Tuesday, December 18, 2018

One month gone!

Where has time gone?
There was lots of practice for music events. Our "Choir Sunday"(where the choir presents music in place of the regular sermon for two services) was followed a week later with a "Charity Concert" where both our choir and some small group pieces were part of the program.

Tossed in between was school, Scouts, and assorted meetings, snatching up bits of travel time and participation.


Finally this week I was able to finish off the last of the big-stitch quilting on all 80 blocks, and quilt one border. Getting those stitches relatively even was a challenge and some of the blocks seemed to be like stitching through canvass. Many were stab-stitched and my fingers have never been so sore.

Now I am chugging along on the border and hoping to get this out of the way and into the mail.

My newest granddaughter, Phoebe Mae, arrived on December first and her baby quilt is still sitting in a long list of work needing to be done. I am hoping to find a bit of time to do prep-work that can be carried along. 
Meanwhile the whole house is the messiest it has ever been. Just about the time I get one part organized, it gets all stirred up while looking for something I had right in front of me the day before.
No Christmas decorations this year .. no place to put them ... but I will have to clear a space to greet the cookie fairy who will come and do her magic on Friday night and Saturday morning. The end of the year will see church events filling plenty of time Sunday choir, Onigiri delivery on Monday morning and choir participation in two Christmas eve services, then another service on Christmas followed by a lunch. At least school for me is out for the rest of the year. Most of the leaves in my garden have been swept from the street and it is too cold to be pulling weeds... so, quilting and cleaning will finish up my year. Will Kai's Big-boy quilt be added to my year's total? Only time will tell...

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Finally


Finally, a bit of fall color!

This little Japanese maple was rescued from a friend who had to move to an apartment with no outside space to keep it.

While neighborhood trees have been dropping dried green and brown leaves, this tree has been patiently waiting for a hint of fall.
This week it's waiting time was over.

The lace-leaf maple took a clue and has changed colors too.

A gardner stopped by and trimmed the vine-leaf maple, third in the row, and though there are few leaves left, it decided to add a bit of color to the equation.

The enkianthus in the shade of the plum tree has added some color too




Though fall has finally arrived, this little potted Hosta that had already begun to lose leaves for fall, has tossed up a flower bud. I hope I will get to see it bloom before winter arrives.

None of my hostas bloomed during the hot summer so this will be a treat if it lasts long enough to open.

With much cooler days, it has been nice to sit under the hoop containing the big-boy quilt.
Today the in-the-ditch quilting is done in all the 80 blocks and I will get to begin the sashiko big-stitching.

Wednesday I went shopping for more of the black and white thread. Hopefully I have enough because I cleaned out those two drawers of thread at my little friendly shop.

Each day, Nikko and I walk down to the parking area and I run my hands over all four tires of my van. So far, I have found no screws, but If I do, I will call the police while the evidence is there. Hopefully that will not happen. Our church prayer-chain is blasting the unknown guy with prayers for peace.

Sunday will be our "Choir-Sunday" where we will give music in place of a sermon at two services. It has been fun preparing throughout the fall months. Last dress rehearsal was last night and even though I was the only tenor to make it, I felt confident with holding my part, so I am looking forward to the real thing.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Fall?


Well, maybe ....

This morning's sweeping gleaned a few red leaves,
but that doesn't mean the whole tree got the message.

One colorful persimmon leaf from the neighbor's tree, and a few red bits from my vine-leafed maple...

The lace-leaf maple in the top left corner has a wee bit of pink tint in the top leaves, but hardly the showcase of former years.

The corner plum has contributed a few yellow leaves and the neighbor-to-the-south's Japanese maple is only dropping shrivelled brown leaves.

At least the sauna weather has been replaced by cooler days and cold nights.




Thanksgiving brought talks by facetime or phone with all my darling kids and grandkids. Norie and I had a nice lunch together to celebrate the day. Then we made a trip to the ward-office to gather up a few of the papers needed to claim what small social security payments might be available.

The week has been spent trying to solve the problem of someone putting screws into my back tires on my van. I at first thought it might have been an accident of driving over a nail. Then, on Saturday, at a scouting event, my tire went flat for a second time. My Scouting friends leapt to my aid and repaired my tire, and I was surprised to see that the object they removed was not a tack or nail, but a hardboard construction screw ... the kind put into walls with a power tool.

