Tag Archives: Operation Oysterhood

Operation Oysterhood: 4 December

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

— @HaggardHawks

Eel every it is.

An accidental image that says so much about the surreal quality of our present.

Stood in a loooooong queue at DStv today. It’s also a looooong story. Luckily, there was a happy ending, and Mama TV will still be able to put me to sleep for a looooong time to come.

Thank goodness I took Harry with me and he kept me company during the wait in the customer tent erected as a safety measure in front of the DStv offices. Terrible plot twist though: Eleanore was shot dead in a dodgy Hong Kong hotel!!! And all these books, I have been hoping that she and Harry would get back together again … What a mess!

What else? My shower renovations are complete! I finished everything this morning and will probably waste a lot of water tomorrow when I have my first proper shower in the house since September … No comment!

Everything feels like an eternity nowadays.

I also finished a book review today that I have been writing for the duration of the lockdown (I wish this was an exaggeration, but it isn’t). A million other things got done. By late afternoon, my head was spinning again and I just decided to call it quits and start a fire and open a red (a gift from a Karavan Press author :)). My love came to dinner and we enjoyed braaied chops and wors on the stoep.

And then, I had a wonderful Skype date with my Mom and Krystian – he celebrated his name day today :)

Now, I am ready for bed.

Eel every, I tell you. Good night.

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 2 December

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

— @HaggardHawks

A live poetry reading! An evening of magic. Balm for the soul.

We launched FOR EVERYTHING THAT IS POINTLESS AND PERFECT by Stephen Symons at the Alma Café tonight. Thank you to Stephen, the Alma Café, and everyone who attended and made this into an exception evening of communal listening as Stephen’s words washed over us like a gentle sea wave of meaning and perfection.

Nothing is easy nowadays, but when it all comes together as it did tonight, all the hope and effort are worth it, and one can go to bed believing in a kinder tomorrow.

Thank you.

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 1 December

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

— @HaggardHawks

The Book Lounge celebrated their THIRTEENTH birthday today! I met an inspiring woman who loves books as much as I do at the shop and we got our birthday book loot (mine pictured above) and went for coffee to catch up afterwards. The last time I saw her was in February and the world was a completely different place then …

In the evening, I had a simple dinner with my love.

The rest of the day was too much to handle and once again I realised that I am in a really tense and vulnerable space, and I am barely coping. There are a few new year’s resolutions coming – the most important one will be: be kind to yourself and say NO!

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 30 November

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

— @HaggardHawks

Reading with Salieri

I managed to get up early and got the most urgent morning work done before returning to bed with coffee, Harry and Salieri for a bit of relaxed reading. It wasn’t for long (though blissful), and the rest of the day was relentless until about an hour ago. I then FINALLY got to the next step in my shower renovations, which had been on hold since September (!!!) because of the other more pressing craziness going on all around. Fresh grout is in and looking great. It now needs to dry and all that will remain to be done will be the silicon finish. I can’t believe that it took nearly two months to get this done …

Anyway, next step in my home renovations: The Wall. That might take twenty years, but I am not giving up.

And I need to start on tax returns: for the Literary Trust, Karavan Press and moi. Pray for me.

I can finally talk about one of the literary projects I have been involved in as an editor this year: Shine a Light by Corrine Wilson. It is an astounding, raw, beautiful, touching and inspiring story and working on it has been one of the highlights of my year. The book is getting the most moving readers’ reviews and by spreading this remarkable story it continues with the amazing work Corrine and Ingrid De Storie have been involved in in the last few years. They rescue vulnerable animals and change lives under the most challenging circumstances. Don’t miss out on this one when you think of Christmas gifts! It is truly special.

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 28-29 November

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

— @HaggardHawks

When the world is about to go under, press the PAUSE button and head out to … Franschhoek!

My love took me on a culinary adventure in the Franschhoek Valley this weekend. What better way to forget about your worries than with your love, in beautiful surroundings, delighting in feast after feast of some of the best food and wine experiences the Cape has to offer?

It’s hard to come up with alternatives. We are talking about the newly established Ōku Eatery and Epice Restaurant and the relocated La Petite Colombe. We are talking about OYSTERS!

Throw in TLC, a friend, sleep, a fluffy bathrobe, a crystal-clear pool, sunshine, the next Harry Bosch novel, a poet you admire and incredible views, and you can tell tension to go to hell, and start recharging your batteries.

