Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Next on the list

That was quick!

Phoebe's quilt made it to Oregon in less than a week.

I  had made a baby I-Spy quilt around a year ago for the children's ministry director at out church, and his mother, living in Austria saw it and told her son that the one thing she had always most wanted was a quilt.

I really don't need any more projects, but ever since making the black and white quilt for Kai, I had wanted to try that pattern in florals.

Well, while sorting that "rescued" fabric, I decided to mark and cut some blocks. This makes good take-along work so putting the blocks together did not take much time.

Last Tuesday I laid them out on the floor of the church fellowship hall and tried arranging them into a layout with a balance of color and tone.
This week I added the inner border and last night's train ride finished off adding the outer border.

I think I may have a large floral that can be pieced for the backing. Then It is going to have to wait for cooler weather to quilt.

Meanwhile I have started an I-spy baby quilt for my boss's baby expected in the fall....

And ... I have been asked to make two small table runners for two staff members of our church who are retiring. Hopefully I can get some fbrics marked and cut so I can take them to camp in another week in case I have spare time while there.

The feed sack blocks are sitting in a tin waiting for other things to move along. I just need to arrange the blocks so they can be joined, then work on a border.
I am thinking of using some of the scraps in an applique vine with flowers. I have yet to draft that but those feed sacks have been waiting since the 30s for attention so I guess they can wait a bit longer.

Looking at the weather forecast it looks as if spring has finished springing and the rainy season is about to drop by. Well, I think I will have enough to do inside.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019


At last the final stitches were put in and the label was sewn in place. The last lap was to the big PO, and after nearly seven months, Phoebe will be getting her quilt.

Granted, it is a single bed size so it can be used a bit longer than a baby bed coverlet. I am also glad the rain stopped long enough to take it to the park for a photo shoot.

I hope I have learned my lesson about trying to add things to the center of a large quilt.

The tree with seasonal borders was originally made for a group event that never kicked off. I decided to add seasonal flowers and leaves to the tree, and since my DIL, Zia, is an avid birder, lots of birds found their way to the tree.

Unfortunately, I added the I-Spy borders early on and it was just too hard to work on the center without stuff getting caught up in the stitching.

I decided to quilt the border and bind the quilt to  get rid of all the stuff around the edges, thinking that might make things easier to add to the center.

Well, it did help some but not enough. I had a nice print of ducks on water that I was thinking of putting as a pond on the right side of the tree, but after adding the flying Phoebe, I gave up as it would have been just too troublesome and time consuming.

Instead, I just cut a small template and traced a karakusa design to fill in any of the larger un-quilted spaces. I put in the final stitches last night and added the label to the back before noon. Grabbing a quickie picture before heading off to the PO. Hopefully, it will make it without being returned as Kai's Big-boy quilt did.

The feed sack blocks are ready to be arranged and pieced together but have been laid aside while I assemble some floral blocks similar to the black and white quilt. I also need to get going on another I-spy for my boss's expected baby. The piecing goes pretty fast while travelling on the train but the larger work can take much time and needs to be done at home as it is soon too big to work on as carry-along.

Friday I will set all aside to meet friends and enjoy the Yokohama quilt show. Hopefully the names of the quilters will be readable in English so I can share a few with my blogging friends.

Monday, May 13, 2019


The binding is now on the baby quilt but the flying phoebe is struggling to get airborne.

There are 72 feed sack squares piled in this tin.
Having take-along work makes progress faster than I can plan the next step.  I do have an idea for a border using smaller scraps though, and it will be fun to arrange and put together.

The little stool the tin is on was a project for my cub scouts years ago. I put it in my genkan to sit on when putting on shoes or polishing shoes or tying shoelaces etc.

My pack is a lot smaller this year, as a large number of cubs just graduated to boy scouts, so I decided it would be fun to try this activity again.
Most of the age groups have requirements for constructing things.

Wednesday morning I went out to the Doit (Do it yourself) store and bought wood enough for four stools. Thursday I measured and cut the tops and ends for the kits and marked the boards for the side rails. Friday, the kids cut the rails along the penned lines and using glue and 20 nails, assembled the stools.

I had some help from the older boy scouts.

Here ... holding the wood rail while the cub saws it into three pieces.

