Friday, May 30, 2008


Yeah! I have made it to Ohio! The trip wasn't too bad... We went through the Dulles Airport in Washington DC which turned out to be a madhouse and our luggage was lost but it came back the next day. I've been borrowing Leiya's clothes because the first couple days I didn't have any of my own and also because I didn't bring too many to begin with. A little tight here and there, a little low cut (not my style jeans that's for sure!) but I'm managing.

(At the Narita Airport)

Tetsu was completely overwhelmed at the airports and I don't know how many times he's said that he would never have gotten here if he was alone. In the airports people were running in all directions and most people except for us seemed to know what they were doing. I can see how for a non-English speaker like Tetsu he might say "Never again!" but anyway, we made it to our destination.

Here is what we've done so far in brief.

Wednesday, May 28th. Drove up to Leiya's college and took a tour of the campus. Very impressive, very lovely, the few students we met (it is summer break already) seemed confident and did a good job of extolling the virtues of their school. The dorms are smaller than I remember dormitory rooms ever were, but it was interesting to see the Starbucks and Wendys in the student commons building. I think Leiya's will be very happy there come August.

Thursday, May 29th. Met Shelina! It turns out that Shelina lives a couple of cities over, and on extremely short notice (like the night before at 11:00 pm) I let her know that Tetsu and I would be having breakfast at a certain restaurant. Shelina took the time before she had to go to work to come and meet us and chat with us awhile! THANK YOU, THANK YOU SHELINA! It was really great to have a first meeting with a blog friend! (And she brought me a quilting book!)

In the afternoon Leiya took us out to her friend's farm to play with the cows! Yes, who knew that cows could be so much FUN! We had calves sucking our fingers (a new texture treat!) and we laughed so hard our stomachs hurt! Oh, and the friend's house? Such longing was I filled with to live in a farmhouse like that surrounded by antiques and animals and homemade jam set out on the counters cooling. Tetsu said he could picture me sitting in the corner with a quilting hoop on my lap in such a place as that.

Friday, May 30th. We spent all day preparing for Leiya's graduation party. This was a major event that brought a bit of stress and apprehension into our lives just because Tetsu and I have never done this before. Party? Party? How do you have a party? What do people do at parties? No parties in Japan, at least not American style. Tetsu and I were absolutely no help at all in preparing for this big event and we couldn't believe that preparations were being made to host 80 to 100 people. How would Leiya even know 80 to 100 people? It turned out this was a joint party for (by) Leiya and her friend and so Leiya's host mother and the other mother did all the cooking for the party and the girls planned the decorations.

Unlike Japanese parties which are always sit down events with a clear beginning and end and speeches abounding with maybe some organized game or program, this graduation party started and people began milling about, coming in and out freely, eating, chatting, mixing in generations, finding unknown connections (one lady turned out to be from Tetsu's home town! How amazing is that?) The party was held in the Japanese Language church in town where Leiya had been attending so Tetsu gratefully had people he could chat with and the whole thing was a great success. Where I had been floored at the amount of food that Bessie and the other mother had prepared, by the end of the party I was wondering if there was going to be enough (there was). A unique experience for Tetsu and me.

We all crashed into bed around 12:00 midnight after clean up only to be awakend at 4:00 this morning with tornado sirens blaring and we all, humans and the family dog, hurried down into the basement to spend the night wrapped in sleeping bags and blankets, cat napping in front of the emergency news broadcasts of the approaching tornados. No tornados actually appeared but it was an exciting way to end the night (or begin this morning since Tetsu and Leiya are still sleeping in the basement as I write this post.)

On to the docket for today is GRADUATION which is the main purpose of our visit this trip and hopefully the would be tornados have cleared the weather for a sunny day ahead.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Abundant blessings

Dear Lord,
I'm confused about Leiya being in America. I don't have the confidence about the situation that I used to. I thought since the doors were opening for her to go and she was eager to go, that this was Your will. I thought that You were telling us to step out in faith (which You are still telling us) to trust You to make all things good and smooth. Yet once in Ohio I felt scared and unsure of the situation...

