Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Finally moving forward

I have been holding off on laying out the black and white quilt for planning the backing because the only space large enough is the second floor apartment, and with it closed up in the heat with the electricity turned off, it didn't seem like the best option.

Well, my daughter has offered that space for a friend to use during a stay in Tokyo, and I needed to get a few things done to make it liveable.  Today I took out two futons and hung them outside to air. Then I went to do some cleaning, starting with washing the floor in the loft, then the main room floor, windowsills, hall etc. I opened all the windows. Not sure the place was cooled off any but there was a slight breeze....    and as long as I was running up and down anyway, I decided to take the quilt up and lay it out and see what I could come up with for the backing.


I really like using tenugui for quilt backs and I had found these partial rolls at the Salvation Army store. They aren't black and white but indigo-dyed. If they were made into a yukata, the prints could be matched up into a picture of a dragon in the clouds. Since these are just random cuts, I needed to lay them out and come up with a plan. I didn't really want to chop up those strips any more than necessary other than to adjust the length. The center strips are from a roll representing a sumo wrestler. (the kanji is his name).

If I look at the weather report for the rest of the week and into next week, it seems a week of rain is predicted. Of course, my weather app on my cell phone is wrong more than 50% of the time. I should be glad for this day of sun ... and take every advantage I can. I can stay inside and do the sewing when the rain comes.

For now, I will hunt up bedding, electric cords, dishes and utensils, and whatever might be needed for a few weeks stay. I can't say life is dull!

Friday, September 14, 2018

Is it really autumn?

Higanbana! In the continuous heat and humidity of Tokyo, how did they know that autumn is just around the corner?


Higanbana - Lycoris radiata - is a member of the amaryllis family, and often known as spider lily.

Higan is the word for the autumnal equinox in Japan, which is a national holiday.

When I returned from our former house in Suginami, I brought with me from that large garden, a number of bulbs with little room for planting them all. I took the leftover bulbs and planted them around the neighborhood, these are some  that have thrived and multiplied over the years. (in the raised bed of an apartment building two houses away.)

I also planted some in a neighbor's weed garden. It is an area between their house and the street surrounded by a low cement wall about one foot high and maybe a yard wide, with a fence on the house side. Mostly what grows there is weeds and maybe one or two small bushes randomly placed.
As far as I can tell, those neighbors do not pay much attention to that plot, maybe pulling out the weeds one day a year when they get too tall. Therefore, I was rather surprised that when the spider lily bulbs I had planted sprang up beautifully at the back corner of the plot, they were all pulled out within a few days from the time they opened.

Since then, I have seen other bulbs in the park being pulled out and learned some new things about that plant. Often, in Japan, that lovely flower is called "flower of the dead". When it blooms in autumn like violently shed blood, rising straight out of the ground, it is time to get serious about ghosts that haunt winter nights.

Higan translates to "other shore" ... land of the dead. It is the day to visit family graves and pray for the well-being of departed souls ... and take care of unruly, potentially vengeful souls of ancestors.
I am not so sure about how Japanese think of ghosts, but I remember my neighbor going out in winter and cutting all the swaying branches off a weeping willow across the street. When I asked her why, she said it looked like an obake or ghost. I also remember her pulling out wisteria vines, saying if they are planted in your garden they will strangle the owner to death.

The higan holiday is still 8 days away.

This pale pink version has also sprung up on the east side of my house.

Others along the west side have yet to break the soil, but they do get less sun there.

Perhaps, like the gardenias, they burst into bloom when the length of dark and light become close to the same.

The leaves will not appear until much later after the blossoms are finished.
The bulbs are poisonous and are thought to keep hole-digging vermin like moles and mice at bay.

Now, as I contemplate these traditions, I wonder about the arrival of halloween. Hardly even heard off 55 years ago, it has now been so embraced by communities, that the shops began to display halloween decorations out in front on the last day of august. There are even costumes you can buy for your dog! There is a grand parade through the streets in front of my church. And young people in Japan really seem to like costumes and dressing up. I wonder how my older neighbors feel about embracing witches and ghosts and skeletons ... and things that go bump in the night.

