Author Archives: Karina

About Karina

Author living in Cape Town.

Operation Oysterhood: 13 January

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

— @HaggardHawks

A scorching day. In winter, I survive in my old Victorian house because of the fireplace, the hot bath, the electric blanket and tea (with rum!). But in summer, the good old house remains relatively cool and offers respite from the Cape summer heat.

A morning of reading until it was time for a physically distanced meeting in my garden: the author and the designer of a book I have edited came to discuss the next step in the production process. We looked at all the visual material that will be included in the book. It is going to be beautiful. And the story is amazing. A lovely project that hasn’t felt like work for even a second.

“BIBLIOGONY is the creation of books.” — @HaggardHawks

Computer work that did feel like work in the afternoon. Just after six, I went for my sanity-preserving swim and then relaxed with The Cats on a quilt in our garden while the sun was setting.

Glinka takes the best selfies!

On Wednesdays, I usually watch TV in the evening. I watched with one eye on the TV, the other on my inbox, waiting for news from the ICU. No news today, though, which we all hope simply means: stable.

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 12 January

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

— @HaggardHawks

Armchair travel

Another day at the computer, with a short break for the post office and the delivery of documents to two different accountants assisting on projects I am involved in, and I was able to finish work at four in the afternoon. A visit to The Bookworm followed – they have – well, now had – a great selection of second-hand Bosch novels. I only have a few left to finish the entire series and am already dreading the long wait for a new one to appear.

No matter how rough and anxiety-inducing the lockdown has been, since the festive season I got back into serious reading, picking up several books at the same time and reading widely across genres and continents again. Alongside another Bosch, I started Erika Fatland’s Sovietistan today – armchair travel at its best. Although my love and I are planning two real short trips in the near future, lockdown regulations allowing, it feels great to simply explore in my head, either through proper travel writing or through crime novels – Bosch’s L.A. is gradually becoming familiar in ways it has never been before.

I won a Ferrari with Shell’s V-Rewards! Imagine the places one could go with a Ferrari … When I first got the notification, I read “you won a convertible Ferrari” and for a few seconds I was besides myself with joy (not for the reasons you suspect – in my head, I was already selling the car and investing the money into publishing beautiful books at Karavan Press …), but then I read again – it said: “collectible”. Well, for a few seconds, I could dream – that’s also a great prize. And I am certain that my yellow collectible Ferrari is going to make a child very happy when I have an opportunity to see the children in my life again. One day.

The sea accompanied a significant part of my journey to and from Fish Hoek today. For the first time since the beach ban, looking out to the blue horizon, I suddenly had a deep longing to walk on a beach again. It might have also been because of the beautiful poems I read about the sea in the morning (a poetry manuscript in the making). Maybe a walk on the Promenade will alleviate the awakened longing a little bit? Let’s see.

I cooked fresh fish from the wonderful Lakeside fishmonger for my love for dinner. All the Cats loved it too.

Tomorrow will be busy, but again in a good way. We stumble on, sustained by magic and beauty.

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 11 January

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

— @HaggardHawks

And then there were two: the frogs are multiplying in my pool.

A day spent mostly in front of my computer. Some of it wasted while I was working on the wrong documents. I blame it on the pandemic brain.

Monday is usually also a day of housework and maintenance. I took the above photograph while cleaning the pool this evening.

So, lockdown level three, adjusted, extended …

Listening to the President, I kept thinking: why are we so irresponsible that these regulations not only seem, but actually are, necessary to prevent more deaths and misery because of the pandemic.

Wear a mask, wash your hands and maintain physical distance during a pandemic should require no prompting or reminding by now. And: don’t drink and drive, and, above all, don’t raise your hand against ANYONE, especially not women and children, under any circumstances, not even under the influence of alcohol, should also be obvious. But the only obvious things is … that these regulations and kindness are beyond too many people.

And here we are.

#FamilyMeeting

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

“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

My brother and Mom went for a walk today and sent this photograph. Snow, a winter landscape – nearly impossible to imagine in this ranging, warm wind of Cape Town’s summer nights.

A morning of reading, an afternoon of work, an evening of being spoiled by my love – we swam, watched TV and he cooked dinner for me. Sunday.

Sandra Newman wrote: “Why dye your gray hair and pay for haircuts when all you have to do is nothing and you will eventually look like a powerful witch”.

