Thursday, July 21, 2016

The quilting has begun

All the while I had this quilt spread out on the floor for basting, I was troubled by all those white blocks that don't match. Well, it was a quilt made from my scrap tin and it is too late to take out the muslin blocks that are too white or too yellow.

My quilt plan ... if I had one, was just to quilt in the ditch all around with something a bit fancier for the border. However, those non-matching blocks kept bothering me. Finally, I thought I would try something different by quilting over those odd blocks using a light blue thread rather than white.

I still am quilting white in the ditch. I am afraid the blue shows off my uneven stitching but I do think it is helping to calm some of those white blocks that don't really fit.

I just folded a piece of paper and cut it to make the design. Hopefully it will last long enough to finish the top. I am marking each block as I go. Maybe I will need to secure the pattern in a folder so Nikko doesn't eat it before the quilt is done.

Our weather has gone from HOT on Monday and warm on Tuesday, to rain and cooler the last few days.
Yesterday and today I have been comfortable with long pants and no air conditioning.

Outside my gate, I am rewarded by this hosta flower.

This plant was rescued from the bulldozer when my neighbor's garden was being ripped up. I put the roots in a long planter and this year I moved it to my gate area where it could get a bit more sun.

The flowers are small but so beautiful. It has been several years now since the garden was replaced by two houses filling the entire spot and blocking most of the sun.

That neighbor was my first non-English-speaking friend and the one I owe most for daring to use my poor language skills.
She loved and cared for her garden and in later years I was glad to help her with her weeding. Her daughters live in another part of the city and, as far as I know, have never returned to the place they grew up. I wish they could see their mom's memory lives on in the bits and pieces she once cared for.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Who am I ???

Do you ever have an identity crisis? Until January this year I was just Julie Fukuda. That is what everyone called me and what I signed as my name.

Then, when Paul died, I suddenly have been swamped with papers needing my identity. I had to get my seal registered at the Ku (ward) office. BUT ... they would only take names in Kanji ... Chinese characters. Well, no problem ... My twin brother was an expert in Chinese with a Chinese wife and had given me a nice kanji name ... well, it says "Julie" in Chinese but in Japanese it is pronounced "shu lei". Anyway, I could use that to register my hanko using those two kanji and the kanji for Fukuda.

So now I own an official seal to be stamped on official documents and bank book etc. Of course we have tons of un-official seals as Fukuda is a rather common name and when my husband needed to put his seal on something, he just popped into a store and bought one.

Since then we have to get countless papers and documents to be filled out. Some have me as Julie Fukuda. Some as Julie C. Fukuda, and of course Fukuda Julie C. But wait! When I was born, I was named Julia (after my father's mother) and Carol (after my mother's favorite doll) So, the plot thickens because these can also be written in a number of different ways using katakana ( the Japanese way of writing foreign words ... that once are put into this form may or not be put back into the lettering as it once was). It gets confusing because I have never used the name, Julia. It was pronounced Yu li e as in Bohemian and spelling it with an e was closer and softer to my ears than when teachers called me JUL Yah.

But now I am stuck with many ways of writing and spelling my name and each paper to be filled out wants my name or signature but which one? Finally I just sign my name as it is on my passport and send a copy of that passport page. Why does life have to be so complicated? And, if I use my seal, anyone can get it from me and place it on the correct spot and I don't even have to be there. I guess something could be said for using a finger print ... but then, which finger?

Yesterday I put the final border on my nine-patch quilt. Now I will have to hunt around for something to use for the backing. The size is 224cm x 182cm. (or around 88" x 71"). I really have no plan in mind. For the quilting I was thinking just some in-the-ditch with maybe some feathered pattern around the one-inch nine-patches. Well, that is still a ways off.

It was fun having my quilt friends over and I am enjoying a clean-(er) house. Norie's family came Sunday and My SIL came too. Today was a national holiday and Norie and Leia stayed overnight and another friend (a daughter-on-loan) came tonight to join us all for dinner.

Now quiet has returned and order has been restored and I can contemplate who I am and where I am going ... not that it helps much!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Busy days

Friday will be the first time my quilt group members meet at my house.

