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This Week: Cattitude, beatniks, music links and my special guest, Beci Orpin.
The Small Batch List

March 17th, 2017

This week I spent a little time sitting at the end of a friend's bed. She'd had an emergency appendectomy and was recovering with grapes and good books while two cats lounged beside her and her little love-bird perched on her shoulder.  While we sat there, the cats, with all their fur fluffing and dander puffing, immediately got up from their comfortable positions and tried to cuddle up to me and lie across my lap. They persisted despite my pleas and curses. I said all the right cat-positive things for fear of seeming heinous, things like, "You are very beautiful, but I just can't cuddle you. It's not you, it's me. I have allergies!"

This is not an unusual scenario, as any cat-despiser or cat-allergic person will know. I seem to be the person in the room that a cat always seeks out. They choose me over all the other warm laps and friendly smiles. No matter how much I initially ignore them, then persist with gently removing them and placing them on the floor with an encouraging push away from me, they return time and again. 

So I remember what I have learnt from this Slate article, which originated from the question, "How should a stranger behave to a cat to become his friend?" and I do the exact opposite. I now gaze lovingly at these strange, aloof creatures and ask them how they are, and tell them how beautiful their fur is, and even reach out a hand to pretend to almost pat them. I sigh and woo. I tell them that I really need them to sit on my lap. And sure enough, they look bewildered and then look off into the distance just beyond my shoulder, and shift awkwardly from paw to paw. There's nothing a cat dislikes more than a needy, clingy human. I know I am totally anthromorphising here, but it's hard not to do.

Perhaps I could zoomorphise a little too. I wonder at the idea of taking a little bit of cat-strategy into my own life. It might help! Perhaps next time I see someone who clearly doesn't like me, who is doing their best to stare out the window and avoid eye contact, I could bring out my inner-cat. I could push past all my friends, ignoring friendly hellos, and head over to the unfriendly non-friend. I would then proceed to knead them a little, turn around in circles a couple of times and then lie across them. Slightly awkward in a coffee shop, I suspect, but that wouldn't stop a cat.
Audrey Hepburn's Crazy Dance
Speaking of cool cats, I was scrolling back through my blog looking for an old illustration today, and found this video of Audrey Hepburn in the 1957 musical Funny FaceA bookish, shy girl goes to Paris, and expresses herself through interpretative dance. I watched it again and thought it was worth posting here, even just for the first few minutes where she proclaims to Fred Astaire, "I feel like expressing myself now, and I could certainly use a release!" While Fred Astaire face-palms in horror, our beatnik heroine finds a couple of other hunky beatnik lads in striped t-shirts to accompany her in her wild, acrobatic twirling through a smoky 1950s bar. Love it.

Chris Bathgate's new single Northern Country Trail.  I have been a huge fan of Chris Bathgate for a long time. His albums Salt Year (try Poor Eliza) and A Cork Tale Wake  (try Serpentine) have seen me through times both dark and light. I am really looking forward to his new record, Dizzy Seas, the first full length album since 2011. Out on May 19th. 

25 Songs That Tell Us Where Music is Going in The New York Times Magazine.
"In 2017, identity is the topic at the absolute centre of our conversations about music....This is what we talk about now, the music-makers and the music-listeners both. Not the fine details of genre and style — everyone, allegedly, listens to everything now — but the networks of identity that float within them. Maybe decades ago you could aim your songs at a mass market, but music does not really have one of those any more. Artists have to figure out whom they’re speaking to and where they’re speaking from." I dunno, really. I would say "sales and advertising"... call me cynical. But regardless there's a lot to listen to and read in this list.

Like me, my grandfather loved music. Looooved it. He had a big 1970s fancy stereo system with a couple of massive speakers and a huge vinyl collection, with everything from the classics of the Baroque all stars through to Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon. My Grandmother, on the other hand, despite being a complex and cultured woman, was completely indifferent to music. She once told me, "I don't see the point of it." We'd play her music we loved and she would look at us with a glower that said "really, no, stop trying to move me with this crap."

"Inside the Heads of People Who Don't Like Music" in The Atlantic explores the science behind music anhedonics of which my Grandmother may have been one, and hyper-hedonics (those who feel deep feelings and chills when listening to music) of which my Grandfather may have been one. Which are you?

A little extra:
Remember this!? Beastie Boys Fight for Your Right - Revisited.

Friday Five Favourites - guest-starring Beci Orpin

Amazing designer, author, illustrator, art director, maker and mama.

Beci can be found on instagram, in her amazing house (I have so much admiration for this space!), and teaching a workshop early next month. Her book, Sunshine Spaces is out in Australia on the 1st of April through Hardie Grant, and in the US 11th April through Chronicle.

1. This sweater from Aries Arise.
My fashion obsession has had its flame re-ignited in the past few years. Aries is one of my favourite labels. It's expensive but their quality is amazing and I’m all about saving for the right purchases, and this sweater is that. It has just the right amount of practicality and ridiculous graphic excellence. 

2. Dick Bruna 
Yes because he recently passed, but he was always my numero uno since day dot, and would have made it in my top 5 regardless. I was brought up with lots of great books - the Dick Bruna ones were always my favourite. When I was 5, I wanted to change my name to Miffy, and my obsession hasn’t let up since then. 

3. Morning ritual
I didn’t think I had one but on further pondering I do. It involves: a very strong good quality english breakfast tea with just the right amount of milk and sugar (not too much of either); making my bed - something I actually enjoy and have time to do now my kids are somewhat self-sufficient teen/primary school kid; walking my youngest Ari to school (catching pokemon on the way); and finally riding my bike to my studio - it’s not particularly picturesque but we have lived where we do for almost 10 years now and I undoubtedly run into someone along the way and that's a nice feeling. 

4. Lunch Lady Magazine
In a time when I am buying less and less mags, Lunch Lady shone through. Excellent articles and down-to-earth advice on kids and parenting, delicious easy (secretly healthy) recipes, beautiful design and some great contributing artists (like me! ). It’s actually more like a cool book than a mag. Whatever you think it is, it’s great. 

5. Jalepeno Margaritas
We started serving these in our restaurant Juanita Peaches and it’s become my preferred Friday knockoff, and often Tuesday knockoff. Sometimes Thursday too. 
I'm off on vacation for a couple of weeks. See you in April!

Claire Robertson,
The Small Batch List

Person with a keyboard


p.s. 100 points for guessing the quote in the subject line! The last time it was "Love doesn't just sit there, like a stone, it has to be made, like bread; remade all the time, made new.” ― Ursula K. Le Guin, The Lathe of Heaven.
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