Saturday, July 24, 2021

Bad choice

     Every fall, the tree trimmers  come to my door, wanting to prune the trees in my front border. Actually, I do not want all the buds cut off of of my lovely plum tree, so I explained to the most recent "gardner" the reason for not wanting his service at that time. 

      That was a good choice, because this past spring the plum tree was the most beautiful ever and early summer brought more plums than there have ever been. 

I sometimes get complaints from people walking by, that the branches are rather low, and someone on a bike might touch them with his head. This is not a "through street" and there is a sign behind where I was standing to take this picture saying no cars. Yes, sometimes cars do try to squeeze past this wall and the fence on the other side. Often they end up knocking leaves off the tree as they pass. I often trim the lower branches so there will be no problems, but I have been concerned about the higher branches that are against the house and touching my neighbor's roofed area, so, when the guy showed up earlier in the week, I said OK, but told him I only wanted the lower branches above the street and those against the house and neighbor's roof taken off.

     I should have stayed outside, but I was in the middle of an online meeting, and didn't get back out until much later. By that time, he was cutting back the biwa on the other side of the house. It was after he left that I went back out the front and saw the results of his work.


None of the branches touching the house had been trimmed and there is no longer shade over the street.

     The maple as well Is more butchered than trimmed. The branches that were ripping the second floor window screen are still there. I'm pretty sure there will be branches returning, but removing those against the house will require setting up a ladder just to reach the lower ones. there were a lot of clippings left among the plants under the trees and a few caught among the higher branches where I will need a ladder to reach, 

     The shade along the street is gone and more sun comes into the house at the heat of the day. I guess I have learned my lesson the hard way. For what I paid, I could have gone out and bought one of those long-arm shears at the end of a pole.

     This will be the next choice. I hope it will not be as bad. I have finished piecing the upper and lower parts of the banner, Before I insert the blue area, I am thinking it might be easier to add the flowers and vines and words first. Probably I need to prepare a large piece of paper with drawings of the things I need to add ... or maybe I could cut the blue to fit and then overlay it with drawings.

     I still need to come up with ideas for the border. I am thinking of including strips for those who want to sign their names. Hopefully I don't melt from the heat before this is done...


Thursday, July 15, 2021

Next on the list

Now that I have a bit of floor space, I decided to lay out the anniversary quilt.
On our church's 140th anniversary, I took these white strips and a sign pen to collect signatures.
I don't remember why I made some 1x4 and some 2x4.
My original thought was assembling some kind of a white trellis  with vines and flowers behind.
I was thinking of a theme... "150 Years and Still Growing"
Next year will be that anniversary, so it is about time I get this thing underway.

After making a number of random floral blocks, I noticed a similar idea on another blog with more coordinated colors in the pieced blocks.  I thought that might be a bit better and now I seem to have enough of those and I am glad I made the change. No doubt I will find another purpose for the other pieced ones. 

Most of the smaller strips are  just signed, but the larger ones have a message as well.   I decided that, on  a banner, it would be easier to read those wide ones if they were closer to the bottom border. This is the layout I came up with. the center strip will be some shade of plain blue with flowers and vines and words added.

Next task will be cutting a few more half-square triangles and going through my floral one-inch squares for the upper half layout.    I need to cut a few more inch-wide strips to balance the upper half, and I am thinking adding strips to the border for more to sign on the anniversary celebration day. 

For now, I am looking forward to the day I can begin sewing these rows together,     I have yet to sort through my solids, hoping to find a large enough strip of light blue for the center.  Time to get back to work!                           

Friday, June 25, 2021

It's been a while

 Over a month has passed, and I am finally getting down to the business at hand. I had laid the kotatsu cover facedown on the floor with little space to move around. I had thought of taking it to the church for basting, but that would have meant hauling the quilt top and the roll of batting and the queensized flannel sheet, plus the other basic sewing items on two trains plus a walk. I really need this space on the second floor apartment for laying out the anniversary banner, so I can get to sewing the rows together. 

Yesterday I laid out the batting and today I whip-stitched the sections together. After laying the flannel sheet on top and pinning it in place, I flipped it over and pin-basted the top. Now it is back to my livingroom and today will go in the hoop.

I used #80 thinsulate which, being made for clothing, is rather tacky and will not shift. Since this is being made to give warmth at a table, I am thinking light amount of stitching will make it puffier. Maybe in-the-ditch will be enough. I guess I will see once it is in the hoop. I'm thinking that lovely soft pale blue flannel might make a nice turned border instead of binding. 

