Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Tokyo Dome Quilt Show part 1

Although it has been nearly a week since viewing the "Tokyo International Great Quilt Festival 2015" with my two dear friends, I have yet to get organized enough to make a post. Now that I have seen their lovely posts, I am not sure I have much to add.

These are the throngs of viewers that met us at the entrance. Even when you have a viewing plan, it is hard to wend your way through that sea of bodies.

Tanya, Carin, and I had all submitted blocks for the "Partnership" quilts so we decided to head over there and check those out first.

Both Carin and Tanya have posted some lovely photos ... in fact, a lot better than anything on my camera. For some reason, the pictures I took seem rather dull. My camera has been used by other family members and the settings  ... which I don't understand ... may have been messed up. I hope you will check out their posts and enjoy what they have to relate.

The subject of the partnership blocks was "Sweet".

Everyone could make a block with their own interpretation of that word and there was an interesting variety ranging from candy and cakes to cute animals.

Here is Tanya just below her block, six bees on a honeycomb.
Now, that aught to be sweet!

In fact, there appeared to be some class blocks that featured bees and honey.

Carin's choice of sweets was some Swedish, or should I say sweetish treats?

Yummy peppermint candy ... and don't miss her traditional signature flag.

Even my gorilla arms were not long enough to reach my hummingbird block near the top of this group of 120 blocks.

I can't imagine the work it must have taken to make 69 of these huge quilts......

Arranging 8280 small blocks into some semblance of order, sewing them all together without mixing them up, then quilting them by hand ... Yes, they were hand quilted.

The best part of the show for me was spending the day with these two friends.

Sometimes when you go to a show in a group you see less than you might going alone but we each noticed different things and in our case three sets of eyes caused each to see that much more.

Though we communicate through our blogs regularly, getting together in person was a special treat we looked forward to with great anticipation. The warmth of that day will stay with me for a long time. How blessed I am to have friends like these!

Each year at the exit, there is a survey ... or questionnaire  that can be filled out. I have filled it out now every year both in English and Japanese and my biggest issue with this show is the lack of English. The Yokohama show has at last begun putting the quilter's names in English but at this show, none of the entries in the various categories had names in other than kanji, unless they were entered by foreigners... and there were very few of those.

Every Japanese who can write their name, knows how to write it in Roman letters and being able to understand the meaning of Kanji characters does not mean one knows how that name is actually said. Even written with Japanese characters, my granddaughter might be called Reya rather than Leya.
Today I down-loaded my pictures to my computer, I have taken pictures of the posted titles and names of the quilt artists but It will take some time to decipher the names to give credit.

There were several displays that did use name of the quilter in English. One was a selection of quilted illustrations of popular children's books. I guess a children's librarian might take notice. (These were in addition to the theme, Laura Ingles Wilder "Little House" books.

This is a popular Japanese children's book.

Interpreted by Natsuko Mikomi.

There is short comment below her name on the label and a copy of the book on display.

    Naoko Masuda has taken some illustrations from this book about mice.
 And Mutsumi Yoshida has illustrated the Japanese version of "Frog and Toad are friends".
 I am not familiar with this book about Sa-chan but
Yukako Nakayama has made a quilt with illustrations close to those in the story.

And at last, one you might recognize,

The Tale of Peter Rabbit.

these by Emiko Mohri with beautiful white on whits quilting around each illustration.

I think I have seen this book among children's
books in the book store but the name is not on the cover.

Akiko Fukui has made a highly embellished
version of the elephant on the cover.

This section of the show was new. Last year the theme was Moomin stories and there were many small quilts with illustrations.

The quilts depicting Wilder's books were large in size and made by quilt senseis ... who for some reason, have names in English. Does that mean one has to be a sensei or teacher of quilting to have recognition?

At lest I can cover that area without the name problem. Really, I have enough problems. My friend, called "blogger" will not let me look at the blogs of my friends, saying I am not following anyone. I have had that problem a number of times before but if I wait, it usually changes its mind and puts them up for me to view. BUT..... not this week! I can look at bloglovin but that site will not let me comment. I think I have heard these problems from other bloggers . Meanwhile, I am trying to practice patience.

Friday, January 23, 2015

another try

It is amazing what can be done on a phone call half way around the world!
Tonight my guru-son, Jon, talked me through a switch from Internet Explorer to Google chrome.

All the tabs that had disappeared a week ago have returned
Thanks for all who encouraged me to make the change
As a result, here is one of the pictures I was unable to post earlier in the week.

Sitting among the assorted cats is a little poinsettia I was given as a gift.