I have been in a cleaning frenzy ... trying to get things sorted out and put away in a place I can find them again when needed.

First step was to finish up Marie's Christmas present ... that she has been awaiting for over half a year.

I couldn't find a box the right size so I made one of tagboard.

Marie had requested indigo and sashiko.
The horse is her year on the oriental zodiac and
the "sashiko" which is quilted in, is the Fukuda family crest.

The other side has a dragon to represent her hubby, Tim.

The quilted sashiko is the kanji for "Fuku"

(same as in Fukuda, meaning good luck or fortune).

I couldn't guess what the box opening might be so I made a drawstring top.

Hopefully it will not be too large an opening.

I terminated the string pulls with a gathered flower print from one of the scraps.

This is a view of the bottom of the box.

The covers I have made for tissue boxes at home do not have bottoms but just pull over the top of the box.

I didn't quilt the bottom but I thought if it will not work with her purchased tissue boxes, she could use it as a little bag.

Since she had waited so long for her gift, I decided to add a bit and make her a paper holder ... not an owl but using the same yukata fabrics.

This was the result.

The holder I purchased is white.

This old yellowed one is on my wall.
I just had to try it out for fit.

I finished everything Saturday evening and packed it all in a small box, ready to take to the Post Office.
Monday morning, Nikko and I walked to the PO to send it off. On the way I remembered I had not enclosed a note or even a Christmas card.
Oh well, that's how things go.

Now I have been dusting and washing and trying to
eliminate as much dog hair as possible.

I still need to find places to put things I need to work on. I fear moving things out of sight might put them out of mind. I have a pending banner due the end of summer for the church "Rally Day"

Also three Eagle neckerchief slides to carve and paint. I did get the blanks cut out but having knives and blanks on the coffee table may not be necessary.

Today I dusted the little room under the stairs, ie the washroom.

That means a LOT of dusting!

All those owls had to be moved off, have their bodies washed, and the window ledge scrubbed down, and replaced in some form of order.

This is only one part of the room.

There are two owl clocks in here, many pictures (photos, prints, etchings ), containers of all sorts, a lantern hanging in the window, bells, lots of whistles, even a kite and plate on the wall.

From the window view there are type tray shelves with more owls, an owl macrame and an owl hanging vase on the wall and little crystal owls on the sink ledge.

The stuffed toy owl in the towel rack was a gift to Nikko but it hoots when moved and scares her.

The collection includes those made of wood, pottery, metal, basketry, seeds, cones, horn, bamboo, cloth, glass, macrame, beads, enamelware, lacquerware, and plaster.

There are many containers, a bank, lots of whistles and one bell.

More tiny owls.

Trying to clean the shelves and owls without taking the shelves off the wall ... well, I hope my quilting friends are so busy with their work that they don't look too closely.

I knew I had a lot ... and they tend to multiply, as friends seem to think of me when they see an owl and think I have to have another one... But I counted them as I cleaned their little faces and there were at least 145 just in this tiny space.

Would you feel watched in this place?

And ... they are not confined to that little nesting place.

The plant holder and white owl were made by my daughter, Kimie when she was in high school.

The lacquerware owl holds "Hanko" for when a delivery person comes to the door and needs a chop.

The windowsill seems to have gathered a few critters too and all of them get along with the cats and a monkey-year figure made by my SIL.

OK, enough of this!
Now I need to get back to cleaning!

Life is a hoot!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

creative excuses

Well, a week has passed and I can't blame the internet because it has been restored.
I can't blame the camp cleanup and wash because there is still a lot to be done ... and even craft boxes sitting in my genkan.

So, where did the week go so quickly?

I finished the toilet paper holder and sent it off to my elder son, along with a Japanese covered hanger.

I was also able to put a roll of bird-print paper into the holder. It was something from long ago that I had saved and had pictures of Japanese birds with their names in English and Japanese.

So what would you think if your mom sent you such a thing for your birthday? Ken is very handy so I'm sure he will be able to install the hanger and I really like the idea of a spare at your fingertips ... thinking back to all the times in my youth that I found myself stranded.

So, the owl is flying on it's way to Oregon and will probably arrive early with plenty of time to perch in the right place before his birthday arrives. I don't think he checks my blog so the secret is safe.

