Sunday, April 5, 2020

More of the same


This has been a hard week with the stink of paint coming from the house to the south.

When the weather was nice, I escaped to the park and filled a few bags with weeds.

Two of the areas I have been working on for a little over a year are looking quite nice with weeds well under control.

The "good grass" does not increase by flower and seed, but by runners. In those two areas, the weeds were so thick they had overcome the grass, so I selected runners from places where grass was creeping over cement and rocks and re-purposed them in the bare spaces. Without competition, those spaces are looking much better. One problem is the "gardeners" who come to rake the leaves and often dislodge the new runners. The trick is to get there before they do and remove the leaves from those spots.

My other outdoor activity is sweeping the street.
(if my narrow ally could be called that).

I start at my gate, all the way south to the park corner, on the left side, then back up on the right side, past my house to the small side street and back.
I clean the drains as I go, as the flower petals from the Illicium clog the drains causing a lake in the middle of the road each time it rains.


Narita-san to the north has a great big garden that always provides plenty of fallout in every season. Now that his plum is leafing out, the camellias are falling. Lots of petals blowing in the wind, and what I don't sweep up by his wall today, I will be sweeping up in front of my gate tomorrow. I like to get them before they are pounded into the pavement by walking feet.  I guess if you look at the bag you can see the color ... two of these trees and one white one that is yet to begin falling.

Yesterday my morning coffee was drunk to the tune of banging and clanging of more scaffolding being set up.

I had hoped the sound was it being taken down and went out to look. Nope. And why, with the curb space empty across the street, did they have to pile all those heavy metal poles on my flowers?

I was able to lift the smaller ones off but those long ones were just too heavy. Both the house to the south of mine and the one across the street belong to the same family. They carefully
covered the owners car each day ... and a good thing because they are not the neatest painters in the world ... paint splatters on the street where the tarp doesn't reach.

And, today, my kerria bush had one flower.

I guess it is following orders from the governor to keep apart from all others.

I think I heard other buds whispering to let them know when it was finished so that they could have their turn in the sun.














So... what do I do with the rest of my days?

The weight of Sunday's snow Pulled my planter off the wall, hooks and all. I put the plants back in the planter and set it up on top of my fish tank while waiting for the wall to dry so I could replace the hooks with cement glue.

Then, before I had a chance, the big wind came and blew the planter back to the ground. Oh my, what a mess.


Monday mornings as usual I will drive into town to deliver onigiri to my homeless friends.
During the week I will struggle with Mr. Zoom, trying to get into meetings if I can ... and sometimes give up when he doesn't like my password or name ... wondering why I bothered to record it all in my computer notebook if it only worked once...
After a few sunny days, the planter returned to it's space on the wall. The plants got rearranged and some went to the upstairs balcony that is a bit more sheltered and has more sun.

And, of course, a lot of quilting.


The last ones I made, I used big stitch, black on the light fabrics and white on the dark. Since the backing ended up being all white, it was not going to hide the stitches on the back, so I decided after quilting it all in the ditch that I would just use regular quilting.

I drafted a butterfly to fit the large areas and used colored thread on the light segments and white on the dark. It really does not show up very well.

So far I have 12 blocks quilted and still a lot to go. I am getting a bit faster with practice and I hope as I near the edges it will be a bit easier without so much bulk on my lap.

If I get tired, there is a lot of tidying up for me to do. And... a bit of mending ... wondering why the left knee of every pair of pants have holes or almost holes... Tomorrow looks like it will be sunny. Will the painters be back? I asked their schedule but they only said "soon".  It won't be too soon for me ... but the weeds are still growing and the quilt is waiting ... so ... we shall see

Hope you are all safe and keeping well.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

When life gives you scraps...

The flimsy got its last border two weeks ago and I could take a picture in the park on Sunday. At first I thought maybe that dark paisley border was a bit heavy and maybe needed to be trimmed a bit narrower, but I had selected five inches because it will be good for the celtic heart stencil I made for the last baby quilt.