Two are nailed to the sides and the last goes between the leg section at the bottom.

I took glue, nails, saws and hammers, and sandpaper.

Here they are standing on their finished stools.

The one made by the brother and sister standing beside him couldn't have been more perfect had it been made by a professional carpenter, and that pair shared all the work ... sawing, hammering the nails, and sanding.

Looking at this picture, I just noticed that they all took off their shoes before stepping up on their stools.

The time ran over but it was such a joy to watch ... and when they finished, they swept up the sawdust and folded up the chairs, returning them to the storage area, and left that room pristine. (without orders from adults in the room).

Wednesday, after the Doit run, I had a call from my bank, wanting me to go in person to give them "my number". (a rather recent way the government has of keeping track of people) I could not do it over the phone and had to go there in person. Not all that close to my home, I set out on foot around 3:30 to do that task. There were papers to fill out (in Japanese) and I am not the speediest writing kanji. Then papers went somewhere to be checked, and more papers came back to be filled in. Luckily, I didn't have to read those papers and figure out what I was signing.
Then I asked if they could transfer another account from the same bank in a different location. (I had been told earlier that I would have to go all the way to that other branch and close the account in person and then carry the money back to my area ... that would take the better part of a day so the money just sat there many years).

Well, finally after a lot of checking while I waited, they got permission to move the accounts together. THEN, more papers to fill out and sign and mark with my seal. By the time I finished up, the bank had closed for the day and I had to be escorted out through the dark halls.

I made a quick stop at the local market in that area and started home in the dark. When I was almost home, I had to cross the local street. There is a wall and a big bush at that corner so one could look in both directions before stepping out.
Oops, that guy on the bike was driving without lights, and when I stepped out I was knocked flat in the street, my glasses flying beyond arm's length and a big bloody hole in the left knee of my jeans. Luckily, the car behind the bike rider stopped or I might have been run over.

A few hours on Thursday were spent appliqueing a sunflower over the hole on my last pair of bluejeans. BUT... Saturday, while hurrying out to meet my family for lunch, I tripped on an uneven walk and made a hole in the patch.  A guy who was walking behind, helped me up and pulled out two bandaids from his pocket for my bleeding hands. Well, that was nicer than the biker who just zoomed off in the dark.

We had a nice lunch together for an early Mother's Day ...

Then we went back to the house where my super Son-in-law became "Mr fix-it" working on assorted items that were not working.
(Air-con needs a new filter ... printer needs new color cartridges to print in black and white ... TV needs someone who can read instructions ... )

Meanwhile, Norie sorted through stuff set aside needing to be read in Japanese.

They had brought lots of mulberry leaves which Leia worked on pulling off the branches and we fed some to the silkworms, washing and storing the rest for the coming days.

It was a very timely occasion because, after passing another instar, those critters are eating at a faster pace.

With the small supply of leaves in this area, I would be hiking miles in the rain today without this timely gift.

Now, I am hoping the next supply can be gathered on the weekend camp with the cub scouts.
(If there is time before or after running the leatherwork project)

This morning, after the walk with Nikko, I swept our street to the corner and back. The past few years, I have planted seeds for these flowers in the crack between pavement and wall on a neighbor.

I think it looks a lot better than the weeds that had been coming up there. This is the back street for this house and the guy living here never tends anything, even his own plants.

The above trees are deciduous-evergreens, and now dropping huge amounts of leaves. I sweep each day, as there are always cigarette butts and should they cause a fire, with houses all only less than a meter between, a fire here could be very serious.

 Across the street, this neighbor never sweeps and this shrub is super messy ... much of that mess blowing to my doorstep.

Two persimmon trees along the street are now dropping little round flowers that are going to be stuck on shoes and follow into every entry-way on the street.

Nikko patiently waits while the empty bag ... yesterday morning was filled with packs of onigiri for the homeless ...

is now filling to the brim with sweepings.

She knows the next thing on the list will be breakfast.

So ... that is my morning exercise ...

With a bit of time leftover to fill in the blog before I get back to my list of "to dos".

and ... just so I don't forget the weekend ...
and how lucky I am to have such a marvelous collection of children ...

A large reminder from the Boston branch of the clan fills my heart with joy. Blessings abound!