Friday I spent a wonderful day with my blogging friend, Tomomi. We met in Nippori, known as "Fabric Town", and after a quick lunch, hit the shops up and down the shopping street.

I really had no fabric needs but was looking for a few alphabet subjects. If I had been looking for cat fabrics, I would have hit gold. I have never seen so many cat prints in so many stores in all my life!
I did break down and by one small piece of cat print in a color that matches my handbag. I am thinking of making a new bag for carrying my school stuff and maybe a lunch bag.

I'm not sure what was on Tomomi's list but she seemed to have found a few fabrics to buy. It is always fun to hang out with another quilter and meeting up with a blogging friend is a very special opportunity.

I have Lis to thank for friendships beyond the internet, as she was the first of my blogging friends to meet in person. What she showed me was, that every blogging friend is as wonderful in person as over the internet, had been true in every case.

After checking both sides of the road ... up one side and down the other ... we met up with her charming husband (who took this picture) and beautiful daughter over a cup of coffee (for me, anyway).

I smiled all the way home and am still smiling as I look at this picture. And, if I didn't need the friendship to make me smile, Tomomi brought me a darling reminder of her visit.

I need to find a place to display this beautiful beaded lace doily and the pretty pieced pouch.
For now they sit on the chest beside my quilting chair where I can admire them as I recall our time together.

Soon Tomomi will be winging her way back to Ireland and I'm waiting to see what she will post.

Meanwhile, life flies by.

Sunday was our choir party. Pot luck means lots of foods and lots of variety and the party was fun to talk with all those friends we are always too busy singing with for much of a visit.

Monday I was called to substitute for one of the teachers so it was a long day. The weather was very hot and humid all day but the rain started in the evening and the last two days have been cooler.
I have begun at last the cover for my daughter's tissue box ... a lot late for Christmas. I tried to find a box that size so I could be sure to make a cover that would fit. I finally gave up and made one out of tagboard.

Marie had asked for some indigo and sashiko.

I found yukata fabric with the zodiac animals on it and cut a diamond section of a horse for Marie and a dragon for Tim.

It was really too small for real sashiko ...

So I decided to just quilt in the designs.  They are "Fuku" meaning good luck or fortune and the Fukuda family crest.
My next challenge will be to join the sides and add the square bottom. Then, I am thinking of making a gathered strip at the top to be closed around the opening in the tissue box. I have no idea what the shape might be but I think that should work ... if I can just take it one step at a time and one problem to solve in each step. Hopefully Marie should not have to wait until another Christmas to get her gift.

Marie, if you see this, you will know the wait is getting shorter.

So, that's my excuse and I'm stickin' to it!

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Return of the camper and the internet

The alphabet quilt was finished just before leaving for camp but because of darkness and rain, there was no opportunity to grab a photograph. 
The size is about 135 cm x 150 cm  or roughly 48 x 53inches. I left the lower corner square blank for writing the baby's name if they wish.

So far this year that makes three baby quilts ... one counting quilt, one I-Spy quilt, and one alphabet quilt. for three Monkey-year babies.

I left many of my cacti bearing flower buds but, as the flowers last but one day, I really did not expect to see them in bloom.

I remember one summer putting them on a tray and bringing them downstairs to the table for my husband to enjoy while I was in the woods with the guys. As I recall, he took some pretty impressive photos of the floral outburst.

In the front right corner of the small square pot are two round green flowers of one of my new cacti that travelled from South Africa. I was gifted a number of unfamiliar cacti by a friend whose wife had died leaving an impressive collection.
As he had no idea what to do with them, they were divided among a number of church friends.
Many of these I have never seen before and my books tend to contain mostly cacti from the North and South American continent so I have yet to learn what they are or what to expect in the way of blooms. So far they seem to like my little greenhouse and are doing their own thing without my help.

When I came home, the prickly pear, which most often blooms while I am away, had two flowers and a bud yet to open.

This plant sits outside all year around in a place hard to reach, so it is pretty well on its own. The wet winter snow piled on top and bent the plant down to the pot in a large loop so I didn't expect it to bloom at all.
This was a cutting given me by a neighbour who had a very tall plant on his front porch so it must be eight or nine years old. I have a few other cuttings made from broken pieces of this one but they are yet to bloom.

