Category Archives: Memories

Operation Oysterhood: 17 November

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

— @HaggardHawks

The earth shook for lovers last night, it seems. I slept through the tremors, though, and that’s a good thing. The last thing I want to have to think about right now are natural disasters …

I could not open my eyes this morning. Even the promise of coffee did not manage to get me out of bed. I did sleep for most of the night, but getting up seemed impossible. I was just paralysed in the face of everything that had to be done today. Don’t get me wrong, the to-do list was full of rewarding and wonderful tasks – there were just soooo many of them that I did not know how to begin. Eventually, I just started talking to Glinka to motivate myself and she responded with her usual morning chirping sounds. I took a deep breath and made a plan: shower, coffee, breakfast, easy/short tasks, short walk, more coffee and just one step after the other. I got through the day. For most of the time, I worked in the lounge today, Glinka and Salieri catssisting, and Mozart visiting every now and then to make sure that we were not becoming too lazy.

I am finishing a big archival project that, despite its challenges, is giving me so much joy it is difficult to explain. I will share the good news in about a month’s time, maybe earlier. I am wallowing in literary history like a pig in mud – loving it. But now, after eight hours of it and a few at the computer before it, I am calling it a day and pouring myself a glass of red.

Sad news of the day: Karavan Press’s distributor had to close down today for a few days because of a Covid-19 case. It is a long, difficult road ahead for all of us. Health and a full, speedy recovery for all concerned!

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 16 November

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

— @HaggardHawks

Elgin, April 2019

I asked Google: how many days since 27 March?

234!

(Just saying.)

How many hours since you sat down at your computer this morning, Karina?

Fifteen. But: there were breaks for lunch and dinner (which my love cooked for me), for watering the stoep plants and all my gorgeous orchids (typical Monday chores) and coffee – always plenty of coffee. And, for most of the afternoon, I had help with my work from my friend Roland. The day felt bearable.

I did not take any photographs today, so the above is one of me segwaying in Elgin last year. This weekend – if/when I survive this week – we will be in Elgin again, celebrating all sorts of wonderful events, including a book launch. Until then: I am chained to my computer.

My legs are swollen, my brain is fried and my cheeks hurt, but I am making progress on all project. And all of them are extremely rewarding.

But now, I need my bed. Good night.

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 15 November

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

— @HaggardHawks

Early Sunday breakfast with a view at The Bakery on the Jordan Wine Estate was a real treat. I love Eggs Benedict, but not all restaurants know how to prepare the dish in a way that is really and truly what it can be. The Bakery does. Great coffee, too. And right now, a special on their olive oil: buy two bottles (0,5l, cold extracted, extra virgin) for R98 each and get one free. A real bargain! They also sell giant chocolate-chip cookies. We returned home with a bag full of goodies and smiles on our faces.

Despite it being Sunday, a little bit of work had to be done in the late morning, but then it was time for another treat: Sunday lunch with friends and this view …

It was one of those Sunday lunches that turned into a dinner, although we had so much lovely food in the afternoon that we were having bubbly only for ‘dinner/dessert’.

Batteries recharged. I think I am ready to face another week of chasing deadlines. Maybe …

Good night.

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 14 November

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

— @HaggardHawks

A working Saturday that ended with a feast with dear friends at the Jordan Wine Estate. But it was lots of work first, with Catssistants in support mode from about seven in the morning until about three in the afternoon, and Nadine, as always, watching over my shoulder.

Jordan Wine Estate

I have been here only once before, but the view is simply spectacular, the food and the wines are delicious, and our company last night was The Best. We indulged (as you can probably judge from the time I am posting this …).

The entire meal was a treat from the first to the last bite, but for my starter I chose mussels and they came in this wonderful parcel and tasted like heaven – the best I have ever eaten. Just divine.

We laughed a lot – and it was badly needed after the week we have all had (hellish for all of us for different reasons). Nothing restores one to oneself like loving care and laughter and I am so grateful to have people in my life who always know how to cheer me up, no matter what.

After the indulgence, no one was fit to drive home. Our friends took an uber and my love and I stayed over on the estate. And the bed we slept in had this marvellous furry blanket on it: a comfort in itself.

The blanket made me think of Kristin Lavransdatter (1922), my favourite Norwegian novel, one of my all-time favourites in fact. The author, Sigrid Undset, was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1928. I once sat in her study, at her desk, in her chair – one of the most magical literary experiences of my life.

A day framed by two giants of literature (at least in my head) and filled with friendship, and my love’s love. He does spoil me rotten.

