Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Beauty treatment

The other day, when the newspaper guy came to collect for my paper delivery, He asked me about my front "garden" which I usually take care of from season to season.

Since I had been away for a month, the Vine-leafed Maple had shot up in front of the second floor window and the plum tree was against the house.

Also the lace-leafed maple had become so thick with branches that the plants on either side were almost completely hidden. Knowing which branches to prune out is tricky with maples.

The guy knew that I usually did the trimming but he made me an offer that would have been hard to refuse ... less than what I have paid in the past for professional pruning which results were not to my liking.

This guy brought a young man around as promised this morning at 10:00 and the three of us discussed what I wished to have improved.

I wish I had "before" pictures to show. What an improvement!

All the cuttings were carefully cleaned up and taken away in his truck. (I think last time I was cleaning up cuttings in the under-brush for weeks).

Just as he finished, it began to rain.

I would say the garden will be very happy. I had him leave the gardenia nearest the gate as it had buds getting ready to bloom, and I can trim that bush when the flowers are finished

 Meanwhile the mola got a bit more attention.

This is not coming out as I had planned. I think it is rather difficult to figure out the order of cutting and turning when the technique is completely unfamiliar as it is hard to see as far ahead as needed when planning.

Maybe I should have gotten a few books with instructions before just jumping in.

The next baby quilt is still being arranged.
The I-Spy blocks are only four inches square so I am going to need to mark and cut more ...

And then, the sashing strips ... I will need to lay it all out to adjust the balance of color so I really can't begin to sew until it is all arranged and pinned in strips.

Sometime this week I am planning to go to a quilt show. As I recall, this show does not allow pictures but it is a very good show and one of my quilt group friends has a featured part.

Here's hoping the rain does more to lower the temperature than to add to the humidity. The garden will be happy and I am hoping I will be too. At least I have something pretty to look at.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Moving along at a snail's pace ...

... Or, should I say, "a turtle's pace"?

The mola has been moving very slowly if at all ... much like plans for the next baby quilt. I pulled it off the pile because this seems to be turtle weather. For the last three weeks I have been getting wet from the outside in ... but this past week, with the high heat and humidity, I am soaking from the inside out.

There has been talk in the news about the 2020 olympics and running the marathon in this kind of heat. Yes, I would think even walking the city streets in this kind of weather would be a challenge.

Speaking of challenges ... have you even made a challenge quilt? I happened to think of this as it is the quilt I am sleeping under these warm nights.

In the fall of 2000, a quilting/scouting friend, Tina Urata, returned to Tokyo on a short visit. She brought five fat quarters tied with a ribbon for each member of our quilt group. We decided to make something using those fabrics by adding one fabric of our own. This is the plan I came up with and it was finished in early September 2001.

This spent many years along the back of my sofa, so is a bit faded now by the sun ... at least the dark blue star fabric.

The backing is all made of tenugui with floral prints. This morning, when she sun began to lighten the sleeping area, I pulled the Mt. Fuji section over my eyes for a bit more sleep. Ah, rest in the shade of Mt. Fuji in my own greenhouse.

Today the quilt went into the wash and will be all fresh for tonight's rest. With this heat it took just an hour to dry (maybe less) draped double over the laundry bar.

I think I hear a turtle calling ... or is that just the drip drip of sweat from my brow?

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Time for a change ...

OK, I have fed hundreds of mosquitoes and my glasses are wet on the inside from sweat and wet on the outside from rain. My body is rusting and my brain is getting green with mold and mildew.

It is a good thing the solar eclipse is not happening in this neck of the woods, because there would be a lot of disappointed people.

The baby quilt is all done and ready to hand to it's new owner tomorrow.

My "Quilt Diary" that began with a paper notebook, where I pasted photos of quilts as they were finished ... along with size and comments about the process and date maybe started and finished, is falling behind.
In the old days, the pictures were taken on film and the rolls sent to a shop that developed the film and printed the pictures out. Those, I trimmed and pasted in my notebook. Then, I used to have a photo printer. I could connect my camera with a cord, put the desired photo on the display, and push the button and the picture would be printed in a few quick moves. Now that printer is dead and I am falling farther and farther behind in recording my finishes.
There is a printer at the "convenience" store and I think there might be even a button to push for directions in English but the language is really not english but computerese.
I am going to have some catching up to do because some pictures are not on my camera but on my cell phone.