Hopefully, the rain falling now will bring some much needed cooler weather and not just more humidity, and I can get back to my quilting projects ... maybe something to show other than what nature has produced.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Not much to report


One of the first quilts I made after starting my paper quilt diary back in the 1980s, was this cathedral window I entitled, "Windows of Time" because it was made to save some of the fabrics in a quilt my great-grandmother made for me that had completely fallen apart.

I chose this technique because it would not put stress on those vintage fabrics. 1,344 2.5" folded blocks.

It lived on a large bed until we moved back to a house too small for a big bed, and was passed to my second daughter in August, 2007.
even without any batting, it is very heavy.

This year, along with friends, I am trying to meet another cathedral-window challenge. As it is just too awfully hot to work on the Black and white quilt. I pulled out some donated muslin that is a bit heavy and I had no plans to use in a quilt.

 I haven't decided where I am going with this project, but just getting this far, it is hard to look back at that first quilt and understand how I managed to get that far.

Maybe in those days I was less of a perfectionist.

Nikko's walks are getting shorter and shorter.
When she first came home with the kids, I would take her to the same spot each day, walk her back and forth, and back and forth, saying, "Hurry-up". After she took care of business, she got the fun part of the "walk" as a reward.
These days, we have returned to that plan, only in a different place, and I don't even have to tell her to hurry-up. A short trip to the corner and back and I am dripping wet ... without any rain. The typhoon did little damage but the humidity it left behind still hangs in the air. The wind today is not cool but more like a blast furnace. At least I don't have to go out and water the plants....



Tuesday, August 28, 2018

On the fence



A quick trip to the park for a photo shoot... I like the look and how the border works ... but ...

The total size is now 85" x 100.5" or 255cm. x 216cm. According to what I read on line, that is more the size for a double bed.

The blocks I have left could now be assembled into 6 x 8 blocks plus a border or 48" x 64" plus a border, which, depending on the width of the border, make it more of a single size. I also have a bit smaller version of the wave print I could use.

Anyway, progress will be on hold until I get feedback from grandson#3.

A spectacular thunder and lightning show over our area last night, only added to the humidity with no let-up on the heat. This photo shoot was like a trip to the shower with clothes on. According to weather reports, we will be getting another storm tonight.

And, happy to say, the crumb quilt made it safely to Oregon in record time...

And is now hugging my daughter, Kimie.

Sure do wish I could hug her in person, but this is the next best.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Making use of the typhoon


The inner border has been added to the black and white quilt.

I am now rather wishing I had mitered the corners, but by the time I thought of it, I would have had to do a lot of re-cutting and re-sewing. So, I will just carry on with the plan.

Since Kai ... or his name "Kaiea", means rising wave both in Hawaiian and Japanese, I picked our this wave fabric for the border.

The design is quite bold and the shade of white a bit bright, so I took it to an empty apartment to lay it out and decide if it might work.





Since I used a variety of black and white prints, I think there are enough of this tone that it will work.

I really wanted to see before I started cutting and sewing.

I don't think there is enough of this fabric to make mitered corners.
Maybe I will make the waves go around in a circle so the quilt will have no particular top edge.










This room is a bit small to get a good picture. These shots were taken from the ladder leading to the loft.

In the first picture, one side is in the shadow, but if I pull it over to the wall, the edge will be under the loft, so this is about the best I could do.

Actually, the purpose was just to audition the wave print and for that, it worked.
I may take it back up to lay out once I have the border strips cut.

Now that it is this big, it no longer serves as take-along work.

This is really the last week with indoor time, as Sunday everything starts up with schedules being filled.
The "crumb-quilt" is on its way to Oregon ... where it will be cool enough to be used.

