Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Wedding quilt finished at last

Exactly one year and ten months to the day, the wedding quilt is finally finished. The plan was conceived when I was asked by my friend to be the matron of honor at her wedding. I have known both the bride and groom since before they knew each other. The got to know each other well at a Leader Training week called "Wood badge" where I served on Staff. They were both in the "Bear" patrol.

You may have noticed the bear paw blocks around the outer border so now you know the reason. As a side note, every scrap of green in the border has appeared in another quilt beginning with my first. It was fun to be reminded of those as I worked on the blocks piecing and quilting.

Before the wedding I drew leaf shapes on assorted green fabric. These were put in a zip-lock along with a sign marker and that plus a clipboard covered in sandpaper were passed to my husband and Nikko (yes, the dog was invited too) and their duty was to get signatures of all the guests. Those leaves were appliqued on the vine in the inner border.

The Lone Star is a typical motif of Native American celebratory quilts. All three of us are members of the Order of the Arrow, an honor society within the BSA which is based on Indian lore and theme. The groom particularly loves Kokopelli so I gave him a triangle of paper and asked him to draw one to fit the shape. It is quilted into the triangles formed by the stars.

The four square segments are quilted with the BSA logo,

The SAJ (Scout Association of Japan) logo, The groom's family crest of two crossed feathers, and the character for long life.

The reverse side of the quilt is made up of Japanese tenugui, a dyed cotton towel. These are often made to commemorate events or places and an art form in themselves. They are dyed similar to batik so are reversible and the cotton is soft yet strong.

Among these are many Kabuki theme towels as the bride has done the English earphone guide for Kabuki for many years. There is even one of the Kabuki-za, the building which is now being torn down and rebuilt. Some other towels are auspicious for celebratory occasions like cranes or shochikubai (pine, plum, and bamboo) and there is one from the BSN (Boy Scouts of Nippon which changed to Scout Association of Japan when girls were added to packs and troops.

My plan for this quilt was to have both the front and the back without any definite top or bottom. The size is seven feet four inches square and can be rotated for even wear as I know it will be used and cherished for many years. If you think the colors strange for a wedding quilt, when I asked my friend what colors she liked, she said her husband loves warm fall colors.I hope she does too but it shows what kind of friend she is.

So here is a picture from "The wedding of the bears". Note the bride and groom decoration in front.

And here is the matron of honor, in my comfortable native regalia, standing with my assistant outside my front garden bed at the end of a very happy day.

Note that the bride asked that my bouquet be something "wild" or "natural".

There is a poem that goes:

"It is my joy in life to find, At every turning of the road, The strong arm of a comrade, kind, To help me onward with my load. But since I have no gold to give, and love alone must make amends, the only prayer is, while I live, God make me worthy of my friends."
I pray, too, this quilt will be found worthy of this friendship.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Six weeks after the quake ... the new normal

One can not sing in a church choir and not know Easter is coming. That thought reminded me of Easters long past when the kids and I made batik eggs and I remembered a dish my daughter made in High School that we displayed those eggs in. I have few places to store such stuff and over the years things as delicate as eggs are easily broken but I was able to locate the dish and a few hardy eggs to set the mood.

I have yet to figure out how to arrange pictures and words on this blog other than last in means on top.

I wanted to show some quilting progress. The wedding quilt will soon be done. The binding is on and the outer border is finished. I was not happy with the spaces around the applique leaves. I quilted in extra leaves to fill some of the spaces but not all the empty places were big enough to hold a leaf so I decided to add tendrils in those spaces that look a bit too puffy. I think I an liking this inner border better now. One side down, four to go.

Yesterday I spent most of the day in my "garden".

I know this might not count as a garden for most but this is what I have squeezed between two three story buildings.

As you can see, even a one meter garden can look like a jungle, perhaps more so because of the lack of space. Somewhere beyond that greenery is my garden door. The bars on the right are for hanging laundry. The yellow thing is a guide wire for the electric pole outside the gate. (the city decides who gets those. I may get the whole pole next quake. There was another clock-stopper last night).

I got out the folding ladder, shears and saw and filled two garbage bags with trimmings.

