Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Stealth weeding

This has nothing to do with quilting but a lot to do with life in Nerima.

Here is a picture taken from outside my front gate.

My little set-back garden is on the left inside the low brick wall. It includes a cut-leaf maple (low and leafy), a vine-leafed maple (tall and out of control), tiger lilies pushing out above the azalea bushes, enkianthus, and the plum (apricot) planted to celebrate our first daughter's birth.

One can view the lovely job the city did of paving the road and leaving my little flower strip below the wall.

Every morning I sweep the street, starting at my gate and then the house to the north and the whole street to the south as far as this picture shows.

Sweeping the street makes a big difference in the way those passing through respect the neighborhood.

The neighbor to the south is a librarian and works 30 minutes away, going out each day by car. Her bright red car spends the night parked beyond the wall behind the plum tree. The van parked on the right belongs to someone living in the 3rd floor apartment. (apartment dwellers do not clean as it is not their property).

To the south of the library lady is an elderly lady taking care of an even more elderly mother ... a full time job. She has lots of trees that drop leaves. flowers, seeds, fruit, all year around. She is very happy that I am taking care of our street.

At the end of the street on the right, there is an apartment with the door standing open. That is occupied by an elderly gentleman who is recovering from a stroke. Behind that apartment on the corner is a house occupied by a very elderly couple, and not seen on the left end of the street is a small house where up until a month ago, the wife ran a day-care in her home. (now she has found a place outside her home to run the facility).

  That green thing sitting on my step is my handy sweeper.  The little broom clips to the handle of the bin and is always ready to go.

As I return, I dump the contents into a plastic bag that hangs to the left of my door. You can see this is not a huge task just to keep the area looking clean and respectable.

I rather enjoy taking a few minutes each morning to step outside. Oh, yes, and as I go along, I pull a few weeds.
Often I chat with the neighbors too.

That chat brings us to the little parking area beside the small apartment. Until about four weeks ago, it was waist-deep in weeds. (Well, at least above the knees for me).

For years there have been signs posted by the neighbors that people pick up after their dogs ... but, let's face it ... I doubt anyone could find the poo among all those weeds. The other complaint was about mosquitoes.

I decided it was time to stop complaining and start acting, so each day I added to my little bin, weeds. I began with the wild grass that was about to go to seed. First I cut off the flower ends of the bunches and took them away. Then I pulled out the bunches one-by-one and disposed of those.

Next I attacked the leafy plants in the same way.

The ground is all made up of rocks so pulling the clumps of weeds brought up lots of rocks and dirt.  I had to bring some big bags to haul off the trash and plants (which I chopped into smaller pieces).

One lady came by and stopped to ask me if I was collecting herbs. I told her I was just removing weeds and she asked why ... they will just grow back.

I told her that was true if I allowed them to go to seed and we would have the neighborhood we deserve. Ah, that is true, she said and thanked me.

Last Sunday as I was pulling out the last row of weeds along the fence, the neighbor to the left came out with garden gloves on and helped to pull the last of that row. She said that mosquitoes were fewer and there had been no doggy-doo for weeks.

A parent with a child riding on the back of his bike passed through on the way to the pre-school and exclaimed to the child how much nicer the area looked.

The care-giver for the man with the stroke came out and handed me a chilled bottle of tea.

Yesterday the car-owner (who had exclaimed to my husband about how much nicer the area looked) drove off and left the lot vacant. I took the opportunity to finish off the section under and behind the car. No longer in stealth mode, I guess. The gentleman came out with his cane and finished off the weeds on his side of that fence saying the mosquito problem was much less. AND, no one is tossing trash into the lot any more.

The neighbors are standing out and visiting with each other. We all exchange pleasantries as we pass along the street. I checked with the flower shop lady as to what flower would grow best with least care and she recommended salvias. If you look closely you can see a row of five along the fence.

I still am working on the weeds behind the house of the elderly couple. It is a bit of a challenge because of the fence but the flowering weeds have been cut and another week may have that spot looking clean too.

Sunday's Sermon was about Matthew: 13 - 24, the man sowing good seed and it coming up among weeds. We take care of the good stuff and let God dispose of the weeds. Hmm, Have I been wasting my time? I just might look at my neighborhood as the good stuff. the trash and doggy-doo and mosquitoes have been taken care of as a result.