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Back on track

Spring has sprung, and after a week of hunting up mulberry leaves for those tiny silkworms, I thought it was also a good time to get some leaves on the tree at the center of Phoebe's quilt.

As the four borders surrounding the tree represent each season, I decided to start the tree with spring on the left and move across to winter on the right. I probably should have done this before adding the I-spy blocks and doing all the quilting, because even though I basted the edges and pinned them in place, sewing them on in the center area is not easy to do. What would have taken a few hours some months ago is a much bigger challenge now.

I drafted a plan for a flying Phoebe, but I think, like the leaves, I will need to put it together and baste it before adding it to the space. I am still thinking about this area under the tree... leaves ... grasses ... flowers ... critters? If I think too hard, this may never get done!

The flower on the east side of the house is really showing off. I haven't found a name for the plant but I'm glad it is happy here.

The little orchids are certainly enjoying these spring days too.

Time to get back to work!

Friday, April 19, 2019

A bit of spring is springing

Amazing what a day of sunshine can provide.

As I went out to sweep the street today, I found a big fat flower bud getting ready to open.

I have no idea what this plant is. There is a patch of it in the park where I pull weeds, and I have seen it blooming once. Usually the guys with the weed-whackers slice it off at ground level before it gets to even form a bud.
Last year they yanked out a dead lilac bush behind it and pulled up some bulbs which I rescued and planted in a space along the east side of the house. It seems to be rewarding me for the rescue.

When coming through the garden to get my camera, I found an orchid in bloom ... clinging to the Biwi tree.

This is one of a number that were rescued from my friend Wally's garden before his move to a retirement home.

I see a few others are leafing out in other spots. This is really the only side of the house that gets a  few hours of sunshine.

I noticed also when I was hanging laundry in the greenhouse that the orchid cactus is getting ready to bloom.

In the fall I cut off a section of this long arm, thinking soon it would tip the pot off the top of the step-tansu.

That piece I rooted in another pot and it seems to be doing well. The bud near the cat seems like it will be first to open, and there are two above growing larger each day.

The easter cactus had a hard summer last year out on the roof
so I brought it inside for a bit of TLC over the winter.

I had been thinking of re-potting it but I will wait until after the blooms are finished.
I have one more outside on the west side, and it usually blooms much later than this one.

Two more days to go ... Looks like it might bloom on Easter.

Another little cactus is also getting ready to show off its colors. I have been putting off tidying up the greenhouse because the heater doesn't work and it has been too cold to spend much time up there other than snuggling in my sleeping bag at night.

I guess the flowers are trying to tell me that warmer days are in sight.

There has been some suggestion that Leia may be coming sometime this weekend to make batik eggs

These were batiked as raw eggs and then the innards blown out.

I was crawling under the table to get them out of the hutch, and had a big surprise.

The past few years I have had no luck in saving the eggs from the year before, so I thought I had tossed them all out and only saved the cocoons for crafts.
Well, a few of the moths had laid eggs on the cocoons and I tipped the container on to the floor, and in picking them up, noticed a number of tiny wiggly worms.
I quickly ran to the park to snatch up a few young mulberry leaves. I had just seen them beginning to come out on Tuesday so they are not very big, but there were enough small ones to feed those little caterpillars. I spent the next hour or so picking them up with a little paintbrush and placing them on the leaves.  I guess there will be another item added to my daily list of chores.

The baby quilt is moving along and I am now quilting the last border.

I have been happy to have take-along work with these feed sack stars. 4 trips into town each week ... with about one star in each direction, (depending on how long or if I get a seat),
and an on-line District Committee Scout meeting ... They all add up.
This picture was taken earlier in the week, and yesterday's trip added #50. Not sure what the plan is, but I still have some fabrics that have not been used and also a few duplicate squares.
I thought of maybe using some of the scraps in a floral border appliqued on a solid fabric. Some of those fabrics are very rough and loosely woven so I'm not sure how the would work.

So ... it seems that spring ... though it has been taking a few small steps forward, then a giant leap backward ... is knocking on my garden door. I'd better get back to that border before there is another interruption.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

The unveiling

After lying flat across two tables as mothers gathered to put in the stitches, members of the group were still looking at areas, wondering if they needed to add some stitches here or there. The time to finish had neared, and there was still a bit of "cleaning up" of threads on the back, but basically, it was near enough done that I suggested the time had come to hang it up and step back for the all-over view.

