Saturday, December 21, 2019

Changing times ?

This has been a very strange fall. We went directly from hot humid sauna weather to early winter.

Trees began dropping their leaves without changing color.

Other plants seem to be confused as well. The spider lilies around the neighborhood only sent up one or two flowers from beds that are usually full. The white ones came into bloom at the autumnal equinox but the red ones were about a week later.

Usually they pop up suddenly within days. A few weeks ago, what looks like a spider lily popped up in the pot beside my gate. The flowers are still opening one-by-one.
The strange thing is not only the timing, but the color is a light purple.

I have never seen one this color and I'm wondering if it is a volunteer hybrid.

I have a number of agapanthus, and when I looked at that pot hanging on the fence, what should I see but a flower of the same color there. Definitely, they are not the same.

What is really strange is that the agapanthus blooms in early summer. Another confused plant... Maybe competing with the newest addition to the garden?

And, with most of the toad lilies finished, there, in the same front bed was one just beginning to open. A confusion of the purple flowers all at the same time.

Our usual winter is a season of bright blue skies. I remember one winter when my parents visited, every day in the month was sunny. These days we have revolving sun, clouds, and rain. The wind rattles the shutters and there are plenty of green leaves falling along the street (from my own plum tree) that I go out to sweep several times each day. If I don't get them swept as they fall, I will have to walk farther to pick them up all the way to the corner.

Coming home from my cub scout meeting, I see the Tokyo Tower, usually lit ln warm red tones has taken on a different look.

Maybe for the holidays? I always pass tourists? taking selfies as I walk to and from the station.

The moon will be full on Christmas eve ... but will we see it? Rain is predicted .... though I think the weather app on my cell phone should get the pinocchio award, as it is wrong most of the time ... or does it not rain because I carry an umbrella on those days?
Well, sometimes I come out of the train station and before I step out into the pouring rain, I check the app once again. Well, it says "Partly cloudy" I must be under the cloud at that time and by the time I get home, the rain will be back in the cloud.

After watching the lights installed each Monday morning as I drive to church to pick up the onigiri for delivery, The street running between Aoyama and Harajuku station is now lit each night.

I noticed on Thursday that music was playing on speakers along the street and the lights were going off and on in a variety of patterns.

Years ago this custom ended... maybe to save money or protect the keyaki trees ... but I think these lights attract lots of shoppers and tourists to these high end shops. A few years ago, the custom returned.

And, a bit of a sad change to my neighborhood is the number of lovely large old houses being torn down.

The crane is parked in what was a lovely rose garden last week. Those roses bloomed all year long, even in the winter. That is rather rare because Tokyo soil is really not very rose-friendly.

I have watched many of these houses and gardens lately completely wiped off so this seems to be the new normal.

One huge space was filled with six new homes (all only a foot or two apart). The most recent is all flat now waiting for the next step. Gone was a big beautiful Black pine that had been trained to make a bridge over the path to the entry.

My daughter snatched up a number of bulbs being bulldozed from the garden.

The place along my small street was replaced with an apartment building with 8 apartments that can't possibly be any larger than a 9x9 foot room with bath and toilet and maybe a small kitchen sink and hot-plate.

Tomorrow, home will be a bit more lively with the coming of the first of my holiday visitors. After promising myself to get things sorted and picked up, I am still struggling to make space for visitors to sit. At least the bedding has been set up and the lights are on the wee tree. I think I will let the granddaughters put on the decorations when they get here. I'm sure they have plans for things to do and time will fly with choir duty and homeless feeding tossed in as well.

AND .... In today's mail was a postcard stating that my Partnership block will be in quilt #14 at the Tokyo Dome quilt show. There is a discount ticket included in the card but it is more expensive than other years. Still, January will be starting and ending with lots to do.

Warmest Holiday wishes to all my blogging friends.

Saturday, December 14, 2019

A rather lonely week....

A week ago Friday, I said goodbye to Nikko who has been part of our life for the last sixteen and a half years.

As a puppy she had been abandoned in the hills of Tochigi.
Found by my youngest daughter and son on a trip to Nikko, she was brought home in a box, skin and bones and so dirty her white coat hardly could be seen.

Though I really didn't want a dog, my daughter said, "If you don't want her, I'll take her back." How could anyone abandon that puppy along the road ... or take her back.

She went with me to the bathroom and came back somewhat cleaner. I pulled out the old dog bed and set her in the sun to dry.

At that point, I hear... "Well, if we are going to keep her, we need to give her a name."

Lying in the bed with the late afternoon sun sparkling on her fur, I thought since she came from Nikko a name meaning sunshine would be fitting.

As it turned out, this was a dog filled with a sunny disposition.

