Saturday, June 30, 2012

Another finish

Last night I finished my Alabama Beauty quilt. Yeah! Just in time to put away quilting for the summer! I had Tetsu hang this in our entry this morning. (Yes, that is Choco's sleeping kennel in our entry. No midnight thief would dare come in the front door at our house!)

I chose to stitch-in-the-ditch by hand on this quilt but you can't really see any of the work. I look at these pictures now and wonder why I chose this lay out... or if I made a mistake when putting the blocks together. Some of those blue blocks really stand out.

This quilt was started two summers ago... Almost three years in the making! I saw the pattern on someone's blog but they seemed to be using Inklingo which I don't have so I made my own pattern. I quickly found that all those tiny points and the center seams made this a more difficult quilt than I'd imagined, but nice things take hard work.

I was working with batiks at the time and batiks seemed to go together with the darker colors. Later I started raiding my scrap box and pretty soon I had two piles dark background and light background blocks. On the final placement, I tried to move the backgrounds from dark to light but a couple of those blocks seem out of place now. Not wrong, just maybe not what I'd planned. Oh well.



That's what I am today. And as a birthday present I requested having hand rails put in on our stairway. Foot problems still persist and I limp down the stairs in the morning (after that I'm pretty good) so I thought hand rails might be a blessing. Tetsu spent one day streaming with sweat putting in hand rails in two places on the stairs and now I can gracefully glide down... hanging on the handrail. Another gift of love from Tetsu (he wouldn't think of asking a professional to install them!)

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Patchwork Thursday June

Patchwork yesterday but I can't say that we got very much done. We are still working on the bazaar quilt... What to do about block placement... What to do about borders...

Here is Mrs. Furui looking pensive about our quilt.

Mrs. Harada finished putting together her Pineapple blocks (this was our game quilt... ). Almost all of these blocks were put together by hand and let me tell you, we all found this a dilly to do. Not that it was difficult, but Pineapple blocks aren't INTERESTING to hand piece. (Mrs. Okutomi cleverly did hers by paper piecing.)

Don't you like the star that was formed just by a couple of us putting diamonds in the corners of our blocks?

Here I am trying to take a good picture of Mrs. Harada's quilt.

And proof that I did more than drink tea, eat snacks and chat yesterday. I DID do some sewing.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Early in the week

Miscellaneous pictures today...

We had a lot of rain last week (well, we're in the rainy season) and I found interesting spider web sculptures in the early morning. I'm sure the webs are there even in good weather but they are just not as visible as they are after a rain.

This is what the webs look like on the bushes...

And this is looking BETWEEN the web and the bushes... The webs catch the rain like a net.

Yesterday at the kindergarten the children were excited about the baby bunnies that were born not too long ago.

Three weeks ago the mama bunny was still keeping her babies hidden in the hutch. Last week when I saw them (I forgot my bag last week right? No camera that day!) they were no bigger than my thumb and no one was allowed to touch them.

This week, they have doubled their growth and the children have supervised access. Cutest little things!!! (Bunnies AND children of course.)

Do I want a bunny? Yes, I do but I will spare a bunny the trials of trying to live with cats. No bunnies for me. But they are so sweet.


And this week five of us who many years ago were kindergarten mother friends, went out for a long lunch. Mrs. Kaneko moved to other places in Japan in March but she was back for a job. Mrs. Watanabe (same name... not me) lives in California (same state, not me) and she was back for a two week vacation. We got caught up in chatting for a couple of hours and finally were told the restaurant was closing so everyone came back to my house for an hour before my teaching began. My cats were very friendly and though my friends are dog lovers, they were enchanted by friendly Mi.

A good week so far!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Tokyo post three

Didn't think I could get three posts out of a day trip to Tokyo did you!

From the Imperial Palace we got back in the car and went looking for Meiji Shrine, the largest shrine in Japan. Finding parking for Meiji Shrine was the problem (not finding Meiji Shrine) but once the car was parked we walked back to the shrine and entered another world.

Passing under the shrine gates, we were suddenly surrounded by GREEEEN!! The tall buildings of Tokyo were left behind and the sounds and smells became soft and mossy and damp.

Not so many people around and those there walked reverently to the main shrine area.

The inner gates to the shrine had the Imperial emblem of the Chrysanthemum... did the lanterns along the outer walkways.

As with most shrines, there was an area for posting prayers on the tree and along the wall. For about $5, a prayer plate could be purchased and the written prayers submitted to the priests. They were displayed on this wall about 10 deep and it was very interesting to see all the prayers in many many different languages.

