Friday, November 27, 2015

Holiday stuff

Finally a bit of progress is being made on the Christmas tree skirt.

Unless I am making something as small as a table runner, I run into a big problem finding a space large enough to put the top and backing sandwich together.
Any space I can find on our floor is both too small and covered in dog hair.

Thursday I thought of going to church early and use the time before choir practice to assemble the parts on the floor of the fellowship hall as I did with Ben's quilt.

Then I heard my husband complaining to one of our kids over the phone that since one apartment attached to our house is vacant, we were short of money for the past two months.

Ahah! That is the bad part. The good part is ... there was a nice clean floor space large enough for spreading out the top. I grabbed the key and went over.
Yesterday was grey and rainy and cold but there was enough light from the window to lay out the top and piece enough of the donated batting scraps together. I am not familiar with the various donated battings but I found enough of one kind that seemed suitable and whipped the joints together to fit the shape I needed.

I then decided to baste the top to the batting and I am glad I did. There was just enough light to finish up and it made things much easier when I added the backing this morning. Here it is, spread out in the sunny room ... a little contrasty for a good photo but fastened securely with safety pins.

After trimming the edges, I carried it up to the loft where the light was not so bright to see if I could get a better shot.

Since the ceiling is low, I couldn't get the camera back far enough to fit it all in but I think you can get the idea.

I have decided to quilt the whole thing as one and then cut the opening and the center out and put on the binding.

Right now I am quilting in the ditch around the star pieces. I plan to quilt outside the snowflakes and add a design in each of the star pieces ... maybe a holly leaf or tree shape. I am just so glad to have this moving along and I think I can finish up and get it into the mail in time. (I had really hoped to mail it along with Ben's quilt but I waited too long for the snowflakes to fall).

Looking out the apartment window yesterday, I noticed our Biwa (Loquat) full of flowers on every branch, so today I took my camera over for a shot.

This tree came in a pot from our last house. I had set the pot on a dirt strip between the neighbor's house to the south, and the low blocks where our own wall used to be. (Seeing no point on two walls six inches or so apart, we had removed our wall when our house was rebuilt, the space filled with dirt).

Well, the pot had fallen on its side but the tree took over, finally splitting the pot and sending roots through the bottom. By now the tree is about 10 or 12 feet tall and though I keep trimming it so it will not bother the neighbor, it carries on with gay abandon. By late spring all these branches will be covered in fruit. I guess I need to start looking for recipes that use Biwa.

Our own Labor Thanksgiving day was on Monday, but that was a working day for me. Since today is Thursday in the States, and the Oregon gang was gathered together to celebrate, we had a wonderful skype call ... the Japan bunch and the Oregon bunch together. Not as good as some of my blogging friends in the states might have had in person, but for us, a great treat. Hopefully there will be time for a turkey at Christmas. Holiday Blessings to you all.

Monday, November 23, 2015

My other life

 Not much quilting done this past weekend.

Our Cub Pack joined a district event and turned the weekend into a family camping occasion.

Rain had been predicted since last week BUT ... I do not camp in the rain and ordered SUN.
Of course, that's what we got.

While the boys tried their skills at a "shooting sports day", (darts, slingshots, b b guns, blow guns, and who knows what else) I was busy training leaders in outdoor skills.

This persimmon tree was full of fruit this year and greeted the trainees outside our classroom.

These are great to look at but probably the most puckery of any I have ever tasted. Even the birds seemed to be staying away.

Our pack gathered on "Fukuda Field" for the flag raising and opening ceremony.

Here is a picture of the best pack in Tokyo. Nikko and I are behind the camera along with three other adults

What I didn't know was that I was to be presented with an award. That was the best kept secret.

The award consisted of a medal and a framed certificate.

The "Centurion Award" does not mean I have been doing Scouting for a century ... or that I have reached the age of 100, though sometimes it may seem that way ...

With the Order of the Arrow (Scouting's Honour  Society) celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, a few members in each section were selected for this prestigious honour.

I was asked on the spot to give a speech. Oh horrors! Surprise awards come with challenges.

When the events ended, we set up our tents in the nice dry flat field and cooked foil dinners.

We were entertained by the cubs who had prepared skits, songs and even magic tricks.

The cubs made a large pan of brownies which we baked in a cardboard box. It turned out yummy and was decorated with candles to celebrate one of the cub's birthday.

Of course there were the marshmallows and poking in the fire ... a good night's sleep and breakfast before taking down the tents and packing up the gear. I think everyone had a good time and I was pleased with how cooperative and helpful the boys were. They are all looking forward to another campout in the spring.

