Monday, October 20, 2014

Ready for a botany lesson?

Earlier today, I was visiting my blogging friends and came across some lovely photographs of leaves in the rain.

JoAnn of Scene Through My Eyes is a master with a camera and I always enjoy her nature pictures.

The pictures she provided are leaves in the rain and in fall colors ... lovely!

They looked to me like Katsura, Cercidiphyllum japonica, a tree that is native to Japan. In fact, Katsura is the largest deciduous tree native to Japan. It is the only member of its genus and, like the Ginkgo, the male and female flowers are on different trees.

In spring the leaves come out looking like pink hearts.

Only a few leaves were on the ground and these among the azalea bushes along the curb-side.

There were a few golden leaves, the most common fall color hiding among the branches.

A number of years ago, the local train tracks were raised above the main road and the place underneath was made into a parking area (where we park our car as well). The south side of the former tracks were planted with a line of Katsura trees. It is not a tree often found along streets but since it has no power lines to deal with, it looks it's very best here.

In another few weeks, we will be treated with a row of golden trees.

Being a woodcarver, this is one of my favorite woods. It is a reddish color, fine grained and easy to work. It is widely used here for cabinet making, veneer, and implements.

In 1990, the Scouts offered a course in Commissioner Science. The first year.a Scouter takes the course for a bachelors degree. The next year, teaches the course for a Masters. The final degree was a PHD (in commissioner science) and I decided to give it a try.

I gave three proposals of year-long projects and the one that was selected was a book to use for identification of woody plants (mostly trees). Scouts in the States have plenty  of resources to use in identifying poisonous plants and trees but in Japan there was nothing written in English. My plan was a guide to assist scouts in meeting many of the nature requirements.

These days you might be able to go on line and search for information but in those days there was nothing. Even today, a field guide in English is a far-off dream. I took one year to research common trees in the Kanto area (around Tokyo) and make drawings. The book was assembled on a word processor with the help of my husband. The pages were in the A4 size, printed and folded in half with the blank side inside. I stapled the open edges and added a cover. In February '91 I put together a book for each troop and pack in the area to use and one for each library in the international schools at that time. Since then, it has been scanned and added to the Troop 15 Far East Council downloads.

Recently I have passed the drawings and original prints to a Scouter who is planning to make an up-dated download in the future. At the back of the book, I put maps of areas with numbers where trees in the book were located. That way, a leader who had no knowledge of plants and trees, could go to the spot and read the description and let the scouts use their observation skills to locate the tree being described. Now many of those trees are gone and there are a few new ones to add. I am not very handy with a computer but the Leader says the newer version will be easier to add to or up-date.

I am just happy that my efforts so long ago were and are being put to use. I love to take scouts and leaders on nature walks and help them to get to know both plants and animals. We protect the things we love ... but the first step is getting to know nature ...  so that day will come.

On that walk to look at the Katsura, I was surprised to see a number of Japanese dogwood (Yama hoshi, or mountain star) in bloom.

These flowers usually open in the spring ... a bit later than American dogwood, and after the leaves come out.
I had never seen them bloom again in the fall.

We have had second blooms of Magnolia the last few years and my Gardenia usually blooms a second time when night temperatures fall.

These flowers come out light pink, then turn white and do make the trees look as if they are full of stars.

 The four-inch blocks are gradually getting done.

Today I finished the sashing on the blue ones and have 9 purple and six blocks left to do. Then I will be able to put this rainbow together.

Good project for a rainy day, huh?

I finally dug out the flannel sheet to arrange them on. This weekend we will have a choir retreat at the foot of Mt Fuji. I do not have to drive so I am hoping I will have blocks to assemble as take-along work. I am beginning to wonder the best way to keep them from getting turned or mixed up once I have them arranged. I am hoping to separate those with the same fabrics. Ideas and suggestions are always welcome.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Design bed progress

 I just happened to recall,I have a very large flannel sheet that was sent me by my son. Maybe it is time to dig it out and lay it over the bed to make arranging easier.

Clearly this is not going to end up as a small quilt for my semi-single futon.

