Thursday, April 30, 2015

Computer blues

Interesting things are happening daily and progress has been made on my projects ... that  is the good part.
The frustrating part is something going on with my laptop. It is always stuff that happens while I am not looking and without my even knowing.

Mister Google and Mister Windows (I'm sure those are men-types because women usually ask before they mess with other people's lives) Well, they go and make CHANGES!
I never know what I am going to find when I open the lid of my laptop.

I suspected something was up when I opened the lid and went to log in. A few months ago while I was sleeping, changes were made to the screen I see when I lift the lid. Suddenly there was a printed keyboard and a cursor to move across the screen. Well, in a way it was handy because I could log in in the dark without turning on a light to see the keyboard.

There were a bunch of issues I was not overly happy with because my screen became a touch screen suddenly and I spent a frustrating week and a long hour or so on the phone with my son in DC, solving the cursor issue.
Meanwhile, Mr. Google keeps messing with my blog settings and even a temporary fix of the no-reply setting has gone back to no-reply. ... and that is still a problem I can't seem to handle ... it is even more strange because I m no-reply to some blogs and not others. Maybe it is a fight between Mr. Google and Mr. Bloglovin. Certainly I was never asked my desires.

Now the problem has changed while I was out camping with the boys. (Maybe Mr.Windows is jealous of time spent with other male types?) Well, when I returned to download my pictures ... NOTHING WORKS! I opened the laptop and, to me surprise, the log-in had changed back to the original style.  Oh boy, something was up but I could go with that. Then ...  plugged in my camera and usually it is a simple thing ... the computer pops up an icon and when I click that, I get a list of cameras to pick from and a choice of which is to download the latest pictures.

Nope! That icon is gone. It can't be located anywhere I can find. SO....I guess until I can find a guru or Mr. Windows makes the next change,  will not have any new pictures to share.

So I report... My cactus has bloomed gloriously. (But my husband broke two antique candle holders taking pictures of it.) That'll teach me not to bring my pretty plants down to the bureau.
My quilt is all quilted in the ditch except the outside sashing which I will hold off until the triangle areas are done. Now I am looking for ideas to use in the larger spaces on the blocks and the sashing.
I may go back to each book and see if the story suggests ideas.

Meanwhile ... I am wondering what other frustrations this computer will add to my days.
None of my friends my age have computers. I guess if you have managed around 80 years without them, you may not think they are going to add any more to your life.
While my kids were in school, the computer program was added and I was the one in the family to insist we move with the times rather than be left behind. I'm glad they all graduated before computers were required ... a certain type that connected to the school and had to be carried back and forth.(no more homework to be eaten by the dog) I wonder who solves the problems for the kids. Maybe that is why they all need to have a particular type of computer so everyone's changes hit at the same time and the school guru knows how to fix everything.

Oh well, this is enough to dump on my blogging friends without pictures. Having a computer was my choice. Little did I know how much of my quilting time might be taken up trying to figure stuff out!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

I almost missed it!

I often get distracted and miss things.

Already this month, I missed the day the vet comes to a local park and you can take your dog for her yearly shot and get new tags for the year for her to wear.
There are other shot opportunities in other parks but not as close to home ... and I can't read where to go.

Well, I have been distracted up in my little greenhouse by this orchid cactus. Last year was the first time it bloomed and this year I have been excited watching these buds get bigger and bigger by the day... kind of hoping it will not decide to open on  a day I am camping with the scouts....

Well, Yesterday the wash had to be done and hung in the greenhouse. Among all the stuff arranged on the bar and clippies, I noticed one of my "regulars" blooming quietly on the step-tansu.

Six lovely flowers ... and I had been so busy watching the big one, I hadn't even noticed this one had buds!

Then I started checking around the room and saw buds forming on a number of plants.

They are not in their usual order of blooming.

The Easter cactus has not even begun to set buds.

The two spiny ones that are always first to bloom are still thinking things over.

My little tea-cup cactus has lots of flower spikes and it is about on time ... but I had moved it to a different location where it gets a bit less sun than other years.

Once the laundry is hung, you really can't see much of the plants...

but today the sun was out and it looked like the day was going to warm up.

The stuff hanging from yesterday was still damp so I opened the windows to the south so it wouldn't get too hot and to let in some fresh air.

And there, sitting at the corner of my roof, just inside the railing, an orchid in full bloom.

