Sunday, May 31, 2015

Earthquake trivia

For once this has nothing to do with my quilting unless I can count it as an interruption.

Some of my blogging friends have asked me about the quake that occurred on Saturday. (it must have made a bit of news elsewhere)

Considering the quake took place about 630 miles south of Tokyo and at a depth of about 678 km, (about as deep as the
pacific tectonic plate reaches), at a magnitude of 8.1 it was felt over the whole of the Japan archipelago.

No tsunami were triggered by such a deep quake and no life-threatening injuries. In Saitama, a woman in her 70s got a head injury when a ceramic plate fell from a cupboard, and in Kawasaki a 56 year old office worker fell and injured his ribs. In Roppongi Hills shopping and business complex, the elevators stopped and about 200 people who were viewing the Star Wars exhibit in the Mori Tower, had to climb down the stairs from the 52nd floor. Of course trains were stopped for some time, causing inconvenience and confusion for travelers who rely heavily on trains.

Paul was in the kitchen when I felt the beginning tremors. "Looks like we are having a quake" ... but he didn't feel anything. It took a bit of time for the shaking to build.
In the Fukuda household, we usually judge the size of a quake by the clock.  Our grandfather clock that stands by the east garden door seemed to be still swinging but my husband came into the room and turned on the main Japanese TV channel to get the rundown. They instantly have a running bit telling the epicenter and magnitude in various parts of the country and tsunami warning if any. If it is a "big" one, they stop the usual broadcast to show reports from various locations and report on train stoppages and the like. Judging from our clock, things were OK. But then again on second glance, the clock had stopped.

Meanwhile, as the news report ran on and on showing videos of shaking buildings and offices downtown, there was a sudden bonging from a second clock hanging high on the north wall.

This old clock had kept stopping during the 2011 quake and aftershocks. Finally, instead of climbing up and re-starting it, we just gave up and left it quiet.

We had a good laugh that the quake that had stopped one clock, had started another. AND, it is still happily going. I shall have to climb up there and set it at the proper time.

So ... does the clock that started cancel out the report from the one that stopped?

Does all the recent activity from volcano eruptions and earthquakes mean the "big one" is coming ... or does it have more to do with the geographic location of Japan and the quiet we experienced leading up to the 2011 event?

Well, just in case, Nikko thinks it is a good idea to sleep under the table.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Celebrating a finish!

All Done!
I finished up the quilting yesterday but it was raining and blowing, so a picture had to wait.

I am not very good at getting the pictures right, especially when it comes to color and focus. I really can't understand 90% of the stuff on the dials and the booklet that came with it is all in Japanese. (and I probably wouldn't understand it in English either).

I began reading and making blocks to go with each story back in February 2013, thanks to a fellow blogger, Starwood Quilter. The quilter's book club ended suddenly in 2014 and, wanting to put those 17 blocks to use, I finally figured out how to arrange them all by setting them on point. The finished size is 63" x 83".

Though they hardly show in this picture, I put a label 
on the back of each block with the title and author of the book
and the name of the block plus any additional information about the choice of blocks or fabrics.

I am really happy to have the quilting done before the heat sets in. Now I will be working on two projects. I need to finish the border on grandson Ben's quilt. I have been collecting purple and lime green fabrics and I think I have enough. I just need to come up with a plan as how to use them in a border.

My other short list project is a small quilted object ... table runner? ... for the rice store lady who has so kindly lent me her floor space on multiple occasions. I drafted a pattern and made templates and began to cut pieces so I would have take-along work ... then promptly lost the templates. I have spent three days looking and probably could have made a few hundred more in that time. I may give up and do that.

Here is my next project ... I got 50 silkworm eggs and they began to hatch two days ago. Now part of the morning walk with Nikko is picking mulberry leaves. These are tiny new leaves so you can imagine how small these little caterpillars are. I have to move them to the fresh leaves with a paintbrush. One thing I like most about these pets is that they stay right there and wait for food. They don't leave the box or get in trouble while I am out. They will go with me to scout camp in a few weeks (where I will have to protect them from ants). 