The blocks made so far are laid out overlapping more than half an inch and this is a double bed. I am definitely planning to add some kind of a border to tie it all together ...
once I get it arranged and assembled.

Typhoon winds and rain provided plenty of indoor time to hunt through stash and cut the sashing pieces. Actually, by the time it arrived in Tokyo, it was just a tropical storm. The next day we were greeted by bright blue skies and still a lot  of wind. There was no damage due to the wind, even on the roof outside my greenhouse with many plants.

Actually the only damage was caused by feral cats, knocking flower boxes off the wall. I heard a crash in the middle of the night before the typhoon. It sounded like it came from the front garden and involved the birdbath. Sure enough, in the morning light the flower box was upside down with some of the hostas hanging from the birdbath and the box and soil on the ground at the foot of the wall.

(Our "birdbath" is a large ceramic dish, resting on top of a ceramic umbrella stand). Luckily the dish was not damaged. Someone in the area has been dumping cat food outside in our street late at night. The feral cats use that as a battleground. I posted a sign asking that they not feed cats there, but do it outside their own home but there is the food, less than a foot from the sign. The culprit seems to be someone living on the block, but I have yet to discover who. My daily sweeping and weeding has put me in touch with many of the immediate neighbors and I am beginning to hear the local gossip including who it is that does not pick up after their I suspected. What I don't understand he how many people can watch it happening and not speak up. I think if the owner knew they had been seen, they would change tactics (or sites) . There is such a thing as SHAME. Come on, if you can bend over and pick up three or four rocks to cover the poop,why not just pick it up?!?

My friend, Pat, of Bird Nest on the Ground, seems to think sleeping in a greenhouse on the roof is romantic. Therefore, I took a picture of what I see in my nest in the air.

If you look carefully, you might even see the plants. There is a step-tansu on the left. (That is a chest/cupboard that can be used as stairs) It contains orchids and cacti and a palm.

The table on the right has cuttings  and other stuff rests on the floor or small stands around the edges.

There is a balcony about a foot deep outside and I  use the railing to air my futon or dry large laundry such as tablecloths. You can see what this room is basically used for ... hanging laundry.

That is a gull kite flying in from the top right. The stairs are directly behind the camera with my futon on the right under the eaves. This romantic spot gets a lot of very hot sun during the summer. One also has to watch the weather to keep out rain. There is a large hole in the floor at the front right corner where rain has rotted out the floor. It was suspected that there was a leak in the roof area but since I have been at home this summer, even through typhoons, and no rain has come in, I suspect that those keeping house in my absence are less likely to think of shutting the windows ... or even notice that it is raining.

Last night it was actually rather cold ... going down to 9c and turning on the automatic heater a few times. I will have to make a few changes in bedding tonight. Time for a quilt or two?
It reminds me of a poem my dad used to quote ...

When it comes to weather, mans a fool.
When it's hot, he wants it cool.
When it's cool. he wants it hot.
What it is, he wants it not!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Waiting out another storm

I have a feeling that, like the last typhoon, this one is going to just amount to rain and hype. The weekly schedule goes on, rain or shine and the homeless will get their onigiri tomorrow morning, rain or shine ... well, not much shine at four am.

My sewing group met Friday and I had prepared these four blocks to pass to a member with a project in mind.

I still have not passed them on because Friday was my Cub Pack meeting and timing is everything when one does not live in the area.

Maybe next week I can pass them on. I could have made all four blocks the same but I liked the challenge of trying different lay-outs for the focus fabric and the three others I selected to go with it.

Saturday was the school's "Taisokai". Many schools hold sports days or athletic meets this time of year and Jiyu Gakkuen has a gymnastics day. I especially like the Danish gymnastics done by the boy's or girl's departments, all synchronized to music. As I watched the pre-school go through their simple race ... run to the hats, find their hat and put it on, run to the next station and pick up their notebook, then to the next station where they found their school bag, put the notebook inside and buttoned the bag, putting it over their shoulder, and raced to the finish line, I couldn't help thinking back forty some years to when my little daughter did the very same thing ... only in a very "big sister" way, as she helped all the kids who needed help and was last across the finish line.

The last part of the event is to release pigeons from their cages. The pigeons return to their school ground and an announcement is made upon the complete return.

