Thursday, December 31, 2020

End of a crazy year. Where did it go?

The year started and ended with table runners.

I had a tin of blocks made with holiday fabrics that I had used to make a small runner for my genkan above the shoe cupboard.
When Kimie was here, she pulled out some of the blocks and arranged them into a table runner. 

This was mailed off to Oregon in March. (in plenty of time for this Christmas).

At the end of the year, I went back to those blocks and made a similar runner for a neighborhood friend.

That friend often leaves goodies at my door. I will come home or go out to find a bag of apples or a giant pear, or some other goodie in a bag hanging from my doorknob.

I put this together earlier in the week and took it with a note to hang at her door.

They look almost the same and the days inbetween seemed a lot the same too.

In March I finished an I-Spy quilt for a friend who has begun a NPO for teaching English to orphans and other children in care homes, hoping that having English skills might help them find jobs as they age out of the homes.

I think making a game of learning would take some of the pressure off. I put a pocket on the back with a couple of beanbags they might toss in a game.

In March I also finished a quilt I had made to donate to the church for raising money, hopefully to cover what I could no longer donate with my teaching job ending in mid February.

"My Tithe" was raffled off by the Outreach ministry throughout November  and raised money for an orphanage our church supports as well as the homeless ministry.
Though the raffle was on line mostly, it did pretty well.

The family who won it was very happy. I had made them an I-Spy quilt when their youngest was born, and they sent me a video of that little guy playing I-Spy among the flower prints.

In early July I was asked to make something for a family who was leaving. 
They had been very active running "Saturday Night Out". a once a month fun activity for members and families, with games, a dinner, and a study group/discussion while the children had some entertainment.

This had words of thanks within the design.
I didn't have a lot of time to come up with a plan.

In mid July I put the final stitches into my quilt "Staring Feed Sacks" I still have  some unused feed sack prints and am thinking I would like to make another quilt using them. I liked this setting because it didn't cut the prints into small pieces. I am quite satisfied with the results and those prints bring back many memories of things made using those fabrics.

The month of August, I put together another I-Spy quilt.

This one for the new associate Pastor's family. I finished it August 27th in time for their arrival and two week quarantine. I made a set of cards to go with it with English on one side and Japanese on the other.

They have a young son and are expecting another child so I thought this might be a welcoming gift to greet them. 

Meanwhile I had been working on small houses ... one for each day of virus confinement. Those were only 3"x 4" when finished, and going into a tin. It was a great way to use lots of small scraps.
I had plenty of time to think about what I would be doing with them.

Meanwhile, in October, I was asked to come up with a Stewardship Banner.  This is the 11th year in a row that I have made one. The theme was selected and passed to me October 15th,  It reminded me of my father making new roses by hybridising from seed. The hands were embroidered over a background pieced by light floral prints. 

The hanging sleeve was added the 21st of October and I left it by the back door of the church when I went to pick up the onigiri for delivery to the homeless.

A laptop carrying case is still sitting in my entryway waiting for the US postal service to get its act together, 

I made it for my daughter's birthday earlier in the summer, but the US is still not accepting anything other than letters,

The houses finally made it into a quilt.

This was finally finished last week.

Two of the houses are dedicated to friends who have passed away this year.
One, a longtime missionary in Japan, and mother-in-law to my eldest daughter. 
The other a friend who contributed much of the fabrics used here.

this joined the table runner I had finished in November using extra houses,

SO ... here is the Coronaville pair, and yet the down time goes on.

Maybe I have enough of a reminder of those down days.

Still in the wings is my log cabin challenge ... moved aside when the Tokyo Dome Quilt show was cancelled. 

I'm still thinking about what I want to make 

My partnership block seems to have gone into a quilt. I think it was shown on TV but I didn't get to see it.

Meanwhile, Christmas has come and gone as just another day ... other than a group skype with the kids and a visit to my friend, Wally, at his senior home.
The past week has been spent trying to get my living area a bit better organized, and the dust removed more or less. 

So, from my semi-tidy livingroom to yours, I send best wishes for a happy and productive New Year.