There are plenty of buds yet to open and I am thinking I really should bring this downstairs and set it where we can enjoy it.
Of course, the roof is the only place that gets sun so it might not be too happy on my table.

If you want something that thrives on neglect ... this is it!

I can't even squeeze out into this space to pull out the weeds.
It gets water when it rains.
It gets snow in winter and plenty of heat in summer.

And quilting can't be done on the train rides but after finishing the basting on Monday, I started with the center block and have managed to put the in-the-ditch quilting in four blocks.

My plan is to go back and add quilting in the sashing and larger areas.

I still have not picked a pattern

The batting is thinsulate #60 and really doesn't need a lot of close quilting to hold it in place.

I guess I have plenty of time to figure out what I am going to do in the larger spaces and those big green triangles joining the blocks together. I may go back and re-visit the books for additional ideas.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Let the quilting begin!

After laying out all the border options on the floor of the fellowship hall on Sunday, I decided those colorful scraps were more of a distraction than an addition. I stopped at Yuzawaya on the way home and purchased a very small amount of blue to complete the border.

As it turned out, I could buy the fabric in 10 cm. sections so 30 cm. was more than enough and a 20% coupon made it even cheaper. (actually I paid more for two batteries for my flashlight at the next stop).

I don't know why the picture turns out so washed out but the results are satisfying enough.

Today I borrowed the tatami room of my friend at the rice store and basted everything together. Because of the generosity of another friend, I had enough muslin to make a backing. (She was responsible for the green fabric as well). I think this is the first time for me to make a quilt with a light solid fabric backing, I usually select a small print to hide my uneven stitching. Does that mean I have to do a better job of quilting? Anyway, I am all fired up and ready to get started. It is raining and blowing outside so this will be the perfect day to sit in my chair and stitch away.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Almost there

I decided to go with the green.

The blue was just too overpowering and the green contains the same blues, browns, and reds that are in the feature pickle fabric.

Now all the triangles are in place and I like the effect.

Next will be the decision on the border. I am thinking maybe a strip of the light blue with a few insets of other fabrics from the main quilt.

I am planning for a single bed size so I don't want it to go much larger.
I am thinking of two inches all around will be just about right.  have only a small amount of the blue left ... not enough to go all the way around. I have varying amounts of the other fabrics ... browns, tans, reds, etc to make it around. If I wanted all blue, I would have to buy more which is not really my plan.

The picture taken on the park fence looks a bit dull in the early morning sun, but one can get an idea of where we stand as of now.

Blue border?
That might cost a bit but it would be faster and easier to sew.

Pieced border?
It would take more time ... but time is not really the issue...
It would use up more of my scraps.
It might be complicated to arrange the blues and other fabrics so they are balanced... but I do like the prospect of using up stash ... and some of these fabrics that appear only once might like to have a friend in the border.

I could always finish it with light blue binding.

I love to get advice ... even if I can't follow it all.

Now that the rain has taken a breal, we are seeing red.

The Photinia is a favorite hedge, This is along a fence surrounding a large apartment building.
It gives a lot of privacy and lets in the air.

The shrubs at the bottom come out green and by the time the Photinia turns green, those plants will be a bright red.

The Japanese maples are all coming out flaming red.

I don't know if they are brighter in the spring or the fall ... but I think spring wins.

Even the scrubby azaleas outside the station entrance are getting into the act.

Maybe that border wants some red too?

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Decisions, decisions, always decisions!

After auditioning all the material I had enough of, I found all the darker fabrics didn't work against the blocks with dark fabric along the edges.

I decided to go with a medium light blue.
It does pick up the blues used in a few blocks.

All blue seemed a bit too much, so I dug out a scrap of flower print I had used in a number of the blocks, to use as corner stones.
I thought of fussy-cutting the print to put the sunflowers in the center but there just wasn't enough of that fabric.

Now I am beginning to join the blocks nd thinking about the empty triangles.

As I do not want to spend money on more fabric, I went through my stash of pieces large enough to do the job.

My original idea was using the blue batik flowers. I have plenty of that ... actually enough for using in a whole quilt at some future date.
I like the combination of blue and brown ...
actually my favorite combination ... but when I laid it out, the blue seems to over-power the browns.

Then I tried another batik in browns.
This has a lot of the same colors and a dyed border with green leaves.
Hmmm. Not sure I like the effect,

Last but not least, I found this piece of dark green.

The amount is just enough.

It contains the same pickle-type flowers in colors found in the blocks.

It brings out the greens in a few of the blocks.

