Friday, May 25, 2018

Counting the days


It seems my days are being counted by how many leaves I have to pick on my morning walks with Nikko.


On Monday when I went off to school with the silkworms in tow, they were in their second resting stage.

The schedule is, they eat, eat. eat, then they take a break, shed their old skin, and start eating again ... bigger bodies and bigger bites.

Now it is Friday and they are on their third resting break. From tonight the leaves will be going faster.  Luckily, on last weekend's campout, I picked lots of mulberry leaves and brought them home, washed them and laid them out between layers of paper towels. Then the pile of damp towels and leaves went into a large zipper bag and into the vegetable drawer of the fridge. I am still picking leaves on morning walks and keeping those larger leaves for future meals. The two big trees in Harapa-park were cut down last fall. The big tree on the way to the station was cut down this spring, and the big one at the end of the street, during the winter. The one medium tree that grew between the wall and my neighbor's house was also removed, and another next to the weed lot was chopped off just a few weeks ago. I am now relying on stuff growing from the roots of several cut trees, so glad I have some saved in the drawer.

Norie lives in a place with natural woods and lots of trees and she will bring a few more leaves when we next meet.
The camp turned out fine. The predicted rain fell on Friday night before most of the scout families arrived and so the weather was cool and nice. The events were fun and the crafts went well, as I arrived Friday afternoon and had time to arrange the space and set out the leatherworking tools.

Saturday night I returned home as Sunday was Pentecost and the choir was due to sing.

Being a congregation of people from all over the world, we were asked to come in native costume. Oh, what a grand display ... and the bible reading was made in 25 different languages during the second service, (21 at the first) and there was a display in the lobby of Bibles in many different languages.
It was an opportunity for me to dress in my native American regalia.

The most interesting thing I noted was a comparison between now and years ago. In those days, over 50 years ago, when I walked down the street, people I passed were pointing at me and exclaiming "foreigner" or "American"  in Japanese.
Sunday, I went all the way to church, dressed like this, and no one even stared in my direction, let alone commented.

The quilt is still moving through the hoop. Progress is being made and I am looking forward to finishing up the center so I can play with the border.

The cacti keep putting on a show from day to day.



The leak in the roof has been halted.

The hole in the floor remains, but that is the only way I have of checking for leaks.

When the heat of summer hits the roof, I do not know if the putty will dry out and crack again. I think the best solution might be a new roof that slants toward the gutter to be built over the current metal one. how or when or the cost is still to be planned out.







These little pink stars are sitting on a carpet square beside the hole in the floor.

Maybe they are happy to be there. ... but I am wishing their old table could come back to that corner and my other plants might return.

Well, like my days, everything moves slowly step by step ... though I might swear some of that time is running right past without even saying, "Boo".

I did bring home two little mulberry trees pulled up by the roots at camp, and planted them in pots. If they make it through the summer, I may have some trees in a few years.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Pins removed ...

The wrinkles from the quilt backing are lying flatter now and I have hand-basted to the edges.

That will make quilting a lot easier to finish in the center of the quilt and I am at least half-way there.



As I am preparing to leave for a weekend at cub camp, I made the rounds of my plants with the watering can.

There are three white flowers on the front cacti and a big red bud on the center one.

The yellow one started blooming earlier and is now putting on a show.

They must all like the recent heat wave.







There are lots of buds on this cacti ... or is it a form of sedum?

These flowers last a while and so I will get to see them after I come back from camp.












The "Easter cactus" has survived the harsh winter and is fighting its way back.

The pot was taken over by wood sorrel so I think in the coming weeks, this old friend will need to get moved to a new pot.

The cymbidium behind it also needs to be re-potted. I miss my father-in-law, who had a magic touch with these plants.



My staghorn fern is towering over my futon.

I had to add big rocks to the container to keep it from fallin g off the shelf.

I have a smaller one hanging in the garden from the laundry pole. It is very heavy and hard to hang inside so it faced the challenge of winter weather.

