Monday, February 15, 2021

Waiting for borders

Now 80 inches square, I am wondering how many borders I will need to add to get the right size. I am thinking of a narrow border of bright pink and then just adding enough of the same blue floral used in the center sashing. Several of the darker blue blocks around the edge might not have enough contrast with the sashing I used in the middle. I also have enough of the red floral that I used as sashing on the Coronaville pieces. There is none of that fabric in this quilt so it might work as a plan B.


This is pretty well filling up most of the room. When it comes to doing the backing and basting I may have to find somewhere else to work.


in 1965, we planted this plum tree to celebrate the birth of our first daughter. 

Almost every year, it has bloomed on her birthday, the 15th.

This year I kept watching for signs of color but it didn't look likely it would have flowers opening any time soon.

 Yesterday, it was dark and rainy, so I went to the second floor and opened the shoji to see if there might be a few blooms on the upper branches that get a bit more sun.

I think this year has set a record for buds, and, sure enough, some of the upper branches had begun to bloom. 

I took up my pruning shears and cut a few of the branches that were against the house, and arranged them in a vase next to Paul's ashes.

I have found a gardener who understands why I did not want to cut the branches during the fall pruning season. Last year the tree produced many plums (actually like small apricots) for the first time. Maybe this year there will be enough to make some plum wine.

The recent earthquake was only an interruption of sleep in this part of Tokyo. The grandfather clock stopped but nothing fell from the many shelves.

This coming weekend I look forward to the Women's Conference. Though rather tired of meetings on zoom, I am hopeful to find a few friends there, whom I have not seen for quite a while. One of the good things about zoom is that I can do piecing with my hands while meetings are going on....

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

First Round of blocks

 This project is to be a kotatsu cover for my daughter Norie.... about three years late.  The center area will be covered by the table top. I really don't have any space large enough to lay it out for planning, and looking at the center area, I wish I had not put the light blue floral next to fabrics containing blues. I wonder if it would be worth the trouble to un-sew and replace that block, if it will not be seen anyway.

I have pieced enough blocks for two more rows. Then I will think about adding a couple of rounds of borders. I am still not sure as to how big this should be. I have a few rather light florals and am hoping to place them closer to the corners where they will be less likely to get food spills.

Just imagine having enough space to get it all laid out and then sewed together without mistakes. On a day like today. I could have taken it to church before choir practice and laid it out on the floor in the fellowship hall. No choir for nearly a year now, and the church is closed. 

Hanging on the fence in the afternoon shade, the colors look a bit dull. I can't help comparing this with my blogging friend, Kim, of "Sarah Lizzies". Her posts are always so full of bright colorful florals. Oh well, I will just keep on keeping on and look forward to snuggling under this as I quilt it.

Friday, January 22, 2021

slow progress


A few more logs were added to the cabin.

I have not yet decided where I want this to end up. 

It might make a nice poncho, but I have one that works fine, made to use mostly at camp where I can keep warm at an evening campfire and also turn it into a blanket on my bed.

This is laid out on a dark apartment floor where I might play around more with the pattern. 

I am not feeling rushed to completion, and have a few other things on my to do list.

Last Saturday at this time. I was taking the scouts on a nature hike.

It is a yearly event, as scouts are required to identify plants and animals, and most leaders have no knowledge of either, even in their own countries.

Growing up in nature, this might be a much easier activity for American scouts living in the states, but in Tokyo, "animals in the wild" are mostly birds. One might find a rat on the streets of Shibuya in the early morning or a feral cat in the park, but the requirement is finding 10.

We meet at Ueno, at the top of the stairs next to the Keisei train station and walk up the hill, identifying plants and trees along the way. 

There are multiples of the same plants, so the scouts can find more, once they have the clues for identification. We can also discuss how the plants are used. 

About halfway up the hill, we head down an off street and through some temple grounds, then across to Shinobazu Pond.

In the winter, we can find migratory birds as well as local ones. I have made a laminated sheet of pictures of birds they might expect to see, so each boy takes a sheet and uses it to identify the birds on their own.  One of the younger boys noticed the row of gulls on each post, looking like a row of guards. 

Most of the pond is full of reeds and lotus plants. Some areas have been opened up with cleaning. They were able to find both a great egret and a little egret and identify them by the color of their feet when they took off. They had to be quick to identify the little grebes diving and popping up here and there.