The other day I looked at some photographs of loved ones and myself taken only two or three years ago, and we all looked as if we were at least a decade younger. I think the pandemic is making us age rapidly, and it’s not just the missing haircuts and visits to the beauty parlour. It’s all the stress. Well, I am embracing my inner “powerful witch” and simply going grey all the way, but only a few shades (fifty is overrated).

Good night.

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 9 January

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

— @HaggardHawks

I prefer a small coffee mug when working during the weekend.

A morning in bed with a few chapters of Bird by Bird and the next Harry Bosch novel (another page-turner!), pastéis de nata from The Hoghouse Bakery and coffee. I could not complain. If only the day could have continued like that. But: work had to be done.

After a few hours at my computer, I had a short swim and got into my car to drive out to sit in a friend’s garden and keep her company for a while. I wish I could say that I broke the lockdown rules to socialise, but it is not socialising when someone is too distressed to be alone and asks her friends to be with her to keep her sane. And you can’t even hug her when you arrive or leave (in time to reach home before the curfew, of course). We are living through demanding – i.e. f@#$%^&* awful – times.

When I am swimming next to my visiting Frog Prince (who has been identified for me by a helpful frog expert on Twitter as a Cape River Frog) while Glinka, Salieri and Mozart are sunbathing next to the pool and waiting for me to get out and devote my attention to them, I feel like I can manage this time – this horrific pandemic and all its consequences – but ‘managing’ is relative nowadays. Most mornings, opening one’s eyes to face the day already feels like a great achievement. Anything beyond that is a miracle.

Tangerine troll being off main social media is also a miracle. I know, I know – it’s too late, it’s all for the wrong reasons, it’s all a slippery road, it’s dangerous for privately owned companies to have so much power, and what about freedom of speech, etc. and blah, blah …

Good riddance, I say.

No!

Actually: TREMENDOUSLY good riddance!!! Take the psychopath’s toys away, I say; he has been playing with our lives for much too long, and hundreds of thousands of people are dead because of his lack of compassion and understanding. I had blocked him years ago, but I am relieved not to have to see ‘this tweet is unavailable’ together with that despised social media handle that was too f@#$%^&* real for my sanity.

To end on a smiling note: the frog expert wished me ‘happy frogging’ today :)))

Happy frogging, or whatever else you are doing to keep sane, dear Readers!

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 8 January

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

— @HaggardHawks

The day ran away with me. I did not accomplish everything I intended to, but did manage quite a lot of other stuff that wasn’t planned, and I made sure to do the two things that I promised to do for myself today: go to The Hoghouse Bakery to get a takeaway lunch snack and some treats to enjoy with my coffee, and to have a proper swim. These simple pleasures keep me sane and going even when the everyday gets tough. If I manage to swim every day, I can sit at my computer for many hours without experiencing back problems. And a chocolate chip cookie from The Hoghouse Bakery can brighten any day.

It’s going to be a working weekend. Chocolate chip cookies and swimming will help me get through it.

I was driving through Cape Town just before curfew tonight and it was quite eerie. (There is definitely less crime in our area with the curfew in place.)

The latest update from the ICU: stable again – thank all goddesses!

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

“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

My brother sent me this photograph from his walk today. All snowy peace and quiet.

What a night, though? I did sleep a bit but, mostly, I was wide awake staring at the CNN news feed with ever wider eyes. Eventually, I was in my polar bear suit (a furry white hoodie, a gift from my Mom that I always wear for comfort), drinking hot chocolate and still gaping a the TV at four a.m.

Psychopaths. The moment one arrives on the scene, truth and transparency go out the window, and gaslighting, manipulation, chaos and devastation follow. It was on full display last night.

I keep thinking about David Gillespie’s Taming Toxic People: The Science of Identifying & Dealing with Psychopaths at Work & at Home. It should be taught at schools, because identifying a psychopath is actually quite easy once you learn how to see through the smokes and mirrors and look straight into the horrific inner void of a monster. And dealing with them is also possible. Best solution: do not engage, walk away (or rather: RUN!).

Today was strange, of course, made stranger by tiredness and little snippets of difficult news and then no news from the ICU until late this evening. Stable – that’s all that matters!

Despite it all, I did some good editing work and had the most wonderful swim in the late afternoon. There is a new Frog Prince in my life! The previous one got a frog girlfriend and eventually they both moved on to greener pastures, or bluer pools. Not even a goodbye. I was all alone for a few weeks. But then I noticed that a new frog moved in, twice the size of the previous ones but just as shy; single. All of that shyness, however, disappeared today: I managed to not only swim next to the frog, but also pick him up and hold him in the palm of my hand, and then swim with him while he was still sitting in the palm of my hand (two full lengths!). Then he jumped off and dived to the bottom of the pool. We are a kiss away from a happily ever after, me thinks :) (he might be a she, but this is my fairy tale – a prince he is).

