Thursday, July 19, 2018

Beating the heat

Nikko gets her morning walk before the sun comes out, and will be glad to wait until after dark for her evening walk. I can't say those times are cool, but anything would be cooler than while the sun is out.

I laid out the first 24 black and white blocks on the bed. I have been marking and cutting bits and pieces from my stacking boxes. Many in the "black" box had other colors, such as florals. though they were on black backgrounds, so not many I could use. 
The same with the "white" box. But, I hit the jackpot when I opened the "gray" box. Some read as rather dark and many are light, so they can be used in a variety of ways.

I have cut 24 more blocks, and so far fewer than two blocks will contain the same fabric. (some of my scraps were too small to cut a whole set".

I haven't had any feed-back from Kai as yet, but I am hoping he will like this as much as I am enjoying the results. 
I'm wondering if I switch to using some dark blues as I move to the edge, if I could find some good yukata print to use for the border like this one I made years ago. 
Adding blue might open many more possibilities of scraps and the center would still be black and white. Well, I have lots of time to think it over.

If I did make blue and white blocks ... and they didn't work, I would have enough to make one of these for my own pleasure ... or maybe a 'Big Girl" quilt for my first granddaughter, Kai's sister who will be next in line.
Over 23 days of temperatures over 30 degrees, and high humidity. It is predicted to get even hotter before we might see some respite. At this rate, this quilt may get pieced in record time.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Black and white (and in between)

Grandson #3 is next in line for a "Big Boy" quilt. His choice of color is black and white.

I looked over a number of ideas, but most of them required large amounts of just a few fabrics, What I prefer to do is something scrappy. Some of my prints ... maybe the largest amount  ... are in the medium range, so could be used as either dark or light depending on what it is partnered with.

I made a template yesterday and have managed to piece these on several train rides into town. The finished block measures six inches square.

I plan to mark and cut one set of each of my fabrics so I will have take-along work. I sent an image off to Colorado, and will be waiting for feedback. I asked Kai if I might add a color, and he said indigo. Hmmm. Not too many shades of indigo ... maybe in the border? This may end up a design-wall challenge but so far, so good.

Friday, July 13, 2018

More about houses

The last of the neighbor's house has come down. Now the banging and crashing is removing the cement base, busting up and trucking out all the debris.

The builders behind the rice store have piled up the big garden rocks.

It makes me hopeful that, instead of putting in an apartment building, the space left over after the house is rebuilt might return to a beautiful garden.

The destruction caused by heavy rain to the southern areas has been big in the news.
Of course typhoons are regularly on our list of summer events. This archipelago is battered by an average of six typhoons per year, between July and October ... sometimes lasting into November.

This latest rain was unusually heavy, and in a land made up of about 70% mountains and hills, houses most often are built on steep slopes or flood-prone planes below.

Many houses are built of wood in a traditional style.  The foundations are also made of wood, which gives flexibility in earthquakes. But they stand little chance in landslides or floods. Sometimes whole houses are carried away.

Evacuation orders may or may not come as they are not sent by experts but government officials, They are not mandatory and may be ignored, or they may come at a time like during the night and not be heard.

 As I explained, the nearest road to the west divides Nerima, where I live, and Koyama-cho, the up-beat section of our ward.

This a one-way street between a highway to the south and a small two-way street running between that street and the next big highway to the northwest.

55 years ago, this area was mostly fields with a few houses. All but a few of these houses have been built quite recently. On the Koyama side, they are individual homes and on the right side, mostly big apartments or condominiums.

Nikko and I walked up toward the station this morning.

The most recently built item on the Koyama side is this large day-care facility. It is still getting some tweaking over weekends, but it opened for business at the beginning of the month, and the yard is often filled with kids. (Yesterday when I passed, there was a teacher flinging buckets of water on hot screaming kids).

When my kids were small, this was a wide field with tall trees at the back and a valley below. I could listen to owls calling until about five years ago.
While this building was being built, the space to the north was also being cleared. It was a big space and I thought big enough for a huge apartment. The dirt was dug up into huge piles and cement mixers moved in. I asked one of the workmen what was being built, and he said 6 houses. Well, after all, that is the Koyama side of the street. the huge apartment is going up on the other side near the station.

Thinking about building on hillsides in an era of landslides, Nikko and I looked down the hill at the new wall that was built to hold the hillside for those new houses.

I don't know how well reinforced this block wall is, but it has to hold all that dirt and six houses with all the run-off of water that will no longer be absorbed by trees and shrubbery.

