Saturday, June 30, 2007


Not too much to report on today. Leiya and I spent the day shopping but didn't buy anything in particular.

I don't especially like shopping. It seems that if we're out looking we ought to buy something just to justify the many hours we spend in the shops. In truth, there are a few things that I think I'd like to wear or have. But I always talk myself out of it and tell myself it costs too much. I'm not even sure what is too much. I think about prices in the States and say "I don't have to pay this much. I can find something on sale in the States." but I vaguely realize that when I'm talking about prices in the States my mind still goes back to how prices were 20 years ago. On the other hand I rarely buy anything when I'm California unless it's 50%, 70% off so my head gets confused with prices again. Japanese stores don't have sales like the California department stores, that's for sure!

Actually, the only place I feel comfortable buying anything is at the second hand shops. Both in Japan and in the States. It must be a guilt complex or something that tells me I can only buy something if I know I absolutely can't find it at a lower price.

I've already mentioned the depressing sizes I have to resort to in the Japanese stores. It's better not to look..

Another slightly interesting phenomenon I've noticed is that depending if I'm in the States or Japan, the type of clothes I wear (and buy) is different. The things I buy in California look odd when I'm in Japan. Too loud or too casual or something. Last year I wore a low cut shirt and shorts that I bought in California and a Japanese friend frankly told me I looked like a hussy. She was probably right for Japan (I chucked the shirt and wear the shorts when I walk Choco). The clothes in the Japanese stores (for women my age especially) are quite chique, high quality ensembles etc. and expensive! I would never dream of wearing something like that in Southern Cal! Maybe to a funeral... This results in me wearing jeans almost 100% of the time with a T-shirt or sweater depending on the season. Maybe this is S. California fashion vs. Japanese and if I was from New York or France or somewhere I wouldn't see such a difference in fashion and prices etc. but what it means is that I've got a very limited wardrobe.

Thank you. My closet may not be interesting for blog visitors but thanks to you I got it cleaned up!

Friday, June 29, 2007

Not Picasso

Yesterday I got together with my quilting friends but we didn't do much quilting!

Somewhere I heard that asking a quilter to do mending is like asking Picasso to paint your garage. Yesterday I think we all were feeling a little like this. The quilting group is an off branch of the kindergarten because all of us at one time or another had kids that went there. Most of our kids are in college or high school now (two ladies still have jr. high school kids) but every year for the past 11 years our group has made a bed cover quilt for the kindergarten raffle. Once a month we get together and plan and sew the year's raffle quilt or bring our own creations to work on while we drink tea and chat.

A couple of weeks ago one lady was approached about helping to do some "sewing". There are nearly 100 kids who attend the kindergarten and every year they put on a Christmas program complete with little choir-like collars. The old collars weren't very well made to begin with (some of us mothers had made them at least 10 years ago) and so someone on the staff sewed new collars and got them to binding stage. This is where we come in. "Quilters? They sew right?" So we were asked to hand tack the binding onto both the inner and outer edges. We didn't think this sounded too bad (well, 100 collars had a bad ring but as it turned out we only had to do 50) but the kindergarten wants them back by the end of July (impossible!) This has turned out to be an enormous project. And not very interesting!!! Each of the six of us got ONE done yesterday while we were chatting. That leaves 44 MORE! I brought home 5 to do in the next week. Not difficult but BORING and the dang things take a long time!!! The Wonky Word Quilt has been put on the back burner again!

Ah well, we still got to drink tea and chat.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Thank you May Britt!

I feel like I'm never going to get back to patchwork! I don't think I've touched fabric for the whole week! (That's not true. I quilted for 30 minutes on Monday night and paper-pieced a small block over the weekend.) But I am far from my normal quota of sewing! Obviously I will not be reaching the goals I set for myself this month. I guess I was too optimistic about any free time I might have. No big problem but now I'm beginning to worry if I'll even finish the Wonky Word Quilt by the time we leave for California. I had thought I could just quilt in California if I didn't finish it but I certainly won't be taking my quilting hoop with my across the Pacific so I need to get it done in the next two weeks! (This is where it would be very nice to have mastered Tonya's hoopless quilting technique.)