When I returned home and told my daughter, I learned that that was the same thing that had happened to the other back tire a few weeks before. The screws were both stuck in the center of the back tire, pushing in as the car drove along. I had been having some problems with the car being damaged while parked in the lot, and began to think about my former parking space.

That lot was owned by the owner of a construction company. At one point, they had called the police saying I had damaged their fence. Well, it was a very battered fence and none of the damage lined up with anything on my car, though I had a scrape on the bumper from a time at camp when the car slid on snow up against the curb. For that, I had statements from the two Scouters that pushed my car back on the road. The insurance company stepped in and the construction guy gave up ... but then the car was keyed. Pee and poop was put on my doors, and the fee was raised so we looked for a new spot a bit farther from home but cheaper.
It has been probably 8 years at our "new" spot with no problems. Then, the lot across the street from the parking lot gate became a construction site. Ever since that work began, there have been small issues of keying the doors, breaking the mirror cover, paint sanded off the fender, and now the second flat tire.

I talked to the police. They said they would check on patrol. Yeah, once a day check ....
Norie called the parking garage. No cameras ... too expensive, and no open spaces to move to....
The insurance company (a new one) can't do anything without increasing my insurance to above the price of the tires....
I wonder is the former guy has discovered my car ... not hard to identify, as it is a camping van, and within sight of the construction across the street. The workers do not seem to come to work by car, so may be local or even part of the former problem. Meanwhile, I am looking for a place to park until the problem is over. I talked with other drivers in my area and they have had no problems. I talked with the owner of the lot where the construction is being done, and told him what was going on.  I really don't need a problem to interfere with my sleep at night, so hopefully I will find a solution.

Meanwhile, the blocks on the big quilt are almost finished with the in-the-ditch quilting.

Choir practice for our "Choir Sunday" presentation is winding down with two more big practices left before our delivery. (And a big beautiful electric keyboard arrived from Ken for my birthday so I can check my pitch in the home practice.)

School goes on. Scouting goes on. And I am giving great thanks for my wonderful family and friends. 

Saturday, November 17, 2018

The test piece is begun



Today I finished in-the-ditch quilting around all the blocks. This is the single quilt I intend to give to our Pastor, and I thought I would try big-stitch quilting in the blocks ... black on white and white on black.

I had intended to quilt within the curved center too, but looking at these results, I think this might be enough. I rather like the puffiness of those curved pieces.

I am using sashiko thread and anything larger than that half square would have been even more difficult with the number of times that thread has to be pulled along. I rather think I could have done regular quilting in all four blocks in the time it takes to do just one, even if the stitches are larger.

I will be interested in any comments or advice. This is my first attempt of big-stitch quilting.

Now I see this post was never published.
I have begun quilting in the ditch on the second quilt ...
this time a bigger one for my #3 Grandson. 
If he approves, I will quilt it the same way.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

It's in the hoop!


After making yesterday's post, I decided to just get on with the next thing on the list.

I took the big quilt to the empty apartment and tried laying it out on the floor.

Nope! Not enough room to spread it out. Well, then I decided to try the loft. First I had to wrestle down the two heavy futons. Then I spread the quilt out face-down on the floor. It just fit with no extra space to walk, but I crawled over it and made sure all the seams were lying flat.

Then, I went back to my closet and pulled out the rolls of thinsulate. There was plenty left on the #60 which I had used on the test quilt. My grandson is living in Colorado, where they already have snow. so I think the #80 might be more useful ... though, in the end I don't know if this quilt will serve as a warm cover or a top spread.

Well, there was surely not enough batting left on the #80 roll, so I would need more anyway. The last batting rolls were bought at Yuzawaya and there are no branches in my area. The last one I used in Shinjuku closed over a year ago. I did not want to set out without knowing whether or not my goal would be met, so I pushed my "phone-phobia" aside, and made a call to the main store in Kamata.
Actually, I had to call a number of times to get through. Then, after apologising for my poor Japanese, I asked if they had thinsulate #80, and that I wanted to buy a whole roll. Yes, they did, and they would hold it with my name on it for pick-up in the afternoon.

I quickly went back to the loft and folded up the finished top ... trying not to mess up the seam allowances. Then loaded that and the backing, my basting thread, sewing kit, big scissors, and just in case, my box of basting pins.

