Thursday, August 6, 2020

Another day down

Thursday mornings are my "park" day.
Last week was missed because of rain, though I have gone to the park when rain is rather light.

I take with me one of the bags that was used for my Monday morning onigiri delivery, and bring it home filled with weeds.

Park maintenance in my area ... and also in the last place I lived ... is very strange. They plant very fine grass, the kind one might see on a golf course. This grass grows by runners rather than going to seed.

The gardners come every other day or so and rake the leaves. Two guys mostly standing and talking, one with a bamboo broom and the other with a dustpan. They don't seem to throw out the leaves, but pile them up at the base of a tree.
About twice in the summer, they come with a weed whacker and cut all the grass, spreading the weed seeds all over. In all these years, I have never seen one gardner bend over and pull a weed.

The Thursday park has the good grass, but it has been taken over by weeds. This grass is still young, about a foot tall, but beginning to form weeds. Here I have pulled the front section of  a plot to give the good grass an equal chance.

Here is the other side of the grassy hill. The weeds were cut here once a few weeks ago.

The hedge is about three feet high, so those weeds are big enough to see and pull.

This is the left front of the park along the street.

Three years ago it was all knee-high weeds.
Last fall, my cub scouts came for a community service project and pulled all the weeds in this area.

I give it a "once over" each week but very few weeds have come back and, with the nice grass, which I was able to bring back by planting runners, the weeds are very easy to spot.

This is the right front of the park which was also knee-high weeds a few years ago. The bare area was a trash collection spot until last year.

All the grass around the sign was planted three years ago and toward the street are runners that have been added since this spring.

A few of the runners planted in the past month are beginning to take hold.

The biggest challenge now might be the gardeners with their bamboo rakes uncovering the grass roots.

This area has some plants that come up from small bulbs while the good grass is dormant. They don't seem to bother the grass at all.

This park was built with  water coming out from the top of the hill behind the hedges, running down a concrete path into a shallow pond with stepping stones and a small sculpture, then being pumped back to the top from the bottom drain.

I don't know whose idea this was, but for some reason it did not last more than a year or two. Maybe kids fell in the water or parents were afraid they might. Now the water just sits below the grate at the bottom and breeds mosquitoes. My nickname for this site is "Mosquito Park". The only people who I have seen here are truck drivers and construction workers coming to use the toilet, guys sitting on one of the rock seats to smoke, and people sometimes cutting through to the back road. Since it is along the road leading to a school, sometimes I see mothers dragging their kids out of the dry pond.

Here is one of the trees that gets the sweepings.

This is the park closest to my home. It seems the rotting leaves under the tree have made good compost for growing weeds ... and I see those weeds now creeping out into the grass.

This afternoon I spent three hours or more visiting the Toyota dealer to have my car inspected.
The car goes in every year at this time for a check up, and every three years that means an inspection.
It is never a cheap event. I will be sent a sticker to place on my front window, indicating it is in good running order. That is the way things are here in Japan.
Though it is expensive to own a car, it means the cars around you on the road are all in good working order.

Though there is a dealer within walking distance of my home, I have used this place about half an hour's drive to where we lived when I bought the car. They know me and they know my car. If there is anything to discuss, they call Norie and explain it to her. Last fall, when I went to have the break pads replaced, they gifted me a miniature potted rose. This morning, as I went out to the car park, I noticed that little rose had two buds, one beginning to open.

As to quilting ... While I was sitting in their over-cooled waiting room with a cup if iced coffee and a cookie, I managed to piece 8 new houses for my Coronaville. I had been thinking of making a runner for my coffee table, but now with close to 100 houses, it is looking like something a bit larger. (and the days continue to be piling up).

Well, time to hit the shower and call it a day.

Friday, July 24, 2020

Chopping wood

With no idea of what I am doing, I have been playing with log cabin blocks.

Hmm... random scraps might make a pattern hard to see.

I spent a whole day trying to sort the "gifted" stash. So much is cut with dangling pieces and bunched up in containers because it can't be folded.

I pulled out pieces, Ironed them, and trimmed off the strings that are too small to use. I suppose someone with a machine could make string blocks, but since I work by hand, I marked what was large enough into squares or strips, and anything smaller than a one-inch square, went into the trash. There is no way I can ever use all these fabrics, even if I live to 100. (or maybe 200) Some of the fabrics are large cuts and might be used for backings, but there are certainly a lot of random scraps.

My night-blooming cereus has a bud that is getting larger by the day.