She was kind and gentle with children and even babies who lay across her back.
She got along with other dogs and even cats. She liked to run and chase sticks and balls and tease us with squeaky toys.

When I first took her to the vet, he said she was about three months old. Counting backwards, that put her birthday on valentine's day.

Paul loved that dog and took her along when he biked to the supermarket. He would leave her tied outside to the fence while he shopped and come out to find her surrounded by admirers.

Since I had taught her to sit and wait when being fed, until I said "itadakimasu", (said before partaking) Paul would bring her a nice snack and show off her talents before those admirers.
Here she is waiting for the word to enjoy a birthday cake Paul had brought home for her.

A month or so after Paul died, I was shopping at the same store with Nikko waiting outside. When I came out, one of her admirers pulled a package of treats out of her handbag saying she had been looking every day for Nikko to come there.

Nikko went with me to almost all Scout events and made friends with many scouts and scouters.
They knew they could bribe her to do all kinds of tricks with just a piece of cheese.

Here she is at camp Zama after having a run with this boxer.

She loved camp and knew that dead food could be found under any picnic table. She would sometimes escape in the night to make the rounds of campsites to check out the tables.
She would ride beside me on the front seat of the car, and when we crossed the bridge over the Tama river, She would know we were going to camp and get all excited for the last of the trip.

Nikko was not allowed on furniture ... at least when I was home... though she did sneak onto Paul's bed when I was out, and he allowed that even though she chewed holes in his quilt and destroyed the down comforter.

She shed white hair every minute of every day throughout the year. I probably had dog hair in every quilt I made and I'm sure what she left behind I will be dealing with the rest of my lifetime.

If you come to visit ... don't wear black. 
The contents of that plastic bag is about ten minutes results of a brushing.

Norie removed almost that amount on her last few days.

By the time we went to camp in June, Nikko had begun the first stages of doggy dementia.
She was walking in circles.

The circles became smaller and smaller as the months went by and she often got all tangled up.

Her appetite was still good but gradually I had to put her in diapers. She slept long hours when she was not circling and in the last weeks her balance was poor and she could not walk far. In the end, she stopped eating and she could no longer stay on her feet or get up alone.

Euthanizing a pet in Japan is not done by most vets. Even Friday when we carried her to a vet who might comply, they said they could give her an IV that would keep her alive a few more days, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday ... three days when my schedule kept me out most of the day...

Did I want my dog to die whimpering and  kicking on the floor all alone with no one to come to her rescue? Lying quietly on the table for several hours of discussion, they finally agreed that three more days would not add quality to her life.

Saturday, Norie rode with me to Jindaiji temple where my former dog was cremated. Everyone was very kind. They even marked down the price, and when I got back home, the doorbell rang and there was a pretty bouquet of flowers sent by the vet's office.

The genkan is now nice and clean but there is still dog hair in every corner and it is so lonely to come home to an empty house. I sweep the leaves and walk alone.
People who walk past stop and ask about the dog.
Even yesterday as I went to the department store to shop, two women stopped me to ask about Nikko.

In one more week, I will have two daughters and two granddaughters visiting. The house will be full and surely there will be more family coming around. The choir schedule continues, and because of some taking holidays, I am often the only tenor holding my part. The tenor section is the smallest anyway so even one gone leaves a big gap.

My feedsack quilt is all basted and folded on the sofa but still waiting for the first quilt stitch. Fabric being sorted is piled everywhere and not a lot of time left before it must be set aside until later. Riding the train into town and back I have assembled a small runner of Christmas print scraps for my genkan shoe box top.

Several friends have also lost pets this week ... but my son has added a new kitten to his family. Hopefully, one of these days, another dog will find its way into heart and home....

Sunday, November 24, 2019

A crazy busy week

Friday night I put the last coat of varnish on the advent ornaments and Saturday morning I packed them in bubble wrap and took them to the main post office. I didn't even take a picture, but used pictures of past ornaments to decide the colors.

They were pretty much the same except the present had the bow on top and I substituted a crown for the ball.

I was relieved after walking all the way to the main PO that they were open on a Saturday because our local one is closed.

I was pleasantly surprised to hear that the package made it to Oregon and was delivered in less than a week. Hopefully they will all fit in the numbered pockets of the calendar and will be a happy countdown to the holiday.
Since my Saturday english class was cancelled, I went into town for our church's homeless luncheon. Since my husband was responsible for making this monthly event a part of the church service, I like to go if I happen to have the day free. Another scout leader and two scouts came so we could count ten service hours for our unit.

Sunday included the usual choir practice and the anthem and was followed by rehearsal for the coming "Choir Sunday" , followed by another rehearsal for the Christmas concert. I usually do shopping for the week along the way home  from church as I have to get off the train at the main station, then ride again to my stop ... but I was so tired I decided to postpone that part of the trip until another day.

