Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Back on track

Spring has sprung, and after a week of hunting up mulberry leaves for those tiny silkworms, I thought it was also a good time to get some leaves on the tree at the center of Phoebe's quilt.

As the four borders surrounding the tree represent each season, I decided to start the tree with spring on the left and move across to winter on the right. I probably should have done this before adding the I-spy blocks and doing all the quilting, because even though I basted the edges and pinned them in place, sewing them on in the center area is not easy to do. What would have taken a few hours some months ago is a much bigger challenge now.

I drafted a plan for a flying Phoebe, but I think, like the leaves, I will need to put it together and baste it before adding it to the space. I am still thinking about this area under the tree... leaves ... grasses ... flowers ... critters? If I think too hard, this may never get done!

The flower on the east side of the house is really showing off. I haven't found a name for the plant but I'm glad it is happy here.

The little orchids are certainly enjoying these spring days too.

Time to get back to work!

Friday, April 19, 2019

A bit of spring is springing

Amazing what a day of sunshine can provide.

As I went out to sweep the street today, I found a big fat flower bud getting ready to open.

I have no idea what this plant is. There is a patch of it in the park where I pull weeds, and I have seen it blooming once. Usually the guys with the weed-whackers slice it off at ground level before it gets to even form a bud.
Last year they yanked out a dead lilac bush behind it and pulled up some bulbs which I rescued and planted in a space along the east side of the house. It seems to be rewarding me for the rescue.

When coming through the garden to get my camera, I found an orchid in bloom ... clinging to the Biwi tree.

This is one of a number that were rescued from my friend Wally's garden before his move to a retirement home.

I see a few others are leafing out in other spots. This is really the only side of the house that gets a  few hours of sunshine.

I noticed also when I was hanging laundry in the greenhouse that the orchid cactus is getting ready to bloom.

In the fall I cut off a section of this long arm, thinking soon it would tip the pot off the top of the step-tansu.

That piece I rooted in another pot and it seems to be doing well. The bud near the cat seems like it will be first to open, and there are two above growing larger each day.

The easter cactus had a hard summer last year out on the roof
so I brought it inside for a bit of TLC over the winter.

I had been thinking of re-potting it but I will wait until after the blooms are finished.
I have one more outside on the west side, and it usually blooms much later than this one.

Two more days to go ... Looks like it might bloom on Easter.

Another little cactus is also getting ready to show off its colors. I have been putting off tidying up the greenhouse because the heater doesn't work and it has been too cold to spend much time up there other than snuggling in my sleeping bag at night.

I guess the flowers are trying to tell me that warmer days are in sight.

There has been some suggestion that Leia may be coming sometime this weekend to make batik eggs

These were batiked as raw eggs and then the innards blown out.

I was crawling under the table to get them out of the hutch, and had a big surprise.

The past few years I have had no luck in saving the eggs from the year before, so I thought I had tossed them all out and only saved the cocoons for crafts.
Well, a few of the moths had laid eggs on the cocoons and I tipped the container on to the floor, and in picking them up, noticed a number of tiny wiggly worms.
I quickly ran to the park to snatch up a few young mulberry leaves. I had just seen them beginning to come out on Tuesday so they are not very big, but there were enough small ones to feed those little caterpillars. I spent the next hour or so picking them up with a little paintbrush and placing them on the leaves.  I guess there will be another item added to my daily list of chores.

The baby quilt is moving along and I am now quilting the last border.

I have been happy to have take-along work with these feed sack stars. 4 trips into town each week ... with about one star in each direction, (depending on how long or if I get a seat),
and an on-line District Committee Scout meeting ... They all add up.
This picture was taken earlier in the week, and yesterday's trip added #50. Not sure what the plan is, but I still have some fabrics that have not been used and also a few duplicate squares.
I thought of maybe using some of the scraps in a floral border appliqued on a solid fabric. Some of those fabrics are very rough and loosely woven so I'm not sure how the would work.

So ... it seems that spring ... though it has been taking a few small steps forward, then a giant leap backward ... is knocking on my garden door. I'd better get back to that border before there is another interruption.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

The unveiling

After lying flat across two tables as mothers gathered to put in the stitches, members of the group were still looking at areas, wondering if they needed to add some stitches here or there. The time to finish had neared, and there was still a bit of "cleaning up" of threads on the back, but basically, it was near enough done that I suggested the time had come to hang it up and step back for the all-over view.

Indeed, the different angle showed off a lot of the quilting textures that had not been quite as apparent when it was laying flat. It also made it clear that a lot more tiny details would hardly be noticed.

The school was having a "book parade" last Friday, and we carried the quilt on it's stand down to the area where the parents were filing in to watch their children parade in costumes representing books they had enjoyed.

Here I am with some of the quilters when bringing our work out on display for the first time.

Nishimachi International School has a long history of yearly quilts.

They are not only auctioned off for fund-raisers (like the American School used to do),
but they have also documented much of the work through post cards or greeting cards ... something I always wished ASIJ had done.

If anything, they would be popular with the many mothers who gave parts of their year to work on them.

I was only a participant in the final weeks, as I have no connection with the school other than scouting families who have attended there.
It happened that the daughter of the mother I am standing with, used to be in the after-school art class where I worked. One of the things I helped with was to document the work done by the children, and each time I asked Marika about her story, I was taken on an adventure. All her work was a story.

When she graduated to kindergarten at Nishimachi, she wanted to continue the after-school art class but, as it turned out, Monday, when I was there, Nishimachi had another program of Hawaiian dance that Marika wanted to do and was conflicted because she wanted to be with me. Through my boss, I sent her mother a message to tell Marika that Hula is a dance that tells a story and I would feel sad should she miss that opportunity just because of me. Happily, she went for the Hula and we have managed to keep connected ... adding her wonderful mom to the equation. that was my link to this delightful group.