Though the picture looks dull, the day was quite sunny and warm and leaving early in the morning, I was quite over dressed. Considering the worry over the virus, the outdoor activity was a good plan and well timed.

Just the other day, I received a postcard from the NHK partnership quilts. There had been a TV showing earlier that I missed, not knowing the details of when to watch. I may see that later, as I hear my daughter's MIL had made a recording of the program and her son has put it on a DVD.

My block is in the sixth row from the top. The Ohio cardinal is perched above a map, holding a heart on a string in his beak. The theme was to be, "Love the Earth". Can you find him? The card itself is rather blurry and the blocks quite small, but it is nice to have this and recall the days when I met with my friends and went around the show, looking for each friend's block. I wonder how many quilts were made this time.  Perhaps not the usual 60+. I wonder if each person got a card with their block in it.  It is about that time of year when we would be making plans to meet and spend the day together. 

Hopefully, there will be a return of this activity by the time next year rolls around, and we can meet again in person...

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Chopping logs

This morning I went up to the cold unused apartment to lay out my finished log cabin blocks and see what I needed to do in order to get this project moving along. The sun was not out so the room was very cold, so I didn't bother arranging the blocks other than order of blue or brown. I think the lights and darks may require a bit of planning.


The rest of the day I have been digging through my scraps to find more logs to mark and chop.  I was able to cut about 14 more sets so I will have something to do during skype and zoom meetings ... or should I travel a bit by train. Can you see the Ohio Star beginning to form? I think the darker blocks will get moved to the outer edges. It makes me think of my grandfather who was born in a one-room log cabin in Ohio.

Here's hoping your year is off to a good start too.

Thursday, December 31, 2020

End of a crazy year. Where did it go?

The year started and ended with table runners.

I had a tin of blocks made with holiday fabrics that I had used to make a small runner for my genkan above the shoe cupboard.
When Kimie was here, she pulled out some of the blocks and arranged them into a table runner. 

This was mailed off to Oregon in March. (in plenty of time for this Christmas).

At the end of the year, I went back to those blocks and made a similar runner for a neighborhood friend.

That friend often leaves goodies at my door. I will come home or go out to find a bag of apples or a giant pear, or some other goodie in a bag hanging from my doorknob.

I put this together earlier in the week and took it with a note to hang at her door.

They look almost the same and the days inbetween seemed a lot the same too.

In March I finished an I-Spy quilt for a friend who has begun a NPO for teaching English to orphans and other children in care homes, hoping that having English skills might help them find jobs as they age out of the homes.

I think making a game of learning would take some of the pressure off. I put a pocket on the back with a couple of beanbags they might toss in a game.

In March I also finished a quilt I had made to donate to the church for raising money, hopefully to cover what I could no longer donate with my teaching job ending in mid February.

"My Tithe" was raffled off by the Outreach ministry throughout November  and raised money for an orphanage our church supports as well as the homeless ministry.
Though the raffle was on line mostly, it did pretty well.

The family who won it was very happy. I had made them an I-Spy quilt when their youngest was born, and they sent me a video of that little guy playing I-Spy among the flower prints.

In early July I was asked to make something for a family who was leaving. 
They had been very active running "Saturday Night Out". a once a month fun activity for members and families, with games, a dinner, and a study group/discussion while the children had some entertainment.

This had words of thanks within the design.
I didn't have a lot of time to come up with a plan.

In mid July I put the final stitches into my quilt "Staring Feed Sacks" I still have  some unused feed sack prints and am thinking I would like to make another quilt using them. I liked this setting because it didn't cut the prints into small pieces. I am quite satisfied with the results and those prints bring back many memories of things made using those fabrics.

The month of August, I put together another I-Spy quilt.

This one for the new associate Pastor's family. I finished it August 27th in time for their arrival and two week quarantine. I made a set of cards to go with it with English on one side and Japanese on the other.

They have a young son and are expecting another child so I thought this might be a welcoming gift to greet them. 

Meanwhile I had been working on small houses ... one for each day of virus confinement. Those were only 3"x 4" when finished, and going into a tin. It was a great way to use lots of small scraps.
I had plenty of time to think about what I would be doing with them.

