Tuesday, December 18, 2018

One month gone!

Where has time gone?
There was lots of practice for music events. Our "Choir Sunday"(where the choir presents music in place of the regular sermon for two services) was followed a week later with a "Charity Concert" where both our choir and some small group pieces were part of the program.

Tossed in between was school, Scouts, and assorted meetings, snatching up bits of travel time and participation.

Finally this week I was able to finish off the last of the big-stitch quilting on all 80 blocks, and quilt one border. Getting those stitches relatively even was a challenge and some of the blocks seemed to be like stitching through canvass. Many were stab-stitched and my fingers have never been so sore.

Now I am chugging along on the border and hoping to get this out of the way and into the mail.

My newest granddaughter, Phoebe Mae, arrived on December first and her baby quilt is still sitting in a long list of work needing to be done. I am hoping to find a bit of time to do prep-work that can be carried along. 
Meanwhile the whole house is the messiest it has ever been. Just about the time I get one part organized, it gets all stirred up while looking for something I had right in front of me the day before.
No Christmas decorations this year .. no place to put them ... but I will have to clear a space to greet the cookie fairy who will come and do her magic on Friday night and Saturday morning. The end of the year will see church events filling plenty of time Sunday choir, Onigiri delivery on Monday morning and choir participation in two Christmas eve services, then another service on Christmas followed by a lunch. At least school for me is out for the rest of the year. Most of the leaves in my garden have been swept from the street and it is too cold to be pulling weeds... so, quilting and cleaning will finish up my year. Will Kai's Big-boy quilt be added to my year's total? Only time will tell...

Thursday, November 29, 2018


Finally, a bit of fall color!

This little Japanese maple was rescued from a friend who had to move to an apartment with no outside space to keep it.

While neighborhood trees have been dropping dried green and brown leaves, this tree has been patiently waiting for a hint of fall.
This week it's waiting time was over.

The lace-leaf maple took a clue and has changed colors too.

A gardner stopped by and trimmed the vine-leaf maple, third in the row, and though there are few leaves left, it decided to add a bit of color to the equation.

The enkianthus in the shade of the plum tree has added some color too

Though fall has finally arrived, this little potted Hosta that had already begun to lose leaves for fall, has tossed up a flower bud. I hope I will get to see it bloom before winter arrives.

None of my hostas bloomed during the hot summer so this will be a treat if it lasts long enough to open.

With much cooler days, it has been nice to sit under the hoop containing the big-boy quilt.
Today the in-the-ditch quilting is done in all the 80 blocks and I will get to begin the sashiko big-stitching.

Wednesday I went shopping for more of the black and white thread. Hopefully I have enough because I cleaned out those two drawers of thread at my little friendly shop.

Each day, Nikko and I walk down to the parking area and I run my hands over all four tires of my van. So far, I have found no screws, but If I do, I will call the police while the evidence is there. Hopefully that will not happen. Our church prayer-chain is blasting the unknown guy with prayers for peace.

Sunday will be our "Choir-Sunday" where we will give music in place of a sermon at two services. It has been fun preparing throughout the fall months. Last dress rehearsal was last night and even though I was the only tenor to make it, I felt confident with holding my part, so I am looking forward to the real thing.

Thursday, November 22, 2018


Well, maybe ....

This morning's sweeping gleaned a few red leaves,
but that doesn't mean the whole tree got the message.

One colorful persimmon leaf from the neighbor's tree, and a few red bits from my vine-leafed maple...

The lace-leaf maple in the top left corner has a wee bit of pink tint in the top leaves, but hardly the showcase of former years.

The corner plum has contributed a few yellow leaves and the neighbor-to-the-south's Japanese maple is only dropping shrivelled brown leaves.

At least the sauna weather has been replaced by cooler days and cold nights.

Thanksgiving brought talks by facetime or phone with all my darling kids and grandkids. Norie and I had a nice lunch together to celebrate the day. Then we made a trip to the ward-office to gather up a few of the papers needed to claim what small social security payments might be available.

The week has been spent trying to solve the problem of someone putting screws into my back tires on my van. I at first thought it might have been an accident of driving over a nail. Then, on Saturday, at a scouting event, my tire went flat for a second time. My Scouting friends leapt to my aid and repaired my tire, and I was surprised to see that the object they removed was not a tack or nail, but a hardboard construction screw ... the kind put into walls with a power tool.

When I returned home and told my daughter, I learned that that was the same thing that had happened to the other back tire a few weeks before. The screws were both stuck in the center of the back tire, pushing in as the car drove along. I had been having some problems with the car being damaged while parked in the lot, and began to think about my former parking space.

That lot was owned by the owner of a construction company. At one point, they had called the police saying I had damaged their fence. Well, it was a very battered fence and none of the damage lined up with anything on my car, though I had a scrape on the bumper from a time at camp when the car slid on snow up against the curb. For that, I had statements from the two Scouters that pushed my car back on the road. The insurance company stepped in and the construction guy gave up ... but then the car was keyed. Pee and poop was put on my doors, and the fee was raised so we looked for a new spot a bit farther from home but cheaper.
It has been probably 8 years at our "new" spot with no problems. Then, the lot across the street from the parking lot gate became a construction site. Ever since that work began, there have been small issues of keying the doors, breaking the mirror cover, paint sanded off the fender, and now the second flat tire.

I talked to the police. They said they would check on patrol. Yeah, once a day check ....
Norie called the parking garage. No cameras ... too expensive, and no open spaces to move to....
The insurance company (a new one) can't do anything without increasing my insurance to above the price of the tires....
I wonder is the former guy has discovered my car ... not hard to identify, as it is a camping van, and within sight of the construction across the street. The workers do not seem to come to work by car, so may be local or even part of the former problem. Meanwhile, I am looking for a place to park until the problem is over. I talked with other drivers in my area and they have had no problems. I talked with the owner of the lot where the construction is being done, and told him what was going on.  I really don't need a problem to interfere with my sleep at night, so hopefully I will find a solution.

Meanwhile, the blocks on the big quilt are almost finished with the in-the-ditch quilting.

Choir practice for our "Choir Sunday" presentation is winding down with two more big practices left before our delivery. (And a big beautiful electric keyboard arrived from Ken for my birthday so I can check my pitch in the home practice.)

