Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Spring Break

If spring is not really here, it is just around the corner.

Harapa Park is around the corner from my street and the magnolia is in full bloom.

School is off and a mother sits beneath the tree as her two children run about through the park.

Compare these flowers to ....

This magnolia on the other side of the intersection.

Now, there is a fine job of pruning ... just at the wrong time of year!

5 flowers!

For lovers of the color red,

the Japanese Photinia is turning the hedges into a giant blush.

And one tiny grape hyacinth is poking up un one of my hanging pots.

So, this is mid-week of my "spring break".

But ... not the kind of break I was looking forward to....

Sunday ended with a sore throat.

Monday morning rice delivery went on in the pouring rain that was so blustery that an umbrella was useless.
Then the day was followed by a drippy faucet in place of my nose

Tuesday was a headache and fever and sneezing.
Norie and Leia came by in the afternoon and left me with a big pot of chicken soup with rice.

Today I woke up with a cough.  I have activities scheduled for tomorrow and Friday so I am sitting here working on a quilt and sipping my soup.

I decided to put together an I-Spy quilt for the new associate pastor's family. They have two young sons and a new baby is expected next month. I think it would be fun to have something the older boys can enjoy and it can be tossed over any sleeping kid.

I had marked a tin of kid-friendly prints and have plenty of 1x5 inch strips. It doesn't take much energy to sew those suckers together.

Quilts for the teachers can be put off for a bit.
I have no shortage of scraps that will work.

So ..... though it is not the spring break I would have chosen, I am hoping at its end, I will have gotten use of the "down-time".

And, as a reminder that spring is turning the corner, Leia, the origami guru, left me with this folded piece of art......

and the promise to return for some spring cookie factory

using some lovely sprinkles sent from her aunt in Boston.

Always something to look forward to ... even if it doesn't end up as planned.

Friday, March 24, 2017

scissors are busy, needles are not

For once we  had a sunny morning without blustery winds.

Along our morning walk, Nikko and I stopped to pull a bag of weeds.

Long ago, our area had rows and rows of police barracks. surrounded by fields.

Then the barracks were torn down and in their place were built rows and rows of apartment buildings.

These days, the families have moved out of the apartments and they are being torn down. You can hear the crashing and banging of the workers as they fall into rubble.

I asked someone in the neighborhood what they are going to put in that space and they said new apartments.

When the first apartments were built, my father-in-law petitioned to have the leftover fields turned into a park.
Though the park was planted with nice golf green style grass, no one seems to have ever bothered to pull weeds. They mow them down twice a year but that is all. The weeds coming up now are easy to see because the grass is still brown. Most of those weeds are perenials,  coming up year after year  ... like dandelions ... and spread by the wind.

On the mornings I don't have school, I carry a larger-than-usual bag and Nikko and I collect weeds before they have a chance to go to seed. Today we got a good collection. I think Nikko is thinking, "That's enough already! Time to get my breakfast is past!"
The soil was damp from recent rain so we got lots of those long tap-roots. Nothing succeeds like success so it is hard to stop.

On Wednesday as I was leaving school, two teachers told me they are expecting. One was a teacher I had made a quilt for and she said ... "oh, you don't have to make me another quilt, I can pass the one you made to the new baby". I think that was the wrong thing to say to me. I was lucky to get nice clothing passed down from my cousins as I was growing up, but I also had to pass favourite things down to my sisters and then watch them get destroyed. At least favourite things given my kids, like quilts, and Halloween costumes, were saved and given to my kids for the grandkids to enjoy.

Well, I liked the pattern of the last I-Spy quilt and it was fairly quick and easy to assemble so today I dug through my box of "kid-friendly" fabrics and marked and cut a pile of five-inch blocks ... about 65 of them, and also a pile of four-inch blocks. I have been given some strips of fabric that may have been intended for some machine piecing project and I think next I will measure and mark those to use as sashing. I like to make a quilt with someone specific in mind but I think I can get the centers made and then have time to put something special into the borders.

Well, no rush but piecing makes good take-along work and soon there will be some ready to go.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Two items to check off the list.

Sunday, after the first service, the choir presented the signed quilt to the new father-to-be.

Nick is a fellow tenor and his baby is expected this week. He was playing I-Spy before the quilt was unfolded. I'm sure the quilt will be enjoyed.

Choir members signed the hand prints and added their good wishes.

Without returning home, I went to the Tokyo American Club, the sponsors of our Cub pack, to await the arrival of the awesome adult leaders coming to set up for our pinewood derby.