And, as to quilting, the pile of 4-inch blocks got too big for its zip-lock bag. Still no idea what to do with them but they have  been up-graded into a larger bag.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Celebrating friendship

Another star is being added to my collection of followers blocks.

Four inches for the center is always a bit of a challenge. This is supposed to be a compass.

This friend likes blue, green, and purple. (the green points look a bit off in the picture but in real life, they are identify-ably green)

For the star points, I tried to find fabric resembling a sunset.

Can you guess who this block represents? If not, go to All Points of the Compass and pay a visit to Jean.

Long ago I accompanied my husband on a business trip to New Zealand.  I got to do some sightseeing while my husband was working, and was impressed with the friendliness of all those I met along the way.

Around the time of that visit, my family of eight made a holiday trip to Shiobara, and in the resort area we met many young people from Auckland, which was their "sister city". It was New Years and those kids were working in the hotels, many earning money for college. They worked so hard until late at night serving the guests and again from early morning, always with smiling friendly attitudes.

Before we returned to Tokyo, my husband gave those youngsters his card and told them if they ever wanted a break in Tokyo, they would be welcome to stay at our house. From then began a series of visits from the most wonderful kids. We were even blessed to meet the parents of one of those youngsters. I think if New Zealand had wanted to send ambassadors, they couldn't have found better people.

Jean has only reinforced my attitude as all those who have passed through my life in Tokyo have done. Thanks Jean for your comments and warm friendship. New Zealand has more than sheep and beautiful scenery.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Another friend is remembered with a block.

One more block will be added to my growing collection of "followers blocks"

This one is for Janet, another of my long time friends. You may already know her because we seem to visit many of the same blogs.

In a way this was easy to decide on.
Janet is fond of bright and scrappy so I have made her block a rainbow.

The harder part was adding the Caribou ...crossing the block.
After all, her blog is Caribou Crossing Chroicles.

I tried another piece of the "Japanese taupe". It is soft and flexible but a bit tricky for details like antlers. I did this on the bus ride out to my English class and I think my fellow passengers were wondering what that strange foreigner was up to.   By the way, did you spot the Canada goose? I couldn't resist that one.

I might add to beware of bunnies, as they tend to multiply when given too much attention.  Sunday I was gifted two new bunnies. I'm not sure how they are to be used as they are a bit too light to make bookends.

They are cut from wood and just a wee bit tall to fit under the slanting eves above my pillow.

They were, however, welcomed by the rest of the gang. They are all sitting on the boxes that hold my Scout patches ... that too is a growing collection. I used to sew the patches from scout events on to a patch blanket but after two blankets. enough is enough. Still they keep coming, event after event. A number of them I even designed for the Far East Council.

Well, that is about it for today.  Thank you, Janet, for your continued friendship. This should make up for all the dog hair I send in your direction on the Northerly winds.

Friday, July 11, 2014

A little stitching brings out the sun

Other than hot and humid, the weatherman can't seem to make up his mind....

one minute sun, and then looming dark clouds and hard rain ... now it is back to sun

I thought I could make my own sun with another follower's block.

I decided to celebrate a long friendship with Debbie over at Woolensails. I have tried to add a link with no success but you can probably visit her by going to my side bar.

Debbie and I seem to have a lot in common. We even tend to visit the same set of blogs.

I thought of putting a little sailboat on the center square but opted instead for a bunny. My bunny is not wool or tea-dyed. Instead of two carrots, he is holding a heart. (well, this is about friendship) for the first time I used "Japanese taupe" fabric. I can see why it is so popular with Japanese quilters for applique.

I took the block up to my bed and my bunnies approved.

Here they are, sitting at the head of my bed.

The Knuffle bunny came from school ... needed for nap time. (and is it ever cuddly)!

 The black bunny followed me home from the Tokyo Dome quilt show a few years ago.

The Bluberry-Jambo-Bunny has been to 6 Nippon Jamborees, 5 BSA Jamborees, 2 Nippon Venture Jamborees, 2 AGONOREES (for handicapped Scouts), and one World Jamboree. He is also Woodbadge trained ... wearing beads and a scarf, and a Vigil member of the Order of the Arrow. The button blanket is his.    In a house where owls rule the roost, it is good for the bunnies to stick together.

