Friday, February 26, 2016

Meeting challenges and expectations

Long ago, when I first began cub scouting with my first son, I only had 16 years of girl scout experience to compare it with.

Suddenly it was a new ball game with parents involved. The first time my son made a pinewood derby car he was a third grader and could make the car himself with only a little support.

When the day of the race came, he was there early and had his car weighed, measured and checked in. As we were sitting waiting for the race to begin, there was one cub watching the door. Suddenly he jumped up and ran to the person entering saying, "Dad! Dad! Have you got the car?" The father answered, "Yes, I've got the car." "Can I see it?" asked the kid. "Yes, but don't touch it", replied the father.  Well, so much for kid-made cars, I thought to myself. Actually, my son's car did not turn out in the design he had first planned but somewhere along the way he noticed it looked more like a shoe so he had added two rows of small nails and laces. We knew nothing about the fine tuning of weight and wheel work and the car was not very fast but my son did feel he was a winner because he had managed to take that block of wood and make it into a car. I did notice that the cars that won were pretty high-tech for elementary school age kids.

A few years later, I became the cubmaster and made a few changes in the race. We began what was called "rough-cut days". We assembled saws and gouges and tools and provided help when the kids came with their drawings. We also opened a category for siblings and parents and leaders.

I told the parents to let their kid make his own car.
We helped with the weights and wheel tuning.

I told those parents half joking, "I'm the one to beat!" Thus began a long line of "cars". If you are interested in seeing past car designs, you can go to my and click on the label for 2012 and 2013.

After so many years of coming up with car designs, the expectations have become higher and higher and the challenge of doing something new, more and more difficult.

This year I toyed with the idea of making a bobcat.
It is the first rank a cub has to earn and I thought that might give the idea of coming in first.

Well, I googled some pictures of bobcats and none that I could find gave me any inspiration ... and I was running out of time as the race is tonight!

Well, "Owl win", says the owl, so I went with plan B. The only paint I needed was for eyes, feet and beak. I used a wood burner to add the feathers and markings. The wings are added from Magnolia wood and I just added acrylic varnish to help him shine. Several times parents have mentioned they were looking forward to seeing what I will make. Expectations for them, challenges for me!

In the quilting world, I have dug out a few pieces of fabric (all gifted by a friend as I never buy large amounts of fabric unless I have a purpose to use it.)

The center numbers will have a one inch strip of the yellow on each side and the finished quilt will have one inch of yellow around the entire border.

On the right is some tenugui fabric, on the left, a pastel stripe. That looks a bit pale but I intend to applique a vine and colored leaves over the strip. The leaves will match the numbers in fabric so will need to show up against the background.

Here are a few more I auditioned.
On the left is a pale pink stripe of hearts that I used on another baby quilt made in the fall.

on the right upper side is a pale olive batik-looking print and below a rather pale blue batik.

I will have to think this over a while. The baby will be a girl so the two left-side prints might be nice with pink.

The blue kind of matches the appliqued cat print but might it be saved for a boy quilt later on?

I wanted the quilt to be the same size as the sister's quilt so the side strips will be only 7 inches. I could cut the pastel strip to feature the blue.
Checking back, I see I used the tenugui fabric on the backing of the sister's quilt. Hmm, another challenge? Didn't I hear somewhere that facing regular small challenges is good for the brain?

Monday, February 22, 2016

A bit more Tokyo Dome show

I often wonder how the judges arrive at six quilts, from out of all those entered, to award the prizes.

This sign was posted to explain the awards.

Usually I make more than one trip to the show, the second one later toward the end of the show and the end of the day so that I can get better pictures without heads and shoulders of the crowds.

I usually take a picture of the quilt, followed by one of the sign posting the  details (for later identification)

This year, my priority was meeting my friends. Even among the crowds, friends are the very best. My pictures kind of fell in the gap betweens friends and crowds.

Somewhere in the center of the hall, the Grand Prix winners are exhibited.

We happened to pass when Miwako Mogami was posing for a photograph in front of her first prize quilt, "Wow, BANANAS".

How typical this pose is ...

Is this a V for victory ... or the Cub Scout sign promising to "Do My Best"?