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 13 November

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

— @HaggardHawks

These goodies from the Hoghouse were supposed to lift my recovering love’s spirits, and they did, but I also profited from the treat big time today. By the time they arrived, my own spirits were low and needed lifting.

A day of unreasonable demands, meetings, tons of work and in the middle of it all a short trip to the printer nearby to pick up some proofs. I parked. A tall, young man wearing a parking attendant’s vest (but no mask) approached the car. The moment I rolled down the widow, he started begging. First for money, then for food. I got out of the car (mistake!) and wanted to direct him to the soup kitchen in the area (which we have all been encouraged to do), but he became aggressive – in gestures and language. Intimidated, completely alone (not a soul in sight apart from the two of us), I gently said: please, I don’t feel comfortable; I cannot help you; please leave me alone. He went off, shouting abuse at me. I picked up the proofs and headed back to Topolino. The young man was back, waiting. I was too scared to properly understand what he was saying, but when I repeated that I cannot help him and started getting into the car, he began once again shouting abuses at me and then throwing things in my direction, hitting the car. Shaking, I managed to get into the car and drive off, with him screaming and gesticulating obscenities behind me.

Turning at the next intersection, I drove right into a road block. I stopped and explained what had just happened to me to the group of policemen next to the road. They promised to investigate immediately. I hope they did, because the next person the young man might have encountered might not have been able to get away … I went to my next appointment with trembling hands. Once the adrenaline wore off, I crashed, and the rest of the day was just a matter of soldiering on. And the whole time I kept asking myself, would this have happened to a man in the same situation? Probably not. I am too tired to be angry.

One of our guests gave me a box of chocolates last weekend. I had them all today and for a while the sweetness of friendship made everything better. In the evening, I had dinner with my love and that made everything better, too.

Today, I feel very vulnerable and it fucks with my mind to try to contextualise my vulnerability within the wider one which I’d encountered today – of existential despair manifesting as violence.

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 12 November

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

— @HaggardHawks

Lockdown level 1, light.

Anxiety levels through the roof.

My cheeks are sore, sore.

But productivity levels are at an unusual high. We soldier on.

My love had to undergo a medical treatment today that is not exactly painless. It is terrible to see someone you care about go through such procedures. But, he is doing as well as one can under the circumstances, and it is good to know that all of the suffering means that he will be better off in the end than before. That is all that matters.

A friend visited in the late afternoon and we sat far apart on the stoep and talked. It was so good to see her. We are planning a literary event together.

But first, this literary event is coming up and I hope that enough poetry lovers are as starved for a live poetry reading as I am and will come to support us at The Alma Café on 2 December. We will make sure that everyone is seated in such a way that we all feel comfortable and as safe as possible, there will be wine and there will be poetry – a perfect evening, me thinks! And Stephen is not only a wonderful poet, but also a great reader, so we are in for a treat.

Stephen is also the creative force behind most of Karavan Press’s cover and typesetting design. And, Karavan Press will be publishing his debut collection of short stories next year. Yes, we soldier on. But none of us can do any of this without the support of readers, so THANK YOU to all of you who bought, read, loved, reviewed, spoke about or gifted a Karavan Press book to someone. That’s a manifestation of literary ubuntu. Thank you!

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 11 November

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

— @HaggardHawks

I edited a book earlier this year. Today, together with the author, I went to look at the finished product at the printers, before distribution. The title will be announced within days and I will share it the moment the author gives me the go-ahead. I can say that it is a debut and to watch the author hold the book in her hands for the first time today was truly special.

Fellow South Africans, throughout the entire presidential address I was waiting for some kind of a bomb to drop, but I go to bed with a heavy, but not heavier, heart. Wear a mask, keep social distancing, remember and honour the sacrifices made, drink to your heart’s content (also on weekends) and travel as safely as possible, be careful and responsible at all times – I think that is roughly the gist of it. I might be too tired to remember everything.

Highlight of the day: pizza and beer with my love for dinner. Simple but comforting.

Sore cheeks, not a good sign.

Tomorrow, we have a rough day ahead. May sleep be kind.

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 10 November

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

— @HaggardHawks

Ace Magashule.

Somewhere, pigs are flying!

A tense Tuesday sprinkled with good news on all fronts. The issued arrest warrant is so bewildering that everything else somehow pales in comparison.

I heard the news on my way to Kalk Bay to see Dawn Garisch about a safe possibility of launching her next book in real life. It is all looking better than good.

There was editing, proofreading, designing, running, despairing, admin, book delivering, pool cleaning, shopping, Skype with Mom, Krystian and Vatko (!), and the news that a dream debut author is considering publishing with Karavan Press. My morale was quite low this morning after a rather miserable night. But I work with amazing, inspiring people, and it is impossible to keep low for too long when they are around.

