Thursday, May 31, 2012

Donating donation quilts

A group of us from Thursday patchwork had a field trip yesterday! Actually we just followed Mrs. Furui around to places she is familiar with but to the rest of us are unknown...

Mrs. Furui started doing volunteer work at a university hospital (I would say local, but to me it was an hour and a half drive to get there). She makes little things out of cloth or paper for the children's part of the hospital and that included doing some patchwork for hospital walls.

Mrs. Furui also got involved with the Ronald McDonald House across from the hospital and she and I have been trying to equip the house with large quilts for the beds. We had made 4 quilts and still had 9 to go. And then Lorraine showed up with quite a few lap quilts from Australia that could be donated to the Ronald McDonald House so Mrs. Furui planned to take those and two more bed quilts that she and I had just finished. She invited me along (Ronald McDonald House staff have written me thank you notes but I'd never been there myself). Mrs. Ochiai and Mrs. Yamaguchi wanted to see the facilities too and it ended up that four of us made the trip (in four separate cars) and arranged to meet at a vegetable market near the hospital. I will skip the story about how I got lost and wandered around the countryside for nearly half an hour...

Here we are enjoying gelato in front of the vegetable market. I don't know what Mrs. Furui was finding so funny...

And this is the sign in front of the Ronald McDonald House. You will notice that in Japan it is called DONALD McDonald. It is the same thing, but I suppose it is because the R sound is difficult to pronounce that the name is different.

The Tochigi Prefecture Ronald McDonald House has a whole floor of a building with 7 bedrooms plus a community living area and kitchen. The facility is run by volunteers and depends on donations for basic things like shampoo, coffee, flowers, books etc. I'm not familiar with the inner workings of this international organization but they provide housing for families who have loved ones in the hospital.

Here we are lugging quilts in to the Ronald McDonald House.

The staff gave us a tour of the House. This is the kitchen and eating area.

And here is the living room area with one of the quilts that Lorraine had brought a few months ago already on the sofa.

Each room is designated by an animal rather than a number and someone had made these cute fabric door plates to match the room animals. Of course I chose to photograph the door of the "cat" room.

And here is a picture taken from one of the rooms of the university hospital across the street.

We spread out the quilts that we had brought to donate. Two more bed quilts and six more beauties from Lorraine's quilting group in Australia.

And a formal picture of the quilts being received.


The next stop was the hospital itself where the applique quilt was donated and we were given the honors of hanging. Um... I'm not sure I like the picture of my big rear-end but since I'm the tallest of my friends... I got the hanging job.

I can imagine family members standing by this bench and fingering the quilting or smiling at the colors while waiting for their child's treatments.

A last look at the applique quilt through the hospital doors.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Baby quilt finished!

I finished the baby quilt I was making for my sweet shop friend's new grandson. Machine pieced and hand quilted. Pretty good timing. I think I started May 14th, so that's a little more than two weeks from start to finish.

This is a quilt that I bought fabric for while in the States last year and started cutting strips and sewing while there. But after a few strips I decided it was a waste of good (new) fabric when I could use all the fabric I had at home (in Japan) and the quilt would be more cheerfully scrappy. So that project got put aside (for 10 months!!!) When my friend's grandchild was born I raided my fabric bins and got started again.

Actually you can see where I started trying to coordinate fabric in the States and where I started to go scrappy (the bright colors are the scrappy) but probably nobody is going to see the line but me. I don't think my sweet shop friend cares one way or the other about patchwork.

For the back I had found some cute car fabric on sale at Ikea of all places, and I bought a few yards of that to use for a child's quilt backing... so this worked out perfectly.

I gave specific instructions to my friend that this is to be USED quilt; used for diaper changing, drooling on, having picnics on etc. It is not to be kept safe in a drawer somewhere or hung on a wall as a decoration. I hope I see it often on their laundry line!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Japanese vegetables

My neighbor gave me more of her hot house produce.

This is called chingensai... a type of Chinese cabbage. My neighbor was out cutting bunches to take to market and I ran into her at just the right point to receive a few bunches myself.

As we stood there chatting I admired some pretty flowers at the edge of her field.

"Look at the interesting colors in this flower! They fade from dark yellow to light yellow!"

"That is shungiku, one of the vegetables that we have been growing and the seeds have fallen by the road and grown wild."

I learn something new everyday!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Green walk

More walking.

Choco and I took our morning walk around 5:45 yesterday morning (Tetsu stayed the night in the convalescent home) but the farmers were already working hard!

We passed a leek farm and the farmer and his wife were tilling the soil in the hot houses for spring planting.

Good black soil!