This year the pigeons were released from the front of the field rather than the end, but otherwise very little has changed in all these years.

I have showed pictures of the athletics in the past but thought this time I might show a part of the campus that I love ...
the nature.

The Akebono-sugi, Dawn Redwood, or Metasequoia Glyptostroboides, was thought to be extinct and found only in fossils until it was discovered growing in China in 1941.

This tall pointed tree in the background must have been one of the first samples to be brought to Japan.
It is particularly nice that it was planted with enough space to grow naturally. Often these trees have to be pruned to keep them under control so this is a particularly fine sample.

In the late fall, the needles turn reddish brown and fall.

The Ginkgo, another "fossil tree" is also found growing on campus.

The Japanese Red Pine, Pinus densiflora is dying out in many places because of a pine blight carried by a beetle.

It is nice to see many large trees surviving on the campus.

Another huge tree is the Himalayan Cedar,  Cedrus deodar, The only "true cedar" in Japan, though many evergreens are referred to by  the name "cedar"

This specimen has probably undergone trimming at various times but it still is a very large tree.

Pyracantha, sometimes called "Fire Thorn", was planted long ago outside the office where the money was kept, the idea being it would protect the building from someone trying to enter through the windows.

I don't know if it ever did that job but it certainly likes the chosen spot and those bushes are very tall and thick and covered with berries (which will certainly please the local birds over the winter).

Most of the bushes looked so full of berries that one could hardly make out the leaves and thorns.

And the last piece of fall I always admire are the "Hototogisu".
The name comes from the spotted little cuckoo, a bird with a pattern similar to that of the flower's spotted corolla.

Interesting that by now the bird has left to its winter quarters. I have these in my garden at home ... rescued from a bulldozer that was turning a garden into a parking lot.

The family is Tricytis and it is often known as "Toad Lily". ... or hairy toad lily.

I hope you had or are having a pleasant weekend. I have been working on more four inch blocks, having decided to make the quilt into a standard size that might be more useful in the future to one of my kids. Maybe if it rains tomorrow......?

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Signs of Autumn

Apples are ripe!

These are "Fuji" apples coming to Tokyo from Aomori.

Note each one has a bar code pasted on it. Yep,those apples are being sold one-by-one at 158 yen (with tax).

They are beautiful un-bruised tasty apples but....

When I was growing up, my uncle down the road had an apple orchard. There were many varieties of apples ... green ... yellow ... red ... for pies and canning and applesauce or for making into cider. Us kids picked up the wind-falls and bit around the bug holes, but those apples were yummy. (and free)

Japanese apples are good and pretty to look at. The skins are tough though and not every brand is suitable for pies or apple cake. I guess that is not unusual in a country where many homes have only a small grill and no oven other than a microwave.

Another sign of fall, when the spider lilies begin to fade, is the delightful scent of Kin-mokusei. (Osmanthus or Sweet Olive).

These tiny flowers are tight on the branches and hidden among the leaves so one is more likely to smell them before seeing them.

When I say "tiny", I really mean it!

Here are a few lying on top of the wall.
Amazing how something so small can give off such a powerful perfume.

One activity for last week was to gear up the cookie factory.

Someone had seen Leia's last batch (maybe made last Christmas) and hired us to make cookies for a wedding.

Norie did the rolling and cutting and Leia and I did the painting and decorating.

Tuesday afternoon and most of last Wednesday we worked on several hundred cookies. Norie managed the oven and kept the supply going.

She also managed the camera so escaped the documentation.

Here is a batch cooling. A little bit of this and that from several collections of cutters.

The typhoon that blew past on Monday gave me a bit of inside time to work on sashing the four-inch blocks.

This is what is done so far, laid out on the double bed in the loft.

Well, it is a bit hard to see on top of the tree quilt but you get the idea. I have 9 blocks width laid out here.

I was planning ten blocks wide, That would make the quilt 60 inches wide but I think it will need to have borders  to make it look finished.

The quilt I am using now on my futon is 68 x 96 inches and rather too wide (the futon is only three feet across) . Now, before I make more blocks beyond what I have waiting for sashing, I am wondering what is a practical size for a single bed cover.