It's fronds are a lot smaller ... but as I recall, this indoor one had smaller fronds 18 years ago.
Since the smaller one is not in a container, it has to be either watered by rain or dipped in a bucket of water ... a little tricky because fronds are coming out the bottom of the ball.

Maybe I have to search the internet one of these days for information on its care.


Out along the wall, this prickly fellow is getting ready to bloom. I see a few buds coming up.

This is very low maintenance but dangerous to touch because of those thorns.

I had a lot of them along the wall to deter cats from using that as a pathway.
The south-east neighbor shoved them all off to the ground, as that half of the wall is technically his.

The south-west end neighbor doesn't mind. It is the same wall, as it was there before the former house was taken down and two houses were built in its place.

I found the mark dividing the wall and try to keep plants to the west, as well as the bird feeder ... as he tossed that down too. It was only a glass of orange juice where the birds would come for a sip.

Here is a Brown-eared Bulbul enjoying a sip. I also had a board with nails to skewer fruit for the birds but that was smashed along with the glass.
The wires hold hanging pots and have not been destroyed.  There used to be a wild mulberry tree behind where the bird sits but the neighbor removed it. It is rather amazing considering the space between the wall and his house is only about two feet at the most. Also, there are no windows, only a parking garage with a very small opening. I see a very large hydrangea growing there now.

And, speaking of mulberries, I am glad I will have a trip to camp where there will be a good supply of leaves for me to gather.

The little silkworms have just passed their first instar and are eating bigger chunks of the leaves.

I can begin to add a few leaves that are a bit older and tougher.
There are a little over 50 caterpillars and I have only found 5 "trees". They are all small growing among some hedges in the park so in danger of being whacked out at any time. One is a bunch of small branches growing from the stump of one of the trees the park cut off last fall.

So ... it's off to the woods with the boys. Rain is in the forecast for Saturday. I will sleep in my van with Nikko, as there is no space to dry a wet tent around here.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Making adjustments

My quilting is going slowly and I am making adjustments in the layers as I go along. I'm glad I moved to a very large hoop but quilting blocks set on point makes it harder as I am not moving in just one direction. but on a diagonal. All is in-the-ditch quilting and dealing with seams that are ironed in all directions, some of which have flipped.

I considered taking it all apart and taking it to school for a few extra hands ... but ... the thought of carrying it that far and back on a very crowded sardine can, made me give up that idea.
Monday evening the passengers were very aggressive and I almost got knocked to the floor by first a young guy with a backpack shoving through, then a young lady pushing in the other direction. Two people got off at one stop and those two, being most aggressive, dived into those seats ("Silver Seats - reserved for the elderly and handicapped)

 Monday, my newly hatched silkworm babies went with me to school.

I took along a baggy of fresh leaves and a small paintbrush to lift them from one leaf to another.

I also took some tiny eggs and some old cocoons to show the children. One class was well prepared with magnifying glasses and had interesting questions to ask.

I was glad I could protect them on route and will take them back again for the children to observe.

Meanwhile I am keeping my eyes opened along the morning walks for a better supply of mulberry leaves. The four largest supply trees in my neighborhood have been cut down since last year. I am thinking that when in camp in June, I will try to find a few berries to plant.




The white cacti flowers are on their second day and there are more buds on it's neighboring cacti.














These little purple flowers only last one day


but those passing by may not know that as there are more waiting for tomorrow.


The azalea had only one flower this year. 

There is a considerable lack of sun here ... even on a day it is shining.




The hanging planters on the gate are adding a bit of color.

The flowers seem to be jumping pots as the purplish ones were all in a neighboring pot until last year.







The geranium just barely made it through the winter ...


... but the hen-and-chicks, overrunning it's pot,
seems to have made it through without a complaint.









And indoors, the flowers that came from my kids ... by way of Norie ... for Mother's day,

can be enjoyed without tending or weeding. They can even be moved around to be enjoyed wherever I want to sit.