Monday was the usual 4:00 am departure for onigiri delivery and then off to school. I did the weekly shopping on the way home from school and that was a good move as the store was less crowded and the check-out lines shorter.

Tuesday I had a date with the dentist which is near the school, and went from there to school for a second day.  Wednesday I had a date with the Toyota shop to look into why my car was pulling slightly to the left. It was fixed in less time than it took to drive there and back and there was no charge ... but I need to go back this week to have the brake pads changed.

Thursday evening was another very long choir practice and Friday I went to Nishimachi school to help with the quilt. We are just about finished piecing the background and will soon begin adding cherry blossoms to the scene. I enjoy the group effort and hope I can make contributions that are worthwhile. While there, I was able to pick out some white kimono silk.
I had been asked to alter a wedding dress by a church member, She had ordered it from China on line and the fit was a bit off. The white silk was just what I needed to alter a very low neckline in the back. Friday night I set to work and Saturday morning I again went into town to buy hooks and eyes for the project. My regular sewing shop was closed and I had to waste time hunting for an alternative plan. Luckily I found something that worked and after my english class I was able to finish up the dress and get it packed up for Sunday delivery.

We have had a long run on rainy cold days but I was able to grab a short bit of sun to take a picture of the feedsack quilt so far.

At this point I am thinking of adding a small one-inch border around the applique border. I will choose something very light ... pale blue or pink or maybe green. I may have some light lavender in my stash. If I get back into town this week I will see if they have a yoyo making kit. I am also hoping for a day to lay out and cut the backing for piecing. If I am lucky I may find time to get this basted.

It might be nice to have a warm quilt to sit under while I work now that days have become rather cold.
This week is another trip to the dentist and the Toyota place, more choir rehearsals and a meeting with my old quilting group. Also on the list is figuring out where to put my fabric collection and get the place tidied up for family time. Then... there is a thanksgiving outing to fit in. Never a dull minute! AND, unless my cell phone app is lying, there is going to be another week of rainy days. That should keep me indoors some of the time!

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Getting ready for Christmas

Monday was my usual 4:am onigiri delivery ... going out to the parking lot in some light rain.

By the time I returned to the parking lot after the delivery, rain was falling heavily and I returned home with one very wet dog.

With a bit of time to mop up and change clothing, I was off to school.

It was nice to be back after a long break...  My boss having taken time off after having her baby.

The rain stopped during the afternoon but by the time I got home it was dark and I was tired. It was all I could do to take care of the dog and heat up a bit of dinner before hitting the sack.

Tuesday I finished assembling the 4th border for the feedsack quilt and hand stitched it in place. I am quite happy with the results so far. It is sitting on the sofa while I consider the next step and get to work on something more urgent.

My #1 daughter had the original Advent calendar, made when my kids were small. A year or two earlier, I made a new hanging to replace the old one that had been made of felt and not outlived the moths. Then, the hanging items that had been made of home-made clay succumbed to the test of time  ... so this year I had decided to carve wooden ornaments like I had made for the other kids.

I cut the pieces from wood during the summer while I had my electric saw out at summer camp and began roughing out the figures. Half were stashed in a baggy ready to be fine tuned and half in another baggy waiting to be roughed out. Well, My daughter lives in Oregon and an Advent calendar needs to begin on December first ... so ... this is going to have to make it into the mail soon. The time for dithering is over!

Today I finished roughing out the second half and then worked on sanding and putting in the detail. Tomorrow I will begin the painting. It will take several coats of paint because it soaks into the wood. Then I will have to put in the hanging loops and coat them with about five coats of varnish. Hopefully I can have them all boxed up and ready to fly by the end of the week.

When I laid them on the tray for a picture, I noticed one was missing. Where could it have gone? Maybe it fell off the table into the wastebasket with the wood chips. I had dumped that basket into the waste bin with the garbage ... so, first thing to do was go through all that stuff and check. Yuck! Well, I didn't find it there, so I began to look under furniture and other stuff where I was working. Finally I did find it down in the sofa ... just as I was wondering if it would take less time to cut a second one.

Now all are ready to begin the painting. My fingers have a few nicks. When I teach the scouts woodcarving, I tell them what they will probably be doing if they get a cut. cutting toward themselves, being distracted, trying to cut off too much at once, working when tired, and rushing to finish. Yep. Rushing when tired is dangerous. I have made bench hooks for the scouts to use to hold their work so they don't need to cut toward themselves but I didn't bother to go and get one for myself. One bandaid later ....

