Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Getting ready?

The New Year is coming ... ready or not!

The Scouts did their part.
Every year we are guests of the Japanese Scouts at a mochi-pounding event, held at their sponsor's temple.

The guests include the Girl Scouts in the area and members of the BSA Packs. Many of these kids have mochi-pounding events at their schools but at this event the kids can pound as much as they like.

The mochi is eaten with seaweed or other compliments and put into a delicious soup, that is a New Year specialty. Some of the completed mochi came home with the participants. Our Scouts took cookies to share. (none of those came home)

A delicious turkey made it to our table on Christmas and was joined by Norie's family and Papa's elder sister.

We had to keep passing food because there was no room on this small table to put it down.

Rudolf showed up and did her part.

The biggest challenge was to take a picture with the least amount of junk piled up in the background.

Clean that plate Rudolf, and you can have a piece of pecan pie!

This morning the frost was on the pumpkin ...

Well, no pumpkin in the park but there was lots of pretty frost.

Does that mean winter is here?

Don't tell the roses. They still think it is summer.

And don't tell the jonquils. They are rushing into spring.

Check with Piper, my pied canary. He will be starting the year with a clean cage ... well, it is clean now and he is working fast to remedy the situation. Honestly, I could swear my husband gifted me this bird so he wouldn't be the messiest member of the family!

We have had birds in the past but Piper is the champion food slinger and pooper. While the cage was being soaked and scrubbed, I had to spray the window and clean it with a metal spatula! At this moment he is making the best of the daylight hours to make that cage look like home! Well, he is a very good singer anyway.

So, are you ready to welcome in the New Year?
Have a good one!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

It's almost here!

Last Friday, Leia came with a plan to make our tiny room look more like Christmas.

I dug out the little four-foot tree from the storage and set it up on the coffee table, then added the lights.

Leia opened the boxes of ornaments and decorated the tree. This year she was able to reach almost to the top so there was much less for grandma to do.

My specialty is the top and the paper ornaments made each year by my youngest sister.  Each year my sister's card includes a three-dimensional ornament to be assembled and it is fun to look back over the years of creativity. Often the tree stays up until the card arrives all the way from Ohio and the decoration can be assembled and hung.

This year the only other decoration I took from the storage was a wreath to hang on the front door. ... and of course a runner for the table and quilted tree skirt.

My daughter was very skillful when taking these two pictures to avoid the stacks of boxes waiting to be sorted.

The other activity was our cookie factory. I put my cookies into a container to take to our Scout event yesterday and they were quickly consumed.

My greenhouse - bedroom is definitely in the Christmas mode.

This is what my hanging laundry gets to enjoy.

I have not been able to keep African violets because of extreme temperatures in summer and winter but the cacti don't seem to mind ... and can even take being neglected during times I am out with the scouts  or travelling to visit kids.

There are a number of Christmas cacti, these being first to open and others still in bud. This is the view facing south.

Along the wall to the east is a step-tansu and each step holds a collection of plants. The wall behind is the slope of the roof.

The little poinsettia came to me as a gift.

 The south-east corner has a little ficas left behind by my #4 daughter.

The flowers are hard to see but every winter it develops tiny little figs.

It must be happy in this corner under the stained glass window decoration and the dream-catcher.

And in the south east corner are more plants.

Even outside the window there are orchids and prickly pear cacti, Jade trees, and Easter cacti filling the tiny space  on top and behind the air conditioning unit.

And, to the north, under the roof over my futon and the stairs.....

Another plant left behind by my #4 daughter, a large stag-horn fern.

I actually don't know how this plant needs to be tended other than to offer it a drink from time to time, but it must like the location because it has taken over the space above my bed.

I grabbed these pictures while the washing machine was doing its duty. Usually the place where I am standing with the camera is festooned with drying laundry.

Actually, this little room is a great place to dry clothing. I do not have to worry about sudden rain or wind-blown dust and pollen.
In the winter it adds a bit of moisture to the dry air.

I can toss my futon over the balcony railing to air.
(airing bedding is a typical Japanese sight)

Tonight will be filled with the special music already spinning in my head and then I will crawl behind this plant to my little nest on the roof.

Tomorrow will be filled with the smells of baking and busy preparations for family dinner.

The stacked boxes  ... the sorting of pictures ... everything that is not done will just have to wait. Somehow we will muddle through ...

And as I crawl back up to my cozy nest on the roof, this little guy in Oregon will be hanging the last decoration on his Advent calendar and checking out the stocking.

Warm Christmas wishes will be winging their way across the pond to my blogging friends.

Wishing you all Peace and Joy this Holiday season.

Friday, December 12, 2014

10 days and no quilting!

In fact, the only time I have picked up a needle is to do mending and darn socks!

My house seems to be suffering from the Giant Spoon Syndrome ... you know where the giant spoon swoops out of the sky and stirs everything up.

We are in the process of getting things that have been stored for many years sorted out and disposed of. There must be a dozen large cartons of loose photographs and negatives to go through. Many bring back memories of days past ... when the kids were young ... of trips here and there ... of many Scout functions ... of nature and pets and groups of people that I can't remember.

There are fancy party dishes, kid's clothing. dolls, puzzles and games, antique furniture, and all of it has memories attached so it is not something to send to landfill. A very stressful activity in a busy holiday season.

Meanwhile life goes on in Nerima-ku.

Several neighbors are building new homes and I happened to pass this ceremony just down our street.

After the land has been cleared and before  the construction begins, the outline of the new building is marked out with string in the ground and the family gathers for a ceremony to bless the ground and work about to begin.