It doesn't hide the cornerstones.

As I dug through my stash,it was sitting off to the side and seemed to keep saying, "Try me, try me".  Now that I have auditioned it, I am leaning toward using it. I don't have enough blue left for a border sashing but I might be able to piece something that would work.

I often think of quilters who follow patterns or even buy kits ... hardly making any decisions of their own. How is it that everything I do seems to call for decisions at every twst of the spool????

Monday, April 13, 2015

Surviving the rain ... what do you do?

Yesterday, a record was set for rain in April, and it is still falling and expected to get worse as the day goes on.

Friday evening was my cub scout pack meeting. I furnished newspaper, tape, staples, and scissors.

The challenge was for each den to construct a costume for a fashion show.

The Bear den, nearest the flag, made a neat tidy outfit, even including a necktie and shoes The Tiger in the middle went the samurai route and even wears a sword. The Wolves went overboard and made two outfits, on the right ... while the Webelo standing next to the neat and tidy Bear, looks very scrappy.
Anyway, a great time was had and we ran out of time for the rest of the plan which was to dress their leader.

Saturday was a Boy Scout camp out and pig roast.

The pig went under the charcoal in the morning and the rain stopped after lunch in time for the nature walk/hike.

The goal was a five mile hike to meet one requirement and identifying ten native plants and animals.

The plants could have been done in the first 20 paces but finding ten wild animals while hiking on well used trails was a bigger challenge. (especially with a group of  talking boys). Therefore, I went along on the hike, taught them to listen and identify birds by their calls, and where to look to see them.  Of course, by the time we returned to camp, we had covered about 7 miles ... as recorded by one leader's gizmo.

The rain started up again upon our return and after dinner and the following ceremonies, I headed back home. Hail was bouncing off my windshield for the first 45 minutes of the drive and I was thankful for choir duty calling me home. The hail turned to rain upon my turn off the main road and when I came out of the last tunnel leading to home, the streets were dry! I haven't heard what the weather at camp was that night but the sun came out for a few hours in the morning on Sunday.

Sunday evening we got together to celebrate two April birthdays, My Sister-in-law turned 89 on the 7th of April and husband, Paul, turns 78 the 14th (today).

It was an interesting meal with buckwheat crapes wrapped around a variety of fillings.

I can't say it was my favorite meal but then, I was still tired from Saturday's hike.

The rain held off until just as we returned from Monday rice patrol.

I wanted to work on my book club quilt and began searching through my stash for a particular fabric I wanted to use in the sashing.

I do not want to buy any more fabric but that means I will have to find both something that works and I have enough of.

None of my dark fabrics worked against the variety of blocks so I found a medium blue, thinking of adding cornerstones. But where have I hidden that fabric I have in mind?

Meanwhile in my search, I found some camera print and decided it was time to put together another "follower's" block.  This one represents a blogger who always puts a smile on my face. JoAnn at Scene Through My Eyes is a genius with a camera. Flower mosaics and birds in motion,  barns, dolls, party table settings ... no lovely scene escapes her camera.

I was not completely happy with the background color but the camera print was asking to be used. I am now awaiting some more snowflakes of the paper kind. There is enough stuff falling from the sky today. We may have to go to "plan B " for the birthday celebration. Meanwhile, back to the fabric hunt. (I knew exactly where it was until the family visit so it shouldn't be buried all that deep)!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Nikko's bed

Poor Nikko suffers from "separation anxiety".

Many nights papa stays up half the night. while Nikko comes up after her evening walk, to sleep on her bed outside his door.

Some mornings I have to go out early and Nikko is left on her own, waiting for papa to get up. The longer she waits, the more anxiety builds and she chews on whatever is there.

I have asked papa not to let her on his bed because she has chewed up several quilts and made holes in two down comforters ... causing a storm of feathers.

By now, her bed is pretty well chewed up.

When Leia made a tied cover using some donated fleece, I saved the corners and wondered what they might be used for.

Well, I can't say fleece is my favorite thing to sew, but it came in handy to make a new mat for Nikko's bed.

(She likes cats so the print works fine) I thought I might use yarn in a blanket stitch around the edge but that fleece wouldn't take the thick needle with doubled yarn through the eye.

It is probably just as well I didn't spend too much time and energy on this one ... I wonder how long it will be before it too is chewed up.
Anyway, it will be covered completely in white fur, I'm certain, knowing how fleece attracts hair.

This morning's walk brought a disappointing scene.