Christmas may be past but this little fellow sits on the step tansu in my little greenhouse/bedroom.... guarded by ceramic cats.

The dark pink and white Christmas cactus began opening a few weeks before Christmas and as of yesterday, the last flower has finished.

Just a week ago, this last cactus that was holding out, began to open. There are still a few buds to go.

Maybe the poinsettia reminded it that the time had come, or perhaps it didn't want to compete with the others ... Who knows, but it certainly is nice to have flowers during the cold grey days.

The gift for the conference speaker is in the finishing stage.

I asked her for her favorite bible verse and she gave it to me in Afrikaans.

I quilted it into the background in English ... King James version was the closest to the Afrikaans... That is across the top.

The verse in Afrikaans is along the lower half.

I added a narrow red binding.
The size is 29 inches wide and 55 inches long. I think that is a bit large for a wall hanging but I added a sleeve anyway just in case.

It could be used for a table runner or a chair runner. I have not quilted the area around the butterflies. I was thinking of adding vines and leaves using a dark blue thread but one of my friends thought it was just as good without anything more. The batting is #40 thinsulate and since it is made to be used in clothing, it is not likely to shift. The border is just quilted in the ditch around the three-inch floral blocks. The butterflies are quilted with gold metallic thread.

Here is the upper section....

and here is the lower part

I still have preparations to make for a quilting class I will be teaching

and once all that is ready to go, I will share my wonderful trip today to the Tokyo Dome.

I have had a lot today to make me happy and ending with the photo issue being fixed is only the icing on the cake!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015


Yesterday was "Daikan". Tanya wrote a great post explaining the "Great Cold". Actually, yesterday was nice and sunny and really didn't get down to freezing until I was safely in bed and under the covers. Today, however, is another story, gray and gloomy, cold and drizzly. Nikko is curled up less than a foot from the space heater and blogger must have heard my focus word for the year is "Patience" because it is testing me beyond imagination.

I have now wasted the better part of the day trying to post one of five pictures selected to show my blogging friends. NO WAY !!!

I will report that the runner now has a binding and I have added hanging sleeve just in case.
I really wanted to get your opinion on the few empty areas. I had thought to quilt in a few leaves and vines with dark blue thread but a friend who saw it while I was working thought it didn't need anything more. True, the thinsulate is made for use in clothing and probably won't shift even in a fairly wide area.

Well, I still have a week to add stitches. Maybe blogger will be a bit more cooperative now that I am giving up for the day. We shall be patient and see if that helps!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Quilt therapy at last

The new year came ... ready or not!

Stuff is still piled up everywhere.

Plenty of sorting left to do.

The first day was spent serving the homeless the special New Years meal ... well, I wasn't serving really, as my job was washing the dishes. So, I started the year with very clean hands.

The second we visited with friends, taking the special meal with us. (our house too messy for guests)

The third was church activities ... choir and all.
And that evening, our little family gathered along with Paul's sister. I need to learn how to photo-chop because that will be the only way to remove the piles of stuff.

By Monday afternoon I was really needing a quilt fix. I have the gift for the Women's Conference speaker to do and I had not even begun. I had a panel I had bought for my own use years ago. I dug out the tin of three-inch blocks and went through to find floral prints. That was not hard because probably half of what was in the box was floral print squares.

I couldn't think of a way to separate them so they would look good in a border so I decided to set them on point.

That meant I needed to add an inner frame around the panel so everything would fit. This is a real trial and error job.

The size is 30" x 56" so I think that is a bit too big for a wall hanging. Maybe it could be used as a table runner or chair runner.

Usually the speaker is unknown to me but this year she is our pastor's wife. The topic is about tending one's inner garden ... thus the flowers. The butterfly is a symbol of the "Hidden Christians"in Japan about 385 years ago.

The color is really dark blue. (The photo was taken on the floor under my dining room table ... the only open flat space big enough to lay it out.)

Tonight I pin-basted it and can now begin to put in the quilting. I will use gold around the butterflies and I plan to quilt in a bible verse at the top and bottom. I have asked the speaker for her favorite verse and will decide how to use it.

I know this is just a small bit of quilting but once I had those pieces drawn on the fabric and cut out, I began to feel so much more relaxed. I was actually surprised how quickly these pieces went together, even without a machine.  After so many weeks without any needle in my hands, this was the therapy I needed. Stuff is still piled up and there will be sorting to do again tomorrow, but now, when I need a break, I will have something meaningful to do.

What color binding? Shall I add a hanging sleeve just in case? I don't think I will stay awake worrying about that yet. Right now I am feeling a lot more content.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Getting ready?