If the sun comes out tomorrow, I hope to get a picture of the quilt so far,   Hopefully I can get the painting done before I have to run off to choir practice, and I am really happy to get this far with the end in sight.

Monday, November 4, 2019

A bit of sun and a bit of progress

Taking advantage of some rainy days, three borders have now been added to the feed sack quilt.

Once it is ready for quilting, I plan to add a bit of embroidery to the border.

I am considering a one-inch outer border made from strips of leftover feedsack fabrics. Not quite sure if it is needed or the fabrics would be strong enough for the wear edges get.

I have also been thinking of centers for the flowers in the borders. I had thought of vintage buttons but they might get caught on things once it is on a bed.
Then I thought of making small yoyos. They were rather popular back in the days of feed sacks.

The flowers and butterflies and vines are now pinned in place on the last border.  This can be rather addictive but I will have to take a break to finish a whittling project that needs to be in the mail within a few weeks.

Cool fall days have replaced the sauna of summer ... a sudden swing from t-shirts to a down jacket.
A few more layers above the quilt on my bed ...

The last Sunday in October, I met with my scouts at the entry tori gate to the Meiji shrine.

The plan was to cover the requirements for rank advancement in the area of "Duty to God".

Luckily my assistant had printed out the requirements for different ranks so we were able to run through them all.

The requirements are written for BSA members assuming everyone has access to materials in their own language and belong to a church. My group, being from  all different countries is not likely to find a book  in their school library to read about the pilgrims.

We had to learn a song and a prayer ... fine for those with church traditions.
My goal in choosing the Meiji shrine was the long meditative walk through beautiful nature.
There were lots of tourists and worshipers too. We could talk about respect for religions other than our own and how both Shinto traditions and Buddhist traditions and holidays are part of the local culture.

We observed at least three wedding processions.

We saw children dressed in Kimono to celebrate an early "Shichi-go-san"... the 7, 5, 3, age celebration for children...

Another procession coming through the gate...

                                      A display of chrysanthemums.

                                 Another display of bonsai and mini garden layouts....

                                            Cases of Japanese sake, donated to the shrine ...

And, across from the sake,  a display of casks of wine donated by winemakers.  I guess there will be plenty to serve all those wedding guests.

It was a very long walk to the inner area and back and the kids still had plenty of energy at the end. I was glad to sign off their books after covering their remarks. (and glad to get a seat part of the way home). With so many days of rain, we were lucky to have a dry day for the outing.

Then rain set in again until Saturday when we had a weed-a-thon. Three bags of weeds now waiting for tomorrow's trash collection and multiple service hours for our unit...

Somewhere in between I fit in a birthday with a big multiple skype with my kids. I think I needed a bigger screen to get everyone in view. What a joy!

The cookie fairy showed up and put in a day of hard work ... and a few got left for me to share with friends.

And, if I needed to feel even more loved,

... look at all the flowers that joined the party...

Not much room left for meals on that table...

Well, time to wind my clock and get back to the tasks at hand.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Rainy day flowers

A week of rain means progress on the feed sack quilt border.

I wanted to use some of the smaller feed sack scraps in the quilt and I thought an applique border would be a good way to do it.

This is the first long border, now all stitched and ready to add to the quilt.

I have begun selecting flower petals for the second long border and once they are in place, I will add the vines and leaves.

The top and bottom borders will also have flowers and I am thinking of adding a butterfly to each corner. Somewhere I saw a picture of a vintage quilt with butterflies made from feed sack fabrics. I think I made a sketch of the design but have yet to find which book I sketched it in.
Well, there is still time to find it as that will come at the end of the last borders.

Tuesday, while basting flower petals, I watched the enthronement ceremony of the new emperor on TV.

It was very serious and formal, and just as the deep purple curtains of the canopied throne were being pulled apart to reveal him in all his glory, the rain that had been falling for days came to a halt.

Then, a bit later, as he unfolded and began to read the written proclamation of his ascension, the sky turned a bright blue with the sun shining through my curtains.
I heard from a friend that he had seen a rainbow along with the sun.

The rain has now returned in force, but it was nice to have an opportunity to air my bedding in the sun and hang my wash.

I am wondering how the weather went so suddenly from a sauna to sitting indoors in a light down jacket. The dogwood trees in the park are dropping bright red leaves but others have yet to turn color.

The Hototogisu, named after the spotted Little Cuckoo, has begun to bloom in the front hedge and along the garden path.

In english it is called Hairy Toad Lily. The best part of this flower, beyond its beauty, is it is fine with excess shade and thrives on neglect.

This one has come up amid the azalea bushes along the west side of the house, making up for the lack of blooms (only one flower along the whole length of hedge) this year.