The finished quilt went neatly into another bag, along with a note, and after stuffing Nikko's kong with multiple treats, and making sure I had enough yen to cover trains and batting, I set off with my purse on one shoulder, the big bag on the other shoulder, and the finished quilt on my arm... and the train route notes in hand.

No matter how many times one goes to the same station, those areas are always changing. It was less than a year since I had been there with my friend, Cynthia, at wabisabiquilts.blogspot.jp, and it was still a struggle to find the right building. I think I ended up asking at least three different people.

When I finally found the right place. there was a long line at the cutting counter and only two people doing the cutting. I finally stepped up, because I could see the roll of batting standing in the corner behind one of the women, and asked if that was the thinsulate saved for me. Whew, after checking my name on the note, it was passed over and I could move to the checkout on the first floor.

The guy tying up the bolt for carrying was frustrated with the size and the fact it couldn't be folded, but I was happy to tuck it under my spare arm and pay the reduced price using my members card.
By 2:00pm I was at the church. I passed the bag containing the finished quilt to the office secretary, and asked if it would be OK to use the floor of the fellowship hall to do the basting.

I am so happy it worked out! by the time my meeting was beginning at 6:30, I was just putting in the last of the basting stitches. The pins were not needed and the basting thread still lasted. Both the Pastor and his wife came down while I was working to thank me for the finished quilt. I was happy those left-over blocks had made a hit ... and of course they both had noticed the print in Afrikaans donated by my friend, Ester.

In all, though lugging all that stuff two ways on the sardine can trains, it was well worth the effort. I can do my sitting at home on the sofa ... much more comfortable than a train seat should one be offered ... And Tuesday was the day of the super-aggressive shovers needing seats at any cost ...

The in-the-ditch quilting is well on the way, and I await feedback from Kai as to the big-stitch results.
At least I have something to do while at home. Maybe time to start prepping pieces for the new grandchild on the way....

Monday, November 12, 2018

The test is over

Sunday evening I finished turning the binding on the single black and white quilt. I was hoping for a bit of sunshine for taking a picture, as I plan to give this to my friend and pastor this evening.
Alas, Monday was on and off rain, and rain is predicted for today too. I decided to take quilt and camera to the park while on Nikko's morning walk and see if I could get at least one picture before the rain begins again.


This was my first test of sashiko "big stitch" on a quilt. The batting is #60 thinsulate but it looks as puffy as the #80. I decided to go with puffy rather than quilt inside the larger areas. Thinsulate is good in that it will not shift, even when loosely quilted and with much use.  The border is just quilted in diagonal rows on the white. All the blocks are quilted in the ditch first. The rather busy prints didn't show the big stitches so much but I think I am satisfied with the all-over effect.

Now, the next task will be to lay out Kai's big-boy quilt and get it basted so I can begin quilting that.
It is 8 blocks by 10 blocks with a larger wave print in the border. Getting the seam allowances to lie in the right direction and line up the backing in a small space is going to be the first challenge. If only I didn't have to travel to church in such a crowded train, I could take it there and use the floor in the fellowship hall... since I have to go there anyway tonight.

Anyway, time to stop dithering and come up with a plan... At least the test worked out and I found a purpose for the extra blocks caused by my poor math.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

A new challenge


A while ago, my good quilting friend, Kuraishi-sensei, Told me she would be holding a quilt show at a garden gallery in the town of Ichikawa, where she lives.

She said the gallery was large and asked if she could hang my "Lucy Boston" quilts there.

I quickly added a hanging sleeve and sent the quilts off to her. Her next request was for me to give a gallery talk.  Hmmmm. I'm not very fond of talking in front of groups, but I agreed to take on the challenge.

This past weekend, Friday and Saturday afternoons, I went to this lovely place. I was joined by lovely people, and the talk was far from scary. After all, quilters are a class above.






This is a view from the lobby with friends arriving.

Isn't that a beautiful garden!

Though early Saturday morning I was awakened by the sound of rain, (and a scout hike had been cancelled because of a forecast of rain), by the time I arrived around lunch time, the sun was out and the day was not too hot or humid.

The trees are not yet in autumn color, but I think with a year of strange weather, they are a bit confused. Maple leaves are dropping without bothering to turn color.

My talk was about my quilting history...