Monday, December 7, 2020

Sore fingers

 With more "down time", my Coronaville quilt is progressing toward the outer borders. Now that many trees are down to their last leaves,  taking sweeping breaks are less frequent. Zoom time keeps going up and my note taking is done in stitches.

After making a sore hole in my middle fingernail and several bloody holes in my index finger, I began to use some rubber thimbles on both. The one on the middle finger was soon torn to bits. 

I used to have a silver thimble. In my family it was a traditional gift for a girl's 20th birthday. Mine had a band of cloisonne flowers and my name and the date engraved on the inside rim. Long ago, while sitting in the bleachers at the junior high, that thimble rolled off and fell to the floor under the bleachers. I quickly went to the end and crawled underneath looking for it, not to be found. Thinking it might have rolled to the front under the shorter steps, I waited until the game was over and the people were gone to search again, but it was not to be found ... even in the final cleaning of the gym. In all the years since, I have never found a comfortable replacement. L size? M size? if they are in a plastic envelope, the fit is no guarantee. I have a metal one that is too tight to fit all the way, and a plastic one that falls off between stitches.

Last night as I was just putting in a few last stitches before going to bed, I found a thread I had left waiting until I got to that part. Instead of taking the needle from the thread I had been using, I grabbed another needle from my pin cushion. It had a larger eye so was easy to thread and surprise, the eye was not attacking my fingers. Maybe my stitches are not so small as with the little needle, but this is a bed cover. I do not plan to enter it in a quilt show so no one will be counting the stitches. They hardly show as I am quilting in the ditch, and since the backing is white, they don't show on the back either. I think my fingers have just won a reprieve.

Meanwhile, this seems to be the "year of reform". It started with the house next to the one across the street to the west, then the one next door to the south. All up and down the side streets, there are frames surrounding houses that are getting renovations of paint or new roofing etc.

Last week, while I was sweeping, this huge truck piled high with frames, was trying to get down the street past my house,

My Japanese isn't all that good, but here is the sign that truck had driven past. It was already with the front end in the parking space of my neighbor (usually filled by her small car) and trying to get between the fence on the left side and my wall on the right. My plum tree is now farther over the street than when this picture was taken, but, had that truck managed to fit through that space, it would have taken out the tree as well.

I just stood there in the middle of that space, keeping the truck at bay, until a worker ran up and talked the driver into backing up and taking the wider street to the south across from the sign.

I felt like asking that driver if he could read. Even if he had managed to get past my house, that large of a truck could never have made it around the corner and down that small street. As it was, he had trouble backing from that one-way street into the space where he parked.  Another house under renovation ... and less than an hour later, there was another truck in that same spot, blocking the street the first one went down, and setting up scaffolding around the second one from the corner. This morning my doorbell rang and there was a worker asking me to be the next to be renovated. Hah! All we need is one more truck. And, how would they set up scaffolding in the 18inches of space between my house and the wall that is filled with AC units? I was glad to say I am not the owner.

And, now with the autumnal equinox well over, here is my Christmas spiderlily.

It is enjoying a bit of morning sun, reflected off the windows of the renovated house to the southwest. Unlike it's bright red cousins that pop up in the fall, this one sends up it's leaves first.
The flowers open slowly day-by-day and it lasts long into the new year. There are still a few buds to open and this picture doesn't do justice to the lovely purple color.

So ... now, to the rhythm of hammering in all directions, I will go back to a bit of stitching, thinking that next is the outer border with no seam allowances to challenge my needle.


Wednesday, November 25, 2020

65 Woody Plants Common to the Kanto Area


Link: 69 Woody Plants of the Kanto Area, Descriptions and Illustrations by Julie Fukuda

After taking a course in Scouting's College of Commissioner Science, I taught the course the following year and was presented with a "Master's" degree. Then I was given the challenge to do the PHD.

For that, I selected several one-year projects to present to the committee and this was the one selected. I had a year to complete it and thought it would be helpful to scouts of the BSA here in Japan where there is almost no information on native plants in English. There are many requirements involving nature at each level of scouting and most of the leaders have no knowledge of plants to share. 