Indeed, the different angle showed off a lot of the quilting textures that had not been quite as apparent when it was laying flat. It also made it clear that a lot more tiny details would hardly be noticed.

The school was having a "book parade" last Friday, and we carried the quilt on it's stand down to the area where the parents were filing in to watch their children parade in costumes representing books they had enjoyed.

Here I am with some of the quilters when bringing our work out on display for the first time.

Nishimachi International School has a long history of yearly quilts.

They are not only auctioned off for fund-raisers (like the American School used to do),
but they have also documented much of the work through post cards or greeting cards ... something I always wished ASIJ had done.

If anything, they would be popular with the many mothers who gave parts of their year to work on them.

I was only a participant in the final weeks, as I have no connection with the school other than scouting families who have attended there.
It happened that the daughter of the mother I am standing with, used to be in the after-school art class where I worked. One of the things I helped with was to document the work done by the children, and each time I asked Marika about her story, I was taken on an adventure. All her work was a story.

When she graduated to kindergarten at Nishimachi, she wanted to continue the after-school art class but, as it turned out, Monday, when I was there, Nishimachi had another program of Hawaiian dance that Marika wanted to do and was conflicted because she wanted to be with me. Through my boss, I sent her mother a message to tell Marika that Hula is a dance that tells a story and I would feel sad should she miss that opportunity just because of me. Happily, she went for the Hula and we have managed to keep connected ... adding her wonderful mom to the equation. that was my link to this delightful group.

The cherry trees in the area near the school were so pretty against the blue sky.
The peach tree on my walk to the parking spot is also in full bloom.

How is this for a splash of color?  we planted one of these trees in our garden when my second daughter was born. Unfortunately, it did not survive transplanting when the house was re-built.

It would have been almost this size by now. This one is a few short blocks down the street.

Tonight is my Cub Scout pack meeting, so I had better stop procrastinating and get things organized for that event. "A Scout is Prepared" ... at least I try to be...

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

What's up?

A cold rainy day ... and a good time to sit and work on a quilt in my lap. The borders on Phoebe's quilt are slowly getting done ... only a bit more to go and I can work on the tree area.

I have prepared some border points to feature the feed sack prints and enjoy having a bit of take-along work.

This picture was taken Tuesday evening at church on the floor of the fellowship hall.
On the way home, I completed one more block.

I have been pulling colors from each of the prints to put in the background stars.
There is not a great variety of colors but I am trying to combine them in a way that they can be arranged in a balanced way.

I am thinking some of the smaller scraps can be made into a floral border so I haven't tossed out those bits.

Our spring seems to be taking two steps forward and then a few back. I never know how many layers to put on each morning. (and if I need to peal a few off ... how long it will be before I need to go get them again. My bed is waiting for the day to put away the sleeping bag and dress up the bed with some new sheets my daughter gifted me ... and actually see the quilt that is under the down comforter.

Next post I will share the finished quilt made with the school mothers. Until then ... back to quilting.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

A snail's pace

Last week one of my neighbors was un-tangling a vine along the top of her fence. It was just beginning to burst in bloom and I asked her what it was.

She said she didn't know as it had been bought by her daughter-in-law.
Looking closely at the flowers and leaves, it definitely seems to be some kind of orchid.
I went on line to look up "vine orchid" and was beginning to find a few similar pictures when my computer died.

At first the cursor became a little rainbow going round and round. By the next day, the screen was all black.

Finally, as I was going into town for choir practice and there was an apple store across the street from where our church is located, I decided to pack up the laptop in my bag and see if there was something that could be fixed.

 I was rather intimidated walking into that big shop full of people and devices, so it took a lot of bravery to step inside and find someone who might direct me to someone who could help.

A person took my name and email address and type of problem, then sent me to a place to sit and wait.
Luckily I had some handwork to distract me, and it was not really much of a wait before a handsome, smiling, young man showed up asking to have a look.

He showed me what to do if that happened again while fixing the problem. He spoke perfect english. He checked other issues I had been having and got rid of an overload of "free" stuff being advertised each time I tried to open my laptop... (free cleaners that you had to buy etc.) and checked that I had plenty of storage. He also helped me find a way to send photos from my cell phone to a place where I can edit and use them.