How I first met up with the Lucy Boston "Patchwork of Crosses" at the Festival UK '98
while piping to attract customers, and sketched notes on the pattern, wanting to try it out.

At Saturday's show, I was honored to meet the quilt reporter who had gone to the UK, and met with Lucy Boston in her Manor house, and arranged for the quilts in that show.

I talked about my first meetings of Lucy Boston through her children's books, as a children's librarian. Then details I had learned since about her life.

I could talk about the pattern and the way hexagons can be fussy-cut without having to worry about the grain of the fabric... and the variety that can be used when cutting stripes. I had some left-over blocks I could pass around for them to see and I could show the tenugui on the back of the small quilt.

On Saturday, I was joined by my daughter, Norie, and Leia, plus Leia's other grandmother and a lovely neighbor.

We are standing next to a display of some vintage quilts that Kuraishi-sensei had brought back from her time in the states.

I am wearing a coat I had made at one of my friend's classes.
It is reversible black with a brown owl on the inside and Ainu pattern on the brown side.
















With family in front of the vintage quilts....












Here with Kurishi-sensei, who also put my talk into more understandable Japanese...
standing to the right, and two of her friends.











and here I am with my little cameraman, standing outside the garden gates.

It was quite a busy week, and finished off with visitors to our church ... the participants of Asian Rural Institute, who spent the weekend and shared their life of training with us on Sunday, ending in a pot-luck lunch.

The evening held a birthday party at a charming Indian restaurant in my neighborhood with my wonderful SIL and a "Son on loan" added to the family.

Monday am: rolled around as usual with onigiri delivery and school. A lovely orange canary is now getting used to the old cage in the window. 

And, as of today, the super busy month of October has reached an end ... and I am now celebrating my 18th birthday. Going back to my childhood from 50, this time I'm going to get it right!
The first of the black and white quilts is in the hoop and testing the pattern for quilting. The November calendar page is beginning to fill up ... but not so crazy as October, so the quilt may make progress. (and I might have something to show).

Monday, October 22, 2018

One busy week over ...

And another one begun....

Saturday, while on our choir retreat, the banner got it's hanging sleeves.

Monday morning, I got one picture in the sunny park before leaving for school.

Now, my cameras are all in retirement mode.
The Cannon Power shot opens up but then says "lens error - restart camera" .

The Nikon coolpix does nothing when I press the "on" button ... even after re-charging the battery.

The Cannon IXY shows nothing on the screen when I turn it on.

Well, the camera on my cell phone works. I can send a picture to my computer, but can't find it when it gets there.

So, at school yesterday, I got some help from the teacher I work with. I sent her the picture from my cell phone, and she sent it to my e-mail address. Finally, I was able to locate it for a post. It does seem like a long way around, just to get a picture I can use. Is there a way of printing pictures from an I-Phone? Technology is slowly driving me nuts! Just about the time I get things figured out, it all changes.

Saturday morning, Mt Fuji was just peeking out among the clouds ...
which soon took over and turned into rain ...

But Sunday morning, a new fresh cap of snow, made Fuji a real eye-catcher.
After the sauna-summer, the cool air was quite refreshing.
The cooler air has come to Tokyo too. In fact, today is a down-jacket day. I wonder if we are jumping from summer right into winter .
The dogwood trees have turned color, but to dark red with no bright colors. The maples are dropping a few brown leaves, but those left on the tree are still quite green.

Other than bright orange persimmons on the local trees, one would hardly know that October is almost over.

This will be a big weekend for me.

I am preparing for a gallery talk to give on Friday and Saturday at my friend, Kuraishi-sensei's quilt show.

With the banner out of the way, I need to get back to those two black and white quilts. The big one for Kai needs to be laid out with batting and backing and basted. That will certainly not end up as take-along work.
The single one still needs a border to be measured and cut and sewed in place. (Maybe today???)

Then here is a new baby coming in December needing a quilt.  I have a number of ideas in my head but not much started.

Happily, Nikko had the attention Of Norie and Leia during my weekend away. I returned to a plentiful covering of her hair covering the carpet and stairs and drifting across the wood flooring and wafting into the corners. I guess that is where I will begin my day.