The "I Spy" quilt I made for my daughter's kids was 69 x 77 inches and I have slept under it many times on a bunk bed when I visit. Is there a standard size for a single bed cover? What would you advise? I think whatever border I might add would only be three or four inches but I won't buy anything until I have the top together.

Another typhoon is coming our way so I may get some more indoor sewing time. I am hoping I won't have leftover blocks to deal with so I am trying to plan ahead and I found the last bits of advice very helpful. Thanks in advance for sharing any advice you may have.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014


Have you ever heard the expression, "Busier than a one-armed paperhanger"? Well, I think I know what that feels like.

Over the weekend we took a family "break".

We were offered a nights stay at a hotel in Atami along the shore of the Izu peninsula.

Of course, I am the only driver in the group so I got to drive my van while trying to figure out where I was going. Paul sat up in front and held the map on his cell phone ... and dozed.

Nikko sat in the back and watched the road. We picked up Norie and Leia along the way and after countless wrong turns, made it to our destination. Along the way, the cell phone with the GPS ran out of batteries. I think we took the extra "scenic route" but by the time we arrived it was too dark to see much of the scenery other than the city lights of Atami.

We met up with our friends at the hotel and went out for a bite to eat at a family restaurant, then returned to enjoy a nice onsen bath. Dogs were not welcomed at the hotel so Nikko and I slept in the van ... as we often do for Scouting events. It was a pleasant night, not too hot, nice breeze, quiet lapping waves, and we woke refreshed to a view of the castle in the morning mist.

After a bit of breakfast and more onsen bath enjoyed by some of the group. we went off on more "scenic" routes to find the castle.  Though Paul had taken his phone charger, he was unable to find it so we set out with a printed map of the town.

It was not a very accurate map but highlighted the tourist spots, and since it was in the hands of someone who does not drive, the interpretation was sketchy to say the least.

We made it to the castle and Leia played with some of the warrior statues lining the  cliff edge.

The day couldn't have been nicer with a brisk breeze and sunny blue skies.

Nikko went happily up all those stairs and, though the autumn colors had not yet made an appearance, we enjoyed the view of the city and bay and surrounding hills.

Our next stop was at a garden. No dogs allowed so we left Nikko with Papa and walked around the outer garden. In the end, we decided the outer garden was enough and we didn't need to pay to see the inside area.

We had planned to see one more garden but were not able to locate it so left the car and found a dog-friendly cafe to enjoy some lunch.

The cafe had two young Golden Retrievers who made Nikko look like a perfectly trained dog in comparison.

Our final scenic stop before heading back to Tokyo was a shrine to good health and old age containing the oldest tree in Honshu.

The Camphor tree is said to be between 2100 and 2200 years old.

I guess by that long, a few years either way doesn't matter much.

The belly band with folded paper indicating the sacred status is 23 meters around.  (Only exceeded by a height of 26 meters).

Walking the path around the tree is supposed to increase one's life by a year for each round.

(I think the stress of driving all those scenic routes evened the playing field for me.)

With the van loaded up with six people and a dog, we set off to find our way back home.

The Navigator on my phone speaks English but not "driver English" Sometimes the "continue straight" is on a very curvy road and sometimes "turn left" is a given because the road is bending to the left and there is no side road.

Just about the time I was ready to toss the thing out the window, the battery died.  Our host was able to get the map on his cell phone and we made it to the drop-off point for four passengers.

Nikko could have her seat back but she was so tired she slept on the floor between the two front seats.

Sunday was super busy with a special choir piece for a choir member who was leaving us after earning his PHD, to return to Africa. The piece was fun to sing and has been going through my brain day and night for weeks ... well, first to learn the words and then because there was no "off switch".

Monday was early morning rice delivery and then my English class.

I took advantage of the large open floor space to lay out some of my expanded blocks and get an idea of how they are going to look together.

I think the longer strips on the sides will be OK.

I didn't get a whole lot done on the trip but I am finding the mini design wall that Jean sent me works quite nicely for laying out the blocks with their side strips.

My English students were impressed with the ruler you sent, Jean, but also with the cute design mat ...

