Thursday, April 6, 2017

The quilting has begun

Finally, after a warm sunny day yesterday, the cherry trees are in bloom. The "street" (or is it a lane?) in front of my house is dotted with cherry petals blowing in the wind ... and the nearest tree is a block away!

It has not been the best of weeks as the root of my front tooth was cracked so it had to be pulled. The dentist made a partial denture to fill the gap but I am finding it almost impossible to eat anything other than oatmeal and other soft things that don't require chewing. Not too good for a nibbler like me. I sometimes think of that bully who shoved my face into the drinking fountain and killed the tooth so long ago. I wonder if she continues to bully people.

I think about the teachers who helped to make poor students the object of bullying. Did they ever know what they were doing? The math teacher who gave a timed test every Friday, then seated the students according to the test results every Monday morning ... Causing the class to laugh at the joke that I ... sitting in the last chair ... was the only student to never move. (because I could never finish the test in the given time, thus failed.)
I think of the Science teacher who, when my twin brother won the state science award, read all my grades to the class and asked how I could be so stupid when my twin was so smart. and ... the English teacher who assigned writing a poem ... the best assignment I had ever had because when I couldn't read, I memorized the words as others read and words that rhymed were easiest to remember. Well, when I brought in my assignment, the teacher walked around the room passing the homework back. She would stop now and then to read out one of the poems she liked. As she went on, I thought maybe she was saving my poem to last because it was much better than those she was reading ... BUT, when she got to me at the last, she did not read my poem. She ripped it up and threw it in the wastebasket saying it was too good and I couldn't possibly written it. That was the only time my mother ever spoke up for me, and then the teacher wanted a copy of the poem for the school literary magazine. Sadly, I had written it as I made it up and the only copy had gone to the trash. If there was any apology, it only went to my mother and in the eyes of the class I was not only too stupid but copied the work of others.
When I walked down the halls, kids walking past would hit the books out of my hands, flying around the hall floor. When I was at my locker, they would slam the door on me. In PE, I was always the last to be picked for a team (and the main bullies were the ones the teacher asked to form teams) Even walking in a line, those girls would step on the back of my shoes, making them come off.

Now I am a teacher. (And that is why ... because I just didn't want another kid to fail childhood 101).
I have developed nerves of steel and a teflon skin, which worked well when I first came to Japan as a weird foreigner. I have long ago forgiven the bullies but I am ever vigilant in school or in scouting to support behaviour  that encourages each child. We build on our successes, even if they are small steps.

Being rather depressed about the tooth situation, I have mostly stayed home and spent my time pulling weeds and working on the I-Spy quilt. I added a border of Japanese print which may remind the family of their time here in Tokyo ... and maybe learn a few Japanese words.
Then, yesterday afternoon, I basted the backing and thinsulate batting and top and began quilting in the ditch. I am enjoying the process and looking forward to the day it is ready to present to its new owners. The most recent quilt has been seen covering the darling baby girl who returned from the hospital The father claimed it to be a magic quilt because the baby sleeps quietly under it. I take no credit for doing magic but am happy it is being used and enjoyed.


  1. Is the partial until you get a permanent one? Another thing we have in common, I was not picked on like you were, I would fight back, lol. But I started school younger so I was a bit behind in my social skills. But I was picked on and made a fool by some teachers too, so I know how that felt. In fifth grade I got a great teacher who knew I loved to read and was finished with the readers early, so she let me write my own stories. So, some good with the bad. I hope your tooth gets fixed properly so you can chew again.


  2. Julie, you have all the right to take credit for stitching magic powers into that quilt. That magic goes by the names LOVE and CARE, and every quilt you have ever made has been filled with magic.
    You have proven in your account of your sad childhood and how you survived it, that it is possible and most noble to break the vicious circle of bullying. Instead of going in search of and exposing the weak points, we should always look for and encourage the good and the noble in each person we meet. Unfortunately there are bullies who will continue to traumatize others long into adulthood, until maybe one day they will either be at the other end of the stick, or they meet someone who can see a speck of good in them and pull them out of their spiral of evil behavior.
    People in power (parents, teachers, police, judges...) should be trained to spot and prevent bullying, and not use such mean behavior themselves.

  3. Sorry about the tooth. Hope you can get things settled with it quickly, so that you can eat again. My stepfather has had a big problem with his new dentures, including the fact that they found out (after a couple of months) that they broke his jaw while pulling the teeth. No wonder he was in pain for so long. I got bullied when I was in school, but, not to the extent you did, except for one year, in Junior High, when one girl and her henchmen, harassed me EVERY day on the way out of PE. The PE teacher didn't care, and my mother told me to find something 'nice' to say to her every day, so that I wouldn't get beat up (nice top, etc). That girl is now in prison for murder.

  4. Oh, Julie, poor you, I'm so sorry ! Tooth ache is one of the worst, and I totally understand how you must feel right now. Hopefully, you'll get better soon, and in the meantime you have that wonderful (magical!) quilt to work on...
    I've got such bad memories about my teeth : these were not growing nicely, they just seemed to climb upon another... so I had to wear those horrible things from age 8, until 18... When everything was over, I had nice teeth, but the roots were so bad, they had to take all of them out. 10 years for nothing! Of course, this happened 45 years ago, and the modern techniques are so much better now, yet seeing a dentist remains something difficult to me.