School goes on. Scouting goes on. And I am giving great thanks for my wonderful family and friends. 

Saturday, November 17, 2018

The test piece is begun

Today I finished in-the-ditch quilting around all the blocks. This is the single quilt I intend to give to our Pastor, and I thought I would try big-stitch quilting in the blocks ... black on white and white on black.

I had intended to quilt within the curved center too, but looking at these results, I think this might be enough. I rather like the puffiness of those curved pieces.

I am using sashiko thread and anything larger than that half square would have been even more difficult with the number of times that thread has to be pulled along. I rather think I could have done regular quilting in all four blocks in the time it takes to do just one, even if the stitches are larger.

I will be interested in any comments or advice. This is my first attempt of big-stitch quilting.

Now I see this post was never published.
I have begun quilting in the ditch on the second quilt ...
this time a bigger one for my #3 Grandson. 
If he approves, I will quilt it the same way.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

It's in the hoop!

After making yesterday's post, I decided to just get on with the next thing on the list.

I took the big quilt to the empty apartment and tried laying it out on the floor.

Nope! Not enough room to spread it out. Well, then I decided to try the loft. First I had to wrestle down the two heavy futons. Then I spread the quilt out face-down on the floor. It just fit with no extra space to walk, but I crawled over it and made sure all the seams were lying flat.

Then, I went back to my closet and pulled out the rolls of thinsulate. There was plenty left on the #60 which I had used on the test quilt. My grandson is living in Colorado, where they already have snow. so I think the #80 might be more useful ... though, in the end I don't know if this quilt will serve as a warm cover or a top spread.

Well, there was surely not enough batting left on the #80 roll, so I would need more anyway. The last batting rolls were bought at Yuzawaya and there are no branches in my area. The last one I used in Shinjuku closed over a year ago. I did not want to set out without knowing whether or not my goal would be met, so I pushed my "phone-phobia" aside, and made a call to the main store in Kamata.
Actually, I had to call a number of times to get through. Then, after apologising for my poor Japanese, I asked if they had thinsulate #80, and that I wanted to buy a whole roll. Yes, they did, and they would hold it with my name on it for pick-up in the afternoon.

I quickly went back to the loft and folded up the finished top ... trying not to mess up the seam allowances. Then loaded that and the backing, my basting thread, sewing kit, big scissors, and just in case, my box of basting pins.

The finished quilt went neatly into another bag, along with a note, and after stuffing Nikko's kong with multiple treats, and making sure I had enough yen to cover trains and batting, I set off with my purse on one shoulder, the big bag on the other shoulder, and the finished quilt on my arm... and the train route notes in hand.

No matter how many times one goes to the same station, those areas are always changing. It was less than a year since I had been there with my friend, Cynthia, at wabisabiquilts.blogspot.jp, and it was still a struggle to find the right building. I think I ended up asking at least three different people.

When I finally found the right place. there was a long line at the cutting counter and only two people doing the cutting. I finally stepped up, because I could see the roll of batting standing in the corner behind one of the women, and asked if that was the thinsulate saved for me. Whew, after checking my name on the note, it was passed over and I could move to the checkout on the first floor.

The guy tying up the bolt for carrying was frustrated with the size and the fact it couldn't be folded, but I was happy to tuck it under my spare arm and pay the reduced price using my members card.
By 2:00pm I was at the church. I passed the bag containing the finished quilt to the office secretary, and asked if it would be OK to use the floor of the fellowship hall to do the basting.

I am so happy it worked out! by the time my meeting was beginning at 6:30, I was just putting in the last of the basting stitches. The pins were not needed and the basting thread still lasted. Both the Pastor and his wife came down while I was working to thank me for the finished quilt. I was happy those left-over blocks had made a hit ... and of course they both had noticed the print in Afrikaans donated by my friend, Ester.

In all, though lugging all that stuff two ways on the sardine can trains, it was well worth the effort. I can do my sitting at home on the sofa ... much more comfortable than a train seat should one be offered ... And Tuesday was the day of the super-aggressive shovers needing seats at any cost ...

The in-the-ditch quilting is well on the way, and I await feedback from Kai as to the big-stitch results.
At least I have something to do while at home. Maybe time to start prepping pieces for the new grandchild on the way....

Monday, November 12, 2018

The test is over

Sunday evening I finished turning the binding on the single black and white quilt. I was hoping for a bit of sunshine for taking a picture, as I plan to give this to my friend and pastor this evening.
Alas, Monday was on and off rain, and rain is predicted for today too. I decided to take quilt and camera to the park while on Nikko's morning walk and see if I could get at least one picture before the rain begins again.

This was my first test of sashiko "big stitch" on a quilt. The batting is #60 thinsulate but it looks as puffy as the #80. I decided to go with puffy rather than quilt inside the larger areas. Thinsulate is good in that it will not shift, even when loosely quilted and with much use.  The border is just quilted in diagonal rows on the white. All the blocks are quilted in the ditch first. The rather busy prints didn't show the big stitches so much but I think I am satisfied with the all-over effect.

Now, the next task will be to lay out Kai's big-boy quilt and get it basted so I can begin quilting that.
It is 8 blocks by 10 blocks with a larger wave print in the border. Getting the seam allowances to lie in the right direction and line up the backing in a small space is going to be the first challenge. If only I didn't have to travel to church in such a crowded train, I could take it there and use the floor in the fellowship hall... since I have to go there anyway tonight.

Anyway, time to stop dithering and come up with a plan... At least the test worked out and I found a purpose for the extra blocks caused by my poor math.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

A new challenge

A while ago, my good quilting friend, Kuraishi-sensei, Told me she would be holding a quilt show at a garden gallery in the town of Ichikawa, where she lives.

She said the gallery was large and asked if she could hang my "Lucy Boston" quilts there.

I quickly added a hanging sleeve and sent the quilts off to her. Her next request was for me to give a gallery talk.  Hmmmm. I'm not very fond of talking in front of groups, but I agreed to take on the challenge.

This past weekend, Friday and Saturday afternoons, I went to this lovely place. I was joined by lovely people, and the talk was far from scary. After all, quilters are a class above.

This is a view from the lobby with friends arriving.

Isn't that a beautiful garden!

Though early Saturday morning I was awakened by the sound of rain, (and a scout hike had been cancelled because of a forecast of rain), by the time I arrived around lunch time, the sun was out and the day was not too hot or humid.