In showing these to the scouts, they are a good example of what happens when we are removed too far from nature. Because of centuries of relying on humans, they cannot find their own food, even if it is growing all around them. They have no protection from predators ... birds or even ants ... or rain ... 
We love all those modern conveniences ... water from a tap, light from a switch ... food from the market ... even a GPS on our cell phone ... but many kids don't even know what their food looks like growing or what to do when the battery dies. Scouting is a good way to learn skills that may come in handy somewhere down the road.

Add caption

The Easter cactus has finally bloomed but it was so late it has been out-done by all my other cacti,

This little tea-cup baby has flowers I have posted nearly every year but I think this is a record show.

There are flowers and buds all over my cactus world and I am enjoying them among the hanging laundry.

Have a great weekend!
Mine will be way too busy.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Filling in the blanks

I guess I could be quilting the outer sashing by now, but I decided to go back and fill in the areas not covered with the feathers.

It probably isn't needed but I think the extra quilting adds a bit more balance,

The areas next to the border were a bit smaller than those along the sides so I modified the simple pattern to just a wee bit smaller ... template B.
It isn't taking long so maybe I can begin the outer sashing by tomorrow.

I turned the template as needed to fill in the areas that had been left between the feathers.

This busy print does not show the quilting well but I still think having those areas filled is more satisfying.

Last night I had to get up and run through the house shutting windows because a sudden thunder storm came through.

Today I had to go open them all again as it is a lovely sunny day.

Here in this picture, among the pink-headed knotweed, is a flower I found blooming at my last house.
The "lawn" was planted with "dragon's beard", not really a grass but a nice green-all-year ground cover that is popular in Tokyo gardens.

It spreads by roots or rhizomes and never needs cutting. Among that "grass" were a few flowers popping up. The leaves are the same size as the grass though they are bulbs and die back during the winter. There purplish-blue flowers are such pretty half-day wonders and the seeds I brought and planted have multiplied over the years.

BUT, if one wants to enjoy them ... one needs to get out early. By noon they are curling up and by evening they are in a tight knob at the tip of the stem. Those will dry and open like a cup full of tiny black seeds ... not unlike poppies.

Luckily, they don't all bloom at once so each morning different ones appear and we can enjoy them for a few weeks in spring.

I have not found this flower in any of my wildflower books, but even without a name, it is a pretty addition to the plants along the wall.

It seems there will be plenty of seeds to spread and I have a few ideas of where they might look good in the future.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The feathers are flying

Well, here is the pattern I drafted to fill the triangular parts of the border. It doesn't show up very well against the print but I think it will work out OK.

I wonder if I need a small bit of quilting in the open area on the sides.
I rather like quilting feathers because I can use a very long piece of thread and do not have to stop as often. I have two triangles quilted already and am finding the best way to order the sewing so that it goes quickly. Of course,being along the edge makes it a bit easier to handle too.

We live in a "NO MAN'S LAND".

I was communicating with my blogging friend, Cassandra, who has been tidying up her place and getting rid of things and organizing others.

I, too, have been sorting and trying to get rid of stuff that is taking up space and am stuck on three items.

One is the infant seat I picked up at the church's flea market. Another is a dead computer of my husband's that is blocking my cupboard door. And another is a dead printer my husband has piled in front of the computer making it impossible to open the cupboard at all.

I remember back in the stone ages, the first TV that entered our house was something my kid brother picked up on the curb. It had caught fire and was waiting for the trash collectors. He brought it home and restored it and my mother allowed it to stay.

What you see in this picture, sitting in front of my tricycle and Paul's red bike, is an old TV with a note attached. About a month ago, a shopping cart appeared in this area. It was soon followed by the TV. Finally, the apartment owner took the shopping cart to the main street and found a store it might belong to but the TV is altogether another story.

These days, when you buy an electrical appliance in Tokyo, added on to the price is the cost of disposal. This TV, like our old computer and printer were purchased too long ago.
There is a system to pay to dispose of large items.You pay for a ticket to stick on the item and call the gomi place and they will come and pick it up. Of course you cannot set a bed or sofa out on the street so you need to be home when the truck arrives. (and if you live on a street like mine that is too narrow for the truck, you have to lug it to the place the truck waits ... and I have done that with a lounge chair while two big hefty guys stood and watched my struggle).

