Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Slow but steady

Getting tired of seeing this quilt?  Well, the center area has all been quilted in the ditch, and today I moved to the inner border. I haven't decided a quilting design for the wider border as yet, but am thinking of something feathered. With all those square blocks, I think it needs something with softer lines.

Norie came by on Tuesday with a big supply of mulberry leaves, harvested from her neighborhood.

With the supply piled high on their heads, the silkworms ate huge amounts, took another break and have now started their fourth instar.
I think this is the fastest progress I have ever seen in years of keeping these critters.
At least I don't have to worry about feeding them for the rest of the week.

This week has been a bit cooler, and the rainy season is predicted soon.
If I were blind, I think I could still find my front gate by smell alone.

In February it was the blooming plum. Then it was followed by the Sweet Daphne.

After sending out a few test blooms earlier in the week, the Gardenia has burst forth in bloom.

My neighbor's hydrangea is a big mountain of blue, and my little one in a pot is blooming for the first time in many years.

The lilies are getting ready for a master performance with a huge bunch of buds at the top of a six-foot stalk.

Tomorrow I am looking forward to a quilt show.
Hopefully, at this one, the names of the quilters will be added in English as well as Japanese.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Counting the days

It seems my days are being counted by how many leaves I have to pick on my morning walks with Nikko.

On Monday when I went off to school with the silkworms in tow, they were in their second resting stage.

The schedule is, they eat, eat. eat, then they take a break, shed their old skin, and start eating again ... bigger bodies and bigger bites.

Now it is Friday and they are on their third resting break. From tonight the leaves will be going faster.  Luckily, on last weekend's campout, I picked lots of mulberry leaves and brought them home, washed them and laid them out between layers of paper towels. Then the pile of damp towels and leaves went into a large zipper bag and into the vegetable drawer of the fridge. I am still picking leaves on morning walks and keeping those larger leaves for future meals. The two big trees in Harapa-park were cut down last fall. The big tree on the way to the station was cut down this spring, and the big one at the end of the street, during the winter. The one medium tree that grew between the wall and my neighbor's house was also removed, and another next to the weed lot was chopped off just a few weeks ago. I am now relying on stuff growing from the roots of several cut trees, so glad I have some saved in the drawer.

Norie lives in a place with natural woods and lots of trees and she will bring a few more leaves when we next meet.
The camp turned out fine. The predicted rain fell on Friday night before most of the scout families arrived and so the weather was cool and nice. The events were fun and the crafts went well, as I arrived Friday afternoon and had time to arrange the space and set out the leatherworking tools.

Saturday night I returned home as Sunday was Pentecost and the choir was due to sing.

Being a congregation of people from all over the world, we were asked to come in native costume. Oh, what a grand display ... and the bible reading was made in 25 different languages during the second service, (21 at the first) and there was a display in the lobby of Bibles in many different languages.
It was an opportunity for me to dress in my native American regalia.

The most interesting thing I noted was a comparison between now and years ago. In those days, over 50 years ago, when I walked down the street, people I passed were pointing at me and exclaiming "foreigner" or "American"  in Japanese.
Sunday, I went all the way to church, dressed like this, and no one even stared in my direction, let alone commented.

The quilt is still moving through the hoop. Progress is being made and I am looking forward to finishing up the center so I can play with the border.

The cacti keep putting on a show from day to day.

The leak in the roof has been halted.

The hole in the floor remains, but that is the only way I have of checking for leaks.

When the heat of summer hits the roof, I do not know if the putty will dry out and crack again. I think the best solution might be a new roof that slants toward the gutter to be built over the current metal one. how or when or the cost is still to be planned out.

These little pink stars are sitting on a carpet square beside the hole in the floor.

Maybe they are happy to be there. ... but I am wishing their old table could come back to that corner and my other plants might return.

Well, like my days, everything moves slowly step by step ... though I might swear some of that time is running right past without even saying, "Boo".

I did bring home two little mulberry trees pulled up by the roots at camp, and planted them in pots. If they make it through the summer, I may have some trees in a few years.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Pins removed ...

