Thursday, August 30, 2012

A touch of family time

When I was feeling bummed by being hacked, it was wonderful to get such supportive messages and advice from my blogging friends.

It was also pretty great to get a few hugs from my little sweetie pie, Leia.

I don't believe I have ever told this story but it involves unknown quilters, so you might find it interesting.

When I visit Portland, I like to get a book fix at Powells Books. It is a huge store with many layers of levels, taking up probably a whole city block. It is well organized with new and old and used books all nicely arranged in sections.

On this particular visit, I had flown into Portland early in the morning and my daughter, having something to do during the day, told me I could just rest at her place. Well, a rest during the day is likely to mean not much sleep at night, so I asked her to drop me at Powells and pick me up there on her way home.

I started in one section and worked my way around the store carefully selecting reading material, mostly from the cheaper used, soft-cover ones if I could find them. I had the whole day so I could take my time at finding stuff to haul back to Tokyo.

About the end of the day, before my planned pick-up, I had worked my way to the quilting shelves. Although most of the day I had browsed the shelves alone and had not spoken with anyone, a young girl was looking at the quilt books and asked for advice. She had been given some old fabrics from the 30s from her grandmother's stash and wanted to use them in a school project. She was looking for patterns from that era to use.

Suddenly, seemingly from out of the woodwork, came quilters to the rescue. They not only found her books with vintage patterns, they gave advice on skill levels needed and even told her where in Portland she could go if she needed more vintage or reproduction fabric. I was in awe! Were people from Portland so helpful? Or was it quilters? I tend to think the later. After all, I had been in that store for many hours and the most I had heard was an "excuse me" as someone tried to pass or reach for a book

I have been blogging now for two years. Some of my blogging friends are slow hand-workers like me. Some are whizzes on a machine and everything in-between, but all are quilters. I have found them to be kind and compassionate, helpful and patient, and those I know in person, to be genuine friends. Though we are spread all over the globe,  we are not far off in our caring for others. In times of frustration  have seen many ready to give help, advice, and comfort, and I celebrate you all!

While my computer was taking a break, I managed to fix something that has been bugging me for three years.
I made this little runner long ago for use on the top of our toilet tank. It had not been used for a long time because this house and the last one have sinks in the tanks. I got this out to cover a badly damaged shelf and have been using it hanging off either end. It needed a wash, but before that, I un-sewed one section to make it fit its new location. Now one less irritation!

One other small project got done but I just can't get the picture to rotate and stay rotated so I may show that later.

The last picture is of Leia. Each time she comes, the dolls get lots of kisses and hugs and attention.
At night, before going to bed, she changed both of them into their night clothes. The boy has a striped nightshirt and hat and the girl, a smocked gown and bonnet.  Before leaving, she picked out something cool for the girl to change into and kilts for the boy. Leia insisted doing each button and snap herself. Leia doesn't seem to mind the "old fashioned" look of these dolls and their handmade wardrobe. Now they are sitting side-by-side, waiting for her return and the hugs and kisses they will get. It has crossed my mind that the boy doll can use a few more choices of clothing if a kilt is the coolest thing to be found. Meanwhile I enjoy the virtual hugs fron my blogging friends and await the real thing along with the dolls.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


Beware! There are people out there with nothing better to do than make trouble for people they don't even know. My sincere apologies to all my blogging friends who may have gotten a strange message of me being stranded in Spain.

The manner of the attack was a hard-to determine trick. I had closed my computer while going up to the third floor to find a piece of information someone had asked for in an e-mail. When I returned and opened my computer to my e-mail, there was a request for me to log in. This happens about once a week or so. When I go to my e-mail, I get a page from Yahoo asking for me to log in using my address and password. I did not look carefully because it looked just the same as usual. HOWEVER, when I got to my in-box, it was empty, no contacts, no files, everything wiped clean. Then the phone rang from a friend saying I had been hacked and telling me the message she had received from  a fake address looking like mine but with Julie spelled "Juliie".

So...plan "A", I called my son in D.C. and he helped me change my password and then, by scype, talked me through the reporting process so hopefully within a day or two, I will recover my contacts and files.

The rest of the day I have been receiving phone calls from friends checking to make sure I am OK. Now, anyone who knows me, knows I have "phone-phobia". I have a phone but I never make calls. I am so dyslexic that I can not get any numbers in order ... especially the long phone numbers ... but people who want to talk, call me. If I ever wondered that there was anyone out there that cared about me, I should not have.