The illustrations were drawn in pen and ink and the words were added with a word processor. The scout groups could print the book out on A4 paper, fold each page in half, and staple along the open side to make a book

Now we have moved to the age of computers and one of my scouting friends, as one of his Woodbadge requirements, turned the book into a pdf, making it easier for scouts to access.  

Some of the maps need makeovers, as trees come and go, are cut down or replaced. Still, the leader can stand in a spot and read the description to the youth and they can try to find the tree or plant and check it against the map and picture. 

This weekend I will be working on outdoor leader training, and the timing is just right as the nature segment is one on my list.

Many thanks to my son, Jon, for jumping through the final hoops to make this version more accessible.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Busier than a one-armed paper hanger.


Monday was my second date with the driver's license bureau. Of course, that is the day I leave home at 4:00 am for onigiri delivery

I had been scheduled to  take the second part of the test starting at 11:30 am, but a few days before, the bureau called my daughter to tell her the time had been moved up to 11:00.

That figures ... let's make those old people taking the test ride two hours, part way on crammed commuter trains. Of course, not wanting to be late, I allowed about 20 minutes extra for getting lost... meaning I got to stand in the crammed sardine can and wait in long lines at station changes.

I arrived at quarter to eleven and was told I was late, that they had called and moved the time up to 10:45. Well, I never got that call, Maybe they called my daughter who was out of town.

Rushed to the classroom on the 4th floor... forms to fill out ... money to pass out ... and LOTS of waiting time.

Actually, the whole day was spent waiting in lines. Assorted eye tests... at one there was a long standing line of hundreds of people all spaced out so as to make rows and rows of people waiting to go in a small booth for an eye test that was about the same as one already taken. Then another line to take the driving test along a course. I swear, if they had offered to give me that car for free, I would have said, "No way!" The gear shift lever was between the seats and each movement was several steps. The car seat was way too low and couldn't be adjusted. Anyway, I passed that part, went back for the lecture... all in Japanese, and was handed a booklet of rules, also all in Japanese. Then more and more waiting Finally standing in line to get my picture taken and then sent to another line on a different floor to wait for my number to be called. Only about 90 people in front but they seemed to call only 20 people at a time with long breaks in between. Then, pay more money and wait to be handed my card. Finally finished at 3:55 and went out to stand in the line for the 40 minute ride back to the train station. It was about 5:59 when I got home, not even having had a lunch break. Luckily I had slipped a smoothie into my bag, so had a bit to sip from time to time. 

Thankfully, that is over for the next three years. Hopefully in that time, someone might figure out that there are better ways to test senior citizens skills than putting them through two days of torture.

Next on my list was an invitation to an Eagle Court of Honor for a scout. 
When this boy was a cub scout, I gave the boys what I called "The Cubmaster's Challenge". I promised to carve a neckerchief slide for and cub graduating to Boy Scouts having earned the "Arrow of Light" and completed everything in the book including the religious award and the conservation award. When the boys met the challenge, they got a slide of a hand in the scout sign and a promise that if they made it all the way to Eagle, I would carve them an eagle slide.
I didn't get the invitation until around Sunday and there was not much time to whip out a carving. I don't like to do a rush job and possibly get cut or make a mistake and have to start over. 
Tuesday I spent whittling the bird, and today did the painting and varnish. Now it is ready to go with a note rolled up ant put through the ring.

As the scouting community here in Tokyo is a revolving door, with families here for just three or four years, I am lucky this scout will not have to wait to have his slide shipped to the next country of residence. I think there have been years that I sent five eagles off to far away lands. He will get it presented on Friday.

My Coronaville table runner is almost finished with only the border to quilt. Last week I went into town to buy two rolls of thinsulate but I still need to prepare the backing and get the bed quilt basted.

Last month I began trying to trick my poinsettia into blooming by Christmas. I have cut the amount of daylight it gets by moving it from a closet to a sunny space. So far, two small leaves have begun to come out red. Last year there were a few red leaves but the flowers were later in January. We shall see...

My greenhouse/bedroom is enjoying warm sunny days. 

