Wednesday, December 28, 2011

New Years Traditions

Japan is a land of traditions. The language is full of double meanings and rather than making puns into jokes, they are embraced in the ways holidays are expressed. Of all the holidays, New Years seems to get the largest dose of tradition.

These are shown in the door decoration. Over the past 50 years, the decorations have become more commercially made, sold all assembled and wrapped in plastic, ready to hang . I would guess that most of the younger generation would not know how or what (or even why) these decorations are made.

Each little item in the arrangement has a meaning and the decoration itself seems to have a lot of Shinto or Buddhist background.

I find it interesting that my husband, a third generation Christian, is particular about putting out the decorations by the "right" day, or for that matter, taking them down on the "right" day.

Often I think of how poorly Christianity has been accepted by the Japanese and wonder if some of that reason might be that they feel they must throw out all the traditions, many of which have Buddhist or Shinto roots.

My little granddaughter celebrated her "Shichi-go-san" by donning a kimono and being blessed at a temple. Where does religion leave off and tradition take over?

The Meiji Shrine at the end of the decorated boulevard, in my last post, will be crammed with people on midnight December 31st, waiting to rush in at the stroke of 12 and toss a few yen onto the conveyor belt, cap their hands and write their wishes to be left behind or buy a fortune paper (which will be left tied to a tree branch if it isn't positive). The atmosphere will be one of frenzy but hardly with a feeling of much more than tradition fulfilled.

As for me, it is nice to spend some quiet days, curled up under a warm quilt while I work on quilting the small blocks.
Once I have those done, I will figure out how to do the large ones.
I am quilting the border flowers with colored thread to match the flower centers. I am happy to be using my Aurifil thread which I received from Mme Samm.
No Scouts this week. No Choir practice this week. Leftovers in the fridge and lots of happy quilting. Seems like a good way to end the year.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Waiting for the dust to settle and the quilting to begin

December 22nd

While the rest of the world prepared for the holidays, My Cub Scouts took advantage of the school break to visit the ANA repair facility at Haneda airport. We may have a few future engineers in the group or perhaps a pilot or two.

The hardest part was, "Don't run", "Don't touch",
and "Keep in line".

December 23, the Emperor's birthday, we celebrate with the Japanese Scout Association by pounding mochi.

The Japanese Scouts prepared an introduction in English.

After the official opening ceremony, the SAJ Beaver Cubs showed the BSA Cubs how the rice is made into mochi, giving the names of all the things used.

Our Boys were allowed to pound the rice as much as they liked. The leader on the right turns the rice between pounds so it will come out in a smooth even paste-like lump.

The first boy to pound is already seen on the left eating the mochi smothered in bean jam.

Even this old leader got to take a few whacks. There is a variety of sizes and weights of mallets but this one was very heavy.

Some of the cubs, after trying the light ones, came back and asked to pound again with the heaviest ones. Perhaps I should have asked too try the kid version.

With the evening , came daughter #3 and her able-bodied assistant, ready to put up "the tree".

All the stuff for assorted holidays lives in a tiny cupboard under the eaves next to my sleeping mat. This cupboard has two doors that lift out because they are made to fit a strangely shaped opening. The mat is rolled up and the needed items are extracted. The most difficult part is getting those doors back in place at the end. (shortest time is probably 20 minutes so we had better get everything we need out and the boxes back in before we mess with putting that door back in place)

The assistant followed me around the tree while we put on the lights. Then each little trinket came out, was admired or commented on and hung.

One more box and we will be done.

There! Done!

Nikko is checking to make sure nothing has fallen to the floor.

December 24th.

Our church is located on Omotesando, in Harajuku. This road leads to the entrance to the Meiji Shrine and is one of the fanciest shopping areas in Tokyo.

(Our building has Louis Vuitton on one side and Armani on the other)

The Zelkova trees line both sides of the streets and during the holidays are lit each evening, bringing out hoards of shoppers and sight-seers.

It was just getting dark as I arrived for choir and the streets between the station and church were crammed with young couples and families. Everyone was trying to get pictures with the lights in the background.

After singing two services, the trees were still bright against the darkened sky.

Though I had hoped to hurry home by train, the ticket machine ate the last of my money. I wasted time at the ticket office trying to get it back, but, in the end, I had to walk to the connecting train (about 45 minutes away).

By the time I could stumble up to bed, it was well into December 25th and not a great deal had been accomplished.