The calls were to let me know, to check on me, to sympathize with the problems and frustrations I was facing, and even, like my pastor, to joke that I should bring him back something from Spain.

This is the second time this summer for being hacked. The first time it was Yahoo that was hacked and addresses stolen but this time It was my inability to detect a fake sign-in. My son said I might have known by checking the HTML, but that hackers are good at copying formats. I know most people who use computers regularly are quick to identify that message asking for money as a hacking, but, older friends without so much computer savvy may not. The first hacking in July cost the friendship of a quilting friend who was so angry with me for sending the first message (actually, a link with no subject or message that I would have known not to open) that she never wants to speak to me ever again. I have no idea where that link went but she had never been so insulted in her life!

So. while I wait for my computer to return to normal ... if it ever does ... I will do a bit of hand sewing and be very thankful for my guru son and all my caring friends.

Friday, August 24, 2012

A week of work

One goal was met and the banner is done and ready to hang.  The deadline that was pressed on me was only to make a photography deadline so it can be used in the ministries booklet which was due at the printer.

Thanks to suggestions from my blogging friends, I quilted the background with the words, Time, Talent, Faithfulness, Vision, Discipleship, Prayer, Love, Peace, Service, and Support. I used light blue thread and I don't know if those words will be noticed when it is hung, but having them there made me feel a bit more satisfied than when the project was begun.

In the midst of making this, I had a week of Vacation Bible School, running the "Palace Playground Games".
And to add to the challenge, I added a broken toe to the equation

In the midst of nagging me to work faster on the banner, husband Paul (who is in charge of getting the booklets printed) returned from walking the dog saying that my neighbor, Miki-san, was outside and I should come out and say hello. Not wanting to stop what I was doing, I tried to ignore the request. After all, Miki-san's front door faces ours only separated by a few meters and we see each other often. Still, the requests got louder and not wanting to be rude, I finally put on my flip-flops and went out to give greeting. My neighbor was weeding so I did a bit to help and then swept the "road" between our houses.

Working in the bright sun, it took my eyes time to adjust when returning to our dark genkan. (the little space inside the front door where those entering leave their shoes). As I stepped inside, I kicked the wooden geta (clogs) my husband had kicked off earlier as he entered. This sounds like a re-run of the two broken toes last summer and when I went to the neighborhood clinic, the doctor had a good laugh.(It seems he laughs every time I go there). Oh what a klutz this foreigner is!

Since I had a busy week riding a crowded rush-hour train, I ended up with a partial cast and a big bandage. It was probably a good move because by day four, I had been stepped on enough to crack the cast. It never did win me a seat in the preferred seating though.

I ended up pulling three very late-nighters to get the banner done. I really need to get to bed by 10pm  when I have to get up by 6am to get to church and without my beauty rest I can get ugly fast. A week of rowdy lively games added to the equation, and I went to bed the last two nights without waiting for dinner.

 Between some long train rides home and a few meetings, I managed to finish sewing together the rest of the rows on the + and X quilt.

Today, after VBS was over, I laid the rows out on the fellowship hall floor and picked out the cornerstones. It is not really up to my son's standard but it'll have to do.

Now I will have a bit more take-along work, sewing and adding the sashing to each row. I will probably have to add the rows at home because it is getting a bit big to carry along.

I have no plan for the backing and still don't know where I can go to baste the sandwich... maybe back at church. I am also thinking of adding a border of some kind just to tie it all together and make it easier to bind.

Meanwhile, I have plans churning in my brain for the next project. My recently married son has requested something in green and brown with owls. At a quilt show this year, I saw a mola of an owl and thought making a large one (or two) in Mola style feathers might be fun. That will be a project with no deadline. I know my kids will be happy with whatever I make whenever they get it.

So ... now I am ready for a bit of a rest and a bit of neglected house-work.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Paul's Big Boy quilt goes to the weekly themed contest

I have posted this quilt before but Quilting Gallery has selected scrappy quilts for this weeks weekly themed contest, and this quilt is a lot scrappier than it appears at first glance.

I was attracted to this block many years ago in a quilt magazine and it looked like the perfect take-along project. (three pieces sewed into a 5" block and then four of those joined into a 10" block.

I went into my green and blue bins and cut one piece from each fabric in the bin, then sewed dark, medium, and light  together to make the small blocks.

When the larger blocks were laid out for arrangement, I was not satisfied with the way they looked so added sashing. When I went back to the magazine to see what went wrong, I found that though the pattern had shown the arrangement of those tones, the original picture that had attracted me in the first place did not keep that same arrangement of darks and lights.  One day I may try this again as a "stash buster".