Wednesday, May 9, 2018

It's in the hoop


Over the "Golden Week" holiday, I was able to get this quilt pin-basted.


Even after fastening it to the floor and laying out the thinsulate, piecing it to size,

I struggled to get the backing laid flat and lined up.

Then I put pins around the border and flipped the whole thing over for basting.

It sure would have helped to have three friends to lift the corners so I could lower the parts in place.

The tugging and smoothing flips seem allowances and bunches the batting and gets more and more frustrating as time goes on. I ended up just using the safety pins and have begun quilting from the center. I have switched to a larger hoop, making it easier to adjust the layers as I move the hoop and remove the pins.



The orchid cactus has bloomed a second flower.

I missed the first one while I was in the woods with the scouts.

The blooms only last a day or so, like the white ones that bloom at the end of summer just over night.





I moved my plants to other parts of the house while the leak in the roof is being tended to.

Trouble is, cacti don't need daily watering so are sometimes finished blooming by the time I notice the buds have opened.

I missed a few flowers on these three but I see there are more buds in progress.











This Easter cactus has been sitting outside for years and I had thought it had suffered this past cold and snowy winter.

Many other plants didn't make it through ...

But, though it may be a bit late for Easter, this one is going to get it's show time and recover.









This plant is along my morning walk with Nikko through the park.

It usually gets cut off before blooming by the weed-whackers,
so it is the first time I have seen it in bloom

I saw one in a pot a few days ago and asked the lady who keeps the pots if she knew the name, but she didn't know.

I have seen her moving bulbs from along the path into pots, so that may have come from that group recently. Maybe I can show the picture to the flower-shop lady and learn more.

Another curiosity is this small tree I see on my way home from school. It has been blooming quite a long time.

The paired leaves look like dogwood leaves, but I can't find this in any of my Japanese plant books. 

There are a few types of Japanese dogwoods.
The flowers come out after the leaves and last a lot longer. They tend to grow wild in the forests.

One kind has clustered flowers but more flat than these balls.



This one is growing in a planter along the street and seems to have been pruned so as to not disturb pedestrians walking along the street edge.












So, that is about all for Golden Week ....

except that Tuesday morning I had to say goodbye to my big "Son-On-Loan".

He has been staying here several months while doing research for an article he is writing.

I drove him into town so he could catch the first train out to the airport. (trains around here begin running too late)

No more big hugs ...

No more instant translations of bills and mail ...

Hopefully, he will make it back sometime ...

meanwhile, time to change the bedding and water the plants on the second floor. (or maybe I need to quilt a few more rows first)....



Thursday, May 3, 2018

Ready for the next step



After rejecting the yellow as too distracting, I decided to get rid of a few more cut one-inch scraps and pulled out the rest of the one x two and one x three as well for a bit more variety. I put the original black in each corner and am thinking of binding this in black.

The size is 71" x 91" . Today, what used to be "Boy's Day" is now "Children's Day" and I have offered this to one of my grandkids to replace the single-bed-sized baby quilts they are using.
I also found a very large piece of light white with mottled purple that I will piece for the backing.

Also ... though a man riding by on a fast horse would hardly notice ... I have use part of this holiday week for a lot of cleaning and sorting ... (and removed a shopping-bag-full of white hair from one large shedding dog).

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Getting toward the end


After much dithering, I decided to use the blue-grey solid for the inner border.

The batik has areas that pick out both the grey and some of the other colors.

I had to piece the grey one-inch strip  but selected it as it is a bit calming to the inner clutter of fabrics.

From yesterday I added a four-inch border of the batik.  I was thinking to end it with a black binding to kind of tie it all together.


Then, today while skyping with two of my daughters, There was a "let us see what you are doing" moment. Well, it might be nice to have a bright yellow on the outside.




My goodness, this changes the character all together.

