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....