Tomorrow we will fill our rainy day time with a visit from the "Cookie Fairy". The expected produce to be Halloween cookies. Whoever would have thought Japan would have embraced that holiday!!!
Certainly, it was unheard of years ago, and even when my own kids were young, we could actually enjoy a meal without having to jump up and run to the door for trick-or-treaters.

Friday, October 18, 2019

rainy day work

Between train rides into town and down time at home, the feedsack stars got joined together.

I was a bit worried I would not be able to get all those points to meet, and was even thinking of adding sashing, but this time I am satisfied with the results. Each star has two setting fabrics matching at least two of the colors in the print. Two weeks ago I laid the blocks out on the floor of the church fellowship hall before choir practice and tried to get a good balance of colors.

This is a rather dull picture taken on the park fence on a very cloudy morning. In fact, it began sprinkling as I took the quilt down and started home. Actually, the blocks look a lot brighter.

Some facebook group friends said I should finish this without a border but I am considering an applique using the leftover feedsack scraps. Maybe on a muslin solid. To my thinking, a border would hold all these randomly colorful blocks together. Somewhere I saw some simple flowers that used a variety of prints... and maybe a vine and leaves. There is no rush so I may experiment a bit before I decide. Maybe I can find some inspiration in my collection of books...

The weather predictions include more rain in the forecast. It has actually turned rather cold and I added a light down comforter to the quilt on my bed. I was rather looking forward to something between the sauna days of summer and pulling out winter sweaters.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Indoor work

When typhoons bring wind and rain, sometimes it works for the best.

In preparation for the typhoon, I checked up on my outdoor plants.

This night-blooming cereus has been producing a big bud, and since I missed the bloom on the last one, I didn't want this one ruined by wind and rain so I brought it inside and put it on the bookcase above my futon.

Lots of things were cancelled because of the looming storm, but I decided to go on with my Cub pack meeting on Friday evening. We cancelled our raingutter regatta because it needs to take place outside on the roof of the American Club and not so good in wind and rain.
The regular meeting went well with new members joining, and we ended in time for families to go home without worry of storms.

Saturday, I was to sing with a small choral group at a wedding. It was probably a good call, but sad that the wedding was postponed. I feel sorry for the family who had put so much into the planning, but I enjoyed being able to attend my English class and be nearby for any possible wind events.

As it turned out, my area was not hit hard. Lots of rain fell, and as I was taking Nikko out regularly for her business trips, I was able to clear the sewer drains to keep the walkways from becoming lakes.

The wind gusts were not so hard, but I could hear much stronger wind screaming high above. None of the plants blew off the wall. One wet dog spent her time inside.

 The night-blooming cereus rewarded me for it's rescue...

and, to tell the truth, I might have missed the bloom had it been outside.
I have to admit it was a bit hard to turn off the light and shut my eyes.

It blows my mind that a flower this lovely only opens in the dark of night and blooms for only a few hours. By morning it was a hanging finished bulb.

It causes me to wonder what beauty we miss each day because our attention is elsewhere ...
so many things that are here and gone before getting our attention...
even people who are here and gone before we really get to know them...

Morning brought bright blue skies and sun. Though many trains were not yet running, I was able to attend church, and there were enough parts in the choir to sing Monteverdi's beautiful "Beatus vir" with flute and violin joining the accompaniment.

With extra indoor time, I was able to work on this year's Stewardship banner.

The quilted words at the bottom, "Anywhere, Lord, any time, don't show up with this lighting but will be at eye level when it is hung.

This is taken from the spiritual. I added a few extra four-letter words to fill the cross.

I thought the background would be more interesting than a solid color, and in a way, represents the theme as it takes a variety of many colors to make a rainbow and a variety of talents to keep a church active.

I still need to add the hanging sleeves and buy some dowels.

I took Nikko to the park water tap and gave her a shampoo so she could dry out in the sun and washed down the genkan and entryway tiles.

Seven rows of feedsack stars are sewed together ... thanks to being able to actually sit on the train with connecting lines being down and people staying home.
And ... what should really be getting my attention? The giant spoon syndrome that had turned my livingroom into an indoor disaster. 

Monday, September 30, 2019

Another finish

Well, the border linked hearts don't really show up very well, but it is now done and bound and labeled and ready to pass to the next step on its way to Austria.

Next in line should be a stewardship banner, and I have a plan in mind, but the committee is yet to discuss let alone approve the plan. Hopefully I won't be backed into the corner at the last minute.

I am thinking of beginning to sew the feedsack blocks together. I need to make one more block and then lay them out for arrangement.

The spider lilies outside my front gate have finally bloomed. I think with so many tall buildings cutting off all but about 30 minutes of sun to the garden has made a big difference on the timing and amount of blooms my small garden produces.