It sure brightens it up ... but, ... do I want it that bright? It is already a good size. 79 x 80 when I add the binding. That means whatever border beyond the batik will probably be tucked under and covered by a pillow.   so ... I am wondering if I really want to bother. I kind of like the way the grey quiets it down and don't think a black binding would work with that yellow.

Anyway, tomorrow is choir and a bunch of meetings, then an early to bed so I can get out by 4am for rice delivery and school.  I am going to have time to mull this all over.

I can't quilt on the train so now I must start prepping something else for take-along work... Though, in truth, now that the trains have turned on the air-conditioning, a warm quilt on my lap would be no worse than carrying a jacket everywhere I go.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Examining the possibilities


Over the weekend, I dug out a few pieces of fabric that might read as solids and that I had enough of for a wide border. Except for the blue-gray, all are things that were "gifted" or donated to me from someone else's stash.

I decided to lay them out and post pictures, thinking of getting help in deciding what to do next.

This is the first fabric I tried.

I was thinking it might be a bit too busy, but it looks a lot better than I thought and contrasts nicely with the black.



I could get a fairly wide inner border and maybe add a narrow outer border, or a pieced outer border that included the left-over black.










This is a mottled green that is in a rather large amount.

It seems a bit dark and doesn't seem to pick out the colors in the pieced blocks, bit might work with a light inner border.










This looks a bit darker in the picture, but is actually a very light bright turquoise.  It might make a good inner border for one of the darker fabrics. I do have a large solid in a similar color.

This is a blueish gray I bought long ago for another project and later changed my mind. It has one of the longest lives in the stash pile and wants some air-time.


I think it goes OK but doesn't add much and might need help from some of the other selections.














This is the fabric I used in the center of the pieced blocks.

It would have been my first choice except that there is not enough to make more than a pieced one-inch strip.

If I did that, it wouldn't work with most of these other fabrics.









The flimsy is 59"x79".

A total border of five or six inches all around would put this at a useful size for a single bed.

As it is now, it would be fine for a futon.

When I look through quilting magazines, I find quite a variety of finished sizes. Maybe some re just intended to be hung on a wall or as a sofa throw, so it is hard to decide what the perfect size might be.

I suspect the quilter adjusts the size to accommodate the combination of blocks and borders to set it off. (which is basically the same thing I do). So ... this is how far the week has brought me.
Any suggestions or advice will be welcome. Meanwhile, I have a mending job to tackle while I mull it over. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

It's on the fence


Yesterday I sewed the last row in place.

It was gusty and growing dark, so I took a chance that the morning would be better for a photo shoot.

Well, it is still windy  ... especially the section of the fence with sunshine on it.

I decided the back fence would work better, even in the shade.

At this point, the size is 59" x 79".
I could hardly reach the top links of the fence to place the clips.
This could easily fit my bed without adding more ... but then, most people don't sleep on a semi-single futon.

Anyway, now I am thinking of what kind of border to add.

With all these one inch pieces, I am thinking the first border needs to be only one color and at least two inches wide.

I have been thinking of using some of the many 2x2 inch blocks with some of the leftover purplish-black mixed in, and then a solid outer border of the same as the first. My thinking is maybe purple or turquoise. I have yet to check my stash. Many of the fabrics came to me from friends or people leaving the country. Some scraps seem to have been chopped up with a purpose but that is a mystery to me. some have been sewed and then chopped into blocks.

Then, again, I look at this picture and think the border needs to be more calming to contain all these wild scraps. I really don't want to buy any fabric so that might be a challenge, though I might be able to piece a single color to get wider border strips.

Another challenge is ironing all those seams. Ironing one block sometimes un-irons the neighboring one. At least sewing by hand gives me a choice.....  I am not even thinking of the quilting part!

Monday, April 16, 2018

Bit by bit


Since I have no place to lay the rows out
(without adding much dog hair),
I pinned the sewn segment to the curtain behind the sofa.