    School - bullying - harrassement - How I agree with you ! Kids and teenagers can be so cruel with each other, not to mention some frustrated teachers, who shouldn't be allowed to profess...
    I used to be a teacher for 40 years (my students were between 12 and 18 years old). Things were easier in the beginning, but I found it more and more difficult as time went by (maybe I was ageing ?). I remember having sometimes to be VERY strict about respecting each other... but the worst came with the Internet AND Facebook, with unbelievable harrassments, especially between GIRLS ! Both my daughters are teachers too, and they tell me thing are still getting worse, even if schools are forbidding the use of cell phones during class, and now even some parents are taking part in harrassing... the teachers! Unbelievable.

    Let's pray & be confident, and hope things will change, some way or another. Things cannot go on like this, our kids and grandkids deserve a better futuren and going to school in a serene state of mind, and we have to be very vigilent as parents and grand-parents.

    Have a nice weekend, dear Julie. Heartful get-well wishes :D

    XOXOXOXOXOOXOXOXOXOXOXO (even more, this time !)

  5. You are so kind, gentle,loving and strong, and your words today give us an insight into your younger days.Today, I would hope, teachers could not be so cruel. And pupils build up a wall of defence that lasts sometimes forever. Your tooth, hope it heals, remember the gum where that last piece came out will be tender for a long time. Did the dentist just build up a tooth and cement it to the ones either side? Nibble with the side one for a while. Love your quilt, keep calm, and remember, we all love you so VERY much.XXXXX

  6. HI Julie, I taught school for 25 years; and I can really relate to the bullying problems. I became an educator because I saw the damage to the learning process and to the minds and feelings of those who were bullied (including myself). Learning to stand up to bullies and set boundaries is such important and hard work. My heart goes out to you and to all who have been victims of bullies. Sending big ((hugs)) to you and many blessings, along with prayers that you will soon feel much better.😊 Take care, from Daryl Lynn, on behalf of Marina

  7. You brought back memories for me, always welcome whether sad or joyful. It is hard to believe that a woman as accomplished, energetic, and considerate as you had such a rough start in school. You are an inspiration! I am so glad you became a teacher.

  8. I hope that your dentist is able to help you "nibble" again - soon. Your post brought back memories for me, too. When I wad 7 years old - I chipped my front tooth - roller skates on a steep driveway going too fast - my face hit the concrete. I was 23 when I was finally able to get it "capped". In the meantime - others made fun of me - and I had few friends because I usually "blew the curve" when we had a test and I got the highest grade. No friends made for a very good student who had nothing to do but study for tests. One day I came home from school crying and my mother said something that I remember to this day. She said, "Honey - when they are talking about you - they are leaving someone else alone." It made all the difference in the world to me - they could say whatever they wanted to me or about me - I could take it - and someone else was left alone - ;))

  9. I too have memories of bullying from my childhood, perpetrated by teachers against me and other kids and also by kids against other kids, including me. I particularly remember two girls in my grade school who were mercilessly bullied, one because she had mental health problems, the other because she was poor and neglected and looked and acted like that was the case. I tried to be kind to these girls but I do remember an incident where I joined some other kids in harassing the second girl - anything to be accepted myself. I feel so bad about that and hope that she managed, that they both managed to become as strong as you.

  10. Bullies are horrible. We had an older boy (17) bullying at our church youth group. The kids complained but nothing was really done....until he confronted me and was so nasty to me in front of the other kids and the youth pastor. Let's just say my NYer attitude fought with my Christian side. I let him know that I would not be bullied, that his attitude was ridiculous, to which he just said whatever. The Pastor talked to him and got him to apologize. He said that's, "just the way I am." I kindly told him that with attitudes like that he's going to be very lonely in life and isn't going to be very successful in a career. Hopefully I gave him something to think about. At 17, this should have been corrected years before. I'm afraid that he will always be like this.

    Love the quilt. It is beautiful!

  11. Oh dear, toothache is the worst pain, look after yourself. that brings back memories for me and not the good kind. My brother was Head Prefect at school, he used to put me on detention all the time and my parents never said a word against him. When I walked the corridor to my classes he would single me out and then question me in front of my friends. I disliked high school. You, Julie are the most beautiful person with so much wonderful character, intelligence and a beautiful quilter. Those people who bully are just jealous and wanting to be the centre of attention. They are not worth thinking about.

  12. So sorry to hear about your tooth problems. Been there myself.

    Was also dismayed to hear about the bullying you endured as a youngster. Because I am short in stature, I too have been bullied my entire life with short jokes. I don't understand how some get joy from hurting others. In the USA we now have a president who is a bully. He takes relish in belittling others. He belittled his opponents (lying Ted, little Marco, crooked Hillary, etc.) and continues this behavior today. It is sad to see our youngster exposed to this type of behavior. People should remember the Golden Rule of treating others as want to be treated. Didn't mean to go on like this - guess you hit a cord with me.

    Julie you are a beautiful person with a huge heart and this comes through loud and clear on your blog.

    Take care - Terry in So. Calif.

    1. You are a no-reply blogger but I just had to say that I have been thinking the same thing, listening to the president on the news, cutting down so many people with nasty words. Does he really think that saying those things makes him look bigger? I hope parents are pointing out to their children, that is not the example they should follow.
      Oh yes, and since I was very skinny and my birthday was on Halloween, I was called "bones" and the kids blew on me as I walked down the hall. Some called me "witchy" instead.

  13. This is the best I-Spy quilt around. :) I'm sorry you went through such a difficult childhood. I can relate so closely. :/ I really don't understand why adults who are nasty go into teaching. My husband is the first (and only of three siblings) in his family to go to college at all, let alone become a professional, and he went to one of his highschool reunions solely to let his 3rd grade teacher know that he was a well-respected doctor. He stuttered terribly as a child, and this teacher laughed in his face and told him he would never be anything. A *third* grade teacher said such a thing! Just blows my mind.