The wrinkles from the quilt backing are lying flatter now and I have hand-basted to the edges.

That will make quilting a lot easier to finish in the center of the quilt and I am at least half-way there.

As I am preparing to leave for a weekend at cub camp, I made the rounds of my plants with the watering can.

There are three white flowers on the front cacti and a big red bud on the center one.

The yellow one started blooming earlier and is now putting on a show.

They must all like the recent heat wave.

There are lots of buds on this cacti ... or is it a form of sedum?

These flowers last a while and so I will get to see them after I come back from camp.

The "Easter cactus" has survived the harsh winter and is fighting its way back.

The pot was taken over by wood sorrel so I think in the coming weeks, this old friend will need to get moved to a new pot.

The cymbidium behind it also needs to be re-potted. I miss my father-in-law, who had a magic touch with these plants.

My staghorn fern is towering over my futon.

I had to add big rocks to the container to keep it from fallin g off the shelf.

I have a smaller one hanging in the garden from the laundry pole. It is very heavy and hard to hang inside so it faced the challenge of winter weather.

It's fronds are a lot smaller ... but as I recall, this indoor one had smaller fronds 18 years ago.
Since the smaller one is not in a container, it has to be either watered by rain or dipped in a bucket of water ... a little tricky because fronds are coming out the bottom of the ball.

Maybe I have to search the internet one of these days for information on its care.

Out along the wall, this prickly fellow is getting ready to bloom. I see a few buds coming up.

This is very low maintenance but dangerous to touch because of those thorns.

I had a lot of them along the wall to deter cats from using that as a pathway.
The south-east neighbor shoved them all off to the ground, as that half of the wall is technically his.

The south-west end neighbor doesn't mind. It is the same wall, as it was there before the former house was taken down and two houses were built in its place.

I found the mark dividing the wall and try to keep plants to the west, as well as the bird feeder ... as he tossed that down too. It was only a glass of orange juice where the birds would come for a sip.

Here is a Brown-eared Bulbul enjoying a sip. I also had a board with nails to skewer fruit for the birds but that was smashed along with the glass.
The wires hold hanging pots and have not been destroyed.  There used to be a wild mulberry tree behind where the bird sits but the neighbor removed it. It is rather amazing considering the space between the wall and his house is only about two feet at the most. Also, there are no windows, only a parking garage with a very small opening. I see a very large hydrangea growing there now.

And, speaking of mulberries, I am glad I will have a trip to camp where there will be a good supply of leaves for me to gather.

The little silkworms have just passed their first instar and are eating bigger chunks of the leaves.

I can begin to add a few leaves that are a bit older and tougher.
There are a little over 50 caterpillars and I have only found 5 "trees". They are all small growing among some hedges in the park so in danger of being whacked out at any time. One is a bunch of small branches growing from the stump of one of the trees the park cut off last fall.

So ... it's off to the woods with the boys. Rain is in the forecast for Saturday. I will sleep in my van with Nikko, as there is no space to dry a wet tent around here.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Making adjustments

My quilting is going slowly and I am making adjustments in the layers as I go along. I'm glad I moved to a very large hoop but quilting blocks set on point makes it harder as I am not moving in just one direction. but on a diagonal. All is in-the-ditch quilting and dealing with seams that are ironed in all directions, some of which have flipped.

I considered taking it all apart and taking it to school for a few extra hands ... but ... the thought of carrying it that far and back on a very crowded sardine can, made me give up that idea.
Monday evening the passengers were very aggressive and I almost got knocked to the floor by first a young guy with a backpack shoving through, then a young lady pushing in the other direction. Two people got off at one stop and those two, being most aggressive, dived into those seats ("Silver Seats - reserved for the elderly and handicapped)

 Monday, my newly hatched silkworm babies went with me to school.

I took along a baggy of fresh leaves and a small paintbrush to lift them from one leaf to another.

I also took some tiny eggs and some old cocoons to show the children. One class was well prepared with magnifying glasses and had interesting questions to ask.

I was glad I could protect them on route and will take them back again for the children to observe.