Dressed in robes is a Shinto priest and the family is burning incense.

Wednesday another lot was cleared at the end of our street and I suppose there will be a ceremony held there soon.

Choir Sunday went well.
It is a joy to sing great music.

Now we are in Christmas mode and practicing music for the next few weeks.

One is a special piece, O Magnum Mysterium, by Morten Lauridsen.

It will be sung in two Christmas eve services,
a cappella, with a small group, of which I am the first tenor.
Of course we have been having special rehearsals since fall and finally I am beginning to feel a bit more confident.

Returning home after evening practice, I walk down Omotesando to the bus street.
During the month of December, lights have been strung on the huge Keyake (Zelkova) trees lighning the street.

The show brings out crowds to enjoy the atmosphere and of course everyone is carrying a camera ... if not the real thing, one on their cell phone.

There are several overhead crossings and it would seem the ideal place to get a perfect view of the entire street......

BUT, no, there are guards ...one on each side per crossing ... to prevent anyone from going up to the crossing.

True, a few hundred people gathering on that bridge might be dangerous ... but  ... as long as those guards are standing at each end, why can't they let five people go up and then, as those come down, allow that many more? Surely, ten people would not bring the whole structure down.

To me ... and my western mind, it would make more sense and promote a better sense of pleasure. After all, what difference would it make to those guards? It might give them something other to do than just stand at the foot of the stairs.

And, lest someone think they might take a picture from the middle of the street while in the level crossing ... Oh no, there is another guard moving people along.

If you want a view (or even photograph) of the beautiful lighted trees arching across the boulevard, you'd better be quick before you are spotted.

How strange that these guys in the yellow coats owe their jobs to the lighting but they are there to prevent the public from photo ops.

The building with red in the windows actually is putting on a light show in those windows, as it is ever changing behind the avenue of trees.

A project is awaiting in the wings ... a gift for the Women's Conference speaker. It is forming in my mind and I will have to get to it soon if I am to finish in a month.
A darling picture of my youngest grandson hanging decorations on the Advent calendar has come. Christmas decorations await in the cupboard but making room for them in this place is going to be a huge challenge.
I hope your days are going more smoothly than mine as the holidays approach.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Problem solved!

Well, The computer must have figured I was frustrated enough and decided to fix itself. When I opened it up this afternoon, the first thing I see in the place to sign in my password. Usually it is just a little lighted slot. recently I am getting a touch-screen keyboard instead, but the screen had gone back to the original look. Today when I flipped the top open  ... there was the touch-screen again.

Well, after putting in my password, I decided to test the camera again. Sure enough, this time it worked and I could down-load pictures again.

So, here are some non-quilting pictures of my time without the computer.

Each morning I sweep the street ... down one side to the corner, back up the other ... and around our corner.

This week most of the sweeping is persimmon leaves and maple leaves.

These are the ones from in front of our house ... and my little sweeping bin ... the broom hangs from the handle.

The cut-leaf maples have been red for some time and finally begun to fall.

Most of them get caught up in the azalea bushes
but a few make it all the way to the new pavement.

When we moved back to this house, I had some of the enkianthus bushes removed to make room for a few other plantings.

This maple was supposed to be a snake-bark maple but that is not what it is.
My Japanese tree book shows one three-leaved maple, Acer cissifolium, but the shape of the leaves is different with smaller lobes and the stem is red. I don't think that is what this is.

I found a Paperbark Maple, Acer griseum, in the "Sibley Guide to Trees" that I picked up on my last trip to the states. The leaves in that book are also a bit different  but much closer and the bark of this tree has become a bit shaggy in the past two years. The tree is still rather young. It does have pretty color in the fall and that was what I was looking for when we bought it.

The third maple came to us in a pot.

It was rescued from the balcony of a friend who ad moved to a new apartment and didn't have room for it,

It sits happily on the entry step.

Our neighborhood has two other Japanese Maples and these days those three trees fill my bin before I even finish the street.

My husband thinks we should name our home "Three Maples".

Can you tell which tree is dropping what?

For a tiny plot, we contribute plenty of leaves ... especially if we add the Plum.

Today I swept up Cherry tree leaves and Keyaki (Zelkova). The nearest cherry id two blocks away and I have no idea where the Zelkova leaves are coming from but the wind has been strong and cold.

The Great Tits were complaining that I should move so they could come back to the window feeder.
And now that the picture down-load is back to normal, I'd better get back to the "real" work.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Now what!!!

At this season of Thanksgiving, I don't know whether to be thankful for my computer or fling it across the room.

I am becoming aware of Google making changes without warning but when the computer starts changing things ... I can not go crying to my usual friends for suggestions.

I have so far been able to download pictures from my assorted cameras. The Canon and the Nikon get different reactions but then I go to the windows explorer icon and click it, there is a list of cameras and all I have to do is right click on the name of the camera and the download window comes up.

Now, however, nothing happens and there are no longer camera identities to click on. At first I thought my camera battery might need charging. Nope, that didn't help. Today when I connected my Nikon, the computer said "peep" as usual and  the camera light went on but....nothing came up in windows.

I have also noticed lately that when I open my laptop, I sometimes get the regular space to put in the password but sometimes that space is above a touch-screen. Well, I can use the keyboard still or I can use the touch-screen keyboard so that occasional change is not a problem. BUT not being able to download pictures IS a problem and I am wondering now if I have done something to make the computer mad or it is just testing my patience.

I guess I should just give up and go quilt so in case the computer decides to go back, I will have something better to post than a rant!