Saturday, April 25, 2020

One down, one more to go

The inner border is done, and today I began working on the outer border.
This is a template I drafted in two sizes. The thing I like about these linked hearts is that, while cables need to be gone over with six or more threads, this will fill the space with only two.

I was able to layer this quilt nicely so that it only needed pin basting. After quilting all the blocks in the ditch, I thread-basted the outer border and removed the last of the pins. I can do this border quilting without using a hoop. I can use a long thread without it getting caught on things.

The silkworms are still hatching out. Norie sent a supply of mulberry leaves from her area. This morning I walked to the supermarket one stop over, looking for some food items before they were all sold out and the crowds arrived. The shelves were still being stocked but shoppers were very few. Now I know why.. The stuff I was looking for was still not there. Not sure how to get the timing right. At least I could find more milk and a coffee refill... And taking a different route home, I found a few mulberry trees in the gardens along the way home.

Mulberries are considered "junk trees" here in Japan. I am not sure why, as they are not so big as to take up much space. They attract small birds and the berries are delicious. Of course they don't all ripen at the same time so wouldn't be good for harvesting. They might be considered messy, but there are lots of persimmon trees that drop their fruit making a much bigger mess.

The park where I do most of my weeding has one young mulberry tree hidden behind a row of evergreens. The leaves are a nice size and shape for harvesting during silkworm season. From the fall, construction of two new houses began in the north side of the park fence, making that one tree a bit more visible.

I asked Leia to make me a sign to hang on the tree, saying the leaves were feeding silkworms, so please don't cut it down.

I am hoping if the tree is discovered by the gardeners, they will leave it alone.

It is strange to me that those hired as "gardeners" really don't seem to have any skills of tending a garden.
Mostly, they rake the leaves up into a pile, and when the weeds get knee-high, come out with a weedwacker and cut everything off ... spreading the weed seeds all over.

I have never seen them bend over and pull a weed. In fact, I have come to doubt they know which items are weeds.

These beautiful flowers are getting ready to put on a show.

Maybe the gardeners will be taking a stay-home break and we will actually get to see the blooms, but this is about the time each year they all get whacked off about two inches above the ground.

See why this rescue looks so happy?

They don't really ask for a big plot with tender loving care, just a place to hold their bulbs and greet the spring.

This week, as I go through fabrics looking for certain colors or designs among the gifted stuff,
I come up with all kinds of scraps, cut in weird shapes and bunched up in a heep of other bits and pieces.

I often pick out some to iron out and trim.

This scrap had a lot of useless bits, but I cut it up into as many squares as would fit, and tossed the rest out. I think one 4 inch, one three inch, two twos and 2 ones.

Those all went into the scrap tins and I have been seeing a number of scrappy quilt patterns that might inspire their use.

I have been having trouble lately with the comment section getting a bunch of spam.
I talked with my guru son, who was going to help fix it, but things I had removed earlier in the week, came back again.
I wish there was just some way to block those spam comments. I wonder if the "new" blogger would do that. I hesitate to go there and get myself in an even bigger mess. Ah, well, nothing is for sure, but change!

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Moving on...

The last of the blocks have been quilted. Now I am moving on to the borders.

Usually I put just a one inch inner border and only quilt in the ditch on both sides. This time I used an inch and a half strip and thought it needed a bit more quilting.

Since the blocks are eight inches, I decided to draft a simple pattern I could quilt in a single line all the way around, divided in two inch segments. This is what I came up with. I had planned to melt the plastic template with my soldering iron but I have no idea where it has gone, and while I was lookin for my wood burning tool, I spied my proxon router. I can't say it worked perfectly, as some areas of the stencil are a bit rough and hard on my lead pencil, but it works well enough.

Now one long border is done. Turning the corner with three to go.

