Tag Archives: Operation Oysterhood

Operation Oysterhood: 24 February

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

— @HaggardHawks

My first (and until now only) published novel, Invisible Others. I signed a copy of it for someone today and realised that by pure chance I was wearing the same outfit as in the author photograph of seven years ago. The only thing that is missing is the beautiful Scandinavian brooch that was stolen from me a few years ago when someone broke into my house and took many things that can’t be worth much to the people who own them today, but were invaluable to me. The gorgeous jewelry piece was a gift from a special woman I met in Norway many years ago. So many memories …

An ordinary Wednesday. I am beginning to feel that I am stabilising mentally, coping, somehow. Despite hormonal monstruality. But then, I did have chocolate cake for lunch – whatever it takes to get through the days.

My love and I went to an artist’s studio in the evening today to view their most recent work, which was utterly stunning. I wish I could, but it is not mine to share; all I can do is assure the world that it is worth waiting for, as all great art is.

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 23 February

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

— @HaggardHawks

Letting my hair down at the end of the day.

I go through these weird phases. Basil. Fresh basil, I just can’t get enough of it right now.

Today was a good day. A morning of reading, some admin, my love stopped by for coffee, editing, lunch at HARU with Lester, who submitted the manuscript of his debut novel (!!!) to Karavan Press, more editing and then an hour of hanging out with the Cats next to the pool before it got too dark outside to read.

I meant to go walking on the beach today, but I ran out of time. It felt good, nevertheless, to simply get through a lot of the work planned for the day. And seeing Lester and talking stories, books, writers and, of course, Covid-19 (it’s impossible not to) over a delicious lunch was also good for the soul (although the Covid-19 conversation was full of sorrow).

Wait until you hear what the novel is about …! And if you haven’t discovered them yet, Lester’s stories are brilliant:

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 22 February

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

— @HaggardHawks

All the usual Monday things, apart from my accountant writing to me first thing in the morning in near desperation, trying to get my provisional tax return submitted on time. I am afraid my own desperation was oozing between the lines of my reply to the poor man. But I work with good people and his professionalism and kindness have always been indispensable. Today, he saved the day, again. I am deeply grateful.

After that, I went for a walk and took the above photograph on my way back home. It irks me that I have no idea who the skeleton might have belonged to. I can’t even decide whether it was a bird or a rodent. What I am pretty certain of is that this might have been a victim of the recent fire on the Rondebosch Common.

I had to truly force myself to sit down at my computer today, but I did manage to do all of my planned work (all extremely rewarding in the end) with my catsisstants helping throughout the day. At lunchtime, I skyped with Mom and Krystian and we were once again so grateful to have survived with our health unscathed by the pandemic so far, although I do wonder a lot about all the secondary ailments that so many of us are suffering from because of the stress and horrors of current realities.

After work, my love visited for dinner and I braaied us a few lamb chops. I have really gotten good at this braai thing, even if I say so myself.

An early night. A new episode of ‘Last Week Tonight’ with John Oliver awaits :)

‘It’s not perfect, but it’s much better,’ is something I often say to myself. May it be true again this time.

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 21 February

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

— @HaggardHawks

Waking up with my love is always special. Waking up with my love in a special place is magic. And because it was Sunday, there was time for coffee and reading in bed, tea on the balcony with a view, and a delicious, leisurely breakfast – Eggs Benedict, my favourite, and more coffee – before heading home to more Sunday laziness.

I have not been well lately, feeling lost and fragile and trying more or less successfully to manage the instability and a heavy workload. My love has been a rock of support through it all. And this weekend of relaxation and beauty has been heaven.

I can’t say that I was completely restored to myself and ready for action when I returned home, but I was more at peace and, although I had no desire whatsoever to start catching up with any of the work waiting for me (not on a Sunday! it is by not respecting my limits and usual boundaries that I got into this shaky state in the first place), I was happy to do some much-needed gardening: I pruned a few trees, cleared the path to the house, removed mountains of dead leaves and, to top it all, cleaned the pool (which was turning green because of neglect). The Cats assisted throughout and were very happy to have me outdoors, dispensing cuddles between my tasks.

There is a real autumn feel in the air, the seasons changing.

We spent the rest of the afternoon and early evening in front of the TV, watching soccer and Survivor, reading books and newspapers, eating and drinking. When I visited the Alma Café to exchange some books on Friday, I got one of the pies they sell from Luke’s Larder. Perfect for a late lunch after gardening; and for dinner, simple perfection: cheese, toast and red wine.

