Friday, June 28, 2013

Owl is in the forest

Yesterday the border was added.

When I went shopping with Cynthia, we looked at lots of leaf prints and both of us agreed the shades of green on this print worked the best with sky and owl.

So ... it is a bamboo forest, maybe not what my grandson will see in Oregon but certainly familiar with the rest of the Fukuda clan.

I appliqued some leaves left over from the scraps along the top edge and thought I might add more.

I am considering using some of the wood print to put in a few branches in the large blue areas. My other idea was to applique and quilt in many kinds of leaves on the sky area. They might look strange to have random leaves but maybe I could do them in autumn colors as if the wind is bringing them across the sky.
Probably adding random varieties of leaves would be the easiest. In a home full of naturalists, a bit of nature might not be strange.

Ryden Wren Fukuda!

I wish I knew how to grab a picture from facebook. The one posted there has his big round eyes open, looking much more like an owl than a wren.

At any rate, he is an early-bird and will have a bit to wait for that quilt.
Dream on, little chick!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

No progress to report, EXCEPT...

I had really hoped to use space in the craft area at camp to mark and cut the borders for the owl quilt ... and perhaps get them sewn in place. Ah, the best laid plans of mice and men... gang oft awa'.  It is the "rainy season", after all, so what might I have expected?

That old building with its leaky roof was in big demand during off hours and even during the daytime, the room is quite dark, especially with the sun turned off. The owl stayed safely waiting in the van, and came home dry but untouched.

I was supposed to help with NYLT (national youth leadership training) which followed camp, but because of a small family crisis, the youth helped me get the craft gear sorted and put away and my own stuff loaded into my van. With assurance that my tasks would be covered, I returned home Saturday morning. Nikko and I unpacked the van and put things away. The house was quiet. My daughter had dropped her priorities to come and  was accompanying her father on rounds to various doctors. Meanwhile, the internet connections were down. I could just look at e-mails on my cell phone and read that my Son and his wife had gone to the hospital for the early delivery of their little son ... What? ... and the baby quilt is still in limbo!

By Sunday, things  ... other than internet connections ... had returned to somewhat normal. Norie had returned to her own family and the church choir was glad to get one more tenor. Paul and I had lunch with a long-time friend who was sad to have moved and left a cherished maple tree behind, as her new apartment had not enough room for it on the balcony. We went to see the tree and found it would be an easy rescue, so Monday morning, while we were in the neighborhood for rice delivery, we picked up the potted tree and brought it home.

Here it is in its new location, lined up with the other two maples. The cut-leaf maple still has purple leaves and the "three-hand" maple is behind me. I will be expecting a beautiful show when autumn rolls around.

Monday morning also brought the news that a new Fukuda had been added to the clan.

Norie and Leia returned for the night, as Norie wanted to accompany her Papa to the doctor's appointment next morning to ask the questions that father would not bother to ask.  ( probably not wanting to hear the answers).

As it turned out, the news all around was not so bad. The baby, though early and small, would be allowed to go home ... still without a name. Papa only needs to get serious about sleeping and controlling his sugar ... nothing new there, and the internet guy came by and fixed the connections. The Fukudas are back up and running.

Norie and I decided to celebrate with a cake.  And, that cake had to be the Turkey Swamp Coffee Cake, non other!  Turkey Swamp is in New Jersey where we lived while Paul was training after joining Bankers' Trust Bank. The weekend after Ken was born, the whole family went camping with our church group to Turkey Swamp and it became a small haven for this woodland girl and her chicks. In fact, when Jon was born, Paul had already returned to Tokyo and my mom came to watch the kids while I was at the hospital. The day before Jon arrived, we went off for a picnic to Turkey Swamp and a friend brought along a delicious coffee cake. My mom was in love with that cake and wanted the recipe. When I finally sent it to her, it was dubbed the "Turkey Swamp Coffee Cake" and has been known by that name ever since. Never an idea of the original name.

With it's connection to Ken, and the birthday of Jon also being this past week, we thought it the perfect cake to celebrate the newest family member.

Well, a birthday cake needs a song and a candle to blow out and Leia has five years of experience to share.

Here is the recipe:

1 box yellow cake mix      
1 box instant pudding
4 eggs
1/2 cup oil
1 cup sour cream

Mix together and pour half in a 10 inch tube pan.

Mix one and a half tsp. cinnamon, 3 Tbsp. sugar, and one cup of nuts.

Put half of that on the batter. Add the rest of the batter and the nut mix on top. Bake one hour at 375 degrees F.

Of course, not having cake mix, thanks to the restored internet, Norie went on line and got a substitute to use. (2C flour, 1/2 Tbsp. cornstarch, 1tsp. salt, 1-1/2 C. sugar (which she cut to 1/2C.), and 1 Tbsp. Baking powder. The oil was already in the recipe and 1tsp. vanilla was added to the batter.  We used a generous cup of chopped walnuts. (After all, you can't have too many nuts).

