September 16th, 2016 #3

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September 16th, 2016

This is an illustration of me finding some watermelons in the garden, not of me laying giant green eggs – as it might first appear. Sometimes I confuse the two. This week I am overwhelmed by garden produce again. This time it’s beans. Scarlet runner beans, ugly, lumpy, green climbing beans and some quite nice yellow bush beans.  The trouble with beans is that if you turn your back for even a moment, they get enormous, tough and stringy. Instead of doing anything constructive with them I am just letting them get freakishly large with the bright idea that I might dry the beans out to replant again next year. Yeah? Is that a thing? I might try. Every year around now I hit this point of garden fatigue where I am completely done with thinking about how to deal with the enthusiastic over-planting we did in the spring. I would prefer now to think about watching endless reruns of The Mindy Project or maybe write that YA book I always meant to write. And then there’s always the internet. I found some stuff – I hope you find something to enjoy in this lot:.




Exclusively for you:

A subscriber exclusive: A goat-led tarot reading, especially for Small Batch List readers!  I am getting a little tarot guidance most days from a goat in Portland. Because, well, why not? One of Heather’s goats on Milk Barn Farm pulls a card from a pack to give you all the spiritual assistance you might need for the day, via Instagram. Kind Heather has provided a special reading by Marigold (above) for Small Batch List subscribers. Perfect internet perfection.

Photo by Heather Champ



Roald Dahl had remarkably bad (and quite entertaining) school reports for English Composition: Author of such classics as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda and the BFG, Roald Dahl was such an incredibly original author, and would have turned 100 last Tuesday. He died in 1990 leaving behind a great legacy – his books have sold more than 250 million copies worldwide. I have found some of his old school reports for English Composition and they are not what you would expect:


Summer Term, 1930 (aged 14).
“I have never met a boy who so persistently writes the exact opposite of what he means. He seems incapable of marshalling his thoughts on paper.”
Easter Term, 1931 (aged 15)
“A persistent muddler. Vocabulary negligible, sentences malconstructed. He reminds me of a camel.”
Summer Term, 1932 (aged 16)
“This boy is an indolent and illiterate member of the class.”

So there is hope for all of us! I also can’t help but think that there must have been much more leeway for teachers to have some creative fun with school reports in those days.

Illustration by Quentin Blake.



Notes from my imaginary travel diary: This week I am not in imaginary Paris, but on a road trip down the coast of California with a stop at Glass Beach – just near Fort Bragg. This was once a local dump for all kinds of non-toxic garbage, dating between 1949 and 1967 — now all that remains is a beautiful beach of salt-water-buffed glass pebbles. I have a penchant for sea-glass, with a small pot of it on my kitchen window sill, but this is just lovely.




An exquisite collection of glass sea creatures: just the thing to go along with our beach of sea glass. The Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, NY currently has an exhibition of these amazing glass models made meticulously by Leopold Blaschka and his son, Rudolf, in the late 1800s. Thousands upon thousands of these marine invertebrates were created and distributed for scientific study around the world.


The exhibition looks inspiring for sciencey-arty types: “Paired alongside the father and son’s drawings, archival material directly from the Blaschka studio, and videos of living invertebrates, these delicate models inspire us today as we continue to explore the intersections of art and science. The nearly 140 objects displayed in the exhibition are drawn primarily from the collection of The Corning Museum of Glass and Cornell University’s Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, with loans from a contemporary artist and select national and international museums.”

Fragile Legacy: The Marine Invertebrate Glass Models of Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka
Corning Museum of Glass in Corning May 14, 2016 – January 8, 2017


via Atlas Obscura 




Kitchen Aid Standing Mixer: Our beautiful, precious, apple-green kitchen aid standing mixer packed it in this last week, dramatically. Something has gone horribly awry and now when you set it to mix, it does so for about 20 seconds before the whole metal bowl launches itself out of its supposedly snug bed. If you are not standing right there to catch it and quickly turn it off, the sound of crunching, slamming and then clanging metal is terrifying. As this is our Summer (approaching Fall) of Frugality, we are now just playing with this fun little online quiz to choose the perfectly coloured kitchen aid to match your personality. Mine is Buttercup.



1) Gloria Steinem Doesn’t Drive: a short biographical video over at The New Yorker. I love the part where she explains that her childhood taught her to live with uncertainty, because her father’s philosophy was; “if you don’t know what will happen tomorrow, it could be wonderful”.

2) My favourite pigeon: New-York Historical Society is exhibiting The Art and Whimsy of Mo Willems until September 25th. Original art, sketches and inspiration behind such great books as the Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!and the Elephant and Piggie stories. “[the exhibition]…displays the efforts behind the effortlessness, the seriousness behind the silliness… His ability to crisply weave together life lessons and humor creates artful volumes that speak to all, regardless of size.”

3) Michael Gondry shares my love of drawing in steam on glass shower screens: And also of this White Stripes song. “[the video] … beautifully captures the solitude of heartache and the drifting memories that surface during our most private moments, as well as the fleeting nature of life itself.”

4) There is a couple of wonderful bookshops on our island: The one I am most fond of is Salt Spring Books. We are very lucky that such a store can exist and thrive in our small community. Local author Kevin Patterson wrote some good things about it (amongst other good things) in last week’s Globe & Mail. Now I know you really want to come and visit.

5) And lastly… One more sea creature link. It’s this truly inspired giant isopod teabag.


A minor correction from last week’s Small Batch List – The 23 Days At Sea residency that I mentioned in “Delighting” is not through the Vancouver Art Gallery at all, but through Access Gallery and The Burrard Artist Foundation and Contraste Agence d’art. Apologies!

I want to give a big shout out to my dad for doing all my proof reading. He is the best. He can spot a split infinitive from miles away. He has to really watch me. (That one was especially for you, Dad).

Have a good week and thanks for reading. Also, thanks for all the feedback. I love to hear what you think!

And yes – please tell your friends if you are enjoying The Small Batch List.

Over and out,

Claire Robertson,
The Small Batch List
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