On the morning of our departure, we found out that our dear Helen (on her way to a function in support of a campaign against domestic violence) was also heading towards Franschhoek and we travelled together. It was simply wonderful to catch up and to arrive in Franschhoek while reminiscing about the good old days of the Franschhoek Literary Festival. One day, one day again …

The weekend had three more literary touches of note: the author of one of my two absolute favourite books of 2019 spotted us in Franschhoek and came to say hello – Musa Khanyile. If you haven’t read his debut poetry collection – All the Places (uHlanga Press) – then you have missed out big time!

The second literary touch is a bit more mundane, but also uplifting: after weeks of purely professional reading (no matter how wonderful, it is still WORK), I have finally managed to start a book this weekend for pure enjoyment, Echo Park. My Harry Bosch binge is continuing. I am loving the series. I also finally had time to simply hang out next to the pool where we were staying. And I swam and sunbathed, and after only a few hours of all of this, I felt more human and at peace again.

Third literary touch of the weekend: Diane Awerbuck’s review of Death and the After Parties by Joanne Hichens. The review itself is a piece of art! Brilliant writing.

And most importantly, I had enough strength and head- and heartspace available to be there for someone who needed my support this weekend while going through a major personal crisis. I hate being too paralysed by my own anxieties to such an extent that I cannot be there for the people I love in the way they deserve.

Another intense working week is about to start. I am certainly more ready to face it than I was on Friday before Franschhoek. We soldier on, as I say. No one knows what tomorrow will bring. But whatever it is, I feel more competent about encountering it.

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 27 November

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

— @HaggardHawks

A mixed bag of a day. Horrible news interwoven with miracles and things getting done despite unbelievable obstacles in their path. It is hard to believe that a day has only twenty-four hours. Every single one of them feels like eternity now. And it takes forever every day in the morning to get started. At night, I am scared to face going to bed. Thank goodness I am usually awake around five a.m. and can force myself to open my eyes by seven latest. In the evening, I put on the TV and hope for it to put my mind enough at ease to fall asleep eventually. I am afraid to be left alone in my own headspace for too long. It is frightening there at the moment. Any kind of external input is a welcome distraction. I function. I get things done. But by now I am only pretending to cope.

The thing is that I am still physically healthy, I do have a roof over my head, I can feed The Cats, even buy an occasional book, but I am trying to hold on to so many dreams in the process that are on the verge of shattering that the burden feels impossibly heavy.

I think the worst is that the worries are so overwhelming and often so paralysing that even when the most incredible things happen, they only bring temporary relief – they can no longer be enjoyed and celebrated with the kind of abandon they deserve.

A few things I read, was reminded of, today:

This interview with Nick, where he says:

What have you found most supportive and/or heart lifting in this time?

There hasn’t been much, to be honest. It’s been awful. Almost every day has been a struggle, and the struggle is made worse by the fact that I know everyone else is struggling too. There hasn’t been a great amount of levelheaded, public honesty about how difficult this has been: we’re always looking for the positive angle, or the deft and lucid summation of the medical-political omnishambles we’ve been living through. I think it’s enough to say that it’s been horrible, it is continuing to be horrible, and that I cannot wait for it to be over. People have been and haven’t been supportive; what lifts the heart one day doesn’t work the next. 

I can’t be too curmudgeonly, though. uHlanga’s writers, suppliers and distributors have responded so wonderfully and bravely to the challenges we’ve been facing and will be facing for some time to come. But I think we’re all just doing the best we can. There’s really nothing else to it.

And then, Sally’s moving post about 2020: “Good riddance to 2020 (almost)”

And this interview Debbie reminded me of (I watched it live on TV a while back and watched it online again today): “Exposing the men who hate women” (Shattering!)

It was Black Friday today, but apart from a takeaway dinner with my love at his place, I stayed home and bought nothing apart from a croissant for tomorrow’s breakfast and two chocolate chip cookies for dessert tonight. I want to spend my money on books on the 1st of December at the Book Lounge when they celebrate their thirteenth birthday. I often think of which institutions I am desperate to see survive this insane pandemic and its aftermath, and libraries and bookshops are always top of the list. A life without access to books does not seem worth living for me. How will they survive? With our support.

I want Karavan Press to survive, but I am publishing against all demands of logic and hoping against hope that we will somehow make it.

Dreams can be like children. You never forgive yourself for neglecting and forsaking them.

I have done what I could. The generosity and assistance of the people I work with have been overwhelming. And soon, there will be time to rest. I just have to somehow make it until then.

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 26 November

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

— @HaggardHawks

Last night, another unforgettable feast at La Colombe. It was at La Colombe (at its previous location) that I first learned how to eat oysters on my twenty-ninth birthday many, many years ago. The restaurant has grown from strength to strength since then and it has survived the hard lockdown (!); I have also survived (lockdown, touch wood, and otherwise), and my love for oysters has also grown over the years. I am even writing Oysterhood diaries :) Yesterday’s extravaganza did not include oysters, though. Yet, every single bite was heaven in one’s mouth. Food magic! And now, La Colombe is running spring specials – still not exactly the cheapest meal in town, but you get an experience worth at million bucks for only a few hundred.