But I do have something great to show you! Ta-Da!! May Britt's stitchery bag arrived in the mail!! Isn't it adorable?! She even checked out some of the quilts that I've made to get an idea of the colors I like. They are just perfect! I'm taking it today to show my quilting friends and I can just hear them say "Those are Tanya colors!" The stitchery is so tiny and even! The inner lining is a beautiful dark red shade in a deep floral pattern! And the quilting! I had to ask May Britt if she'd done the machine quilting herself or if she had found prequilted fabric! She did it herself in a beautiful swirling pattern! The pictures just don't do it justice!

Thank you May Britt! I am carrying it around and bragging to everyone about my wonderful bag!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

A summer kimono

Ok. I don't know when I'm ever going to get around to talking about patchwork again.

Yesterday Mrs. Ide came for English and look what she brought along! She decided to dress Leiya in her daughter's summer kimono so we had a quick fashion show! Great fun and I took pictures of the process. ("There Tanya goes with her camera again. Since she started her blog she takes pictures of everything!")

Actually this is a very risque picture. This is Japanese kimono underwear! Leiya said she didn't mind me posting it so now you know what is under a kimono.

The next picture doesn't look much different, but this in the next layer of kimono which has a high collar that has a stiff board in it to make it stand away from the neck. There is also a thick towel belt that disguises a woman's figure. (Not supposed to have too many curves so this makes the body flat. No waist needed! (I can feel comfortable with this concept.)

All this stuff is used to tie a person into the kimono. I think they are laid out basically in order. Different ties are needed so that the kimono won't shift position when the person walks or kneels.

And here is Leiya holding the obi, a wide belt that holds everything together and also is decorative. Since it is summer, the obi is very narrow and isn't very stiff, but you can see how long it is. It goes around the waist twice I think and then is tied in the back in a bow. Regular kimono obis I think are longer and they can be tied in very intricate poofs and angles.

And here is the obi tied in a simple ribbon in the back. Depending on the age of the woman wearing the obi there are different ways of tieing it.

This is a close-up of the kimono which is a loose mesh fabric. I don't think it's cotton. Mrs. Ide said she bought this kimono at a second-hand shop but it really is lovely and cool looking.

And this is what Leiya looks like all dressed in kimono!

I think most Japanese women can no longer put on a kimono by themselves. They need to have someone like Mrs. Ide to dress them properly and as you can imagine, it is difficult to tie that obi by yourself. The kimonos worn at other times of the year are even more elaborate and have more stuffing and ties!

Bit of trivia. I commented that with all the layers and ties and towels etc. that are needed to be properly dressed, that the poor person wearing the kimono must suffocate in the middle of the summer season, and Mrs. Ide's reply was that being able to look cool and composed while you are dying of the heat is the secret to looking feminine and beautiful.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

At the pottery wheel

On Saturday, the main reason we went to Mashiko was so that Leiya could show us how she uses the pottery wheel. In her school it sounds like she has unlimited access to the wheel and clay and she claims that she made more pieces of pottery than any one else in the school this year. She learned how to throw pieces (I'm not sure what this means) and she got very proficient in using glazes too.

In Mashiko, although there were many pottery "workshops" open to tourists, most of the activities were for painting pictures on ready made dishes and cups, and doing some freehand modeling with a lump of clay. That wasn't what Leiya wanted to do so we asked here and there for possibilities of using the wheel. Finally we found a place that would just let us play around for an hour. Leiya and I sat down at the wheels. (Leiya insisted I had to be part of this) Tetsu napped on the broken down sofa.

Well, all I can say is that I'll stick with patchwork! Pottery is not my forte! I kept pushing and smashing and I never could find the middle of the clay that whirled around under my hands. This is a lot harder than it looks! Obviously different forms of art strike different areas of the heart. In thinking about it I can see that I like to have an idea of what I'm making (a pattern) and I like to put in gradual amounts of time (piecing, sewing, quilting) and I like to see my progress as I go (piles of blocks, a row of quilting). With pottery, I couldn't figure out what I was making. Is this going to be a dish, a cup, a vase? (a blob?) I couldn't visualize it or figure out how to use my hands. I couldn't even tell if is was done or not! It didn't seem like a gradual process of effort. It just "came" to Leiya and she would declare that she'd finished. I have a feeling that this is the difference between an artist's heart and a laborer's heart. I create a lot of patchwork, but I don't think I'm very creative. The artist has a sense, an intuition, a vision of what he is making.