I wanted to back the quilt with a non-directional busy floral print but I just didn't have enough of anything and the idea of hand-piecing something with all that measuring and then having a bunch of seams on the back side was discouraging. Instead I found a large length of plain white fabric and after cutting it one seam was enough.

I had planned to take the quilt to church for basting but could clear enough space on the floor of the empty apartment, and though I had to crawl around on top, it worked perfectly for pin-basting. Not having enough of the #60 or #80 weight thinsulate, I put on two layers of #40. The white backing is a bit hard to quilt through so my stitches are only five or six to the inch.

I am quilting this all in the ditch and then I will decide about the large spaces. I quilted others with big-stitch but with this backing, I'm not sure how the reverse side will look.

I had planned to give this to the women's society to sell or raffle at their flea market, but that has been called off. Now I am not sure where it will go but I plan to pass it on to the church as my tithe to raise money for the homeless mission or the library renovation.

Church now on livestream only. School closed. Scouts not allowed to meet . choir not meeting and cut to 4 members from this week. Neighbor's house undergoing renovation ... banging and clanging of setting up scaffolding last Friday, then the roaring of a motor all day Saturday and the smell of some chemical that gave me a headache. Being super-sensitive to noise and smells, I had to get away from the house, so went to the park to pull weeds ... three big bags full for Wednesday's collection and three more out today. Once the mosquitoes come out in full I won't be able to spend that much time in the park. I am wondering how much longer the work will go on.

Since the work is in the house to the south, (18 inches between my window and their wall) the scaffolding blocks off all my sun on the third floor. I had been working up there to save electricity on heat and light. A tall apartment on the east side and a three-story building a few yards to the west means very little sun coming in. Wearing a down jacket and sweater inside, I was surprised when I stepped outside today to see how much warmer it was than my livingroom.

Weeks ago, thinking of what I would give up for Lent, little  did I realize the choice that would be made for me. Many thanks to my blogging friends for a taste of normalcy.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Making use of down-time



A friend is starting up an NPO for teaching English to orphans, with the expectation that when they age out of the facility, that English ability might give them a leg up getting jobs.

In February, she asked me to make a banner for her to use in promoting her venture. I have no picture of that ... just a colorful strip of fabric with the letters JOEE and an embroidered kangaroo.
After that, I began to think an I-Spy quilt might add a bit of fun to the learning, so dug out my tin of 4-inch kid-friendly prints. I had 80 already marked and cut ... perfect for a quilt.


I added alphabet cornerstones along the border sashings and JOEE along the top border.
As I was putting this together, all kinds of ideas kept coming to mind of games to play other than I-Spy. I made two small beanbags thinking of maybe tossing them onto the quilt and making a sentence using the picture. If the bag lands on a letter, maybe coming up with a noun, verb, and adverb or adjective in a short sentence with that letter. 

I used some of my 2x2" scraps for the beanbags and put a pocket on the back corner to hold them.

I was told by the Children's Ministry director at church that this friend will be coming next week to give the children's message and promote her NPO with church members.

I think that will be a perfect time to pass this to her.
Oh, by the way, can you see the button on the pocket? It is a leftover from the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.


So many activities have been cancelled. School is off. The quilt group is not meeting. The Tokyo American Club has cancelled our Scout meetings. Choir practice is now done from home by computer. Luckily church goes on, though many weekly meetings are off.
I was somewhat glad for the extra time to put the quilt together. Since it will be carried from place to place, I used a light thinsulate #40 for batting. I will have a week longer to think about a carrying bag.

I had to make several trips into town during the week.

My watch died and I needed to take it to have the battery replaced.

Then, I had to go to the small sewing shop to get enough bias tape for the border of the quilt.

Along the way were signs of spring. These little daffodils are in a neighbor's bed which the rest of the year is full of weeds.
I have one of these in a pot that is blooming too.


