Sunday, September 30, 2012

Let's hear it for weekends!

Friday, the Bible quilt group met. This is a quilt-as-you-go project and at this session we began to join the blocks and quilt the sashing. These women are very fast learners and in one session, a lot was accomplished.

In this neighborhood there is more goya . In addition to the "fruit", this plant seems to be used as a sun-screen for South facing windows. Even behind me as I took the picture of the bible quilt, the view from the window was a big goya hanging for all to admire.

Even on the second floor balcony of this apartment, you can see that goya taking over. I learned also that the bright yellow flowers are the male flower. The female flower is very small and hardly noticeable.

Saturday I had set up a date with my friend who runs the rice store to borrow her big eight-mat tatami room for basting my big quilt.

I spread out the backing but did not want to tape it down to the mats. Then I unrolled the batting and pieced enough to cover the backing.

It took a lot of crawling around on the floor to get that far.

After I got the top spread out, I began to baste but soon found areas where the backing had bunched up or the batting was wrinkled.

I flipped the whole thing over and fixed the problems with the backing by pulling out the basting. Then I put in safety pins and flipped it back to the top.

There were still adjustments to be re-done on the top and more moving of pins. In the end, I had spent over four hours and ended up with only pins in place. I decided that if I begin quilting in the center and work outward, it will probably be OK with just the pins.

My friend's house is a very old style and probably one of the first built in this area when it was moving from farm land.

To the North is a cupboard for storing bedding and cushions and the like, a family shrine area and a open space to hang a scroll and place a flower arrangement. (and the modern addition of a big flat-screen TV).

Entering the room by double sliding doors from the East, there are four sliding doors along the South side with open wood carvings above them to let the air circulate to the adjoining room. That room might be a six or another eight-mat room so when you need to entertain a big group, the whole place can be opened up.

The rooms are connected also by a wooden hallway to the west and beyond that is the garden. The shop is on the north side and the owner has her goya growing there for the public to enjoy. Along the garden openings are large rush mats that shield the room from the afternoon sun.

I remember when most houses in the area were that style. It was a very pleasant place to work. My friend brought me cold mugi-cha (barley tea) about half way through and treated me to some "Macha" (green tea) ice cream when I finished. In Japanese style, I took her a box of Japanese sweets, some made specially for the moon viewing on the first full moon after the equinox (Sunday evening).

I returned home with my quilt ready for cooler days of quilting and blisters on the tops of my feet and toes. In the early days of my life in Japan, I was always embarrassed when summer dress revealed the callouses on the tops of my feet and knees. In those days, though, we all sat on tatami. No protection by callouses these days and some blisters had already broken while I was working.

Sunday, a big typhoon was expected and I set out to church with my rain gear and umbrella.

After the service, though the storm was predicted to begin around three, some local shrines were having a festival.

While taking a water break, kids were beating the drum, boom boom, click click, boom boom boom, click click.

Even the little portable shrine with a golden phoenix on top gets a comfortable resting place in the shade.

"Five minutes to departure" calls a man with a bull horn and the stands are picked up and stashed and the shrines are ready to be lifted to the shoulders and carried along the street  with cheerful chants.

The typhoon can wait a little longer.

My afternoon was spent with a group of Cub Scouts meeting emergency preparedness  requirements for advancement. The wind and rain were picking up as I left the meeting place, and by the time I returned home, the typhoon had hit. Trains were stopped above ground and there were many delays being announced. Taxi drivers were doing a good business with people wishing not to get stuck in the middle of nowhere.
All night long we listened to the howling and rattling and beating of rain. Still, all plants survived and only my bike cover got shredded.

At four in the morning as we drove out to deliver rice balls to the homeless, the air was clean and clear and the big full harvest moon was putting on a show in the western sky. If you go to Taniwa's blog, you can see her view.  (Much prettier than Tokyo). I wonder if my friend could rise early and enjoy those sweets in the full moon?
As for down town, the streets were littered with bent and broken umbrellas and I suppose China will be doing a healthy business in days to come.


  1. Not long ago, I would have been scratching my head at your reference to an 8-mat tatami room, but we have a Japanese Tea Room on our campus that a Master Craftsman from Japan built for us a couple years ago (and which has just recently been given a name by some tea ceremony big wig), so now I know what you mean. Four hours of basting? Ugh! My least favorite part of quilting ever!

  2. Here in NZ there were photos on the 6 p.m. news of the typhoon, It was severe in Okinawa, I have a friend there so hope they are safe. Did you get the strong gales at your place? Yes, a large quilt has so much handwork behind that no-one else sees, and has no idea. The quilt looks so lovely even on the floor. Greetings from Jean.

  3. Julie, I agree, the quilt looks great already! You are so patient to baste so carefully, on the floor. I wish I had tatami in our apartment. The first time I lived in Japan in the 80's I had a six-tatami room, and I cleaned it with vinegar. Love the feel of tatami under bare feet.... but I imagine, ya, blisters after the work of basting your quilt! I'll have to be on the lookout for Goya, now that you've taught me what it is. I always learn something new, reading your posts!

  4. poor feet!! Hope they are feeling betterx

    Love to read about your life there x I feel like I am getting to know a little about the way you live.. love to see the pictures too x

  5. Julie I can't imagine trying to baste a quilt on the floor for four hours - I wouldn't be able to get up, literally. I admire your perseverance. These days I mostly use spray adhesive for basting and I do it on a large ironing board so the quilt can hang off both sides letting gravity help in pulling out the wrinkles. I loved reading your descriptive post today - almost like a story. blessings, marlene

  6. I have done that a few times over the years. It isn't much fun to baste a quilt on the floor. The quilt looks wonderful!

    I like the idea of the traditional style homes. They really know how to utilize their small space.

  7. Thankfully, our new home has a good area for basting quilts and I will be making use of it soon. Love your top! Looking forward to seeing it all quilted up.

  8. Glad to hear you made it through the typhoon safely! I can't imagine spending four hours working on basting. Of course, that could be why my quilts end up puckered in the back. ;)

  9. Ah hah! I see some of those same blocks from Sandy Shigeno's Bible quilt. I've got a couple ladies working on a Bible quilt too but they aren't doing the quilt as you go method.

    That quilt you were basting is going to be a winner if you ever enter it in any competition!

  10. Hi Julie, I love the pictures. The blocks are very beautiful. If I put it on the floor here my dog will certainly sit on it!

    hugs - Sandra