I'm glad to see this small progress and know I will have something for my hands to do during zoom and skype meetings ... though sitting under this warm top in the heat of summer might have its challenges.

Last week was spent at Scout camp. As usual, I did the woodcarving and leatherworking merit badges. Since last year had been cancelled, lots of supplies had to be brought from home, and I am still sorting and getting those things put away. 

The classes were long and attention span short. It was my first time to have girls in the class and I have to say they did much better work than the boys. I also did not have an adult assistant to sign off the talking points, and fitting in last-minute requirements was not the best experience. Off and on rain did not add much either, but my silkworms were happy with a constant supply of fresh mulberry leaves. 

The final day, I was presented the "Clarence Griffin Award", a new to me Far East Council award for commitment and dedication. Interestingly, Clarence Griffin was the person who brought scouting to Japan, and started the Troop 1 international scouts in Yokohama. He welcomed Baden Powell to Japan, and for a number of years, I was part of the leadership of that troop, and have seen the charter signed by Baden Powell at that time. I didn't even know the Far East Council knew the story from much earlier days.

One of my cub scouts had a graduation ceremony and crossed into the troop with the "Arrow of Light" rank the Friday before camp started. I was pleased thar a week later, at the end of camp ceremony, he was presented with "Honor Scout" award. I guess effort pays off in more than one way.

Off to start quilting....

Monday, May 24, 2021


 2022 will be the 150th anniversary of Tokyo Union Church. 

Nine years ago, when we celebrated out 140th anniversary, I set up a table with four inch strips, some one inch wide and some two inches wide, and fabric markers for those attending to sign their names or a message.  My plan was to create a banner in celebration of next year's anniversary. 

Time has flown, and I need to get this banner in progress. My original idea was to use the white strips to form a trellis, applique flowers above and around and the words "150 Years and Still Growing". I have more or less given up on that idea after trying to combine the two different sizes of white strips.

I made random floral pieced blocks to separate the strips. Since the wider strips have more writing, I thought those would be better placed at the bottom, therefore easier to read.

At that time I was thinking of maybe light gray cornerstones between blocks.

I laid those out on my carpet to get an  idea of how they would look in the upper corner.

Then, everything kind of ground to a halt while I dither over where to go from here.

I drafted the idea on graph paper to get an idea of how this might go together. 

I can picture a large sunflower and vines or other flowers against a light blue for the sky and the words at an angle. Maybe use the sky blue in the binding?

I still have not begun sewing the corner areas because I haven't decided what to put in those little squares.

Then, this week, while scrolling through blogs, I noticed that Susan Snooks, Patchwork n Play,  had made pieced blocks for a project she is working on, and arranged the scraps by color. 

The more I thought about it, the more I thought those would be better to use than the random ones I have made. Saturday I laid out some of my cut scraps with closer colors, and I have been sewing those together.

Here they are laid out in a square pattern, and I definitely think this is less distracting than the random pieces.

I could grade them up from the bottom to meet the blue sky strip running through the center. Just to check, I laid out some two-inch squares in the corner area. Maybe better than using gray ...?

Maybe I could use the random floral blocks in the upper area with the one-inch strips...

Those could use floral cornerstones as well.

I really wish I could decide this basic part of the banner so I could move along. 

I am planning to add strips of both two and one inch as piano keys separated by floral strips. in the border for members who were not here nine years ago to sign.  

I do not have a deadline as to when the celebration will be, but I prefer not to have to do a lot of last minute work. Finishing early and adding detail is more to my liking.  Before adding the words, I will probably run my idea past some friends at TUC.

For now, I am open to suggestions.

Friday, May 7, 2021

Golden week

 I have to admit, the gold in "Golden Week" was rather gray. I was at least blessed to have the company of Flat Stanley, tagging along on daily activities.

He joined me on my weeding activities in the park. 

Luckily, the mosquitoes were not yet out. A week later they have returned and are voracious.

He was eager to see lots of koinobori flying in the wind.

Many local places that usually display carp streamers did not have them  out this year.  Maybe to control crowds during recent surge in virus cases.

333 koi were enjoying a breezy afternoon, and I had to hang on to Stanley to keep him from blowing away.

Stanley was very impressed with the "Boy's Day" things we saw on sale, walking through the local department store.

He really wanted a samurai outfit to celebrate the week, so I dug through my paper scraps and assembled a basic set of armour.

Many tasks are just daily events for me, but it was rather nice to have Samurai Stanley go along to hold the sweeping bin.

We had lots of windy days the past week and there were lots of leaves and flower petals cluttering our street and following us into the house stuck to our shoes. 

