Thursday, May 1, 2014

The sun is smiling.

Remember when you were a kid and you put that sun up in the corner of your picture, wearing a smiley face with rays shooting out? (Of course when the teacher gave you a D minus minus minus there was no smiley face even though it looked like the sun).

Golden week has begun in Japan and in spite of a few rainy nights, we are enjoying lovely sunny days ... smiley face and all.

The morning started out very early with a trip into town to the American Embassy to get our family signatures notarized. You might think that was an easy thing ... but you need an appointment several weeks ahead. Then you need lots of identification to prove who you are. Fine ... I have a passport and so does my husband but... I have not always used my "real" name, which is "Julia", or my husband his real name which is "Ryusuke". I have gone by Julie since I entered school and hated to be called Jul-yuh. Paul's Christian name is not on his passport or birth certificate but it was used as "R. Paul Fukuda " in the business world, being a whole lot easier for non-Japanese to figure out how to pronounce. It took a whole lot of talking with assorted Embassy personnel before we could get the business taken care of. I guess I should tell my grand kids to use their real names on all documents. Even my social security cards... before and after marriage had "Julie" on them. Of course the Embassy told us those are not identity cards ... they did look at a picture identity card to the Tokyo American Club, however. 5,150 yen later we were happily out of there!

Last night I put the final border on my + runner somewhere between choir practice and home.

Here is the flimsy hanging on the fence in the park. Then I came home and basted the sandwich ready for quilting. I thought I might do some applique in the empty border spaces but the more I look at it, the more I think quilting will be enough. It is happily in a hoop awaiting the first stitches.

My cacti seem to be enjoying the sunny days. The little red flowers are still opening and last quite a while but the larger ones are only good for a few days at the most.

If they bloom on a camping weekend, I miss them and will have to wait another year.

One Golden Week I was attending a Scouting event in the states so I put all the cacti with buds on a tray and brought them down to the coffee table, leaving my husband with my camera and instructions to snap a picture.

Actually, he took a beautiful shot that was used as wallpaper on my old lap top until it died.

American Dogwoods, Cornus florida, have become quite popular on Tokyo, even as street trees. I think it is a good idea because they offer plenty of shade in the summer after the blooms are gone, they don't grow so huge so as to need extensive pruning and thus don't interfere with the power lines, and the seeds are pretty in the late summer and attract birds. And leaves turn red in the fall.

Lately I have noticed what seem to be hybrids with pink-tinged white bracts, dark pink bracts, and recently these cute tiny flowers with the bracts remaining connected in the center.  The street to the station has several of this variety.

There is also another young dogwood that bloomed for the first time this year. It was a first for me because the flowers had multiple bracts overlapping each other.

This picture doesn't really do it justice but you can notice the multiple bracts. Some of those flowers had eight and some had twelve or even sixteen.

The center flower was not yet visible. I will have to keep an eye on this tree.

The school where I sometimes teach has a "Dove Tree", or sometimes called a handkerchief tree with just two long hanging bracts, a native to Western China.
There would be no problem filling a May basket with flowers today.

I hope your day is a smiling one too.


  1. Beautiful flowers, I can sense the perfume here, and in NZ dollars, about $58, down here, guess it all has to be done. I, too have trouble with legal papers, as my real first name is Anna, although I preferred the second name of Jean since I was about 12. So when I see, Anna, or are called out at an appointment, or similar, I have to think fast " Is that me". So glad Julie that it is all done for you this year. Cheers, ( Anna) Jean,

  2. isn't it wonderful to have flowers and sweet smells x love it as everything is coming to life again xx How DARE you try and confuse the authorities xx as if that was difficult! they seem to confuse themselves much better than any attempts from us x I noticed just that you had commented on my blog ... didn't come through as an e-mail so missed it until now! so sorry did not mean to ignore you xx

  3. Those dogwoods are lovely, Mom. The one with fused bracts came up in a Google search as this: Cornus florida ssp urbaniana. The double blooms are something I have never seen before -- Cornus florida 'Plena' syn 'Pluribracatea.' Cool!

  4. I love all the different flowers on the trees. When we were in West Virginia the woods were full of wild dogwood - the flowers are smaller but more plentiful. We discovered a young dogwood across the street from our house last year, in the woods - this year it is much bigger and I'm waiting for the blossoms.

    Your sunny post made me smile. But I have to ask - what is Golden Week

  5. Your top turned out nicely. Have fun quilting it. Saw your post over at Susan's blog.

  6. I really notice how just stepping outside in the sun can perk up my mood, spring is finally here.
    Your flowers look beautiful, I need to get my seeds started. The runner really came out beautifully and I like how you tied it all together with the border.


  7. I had a dogwood given to me at the Guest Home and as long as I lived there could insist that it stay in an area where the shrubbery was changed often. The wild ones were always blooming in PA during Mother's Day weekend. Interesting to see the new varieties.

  8. I love the cross quilts that are appearing here and there and yours is so colourful. I admire how well you care for each of your plants - Mary (christened Barbara Mary!)

  9. Red tape..., if only it were a red silk ribbon instead...
    The +quilt is so colourful and I think the border should be without appliqué.
    You have such green fingers - I am green with envy as my cacti never bloom.
    It was a lovely sunny day today, too, and I have much to smile about.

  10. Beautiful flowers as always! We have a few crocuses out here... I love the plus table runner and I don't think applique would add anything to it. The colours are wonderful. I hope you never got a D--- at school. I didn't, only the odd F.

  11. Your runner is a real eye catcher! What a lot of organization that took! But a great way to show off what's in a healthy scrap bin.

  12. Julie your flower pictures, as always, are beautiful. It's interesting to see what's blooming in other places in the world. I didn't understand why you had to go get your signatures authorized? Are you planning some travel? I can't wait to see how you quilt your + quilt - so many things you could do in that border. blessings, marlene

  13. The flower photos look wonderful! I feel like saying Happy Spring! I wish I had some blooming flowers here, but we have snow instead.
    Gorgeous and very cheerful quilt!
    So, is it Japan or the US that needs your signatures authorized? Don't you just love working with the government and their red tape. I don't miss those days from our time in the military.

  14. Google is being a bitch - can't comment on your last post - now how bad is that? Love, love your runner and your gardening expertise is wonderful - plants and flowers make me happy! Hugs - Lurline xx