It is promising a show one of these days.

 The tiny pot at the lower right is one of the plants I rescued from my friend Wally's garden.

There are about four or five different succulents in that pot and those tall flower spikes are coming from one  of them.

The green spiky plant behind it  has a number of red flower spikes coming up. I can't remember what it is, but it lives in damp moss rather than real soil.

The pineapple lily has sent out a big spike of flowers this year.
I think this is the biggest bloom it has ever had over the years.

And ... this has been a great year for the lily clan.

I was outside sweeping the street, and one of my neighbors who is an artist, brought out a painting to show me.

It was a lovely picture of a variety of flowers all gathered together. He pointed out one of a lily, saying he had taken a picture of one those in my garden to use as a model.

The flowers don't last long, but they are tall above everything else and very showy.

So ... the days drag by ... almost to the point I forget what day it is. This morning I had to drop everything and rush the "pura" out to the end of the street for the days collection ... before zooming in to  morning meeting. Tuesday I had to rush from a scout Executive Board meeting to another meeting without even time to fill my coffee cup. Sometime I get notices of meetings only a few hours before and by the time I check my email, I have missed the first half hour and missed the discussion point.
I'm beginning to wonder if I will be able to switch back to my former life once things reach a new normal ... if I even know what "normal" is...

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Starring Feed Sacks

Friday, the 17th of July, I put the final stitches in the feedsack quilt. From then on it was sitting patiently on my sofa, waiting for a photo time. But... with all the rain ... even predicted through all  of next week ... I thought it might be quite a while before an opportunity might happen.

Surprise! When I brought my coffee cup to the coffee table and sat down with the morning paper, that quilt began nudging me and saying, Look! The sun is peeking out! You promised I could go to the park for a picture." Well, at least it let me finish my coffee before grabbing the stepladder and my camera and going off to the park.

Actually, it took a bit of walking to find a piece of fence that was tall enough and had the light coming from the right direction. This was my first time to try this section of the fence and it wasn't tall enough to take the picture with the quilt straight up. On the other hand, the fence was not all bent from kids kicking balls at it and the trees were not blocking the sun.

The direct sun doesn't show off the quilting much. I tried to keep it at a minimum as the center blocks are just quilted in the ditch plus a diamond shape in the center of the four inch feedsack prints.
I did not applique the yoyos, but tacked them down near the edges so things would not get caught on them as they might with a button.
Rain is predicted for most of next week so I may get to cuddle under this before the sauna weather sets in. For now, I'm glad it got its day in the sun.

This morning, the sayonara banner went of to its new family. I was not at the early service to see it go, but I was sent a photo of the smiling family.

Yesterday I began chopping logs to build a cabin, and with the silkworms off the coffee table, I laid out the coronaville houses to get an idea of how to put them together. It is looking more and more as if this down time is going to last long enough to make another bed cover... and those houses are only three by four inches! Ah well, tomorrow is another day.... If I need time to think, I am covered.

Monday, July 13, 2020

Playing with yoyos

Well, these are not the ones that swing around on strings...

I got a plastic yoyo maker (sold by clover) that makes the process fairly easy once I figured out the right-handed pictures that went with the instructions.

The device comes in three sizes and I wondered if I should have gotten the smaller one, but now these are in place, I think they will be OK.

So far I am using gingham and polka dot fabrics.

When I made the blocks, I picked up two colors from the feedsack print to make the setting star.
I am now trying to get a balance of those colors in the border.

The flower petals are made from small feed sack scraps.

I put the binding on when I was halfway through quilting the larger empty spaces in the border.
The backing was getting in the way while quilting, and since the border was basted anyway,  the binding in place sped up the process considerably.  Now I am thinking I might just take this WIP upstairs with me at night and sleep under it. But then again, that might be dangerous to the finishing process with diminished incentives.
Anyway, I can't take a picture of the finish quilt in all this rain ... so ... may as well keep on playing with yoyos....

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Meeting expectations

When most of the church family knows you can make things, beware!

Last Monday a request came ... one family is leaving and will be at church next week for a sayonara blessing... could I make them a gift to thank them for their service.

Well, if I do make something, it will have to be finished by this Monday morning so I can leave it off when I go to pick up food items for the homeless mission.  Oh, I hate deadlines! Going to the end of the wire is just not my thing ... so I put down all I had been working on and hunted up some fabric that might work.

This family has been active in leading a program called "Saturday Night Out" or "SNO"

The first Saturday evening of each month, people gathered for fun and games, a nice meal, and while the kids had some entertainment, the adults had a video in a bible topic and a discussion.