The trees are not yet in autumn color, but I think with a year of strange weather, they are a bit confused. Maple leaves are dropping without bothering to turn color.

My talk was about my quilting history...

How I first met up with the Lucy Boston "Patchwork of Crosses" at the Festival UK '98
while piping to attract customers, and sketched notes on the pattern, wanting to try it out.

At Saturday's show, I was honored to meet the quilt reporter who had gone to the UK, and met with Lucy Boston in her Manor house, and arranged for the quilts in that show.

I talked about my first meetings of Lucy Boston through her children's books, as a children's librarian. Then details I had learned since about her life.

I could talk about the pattern and the way hexagons can be fussy-cut without having to worry about the grain of the fabric... and the variety that can be used when cutting stripes. I had some left-over blocks I could pass around for them to see and I could show the tenugui on the back of the small quilt.

On Saturday, I was joined by my daughter, Norie, and Leia, plus Leia's other grandmother and a lovely neighbor.

We are standing next to a display of some vintage quilts that Kuraishi-sensei had brought back from her time in the states.

I am wearing a coat I had made at one of my friend's classes.
It is reversible black with a brown owl on the inside and Ainu pattern on the brown side.

With family in front of the vintage quilts....

Here with Kurishi-sensei, who also put my talk into more understandable Japanese...
standing to the right, and two of her friends.

and here I am with my little cameraman, standing outside the garden gates.

It was quite a busy week, and finished off with visitors to our church ... the participants of Asian Rural Institute, who spent the weekend and shared their life of training with us on Sunday, ending in a pot-luck lunch.

The evening held a birthday party at a charming Indian restaurant in my neighborhood with my wonderful SIL and a "Son on loan" added to the family.

Monday am: rolled around as usual with onigiri delivery and school. A lovely orange canary is now getting used to the old cage in the window. 

And, as of today, the super busy month of October has reached an end ... and I am now celebrating my 18th birthday. Going back to my childhood from 50, this time I'm going to get it right!
The first of the black and white quilts is in the hoop and testing the pattern for quilting. The November calendar page is beginning to fill up ... but not so crazy as October, so the quilt may make progress. (and I might have something to show).

Monday, October 22, 2018

One busy week over ...

And another one begun....

Saturday, while on our choir retreat, the banner got it's hanging sleeves.

Monday morning, I got one picture in the sunny park before leaving for school.

Now, my cameras are all in retirement mode.
The Cannon Power shot opens up but then says "lens error - restart camera" .

The Nikon coolpix does nothing when I press the "on" button ... even after re-charging the battery.

The Cannon IXY shows nothing on the screen when I turn it on.

Well, the camera on my cell phone works. I can send a picture to my computer, but can't find it when it gets there.

So, at school yesterday, I got some help from the teacher I work with. I sent her the picture from my cell phone, and she sent it to my e-mail address. Finally, I was able to locate it for a post. It does seem like a long way around, just to get a picture I can use. Is there a way of printing pictures from an I-Phone? Technology is slowly driving me nuts! Just about the time I get things figured out, it all changes.

Saturday morning, Mt Fuji was just peeking out among the clouds ...
which soon took over and turned into rain ...

But Sunday morning, a new fresh cap of snow, made Fuji a real eye-catcher.
After the sauna-summer, the cool air was quite refreshing.
The cooler air has come to Tokyo too. In fact, today is a down-jacket day. I wonder if we are jumping from summer right into winter .
The dogwood trees have turned color, but to dark red with no bright colors. The maples are dropping a few brown leaves, but those left on the tree are still quite green.

Other than bright orange persimmons on the local trees, one would hardly know that October is almost over.

This will be a big weekend for me.

I am preparing for a gallery talk to give on Friday and Saturday at my friend, Kuraishi-sensei's quilt show.

With the banner out of the way, I need to get back to those two black and white quilts. The big one for Kai needs to be laid out with batting and backing and basted. That will certainly not end up as take-along work.
The single one still needs a border to be measured and cut and sewed in place. (Maybe today???)

Then here is a new baby coming in December needing a quilt.  I have a number of ideas in my head but not much started.

Happily, Nikko had the attention Of Norie and Leia during my weekend away. I returned to a plentiful covering of her hair covering the carpet and stairs and drifting across the wood flooring and wafting into the corners. I guess that is where I will begin my day.

Oh, the last picture ... After the weekend before, leading environmental studies and a brotherhood walk through the woods, I was carrying a big stick and batting down webs covering the trail ...though I did bring a few home in my hair. It was nice in Gotemba to view the work of these spiders with the sun coming through and being able to leave them doing their job of catching mosquitoes and other annoying bugs. I'm all for work that STAYS done!

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Grabbing bits of time

What a week!
and it isn't over yet!

Monday, between early rise for rice delivery and school, I had to visit an unknown health center in Minato-ku to get an x-ray (to prove to the school that I don't have TB).
That meant riding the packed train during rush-hour ... not the best way to start the day!
Along the way afterwards to school, I stopped at the home of a friend who had some blue and white yukata fabric needing a new home.

Well, how could I turn down that opportunity.

Had I known the size and weight of the bag she had packed for me, I would have taken a roller-bag!
Travel for me, to school and home, went suddenly to a snail's pace (but worth the effort I am sure.)

Tuesday morning I had to run out early again for an interview/talk about the changes that have taken place in Tokyo and Japan since the earlier olympics.
All that was filmed for a movie. I was so fortunate the church let us use one of the small meeting rooms in the newly renovated fellowship hall.

I often notice the changes taking place from those early days ... things that never seem to change, and things you thought never would... The gentleman doing the project was warm and friendly and fun to talk to, and certainly opened my mind to even more stories of my time here.

My take-along work stayed in my bag, and when I returned home in the afternoon, I basted the letters on to the banner before setting out to an evening meeting back at the church.

Wednesday, I finished appliquéing the  letters in place ... right through the batting to the backing, so I will not need to quilt around them. Needing some background quilting, I just added rays to the borders.
I had bought some buttons for the eyes that seemed just perfect. Black, round with a low rise ... but, now they just seem too large when put in place, so I hope I can find something similar but smaller. The shop had some that were very round and intended to be used for eyes, but I think I will have to take the banner there and see how they look before spending any more money.

