Tag Archives: Operation Oysterhood

Operation Oysterhood: 18 – 22 September

Oudrif: a state of mind. We took our time on the last part of the journey from Cape Town, stopping every few minutes on the dirt road to Oudrif to admire the serene landscape covered in the spring tapestry of colour. Arrived to a socially distanced but as warm and charming as ever welcome: friendly eyes, ice-cold beers and a catch-up chat. The moment you get there, all the stress of the everyday begins to drain away from your body and mind and rest sets in. There is no reception, nor internet, so the world cannot reach you. It is just you, Jeanine, Bill and their caring staff, the animals of Oudrif, the hills, the stars and the Doring river – flowing enthusiastically after the rains. The place always attracts the most fascinating people. This is where we met Natalie and James of The Hoghouse (when we picked up our takeaway breakfast for the road to Oudrif, Natalie included a gift for me: a packet of my chocolate chip cookies!) and Sue Greeff, the artist with whom I have subsequently collaborated on a literary project (her stunning artworks also grace my walls), among many others. This time, a young Dutch couple were there. They have made SA their home for over six years now: she works with community projects focused on regenerative farming, he with solar energy – it was amazing to listen to their stories. And we also met a local couple who travel around SA in their retirement and who also had wonderful tales to share around the braai under the Milky Way. Every day after breakfast, we went on the usual walks with either Jeanine or Bill – walking with them through this landscape is always enlightening and soothing and it makes you feel better about the world. We visited the sheep rock painting. We saw the flowers. Four nights later, life was just a better place to be in, as it always is when you can recharge your inner batteries at Oudrif.

Our next trip here is already booked. This is the place I always long to return to, like home. Oudrif. Oudrif. Oudrif.

Operation Oysterhood: 17 September

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

— @HaggardHawks

In Polish, we say ‘kto daje i odbiera ten się w piekle poniewiera’. Roughly: who gives and then takes away, languishes in hell. Someone’s actions today made me think of it. If this kind of power play wasn’t simply sad and petty, I would fight for a just resolution, but sometimes the best option is to simply walk away and count one’s blessing that this sort of person is out of one’s life. Good riddance, me thinks.

The rest of the day was just work, work, work, and lovely meetings to discuss exciting book projects. I received an email about a novel that made my day – I am going to bed smiling from ear to ear.

And tomorrow …

Oudrif. Oudrif. Oudrif.

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 16 September

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

— @HaggardHawks

Charlotte happiness – when your love brings home this gorgeous book written by one of your dearest friends.

Level one. “We’ve got good moves!”

Theoretically, I could travel to see my Mom in October. I thought that I would the moment it became possible, but I can’t say that I still feel the same. I would love to see her – yet it does not feel as safe as I would want it to before embarking on such a journey. We did have a lovely chat on the phone yesterday, and for now, it will still have to be enough.

Otherwise, nothing changes for me in level one, apart from not breaking the curfew unconsciously again. I am usually home by midnight anyway.

A morning of admin, and an afternoon of going through the edits of a beautiful manuscript by a Karavan Press author – Dawn Garisch. Much literary joy.

On my way home, I finally made it to Kalk Bay Books. Heartening to see the bookshop operating again. I like the new space very much. I also stopped at HARU to get my dinner.

And now, after the President’s announcement, I am going to have a glass of red wine and do some ironing and go to bed to sleep and dream of travelling – in the Western Cape.

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local. Also in level one!

Recovery time.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 15 September

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

— @HaggardHawks

Another day ending in exhaustion, but many good things have been done. Two nice arrivals on my doorstep today: the macro lens I ordered for my cellphone camera, and the latest issue of New Contrast, to be prepared for distribution.

Highlight of the day: dinner with my love, who, seeing how my brain was spinning with all the things that need to be done before we depart on an exciting adventure soon, offered to assist with whatever work he can (despite having just as much, if not more, to accomplish before we leave). The heart is calm even if the head is spinning.

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 September

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

— @HaggardHawks

Salieri and I watching the US Open men’s final last night.

The first two and a half sets were so disappointing that I simply drifted off to sleep. But I woke up to the news of Dominic Thiem’s miraculous comeback. Impressive. Austria has a grand slam champion again!

And today, The Witches gathered in Noordhoek to complete the work on a precious manuscript. And while we were adding the special ingredient to the magic potion that will make everyone fall in love with this book, other good things were happening on the literary path of Karavan Press.

But I am just too exhausted to think about it.

Tomorrow is another day. Good night.

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 13 September

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

— @HaggardHawks

My friend Debbie gave me Nespresso capsules as a gift and it was nice to drink the coffee and think of her this morning. I shared the rusks with Glinka.

Still in bed, we then worked on the edit of a manuscript until it was time to get ready for a culinary adventure. My love and I met dear friends in Franschhoek for a lunch at Protégé. It was the first time we saw one another since the beginning of lockdown and it felt great to reconnect in person (even at a distance and without hugs) and to enjoy a delicious meal together.

They serve divine oysters at Protégé.

I do love oysters. But no matter how exceptionally delicious the food was, it was the company that made the event beyond special. My love and I have missed our friends very much and it was soul-restoring to see them, especially under circumstances that felt safe. I appreciate places that have mastered the health and safety protocols so well that as their customer you can forget about the pandemic for a short time while being in their care. Protégé felt very safe.