This spiky plant in the foreground came from my friend, Wally's house, along with a number of plants that were raised by his wife.

Can you see the flowers?

Here is a closer picture.

The wife was a fan of succulents from South Africa.
I have no idea what this is, but there are several pots of something similar.

 There seems to be more than one plant in this pot on the left.

The flowers are very tiny.

Those kind of star shaped red segments that look like leaves seem to be starters of new plants.

I have a few books about cacti, but those only seem to cover ones that are found in the Americas. 

This one totally thrives on neglect. It has spent a year sitting on the AC unit on the balcony.

I have also moved a small potted rose up to the greenhouse as it had lost all its leaves after blooming in October, and was looking very sad. I talk to it each day and cheer it on and now it is looking very lovely. I don't know if I will get flowers, but at least it is saved.  

So ... that is about all for now. I should probably prepare some hand work for take-along work... and maybe get to basting the bed quilt so I will have something to work on during my down time...

other than running outside several times a day to sweep up falling leaves... I should have planted ginkgos that drop their leaves all at once...

Saturday, November 7, 2020

Time flies


Having grown up in a home with a large garden, being surrounded by flowers was a given. It was one thing I missed most when coming to Tokyo where space is very limited.

My own garden is actually a "setback" and should my neighbor to the north rebuild, this area might be snatched up to widen the road. 

The large Japanese style house to the north has a huge garden and should the entire property be sold, like the property to the west of my house, it would likely be filled with four large houses with no space between. 

Each day, as I sweep the fallen leaves along my street, I give thanks for that garden, because without it's protection, my own little patch might be covered in concrete or asphalt. 

Another thing I have learned to appreciate is the way the plants bloom in an orderly fashion, not competing with each other, but coming out in their own time and season.

The season in my garden now is the "Hototogisu" or toad lily. These are all volunteers, coming up among the azalea hedges. They take their time, and unlike the spider lilies that burst out and fade in about a week, these open slowly and hang on long enough to enjoy.

Each day, more open and greet me and I like their calm beauty.

The spider lilies are long gone, but the leaves (short ones in the right front of the pot) have begun to come up.

The pineapple lily is now only a few wilted leaves to the left, but framed in the wire ring are more leaves and a tall bud building expectations. 

I don't even know where this one came from, but it seems to be a relative of the spiderlily. Last year the flower opened in December and lasted into the new year and the color was purple. 

There are a few pink and white spider lilies on the east side of the house, but those behave just like the red ones. Meanwhile I enjoy the freckled flowers and await the next show in line.

The extra houses have gone into a runner for my coffee table . They are now awaiting the border, as I am now sewing the dark swirly sky on to the main quilt. These will get the leftovers.

Guess which one was made for Halloween...

And which one for November 3rd....These little houses have been an interesting year-long adventure and there will be a lot to look back on when they are finished and in use.


Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Work in progress

This morning I added the last row of houses to the border. I still have a lot of leftovers and am thinking a table runner might be a better way to use them than another border or on the backside.


My plan is to use the dark sky print in the outer border. I am now trying to decide whether to add a sashing in either the light or dark blues used in the inner sashing, or to add the border directly. Laying it out with the choices has not really helped me decide.

So ... what should I do now? Stop and tidy up my messy house while I wait for inspiration? Or maybe put some of the leftover houses together for a table runner...  Decisions, decisions, always decisions!

Sunday, October 25, 2020

A new week has begun

 When I came to Japan in the early 60s, hardly anyone had ever heard of Halloween.

For the first time I can remember, I could sit at the table and enjoy a birthday dinner without jumping up to answer the trick-or-treaters at the door.

It wasn't till our few years in New Jersey that my kids got to dress up in costumes.

When we came back to Japan, the company paid for a large western style house in "Tokugawa Village", a compound of about 40 western style houses in Mejiro, mostly rented by ex-pat families.

Many kept the trick or treating tradition, but except for a few Japanese families, the children coming to the door were just that small part of the international community.

Spring forward about 40 years, and things have changed. 

