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Operation Oysterhood: 4 October

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

— @HaggardHawks

Until I heard the 6.30pm news, it seemed like a typical Monday. Work, work, work. At the end of the day, I took my love’s cat to the vet for her monthly injections and discussed the next steps of Salieri’s recovery with him – no op yet, we are continuing with the diet and monitoring the situation. I heard the news on the way back: Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp are down. Still, hours later, while I am writing. I have never really been on Facebook (apart from ages ago for a few hours – which was enough for me to decide against it). I have never been on WhatsApp, not even for a second. But all those nice photographs I have posted on Instagram over the past two years … It is weird to think that all of it is inaccessible and might be gone, maybe even forever.

The thought crossed my mind that I better start printing my blog – just in case.

Twitter is busy tonight!

I have only taken one photograph today, of a freshly sharpened pencil. It feels strangely prophetic.

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

“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

CANCELLED: Pop-up sale on Saturday!

Dear Readers,

A friend I was in close contact with in the last few days has tested positive for Covid-19 and I need to follow doctor’s orders and isolate. I am not showing any symptoms, but SAFETY FIRST. The sale is CANCELLED. We will celebrate when it is safe to do so again.

I hope my friend will recover soonest.

Literary greetings,

Karina

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Operation Oysterhood: 19 May

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

— @HaggardHawks

Three lucky coins I found today

Rain. The sound is balm for the soul. Not sure how the roof feels about it, though.

Too much is changing and I am struggling to catch up. There are moments when I say to myself ‘I can’t; I am not coping.’ But, somehow, I manage in the end. And I found three lucky coins today. Good omens, let’s hope.

And, most importantly, my love and I have something wonderful to look forward to … I will report back on Sunday.

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 25 December

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

— @HaggardHawks

Christmas Day. My love and I spent the day being lazy together, first at my home, then at his, spending quality time with all the feline members of the family, and reading, sleeping, swimming, drinking bubbly and wine and having braai leftovers and Christmas cake. I treated myself to a sweet dinner with another small cake from the Hoghouse Bakery.

In the evening, I was on Skype with my Austrian family again. And now: bed. The Bosch Binge continues.

More sad news today, but also some good news. It is a constant emotional roller-coaster.

Last night, I had a nightmare about a post-apocalyptic landscape where everyone was lost and despairing. In the nightmare, I managed to find a freshly baked bread and was running to find my love to share the treasure when I woke up. For a few minutes, I was quite disorientated, but then the relief of our reality hit me – my love and I have bread and so much more to share – but even so, there are days when we struggle to keep despair and the feeling of being lost at bay. We are nearing three hundred days of lockdown. At the moment, the pandemic is raging again and we haven’t even reached the peak of the second wave yet. There has never been a good time to get sick, but now is probably one of the worst times to get infected. I keep thinking of the relentless pressure on the healthcare system, the people who care for us in our hours of need, how stretched and stressed they must feel, how utterly exhausted. I selfishly want to keep healthy, but I also want to keep healthy for them. They also need some rest.

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 3 December

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

— @HaggardHawks

It snowed in Austria today. Death and the After Parties went into a limited edition reprint. And with the state of disaster extended once again, and the numbers looking as dire as they are, I feel like I will be writing these Oysterhood Diaries forever …

How many days since 27 March …? Mrs Google, what say you?

250!!!

Let that sink in.

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 6 November

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

— @HaggardHawks

I am writing with Mozart on my lap – it must be the rain that keeps him indoors, wanting cuddles and attention. Or he knows about my nightmares. Malignant narcissism on full display is quite triggering, so I sometimes wake up screaming. The tangerine tantrums continue. And all we need is a balmy, boring blue to set in. We need rest.

I spent the day editing and researching literary archives. The only interruption was a trip to the printers to pick up the first copies of Death and the After Parties by Joanne Hichens. I delivered them to the Book Lounge for Joanne to sign – thank you to everyone who pre-ordered a copy of the book! We always knew it would look stunning, but the real thing is even better than we’d imagined. I cannot thank Monique enough for all her patience and care in designing the book. It is a beauty! And the content … Please read it. You will no regret it. A brave and beautiful book.

What better way to end the working week than with a dinner with my love at The Hoghouse?

We ate and drank well, as always! And I will be having chocolate-chip cookies with my coffee tomorrow morning. No matter what the night brings! Insomnia and nightmares can be magicked away with chocolate-chip cookies as good as those from The Hoghouse!