After returning home, I got back into bed and continued working with Salieri catssisting. With the rain and wind going wild outside, we did not feel the need to be anywhere else. We had chicken leftovers for dinner and are now waiting for the US Open men’s final. We will be cheering for Mozart’s and my countryman, Dominic Thiem.

Ahead is a busy week, but the weekend was relaxing. If only I knew what was wrong with my right eye; it is gradually turning red. If it’s not better by tomorrow morning, I will have to see a doctor.

Barbara Boswell’s And I Wrote My Story Anyway – the perfect gift for my literary women friends.

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 12 September

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

— @HaggardHawks

The three stages of weekend.

Even though he spent the entire morning in my bed, Harry got married to another woman at the end of Trunk Music, the latest Bosch novel I have completed. The binge reading continues. Escapism of the purest kind. My brain is incapable of any other reading for pleasure right now.

I needed to switch off today and did some household and garden work after the morning reading session. I also delivered some things to a woman in Hout Bay who is helping the victims of the recent fire. On the way to her, I was reminded of all the people who showed up on our doorstep when we were in the process of establishing our first home after leaving the refugee camp in Austria. They were mostly strangers who’d heard about the refugee family in the neighbourhood and brought us things that they no longer needed, but that were pure gold to us when we had nearly nothing. I will never forget that generosity, what it meant to our parents, to my brother and me.

In the afternoon, I had a lovely visitor – one of my dear friends came to have a drink with me on the stoep. It was amazing to see her again, to catch up in person and to enjoy the mild sun shining on us. All the Cats joined us for the occasion.

And in the evening, my love cooked another delicious roast chicken for me and all our Furry Ones. A happy, well-fed family.

Now, it’s time to watch the US Open women’s final!

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 11 September

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

— @HaggardHawks

I had a lunch Skype date with my brother today. After hearing about my last few days, he said that I am like one of those one woman/man bands. I thought it was the most fitting image for how I feel at the moment. I just don’t make music, I make books.

We had our cover reveal today, and judging by the comments received, Monique, Joanne and I did not do ‘too badly’. I love it. And the book’s content is just as exquisite. At a time of loss for nearly everyone, to read Joanne’s journey through several gigantic losses in her life, to follow her footsteps through a period of intense grief and suffering, and to see her emerge more resilient and still being able to smile and encounter life and people with generosity of spirit is beyond inspiring.

Joanne Hichens

Knowing Joanne and being able to call her my friend is one of the greatest treasures in my life. To publish her memoir is a privilege I am immensely grateful for. We have worked together before – last year, we co-edited HAIR: Weaving & Unpicking Stories of Identity – and it has always been a joy, but working on this book took that inspiring cooperation to a new level. And to have other amazing creative people be part of this project – Monique Cleghorn (designer), Joanna Cooke (artist) and Helen Moffett (editor) – made every step of the way precious.

Today, I was at my computer for most of the day again, but with this cover reveal my professional week ended on an absolute high.

And my personal week ended with a delicious dinner with my love at Grub & Vine.

It is time for bed now. Salieri is waiting. And I forgot to mention that I finally had the TV – the most reliable sleeping pill for me – in the bedroom fixed!

Good night.

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 10 September

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

— @HaggardHawks

Crisis management day with extremely positive results and good news on all possible fronts. And because Lester’s short story collection, Let It Fall Where It Will, is being typeset, and today I had a meeting with Joanne Hichens and Monique Cleghorn to finalise a cover for a new Karavan Press book we had been working on for weeks (to be revealed tomorrow!!! – and if you think you saw some beautiful covers this year, you haven’t seen anything yet!), and hair is on everyone’s lips, and I did not take any photographs myself today, I am sharing the above stunning photograph that Kirsten Arendse illustrated one of Lester’s stories with when it was published in HAIR, the book that Joanne and I co-edited, and Monique designed. There are so many stories that we share and there are so many more we are going to tell together. I love working with people like Kirsten, Lester, Monique and Joanne. Together, we bring art into the world that makes every part of the process – even the hair-tearing bits – worth it. And sometimes we sleep in our clothes, and don’t manage to wash our hair, stumble through the days, and fall into bed exhausted, but we make things happen. And they are beautiful.

I CANNOT wait until tomorrow’s cover reveal. Watch Karavan Press’s social media for it.

I go to bed in a state beyond tiredness, but with a smile on my face.

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 9 September

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

— @HaggardHawks

A night of restlessness. I watched two long interviews with Chomsky and Snowden in the small hours when I couldn’t sleep. I am fascinated by people who can not only grasp complexity, but convey it to others in ways that establish understanding through precision and clarity. It is a rare gift. The interviews made me think of one of my all-time favourite quotes by Karl Popper:

The only things I would change are the pronouns replacing the intellectual and the ‘men’. Luckily, a lot of work has been done and our fellow men and women are growing the intellectual capital of all human beings together, even if not always as equals in the eyes of their communities. A long road ahead.

A beautiful day. Eventually, Glinka and I took our work outside into the sun.

In the evening, I walked on the Promenade for the first time in months and then picked up my love from work to have dinner together at his place: and because it was Wednesday, it was time for BBQ buns from the Hoghouse. Delicious, as always. The potato wedges did not survive the trip home …

It was a long day of many challenges and I am exhausted. And when I read the latest news about another South African giant passing away, I did have a cry.

George Bizos (1928-2020) – there are no words apart from gratitude, and tears, and an overwhelming longing for light. Rest in peace. Thank you.

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

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

— NICD