The binding will be next, then the hanging sleeve at top and bottom. There is still a little time left ... but ... teacher/boss passed me her work coveralls on Monday with a big hole needing mending. This is the third time to repair that same suit, and I tease her that she seems to be running through barbed-wire when I'm not there.  Then, my fellow choir member passed me his winter pajamas that need some elastic.
Meanwhile, tomorrow I leave for the Choir retreat in Gotemba. There will be lots of practice on pieces for "Choir Sunday" and some special music group. The site is the YMCA, and has a lovely view of Mt Fuji ... which I have been told has a cap of snow already. (after such a hot summer, the snow comes much earlier than usual) As long as it is at the top of Fuji, and not in my garden, I can take the unusual weather.

I will take the banner to work on during down-time. Guess  will have to be careful not to spill wine on it during our evening activities. Hopefully it will be finished by the time our Stewardship campaign begins in November.

Yesterday morning, on Nikko's walk, as usual I go through the park.
I pick up the poop in a bag and fill the bag with weeds ... usually the ones that are developing flowers and will soon be spitting out seeds.

The house next to the park has a beautiful garden, so the lady is glad to see those weeds along her fence being removed, and she called to me and handed me this big bunch of "hototogisu".

This plant is named after the Japanese Little Cuckoo, small, shy, hiding in the woods. The English name is Hairy Toad Lily.

Anyway, I had to come home and find a few more vases, as this made two large flower arrangements and one vase was holding Tuesday's flowers. I have a few of these growing in my garden, but they did not do well this year because of a bug attack . I have never picked them to enjoy in my home but the vase sitting on my coffee table reminds me how much I look forward to their blooms ... and again how grateful I am for kinda and friendly neighbors.

Monday, October 15, 2018

What would you do?

This morning, when I returned home from an early walk with Nikko,
this is what I found on my front door!

It was still quite early, and not many people were out.
No one walking on my tiny back street.

Who put these here? And how can I ever thank them?
I quickly pulled out a container and arranged them  before leaving for my morning appointment.
I can only thank God for the friends I have been given,
but there is someone unknown whom I also wish I could thank.

Not knowing what else to do, 
I hung this sign on my gate.

What would anyone do?

When I step out my front door, I am stepping into a world of friends. 
I placed the flowers in my genkan, where I will be reminded each time I step out, or even walk past to the stairs or the "little room" that I must be grateful for all my friends.

My blogging friends,
new friends, old friends,
scouting friends, quilting friends, choir and church friends,
and even stealth friends, I love you all! 

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Banner time

For the past seven years, I have been making banners to hang in the church during the season of stewardship commitments.

Many of these past banners are still hanging in the halls, the stairs, and the entryway.

So .... no surprise, the time had come for me to come up with another banner for this fall.

The design was made by one of the youth at the church. The Theme is ... Serve the Lord with Gladness.

I can't say I am very excited with the design, but she has re-done it a few times and it was accepted by the committee.

I really didn't want to make an all white banner, and after giving it some thought, I went out on Monday and bought some fabric dye.

After making a test piece, and thinking about it for a day, I decided to tie-dye the background.

Not a terrific job, but better than a solid white.

Yesterday I traced the sections on to the fabric and pinned them in position.

Worrying about the pins falling out while I worked, I then basted all the bits and pieces in place.
By evening, I had sewed the face, hair, and t-shirt to the background.

Today I finished sewing down the parts.

Then I went through my stash and found a light floral print that I thought might work for the backing.

When I laid it out, I discovered that it was lined with white cotton, probably once used as a curtain.
I un-sewed the seams and plucked out the threads, and ironed the piece. Well, I then began thinking it might show through in the light areas because I was only using #40 thinsulate which I often use for table runners.

So ... I went back to the white lining and picked that apart to use instead.

Laying everything on the floor, I pin-basted the layers. Then I decided it would work better to just baste the whole banner. That way I can use a hoop ...  or not ... as I want ... and depending where I carry this for work.

Now the quilting of the figure has begun.

After this is done I may need to add some embroidery.
Last of all, I will add the message and any other embellishments.

The design changed a bit since last week when I picked up the copy. I have not yet decided the color of the letters or what I might quilt into the background.
Sunday I have a communications meeting and might get some feedback from that group.

I have so many other things on my calendar, that I am glad to get this thing moving forward,

The size, like the former banners is 28"x38" so I just might be able to carry it with me for take-along work.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Strange culture

At least three times a week, I take the train to and from Omotesando station...
For church, meetings, choir practice, and the first Saturday in the month for "Saturday Night Out"program.

The last few weeks, the B3 basement passage has been crammed with young people standing along the wall.

At times it got so tight that those trying to pass through were like fish swimming upstream. Finally, the station sent an attendant to stand toward the end of the line with a microphone, asking those young people to move over and let people pass.

This past week, a rope had been installed outside the yellow strip to keep the crowd back. You may notice that those people all have cell phones and are taking pictures.

This mother and son have jumped the rope to get a close-up picture.

Last week, I stopped and asked the guard what was going on.

Apparently, these large photos are of members of some pop group....

Hmmm, If you can't mob the real thing, large photos are the next best ????

At the end of the line ... checking  that we got the best pictures.

I Talked with the guard again yesterday and he said it is the last day.

I guess that is why the crowd is less than the last few weeks.

And, in case you are wondering,  I grabbed a picture in the very-early-morning on my way to practice for a special group singing in the first service.

Can you imagine the lure of these seven members of a group? Would you want a quick selfie standing between them? The older I get, it seems, the more out of touch I become.
Think of all the quilting I could get done  instead of hanging out in the halls of Omotesando-station!

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Where does time go?

The passing typhoon seems to have snatched up time and run off with it ... as I can't seem to find any to spare.

Last Sunday was an early start for choir practice.
I was also scheduled for a Stewardship committee meeting at the same time, but since usually I am the only tenor at practices ... with maybe one or two showing up to sing without having gone over their part, I need to know my part well so I won't be thrown off by strange notes attacking my ears.

In the end, I did not dilly-dally around afterwards, but thought I'd better get home before the rain began.  I'm glad I did.