I pray that in Leiya's loneliness, she will turn to You and be able to see You working in her life. I pray the same prayer for me too. That I not lose sight of Your purpose. Give her strength each day, Lord.

"The Lord's loving kindnesses indeed never cease.
For His compassions never fail.
They are new every morning.
Great is Thy faithfulness."
Lam. 3:22-23

This is the prayer I prayed (and wrote in a journal) in August 2005 after I had just left Leiya in America to begin her three years of American high school. So many things I was worried about. Quite a few tears were probably shed on both sides of the ocean and Tetsu and I wondered if we'd been wrong in thinking that she could make the adjustments to living in a new culture, a new family, a new language.

God has blessed Leiya, and through her, us, many hundreds of times over with wonderful experiences, with new friends and ways of thinking, with a caring family and teachers, with times of hardships that turned out to be lessons for life.

Tomorrow Tetsu and I are joining Leiya and her host family for a week of joy and gratitude to God for helping her reach her goal of graduating from American high school. And we will continue to ask God to guide Leiya and protect her in her new life as an American college student.

"Those who sow in tears shall reap with joyful shouting.
He who goes to and fro weeping,
carrying his bag of seed,
Shall indeed come again with a shout of joy,
bringing his sheaves with him."
Psalms 126:5-6

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Senior Pictures

I debated whether I really wanted to show these pictures on my blog or not. Leiya sent us her senior picture last week and I am as proud as can be about my sweet daughter. In Japan there are no such things as senior pictures. I think Takumi's high school published a high school journal and he is somewhere in one of the class pictures but that is it. A very unsmiling, stiff school uniformed, unflatterning snapshot of all the kids.

Actually Leiya didn't really see the need to go through the rigamarole of getting a formal senior picture taken, but I wanted her to do this and she complied. For fear of being labeled "oya-baka", a doting child-centered parent, I'm displaying Leiya's senior picture.

And worse, (I don't know what you could call me) here is a picture of my own senior picture! You can think of it as comedy. I decided that enough friends and family visit this blog and might get a laugh at the mother-daughter resemblence and while I might pull out Leiya's senior picture from my wallet to show people in the next few months, I'm certainly not going to carry around my senior picture to show people. Back in the drawer this goes!


Can you believe that with all the things still left to do that I'm sewing? Not patchwork but I had some minor jobs that might as well get done since I had that craving to make something.

First I machine hemmed some scarves that I am taking to the States. They are really kimono collars and I thought they should be hemmed. Sorry. I forgot to take a picture and they are already packed.

Then as I was was doing major washing I took off the cover on Choco's dog bed cushion and while I was at it, added more fluff and stuff that I've collected in the past couple months. Found that I had four bags full in the closet so those got dumped into the cushion and re-sewn. Even the cats like Choco's fluffy bed and I see Cleo and Velvet are making use of it right now. (It sits under my computer desk.)

I also cut and hemmed some jeans that I was dragging around on the ground looking like a hippy. Those may go with me to the States.

And finally, I had to "try" my hand at Sashiko, the Japanese stitching art. I had thought that this would be a good for keeping my hands busy on the airplane (are they going to let me take a needle on the airplane?) and I picked up a couple of these pre-printed Sashiko rags/handkerchiefs. You can see that I'm going to have this finished before I get on that airplane Tuesday so I may have to go buy a couple more.

Sashiko is a fairly easy handcraft especially for anyone who does quilting. The stitching is often done on heavy gauze and it makes the sewing easy. The stitches, unlike quilting, are supposed to be fairly long so that the design shows and the thread is made of heavyish cotton.