So, here we are,  celebrating!

"Little Bean", as he is referred to, slept through the whole party.

Doesn't that cake look yummy?

It brought back many happy memories and great expectations for the future.

Thank You Norie and Leia!

Let's try this again without the crisis!

NOW... get off the computer and get busy on that baby quilt!!!!!

Friday, June 14, 2013

My other job

I posted these pictures on my Scout blog but I thought you might like to see what I do when I am not quilting.

Almost every age group has requirements to build something. Most of the families we serve are in Japan for the father's work and do not come equipped with tools.

I teach woodcarving at camp so I have a few of the basic tools. On Wednesday, I went to the home improvement store and bought two long wide boards and two long narrow boards, and several packs of long thin nails.

I cut the wide boards into sections for a stool,  one 11 and a half inch top and two 7 and a half inch ends.

I cut the narrow pieces into shorter sections and marked them in thirds.
The Cubs used small Japanese saws to cut the piece into three pieces.

The other leaders and parents helped out but did not do the work for the boys.

First they glued and nailed the side bars into the notches I had cut at the top of the end pieces.

Brave mother holds the nail while a Tiger cub hammers it in.

After both side supports were in place, the third section was glued and nailed between the legs.

This was the first Pack meeting for the Cub with the hammer.

Lastly the seat was nailed on top.

When you are finished, line up your team ... by size, shortest in the stool.

Well, we have to make sure it works).

and make the Scout sign.

Everyone got an activity patch and the shortest kid could take the stool home to use helping around the house.

On the train into town, I finished adding the sky around the owl.

I had looked at fabrics last week with my friend, Cynthia. A night sky with stars might have been nice but the owl would not show very well.

There were several shades of this mottled blue and Cynthia helped me decide on this one.

Next I will add the tree borders. Maybe at camp I can use the craft room in the evenings.

Then I plan to applique and or quilt leaves into the sky area. I'm glad I added the missing row to the tail. I may add a few smaller branches too. I'll just have to wait and see how the border looks.

After lugging all the wood and tools to the Pack meeting, I was very happy to come home with a light bag ... a few hammers and saws and bottles of glue.  Tomorrow I will pack for camp. No internet connections out in the woods. I will miss my blogging friends but I have the owl to keep me company (and Nikko, and a few hundred boys with knives and hammers and saws) Have a good week!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

A surprise ...

This morning my husband called me into the computer room to show me something on his computer screen. Yesterday I heard that the pastor of the church in Tohoku had sent a video to the pastor of Tokyo union church and they were planning to show it to the congregation on Sunday.

Luckily, by then, I will be off in the woods with the Scouts and thus saved from embarrassment. Well, my husband, greatly involved with the outreach ministry team, managed to get hold of it and by now it is on the family blog and the relatives list and who knows where else.

I don't know if I can add the link or even if anyone is interested in seeing it. I did like the clips of the women working on their projects and I was happy to get the news that the women have continued to meet and quilt. I don't like to hear myself stumbling around for words but... anyway... that is the site.

The weather report on my "smart" phone (a google android) has been claiming rain every day for the last beautiful week ... not all that smart ... but at last it has begun to sprinkle and there is a typhoon predicted. I'd say it will be good to get that out of the way before camp starts.

The first of my lilies have begun to open.

I spent a few hours yesterday trimming back the azaleas and the enkianthus so the rest of the plants can get a touch of what it already a short exposure to the sun.

My neighbor's daughter said I might take some cuttings from her mom's garden so I potted up some Hostas  from back under the wall.

And, in the back garden I set out pots from my greenhouse, hoping things can survive a week of neglect.

I noticed the biwa are beginning to ripen along the wall. This "tree" came from our last house in a tiny plastic pot and I set it along the ledge next to the neighbor's wall. The pot tipped over but the roots went through the bottom of the pot and into the few inches of soil and that tree took over the space with nary a complaint. Now at a bit over six feet and six years of age, it put forth flowers at the end of winter and here are its first fruits. They will be orange when ripe and are well on their way.

Have you ever eaten a loquat? I hear the seeds, though rather tough and bitter, are a good preventative of cancer.

And, today's project??? I began cutting the sky fabric to add to the owl but measuring ... and then measuring again, I found something wrong. Finally I figured our I had made the Owl's tail two inches too short. (And he never mentioned it until it was all done). Well, after some thought, I decided I really had to stick to my drawing so I have un-sewed and am now re-sewing the tail section. It sure would have been better to do it right the first time because the order of the seems was not particularly conducive to ripping out.