I don't think I explained that very well. It is not love or lack of love. As a potter loves creating and carressing the clay, I love making quilts and feeling the fabric and seeing the colors too. But it is a different process and I don't mean just different materials and tools. I tried to explain this to Tetsu and he pointed out that I've been doing patchwork for over 20 years and only spent one hour at the pottery wheel. It was sort of presumptious of me to think I could understand this art with only a few minutes experience.

Leiya did make us a bowl that will be fired in a month or two and unfortunately she won't be able to do any of the glazing herself but we did get a chance to watch her and have a slightly better understanding of what she does and loves.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Mashiko Town

Ooops. I missed posting yesterday...

Tetsu, Leiya and I went off on Saturday to Mashiko Town which is very famous throughout Japan for its pottery. We're about an hour away and practically anyone who comes to the Nikko area will make a visit to Mashiko. Leiya had been saying that she really wanted to visit just because she's been doing ceramics in high school and she wanted to see the Mashiko pottery and show us how she uses the wheel.

I gave the camera to Leiya for the day and she must have taken 100 pictures of things she found beautiful but obviously I'm not going to be able to show them all here. 15 years ago Mashiko was a dinky little town that always seemed dusty to me. Dark little hole in the wall shops that were stuffed with so much pottery you couldn't see anything. Sort of wade around the piles and dig around the shelves until you found something you liked. Gradually the town has been beautifying itself and now it really is a delight to wander through. A very Japanese atmosphere to the whole place and the store keepers have done an excellent job of combining glass and wood and stone to make impressive displays. The shops themselves have been reconverted from old style Japanese houses and thick stone storehouses that traditionally held valuables of wealthy landowners. If you ever visit Japan and have an interest pottery, this is a place to visit. The town itself is not so big but for people who like this sort of craft you could spend a whole day looking at all the artists' works.

Mashiko pottery is very simple and rustic and foreigners often find it coarse and bulky. It is quite heavy and doesn't stack well, and compared to the more delicate porcelain of the Kyoto area which has detailed designs painted on it, Mashiko looks very amateur and countryish to the untrained eye. Originally it had little color and was glazed with just a bit of brownish red. Saturday, however, we saw many different styles of pottery in an abundance of colors and patterns but it still maintains its rustic look. I think Mashiko pottery grows on you as you use it and though I didn't buy anything this weekend, quite a lot of the dishes that I use for our daily meals is from Mashiko.

Since I've still got nearly a hundred pictures in the file, I'll probably have more to say about Mashiko tomorrow...

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Family chops

Sorry, yesterday's post was a little vague and I didn't explain about the family chop. I checked the dictionary and it is more commonly called the family seal or the family stamp. Maybe I got the phrase from a book about China I once read. At any rate, the term seal brings up a printed coat of arms on a British castle wall for me, and a family stamp... well I get the image of a roll of postal stamps or a stamped receipt. Actually it is all of the above.

Every person in Japan must have a hanko, or family chop (seal, stamp). One of the first things I did when I came to Japan thirty years ago was to go to a stamp store and have someone make me a stamp. It is necessary whenever any formal papers are being signed so without one you can't get a driver's liscense, open a bank account, even get your salary! It is the same thing as a signature in Western countries. Just as each person's signature is almost impossible to forge, each chop is original and therefore if you have it it is proof that you are the person making the transaction. Traditionally, all chops were hand carved on ivory or bone or stone and were quite intricate so that it would be impossible to make a replica. Nowadays you can buy them in any stationary store and they are carved on a block of acrylic. Some are even pre-carved (for all I know they may all be laser cut). The carving is almost always the Chinese characters for the family name, one or two characters, and when you open a new bank account or something you bring your chop and register it officially and thereafter whenever you do transactions you put your seal on the paper and they will check to see if it is the same chop or not. For extremely important papers, Tetsu has a big square stone one (big meaning about the size of his thumb) but for most things, like signing for the mailman, I use a little acrylic one about the size of my little finger.