Sleeping in the greenhouse up on the roof, the night was full of blowing and rattling sounds.
At 12:30 I got up to make the rounds and check on all the windows and plants, and though I lay back down on my futon, I could not make it back to sleep.

By 4:am, when I had to leave for onigiri delivery, the wind had let up a bit. Two doors down the street the sweet-smelling Osmonthus flowers were swimming in a puddle. These had only just opened a few days ago so had not gotten much air time.
I removed the leaves blocking the sewer lid to drain the lake but the flowers still clutter the path today.

My trip into town was about as usual. There were a few more large trucks on the road that had probably waited for the wind to die down a bit before taking to the highway, and were working their way into town. One traffic light on a long arm with a large location sign hanging below had blown to the north and was facing the sidewalk on the opposite corner.

There are many large trees along that ring-road, but other than blowing leaves, they remained in good shape. When I finally reached the avenue that runs past the church, the streets were covered in trash.
I guess that had been set out the day before for an early pick-up, and scattered all over. The tall Keyaki trees were all standing. I saw a few small potted trees had blown over, and as I neared Shibuya for delivery, there were two trees fallen across the road and the workers were already diverting the traffic and cutting up the tree. The roots were in the air and it was a good-sized tree that was across four of the six lanes. I heard there were two more trees down on another road leading into the area. There was no trouble finding takers for the rice-balls, most in their usual places.

When I returned home to get ready for school, I checked all the outdoor plants. Even those pots sitting along the top of the wall had remained in place. They seemed happy to have had some rain.

Monday was a very long day, and after a rather sleepless night, I was glad to get home, have dinner, walk Nikko, and hit the sack.

This week I completed the new blocks and finished the last four rows on the smaller quilt for the pastor.

This picture has the rows together and the inner-border added. Today I laid it out on the single bed and am thinking about how wide to make the outer border. Maybe a six-inch border will do.
I am not sure how this might be used, but it should make a light cover for summer or work on a large sofa. With six inches all around, it can be tucked in.

I have a lot of items on my list. Along with Kai's big-boy double-size quilt, I have a stewardship banner with only a few weeks time to do, a blue and white table runner for #2 daughter, a quilt for a coming grandchild, and a much overdue wrap for my #3 daughter. (last Christmas plan) Where in the world will I find the time!

After walking around fallen tree branches on our narrow street, Nikko and I finally went out with the cutters and chopped them into a trash bag ... now waiting for Saturday's collection. I don't know whose tree they came from because mine and the neighbor's maples are fine. Many long thin branches and one multiple branched one about six feet long.

For today, things are quiet. Hopefully I can get the stewardship banner drafted and find fabric to use.
I see there is some kind of a quilt show in Ikebukuro ... not far by train, but a bit costly, and that train ride is not free. Another typhoon is coming but probably we will only get the edge. My weather app on the cell phone says rain will begin soon. (Of course, that app is seldom right, as last night when I was walking home from choir in the rain, I pulled it out to check the prediction, and it said "partly cloudy") Maybe that was just a very low cloud?

Guess I'd better get busy because from Sunday the whole month gets crammed full of activities ... and I still have a weeks-worth of blogs to check on. Sorry if you feel ignored ....

Friday, September 28, 2018

Four down, two to go

Wow, where does time go?
Monday was my usual early morning onigiri run. Since it was a holiday, Autumnal Exuinox", traffic was less and the drive to pick up and deliver the onigiri went along quite quickly. The train to school was also less crowded and I got to sit the whole way ... very unusual. The week before was also a holiday, "Respect for the Aged" and I could sit on the way to school that day too. As I finished up a bit earlier than usual, I could sit on the way home too.

Wednesday I was expecting a visit from a friend, so daytime was spent trying to remove enough clutter that she would have a place to sit. Last of all, de-dog-hairing the carpet. If there was an award for shedding, Nikko would win it paws down. All the plucking of hair done in May and June is back in and falling out in big hunks. Each morning I sweep hair off the stairs as I come down, and when I go up to bed at night there is a pile in the corner of every step.

My friend had brought some black on white fabric with words printed in Afrikaans. Since I am using leftover blocks to make a quilt for our pastor who is from South Africa, It was a super bonus, and while here, we looked over the print and selected words to include in the blocks I will make.

From Wednesday evening, I began sewing the strips of yukata fabric together for the big quilt back.
Those are long seams, and by tonight I have completed sewing four strips. Two are left to go. They are not take-along work and I have to stop from time to time... take a break, and rethread my needle.

These days the weather has been crazy with hot and cold and off and on rain. One night I am waking up being too hot and the next getting up at two am and putting on a down vest. With a typhoon moving in, who knows what will be next.

Meanwhile, Since last week there has been a crashing and banging as the house next to the weed lot has been taken down. This seems to be the new normal for our neighborhood. Several weeks ago, it was the building across the street to the east. An old Japanese style house, it took about two weeks to remove the building and another two weeks to smash up and remove the foundation. Then there was the same going on to the north-west of my block. Now both of those are re-building , so lots of banging and hammering. To the direct south, four lots down, an apartment is going up so lots of sound from there ... other than the smashing, because that was an empty lot for the last ten years. Then, from last weekend, the building across the street to the south began coming down. My poor neighbors could barely get their cars out because of trucks blocking the way. Our lane is not intended for cars so going by the front of my house, only a small car with the mirrors turned in can fit.

Well, today, the final blocks of concrete were hauled off.

This is what Nikko and I found on our afternoon walk.

For some reason, they took out the fence between the plot and the tan house on the corner..
I was rather glad that this year I did not plant flowers along the fence because everything was ripped out.

I did go over and pick up some bulbs that had been pushed to the top of the soil. What was a triangle of stones is now bare soil and I'm wondering how much of the space the new building will take up. (and what weeds will be moving in now that the ground-cover is gone.

What you see behind the fence is actually two houses.

The shorter house has two dogs that bark every time Nikko and I walk down and around the corner to the park. Today, without a house in the way, they barked as we walked all the way around.

Can you see the space between those two houses? It is narrower than the length between my thumb and pinky...
about six to six and a half inches. I can't imagine living that close to those yappy dogs.

Usually, the space between houses is around a meter.
Our garden space is 57 inches wide, with a path to the gate, but the neighbor's house is only a foot or so from the other side of the wall. Only wide enough for cats to pass through.

The neighbor to the north has a large garden so his house is much farther away.