A worship service involving the choir right in the middle of Christmas day (plus an hour travel each way) meant a lot of rush, rush, rush. Getting a turkey into the oven in a timely fashion was impossible. Trying to jockey pies and potatoes and other stuff around the turkey was a challenge. Counter space is a piece of plywood over the sink. (Washing up done in installments)

Someone may have taken photos of food and family. I never got near a camera the whole day. Before going to bed, the remains of the turkey had to be dealt with and dishes washed and put away. It was well after midnight when I could turn in.... and today, as every Monday, we had to get up at 3:30 am for onigiri delivery to the homeless.

Now the turkey bones are simmering on the stove and we will begin to enjoy the best part, Peace and quiet and leftovers.... and maybe just a wee bit of quilting.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Nikko picks a winner! (or three)

Ok! It is time for my assistant Nikko to pick the Blog Hop Party winners. Here is a dog that will work for cheese. I have never felt so snoopervised in my life! She comes to attention when I opened the fridge. Out comes the cheese. First we take the slices and cut them into little squares. Then we get a marking pen and begin to write numbers on the bits. (If you ever want to try this method, forget it. Markers do not write on cheese after the first three or four).

Plan "B", pull out some little sticky dots and write the numbers on those. (After cheese, paper is another favourite diet item). Stick those stickers in the middle of each bit. "Good dog, Nikko, you are paying such good attention"!

Next, arrange the pieces on a bamboo tray and spin the tray. With 96 pieces, they are pretty close together. Nikko may get three in one bite. That would be fine because I could take those out of her mouth and look at the numbers. But, if she only takes two... then three on the next bite...I will be in trouble because I only have three prizes.

But, never fear, Nikko has a brilliant idea. "What if I eat them all but three? I will choose the winners by elimination". Only a very greedy dog would come up with this idea but she is getting a bit eager to begin. OK, Nikko, "Itadakimasu"!

Hey, what's this, Nikko races to the back side to begin, putting herself between me and the tray.

How daintily she selects those yummy bits!

Working her way and turning the tray... "You are almost there ..."

"Stop", "Wait"!

"I need to write down those numbers before you go any further".

Here they are!




"Nikko, what's with the ones" Now I go back to the computer and start counting. There must be a way to put numbers on these comments. Every time I count I get messed up! Well, #1 is easy. That is Cherry Red Quilter http://cherryredquilter.blogspot.comand she would like the dragon. Next is #51. Count again, then one more time. That is Hilachas She would like the Matoi. So far, so good! #71 is the last number. That is Quiltaholic She would like the cat panel. "Wow, Nikko, I couldn't have done such a good job myself"! This is such hard work! I need all the help I can get.

As soon as I have some addresses, Nikko and I will jog off to the Post Office and send the panels on their way. Many thanks to all my blogging buddies. I wish you all the best for the holidays and New Year.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Postman cometh

When we were designing our house, it was my idea to set the post box in the entry-way wall rather than the usual location of in the gatepost. How nice it is to be able to get the morning mail without going outside, especially on a cold or rainy day.

This morning, however, my husband went out to find the little stone lantern pushed over, the stone lamp part smashed and the top two stones lying in the flowerpots. The largest of the pots was also broken into many pieces and spider lily leaves were crushed and broken, their roots all exposed.

Well, out came the glue drawer and now everything is mended and back together. We are wondering who did this and why. Certainly it was not the paper delivery person. In the morning when the dog was taken out it was fine. Certainly it was not the mail man. He just came after it was all cleaned up. Who else shoves fliers by the hundreds into our post? Maybe I need to look at what fliers have come so far today. People are paid a small fee to go around the streets stuffing fliers in people's boxes. They are never something you are interested in and I keep a recycle bin under the apartment mail boxes for the convenience of the renters.

Only one flier in the post. Domino's Pizza! Could the deliverer of that flier have been the person? Or is there someone in the neighbourhood with an attitude? I have found the pot with the Christmas cactus kicked over several times last week and someone removed the top rock from the lantern and tossed it into the flower bed but smashing things is going a bit too far. Just in case, I moved a few of the pots to another location to make it easier to reach the post.

Then.... The bell rang! It was the postman with things too big to fit in the slot!

Can I talk about "winnings"?

How can this be? I never win, well, not up until this year. Once the newspaper had a contest to win a book and since I really wanted that book, I wrote my response in rhyme. I got the book! Earlier this year I got some lovely fabric from Quilt Inspiration

Maybe my luck was beginning to change...