To my American thinking, this system has a lot of holes in it. For one, what if you lose your chop? Well, everyone will get very upset and you'll have to sign a lot of new papers with a new chop, you'll have to apologize profusely and they'll try to verify who you are some other way. I've forgotten a chop once and so was asked to go buy a new one down the street. What good is that going to do? But they accepted it. Just in my own possession I see that I have four chops that I've had made at various times while I've lived here and thus another hole in the system. Which chop did I use for the dang transaction? They all look alike to me and I've gone to the post office or somewhere and chopped something and they'll tell me that I've used the wrong chop, try another one. Another question I have is, can the clerks really differenciate between the small nicks and flips in this miniscule little circle? Do they really examine the thing that closely? Isn't a signature more practical and more difficult to forge?

You can see in the picture the two different chops I pulled out of my purse and the marks they make. Looks the same to me. The little red disk is an ink pad that is kept near the entryway so that I can whip out my chop and get my packages (which I couldn't use yesterday because I didn't know where my bag was.) The little blue "purse" carries my chop (it gets all red and inky and could really mess up a handbag if I threw it in there by itself.). The little square "take along kit" was given to me by the post office and it has a mini ink pad, a place to put tissue to wipe the chop as well as a place for the chop itself.

Well, hope that was informative. Now I need to figure out which chop I took out of which container....

Friday, June 22, 2007

Telephones and Mail

Yesterday morning we had someone come in and connect our telephone lines to some new system in Japan, Hikari Fiber. Our little town finally got connected. I don't know what this is supposed to mean but maybe our computer is supposed to run faster. Anyway, in the morning I started teaching when the telephone rang. Usually I ignore the phone when I'm teaching (the answering machine can pick it up) but since I was expecting the telephone people I answered and they informed me that they were on their way over. Great. Well, I continued with my lesson when the phone rang again. I never did figure out who this person was. He wanted to know if the box had arrived. What box are we talking about? The box for the telephone people. Hmmm. There is an envelope that arrived (Tetsu had hauled out all the contents that morning and explained them to me in detail so that I'd be able to interact with the telephone people.) No. He didn't want an envelope. He wanted a box. There is no box here! Well, it's supposed to be there. What are you talking about? I used my ol' faithful. "I'm so sorry. I'm a foreigner. You will have to speak more slowly and simply to me. I do not understand so many things. So sorry." Actually I'm tapping my fingers because I have this lesson waiting for me. I suggested he might come and see if he could find his box in my house himself. Oh, he didn't know what the box was supposed to look like! Listen mister, if you don't know then I don't know either!

I hung up and went back to my lesson when the telephone crew arrived and wanted to chat about where they could drill holes and do their construction work. Do whatever needs to be done. I'll lock up the dog so no one gets bitten, you make sure not to let any cats out while you work. I went back to my lesson. Pretty soon the doorbell rang again (Grand Central Station!) and it was the mailman needing my family chop but since I didn't know where it was I pleaded with him and he let me sign my name for his envelope and package. Back to the lesson.

Besides the drilling, the men yelling back and forth to each other, the hammering, the people coming in and out, the telephone truck hanging over our window while the men attached wires, the rest of the lesson went smoothly and by the time the lady left, the telephone people were about done too.

Ok, Mrs. Watanabe. This is what we did. This is all the information. Here are all the important papers. This is how you use the telephone. If it doesn't work, this is what you do. If it still doesn't work this is where you call. But only call them if you have this problem. If you have this problem call somewhere else. Here is the book you read in order to hook up your computer. Blah, blah, blah. Ol' faithful again. "I'm so sorry. I'm a foreigner. You will have to speak more slowly and simply to me. I do not understand so many things. So sorry." Someone please take pity on me! You lost me five minutes ago! I politely asked him to hook up my computer and he politely replied it was against company policy. Too easy to mess up so he was going to let me do the messing myself. Here is another book Mrs. Watanabe and a CD-Rom for instructions on how to set up your computer. Good luck.