In the course of cleaning and washing yesterday I came across some Sashiko cloths that my kids made. I remember teaching Leiya to do this variegated threaded dragonfly Sashiko when she was in grade school and I think the star one was made by Takumi when he was in kindergarten! (Four or five years old!) They have sat in the rag drawer but I've never wanted to use them as rags so I'm proud to feature them on my blog today.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Bazaar quilt

Today Tetsu has the day off so we are going to pack bags. Tetsu is hundreds of times better than I am at this and he can get a lot more into the suitcases than I. This is what the pile looks like so far (and there are no clothes in there yet!)

Thursday I spent the day with my patchwork friends (Mrs. Harada drove three hours from her new home to visit us.) Our goal was to get as far as possible on the bazaar quilt. What can I say. This is a completely different type of quilt than we've ever done before and all our comments tended to revolve around

"Well, it certainly is bright."

"I hope one of the kindergarten kids pulls the lucky number. A child would like it."

"How are we going to quilt this thing?"

As I've mentioned, Japanese quilters (and all my quilting friends are Japanese) tend to go to softer colors, more controlled patterns and quiet backgrounds. About as far as we can get with this quilt! Still, it is pretty and "interesting". (That word you use when you can't think of an appropriate compliment...)

I had to leave at 3:00 but my friends continued sewing until nearly 8:00. They were on a roll! I guess they decided that they wanted it at flimsy stage THAT NIGHT and by 8:30 I got an e-mail with a picture of the finished flimsy!!! And to think I was still sewing the squares when I left! Went quickly in the end! The picture is one I took when it was still laid out on the floor and nothing was connected!

Unless someone is very motivated, this will probably sit until I get back from the States and then we'll have a basting party and during the summer and early fall the quilt will make its tour through our homes until it is completely quilted and ready for the bazaar in October. Feels good to have that one under our belts!
Back to packing!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Elder care

Michele suggested that I share on my blog this letter that I wrote to her. Michele and I both have aging parents that live a distance away and we take an interest in how our respective senior family members are doing. We were commenting about health care and the services available and I got on my platform and babbled a lot. Michele thought others might be interested in what I observe of elderly care in Japan.

The custom of caring for the aged in the home has changed quite a lot in the past 10-20 years. It used to be that extended families lived together and while the older generation helped take care of the home and grandchildren the younger couple worked in the fields or held jobs etc. That is changing somewhat but still you find extended familes living together. I notice amongst my friends that the wife's parents live with the younger couple more readily (and more peacefully!) than the husband's parents coming to live in the home. It seems in all cultures that generations living together has its difficult side. Mother-in-laws and daughter-in-laws often don't get along and the Japanese mother-in-law traditionally lords it over the daughter-in-law making life hell in the early years. Husbands/sons will usually try to make themselves scarce (easy to do in Japan) and leave the cat fights to the women folks. For this and other reasons, when the mother-in-law needs care, the daughter-in-law often isn't too generous with love and consideration. (picture from the Internet)

Japan is in the upheaval of revamping their health care system for the aged but it isn't going well. Part of the problem is that the elderly population continues to increase meaning that the burden of health care for them falls on taxes paid by the younger generation. I've read statistics that state that 21% of the Japanese population is now 65 years of age or older. The social security system is collapsing and the generation in their 20's, some of them referred to as the "Neeto" or "parasite-children", out and out refuse to put aside social security saying that when they'll need it someday the system won't be viable anyway so why add to the pot now. The pot now is what pays for the health care today so the country is going into debt.

As for daily health care, my mother-in-law lives alone in a small apartment but she is registered in a care system where someone will bring her a lunch box daily. (Sort of like Meals on Wheels). She also has "helpers" that come weekly to clean house for her or go grocery shopping and she can also use a service that will help her take a bath. All this service is given for a minimal fee and the rest paid by health care. Health care will also take care of taxiing to doctor's appointments. In the case of Alzheimer's and other dementia problems Day Care Centers are available and buses will pick up older people from their homes and take care of them (feed, bathe, do activities) at the center and deliver them back home. There are also "group homes" where a small group of 5 - 8 older people and a staff of 4 or 5 will live together. Less like a convalescent home, more like a big family and the older people will be guided in helping cook or garden or whatever. A long waiting list for any of these places.