After putting each row together, I need to get an idea of which setting triangles to use so that I won't have the same fabrics close together.

The shorter rows, I could piece on the train but now I am to the long diagonal and will need a bit more sofa time to get those joined.

Friday was taken up by planning and running my Cub Scout Pack meeting and Saturday was an Order of the Arrow event. Nikko and I took the car out to the scout area and I led the "Brotherhood walk". I use a trail that is not used for anything else so had to do the walk first with a saw and clippers to clear off fallen trees and branches that had been brought down by the snow.

Luckily the weather was not as windy as predicted so everything went well. Nikko was so tired that she fell asleep on the front car seat on the way home. I had to turn in right away too because the choir was to sing for the early service, meaning I had to have Nikko walked and fed and be out of the house before seven to get there in time.


Sunday I was invited to lunch with the rest of the guys in the bass and tenor section. I did the salad bar but it was all-you-can-eat thing with lots of kinds of meat being brought around and served up at each table. I could hardly even finish the salad, taking just a sampling of about half the things offered. I took one piece of chicken from the meat man but in the end, brought it home to use in a sandwich untouched.

THEN ... in the evening we had a nice family gathering to celebrate April birthdays ... well, including Leia whose birthday is at the end of March. Also what would have been Paul's 81st birthday, plus my wonderful SIL and Peter, my "Son-on-loan".

Two big meals out in one day was a bit much for me and my tummy did some massive complaining during the night, but I was able to get out at 4am for onigiri delivery and make it to school afterwards.

A lot of things going on tomorrow, so it may be Wednesday before I can get the lower half of the rows joined on. I still am thinking of what I will put in the border. I have a lot of 2x2 inch squares that might like to get out of their tin....

Friday, April 6, 2018

It's taken some time...


Finally I have assembled enough blocks that I think can be turned into a single bed size quilt.

35 crumb blocks and 24 setting blocks are done and ready to be joined together.

I laid them out on the empty apartment floor and moved them around, trying to get a balance of color without getting the same fabrics in nearby blocks.

Then I pinned numbers on each one so I know where they are to be sewed in strips.















meanwhile, I am sewing small blocks for the outer border. I will need 20 of these side squares and have finished four.

Next I will see if I have enough of the purplish-black to do the outside triangles.

I have a bit more fabric in the same color but with a streaked print instead of blotchy like I have used so far.

If it doesn't make enough, I have some solid black. I'll just take it one step at a time.

I don't think it will be hard to make some kind of scrappy border ... maybe something solid, then something scrappy followed by another solid or print. This is really a "Plan-as-you-go" kind of challenge. I am happy to say that my marked and cut 1x2 inch squares are significantly reduced in number. The one-inch bits will be used in the side squares and I still have plenty.

Meanwhile, I have a scouting event both this weekend and next ... but tomorrow it is supposed to rain and I am now dealing with a rather severe leaking roof. At this point I am dithering over going at all, as there are surely others who can do my tasks (and could probably use the experience.)

The grape hyacinth is now enjoying a bit of spring in the weed lot on the corner. This is where there was knee-high grass a few years back.
Two years ago I planted tulip bulbs along the fence but the "plant vandal" ripped off the flowers and they haven't done well since. Two came up among these flowers but they will not bloom. I may dig them out and move them to a different place.
When these are finished, I will plant salvias. They bloom all summer and into the fall with no care at all and now there are volunteers coming up from seed. Pink-headed knotweed covers a lot of the gravel and keeps the rain from washing the dirt out onto the road.
I still get yelled at by Mr. Mori, who lives in the apartment on the other side of the fence, for burglerizing the weeds so I only pull a few at a time as I walk by. I am not sure why he preferred the knee-high weeds catching garbage and animal poop and plastic that held water and gave mosquitoes a good start. The house-owners in the neighborhood are happy with the new look. (and the owner of that triangle of land is living somewhere else and doesn't seem to care).