On my list coming up, besides a new Stewardship banner, is a baby quilt for a new granddaughter expected the end of this year. Maybe I need another typhoon to keep me inside ... though the additional humidity is not welcome as long as the heat remains. What might pass for sun tan is actually rust.

Friday, August 17, 2018

The morning walk


Every morning, Nikko and I walk a loop around the neighborhood and back through the park.

There are actually two parks along our route, about a block apart.

In the winter, from time to time, I might see men sitting on one of the round concrete stools, smoking or having a drink (butts and bottles tossed in the bushes.)

BUT, during the summer, this place might be named "Mosquito Park". The only people I see here are the guy who comes to clean the men's toilet. (to the left side of the white building). and two guys who come to sweep leaves twice a week for about half an hour.  Also, about twice a year, the weed-whackers who chop the weeds and trim the bushes.

When this park was built, the cement area with the statue was a shallow pond. The water was pumped from a place at the top of a small hill behind the toilet building, ran down a lined path, and into the pond. There is a grid at the base of the drinking fountain where the water drained for re-cycling.

The idea may not have been cleared with the neighborhood, because the pond was soon drained and the water turned off. Well, actually, the water is still there under the pond and providing breeding grounds for the billions of mosquitoes. Once summer rolls around, a short walk through the park will bring as many as 40 bites on each arm ... and that is while waving the critters off your face and neck.

Last year at the end of July, when I returned from my trip to the states, this area of grass was knee-high in weeds. They were all full of seeds, and the whackers came through the following week.

Now, on the morning walk, I carry a small bag, and after picking up Nikko's poop, I then fill the bag with weeds. I had been working at an area at the back entrance of the park where they had planted "dragon's beard", pulling weeds that had taken over that area and sending runners into the beautiful neighbor's garden.

The grass is like a golf course grass that sends out runners, so as the cut grass began to grow right back, I began pulling it out. The area in the picture, I began weeding at the end of last summer. It is very easy to spot a weed coming up in the area because it is a different color and shape. As I pass through I may just pull a few here and there and because they are young, they come right out easily.

This was the area of the tallest thickest weeds.
I started here the end of June and there was hardly any grass at all. Now the grass is sending runners into all this area and it is turning green again. Still a few weeds coming up but easy to keep under control because I pull them before the seeds form.


There are many bulbs here which will produce flowers in the spring and then die back.

I don't know what those bulbs are but they don't seem to compete with the grass.




This area I started on last winter.

The light colored plants at the top left come from runners of the bushes. They get cut twice a year by the weed-whackers.

A few light-colored spikes are new weeds coming up. Easy to spot.
These I pull every other day or so as I walk by. It is hard to believe that a year ago one couldn't even see this lush grass for the weeds.

The grass creeps between the stepping stones too and I think that might have been the original plan as the stones are places with gaps.

Some of the areas are bald, as the sweepers remove the dirt from the runners and the grass that is left has been taken over by weeds.



This space is at the back of the park is taken over by weeds that were whacked off about three weeks ago. The weeds are even taking over the hedges.









This is the little hill where the water used to come down ... water-path on the left.

In the spring, I dug out bags full of dandelions but this grass spreads with runners and is quite hard to pull.


I wonder If the neighborhood really cares about its parks. Other than the paid sweepers and cleaners, the only people I see here are a few people cutting through t the back road, and truck and taxi drivers parking in front to use the men's toilet. I have never seen anyone use the women's side, but since it is a "squatsie" would be for emergencies only.

I often wonder how it would be to have some kind of a park day several times a month, where people could come out and meet and talk and pull the weeds and care for the park.


Now Nikko is saying ....

"Mom, the bag is full. The mosquito-coil is running out.

Time to finish our walk so I can have my breakfast".