Probably the first ... but she DID do her best on this one ...
in the eyes of the judges.

This was the pick for the best "Hand Making".

There certainly are many handmade quilts to chose from, and I am glad I didn't have to pick only one for the prize.

This one was made by Yoko Izumi.

I only got one other picture from among the winners and that one was the friendship award ...

though being somewhat distracted, I did not get a shot of the label so I can't give proper credit.

The winner here seems to be a group of friendly elephants.

Well, the last thing I have to show is progress with the baby quilt.

This one is never going to be displayed in a quilt show. No one is going to be counting the stitches to see how precisely it has been made.

But it is about real friendship. Maybe the label can say, "You can count on my love".

This will be the center of the quilt.

I am planning borders on the two sides with vines containing leaves in the same fabric as the numbers ...

One red leaf, two green and yellow leaves, three blue leaves, etc.

I plan a yellow border around the whole thing but I now have to examine my stash to find a background fabric that will go with the vines and leaves.

I have a good assortment of fabrics to use for the reverse side.

I used tenugui on the sister's quilt and one of my friends has just sent me a new supply ... but then, again, I have some cute kid-friendly prints as well.

Well, there is still time to think it over while I change projects to do a bit of whittling.

(Our pinewood derby is coming up this weekend and the expectations are high).
If I can't win a prize for quilting, maybe a fast car will do.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Tokyo Dome part #3 ... and other stuff

Each year, the Tokyo Dome show includes quilts by well-known quilt teachers.

The display has changed over the years, now the quilts are larger than before,  but usually there is a theme provided.

This year's theme was "Log Cabin".

Who has not tried making this pattern? One of my first bed covers was a log cabin quilt. It is faded now but still in use on a daughter's bed.

My camera did not do so well with the lighting but here is an interesting interpretation of the theme.

"An Autumn Walk"
by Reiko Naganuma.

"Multicolored Log Cabin"

By Akane Sakamoto.

"Townscape" by Masako Wakayama

" Old Denim Square" 
by Noriko Nozawa.

Too bad the lighting was poor but this was interesting with parts from old jeans ... many well worn.

I liked the way many parts were worked into pictures.

This quilt was hung with better exposure and very popular with viewers. 
I think every other person walking past it took a picture.
The title is "Buddy" and it was made by Yoshiko Kurihara.

"The Garden of Log Cabin" was made by Akiko Kawata.
Lots of beautiful applique.

"Flowers of Cosmos"

by Fumiko Nakayama.

Well, it is a "log cabin" basically

but these are not ordinary pieces.

Lots of Mola details in this quilt!

And here is what I am working on now.

I have completed enough blocks for my nine-patch challenge.   (one more row added yesterday)

I have not decided the layout as yet.

Meanwhile, can you guess what is going on below?

A few years I made an I-spy quilt for a friend's new daughter. Now my friend is expecting a second baby and I think (having spent my childhood with mostly hand-me-downs) that the second baby should have a quilt of it's own.

I drafted this layout of numbers and the first row is waiting for the rest.

I am trying to make this quilt the same size as the first one so the plan is to add a vine on each side with leaves in the colors of the numbers.... one red, two green, three blue etc.  The little good-luck cats are also something to count.

I spent a lot of time going through scraps thinking I would use some of the fabric I used in sister's quilt but no luck finding it. Maybe I have too many unorganized scraps or maybe there was nothing left or maybe I am not very good looking!

Monday, February 15, 2016

More Tokyo Dome quilts ... part 2

I found a few more partnership blocks among those I had photographed.

How about this musical variety?

A singing bird, a singing pineapple,
a singing elephant,  a note-worthy cat, a dancing couple, and the cow jumping over the moon.

Just imagine trying to coordinate a quilt with this variety!

And, I did mention cats ....

At least these are all singing in chorus and they have a fence of pieced blocks to keep them all together.

It would be very interesting to talk with those who took on the task of assembling these blocks.

As I understand it, each year one well-known quilt teacher assumes the responsibility.

She gets TV time where she can demonstrate making blocks in a class. Maybe publish patterns ...

then, with the help of her loyal disciples, the quilts are assembled. She must have access to a very large space to lay out all these blocks and decide what will go where. 120 blocks per quilt!
Next year with smaller blocks it might be even more of a challenge.