Many thanks, Debbie, for your continuing friendship.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Thursday challenges

Last Thursday the choir went to a summer schedule ... meaning no Thursday night rehearsal.
I read in the Sunday bulletin that the Women's Fellowship would be holding a "Summer Coffee": "Be a Japanese Artist", Thursday at 10:30 in the library.

Mostly, because of the time it takes to
travel into town twice, I seldom take part in
these gatherings...

... but ... "be a Japanese artist" got my attention and I decided to go and find out how that was done.

I'm not sure what I expected ... maybe some ink and brush drawing ...

a craft... origami creation ... tie-dying ?

Well, when I arrived, the teacher laid out a lot of little colored pictures on two and a half by three and a half slips of paper and asked us to choose a picture.

I picked out the "Yamabuki" or Kerria  because I have a bush at home in my garden and know what it looks like.

We were then given a torn-out page from a coloring book and a choice of water colors ... paint pencils ... or crayons ... and told to copy the picture on the little slip on to the printed picture on the page. (and pay 100 yen)

Hmmm ... I guess I could do that. I chose the watercolors, which was a challenge because they were only black and white and primary colors ... I was lucky by then I had selected the kerria because those primary colors were not very true.

Did I become an artist?

At the left is a picture of some marigolds I painted very long ago when I was just a kid.

I painted two pictures then. The other was a rose and it hung in my parent's home for many years and now hangs in my brother's home

This one hangs in my genkan to brighten the entryway.

When I returned home and re-read the bulletin, I realized that there hadn't been any coffee.

I did get two 4x4 inch blocks completed on the trip into town and back.

 I did manage to finish one other item this week.

I had begun this tissue box cover to go with the sample toilet paper roll cover I thought might be a good plan for teaching in Tohoku. Actually, I think the box cover is a bit too ambitious for a beginner.

Well, our house has an open tank on each toilet so there is no place to set the tissue box in the rest-room.

I took it up to my bedroom and suppose it will live there until needed in some other place.

We are now awaiting what remains of the typhoon. Passing up from the south-west I suppose much of the power will be already spent by the time it arrives.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Rainy week activities

This has been a dark rainy week....
Sometimes heavy rain with loud crashing thunder and a very trembling, drooling dog at my feet.

A few more four inch blocks were added to my four inch collection. I have yet to decide what I will do with these eventually.  My one-inch box is getting a bit tight to close and these, I hope, will cut the stash a bit. Maybe I should be making the blocks larger but this is just about the right size for take-along work.

I arrange the squares between scraps of thinsulate batting and put them in a zip-lock baggie. This size block can be carried conveniently and finished on a train ride into town.

This week I also finished reading "Sarah's Quilt", the book club read for June by Nancy E. Turner.
I thought I might make the block for this book by copying the quilt on the book cover. Actually, not much of that quilt was shown but it seemed to be a lot of diamonds arranged into hexagons. It seemed a bit complicated to figure out for a 12 inch block.

Here is what I came up with. The dark paisley and white are to represent the windmills that were built to overcome the drought. (The small one was the damaged one and the dark, the new replacement.)

The nine patches represent the close family ties in the story, those homes where the story took place. I thought of using a log cabin piecing but at only three inches, the nine-patch worked better.

The reds are all different fabrics and they are joined to the rest with a small heart print.

The resulting block is rather bright and red but I hope it will work with the others. I have not laid them all out as yet. It is really to dark on rainy days for photos and the flash does not add much to the picture as you may note in the picture above.

Now I am waiting to learn the next book pick. Meanwhile I get the feeling there may be one more book added to this story. I hope so, because Turner can spin a really good tale from the first page to the last word.

The last picture is a "stealth flower".

The Magnolia is one of the first blooming trees in our neighborhood. It is setting buds for next spring's blooming already, and they usually open long before the first leaves appear. All winter we watch those fuzzy buds swell.

I guess some of those buds just couldn't wait for next spring because almost every tree has a bloom or two hiding among the leaves.

The power cord to my laptop gave up working and I am faced with a computer problem. The connector came with the computer from the States and in made in China and not sold in Japan. I can still charge the battery by setting the computer on the "audio station" but it can't be used while in this mode.

I wish Dell had made a stronger wire than the the one connected to the converter. I think the last laptop my husband had, died for the same reason. I can read e-mail on my call phone but I think my computer time has been severely cut.
Time to do some house cleaning? Sigh!