I contacted Krystian when I started writing to show him Mozart – he was with Mozart’s sister, Myszka. Feline and human siblings meeting on Skype :)

Mozart is still on my lap. I hope I can get him to stay home tonight and sleep on 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: 21 October

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

— @HaggardHawks

Forthcoming from Karavan Press: FOR EVERYTHING THAT IS POINTLESS AND PERFECT by Stephen Symons, the press’s first poetry collection.

A day of driving around Cape Town from one corner of the city to another: a heartening (as always) visit at Protea Distribution, my local printer (also always a joy), Clarke’s Bookshop and The Book Lounge (ah, bookshops! – where would we be without them?), two banks (sigh), post office (I love my local post office), recovering Cat (twice, but she is doing great!) and I actually managed to send a book to the printers today. Yay.

Still to come this evening: a trial run for tomorrow night’s JLF@Home event: my interview with Gigi Fenster about her striking memoir, FEVERISH. Tune in at 8PM tomorrow and find out how a conversation about Velcro fantasies (!) led to the writing of an amazing book.

The Book Lounge’s Winnie-the-Pooh and I watch the protest march outside the bookshop earlier today …

Yesterday was rough. There was a moment in the day where I felt this deep-seated, numbing fear in the pit of my stomach that I might not be able to fix everything that needed fixing and a dream would have to be given up in the process of at least attempting to do something. But, as always, my family and my love came to the rescue and talked me through everything, offering practical advice and essential help. I soldier on. But only because of my Loved Ones.

I am tired, but I will go to bed with a lighter heart tonight.

Although there are other crushing concerns that are completely out of my control. I watch the pandemic updates in Europe and across the rest of the world with ever-increasing worry. And, locally, in my secular way I pray that our health minister, his wife and all others suffering because of an infection with the coronavirus recover fully and quickly. I do not understand anyone who is not wearing a mask and/or not trying to keep their distance from others as much as it is feasible. I don’t even remember how to wash my hands in any other way than as if I was preparing for a medical operation. I do not want to get sick. I want to continue fully with my life, personal and professional, but in a way that lowers the infection risk to an absolute minimum. And I pray.

Good night.

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 16 October

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

— @HaggardHawks

My friend Debbie and I at the Baxter: the opening night of The Outlaw Muckridge. It was simply wonderful to be in a theatre again, part of an audience, immersed in a live performance of the best kind. I might have had one shot of tequila too many afterwards to write coherently about the night (or the day), so here are a few photographs:

The creatives behind The Outlaw Muckridge: Alan Committie, Niall Griffin, Louis Viljoen & John Maytham.

What else? I got a few (brief, masked) hugs tonight – my first hugs (apart form my love’s) since the beginning of lockdown. HUGS!

I go to bed a happy woman, tipsy on theatre, tequila and hugs. 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 October

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

— @HaggardHawks

Academic, publisher, writer, Ampie Coetzee, passed away earlier today at the age of eighty-one. He was one of André’s dear friends and I spent many enlightening and entertaining hours in his company. I loved the way he always spoke his mind and did not take any nonsense from anybody. Another great of Afrikaans letters is no longer among us. His insights, words, generosity of spirit will remain in many people’s memories. But it is a small consolation when the heart is sore with yet another loss. This year has taken so much. I think of Ampie’s loved ones and tears roll down my cheeks … Rus in vrede, Ampie!

One of Ampie’s literary ventures was the legendary, courageous publishing house, Taurus. Together with John Miles and Ernst Lindenberg, the first book Ampie published under the imprint was Oomblik in die wind (1975, An Instant in the Wind). And they knew that the censor would be watching … The rest is history, as they say.

What I am attempting with Karavan Press is nowhere near as brave or challenging, but I travel in these footsteps, inspired by people like Ampie, André and the friends with whom they went ‘stealing literary horses’.

Strangely fittingly, together with designer/typesetter, Monique Cleghorn, and author, Joanne Hichens, I visited our printer today to discuss book proofs and the finishing touches of covers. Returning home, I held the new book proofs with the already published Karavan Press books in my hands and knew that I was holding dreams transformed into reality. I still don’t know whether Karavan Press has a long-term future. Understandably, book buying is not on many people’s minds right now. But I refuse to give up and will forge ahead and continue dreaming as long as I possibly can.

I was also at Clarke’s Bookshop today to pick up a review copy of a very special book and I ordered a poetry book from them, which I had hoped would have arrived by now, but is still on its way. I also delivered the proofs of another book to the author, who wrote to me afterwards: ‘I am delighted with my book.’ It will be ready for distribution in early November. I am making the official announcement tomorrow. Karavan Press’s first poetry title. First of many – the next one is already in the making. I am thrilled!

I continue dreaming. And cherishing the people who paved the way before me.

‘Ancient paths. New literary journeys …’

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

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

— NICD