Well, I plugged everything in, got out the book and was ready for a real headache of an afternoon and low and behold, the computer works, I can get internet and e-mail. I can do my blogging! I don't know what I'm supposed to do but I'm not doing it.

The man who wanted the box never called back.

The highest point of the morning was the package that the mailman brought!!!!! From Nancy, at Blogging, Near Philadelphia!!! Look at those great fabrics!!! Leiya and I had great fun oohing and ahhing about them. So exciting! What am I going to make? I don't know but I'm going to give it some serious thought!!! Even Tetsu noticed the fabric this morning when he spotted them on the table. "Where do you get fabric like that? They don't sell colors like that in Japan do they?" And when I told him they were from Nancy he congratulated me on finding such a nice blogging friend.


Update: The box man just called!!! It seems he is a pick-up/delivery man and he had orders to pick up a box full of the telephone equipment that the telephone people replaced yesterday! Yes, there was a bunch of stuff left under the desk and the telephone man had speed raced through the instructions that it was supposed to get returned to somwhere. Mystery solved! The deliveryman wanted to know if I had the box yet. No. No box, but I now know what you are talking about!!! Yeah me! "Yes, please, come and get the stuff you wanted yesterday." "Is it in a box?" "NO BOX!!!" "Could you please just put it in a box for me?" So I put it in a coloful left-over sweets box. He seemed very happy.

Thursday, June 21, 2007


Let's see... Not too much to talk about today. Leiya and I are going to be blimps by the time the summer is over because we keep EATING! So many good excuses to have treats and desserts.

On Tuesday, one friend brought over some Japanese sweets so we enjoyed those that day, and yesterday, another couple of friends gave us a box of Europeon style sweets. Both were delicious and it's hard to decide which type I like best! (So eat them all, right?)

The sweets from the Europeon style bakery were lovely to look at and lucious to eat. Not so big size-wise, but very delicate and attractive. Cheese-cake, rich pudding, berry gelatin, fruit mousse etc. Leiya claimed the pudding (in a cute little ceramic milk container) and I jumped on the cheesecake.

As for the Japanese sweets. As I've mentioned before, almost all of the traditional sweets are made of bean paste, either white beans or red beans. These were gorgeous to look at in a different way from the Europeon sweets. From the top left, the pink one is made of white bean paste and has cubes of gelatin on it (made from seaweed) and is fashioned into the shape of a hydranga. The light blue one is also of the seaweed gelatin and bean paste and it had small figures of fish (probably bean paste too!) strategically placed depicting fish swimming in a stream. The dark one was a couple of types of bean paste with real beans on it. The three on the bottom had various colors of bean paste but they had been hand molded to represent a common yellow flower (sorry, don't know the name) an iris and a rose.

Anyway, we are pigging out in the Watanabe house!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Mr. Ninomiya

We are running in and out of the house with hardly a minute to spare. Mostly my things, like teaching, but Leiya has been a good sport and sort of taken over my ladies' classes to just talk about what she has been doing and feeling while she's been in the States the past two years. It is eye opening to me too! She talks about classes, the grading system, teachers, drug and sex prevelancy, parties, sports, all the things that seem to her to be different from Japan. Very interesting, occasionally worrisome, but all in all she opens a window into Amercan life for Tetsu and me and my students.

A week or so ago
Pamdora asked me about Ninomiya Day and why it was called that so maybe I'll explain that before I sign off. As I understand it, in the 1700's there was a famous Japanese economist and philosopher named Kinjiro Ninomiya who taught peasants mathematics or something. Throughout Japan he represents the work ethic of perseverence and hardwork. There is a statue of him carrying a load of kindling while reading a book which is seen throughout Japan often on school grounds. I'm not sure why he's so important in my city but there is a large shrine named after him and the children spend some time studying about him in grade school. Maybe he's like Abraham Lincoln who walked 20 miles to school in the snow everyday and studied by candle light (or whatever the stories were.) Ninomiya-san may also have lived in Nikko at one time. (I have a feeling my Japanese friends reading this blog are going to correct me on this this week!)

