Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Return of the camper and the internet

The alphabet quilt was finished just before leaving for camp but because of darkness and rain, there was no opportunity to grab a photograph. 
The size is about 135 cm x 150 cm  or roughly 48 x 53inches. I left the lower corner square blank for writing the baby's name if they wish.

So far this year that makes three baby quilts ... one counting quilt, one I-Spy quilt, and one alphabet quilt. for three Monkey-year babies.

I left many of my cacti bearing flower buds but, as the flowers last but one day, I really did not expect to see them in bloom.

I remember one summer putting them on a tray and bringing them downstairs to the table for my husband to enjoy while I was in the woods with the guys. As I recall, he took some pretty impressive photos of the floral outburst.

In the front right corner of the small square pot are two round green flowers of one of my new cacti that travelled from South Africa. I was gifted a number of unfamiliar cacti by a friend whose wife had died leaving an impressive collection.
As he had no idea what to do with them, they were divided among a number of church friends.
Many of these I have never seen before and my books tend to contain mostly cacti from the North and South American continent so I have yet to learn what they are or what to expect in the way of blooms. So far they seem to like my little greenhouse and are doing their own thing without my help.

When I came home, the prickly pear, which most often blooms while I am away, had two flowers and a bud yet to open.

This plant sits outside all year around in a place hard to reach, so it is pretty well on its own. The wet winter snow piled on top and bent the plant down to the pot in a large loop so I didn't expect it to bloom at all.
This was a cutting given me by a neighbour who had a very tall plant on his front porch so it must be eight or nine years old. I have a few other cuttings made from broken pieces of this one but they are yet to bloom.

The planter of Hostas inside my front gate greeted me with blooms upon my return. These were snatched from the path of the bulldozer that levelled my neighbour's house and garden a few year ago.

There were several varieties and they are all doing well in small planters. These are the first to bloom with two flower stalks.

And, outside my living room window to the west, a hanging pot of Agapanthus has put on a great show

This picture really doesn't  do it justice.

I brought one bulb from my last house's garden and stuck it in that small pot.

Now a few plants have escaped to the azalea hedge and are peeking up through,

Don't you just live plants that thrive on neglect?!!

I arrived home from camp late Saturday night, very tired and with literally tons of gear and craft supplies to unload and put away. I am still sorting and organizing  the craft supplies and figuring out what I can use again next year and what needs to be replaced or tossed.

The supplies purchased by the camp director were completely useless. The leather was soft and already dyed and finished so could not be tooled. Luckily I had taken some of my own as the only "tooling" leather was just suited to making saddles.
Most of the wood for carving also came from my stash and the tools that had been bought, though still in their wrapping, were no use at all. I luckily had brought Japanese craft knives made by Olfa that can be repeatedly sharpened, and every night I re-sharpened the knives for the next class.

After arriving, I was also asked to run a class on the insect study merit badge. All that was given me was the merit badge pamphlet, and being written for use in the States, it was not much use as far as identifying bugs.

I found the scouts so enthusiastic and eager in the gathering of samples, that I decided to drive home one night and pull out my books on Japanese bugs. I was also lucky to negotiate for a scout assistant who could read and translate the information for the gang. With so much rain, there was a lot of running water but not much standing water and we needed to raise a bug from larvae to adult. In such a short time, the only choice was mosquitoes. The puddles could only supply water-striders (and a couple of red-bellied newts) so I raided the bird bath while home. Ah, what we leaders go through!

Evenings found me prepping for the next day's classes, doing Boards of Review for Eagle rank and other advancing scouts, filling out "blue-cards", and running around doing OA (Order of the Arrow) stuff ... Brotherhood walk and ceremony, etc.
I did manage, during a meeting, to mark the border for my nine-patch quilt ... though I have yet to cut it and get it pinned for sewing.

Sunday began earlier than usual as we have gone to just one service during the summer schedule. That meant choir had to meet an hour earlier so counting backwards to include the commute and walking the dog, it meant an early start.
In the late afternoon, the guy came to connect my internet. Yes, from now on, I can do computer stuff at my own pace. Norie, Leia, and Hiro came to help with the setup and we had dinner together at an Indian Restaurant in Toshimaen where we can sit outside and Nikko can come with us.

 Now it is Wednesday. We have had rain and cool days ... but I know the heat will arrive soon.
I am still sorting and organizing craft stuff and working on a birthday present for my eldest son, who's name I have been assigned this year. (#2 daughter is still awaiting last year's tissue box cover)
On Friday I will meet up with a blogging friend. I am SO EXCITED! I LOVE my blogging friends!
We are going to do "fabric town" together. Did I say I am excited? Wish I could see you all as well some day!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Partnership block

Those of you who keep up with the quilting bloggers in Japan, must be familiar with the partnership quilts. Each year as the Tokyo Dome show kicks into gear, NHK announces the theme for the coming quilts and the details  for those wishing to contribute a block.

I think among my friends, I am the last to get my block together. With a week of camping looming, the deadline for submissions having been moved up a month,  and many unknowns down the road of life, I thought if I was going to do it at all, the time had come to bite the bullet and get it done.

This year the block size has gone from 20 x 20 cm. to 15 x 15 cm. The theme is "Garden".

This is what I came up with. The Cardinal is the Ohio state bird and he is perched on a trowel, planting a seed. I had planned in my sketch to put another plant to his back but this was a more difficult size to work with so I decided one flower is enough. I had also planned to use different yellow fabrics in the sunflower petals but gave up on that plan too.

All I need now is to put my name in the seam allowance ... though how well it will show up might be a problem ... and find a post card to enclose.
It will be interesting to see how the quilts with smaller blocks turn out. I watched the NHK program with suggested blocks and compared to other years, it was  rather uninspiring.