Along where that wall is now, used to be a nice row of trees. Two of those trees supplied mulberry leaves to my silkworms.

They have built a road down the middle and the spaces for the houses are all marked off.

These are being built by a company rather than individual owners, so I imagine they will all be similar in style and materials.

They seem to be all going up at once.

On the left is the fence that runs along the edge of the day-care building.

No space wasted! (or left over for gardens)

This is a street built a number of years back on a less steep part of the hill.

two houses on each side and two at the back.

These have a bit of space for plantings and cars to park.

Then, two houses down, another new street,

The wall to the left belongs to one of the only two houses in the area from long ago.

Earlier houses were built singly and have garden space and plenty of big trees.

This is one of the two original houses.

There is a huge pine, it's branches fastened to a long pole reaching many meters across the wide gate, all the way to the front gate.

In those days, walls were made of limestone...
now with a rather worn look.

And now the last of the earlier side-streets.

Add all the apartments across the street from these side streets, and it should be no surprise that there is no place to sit on the trains.

Those were put in before this boom.

On the way home, Nikko and I stopped to talk with a neighbor who had just moved into one of the houses built in front of my gate.

He had grown up in the area between the two train lines coming out this way, back when it was all farmland.
We talked about how much the area had changed ... so much that, when getting off the train at your former station, one could hardly recognize the place ... or find your way back to where you used to live.

I pulled these pictures,  from a file of photos taken long ago.

My eldest daughter is standing in front of our wooden gate where our front step is now. She is wearing a sweater I knit from yarn scraps.

The road is dirt.

At three years old, dressed in a kimono for "Shichi-go-san" for children ages three, five, and seven,
she is standing with her grandfather in the field ... now a construction site.

and below, a picture of me and my eldest daughter, and my friend, Miki-san with her two daughters, the youngest born on the same day as my eldest. I had painted a pair of wood ducks on the gate and the neighbor to the north had a fence of greenery instead of concrete blocks.

Now the path is a meter wider and paved with asphalt. The high building in Miki-san's former garden block the sun.

My lilies have had to grow to over 8 feet to find a bit of sun.

I think they are taller than the maple tree beside them.

And, these are stretching out across the street to find some possible sun there.

I had to tie them back so they would not leave pollen on passersby.

and this plant is reaching over the hedge and out into the street to get some light.

Probably if it were standing upright, it would be as tall as the first one.

The orange cones are blocking the street where new gas lines are going in ... not that anyone is going to squeeze down this way on anything other than a bicycle...

Not much happening with needle and thread. Busy preparing for another guest, this time a former scout and childhood classmate of my #3 daughter. He brought me some beautiful tenugui ... possibly to use in a quilt??? I'd better get back to sewing!

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Ready for occupancy

Well, the Cardinal is now on the perch, checking out the view.
After pulling out multiple red fabrics and wood prints, it is time to see if I can get it all back in the box. I still have to add my name in the corner. I wonder what will show up on that dark leaf print.
Anyway, I think it is ready to send off. Thanks to Tanya for reminding me, it will make the deadline.

The light wood print I used on the roof edge seems a bit too wavy, making it look a bit strange. Maybe I should have swapped it with the perch. This time I sewed a small glass bead in place of the eye. I like the result better than the embroidered ones of the past.

Then, again, as one small block among 142 others, it may not even be noticed ... except by my friends. At least it will be one-of-a-kind among what I expect to be numerous schoolhouse blocks.

We had a bit of rain during the night, and I lay on my futon listening to the neighbors running from room to room shutting their windows. Finally I got up and looked at the greenhouse glass, seeing the rain was coming from the west. Well, no opened windows on the west side of this house, so I snuggled back under my quilt. Nikko is happily back to her lively self and I went to the barber shop to remove a bit of insulation from my head. The house must be big and strong, because the crashing is still going on. I was hoping to get a bit of carving wood, as I did once before, when we lived in Suginami. At that time, I carved a dove-shaped bowl to give to the owners so they could keep a small piece of their old house. I think the wreckers took me for a crazy old lady. Well, maybe I am.


The sounds of crashing and smashing have filled the air for the last few weeks

My house is situated between two streets, a narrow path on the west that only a small car can squeeze through, and another street a bit wider on the east.

A few weeks ago, the neighbors across the street to the west, paid a visit to apologise for any inconvenience caused as they tear down their old house and build a new one.

The construction workers also appeared at my door to present a small gift towel and give notice of the demolition and construction schedule.

