Sunday, September 13, 2020

Biding my time

    In a little over a week, Japan will celebrate "Respect for the Aged Day". Well into my 80s, I have been contemplating the challenges of growing old in Japan.

    My first challenge came at age 70. From then, and every three years after, I have been required to take a "Senior Driving Test". The first time was not too bad, rather a waste of time being lectured by a young man and driving a pretend roadway more like an amusement park.

    Over the years since, the test has become more and more demeaning, as if every elderly driver is in the last stages of dementia. 

    Trying to book the test, I was told there were no openings until the next year. My daughter tried to book it for me with no luck. It was my Son in law who finally got me a date ... not at the local school within walking distance, but far from home and hard to locate. Of course the test itself was no problem, but even with a score of 100%, I was told I had to go home and make a phone call to book the second half of the test. That segment was booked in a different location, but the test was easy ... if one doesn't mind driving the course in an unfamiliar vehicle. I said to the teacher,"It seems to me that you are making this test so hard to get, as to  discourage older drivers from taking it", to which he responded :You're right".

    Yes, senior drivers may have accidents, but my car has been hit three times by young drivers. Once I was parked and unloading my van, and a young driver ran into the back while searching on the floor of his car for his dropped cell phone. Twice my car was hit while stopped for a red light by men on cell phones. One guy got out of his car with the phone still to his ear, checked the damage to his own car, and when the light changed, took off like a shot. Since I drive a van, I can see down into other cars when stopped at lights. The number of young people texting with phones held below the window is absolutely scary.

    Another challenge of getting old ... when my 16 year old dog died in December, I began trying to find another dog. Walking the dog at least three times a day, keeps the elderly active and healthy. It also builds community with other dog owners. How sad it was to discover that being over 65, I am restricted from getting a dog. Even seeing a 10 year old dog advertised as looking for a new home, I was turned away as being too old. I am not sure how this makes sense.

    What else might we find to challenge old people? Tuesday, I happened to be out to a dental appointment, and since there was a branch of my bank near the station, rather than walk a long way in my area, I decided to stop there to withdraw a rather large amount of money to pay for the dental implant that is not covered by national health. Imagine my surprise when the machine rejected my request. Going to the teller's window, I was told that because I am over 80, I can only take out a 100,000 limit per day. What that meant was I would have to walk over an hour each day for four more days in the heat of summer before I could pay my bill. Is this a rule to save the elderly? Or kill them off in the heat, to keep them from earning 0.01 yen interest? Who makes these rules?

    Japan has a large aging population. Those elders who used to be respected are now looked down on as a "problem". Is history forgotten? This is the generation who rebuilt Japan after the war. Everyone who uses a credit card should be grateful to my husband who fought the big banks for universal acceptance, now taken for granted.

    Surely I am grateful to be able to buy a "Silver Pass" that allows me to ride the Toei lines and city busses for free. And then, there are those things called "Silver Seats", supposedly for the elderly and handicapped, but in truth, only for the youngest and most aggressive. Surely those young people on their cell phones or sleeping with earbuds have found a way not to see those elderly ... and we all know, if we don't see it, it doesn't exist. Of course I won't see it either because that tall guy standing in front of me with a backpack knocked my glasses to the floor. And to add to the challenge, what used to be 8 seats in each end of the train is being readjusted to three seats at one end and six at the other. 5 fewer chances to sit.

    "Respect".I looked it up in my 85 year old Children's Dictionary.... "To look up to" , "To esteem"... Are those young people sitting so they can look up at the elderly standing? I am wondering if those driving school people or pet rescue people, or the bankers, or even the commuters have ever thought that one day they, too, could be "elderly". As for me, I am rather tired of being judged entirely by my date of birth.

    In the USA, there is the AARP, American Association for Retired People, The AARP advocates for senior citizens making sure they get a fair deal. Perhaps it is time for seniors in Japan to organize and advocate for our rights.