And here are the young leek sprouts being cared for by the farmer's wife.

The planted rice fields peeking through the forest.

Looking down on the paths we've just walked.

Ah, home and a nice cup of coffee in the yard!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

A walk with Choco

This weekend I bought myself a new pedometer. I dropped my old one and it broke into three pieces. Time for another one. My new one doesn't seem to register smaller movements... which is just as well because I think I was tricking myself into believing quilting hand motion equaled a few extra steps. Choco and I went out to add steps to my pedometer.

"Ooh. The ferns are so soft. They tickle my tummy!"

"Bleh. These flowers taste terrible."

"Come on Mom. Let's get going!"

"Choco! Where are you going?! Come back!"

"Good dog. But you sure got wet. Take a breather by our church."

"I'm pooped."

"Let's take the short-cut through the forest."

A forty minute walk. 4625 steps (for me. Choco had more I'm sure.)

Friday, May 25, 2012

Amphibians.... Beware!

I was talking about gifts from farmers the other day...

One of my farmer friends handed me a box of beautiful leafy lettuce. Actually I let the box sit in the entrance for a day but I got around to bringing it into the kitchen the next night. I had to rescue my quickly wilting lettuce and dumped all the bunches into a pan of cold water in the sink for a couple of hours.

In the evening I decided to make a salad and started ripping apart lettuce leaves.

YIKES!! I medium size frog jumped out from where he'd been cowering in the lettuce leaves and landed in my sink!

Well! Thanks for the shot of adrenaline!

I'm surprised the frog lasted two days in my house with six cats on the prowl, but the cats spend most of their time sleeping... In honor of the frog's survival skills I gently removed him from the sink (after taking a picture), opened the window and placed him on the window sill.

I am not afraid of frogs. This one that got waylaid to my kitchen was bigger than the usual ones that sit on leaves and are no larger than a horsefly but still, I'd rather they not come in my house.

Now this guy is kind of cute...

There are two tiny frogs on the leaves... I noticed them when we took our morning walk at 5:45 and at 9:30 when I went looking for frogs to photograph, they were STILL in the same position. I guess frogs don't move around any more than my cats do.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Pictures of Thursday patchwork day

Yesterday was a patchwork day with lots of activity going on. I don't think I once sat down and just chatted with people.

The morning started out with showing some of our latest projects.

Mrs. Furui finished another donation quilt for the Ronald McDonald House. She had friends make up the stars and she did all the hand quilting. HANDQUILTING!!! Just beautiful!

This is the Crazy Goose Chase quilt ready to take to Ronald McDonald too. I could never spread out the quilt at my house so I wanted to get a last picture of it all in one piece.

And here is the collaborative quilt Mrs. Furui and I did together. As you can see, the binding needs to be put on but again, Mrs. Furui's wide room lends itself to photographing quilts so we've taken another photo. I was so pleased that everyone praised my quilting attempt.

Mrs. Harada put her circle quilt together... I don't know how long she's been working on this but it has been awhile. She asked for all of us to donate pink fabrics and then she started cutting and piecing. Most of those RED fabrics seem to be mine. I guess I didn't know the difference between RED and PINK. Mrs. Harada has this at the flimsy stage and she will baste it and hand quilt it. This is going to go to her new daughter-in-law.

Mrs. Ochiai thought you should see what I look like when I'm playing with my camera....

Now... Onto the main event.

The purpose of our gathering together is to work on the kindergarten bazaar quilt and so we put away our own things and got down to work. And this is the way we work.

Here is Mrs. Furui and me down on the floor deciding about block placement. (You can see that my knees have recovered.)

And slowly, the quilt grows. Mrs. Yamaguchi and Mrs. Harada making block adjustments.

Mrs. Okutomi ironing, Mrs. Takagishi hand sewing and Mrs. Ochiai putting blocks together.

Mariko-sensei, the kindergarten principal, came to give us support and nourishment (she brought cakes for everybody AND their families!)

"Now what do you think about THIS block placement?"

Interestingly, though THIS was the original plan, Mrs. Okutomi observed that the "river" cut the quilt in two and the whole thing needed more movement.

We decided on THIS layout, meaning that Mrs. Okutomi will make us another "river" this month (she made the first one too. They are her bright fabrics) and we will stagger the layout.

"Whoops, that means you'll have to leave the quilt laid out on your floor this whole month Mrs. Furui."

I think she will put it away and rely on the photographs we have taken.

I'm putting an awful lot of pictures in this post but here is last one of the original patchwork group with Mariko-sensei, the kindergarten principal. Mrs. Okutomi, Mrs. Furui and I put together the first bazaar quilt 20 years ago.