Stanley was a bit surprised to see what looked like fall, coming in the spring.

On "boy's Day", we visited a friend who set out lots of traditional displays. My friend is going to the states next week. She will get her vaccine there and visit her sons. She offered to take the laptop case I made for Kimie last year, that I have not been able to mail... since the US postal service made new rules.

Since Flat Stanley needed a little larger envelope for his return trip, and those are not allowed as they are a bit bigger than a postcard, my friend offered to take Stanley with her and mail the envelope from there. 

We had a nice sayonara party for Stanley, and he could wait in his envelope with my friend, and didn't get wet in the wind and rain on the way home.

Meanwhile, The I-Spy quilt went to its new home and the kids are enjoying it.

House repairs are moving along and the recent rain is not coming inside anymore. 

Assorted cacti are beginning to bloom and plums are falling from the tree. Each day there are victims of human feet, squashed on the street ... but a few useful ones too. (If I want to make plum wine).

In a bit of time, I will have an early Mother's day zoom visit with my wonderful kids. The Gold from Golden Week may be arriving a wee bit late ... but worth the wait.

Friday, April 23, 2021

What's up?

Well, the I-Spy was finished over a week ago, and has been out a number of times, trying to get a photo shot. The days have been quite windy and the best lighting was competing with a balloon effect. Now, the problem is to find the right time of day when the sun is in a place that doesn't cause shadows from power lines ... and this neighborhood has an overload of those.  I have saved this shot, but am hoping to get a better one before passing it to it's new owner.



My orchid cactus has been showing off its lovely bloom. I moved it from my greenhouse to the front wall so it could be enjoyed by more than just me.

Unlike the Night-blooming cereus, it lasts several days. I was glad I didn't miss seeing it. 

About three years ago, I rescued a few bulbs from the park where I weed.

Every year, just as the buds begin to come out, the "gardeners" (or whatever those guys are called), come out with weed whackers and cut these plants off about three inches above the ground. I had never seen them bloom, so I snatched up a couple of bulbs and planted them in the narrow strip between my house and the street. That is the only place that gets sun, and though only around a foot wide, the bulbs seem happy to have been left to show off their blooms. This is the second year of rewards.

This past week, I have had a visit from "Flat Stanley". 

Monday morning, he went with me to deliver onigiri to the homeless in Shibuya. 

He joined some zoom meetings, and visited a local shrine and nearby temples, helped with weeding in the park, and each time he sends pictures and a story back to my grandson, Ryden, in Oregon.

He is hoping to visit a place where carp-streamers are flying.

It is getting near that time of year.

I think all the students in Ryden's class will be sharing pictures and stories about where they have been.

I have had several visits from Flat Stanleys in the past, and I enjoy those adventures, looking at old things with new eyes.

House repairs are ongoing. The first floor section is almost done, but it seems the damage is coming in from the roof, so both second floor and greenhouse have now been opened and are up for repairs. The kotatsu cover awaits basting and several other challenges are vying for attention.

gotta get my day going.....


Sunday, April 11, 2021

It's been a while...

 Actually, it has been almost a month since my last post. The kotatsu cover now is waiting for a space to baste it. My daughter  in Boston sent a nice large flannel sheet to use for the backing. I will have plenty of time to get it done before next winter ... though probably should avoid sitting under the hoop full of that warm quilt in the middle of the sauna called "summer". 

Meanwhile I have been working on an I-Spy quilt for a friend. The border went on Friday and Saturday I pieced strips of yukata fabric to make a backing with an all-over pattern. I did have some wide fabric I could have  used but the choice was either pink or white. Thinking of a quilt for kids to play on, I thought something patterned would be better and the texture of yukata fabric would not slip as easily off a napping child. 

Basting was mostly done with pins, so it didn't take long, and the center is now in the hoop, getting in-the-ditch sewing. The four inch pictures should be OK without quilting as I used #60 thinsulate which doesn't shift.

While visiting over Easter, my son-in-law set up my new computer. I am still using my old one while trying to figure out how to use the new one. I did discover that the gadget I have to transfer pictures from my camera to the computer can not be connected. Do they make new gadgets for old cameras? Well, I won't be going shopping in town anytime soon. 

Vaccines seem to be all talk without much action. A friend, living in the area of Tokyo that is scheduled first for shots, got his notice to schedule an appointment but the phone was busy with no answer and the website was "under development". On the day they began, all the shots were gone in two hours. Looks to me like "Fail to plan ... plan to fail". From what I hear, my area is way at the bottom of the list. Friday I had to go into town and the train was crammed. This morning after delivering onigiri to the homeless, the Shibuya area was full of groups of young people. With talk of tightening restrictions, everyone seems to be getting in their last outings before new rules are put in force. Having been glad to say goodbye to 2020, 2021 does not seem much different.