The internet company called my daughter to inform her I should wait another month to have my connection restored. I guess she handed the phone to my son-in-law to argue the point. Well, he managed to convince them to give me back my former phone number so we will see how this second argument goes. Anyway, it won't be before I leave for camp and there won't be much of the month left by the time I return. I heard the neighbor return as I was taking the photograph so decided to swap my bedtime for a post. Now Nikko is saying her evening walk is long overdue. Experience with hanger-on connections, however, was telling me "now or never".

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Rainy week progress

The border is all quilted and the binding is going on.

This will be a busy week because I am getting ready to go to camp.

I will be teaching the leatherworking and woodcarving merit badges and some nature basics.

That means getting all the supplies sorted and lined up to load into the car.
In addition to the teaching materials, I will have to get the bird and Nikko's food and supplies lined up and dig out a tent big enough for a cot. The one the scouts supplied last year was plenty big but leaked like a sieve. One never knows what the weather will be as we have had everything from a sauna to a typhoon to a flood during countless summers.

The past week we had two very hot days followed by heavy rain. I have heard we have already set a record for rain in June and the month is hardly half over.

My cut-leaf maple seems to have jewels clinging to every leaf.

Even though I have been cutting gardenias for several vases inside, the little bush is covered with flowers with many buds yet to open.

And behind the gardenia, the lilies are beginning to open.

I used to have five varieties but these seem to be taking over the garden plot.

I noticed the agapanthus in a hanging pot has ten flower spikes.
I am hoping they will not wait until I leave to camp to begin blooming.

My daughter called the internet service as they had spoken of having service restored by now but they still are not ready to solve the problem and if they don't come this week, it will be next month before I will have another opportunity.

As it is, I have seldom had any connection the past few weeks. Often, like tonight, it comes on after ten (my bedtime) and is off by the time I come down in the morning ... even Monday when I get up early for a 4:am departure. It will be a relief when I can finally do things according to my own schedule.

Meanwhile, though the saying goes, "Make hay while the sun shines." My work seems to be getting done faster when it pours and there is no distraction from the internet.

Monday, June 6, 2016

It's in the works

If you walk into my front door, you will smell the sweet scent of gardenias.

My gardenia bush right outside the gate is small and old, but this year it has put out a great show of blooms.

As I understand it, the blooms are determined by the day and night temperatures, and that may be true because with the new building blocking most of the afternoon sun, most of the plants whose blooms are determined by hours of light are much behind other places in our area.

On the other hand, weather has remained rather cool and the caterpillars that usually attack the buds have not showed up yet. (their hatching perhaps influenced by temperatures).

These flowers are small but powerful and I am enjoying them.

I am also enjoying some progress on this year's third baby quilt.

I am just quilting around the letters and in the ditch, and then a one-inch frame inside each picture block.

So far I have started in the center and have about 15 of the blocks done.

The gold inner border has three rows of words ... the twelve points of the Scout Law. I also added two scout blocks to the bottom row, thanks to my blogging friend, Cheryl, who added these to my stash a few years ago.

I can't remember where the border fabric came from. It is a bit busy but of all the choices, it seemed to work best.

Now I need to figure out some take-along work. The nine-patch is waiting for its border to be cut and sewed but that will have to be done at home.

My daughter is still waiting for her tissue box cover but the box size is different than those found here so I think I need to make a model box before beginning.

The internet is still waiting for connection. I know there was a letter asking that the modem be returned but if that is what is holding things up, it may be a long wait because I have no idea which of all the many boxes attached to things in the computer room by countless wires is a "modem".Now, I must be a bit old and jaded, but why can't they take it when they bring the new one???

Meanwhile, I am missing so many friends out in blogging land. I try to grab a peek when there is a connection but often it goes off before I finish or have a chance to leave a reply. Hang in there, "I'll Be Back!"

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

an early morning quickie

While there is a brief internet connection, I thought I would post a bit of my latest project.

Sunday afternoon I went through my kid-friendly bin and pulled out an alphabet worth of prints.

Some of the letters have become harder and harder to illustrate.

The "K" is kanji, the "Y" is yacht.
I used to have a cat print with yarn on it but couldn't find any left.

There are two empty squares at the bottom and I am thinking of something scouting, as this quilt is for the coming baby son of my right-hand scouting assistant.

Monday night I started cutting the pieces for the letter blocks for take-along work. (Long train rides)

Tuesday I finished making the letter squares. They are solids with gingham corner points.

Then Yesterday I laid the alphabet prints out on the bed and arranged the letter blocks for a bit of balance ... and marked each one with the letter and suggested color. Then I started on the letters.

I am now about half-way through sewing letters.

I was going to make the letters solid colors but I found a few small prints that work.

Maybe I have wasted time looking through scraps of small kid-friendly prints because today I will probably have to switch to solid colors.

Each block is five inches finished so this will not be a single bed-size quilt but I think it will be good for a crib or play mat ... or something to toss over a sleeping baby. I plan to add a few borders before it will go to the hoop.

I left the finished I-Spy quilt at the church office in case the mother goes there, then she can pick it up. If not, I will look for her again this coming Sunday. I didn't want to carry that bag back and forth on a crowded train. Even if I get to sit, I can't sew with lots of bags in my lap. Tuesday, though I got a seat, I ended up giving it away to an old man. I was still able to stand leaning against the connecting door (no one is going to pass through the cars when it is that crowded) and sew three blocks on the homeward trip.

Today's train rides will be good for sewing blocks together. Maybe I should be happy that the internet is still mostly off, as other things are getting done. I really miss getting the chance to browse my favorite blogs. Hopefully, before the end of the month, the internet people will get around to restoring my connectivity.