I think  I attended every gathering from the beginning and enjoyed  the variety of food, the games, and getting to know members I don't often see when I am engaged in choir activities.

I picked out some night sky and stars for the border. The SNO letters got some red embroidery to help them stand out and the little letters cut from an alphabet print  got a gold outline on the family name and red on the rest.
The pink heart says "LOVE" in quilting and the long green says "and THANKS", with TUC in the left corner square.

I figured they could use this as a wall hanging or a table runner or toss it over the back of a chair.
Anyway, the expectations have been met and I didn't have to stay up past midnight to finish. I am wondering if, when we start back to gathering, this activity will be continued by someone else. This morning it was left in the postbox at the church.

Last Friday was my virtual Cub Pack meeting, We started with a game using a pencil, a meter of string, a paper clip, a scout cap, and a bottle with a narrow neck. The game was to put the pencil on one end of the string and clip the string to the cap brim, then stand and try to put the pencil into the bottle without using hands. Fastest and most successful was the only girl and it was fun to cheer them on.  As usual there was a lot of coaching once a system was discovered. When it comes to teamwork, my group is stronger then with competition.
Plans were made for a junk art challenge and a game that will meet advancement requirements. for the next meeting.
Another expectation checked off the list.

Friday, July 3, 2020

bits and pieces

Little by little things are getting checked off my list,

The feedsack quilt is all quilted in the border. I still have to add something in the more empty areas, put feelers on the butterflies, and make yoyos for the flower centers. Then add the binding.

Meanwhile, lest I fall too far behind, I have gone back to my "must do" list.
First was something for my birthday girl. (Our family draws names for Christmas and Birthdays, and this year I got #4 daughter, Kimie. ) She wanted a blue and white carrying cover for her laptop. Luckily her device is the same as mine so mine offered to sit as a model.

I dug out all my yukata scarps, turning all the space I had spent tidying into a mess.

This is what I came up with.

Last week I found a tenugui with the three comma crest. I added the triangles that makes it the same as the Fukuda family crest.

I thought Kimie might like the daruma with the"fuku" kanji and the beckoning cat.

I used a dark, rather traditional print for the lining.

I was thinking of adding a tie to be wrapped around a button but when I was going through my button collection to find something that would work, I came across the button in the shape of bamboo.

I decided to add a loop of elastic and that long button.

Below is a view of the back side with my laptop posing underneath.

I am thinking of making a drawstring bag to hold the cord and plug-in fixture.

This was a fun project and I spent the better part of the week laying out the scraps and sewing them together.

The binding was mostly stab-stitched to make it strong with many small stitches through a rather thick batting.

My other item on the to-do list was my block for the partnership quilts.
The deadline to make it to its destination is the end of the month ... and I can't say mail delivery is running smoothly or quickly.

The theme selected is "Love the Earth".

I really dithered over this one. Finally I dug out a background fabric with a map print and put my Ohio Cardinal over the center.

I'm not sure the background sets it off well, but stuck in a random fashion among 59 other blocks, who is going to notice?

Now I only have to fill out the form and get this into the mail. Maybe tomorrow ...

Time then to check in with Marie, who is my Christmas giftee, and see if there is something I might make for her. Judging how long it took for the koinobori to fly off to Oregon, there won't be a lot off time for dithering,

Saturday, June 20, 2020

It's been a while...

Since my last post, the houses have been sitting in a tin, waiting for the silkworms to finish their feeding and free up the coffee table to test some layout designs. With little travel time into town and back, I have no take-along work prepared.

Most of my down time has been spent quilting the feedsacks in-the-ditch. I did add simple quilting in the center of each block.
Today I finished quilting around the applique on the first border.  There is a lot of empty space left over and I am thinking of what I could add in those spaces. Maybe I will finish all of this quilting and that will give me some time to come up with a plan.

I added a bit of quilting in each petal of the flowers, and put a vein in each leaf.

I tried to work without using a hoop and ended up un-quilting a section, as it was too wonky. My oval hoop is just too large and the borders are only lightly basted.

I ended up getting out a small hoop about 12 inches across and that seems to help.

I have been thinking of adding yoyos to the center of the flowers.

Those are a throw-back to my childhood when sometimes whole bed covers were made of yoyos.
(often of feedsacks too).