The New Year is coming ... ready or not!

The Scouts did their part.
Every year we are guests of the Japanese Scouts at a mochi-pounding event, held at their sponsor's temple.

The guests include the Girl Scouts in the area and members of the BSA Packs. Many of these kids have mochi-pounding events at their schools but at this event the kids can pound as much as they like.

The mochi is eaten with seaweed or other compliments and put into a delicious soup, that is a New Year specialty. Some of the completed mochi came home with the participants. Our Scouts took cookies to share. (none of those came home)

A delicious turkey made it to our table on Christmas and was joined by Norie's family and Papa's elder sister.

We had to keep passing food because there was no room on this small table to put it down.

Rudolf showed up and did her part.

The biggest challenge was to take a picture with the least amount of junk piled up in the background.

Clean that plate Rudolf, and you can have a piece of pecan pie!

This morning the frost was on the pumpkin ...

Well, no pumpkin in the park but there was lots of pretty frost.

Does that mean winter is here?

Don't tell the roses. They still think it is summer.

And don't tell the jonquils. They are rushing into spring.

Check with Piper, my pied canary. He will be starting the year with a clean cage ... well, it is clean now and he is working fast to remedy the situation. Honestly, I could swear my husband gifted me this bird so he wouldn't be the messiest member of the family!

We have had birds in the past but Piper is the champion food slinger and pooper. While the cage was being soaked and scrubbed, I had to spray the window and clean it with a metal spatula! At this moment he is making the best of the daylight hours to make that cage look like home! Well, he is a very good singer anyway.

So, are you ready to welcome in the New Year?
Have a good one!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

It's almost here!

Last Friday, Leia came with a plan to make our tiny room look more like Christmas.

I dug out the little four-foot tree from the storage and set it up on the coffee table, then added the lights.

Leia opened the boxes of ornaments and decorated the tree. This year she was able to reach almost to the top so there was much less for grandma to do.

My specialty is the top and the paper ornaments made each year by my youngest sister.  Each year my sister's card includes a three-dimensional ornament to be assembled and it is fun to look back over the years of creativity. Often the tree stays up until the card arrives all the way from Ohio and the decoration can be assembled and hung.

This year the only other decoration I took from the storage was a wreath to hang on the front door. ... and of course a runner for the table and quilted tree skirt.

My daughter was very skillful when taking these two pictures to avoid the stacks of boxes waiting to be sorted.

The other activity was our cookie factory. I put my cookies into a container to take to our Scout event yesterday and they were quickly consumed.

My greenhouse - bedroom is definitely in the Christmas mode.

This is what my hanging laundry gets to enjoy.

I have not been able to keep African violets because of extreme temperatures in summer and winter but the cacti don't seem to mind ... and can even take being neglected during times I am out with the scouts  or travelling to visit kids.

There are a number of Christmas cacti, these being first to open and others still in bud. This is the view facing south.

Along the wall to the east is a step-tansu and each step holds a collection of plants. The wall behind is the slope of the roof.

The little poinsettia came to me as a gift.

 The south-east corner has a little ficas left behind by my #4 daughter.

The flowers are hard to see but every winter it develops tiny little figs.

It must be happy in this corner under the stained glass window decoration and the dream-catcher.

And in the south east corner are more plants.

Even outside the window there are orchids and prickly pear cacti, Jade trees, and Easter cacti filling the tiny space  on top and behind the air conditioning unit.

And, to the north, under the roof over my futon and the stairs.....

Another plant left behind by my #4 daughter, a large stag-horn fern.

I actually don't know how this plant needs to be tended other than to offer it a drink from time to time, but it must like the location because it has taken over the space above my bed.

I grabbed these pictures while the washing machine was doing its duty. Usually the place where I am standing with the camera is festooned with drying laundry.

Actually, this little room is a great place to dry clothing. I do not have to worry about sudden rain or wind-blown dust and pollen.
In the winter it adds a bit of moisture to the dry air.

I can toss my futon over the balcony railing to air.
(airing bedding is a typical Japanese sight)

Tonight will be filled with the special music already spinning in my head and then I will crawl behind this plant to my little nest on the roof.

Tomorrow will be filled with the smells of baking and busy preparations for family dinner.

The stacked boxes  ... the sorting of pictures ... everything that is not done will just have to wait. Somehow we will muddle through ...

And as I crawl back up to my cozy nest on the roof, this little guy in Oregon will be hanging the last decoration on his Advent calendar and checking out the stocking.

Warm Christmas wishes will be winging their way across the pond to my blogging friends.

Wishing you all Peace and Joy this Holiday season.