When I thanked him and asked how much I owed, he said the service was free. Oh my! I sure walked out of there feeling a lot better than I did when I walked in. As I left, two of those who helped direct me asked if my problem had been fixed. Well, that area of town sees lots of high-end tourists and that store must be happy to sell them lots of items. Nothing like good service!

The magnolias are in wonderful bloom in the park. (above picture).

As I drove out to Tama for my scouting event,
I saw the mountain sakura had begun to bloom.

This is along the road up to the scouting area. Not as pretty as some varieties in town but still a harbinger of spring.

The weekend was quite cold, the only heat coming from two ceremonial campfires.

It was predicted to rain but coming prepared for rain seems to be the best way the make the weatherman change his mind.

Nikko went along with me.
She is showing signs of doggy dementia and kept walking in circles, getting all tangled with her leash. she stepped in her water dish and overturned it on the floor. At least when I went to the car to rest between ceremony presentations, she curled up on the front seat and slept. By the time I returned home for my english lessons, she was so exhausted she slept right on the floor in the entryway.
Her health otherwise seems OK and she is focused always on food, checking her food dish at regular intervals. She has also begun peeing in the house which she has never done before.

I have had many busy days, starting very early in the mornings. The choir sang two services meaning I had to have Nikko walked and fed and be out of the house by 6:30 am. Choir practice also went longer than usual because I sing in a small choir that practices when the main rehearsal is over. Some nights I don't get home until nine or ten pm. As usual, even on holidays, onigiri delivery to the homeless goes on and I have to be out by 4:am on Mondays.

I spent some time looking through the feedsack bits that came among much fabric. I decided to feature some in a quilt and cut four-inch squares. I picked two colors from each print and marked colored scraps for settings. It is nice to have some handwork to take along for long train rides and lots of waiting for things to get started.

Here is what I have managed to assemble so far. I notice the variety of colors is rather narrow and I will probably have to repeat some of these settings a number of times. I hope to join them without sashing if possible.

Meanwhile, time at home is spent sorting through the donated stash and getting it ironed and folded and in meaningful piles. The quilt for baby Phoebe is now in the hoop on the third side's outer border. I have plans to add leaves to the tree and a flying Phoebe once the outer quilting is done. I have made a small sketch to work from.

The last few weeks I have been helping the quilters at Nishimachi International School with their auction quilt. The finish date is nearing and it has been fun making new friends in the group.

The quilter who donated her stash showed up the Sunday before last with a book I had loaned her plus another bin of fabric and a lot of tools. Since all those tools were marked in centimetres, I took them to share with the new group. There were also hoops that found new homes. There are a number of stencils that will need to be sorted and given a new home.

So, though life seems to keep getting in the way, progress goes slowly. Weeks between posts can be due to any number of reasons... but at least the laptop issues will not be the cause.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Done with "ditching"

It is amazing how life seems to get in he way. I had always thought that as I got older, things would quiet down and I would have more time to work quietly on my projects. Well, either I was wrong or I am not old enough yet.

Spring is slowly moving in. We have had cold rainy days with windy sunny days mixed in.

The plum blossoms opened all the way to the tips of the branches and these days I am sweeping up the dark pink snow from out front.

As I walk to the station most days along this quiet street,
I have seen the magnolias open one by one ... starting on the left side toward the far end (where it gets most sun), and moving up the block to where I stand with my camera at the train crossing.

At the far end, in front of the apartment building, the tall square hedge of photinia has turned red on the south side facing the street and still has green on each end that is in the shade.

With today's wind, some of the magnolia flowers at the far end have been dropping petals, while at the end near the crossing, the blooms are just reaching full bloom.

I am so glad that this past winter the tree trimmers left the buds.
... well, they did manage to cut off all the buds on the dogwoods so we won't be seeing much there.

Along my narrow street, this small garden area which is usually all weeds, got a bit of cleaning over the winter and what were just a few daffodils has expanded. Now there is a whole row along the street.

Seeing these in bloom, I went around the house to check on mine. Yep, they are in bloom too. I hope they will multiply as generously as these have.

My neighbor to the north has camellias peeping over his wall. 
From last week I am sweeping up those petals blown into my front walk.