I saw a really nice embroidery stitch on Queenie's blog last week that also looks like it might work. It would probably be faster, but I am wondering how it might work on the back side of the quilt.
Well, I imagine it will be a while before I get all the borders this far and so there is time to think about that solution as well.

This is the season for the garden to show off,

The gardenias smell so strong, I could find my front gate blindfolded. Usually there is a problem with caterpillars chewing leaves and buds but this year all were left to bloom.

The lilies are also standing up and out. I had to tie them up as they were reaching to the west for more sun. They are all so very tall.

I had to turn the hosta planter sideways because those were also reaching out into the street to the west.

I have never had them bloom with so many stalks or this early in the year.
These were rescued from my neighbor's garden as the bulldozers were tearing it up. That was a number of years ago, but now they seem happy and used to being in a planter.

I have a few others of a different style on the north side of the house that have yet to bloom.

Days go by with lots of virtual activities. Zooming and skyping and facetiming and gotomeetings and livestreaming. My outings are sweeping the street to the corner and back ... sometimes twice a day ... and pulling weeds in the park at least once a week ... and of course hunting and gathering mulberry leaves for the caterpillar gang.
Twice I have made recordings to join our virtual choir. I have to admit I prefer singing with the group rather to my cell phone.
I have to let friends and family members know when I am going out so they won't panic when I don't answer a phone call or zoom in at the start of a community meeting
Our church will start up with a limited number of people allowed to join in person from tomorrow, but I think choir will be one of the last things to be added. I am still delivering onigiri to the homeless on Monday mornings, but as the weather gets hotter, that will temporarily end so as not to have the food go bad in the heat waiting in the cupboard for delivery.

The groups of young people that had lessened with closing of bars and karaoke places, have started to reappear in the morning hours. Most people are still wearing masks when out in public. I do not like trying to walk with my glasses fogged up. Can't see with them, can't see without them... and my ears are so wimpy it is hard to keep the masks on. I should probably come up with something that ties around the back because it looks as though masks will be part of the culture for a while yet.

So, that's about it from my neck of the woods.  I enjoy scrolling through my blog list to see how everyone else is filling their down time.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020


For weeks now, I have been seeing a notice saying "Try the new blogger". It has taken me forever to keep up with the changes blogger keeps making and so I have ignored that click spot.

Yesterday, when I logged on, there was a message saying the "new blogger" was going to take over in the coming month, so I decided to at least check it out. Well, that got me distracted and I wasted time looking for things that I might need for writing a post. In the end, I reverted back to the "Old" blogger and shut the computer.

Well, I really don't have a lot to post as I am slowly quilting my feedsack quilt ... mostly in the ditch where it is not going to show much.
Other time is spent tending silkworms and hunting for mulberry leaves to feed them, when I am not zooming and skypeing, and facetiming, and attending gotomeetings. I really needed a bit of handwork to do while at these meetings, and my bags of scraps came out because while checking what my blogging friends are up to, I came across the perfect bit of inspiration on Teresa's "Stitchin' Friends" blog... a corona village with a house representing each day of shutdown.

These little 4"x 3" houses might make a nice table runner or a border for a runner depending on how many days of shutdown they represent.

Or laid out in this topsy turvy way, and adding a one inch square in the middle or sashing, there are more possibilities.  They sure don't take as long to sew by hand as it does to mark and cut the scraps.

Of course I might be spending my time tidying up my messy room ... but then, it just gets messy right away again. With a bit of sewing instead, I have something to show for the time and a reminder of where I have been since mid February.

Thanks, Teresa, for your inspiration. (and an excuse not to do cleaning). Did you find the haunted house? Hopefully I will not celebrate my Halloween birthday still on lockdown.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

A finish at last

Over the weekend, I finished the last stitches in the binding, and Monday Norie took this picture of the quilt on the park fence. My plan is to give this to the church to raffle or auction off to raise money for the library ... what may be needed to get it back up and running ... and the rest to the homeless mission.

The last quilts with this block were quilted with big stitch - light on dark and dark on light with sashiko thread. Because the backing of this one was all white, I decided to quilt butterflies in the block side pieces. I used dark thread on the very light blocks and light on the darker areas. I liked the idea of butterflies in the garden of floral prints and it is the symbol for the "hidden Christians".  I made a stencil for the small vine in the inner border and used linked hearts for the outer border with the idea we are all tied together by the love of God.

I picked blue for the binding, as it matched the blue in the border print. Maybe I should have chosen a darker rose, but I didn't want the quilt to look too "girly". Anyway, It is ready to go to the church once the new normal arrives.