Young people in Japan seem to love to dress in costumes, and here was a great chance to justify that activity. Now it is not just an activity of a bunch of foreigners. These pictures were taken less than a week ago on a trip to the dentist.

This apartment building is in an area with a number of foreign embassies and residents and international schools. I don't know if foreigners live there, but for the past few years, the decorations have become more and more profuse.

The 100 yen shop about ten minutes walk away had Halloween items for sale out front before the end of September.

Last year, as I went for onigiri delivery in Shibuya, the streets and crosswalks were crammed with young adults celebrating in costume.

Since my delivery schedule falls at the end of a weekend, around 5:am, I will probably get a good view of the way things are going.
By the way, these young people don't seem much worried about the virus and maybe only a third are wearing masks, (and about half of those, on their chins).
There probably won't be a parade this year, but I'll bet there will be plenty of costumed dogs walking by our church. Halloween seems to be here to stay.

Sunday I delivered the Stewardship banner to church, as well as the I-Spy quilt made for the new pastor's family. I think they will be arriving very soon and it might be good to have something to play with while two weeks in quarantine, especially with a two-year-old to entertain.

Now I can go back to focus on my Coronaville.  I added a row of houses along the first border. Not a very clear picture but that row will be the next round ... three more sides to go. Then I will have to figure out where all the leftover houses will go. Another round? The backside? This is becoming a very interesting neighborhood. At least a few of them got their day in the sun.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020



After using the word "making", I got some messages stating the verse they are using is "doing". This afternoon I un-sewed the mak letters and added do. It seems a lot easier to un sew hand work than if I had fused it or sewed by machine. The balance isn't so good with a shorter word, but I think it will do.

I still have a bit of time and may decide to add some quilting in the "BEHOLD" area.  I embroidered       Is. 43 - 19 with blue pearl cotton, in the lower right corner. 

I have added the sleeve and put eye-screws in the dowel, so it will be ready to hang. Now... I'd better go shopping if I am going to have dinner ... and I can take out my little houses after I eat.

Thursday, October 15, 2020

On a roll

All the blocks are together, and the inner sashing has been added.
Now I will be lining up the row houses for the border.
And though this is calling out to me to have my attention, there are other axes to grind.

 The new stewardship banner is way behind time and I can dither no longer, so move aside, Coronaville and let me get to it.

The selected Bible verse is, Isaiah 43; 19, "Behold, I will do a new thing."

We have used a similar theme a few years ago when the fellowship hall was under renovation.

My thinking was a pair of hands, offering a sprouting seed.

The leaves will represent time, talents, and treasures.

I needed a background for the banner, and, instead of a solid print or a tye-dye which I have done before, I decided to piece the background out of light floral prints.

I am thinking I will embroider the hands in the center rather than applique them over the top. 

Then, I will not have to decide on a particular color for the hands. I can applique the soil and seed and leaves into the hands. 

Once that is done, I will decide the border and the placing of the words.

I am feeling some relief to finally get this going. Hopefully once on a roll, I will be able to concentrate on it until it is done.

Monday, October 12, 2020

Community gathering

       Today the last bit of sashing was added to the crazy blocks. I laid them out on the floor to arrange them, trying for a good balance of color and dark and light. Some of them I switched around and some only needed the blocks rotated. Looking at the photograph, I decided to rotate some in the second row. Now I think they are ready to be sewed together.

        Meanwhile, I have to come up with a new stewardship banner for this year. Our committee is very small and I am wishing for a few good thinkers to run my idea by, before starting with fabric. The biggest problem is, that I don't want to be rushed at the last minute. I was handed a bible verse ... quite like one we have used in the past.

Of course, now that the blocks are all prepared in order, it will be hard to ignore them while working on something else. I have not laid out the rest of the houses to figure out if I will have enough, but until these are sewed together, the next steps can wait ... and there will be more houses added because we are still rather confined to home.

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Playing with blogger in the rain

      I guess the only way to overcome these obstacles is to start jumping.

    First things to jump over are the puddles, at we are having several days of rain. In the early morning I went out and swept up the leaves as usual. I didn't bother with my portable bin, but just picked up the leaves from the pile and put them in the bag. My bin-carrying hand was holding the umbrella.