Remembering my childhood tracing quilting lines with my fingers, I drafted the border and sashing quilting so it would all link up. It made it fun to quilt, following the lines over and under around the top.

For the backing I chose tenugui with the twelve animals of the Oriental Zodiac. Since Paul is a dragon, I added another dragon across the top and dragonfly yukata fabric along one side to match up the size of the top piece.

When we had a family reunion, Paul brought his quilt and all the family signed their names and birth dates on their own animals.

This is the year of the dragon, which means little Paul is now 12 years old. He really is a "big boy".
Oh how those years have flown! Before we know it, my first grandchild will be a teenager!

I just can't seem to add a link but if you click on the quilting gallery logo, you can go there to see some amazing quilts and cast your votes for your favorite.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

A not-so-banner day

One of my pending challenges is to make a banner again this year. As in former years, it is to hang in the church entry-way and represent the stewardship theme for this year. As I was out of the country when the committee met, I had no  input at all into the decisions that were made.

The title selected is, "One in the Spirit" and someone with good computer skills came up with  the first drawing on the left, a dove with the words, "One in the Spirit - Tokyo Union Church, written along the left edge. Well, it is a circle which does suggest some unity...

Then someone else removed the circle and added the three figures around the dove. Then the original artist made the figures smaller.

To me, it looks like three guys fighting over a ball! 
I was then handed these drawings to use in my banner. Looking them over, the dove is by far the most artistic.

My big problem is not with using that design so much as that I don't find it that much of a theme for Stewardship. Sure, it is nice to feel like a congregation as diversified as TUC is all united as one but to my thinking, that is just a feel-good statement. Where is the commitment that comes with it? We already have plenty of people who sing the loud, repetitive songs with their hands raised in praise but when the collection plate comes by, pass it along without a pause to drop anything in, or fill out a request to help with the homeless meals, or help with the youth programs.

Anyway, I drafted out the dove on to some paper, extending it beyond the circle.

Checking in my stash, I came up with some solid color fabric. It isn't exactly what I might choose were I to go out shopping but is is what I've got and I am being nagged to get this done in a big hurry.

So here is what I have so far. I appliqued these bits together and couldn't help thinking of all those modern quilters out there who cut those pieces and just fuse them together like a giant puzzle and stitch them zig-zag over the seems  with a machine. The way I feel about this banner, that would at least get it over with in a hurry with less time to feel irritated.

I will put black bias over the circle part of the dove and make the lettering a bit larger.

If it turns out, everyone can look at it and feel good for a year.
Maybe next year I can sit in on the discussions and come up with a theme that makes ME feel good.

If anyone can think of words that might be added (not that I enjoy appliqueing letters) I might just make a change on my own.

I think it is time to visit my + and X blocks!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Moving slowly in the heat

Friday the bible quilt met. All the blocks had been finished while I was travelling. Our next step was to organize the blocks and the sashing. I took a quick picture so we can remember our plan when the blocks are ready to be joined.

This will be a quilt-as-you-go project. Next step we will sandwich and baste each block. The members of the group will quilt them up to the sashing. Then we will join them in rows and quilt the sashing. Last, we will add the outer borders.

Although I have many projects needing work, the + and X blocks are all arranged in zip-lock bags and ready to be taken along to meetings and train rides. All the other work involves lots of prep ... crawling around on the floor which is still coated liberally in dog hair and digging out fabric from my stash ... piled in boxes in the upstairs sauna (bedroom).

Husband is nagging for me to finish up a church banner which I have not yet drafted.

Meanwhile, the more that gets done on this project, the more it calls to me. 8 rows are together so that is about half ... if I count  the outer boarders.

I un-sewed the coffee stained blocks and put in new pieces. Since then I have been experimenting with stain removing. So far I have tried "spray-and-wash", "shout,
"bac-out" and one Japanese product. Those stains aren't even a tiny bit lighter so I'm glad I replaced them.

Several of my blogging friends have heard this saga, but when my eldest daughter was small, she fell in the dirt in our front path and soiled her under shirt/T-shirt. I could never get that dirt out no matter how many times it was washed. (at least once a week for about 9 years). Then, six kids later, my two sons got mulberry stains all over their Sunday clothes on a trip to Cleveland. I tried lots of things my mother and sister recommended to no avail and then bought some "biz". The stains all came out with the first washing. I then washed that first shirt with "biz" and after all those years, it too came clean. I don't know if that product still exists but I haven't seen it here in Japan. I can't help wishing I might try it on those stained pieces.