Here you see it! a big red package from Madame Samm , a big box from Jan-Maree Ball, and an envelope from Marjorie Rich

And what was inside? Oh, the wonderful set of Aurifil threads that I have been reading about and wanting to try. But, then she threw in so many other wonderful items! Needles and a rotary cutter and even fabric that I have never seen before. Oh My! Thank you, thank you!

And what was in the box?

Two, count them, 2, beautifully wrapped Christmas presents! And two chocolate Koala bears. Since those are not wrapped, can I eat one?

I guess I will be forced to put up my tree and tuck those presents underneath. The red package is soft and lumpy and the blue one is smooth and firm. Hmmm. Do I really have to wait until Christmas?

Last but not least, that flat-looking envelope contained all of this beautiful batik!

I shall have to hurry and finish quilting the batik quilt so that I can begin another. Won't these pieces look yummy? I have an idea just waiting to get out.

Oh THANK YOU my quilting blogger friends for making me feel like such a winner! You have more than made my day and love you all!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Tokyo lights and handwork

Clear skies and a full moon, plus a lunar eclipse thrown in for good measure!

I was interested to read two posts by my blogging friends. The first was by Linda on Eat,Sleep,Quilt, who shared pictures of a beautiful light show she had visited.
She commented on how difficult it is to take pictures of lights at night.

I could second that! When I went to my Pack meeting at the Tokyo American Club, the moon was just rising behind the Tokyo tower. I hurried up to the top floor to see if I could get a picture of the tower and moon without a thousand electrical wires in between. No wires, and the view was great but the lighting on the tower even without a flash is a bit overdone. Then, as I was leaving after the Pack meeting, the lighting had changed so without going back to the roof, I took another shot.

The Tokyo Tower has been a great landmark for many years. Soon it will be replaced in size, if not importance, by a much taller tower called "Sky Tree".

Both have observation decks where you can get a good 360 degree view of Tokyo and it's surroundings, including Mt. Fuji on a clear day.

On the night of a full moon, we were also blessed with a total eclipse. If you would like to peek at that, you will have to check out Taniwa, the second blog that caught my attention. She and her camera stayed up later than I was able. (Sunday morning comes early, for one thing, and the night was way to cold to be out looking at the moon ... or the earth's shadow). She also commented on taking photographs at night.

With a continuous run of Scouting events in the city, I have added to the growing pile of + and x blocks.

They now total 113, still not enough but getting closer to quilt size.

Here they are piled out on the "ironing board" which lives on top of the dog kennel. I wonder where I would put it if I didn't have a dog kennel.

The train is only crowded in the mornings so I can usually sit on the trip into town. If I sit I can do some piecing. If I stand, I have a book to read.

The trains have "Silver seats" at one end of each car. Those are intended for the elderly, the handicapped, or pregnant women. In truth, they go to those who can shove into the train and grab a seat the fastest. Then, once you are sitting, you a.) sleep b.) read a comic book c.) put on make-up or d,)text on your keitai (cell phone). The cell phone is supposed to be turned off in the area of silver seats and there are signs on every side wall, window, and hand-grip with a picture of a cell phone and a red line across it and the word "OFF", which must not be one of the words taught in English classes. Of course, any of the above activities prevent you from seeing those old people or the guy on crutches or that very pregnant woman clinging to the swaying strap.

Last week I was sitting across from a young father and son about 9 or 10. The boy asked his father if it was really OK to sit in the "Silver seats" because he had been taught at school that those seats were not to be used by kids. The father muttered something like "don't let it bother you" and shut his eyes so he didn't have to look at who might be standing.

Evening trains are all crammed just like rush hour in the mornings. I did find out that there is more chance to get a seat if I go to the front of the train. Thus, I had a very productive week. Now I will have to mark and cut more pieces for next weeks trips. I had set a goal of 140 blocks but I am beginning to think 182 might make a bigger quilt with maybe a five inch border to hold it all together. Marking and cutting all those pieces is not much fun but I enjoy having something to make the train ride and meetings go faster.

I think you can check out those two blogs by going to the side bar. I will try to add a link but I've gotta run out for dog food before the shop closes. Today is "wan wan" (11) day and I get extra points. (Japanese dogs say wan wan instead of bow wow) There are also extra points on "nya nya" day (22) as Japanese cats say nya nya.