The silkworms are a bit of a distraction. about 60 more have hatched out today. I think last year I ended up with about 80 or so and now the number is over 200. These are going to be a challenge to feed if they all survive. The biggest task is moving them one-by-one to fresh leaves with a paintbrush. It is going to be a few weeks before they can manage on their own, and several instars before they are big enough to find and move by hand. I remember once I ordered 100 eggs from a breeder and they sent some kind of food that resembled hot dogs. The instructions said that once they switch to real leaves, they will not go back. I imagine that places that raise them for the silk must use that kind of food, because I can't imagine feeding thousands of silkworms in such a labor intensive way. Just think back to the days of the "silk road"! To think people back then could raise enough for making fabric! Must have kept them safe inside without the threat of a virus.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Gifts and rewards

The scaffolding has come down and sunlight has returned to my greenhouse/bedroom.
My plants are happy and even a few blooms here and there. The poinsettia is still putting on a show ... not like the big gaudy flowers found in a florists shop but maybe seven flowers of part green and part red petals greeting me each morning.

Along the wall on the east side of the house, I am enjoying the reward of a second year of blooms from these bulbs rescued from the weed lot on the park.

Though this end of the bed is only about six inches between the house and the wall, the plant has increased in size and numbers of blooms. I think it is happy that the guys with the weed whackers won't be showing up here and I don't mind if it takes over the whole space.

How is that for a flower just beginning to open? And there are a lot of promises in the bud too.

I am still going to the park on nice days to pull weeds.
It's not quite the same without my canine helper, but I prefer this exercise to radio gymnastics.

We are working on getting a new dog, but even the rescue places won't give dogs to old people. There is some kind of ban now on letting the elderly have dogs. It seems rather stupid to me because it gets those owners out for a walk at least twice a day,  and they also connect with the rest of the community on those walks.

Over the past number of years, my readers have heard about the "Weed Lot" on the corner of our street. A number of years ago it was knee-high weeds and collected lots of dog poop ... I suppose the dog owners thought no one would be walking there anyway so didn't pick it up. The feral cat population used it as a litter box too, and the wind blew plastic or people tossed trash and all that collected standing water for a mosquito farm.

After years of complaints, I decided to just pull the weeds, day by day, a little at a time, until the lot was pretty well under control.  What had been an eyesore for the whole neighborhood became very positive as I planted flowers along the borders each spring.

There was some negative, though, as the renter in the adjoining apartment didn't like me pulling weeds and would shout at me to go back to my own country and I was a "dorobo" burglar? For stealing weeds??? But basically, what had been negative, became positive.

Then, last year, the apartment was sold ... the guy moved out ... and the building was torn down.
Then, months of building began. The new house got bigger and bigger ... which means taller and taller because the space was really not that large. In the end, what stood on that weedlot was a house ... thankfully not another apartment ... but cutting off most of the sun coming from the south and west to my garden. I was a little sad last year to see only one flower on my row of azalea bushes, no flowers at all on the enkianthus, and even fewer on the hostas that don't seem to need a lot of sun.

So here in my small neighborhood was a plot of land swinging back and forth from good to bad.

Then, last fall, the property was finally sold. The neighborhood waited with curiosity. The flower box by the door got several rose bushes. There seemed to be a young couple coming and going.

Finally, I got some treats and took them one evening, after seeing lights on in the house, and rang the doorbell.  I introduced myself and told them I hoped they would feel welcome here.

Since then their little garden has continued to grow with planters and trellis added. The other evening, my doorbell rang and I went to the door to find the couple  bringing me these darling cookies they had made. I think it was the husband who did the decorating. Oh they are so cute I'm not sure I want to eat them.  Both the couple speak English. The husband went to school a year in Ohio, my home state.

I will see how my garden does with a bit less sun, and maybe plant some things that like shady spots, but in the balance, I will be enjoying the weed lot, now with the promise of rose blooms. And the nasty renter, having been replaced by a lovely young couple.
Things are changing all around us. The new "normal" will never be the old normal. I am hoping this experience is a sign to look for something better yet to come.

