Sunday, August 31, 2008
Saturday, August 30, 2008
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
［1］ I put up an arm on from the front and stretch myself.
［2］ I bring down an arm from the side.
I repeat these two times of movement.
I clench the hand lightly. (Yeah, that might be misunderstood as militaristic...)
When I put up an arm, I put it up to come beside an ear. (You hang onto that arm... wouldn't want to lose it...)
I put up an arm slowly while absorbing breath. (and absorb all that other stuff in the atmosphere too.)
I do not put up the heel. (Nor the shin nor the elbow nor any other body parts.)
I bring down an arm from the side while vomiting breath. (Let's hope that's all you vomit!)
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Monday, August 25, 2008
We're thinking of chocolate chips here, not potato chips. Since we have the dog Choco, we hope that by naming the kitty Chip, the two will eventually get along together. And no, please don't even suggest that there might be a Dale in the future...
Sunday, August 24, 2008
I finished my Woven background quilt. The weaving was easy, the fusing was easy. Choosing the applique pattern took some time but I finally came across a June 1997 Better Homes and Gardens American Patchwork and Quilting magazine and found the watering can pattern and fused flower directions. With all the fusing in the weaving I thought it was appropriate. There were more variations of flowers in the magazine but I stuck with the one type of flower.
Made flowers one day and fused a couple to the background along with the watering can and leaves. Then got on the sewing machine and quilted. With all that fusing in there the quilt was quite stiff which I'm not sure made it easier or more difficult to quilt but anyway a different feel. I decided I wanted more "fun" than just a zig-zag stitch up and down the curved lines so I started doing squiggles and circles with some variegated thread. My control isn't very good and the stitch size would jump from tiny to long. I really should take a class someday. Still with all the crossing and movement one can't tell too much and it did add some character to the background. I hope it will hold down the edges (that was the purpose in the first place!)
Next tacked the flowers onto the quilt "artistically" and sewed them down with a button in the middle. Raided my button box! I don't know why I had so many red and pink buttons. The tacked on flowers are double sided and they push away from the quilt a bit making it somewhat dimensional.
All in all a fun project that brightens up a corner. If I do this again I'd like to try some dyed background that is more subtle and mysterious like Liz's. She's working on her applique now and I'll give you an update when she gets done. It has been a nice to have a faraway mentor and friend and get to see what Liz can do with the same ideas.
Oh, a couple people wanted to link to Blurb for blog book making so I'm posting it again. It is kind of embarrassing to have my own book in my hands (I haven't even shown it to Tetsu!) but it makes me smile to riffle through it.
Saturday, August 23, 2008
More animal problems. Choco bit one of my English students. No real damage and she didn't break the skin. The boy's grandmother is my friend and knows Choco so she doesn't hold it against us. There was NO English that day and I'd let Choco inside thinking that we had a free afternoon. The little boy forgot and he came scampering into the house as he usually does (I tell the kids to come on in because I can't be answering the front door each time one arrives.) Choco was sleeping near the sofa and they met head on. The boy was scared, the dog panicked and attacked. Furniture was upturned. I came running out of the other room yelling and rescued the boy and dragged Choco to her cage. The bite did not break the skin but there were teeth marks. The little boy didn't cry but was really scared. I took him home and apologized profusely. I hauled Choco to her kennel outside and left her there for the night with no dinner. I went back yesterday to make sure that the little boy was really all right and apologize again. He was fine yesterday and there weren't any marks left (except in his heart?). I promised him and his family that from now on whenever I let Choco into the house that I will lock the front door. I know I have a dog that doesn't like strangers and I've tried to be very careful to make sure she is either outside or in her cage when the English students are here. I guess I need to be even more careful.
On the good news side of my life my blog book arrived! It is not very big so cost wise it doesn't look like much. If I were buying a book this size, 30 pages, I might pay $10. It cost $30 to make (plus international shipping) but this it is made of heavy paper and the pictures came out very clear. I set the pages with a soft pink flower theme and "handwriting" font so it has a cozy feel. Yes, to have an physical account of one's blog I think it is worth the cost. I think I figure if I make a book 400 pages that the cost will be about $80 so my trial attempt wasn't particularly a thrifty way to go. I should have had more pages in it for the cost. (It is not a dollar per page). So I will be working on making a book of the 2007 blog and we'll see where that leads. No immediate plans to order that though just spend time some making it.
