Operation Oysterhood: 20 July

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

— @HaggardHawks

I am still on leave – mostly – but not exactly having much rest with all the feline worries and no headspace to even read properly for pleasure, but for half an hour today, I really loved being back on the job, delivering The Skipper’s Daughter to her author, Nancy Richards. More than three decades in the making, the book tells the story of a truly remarkable woman, Nancy’s mother. At the age of sixteen, she went to sea with her father. The year was 1938 … Now, her tale in book form is ready for its maiden voyage. May it sail straight into readers’ hearts!

Today, her story makes me think of Wally Funk. Another amazing adventure.

I am all for advancing knowledge and horizons, but I would love it to happen simultaneously with the advancement of the rights and working conditions of Amazon warehouse employees.

Anyway …

Salieri is beginning to eat almost without help. She is obviously feeling better. But I feel like a helicopter cat mother, watching her every step with either overwhelming anxiety or relief, often at the same time. Her shaved tummy is turning a beautiful, healthy pink and I kiss it daily with gratitude.

Nearly six hundred people passed away because of Covid-19 in SA in the last twenty-four hours. I can’t wait for 27 August, the date of my second vaccine shot, needle and all. Two weeks later, my chances of getting through this nightmare disease, should it touch me, will become much, much higher. Mid-September, health-wise, I will be safer than I have been in the last sixteen months … Imagine!

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 19 July

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

— @HaggardHawks

Do I understand this correctly: all this time, Zuma does everything he can to stay out of court, and now, he is actually applying to get into a court? Will there be no end to this man’s delaying tactics?

When in doubt, make fire. Mozart and I braaied for my love tonight. Yes, I was wearing my PJs and a winter jacket – the latest in stoep fashion for crazy cat ladies.

Salieri had an unexpected rough night again. She started vomiting at around three a.m. – first time in two weeks. Fortunately, we were seeing the specialist vet today in the morning anyway and he explained what was happening. She had to endure another set of tests and the vet had to endure a full hour of my questioning, but he was very understanding and took the time to explain all options and possible consequences. Salieri was very brave throughout, but we came home exhausted, emotionally and physically. She has been relatively well for the rest of the day. The test results should come in at the end of the week (a lab in KZN has been affected by the events of last week and some things are taking longer even on the veterinary front). We have a plan outline on how to move forward, but details will follow after the test results are in.

While we wait, I try to spend as much time with her as possible and to keep her warm.

Good night.

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 18 July

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

— @HaggardHawks

A day of resting and recuperating. My love and I started watching Mare of Easttown. Great beginning; I am hooked.

Tomorrow is our next appointment with a specialist vet. I have many questions and a lot more hope. To feel less afraid, I had a look at some of Salieri’s kitten photographs that featured on this blog quite a long time ago.

Note that Salieri already understood Olga Tokarczuk’s greatness when she was a kitten (fourteen years ago!). She read Sunday newspapers, studied the thesaurus, and together with Mozart assisted with the writing of my PhD thesis at a very tender age.

She needs to write many more chapters of her life, and the vets and I have to make sure that she gets to share her purring stories.

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 17 July

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

— @HaggardHawks

My days: between cat care and self care. Both are not easy, but we are making a little bit of progress every single day.

Today was the first day of calm (apart from my alarm going off when we were supposed to be sitting down to lunch at my love’s house – no break-in, alarm worked, but lunch was postponed because I had to check up on Salieri and the house). The sun was lovely, balm for the soul. In the late afternoon, I was back in my own garden with all three Furry Ones and for a few moments everything seemed almost ordinary again. Almost.

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 16 July

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

— @HaggardHawks

Someone who loves me very much encouraged me to go to the CTICC and get my Covid-19 vaccine as a walk-in. I have become quite weepy lately, but I think I would have had tears of joy and relief in my eyes today one way or another. The sense of taking the first step towards safety – away from suffering and potentially dying because of Covid-19 – was so empowering and overwhelming, I still feel the excitement of it all. And: I. HATE. NEEDLES. (The nurse administering my vaccine was very understanding and made sure that I did not see the needle at any stage.)