All this sounds wonderful right? But each person over 70 is interviewed and then classified in levels according to care need. This means doctors, health workers, health care managers (they have 30 to 50 people under their care so they are swamped) go to visit the older person and then decide what level they are. My mother-in-law is handicapped and can barely see but she is mentally with it and can carry on an extremely shrewed conversation about what is wrong with the world, the system and the people she comes into contact with. The interviewers consider her to have a very low level need. And she is angry about it!

"I'm dying and they won't give me more care!"

What she means is that she resents the amount of money she still has to pay. She wants it free. My husband has tried to make her see how illogical she is. She is not bedridden as are many people. She is not kept alive by tubes and being force fed. The higher level rating actually means that the person is that much closer to the inevitable and therefore she should be thrilled that she is far better off than many people her age. She doesn't see it that way.

A booming business nowadays for people my age and a little younger with no other skills is to become certified (not that difficult) and then become elder care workers either in the convalescent homes, in the group homes or routinely going into the homes of people under their charge to do housework or cooking. A bit more certification and they will do physical care like bathing and cutting toenails etc. Elderly health care is not an easy job though and the system is having problems keeping up with the demands of the elderly so in recent years Filipino care workers have been introduced to Japan. Often the foreign health care workers have been far better trained (as nurses and such) in their own countries and they are willing to work for minimum wage. There are loads of problems associated with this system such as discrimination issues and the real problem of foreigners trying to master the Japanese written language.

Tetsu has worked in various convalescent homes for the past 20 years so I have seen a lot of homes and heard a lot of tales from him. Because elder care really only began in the past 30 years or so the "homes" are all serviceably nice and fairly new. But I have yet to see an American style "retirement home" where residents live in cottages or apartments and are able to drive or go into the city on the bus or whatever. Japanese convalescent homes are very institutional (sorry Tetsu) and the residents are horded together for meals and activities. The walls are all very washable, and grey, the floors linoleum and mop-able. I don't know what I expect... I have visited some of my mother's friends in America in their retirement centers and the dining tables have tablecloths and roses, the air smells sweet and the walls are decorated with floral wallpaper and knick-knicks. And most older people do not even want to end up there! Japanese institutions may be inexpensive (I actually have no idea of costs. I think it depends on a person's former income) but I know in America it is exorbitant.

Who knew that I could write so much about a subject I really know very little about!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Cat's paw

In Japanese, there is a saying

"neko no te mo karitai hodo isogashii".

Translated literally it says

"I am so busy that I want to ask the cat to lend me a paw."

I guess I am busy, though I'm actually not getting much done. Certainly I'm not getting housecleaning done, just can't get excited for that. Tetsu is a pretty good house cleaner and when I'm in the States he takes care of things fairly well. This year a neighbor is coming in daily for a week to take care of the cats so I have to do some surface cleaning at least before I leave.

Velvet has obviously decided that I need a hand and when I went into the bathroom I found my wind breaker halfway in the cat box. Vel keeps after us if we leave socks or towels on the floor and I'll often find articles of clothing inside the box (wet...hmmm.) Not too picturesque what with droppings and socks mingling in the sand but I thought the wind breaker was nicely arranged and it made an acceptable picture.

Good kitty! Velvet is lending me a paw and doing his part by picking up after me!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

First sewing

I am on the run and need to take off in a few minutes. There is so, so, SO (Hi Shelina!) much to get done in the next couple of days but my head just mulls everything around and I don't really get things crossed off my list.

I said I'd get no more sewing in and that is true, but my sewing machine got used once more anyway. Since this is my last week of classes the kids who come know that we are probably not going to study and I thought we would play a game but we ended up sewing!

"What game would you like to play?"