These are the two houses built across the lane from our house.
The space between them is less than 20 inches.

When our house was built, there was a rule about the percentage of house space one could have according to the total lot. That is why we have a tiny garden.

These days, if the rules exist, they are nor being followed.
When our house was being built, the neighbor to the north came during the night and measured everything, then objected to my third floor room, allowing us to only have one meter at the top of the stairs. The rest became a deck, and was later turned into a greenhouse. The problem is, because it was to be a covered room, the roof is flat and the water collects and sets and works its way into the walls, rotting them out.

New putty was put in this summer and so far no leaking, but the roof is metal and gets hot in summer and cold in winter and that may be why the putty is short-lived. Since there is a large hole in the floor, I can remove the temporary step and check after the rain for leaks.

Rain is predicted for the next two days so maybe I can get the last two strips sewed together ... and maybe have time to assemble the new blocks and arrange those final rows. It is probably also time to hunt up my down comforter so I don't have to go looking for warmer clothing in the middle of the night. I don't think it is time to dig out my sleeping bag as yet.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Finally moving forward

I have been holding off on laying out the black and white quilt for planning the backing because the only space large enough is the second floor apartment, and with it closed up in the heat with the electricity turned off, it didn't seem like the best option.

Well, my daughter has offered that space for a friend to use during a stay in Tokyo, and I needed to get a few things done to make it liveable.  Today I took out two futons and hung them outside to air. Then I went to do some cleaning, starting with washing the floor in the loft, then the main room floor, windowsills, hall etc. I opened all the windows. Not sure the place was cooled off any but there was a slight breeze....    and as long as I was running up and down anyway, I decided to take the quilt up and lay it out and see what I could come up with for the backing.

I really like using tenugui for quilt backs and I had found these partial rolls at the Salvation Army store. They aren't black and white but indigo-dyed. If they were made into a yukata, the prints could be matched up into a picture of a dragon in the clouds. Since these are just random cuts, I needed to lay them out and come up with a plan. I didn't really want to chop up those strips any more than necessary other than to adjust the length. The center strips are from a roll representing a sumo wrestler. (the kanji is his name).

If I look at the weather report for the rest of the week and into next week, it seems a week of rain is predicted. Of course, my weather app on my cell phone is wrong more than 50% of the time. I should be glad for this day of sun ... and take every advantage I can. I can stay inside and do the sewing when the rain comes.

For now, I will hunt up bedding, electric cords, dishes and utensils, and whatever might be needed for a few weeks stay. I can't say life is dull!

Friday, September 14, 2018

Is it really autumn?

Higanbana! In the continuous heat and humidity of Tokyo, how did they know that autumn is just around the corner?

Higanbana - Lycoris radiata - is a member of the amaryllis family, and often known as spider lily.

Higan is the word for the autumnal equinox in Japan, which is a national holiday.

When I returned from our former house in Suginami, I brought with me from that large garden, a number of bulbs with little room for planting them all. I took the leftover bulbs and planted them around the neighborhood, these are some  that have thrived and multiplied over the years. (in the raised bed of an apartment building two houses away.)

I also planted some in a neighbor's weed garden. It is an area between their house and the street surrounded by a low cement wall about one foot high and maybe a yard wide, with a fence on the house side. Mostly what grows there is weeds and maybe one or two small bushes randomly placed.
As far as I can tell, those neighbors do not pay much attention to that plot, maybe pulling out the weeds one day a year when they get too tall. Therefore, I was rather surprised that when the spider lily bulbs I had planted sprang up beautifully at the back corner of the plot, they were all pulled out within a few days from the time they opened.

Since then, I have seen other bulbs in the park being pulled out and learned some new things about that plant. Often, in Japan, that lovely flower is called "flower of the dead". When it blooms in autumn like violently shed blood, rising straight out of the ground, it is time to get serious about ghosts that haunt winter nights.

Higan translates to "other shore" ... land of the dead. It is the day to visit family graves and pray for the well-being of departed souls ... and take care of unruly, potentially vengeful souls of ancestors.
I am not so sure about how Japanese think of ghosts, but I remember my neighbor going out in winter and cutting all the swaying branches off a weeping willow across the street. When I asked her why, she said it looked like an obake or ghost. I also remember her pulling out wisteria vines, saying if they are planted in your garden they will strangle the owner to death.

The higan holiday is still 8 days away.

This pale pink version has also sprung up on the east side of my house.

Others along the west side have yet to break the soil, but they do get less sun there.

Perhaps, like the gardenias, they burst into bloom when the length of dark and light become close to the same.

The leaves will not appear until much later after the blossoms are finished.
The bulbs are poisonous and are thought to keep hole-digging vermin like moles and mice at bay.

Now, as I contemplate these traditions, I wonder about the arrival of halloween. Hardly even heard off 55 years ago, it has now been so embraced by communities, that the shops began to display halloween decorations out in front on the last day of august. There are even costumes you can buy for your dog! There is a grand parade through the streets in front of my church. And young people in Japan really seem to like costumes and dressing up. I wonder how my older neighbors feel about embracing witches and ghosts and skeletons ... and things that go bump in the night.

Hopefully, the rain falling now will bring some much needed cooler weather and not just more humidity, and I can get back to my quilting projects ... maybe something to show other than what nature has produced.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Not much to report

One of the first quilts I made after starting my paper quilt diary back in the 1980s, was this cathedral window I entitled, "Windows of Time" because it was made to save some of the fabrics in a quilt my great-grandmother made for me that had completely fallen apart.

I chose this technique because it would not put stress on those vintage fabrics. 1,344 2.5" folded blocks.

It lived on a large bed until we moved back to a house too small for a big bed, and was passed to my second daughter in August, 2007.
even without any batting, it is very heavy.

This year, along with friends, I am trying to meet another cathedral-window challenge. As it is just too awfully hot to work on the Black and white quilt. I pulled out some donated muslin that is a bit heavy and I had no plans to use in a quilt.

 I haven't decided where I am going with this project, but just getting this far, it is hard to look back at that first quilt and understand how I managed to get that far.

Maybe in those days I was less of a perfectionist.