Speaking of church, we were asked to take a picture of out communion table and send it to the church website. An assortment of pictures were showed this past Sunday during the organ piece.

As one might notice,  I enjoyed some red wine ... and the bread here was made by my daughter. Norie.
The lovely runner on my coffee table was made for me by Tanya Watanabe. It makes me happy everytime I sit beside it
You may notice my guests in the background ... plenty of silkworms. They have all moved up to larger containers over this past week.

Days go by with slight changes in schedule. Monday homeless is the same except what I am delivering now is crackers rather than onigiri. Tuesday Sermon Lab is on Zoom. I can do that without leaving home. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings, there is a community meeting. We have been joined by people in the states who were once members and a lady who has never been to the church in person but has been attending since services became live streamed.

Last night was training to join the virtual choir ... not sure I can do it but if I can get earphones at the 100 yen shop, I will try. Tonight, My cub scouts will have a campout. They have been preparing for the last few weeks for campfire entertainment. It should be fun. Maybe more so than the Scout Board training coming up on Sunday ... as a result of the training team meeting last Saturday. Honestly, I am beginning to feel rather zoomed out!

Every day I sweep our street from one end to the other. We have a number of very messy trees dropping leaves, flowers, and seeds parts. Between sweeping and pulling weeds in the park, I contribute several large bags to the trash collection. I did notice that, with people wearing masks, the number of cigarette butts I sweep up has lessened lately.

On the other hand, Thursday is collection day for glass bottles, cans, and pet bottles.

Normally, that square blue folding net container is set out in the morning. The neighborhood members are to remove the lids (those go into the "pura" that is collected on Fridays), and squash the bottle, putting it in the net container.

I did notice the squashing rule is less met these days, but....

Looking up the street, even if those bottles were crushed, there are now way too many .

It is interesting that the numbers have increased to so much.

Of course people are staying home and drinking there.
I don't even remember when I last bought a drink in a pet bottle. I get drinks like milk or yoghurt or juice in paper cartons that can be washed, flattened and recycled.

I carry my own nylon shopping bag. I use the bags left from onigiri delivery for "Pura" plastic from all kinds of wrappers, the fastest to fill up maybe twice a month to the pick-up-site.
Paper, cardboard, and milk cartons are recycled on Fridays. (for me, once a month or less). and burnable trash and garbage on Wednesday and Saturday. I put the bag of weeds out then but a lot are composted and the wastepaper basket small stuff like sewing scraps fills the slowest of all along with unburnable maybe once every two months if that much.

I wonder if the change in trash has changed in other places as well. I wonder if people stuck at home are drinking more. I do notice my coffee is going faster now that I am home more.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Almost there..

I have turned the last corner while quilting the border on the floral quilt. Today I walked into town to the next station hoping to do some shopping for dinner items. Sadly the store was out of anything I needed.
I took a quick trip around the corner to the little sewing shop and was glad to see it opened. I went to the bias tape section. I found some nice blue that matches the blue in the outer border print. I will be all ready to take the next step this weekend when the border is finished.

It is that time of year for tending silkworms. There are many more than I have ever had in years before, and I have managed to locate a few more mulberry trees in the area.

They can turn leaves to lace in no time.

I have been experimenting with putting five critters out on a young tree in the garden. I just wanted to see how long they can survive in nature. One of the five dropped down by a silk thread to a lower plant. It was a Kerria bush ... not edible material, and after three days, expired. The others remained on the leaves at the end of the branch and went through another instar. There was a big lot of rain and the four made it through, but now another one has left the group.

As my paper diary has filled to the last page, I have begun a second book with photographs and descriptions.  I happened to notice that my finished mandala never got photographed with the binding added. That was way back in September of last year. Today, with a bit of sun, I took a photo on the fence in the park so I could add the record to my diary.

Here is how it came out. Whether walking a real labyrinth or following the winding trail with one's finger, we are led to the center. As in life, patiently putting one foot in front of the other, and trusting in a deeper process that takes us home. Centered and secure.

The buttons are points on the native American Medicine Wheel. The points are different for different people and tribes, but following each path to the center is a way to look at any situation from different angles and points of view. In this time of lockdown, it is nice to have an alternative to worry and frustration.

Zoom and Skype and go to meetings seem to grab my days. It is fun getting together with the kids. Tonight was an Eagle Scout board of review. There is a virtual birthday party coming up soon and some scout training plus a community gathering.  All this virtual stuff makes me appreciate the real person to person contacts all the more.