The kerria is just too pretty to whack off. I brought a cutting here from my last house.

I tied it behind the wire and will trim it a bit after the flowers are finished.

The rest of the garden is hanging on the walls. A hardy cyclamen usually blooms all winter but was not too happy with this years weather and has saved the major blooming for spring. An early orchid also had a difficult winter and I was afraid it had given up but after all, it blooms too.

Primroses usually also bloom throughout the winter but only one made it through. This one is making up for lost time.

The forget-me-nots were given me by my number one son many years ago. I dug them up and moved them to my last home and when I moved back to where I am now, I dug them up again and put them in the hanging pot. During last summer when I was away doing Scouting things, they were not watered and I came home to find a pot of brown leaves too far gone to revive. Luckily they had seeded themselves because in the fall they began to put up sprouts. Even surviving snow piled high they are making me smile.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Quilt group meets at last.

Friday, April 15, our quilt group was finally able to meet. It had been quite a while since the group had last met (since before the quake). Since I am a "Senior Citizen" I carry a "Silver Pass". With that pass I can ride certain trains and city buses for free. One becomes a "senior" upon reaching seventy and from then on, there is a concerted effort to keep aged drivers off the streets. When the government brings up statistics of traffic accidents involving us old folks, they also include accidents where the old person was the victim. Since Japan's population is aging anyway and old people can't dodge cars as quickly (thus "involved") I feel we are getting a bad rap. The last three accidents I was involved with were all caused by drivers under the age of 30 ... two talking on a cell phone at the time ... and one I was sitting in my car that was parked! At any rate, the pass is a good way to save money. I never used to take buses because the base fee is 200 yen and that is rather high. Now I am always looking at maps and schedules trying to figure out the cheapest way to get somewhere. Brain, legs, and patience are being exercised and I am taking in the sights hitherto unknown.

Friday as I walked to the meeting from the bus by a new route, I was met by the remains of the very short cherry blossom season. I couldn't help remembering my kids sweeping these petals into big piles and tossing them into the air.

Along the street I found these flowers in full bloom. In Japanese they are called "Tokiwa mansaku". Mansaku is the name of witch hazel. There are a number of varieties of witch hazel in Japan, usually yellow, and all early bloomers. Most belong to the family, Hamamelis. These are of the Loropetalum family. We used to have a row of them at the last place we rented. They grow rapidly and need lots of trimming. I kept them well trimmed and enjoyed the blooms but when I walked by that house recently I noticed all those bushes have been removed. I guess the new renters do not like gardening.

It was fun to join the group after over a months time. We take our lunch but the hostess of the day provides us with a dessert. This time we also had some delicious soup. The member is working on a quilt for her new granddaughter and one of the members helped her with the basting.

My own big quilt is coming along and I hope to finish up and take a picture in a week or two. Since Friday my computer has been having connectivity issues and I have not been able to post or enjoy the work of others.(or even answer letters and comments). I have no idea how long this connection might last so I hasten to try the publish button before everything disappear into wherever those words go.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

All shook up but moving on

Inch by inch is the ultimate scrap quilt. Back in 2002 I was saving any scrap down to one inch triangles. These bits went with me to meetings, train, and bus rides in a zip-lock baggie and served as a take-along work for quite a while. There was no real plan other than to use up bits and pieces from other projects. The final result covers the back of my old sofa where it looks better than it does hanging on the fence. Last week it made a trip to the pre-school class for a game of I-spy. Today when I took it to the park to take a digital photo, it was suddenly surrounded by kids looking for cats and bears, hearts and stars, and showing off their English. Finally we had one day of sun and warm weather. I had been waiting for this chance to give Nikko a bath. I need to rub her down outside until she is dry. The reason you can see behind me. That is NOT snow, but dog hair. The bag by my stool is full of hair and she has plenty left over. After a couple of hours of rubbing she got a walk to the park and I had to clean up the neighborhood. Some escaped in the wind and is probably half way to Oregon as I write. Amid the occasional quakes, the morning brought two Brown-eared Bulbuls to my wall. Usually they come alone and chase others away from the food but today they sat glaring into my window from the top of the empty cup as I uncovered the canary and seemed to be saying,"How about us? Where is our breakfast?" Today I saw bugs flying in the park and expect these visits to end soon. One violet (which is actually a weed) has managed to make it to a hanging flower pot outside my front door. Having done better than the original owner of the pot, it seemed to say,"You wouldn't dare pull me out" and it is correct. Spring is the season of "Hana-mi" or flower-viewing. Monday I lunched with the pre-school kids under the cherry trees with pale pink petals drifting down. This annual rite is a symbol of Japanese culture, helping to throw off the winter blues and reset one's mental and emotional attitudes. With the tragedies of the past month, people are wondering if it is right to celebrate or if those flower-viewing parties should be banned all together. This might just be a good time to reconsider the brevity of life and reassess the beauty of each passing moment. The sorrow and anguish and anxiety people feel will not vanish just by looking at pretty blossoms but returning to these customs gives us a much needed break.