Now you know more than you ever wanted to know ... I have been told I am a vast storehouse of useless information!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Blog Hop Party ... can I really do this?

Well, I wrote down all the instructions but trying to follow them is whole new ball of wax.

Here are the panels I have selected to give-away to three of my visitors on December 17.

Each is printed on cotton, about 50cm x 113cm. The first one is a "matoi"

showing the standard and happy coat of firefighters during the Edo period.

The second is a Beckoning Cat or Welcoming Cat. The upper cat welcomes in Good luck and the lower one, wealth.

The third, I selected because next year is "the year of the Dragon" according to the oriental zodiac.

I have enjoyed a year of meeting blogging quilters even though I am challenged technically. If any of these panels meets your fancy, let me know which you would like. If not, enjoy the Hop!

Blog Hop Party with Give-Aways

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Native Art

After showing you my button blanket, and explaining a little about the Order of the Arrow, I thought you might enjoy seeing a bit more quilt-related regalia.

This blue item is a "medicine pouch".
My owl and turtle make up the design and this is quilted without batting.

The silver ornaments commemorate the three stages of membership as I passed through Ordeal, Brotherhood and Vigil. Each bead added to the thong represents events such as fellowships, conclaves, NOAC (National OA Conference) and Jamborees.

As with all OA Lodges, we use Native American regalia for our ceremonies. For many years, our lodge had a hodge-podge of mixed regalia as members came and went from different parts of the States using different native traditions.

Finally, about six years ago, we decided to switch to something more Japanese (after all, we are in Japan) and began creating regalia based on Ainu traditions. With a number of workshops, we made perhaps six or so kimono with Ainu inspired designs. They have turned out more user-friendly. (After all, we are talking about teen-age youth). They fold up nicely for transport and storage and after years of dealing with feather headdresses worn in the rain or too near the fire, I am happy with lower maintenance and the one-size-fits-all aspects.

This short jacket is my own piece. I have been known to wear it for other than OA functions. The applique is in the Ainu style.

If you see something peeking on the inside, it is my owl.

The design is not Ainu but North Western. The Ainu use the owl in their designs as well.

I recently went to an exhibition of Ainu art that had many owl representations.

This is the front of the reverse side.

The applique is a native design from my own Ohio woodland tradition.

Here are a few pictures from around our house. The neighbor has this Pyracantha hanging in front. Won't the birds love that all winter!

In the late summer, a very colorful and spiky caterpillar attacked my Toad lilly. I thought I had seen the end of it for the year but it has bravely come back to hold it's place in my tiny garden.

About ten years ago, I rescued these plants from a lot where the house had been removed and it was about to be turned into an asphalt-covered parking lot. I remembered the plants having come up in the front edge every year. When I saw the machinery at work, I hurried home and got a bag and a trowel and dug up as many of the roots as I could locate. Some went home with my daughter and the rest found places around the garden edges. When I moved back to our little house, I divided the roots again and brought some with me to enjoy here. This is a plant that grows well in shade and these flowers beneath my dining room window will last to the end of December.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Ceremonial Button Blanket

Today is cold, dark, and rainy, a good day to wrap up in something warm and cozy. What I am showing you is not something I have made. It was presented to me at an Order of the Arrow conclave a few years ago.

The Order of the Arrow (or OA) is the National Honor Society of Scouting. It is made up of Scouts and Scouters who are nominated to the organization for "Walking the talk" or living the Scout oath in their daily lives. I was the first woman elected to the order in 1990 in the Far East Council (though the Lodges in the states had women for a number of years). I am the only female Vigil Honor member in our Lodge as well, and was the Lodge advisor for nearly six years.

For many years, our Lodge was part of the Western Region that included Alaska and Washington State. Each year the OA holds a conclave hosted by one of the Lodges in the area. I have been lucky to attend conclaves in both states and, during my tenure as advisor, the first youth members were able to attend from The FEC. The conclaves are usually held over a weekend and, with travel issues, means missing a day or two of school, thus not easy to attend even with donated airline tickets.

So, what about the blanket? One year I attended a conclave with our District Executive and during a silent auction, he bid on a button blanket without success. A plot then developed between myself and an OA member from Washington named Kathy Anderson, to create a button blanket specially for Derek, the DE. If you are interested, you can see it in the 2005 list of projects. The central crest represents the wearer's heritage. His was a beaver. (As he is of the Woodbadge beaver patrol), we discussed the elements to include and I was tasked with sewing on the buttons. The beaver is a typical NW totem. My blanket, however, is very unusual.