The cherry trees in the area near the school were so pretty against the blue sky.
The peach tree on my walk to the parking spot is also in full bloom.

How is this for a splash of color?  we planted one of these trees in our garden when my second daughter was born. Unfortunately, it did not survive transplanting when the house was re-built.

It would have been almost this size by now. This one is a few short blocks down the street.

Tonight is my Cub Scout pack meeting, so I had better stop procrastinating and get things organized for that event. "A Scout is Prepared" ... at least I try to be...

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

What's up?

A cold rainy day ... and a good time to sit and work on a quilt in my lap. The borders on Phoebe's quilt are slowly getting done ... only a bit more to go and I can work on the tree area.

I have prepared some border points to feature the feed sack prints and enjoy having a bit of take-along work.

This picture was taken Tuesday evening at church on the floor of the fellowship hall.
On the way home, I completed one more block.

I have been pulling colors from each of the prints to put in the background stars.
There is not a great variety of colors but I am trying to combine them in a way that they can be arranged in a balanced way.

I am thinking some of the smaller scraps can be made into a floral border so I haven't tossed out those bits.

Our spring seems to be taking two steps forward and then a few back. I never know how many layers to put on each morning. (and if I need to peal a few off ... how long it will be before I need to go get them again. My bed is waiting for the day to put away the sleeping bag and dress up the bed with some new sheets my daughter gifted me ... and actually see the quilt that is under the down comforter.

Next post I will share the finished quilt made with the school mothers. Until then ... back to quilting.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

A snail's pace

Last week one of my neighbors was un-tangling a vine along the top of her fence. It was just beginning to burst in bloom and I asked her what it was.

She said she didn't know as it had been bought by her daughter-in-law.
Looking closely at the flowers and leaves, it definitely seems to be some kind of orchid.
I went on line to look up "vine orchid" and was beginning to find a few similar pictures when my computer died.

At first the cursor became a little rainbow going round and round. By the next day, the screen was all black.

Finally, as I was going into town for choir practice and there was an apple store across the street from where our church is located, I decided to pack up the laptop in my bag and see if there was something that could be fixed.

 I was rather intimidated walking into that big shop full of people and devices, so it took a lot of bravery to step inside and find someone who might direct me to someone who could help.

A person took my name and email address and type of problem, then sent me to a place to sit and wait.
Luckily I had some handwork to distract me, and it was not really much of a wait before a handsome, smiling, young man showed up asking to have a look.

He showed me what to do if that happened again while fixing the problem. He spoke perfect english. He checked other issues I had been having and got rid of an overload of "free" stuff being advertised each time I tried to open my laptop... (free cleaners that you had to buy etc.) and checked that I had plenty of storage. He also helped me find a way to send photos from my cell phone to a place where I can edit and use them.

When I thanked him and asked how much I owed, he said the service was free. Oh my! I sure walked out of there feeling a lot better than I did when I walked in. As I left, two of those who helped direct me asked if my problem had been fixed. Well, that area of town sees lots of high-end tourists and that store must be happy to sell them lots of items. Nothing like good service!

The magnolias are in wonderful bloom in the park. (above picture).

As I drove out to Tama for my scouting event,
I saw the mountain sakura had begun to bloom.

This is along the road up to the scouting area. Not as pretty as some varieties in town but still a harbinger of spring.

The weekend was quite cold, the only heat coming from two ceremonial campfires.

It was predicted to rain but coming prepared for rain seems to be the best way the make the weatherman change his mind.

Nikko went along with me.
She is showing signs of doggy dementia and kept walking in circles, getting all tangled with her leash. she stepped in her water dish and overturned it on the floor. At least when I went to the car to rest between ceremony presentations, she curled up on the front seat and slept. By the time I returned home for my english lessons, she was so exhausted she slept right on the floor in the entryway.
Her health otherwise seems OK and she is focused always on food, checking her food dish at regular intervals. She has also begun peeing in the house which she has never done before.

I have had many busy days, starting very early in the mornings. The choir sang two services meaning I had to have Nikko walked and fed and be out of the house by 6:30 am. Choir practice also went longer than usual because I sing in a small choir that practices when the main rehearsal is over. Some nights I don't get home until nine or ten pm. As usual, even on holidays, onigiri delivery to the homeless goes on and I have to be out by 4:am on Mondays.

I spent some time looking through the feedsack bits that came among much fabric. I decided to feature some in a quilt and cut four-inch squares. I picked two colors from each print and marked colored scraps for settings. It is nice to have some handwork to take along for long train rides and lots of waiting for things to get started.

Here is what I have managed to assemble so far. I notice the variety of colors is rather narrow and I will probably have to repeat some of these settings a number of times. I hope to join them without sashing if possible.

Meanwhile, time at home is spent sorting through the donated stash and getting it ironed and folded and in meaningful piles. The quilt for baby Phoebe is now in the hoop on the third side's outer border. I have plans to add leaves to the tree and a flying Phoebe once the outer quilting is done. I have made a small sketch to work from.

The last few weeks I have been helping the quilters at Nishimachi International School with their auction quilt. The finish date is nearing and it has been fun making new friends in the group.

The quilter who donated her stash showed up the Sunday before last with a book I had loaned her plus another bin of fabric and a lot of tools. Since all those tools were marked in centimetres, I took them to share with the new group. There were also hoops that found new homes. There are a number of stencils that will need to be sorted and given a new home.

So, though life seems to keep getting in the way, progress goes slowly. Weeks between posts can be due to any number of reasons... but at least the laptop issues will not be the cause.