Monday, October 28, 2013

Taking a blogging break

October is running out,
 Halloween is all but over, even though the 31st has not yet come.

Sunday saw crowds of people along the streets of Harajuku.
dressed in costumes and taking pictures.

Of course, children were not the only ones in costume. I can't imagine Nikko smiling under this hat and mask.

"Kiddyland", the toy store usually sponsors a parade the last Sunday in the month. I rather imagine they sell a lot of costumes too.

That was really the day of the photo op.

Monday morning,  as we drove along this street on the way to rice delivery, the trucks were out stringing LED lights on the Zelkova trees in preparation for the Christmas season.

That's it. I have successfully dodged Halloween and another birthday. As soon as I get my camping gear into the car, I will be off to the woods for a little over a week.

It is raining and cold. The sore throat I woke up with yesterday has been joined by a runny nose. I am not at all prepared for the classes I will be teaching. AND ... there will be no internet connection.

I have to admit, I need a break from yahoo. I can't imagine how they think they have improved anything at all in the "new" look. My contacts list that was all organized with real names and e-mail addresses ... and sometimes other information , is GONE. In its place is nothing but a list of e-mail addresses. No more typing in the name of someone I want to contact ... if I don't remember their address, I can't write them,

Also, suddenly everything that comes to the in box gets lumped together by subject. The little arrow that appears when you responded to mail is gone. You have to remember to whom you have written because the computer isn't going to let you know any more. And, if you want to delete one of the messages, it deletes everything on that subject.

If I have not answered someone who left a comment, I will have to blame yahoo. I honestly can't figure out why they changed something that wasn't broken in the first place.

I am also finding a few of my posts have been hijacked by several people using them to send advertisements. I am truly sorry if those messages have come to you. I delete the comment as it appears but I will need some technical help to fix those attacks.

Perhaps it will be a positive thing to take a computer break ... but I will miss reading all that my friends are up to.

A dozen little four inch blocks are done but Nikko ate my sketchbook with the plan Saturday while Paul was away to the homeless dinner and I was away to the Cub Scout Rally. I guess she did not like spending such a long day alone. Oh well, I have more notebooks of graph paper. Nikko will go with me to camp so remaining notes should be safe.

I leave you with this seasonal picture. The plant is growing in a garden down the street. I don't know what it is called but as it prepares to bloom, the leaves turn white on the edges, then the tiny flowers appear. They have lasted a long time. The neighbor has several of these small shrubs lining their front walk.

At a time we look forward to the warm hues of fall, this is also a treat.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Singin' in the rain

This weekend was our choir retreat in Gotemba, in the foothills near Mt Fuji. Every year about this time, the choir takes a pleasant get-away to the YMCA facility for a bit of fellowship and to work on a presentation for "Choir Sunday" in early December.

This year's piece is "Stella Natalis" by Karl Jenkins. This is our second time to try one of his compositions and they are quite a challenge, though once I work my way through the discordant parts, it begins to grow on me. Unfortunately, I was the only tenor able to attend this year so it will be even more of a challenge to hold the section together.

We drove up on Friday evening and this was the view from our fourth floor room Saturday morning.

Rather a good thing I got this picture because, within an hour, Fuji-san had disappeared into the clouds.

The rain began soon after, and though not heavy, it had been rather persistent throughout the weekend.

Many groups within the church are in constant flux, and though members come and go, it is likely that the choir contains the largest group of long-term members and dedicates the largest amount of time with mid-week rehearsals as well as Sunday practice and singing. It is a joy to be part of this group.

I didn't have any big take-along work, but grabbed my container of one-inch scraps and put together six four-inch squares. I have a plan of a pattern to try. I have made it once from three inch blocks and thought I might try it again a bit larger.

After getting this far, I decided this might be a bit wasteful because I have more light scraps that any other and only four in each block are light. I'll have to think how many of these I need to make a small piece like a table runner.
My plan was just to try out a star pattern in my sketchbook.

The rain fell lightly all Saturday night and on through Sunday, and I returned home without an umbrella but not all that wet until I got to the front of our house.