And another joy that came completely unexpected ....

While standing in our small group, we were approached by another blogger who had recognized  us from our blog pictures.

(Not an easy thing among that mob you can see in the background)

Jenni was visiting from Australia ...
her blog is JACARANDA. What fun to add a new friend to the equation!

We also met up with Chikako Ueno. Though I didn't get a picture, both she and Queenie got pictures of the two of us standing in front of her beautiful quilt.

I did get a poor shot of her bag, also being exhibited.

Since Ueno-sensei is not from the Tokyo area,  it is amazing that we seem to meet up every year with no planning at all.
Her group of "Team Quilt Ten" used to have a display every year at the Yokohama quilt show.
Each year the theme would change and the display included quilts from other countries who had joined that year and theme. What a pity that show has not continued, but how good to see Ueno-san is still in action.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Tokyo International Great Quilt Festival 2016 (part 1)

This show is the fifteenth year, and though each year I have filled out the questionnaire, commenting that something termed "International" should include at least the names of the contributors in English, very little progress has been made.

For those familiar with kanji ... the Chinese characters ... There is a problem that most of them can be read in a number of ways.  My own kanji that read "ju li" in Chinese  can be read "shu rei" in Japanese. Even names written in Japanese kana can be read in a number of ways because lei and rei are written the same. Since every citizen knows how to write their name using Roman letters, after 15 years one would think it would be a no-brainer to have the entry forma filled out with those characters as a backup. With NHK as a sponsor, one would think adding one more line to the form would not be so very hard.

Each year I see so many people taking pictures. I'm sure some of those will be shared over the internet and not to be able to give credit to the person who had created that masterpiece (and there were many) is not only sad but inexcusable.

I was so happy to have the day to meet up with my friends. Virtual friends are great and I have many, but if you ever have the opportunity to meet in person, don't have second thoughts or pass it up ... and quilters are the greatest.

Carin, better known as "Queenie" took time from her very busy life to meet up with me. I love looking at shows with Carin as we both see so much more.

We checked out the "Partnership quilts first. I liked the arrangement of the quilt displaying hers and it is not hard to spot the colors of the Swedish flag and instrument.

The quilt containing my block was rather jumbled in comparison. it looked more like a collection of leftovers than a planned product.

It is possible to buy a ticket to bid on any of the quilts but this year I didn't bother. I wonder if anyone dropped a ticket into that box.

Queenie was able to get this link where all the partnership quilts can be viewed.
Translate the page and you can view all the quilts and see the names of the contributors.

Next year the blocks will be made smaller and I wonder what that might mean for the layouts. There were certainly many identical blocks but some creative ones too.

Tanya joined us all the way from Nikko a bit later in the day and here she is with her block.

Both Carin and Tanya have posted pictures from the show
And both of them are better than I at figuring out the Japanese names.

As you may have already noticed, the theme for this year was "Music".

Well, Tanya's block is among lots of notes and signs. Carin's is one heavy with musical instruments.

My Ohio cardinal was singing among flowers, slippers, and even a 4-leaf clover and an alarm clock. At any rate I appreciate all the work that must have gone into assembling these quilts. It could not have been an easy task as there were over 70 finished quilts.

They lined the outer walls and the aisles,

Beside each quilt is a posted list with the name and location (city) of each contributor, and below that a box in which to drop a ticket for the drawing of that quilt.

  here are some creative interpretations of the theme, "music".

Frogs ... yes, there were quite a few.

Cats ... many.

birds ... my cardinal did have some company.

Lady bug? I have never heard one sing or even make a sound.

The one hanging on the left has my cardinal third row from the bottom. The neighboring quilt is a bit better organized. Maybe the name of the block was square dance or something musical. There were other quilts with dancing legs below gathered skirts and a silhouette of a girl singing.

Though these blocks were quite similar,

the effect of many combined seemed rather pleasing.

Though I have little understanding of the process, it seems that many blocks may be made in group workshops or patterns may be offered by quilt groups or teachers.

It is interesting though that even among these similar blocks, there is creativity in the choice of fabrics and the appliqu├ęd critters.