Oh, the last picture ... After the weekend before, leading environmental studies and a brotherhood walk through the woods, I was carrying a big stick and batting down webs covering the trail ...though I did bring a few home in my hair. It was nice in Gotemba to view the work of these spiders with the sun coming through and being able to leave them doing their job of catching mosquitoes and other annoying bugs. I'm all for work that STAYS done!

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Grabbing bits of time


What a week!
and it isn't over yet!

Monday, between early rise for rice delivery and school, I had to visit an unknown health center in Minato-ku to get an x-ray (to prove to the school that I don't have TB).
That meant riding the packed train during rush-hour ... not the best way to start the day!
Along the way afterwards to school, I stopped at the home of a friend who had some blue and white yukata fabric needing a new home.

Well, how could I turn down that opportunity.

Had I known the size and weight of the bag she had packed for me, I would have taken a roller-bag!
Travel for me, to school and home, went suddenly to a snail's pace (but worth the effort I am sure.)

Tuesday morning I had to run out early again for an interview/talk about the changes that have taken place in Tokyo and Japan since the earlier olympics.
All that was filmed for a movie. I was so fortunate the church let us use one of the small meeting rooms in the newly renovated fellowship hall.

I often notice the changes taking place from those early days ... things that never seem to change, and things you thought never would... The gentleman doing the project was warm and friendly and fun to talk to, and certainly opened my mind to even more stories of my time here.

My take-along work stayed in my bag, and when I returned home in the afternoon, I basted the letters on to the banner before setting out to an evening meeting back at the church.

Wednesday, I finished appliquéing the  letters in place ... right through the batting to the backing, so I will not need to quilt around them. Needing some background quilting, I just added rays to the borders.
I had bought some buttons for the eyes that seemed just perfect. Black, round with a low rise ... but, now they just seem too large when put in place, so I hope I can find something similar but smaller. The shop had some that were very round and intended to be used for eyes, but I think I will have to take the banner there and see how they look before spending any more money.

The binding will be next, then the hanging sleeve at top and bottom. There is still a little time left ... but ... teacher/boss passed me her work coveralls on Monday with a big hole needing mending. This is the third time to repair that same suit, and I tease her that she seems to be running through barbed-wire when I'm not there.  Then, my fellow choir member passed me his winter pajamas that need some elastic.
Meanwhile, tomorrow I leave for the Choir retreat in Gotemba. There will be lots of practice on pieces for "Choir Sunday" and some special music group. The site is the YMCA, and has a lovely view of Mt Fuji ... which I have been told has a cap of snow already. (after such a hot summer, the snow comes much earlier than usual) As long as it is at the top of Fuji, and not in my garden, I can take the unusual weather.

I will take the banner to work on during down-time. Guess  will have to be careful not to spill wine on it during our evening activities. Hopefully it will be finished by the time our Stewardship campaign begins in November.

Yesterday morning, on Nikko's walk, as usual I go through the park.
I pick up the poop in a bag and fill the bag with weeds ... usually the ones that are developing flowers and will soon be spitting out seeds.

The house next to the park has a beautiful garden, so the lady is glad to see those weeds along her fence being removed, and she called to me and handed me this big bunch of "hototogisu".

This plant is named after the Japanese Little Cuckoo, small, shy, hiding in the woods. The English name is Hairy Toad Lily.

Anyway, I had to come home and find a few more vases, as this made two large flower arrangements and one vase was holding Tuesday's flowers. I have a few of these growing in my garden, but they did not do well this year because of a bug attack . I have never picked them to enjoy in my home but the vase sitting on my coffee table reminds me how much I look forward to their blooms ... and again how grateful I am for kinda and friendly neighbors.

Monday, October 15, 2018

What would you do?

This morning, when I returned home from an early walk with Nikko,
this is what I found on my front door!


It was still quite early, and not many people were out.
No one walking on my tiny back street.

Who put these here? And how can I ever thank them?
I quickly pulled out a container and arranged them  before leaving for my morning appointment.
I can only thank God for the friends I have been given,
but there is someone unknown whom I also wish I could thank.



Not knowing what else to do, 
I hung this sign on my gate.


What would anyone do?

When I step out my front door, I am stepping into a world of friends. 
I placed the flowers in my genkan, where I will be reminded each time I step out, or even walk past to the stairs or the "little room" that I must be grateful for all my friends.

My blogging friends,
new friends, old friends,
scouting friends, quilting friends, choir and church friends,
and even stealth friends, I love you all!