... and the fact I could bring my friend with me each day.
I hope you enjoyed the trip to Atami, even if not the bath.

Monday, September 22, 2014


Thanks to my virtual quilting club, I am getting more ideas for putting my four-inch blocks together.

I still have a plentiful stash of one-inch cut scraps so I can continue making a few more blocks, but I already have a quilt made of one-inch scraps and I am getting low on some colors.

I really don't want to cut more pieces. Those have come all from scraps that were left on other projects. I have more of them because I chop up the left-overs that are too small to bother returning to the stash boxes, beginning with four inch, then three inch, then two inch and then  one inch. I managed to use plenty of scraps in my + and x block quilt, but still have the largest amount of one inch scraps. Some of them are a bit hard to use on this project because they have no dominant color.

I am now thinking it might be interesting to add four and five inch strips to two sides of each block. That would speed the project by making the blocks two inches larger and also a bit easier to join together at the end of the line. (Of course cutting strips will surly add to my one-inch collection).

What do you think of this plan?  I laid out a few blocks and it doesn't really destroy the general design. Probably it will make it interesting to keep using the odd light blocks at two corners but I can't see bothering with odd colored blocks in the other two corners.

It is just laid out any old way but I would be a bit more consistent over which side gets a longer strip.

I am lousy at math so I don't know how much bigger the whole thing will be. That is partly because I don't know the proportions I want to make it or if I can figure out a border to get the size right.

I'm sure I will need to make more of those four-inch blocks anyway, Maybe I can add the strips to them during my train-rides or make a second pile of take-along work making the blocks larger.

At any rate, I will keep with the four-inch blocks and wait for feedback from my gang of helpers ... That means YOU!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Enjoying the steps to autumn

The banner has been hung in the stairwell at church and is basking in a spotlight, no less!

Considering all that mix of fabrics, it actually doesn't look too bad.

I think the message is enough without all the extra words.

I have been working slowly on the four-inch blocks and have completed 100.

Today I took them to my quilt group and laid them out on the table.

I am still looking for a plan to put them together.

I have more sofa quilts than I use so I prefer to make a single bed size.  I would need several hundred to do that if I just sew them together.

One friend suggested making them into eight inch blocks by sewing four together and putting a star block alternating.

I thought of making an eight-inch star of each block but that may lose the pattern of light pieces.
If anyone has an idea, I am open to suggestions.

Fall is definitely in the air. The higan-bana  or spider lilies have begun to bloom here and there.

"Higan" is the autumnal equinox and these are the harbingers of fall. One neighbor has a planter full of white ones but these are the most common sight. I love seeing them along the borders where forest meets the fields.

And, what do you think this is?

Last night as I was walking to the station after choir practice, I noticed young people hanging out along the edge of the sidewalk.

Some had blankets spread on the ground.
Some had folding chairs.

There was even a pup-tent!

The line went on and on. It is a 30 minute walk to the station ... actually two stations away where my train crosses with the very expensive ride ... and about two thirds of the trip were all these young people. At the end, there was a policeman making sure the line was out of the way of pedestrians as those kids placed their stuff.

Well, curiosity may have killed the cat, but satisfaction brought him back. I had to ask.

Next morning the sale of I-phones will begin near the church.
All these kids were in line waiting for the store to open so they could be first (a relative term in this case) to buy one.

Sometimes when some much-wanted thing goes on sale, one can see a line forming the night before. It is something I have seen while making early morning rice deliveries, but those lines are at most a block long and often someone pays the homeless guys to hold the spot until just before the store opens in the morning. This was a VERY LONG line and all made up of young people. Not a weekend either. School? Jobs? By now, if they are not sleeping after having stayed up all night, they are texting on their new gadgets.

Ah, life in Tokyo ... streets lined with spider lilies or shoppers ... Never a dull moment.

And now ... it is off to Scout Camp ... where it is scheduled to rain tomorrow. Rain gear packed. A Scout is prepared!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

A great quilt show even without pictures...