Friday, December 12, 2014

10 days and no quilting!

In fact, the only time I have picked up a needle is to do mending and darn socks!

My house seems to be suffering from the Giant Spoon Syndrome ... you know where the giant spoon swoops out of the sky and stirs everything up.

We are in the process of getting things that have been stored for many years sorted out and disposed of. There must be a dozen large cartons of loose photographs and negatives to go through. Many bring back memories of days past ... when the kids were young ... of trips here and there ... of many Scout functions ... of nature and pets and groups of people that I can't remember.

There are fancy party dishes, kid's clothing. dolls, puzzles and games, antique furniture, and all of it has memories attached so it is not something to send to landfill. A very stressful activity in a busy holiday season.

Meanwhile life goes on in Nerima-ku.

Several neighbors are building new homes and I happened to pass this ceremony just down our street.

After the land has been cleared and before  the construction begins, the outline of the new building is marked out with string in the ground and the family gathers for a ceremony to bless the ground and work about to begin.

Dressed in robes is a Shinto priest and the family is burning incense.

Wednesday another lot was cleared at the end of our street and I suppose there will be a ceremony held there soon.

Choir Sunday went well.
It is a joy to sing great music.

Now we are in Christmas mode and practicing music for the next few weeks.

One is a special piece, O Magnum Mysterium, by Morten Lauridsen.

It will be sung in two Christmas eve services,
a cappella, with a small group, of which I am the first tenor.
Of course we have been having special rehearsals since fall and finally I am beginning to feel a bit more confident.

Returning home after evening practice, I walk down Omotesando to the bus street.
During the month of December, lights have been strung on the huge Keyake (Zelkova) trees lighning the street.

The show brings out crowds to enjoy the atmosphere and of course everyone is carrying a camera ... if not the real thing, one on their cell phone.

There are several overhead crossings and it would seem the ideal place to get a perfect view of the entire street......

BUT, no, there are guards on each side per crossing ... to prevent anyone from going up to the crossing.

True, a few hundred people gathering on that bridge might be dangerous ... but  ... as long as those guards are standing at each end, why can't they let five people go up and then, as those come down, allow that many more? Surely, ten people would not bring the whole structure down.

To me ... and my western mind, it would make more sense and promote a better sense of pleasure. After all, what difference would it make to those guards? It might give them something other to do than just stand at the foot of the stairs.

And, lest someone think they might take a picture from the middle of the street while in the level crossing ... Oh no, there is another guard moving people along.

If you want a view (or even photograph) of the beautiful lighted trees arching across the boulevard, you'd better be quick before you are spotted.

How strange that these guys in the yellow coats owe their jobs to the lighting but they are there to prevent the public from photo ops.

The building with red in the windows actually is putting on a light show in those windows, as it is ever changing behind the avenue of trees.

A project is awaiting in the wings ... a gift for the Women's Conference speaker. It is forming in my mind and I will have to get to it soon if I am to finish in a month.
A darling picture of my youngest grandson hanging decorations on the Advent calendar has come. Christmas decorations await in the cupboard but making room for them in this place is going to be a huge challenge.
I hope your days are going more smoothly than mine as the holidays approach.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Problem solved!

Well, The computer must have figured I was frustrated enough and decided to fix itself. When I opened it up this afternoon, the first thing I see in the place to sign in my password. Usually it is just a little lighted slot. recently I am getting a touch-screen keyboard instead, but the screen had gone back to the original look. Today when I flipped the top open  ... there was the touch-screen again.

Well, after putting in my password, I decided to test the camera again. Sure enough, this time it worked and I could down-load pictures again.

So, here are some non-quilting pictures of my time without the computer.

Each morning I sweep the street ... down one side to the corner, back up the other ... and around our corner.

This week most of the sweeping is persimmon leaves and maple leaves.

These are the ones from in front of our house ... and my little sweeping bin ... the broom hangs from the handle.

The cut-leaf maples have been red for some time and finally begun to fall.

Most of them get caught up in the azalea bushes
but a few make it all the way to the new pavement.

When we moved back to this house, I had some of the enkianthus bushes removed to make room for a few other plantings.

This maple was supposed to be a snake-bark maple but that is not what it is.
My Japanese tree book shows one three-leaved maple, Acer cissifolium, but the shape of the leaves is different with smaller lobes and the stem is red. I don't think that is what this is.

I found a Paperbark Maple, Acer griseum, in the "Sibley Guide to Trees" that I picked up on my last trip to the states. The leaves in that book are also a bit different  but much closer and the bark of this tree has become a bit shaggy in the past two years. The tree is still rather young. It does have pretty color in the fall and that was what I was looking for when we bought it.