The pink sweet daphne is dropping it's flowers but the white ones are taking their turn in the flower bed.

I notice buds on the maples beginning to swell, and, though friends are posting pictures of cherry trees in bloom, our area is still far behind.

The star magnolia in the park is very pretty and the fuzzy bud casings are covering the ground.

The neighbor's hydrangea is getting ready to leaf out.
Today was warm enough to go out and sweep wearing just a light jacket. Soon dog hair will be wafting through the house.

Even with a very busy schedule, I have managed to complete all the in-the-ditch quilting on Phoebe's quilt. I am considering leaving the four-inch I-Spy squares un-quilted. The thinsulate I used for batting will not shift and I rather like those slightly puffy blocks. I will next be quilting the inner and outer borders. Then I want to add leaves to the tree and a flying phoebe in the larger space.

Yesterday began the spring break so I might have a wee bit more time ... however, last week I rescued some fabrics from the sewing room of a friend who needs to make room to care for an elderly relative. I must be out of my mind, as there was a lot more fabric than I can ever use. I have slowly been sorting, ironing the tangled mess, and folding into piles. I have cut some of the odd scraps into usable squares to sort into tins. I can see a feed-sack quilt in the future but dealing with this will be a continuing challenge. I am also thinking of making kits for a beginning quilting class. As I only buy fabric as needed, it blows my mind that someone would buy so much without a use other than to stack in piles.

Meanwhile, choir goes on with several small choir practices beyond the usual ones. Scout events continue and I have a coming OA Vigil to take part in. I am enjoying helping with a group quilt for Nishimachi International school.  Tomorrow is Leia's birthday. We had a nice gathering yesterday and I expect there will be a second gathering to celebrate my SIL's birthday early next month.
At least I am not likely to suffer from boredom!

Thursday, March 7, 2019

A bit of sun at last

After a week of grey skies and off-and-on rain, it was nice to see the sun again.

Well, I shouldn't complain because the sun did come out for my nature hike on Saturday, a week ago.

Though this plum tree really needs some pruning, I'm glad I held off until later because the flower buds are marching all the way to the tips of those long branches.

The sweet daphne is also giving off a sweet scent. I'm sure were I to walk down my little street wearing a blindfold, my nose would tell me when I arrived at home.

The past week has also been one of hunting, and finally finding lost items.

For two years, an anniversary banner I made for the Women's Conference has been lost somewhere in the one of the many storage areas at the church.

A week ago, one of the church members was asking about the possibility of hanging a few of the past stewardship banners to liven up the walls of the fellowship hall.

I had seen a number of them rolled up on a back shelf in the basement furnace-room, but when we went to look, there was something else piled on that shelf where they had been.

That guy started looking around and though those were not found in that room, he found the rolled up WOCON banner at the back of one of the lower shelves.

Since our facility manager has changed fairly recently, and now is a young guy with no history of the church building, it is not surprising that stuff might get moved around without even knowing what it is.
The smaller hangings have yet to be found, but this one is now hanging on a large empty space. Too bad is was too late to make it to the conference.

Tonight two of my scouts will have an "Arrow of Light" ceremony and bridge over to the troop. I have a wooden candle-holder stand with the arrow symbol that I take to the meeting on those occasions, but though it always lives on top of one bookcase, I couldn't find it. I thought I might have left it in the scout storage area, as it is rather a problem to carry into town and back on a crowded train, but a friend checked and didn't find it there. Today I located it where it had fallen off the back of the shelf. Now the old candle-wax has been scraped off and the paint touched up and it is ready to go.

For the last week or so, I have been quilting around the tree on the baby quilt, starting at the bottom left and working around. I had cut out a Bluejay to add and pinned it to the top of the tree. When I got to those branches, it was not there, and I began looking around in my sewing area to see if it might have fallen off.

Today I moved the hoop down to the lower right branches, and there was that Bluejay holding a conversation with rather orange-colored Meadowlark. I guess there are times the right-brain doesn't know what the left hand is doing.

I have yet to mark and cut leaves to add to the tree. Maybe I will lose those before I get to it. Probably I will continue to quilt the borders and blocks in the ditch before moving into the detail.
At least the quilt is big and bright and not as likely to get lost.