Designs, signs, and other oddities

14 03 2014

This post is full of miscellaneous signs, oddities, patterns/designs, I came across in the US.


I’m starting to see patterns/designs everywhere — maybe it’s my quilting eye? Here are a few:


Layered acrylic pieces in black, white, grey. I can see this as a quilt…


More quilty goodness — licorice allsorts, anyone?


This is DEFINITELY a free motion quilting pattern in the making!


More potential quilty goodness…


These circles look like alien spacecraft when looking at them at an angle up the hotel corridor. The centre section looks like another quilt… I like the ‘borders’ too.



Weird signs


I guess no-one told the crow about the restricted parking.


I don’t know how you can report a mountain lion that doesn’t retreat to the Park Headquarters when it is threatening you!


Other than the need to reword this sign (I’m always editing!), I have to wonder WHAT made them put it up… Not something I want to think about for too long…


Two things — 3199 people is a very specific number. Why not 3200? Will an extra person cause the courtyard to collapse? Secondly, ‘adult in attendance’ is not going to help children under 14. There could be 3198 adults in attendance, but it doesn’t mean that any one of them is watching out for a child under 14. I think they meant an adult with a supervisory/parenting/guardianship role over their children under 14.


Again, what prompted the hotel to put up this sign a few inches from the ceiling? Did someone once hang their clothes on the room’s fire sprinkler? The sign says ‘Contact with sprinkler will cause flooding’.

Oddities and bits and pieces


Yes, seriously! Two people were parading their dogs advertising their doggie sunglasses business. This one had these chic red sunglasses on, and was wearing a little dress (with a frilled skirt!) in a pink and cherry pattern. Only in Palm Springs… or Venice Beach!


‘How humiliating!’


I know it doesn’t rain very often in Palm Springs, but from the size of this downpipe outlet, I suspect when it does, it rains VERY heavily and for a short duration. That outlet could sure push out a large volume of water very quickly.


Love the rustiness and flaky paint on this fire hydrant and the one below, but I wonder if they are still active?


Feeling mortal

14 03 2014

You coast through life, not thinking too much about death and the fact that your time on earth will come to an end at some point. Then a few things start to get a little too close for comfort and you’re staring down the face of your own mortality.

So it was for me this trip to the US.

Later this year I have a ‘zero’ birthday, so that’s always a time for reflection. And a time to realise that I have fewer years left on this earth than I’ve lived. At 25, 30, and even 40 you don’t really feel that, but there comes a point where it’s bleeding obvious. And so I’ve made the decision that if I really want to do something I will — life really is too short.

But back to my latest US trip. During my two weeks there (and in the months beforehand), these things happened to people close to me:

  • A friend in Vancouver, Canada was diagnosed with breast cancer and is currently undergoing chemo. Like the friend below, she is asking for and getting help from friends, acquaintances, etc. and not trying to tough it out herself, strong though she is. (Update: Six days after writing this post, my friend passed away [21 March 2014, aged 58]. She took a turn for the worse during the week, was admitted to hospital overnight with a cough she couldn’t get rid of, then to the ICU as her immune system had broken down with the chemo, then, after catastrophic organ failure, her family made the decision to turn off her life support — as per her wishes. She slipped away within a few minutes. Fly free, Emma! You had guts, determination, balls, a HUGE heart, said what you thought, and you lived life to the fullest, grabbing each day by the hands and wringing out every drop. You will be missed by a legion of friends and family around the world. And by your beloved kittehs.)
  • A friend in California is losing her husband to a tumour on the spine. The prognosis is that even with chemo drugs etc. he maybe has another two years, but the reality is that they might have another six months or five years together — no-one knows. No matter what, whatever happens from here on in will only get harder — both the caregiving and the reality of his death. She is being very realistic and is asking for help, but I wonder how much of her realistic attitude is just her brave front to the world? She now can’t work much outside the home, and travelling to other states to work is out of the question (she’s a freelancer/contractor, so that curtails her earning potential right at a time of her life when she needs it most; however, she is the ‘poster child’ for ‘Obamacare’ as she says that without it for his treatment and pain meds she was staring down the barrel of losing their house and declaring bankruptcy just a few months ago). (Update: Her husband passed away peacefully at home, 30 April 2016.)
  • Another friend and his family in California lost their beautiful 19-year-old daughter and sister in a car crash; she was a passenger in a car being driven by a drunk/drugged driver. The driver has been sentenced to 10 years’ jail, but that doesn’t bring back their beloved daughter. I can’t imagine their pain.
  • In the past 18 months or so, a dear friend in California has lost her father, has had to put her mother into care and is now sorting out her parents’ accumulated possessions gathered over a lifetime together, is losing her husband to the ravages of Alzheimer’s, and has lost her 40-year-old son to suicide. She’s also getting a shadow on her lung investigated… How she copes is beyond me. Her strength is amazing, though it doesn’t take much to break through that fragile crust.
  • Another dear friend is getting old and it’s showing. He’s in his mid-70s now and is still working, but is finally talking of retirement, though I’ll believe it when I see it. I had the pleasure of catching up with one of his sons at my friend’s house… and worked out that the son is now older than the father was when I met him. That was scary.
  • My 82-year-old uncle in Michigan has cancer and has undergone treatment. (Update: He passed away peacefully at home, 30 April 2016)
  • But the worst is my 90-year-old uncle, whom I haven’t seen in a few years. He has gone from being a strong, vibrant, energetic man, to a shadow of his former self. He still lives at home, but in my opinion, he needs full-time, not part-time care. He can’t do much for himself anymore, and what he does do is dangerous — like leaving on the stove after cooking his eggs in the morning, and driving! He’s having difficulty breathing, is incontinent, bruises and tears his skin for any tiny little touch. As he said to me a few times while I was there: “Getting old is no fun.” Based on the current state of his health, I doubt I’ll ever see him again. [UpdateBill passed away 7 June 2014, a couple of months after I wrote this.]