The third maple came to us in a pot.

It was rescued from the balcony of a friend who ad moved to a new apartment and didn't have room for it,

It sits happily on the entry step.

Our neighborhood has two other Japanese Maples and these days those three trees fill my bin before I even finish the street.

My husband thinks we should name our home "Three Maples".

Can you tell which tree is dropping what?

For a tiny plot, we contribute plenty of leaves ... especially if we add the Plum.

Today I swept up Cherry tree leaves and Keyaki (Zelkova). The nearest cherry id two blocks away and I have no idea where the Zelkova leaves are coming from but the wind has been strong and cold.

The Great Tits were complaining that I should move so they could come back to the window feeder.
And now that the picture down-load is back to normal, I'd better get back to the "real" work.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Now what!!!

At this season of Thanksgiving, I don't know whether to be thankful for my computer or fling it across the room.

I am becoming aware of Google making changes without warning but when the computer starts changing things ... I can not go crying to my usual friends for suggestions.

I have so far been able to download pictures from my assorted cameras. The Canon and the Nikon get different reactions but then I go to the windows explorer icon and click it, there is a list of cameras and all I have to do is right click on the name of the camera and the download window comes up.

Now, however, nothing happens and there are no longer camera identities to click on. At first I thought my camera battery might need charging. Nope, that didn't help. Today when I connected my Nikon, the computer said "peep" as usual and  the camera light went on but....nothing came up in windows.

I have also noticed lately that when I open my laptop, I sometimes get the regular space to put in the password but sometimes that space is above a touch-screen. Well, I can use the keyboard still or I can use the touch-screen keyboard so that occasional change is not a problem. BUT not being able to download pictures IS a problem and I am wondering now if I have done something to make the computer mad or it is just testing my patience.

I guess I should just give up and go quilt so in case the computer decides to go back, I will have something better to post than a rant!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

What's in a photo op?

At least three times a week I walk back and forth across the street at this crossing.

It is on Aoyama-dori, between Aoyama 1-chome station and Omotesando station, It is an "Outer Garden" of Meiji Shrine. At the end, there is a building which I understand to be a picture museum.

I have never been down the street, or visited the museum, but usually it is a quiet street with little traffic and I feel I am wasting my time standing there waiting for the light to change so I can be on my way.

Last week, however, I noticed the ginkgo trees lining the street had begun to change color. Oops, I had forgotten to bring my camera. Therefore, I made sure to put it in my bag on Sunday before leaving home.

 So much for the quiet empty street ... In fact, there were so many people standing in the middle of the road waiting for cars to pass so they could get a shot of the trees that a policeman at the curb was blowing his whistle and trying to move them along.

It was all I could do to grab a quick shot and hope I didn't get a head or shoulder in front of me.

Anyway, enjoy this much of the lovely autumn day with sun and blue skies. Today it has been very dark and gloomy with rain falling.

I was hoping for a different photo op because I managed to finish the advent calendar and hopefully it will go out in the evening mail and make tomorrow's plane to Oregon.

I still paste pictures in my paper quilt diary so before posting I tried to find a place with natural light for a photo. Well, everywhere outside was wet and dripping and my greenhouse was the only room with any light,but it was full of hanging laundry.

In the end, I tacked the calendar on to my door and got the best picture I could.

This is the fifth calendar I have made and one might think that they would get better with experience. Sigh ...

... I really have to start sooner rather than be controlled by deadlines.

The numbers on the pockets are somewhat wonky. I somewhat envy those sewing machines that embroider words and numbers with the push of a button.

I cut the wooden bits in the afternoon when the sound of the saw would be less likely to disturb the neighbor but traded that aspect for better lighting.

I took my knife and those bits to camp on Saturday and didn't finish but did get enough done that I could finish by Monday morning.

I was sanding the carvings during my skype call with the kids and then dug out my box of acrylic paint tubes.

The first two coats of varnish went on before bed time and four or five more coats during the day.

During the painting, one piece got lost and is still hiding somewhere.
It was an extra just in case so I quit looking and finished the 25 that were waiting.

I had to go shopping for a box of paperclips to cut for the hanging loops. I was sure there were some left over from other years. After all, they come 130 to a box, but there were none residing in the drawer where they usually live so they may have been re-purposed for other duties.

Tomorrow's forecast is also rain so I am glad I didn't wait for a perfect photo op. Perhaps my son will send me a picture of Ryden hanging the owl on the tree... but then, Oregon gets rain this time of year too.
Tomorrow begins a new project with a bit longer deadline.