Meanwhile, in October, I was asked to come up with a Stewardship Banner.  This is the 11th year in a row that I have made one. The theme was selected and passed to me October 15th,  It reminded me of my father making new roses by hybridising from seed. The hands were embroidered over a background pieced by light floral prints. 

The hanging sleeve was added the 21st of October and I left it by the back door of the church when I went to pick up the onigiri for delivery to the homeless.

A laptop carrying case is still sitting in my entryway waiting for the US postal service to get its act together, 

I made it for my daughter's birthday earlier in the summer, but the US is still not accepting anything other than letters,

The houses finally made it into a quilt.

This was finally finished last week.

Two of the houses are dedicated to friends who have passed away this year.
One, a longtime missionary in Japan, and mother-in-law to my eldest daughter. 
The other a friend who contributed much of the fabrics used here.

this joined the table runner I had finished in November using extra houses,

SO ... here is the Coronaville pair, and yet the down time goes on.

Maybe I have enough of a reminder of those down days.

Still in the wings is my log cabin challenge ... moved aside when the Tokyo Dome Quilt show was cancelled. 

I'm still thinking about what I want to make 

My partnership block seems to have gone into a quilt. I think it was shown on TV but I didn't get to see it.

Meanwhile, Christmas has come and gone as just another day ... other than a group skype with the kids and a visit to my friend, Wally, at his senior home.
The past week has been spent trying to get my living area a bit better organized, and the dust removed more or less. 

So, from my semi-tidy livingroom to yours, I send best wishes for a happy and productive New Year.

Monday, December 7, 2020

Sore fingers

 With more "down time", my Coronaville quilt is progressing toward the outer borders. Now that many trees are down to their last leaves,  taking sweeping breaks are less frequent. Zoom time keeps going up and my note taking is done in stitches.

After making a sore hole in my middle fingernail and several bloody holes in my index finger, I began to use some rubber thimbles on both. The one on the middle finger was soon torn to bits. 

I used to have a silver thimble. In my family it was a traditional gift for a girl's 20th birthday. Mine had a band of cloisonne flowers and my name and the date engraved on the inside rim. Long ago, while sitting in the bleachers at the junior high, that thimble rolled off and fell to the floor under the bleachers. I quickly went to the end and crawled underneath looking for it, not to be found. Thinking it might have rolled to the front under the shorter steps, I waited until the game was over and the people were gone to search again, but it was not to be found ... even in the final cleaning of the gym. In all the years since, I have never found a comfortable replacement. L size? M size? if they are in a plastic envelope, the fit is no guarantee. I have a metal one that is too tight to fit all the way, and a plastic one that falls off between stitches.

Last night as I was just putting in a few last stitches before going to bed, I found a thread I had left waiting until I got to that part. Instead of taking the needle from the thread I had been using, I grabbed another needle from my pin cushion. It had a larger eye so was easy to thread and surprise, the eye was not attacking my fingers. Maybe my stitches are not so small as with the little needle, but this is a bed cover. I do not plan to enter it in a quilt show so no one will be counting the stitches. They hardly show as I am quilting in the ditch, and since the backing is white, they don't show on the back either. I think my fingers have just won a reprieve.

Meanwhile, this seems to be the "year of reform". It started with the house next to the one across the street to the west, then the one next door to the south. All up and down the side streets, there are frames surrounding houses that are getting renovations of paint or new roofing etc.

Last week, while I was sweeping, this huge truck piled high with frames, was trying to get down the street past my house,

My Japanese isn't all that good, but here is the sign that truck had driven past. It was already with the front end in the parking space of my neighbor (usually filled by her small car) and trying to get between the fence on the left side and my wall on the right. My plum tree is now farther over the street than when this picture was taken, but, had that truck managed to fit through that space, it would have taken out the tree as well.

I just stood there in the middle of that space, keeping the truck at bay, until a worker ran up and talked the driver into backing up and taking the wider street to the south across from the sign.

I felt like asking that driver if he could read. Even if he had managed to get past my house, that large of a truck could never have made it around the corner and down that small street. As it was, he had trouble backing from that one-way street into the space where he parked.  Another house under renovation ... and less than an hour later, there was another truck in that same spot, blocking the street the first one went down, and setting up scaffolding around the second one from the corner. This morning my doorbell rang and there was a worker asking me to be the next to be renovated. Hah! All we need is one more truck. And, how would they set up scaffolding in the 18inches of space between my house and the wall that is filled with AC units? I was glad to say I am not the owner.