    Meanwhile, my Coronaville is growing. What I thought would make a table runner now seems more likely to end up as a quilt. I am considering sashing between the blocks. I was thinking of alternating light and dark on each block but I do not want to spend money on any more fabric. I think I will wait until the blocks are together and then do the math to figure out what will work, I can adjust to outer row by putting some tree print  between them in a few places. Well, no rush. I have at least a hundred waiting to be arranged in blocks.

My homeless friends will be happy to get onigiri tomorrow after a long summer break. At least I am not too old to serve the homeless in the wee hours before dawn.

Friday, August 28, 2020

A quick finish

Just a little over three weeks from start to finish, this must be one of the quickest quilts in the collection.  It was on August second that our congregation voted on the choice of a new associate pastor. and the following day I heard he had a two year old son they were thinking of sending to a Japanese pre-school so he could learn Japanese.

That gave me the idea of the I-Spy. The basting went well on the 18th, even though the room was very hot and humid. Because I used #60 thinsulate, it rolled out smoothly over the flimsy back with all seams lying nicely. The "gifted" backing was just the right width, so didn't need to be pieced. I pin basted it and when I flipped it over, everything was fine and no adjustment needed.


Carrying things back, arms full, I slipped on the stairs at the bottom and hit my knee and toe.
Ouch! The knee wasn't that bad but I got out an ice pack for my toe. By the middle of the afternoon, though I was pretty sure it was not broken, I decided to go to the clinic for a check.

No, it wasn't broken this time. Actually it had been broken in the past and grown back stronger than before. Still, it was getting swollen and the color was spreading over the whole foot,
They put a cast on it and it has been getting regular ultrasonic treatment daily. The purple color has spread over a good part of the foot and all the toes. The cast made walking easier and has now been removed.

I have had plenty of time to sit and quilt. The blocks are all quilted in the ditch. Thinsulate will not shift as it is made for wearables, so within four inches is enough. I quilted the bamboo print in the border along most of the white lines. It gives it a nice texture.

The finished size is 49" x 59", good size to toss over a napping child but really not enough to tuck in on a single bed. I had been thinking something to toss over the back of a sofa, ready to play or use.

I still have the game to work on and have been making a list of nouns, verbs, adjectives, and numbers that can be combined in a game. I had been thinking of cards, but another idea might be a notebook with folded pages having english on one side and japanese on the other.  With restrictions on travel, it will be some time before this quilt can meet up with its new owners.

Now I am dithering over what to work on next. The houses are gathering into neighborhoods and the log cabin is waiting for decisions as to what it wants to become. Down the road is a big girl quilt for my eldest granddaughter. (I have an idea for a Hawaiian quilt ... her choice ... but would like to get a large piece of fabric, dyed from yellow to blue. I have seen that in some Hawaiian quilts and think it would be nice for the design.) I also need to put together a kotatsu cover for Norie's family and I have Marie's name for a Christmas gift. 

I know I am getting more done while in lockdown, but my motivation has declined in the heat and humidity. I began turning on the AC in the afternoons a few weeks ago but the electric bill shot up to the moon this month. Good thing I'm not made of butter!

Monday, August 17, 2020

A few weeks gone

The first Sunday this month, after our livestreamed church service, a congregational meeting was held on zoom to vote on the pastoral search committee choice for a new associate pastor.
The ballots were sent to our email which took some time, and we had until 5:pm to respond. I was away from home when the time was near  but luckily I was with my daughter who helped me to first get my mail into my call phone, and then vote. (no small task, as I had not been able to access my email on my device for years.)

The results were declared at a second zoom meeting at 7:pm. Over the past few weeks we have been able to learn more about our next pastor, though it may be a while until he and his family can come to Tokyo.  A team has been set up to assist the family when they do arrive. There was some mention of their two-year-old son learning Japanese. I thought right away of an I-Spy quilt, and dug out my tin of four-inch blocks. Last night I put the outer border on this quilt and now am thinking of where I can go to get this basted and ready to quilt. I have yet to check my supply of batting. I have some that was "gifted" but know nothing about what type it is. I may need to go shopping if I need more thinsulate but need to know if the store has a supply before setting out in the heat on a shopping trip.