Anyway, when we were taking Leiya out to dinner a couple of days ago I noticed a statue of Ninomiya-san in the parking lot (why the parking lot?) so I whipped out my camera and took a picture! Doesn't he look diligent studying his book while traipsing through the wilds of the parking lot with his kindling bundle on his back.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Quilts in Leiya's room

For no other reason than a couple people asked about it, here is a picture of a coffee cup quilt that I made quite a few years ago from a pattern in the magazine American Patchwork and Quilting 1996 April issue. I really enjoyed making this and recommend it as a fairly easy pattern with lots of potential for scraps and fussy cutting. It was just fun to find a small piece of fabric with a design that I probably wouldn't use elsewhere, and make an original coffee cup. I used animal scraps, brights, a piece of border fabric, Santa Claus. Where I didn't have enough of a scrap for the whole cup and saucer I made a complimenting saucer and handle. I think three other friends made this at the same time and all the quilts came out well. One lady used somber prints and it looked like an elegant antique coffee cup set. The buttonhole appliqued "steam" was taken directly from the pattern too but I love the little hearts that evaporate into the room. This quilt should be in the dining room I suppose but right now it is in Leiya's room and it really brightens a corner.

Another quilt in Leiya's room this month is from a pattern I ordered from Paper Panache a couple of years ago. PP has a free mystery paper piecing project that is on the website each month and you don't know what the block is until you piece it together. I did that for awhile (I go in spurts. There was one year when I only did paper piecing!) but actually I found the site after this mystery had been posted and taken down. I was so disappointed! I just had to have this pattern! (Cats you know...) So I waited maybe 6 months until one day it was introduced as a pattern for sale and with no hesitation whatever I ordered the pattern. You can actually replace the cat in the chair with a little dog but of course I wanted the cat! After all my craving for the pattern I put it aside for a couple more months until last year our cat Velvet escaped and disappeared for 5 days. I mourned over that cat but on the 5th morning he returned none the worse! I spent the rest of the day making this quilt in honor of Velvet's return and I love it all the more.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Studying art

Okay, I will get back to quilting or Japan or something someday but I hope you'll let me indulge in a little bragging.

When Leiya went to the States two years ago we were really concerned about whether she'd be able to keep up with the school work, but her school counselor suggested that she take some basic art classes just so that she wouldn't always be drowned in academics. Leiya had had an interest in graffiti as art and had always scribbled on her books and notebooks but none of us considered it "art". She signed up for general art during her first semester of high school.

Occasionally during the past two years Leiya would write about her art classes and about how she was branching into different genres of art but we didn't know until she came back this week, how specialized her art classes were. I think that high school art classes in Japan are teaching "Draw something you like. Draw some scenery. Draw an animal." type of art classes. (I don't really know for sure.) But I don't think the kids are taught techniques. What I'm getting at is that we are amazed at how specialized Leiya's art classes in American high school have been! "What?! You drew this? How?" and Leiya tries to get us to understand how she is taught in her perspectives class, her negative space class, her fracture space class etc. It sounds to me like she's an art major in an art school! She gone from drawing classes to different types of ceramics classes and even photography and developing classes. What a great high school and Leiya's love of art has grown. Her dedication has paid off and she won some awards within her high school this past year and was even invited to exhibit one of her drawings at the Ohio Capital Conference exhibit. I know she loves art, but I'm sure that studying under the skillful teaching of the art teachers has developed her talent.

Right now Leiya is trying to decide if she should go on studying art in college or go into some other field. She realizes that art may not be the most practical way to make a living so she wonders if she should prepare for the world in some other way. She has interests in international affairs, care-work, education, but for now her passion is for art and she has less than a year to decide on college.
    Isn't it wonderful to have all these possibilities in front of her for her future?!
    1. Thrown Vessel - Wind Full of Petals
    2. Pen and Ink Drawing - Close-up of Object Study
    3. Pen and Ink - Negative Space Drawing
    4. Pen and Ink - Drawing in Perspective

    Sunday, June 17, 2007

    Having a good time!