I have no idea how many neighbors were contacted, but  this is a family that has been part of the neighborhood for as long as my family and values the community.

 The inlaws of the rice store lady, her house behind the trees on the left, started cutting down their big trees and garden and garage at the end of the blooming season.

The crashing and banging has been going on until the middle of last week. (my house is behind with a bluegreen roof.)

I have not seen coming and going there for years, so they may have been living elsewhere.

The rice store lady said the house was just too old. Well, her house is also old but in good shape.

This is another view.

The pile of debris is where the garage stood. The house was where the truck is parked, and it looks like the new house will go up there.

The house straight back is another member of the family and faces the narrow street that runs past my front door on the west.
The houses on the right all belong to members of another long-term resident. Hopefully the garden will be replanted, but I have no idea of their plans.

Then, around the corner to the west, another bit of construction is going up.

This morning I asked the builders what they were making and they said an apartment house.

Along the street where the rice-store relatives are building, to the east it is "Nerima 3-chome" where I live.

On the west side of the street is "Koyama-cho" and a very high end neighborhood. When a house is taken down in that area, it is to put up a more fancy house. Those living in Koyama-cho abide by the zoning rules ... even though they may have money to pay off protesters.

The street passing this construction site only has two or three private homes left. Lately, every time a plot comes up for sale, like the house and garden across from my gate where my friend used to live, either an apartment or a group of smaller houses with less than two feet between them are built.

And, here is the weed lot I have been tending for the last five or so years.
Mori-san, the guy who always complained loudly if he detected me weeding, lived behind that door on the right.

Yesterday when I went to pull weeds, I saw that big pile of trash beside the door. Not so strange because that is often where he disposes of his junk, but, if it is to be picked up by the trash people, it needs a sticker on it, stating that you have paid to have it removed.

Then I learned this house is to be torn down. I guess the trash is part of the house-removal debris. Mori-san seems to have moved to an apartment down the street, as I saw him walking there.

I have no idea what will be going up on this site. I think the weed lot is "set-back" and may not be part of the construction area. This photo also shows the other construction that has been going on for over a week ... the replacement of old gas lines. The white blobs on the payment are where the cutting and digging and re-surfacing is yet to be done. More noise to put up with.

Along the street to the station there are six new houses going up. Since they are on the west side of the street, they will be nice fancy houses rather than the 25-storey apartment that is being built across the street from them in Nerima-3-chome.

And, speaking of houses,

That is the subject for the partnership quilts.

Today, looking through blogs, I was reminded by Tanya, who has finished hers, that time is getting short.

I had not even realized how little time is left.

I don't think Cardinals ever use bird houses, but I think at least one might sit on that perch and check it out.

I  will attach the perch later when I see how much space the Cardinal needs. Now, off to dig through my red fabrics.

Monday, July 9, 2018

A week I could have done without

The last of the 4am trips to town for onigiri delivery is over until the end of the hot summer. We don't want to endanger the homeless with food that has sat in the locker overnight and might have spoiled.
My Monday trips to school have also stopped for summer break (along with the pay).

So, last Monday I was free to go into town and meet up with my lawyer friend who is helping me with the big tax problem. I'm sure my dear Paul never imagined the mess he was leaving me to deal with. Anyway, I had some papers to sign. My friend would keep a copy and mail them off to the states where the tax accountant waits.

These days I am amazed how many people send things to be scanned and printed out and faxed, assuming that your computer and telephone are automatically connected up to all the necessary devices. I guess there might be a way I could put the stuff on some kind of chip and take it to a convenience store to do ... but even if those machines spoke English, I'm not sure I would be able to push the correct button marked in Japanese. (even printing pictures, I end up begging for help).

Anyway, as I left, I gave Nikko her kong of treats, blocked the living room door, and went to town.
I had a few errands to take care of in town as long as I was on that end of the train line, and returned in the late afternoon before dinner time.

What I returned to was a sick dog with an upset stomach, and a night of barfing. So... Tuesday morning it was off to the vet, who said Nikko needed to be hospitalised. She had lots of tests and was connected to an IV, and Norie came for an evening visit, as the vet only speaks rapid Japanese, which I could not entirely understand.
Norie, Hiro, and Leia came for a visit, just in case we had to say goodbye. Wednesday the vet is closed but we were able to visit... a heavy head on my lap ... Thursday I was met with lots of licks, and Friday evening she was well enough to come home with three days of pills.