Meanwhile I am keeping my eyes opened along the morning walks for a better supply of mulberry leaves. The four largest supply trees in my neighborhood have been cut down since last year. I am thinking that when in camp in June, I will try to find a few berries to plant.

The white cacti flowers are on their second day and there are more buds on it's neighboring cacti.

These little purple flowers only last one day

but those passing by may not know that as there are more waiting for tomorrow.

The azalea had only one flower this year. 

There is a considerable lack of sun here ... even on a day it is shining.

The hanging planters on the gate are adding a bit of color.

The flowers seem to be jumping pots as the purplish ones were all in a neighboring pot until last year.

The geranium just barely made it through the winter ...

... but the hen-and-chicks, overrunning it's pot,
seems to have made it through without a complaint.

And indoors, the flowers that came from my kids ... by way of Norie ... for Mother's day,

can be enjoyed without tending or weeding. They can even be moved around to be enjoyed wherever I want to sit.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

It's in the hoop

Over the "Golden Week" holiday, I was able to get this quilt pin-basted.

Even after fastening it to the floor and laying out the thinsulate, piecing it to size,

I struggled to get the backing laid flat and lined up.

Then I put pins around the border and flipped the whole thing over for basting.

It sure would have helped to have three friends to lift the corners so I could lower the parts in place.

The tugging and smoothing flips seem allowances and bunches the batting and gets more and more frustrating as time goes on. I ended up just using the safety pins and have begun quilting from the center. I have switched to a larger hoop, making it easier to adjust the layers as I move the hoop and remove the pins.

The orchid cactus has bloomed a second flower.

I missed the first one while I was in the woods with the scouts.

The blooms only last a day or so, like the white ones that bloom at the end of summer just over night.

I moved my plants to other parts of the house while the leak in the roof is being tended to.

Trouble is, cacti don't need daily watering so are sometimes finished blooming by the time I notice the buds have opened.

I missed a few flowers on these three but I see there are more buds in progress.

This Easter cactus has been sitting outside for years and I had thought it had suffered this past cold and snowy winter.

Many other plants didn't make it through ...

But, though it may be a bit late for Easter, this one is going to get it's show time and recover.

This plant is along my morning walk with Nikko through the park.

It usually gets cut off before blooming by the weed-whackers,
so it is the first time I have seen it in bloom

I saw one in a pot a few days ago and asked the lady who keeps the pots if she knew the name, but she didn't know.

I have seen her moving bulbs from along the path into pots, so that may have come from that group recently. Maybe I can show the picture to the flower-shop lady and learn more.

Another curiosity is this small tree I see on my way home from school. It has been blooming quite a long time.

The paired leaves look like dogwood leaves, but I can't find this in any of my Japanese plant books. 

There are a few types of Japanese dogwoods.
The flowers come out after the leaves and last a lot longer. They tend to grow wild in the forests.

One kind has clustered flowers but more flat than these balls.

This one is growing in a planter along the street and seems to have been pruned so as to not disturb pedestrians walking along the street edge.

So, that is about all for Golden Week ....

except that Tuesday morning I had to say goodbye to my big "Son-On-Loan".

He has been staying here several months while doing research for an article he is writing.

I drove him into town so he could catch the first train out to the airport. (trains around here begin running too late)

No more big hugs ...

No more instant translations of bills and mail ...

Hopefully, he will make it back sometime ...

meanwhile, time to change the bedding and water the plants on the second floor. (or maybe I need to quilt a few more rows first)....

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Ready for the next step

After rejecting the yellow as too distracting, I decided to get rid of a few more cut one-inch scraps and pulled out the rest of the one x two and one x three as well for a bit more variety. I put the original black in each corner and am thinking of binding this in black.

The size is 71" x 91" . Today, what used to be "Boy's Day" is now "Children's Day" and I have offered this to one of my grandkids to replace the single-bed-sized baby quilts they are using.
I also found a very large piece of light white with mottled purple that I will piece for the backing.

Also ... though a man riding by on a fast horse would hardly notice ... I have use part of this holiday week for a lot of cleaning and sorting ... (and removed a shopping-bag-full of white hair from one large shedding dog).