     Then, as the rain let up a bit around noon, I stepped out to see what was up along the street, and found a small lake on the east side of the walk. this street has only been paved since the mid 70s and it has only been a few years since a sewer system was added, but that was only to small parts of the west side where property had been taken by the city when new houses were built. My side does have a few "drains" but those are the little holes in the sewer lids. Those, in the rain, are instantly clogged by leaves and, in this case, flowers from the sweet olive, leaving half the street under water. 

     Some areas one can get past without wading,  but a few put the whole street under water.

     One minute after removing the flowers clogging the drain, the petals were clogging it up again. This will go on until the rain, which is predicted to keep falling until Tuesday, stops filling the pond.

     I took out my portable bin and swept up some of the fallen flowers, hoping to clear some of the puddles for passers by. Those little flowers smelled so wonderful early in the week, but it sure would be nice if they could stay on the tree a bit longer.

    These bags are leftover from the onigiri delivery on Monday mornings, so they are not small. Two sweeping bins full is not a small amount. We shall see how long the the street stays de-laked.

Having down time has its benefits. 

The house blocks are getting sashing. I am thinking of a floral sashing between the row houses and the blocks. I have some tree print I can use to adjust the measurements in the border houses.

Mostly, I want to thank my blogging friends. We are all having challenges with new hoops to jump through, but I am so grateful for all the hints and helpful suggestions my blogging family have provided. Separated in time and space, yet so truly supportive. I could not ask for more. You are not only great quilters but great technical gurus and the  kind of friends everyone needs in these challenging times.

Monday, October 5, 2020

Time for an update

Not much of interest going on around here. As usual, I sweep the street every day from one end of our block to the corner and back. That is my morning exercise ... and sometimes when I get tired of just sitting, I go out for a second sweep. (or maybe a third) The burnable trash is collected twice a week and between sweeping and pulling weeds,  I usually have two large bags to take to the corner. 

The first day of autumn was celebrated by my spider lilies by the gate. There are pink and white ones on the east side of the house, now all in bloom.

The next signs of fall have also arrived  

.Just stepping out the door, the scent of the gardenias fills the air around you

There are Sweet Olive trees to the north and south gardens, and this one is blooming along my small     
garden path in the backyard

  The third flower of the Night-blooming Cereus has given a showing. This time I didn't miss it.                          Two smaller buds did not finish growing. Maybe seeing their large siblings, they decided not to   


 card.  The weeks go by in slow motion. I had to go to immigration to renew my residence.
Yesterday I took the cognition part of the senior driving test. Two hours by three trains and a bus to be demeaned buy assorted employees of the licensing bureau. Luckily, I had my cell phone with me and could call my daughter to stand up for me, that I actually had an appointment for the test and was there in time. 
Though I passed the test with 100%, I have a lot of complaints with the way it was run. Clearly, it was an English version of a test that was written for Japanese people. The 16 pictures we were showed four at a time and expected to remember, were sketches in black and white. We were showed four, and the instructor then said what the pictures were, having the class repeat. one picture of a bird with a darkened   head, could have been a finch or a warbler or any number of birds. If they had shown a crow, everyone might have answered correctly, but when one man asked if the picture could be referred to as just a bird, the teacher said no, it had to be a sparrow, and that man did not know that word. There were a number of 
pictures that were probably more familiar to Japanese people than foreigners. 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   I could write more, but this "new" Blogger" seems to have been designed by the driving school. Nothing works like it used to and I am more frustrated by the  minute.
Needless to say, with the long trip both ways, I was able to add sashing to some of the house blocks. I didn't want to just sew them all together, though that would probably been a good representation of the mess this virus has caused. I decided to alternate sashing on the blocks and think I will put a sashing of floral prints around the outer edge before adding the row of extra houses ... now over 200... and an outer 
If anyone can find hints of how to  move pictures left or right and get the words arranged, I sure could use a lot of coaching. NEW IS NOT BETTER ... OR EVEN HALF AS GOOD. Mr Blogger needs to find a better way to waste his time