today when I went to pick it up. It was great to see them and to find out that they are somehow coping and still offering eye-smiles above their masks. And the food was delicious, as always.

I also got another facial from Melissa’s Sunrise Beauty Studio – a treat for the weekend ahead. Yay!

Work-wise today, I witnessed the complete opposites of what people are capable of. On the one end of the spectrum, I watched someone’s ego dig their own grave for them, completely unnecessarily. It is so sad to see such a waste of energy. On the other end, someone who sent me an invoice for a job done, asked me to donate two-thirds of the amount due to them to two worthy causes: Rape Crisis and the Book Lounge Library Project. This request moved me deeply. Working with people like this is not only a pleasure, but an honour, and it is such generosity of creative people I know and work with that has kept me going through the rough time of the last few months (and always).

I struggled to get warm all day today – can’t wait to get under a hot shower and into a warm bed.

Good night.

Be kind. Wear a mask.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 4 August

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

— @HaggardHawks

764

Not sure whether the above poster is to be found in all EB bookshops; I saw it in Cavendish today. I was strangely moved by it. It was also good to see people reading at the large desk inside the shop again, physical distancing and all.

Even more heartening today was the news that the CNA shops are recommitting to selling books on a mass scale again and they are planning to offer at least fifty per cent of their bookshelf space to local and African books. I can’t wait to see these plans in action, especially since they are also going to open more shops across the country. More outlets where authors and their books can reach readers. This gives me hope.

What was less heartening – actually devastating – was watching the Jonathan Swan interview with the Tangerine Troll. I am in awe of what psychopaths can get away with. I wouldn’t put that creature in charge of anything (and I really mean ‘anything’ – tried to think of something one could safely entrust him with and I just could not find a single thing) and he is the President of the USA. And I have this horrifying feeling that he is going to be around for another four years. I truly trust Americans to reelect him. The rest of us will have to go into an extreme state of oysterhood/hibernation until 2024 to survive.

A rainy, cold day of mostly working in bed with Salieri catssisting, also accidentally deleting some of my writing (thankfully it was saved and could be retrieved again). A long work Zoom meeting after dinner. I am tired now, but it is good to see things developing in interesting directions.

Dinner included pistachio ice-cream for dessert. About twenty years ago, I developed the Ice-cream Flavour Theory of Men. Basically, it compared men to ice-cream. (Hey, I was young!) It explained, in the most non-scientific way, that you should never settle for your second-favourite flavour, even if your favourite was unavailable or difficult to obtain. In the last while, I have realised that my favourite (ice-cream!) is no longer chocolate, but pistachio. When I bought it today, the pistachio ice-cream made me think about love – how it grows and transforms with time. And if you are lucky, it tastes like your favourite pistachio ice-cream.

In the morning, my publisher, Protea Book House, asked me for an inspirational quote for a campaign they are running for Women’s Month. I said: “Be kind. All else will follow.”

Wear a mask, too. Please.

And if you are allowed to vote in the USA this November, please save the world!

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 3 August

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

— @HaggardHawks

763

Another day without photographs, so I am sharing one more from yesterday’s excursion to Elgin.

Now that intra-provincial travel is allowed and there are ways of travelling without endangering others, or at least reducing the risk to an absolute minimum, and at the same time contributing to the saving and sustainability of what is left of the local tourism industry, we are thinking of exploring the possibilities. And one doesn’t have to go far in the Western Cape to enjoy the best of what being away from home can offer. I have an idea that a weekend stay in a self-catering cottage in one of the numerous secluded beauty spots of the Western Cape is much safer right now than going to the crowded beach in Muizenberg (which, technically, should still be empty, or not?). Walking in Elgin yesterday, the splendour of the landscape sinking in and with not a single other hiker in sight apart from us, I felt restored to myself. And I even had some decent sleep last night – a gift not to be sneezed at (especially now!).

Monday. Bin (collected after a two-week pause). Orchid bath (new flowers waiting to burst open). A day of computer work.

I am adamant about squeezing in a few book reviews into my working schedule, even if they are mostly unpaid at this time. I sent off one today.

Writing-related highlight of the day: a writer I admire is interviewing lockdown diarists for an article, and she interviewed me about the Oysterhood Diary in the afternoon. It was intriguing and fun to reflect on the last one hundred and thirty days (!) of daily Oysterhood blog posts. She asked how long I plan to continue … Well, by now, I have decided that I am in it for the long run, i.e. until the official end of the lockdown.

Brace yourselves, poor, dear Readers!

Be kind. Wear a mask.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: Karina Day

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

— @HaggardHawks

Karina Day excursion with my love – hike and picnic – in Elgin, one of my favourite places in the Western Cape.

Be kind. Wear a mask.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 1 August

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

— @HaggardHawks

758

Another long, weird night, and it is difficult to pinpoint what exactly is causing all this restlessness. But, the morning had coffee in it, and Alma Café buttermilk rusks. I have been avoiding rusks for quite a long time now, but I felt the need to return to them again. Another little step in healing beyond grief.

759

The restlessness still allows me to do my work, but my leisure reading has suffered in the last while. This morning, however I had the huge joy of completing my trip Around the World in 80 Words. Salieri catssisting, of course.

And guess what!? The author of Around the World in 80 Words, who runs @HaggardHawks – one of my favourite Twitter accounts – has followed me back today. Coincidence? Some would say that there is no such thing. One way or another – I am very happy. I have been a fan for years. I love his books and the wealth of knowledge he shares with us about words.

Haggard Hawks

I went to Kalk Bay today to see Dawn Garisch and discuss the next book we will be publishing together (it is beautiful and I can’t wait to start working on it) and was hoping to visit the newly reopened Kalk Bay Books, but the shop will open only next weekend. Such a relief that we won’t be losing this book world treasure. Kalk Bay was busy today! And the traffic impossible. It felt like a summer day in the famous seaside resort.

760

During my walk in the area I found a R5 lucky coin. I find coins all the time, but R5 doesn’t happen often. We are in dire need of good omens, so I am grateful to the universe for this one.

The wonderful broadcaster and author Sara-Jayne Makwala King celebrated her fortieth birthday today. And Mika du Preez turned nineteen. You might not know who Mika is – yet – but it is only a matter of time. And I can’t wait for the world to discover this talented, super-intelligent, funny, kind young man, who plays the accordion, writes inspiring poetry and prose, and wants to be a Waldorf teacher one day. He is the kind of person who will make a real difference to others’ lives – he already manages to brighten any day with his mere presence. It is easier to be optimistic about the future when one knows young people like him, and I feel fortunate to know Mika and to be able to call him and his family my own.

Another good day. Now, for one good night. Tomorrow is, after all, Karina Day.

Be kind. Wear a mask.

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

— NICD

761

A sexy feline strikes a pose on Topolino.