I sat for over an hour, waiting for her to be released, in a very cold waiting room. When I thought of stepping outside into the sauna weather, it was pouring heavy rain and I had not brought an umbrella.
I was wondering how we would get home without swimming, but by the time she was released, the rain had stopped. Nikko had a lot of sniffing and piddling to take care of on the way home, so the walk was rather slow. It was way past dinner time so I popped some pasta in the microwave and sat down to eat when the phone rang ... and when I jumped up to get it, Nikko grabbed a big mouth-full off my plate, That was a first for me, as she never gets fed at the table. I guess she was getting even. Nothing wrong with her appetite.

Saturday and Sunday I had family time with Norie's gang and my #1 grandson, Paul, who is visiting an uncle here in Tokyo. Nikko behaved as her usual self and Monday, we went again for another checkup and she was declared well.

The vet thought the problem might have been brought on by her age and a heat stroke. In the winter, if I turn on the AC-heater, she will lie on the floor right under the vent. Being rather overly economically-minded, I am likely to save money by adding layers during the winter and opening windows in the summer ... not much help with the humidity, but I did not grow up with these devices and think of them as an expensive last-alternative. Of course, I turn them all off as I leave the house for the day.

I thought of leaving the AC on, and sleeping down on the sofa, so Nikko could have a cooler resting spot ... but ... Nikko is not interested in the cooler room and instead, goes to the wooden floor in the dining room to rest.

And ... after her evening walk, she ran upstairs to her bed besides the sliding door to Paul's room.
So, I put an electric fan in that room.  Even during the day, with the AC on, she often goes up to her bed.
I don't really need to be in a cold room, but the price of running the cooler will probably not be as much as the 30,000 yen the vet charges per night.

My week was thus very stressful and I was glad to have something for my hands to do.

Now the quilting is done, and it is sitting here beside me asking for a binding.

I thought black would look nice and kind of tie it all together ... but I have not decided for sure.

I do think I could do that without a shopping trip.

Meanwhile, I am getting ready for the next big-boy quilt for grandson #3 ... and ... there will be a new granddaughter needing a quilt at the end of the year!
With doggy issues and cleaning up for guests (even if they are family) I have not had much time for visiting blogs or leaving comments ... but ... don't worry, I have not fallen off the face of the earth YET. I hope your week was less stressful than mine, and life has returned to normal.

Friday, June 29, 2018


When I was just a little kid, I learned a song that has somehow stuck in my head. It goes like this ...

It is my joy in life to find, at every turning of the road...
The strong arm of a comrade kind, to help me onward with my load.
And since I have no gold to give, and love alone must make amends,
My only prayer is, while I live, God make me worthy of my friends.

A stupid, left-handed, failure as a kid, my one great success has been picking out friends.

The load is sometimes frustrating ... like the blog comments not coming to my in-box ...
   But my left-handed quilting friend waved her magic wand in my direction and it was all fixed.
   Thank you Kitty!

Sometimes it is just too much to do at once ... scout stuff or onigiri delivery while I am away at camp... There, too, friends stepped up to lend a hand ... even at 5:am in the poring rain or in a rain-filled camp.

Then there are financial worries ... taxes and bills and things going bump in the night ...
but in addition to my wonderful kids (like picking friends, I did a good job picking kids too)
friends have stepped up to even the road.

And, sometimes it is just conversation with my quilting friends that fills the often quiet hours that sprang up when Paul died.

Today I celebrated such a day.
Our group used to be an active one  that met several times a month in the homes of members.

The International Quilters were from all over, many accompanying their spouses  on temporary postings to Tokyo and offering their spacious quarters for the group to meet.

Over the years, all but a few have left and others have aged out due to health issues. Today was special to welcome back a long-time member we had not seen for years. We played "catch up" over a lunch and coffee (and a piece of rhubarb pie provided by our hostess, Suzanne standing beside me) What fun to turn back the clock and get caught up.

My friend, Kuraishi-sensei, in front on the right, is having a quilt show in the fall. She has asked me to contribute my "Lucy Boston" quilts. Yesterday I finished sewing a sleeve on the big quilt and took it to the park for a photo-op, as it was made before the digital camera days.

Oh my, I took a step ladder to hang it on the fence but had to hang it sideways because there was no part of the fence tall enough. Seen here flapping in the wind, I began to worry that it would be way too big for my friend's show and gave her a call.
Today she assured me that the Garden Gallery that will host the show has very high ceilings and size will be no problem.