Guess I will skype and zoom with needle in hand for a lot longer. Today workers are working to remove a completely rotten and disintegrated corner post by my garden door. It is amazing the rest of the house is still standing. When the AC unit was installed outside years ago, rain water drained into the wall and the condition is similar to my greenhouse roof that had problems with leaks too. Here's hoping it will be fixed before the rainy season comes along.

My cymbidium on a stand by the front door is greeting everyone passing by. All year long it sits in that pot with little or no attention other than maybe a sip of water during the dry season.

Doesn't it look like an open mouth shouting "Look at me!"

Or is it laughing at my surprise?

Hope you all have a touch of beauty and laughter in your lives as well.

Monday, March 15, 2021

Getting my act together

 So many floral scraps to play with. I have spent a good part of the week just marking and cutting scraps, that are too small to do much with,

 into one inch sets. Then arranging them into dark on light and light on dark. It is somewhat of a challenge with mostly medium prints, trying to get at least a little contrast or enough of one to show.

I made this small table runner, planning to give it to a neighborhood friend. From time to time she invites me over and we enjoy coffee and a snack together with some nice English conversation thrown in. 

I thought this might be a nice mat for her coffee maker and snack plate.  Since I was just working with odd scraps, when it came to the quilting, I took my baggy of leftovers from larger quilts to piece together a batting. What I ended up using was a bit higher loft than I usually put in runners, and after I began quilting, I felt the results were a bit puffy for a table runner. 

This picture is just after finishing the binding. Today I machine washed it and hung it out in the sun to dry. Then I ironed it front and back and it seems a wee bit less puffy. She told me her favorite color is blue, so I made the border using a blue floral print. It really doesn't show the quilting. And ... the backing is a larger blue floral. 

I am still sorting through those floral scraps. I think there must be enough for 50 quilts. Quite a few large pieces measured in meters, then a pile of pieces several feet square, then lots of maybe quarter yard cuts. Some are still folded with a price tag.  Now I am working with odd scraps that are probably too small to feature in a quilt, and making a tin of those that might be useful in something scrappy. The small ones I cut to go into my tins of two, three. and four-inch squares. Some of the strips might make an interesting border somewhere down the road. 

Another week has rolled around and the end of this sorting still not in sight. I have a box of three inch pieced blocks that are patiently waiting for a purpose. Those were assembled while on zoom meetings and a number on the train into town and back for my scout  meeting. Should I get a request for a runner, it won't take so long to put one together.

Meanwhile, gusty weather is spreading plum blossoms up and down the street and I am getting exercise sweeping them before they are ground under foot. Lots of ways to enjoy flowers in my area!

Monday, March 8, 2021

Playing with florals


Not a whole lot going on other than zooming and skyping.

For someone with limited computer skills, I seem to be spending a lot of time sitting in front of my computer screen.

Luckily, with the camera aimed right, I can spend most of that time measuring, marking, cutting, and sewing some of these scrap fabrics.

Of all the scrap fabric I have been "gifted", it seems florals are the most profuse. 

I was recently reminded of a table runner I made years ago for a speaker at one of our yearly Women's' Conferences.  I dug into my tin of leftover blocks, and thought there might be enough light and dark to add to the tin, and I have been wishing to make a small table runner for a neighbor friend. 

Why not some flowers for the coming spring? 

I have hardly scratched the surface of those gifted scraps. Many require ironing  and trimming which is slowly getting done, but the strings and odd shapes have been put to use, and I think there might be enough for more than one runner. Maybe my entryway would enjoy some flowers too.

Speaking of flowers, my neighbor's flowering vine is a reminder that spring is on its way.

I am thinking of trying to root a section of this plant, which I have learned is from Australia. 

From what I have seen, it seems to thrive on neglect, as that neighbor has allowed the garden to go wild. I have only once seen the mother-in-law untangling the vines from other plants and directing them to the fence.

They sure are attractive festooning that fence.

The plum tree we planted years ago to celebrate the birth of our first daughter has rewarded the neighborhood with a colorful display of blossoms.

Now I am sweeping the street each day so that those same neighbors won't be complaining about those pink petals coming into their houses on the soles of their shoes.

My relationship with the broom makes up for time spent sitting next to my computer contemplating flowered fabrics.

A wee bit of exercise is worth it!

I hope you all are finding some flowers to enjoy as well.



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....