Actually, Nikko is very patient. The old guy who cleans the men's toilet stops to give her some quality petting.  Yesterday a young couple came through with a darling Australian Shepherd and they had a greeting. Once one of the sweeper guys asked if it was OK to take my picture with Nikko. Often kids pass by with their mothers on the way to the pre-school just a few meters beyond the park. Some of them greet Nikko by name.
 Today, a nice breeze made the outing a bit less hot.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Spinning my wheels.

If it weren't for my quilting and piecing, this day would have been a total waste.

Since the day was relatively free, I decided I would go into town to see if I could get my camera fixed.  I packed up some stitching to do on the train, put the camera ... still reading "Lens Error" into my bag, and set off for town.
So far, so good.

I decided as long as I was going that far, I might as well make a stop at Nippori "Fabric Town", as I needed to replace my clover disc thread-cutter which had broken, and wanted to check out a smaller wave print for the black and white quilt border.

Like Old Mother Hubbard, when I got to the cupboard ... it was bare. Well, actually, the whole area was shut down for "Obon". Saturday was the official day off but some places closed longer. Usually there is a notice posted out front like our local barber shop as to which days will be closed. There were no signs so no idea how long they will be closed. Very few shops were open ... the leather store, and a place selling Liberty fabrics, and several clothing shops. Nice long walk in the heat. A small shop selling lots of "Clover" items was opened but didn't carry the cutter.

Oh well, back to the train and on to Bic Camera. That was a busy place and all the clerks in the Canon section were busy selling items ... the very expensive ones with multiple lenses.
Finally I got the attention of someone at the counter, and took my camera out of my bag to show him the problem. Wouldn't you know it??? That camera that had not been working for weeks, suddenly revived and worked just fine.
Bic camera must be a magic place because the last time I went there, it was to leave my watch that kept changing time and date settings every few hours. At that time, the repair guy couldn't find any problem so just re-set the date and time for me ... and that watch has been working smoothly ever since. I hope it will be the same with the camera too.

So, since the train was not crowded, I got almost all my rows together,  I am considering adding fewer rows because, since the blocks are bigger than I thought, if I add a border, it is going to be way too big... and I really feel that pattern needs a border to tie all those random fabrics together. 68 x 86 seems a reasonable size and with 8 inch blocks, what I now have is 64 x 96. I could leave off the last two rows and leave room for a border. The border I had in mind is about six inches wide and that would really make the quilt quite large.

So, now I am dithering. Maybe next week I can go see if there is a smaller border print.
I got a notice of a go-to meeting for the scout district and a reminder today. Well, I logged on at 7pm and the screen said "waiting for the meeting to begin" At 8pm I gave up. Oops ... the meeting is now next week. I'm glad I didn't waste time going there in person.

Tomorrow is another day. I hope the stuff planed for then goes a bit smoother. About time to wash off the sweat and hit the sack under my book club quilt.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Celebrating "International Left-Handers Day"

Since roughly 90% of the world's population is right handed, It is interesting to me, how many left-handed friends an family I have. (but maybe not so surprising)

I was commenting back and forth with a blogging friend, whose way of looking at things seemed so much like mine, I happened to ask, "Are you sure you're not left handed?" Her response was, "Yes, I am".

Last summer I was visiting my Son's family in Colorado, and when it came to dinner time, we gathered around the table and as usual, I looked for the left-handed corner. Surprise ... it just so happened that everyone in the room was left-handed.

Three of my six children are left-handed, and when we played games, we would team up with lefties against righties ... and soon the righties started calling out "No fair!" I think we did have an advantage because we were more apt to think alike when it came to games.

I never heard from my own kids that they faced the challenges in school that I did. In elementary school, we used ink pens  for writing, dipped into an ink well. I tried to avoid the inky hand by turning the paper clockwise and writing from top to bottom and right to left ... much like Japanese.
Of course, the teacher would walk around the room, and make me turn my paper the "right" way, messing everything up.

