The Guest Cat, by Takashi Hiraide
This must be one of the most peculiar and distinctive books I have read in my life, with a unique plot that nonetheless many people will relate to on a personal level. In very short, but mind you, to a certain extent this is a spoiler, as the intrigue of the book is very soft, this is a book about a couple who start receiving visits from the neighbor’s cat and welcome her into their house and lives slowly as if she is, at least partially, their own.
I found the idea simply brilliant, perhaps because I too have an outdoorsy cat which could very well lead a similar double life, at home with us at certain times during the day or night and in another home in between. The thought has occasionally crossed my mind in the past that she might grace others with her presence when she spends hours away from home, but now I am almost convinced. It might be fun to put a camera on her and follow her adventures, don’t you think?
My cat, who actually resembles the cat on the book cover.
Coming back to the book, this is a very sensitive little book (under 200 pages if I remember correctly) but so very full of feeling and feel-good charm. I am not surprised this was written by a Japanese author, they truly seem to experience things differently, more acutely.
A must-read for any cat owner or lover.
The Aristocats (1970)
There is a feline sub-theme to this week’s letter because a couple of days ago I happened to watch for the first time ever The Aristocats, the Disney classic from 1970 and I adored everything about it. What a gem, from the story to the aesthetical execution!
A retired old lady, living a lavish life in Paris, wills all her possessions to her four cats. The greedy butler kidnaps the cats, but a bunch of retired army dogs and a stray cat stand in his way. Honestly, this is simply goals and Madame Adelaide Bonfamille is now on my shortlist of inspiring people or characters! No wonder the late Karl Lagerfeld might have been inspired by her when it was rumored he will leave his entire estate to his already famous and rich cat – Choupette. But I digress…
At about one hour long, it was a much-needed comfort watch on a late evening, and I’m looking forward to enjoying it with my son in a couple of years.
Pussycat Bow Blouse
Not steering too far from the feline inspiration, I always thought pussy bow blouses or tops can look very chic, yet polished, without too much effort, but I wasn’t aware of the relevant social and political implications of this sartorial choice. Now I realize wearing one is not just a fashion statement and I am even keener to make it part of my signature style.
It was only recently that I decided to add one to my wardrobe, so I bought a Zara black organza number from Depop. I absolutely love it, it’s instantly elegant. I have worn it a couple of times with the same green snake print skirt, but I am excited to uncover other combinations as fall sets in. Almost to validate my enthusiasm and as a lucky coincidence, last weekend, while out and about at a market in my hometown, I found the same blouse in cream and lilac, and for a bargain price, so I bought both.
I am now happily pinning outfit ideas and I am looking forward to temperatures dropping to allow for layers, instead of the current constant layer of sticky sunscreen. How do you or would you wear a pussy bow blouse?
Starry Night LEGO® Set
A couple of weeks ago I made a rare impulsive purchase, but one I don’t regret, fortunately. It might prove to become an investment, but what I hope it will be is actually a lovely gift for my son a few years from now, a sort of modern heirloom that he can enjoy putting together and then displaying in his room.
I read about the collaboration between MoMA and Lego to release the Starry Night set and the fact that it was almost sold out, so I got it quickly before I could change my mind. This is the first artwork my son started recognizing, after we went to the Van Gogh Alive immersive experience and after getting James Mayhew’s book, Katie and the Starry Night (more on this below!)
The set is still available on the official Lego website and elsewhere if you’d like one for yourself or as a present. After all, Christmas is ‘just’ 4 months away!
James Mayhew’s Art Books for Kids
I had it on my list to write about James Mayhew’s books for a while, and the previous entry gave me the perfect excuse. The Katie series it’s simply a treasure, a gift that keeps on giving. A little girl goes to the Art Gallery with her grandma and starts all sorts of shenanigans when stepping into famous paintings. How cool is that? We started by borrowing a couple of the books from the library, like Katie and the Starry Night and Katie and the Sunflowers, but now we’ve bought most of the series including Katie’s Picture Show, Katie and the Impressionists, Katie and the Mona Lisa, Katie and the British Artists.
A few weeks ago, I spend an amazing hour with my son in the National Gallery searching for paintings from the books in a quest to find ten so he can choose a prize from the museum gift shop. It was so much fun, but also wholesome for me, and I will never forget him shouting excitedly from another room: ‘Mom, I found one’ in front of The Bathers. He was genuinely enjoying himself, as was I, and that is priceless.
My son with John Constable’s The Hay Wain and Van Gogh’s Chair and Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres’s Madame Moitessier, all featured in the Katie books.
I have written about children’s books before, mentioning my love for the Musical Orchestra series and other musical books. I quickly want to renew my declaration of love, as my son recently recognized a fragment from the Carnival of the Animals, by Camille Saint-Saëns, hearing it in a new Paco and the Orchestra book we bought. He told me it was the music for the dinosaurs (fossils in the original naming) while I wasn’t even sure in which of our other musical books I have heard it before. I was in awe.
Get these books for the children in your life, you won’t regret it.
Now here is a fun way to spend a few minutes… or a few hours, which could also lead to discovering a real passion. The Hobby Generator does what it says it does. You click on the buttons for one, five or ten hobby suggestions and it delivers. Some are very broad, like History or Fitness, others are common, like Collecting or Walking. But there are many quirky, inspiring, unheard off even, like rock balancing or stone skipping, gongoozling, people watching (a personal favorite) or button-collecting (one I started unconsciously).
Stone Skipping & Rock Balancing
Give it a go, and tell me what you’d pick!
Piping Paint Flowers
I’ve written before about impasto painting and I must say, I think these piping paint flowers might just be a new and perhaps simplistic approach to this technique? They look exquisite, while the process seems very quick and easy. It’s almost surely not, or at least it wouldn’t be for me, but I am mesmerized watching the making-off videos of Adrienne.
I am sure there are many fun and unpredictable ways of using or displaying these immortal flowers. For now, I hope you enjoy them as a digital gift.
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