Nikko's walks are getting shorter and shorter.
When she first came home with the kids, I would take her to the same spot each day, walk her back and forth, and back and forth, saying, "Hurry-up". After she took care of business, she got the fun part of the "walk" as a reward.
These days, we have returned to that plan, only in a different place, and I don't even have to tell her to hurry-up. A short trip to the corner and back and I am dripping wet ... without any rain. The typhoon did little damage but the humidity it left behind still hangs in the air. The wind today is not cool but more like a blast furnace. At least I don't have to go out and water the plants....

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

On the fence

A quick trip to the park for a photo shoot... I like the look and how the border works ... but ...

The total size is now 85" x 100.5" or 255cm. x 216cm. According to what I read on line, that is more the size for a double bed.

The blocks I have left could now be assembled into 6 x 8 blocks plus a border or 48" x 64" plus a border, which, depending on the width of the border, make it more of a single size. I also have a bit smaller version of the wave print I could use.

Anyway, progress will be on hold until I get feedback from grandson#3.

A spectacular thunder and lightning show over our area last night, only added to the humidity with no let-up on the heat. This photo shoot was like a trip to the shower with clothes on. According to weather reports, we will be getting another storm tonight.

And, happy to say, the crumb quilt made it safely to Oregon in record time...

And is now hugging my daughter, Kimie.

Sure do wish I could hug her in person, but this is the next best.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Making use of the typhoon

The inner border has been added to the black and white quilt.

I am now rather wishing I had mitered the corners, but by the time I thought of it, I would have had to do a lot of re-cutting and re-sewing. So, I will just carry on with the plan.

Since Kai ... or his name "Kaiea", means rising wave both in Hawaiian and Japanese, I picked our this wave fabric for the border.

The design is quite bold and the shade of white a bit bright, so I took it to an empty apartment to lay it out and decide if it might work.

Since I used a variety of black and white prints, I think there are enough of this tone that it will work.

I really wanted to see before I started cutting and sewing.

I don't think there is enough of this fabric to make mitered corners.
Maybe I will make the waves go around in a circle so the quilt will have no particular top edge.

This room is a bit small to get a good picture. These shots were taken from the ladder leading to the loft.

In the first picture, one side is in the shadow, but if I pull it over to the wall, the edge will be under the loft, so this is about the best I could do.

Actually, the purpose was just to audition the wave print and for that, it worked.
I may take it back up to lay out once I have the border strips cut.

Now that it is this big, it no longer serves as take-along work.

This is really the last week with indoor time, as Sunday everything starts up with schedules being filled.
The "crumb-quilt" is on its way to Oregon ... where it will be cool enough to be used.

On my list coming up, besides a new Stewardship banner, is a baby quilt for a new granddaughter expected the end of this year. Maybe I need another typhoon to keep me inside ... though the additional humidity is not welcome as long as the heat remains. What might pass for sun tan is actually rust.

Friday, August 17, 2018

The morning walk

Every morning, Nikko and I walk a loop around the neighborhood and back through the park.

There are actually two parks along our route, about a block apart.

In the winter, from time to time, I might see men sitting on one of the round concrete stools, smoking or having a drink (butts and bottles tossed in the bushes.)

BUT, during the summer, this place might be named "Mosquito Park". The only people I see here are the guy who comes to clean the men's toilet. (to the left side of the white building). and two guys who come to sweep leaves twice a week for about half an hour.  Also, about twice a year, the weed-whackers who chop the weeds and trim the bushes.

When this park was built, the cement area with the statue was a shallow pond. The water was pumped from a place at the top of a small hill behind the toilet building, ran down a lined path, and into the pond. There is a grid at the base of the drinking fountain where the water drained for re-cycling.

The idea may not have been cleared with the neighborhood, because the pond was soon drained and the water turned off. Well, actually, the water is still there under the pond and providing breeding grounds for the billions of mosquitoes. Once summer rolls around, a short walk through the park will bring as many as 40 bites on each arm ... and that is while waving the critters off your face and neck.

Last year at the end of July, when I returned from my trip to the states, this area of grass was knee-high in weeds. They were all full of seeds, and the whackers came through the following week.

Now, on the morning walk, I carry a small bag, and after picking up Nikko's poop, I then fill the bag with weeds. I had been working at an area at the back entrance of the park where they had planted "dragon's beard", pulling weeds that had taken over that area and sending runners into the beautiful neighbor's garden.

The grass is like a golf course grass that sends out runners, so as the cut grass began to grow right back, I began pulling it out. The area in the picture, I began weeding at the end of last summer. It is very easy to spot a weed coming up in the area because it is a different color and shape. As I pass through I may just pull a few here and there and because they are young, they come right out easily.

This was the area of the tallest thickest weeds.
I started here the end of June and there was hardly any grass at all. Now the grass is sending runners into all this area and it is turning green again. Still a few weeds coming up but easy to keep under control because I pull them before the seeds form.

There are many bulbs here which will produce flowers in the spring and then die back.

I don't know what those bulbs are but they don't seem to compete with the grass.

This area I started on last winter.

The light colored plants at the top left come from runners of the bushes. They get cut twice a year by the weed-whackers.

A few light-colored spikes are new weeds coming up. Easy to spot.
These I pull every other day or so as I walk by. It is hard to believe that a year ago one couldn't even see this lush grass for the weeds.

The grass creeps between the stepping stones too and I think that might have been the original plan as the stones are places with gaps.

Some of the areas are bald, as the sweepers remove the dirt from the runners and the grass that is left has been taken over by weeds.

This space is at the back of the park is taken over by weeds that were whacked off about three weeks ago. The weeds are even taking over the hedges.

This is the little hill where the water used to come down ... water-path on the left.

In the spring, I dug out bags full of dandelions but this grass spreads with runners and is quite hard to pull.

I wonder If the neighborhood really cares about its parks. Other than the paid sweepers and cleaners, the only people I see here are a few people cutting through t the back road, and truck and taxi drivers parking in front to use the men's toilet. I have never seen anyone use the women's side, but since it is a "squatsie" would be for emergencies only.

I often wonder how it would be to have some kind of a park day several times a month, where people could come out and meet and talk and pull the weeds and care for the park.

Now Nikko is saying ....

"Mom, the bag is full. The mosquito-coil is running out.

Time to finish our walk so I can have my breakfast".