The Vaccination Centre of Hope at the CTICC is extremely well organised, and fair. Older age groups and people with appointments are prioritised, as it should be, but the long queue of young walk-ins kept moving along nicely, too. I arrived at 10.20AM and was free to go home at 12.20PM. Best queue EVER (and I grew up in Communist Poland, so I have quite a lot of experience).

And somehow it felt right to experience the magic of the vaccine at the CTICC, a place where many happy literary memories had been made during book fairs of the past, and more recently, where many lives had been saved when the Convention Centre became a hospital. Now, it is a Vaccination Centre of Hope and that is exactly how it feels.

That moment of the needle going into my arm was one of the happiest of my life.

Thank you City of Cape Town, Discovery and all the amazing, friendly and efficient staff of the Vaccination Centre of Hope.

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 15 July

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

— @HaggardHawks

Salieri in the sun.

After two days of mostly sleeping on the bed, today afternoon, Salieri asked to be let out. The vet told me to keep her indoors because cats often disappear when they feel awful, but I had a sense that she just wanted to explore a little. I followed her around until she settled in one of her favourite spots in the sun and recharged her vitamin D levels. Then she returned to the bed. Every day, she is a tiny bit better, but she is still not eating properly on her own. Luckily, she continues to allow me to feed her. And she still loves me despite everything I have put her through.

For a few seconds, she played with the cotton I am using to crochet. A cat is a cat :)

I am reading a lot about feline livers. A lot of secular praying is happening in my home.

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 10-14 July

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

— @HaggardHawks

On Saturday, Salieri was admitted to a 24h veterinary clinic, with her liver barely functioning – it turned out that she had a horribly adverse, very rare, reaction to her thyroid medication. She responded to the drip treatment, but very soon after admission refused to be force-fed (essential part of recovery). The vets and nursing staff of the clinic phoned me to ask for permission to feed her by tube (an additional invasive procedure that would have caused her even more distress – at that point, she hadn’t spent more than a few hours outside of her home during the last twelve years). Before they proceeded, they very kindly allowed me to attempt feeding her myself. Fortunately, she let me, and until Tuesday lunchtime I went in every few hours and fed her with a syringe. The clinic gave me a permit to travel after curfew. They wrapped my polar bear suit around Salieri while she was in her cage to make her feel a little bit safer. They allowed me to spend time with her and love her. They were all kind and accommodating, doing whatever was possible to treat and save her. And although they were all strangers, they comforted me like friends (I was mostly in tears, not being able to contain my feelings of utter helplessness and despair any longer).

Getting into Topolino on Tuesday morning, I was weeping once again after the morning feed when I saw the most beautiful rainbow above the clinic. I made a wish.

At lunchtime, the clinic released Salieri into my care. She ate on her own within two hours of coming home. I wept uncontrollably with pure relief. She lost more weight, she is limping a little bit because her paw is sore from the drip, she has a few shaved patches on her body (scans, blood tests, drip), her nose and gums are only gradually turning pink again (jaundice receding), she manages the litter box, but sometimes is still too nauseous to eat on her own and I feed her a special formula. She takes her liver medication. She sleeps most of the time, but her feistiness is returning. From the moment she got home, she started rubbing against my legs and purring her little heart out. We spend a lot of time together, recuperating together.

Ahead of us is a very difficult decision. Because she cannot take the medication to control her hyperactive thyroid, she will have to be operated on it, but in her present condition, it is not recommended. We have to find a path forward that will allow her to return to health and regain a good quality of life. What that path will look like, I do not know yet, but I will try to navigate it as well as I possibly can.

In moments of despair in the past, Salieri used to settle on my back while I wept on my bed, and she purred until I stopped crying. I want to be there for her the way she has always been there for me. She is my family.

My love and my family and friends have been supporting me in all possible ways. I cannot afford to pay Salieri’s bills, but I did not even have to ask – my love made sure there was enough money in my account to settle the impossible amounts. ‘She is my family, too,’ he said.

The past few weeks have been too much. I am a complete mess. On Monday, I phoned a counsellor and asked for help. I saw her on Wednesday for the first time. She was pure kindness and I feel safer now. Fortunately, there are savings in my own medical aid account.