The planter of Hostas inside my front gate greeted me with blooms upon my return. These were snatched from the path of the bulldozer that levelled my neighbour's house and garden a few year ago.

There were several varieties and they are all doing well in small planters. These are the first to bloom with two flower stalks.

And, outside my living room window to the west, a hanging pot of Agapanthus has put on a great show

This picture really doesn't  do it justice.

I brought one bulb from my last house's garden and stuck it in that small pot.

Now a few plants have escaped to the azalea hedge and are peeking up through,

Don't you just live plants that thrive on neglect?!!

I arrived home from camp late Saturday night, very tired and with literally tons of gear and craft supplies to unload and put away. I am still sorting and organizing  the craft supplies and figuring out what I can use again next year and what needs to be replaced or tossed.

The supplies purchased by the camp director were completely useless. The leather was soft and already dyed and finished so could not be tooled. Luckily I had taken some of my own as the only "tooling" leather was just suited to making saddles.
Most of the wood for carving also came from my stash and the tools that had been bought, though still in their wrapping, were no use at all. I luckily had brought Japanese craft knives made by Olfa that can be repeatedly sharpened, and every night I re-sharpened the knives for the next class.

After arriving, I was also asked to run a class on the insect study merit badge. All that was given me was the merit badge pamphlet, and being written for use in the States, it was not much use as far as identifying bugs.

I found the scouts so enthusiastic and eager in the gathering of samples, that I decided to drive home one night and pull out my books on Japanese bugs. I was also lucky to negotiate for a scout assistant who could read and translate the information for the gang. With so much rain, there was a lot of running water but not much standing water and we needed to raise a bug from larvae to adult. In such a short time, the only choice was mosquitoes. The puddles could only supply water-striders (and a couple of red-bellied newts) so I raided the bird bath while home. Ah, what we leaders go through!

Evenings found me prepping for the next day's classes, doing Boards of Review for Eagle rank and other advancing scouts, filling out "blue-cards", and running around doing OA (Order of the Arrow) stuff ... Brotherhood walk and ceremony, etc.
I did manage, during a meeting, to mark the border for my nine-patch quilt ... though I have yet to cut it and get it pinned for sewing.

Sunday began earlier than usual as we have gone to just one service during the summer schedule. That meant choir had to meet an hour earlier so counting backwards to include the commute and walking the dog, it meant an early start.
In the late afternoon, the guy came to connect my internet. Yes, from now on, I can do computer stuff at my own pace. Norie, Leia, and Hiro came to help with the setup and we had dinner together at an Indian Restaurant in Toshimaen where we can sit outside and Nikko can come with us.

 Now it is Wednesday. We have had rain and cool days ... but I know the heat will arrive soon.
I am still sorting and organizing craft stuff and working on a birthday present for my eldest son, who's name I have been assigned this year. (#2 daughter is still awaiting last year's tissue box cover)
On Friday I will meet up with a blogging friend. I am SO EXCITED! I LOVE my blogging friends!
We are going to do "fabric town" together. Did I say I am excited? Wish I could see you all as well some day!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Partnership block

Those of you who keep up with the quilting bloggers in Japan, must be familiar with the partnership quilts. Each year as the Tokyo Dome show kicks into gear, NHK announces the theme for the coming quilts and the details  for those wishing to contribute a block.

I think among my friends, I am the last to get my block together. With a week of camping looming, the deadline for submissions having been moved up a month,  and many unknowns down the road of life, I thought if I was going to do it at all, the time had come to bite the bullet and get it done.

This year the block size has gone from 20 x 20 cm. to 15 x 15 cm. The theme is "Garden".

This is what I came up with. The Cardinal is the Ohio state bird and he is perched on a trowel, planting a seed. I had planned in my sketch to put another plant to his back but this was a more difficult size to work with so I decided one flower is enough. I had also planned to use different yellow fabrics in the sunflower petals but gave up on that plan too.

All I need now is to put my name in the seam allowance ... though how well it will show up might be a problem ... and find a post card to enclose.
It will be interesting to see how the quilts with smaller blocks turn out. I watched the NHK program with suggested blocks and compared to other years, it was  rather uninspiring.