The five tulips I planted along the edge of the weed lot I have been tending have been slow at coming up. I didn't expect progress with yesterday's freezing weather ...

but I didn't expect what I saw this morning. All five had been broken off at the ground and tossed down along with the flower from the grape hyacinth. I am wondering what pleasure someone got from doing that.

When we lived in the Suginami house we had a regular plant vandal who broke off all our flowers as they were about to open, but the neighbors here have been happy to see the improvements in the lot. I am feeling very sorry for someone who gets pleasure in destroying flowers.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Spring rain

Actually, spring seems to be having second thoughts. Though the cherries have bloomed and it was looking as if spring was well on its way, March seems to have returned for another blast.

Last week the air was filled with cherry petals. They drifted like pink snow along our street even though the nearest trees are over a block away.

Over the weekend the petals began coming from the camellias in the garden to our north... a bit larger and darker but easier to sweep up.

Now the stuff falling from the sky is cold rain. From a warm day yesterday it is getting colder by the hour. Tomorrow it is predicted to drop to 5 degrees centigrade. Guess I won't pack up my winter clothes yet.

Several of my friends have blogged pictures of their lovely grape hyacinths. All of them had large flower heads and stand-up leaves. I don't know why the difference but these are the ones that come up in my garden planters. They are very hardy volunteers but those leaves are so stringy.

Last week was a very frustrating and challenging week for me. My little laptop is a Dell,Inspiron duo. I had had a Dell before and chose this one mostly because it is small and light and my son could get it for me in the States. It is sold in Tokyo but the entry language is all Japanese. The shops that handle the Japanese version won't even look at any problems I may be having.

Well, what I might have pushed accidentally ... or Nikko might have pushed while putting her nose in my lap ,,, I have no idea, but my system went to a touch screen only... no cursor... and all the writing so close together that trying to touch anything to make fixes was an exercise in frustration. Finally, on Friday, my son called from DC and very patiently talked me through a fix. It must have taken over an hour on the phone because many times it took countless trial and error to bring up the selections and then touch the proper place on the screen. Oh, how happy I was to get my cursor back!

I am still having one frustrating problem in regard to blogging. Three of my regular blogging friends have told me I am appearing as a no reply blogger. I do not know why it is on some blogs and not on others. I thought it might have something to do with the switch to google plus. I tried turning off the google plus but that didn't seem to work ... or it turned itself back on. I tried adding my yahoo e-mail address to the juliefukudasenior google address but that doesn't seem to have helped either. On my post page there is no place I can find to access or change my profile so I am completely stymied.

I keep telling myself that most people my age don't even have a computer, let alone a blog, so be patient and hope an answer will come. Meanwhile, I thank my friends for kindly letting me know. If it is a fight between google plus and yahoo or bloglovin, I wish they would stop fixing things that weren't broke to begin with.

While waiting for more snowflakes to be added to the Christmas tree skirt, I thought I would
take advantage of the bedding being moved off the loft bed to lay out the blocks for the book club books. Hard to get much of a picture under the eves.

As it happened, the posts ended with the 17th book. I miss those book club posts and had been enjoying the discussion and suggestions of books to read. I also miss the Starwood Quilter posts.
I hope some day Susan will return to the blogging world.

Living in Tokyo, it is not unusual to have friends come and go, but when friends on line leave the blogging world, one tends to worry about what may be happening in their lives and hope the reasons are good ones.

Well, I think putting the blocks on point might work best.

I want to add sashing and wonder what color to use.

I am thinking of adding triangles in the border spaces. Solid? Print? Pieced? Solid with applique? I am Completely open to suggestions.

All the blocks contain one piece of a dark paisley fabric containing  dark red ,brown, dark green, navy, and outlines in black and white.

The piece remaining is about 15 x 13 inches in size. I chose to use it because the first book we read was the Persian Pickle Club and I thought I would have enough to put a little bit into each block.

It is very old and though I looked in several shops I couldn't find any paisley in similar colors.

There is probably enough to include somehow in the triangular pieces.
I think the colors in this picture are pretty close to the fabric.

A few pieces use the light blue so that might work for the sashing. Only a few blocks contain yellow so I might want to use some of that somewhere in the triangles. Then the whole thing will need a border. The blocks will finish at 12 inches so If I add 2 inch sashing and maybe a two inch border, the quilt should finish off at a single bed size.