It came as a complete surprise a number of years later. I was called to the stage and presented with this lovely piece of work. It was explained to me that my totem, the owl, is never used as a main totem. (According to NW tradition, when the owl calls your name, your time has come). Instead, the blanket contains the dragon, which is the totem of the Achpateuny Lodge to which I belong. I love the dragon fabrics in the upper and side borders along with the blue that represents sky and sea.

The buttons are abalone shell and on the sides you can see two turtles, the totem of my younger days, formed by buttons alone.
The triangle on the large button is the Vigil symbol.

And on each shoulder, carefully hidden, are ghost owls. Though not the main totem, they are there hugging my shoulders on either side of the dragon.

A peek inside shows how the owls have been added.

There are also loops inside for hands.

The dangling blue piece is for closing the front edges.

I never learned the story behind this presentation but I am certain Kathy Andersen was much involved.

A year later, our OA Lodge was switched to the part of the Western Region that includes Hawaii. I have not attended a conclave there as the dates have been the first days back to school for our youth.
We worked for so many years to build relations with our former Section and it is hard to figure out the advantages of the switch. Still, wrapped in my ceremonial button blanket, my heart and mind go back to my friends in the Great Northwest and I share not only this wonderful design but the joy of friendships that go far beyond the seas which not only separate us but also join us.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving and giving thanks

It may have been Thanksgiving day in the States but it was "T" for test day here!
After loading up my heart with all the best wishes from my blogging friends, (and advice from my daughter to relax), I set off for the driving school.
I was put in a classroom with five other old folks where we filled out forms and waited for the test to begin. Why did they tell us to come at three if the class didn't begin until 3:40? Luckily, time =piece (and peace).
The first part of the test was to figure out how senile we had become since the last test. They allowed me to write my answers in English (or I might still be writing), and a lovely interpreter came in to tell the testers what I had written. Most of it was so easy I thought I didn't understand the instructions ... like draw the face of a clock and put the hands at 11:10 or write the date and tell what day it is. From time to time they wanted us to guestimate the time ... after making us take off our watches. The instructor was surprised to see I was exactly on the minute.
Next they showed us four sets of four picture cards ... set them out on the board, gave us a minute to look and took them down putting up the next set until we had seen all sixteen pictures. Then we were asked to list the pictures subject matter. A sixteen block quilt. I can still remember them in order now and probably will next week.
When that was over, half the group went out to drive and my half stayed for testing reaction time. That is the part of the test that was worst. It was just as bad as five years ago ... a TV screen, steering wheel, accelerator and brake. Watching the video of the car moving down the street, one had to hit the break when a kid in a yellow shirt came running out between parked cars. For walkers on the side of the road, you were to take your foot off the pedal, and for bikers on the sidewalk,...just keep going. Well, that was easy enough EXCEPT the pedal didn't do anything. The video moved at a constant speed regardless of if your foot was off or on and the angle was such that the foot was flexed at right angles to the floor, hardly normal or comfortable and difficult to figure out whether one was pressing the pedal or not. The road kinked left and right as a means of distraction and the wheel reaction was not anything like real life. Hitting the brake mad your chair slide backwards. I survived and passed that part ... reaction time in the 30 to 40 year old range, other part ... so so.
Then eye test and a video about old drivers hitting bikers when turning and other dangers of age. Funny they didn't mention the distraction of cell phones as I have been hit twice by young people on phones and, because I drive a van, I see down onto cars stopped in traffic and there is hardly an outing that I don't see young drivers texting or reading messages with the phone held in their laps.
The final bit was the actual driving. I was first after the teacher made one loop as demonstration. I think I was the only driver who adjusted the seat height and mirrors. The next guy drove fast and went over the curb on the twisty section. The other guy didn't know how to work the seat belts. All six of us old folks passed and got our certificates.
today I took the train into town and traded in my old license and papers for a new one.
At every 45 minutes or so there was a break and the room emptied as everyone rushed out to the toilets. I am glad to have a hobby that soothes my nerves. I hate just sitting around so now my block count is up to 77.
Since the blocks are only five inches, even with sashing I will need at least 140 for a single size quilt if I add a border.
The computer issues still exist because without the dashboard I can't get to the SlowPoke blogs at all. I am trying to find everyone and follow them in google reader but I am not completely happy with that arrangement. A call from my youngest Son indicates things may get better before too long in the form of an English-speaking computer. Well, HE is the one who got me into blogging in the first place!
Our Church will hold a Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow in the Fellowship hall. The best part of the meal for me is the leftovers. Maybe I should take a little lunch box and bring half my meal home. At any rate, I have plenty to be thankful for. My youngest daughter called today and commented on the kind responses from my blogging friends, saying I must be happy. She got that one right! Thanks to one and all,

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Why do I have to be a computer guru to have a quilting blog?