In addition, she would also like to display my first attempt at this pattern.

I had to explain my quilt titles ... this one being "Star Crossed" ... as in star-crossed lover ... when you meet a pattern and fate has it that you pull out your notebook and sketch it down because it calls to you to try it ....

And then "Double Crossed" .... because you are doomed to make it again. (after swearing that all those little set-in seams were never again)

So, thin is a day I walk home from the bus, with the little song circling over and over in my head.

God had indeed blessed me with the best of friends and now will hear my plea to be made worthy.

Thank you, my many blogging friends who add so much to my days in kind comments (I can now see) and inspiration that keeps me motivated.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Yokohama quilt show wrap-up

There were a few quilts by featured artists, this one by Shizuko Kuroha. who had an exhibit of log cabin quilts.

Her exhibit was only posted in Japanese so I am not sure if she is the maker of these three quilts. The first of kasuri fabric is one of her signature techniques.

This was also part of her area exhibit, an interesting way to arrange log cabin blocks, and nice quilting.

Now a few more random pictures...

This was a lovely "Cathedral Window" quilt made by Chizuko Otsuka, I think  in the traditional class.

This is a close up.

The quilt was too big to get it all  into my camera frame.

This technique, though one I have used in the past, was very unusual in the use of multiple fabrics.

There fancy flowers are by Shigeko Inoue ... a lot of fine piecing and quilting...

Very lovely variety of flower blocks and lots of bunnies ... made by Kyoko Okumura.

I was so happy to run into a long-time quilting friend,
Chikako Ueno, who belongs to a group that picks a theme each year and displays picture quilts from members and overseas groups they have connected with.

some of the lovely colorful quilts ....

                                       and a few more ....

some of the stalls....

and more ...

Lots to see and enjoy.
I am very much hoping this return to Yokohama will continue.

Having returned from camp in the rainy woods with barely enough voice to sing my tenor line ... due to a week of shouting instructions to knife-wielding scouts and hammering leather-workers,

I have yet to get back to my quilt border.

First on the agenda will be adding a hanging sleeve to this big quilt that has been invited to attend a show held by my friend Kurashi-sensei.

"Double-crossed" was my second try at a Lucy Boston quilt. After making this one, I saw her original for a second time since it caught my attention at a British fair many years ago. I noticed then, that the draft I had made used much smaller pieces than the original. Maybe I will have to re-visit this again some day with larger blocks. The use of fussy-cuts to create designs can be very addictive.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Yokohama quilt festival #4

There were a number of special featured quilters at this show.

One of the featured quilt artists was Danny Amazonas.

These were all what I would call "Art Quilts".

Some were bits and pieces of fabrics, cut, fused, and top-stitched.

Some were pieced.

Here is a close-up of a chin and neck area. Title, Mother and Child.

Lots of little scraps in this one.

This one named "Star I"

this one pieced ... named "Breeze I"
There was one of a group of dogs and an elephant, and a child.
Maybe you have seen his work before but if not, this should give you an idea.

Another featured quilter was Anna Dolanyi from Hungary "with 50 quilters". 
These were part of that exhibit 

Many items were in blue and white with Hungarian motifs.
This one named "Applique from Buzsak" by Molnar Janosne.

some scenery...

"Blue and White Flowerwreath" Bogdan Erzsebet-Szabo Miklosne.

"Stove in Embroidery" Csillaghegyi Oltogetok.

"Ancentress" Jofoldine Fejes Edit.

"Little Peacock" Gelencserne Lazarovits Klara.

"Hungarian Jugs" Csillaghegyi Oltogetok.

And a few quilts by other well known quilters, 
This one by Yoko Saito

There are still a few more pictures in my camera to share. 
One exhibit was titled in Japanese ... roughly translated "The thing I Like".
I recognised a quilt by Ms. Kuroha but other names were all in Japanese. 

My apologies to anyone to whom I may not respond to comments. With this change by blogger, the comments no longer come to my e-mail and after trying a number of suggestions, I have not been able to answer other than by going back to the comment on the post. As you may know, all the comments one gets do not come at the same time or even on the same day. That means taking lots of time to go back over former posts to check. I tried making a comment and then checking the little box to get comments but that did not work. About time I had a visit from my guru son. 

Meantime I will be out in the woods with the Scouts. No internet connection there. Knives ... leatherwork ... and lots of nature. The silkworms ... all but six of them ... have begun their cocoons.
That figures now that mulberry leaves will be easier to find, and I won't need to gather them any more.