The local day-care children and adults are enjoying the sun in the parks nearby.




White jonquils were blooming along the fence of the local school ...

Now closed until April when the new school year begins.









Some early magnolias have begun to bloom.


This one near the base of the tree seems to be communicating with the violets.

The big purple magnolias along the road to the station have just begun to open but because of winter pruning, there are few buds left to open.



The flagpole at the empty school had a Japanese flag flying at half-staff in memory of the 3/11 earthquake and tsunami.
There were a few older children kicking balls and running around in one of the parks along the way.





The most striking display is along the fence of a neighbor's yard.




This Orchid Vine is just stunning.
Actually, there are two vines, one purple and one white, but they are twisted together making it seem the flowers are varied.


I had been watching a huge cymbidium orchid outside the school entry getting ready to bloom.

Every year it has large flower spikes that bloom a very long time. It is one plant that seems to thrive on neglect.
With school closed, I am missing  being greeted by those flowers.

I wish I could say my house is cleaner now that I have had time on my hands. Tidying up doesn't seem to have the same voice as the call to quilt.

Hope all are staying well....
and you can get a wee taste of seasonal flowers.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Time flies while standing still


Two weeks ago, when I showed up for work, the director dropped into the art room to tell me that "old people" are more likely to get the virus so I should stay home so as not to infect the school. (actually, I think young people are more likely to carry the germs without symptoms and spread them around).

The art teacher was shocked as she relies heavily on my help both in class and in the library. After a lot of ins and outs, it was finally decided I could remain. Well, that was Thursday...

Friday I went to help the quilting group at Nishimachi. One of the quilt members is a doctor and there was a lot of discussion about the virus. Yes, she agreed that those masks we were required to wear were useless other than to prevent spreading germs if the person wearing the mask was sick. I dislike them because they make my glasses fog up and with everyone muttering into masks, one cannot understand what people are saying. Hand sanitizer is not as good as soap and water, but people today do not know how to wash their hands properly.

Saturday evening, my cub scouts had their pinewood derby race.

We don't have a very big group but I was pleased to see how everyone chipped in and helped. The scouts from the troop came and assembled the track and parents helped with weight adjustment and getting the cars ready to run, a dad on the starting gate and two moms with cameras at the finish line ... taking videos and running them over to see who finished in what order. I especially liked the way the boys cheered each other on.

My car this year was not very fancy ... a two-day production. The boy scouts brought their former cars and tried to beat mine. Hah.. hotter than a dog? We did have a fun event.

Sunday I had a call from my daughter telling me the school director had called her trying to get her to convince me not to go to work any more.  Then, Monday I had a message from the art teacher telling me that all the after school programs had been cancelled for now and all the teachers who take trains to work had to be out of the school by 3:30. So... no school for me. I was hoping the after school activities weren't cut just to get me away, but by the end of the week it was announced that school will be closed from Monday.  The Friday quilt group was cancelled too.

Friday was my daughter Norie's birthday and the sweet daphne planted all those years ago when she was born was perfuming the air by the front gate.

Saturday I was part of the choir for a memorial service for a former member. It was a lovely service but rather poorly attended.

Sunday I noticed the first service was rather sparse in attendance but the second service was pretty full and two choirs participated. The communications ministry meeting went on as planned and so far our Tuesday evening Sermon Lab is going on as usual.
I did notice the trains are a bit less crowded.


Today is quite windy and the plum tree is decorating the walkway with pink polkadots.

Tonight's choir practice will be held at home on our computers. I wonder how many will actually practice.

So it goes....
My wristwatch died and luckily, after a trip into town, I could get it back to working.
With so much of the regular schedule on hold, I will need that to remind me what day it is.


A small reminder that spring is around the corner popped up in my flower box.


I remember the wooded hillsides of my youth covered with a carpet of daffodils.







Like the puple spiderlily that bloomed in December and January, the confusion has continued.