This coming week, I tackle provisional tax and editing. I soldier on as best as I can. One small step after another.

Let’s agree not to talk about the tennis.

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 20 February

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

— @HaggardHawks

A spoiled szczurek – that’s how I feel today. After completing my work for the morning and visiting the post office and the Protea Bookshop in Zonnebloem, my love whisked me away to the Waterfront where we spent the entire afternoon swimming, sunbathing, eating and relaxing at The Silo Hotel. They have some incredible specials on at the moment: Local Love at The Silo Hotel. Pure bliss.

The pizza they serve on their rooftop might be one of the best, if not the best, in town. And the views – oooooh, they are hard to beat!

For the first time in forever my cheeks are, finally, not sore. A change of perspective, some relief from the stresses of the everyday. A deep, content sigh.

What else?

Naomi Osaka has her fourth grand slam title. What an amazing achievement – a beautifully bright star on the tennis firmament.

Apart from all this happiness, is it just me or is anyone else sad thinking about this quote from the official Twitter account of NASA’s Perseverance: “Hello, world. My first look at my forever home.”

The top of the Waterfront for one day is a great escape. An eternity of service for humanity on Mars does not sound like great fun. Thank goodness rovers have no feelings and don’t understand the concept of loneliness.

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 19 February

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

— @HaggardHawks

A lovely writer came to visit and brought two of my favourite things: flowers and soap. She also brought her writing, which I love. Still smiling.

Until her visit on my stoep in the late afternoon, the day was a real muddle with only one brief highlight when my love and I visited the Book Lounge together. He was buying books for himself and gifted me a copy of the latest newcomer on the local literary journal scene: Everyday Journal. The first issue features new writing by Nick Mulgrew :) (among others! exciting stuff).

Nick and I are in the process of editing his debut novel. The strongest creative lifeline for me at the moment.

Yesterday, I met with a writer whose work I first included in Touch. We hope to work together again one day. There are so many great ideas and creative forces in play out there. If only I could win the lottery and shape them into being …

But for now, I need to focus on sustaining my energy levels to get through the remaining three projects that require my attention before the BIG rest. There can be no deviation from this plan.

My love and I spent the evening at the Waterfront. We managed not to assault the police or tarnish anyone’s reputation.

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

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

— NICD

Just when I was about to post this, I received a video of our friend leaving the ICU after over two months. She is alive. She will be well. The entire staff of the hospital – the miracle workers and superheroes of our times – cheered her on. And I am typing this with tears of relief and gratitude pouring down my face …

Operation Oysterhood: 18 February

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

— @HaggardHawks

My brother sent this postcard from Poland in September. Its arrival today felt like mail delivery must have felt a century ago when letters were still transported by ship and carriage. But I am not sure that even back then it would have taken five months to deliver a letter from Europe to South Africa. It doesn’t matter. My perception of time has been altered dramatically throughout the lockdown, and the clocks in my house still refuse to tell proper time anyway, so my infinite patience has become even more flexible, and the only thing I feel about the postcard arriving so late is gratitude. A small miracle in my postbox. So much nicer than the accompanying municipal bills.

This morning I finished reading The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman. Beautiful writing, fascinating characters and most of the way a page-turning plot, but the ending disappointed me, although it is a ‘happy’ one.

‘You only have to forgive once. To resent, you have to do it all day, every day. You have to keep remembering all the bad things.’ This is one of the quotes from the book that stuck with me. Perhaps in a way that was not intended, because there are cases where I think resentment is necessary, all day, every day, and remembering the bad things allows you to keep sane and not to make the same mistakes again. There are things that should not and cannot be forgotten, forgiven. And when bad things happen, the anger, the resentment, can be a powerful force of moving beyond the trauma. After all, the novel also notes: ‘Scars are just another kind of memory.’ Not everyone deserves forgiveness. Sometimes on an intimate, sometimes on a global scale.

One more quote from the book: ‘That’s how life goes on – protected by the silence that anaesthetises shame.’

Is anyone selling Zuma’s Tea already? Or should I abandon publishing for tea business?

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 17 February

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

— @HaggardHawks

I try to post a book image on the Karavan Press IG account every few days. It has become a lovely way of interacting with our readers. This morning, when I couldn’t sleep again, I posted a photo I took yesterday while enjoying some beautiful cheese and, as always when eating cheese, thinking of Dawn Garisch’s Breaking Milk. I loved the responses to the post on IG from readers who had read the novel. When I first read one of its early drafts many, many years ago, I fell in love with this book, the richness of its insights, its beauty, and the portrayal of farm life and organic cheese-making. It is impossible not to crave cheese when you read the book. We published Breaking Milk in 2019 and I still marvel at the fact that I was able to midwife it into being through publication. It is such an honour to share it with readers and to see how much they love it, too.