I really need to move on with this project while I am waiting to find the perfect purple and lime green print for the border of my grandson's quilt and get snowflakes in the mail.... lest these WIPs begin to feel like UFOs. Thanks for any ideas you may offer.

Tomorrow will be rain again, so a good day to do some cutting and sewing.

This last picture is of some volunteers that I moved into a pot outside my door.

I have no idea what they are or where they came from. They are slightly tinted with a pale blue and only three or so inches high. The leaves were out all winter ... in fact, the pot never was completely without leaves. I was expecting something else with red flowers. I have another plant that looks and behaves the same (flowers closing at night) but it is in the border and grows about a foot high. The flowers come from little bulbs. Anyway, they look happy here greeting those who come to my door. Now they are greeting you.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Not a lot of quilting

Our Friday adventure may have really been "plan B".  A number of places had put on the list but there was some desire to go to Jigokudani, the Snow Monkey Park, and view Japanese macaques soaking in the hot springs.

We set off to Nagano in the northern Japan Alps and the GPS led us to a road that was closed with a chain across. Luckily we found a local person who could direct us to another narrow winding path up the mountains and there was a parking space available for our van. 

But ... we were not there yet, The hot springs were way up a long trail ... supposedly 25 minutes long.
Maybe on a warm day in summer ... but the trail was mud and ice with water on top in the sunnier spots.

We met quite a few hikers from New Zealand and Australia picking their way back down through the mud,  "Keep going", they said, "you are about half way, but it is worth the hike".

Sure enough, in the snow along the trail, there were monkeys picking something to eat from the snowy trail.

We learned later from one of the people working there that the monkeys are kept coming back by throwing barley grain in the area.

There were monkeys sunning themselves on the rocks.

There were monkeys grooming each other.

There were monkeys soaking in the hot springs.

There were young monkeys playing chase.

You couldn't look in any direction without seeing monkeys. You could actually get rather close, though were warned not to interact with them.

Unlike humans, monkeys didn't have  tattoos that might ban them from the hot springs.

Monkeys were drinking from the hot springs and maybe picking grain out of the water, because some were eating.

When they climbed out all soaking wet, they groomed and didn't seem to be cold at all.

Here is a wet monkey grooming another.

One person working there offered to take a picture of our group.

Leia was bummed because she wanted to stay longer so would not join the photo.

Zia kept a sharp eye out for birds while on the trail and got Leia to tag back down.

It was getting a bit late in the afternoon.

Paul had planned for us to visit a town where there is a statue of a famous Sumo wrestler
with the name of Ryden. (well, same Japanese name but different spelling)

As things turned out, there was an argument with the GPS and being rather heavy traffic at the end of the month, one can not switch lanes at the last minute as we had done more than once. 

We ended up going 20 kilometers past our exit .
Luckily, the man at the toll gate stamped our ticket and told us how to make the turn back to the other direction gate. He ran across the road and handed us the stamped ticket so we did not have to pay for that section of the round trip. That is an all-time first for me! Toll roads are not cheap and we could have been made to pay double. Maybe he was being nice to an old foreign lady who was tired and lost but it was a kind move for which I was grateful.

As it was, it was very late when we got home, after dropping Norie and Leia at the train station. She had planned Saturday and Sunday for Ken's family at her home and needed to get back to make final preparations.

Sunday the family met for dinner at a tofu restaurant.

We had a room to ourselves in a small building in  a garden.

Ryden and  played a game with some little beanbags that travel in my handbag... which hand has the object.

We kept busy until all the food was gone and then we walked to a nearby garden for cherry blossom viewing.

The garden had two huge weeping cherry trees. This picture was taken by Leia's Papa so he is not in it. There was a picture taken on Zia's camera by a woman in the crowd but as the camera was quite heavy, the picture turned out blurry.
Behind our group is only a small fraction of that gigantic tree, all lit up for the night-viewing public.
There were many props beneath the weeping branches and the date on the sign was 1704. Maybe that was the garden's date but the tree must have been very old to be so huge.

Monday was the day to pack up and say good bye. My, how the time did fly by! 

Ken cut a snowflake for the tree skirt while he was here.  (top right)

I took the picture draped over the fence of the lot I am weeding. Down at the bottom of the fence there are five tulip bulbs just poking out of the rocky soil.

There are a few grape hyacinths coming up from seeds I gathered from my garden. I didn't know they could go from seed to flower in one season but sure enough, there is one flower spike opening just this week,
Well, not a lot of quilting for a quilt blog,but I think I had a good reason. Nothing better than family time!