Anyway, I hung those rows 1 - 8 in my doorway. This is the width of the quilt so you can get an idea of the size. Rows 9 and 10 are together and 11 is almost done. Next week is Vacation Bible School (for which I should be preparing game parts) ans I am thinking I might be able to find some space at Church while I am there to lay those rows out and select cornerstones.

One picture I wanted to include last post was what was waiting for me when I got home. For some reason, like the first picture above, I can not get pictures to rotate. They seem to right themselves at a whim but when I try to turn them on my own, they get very stubborn. Out of three pictures all taken with the same camera in the same position, this is the only one not on its side. The frustrating thing is, the computer used to do this automatically when they were down-loaded. Perhaps something happened when the rescue pictures were added to the equation.   Leia got out the box of doll clothes and changed the doll into something more summery. It has been quite a few years since that doll got so much attention. Now she is sitting properly waiting for Leia to come back and play. I am too. (well, maybe not the properly part).

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

From D.C. to Home

Our last outing with the family was to the Museum of Natural History. The kids have been many times but our goal this trip was to see the giant boa fossil.

Indeed, it was a very large display.

We found it in the back half of a room exhibiting some awesome award-winning nature photography.

The family watched the video several times explaining the details of the snake, the anatomy and construction.
I'm sure the kids can repeat all those details still. I didn't need numbers to know it was huge.

I wish my guru son had come back to Tokyo with me.
My pictures will not rotate and I used to be able to have them do that automatically. I think now that my computer has been reminded of the difference, it is holding out for my son's touch.

At any rate, I made it back to Tokyo, but forget about planned travel. Just like the rest of the trip, NOTHING went according to plan. Cancelled flights and the resulting missed connections, re-routing by a much longer way making arrival a day later. Again a plane that pulled out to the tarmac and then had to return to the gate for repairs after multiple delays. Two legs of the trip with screaming kids in the seat in front and the seat behind. (How did I avoid that with six kids?) And the final leg was in seats built for midgets.
I am not all THAT big. I have a long body but rather short legs (which is why I buy pants in the states where they have short sizes). My feet are about 24cm, about a size 7 or 7.5. So why, with the back of my legs against the seat, were my toes two or three inches beyond the legs of the seat in front? There was barely enough room under that seat for my purse ... let alone my feet! Sleep? Well all the lights were out, it was dark the whole way and in order to sew, my elbows would have gone into the neighboring seats. I can't remember being more glad to get off a plane ... even though I was stuck at the airport until the trains began operation!

I managed to assemble the five substitute blocks for the ones lost on the first flight. Now I will swap them out with blocks in the remaining seven rows since they contain too many of the same fabrics to be all in one place.

Have you ever spilled coffee on your work? Well, I managed to do just that. I tried washing the section where the spill was but was not too successful. These blocks have a lot of small pieces and the resulting seams having to be re-organized with the iron might just drive me nuts. I am now thinking of un-sewing those parts and doing them over. I wonder what my blogging friends would advise.

Shortly after arriving home, I received in the mail this beautiful piece of needlework all hand made by a wonderful friend, Eva Huskova, who I have gotten to know through my blog. Every tiny stitch is just perfect and the butterfly has a very special meaning to me. It was the symbol of the "hidden Christians" in Japan and this comes from the Czech Republic, which my great grandfather left so long ago, bringing the family bible which had been kept hidden under the manure pile for safety, to a new life in America. 

Thank you, my dear friend. I am looking for the perfect place to display this where everyone can enjoy it (without getting things piled on top).

I am slowly getting over jet-lag, which only seems to happen on the return trip. I have had a happy reunion with my family here. Also enjoying my hot-pot  and my shower that I can take by setting the temp. first and sitting down to wash my legs and feet instead of being attacked from several feet above my head.

A month or two before I left home, I had discovered that by subscribing to the comment section of the blog, I could get the comments in my in-box and reply from there. Until then I had been writing down each comment on note paper and looking up the addresses one by one, taking much time and effort. BUT, as usual when things seem too good to be true, this did not last and now all the comments come from "noreply" and I am back to trying to find the addresses... especially hard when there are several people who use the same name. If there is anyone who knows how to solve this problem, I would love to get it back to where it was a week or two ago.

Meanwhile, if there is anyone out there who is a little chilly, I've got a lot of excess heat I'd like to get rid of. I wish the day might come when we can store it somewhere and then take it out half a year later. Then again, I realize there are people paying to sit in a sauna.