Saturday, March 28, 2020

When life gives you scraps...

The flimsy got its last border two weeks ago and I could take a picture in the park on Sunday. At first I thought maybe that dark paisley border was a bit heavy and maybe needed to be trimmed a bit narrower, but I had selected five inches because it will be good for the celtic heart stencil I made for the last baby quilt.

I wanted to back the quilt with a non-directional busy floral print but I just didn't have enough of anything and the idea of hand-piecing something with all that measuring and then having a bunch of seams on the back side was discouraging. Instead I found a large length of plain white fabric and after cutting it one seam was enough.

I had planned to take the quilt to church for basting but could clear enough space on the floor of the empty apartment, and though I had to crawl around on top, it worked perfectly for pin-basting. Not having enough of the #60 or #80 weight thinsulate, I put on two layers of #40. The white backing is a bit hard to quilt through so my stitches are only five or six to the inch.

I am quilting this all in the ditch and then I will decide about the large spaces. I quilted others with big-stitch but with this backing, I'm not sure how the reverse side will look.

I had planned to give this to the women's society to sell or raffle at their flea market, but that has been called off. Now I am not sure where it will go but I plan to pass it on to the church as my tithe to raise money for the homeless mission or the library renovation.

Church now on livestream only. School closed. Scouts not allowed to meet . choir not meeting and cut to 4 members from this week. Neighbor's house undergoing renovation ... banging and clanging of setting up scaffolding last Friday, then the roaring of a motor all day Saturday and the smell of some chemical that gave me a headache. Being super-sensitive to noise and smells, I had to get away from the house, so went to the park to pull weeds ... three big bags full for Wednesday's collection and three more out today. Once the mosquitoes come out in full I won't be able to spend that much time in the park. I am wondering how much longer the work will go on.

Since the work is in the house to the south, (18 inches between my window and their wall) the scaffolding blocks off all my sun on the third floor. I had been working up there to save electricity on heat and light. A tall apartment on the east side and a three-story building a few yards to the west means very little sun coming in. Wearing a down jacket and sweater inside, I was surprised when I stepped outside today to see how much warmer it was than my livingroom.

Weeks ago, thinking of what I would give up for Lent, little  did I realize the choice that would be made for me. Many thanks to my blogging friends for a taste of normalcy.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Making use of down-time

A friend is starting up an NPO for teaching English to orphans, with the expectation that when they age out of the facility, that English ability might give them a leg up getting jobs.

In February, she asked me to make a banner for her to use in promoting her venture. I have no picture of that ... just a colorful strip of fabric with the letters JOEE and an embroidered kangaroo.
After that, I began to think an I-Spy quilt might add a bit of fun to the learning, so dug out my tin of 4-inch kid-friendly prints. I had 80 already marked and cut ... perfect for a quilt.

I added alphabet cornerstones along the border sashings and JOEE along the top border.
As I was putting this together, all kinds of ideas kept coming to mind of games to play other than I-Spy. I made two small beanbags thinking of maybe tossing them onto the quilt and making a sentence using the picture. If the bag lands on a letter, maybe coming up with a noun, verb, and adverb or adjective in a short sentence with that letter. 

I used some of my 2x2" scraps for the beanbags and put a pocket on the back corner to hold them.

I was told by the Children's Ministry director at church that this friend will be coming next week to give the children's message and promote her NPO with church members.

I think that will be a perfect time to pass this to her.
Oh, by the way, can you see the button on the pocket? It is a leftover from the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.

So many activities have been cancelled. School is off. The quilt group is not meeting. The Tokyo American Club has cancelled our Scout meetings. Choir practice is now done from home by computer. Luckily church goes on, though many weekly meetings are off.
I was somewhat glad for the extra time to put the quilt together. Since it will be carried from place to place, I used a light thinsulate #40 for batting. I will have a week longer to think about a carrying bag.

I had to make several trips into town during the week.

My watch died and I needed to take it to have the battery replaced.

Then, I had to go to the small sewing shop to get enough bias tape for the border of the quilt.

Along the way were signs of spring. These little daffodils are in a neighbor's bed which the rest of the year is full of weeds.
I have one of these in a pot that is blooming too.

The local day-care children and adults are enjoying the sun in the parks nearby.

White jonquils were blooming along the fence of the local school ...

Now closed until April when the new school year begins.

Some early magnolias have begun to bloom.

This one near the base of the tree seems to be communicating with the violets.

The big purple magnolias along the road to the station have just begun to open but because of winter pruning, there are few buds left to open.

The flagpole at the empty school had a Japanese flag flying at half-staff in memory of the 3/11 earthquake and tsunami.
There were a few older children kicking balls and running around in one of the parks along the way.