Even the toad lilies are much later producing buds this year.

The weather is a wee bit cooler.
I have been leaving Nikko outside between the front door and the gate during the daytime. The space is a bit bigger than the genkan. Of course she knocks over flowerpots and tracks dirt all over, but it is easier to sweep up than the scrubbing down of the genkan tiles.

Tonight I will leave her out a bit longer until I return from church ... and see how it goes.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Next ...

The big stitch is all done and next on the list is quilting the border.

I pulled out the stencil I made for the last baby quilt, but it was too large to fit this border. I really liked that design so decided to make a new stencil.

I am not sure the stitching will show at all but it showed up on the last busy print so I will keep working.

Hardest part is marking the fabric. My favorite marker is the sewline mechanical pencil but white really doesn't show up well.  The blue on blue is not so good either, though it will stay on the fabric until I put water on the lines with a paintbrush. The purple shows up the best, but because the markings disappear with time ... and the humidity speeds the time ... I have to mark as I go.

I really won't know the total results before I get to the end.

It looks like I will have a bit more time than expected this weekend because, though I had been planning to attend the choir retreat, the facility will not allow dogs ... even if they will be in a car or kennel and not go into buildings. I was planning to take Nikko and sleep with her in the van.
With her declining health, I don't want to hire a sitter and have been taking it day by day. This will be the first time for me to miss the practice and fellowship over many years, so it is a bit sad. I can practice at home and since I don't miss regular weekly practices, I should be able to learn my parts OK.

Though it is still humid, the weather is beginning to cool a bit.

  Today Nikko is enjoying a bit of outdoor time between the front door and the gate. I am trying to manage her meals and walks to reduce the number of times I have to spend scrubbing down the genkan area.

I hope by this time next week I will be looking for binding.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Big stitching has begun

Yesterday I stopped at the local shop and bought white and navy sashiko thread.

Today I finished all the small area quilting and decided to start the big stitch to see how it shows up.

Though this is rather simple, I think it will be a lot easier than trying to mark a design on these busy prints.

The white sewline pencil shows up on all of the dark prints and maybe half of the light ones.

I may have to go shopping for a new ChakoAce in blue or purple ink.
The purple is easier to see but the ink disappears with time ... which is extremely short when there is a lot of humidity. The blue, I can remove with a paintbrush dipped in water.

I still have time to think about how I am going to manage marking the border.

Today is a holiday ... Respect for the aged day. As last year, I began the day delivering onigiri to the homeless. After a break during the hot summer, the homeless guys greeted me most warmly. Many asking me about Nikko, who was waiting in the car as I don't think she would be able to handle two flights of stairs.

The day is gray and rainy and I am rather glad to spend it quilting. My boss is now having her baby and it will be November before I am back to school. Last year I worked on this holiday and even though it was a day for the elderly, there was no chance of sitting on the train either into town or back. These days it would be even harder to get a seat. The trains are beginning to open up the space near the doors and they are doing it by removing "Silver Seats" which are intended for seniors and handicapped or expectant mothers.

Up until now, there have been 8 seats (four on each side) at the ends of each car. Recently the newer cars have just six at one end and three at the other ... making room for baby carts or wheelchairs. In addition, they have moved the hand grips up near the ceiling, out of reach of the majority of elderly people. Even my gorilla arms are not long enough to get a tight hold. Even with 8 seats, the chances of sitting were quite slim as the seats went to the youngest and most aggressive. Then, they pull out their cell phones so as not to see the elderly standing in front. I have often wondered if they have any idea that some day they might be elderly themselves.

From tomorrow, things get hectic so it is good to zone-out on the sofa with a quilt in my lap. Only competition for sitting is piles of sorted fabric and a box of sewing equipment.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Lost in the garden

The in-the-ditch quilting has been finished and now the focus is on quilting within the blocks.

This quilt will be a gift to the mother of a friend for whom I made a baby quilt.
When the mother saw that quilt, she said she had always wanted to have a quilt, and since I had lots of floral prints recently "gifted", and I had wanted to try out the same pattern that I used with the black and white quilts, I thought this would be a good way to thank her for all her wonderful son has contributed to our church family.

Once I began quilting in the smaller sections of each block, I am seeing that with these busy prints, the quilting hardly shows at all.
It will not show on the back either as that is a busy floral print.

I plan to continue what I have started, but am now thinking that using the "big-stitch" quilting that I did on those black and white quilts would show up better.

Maybe I can use white pearl cotton or sashiko thread as before with white on the darker areas and possibly navy blue on the light prints.

With "big-stitch" quilting, it is rather difficult to do fancy work so probably I would just use the outline stitches half an inch inside the seams.

