Friday, May 26, 2017

Doing bad while doing good

Well, the alphabet quilt is arranged and ready for piecing. (Thanks to a rainy day)

By the time I had appliqued the letters and sewn the first row, the rain had stopped. I needed to move around a bit after a day inside, so I went out through the gate with my little broom and sweeping bin to clean up the street. I like both the exercise and the pleasure of a clean street.

I usually start at my gate, sweeping south, down one side to the corner and up the other side. I can usually fill the bin at least twice, and empty it into one of the large bags I bring home from rice delivery.
As this road was once a back ally, very few houses open on to this street but on to the larger street on the other side of the block. People who sweep their streets, just take care of their own entryway and ignore the back path.
When the house across from mine was sold, house and garden were wiped out and two houses put in the space. One faces the small road to the north and one faces the path, but it is occupied only occasionally by a very young single male. He doesn't seem to own a broom but his plantings are not too messy.
Next to me on the south is a couple who work long hours. The wife is a librarian and drives a long way to work. Both the couple leave early and return late. Their plantings are one large hydrangea, now about to bloom and a small border plant from Okinawa with purplish leaves and purple flowers in the summer.
The third house to the south faces the back street and the nearest corner houses what I would consider one of the world's messiest plants.

This is a deciduous evergreen. Illicium anisatum, or Japanese Star Anise. "Shikimi" in Japanese.

these are often found on the grounds of Buddhist temples and often referred to as sacred anise tree.
The leaves, flowers, and seeds are highly toxic and dried powdered leaves can be burned as incense.

Anyway, this tree is always dropping something... flower petals, leaves, flower stamens, seeds and seedpods... The middle of my sweeping route, at this point the bin is full and I can dump everything into the bag.

on the return trip, there will be more to collect.

Well, yesterday I worked my way to the corner and had finished filling one bag, so went back for another.

Across the street from the house with the messy tree is the "weed lot". I think I have posted about this lot long ago.

Three or four years ago, this lot was a big problem in the neighbourhood.

 The weeds growing among the stones and broken glass were over knee-high.

People passing by chucked their trash into the weeds ... plastic bags, drink cans, cigarette butts, paper, etc.

When a dog pooped here, even on a leash, the owner didn't bother to clean it up. there was plenty of cat poop too from the large collection of cats that get dumped in the park.

Rain collected in the trash and mosquitoes held parties while waiting for the slower walkers. The neighbours complained but no one ever did anything about the problem.
I never took a picture of the weeds, but this is what it looks like now.
The two houses seen in this picture are the backs of the houses facing the park street. There is an apartment to the right and this lot was probably a set-back when the apartment was built. I do not know who the owner is, but for a while it was rented out as a place to park a car.

Well, to get back to the story, as I had to get another bag anyway, I decided to pull up the weeds that were coming up among the rocks. Mostly that is wood sorrel, but there are a few very invasive weeds that will take over if given the chance, and many have seeds that spread by the wind. Because of a rather busy schedule I had not weeded much over the last month.

My friend at the corner stopped by to thank me and offered to take the full bag for trash collection, as the site for collection is nearer her house.

Now, living in the apartment next to the weed lot is Mr. Mori. This is his view from the lot. The only time his windows are opened is when he hears me outside and opens the window to tell me I am trespassing and to stop.

He probably heard the conversation with my friend, because after she had gone into her house, he came out the front door and began yelling at me.  As usual I apologised for disturbing him but that only made him more angry. He was yelling that I was a "dorobo" a burglar.   Huh? for stealing weeds? That I should get out of Japan and go back to my own country.

Of course I have heard his complaints many times and I told him I would be glad to stop if I heard from the owner of the lot to do so. After all, I had not touched his weeds or the trash they were collecting.  Well, my friend, probably having heard the shouting, came back out and walked him off using a soft gentle voice, trying to reason with him. The shouting went on for quite a while but with him away down the street, I took advantage by reaching over the fence and pulling the weeds that were spitting seeds into the lot. I didn't have a bag for the unburnable trash so left it there for another day.   My friend came back shaking her head and I could hear Mori-san still shouting in the distance. She offered to take the second bag I had managed to fill during the ruckus,

The tulips were finished and the salvias are beginning to come up along the fence to the south.
Now I am half-way finished with the second row of the alphabet. The morning sweeping is done as the rain has stopped and a wind from the south is blowing those messy anise leaves up past my gate.
I shall leave poor Mori-san alone for a while. I sure do wish there was an easy way to tell when he is out so I wouldn't upset him but he hardly ever leaves his apartment.

How nice it is to have quilting and activities to fill the days so one doesn't have to sweat the small stuff.


  1. Every neighborhood seems to have a 'grumpy old man' who complains about EVERYTHING and ANYTHING. People who sit looked up in their homes without friends or relatives often gets moody and snap at anything. Take care not too irritate this man too much. Why not ask your friend to contact the neighborhood associations for advice about the weed and litter. They should understand the risk of dengue fever from mosquitos and the temptation strewn litter can be for an arsonist.
    A family near my home had a very messy tree (some sort of cherry?) that littered the street with its fallen fruit. The asphalt got so slimy it was a danger to walk on. The tree had to be taken down.
    You are making another charming alphabet quilt.

  2. You are so wonderful to clean up the area and a shame that others don't appreciate it or help out to work together.
    I think everyone has one of those neighbors, lol.


  3. Love the alphabet, and your story of the street weeding, I can imagine being there, and that is a true story teller's skills!!! Well done in every department, you can now rest on your "laurels" or whatever takes your fancy, and applique a little more. Hope you have a wonderful weekend.XXX

  4. Mr Mori sounds like a sad and lonely man. You are a good neighbour. Perhaps you need to get a blower to blow all the leaves instead of having to bend to pick them up. We have neighbours who don't care about their gardens and don't mow their lawns, I don't like it. Love your alphabet quilt.

  5. Your story is so interesting. I also clean up along my roadway. I am on a three acre lot so there is quite a bit of roadway to cover. I don't do plants except for when people throw their used Christmas trees out along the side of the road. Yes people do that - I don't know why - but there are two right now along the edge of my property that I need to clean up. What I do mostly is pick up garbage. And there is always lots of it to pick up. I have never seen anyone else in my town picking up garbage along the roadways except in the spring when the government pays groups to do a clean up of a certain section. Mr. Mori certainly sounds unhappy. Or perhaps mentally ill.

  6. What a beautiful alphabet quilt!! In all my time in Japan, I only ever encountered one person that didn't want an American near them. I respected their wishes and quickly and quietly moved away. A neighbor however, is much more difficult to ignore. Especially when he is really being ridiculous.

    Once when we went to an ice skating rink, a bunch of teenagers came up and took the little ones on the rink for me. They were so excited to practice their English. Another time we were at Disney, and Kevin came out of the bathroom to find the stroller surrounded by Japanese women taking photos of themselves with the baby with white blond hair and big blue eyes.

  7. Even the simplest things you do like clearing weeds can turn into an adventure. Next time he asks you to go back to the US, ask him for the air fare!
    Great to see a good start to the Alphabet quilt

  8. Wow! What a neighbor! Maybe he is losing a few marbles as he gets older? You hear of people like that... and with my MIL the same thing can either be o noisy or too quiet depending on her mood. Never give up! At least you have Mori-San on your side!