The most striking display is along the fence of a neighbor's yard.

This Orchid Vine is just stunning.
Actually, there are two vines, one purple and one white, but they are twisted together making it seem the flowers are varied.

I had been watching a huge cymbidium orchid outside the school entry getting ready to bloom.

Every year it has large flower spikes that bloom a very long time. It is one plant that seems to thrive on neglect.
With school closed, I am missing  being greeted by those flowers.

I wish I could say my house is cleaner now that I have had time on my hands. Tidying up doesn't seem to have the same voice as the call to quilt.

Hope all are staying well....
and you can get a wee taste of seasonal flowers.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Time flies while standing still

Two weeks ago, when I showed up for work, the director dropped into the art room to tell me that "old people" are more likely to get the virus so I should stay home so as not to infect the school. (actually, I think young people are more likely to carry the germs without symptoms and spread them around).

The art teacher was shocked as she relies heavily on my help both in class and in the library. After a lot of ins and outs, it was finally decided I could remain. Well, that was Thursday...

Friday I went to help the quilting group at Nishimachi. One of the quilt members is a doctor and there was a lot of discussion about the virus. Yes, she agreed that those masks we were required to wear were useless other than to prevent spreading germs if the person wearing the mask was sick. I dislike them because they make my glasses fog up and with everyone muttering into masks, one cannot understand what people are saying. Hand sanitizer is not as good as soap and water, but people today do not know how to wash their hands properly.

Saturday evening, my cub scouts had their pinewood derby race.

We don't have a very big group but I was pleased to see how everyone chipped in and helped. The scouts from the troop came and assembled the track and parents helped with weight adjustment and getting the cars ready to run, a dad on the starting gate and two moms with cameras at the finish line ... taking videos and running them over to see who finished in what order. I especially liked the way the boys cheered each other on.

My car this year was not very fancy ... a two-day production. The boy scouts brought their former cars and tried to beat mine. Hah.. hotter than a dog? We did have a fun event.

Sunday I had a call from my daughter telling me the school director had called her trying to get her to convince me not to go to work any more.  Then, Monday I had a message from the art teacher telling me that all the after school programs had been cancelled for now and all the teachers who take trains to work had to be out of the school by 3:30. So... no school for me. I was hoping the after school activities weren't cut just to get me away, but by the end of the week it was announced that school will be closed from Monday.  The Friday quilt group was cancelled too.

Friday was my daughter Norie's birthday and the sweet daphne planted all those years ago when she was born was perfuming the air by the front gate.

Saturday I was part of the choir for a memorial service for a former member. It was a lovely service but rather poorly attended.

Sunday I noticed the first service was rather sparse in attendance but the second service was pretty full and two choirs participated. The communications ministry meeting went on as planned and so far our Tuesday evening Sermon Lab is going on as usual.
I did notice the trains are a bit less crowded.

Today is quite windy and the plum tree is decorating the walkway with pink polkadots.

Tonight's choir practice will be held at home on our computers. I wonder how many will actually practice.

So it goes....
My wristwatch died and luckily, after a trip into town, I could get it back to working.
With so much of the regular schedule on hold, I will need that to remind me what day it is.

A small reminder that spring is around the corner popped up in my flower box.

I remember the wooded hillsides of my youth covered with a carpet of daffodils.

Like the puple spiderlily that bloomed in December and January, the confusion has continued.

This poinsettia had tiny flowers set by Christmas but is enjoying the last few weeks of January with 15 flowers still putting out red petals.
Slow and steady wins the race...

And ... at this time of year ... no competition with what the flower shops are selling...

So ... with things cancelled ... what am I doing?
Well, Onigiri delivery still goes on Monday mornings.

A friend asked me to make a banner to use in promoting an NPO she is starting up, a program to teach english to orphans.
When those youth reach a certain age, they are put out on their own and hopefully good english skills will help them to find jobs.
I took the banner to her in early February at the Women's Conference but did not take a picture.

I began thinking that an I-Spy quilt might be a fun way to work on language skills and went through my 4" squares of kid-friendly prints. With the 80 I picked out, I began putting together a quilt for her to use. Last night I added the outer borders and today I will see what might work for the backing.

I have heard she is coming to our church later this month to do the children's message and introduce her NPO. With lots of "free" time, I hope to get this together and quilted by then.

Meanwhile, the feedsack quilt sits on the sofa, all basted and ready for quilting to begin ... and a second floral quilt waits for a border. I had thought of donating that one to the woman's society to raffle off but the flea market has been cancelled and the women's society is struggling to overcome challenges of leadership.
So.... off to my fabric bin... While some things in the future are unknown ... a quilt with a purpose has a lot of power to motivate.