Shopping bags

Shopping bags are wonderful things. They come in a myriad of shapes and sizes, they are plain or patterned, and useful for many purposes. I am not the only one who likes them: I have seen whole exhibitions dedicated to their design, function and aesthetic appeal. These days there are fewer disposable plastic bags around, and an abundance of multi-use bags made from that weird polypropylene material (it’s still plastic). (Of course, now more people buy plastic bin liners instead of using the bag their groceries came in!) Here is a plastic bag I haven’t been able to part with. I already know that I won’t throw it away, but I haven’t found the right use for it yet. It’s not the plastic-ness I like, though: it’s the logo! I like the handwritten style, the simple line, the self-containment, the black and white.



The handwritten ‘gelati’ reminds me of how writing looked when we used to use squeakers for mocking up design concepts. I was never particularly adept with the squeakers—I much preferred (and was better at) sizing headline type. We would trace individual letters from the type catalogue, use the photocopier to enlarge or reduce, cut the words up to manually letter-space them before photocopying them again. All before marking it up for the typesetter. Groan! Who would wish for a return to those days! Nostalgia aside, I love this scene—the (I’m hoping intentional) humour in the half-hearted attempt to cover ‘veterinary’, the very gelati-like colours of the plastic furniture and the gaping cartoon maw of the yellow bin.



It’s not spring, but I have launched into what amounts to a spring clean. My office is too full, too cluttered, and I desperately need to make space. This is not so easy. My bookshelves are full because, well, I’m a book designer, and not only do I have reference books and type manuals, but copies of most of the books I have designed. Before I became a book designer I worked on magazines—and up until a few days ago I kept copies of those too. Right now, though, I am greatly looking forward to paper recycling pick-up day, when those magazines (so outdated now I would never even consider having them in my portfolio!) will be gone for good. One upside of clearing the shelves is that I come across ephemera, like this envelope and its handwritten A, separated from the birthday card it once contained. I like this single underlined letter, used for who knows how long as a bookmark, and am glad I kept it because, in recognising the hand of the writer, memories of good friendships and celebrations are evoked.

Writing in books


It’s the weather for reading library books. Library books specifically—not something lying around the house, not a kindle book, not something to better the mind, not even a new book from the bookshop—but a book from the fiction shelves of the library. Doesn’t matter if it’s paperback or hardback, new or dog-eared and knocked around—it just has to come from the library. My library is patronised by someone who, I’m sure of it, writes in every book they borrow. Always biro, always this old-fashioned handwriting style. They are always opinionated, and they usually give a score out of ten. Oh, and they go through the list of other books by the author and tick the ones they’ve read. Like me, they are partial to a good thriller—although I often don’t share their opinion. I’m torn between being annoyed and amused, but mainly I’m annoyed. I can’t help it, I don’t like it when people write in books. And I really hate it when the reader takes to their blue biro proofreading—especially when they are wrong! I get so irritated by their stupidity! Anyway, I haven’t started reading this book yet, but the phantom book-writer seems to think it’s a good one.

No good story


Just about everything about this handwritten chalkboard appeals to me. I caught a glimpse of it while driving and immediately had to circle the block to park because the next day’s soup might have been different! It’s piquancy, it’s humour, and even it’s typo gave me cause to smile. It was a hot day, but I resisted the lure of the cool dark interior to sample the fare because, after all, the sun wasn’t yet over the yardarm.



There’s a great view of Moloka’i and Lana’i from the highway above Honolua Bay, and there is also this—a quirky handpainted sign, hanging from a rusty pole with twisted rusty wire. I’d love to know its provenance. I also wonder who maintains it. I remember it from a couple of years ago, and when I looked back at an earlier photograph, I discovered that this year it is hanging differently, and, while the writing style is similar and could have been done by the same hand, it has most definitely been repainted. Unless, of course, there is more than one. Now I’m going to have to get myself back there …

For music


I’d like to know what the green paint is covering, but as far as the sentiment goes, I’m all for music too. Whether they left the words unobscured on purpose, or just because it wasn’t the part that, for whatever reason, needed to be covered up, hardly matters. This has the look of the hand-drawn, and I like it for that too.



Using handwritten pegs is such a simple and obvious method of labelling plants, but I don’t think I’ve seen it done like this before. More common is the use of paddlepop sticks that are stuck into the soil, but these pegs are so easy to read, and I like the complete effect, more small-scale sculptural installation than functional device. I found myself wanting to delve deeper into this forest of brahmi, gotu kola, thyme and evening primrose, and wondered if they were grown along Fairy Mountain Road, which I had driven past earlier in the day.

One dollar


United States banknotes are so different to Australian ones! Ours are plastic and brightly coloured—pink, blue, red, yellow and green—and the smallest denomination is $5. You end up with a load of shrapnel in your purse, and think you don’t have any cash because you don’t have any notes left. But all the $1 and $2 coins can add up! In the US, I find the opposite is true. I end up with a wad of banknotes that make me think I’ve got enough ready cash, only to find that every one of them is a single, I’ve got less that 10 bucks on me, and I have to resort to the credit card. The US Federal Reserve estimates that the average lifespan of a dollar bill is 5.9 years. I would say that this one is near the end of its life. It’s creased and worn and thin, and has extra character because it comes complete with its own handwritten message from Nic to Beth.

Yes beer!


Less than a week after the spring equinox and we are getting a taste of summer: it’s 32 degrees today, 10 degrees hotter than Sydney’s September average. No doubt it will make the news tonight, in the way that weather inevitably does—the first freaky hot day, the crazy rain, the bush as dry as a tinderbox. There might be no smoking and no standing, but on a day like today it’s good to know that beer is allowed!