Why do Blogger and Google keep changing things?

Why keep fixing things that aint broke!

My dashboard can no longer be accessed. That is where I go to read blogs I follow. I get a message that I should add Google Chrome but my computer won't let me do that. So now what? Am I the only one with these problems?

As if I didn't already know that I am OLD and not too hip, tomorrow I have to take another OLD AGE driving test. At this point I have become not only old but DANGEROUS. I must get stickers for the front and back of my car to warn the public of that fact.

I did this exercise at 70 so it is not a new thing. I must pay to go to a driving school. There I sit in a lecture about how the statistics show that old people are involved in more accidents. Of course, those statistics also include old people who are passengers on cars (because they aren't allowed to drive) and old people who are hit by cars walking or riding bikes or driving) Forget the fact that this is an aging population so there are just more old people to get in trouble.

The last school had a machine to test your reaction time. It was a cartoon TV screen showing a street with cars parked on each side. A guy in a red shirt popped out between the cars, at which time you had to hit the breaks as fast as possible. Trouble was, the accelerator was only set at off and on. No adjustment of speed was possible. I would never be driving down a street that was one car wide with cars parked on both sides at 40k in the first place. The tester did not like the fact that I kept taking my foot off the gas and making the video stop.

Then there is an eye test. I already went and had my glasses adjusted for the occasion.

Then there is a fake driving course. You can not drive in your own car. That would be just too easy for an old person to drive something they are familiar with. You must drive the school's car over a fake course winding around something that looks like a kiddie course. Other than the fact it is in a strange car, that part is no problem. No trucks or traffic, just follow the yellow brick road, so to speak.

One of my friends said, "Don't worry, my mother passed the test and did perfect on the memory test", Memory test? I'm going to have to memorize something in Japanese? Don't worry?

So, now that my computer will no longer allow me the distraction of reading other blogs, I guess I will just have to sit and cut fabric scraps and try not to worry (and start feeling my age)!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A mixed bag

As you may have guessed by now, if you have been a reader any length of time, I have a lot of quilted stuff that has never been registered as a "quilt" and this bag is only one of those. I love this Japanese fabric. I don't know the technical term but the base thread is black and the colored thread is woven across. All are either solids or stripe. I made this bag to carry my quilting things when I go to group meetings. The handles can clip to the bottom and become a back pack. Not fancy but serviceable.

However, this post is not about the bag.

This morning, as is custom in Japan, I was sweeping the street in front of my gate. There were persimmon leaves from the neighbor's tree to the North and maple leaves from the neighbor's tree to the South, one bamboo leaf from my own garden and some cigarette butts and drink cans, (our house being just about that far from the cigarette and drink machines). No one would think about where those things came from, only look at the mess and think the house owner to be quite careless as the condition of the street reflects directly on the house owner.

This is an interesting aspect of life in Japan. Thinking people to be very neat and clean, I was horrified the first time I went to cherry-blossom-viewing and saw the mountains of trash left behind. Even on Mt Fuji I was appalled at all the trash dumped along the paths. My husband explains that the farther a person gets from their home, the more anonymous they become, and while they would never drop trash in front of their own home, dropping it elsewhere causes no shame at all.

While I swept the street to avoid the shame, I was thinking of another problem that is not too far removed, this years auction quilt.

You must be wondering what the connection is. The first meetings to decide the theme and design for this project did not include me. The idea was discussed and the fabric was purchased and I met at the given time to help in my usual way. The chosen design and fabrics are truly lovely.

BUT, the problem is, the plan is almost a direct copy of someone else's quilt... at least it is enough alike to recognize where the idea came from.

When I attended the Yokohama Quilt show, there in front of me I saw that same quilt. A member of the committee had seen the quilt at an earlier show and taken a picture and was working from the photo in buying the fabric and deciding the plans.