BUT ... the TV cannot be trashed... even though it was dumped by an unknown person.You can't pay to have it removed. SO ... my husband calls our local Ku office to get the city to remove it. They come out for a look, BUT ... our street is really just an ally and this TV is setting on "private property" because, until this tiny narrow street is turned into a wide street that cars can come down, it is a no-man's-land and doesn't belong to our Ku.

This lane was a dirt path fifty years ago and now it is paved. the street in front of the light pole has curbing and a drainage system but our side of the pole where the TV sits is only a part of "Greater Tokyo" where no one is responsible because it is surrounded by Nerima-Ku.

When we lived in Suginami-Ku, I used to run Nikko to the park along the river every morning. I was often surprised to see piles of trash ... furniture, appliances, bedding, all kinds of junk ... dumped along the edge of the park. (in the dark of night)

I am feeling great sympathy for those dumpers. Just think ... if I am moving house, I would not be there to wait weeks for the paid gomi truck to show up. If I had a job, I wouldn't be able to be there either. And if the stuff was electronic and old, no one would take it. We can't even move that TV to the larger street because the Ku office took a photograph of it sitting in this no-man's land. AND, this may not be the end because someone has figured out a place to dump their un-wanted stuff, Maybe the shopping cart was the first test.

Now, if I could take a saw and cut the unwanted stuff into smaller pieces, I might be able to slip it little-by-little into the un-burnable trash that is collected once a month... maybe hide it in a broken flowerpot ... I really would like to get my clean tablecloth out of the cupboard and change the runner on my coffee table (that has been there since Christmas)!!

Blocks all quilted

All the blocks for my quilter's book club quilt are quilted and the labels are on the back of each block with the name of the book, the author, and the block plus any other information.

I finished off a spool of thread.
750 yards 36 inches per yard and around six stitches to the inch, I figure that is around 162,000 stitches.

I had to stop at the local button shop and buy another spool of thread.

Now the time has come to figure out a quilt pattern for the green border triangles.

I am tending toward a feather design. 
Someone suggested quilting on the flower print but looking it over it would be hard to figure out what part of that busy print to feature.

If I can find a section of design on the pickle fabric I might be able to make it into an enlarged quilt pattern. But that might be just a lot too busy and wouldn't show up enough on the print to make it worth my while. Well, I have to put some quilting in that area so may as well get started.

These beautiful flowers came from Norie and Leia for Mother's day.
Those pretty little blue flowers seem so happy in a symphony of pink.
On days like this I wish I had a lovely tokonoma to display them in.

Yesterday I went off to a quilt show at Nihonbashi Mitsukoshi. No pictures were allowed but it was a very inspiring show.

I had received some free tickets but had no friends to go with.
As it happened, while I was trying to figure out how to get from the train station a ways off, I met another older woman doing the same ... both of us having taken advantage of the "senior pass" that brought us to a less convenient station.

As we walked and talked and found our way, I asked her if she planned to attend the show. Yes, later she was going to meet a friend and go together. I was so happy the extra free tickets would not go to waste.  I am pleased to say I walked through the area of shops around the show area and resisted buying anything.
I already have enough fabric to last several lifetimes, I'm sure.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Digital challenges = quilting time

The inner border is now quilted. I only chose a simple pattern I had made into a template about thirty years ago. It was just the right size for a two-inch sashing. I had cut it out of light plastic and glued sandpaper to the back, making it easy to trace around last week when I had floor space.

I decided to work on the blocks in the order that I had made them. This block is "Prairie Queen", made for the Persian Pickle Club.

I cut a small pickle design to trace for the inner area and put question marks into the corner triangles. (the story ends with a question remaining).

A Single Thread was the quilt idea I used to tie the area around the spools together and fill the larger spaces.

It is also the name of the book.

The only large spaces were inside the dark area on this "Garden Path" block.

I quilted in a small flower with leaves but I think that was really too detailed a design to do in such a small space and probably wasn't needed,

This is the block for The Quilter's Apprentice.

 I decided to make a small label for the back side of each block with the name of the book, author and anything else I might want to remember.

I found a light floral print in my stash that might look better than plain muslin.
The only possible problem is that I only have enough for 16 labels and there are 17 book blocks.