So, this is what I have so far. The bamboo border is left-overs from my youngest grandson's quilt border. I thought that would be fitting for the family's Japan adventure. I used a few one and two inch  prints to make my scraps fit. I have some light violet binding and enough solid pale blue for the backing.
All I will need is space to lay it out for a few hours of basting. Maybe with the morning breeze I should see if there is enough floor space that is cool enough not to  drip sweat all over it while working.
Meanwhile I am thinking of creating a game with cards ... English on one side and Japanese on the other ... that they could draw with the Japanese side up and turn over to check if they found it. Maybe a set with colors or numbers or verbs or animal names. Well, I still have time ... lots of ot ... to work on the final plans.  Any ideas welcome

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Another day down


Thursday mornings are my "park" day.
Last week was missed because of rain, though I have gone to the park when rain is rather light.

I take with me one of the bags that was used for my Monday morning onigiri delivery, and bring it home filled with weeds.

Park maintenance in my area ... and also in the last place I lived ... is very strange. They plant very fine grass, the kind one might see on a golf course. This grass grows by runners rather than going to seed.

The gardners come every other day or so and rake the leaves. Two guys mostly standing and talking, one with a bamboo broom and the other with a dustpan. They don't seem to throw out the leaves, but pile them up at the base of a tree.
About twice in the summer, they come with a weed whacker and cut all the grass, spreading the weed seeds all over. In all these years, I have never seen one gardner bend over and pull a weed.

The Thursday park has the good grass, but it has been taken over by weeds. This grass is still young, about a foot tall, but beginning to form weeds. Here I have pulled the front section of  a plot to give the good grass an equal chance.

Here is the other side of the grassy hill. The weeds were cut here once a few weeks ago.

The hedge is about three feet high, so those weeds are big enough to see and pull.










This is the left front of the park along the street.

Three years ago it was all knee-high weeds.
Last fall, my cub scouts came for a community service project and pulled all the weeds in this area.

I give it a "once over" each week but very few weeds have come back and, with the nice grass, which I was able to bring back by planting runners, the weeds are very easy to spot.



This is the right front of the park which was also knee-high weeds a few years ago. The bare area was a trash collection spot until last year.

All the grass around the sign was planted three years ago and toward the street are runners that have been added since this spring.










A few of the runners planted in the past month are beginning to take hold.

The biggest challenge now might be the gardeners with their bamboo rakes uncovering the grass roots.

This area has some plants that come up from small bulbs while the good grass is dormant. They don't seem to bother the grass at all.

This park was built with  water coming out from the top of the hill behind the hedges, running down a concrete path into a shallow pond with stepping stones and a small sculpture, then being pumped back to the top from the bottom drain.

I don't know whose idea this was, but for some reason it did not last more than a year or two. Maybe kids fell in the water or parents were afraid they might. Now the water just sits below the grate at the bottom and breeds mosquitoes. My nickname for this site is "Mosquito Park". The only people who I have seen here are truck drivers and construction workers coming to use the toilet, guys sitting on one of the rock seats to smoke, and people sometimes cutting through to the back road. Since it is along the road leading to a school, sometimes I see mothers dragging their kids out of the dry pond.

Here is one of the trees that gets the sweepings.

This is the park closest to my home. It seems the rotting leaves under the tree have made good compost for growing weeds ... and I see those weeds now creeping out into the grass.

This afternoon I spent three hours or more visiting the Toyota dealer to have my car inspected.
The car goes in every year at this time for a check up, and every three years that means an inspection.
It is never a cheap event. I will be sent a sticker to place on my front window, indicating it is in good running order. That is the way things are here in Japan.
Though it is expensive to own a car, it means the cars around you on the road are all in good working order.

Though there is a dealer within walking distance of my home, I have used this place about half an hour's drive to where we lived when I bought the car. They know me and they know my car. If there is anything to discuss, they call Norie and explain it to her. Last fall, when I went to have the break pads replaced, they gifted me a miniature potted rose. This morning, as I went out to the car park, I noticed that little rose had two buds, one beginning to open.