I am thinking of doing the border with the linked hearts that I just used  on the last baby quilt. They showed up fairly well on that busy print, and that would add a bit more "real" quilting.
Do you think it is OK to combine the two styles? Or, should I just do it all in regular quilting whether it shows or not?

Well, I have a bit of time to think it over.....

Monday, September 2, 2019


This morning the mouse watched the last stitch go into the border of the mandela.

Next I will have to decide on the binding.

I really don't want to spend money so I will have to dig out something from my collection of leftovers.

Red, yellow, grey,...
I may have some rainbow bias left over.

I also took the flower quilt up to the sauna in the upstairs apartment and pin-basted it after piecing the batting.

I was thinking of thread basting it but that would take several more hours and I need to go to get dog food before the rest of my Tuesday schedule hits the fan.
As it is, there is construction going on in my neighborhood and if I take the car as usual, I will need to drag the heavy bag back from the parking area because there is no room for cars to pass to get to my house ... so, I will take the train and a roller-bag as the walking distance is about the same.

I am enjoying these volunteers blooming along the base of my garden wall.

These come up from bulbs and do not produce seeds. The flowers last a few days.

The yellow ones are a bit smaller and also come from bulbs.

You can see the seed pods with three pockets of ripening seeds.

These both begin blooming toward the end of summer and thrive on neglect ... my favorite kind of garden flower.
Maybe some member of the lily family?

Guess I should take some time to go through all my plant books. After all, I have enough of them!

Hoping now for a few cooler days  so I can get that quilt in the hoop and begin to quilt that fabric garden.

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Look what flew in

The last critter has now joined the medicine wheel and I am currently adding Celtic knots. I think these will work well with my mandela. No connection with Native American themes, but being a Scouter, I have always been working with knots, teaching knots and braiding the right knot for the right purpose.

Of course the purpose of these knots is to fill  border space, but I like the meaning they represent, eternity, loyalty, faith, friendship, love, and the interconnection of life and our place within the universe. I think that is also fitting with a meditative mandela, so I have been drafting a few knots to fit the spaces on the inner border.
There may be a trinity shaped knot to fill the corner spaces.

I'm not sure where this will end up, but I am enjoying the journey....

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Not there yet, but on the way...

I finally went to the local store and could not find any thread I thought would work, so I went back through my pearl cotton collection and pulled out something else. As it turned out, it seems to show up across the colored sections, but I did not have enough to finish the four outer rounds of the labyrinth.  On Tuesday, I made a trip into town to see if I could buy more. The shop didn't have the brand or color of what I was using but I did find something close, and to tell the truth, I can't tell where one left off and the other began.

So... now the labyrinth is overlaid on the medicine wheel. I wanted to  buy shell buttons, and that shop had some beautiful ones, but they were VERY expensive ... over a dollar per button, so I held off on that purchase.

Now I have begun embroidering the animals of the four directions in each corner.

The bear for the North,


                                                       The mouse for the South,

and the Eagle for the East.

I still have the owl to work on. I am just embroidering them by quilting with regular black thread.

I'm planning to quilt in the plain areas of the corners but have yet to come up with a design.

I am wondering how adding something Japanese, as many of those have meanings ... like the karakusa that symbolizes longevity and prosperity due to its continual growth. I will have to do a bit of research before I get to that part.
The owl is waiting in line to be stitched.

Meanwhile, dog care has been cutting into my usual schedule. We are both lucky that we are still on a summer schedule and "business trips" and sleep are somewhat negotiable. The weather is weird and the only thing I can say about it is, if you don't like it, wait a few minutes and it will change. The problem is carrying an umbrella which chases the rain away, but leaving it at home and getting dumped on. Dressing for a walk in a sauna and going into a store where you have to grab stuff quickly and get out before your brain freezes over. Ah, well, better to focus on a bit of hand work.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Trying to get my act together

The color for the underworld is green. I dug through a number of greens to use on the backing. I ended up using the one on top of the leaf-print. It has an interesting texture looking like grass.

I drew the four animals in their corners and will see what I can do with thread.

After basting the layers, I looked through my thread collection and found some thread that might work, but not sure there is enough on the card for all I need to do. Well, I decided to walk to the next station where there is a small fabric and stitchery shop. I had held off because they are usually closed on Thursday for part of the day and I thought Friday would be safe. Wrong! They are closed for the week. Maybe Obon holiday ... there was a note pasted to the shutter.
I walked around the neighborhood but there are no other shops ... even the department store ... that have thread or other supplies ... except for the 100 yen store, and not much of a choice there either.

So ... I guess this will be on hold for a few days until I find the kind of thread I envision. I could work on the animals, but was hoping to get the center done first. I also want to find 16 pearl buttons to place at each of the points.