At the end of the busy day, I just wanted comfort food which I did not have to prepare myself. Obvious choice: HARU. It was time to try their burgers. They are fantastic! My only regret was that my love had to work tonight and couldn’t be there. On Tuesdays, they have a ‘buy one, get one free’ special for burgers, but even in my starved state, I could not consider eating two myself. Next time!

Someone else in our household was eating for two today: Salieri. She was feeling quite ill yesterday and refused to eat all day long (highly unusual for my “traditionally built” Salieri), but today she made up for yesterday’s losses. She is purring next to the keyboard as I type. In other feline news: I took my love’s cat to the vet for a checkup. She is doing remarkably well, the vet said. We are all happy about that.

And now, my brain will no longer cooperate and my body wants a warm bed to rest in. So, good night, dear Readers out there! I hope you are all coping with the madness of it all, preferably better than me.

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 9 November

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

— @HaggardHawks

Returns. In a recent Twitter post, Nadia Goetham explained: “#Bookworms, as publishers we cannot compel bookstores to stock our authors’ works. So if you don’t find a title at your local bookshop, ask the staff to order it for you.” I thought a lot about her important message today, because there is also another side to this particular coin. Most publishers allow bookshops to return unsold stock and get their money back. There are only a few bookshops that do not return stock, no matter what. To survive the low sales during lockdown, many bookshops, especially Exclusive Books, reduced their stock and returned lots and lots of books to the publishers’ distributors. As one of these publishers, I have known what was happening for a while, of course, so as an author I was not surprised to get a royalty statement today morning that reflected negative sales of the paper version of my latest book, and only minimal sales of the ebook. The only thing I have to figure out now is what to do with the princely sum of R111 (the balance of these sales/returns – my royalties for half a year!). If I remember correctly, one can get a bottle of Miss Molly for R109 at Checkers …

My greater worry is what these returns have been doing to Karavan Press during lockdown. After receiving the latest sales/returns reports as a publisher this evening, I lighted a candle and poured myself a glass of red.

Luckily, I suppose, I opened these depressing reports after a day of publishing joy: editing, a visit to the printer and an independent bookshop (that does not do returns!), a meeting with a debut novelist to discuss her manuscript which I hope will find a home at Karavan Press, and a meeting with an existing Karavan Press author just to talk, have tea, plan ahead and sign a few books for another bookshop.

But I do not look forward to sending out royalty statements to my authors for the period of the lockdown. They are not going to make anyone happy. I might have to get a bottle of Miss Molly for everyone, so that we can drown our sorrows in bubbly.

Despite all the recent wonderful developments at Karavan Press, it is nearly impossible to keep on hoping that it will all somehow turn out well in the end. The returns over lockdown are killing us. How does one continue dreaming? I don’t know. “It’s a mystery!” (My favourite line from the stage version of Shakespeare in Love.)

In other survival news: Pfizer seems to have a working Covid-19 vaccine. A flicker of hope on the horizon.

In yet other survival news: my right arm hurt so much at four a.m. on Sunday morning that I thought I would have to wake up my love and ask him to take me to the nearest emergency room. I had never experienced anything like it before. Painkillers and a self-massage allowed me to get back to sleep eventually, but I was seriously worried. I have been massaging my poor arm regularly since then and it seems to be getting back to normal again, but I still have no clue what had caused the pain.

Being monstrual does not help anything either.

But having great books to read is a solace, and I am reading one now that I am supposed to review and I am loving it more and more with every new chapter.

Words, language, story. Understanding and compassion. Sharing.

Don’t lose hope, Karina. A mystery might be a possibility, too.

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 8 November

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

— @HaggardHawks

Representation. It counts.

It feels easier to be a woman today. Suddenly, our reality seems and hopefully will be lighter, brighter – with so many more opportunities on offer. And women like Kamal Harris and Jill Biden will inspire us for years to come. Watching Kamala Harris’s speech this morning, I felt empowered and proud. And I know that I am by far not the only one.

Van Jones’s reaction to yesterday’s events brought me to tears, too.

“Character MATTERS. Telling the truth MATTERS. Being a good person MATTERS,” he said.

Yes, all of these things matter.

As someone who has experienced the helplessness and crushing despair of going up against men in powerful positions who lack integrity, lie, steal and do only damage, and of being told that my truth meant nothing, that I did not matter, to see the end of one of them on the world stage feels like a private victory. There was so much at stake, and this time decency prevailed. Thank goddess!

“Today is a good day,” Van Jones said. It is indeed.

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

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

— NICD