Thursday, June 8, 2017


Years ago, when we were living in Suginami, a small clipboard circulated through the block. This contained a list of the households in the area and the order in which it was to be passed from house to house. There is one that circulates here as well. It contains notices of what is going on in the larger neighborhood, like emergency training or meetings and the like. When one gets the notice, you would indicate you have seen it by putting your "hanko" (a stamp that often takes the place of a signature) in the space by your name. Then you deliver the board to the next house on the list.

In Suginami, the clipboard came with a one-month duty. That was to set out some small folding recycle bins on the particular day of each week... one to hold glass jars and bottles, and the other for tin cans ... or aluminum cans.
I remember taking that board to my neighbor to the northeast when my duty was finished. She looked at the next name on the list and said, "Morishita? Morishita? I don't know any Morishita!" I told her that they live just across the street to the west and she should get to know them as they are very nice people. I was rather shocked that though they had lived there much longer than I, (and even could speak Japanese a whole lot better) they dod not know who their neighbors were.

When we moved from that house back to this place where we had started out, we threw a sayonara-thank-you party for our neighbors at a local eatery. Everyone laughed and talked with people who they had only seen but never talked to before. At the end, many said they wished we had done that sooner.   I have met apartment dwellers who don't even know the names of those living on the same floor or even in the neighboring apartment.

Now I come to my own community. Last Thursday when my daughter told me the trip to the states was booked from the end of the month, I began to worry. I have a big dog. I have a bird and some little fish. I have many plants.  Norie has been looking around for a house sitter for over a month but the pressure was on to get things settled. I had mentioned this worry to a number of friends at school and church and even to my english student, and the pressure was getting more and more to the point I could not sleep at night., Wednesday I trudged sleepily off to school without even five minutes of sleep the night before.

Then Wednesday night, about dinner time, the doorbell rang. It was a neighbor... the very one who had rescued me from the anger of Mori-san in the weed lot, the mother-in-law of the english student. She had heard I would need a sitter for Nikko during the month of July. Not to worry, she and her son would take care of everything.
(This, by the way, is the same son who came to my rescue when Paul died and the internet was cut off, by letting me use his internet connection for around two months until the problem was solved.)

Last night I slept like a log but from now on I may be lying awake trying to figure out what I can do to repay these friends.

If I didn't have three baby quilts lined up, I think it would have to be a quilt. Maybe I can start with a table cloth for their small eating table.

Anyway, I think that should move up to top priority to work on during my travel time ... maybe the food prints and the zodiac animals running around like the birthday table cloth I made for my son ...

As Nikko and I were returning from a walk to the cleaners ... finally my light down comforter can be taken off "stand-by" and sent for cleaning ... As usual, I check out the gardenia by the gate. This year it is full of more buds than ever before. I have to keep checking for caterpillars because just one will do incredible damage even over night.
The suckers are small and green and look like part of the plant and I see a few spots that seem to have been tasted.
Anyway, there, among the buds, was the first bloom! I am about to have a joyous explosion of sweet-smelling beauty. The genkan window is now open and inviting the smell inside.

A deep green fabric is sitting here beside me waiting to be measured and cut for the first inner border of the alphabet quilt. Busy day tomorrow with a teacher's end-of-the-year party and a cub pack meeting.  And even as I run, tears come to my eyes when I think of the kindness of my own neighbors... a gift beyond measure.


  1. One of my neighbors is also my closest friend in this state. Other neighbors we don't know, despite trying, and one neighbor (directly behind us) is HORRIBLE! They don't like people, animals or kids and think only of themselves. They have been quiet so far this summer, but, we are waiting for the other shoe to drop, so to speak. I can't even go out in my back yard most of the time, since he will start causing problems so bad, that the police have to be called (either by us, or by another neighbor.

  2. Neighbours can be a horror or a blessing. We don't choose whom to live next to and have to find ways to get along with troublesome people.
    You are lucky to have such good people nearby. I hope you can sleep well every night now.

  3. Neighbours like your one are pure gold. We have wonderful ones, who will come at any time, day or night, just ring, and they run!!! And others who, when asked, will help with things we cannot do now, Lifting old pavers, cleaning the spouting, moving firewood, felling trees, and we are so thankful. Julie, your plants, dog, fish and all else will be so well cared for, travel with a peaceful heart.And although I guess they are not helping with the thought of anything in return, a hand made gift will be a treasure, and a memory of those days.

  4. It is pot luck with neighbours. Our neighbour has his house up for sale and we wonder who will buy it. Treasure all neigbours who are good to you, have a good night's sleep Julie knowing your lovely dog will be looked for a gift.....hand made yes, but they probably don't expect one as they are doing it to help you as you are a good neighbour to them.

  5. Your neighbors are a gift to you, and you are a gift to them.

  6. That really is a weight off your mind to find someone who will look after your dog. What lovely neighbours. I know that you would like to make them a thank you gift, but do you think they would also like to have something brought back from the US? Just a special little something they can't get where they live?
    Just a thought.


  7. Julie.
    You are an inspiration to my life!!! You are such a giving person, it is no wonder that neighbors step up to help. You amaze me with all your good deeds & all your beautiful quilts you so generously gift. Have a wonderful trip to U.S. & try not to worry over the small stuff! My life has changed a bit in last month or so, my husband has been in hospital & in rehab. I hope & pray, he will make progress in his mobility so he can come home. Love to you.

  8. How lovely that your neighbours stepped forward! It is a treasure to have good neighbours, but there is also a talent in being friendly with people. You obviously have that talent. I bet they would be thrilled with a covering for their table.