As to quilting ... While I was sitting in their over-cooled waiting room with a cup if iced coffee and a cookie, I managed to piece 8 new houses for my Coronaville. I had been thinking of making a runner for my coffee table, but now with close to 100 houses, it is looking like something a bit larger. (and the days continue to be piling up).

Well, time to hit the shower and call it a day.

Friday, July 24, 2020

Chopping wood


With no idea of what I am doing, I have been playing with log cabin blocks.


Hmm... random scraps might make a pattern hard to see.

I spent a whole day trying to sort the "gifted" stash. So much is cut with dangling pieces and bunched up in containers because it can't be folded.

I pulled out pieces, Ironed them, and trimmed off the strings that are too small to use. I suppose someone with a machine could make string blocks, but since I work by hand, I marked what was large enough into squares or strips, and anything smaller than a one-inch square, went into the trash. There is no way I can ever use all these fabrics, even if I live to 100. (or maybe 200) Some of the fabrics are large cuts and might be used for backings, but there are certainly a lot of random scraps.




My night-blooming cereus has a bud that is getting larger by the day.

It is promising a show one of these days.











 The tiny pot at the lower right is one of the plants I rescued from my friend Wally's garden.

There are about four or five different succulents in that pot and those tall flower spikes are coming from one  of them.

The green spiky plant behind it  has a number of red flower spikes coming up. I can't remember what it is, but it lives in damp moss rather than real soil.











The pineapple lily has sent out a big spike of flowers this year.
I think this is the biggest bloom it has ever had over the years.













And ... this has been a great year for the lily clan.

I was outside sweeping the street, and one of my neighbors who is an artist, brought out a painting to show me.

It was a lovely picture of a variety of flowers all gathered together. He pointed out one of a lily, saying he had taken a picture of one those in my garden to use as a model.

The flowers don't last long, but they are tall above everything else and very showy.

So ... the days drag by ... almost to the point I forget what day it is. This morning I had to drop everything and rush the "pura" out to the end of the street for the days collection ... before zooming in to  morning meeting. Tuesday I had to rush from a scout Executive Board meeting to another meeting without even time to fill my coffee cup. Sometime I get notices of meetings only a few hours before and by the time I check my email, I have missed the first half hour and missed the discussion point.
I'm beginning to wonder if I will be able to switch back to my former life once things reach a new normal ... if I even know what "normal" is...

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Starring Feed Sacks


Friday, the 17th of July, I put the final stitches in the feedsack quilt. From then on it was sitting patiently on my sofa, waiting for a photo time. But... with all the rain ... even predicted through all  of next week ... I thought it might be quite a while before an opportunity might happen.

Surprise! When I brought my coffee cup to the coffee table and sat down with the morning paper, that quilt began nudging me and saying, Look! The sun is peeking out! You promised I could go to the park for a picture." Well, at least it let me finish my coffee before grabbing the stepladder and my camera and going off to the park.

Actually, it took a bit of walking to find a piece of fence that was tall enough and had the light coming from the right direction. This was my first time to try this section of the fence and it wasn't tall enough to take the picture with the quilt straight up. On the other hand, the fence was not all bent from kids kicking balls at it and the trees were not blocking the sun.


The direct sun doesn't show off the quilting much. I tried to keep it at a minimum as the center blocks are just quilted in the ditch plus a diamond shape in the center of the four inch feedsack prints.
I did not applique the yoyos, but tacked them down near the edges so things would not get caught on them as they might with a button.
Rain is predicted for most of next week so I may get to cuddle under this before the sauna weather sets in. For now, I'm glad it got its day in the sun.

This morning, the sayonara banner went of to its new family. I was not at the early service to see it go, but I was sent a photo of the smiling family.

Yesterday I began chopping logs to build a cabin, and with the silkworms off the coffee table, I laid out the coronaville houses to get an idea of how to put them together. It is looking more and more as if this down time is going to last long enough to make another bed cover... and those houses are only three by four inches! Ah well, tomorrow is another day.... If I need time to think, I am covered.