The internet company called my daughter to inform her I should wait another month to have my connection restored. I guess she handed the phone to my son-in-law to argue the point. Well, he managed to convince them to give me back my former phone number so we will see how this second argument goes. Anyway, it won't be before I leave for camp and there won't be much of the month left by the time I return. I heard the neighbor return as I was taking the photograph so decided to swap my bedtime for a post. Now Nikko is saying her evening walk is long overdue. Experience with hanger-on connections, however, was telling me "now or never".

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Rainy week progress

The border is all quilted and the binding is going on.

This will be a busy week because I am getting ready to go to camp.

I will be teaching the leatherworking and woodcarving merit badges and some nature basics.

That means getting all the supplies sorted and lined up to load into the car.
In addition to the teaching materials, I will have to get the bird and Nikko's food and supplies lined up and dig out a tent big enough for a cot. The one the scouts supplied last year was plenty big but leaked like a sieve. One never knows what the weather will be as we have had everything from a sauna to a typhoon to a flood during countless summers.

The past week we had two very hot days followed by heavy rain. I have heard we have already set a record for rain in June and the month is hardly half over.

My cut-leaf maple seems to have jewels clinging to every leaf.

Even though I have been cutting gardenias for several vases inside, the little bush is covered with flowers with many buds yet to open.

And behind the gardenia, the lilies are beginning to open.

I used to have five varieties but these seem to be taking over the garden plot.

I noticed the agapanthus in a hanging pot has ten flower spikes.
I am hoping they will not wait until I leave to camp to begin blooming.

My daughter called the internet service as they had spoken of having service restored by now but they still are not ready to solve the problem and if they don't come this week, it will be next month before I will have another opportunity.

As it is, I have seldom had any connection the past few weeks. Often, like tonight, it comes on after ten (my bedtime) and is off by the time I come down in the morning ... even Monday when I get up early for a 4:am departure. It will be a relief when I can finally do things according to my own schedule.

Meanwhile, though the saying goes, "Make hay while the sun shines." My work seems to be getting done faster when it pours and there is no distraction from the internet.

Monday, June 6, 2016

It's in the works

If you walk into my front door, you will smell the sweet scent of gardenias.

My gardenia bush right outside the gate is small and old, but this year it has put out a great show of blooms.

As I understand it, the blooms are determined by the day and night temperatures, and that may be true because with the new building blocking most of the afternoon sun, most of the plants whose blooms are determined by hours of light are much behind other places in our area.

On the other hand, weather has remained rather cool and the caterpillars that usually attack the buds have not showed up yet. (their hatching perhaps influenced by temperatures).

These flowers are small but powerful and I am enjoying them.

I am also enjoying some progress on this year's third baby quilt.

I am just quilting around the letters and in the ditch, and then a one-inch frame inside each picture block.

So far I have started in the center and have about 15 of the blocks done.

The gold inner border has three rows of words ... the twelve points of the Scout Law. I also added two scout blocks to the bottom row, thanks to my blogging friend, Cheryl, who added these to my stash a few years ago.

I can't remember where the border fabric came from. It is a bit busy but of all the choices, it seemed to work best.

Now I need to figure out some take-along work. The nine-patch is waiting for its border to be cut and sewed but that will have to be done at home.

My daughter is still waiting for her tissue box cover but the box size is different than those found here so I think I need to make a model box before beginning.

The internet is still waiting for connection. I know there was a letter asking that the modem be returned but if that is what is holding things up, it may be a long wait because I have no idea which of all the many boxes attached to things in the computer room by countless wires is a "modem".Now, I must be a bit old and jaded, but why can't they take it when they bring the new one???

Meanwhile, I am missing so many friends out in blogging land. I try to grab a peek when there is a connection but often it goes off before I finish or have a chance to leave a reply. Hang in there, "I'll Be Back!"

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

an early morning quickie

While there is a brief internet connection, I thought I would post a bit of my latest project.

Sunday afternoon I went through my kid-friendly bin and pulled out an alphabet worth of prints.

Some of the letters have become harder and harder to illustrate.