Just look at those legs!

Dinner with my love. Then a Skype meeting with Mom and Krystian.

Now: sleep, hopefully. Good night.

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

“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

A calmer day. I read for quite a while in the morning (Lamott, Coates & Kingsolver) – all inspiring. Then a few hours of editing and a swim at the end of the working day. The Cats joined the sunbathing session in the late afternoon sun after the swim. A few more poems from Kingsolver in the sun – I don’t want the book to end though. Luckily, it can be reread as often as needed.

‘Stable’ is becoming my most cherished word as I and many friends and loved ones await news from the ICU every day.

I am roasting a chicken for dinner.

A calmer day.

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 5 January

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

— @HaggardHawks

Just before lockdown began, Mom told me to stock up on a few things – “to strengthen your immune system”. I did. And then I read in Howard Philips’s In a Time of Plague: Memories of the ‘Spanish’ Flu Epidemic of 1918 in South Africa that the local survivors of the 1918 influenza pandemic repeatedly swore by my Mom’s recommendations (lemons, ginger and garlic) as what had kept them alive during the ‘Spanish’ flu. They also added brandy to the mix, wise people. As far as I know, my unusually non-drinking Polish mother had never even had a taste of brandy, so she is forgiven for not knowing about its immune-system-boosting properties, but she was spot-on in her list of survival ingredients otherwise.

I again have lemons, garlic and ginger and there is a little bit of cognac left in my kitchen. I am not sure about my immune system, but just having these fruits and veggies in the house makes me feel better, although they probably protect me from the coronavirus as effectively as they protect me from vampires. What definitely counts for the psychosomatic part of confronting the pandemic is the idea of care, care for oneself and for others. Wearing a mask, social distancing, hand washing are also part of the protective layers we can easily put around ourselves and others in order to at least attempt to keep safe from this horrible virus. With care.

It has been rough, especially when facing the maskless carelessness of others. We are all paying a horrendous price.

And now the vaccines are exposing another kind of carelessness that I find highly disturbing. I also want to get a vaccine against this virus and the disease it causes. But I want it because I want the pandemic and the suffering that it causes to end. What worries me is that there are many people who want it simply because they want to continue being careless, and they will, of course, do whatever it takes to get their shot. The selfishness and greed and yes, carelessness, involved are staggering.

The day began with a headache that wouldn’t go away. I drank water, had coffee, went for a walk, but the headache would not lift. Tension, I assume, although, of course, there’s always that other possibility that causes much of the tension in the first place. But I have no other symptoms, so I am not too worried. Salieri told me to get back into bed and be lazy with her, but eventually, I took a painkiller and was dazed for most of the rest of the day, yet could at least do my work – which was really lovely today because I returned to my editing job that I am really enjoying. There was also some admin, but nothing major. I did not accomplish everything that I wanted to, but a lot got done. At the end of the day, I even managed a swim before lighting a fire and braaing steaks for our dinner. And over lunch, I skyped with Mom and Krystian. They are also experiencing all sorts of tension symptoms. That’s the nature of a pandemic – even when you are not ill yourself, you are dealing with so much stress that it has to manifest somehow.

A fire always soothes me.

Good night.

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 4 January

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

— @HaggardHawks

A twelve-hour work-Monday. Need I say more?

No photographs were taken today, so above is one of my favourite images. It portrays exactly how I feel right now.

But: things got done. And I managed to cook a nice dinner for my love. And now: I am going to have a glass of red wine, stare blankly at the TV, hoping that the most recent tangerine-troll-loony-news-loop is over (although, god knows what he might have done again just a few minutes ago …), think about what needs to be tackled tomorrow (too much!), and go to sleep.

I had the most incredibly vivid dreams last night. It was strange to wake up with all those stories in my head again.

I have taken to regular secular praying. Someone dear is still in the ICU, fighting. I remember once smuggling G&Ts into the hospital when we were both visiting someone together and how she couldn’t believe that I’d actually done it. But the person we were visiting was craving a G&T and I will do anything for my friends, including smuggling booze into a hospital ward. Now, I am visualising the three of us again, drinking G&Ts and laughing and celebrating when all of this is behind us.

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

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

— NICD