At the dinner, my love announced something spectacularly amazing. We are in for an adventure of a lifetime in December. Stay tuned for more details ..

And today? It was back to reality. A ten-hour working day and a simple salad for dinner with my love. I did go for a walk! The first one in forever. I seem to be chained to my computer most of the time nowadays (not good!). But, the end of this madness is in sight. And, throughout the day today, I have also been counting my blessings when it comes to the people I work with on a permanent basis. Today, everyone delivered on all fronts in ways that go way beyond what one could reasonably expect. We are living through an impossible time, and nearly every day when you think that it can’t get any harder or worse, something terrible and unexpected happens. And yet, and yet! Together, with the right people by our sides, we can make the impossible possible. And today was another example of it for me.

Our Covid numbers are escalating in the Western Province and beyond. The signs are ominous. All these months of horror behind us, and there are still people who think that the simple precautionary safety measures are beyond them. In most cases, all it needs is a little bit of care …

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 25 November

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

— @HaggardHawks

A miracle! I have an eight-hour (only!) working day behind me. Yay! Started early and had only a short break mid-morning and then by four p.m. I was brain-comatose and decided to stop, clean the pool, do some gardening and my nails afterwards, and to draw a little bit (see above: drawing, phone filters applied).

Tonight, a fancy dinner with my love. I am soooo ready.

From Tuesday next week, I will start reclaiming a saner life for myself. These past few weeks have been as mad as this time last year, and back then I promised myself not to do this kind of thing again. Well … But I do sincerely hope that I have learned my lesson this time around. There is just one of me and there is just so much that one person can take on. This person is tired. Very.

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 24 November

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

— @HaggardHawks

The second-last Karavan Press book for 2020 is about to be launched: the press’s second poetry collection. One of the goals I have had for Karavan Press was to create a space for authors to which they would want to return to. It thrills me that Disturbance is the second title I will be publishing with Dawn Garisch, and there is another one in the pipeline for next year already.

Don’t you just LOVE the cover of Disturbance? Designed by Stephen Symons and featuring an artwork by Katherine Glenday, it embodies the collection. I know readers will bask in its insights, beauty and compassion.

Although my cheeks are sore again, today was the first day in a while where I felt that I might be in control of my professional life again (although I first did post the wrong cover when announcing Disturbance …). A friend rescued a project I have been working on for a while, which despite my best efforts seemed doomed to failure for a few days, but then she said, ‘Don’t worry, we will get this done!’, when somebody else let me down completely, and she is delivering on her promise. I feel very fortunate to have people like her in my life.

On the pandemic front, the numbers are worrying again. It seems that we are on an upward trajectory in the Western Cape. I know that it takes a lot of effort to keep up with one’s vigilance. I still wear my mask diligently and wash my hands like a surgeon, but I am engaging in many more social activities, professionally and privately, and it is difficult to estimate how safe some of them are. So much depends on the cooperation from other people, and not everyone is willing to protect others as carefully as you are yourself, but you can’t be responsible for everyone else; even though the risk is mutual at all times … Many tough calls have to be made. I don’t have answers, just uncertainties.

Best news of today: the results of all the feline blood tests of yesterday came through and The Cats are in perfect health despite being nearly thirteen, fourteen and fifteen years of age respectively. I am a happy cat mother.

Tonight, I have a Skype date with a friend in Vienna. No risks attached to that – although who knows when we will get to bed when we start talking …

Good night! :)

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 23 November

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

— @HaggardHawks

Glinka always insists on driving when we go for our annual vet appointments …

The working day began at five and ended at five, with three visits to the Blue Cross clinic for check-ups in-between. It was a loooooong day. At five in the afternoon, I decided to call it quits and started cooking a stew (my love is coming to dinner later tonight), and ironing and de-stressing in pure domestic goddess mode.

A lot of work got done today and most of it was fulfilling and wonderful, but I also had to end a professional relationship with someone who was simply not doing their job. Luckily, someone else I work with stepped in to take over and I am infinitely grateful. I burst into tears out of sheer relief that something close to my heart is actually going to happen the way it was planned despite terrible obstacles on the way. And I owe it all to people in the industry who are not only super-creative and hard-working, but who have a heart and will assist in one’s hour of desperation and need. This generosity will not be forgotten.

What else?

My onion seed ‘plantation’ is coming along nicely.

I might actually sleep peacefully tonight …

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

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

— NICD