I want to prepare piecing to take with me to camp, hopefully to finish the piecing and baste the quilt if I have enough time during the evenings. I also need to prepare a construction project for Friday's Pack meeting. I need to get the lumber and nails and cut the most complicated pieces. The boys will do the straight sawing and hammering. We will work in a relay fashion. Hopefully there will be time left to pack for camp so I can get an early start on Saturday.

Are we having fun yet? Happy rainy season!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

The land of the revolving door

You don't have to be a foreigner living in Japan very long to see that this is "the land of the revolving door".  I had very few friends when I first arrived, but I had a wonderful family waiting to embrace me. I had English students, some of which did become friends, and then, as children entered the picture, added to that were the parents of my children's friends.

But then, those friends usually stayed only for two or three years on company business, and then moved on . There were times I almost dreaded making new friends because I knew in a year or two, they would be moving on, taking a piece of my heart with them.

Sure, there were a few long-term friends, and especially among the missionary community there were quite a few. Sadly, over the last ten or fifteen years, most have retired and left. My dear neighbor, too, has become to frail to live on her own and has moved in with her daughter. Hopefully the house and garden will remain but even our neighbor to the south sold their lot to be divided into two three-story-sun-blocker and I can't help thinking it might happen again.

So, where do you go for friends? Church is  a big one ... also with a revolving door. Scouting has been another source ... though most of those friends are guys ... and then, there is quilting.
You are sitting with needle in hand, and in walks someone new. It only takes a few minutes to find you have met a kindred spirit. This week I am saying "good-bye" again BUT I know, even though she is leaving Japan, we will meet again. This week Cynthia and I made a final run to "fabric town", the wholesale district for cloth. She was picking up a few goodies to take back to the States and I was needing her help to complete my owl.

Now, as I work, I will be remembering the friendship we have shared.

How very much easier it is to make a selection with the help of a friend ... especially a friend who is on the same page, knows where you are coming from and where you are going.

You can see my owl is also happy, for now he has a branch to sit on and the beginning of sky where his tail leaves off. (and just wait until you see the border print)!

Thank you Cynthia, for two short years of friendship. We will be linked by our blogging, our quilting, our fabrics, and we can begin scheming about what we can do when I come to Boston.

 Also, this week, a rainbow came through my mail slot.

This is the beautiful hand dyed fabric that came from Vicki Welsh as a prize from Quilting Gallery. I just know the women of Tohoku will have their spirits lifted by these vibrant colors ... and.. as if that wasn't enough, Vicki generously added some extra pieces. Thank you Vicki, nothing will go to waste!

Then, on Friday, I went to an ikebena exhibit by Sogetsu school. Many years ago, I studied with Sogetsu and even earned my teacher's license. I used to belong to Ikebana International and took part in their shows but lately there is little space or occasion for a flower arrangement in my home.

The ticket was given me by a quilting friend/sensei  and, surprise!, more quilt friends met there. The show was outstanding and so very nicely done.
Afterwards, we went for a cool drink and I was fortunate to meet another of sensei's friends I had only seen in passing a few times, but this time we had time to talk (She is French, so we managed in Japanese) but she has been in Japan as long as I and we shared a lot in common.

So ... the revolving door keeps spinning, Along with sad "good-byes" come warm "hellos". And, thanks to the computer age, many of those may last longer than before.

Sunday, June 2, 2013


Have you been following along with the Quilter's Book Club? If you don't have any idea what I am talking about, check it out over at .

Each month we read a book and make a quilt block to represent that story.
May's book was Alice's Tulips by Sandra Dallas. This is the second of her books we have read, the first being The Persian Pickle Club. At that time I picked out a scrap of "pickle" fabric (paisley) from my stash and thought I would try to put some in each block I make. It is a rather dark fabric with only a small selection of colors within the print so it is a bit of a challenge to brighten each block.

There are two variations here, both in the red tulips. Susan found a number of suggested blocks and I decided to take the "Tulip Nine-patch", make four and turn it into a 12 inch block.

I had to have at least one yellow tulip, as that is what Alice loved most, but in Japan, there is a well-known children's song, one of the first songs a child learns to sing. It says,"They are blooming, they are blooming! Chuurippu flowers are in a row, aka (red), shiro (white), kiiro (yellow), whichever you look at they are beautiful". I guess this is a Japanese tulip block. (with a bent row).

Two long train rides into town and back today, Church in the morning and Scouts in the evening, neither time was the train crowded so I could get this done. The owl, looking down from the door behind me. is wishing for his feet and tail but I have stalled while looking for fabric to make the branch he is to sit on. I stopped at Yuzawaya Thursday on my way to choir practice but, though they are having many fabrics on sale, there was nothing that would work. I will probably need to make a run out to "fabric town" (The wholesale area) one of these days.

It is all ready past my bed time and tomorrow begins early with rice delivery. So off I go with the tulip song, echoing in my brain . Nighty night!