February 10th, 2017

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February 10th, 2017

During the week I read the article The Untranslatable Emotions You Never Knew You Had which is full of excellent words I now want to work into my daily life. I have always loved the Japanese word “Natsukashii” – which means “a nostalgic longing for the past, with happiness for the fond memory, yet sadness that it is no longer.” (I feel that for my recently bulldozed childhood home.) Now I also want to add “sehnsucht” which is German for ” ‘life-longings’, an intense desire for alternative states and realisations of life, even if they are unattainable” … because who doesn’t have those?

I’m on the constant lookout for people with what the Hungarians describe as “Pihentagyú” – “literally meaning ‘with a relaxed brain’, it describes quick-witted people who can come up with sophisticated jokes or solutions”, and I also look for cute little faces that fill me with “gigil” (Tagalog) – “the irresistible urge to pinch or squeeze someone because they are loved or cherished”.

So I know we have FOMO – that horrible Fear of Missing Out, and the word FOBIA .. which we created for my own special brand of social anxiety – it stands for the Fear of Being Invited Again. But there are so many more complicated, nuanced feelings. This week I made up a bunch of words to describe certain unique emotions that I came across – either my own or belonging to those around me. I’m guessing you might relate to some of these feelings too, especially those affected by the unexpected heavy snowfall this week.

A feeling of longing for coffee with friends, tainted with a sense of failure and lack of bravery because the only things separating you are snowfall and potentially slippery roads.

Not dissimilar to coffeedrift, but perhaps a more juvenile version – The feeling of wanting to attend a sleepover but having hesitations due to cat allergies.

The sweet feeling of lying in bed and receiving the alert that schools are closed due to snow, which means you can stay in bed a little longer and not make school lunches, followed by the sinking feeling of realisation that you will need to find entertainment for your kids for the whole day during bloody Screen-Free Month.

The word for the sinking feeling of disappointment and failure, yet awareness of personal aging, when your daughter says “I really want to see the new season of Keeping up with the Kardashians“.

The word for that strong hot rush of a feeling that happens while attempting to calm down a freaking-out child when really you want to freak-out right back at them.

The sense of supreme superior satisfaction from making a decent dinner entirely out of ingredients scratched together from the pantry when snowed-in.

The slightly embarrassed feeling when a friend’s child innocently points out something unique about your environment or parenting style. This is usually caused by phrases such as; “I’ve noticed that you really ask everyone if they are okay a lot” or “Your family has a certain smell, a bit like… soup”.

The exhausted relief of finding enough stuff and then finishing another newsletter for the week.


I’m still taking orders for Marshmallow Bunny dolls — for just a short while longer. Email me if you are interested in having your name added to the list of commissions. $170 USD plus shipping.


Podcasting: I just can’t listen to this – but don’t let that stop you.  It’s ME on Abby Glassenberg’s While She Naps podcast. Abby was such a kind and gracious host and helped me get over my nerves. I just pretended that I was on a long walk with a friend, which is when you really can’t shut me up. We talked about blogs and craft, illustration and newsletters. See if you can figure out where my caffeine levels dipped and my brain slowed! Thank you so much Abby. x

Reading: Hey, I’m thinking about making a limited edition, extra special, print version of the Small Batch List. Anyone interested? Wholly inspired by this article: Pause! We Can Go Back!  about the book The Revenge of Analog: Real Things and Why They Matter by David Sax. After that I might press a podcast to vinyl.

Living: I have been thinking a lot about projects and goals and work and living lately, wondering about school or pushing myself into other uncomfortable and challenging areas. This article, Secrets to a Meaningful Life, explains how “your ambitions to improve your life do not need to be confined by your personality”. It advises to find the core projects that are important to you and push beyond your perceived limitations. Here is a TED Talk by personality psychologist Brian Little which talks more about this – and is also hugely entertaining. And he’s an introvert!

Newslettering: Speaking of newsletters (as I did in that podcast, at great length, in a kind of nerdy way), one of my favourite newsletters is written by the inspiring artist and author, Austin Kleon. You will not be sorry if you subscribe to his list of 10 interesting things he has come across during the week. They are always, always good.

Cooking: We were unexpectedly snowed in this week, and found ourselves stranded with a bag of white bread rolls, a couple of litres of milk and a bag of spinach. Uh oh. Fortunately we have a chaotic pantry full of tins and bags of dried stuff. I did a little research and found some great recipes that require nothing more than a chaotic pantry and some inventive thinking. This has been a fantastic way to clean out a backlog of forgotten items.
The best:  Fried Rice (we even found a block of tofu in the back of the fridge) and Southwestern Pizza with Black Beans and Corn (sounds weird but, hey, when it’s that or porridge for dinner, no one’s complaining).