The "K" is kanji, the "Y" is yacht.
I used to have a cat print with yarn on it but couldn't find any left.

There are two empty squares at the bottom and I am thinking of something scouting, as this quilt is for the coming baby son of my right-hand scouting assistant.

Monday night I started cutting the pieces for the letter blocks for take-along work. (Long train rides)

Tuesday I finished making the letter squares. They are solids with gingham corner points.

Then Yesterday I laid the alphabet prints out on the bed and arranged the letter blocks for a bit of balance ... and marked each one with the letter and suggested color. Then I started on the letters.

I am now about half-way through sewing letters.

I was going to make the letters solid colors but I found a few small prints that work.

Maybe I have wasted time looking through scraps of small kid-friendly prints because today I will probably have to switch to solid colors.

Each block is five inches finished so this will not be a single bed-size quilt but I think it will be good for a crib or play mat ... or something to toss over a sleeping baby. I plan to add a few borders before it will go to the hoop.

I left the finished I-Spy quilt at the church office in case the mother goes there, then she can pick it up. If not, I will look for her again this coming Sunday. I didn't want to carry that bag back and forth on a crowded train. Even if I get to sit, I can't sew with lots of bags in my lap. Tuesday, though I got a seat, I ended up giving it away to an old man. I was still able to stand leaning against the connecting door (no one is going to pass through the cars when it is that crowded) and sew three blocks on the homeward trip.

Today's train rides will be good for sewing blocks together. Maybe I should be happy that the internet is still mostly off, as other things are getting done. I really miss getting the chance to browse my favorite blogs. Hopefully, before the end of the month, the internet people will get around to restoring my connectivity.

Friday, May 27, 2016

All done!

Finished Friday night and the label added this morning. I was hoping for a bit of sun for a more colourful picture but since rain is predicted, I thought it would be better to grab a shot while I could and pass the quilt to the new owner on Sunday.

I never know if or how a quilt is used when it leaves my hands. It is said the most valuable thing a parent can give their child is words. Well, this quilt is full of words. Since I was a non-napper as a child, I would have loved napping on a quilt like this ... counting cats, finding matching fabrics, following the stitches with my finger ... I do hope it will find a use in it's new home.

Looking back, I remember how many times I have finished a hexagon quilt and said "Never again"!
Figuring out which way to iron all those seams and then quilting through them is a challenge.
Looking back, I wish I had turned the wave pattern to face the inner border rather than the outer edge.
Anyway, it is done and I gave it my best shot.

I had used the last of my thinsulate, and having several more quilts lined up, my daughter gave a call to the Yuzawaya in Kamata to see if they had a supply in stock. They said they had plenty, so yesterday I made the long trip through town to pick up a few rolls. Since it involved a long walk, I made it worth my while by buying two rolls of the 60-weight and one of the 40-weight. I think there are ten meters on a blot so they should last a while.

Made by 3M, it is probably intended for clothing but it is easy to piece, slightly tacky in texture so does not shift ... even basted with pins, and nice to quilt through. Even the 40 weight has a nice loft.
I also like the fact that there is hardly any waste the way I use it.

Today I will pull out my kid-friendly bin and pull out fabrics for an alphabet quilt for the next baby on my list.... and my second daughter also reminds me she is still waiting for her tissue box cover.

Meanwhile, the cacti are putting on a show.
If I don't look each day, I will miss these beauties.

Buds in the background so more to come.

And here is a bit of competition on another step.

And this sweet little guy puts out a lovely show every year.

And these flowers last more than a day so I don't miss them.

Maybe that is why it is such a favourite.

And out in the rain, the Easter cactus has finally figured out it is a bit past time for a show.

I have another small one hanging outside my front door and I see it is also in bloom.

These sit outside all year long and don't seem to mind the winter cold or even a day or two of snow.

Next will be the prickly pear...
But that one most often blooms during my week at Scout camp.

I don't think I will put that big spiny fellow in my car and take it along just so I can catch a picture.  Well, this is the return I get for selecting plants that don't mind heat or cold and thrive on neglect!

Tomorrow is "Choir Sunday" my voice has returned from the woods and I will not mind if it is raining because all our hard work will come to fruition and be given in joy.