With a new track and all aspects unfamiliar to everyone, we somehow managed to pull off the event.

My car was used to test the track and the first two runs it flew off the track. Luckily, most of the bumps in the tracks could be adjusted and at the end, volunteering parents moved in to hold down the offending segments.
I couldn't help thinking of the "old days" when we had a wooden track. Somewhere along the line we were able to add a finish gate to make judging more accurate. The new tracks have had problems with where tracks are joined, needing greater technical skills and time to set up. Sometimes "new" is not all that much better.

Some of the technical details did not like the computer we were using and so not all went smoothly but the crew was able to make do.

My little car ran in the open competition.

This section of the race was designed to give adults and siblings a chance to make a car and join in the fun.

This year, there were only three entries and other than my Shooting Star, the other two were made by scout sisters.

One of the girls made a very nice decoration on the block as it came from the box. As it turned out, after adding the wheels, the car was way overweight.

Though one of the fathers tried to cut off some wood on the underside, we just didn't have the tools. I decided to let the rules be bent so the car could run as is.

Not surprisingly, that car came in first in the open but it wasn't that much faster than my star.
I recalled sitting on the sidelines of all the scout events my brothers took part in under my dad's leadership and cheered along with those sisters at the results.

Here is the picture one of the mothers sent.

Do they look happy?

I think nearly every scout went home with some kind of award for their hard work, thanks to the time and efforts of all those parents.

And.... I might add ... they stayed to clean up and put things away. The room was cleaner than when we arrived (including the graphite corner) and we finished before the scheduled ending time.

Monday was a holiday ... the vernal equinox ... but the homeless got their onigiei with a bit of help from a friend who joined me at the pick-up spot. Our school had a regular day ... except I did notice a few more fathers coming for pick-up after school. Next week will be our "spring break" and if I was looking forward to some spare time, my calendar is filling up those blank spaces.
We shall see how much gets checked off the next list .........

Friday, March 17, 2017

Catching up

Sometimes it seems the faster I run, the behinder I get.

It seems every weekend I have to pick and choose my priorities and something is bound to get left in the dust. Today there is a boy scout Merit Badge day, and probably the first one in years I have missed. That is also doubled up with a outdoor leader training that I have also declined to help on.

I don't know who is going to do the nature section of that training but the materials I have assembled over nearly 40 years would not work at the chosen location. In addition, the training which is supposed to include an overnight has been shortened to part of one day. How can we teach scouts to go by the rules when leaders (and the executive in charge) are cutting corners? Yes, he gets more "trained leaders" to his credit but... which comes to merit badge requirements ... where a scout is expected to "tell" or "explain", the leader does the talking and signs the kid off.

Anyway, Sunday afternoon and evening I have a pinewood derby to manage ... with a new track and inexperienced leaders. I think for one weekend, that is enough. And ... next weekend is the district pinewood derby but since the "Gate List" is closed (as it is on a military facility) none of the civilian packs will be able to attend ... they need to know the names and details of attendees (winners) 60 days out... before we even run our own pack events.

So ... besides whittling my derby car, what have I been up to?

Blue and White

At the end of each teaching day, I walk downhill to the train station at 
"the Ju-ban"

That is, as in Azabu-juban.

Along the way I often have stopped at the shop. Blue and White, 
not so much as to shop but to have a bit of a visit and look around.

This little shop with it's charmingly decorated show window has been an icon in the area for many years.

Recently, the "Peacock" grocery store on the property was taken out of the building and new shops were put in.

Amy Kato, who owns the Blue and White was told ... after all these years ... that her shop does not meet building standards and was to be torn down so she had to move. 

As I have said, that shop is an icon of the area  ... so where was she to move too? Well, the shop closed and the building was torn down ... but a sign on the fence declares it will re-open in April on the second floor of the renovated building. I do not know all the details but I hope they will get a show window and be visible still to passers by.

I have known Amy since the early 70's as her husband and mine worked at the same company. I wish I could afford a big bouquet of flowers for the opening, but when life gives you scraps, you make quilts instead. 

Thus two mug rugs ... hoping they can use them for their tea or coffee or even a glass of celebratory wine. 

For Amy, a tai, or sea bream, regarded as a celebratory fish and is often served at ceremonious occasions. In the upper corner, a birds-in-the-air block representing the new location on the second floor, and in the lower corner below the waves are a daruma wishing good fortune ... always rising from a fall ... a good luck cat, (I think those are coins it is tossing), and a mallet of good fortune. Amy's shop is known to hold lessons in sashiko but since I have never taken any, ordinary quilting will have to do.

