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....

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.