This quilt was a simple pattern I have used before but there were quite a few snags along the way. First the red fabric I had used on the K and behind the Q turned out to be a very bad running dye. I decided to replace those two parts which meant some un-sewing and re-sewing. Then, when I finished quilting the blocks, I got out water and a paintbrush to remove the purple marking lines. Oops ... the pen I had used was not the water-removable ink. It did run a bit and I added more and more water ... now bleeding purple onto the backing. Finally I mixed liquid soap with the water and brushed on more to both the front and the back. After letting it set overnight, I washed the whole quilt in cold water with several color-catchers, and hung it over the bathroom bar to dry. Whew! Finally it is suitable for gifting and my part of the drama is over.
The offending red fabric has been banned for life and the purple pen has been banned from the marking tools box. Lessons duly noted.

If someone has a bit of excess sun, I might find a way to trade it for lots of excess rain. ENOUGH already!

Friday, August 11, 2017

Return to Tokyo

After such wonderful and busy days with family, it was finally time to return to hot and humid Tokyo.

What a surprise to be met at the airport as I exited security, by my daughter Norie and all the rest ... well the bird and fish stayed home but Leia and Nikko  and my car with Hiro driving were there to take me home.

I got my dog-hair fix in the first few moments before my suitcases were even loaded in the van. Then Nikko, who usually likes to look out the window on trips, lay on the floor between seats and went to sleep.

So ... back home to a month's worth of dust ... dog-hair ... and destruction. While I was away, the plan was for Nikko to stay in the empty apartment on the second floor (with nothing of mine to be chewed up)

Well, the cooler was not working and to make her life more comfortable,  she was moved back to the house. Usually when I am out, I block off the stairs to my sleeping area and the living room Where there are plenty of things that smell like me ... Oh, there were plenty of things to destroy for a dog who has nothing else to do for a month ... how long does it take to break through a barrier or open a door? Not as long an one might expect.

Even while in the apartment, she managed to climb up and get the bird's favorite treat and eat it ... also opened the bag of dog food and gobbled up a weeks worth of food. Several throw-rugs bit the dust and there are still things I am looking for, not knowing if they exist any longer.

The fridge needed to be re-supplied and I noticed that the magnolia (picture above) finally had flowers. Since the buds were trimmed off in the winter, the new buds were not ready to open when spring arrived and the leaves were yet to form. The poor flowers are hiding and not as easy to enjoy.

Next thing to notice, the weeds in the park had taken over. Under all these weeds is golf-course-style grass.

Well, slowly ... one day at a time ... I have been pulling weeds.

The tall grassy weeds are not the only ones ...

just  what shows first.

Right next to these weeds in a fence with a beautiful garden on the other side.

In the spring the park people came and ran a weed whacker over this area. What was left was "dokudami" coming up from roots among the "Dragon's Beard".

Just before I left, I had cleared this whole area and planted more bits of this ornamental in the large bare spots.

Just clearing this small area took well over a week and hauling off many bags of weeds.

The mosquitoes among the weeds are unbelievable in numbers. (and usually they don't find me very tasty)

After getting over 40 bites on the inside of my right arm within minutes, I lit a mosquito coil and carried it with me in a ceramic basket.
Of course it has to be moved regularly up-wind from where I am working, but there is no way I can last a minute without it.

Another change was the complete removal of the three long rows of police apartments.

50 years ago this area was filled with rows and rows of police barracks. The train-line was at ground level then.

During the 70's, the train line was raised up above the roadway and apartment buildings were built.

I'm not sure of the next plan but someone says they will build new apartments in this area.

The saddest part was what happened in this area.

This space was not an apartment but contained two shelters for parking bicycles .
Along the road at the back were five big trees.

Two were cherry trees that shaded the street and brought beauty each spring. Two more were Keyaki or Zelkova ... a relative of the elm family and a beautiful tree. The fifth one was an evergreen oak.

The worst cut of all was this Zelkova which was NOT part of that housing area (which is on the other side of that wall) but shaded the houses at the end of my street, cleaned the air, and cut off not only dust but sound from the passing trains.

This tree was not removed but left as a six foot stump.

Usually people living in this area are quiet and keep their comments to themselves but everyone is shocked with the cutting of this particular tree.

I really wish they would complain to the ward office rather than tell me.

As for quilting ....
The dog runner was delivered to it's new owner and welcomed

While travelling I removed the red fabric behind the Q and the K made with the same runny red fabric. I can't remember where that fabric came from but it is now labeled as an outcast and will not make it into any more quilts.

The frog print came from JoAnn's in Portland. Earlier this week I pinned the sandwich together. It was so hot where I spread it out that there was no time for basting with sweat dripping onto my glasses. Thus ... safety pins.