For her assistant, I can see her jumping up from her work ... done in bits and pieces ... while greeting friends (often with a hug in my case). Over the years bits and pieces of yukata fabric from the shop have gone into ASIJ quilts and also my stash, so her little mat will get a selection. 
For some reason I had trouble making the binding behave but at least I had enough to bind two 8x11 inch mats. 

As for mola, it is now creeping along at a turtle's pace. Under the green is a lighter green ... kind of reverse of the regular molas that usually put the lighter colors on top.

I'm not at all certain where I am going with this and maybe that is why it is moving so slowly.
My original drawing crawled off to some unknown place.
In most cases when this happens, the minute I go to the trouble of doing a task over, the original reappears. BUT, this time it seems to be gone for good ... along with the color plan. This is definitely not what I had in mind at the beginning, but now I hate to start over once more.  I guess if this is a learning experience, I should be happy ... that is ...  if I really have learned how NOT to make mistakes.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Happy Girl's Day

Tanya's post reminded me that today is the day.

This table runner is too narrow to protect my coffee table so has found a place on the sliding door.

Actually it might make a nice hanging for a tokonoma ... if I had one...
Even my wall space is limited.

I take no credit other than the quilting as it is made from a printed panel.

The other day I finished off turning the yellow borders on my first Mola attempt.

Though I went about it the wrong way, in the end, I don't think it would have worked any better the "right" way.

Now that sun will sit staring at me while I try something else and think how I might be able to put it to use.

Last night I sketched out something more to try.

This is a design I drew long ago to use on my ceremonial medicine pouch ...

The two animals representing my spirit helpers ...

The turtle from my childhood, and the owl now present.

I am thinking of trying using a wider selection of color this time.

Maybe I can find a use on some of my ceremonial regalia ... though the colors in the first piece don't really go with white, blue and brown.

Tokyo Dome part 3

Looking through my downloads from the quilt show, I find many pictures of quilts I have yet to share.

With the crowds of viewers, taking pictures of those where pictures were allowed was quite a challenge.

It has already been mentioned that the only section where the quilter's names were printed in other than Japanese, was that of the "sensei" or teachers.
And, because of poor lighting, and a strange choice of background, pictures left much to be desired.

"It Always Begins with Hexagon"

created by Yoshiko Fujita.

The printed wall design hardly does anything to show off the borders and actually hides the pale prints the quilter used.

The upper half is lit by the spotlights at the very top of the stadium but the wooden supports of the dividing walls cause shadows on most of the quilts that do not have their own spotlight.

Just as one had the quilt positioned into the camera's frame,

along came more viewers.

Even by the time these ladies moved out of the frame, more heads and shoulders and elbows had moved in.

The aisles were quite narrow so to fit in one whole quilt, it was necessary to stand against the opposite wall.
I never did get back to take a picture of this lovely quilt.

Hukuko Tanaka

created this quilt using tiny pieces ... maybe just a centimetre square.

"FuKuMi" is the title.

On the right is a sign with title, quilter's name, and a description given by the quilter.

I would have liked to be able to read what she was thinking as she put these little blocks together.

I think something like a field of flowers....

 Here is a close-up of all those tiny pieces.

Emiko Toda Loeb always has a double-sided quilt in the show

and the people making the display create a window opening so viewers can enjoy both sides.

This one is called "Dreaming of Beautiful Villages"

this is the reverse side of that quilt.

... a bit better lit but not as striking color as in real life.

This one is called,

Good Morning!
Under the Olive Tree

Quilter's name is

Sachiko Yoshida

This uses lots of floral prints.

This quilt, a little better lit, is by

Keiko Goke


Flowers for Everyone's Heart"

"WA - Japan"

By Yoshiko Katagiri has lots of colorful appliqued flowers. The daek areas are quilted in concentric circles looking like water on a pond.

This is another colorful one.


by Yoshiko Kurihara

Even with the crossing shadows, it is good viewing.

Here is a close up section of another very detailed quilt made by

Michiko Shima

called "On the Wind".

It seems to be using lots of kimono fabric.

A month having passed, I have forgotten which quilts Tanya and Queenie have shown.

I do know that their pictures are much better than mine.
I should probably go back and see what might have been left un-shown .  There care still a post's worth in my camera