Monday afternoon I met four other members of my quilt group at Seibu Department store where there was a quilt show "Exhibition of My Needlework" by about 50 well-known Japanese quilters. My husband had brought home a flyer advertising the show, and when I asked Kuraishi-sensei, she quickly procured ten free tickets from Nihon Vogue. (It pays to have friends with connections)! I always enjoy going to a show with friends because somehow I see so much more.

No photos were allowed and there was not a book of the exhibit. We may see some of these quilts again at one of the big shows in Yokohama or Tokyo Dome where some photos are allowed. It seems the quilters were assigned a month to represent in their quilt so as you might imagine there were many with flowers or subjects indicating a season. I had been asked by a fellow blogger about a Japanese quilter, Junko Maeda, and noticed she had a quilt in the show called "From Grandmother's tansu or cupboard" Maeda has published books of her quilts and that one was worthy of a book of its own. The fabric was fussy-cut piecing of kimono fabric dyed with earth, a specialty of Oshima Island. I wish my friend, Lis, who loves dying fabrics, could have seen that one.

In addition to the quilts, there were display cases showing a variety of containers the different quilters use for their supplies and those items. Of course I had a good look at those and compared them with my finished chatelaine. Mine has no thimble or needle threader but otherwise quilters seem to gather most of the same items. Some had measuring tape and some small rulers but none as nice as mine. All the containers were a bit big or very big and mine was the only one  of use on a train ride or even sitting in a meeting.

Sensei gave me the left-over tickets and I returned with some friends from my new sewing group. It was fun to have another go.

There were vendors in the area outside the show though I only picked up some sashiko thread to try on the banner. (In the end, I took those stitches out and used regular quilting). Next day I came down to find Nikko had taken all the thread off the card and eaten the card. Last time she did that she ruined the thread but this time it was strung out on the living room carpet and I was able to re-wind it on a different card.

Two train trips into town and back added to my blocks. I think there are about 86 or so now, though I still don't know how I will use them. Here they are sitting on my box containing all those 1.5 inch bits. (And note... the lid goes shut)!

The weather has been cool one day and warm the next. The gardenias are having their second bloom as well as the little flowers along my wall.

I have no idea what these are. They come in white and yellow and purple ... though most of them are white and are open just two days. I'm so glad the pavers left my flower strip when they paved our street last winter.

And now is the season to enjoy this little volunteer.

I don't know its name either and it might be considered a weed but as weeds go, it is easy to manage and the flowers are so tiny and delicate.

They open around four in the afternoon and I think only last the one day, though there are plenty of buds so flowers to enjoy each day. So very tiny and bright pink.

Tonight it is raining so the flowers are happy ... though Nikko was not delighted with the thunder coming with the rain. In the early summer, each rain is followed by slightly warmer temperatures.. Now we are working the other way and each rain will move us to cooler days as fall approaches. There have been a few nights I thought of digging out a warmer blanket to sleep under. All too soon it will happen.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Photo finish

The banner started last Thursday is almost complete. Still needed us a trip to the "DOIT" or do-it-yourself store to buy some dowels for hanging.

Here it is, on the park fence with laundry clips, enjoying the morning sun.

Someone other than my husband was selected to make a poster that will take the place of this banner and include the total phrases. I am relieved I will not have to observe that exercise.

It is interesting that all these fabrics from all over the world, not particularly the best each country has to offer, new ... used ... even "vintage" (meaning older than I) ...lacking in coordination of color or design ... do little to help the neighboring pieces.

The adding of the logo and binding seems to pull it together. In that regard, a rather true representation of our church. (I put the name rather than the initials). After all, TUC might mean anything such as Take Up Complaining... and the full name is a part of the new logo. (Plus I hate acronyms) . Looking at the result I notice the Liberty fabric from Great Britain is mostly covered by the logo (made by a "Brit") and the map of Africa with a zebra is covered with lettering. Oops, pastor is from Africa! Some of the lettering is a bit wonky. Well, that is as it will remain.

As I was leaving church on Sunday, the pastor asked me to go on and finish the banner and give it to him as he had a plan to use it in a sermon. I guess it will end up being used even in its abbreviated form. I hope my name is left out of it. And I sure don't want people to think I can just whip up something like this in less than a week.