This poinsettia had tiny flowers set by Christmas but is enjoying the last few weeks of January with 15 flowers still putting out red petals.
Slow and steady wins the race...

And ... at this time of year ... no competition with what the flower shops are selling...


So ... with things cancelled ... what am I doing?
Well, Onigiri delivery still goes on Monday mornings.

A friend asked me to make a banner to use in promoting an NPO she is starting up, a program to teach english to orphans.
When those youth reach a certain age, they are put out on their own and hopefully good english skills will help them to find jobs.
I took the banner to her in early February at the Women's Conference but did not take a picture.

I began thinking that an I-Spy quilt might be a fun way to work on language skills and went through my 4" squares of kid-friendly prints. With the 80 I picked out, I began putting together a quilt for her to use. Last night I added the outer borders and today I will see what might work for the backing.



I have heard she is coming to our church later this month to do the children's message and introduce her NPO. With lots of "free" time, I hope to get this together and quilted by then.

Meanwhile, the feedsack quilt sits on the sofa, all basted and ready for quilting to begin ... and a second floral quilt waits for a border. I had thought of donating that one to the woman's society to raffle off but the flea market has been cancelled and the women's society is struggling to overcome challenges of leadership.
So.... off to my fabric bin... While some things in the future are unknown ... a quilt with a purpose has a lot of power to motivate.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

More Tokyo Dome quilts ... part 3




As I have mentioned before. other than prize winners, the only quilts that have the quilter's name posted in roman lettering are those made by 60 or so "well known" quilters and teachers.

This quilt, using a lot of "Japanese Taupe" was made by Osami Gonohe

It is called  "Snow Dome" and besides the number of scenic domes, there are lots of cute snow people lined up around the borders.















The title of this is "Japanese Patterns".

It was made by Kumiko Fujita and if you look closely there is a lot of variety among those red and white blocks ... A sumo wrestler, lanterns, demons, daruma, kimono, fish, flags, cat, teapot, and many more items.
















How about these soccer playing bunnies?

Usually the rabbit in the moon is busily pounding mochi but his attention seems to be diverted by the game in progress.


The title is "Tokyo 2020 Kickoff"

Made by Miwako Mogami













"Fujin - Raijin Wind God and Thunder God"

By Toko Sekita


A lot of work must have gone into this one...


















"The Universe"

by Fumiko Nakayama


Lots and lots of detailed reverse applique in this one.
















"Design with Lilies"

by Sachiko Yoshida.

I see a lot of leaves but the lilies are well hidden among all those colorful scraps.



















"Let's sing together"

by Asako Maeda



With all those frogs, I wonder what the song would sound like? It might remind me of my house with a pond so long ago...









"Tokyo Winter" by Yoshiko Kurihara


"Eternity" by Keiko Morita


And a few of the winners ... this one "Kawaii" by Rumiko Oiwa.
I don't know how this one was picked as I saw many more that caught my eye.


The title was in Japanese ... "Winter flowers" by Hiroko Tamai
Yes, a lot of fine detail but it seems the judges liked rather mild quilts.


More color in this second place quilt by Takako Oikawa called "Great Romantic"


And the grand prize went to this one by Sumiko Nagami ... Title in kanji had something about rain.




And, walking through the displays, I met this owl.

(actually there were a number of owls perched on shelves here and there)













And, of course, being the "year of the rat" there were a number of these little critters as well.
Had it not been for the tails, I could have mistaken them for rabbits with those long ears.


And now, with the lunar New Year having passed, it is time for me to roll up this little hanging ...
one of the first quilted items I made after getting married and coming to Tokyo.
I think I found a "kit" in the local department store. 
Not much like that fancy red and white one, but just as typically Japanese.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Tokyo Dome Quilts 2020 part 2


There were so many quilts at the show that I wished to take pictures of, but ....

after standing and waiting for viewers to move on, and waiting ... and waiting ... as some moved on, others moved into their place...