Monday, July 13, 2020

Playing with yoyos


Well, these are not the ones that swing around on strings...

I got a plastic yoyo maker (sold by clover) that makes the process fairly easy once I figured out the right-handed pictures that went with the instructions.

The device comes in three sizes and I wondered if I should have gotten the smaller one, but now these are in place, I think they will be OK.



So far I am using gingham and polka dot fabrics.

When I made the blocks, I picked up two colors from the feedsack print to make the setting star.
I am now trying to get a balance of those colors in the border.

The flower petals are made from small feed sack scraps.

I put the binding on when I was halfway through quilting the larger empty spaces in the border.
The backing was getting in the way while quilting, and since the border was basted anyway,  the binding in place sped up the process considerably.  Now I am thinking I might just take this WIP upstairs with me at night and sleep under it. But then again, that might be dangerous to the finishing process with diminished incentives.
Anyway, I can't take a picture of the finish quilt in all this rain ... so ... may as well keep on playing with yoyos....

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Meeting expectations


When most of the church family knows you can make things, beware!

Last Monday a request came ... one family is leaving and will be at church next week for a sayonara blessing... could I make them a gift to thank them for their service.

Well, if I do make something, it will have to be finished by this Monday morning so I can leave it off when I go to pick up food items for the homeless mission.  Oh, I hate deadlines! Going to the end of the wire is just not my thing ... so I put down all I had been working on and hunted up some fabric that might work.


This family has been active in leading a program called "Saturday Night Out" or "SNO"

The first Saturday evening of each month, people gathered for fun and games, a nice meal, and while the kids had some entertainment, the adults had a video in a bible topic and a discussion.

I think  I attended every gathering from the beginning and enjoyed  the variety of food, the games, and getting to know members I don't often see when I am engaged in choir activities.

I picked out some night sky and stars for the border. The SNO letters got some red embroidery to help them stand out and the little letters cut from an alphabet print  got a gold outline on the family name and red on the rest.
The pink heart says "LOVE" in quilting and the long green says "and THANKS", with TUC in the left corner square.

I figured they could use this as a wall hanging or a table runner or toss it over the back of a chair.
Anyway, the expectations have been met and I didn't have to stay up past midnight to finish. I am wondering if, when we start back to gathering, this activity will be continued by someone else. This morning it was left in the postbox at the church.

Last Friday was my virtual Cub Pack meeting, We started with a game using a pencil, a meter of string, a paper clip, a scout cap, and a bottle with a narrow neck. The game was to put the pencil on one end of the string and clip the string to the cap brim, then stand and try to put the pencil into the bottle without using hands. Fastest and most successful was the only girl and it was fun to cheer them on.  As usual there was a lot of coaching once a system was discovered. When it comes to teamwork, my group is stronger then with competition.
Plans were made for a junk art challenge and a game that will meet advancement requirements. for the next meeting.
Another expectation checked off the list.

Friday, July 3, 2020

bits and pieces

Little by little things are getting checked off my list,

The feedsack quilt is all quilted in the border. I still have to add something in the more empty areas, put feelers on the butterflies, and make yoyos for the flower centers. Then add the binding.

Meanwhile, lest I fall too far behind, I have gone back to my "must do" list.
First was something for my birthday girl. (Our family draws names for Christmas and Birthdays, and this year I got #4 daughter, Kimie. ) She wanted a blue and white carrying cover for her laptop. Luckily her device is the same as mine so mine offered to sit as a model.

I dug out all my yukata scarps, turning all the space I had spent tidying into a mess.

This is what I came up with.

Last week I found a tenugui with the three comma crest. I added the triangles that makes it the same as the Fukuda family crest.

I thought Kimie might like the daruma with the"fuku" kanji and the beckoning cat.







I used a dark, rather traditional print for the lining.

I was thinking of adding a tie to be wrapped around a button but when I was going through my button collection to find something that would work, I came across the button in the shape of bamboo.

I decided to add a loop of elastic and that long button.





Below is a view of the back side with my laptop posing underneath.