When we began cursive writing, the teacher stood at the blackboard and demonstrated by writing from in front, to off to the side. Great, I could do that too but I moved from the front to the left and everything came out in mirror writing.  It was much easier and faster and I didn't drag my hand through the ink. In fact, in college, I took all my notes that way as it was faster and easier to keep up. Sometimes my classmates would ask, "Were you in class today? did you take notes? Can I borrow them?" When they couldn't read them, I just said to hold them up in the mirror.

From Junior high, the desks were all right-handed. I had to sit sideways to take notes and when we had tests, the teacher thought I was copying the person in the next row.

Because you meet big numbers by adding smaller ones, starting with the ones column, then the tens then the hundreds ... I learned to write numbers backwards. If the teacher read off the problems, I had to wait for the whole number before I could write it down. By then the teacher was on the next problem. From those days, I have never been able to do things that involve numbers. I tried to take HS math. every Friday we took a test and every Monday the teacher re-seated the class in according to the test scores. As you might guess, I was always in the last seat ... unless there was a student that had been absent. When I went to College, I was required, in addition to the regular hours I had to take, to take extra classes to make up for what I needed to get into college in the first place. Somehow I managed all but the math. If I couldn't pass HS math, how was I going to take college math???

Well, I was working summers at a girl's camp and one of the staff was a HS math teacher. He brought me a geometry book and all summer I did every-other problem in the book. At the end of the summer, I went into his school and took the years worth of tests. He passed me with a "B" and said it would have been an "A" because I got all the answers right, except that I had taken the long way around to get those answers. BUT, while I was doing all that homework, sitting at the diningroom table, my father looked over my shoulder and said, "Why are you writing your numbers that way?" What way? What do you mean? He said I was writing them from right to left ... well, what was wrong with that? Well, he tells me that numbers should be written left to right! Here I am going into my senior year of college and no one had ever noticed!

Yes, I have never been able to deal with numbers ... counting above 20 I start to get screwed up. I have to count over and over again until I get the same answer more than once ...
Now I have to admit, THE LOST HAS BEEN FOUND because it was never lost to begin with!
Yes, all the blocks are lined up better than I am. Good advice to just carry on carrying on, and they will show up.

So, I return to my sewing. Thunder is crashing all around outside and I am waiting for the delivery of some registered mail that I missed being out last week. I do not know if this thunder will bring rain, but I'm not going out anyway. The camera will have to wait until tomorrow.

Thanks for kind words from my left-handed friends and some very understanding righties too.

Survived the week ... just barely


Well, looks like there will be no pictures. Three cameras and all three have died ... and it is not the battery this time. So, sometime this week, I will have to go into town and find a place that fixes cameras. (Or maybe a guru to teach me how to find the pictures I send from my cell phone to a place where I can access them.

Five days of Vacation Bible School came out OK in the end. The typhoon passing through brought two slightly cooler days with it. Of course it brought more moisture as well. The plants seem to be happy but the added humidity made each trip outside feel like stepping into a blest furnace.

I managed to sew five rows of blocks together and join those five rows. (That was by Friday) and I hurried home to get everything needed for the scout hike on Saturday. As it turned out, because of Saturday being a holiday, only one scout could come with his mother. It was drippingly hot but we could concentrate on the advancement requirements the scout needed and made good use of the day.

There were workers in the pond, fishing out all the tiny fish with nets and dividing them into buckets by variety. Aparently, from talking with them, we learned this is a year round activity. They count them, record data, and then put them back. Years ago, the pond was over-run with invasive species. There were American Perch and Bass, as well as turtles, that had most likely been kept as pets, and then thrown into the pond when the owners got tired of keeping them. Those had taken over and diminished the native critters.

The pond was completely drained and native species were rescued, At that time I heard there were something like 38 bicycles found discarded in the pond. As the scout requirements involve ecological issues, we were glad to see that the pond had been given sincere attention.
We watched baby grebes diving for food, spot-billed ducks, and Black-crowned night heron, as well as Japanese turtles. My scout had excellent observation skills and so I saw even more than I might have alone. We walked around the springs that lead into the pond in the west, along both sides, and down to where the pond runs into the Kanda river at its eastern end.