I am on leave until the end of the month.

Salieri is home.

The counsellor asked me to do something special for myself every day. I picked up my crochet needle for the first time in a long while yesterday.

And the world around us has ignited and continues burning, lives and livelihoods lie in ruins. I am taking it in, but I am too numb with personal pain to process any of it in any meaningful way.

I registered for a Covid-19 vaccine last night. The feeling of relief is overwhelming, but I cannot help thinking about all the people my age for whom the possibility of a vaccine came too late.

The Springboks won last night.

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 2-9 July

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

— @HaggardHawks

Friday, 2 July, I passed my breaking point. All the tools I needed to function professionally were taken away from me one after the other (looooong story), and despite making alternative plans and finding temporary solutions, the uphill battle became Sisyphean. And this at a time when, personally, I was facing tough challenges on top of the bloody pandemic and the ruthless third wave. A mild breakdown followed. Not major, because I could still somehow get up the next day after a nearly sleepless, anxiety-ridden night, make a plan with my by then numb brain, and for the next week follow through with it, completing the three projects I felt I could not let down (if at all possible).

Two Karavan Press books are at the printers, latest issue of New Contrast has been distributed.

This weekend, I am still tying up some loose ends, but afterwards, everything else – on the professional front at least – will have to wait until I feel human and sane again. On the personal front, I have to take care of Salieri and myself. We are both not well, but at least I can communicate what is wrong with me. She just refuses to eat and is listless. We are going to the vet later this morning again. My heart breaks seeing her like this.

My love, despite his own challenges, has been a pillar of strength for me. He gave me a bunch of pink and white roses mid-June. The pink ones have all wilted, but the white ones continue strong almost a month later and I see them as a sign of hope, perseverance.

Reasons to rejoice in the past week: my Mom got her second jab (and a new haircut, first since the beginning of the pandemic) – she had two rough days after the second jab, but is okay again; my brother got his first jab – when I told him about my eligibility for a vaccine starting in August, he said: ‘Zuma has been in jail for one day and things are already falling into place!’; sanity won over gaslighting and one of this country’s chief gaslighting experts is behind bars (probably not for long, but it is such a relief to see a little bit of justice being done); I renewed my driver’s and car licenses within an hour (!) in Fish Hoek (the most efficient and friendliest service); AND I am still physically healthy.

The NICD has reported two and a half thousand official Covid-19 deaths in the past week. The infection numbers are through the roof. It is difficult to imagine that level four will not be extended beyond Sunday.

On Wednesday and Thursday, I had to pick up something from my local printer. They are opposite a small Catholic church. During both trips, I witnessed a funeral taking place at the church. A handful of people in masks grieving. How does one grieve at a time when grieving has become a way of life for most of us?

How are any of us still coping? I really don’t know.

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 1 July

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

— @HaggardHawks

My brother recommended that I read John Bradshaw’s classic. I am only fifty pages into the book, but I understand why he felt I would profit from reading it. (But: I simply can’t believe the typesetting of this edition, butterfly page numbers and all …)

I woke up with a monstrual headache and I will be going to bed with one. C’est la vie.

My favourite phrase of the moment: ‘judicially emotional & angry’. I think we should all be judicially emotional and angry – for real – how else do we deal with the insane legal and socio-political reality around us, local and beyond. And all those predators walking free.

The pandemic is taking no prisoners. Over twenty-one thousand new infections, close to four hundred new deaths.

It is devastating.

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 30 June

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

— @HaggardHawks

How we survive winter …

I know the rain is important and I will not complain, but I do miss the warmth of sunshine. And there is just so much wind I can take …

Topolino’s window is completely fixed. May we never have to go through the mess of this ever again.

A day of work. An amazing cover in the making. And two books nearly ready for printing. The day we press the PRINT button is going to feel like a miracle. I really do not know how any of this is still somehow possible.

#COVID19 UPDATE: A total of 70,593 tests were conducted in the last 24 hrs, with 19,506 new cases, which represents a 27.6% positivity rate. A further 383 #COVID19 related deaths have been reported, bringing total fatalities to 60,647 to date.” (NICD)

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

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

— NICD