    We were up early yesterday (jet lag for Leiya) and she and I took Choco for a walk and then chatted until Tetsu left for work (on a Saturday!) I had Leiya give Tetsu's mother a call and invite her out for lunch and she accepted! This was an iffy situation because Tetsu and his mother had an argument a couple weeks ago and they were not speaking to each other. But LOVE wins over and I had a hunch if Leiya invited Obaachan she would come. We picked Obaachan up and had a great lunch. Leiya can talk a mile a minute and had lots to tell Obaachan about school and art etc. Obaachan is one proud grandma and Leiya sure got a big dose of love (and some spending money) from her!

    After lunch Leiya and I just wandered around the outskirts of the city hitting stores that Leiya remembers with fondess. Lots of trying on clothes which I never do, and lots of giggling and girls' talk and it was fun to flip back and forth from Japanese to English with neither of us really realizing which language we were using. Leiya was horrified that the only clothes we can fit into in Japan are Large and Extra-large. She had forgotten that! It is really depressing and we laughed and pouted about all the children's size clothing sold in Japan that "normal women" can't wear. Honestly, though I may have a couple rolls of flab around my middle I don't consider myself big, but some of my Japanese friends (who have two or three children!) look like they just graduated from jr. high. Petit. Slender. Flat. We didn't buy a thing, vowed to do real shopping when we get to California and all in all had a great time.

    Let's see. Things Leiya brought back from the States for us. Peanut butter. (Japan stores sell peanut butter in 1 cup jars.) Chocolate chips. (Sold by the ounce here.) Fabric for me! Chocolates for my friends to try. Gummy Worms for any of the friends she'll get together with. (We can buy gummy bears but the gummy worms freak everyone out! I've been bringing gummy worms back for Takumi and Leiya's friends and English kids for at least the past 10 years!) For Tetsu an Ohio State University Football shirt that he has to get up courage to wear out of the house. (He's very conservative).

    We are having a great time!

    Saturday, June 16, 2007


    We made connections with Leiya with no time to spare and now she is home!

    The drive to the airport was a little over 4 hours and at the end I was getting really antsy. "She's going to be there and waiting and wondering what happened to us!" Tetsu dropped me off at the airport arrivals terminal and I raced to the arrival area frantically checking the board. Oh no! Her plane was early! I scanned the crowd and just then Tetsu arrived and since there were two exits, I pointed him to one and I watched the other and less than a minute later, Leiya came through the door! Talk about timing!

    She looks like an American girl with her double pierced ears and flip-flop foot fashion! Same big smile though!

    Once home Leiya wandered through the house murmuring "It doesn't feel like my house. It's so small!" Living in a big American home for two years makes this one feel like a doll house! I get the same feeling every time I come back from a summer in California. But even though it's small, it is a good size for just Tetsu and me and I'm always grateful I don't have much area to clean! Leiya was happy to be back in her old room and seeing how I've rearranged it while she's been gone.

    We had been worried about how Choco was going to react to having Leiya home. This is the first time they've met and Choco absolutely hates some people she meets. As we drove into the neighborhood I coached Leiya on how to approach Choco and I swear, that dog didn't even notice there was a new person coming into her yard and house. Not overjoyed to meet Leiya, not upset. Just same 'ol, same 'ol.

    The cats have moved into Leiya's room. That's interesting, because they don't congregate there when I'm in the house (although they'll sit around in it when I'm sewing.) Now they're on Leiya's clothes, on her suitcase, taking up sleeping space. They are very happy.

    We are thankful Leiya arrived safely.
    Please don't feel you have to comment on the posts I write about all this family time. It could get a little boring to blog visitors!

    Friday, June 15, 2007

    Leiya's coming!

    Okay my friends! I am ready for Leiya! (Well, her room is ready. The rest of the house she'll have to forgive. The messes will make it feel more like home.)

    I gave up on the idea of balloons and banners. No such thing in Japan as helium balloons for private use. I have seen them at festivals, Disneyland, opening events etc but they aren't just sold in the supermarkets or florist shops like in the States.