I am thinking of making a drawstring bag to hold the cord and plug-in fixture.





This was a fun project and I spent the better part of the week laying out the scraps and sewing them together.

The binding was mostly stab-stitched to make it strong with many small stitches through a rather thick batting.

My other item on the to-do list was my block for the partnership quilts.
The deadline to make it to its destination is the end of the month ... and I can't say mail delivery is running smoothly or quickly.


The theme selected is "Love the Earth".

I really dithered over this one. Finally I dug out a background fabric with a map print and put my Ohio Cardinal over the center.

I'm not sure the background sets it off well, but stuck in a random fashion among 59 other blocks, who is going to notice?

Now I only have to fill out the form and get this into the mail. Maybe tomorrow ...

Time then to check in with Marie, who is my Christmas giftee, and see if there is something I might make for her. Judging how long it took for the koinobori to fly off to Oregon, there won't be a lot off time for dithering,


Saturday, June 20, 2020

It's been a while...

Since my last post, the houses have been sitting in a tin, waiting for the silkworms to finish their feeding and free up the coffee table to test some layout designs. With little travel time into town and back, I have no take-along work prepared.


Most of my down time has been spent quilting the feedsacks in-the-ditch. I did add simple quilting in the center of each block.
Today I finished quilting around the applique on the first border.  There is a lot of empty space left over and I am thinking of what I could add in those spaces. Maybe I will finish all of this quilting and that will give me some time to come up with a plan.

I added a bit of quilting in each petal of the flowers, and put a vein in each leaf.

I tried to work without using a hoop and ended up un-quilting a section, as it was too wonky. My oval hoop is just too large and the borders are only lightly basted.

I ended up getting out a small hoop about 12 inches across and that seems to help.

I have been thinking of adding yoyos to the center of the flowers.

Those are a throw-back to my childhood when sometimes whole bed covers were made of yoyos.
(often of feedsacks too).

I saw a really nice embroidery stitch on Queenie's blog last week that also looks like it might work. It would probably be faster, but I am wondering how it might work on the back side of the quilt.
Well, I imagine it will be a while before I get all the borders this far and so there is time to think about that solution as well.

This is the season for the garden to show off,

The gardenias smell so strong, I could find my front gate blindfolded. Usually there is a problem with caterpillars chewing leaves and buds but this year all were left to bloom.

The lilies are also standing up and out. I had to tie them up as they were reaching to the west for more sun. They are all so very tall.










I had to turn the hosta planter sideways because those were also reaching out into the street to the west.

I have never had them bloom with so many stalks or this early in the year.
These were rescued from my neighbor's garden as the bulldozers were tearing it up. That was a number of years ago, but now they seem happy and used to being in a planter.

I have a few others of a different style on the north side of the house that have yet to bloom.

Days go by with lots of virtual activities. Zooming and skyping and facetiming and gotomeetings and livestreaming. My outings are sweeping the street to the corner and back ... sometimes twice a day ... and pulling weeds in the park at least once a week ... and of course hunting and gathering mulberry leaves for the caterpillar gang.
Twice I have made recordings to join our virtual choir. I have to admit I prefer singing with the group rather to my cell phone.
I have to let friends and family members know when I am going out so they won't panic when I don't answer a phone call or zoom in at the start of a community meeting
Our church will start up with a limited number of people allowed to join in person from tomorrow, but I think choir will be one of the last things to be added. I am still delivering onigiri to the homeless on Monday mornings, but as the weather gets hotter, that will temporarily end so as not to have the food go bad in the heat waiting in the cupboard for delivery.

The groups of young people that had lessened with closing of bars and karaoke places, have started to reappear in the morning hours. Most people are still wearing masks when out in public. I do not like trying to walk with my glasses fogged up. Can't see with them, can't see without them... and my ears are so wimpy it is hard to keep the masks on. I should probably come up with something that ties around the back because it looks as though masks will be part of the culture for a while yet.

So, that's about it from my neck of the woods.  I enjoy scrolling through my blog list to see how everyone else is filling their down time.