"We don't want to play a game. Let's make something!"

They think I'm a magician

"Make something? Make something? If we were going to make something I needed to buy materials and figure out a plan of action. Are you sure you wouldn't like to play Monopoly?"

"No. Let's make something."

The only spur of the moment idea I could find were those little cat tissue holders so I let the kids dive into my fabric drawers and choose a fabric and then I gave them a first lesson in using a sewing machine. They did very well and here are their cat tissue holders. I'm afraid we didn't have enough time for me to let them sew the beads and whiskers on themselves and I did that part very quickly for them. They were so pleased though and were boasting about showing the holders off the next day at school.

Ok. I'm off!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

My signature

I'm trying out something different. What do you thing? Patti told me how to post my "signature" at the end of my posting though this doesn't really look like it is at the end. I thought this was kind of fun and had a sort of Japanese brush stroke look to it. Maybe I'll use this for awhile.

Ok. Here's what Patti told me. (Amanda wanted to know too.)

Go to the Settings tab and then click on the Formatting button. Scroll down to the Post Template box and paste the Html (that you made at the signature website) into that box.

I hope this works...

Raining Cats and Dogs and three questions

Today we are in the middle of a major typhoon and the rain is coming down "cats and dogs"! (I just taught that phrase to some of my English kids.)

Here is a picture of Cleo and Patora and here is a picture sleeping Vel and another one of a very muddy Choco.
So with not much to tell you about, may I ask a few more questions?

I'm wondering how some of you friends out there manage to get your signature at the bottom of your posts. That seems like a nice touch and I have even visited the website and "made" a signature of my own but when it gets to the part about "copy and paste into your html" then I don't know where to paste it. Does this mean paste it in each time you write a post? Is there a way to paste it into the template (HOW?) and then it comes up automatically at the end of every post? I'm lost in the depths of computer lingo.

Another question. From next week I will be in the States and away from my desktop computer. I think I can still get into my blog if I remember my Google (or is it Blogger?)account code and password. I'm pretty sure I did it that way last summer when I stayed at my brother's. Supposedly I'll be able to post from someone's computer that way (maybe not with any regularity). I've only this year started using g-mail and does this mean I can get into my Google account with the same number and password? I'm not promising, but if so I could still reply to a few comments now and then right? So I just keep that Google information with me at all times right?

Next question. How do I get into Bloglines from another computer? I couldn't even figure out how to change from one server to another earlier this year (from Mozilla to Explorer) and never did get back into my Blogline subscriptions. I had to build a new account by going through comments on my blog from January. This means if I'm on another computer and I don't know how to get into my subscriptions then I can't visit anybody for a month...and I'll get completely swamped when I get back. I'd like to visit even if I don't comment but I'm not sure how.

Thanks for any help.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Peace Like a River

Yesterday our church went out into the hills of Nikko and had a barbecue.

A wealthy Christian entrepreneur has built a small resort area with a chapel, overnight facilities and barbecue facilities. (Also prayer rooms and outdoor hot spa!)

There is a peaceful river running in a gorge next to the barbecue area and the green and fern filled crags were just beautiful.

The kids (and Tetsu) played rock skipping on the surface and some of the younger fathers took over the barbecue cooking. Let's see, we had shishkabob chicken, beef, pork, sausages, grilled vegetables, scallops, squid and fried noodles. Sort of a different type of barbecue from American style (no hamburgers or hot dogs) but everyone came home very satisfied in body and spirit!

In the afternoon I got caught up on some sewing which actually meant I had to do some clean up first. My sewing room was such a mess. So I put things away (no more villages) and cut up scraps into 2 inch squares for Leader/Enders. I found fabric that I had been looking for and I managed to transcribe two weeks of entries for the 365 Challenge. ONLY ONE MORE MONTH TO GO!! But this last month is going to be a doozy with us in Ohio and California. The days are going to melt together and will I really be able to stay on top of this?

