Monday, March 17, 2014

A finish and a start and in between

Three cheers for long train rides and even longer meetings.

This is what I finished last week. It is now protecting my coffee table from every-day spills.

Te center is just a printed panel. The gold print was quilted with gold thread, an inch of assorted leaf prints was added and then another inch of navy print.

The leaves were traced from some I picked up in places I have been beginning with a few at the Women's Conference where I began the quilting.

The owl is my guardian and one wouldn't have to look far to see one around my house. This one will be the guardian of the table too.

Saturday we were off early to attend the graduation ceremony of my Granddaughter, Leya. I was so tired that I had gone to bed without preparing well, and left the house without my camera.

There were wonderful photo ops ... all of which I missed. We had a lovely celebratory lunch up on Mt Takao, where snow still covered the forest floor.
An evening engagement followed and made for another late night. Sunday the choir sang for the first service so one more early morning departure, and , since I was attending an Eagle ceremony in the afternoon, I decided not to hang around for "coffee-hour" or the St, Patrick's Day Parade to follow.

As I was walking down to the bus stop, I was stopped by a young man who asked me (in English) if I would mind being interviewed for a minute. Well, OK, I guess I can spare a minute.
I was surprised when he led me off to the side where there was another young man with a big camera and another with a big microphone. The first guy then said they were from NHK, and pulled out a big poster, explaining that a survey showed that Japanese men spent almost the least amount of time on housework.

I didn't remember which countries on that chart were at the top but Japan was second from the bottom. The interviewer asked where I was from and how much time my husband spent on housework per day. I had to explain that my husband is Japanese and he spends probably three hours or so per day ... walking the dog, feeding the bird, shopping, and preparing meals. Even if we only eat one meal, I'd still say at least three hours. (however picking up his things and tidying up is a whole other story).

I was asked what I liked to do. Of course I turned the table over to the men, asking them how many hours they spent. I also told them that my two sons are neat and tidy and great cooks that also help with the kids.

They told me that NHK has a program at 10:PM Thursday night when that program will be aired.
That short interlude has given me much cause for thought and I asked the women in my Monday English class, how many hours their husbands spend. Yes, their answers verified the statistics on the poster.

Well, I can't go back and fix my husband, nor can they, but certainly we can do much in the raising of our children. My older son learned to cook by the age of three. In truth, I had to teach him how to use the stove safely when I found him making a cheese  omelet at five in the morning. Years later, when the mother of one of his friends asked me for the recipe for an after-school-snack, saying she had tried to make it but her sons kept saying it wasn't like the one at Ken's house, I told her she would have to ask Ken. My rule was don't use anything that is intended for dinner and clean up everything when you finish.  I do know it involved the oven, but other than that .... it met my standard.

We had a house rule that before you invited your friend over, the house had to be clean because it reflected on me. I could always tell of an impending visit because of the cleaning frenzy taking place. When the TV room was messy, I locked the door and posted a note that the room was off limits until it was cleaned and I would give the key to whomever intended to clean it. They could find who made the mess and get them to clean it or work together or do it alone but only when the room was clean, could it be used.

Over many years of Scouting, there are advancement requirements involving cooking and meal preparation and home duties, and I recall those boys with Japanese mothers had the biggest problem meeting basics. Now cooking merit badge is an Eagle-required badge.

The traditional Japanese kitchen is a dark hole on the North side of the house. Storage space is poorly thought out, and the architects and designers are all men who have probably never spent any time in those places because they had mothers who waited on them. 10:pm is my bedtime but I might have to stay up and see what the program has to say. I told those guys it was a mind-set that needed to be changed.

My next project is to make a baby quilt for a new little boy. His dad sings in the choir (often helping the tenors when we are desperate) and his mom is a long-time friend. They will be leaving Japan in the summer so I don't have loads of time to spend.

I just happened upon a nice one-patch baby quilt on my friend Cynthia's blog, . It looks great and even by hand, is not hard to do. Last night I dug through my box of conversation prints and cut some fabrics for five-inch blocks.

This is what I have put together so far. My plan is to quilt ABCs in the solid color blocks and an inch inside the picture blocks. A five inch border would make a 45" x 50" quilt. I am wondering if that is  big enough. I suppose it would be crib size or small enough to be dragged around the house.

What do you think? More borders?

It is a beautiful sunny day with a gusty Southern wind. The little cactus hanging in the greenhouse window may seem either very late for Christmas or early for Easter. Truly, six years ago when Leya was born, March 23rd, it was an early Easter and this cactus was blooming then, so an Easter cactus, it must be. Her mother's Sweet Daphne is also perfuming the air. Can spring be far behind?