And, now with the autumnal equinox well over, here is my Christmas spiderlily.

It is enjoying a bit of morning sun, reflected off the windows of the renovated house to the southwest. Unlike it's bright red cousins that pop up in the fall, this one sends up it's leaves first.
The flowers open slowly day-by-day and it lasts long into the new year. There are still a few buds to open and this picture doesn't do justice to the lovely purple color.

So ... now, to the rhythm of hammering in all directions, I will go back to a bit of stitching, thinking that next is the outer border with no seam allowances to challenge my needle.


Wednesday, November 25, 2020

65 Woody Plants Common to the Kanto Area


Link: 69 Woody Plants of the Kanto Area, Descriptions and Illustrations by Julie Fukuda

After taking a course in Scouting's College of Commissioner Science, I taught the course the following year and was presented with a "Master's" degree. Then I was given the challenge to do the PHD.

For that, I selected several one-year projects to present to the committee and this was the one selected. I had a year to complete it and thought it would be helpful to scouts of the BSA here in Japan where there is almost no information on native plants in English. There are many requirements involving nature at each level of scouting and most of the leaders have no knowledge of plants to share. 

The illustrations were drawn in pen and ink and the words were added with a word processor. The scout groups could print the book out on A4 paper, fold each page in half, and staple along the open side to make a book

Now we have moved to the age of computers and one of my scouting friends, as one of his Woodbadge requirements, turned the book into a pdf, making it easier for scouts to access.  

Some of the maps need makeovers, as trees come and go, are cut down or replaced. Still, the leader can stand in a spot and read the description to the youth and they can try to find the tree or plant and check it against the map and picture. 

This weekend I will be working on outdoor leader training, and the timing is just right as the nature segment is one on my list.

Many thanks to my son, Jon, for jumping through the final hoops to make this version more accessible.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Busier than a one-armed paper hanger.


Monday was my second date with the driver's license bureau. Of course, that is the day I leave home at 4:00 am for onigiri delivery

I had been scheduled to  take the second part of the test starting at 11:30 am, but a few days before, the bureau called my daughter to tell her the time had been moved up to 11:00.

That figures ... let's make those old people taking the test ride two hours, part way on crammed commuter trains. Of course, not wanting to be late, I allowed about 20 minutes extra for getting lost... meaning I got to stand in the crammed sardine can and wait in long lines at station changes.

I arrived at quarter to eleven and was told I was late, that they had called and moved the time up to 10:45. Well, I never got that call, Maybe they called my daughter who was out of town.

Rushed to the classroom on the 4th floor... forms to fill out ... money to pass out ... and LOTS of waiting time.

Actually, the whole day was spent waiting in lines. Assorted eye tests... at one there was a long standing line of hundreds of people all spaced out so as to make rows and rows of people waiting to go in a small booth for an eye test that was about the same as one already taken. Then another line to take the driving test along a course. I swear, if they had offered to give me that car for free, I would have said, "No way!" The gear shift lever was between the seats and each movement was several steps. The car seat was way too low and couldn't be adjusted. Anyway, I passed that part, went back for the lecture... all in Japanese, and was handed a booklet of rules, also all in Japanese. Then more and more waiting Finally standing in line to get my picture taken and then sent to another line on a different floor to wait for my number to be called. Only about 90 people in front but they seemed to call only 20 people at a time with long breaks in between. Then, pay more money and wait to be handed my card. Finally finished at 3:55 and went out to stand in the line for the 40 minute ride back to the train station. It was about 5:59 when I got home, not even having had a lunch break. Luckily I had slipped a smoothie into my bag, so had a bit to sip from time to time. 

Thankfully, that is over for the next three years. Hopefully in that time, someone might figure out that there are better ways to test senior citizens skills than putting them through two days of torture.

Next on my list was an invitation to an Eagle Court of Honor for a scout. 
When this boy was a cub scout, I gave the boys what I called "The Cubmaster's Challenge". I promised to carve a neckerchief slide for and cub graduating to Boy Scouts having earned the "Arrow of Light" and completed everything in the book including the religious award and the conservation award. When the boys met the challenge, they got a slide of a hand in the scout sign and a promise that if they made it all the way to Eagle, I would carve them an eagle slide.
I didn't get the invitation until around Sunday and there was not much time to whip out a carving. I don't like to do a rush job and possibly get cut or make a mistake and have to start over. 
Tuesday I spent whittling the bird, and today did the painting and varnish. Now it is ready to go with a note rolled up ant put through the ring.