Hopefully I will have a chance to figure out the other pictures from the show. I hope you have visited both Tanya and Queenie because their pictures are so much better than mine.

A day of remembering

Today is a fun day to remember. My first daughter was born on February 15th.

Most of her early pictures were taken in the hospital in black and white,  in an ICU for preemies and full of wires and tubes.

At one time she was sharing a box with another baby but had to be moved to one of her own as she was pulling out that baby's wires and tubes.

Sometimes when I went for a visit to take milk, she was lying with her feet out the hand holes of the unit. Small ... yes, but mighty!

Today I sit in the same location where I sat on her homecoming. The house has been rebuilt and the path paved, some neighbors have left but some are still here and remember that sweet little girl. They even remember that it is her birthday because the tree we planted to celebrate her birth has begun to bloom.

This year they even began to bloom a few days early, and since yesterday was a warm sunny day, the whole tree responded accordingly.

It was such a joy to be the perfect mother of a perfect daughter ... probably one of the reasons she was followed by three more perfect daughters.
(the two sons were sent by God to keep me humble).

The day before was Nikko's birthday, now the ripe old age of 13.

Actually, when she was rescued by my kids from the wilds of Tochigi, the vet estimated her age at three months. Counting backwards placed her birthday on Valentine's Day.

This morning she accompanied me as usual for onigiri delivery in Shibuya.  Oh, how she loves to get pats and praise from those homeless men. Today she even shared a tidbit from someone, waiting patiently for the word "itadakimasu"
(roughly, I will partake ... her signal to accept the treat).

February may be a short month but it is a big one with birthdays starting with my Granddaughter, Naomi in early February, and ending with my #3 daughter at the end of the month. (And her flowers are about to open too).

Friday, February 5, 2016

Taking the good with the bad

Any chance to get together with my children is good and the support of family under sad circumstances took away some of the pain.

Here are Jon, Ken, and Marie in back and Kimie and Julie in front. We had just finished a lunch break and Kimie was headed out to the station to get the Narita express on the first leg of her return to Oregon.

At the return to the hospital for the evening visiting hour, we were met with unwanted news.
It had been noticed sometime between the 8th and 9th of January that Paul had suffered a stroke, as his left arm was not moving. A CT scan verified the issue but unfortunately the treatment for pneumonia and stroke were at odds. A second CT scan on the 11th showed the whole right brain was involved and the end would have not been positive. He passed away peacefully shortly after, surrounded by family and our pastor.

The following days were a blur but through the kindness of the pastor of the Japanese church where we were members in the early 60's, a Christian cremation was arranged.

Paul, whose passion in life was being a bridge, had ended with one more between the two churches.

There have been so many hoops to jump through and my Japanese skills are sorely inadequate. Norie needed to get some home time and Marie, who has lived in Boston since her college days, was most helpful in dragging me around to assorted offices to get things done ... figuring out which bills had not been paid, reporting to the bank and ward offices, and sorting paperwork.

Jon and Julie Jr. were the next to return to their families and work.  I really needed to get some of my life back too and made a date to meet with Tanya and Carin (AKA Queenie) at the Tokyo Dome quilt show. They have both made some great posts on the show and it was such a joy to be there together. Once a year is NOT enough!

I am so grateful for all my families, kids and relatives, my church and choir family, my school family, and my Scouting family,  ... and even my precious blogging friends.  This is not the way I would have chosen to find out who my real friends are and I can never thank you all enough for your kind words and prayerful thoughts.

Last weekend I went as planned to the Women's  Conference and enjoyed a prayerful time with old friends and new. I taught a hand quilting basics class and enjoyed the results ... some students going on to make a second project.  Marie and Ken were the last to leave the day before and Nikko and I are getting back to the schedule, though she now walks with me instead of running beside Paul's bike.

There are still months worth of problems to sort out ... debts, taxes, paperwork... still, Piper is singing and the plum tree is getting ready to celebrate the February birthdays. Without my in-house translator of quilt show names of quilters I am wondering if I can put any posts of the work.

So ... that is what is happening in chilly Tokyo for all who have wondered.
Tomorrow is another day ... "Scout Sunday"and I have promised to give the children's message. Life goes on.