I also picked my Split Star WIP off the floor and probably won't get much more done on this for awhile. With only a week to go before we leave I have soooo much to do in the way of house cleaning and probably won't get much sewing in this week. Makes for a depressing week doesn't it?

Now for a question, I have numerous quilts that are hopefully going to get to the flimsy stage within the next year. 365 Challenge, Tonya's Wonky Word Love quilt, Feathered Star, maybe the Split Star quilt. and all of these are going to need backings. No matter how I figure it, fabric is less expensive in the States especially if I can get Tetsu to take some back for me. It's not that I don't have stash, but I don't have large amounts of one fabric. I tend to buy a yard at a time or at the very most three yards. I also have a huge roll of mint green solid fabric that is good for backings but sort of boring.

Question: Do you buy special backing fabrics that match your quilts? Do you piece your backings from different fabrics that don't necessarily match anything? Would you use boring backing?

For the past 20 years I have always spent the money to buy backing fabric that matched the quilt. My friends and I have often said that working with a backing that we really like just makes the quilting process so much nicer and the quilt becomes that much more special. But it is costly. And it doesn't use up any stash (usually adds more to it since we don't like to scrimp!) And it may be perfectionism rearing its ugly head.

How do you feel about backings? Buy on sale only? Cut up recycle shop shirts? Spend the money (we're making heirlooms!) I'm sure there are many opinions and I'm just interested in yours.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Making a village

I think this is going to be the last village for awhile. So many people asked me how it was done that I decided to do a step by step pictorial. It sounded like a few people were going to order the book too so I guess I'll be forgiven if I show I how made this.

On Friday late afternoon (around 5:00 pm.) I decided to make a village and I gathered my fabrics. I found 10 fabrics I liked and cut a 6 1/2 inch square from each. I also cut a 6 1/2 x 2 inch piece from each fabric to use later.

After stacking the fabric together (actually in sets of 5 because my scissors won't cut through 10 layers) I cut the squares into stair shapes and then cut those pieces into smaller pieces. I suppose this could be random though the book gives a pattern for cutting the squares. I made a mistake on last week's village quilt but it didn't seem to make much of a difference.

Next I got ready to put the pieces on the batting. The finished village is supposed to be 16 inches but I decided I liked putting a border on it so I used enough batting for 4 inch borders around the whole thing. I also marked the village 16 inch square so that I knew how far out I was supposed to collage.

After that it is just a "chose a color and shape and place" making sure that the fabrics overlap a bit in order to keep the batting covered. This is the fun part and goes very quickly. Probably by around 7:00 pm, I'd made the basic collage which doesn't look much like anything.

I think I took a breather about then and ate dinner.

The next part is a pain but it has to be done before you can use the table again or before the cats start jumping on your collage to see if they can help. Each piece has to be glued down with a small drop of glue. This is just to keep the pieces from blowing away and if everything is glued down you could probably put this away for a few days and work on something else. Just one drop per piece but it is easy to forget which pieces you've already glued.

I should have gone to bed at this point but Tetsu had let me know he was going to be late and I decided to continue on village building. Truly though, go for a walk, have a cup of coffee and some chocolate or just continue tomorrow!
Next I started cutting up those 6 1/2 x 2 inch rectangles into triangles and roof shapes. All different sizes, all colors, a few domes maybe, a tunnel or two or arches. If I cut out arches from one piece I saved the little cut outs to use as doors. I guess the only rule is to put a roof on a contrasting color shape and you can put the roofs almost anywhere. With scraps I started cutting out little slivers to use for steps and with the tiniest squares I cut those up again and made windows. This is the fun part though you begin to wonder if all this stuff and fluff is just filling up empty space (not much of that even) and maybe you are only making something that looks like an up-turned crumb basket. Finally when I got tired (maybe 9:00 pm.) I started gluing my roofs and windows and steps down with little drops of glue. Tweezers are recommended.
"Yeah, I guess that looks like a village. It's 10:00. I'm going to bed."