As the scouting community here in Tokyo is a revolving door, with families here for just three or four years, I am lucky this scout will not have to wait to have his slide shipped to the next country of residence. I think there have been years that I sent five eagles off to far away lands. He will get it presented on Friday.

My Coronaville table runner is almost finished with only the border to quilt. Last week I went into town to buy two rolls of thinsulate but I still need to prepare the backing and get the bed quilt basted.

Last month I began trying to trick my poinsettia into blooming by Christmas. I have cut the amount of daylight it gets by moving it from a closet to a sunny space. So far, two small leaves have begun to come out red. Last year there were a few red leaves but the flowers were later in January. We shall see...

My greenhouse/bedroom is enjoying warm sunny days. 

This spiky plant in the foreground came from my friend, Wally's house, along with a number of plants that were raised by his wife.

Can you see the flowers?

Here is a closer picture.

The wife was a fan of succulents from South Africa.
I have no idea what this is, but there are several pots of something similar.

 There seems to be more than one plant in this pot on the left.

The flowers are very tiny.

Those kind of star shaped red segments that look like leaves seem to be starters of new plants.

I have a few books about cacti, but those only seem to cover ones that are found in the Americas. 

This one totally thrives on neglect. It has spent a year sitting on the AC unit on the balcony.

I have also moved a small potted rose up to the greenhouse as it had lost all its leaves after blooming in October, and was looking very sad. I talk to it each day and cheer it on and now it is looking very lovely. I don't know if I will get flowers, but at least it is saved.  

So ... that is about all for now. I should probably prepare some hand work for take-along work... and maybe get to basting the bed quilt so I will have something to work on during my down time...

other than running outside several times a day to sweep up falling leaves... I should have planted ginkgos that drop their leaves all at once...

Saturday, November 7, 2020

Time flies


Having grown up in a home with a large garden, being surrounded by flowers was a given. It was one thing I missed most when coming to Tokyo where space is very limited.

My own garden is actually a "setback" and should my neighbor to the north rebuild, this area might be snatched up to widen the road. 

The large Japanese style house to the north has a huge garden and should the entire property be sold, like the property to the west of my house, it would likely be filled with four large houses with no space between. 

Each day, as I sweep the fallen leaves along my street, I give thanks for that garden, because without it's protection, my own little patch might be covered in concrete or asphalt. 

Another thing I have learned to appreciate is the way the plants bloom in an orderly fashion, not competing with each other, but coming out in their own time and season.

The season in my garden now is the "Hototogisu" or toad lily. These are all volunteers, coming up among the azalea hedges. They take their time, and unlike the spider lilies that burst out and fade in about a week, these open slowly and hang on long enough to enjoy.

Each day, more open and greet me and I like their calm beauty.

The spider lilies are long gone, but the leaves (short ones in the right front of the pot) have begun to come up.

The pineapple lily is now only a few wilted leaves to the left, but framed in the wire ring are more leaves and a tall bud building expectations. 

I don't even know where this one came from, but it seems to be a relative of the spiderlily. Last year the flower opened in December and lasted into the new year and the color was purple. 

There are a few pink and white spider lilies on the east side of the house, but those behave just like the red ones. Meanwhile I enjoy the freckled flowers and await the next show in line.

The extra houses have gone into a runner for my coffee table . They are now awaiting the border, as I am now sewing the dark swirly sky on to the main quilt. These will get the leftovers.

Guess which one was made for Halloween...

And which one for November 3rd....These little houses have been an interesting year-long adventure and there will be a lot to look back on when they are finished and in use.


Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Work in progress

This morning I added the last row of houses to the border. I still have a lot of leftovers and am thinking a table runner might be a better way to use them than another border or on the backside.


My plan is to use the dark sky print in the outer border. I am now trying to decide whether to add a sashing in either the light or dark blues used in the inner sashing, or to add the border directly. Laying it out with the choices has not really helped me decide.

So ... what should I do now? Stop and tidy up my messy house while I wait for inspiration? Or maybe put some of the leftover houses together for a table runner...  Decisions, decisions, always decisions!