Actually, Nikko is very patient. The old guy who cleans the men's toilet stops to give her some quality petting.  Yesterday a young couple came through with a darling Australian Shepherd and they had a greeting. Once one of the sweeper guys asked if it was OK to take my picture with Nikko. Often kids pass by with their mothers on the way to the pre-school just a few meters beyond the park. Some of them greet Nikko by name.
 Today, a nice breeze made the outing a bit less hot.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Spinning my wheels.

If it weren't for my quilting and piecing, this day would have been a total waste.

Since the day was relatively free, I decided I would go into town to see if I could get my camera fixed.  I packed up some stitching to do on the train, put the camera ... still reading "Lens Error" into my bag, and set off for town.
So far, so good.

I decided as long as I was going that far, I might as well make a stop at Nippori "Fabric Town", as I needed to replace my clover disc thread-cutter which had broken, and wanted to check out a smaller wave print for the black and white quilt border.

Like Old Mother Hubbard, when I got to the cupboard ... it was bare. Well, actually, the whole area was shut down for "Obon". Saturday was the official day off but some places closed longer. Usually there is a notice posted out front like our local barber shop as to which days will be closed. There were no signs so no idea how long they will be closed. Very few shops were open ... the leather store, and a place selling Liberty fabrics, and several clothing shops. Nice long walk in the heat. A small shop selling lots of "Clover" items was opened but didn't carry the cutter.

Oh well, back to the train and on to Bic Camera. That was a busy place and all the clerks in the Canon section were busy selling items ... the very expensive ones with multiple lenses.
Finally I got the attention of someone at the counter, and took my camera out of my bag to show him the problem. Wouldn't you know it??? That camera that had not been working for weeks, suddenly revived and worked just fine.
Bic camera must be a magic place because the last time I went there, it was to leave my watch that kept changing time and date settings every few hours. At that time, the repair guy couldn't find any problem so just re-set the date and time for me ... and that watch has been working smoothly ever since. I hope it will be the same with the camera too.

So, since the train was not crowded, I got almost all my rows together,  I am considering adding fewer rows because, since the blocks are bigger than I thought, if I add a border, it is going to be way too big... and I really feel that pattern needs a border to tie all those random fabrics together. 68 x 86 seems a reasonable size and with 8 inch blocks, what I now have is 64 x 96. I could leave off the last two rows and leave room for a border. The border I had in mind is about six inches wide and that would really make the quilt quite large.

So, now I am dithering. Maybe next week I can go see if there is a smaller border print.
I got a notice of a go-to meeting for the scout district and a reminder today. Well, I logged on at 7pm and the screen said "waiting for the meeting to begin" At 8pm I gave up. Oops ... the meeting is now next week. I'm glad I didn't waste time going there in person.

Tomorrow is another day. I hope the stuff planed for then goes a bit smoother. About time to wash off the sweat and hit the sack under my book club quilt.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Celebrating "International Left-Handers Day"

Since roughly 90% of the world's population is right handed, It is interesting to me, how many left-handed friends an family I have. (but maybe not so surprising)

I was commenting back and forth with a blogging friend, whose way of looking at things seemed so much like mine, I happened to ask, "Are you sure you're not left handed?" Her response was, "Yes, I am".

Last summer I was visiting my Son's family in Colorado, and when it came to dinner time, we gathered around the table and as usual, I looked for the left-handed corner. Surprise ... it just so happened that everyone in the room was left-handed.

Three of my six children are left-handed, and when we played games, we would team up with lefties against righties ... and soon the righties started calling out "No fair!" I think we did have an advantage because we were more apt to think alike when it came to games.

I never heard from my own kids that they faced the challenges in school that I did. In elementary school, we used ink pens  for writing, dipped into an ink well. I tried to avoid the inky hand by turning the paper clockwise and writing from top to bottom and right to left ... much like Japanese.
Of course, the teacher would walk around the room, and make me turn my paper the "right" way, messing everything up.

When we began cursive writing, the teacher stood at the blackboard and demonstrated by writing from in front, to off to the side. Great, I could do that too but I moved from the front to the left and everything came out in mirror writing.  It was much easier and faster and I didn't drag my hand through the ink. In fact, in college, I took all my notes that way as it was faster and easier to keep up. Sometimes my classmates would ask, "Were you in class today? did you take notes? Can I borrow them?" When they couldn't read them, I just said to hold them up in the mirror.

From Junior high, the desks were all right-handed. I had to sit sideways to take notes and when we had tests, the teacher thought I was copying the person in the next row.

Because you meet big numbers by adding smaller ones, starting with the ones column, then the tens then the hundreds ... I learned to write numbers backwards. If the teacher read off the problems, I had to wait for the whole number before I could write it down. By then the teacher was on the next problem. From those days, I have never been able to do things that involve numbers. I tried to take HS math. every Friday we took a test and every Monday the teacher re-seated the class in according to the test scores. As you might guess, I was always in the last seat ... unless there was a student that had been absent. When I went to College, I was required, in addition to the regular hours I had to take, to take extra classes to make up for what I needed to get into college in the first place. Somehow I managed all but the math. If I couldn't pass HS math, how was I going to take college math???

Well, I was working summers at a girl's camp and one of the staff was a HS math teacher. He brought me a geometry book and all summer I did every-other problem in the book. At the end of the summer, I went into his school and took the years worth of tests. He passed me with a "B" and said it would have been an "A" because I got all the answers right, except that I had taken the long way around to get those answers. BUT, while I was doing all that homework, sitting at the diningroom table, my father looked over my shoulder and said, "Why are you writing your numbers that way?" What way? What do you mean? He said I was writing them from right to left ... well, what was wrong with that? Well, he tells me that numbers should be written left to right! Here I am going into my senior year of college and no one had ever noticed!

Yes, I have never been able to deal with numbers ... counting above 20 I start to get screwed up. I have to count over and over again until I get the same answer more than once ...
Now I have to admit, THE LOST HAS BEEN FOUND because it was never lost to begin with!
Yes, all the blocks are lined up better than I am. Good advice to just carry on carrying on, and they will show up.

So, I return to my sewing. Thunder is crashing all around outside and I am waiting for the delivery of some registered mail that I missed being out last week. I do not know if this thunder will bring rain, but I'm not going out anyway. The camera will have to wait until tomorrow.

Thanks for kind words from my left-handed friends and some very understanding righties too.