Ever since my neighbor's house and garden were ripped out and two houses were begun in that place, there is no where for the water to go when it rains

From the corner where I am standing to the far end of the street, side to side, is several inches of muddy water. The soil around the construction site has washed into this swamp and when it stops raining, we get a veneer mud, turning to cracked chunks of dirt. (Which then comes into the house on the feet of people and dogs).

Earlier this year, the city tore up and repaved the street, installing this drain.

A lot of good that drain is doing. It is way too high to drain off any water until the water reaches ankle depth. Rather than running toward the drain, the slope of the street goes straight for the neighbor's wall and the puddle fills sections of the street in the other direction to the left.

I wonder if it would do any good to complain to the city? I tend to think this was better when it was just a gravel path.

I guess this may become the new normal. Time to buy a new pair of rain boots!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

One more block done

Well, this is the final plan. It sure is scrappy. So... my stealth readers,
(AKA children), can you find a scrap from a quilt you have in your home?

The lower corner is a piece from "Paul's Plaid Stars" that I made papa 20 years ago for our 30th anniversary. I found enough of those blocks that I can probably go back and make repairs where Nikko has chewed holes.

I went up to the loft and laid the blocks I have so far on the floor.

Now I have two rather scrappy blocks. They all contain a piece of the pickle fabric and they all represent one of the books we have read together, but the last two I have made are not looking like they are going to blend in with the rest.

Maybe the next book will bring up a block that will calm things down a bit.I have begun to read "State Fair" by Earlene Fowler. It shouldn't take me long, as I read it once before.

That being said, I had also read "The Quilter's Apprentice" by Jennifer Chiaverini and hardly remembered very much of the story.

Since "The Goodbye Quilt" turned out to be more of a memory quilt for the maker, I think the scrappy block at least fits the theme. Hopefully, those memories are not all mine.

So, now I need to get a new activity going so I will have take-along work for the weekend. At least the activity of the past few days has shown me there is no shortage of fabric to use,

Monday, October 14, 2013

Searching the scrap heap

Plan A was never going to work because I have kept fewer scraps than I thought. I guess that is what happens when most of my quilts are scrap quilts.

Today I went through the one-inch box and found a few other fabrics from former quilts.

I laid them out on a piece of batting in a 12 inch square. Then I pulled out my picture diary and checked to see that there is at least one piece representing every household.

My eldest daughter still does not have a quilt made especially for her but when we had to give up our queen sized bed, I passed my quilt to her. "Amish Tulips" was made in 2001 and I loved the applique blocks set in pinwheels. I stuck in a one-inch black square to represent that one, and of course there are bits from the three baby quilts and the "I Spy" and Paul's "Big Boy" quilt so her household is well represented.

Of course I added one piece of pickle fabric so there will be a connection to the book club.

Now I am playing around with different arrangements. I think I like this one a bit better.

I also liked a suggestion from my friend, Queenie, that I add one bit of fabric and put that into future quilts. Wouldn't that be fun!
I could hide it somewhere in every quilt from now on. Of course, in order to do that I would have to get enough to last a few years and then remember WHERE I PUT IT. That might just be a bigger challenge than keeping up with the book club.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

A change of plans

Wasn't it Robert Burns who said ... the best laid plans of mice and men, gang oft awa?

Well, I thought I had a plan. With the banner out of the way, I thought I would get busy with my book club block to represent "The Goodbye Quilt". In the story, the mother is making a memory quilt with bits and pieces she remembers from her daughter's life.

My grand plan was to make a 12 inch block using fabrics from quilts I have made for my kids and grandkids. I drew up a pattern of 16 squares and was planning to use two fabrics from each quilt. Oh, it was going to be great fun to make. I cut out the templates and planned to trace and cut the pieces for take-along work. ..... Then .... I went sifting through my scrap collection to find the left-over fabric.

Five hours later, this tiny pile is about all I could come up with. Yes, I still had leftovers from the two most recent baby quilts but darn little else.

I still have not made it all the way through the thousands of one inch blocks so I might find a few more. The truth is, the idea I had in mind is not going to work

So ....... it's back to the drawing board. Maybe I can use the design and templates for something else.