Friday Five Favourites – guest-starring Carrie Cogan
Writer, cartoonist and my hilarious friend.
Most often found at Dented Stars and as of like yesterday, also on Instagram

I can’t quite remember how I first met Carrie, but it was most likely in the school yard, or at the swimming pool. She felt like someone I have always known. About a year ago we started sharing coffee, croissants, deep thoughts and laughs on a regular basis. She is a brilliant and talented writer. I am so pleased she has started blogging – and her cartoons make me laugh. She is working on a novel which I know is going to blow our socks off. Thanks for taking the time Carrie. xox

1. Champion Juicer  

I got this years ago for 60 dollars off our island’s exchange (buy and sell), in a swoop of good luck. I will avoid vacuuming or drying my hands at those washroom air-dry machines on account of the Loud Machine factor, but the Champion purrs reassuringly. My sons eat many vegetables via our Champion-made “healthy juice” (as they call it), and in the summertime it gives us soft serve ice cream when we feed it frozen bananas and berries. If you’ve seen me walking around with a faint orange rim around my mouth it isn’t because of a bad lipstick choice and bad application thereof. It is because I have just gulped down my favourite carrot-celery-cucumber-ginger-lemon juice on my way out the door. The colour orange always wins! Unless you add beets, then beet-red wins. Sometimes I pet my Champion when no one is looking.

2. Alice Munro’s Stories  
I recently read (and re-read) 40 Alice Munro stories in quick succession, in a sort of frenzy. I don’t know how to describe what happened, really, except to say that each story seemed to knock a hole in me that only another Alice Munro story could fill. Luckily our island library has 14 of her books for loan. When I tried to read anything else during this time, it seemed at once brash and numb. It told me too much. In addition to what she leaves out, I admire the way her stories travel seamlessly through time, and in doing so make time a less important, more slippery thing. Also, the stories have only gotten better as I age, for the lessons one might glean from them seem dearer: something about how to carry regret, to suspect that everyone has buried layers, to know that the characters in our lives we leave (or who leave) stay with us. Another magical bonus is that by having now lived in British Columbia for a decade (was I unknowingly led here by reading Munro?) I have found myself right inside some of the settings in the stories. Such as this one in “What is Remembered”:
“She arrived at Horseshoe Bay at almost the very last moment, and walked onto the ferry. The last days of May are among the longest of the year and, in spite of the ferry-dock lights and the lights of the cars streaming into the belly of the boat, she could see some glow in the western sky and, against it, the black mound of an island—not Bowen but one whose name she did not know—tidy as a pudding set in the mouth of the bay.”
— From the book Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage.

3. Alphabet Peg Set  
I use this tons, on envelopes, drawings and even to press out an entire little book. The letters lend an air of formality to my otherwise-scribbly style—kind of like putting a Christmas ornament on a tumbleweed, I guess.  Sometimes when I take the pegs in my hand, the letters on them appear brand new and strange to me, and I forget how to spell. Writers (I admit I’m one) are always focusing on sentences and paragraphs, on pages and chapters.  So it feels fresh and reviving to zoom in on the little bricks that make those all possible—the alphabet letters.

4. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, “Breathless” Video 
I am including this as a favourite thing because it contains many things I would normally loathe:  off-key flutes, cartoon animals with button eyes, and saccharin lyrics. Nick Cave makes them all cool. How can someone appear to be at once so serious and so loose? How does one acquire eyebrows like perfect illustrations of eyebrows? Before I go out dancing I will sometimes watch this and pretend that, later, I’m going to be standing right where his microphone is. And then I always look better than I would.

5. Running with Fergus in the Forest   
I used to train for marathons, on pavement. Then I got a dog and started running as a we. We run without words or watches, in the forest, up and around a mountain, or even two. Fergus makes many long detours and runs probably triple what I do, and his stump-of-tail wags full force the whole time (does that count as extra cardio?). Just by watching him I’m reminded how fun it is to move. After our runs his fur is full of sticks and leaves and dirt and creek water and sap, so that even when sequestered at a desk I’m never fully trapped inside, as long as he is by me.


See you next week!

Claire Robertson,
The Small Batch List
Person with a keyboard

p.s. 250 points for guessing the quote in the subject line! Also if you recognise this one, I want you to know that we are probably kindred spirits.
The last week it was Virginia Woolf from To The Lighthouse.


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