Probably the most interesting part of visiting the shrine was seeing the weddings that were being performed there... Well, not seeing the weddings themselves, but watching as the wedding party passed through the inner courtyard and into the shrine itself. Tetsu spotted this wedding party ahead of us and said

"Run. You can get a picture!"

Run? Am I even allowed to take a picture? But there seems to be an understanding that tourists can run along like papparazzi taking pictures of the weddings so I did my best to stay out of other photographers' ways and took my pictures.

The bride and groom were wearing tradition wedding finery, (the white hood hiding the horns of jealousy) and the bride was being guided by one of the Go-betweens (rather than a bride's maid). I would assume that the man in Morning wear is one of the fathers or the other Go-between. The girls in front wearing red are shrine workers. (By the way... those girls must have long un-dyed, un-permed hair and may not have pierced ears. Hard to find nowadays in Japan!)

The bride certainly looks happy! She nodded to us tourists as she went by.

A few minutes later, another party was leaving the shrine AFTER the ceremonies so I joined the throng taking pictures then too. This bride wasn't wearing as traditional a bridal costume as the first bride, but she too was very photogenic.

(I got some great close-ups of this bride. Too bad I don't know where to send them too! I fancy myself a professional photographer!)

Anyway, Meiji Shrine is a must to visit if you are ever in Tokyo. A very beautiful Japanese world...

And stepping back out of the shrine gardens we entered..... (really, just a few yards away!)

HARAJUKU!!! The funky shopping area for Japan's youth!!! Completely on the other side of the Japanese spectrum! Tetsu and I held on to each other (just so we wouldn't get separated) and shuffled along with our mouths open! We were probably the oldest couple on the street and some of the costumes and make-up that the teenagers wore were worthy of a circus act!

Well, if you are of the younger generation, Harajuku seems to be the mecca of Japan, but if you are my age, I think you'll prefer the quiet of Meiji Shrine!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Tokyo tourists

After out trip to the fish market (buying nothing), Tetsu and I went looking for the Imperial Palace.

One "problem" of sightseeing in Tokyo is that there are so many people and so many cars and not enough parking areas. Well, for a price there are parking areas but they are few and far between. I was always surprised when I heard of people living in Tokyo who had never owned a car or even had a driver's license. How can one live without a car? But in Tokyo I can imagine that it might be easier to move around using the trains and subways rather than fight traffic. (This had been my point exactly when Tetsu was planning our visit. Wouldn't it be easier to use Tokyo's great public transportation system?) The closer we got to the center of Tokyo, the more expensive the parking areas, and for monthly use of a parking spot (for example for someone living in a condominium) I noticed one place that was asking about $400 a month! Leiya pays less than that for her apartment in Ohio!

Anyway, we did park the car ("I wonder how much this is going to cost me for two hours parking...") and then wandered into the Imperial grounds. Of course there are inner gardens and outer gardens and a moat separates them with guards manning the gates and entrances. So actually, we couldn't see the palace at all, just a large expanse of outer park, a moat and the large trees beyond the walls.

Even so, in this bustling metropolis it seems like an oasis of quiet and people were picnicking on the well cared for lawns or napping on the benches. There also seemed to be a marathon going on with colorful runners circling the vast grounds.

This is the scenery in one direction.

And this is the scenery in the other direction.

The two guards at the far gate reminded me of the guards at Buckingham Palace... but these guards seemed to turn their heads and check out the tourists to the left and right.

Tetsu holding up one of the back gates.

And we took a short (long) walk over to the Diet Building. No one there. (But there was a political protest going on in other places in Tokyo about the proposed tax increase.)

On to other places! (parking for two hours was about $12)

Saturday, June 23, 2012


It seems that Tetsu's mission in life is to take me to interesting places on the weekends. I'm not sure if he's doing it for me or for my blog... (What he does for my blog is really for me anyway.) Tetsu has been talking about taking me to Tsukiji, which is a fish market in Tokyo. Now to be honest, I have no interest in seeing a fish market. We live far enough away that BUYING fish would not be feasible (not that we eat enough fish to make a special three hour trip to a fish market anyway), but Tetsu made his plans that I half-heartedly acquiesced to.

We left home at 5:45 and WITHOUT using the highway, headed for Tokyo. I don't know why Tetsu doesn't like to use the highway (costs money?) We arrived in Tsukiji around 9:00, too late to see the tuna auctioning but time enough to wander the stalls and narrow alleys looking at fish.