So, I’m feeling mortal.

On a more positive note, my parents (both in their 80s now) are both still hale and hearty and fit and healthy. They celebrated their 60th Wedding Anniversary last year, and are still travelling (they’re on another trip somewhere at the moment — I can’t keep up!). And I was privileged to have the company of all four of my grandparents until I was well into my 20s, when the first one passed. My final grandparent passed when I was 40 and he was 97. I was so lucky to have that experience as so many people don’t get blessed with even knowing one grandparent, let alone all four. I just wish I’d appreciated them a bit more, and had asked them a lot more questions about their lives growing up, but when you’re young, you don’t think about such things and they aren’t very important in the context of your ‘exciting’ and busy life.

Social duty

14 03 2014

I’m sure we’ve all been there. Social function. Lots of people. And you know no-one.

So you sit/stand off to the side by yourself, holding onto your drink, checking your phone for ANYTHING, and wondering at what point you can slip away. After all, no-one will notice, will they? They haven’t noticed you yet…

Everyone seems to know everyone else, and there’s lots of laughter and fun being had. But you’ve come to this event knowing none of these happy people. You thought there’d be some connection because you all work in the same industry, and this is a conference of like-minded people, and it IS an official conference event you’re attending. But the groups all seem well-established. How do you break in? DO you break in?

Do you just sip on your free drink and assess the situation, then quietly disappear? Or do you try to break into a group that seems to be impenetrable? What if you have nothing to say? What if they don’t like you? Or worse, what if they ignore you?

I’ve been there. And it’s not pretty. It’s not a nice situation, and can be really damaging to your mental health and feelings of self-worth.

So when I saw a chap sitting off to the side of our conference group, but part of our party, I watched him for a couple of minutes to make sure he wasn’t with anyone. He wasn’t. He was just observing people, and sipping on his martini. And he was obviously alone and knew no-one. The group I was with have all known each other for ages, and we were having a nice time. But I kept getting drawn to ‘lone martini man’.

Then I did something I’ve seen others do, but have never done myself. I excused myself from my jolly group, grabbed my drink and went and sat down beside him. I introduced myself (his name was Eric), said how I’d noticed he was by himself and asked he wanted some company. I then initiated a conversation with him, and he was very grateful as he was going to leave after that one and only drink. He’d come down from the San Francisco area and this was his first time at one of these conferences, and no, he didn’t know anyone. He’d been people-watching, which was the excuse I used to use when I was in such a situation.

After a few minutes’ conversation, I found out that Eric has rescue greyhounds! How serendipitous!!! A friend of mine (Hamish, one of the other Australians at this conference) is also involved in greyhound rescue. So when I spotted Hamish, I called him over and introduced him to Eric. Within seconds they were sharing their pictures of their respective greyhounds and exchanging business cards and details on their dogs.

My work here was done! 😉

(Actually, it wasn’t quite done… I spotted Eric at the conference a couple more times over the next two days, and he had a great big smile and hello for me, and he seemed to be actively participating in the conference social activities. I hope in some way I helped break the ice for him. If nothing else, he now has a friend on the other side of the world who he can talk to about his greyhound pets. It’s all about listening, asking the right questions, then putting people with common interests together. And doing your social duty to another human being.)