  1. My sons are not cooks (except for grilling), but they do know how to clean. The one who is a father does a wonderful job of parenting, along with his wife.

  2. I believe all children should be able to cook, at least a simple meal by the time they are 12, I know I couldn't, but I could milk the cows, feed out hay or silage, look after the calves, and lots more on the farm, love those blocks, and the size is great, not just for baby size but years ahead as well. Take care and get some rest time for YOU, hugs, Jean.

  3. Your owl is amazing as all of your pieces are! I only have girls so haven't had an opportunity to teach boys to cook, although I have a 6 year old grandson now. He likes to help his grandfather in the kitchen. My hubby does house work but only certain things. I don't think he has ever cleaned a bathroom. He washes the dishes but never wipes down the sink or the counter afterwards. But he does wash and mop the kitchen floor so I have to be grateful for that.

  4. My husband spends far less than 3 hours a day! That doesn't mean he's not helpful because he is but his helpfulness is limited. :) Yesterday, after having company for a week, I did laundry, washed the bathroom rugs, use the vacuum on all the floors, etc. I'm having company for the day tomorrow and wanted things ready for that. When I go home from the grocery store he had been outside cleaning up his truck and had walked through the house without taking off his shoes. Crumbles of dirt were everywhere he had taken a step. :( Needless to say the floors were vacuumed again but this time he did the vacuuming! He's very good if I make a written list to complete it though it might take him twice as long as if I did it myself, but with no list, well just forget it. He is a good cook but he doesn't volunteer for that. He does it when I assign it. Hmmm, I'm seeing a pattern here. :) blessings, marlene

  5. Hi, Julie. Great post. I think Arab men must be below Japanese men! Like you say, it's a mindset. Very cool leaf quilting in your owl quilt and I especially liked your "seasons quilt" in the previous post. The fan quilt is lovely as well--beautiful craftsmanship.
    best, nadia

  6. well my husband is American as I am and he is horribly lazy at the house work - he just is not the least bit interested and I don't think his mother ever tried to teach him because he was a "boy" like that gave him special privileges. He only helps if I ask him and it gets very irritating!! it was one thing when he was working long hours a day but he is retired now so there is no reason for him to not do some of the work.

  7. That is funny, but so true. Even with help, most men still don't get how much actually has to be done around a house to keep it clean, lol. Mine cooks and shops and helps with some things but he does more than his fair share on top of working, so I can't complain. I taught my kids to cook and clean when they were young, my son stuck with it and helps his wife, my daughter still doesn't get it;)


  8. My son can make a few things. We've actually already discussed his need to learn more. The girls were much more interested in cooking than him and our kitchen isn't big enough for everyone. He's been pulled into it more often though to learn how to do more. He does know how to clean and do laundry. WIth hubby gone, I rely on him to help with alot of the outside chores.

  9. The owl is wonderful. The one patch quilt is always fun - my kids had one and it was their favorite - even among all my own quilts. Our kids all are good cooks (2 girls and a boy) and I have to say - our son is the most industrious at housework - but the girls are good too. Our kids all were taught to clean, cook and sew. When our son went to college he was appalled at how the other guys couldn't do anything (mostly from well-to-do families in San Diego) and so he earned a lot of extra money by cooking for them - they bought the ingredients - he cooked - and he did bike repair and minor appt. repairs for money too. His training came in handy.

  10. loving the owl that is guarding your table x let us know what the programme was like x My son and daughter were both taught to be self sufficient from and early age ... all aspects of housework were taught. I stopped their ironing when they were 16 and if they wanted to eat when I was working .. they had to see to it.. mind you I am sure my mother "cheated" and helped them out.. although she and they deny it!! lol x My son does all their cooking and ironing .. and his partner often thanks me for this xx she is adament that their children will be taught the same way x

  11. My hubby doesn't do lots around the house, but, since I'm a stay at home mom, that is part of our agreement (he earns the money). He helps whenever I ask, unless it's his side of the bedroom (ALWAYS a mess). Hubby taught both boys how to clean a bathroom, and I taught them how to do laundry and cook. Hubby can cook, too. My father was the one who taught me most of what I know about cooking, not my mother, who only cooks because she has to (daddy had to teach her). My hubby was a hands on father in every way, too. Both my son's think fathers should be as hands on as mothers, thru all the years. Cute Owl!

  12. I love all of your posts. Thank you for this one. I admire all that you do. I also make one-patch baby quilts, with a flannel back that is folded over to make the border. They just have a single border at about the ratio that you are suggesting. Your fabrics are stunning!

  13. I love the owl! He's so friendly looking. :) The border sets him off nicely.