Tsukiji has turned into an interesting phenomenon in Japan. It has been Japan's "kitchen" for hundreds of years, wholesaling goods to businesses in Tokyo and is one of the largest markets in the world. Along with the shops and stalls, there is a whole area that is devoted to feeding the workers who spend their day in the market, but a few years ago the market and food businesses became popular with tourists. The hundreds and thousands of sightseers overran the market until it was difficult for the sellers to operate their business and recently many of the areas are closed to tourists in order for wholesale businesses to run smoothly. The auctioning area is now only open to tourists with reservations. If yesterday was any indication, that hasn't deterred the tourists a bit!

Tetsu had a vague idea that he wanted to eat sushi at the fish market. Well, just the first row of shops had 6 to 8 sushi places (along with ramen shops, domburi shops, curry booths etc.) with major lines blocking the alleys   The shopkeepers meticulously kept adjusting the lines and directing people out of the way of the mini-forklifts that barrelled their ways through the crowds. (They have the right of way).

We ended up joining a line and stood for about an hour watching the earlier customers (a whole nine were all that could fit in the shop) eat sushi. When we finally got inside, our stomachs were growling.

Authentic sushi chefs at an authentic fish market! The little shop was so small that the lady serving tea had to continually apologize as she crab-stepped behind our stools trying to get to the other seven customers, but it was worth the wait!

I don't know about you, but that looks like a plate of sparkling jewels to me! Absolutely beautiful! Let me tell you, you can't find sushi like this in California (nor probably even in Nikko!)

Just for the record, the miso-soup had shrimp heads in it... makes the broth even more delicious! Get over having a shrimp looking up at you if the soup is this good!

I finally stopped taking pictures and enjoyed my sushi. Usually I'll leave one or two pieces of sushi for Tetsu (he's the bigger eater, right?) Sorry Tetsu-san, I'm eating this ALL myself today!

Well, the trip to the fish market was a success for us just because of the sushi!

Thursday, June 21, 2012


Yesterday I set to work on getting my Scrappy Trip Around the World put together. It was pretty much hit and miss as I picked up blocks and sewed them together and this is the result.

This will be a donation quilt and needs to be a bit bigger all the way around. I could add a couple plain borders or I could use the bunch of 2 inch 5x5 blocks that I have started (but no way near enough for a border...) As there is no deadline for this I guess I'll just keep making more 5x5 blocks and sometime this coming fall this might all "fall" together. Isn't it nice to be flexible?

I also drew quilting motifs on my Star Within a Star flimsy. And pulled out backing fabric. So the next step will be basting this... and laying it aside until I can spend a long block of time machine quilting.

And my Alabama Beauty is waiting... and my embroidery blocks.

My WIP are piling up.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


What's new? Not much I guess. Wednesday is my busy day but it is all pretty routine.

Wednesdays I do crosswalk duty from 7:30 to 8:00.

After that I leave home by 8:45 and go to the kindergarten. There I have two 5 year old classes, 2 four year old classes and 1 three year old class. For each class I bring story books (often different books for each age) posters, props, (a clock this week) and this computer because I have teaching videos in it. Of course mouse and computer cord.

At lunch time I make a quick stop at Starbucks or MacDonalds or someplace and spend about 45 minutes eating and reading my Kindle.

From 1:15 I'm at some friend's house for a ladies English class. I bring the books we use and an electronic dictionary.

From 4:00 I'm on the other side of town with three elementary school students. With them I use different books and workbooks, the computer and accessories, a white board with marker and eraser, and usually a card game or something to play if we have any time left over.

All this means that I leave my house on Wednesday morning with three or four large bags; (one is the Long Beach Quilt Festival bag!) English bags, computer bag, handbag. (Heaven forbid I start carrying around my camera bag too!) Every week I get to one place or another and realize I've forgotten one or two things. No marker, or no cell phone, or no Kindle, or no money... It is always something. I get so dang annoyed with myself. I usually blame it on my frenzied attempts to get out of the house Wednesday morning on time.

Yesterday I had an extra hour (no crosswalk duty because of the typhoon). I carefully packed my bags.

"All my books? Check! My Kindle and cell phone? Check! Check! Computer mouse? Check! Kindergarten posters? Game? Check! Check! Money? (I slipped money into my electronic dictionary) Check! I have absolutely everything! Nothing being forgotten on a Wednesday will be a first with me!"

I loaded the car and left the house at 8:45. I stopped at the gas station to buy gasoline.

Where is my handbag? NO HANDBAG! I'd left the whole BAG in the entryway! That meant no wallet, no Kindle, no driver's license, no cell phone, no lipstick. NO MONEY! Wait. Here is my electronic dictionary. I do have money.

I filled my gas tank and the attendant wanted to know if I had a members' card.

"No. I forgot my card."

And everything else.