Next morning I was raring to go (I'd had dreams about my village that night!) and as soon as Tetsu was out the door I was upstairs in the sewing room. Now is the time to put tulle over the whole thing. For the other two villages (and Ochiai-san's) I had used light pink tulle but this time I wanted to try out black. BLACK! What do you think? Here is the village piece with black tulle on the left side and pink tulle on the right. Can you see the difference. Black doesn't kill it and I went ahead as planned using only black. I straight pinned the sandwich together (didn't use safety pins).

After that it was only a matter of machine quilting around all the edges of the shapes and roofs and steps and doors etc. Instead of cutting threads I just went around and backed up and re-sewed to get to new places on my quilt. I don't think I ever stopped the machine except when I ran out of bobbin thread. I had to take a break at 9:30 am. to run some errands but the village was half quilted at that point.

When I got back in the late afternoon (around 4:00 pm.) I started in with the quilting again and finished everything but the windows. I sewed around each window (do some minor back stitching to hold the thread) and then "jumped" to the next window. I went over the whole village and did all the window this way and later went back and clipped the jumping threads (on the back too.) Village done! This is another good time to get some chocolate and take a break.
And finally the border which was applied as usual. It was the quilting that gave me stiff shoulders! I knew I wanted to try Ochiai-san's village border quilting but of course there are no lines anywhere so it was done free hand. A lot of going back and forth over already stitched lines and I had a hard time keeping my lines vertical and horizontal. The triangles for the roofs tipped a lot too but I got around the whole border, went back and added window squares as before by jumping, and I was done!
Ahem... Can you see the cat I quilted into the corner? I really think all villages need a cat!

I watched a movie with Tetsu while I sewed on the binding and by 9:00 pm. last night, my village was up on the wall! A good two day project!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Stained Glass quilt

Yesterday I had a great day chatting with my friend Noriko-san. I had called her the day before since I hadn't heard from her in awhile and she decided on the spur to make a visit.

Noriko-san and I met when our kids were in kindergarten and as our friendship developed we found that we shared an interest in handwork. Along with Mrs. Furui (another friend I write quite a bit about) we started doing patchwork together using a book written in English that taught how to piece by machine. Noriko-san was especially entranced with machine piecing (that was a new technique in Japan 20 years ago) and over the years she has perfected the technique and has also taught herself to machine applique and machine quilt (on a domestic machine). Not long after we became friends, Noriko-san became a Christian and in recent years she has used her skills to illustrate her faith and scenes from the Bible.

Yesterday when Noriko-san visited she brought along one of her most recent creations depicting the church that she belongs to. I think she said that she will be giving the quilt to the church on Sunday so this was the last chance to show it to me. Isn't it a beauty? Noriko-san does quite a lot of this stained glass work and she takes photos of buildings and places and then designs her own patterns. I think everything she makes is one of kind and though she has taught classes (and been featured in quilting books in Japan!) she doesn't sell quilts or patterns.

This is all machine appliqued using black bias tape and hand dyed fabrics. I see a few batiks in there too. I love the colors she has used in this quilt and could see this becoming a series of different churches of Japan!

I am so amazed at all the talent that surrounds me!

Friday, May 16, 2008


Yesterday it stopped raining for the first time in days so Choco and I took a different route for our walk. On the other side of the river there is a small dairy farm and half of the year the cows are there and half of the year they are taken out to some far off pasture I guess. Cows seem like very peaceful animals just sitting in the shade and flicking flies but they were very interested in us when we walked by and we had a small stampede greet us at the fence.

"Look at the cows come running to see you, Choco!"

Choco did not want to talk to the cows and the more of them that came to stare over the fence, the more Choco was ready to GET OUT OF HERE! It took me quite awhile to take this picture just because Choco was trying to hide behind me.

They must think Choco is one of their calves that got out, or maybe a long lost relative.