Doing a bit of research on the quilter, we discovered that she is one of the top "Senseis", a teacher who is probably making a living out of teaching quilting. If I didn't feel comfortable about the copy from the first, you can imagine how I am feeling now. There was much discussion about what to do next and I understand a letter will go to the quilter in English. Well, that is a start BUT, if the contact goes to her school and no one understands what it is about... she may not even see the message... she may not reply... Then, I am still left between a rock and a hard place.

My husband has said he would be glad to write a translation of the letter and he is very good at writing diplomatic Japanese. While, to me, imitation may be the highest form of flattery, the teacher may not feel that way. At the same show I heard how one quilter, who makes her living by her craft, felt about someone she believed was copying her designs.

As my name has been linked with the ASIJ auction quilt since the first one in 2004, I am more than a little concerned. The only quilts I have ever made copying something more than a block design are the two I drafted after seeing those of Lucy Boston, no longer alive at that time and even in my diary I give her the credit though not copies. Yes, of course, the teacher would be given credit but somehow I feel that her blessing is needed too.

I have discussed this by e-mail with some of my blogging friends and have been encouraged to post the issue. Many of us may never face this problem. I have seen famous Baltimore album quilts copied by Japanese quilters down to the last detail and the worry is not about being sued... This is a school where children are taught not too plagiarize their reports but is this any different? If I am involved in this, will my reputation be damaged? Do I have the guts to withdraw myself from the group which I happen to love? Am I worrying about nothing? Have I been in Japan so long that I am worrying about cigarette butts on the street in front of my house?

One thing my paper quilt diary never got was feed-back. Now I do believe I could use a little.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

International Quilt Week Yokohama 2011

How anything that only lasts three days can be called a "Week" is beyond me. Then, again, I have had weeks that seem to past that fast.
This is what greeted visitors at the entrance. Yosakoi-sooran is a form of group folk dance very popular in Japan. This is but a small portion of that large colorful hanging.

There must have been a festival theme because high in the rafters was this composit quilt. The Kanji is "Matsuri" or festival and many small quilts making up this giant hanging depict various festivals around the country.

The reverse side was just as colorful.

As usual in quilt shows I have attended, taking photos is limited to what is on the outer sides of walls to the main exhibits.

There was a display of small "theme" quilts. They do not seem to be a festival theme and I could not find any information on what the theme was. For a show that uses the word "international", there is not a great deal of information in other than Japanese.

Some of these little quilts were quite charming.

Here are a few that seem to have been made using the same game plan

In addition to the show, and of course stalls, there were areas where workshops were being held. There was also a large selection of quilts that had been donated to quake relief and were being raffled or auctioned off. Considering the small size of many of those, it seemed like a good idea. Those donations had come from all around the world.

There were displays of Asian quilts. Usually there is a selection of Korean quilts but this year other countries were also included. There were lectures and talks being given by both Japanese and foreigners with interpreters.

I had a nice conversation with a lovely Hawaiian quilter named Mary Cesar. She had a display of beautiful Hawaiian quilts and has a newly published book of her own designs. I hope to see her next winter at the Tokyo Dome show.

As last year, the halls were filled with miniature quilts on a theme of "hearts".

I think I liked the variety of last years theme of "houses" a bit better.

And, while this has been a VERY BUSY WEEK, straining to fit in all the activities I am involved in, rice project, auction quilt, visit from overseas friend, choir practice, Scout Leaders' meeting, Cub Pack meeting, Cub Leaders Pow Wow (advanced leader training), squeezing in a peek at the quilt show, Church and travelling hours between each thing,.....

Sunday afternoon was a special day with just family.(well, extended family), as my little granddaughter celebrated her "Shichi-go-san" (7,5,3 celebration for girls 3 and 7 and boys 5)

With two sets of grandparents, parents, and great-aunt we set out to a shrine where she received a blessing and a big stick of candy in a long bag.

We tried to find the kimono worn by my four girls but forty some years and three moves foiled those plans. All I could come up with was the hair decoration they all wore.
Then, on a sugar high from that long candy stick, we tried to get pictures. I have determined the only way would be to take a video and then sort the pictures frame by frame. We tried the tripod for a group picture but it is hard for that flashing camera to know when everyone is looking in the same direction,let alone smiling!
Tea and a lovely meal together in a traditional setting ended the week on a happy note. Sharing this special time is both sweet and a bit sad because so much of the family is so far away but for one day we enjoyed what we had.

It was a great way to end the very busy week and begin another.