The size is 24 inches square. I kind of wish I had  square table that it could fit. It is a bit too large for a pillow. I could make a hanging, but there is an extreme shortage of wall space in this house

Birding tomorrow with the scouts ... Choir begins on Sunday after a short summer break. One of these days I will get my act together....

Friday, August 16, 2019

Baby steps

Staying at home for a day ... except dog walking and street sweeping ... provides time for other things. My mandela now had a background, though it is not really of the fabric I liked best.

I really do NOT want to buy any more fabric, and the blue I liked best was not big enough to make a background, even if I cut the size. So ... this is the blue I selected. Blue sky in the day, and stars at night.

Next I am planning to put the animals in each corner. Mouse for South (the yellow), Bear in the North, Eagle in the East, and Owl in the west.  Between native tribes, a variety of animals are used with different meanings, but these are the ones that have meaning to me.

The mouse looks closely at things and sees the detail (and I was born in that year)
The eagle soars on high and sees the whole picture, giving a wide perspective.
The bear could be a polar bear or a brown bear. They are prepared to sleep through the winter.
The owl is my spirit helper, guarding me throughout the night.

I have found animal prints I can use in my stash, but all my owl prints are rather comical, so I am now pondering if I should use them or piece something. Maybe if I spent some time cleaning up the mess I have made with all the measuring and re-measuring and pulling out fabrics, the ideas in my head would become clearer.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Not a lot of progress

Last week was Vacation Bible School and I survived as leader of the games. Though the booklet gives a choice of three games each day to fit the theme, most of those involved either water or a large outdoor space. For example, one game involved tossing a beach ball into the air and doing a challenge like "do a pushup and stand back up", Because a ceiling limited how high the ball could be tossed, I bought a variety of balls and some feathers. Then I let the kids come up with a challenge and indicate which item to toss in the air. I think it was more fun than what was in the plan.

Sometimes I think the kids could do a better job of writing that booklet than whoever came up with the original plans

The hardest part of the day was riding the sardine can into town and back each day. I had to be out of the house by 7:am, which meant it was rush-hour and no chance of sitting at all. With Nikko in a declining condition, that also meant getting up at 5:am to walk and feed her and wash down the mess in the genkan. At least tiles are easier to wash than the wooden floor, but a most days I was mopping up pee and couple of times poop... mashed down and tracked all over. One day I came down to scrub up the pee and take her for a walk, only to find a second washing needed as I was on my way out to the train. At the end of the week, Norie and Leia came and stayed over. They took Nikko to the water tap in the park for a washing. Much easier than going with her into the shower.

I have finished sewing the backing for the floral quilt and now just need a space to lay it out for basting. I could use the upstairs apartment floor, but it is way too hot with the power shut off so that project is on hold.

This week I went for the first step of a dental implant. When it was over, I went to the American Club where there was a scheduled Board of Review for an Eagle Scout rank. It was lucky I could make it because had I not gone, there wouldn't have been enough people on the board. It was 10:pm by the time I got home and I was glad to skip dinner and get a good night's sleep.

With weather just too hot and humid to do more than walk the dog, I began my challenge for next time friends meet for the quilt show. Our challenge this time is "Circle".

I am thinking of a native american mandela, or medicine wheel.
I have begun with the four colors representing directions, North, South, East, and West. In the past I have used a form of this for meditating.

I have also spent a few hours daily for sorting and ironing the "gifted" fabrics. I am about finished up with the huge pile of yellows. They had been pulled out originally to work on the sunflowers of the last two table runners.

(actually, those two runners were misplaced on the Pastor's last day and are yet to be found. I wonder if they ran off to South Africa in one of the suitcases.)

So, this is my recovery week and the schedule is more calm than usual. I kind of wish that floral quilt was basted so I could work on it. Typhoon season has arrived but not giving the Tokyo area much other than occasional showers. The garden is happy after a month of heat but it is rather annoying to have to carry an umbrella whenever I go out. ( It seems to hold off the rain but even so, I return wet and dripping from perspiration anyway.)

My Saturday english class is cancelled this week so I may go to the homeless dinner that afternoon. If Nikko is having a good day, I might take the floral quilt to baste on the floor after the meal. It has been a while between posts so it might be nice to have some progress to report.

The volunteer lilies look more like Jack's beanstalk this year.
Maybe trying to get closed to the sun.

The Maple tree leafed out red this year. What I thought was one tree with two trunks, seems to be actually two trees. I am also noticing a difference in the bark as they get older.

This past week the red leaves have been dropping. My neighbor's maple is also dropping leaves. I think many plants are confused by the mixed up weather.