This looked like something I would have liked a good look at but this is the closest I could get.
It looks like a mola with the 12 animals of the zodiac.









There were several quilts I put on my "later" list, hoping to get a better view.


This is one that gathered crowds of viewers, and when I got close enough to see it I think I know why.

Kakurembo is a game of hide and seek played by children.

I think this was more of an "I-Spy" quilt and the viewers were playing along. I returned a number of times and finally could get a picture to share.








Each section block has a number of the same items.

The thing to find was the one that was "different".

Not hard to find the onigiri with the plum in the center or the flower leaning the other way,
But ... how about those doughnuts?














Looks like someone took a bite out of that apple....



and one of those leaves looks more like a mushroom...















I guess you might see why the viewers were gathered so closely for so much of the day. The use of "Japanese Taupe" worked well in this quilt ...

And ...

Look at the charming detail in the borders...

Lots of embroidery and embellishments....


Judging from the fact that the quilter's name was on the post, this was probably made by one of the "well known" quilters.

I have begun enquiring of ways to find those in charge of the show in order to convince them that a proclaimed "international" show needs to have the names of the quilters in roman lettering. It wouldn't be that hard to add one more blank to the application and every person ... even my pre-school artists ... know how to write their names that way.

Wouldn't it be nice if I could show all my pictures while giving those marvelous artists credit for what must have taken years to do?

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

2020 Tokyo Dome quilt show (1)

Back again for another year ... A great place to meet old friends and make new ones, get in lots of walking, and even more inspiration...

First, we were off to the partnership quilts.


This year, both mine and Queenie's blocks were in the earlier sections.

My owl and his two cardinal buddies are in the center of the bottom row.

I thought this arrangement a rather strange mixture of owls and rabbits. A few of the rabbits have hopped down among the owls, but other than that, there doesn't seem to be much organization between style or color.

Each year the project of assembling the blocks is taken on by a group connected to a well known teacher. A few years ago, the size of the blocks was made smaller, possibly to lower the total number of quilts to be made.

I would think having more blocks to work with would provide more options for arrangement...

Queenie's cat is resting on a sofa. If I was trying to find her block by looking for her flag, I would have had to look at each quilt much more closely.

The theme being a favorite animal meant lots of pets, either dogs or cats seemed to take over many of the quilts.













Tanya's block found its way into a quilt of mostly cats and dogs.

Not a very good picture but it seems this quilt tried to feature lighter blocks in the center with a bit darker border.

Though there are lots of repeat design blocks, the arrangement gives the feeling of much more variety.











Cynthia's block is toward the center of the top row.

This quilt, too seems to have at least begun with a plan to put blue backgrounds in the center surrounded by orange tints and then moving out to white, pink and brown.

Mostly dogs and cats in this one.















This quilt has a lot of pandas and seems to have featured green backgrounds,

I think the path of footprint blocks gives the quilt more interest.














On the other hand, these rows of owls seem to get lost in the monotony of the repetition.


All in all, though the theme seemed to offer many possibilities, there were quite a few looking like this one.

I also noticed that, unlike in the past, there were blocks with three-dimensional features. Some were stuffed to stick up or had moving ears or hanging tails. Quite a few embroideries included beads or bowties.





Part of the exhibit included special displays. There were some British museum quilts and those had detailed information in both English and Japanese.

I was looking for a quilt by Yoko Saito to post for my blogging friend, Isa, when I came across an exhibit of "Mary Poppins" quilts.

Only the main work on display was by Saito-sensei.

The rest were the work of her students.

Of course there was plenty of Japanese "taupe" but the fancy detail I enjoyed a few years ago in a Peter Rabbit theme, was missing.












This is a little village at the foot of the hanging.















                                                      Student's work...





I may have to go back and read Mary Poppins again to see how all these picture quilts fit the story...

I hope to post more later once I get my pictures sorted.