Today is quite cold and the rain is making up for lost time. It is the Japanese "Labor Thanksgiving" and a national holiday. Our school was in session as were other international schools but many were off work and quite a few children were brought to school by Dads.  The best part of the holiday was that the usual sardine can of a train (where one is lucky to be standing above one's feet) had enough open seats that I could actually sit all the way to my station both going and coming home.

Friday evening I was able to put more stitches into the Christmas tree skirt and I think it will be ready to baste and begin quilting tomorrow.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Shichigosan ... an excuse for family time

After listening to the rain all night long and leaving in the morning for choir with my newly embroidered umbrella, I was so very happy to see the sun peeking out in the afternoon.

Each November, Girls three and seven and boys age five get dressed in fancy clothing and go to a shrine for a blessing. For one small girl, Leia was very well represented with both sets of grandparents and my sister-in-law in attendance.

The location of choice was Omiya Hachiman, in the neighborhood where we once lived. It brought back many memories of festivals visited, the wonderful nature of the adjoining park, and the countless Jungle Crows hoping for a dropped treat.

The "Hamaya" is an arrow given by the shrine to kill any evil that may enter your home. These are often presented at various holidays. Leia's hair ornaments were those worn many years ago by my four daughters

It was a pleasant visit with all the family, followed by a grand meal at a local shop owned by a favorite chef who had moved up in the neighborhood from baking other shop's pizzas to owning his own very popular restaurant.

Don't we all look festive ... wearing corsages and lined up for a photo. I was surprised to find Norie wearing a gown I had once had made from kimono fabric. (a great alternative to be encased in a kimono and unable to breathe). The next big occasion for getting all gussied up in kimono will be on coming-of-age day ... age 20 and still a ways off.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Happy boy ... Happy Grandma

This past week, the rainbow quilt reached Oregon and its new owner. Ben can now take the baby quilt off his bed and use his "Big Boy" quilt. I was so happy it had reached him safely as a former package had been returned to us as un-deliverable with the box empty. We have also had packages arrive that had been opened for inspection with box cutters which ruined the contents. This time I probably over-wrapped the box and sent it with a tracer. Unlike Japan, if you are not home to receive the package, you will have to go and pick it up within time limits unknown.
Attached to Ben's wonderful note was this picture I don't think he will mind sharing. Does he look happy? His sunny smile is catching.

We have been having rainy weather this week and it is getting colder.

I have pulled my down sleeping bag out of storage for colder nights. It is hard to believe how hot is was just a few weeks ago

The Toad Lilies are in bloom. Called "Hototogisu" in Japanese, the name of a bird, I think they are so beautiful.

When we lived in Suginami-ku, there was a house I passed on the back streets from the station to home. Every year I admired rows of these lilies along the front of the house.

Then one day, the house was being torn down and once the debris was removed, bulldozers  arrived and the lot was being turned into a parking lot.

Well, I just couldn't picture those lily bulbs covered with asphalt, so I went home and got a small shovel and a bag and dug at the place I had seen them growing. Sure enough, they were resting there un-knowing and I removed as many as I could locate. Some went home with my daughter and the rest were planted at the garden there.

When we moved back to Nerima, I remembered those bulbs.

The garden here is very small and has very little sun, as there is a wall and a three-story house to the South ... about a meter away.

I left most of the bulbs in the sunny garden but brought a small planter full, hoping they would survive here.

They do grow wild along the forest edges and they don't seem to mind the shortage of direct sun outside my garden door.

Aren't they charming?
I'm so glad they are not sitting under pavement in a parking lot.

Overlooking the lilies is this wonderful staghorn-fern.

The wife of a good friend died a few months ago.

She had been an avid plant collector and her husband had no idea how to care for her very large collection of exotic plants.

A few weeks ago, some of them came to Tokyo and after looking them over, ended up with a small collection of my own.

Right now this big fellow is hanging from my clothes poles. As it gets colder, I will have to rig a place to hand it in my little greenhouse. I do have one sitting in a bowl of rocks which once belonged to my #4 daughter. That one has fewer but larger horns. This one will have to be hung as there are appendages coming out in all directions.

Most of the other plants were exotic succulents from South Africa. I have quite a collection myself as those are the only plants that don't die from the heat of summer or the cold in winter (or the neglect while I am away).
I think my old cacti have perked up with the new members added to the family. Maybe they are practicing Afrikaans or teaching a bit of Espanol or English. One thing for certain, I will have to stop collecting, as there is hardly room to hang my laundry.