I woke up today sometime after three a.m. and could not get back to sleep. Eventually, I read and watched tennis and made coffee and listened to birdsong.

I received the strangest two requests in the early hours of this sleepless morning: one from an author in India wanting me to publish his book; the other from an author in Canada wanting me to comment on his book about a topic I know absolutely nothing about. Why? What’s the point of sending these bizarre requests to complete strangers and asking them to deal with them, to waste their time? There is a certain kind of audacity in such requests – and definitely no time spent on research and proper engagement with the person addressed – that is difficult for me to comprehend. I cannot imagine approaching a publisher to publish my manuscript without reading at least a few of their titles. I cannot also imagine asking a writer to comment on my book without knowing what their fields of expertise/interest are and actually offering a copy of the book to them for reading (the book I was asked to comment on costs ‘only’ £120 – I can get ten local books I actually want to read in SA for this price).

Are these kind of approaches a gender thing? Why do I feel that it is predominantly men who have the chutzpah to waste other people’s time like this?

Luckily, in the afternoon, I did have the loveliest of times in the company of a writer I know and treasure. She had been worried about me and came to sit with me on my stoep to chat. She brought delicious cookies baked by one of her daughters. Perfect for afternoon coffee and tea.

The rest of the day was editing and admin.

In the evening, I attended the virtual launch of Brent Meersman’s Rattling the Cage: Reflections on Democratic South Africa. Apart from the technical problems that interrupted the conversation, great stuff. A book to look out for.

Rafa lost in five. My tennis heart is broken, but Tsitsipas’s comeback from two sets down was a feat and he has to be congratulated on the incredible effort. Can he do it two more times? Not sure. So, it looks like I will be praying for the Russians to do the job (of defeating you know who…).

The vaccine rollout has begun in SA. J&J all the way!

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 16 February

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

— @HaggardHawks

Ouch, the Jacques Pauw story hurts! I believed him. Parts of the story seemed weird, but it was Jacques Pauw telling it, and Daily Maverick publishing it, so it had to have merit, right?

Wrong. And Pauw’s half-baked apology is also bullish and problematic, and the Daily Maverick trying to contain the damage instead of simply admitting a gross mistake in judgement and editorial integrity is disappointing to say the least.

I am sorry that I ever thought that the culprits in the story were the restaurant and the police. The article was sheer abuse of power, and the damage done to the reputation of the writer and the news outlet will be severe. At a time when readers are starved for factual reporting, reporting with insight and integrity, this is a blow that will be difficult to recover from. And I wish it did not pain me so intensely on a personal level, but I do feel betrayed by people and institutions I trusted – maybe not completely, but definitely more than others. I am so tired of having to fact-check and question everything I read in the news. Everyone makes mistakes, of course, it’s par for the course, but it’s the way one handles them afterwards that is the key. And this story was not handled properly from the start. The latest installment to transpire is the saddest part of all.

There was much more to this day, but this betrayal sadly overshadowed all else.

Stories told with integrity should not be as rare as they are.

Let me share one piece of amazing news from the ICU: our friend is out of the most acute danger zone and on her way to recovery from Covid-19. It will be a long process, but she is relearning to talk, eat, walk, and she is enjoying a book again. A true miracle. This I am eternally grateful for.

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 15 February

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

— @HaggardHawks

A bedtime story.

I work – even when I am incapable of working – with the most generous people. In the last few days, I have had some truly uplifting email exchanges with writers. In the midst of despair, literary flickers of meaning.

Monday: I got through the day. In the afternoon, I cooked a delicious lamb stew for dinner and my love opened a beautiful bottle of red for us after work. We are both knackered, so it was a short but sweet evening. At one time, all three Cats joined us – a real family affair.

From the first of March, Austria is introducing free Covid-19 tests which you can get at the pharmacy for free and test yourself with at home. This makes me happy for my family. It will make life so much safer for all.

Zondo Depression lifted for a little today. At this stage, I will take any jail sentence for Zuma. If we are all equal before the law, let us witness it at least this one momentous time. I can just imagine the celebrations!

John Oliver is back after a looooong hiatus. Yay!

And Rafa is in the QF of the Australian Open :)

Now, if only my cheeks weren’t so sore and I could sleep through the nights and not be so close to tears most of the time … This too shall pass.

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

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

— NICD