I hope you all are keeping safe and well. Nothing lasts forever. The floral quilt has only 8 blocks left to quilt and then it will be on to the borders.  I wil keep trying to see these days as a gift of time.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

More of the same

This has been a hard week with the stink of paint coming from the house to the south.

When the weather was nice, I escaped to the park and filled a few bags with weeds.

Two of the areas I have been working on for a little over a year are looking quite nice with weeds well under control.

The "good grass" does not increase by flower and seed, but by runners. In those two areas, the weeds were so thick they had overcome the grass, so I selected runners from places where grass was creeping over cement and rocks and re-purposed them in the bare spaces. Without competition, those spaces are looking much better. One problem is the "gardeners" who come to rake the leaves and often dislodge the new runners. The trick is to get there before they do and remove the leaves from those spots.

My other outdoor activity is sweeping the street.
(if my narrow ally could be called that).

I start at my gate, all the way south to the park corner, on the left side, then back up on the right side, past my house to the small side street and back.
I clean the drains as I go, as the flower petals from the Illicium clog the drains causing a lake in the middle of the road each time it rains.

Narita-san to the north has a great big garden that always provides plenty of fallout in every season. Now that his plum is leafing out, the camellias are falling. Lots of petals blowing in the wind, and what I don't sweep up by his wall today, I will be sweeping up in front of my gate tomorrow. I like to get them before they are pounded into the pavement by walking feet.  I guess if you look at the bag you can see the color ... two of these trees and one white one that is yet to begin falling.

Yesterday my morning coffee was drunk to the tune of banging and clanging of more scaffolding being set up.

I had hoped the sound was it being taken down and went out to look. Nope. And why, with the curb space empty across the street, did they have to pile all those heavy metal poles on my flowers?

I was able to lift the smaller ones off but those long ones were just too heavy. Both the house to the south of mine and the one across the street belong to the same family. They carefully
covered the owners car each day ... and a good thing because they are not the neatest painters in the world ... paint splatters on the street where the tarp doesn't reach.

And, today, my kerria bush had one flower.

I guess it is following orders from the governor to keep apart from all others.

I think I heard other buds whispering to let them know when it was finished so that they could have their turn in the sun.

So... what do I do with the rest of my days?

The weight of Sunday's snow Pulled my planter off the wall, hooks and all. I put the plants back in the planter and set it up on top of my fish tank while waiting for the wall to dry so I could replace the hooks with cement glue.

Then, before I had a chance, the big wind came and blew the planter back to the ground. Oh my, what a mess.

Monday mornings as usual I will drive into town to deliver onigiri to my homeless friends.
During the week I will struggle with Mr. Zoom, trying to get into meetings if I can ... and sometimes give up when he doesn't like my password or name ... wondering why I bothered to record it all in my computer notebook if it only worked once...
After a few sunny days, the planter returned to it's space on the wall. The plants got rearranged and some went to the upstairs balcony that is a bit more sheltered and has more sun.

And, of course, a lot of quilting.

The last ones I made, I used big stitch, black on the light fabrics and white on the dark. Since the backing ended up being all white, it was not going to hide the stitches on the back, so I decided after quilting it all in the ditch that I would just use regular quilting.

I drafted a butterfly to fit the large areas and used colored thread on the light segments and white on the dark. It really does not show up very well.

So far I have 12 blocks quilted and still a lot to go. I am getting a bit faster with practice and I hope as I near the edges it will be a bit easier without so much bulk on my lap.

If I get tired, there is a lot of tidying up for me to do. And... a bit of mending ... wondering why the left knee of every pair of pants have holes or almost holes... Tomorrow looks like it will be sunny. Will the painters be back? I asked their schedule but they only said "soon".  It won't be too soon for me ... but the weeds are still growing and the quilt is waiting ... so ... we shall see

Hope you are all safe and keeping well.