The Christmas tree skirt has been on hold waiting for promised snowflake patterns.

I have decided to wait no longer and need to get this finished and in the mail. If I hadn't waited, it would have been done long enough ago to be in the box with Ben's quilt.

I still have a door hanging to start and I really will do anything not to be caught in a deadline.

Tomorrow is a big family day as Leia will be all decked out in a beautiful kimono for "Shichi-go-san", the festival where boys and girls of the ages three, five, and seven go to visit the local shrines.

It will mean dressing up and taking pictures and eating a fancy meal. I hope it will stop raining. My rain shoes are anything but dressy and today someone took my umbrella!

In Tokyo there are two choices on a rainy day. One is that some stores have a dispencer of long plastic bags ... you take one and insert your dripping umbrella into the bag, disposing of it as you leave. (something that seems rather wasteful to me) But that is the usual system when you enter a store or building with many exits.
The other plan is an umbrella rack near the door. I have one at my house, the church has one at each door, the school has one on each floor outside the elevator, etc. Today I went out and left my umbrella in a rack at the clinic. It is easy to identify because it has a loop at the end of the handle. When I first got it I hung a tiny macrame bag containing a turquoise rock from the loop. Someone must have liked the idea because the bag and rock was removed ... not an easy thing to do unless it was cut off. So... I replaced it with a cute hanging owl charm. I thought the owl would be able to guard the umbrella better (more eyes than a rock) and certainly someone pulling it out of the stand would notice they had the wrong umbrella. I guess it didn't work. I came home in the rain and embroidered FUKUDA on all my remaining umbrellas. I hope I will not have to use one tomorrow.

I hope you all have a great weekend and it doesn't rain on your parade either.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Quilted items are not all quilts

Moving my camping gear to make room in the storage area under the eaves, I came across my little drum. Since it should be stored upright, I had made it a carrying bag that could be hung along the east wall. Now that bag is getting faded but still protecting the drum....

The drum is used for ceremonial purposes in my position in the Order of the Arrow, Boy Scout's National Honor Society. This organization  follows native American traditions and not being able to get a drum here in Tokyo, I decided to make one. Here it sits on the step tansu beside its bag.

The star contains the colors representing the four directions.

When I made this drum we were living in a large western style home in the "Tokugawa Village", a small community of homes built on a property owned by a branch of the Tokugawa family.

The house was large enough for our family of 8 and had a lovely garden,
shady with large trees and a flagstone patio.
I used a round wooden container as the base.

Recently I came across a notebook in which I had recorded the making of this drum and thought I would share it here ... as I have little progress on other projects to show ... other than cutting scraps into various tins for future use.

The round moon sails over the wide plains.
A red cow lows to her dozing calf,

Tonight my mother's hide
gives voice to the drum.

The round moon shines on a distant shore.
Over the crest of a wooded hill
the Cypress grove whispers

Shh... Hear the voice of the drum.

High above a city garden
the Camellia rustles her shiny leaves
under the round moon.   I gave my topmost branch to waken the drum.

I watched as the frame was prepared.
The hide soaked in my shade.
The skin was stretched at my feet and dried at my side.

Now I wait to hear it's voice.
Listen, round moon, to the round round drum.

The world is falling asleep, still the drum maker waits.
What is the song my drum will sing, here beneath the round moon?

It is the dance of little ones.
The gekko on the wall, the spider under the leaves, the mosquito wigglers in the watering can.

The silkworms stop their munching to listen. The round moon sings to the voice of the drum.

Hush, you world and listen.
All nature dances to the pulse of the drum.
We are all one and this is our song,
Here, under the round round moon.

We are one with the wide plain and the lowing cattle.

We are one with the Hinoki forest.

We are one with the city garden sleeping under the round round moon.

Hush, and hear my voice.

The lining of the bag is red and when I turned it inside out you can see the birds and arrow quilted into the side, one of the symbols of the Order. Quilted up the other side is "Mechmawikenk Gischihan", which is my Vigil name in the language of the Leni Lenape indians. It means "Camper who creates with her hands"
The turtle on the reverse side of the bag is also one of the tribal symbols.

Today I spent time at our group meeting measuring and marking scraps for my three and four inch tins. I am thinking of putting together some kind of quilted envelope to carry my new laptop ... just in case I need to take it  where someone can help me sort out where to find things. I am still using my cell phone to move email into folders because I just can't find how to do it on my laptop. I also would like to get my pictures sorted into folders, making them easier to find rather than scrolling through several thousand.

Hope you have a nice weekend. I think we have showers headed our way, though today was sunny and quite pleasant.