    So instead I cleaned the room. Bought more air freshener (remember, this is the room that used to be the sewing room last week when I was having cat woes!) Bought some sunflowers (put them in a place where I hope the cats will ignore them). Bought new sheets. Found a cute "towelket" which is a combination of towel and blanket and is used in Japan during the hot and muggy season when you can't stand a blanket but a sheet is too thin. They are a must in Japan. This one had cute fish on it. Sort of Japanese looking. Bought a couple of new gauze towels (also necessary in muggy Japan because regular towels won't dry) These have a cute Japanese print on them too. Bought toiletries and placed them in a pretty basket (I'm thinking Bed and Breakfast now) Bought a girl's teenage fashion magazine (looks boring to me but she might like to read some Japanese right away) . Bought some Hershey's Kisses to put on her pillow tonight Hilton Hotel style! (Hmmm ... I hope the cats don't go after those too.)

    Tetsu and I are leaving in a couple of hours for the airport, a three hour drive away. I've already gotten an e-mail from Leiya's family saying that she got through the Ohio airport with no problems and is winging her way here. She has to change planes in Chicago by herself (this will be a first for her. She's flown alone before but never had to make the plane change) so we are keeping her in our prayers for that as well as for her safety. The e-mail from her family was so nice! I wish I could quote it all here but they probably wouldn't want that. Suffice it to say that they are wonderful people and entrusting Leiya to them has been a real comfort to us these past two years. Nevertheless, we are excited about having Leiya with us in Japan for the month!

    I'll try to keep you posted on Leiya's visit but I may get sidetracked for the next few days!

    Thursday, June 14, 2007

    More blessings!

    I WON!!!!!!

    I'm so excited! I called my non-English speaking/reading husband over to the computer and translated May Britt's blog post word for word! He laughed at the way she had posted with all the fan fare and the pictures leading up to the drawing. "She looks like she has a good time writing her blog too." I showed him some of the work May Britt does (not that he can appreciate her stitchery) and he had a good laugh and expressed his sympathies that now she has to send her lovely bag to the other side of the world to someone she's never met (but who greatly appreciates her!)

    Tetsu also thinks that I should go buy a lottery ticket! Just a few weeks ago I commented on Nancy's post and I my name was drawn for her wonderful fabrics too! How's that for odds? (I hope you aren't all jealous of my good fortune!)

    Thank you so much May Britt! I'm really thrilled and will use and treasure your work of art when it comes!

    What a wonderful world of cyber and friends and contacts. Thank you too, my visitors for letting me know and wishing me congratulations! I'm really feeling, doubly, triply blessed!

    Wednesday, June 13, 2007

    Birds and flowers

    I have a zillion things to do so this is going to be short. One of my English kids is already here!

    Here's a picture of one of the herons that I was talking about yesterday. There is a nesting site along our daily walk route and talk about noisey! If anyone needs a definition of squabbling, you just have to walk by this part of the forest. These herons are white and quite large. There is another species of heron which are smaller and grey but they all seem to be competing for trees.

    Another bird that we hear a lot during this season sings "Ho---ho-ke-kyo" I think this is a Japanese nightingale and because it is shy and small it is difficult to search out among the trees, but it sings a lovely song early in the mornings.

    The azaleas are blooming and one of my elderly neighbors does azalea bonsai which he is quite proud of. Every morning he picks off the dead blossoms and sits and smokes a cigarette while he admires his handiwork and drinks tea. He has other bonsai too but the azaleas are of course the most colorful and seem to be his favorites.

    Only two more days till we see Leiya! (Can you tell I'm excited?)

    Tuesday, June 12, 2007


    Sometimes when I read a blog, something sticks in my mind. It may be a prayer request or just some bit of information about an upcoming event. Later I wonder what happened. I forget myself to report back on how something is turning out (but we do tend to keep each other updated on quilting news don't we?) So today will be a by-the-way-day.

    By the way... My plum juice is turning into juice! I checked it yesterday (pulled from the dark reaches of the kitchen cupboard) and the sugar has melted down, the plums are all wrinkled and it is probably ready for drinking. Leiya will be pleased! That didn't take long!

    By the way... The rice fields that were planted last month are coming up nice and green and the scenery looks like a beautiful green carpet! Wild ducks float between the rice plants and herons seem to enjoy looking for things to eat in the mud.

    By the way... The little boy Tomoya who was in the hospital and wasn't doing well is still there but hopefully he will be able to take in solid food sometime this summer. It is a long haul for him and we are still praying for him. Add another origami crane to the many prayers already given...

    That's the update...