The Taisokai at school was wonderful ... perhaps one of the best I have seen in all the years I have been going. The day was sunny and still a bit warm. The grass area was a bit browner than in past years, not surprising for such a hot summer.

There was an announcement of the number of people attending but I am lousy at remembering numbers ... even long enough to write them down.

Each year the event begins with a march past, the band playing and classes beginning with the college students all the way down to the pre-schoolers marching in ant lining up on the field. I was sitting at the back and it was difficult to take pictures over the heads of the crowd.

The little kids do relay races

The middle school through college do Danish gymnastics. Each year a Danish man and lady come to the school to supervise and teach the classes. To me, little seems to change from year to year except the choice of music to with they perform.

There is always a maypole dance by the 1st and 2nd year JR High and 1st year SR high girls.

This year the weaving of the ribbons on the poles was the best ever.

The high school boys department always make a human pyramid.

Even that seemed a bit more skillful this year.

It is always pleasant to sit in this peaceful setting, meet with friends and catch up with former students. The original buildings were done by Frank Lloyd Wright and this campus was designed by one of his disciples. This sight has history going back to the Jomon era. It is truly a treasure, as are the students who follow in the tradition of Mr. and Mrs. Hani, the founders.

And behind the scenes was the fragrant smell of the "Kinmokusei". Like the spider lilies, the Sweet Olive is one of October's offerings.

Since the flowers are small and hidden among the leaves, you are more likely to notice the smell first.

They will last until the first big rain storm and we will all forget until next year when they are sure to return with the shortening daylight hours.

Tonight I am off to review Scouts for advancement. There is no take-along-work for my block. I will have to see what the one inch box has to offer before coming up with plan B.
Luckily, I have a good book to read.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Deadline met!

Yesterday I finished the quilting on the banner. I am not completely happy with it because the background quilting seems a bit distracting.

The weather is very gray so the colors do not show well in the picture either.

In real life, the bible verse shows up better. Since it was my addition to someone else's design, I didn't want the verse to stand out too strongly.

This is a shot of the lettering.

Not beautiful, but it can be read hanging at eye level. I came pretty close to taking it out and giving up.

Next up will be my book club block and maybe I will have a bit of time to get back to my followers blocks.

This month's calendar is pretty crammed with stuff and I have a whittling assignment that needs to be completed by the end of the month.

Some days I feel like that guy who jumped on his horse and rode off in all directions at once!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Off and running

At last the banner is together and I am beginning to quilt it.

The plan was to reverse applique the center cross, but in the end, it was easier to applique it on top. I cut away the yellow fabric in back to minimize the shadowing, but it still shows.

Looking through my scrap fabric for a large enough piece to use as backing, I found a piece of light purple gingham one of my church friends had given me earlier this year. There was just enough including a strip for hanging sleeves.

I used pins to baste this because I am using a hoop for quilting. I got enough dog hair laying it out on the carpet that I didn't need to get more by crawling around on top.

Today is a rainy day so the picture is  bit dark. I pieced one-inch solids for the upper and lower borders and I think I will go with white for the binding. I am still deciding on a bible verse that I will embroider over the lower group of arms.

When I was at my quilt group on Friday, my friend gave me a spool of Mettler quilting cotton.

It is a bit heavier than the Coats and Clarks I usually use and much stronger than using embroidery cotton.

I am doing a back-stitch around the hands and I think that will be just enough.

I picked up a little container of "thread heaven" at the Tokyo Dome shops. I don't like starting and stopping when working, so tend to use a rather long piece of thread. So far, this seems to be working well to avoid fraying and knotting.

There will be a few large areas of background between the arms. I wonder if I need to actually quilt those spaces. I really don't want to put quilting in the area around the cross. If I do, maybe echo quilting would work. The batting I used was from the end of my thinsulate roll ... 60 weight.
I would have preferred to use thinner (like 40 weight) but taking the day to go into town hoping to find some ... nah, I gotta get goin'.

Nothing is engraved in stone so any suggestions are certainly welcome.