Quilting Gallery's Weekly Theme contest this week is "scrappy". I'm sure there will be some good posts to enjoy. Not being much of a computer wizard, you can get there by clicking on the Quilting gallery logo as I just can't get the weekly theme button posted.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Still shaking ..or..quake + 4 weeks

Slowly slowly slowly the quilting continues.
This old wall clock hangs in the corner of my living room and counts down the hours with a clanging chime. A few decades older than I am, it has felt many quakes over the years and usually carries on it's business without complaint only asking to be wound every 7 to 10 days. The past weeks it has been busy at it's hidden agenda, to judge the extent of each quake and after-shock. "Is that a quake I feel? Couldn't be very bad, the clock is still ticking." Well, it was on the job last night ... maybe a bit behind in the time but so am I . (might have something to do with age)

At the time I had been listening to a couple of feral cats loudly fighting? courting? serenading? the neighborhood. Their audience temporarily distracted by the noisy shaking of buildings, they stopped. Interestingly, less than a minute after the quake ended, they resumed their yowling as if nothing had happened.

I thought how like Japan these cats are. The trains stop. The TV programing switches to warning mode. Power goes off. People stop what they are doing ... and check the clock... then slowly things return to normal (or the NEW normal) and life goes on. Like much of life you have no control over anything except how you react to the situation. Today my dog lies in the entryway, the very place she was terrified to be twice in four weeks, and life goes on as usual.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

I Spy quilt ... I Spy Spring

This morning as I ran out the door, I grabbed my old quilt from the sofa and chucked it in my pack. The whole quilt can be seen with my 2002 quilts but I have no digital photos as yet. I guess it might be a good idea to take a few as the fabric is beginning to fade in spots.

To control the scrap department, I take left-over scraps and cut them into squares depending on how much is left, four and a half, three and a half, two and a half, and one and a half inch. Anything smaller than that I throw away. These squares go into a tin sorted by size and get used in projects that come along. If the scrap has some cute picture I often fussy-cut it. The piles in the tin are in baggies by color and wait there patiently for a need to arise. The sofa quilt protects (or hides) the very worn places on our old sofa and was assembled without much thought when the tin got too full.

This morning I was off to school and thought the kids might have fun learning a new game. I was right. We spread the quilt on the floor and the kids sat around the edge. When I said, "I Spy a cat.", all the kids began looking for a square with a cat. When they found one, they put their finger on the square and called "I spy a cat". The first to call got to call the next picture. The children really had fun hunting objects and playing a new game with new rules. The teacher asked me to leave the quilt at school for the rest of the week. She is also a quilter and helped with the auction quilt during rest time when she could get away.

Although we are one week into April, the weather is still cold. Today was the first hint of spring weather but you can see the cherry trees are still in a tentative mood. The two trees on the roof-top playground were holding off and even those on the south side of the road were waiting a bit longer to show their true glory. Along the street the pansies and primroses smiled up at passers-by and the ornamental kale stretched upward after a winter of huddling in its cabbage-like ball.

Next week the petting zoo will come for the children to enjoy so today out came all the animal books and puzzles. As I watched them being assembled on the floor I couldn't help thinking this one might make a cute quilt. Too bad I really don't need another project at the moment.