This week was Vacation Bible School where I led the games. The train to get to town by 8:30 am was so crammed I couldn't find room above my feet to stand carrying game equipment. I decided to take earlier trains where I had a better chance of sitting and then used that time to work on the quilting.

Now there are only a few letter blocks left to quilt and I will quilt inside the picture blocks next... Then the border and find some green for the binding.

Today was one-one day (11) ... In Japanese Wan-wan is the word for dog talk. This day the pet store gives extra points for shopping there so I stopped on my way home for a big bag of dog food. (they also give extra points on Nya-nya (22) day too ... that is what cats say... but even if I buy food for the dog or bird, I still get the points and after a few months, those points amount to a whole big bag of dog food free!

How's that for a useless piece of information? Well, all my wisdom has been tossed out to kids this week!

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Last days in Portland

Sunday afternoon I finished up the gift runner to give to  Masa-kun who has been taking care of Nikko (and the bird and fish).

Only thing left to do was add a label.

Naomi is checking it out...
approves with a smile.

Next day we went to the rose garden at Washington Park.

Having grown up in a garden full of roses, this was a real treat.

Part of the garden is a "test garden" where new hybrids have a chance to compete with other roses.

None of my father's hybrids were here but I had a chance to see some of those in Boston and Ohio.

Talk about competing ....

Roses are pretty and colorful 

but those smiles....
         Can't beat that!

with my eldest daughter ....

and with my youngest daughter....

Many volunteers were throughout the garden,
pruning finished blooms and tending the beds.

All were friendly and enjoying their work.

Wouldn't it be nice if Tokyo's parks had teams of volunteers to care for the plants, trim the overgrowth, and pull the weeds.

In the evening, the girls worked in the kitchen on a secret surprise.

They used one of my recipes and created this
pineapple upside-down  cake.

I think it tasted just as good as any I have made ...
and believe me, I have made quite a few.


Irene has designed a doll quilt for a friend who was morning the loss of a parent.

With Kimie at the needle and Irene on the pedal, they sewed the pieces together to make  giant heart using fabrics Irene had picked out at Fabric Depot.

A quilter in the making ....?

Wednesday, the 26th, we took a trip to the Lan Su Chinese Garden, another place of beauty.

I know I have more pictures ... but let's see if I can find them....

Yes, here is one more ...

And another.

And, to finish off the visit, in the afternoon we all volunteered to work on a tree survey at Alberta Park. 
Each team was assigned a section of the park. Our task was to place each tree on a map along with details such as girth of trunk at 4 feet, height of tree and span of branches north to south and east to west. Also to give the variety of the tree. Most were large Douglas Firs but we did come across one tree that left everyone a bit puzzled, the experts going off with a sample in a plastic bag...

Our team was all family and we had tools for measuring supplied by the group.

The holiday came to an end gathering of the Portland clan. Irene must be on camera duty, but she was indeed there.
The next morning departure was at 6:15 AM.
Kimie hustled me out early and hung around until I was through the last check point.
Flight was to LA, and from there to Narita, arriving in the afternoon ... having skipped a day.
I was met by Norie at the exit and rode home in style in my own car ... driven by Hiro with Nikko in attendance.
I returned to a month's worth of dog hair, dust, and destruction. (Nikko had taken a bit of revenge on me for abandoning her). Slowly things are returning to normal.

The table runner went as a thank you to Masa-kun for taking care of everything while I was away in spite of many challenges. His sister told me he cried when he showed it to his family and was thinking rather to hang it on the wall. Today I saw his dog, Cherry, and I think this one on the runner is a bit bigger.  Many thanks to Tanya whose idea I kidnapped. Bloggers inspire for sure!
Who's idea will I snatch up next? wait and see...

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

More Portland ... Saturday and Sunday

With Zia and Ryden joining us from Friday evening to Sunday afternoon,

we had to make the most of family time.

Here I am with Zia, Ryden, and Kimie...

with Irene ...

With Kimie ...

with Ben and Paul ... How did they get so BIG???

An ending to the day on the steps enjoying fireworks and sparklers.

Our last visit for a while...

Spending the morning in the park.

We're going to miss this guy .....

A quick shot of the whole gang

and off they went with Ryden to the car 
wanting to make the most of the last moments.

Even though it was short, it was so much fun to have time together. It was a long drive for Zia and we missed Ken a lot. Today is his birthday and I hope he will be off fire duty long enough to enjoy it.