I'm sure by the time I get to the last book I will come up with a plan.
I had been dreading the next down-load from my camera, as the last one down-loaded all the pictures stored on the chip.  Well, I decided to try anyway ... at least I would know what to expect in the future.  Sorry to say, the computer did not recognize all the thousands of pictures it had put into the file last time and I had to wait while the computer made a whole new file just to get these four pictures.

Of course it took a lot of time ... but during that time I finished the block for Alice's Tulips. It didn't need any additional quilting as there were no large empty spaces but I appliqued a ladybug over a small cut on one of tulips and added the label to the back. I also deleted all the duplicate files in my pictures ... since it doesn't seem to matter to the computer whether I have them or not. Maybe I need to get another chip to use in my camera when I plan to delete them anyway... or maybe the computer will go back to it's former pattern of selecting only new pictures ???? Who knows? Not me!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Problem solved ... kinda maybe

After a frustrating week, I was beginning to think I would never be able to post new pictures again. Oh, there were new pictures in my camera, alright.

BUT ... the system I had been using to download them to the computer had disappeared ... or hiding ... or gone into stealth mode.

Even the sign-in when I opened the computer had changed. THEN ...
about Sunday, when I opened my laptop, I got the sign-in format I had been expecting ... well ... once, but before I could get my camera and see if the download function had reappeared, I had to shut the laptop and go somewhere. When I returned ... the earlier format welcomed the opening.

Well. there still might be hope ... so I decided to see just how long the hold-out might happen. Oh, a couple of times I did get the format I was looking for but it was a part-time thing.

 Well, I had other things to do ...

Camping with the Cub Scouts, for example...

I had the fun of leading the nature hike.
We did an alphabet scavenger hunt (6 one-hour hikes) and two groups managed to find a full alphabet in creative ways. The items had to be in nature and able to see or hear and identify.

Usually on these events I do the crafts but the projects (which you can see in the hands of the boys) was "Light Sabers" which quickly turned into weaponry. With a light stick inserted, they could even  whack each other in the dark of night. No thanks, I'll go with nature study or nature crafts. Nikko said she could do without the whacking too, even if she was not the whackee.

Friday, the new Friday group met at a home with a huge (to me) open space of wood flooring. I was so happy to lay out my quilt, which was now quilted in the ditch on all the blocks, and mark the sashing for quilting.

Now the quilting is more than half done in the sashing. See what can happen when I am avoiding my laptop? Once I get that done. I will think about what I want to do in the larger areas. (Well, I am thinking now but haven't made any decisions).

I think it was Tanya who suggested I just turn off the computer and leave it a while. I don't know if that did the trick but...
Finally, yesterday the old format returned on a regular basis so I decided that if it was still that way today, I would try the camera download.

Well, what I got was not exactly what I expected.

(That is the "kinda maybe" part)
Usually the computer recognizes those shots that have already been downloaded ... but this time it re-downloaded EVERYTHING in the camera.
I really don't need a thousand duplicates taking up storage space ... and I sure don't need to thumb through all those tiny pictures looking for what I want ... but hey, at least I can add them to a post.

So, now you can see my big Orchid cactus flower as the pot sits on my stair steps. I'm glad I didn't miss all three flowers as they open at night and only last two days.

My marked quilt is on the big floor (with no dog hair) and yesterday Norie, Hiro, and Leia stopped by to celebrate their anniversary and borrow my van for a trip. I hope they go safely and have fun. This is "Golden Week" and the traffic is bound to be awful. The flowers on the bureau were a gift from the rice store lady. I just had to admire her beautiful garden while I was using her room for basting, and knowing how much I love the flowers, she has brought me several donations.

This little iris-like flower was also a gift.

She thought I might like to plant it in the weed lot I am taking care of, but I would feel so bad if someone was to break off the flowers the way the tulips were destroyed.

I divided them into two pots and will see where they do well by moving them around the garden.

Today this friend came again with two more of my favorite plants ... lily of the valley and something called "shiran" in Japanese. It is kind of a wild orchid. Those will soon find their way into my shady garden plot.
I am sure she didn't find it easy pulling out these tuberous roots but I feel so blessed to have such a friend who knows how much I love those flowers and shares hers with me.

The time has come to make a quilted object for her. One more thing to think about while I sew.