Hot and dripping, I returned home to make a run for dog food. Usually Nikko goes with me but it was just too hot to risk taking her that far. I was glad to get home, have dinner, and a nice long shower.

This morning I began to look for my remaining two rows of blocks for the train ride in to church. All I can find is the remaining lower half. I had to give up or be late and now that I have had more time for a through look, they are nowhere to be found. I know they were not left on the train because it is my habit to check for pins or anything left behind. I have certainly enough fabric to make two more rows, but I have the feeling if I do that, they will then show up and there will be no way to use that many more. The giant spoon is always swooping out of the sky and stirring up my things and it still may be right under my nose ... but for now, I have given up. I will sew the second half together and then see what happens.

Tomorrow, August 12th is "International Left-Handers Day". Today's newspaper had an interesting article taking up a whole page on how Lefties are pushing back against Japan's "righteous" spin. There was an interesting survey of those who were forced in both Japan and overseas to do certain things like eating and writing with their right hand and the percentage of those who resisted.

I think these days in the states, the pressure has let up a lot, but as one who was beaten by the teachers all through school from the first day and even in HS Home Ec. classes be made to sew from right to left and stir in cooking class using my right hand ... well the teacher snatched the batter from me with a string of abusive words.

So, Monday I hope all my friends (and children) in their right minds will find joy celebrating the difference, and all those out there who think they are always right, will try using a can-opener with their left hand.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

On the design floor

Tuesday evening, I took my pile of blocks to the church and made use of the fellowship hall floor to lay them out.

These blocks were sewed light on dark and dark on light, but some of the medium shades have been used as either. I tried to arrange them so that where a fabric appears in both the center and outer areas, those blocks would not be close to each other.

Something happened to my camera that it keeps saying "Lens error" when I try to take a picture, so I took this on my cell phone. It has taken several days of frustration to get this one picture into my files in a place where I could share it. What I had been doing formerly, no longer works.

I keep a small notebook where I write everything down. How to do this or that and which password goes with which place where I have to sign in to do things. Even when I have it all recorded, sometimes the computer wants something else. Ever tried using every single password you have ever used only to have them all rejected?


Well, anyway, I may still move one block on the side to a place where the light is a wee bit lighter than the dark. I now see two places that might be changed.

Meanwhile, the top three rows are now together and I made a funny discovery. As I made my templates from six-inch plastic, I had just assumed these blocks were going to come out six inches square. Well, I forgot about those two-inch corner squares. What I had planned for a wide border is going to have to be adjusted or this will be way too big for a single bed. Well, that is still a way off. The blocks made good take-along work but once I get a row together it is a bit difficult to control on a crowded train. (and involves a rather long length of thread.)

Vacation Bible School has one more day to go. As I am doing the "Games" section in the sanctuary with pews moved together, the suggested games take a large amount of adjusting if they are to be used at all. Luckily, I have found that once I explain the challenge to the participating group, they come up with ideas that are even more fun and will work in the space we have.

Last week I asked Leia to come up with an origami boat that could be blown over a course. It needed to go straight and not tip over. A week ago, she came and taught me how to fold the perfect boat to run the course. I think this will be more fun than hitting croquet balls through wickets and will fit the rolling river theme. Tomorrow I will see.

Then, Saturday I have a nature hike with my scouts. Luckily, the typhoon has blown through and we enjoyed a few cooler days. Now it is back to hot and much more humid as the typhoon left water behind. The electric bill is very high with two ACs going, one of them all day and night ... BUT ... Not as high as the vet bill for one night! Nikko happily chooses her space to lie.

Sorry for the strange former post. Suddenly, if someone posts on the family blog, I can not get back to my dashboard and reading list without making a new post. Just about the time I get this figured out, it will probably change again.