As I returned from my photo shoot, look what had arrived in the post!

Coming all the way from Jean in New Zealand was a beautiful package. I had been expecting a ruler and she found and sent the perfect one. (can you see it? both inches and centimeters and a perfect 6 inches).

But, to keep it company, were some beautiful cut pieces that will happily join friends in my tins or be sewed into the blocks in progress. And also within that kiwi wrap, some fern fabric. And, as if that wasn't enough, that cute mini quilt is really a design wall for my mini pieces. Note the wonderful flannel backing. Oh Jean, thank you so much!

I am not using that fern fabric for the banner but as I sat finishing the hanging sleeve, I thought how appropriate ... measuring with a ruler from New Zealand, sewing with American thread made in Mexico and with a needle from England sent me from a friend in Massachusetts... and how far removed from that kid growing up on the edge of a forest park in Ohio. We are Quilters Without Borders!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Interesting activities

Those who have been reading my posts for a year or more may remember that each year I have made a banner for the church foyer on a theme selected for the year.

It all began five years ago when it was decided to hold a "Rally Day" ... kind of a church equivalent to back-to-school night ... In September  members begin to return from holidays in their own countries and newly assigned-to-Tokyo-expats and students arrive, looking for a church home.

Once upon a time, the Stewardship Ministry team began an event to introduce those people (and even more long-term members) to activities and service opportunities within the church community. We chose a theme, created a booklet with activity descriptions and contacts, and held a rally where members could answer questions about those activities. (and maybe even join in or contribute).

The committee at the first event created a very large paper "poster" and taped it to the wall in the entry foyer ... patio ... genkan ... a covered area between the outside and inner doors. Well, that poster stayed for a whole year becoming torn and very ratty. Therefore, the next year, being on the stewardship committee, I offered to make a banner which might be more attractive and hold up better.

The past four years I have worked with the committee and helped by making a banner each year. Often I am handed a design made by someone else and had to tweak it to make it work. Often all four banners are hung in a row in the entry.

BUT ... being the church of the revolving door, people come and go and duties and events are passed from one person or group to another and the resulting changes become rather confusing.

The new "Stewardship" Elder does not like that term and has changed it to "Discipleship". We are to go out and bring in members ... forget about managing the church resources and finances. SO, that Elder found out I had been making a banner every year and Thursday I had an e-mail asking for a banner with the theme, "Become  part of the fabric of TUC" Well, the time is a bit short but I said I would do my best. Actually, I found it a bit of an exciting challenge because the membership comes from all over the world and I began to go through my stash hunting up printed cottons from all over, India, Africa, Britain, Australia. China, Indonesia, and woven cottons rough and fine from all over. I cut out 63 four-inch squares, and though it was a hodge-podge of unrelated colors and patterns, sewed them together for the banner background.

The church had recently changed their logo so  I thought the addition of that ... along with the words might make an interesting hanging.

Meanwhile, Friday, another e-mail came from the Elder asking about the dimensions and configuration of the proposed banner. As this person attends TUC regularly, I was a bit taken by surprised that over the past four years, none of the banners has been taken note of by that person. I therefore explained the history and results of the past five years. Then, I went back to work on the project.

OH NO! I got another e-mail last night saying that person wanted the entire phrase, arranged in a certain manner(two lines)! Suddenly the seven words with 26 appliqued two-inch letters was to become fifteen words with 67 appliqued letters ... meaning they would all have to be an inch high or less in order to get them to fit. Now, if that person could pass by those banners every Sunday and not see a banner saying "Many Hands, One Body" how would someone stop and read fifteen words in small print? Going on would be a waste if time and energy.

I apologized for my miss-understanding in reply e-mail and my husband offered to make that person a large poster with the preferred design and wording. Today a response came back that someone else will do the artwork, Paul is off the hook, and if I finish up the banner, they will find a place to put it.

The pressure is off. I will finish this as I wish, knowing there are many who pass by and never notice those hangings. I may as well satisfy my own artistic ideas and there will be one person satisfied ... well, maybe two because my husband thought it was a win as well. Sometimes I wonder if God is looking down and scratching His head ... or even laughing at what His "disciples" come up with.