And this week I had a chance to visit with a young foreign student from Germany here going to a high school in the next city over. Seena, is only 16 and will be in Japan all together for a year. I really admire her for coming to a country where no one knows any German and even the English that may be used is a second language for both parties. Also amazed that she's only been studying English for 5 years and yet she is so fluent! Japanese will study English for years and years and not be able to carry on a steady conversation. I ought to go get some German English language curriculum. Someone taught Seena well!
And here is our kitten helping me machine quilt. Getting closer to a name but I want to try it out on my kids before I announce it here. Velvet, our oldest cat has accepted the little one but our Cleo and Patora are still wary. Hey you guys, you all started out the same way in our house!
Friday, August 22, 2008
In July, Liz (Artfilstitch) sent me the book called Woven Quilts. Actually, Liz sent me a whole box of fabric back in June and I had a chance to talk with her for about an hour while I was in the States. Anyway, Liz and I decided to try making a woven quilt simultaneously and see what we could come up with. We decided to do the easiest project in the book and picked out colors and shared our choices by e-mail. I chose the orange and yellow, Liz picked out some lovely blue and green dyed fabric. Then we both stepped in.
When I was done making my background I could only say that I'd certainly never made anything like this before and it was quite beyond my creative sense. My background seemed much more whimsical than the example in the book and Liz said she wasn't quite sure what to do with hers either. I loved her colors and wished I'd gone for more of the variegated feel too. However neither of our backgrounds seemed to go with the rest of the book pattern so from here we've diverged. I'm working on some fun flowers and Liz is working on an intricate fish applique.
My fused flowers are just sitting on there right now and I think Liz is doing her applique this week. I need to sew down the edges of the woven fabrics before attaching the flowers so I will be at the sewing machine today zig-zagging or free-hand stitching.
Summer vacation is almost over so I'd like to get this up on the wall as proof of some productivity this past month! Off to the sewing room I go. Think I'll introduce the kitten to my favorite room.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
So, do you want to know what has turned my life upside down in two days. If you know me pretty well (my kids if they read this will know immediately. I hate that too. That I am so predictable) you will know we have a new animal in the house. I don't even understand why I can't be happy about this. I love animals! And it isn't even having a new one that bothers me. It is the unreasonable fear that if I give in to one then I will give in to the next and the next and the next one that comes my way.
Last week a kitten was killed on the small road not far from my house. I didn't know it had been there and I don't know if I would have helped it if I had known. Sometimes I hurry away in another direction if I see or hear a dog or cat that needs help. I hate myself for that too. I know that dogs that go to the pound are put down in four days. Tetsu and I no longer call the pound if a lost dog is about. I also know that cats are put down within 24 hours. There is no cat rescue system. So it is hopeless to take cats to the pound. If we ignore them they have a slim chance of living through the dangers of traffic or starvation or crows and eating frogs to stay alive.
Anyway I have been sad about the kitten that I never knew dead on the road. But I can't change that and I can't go around feeling guilty because someone else left it in the forest to fare for itself. The creeping feeling of sadness I've managed to keep at bay and I've concentrated on other things. Thank you Lord. Help me to accept the things I cannot change.
Then Monday evening after I'd put Choco in the house, a sudden soft mewing, barely distinguishable from the crickets chirping in the forest and the crows cawing overhead. But the cats knew and they flew to the windows and ran up and down the stairs, and in a panic I went to the window. There next to Choco's doghouse, just next to the fence, a small grey-brown ball making as much noise as it could. A tiny kitten. What could I do? I know. I should close the window or get in the car and drive away and hours later it would be gone, probably into the woods alone, maybe carried away by a crow. But I can't. I called Tetsu. I sobbed that there was a kitten outside the window and immediately he said. "Ok. If it's in the yard see if you can catch it. It's okay. Don't get upset about it."
It wasn't a matter of if I could catch it, it was trembling and wouldn't move. I scooped it up and put it in a cat transport box (the same one I'd carried Lemi in in February. I noticed I hadn't changed the towel in it.) I couldn't really even look at the poor thing. I'd picked it up. Until then it wasn't mine but since I'd reached out to it, now it was. Slip some milk into the box. It sat in the bowl not knowing what to do. I sat in my chair not knowing what to do.
Tetsu came home within the hour and bounced into the house cheerfully. "Where is the little thing? Let's see the new family member!" He proceeded to clean it up and feed it with a syringe. "Three cats, four cats, it doesn't matter. Cheer up. We'll all be living happily together in a couple of weeks." I wonder about that. Cleo and Patora have not come down once and won't eat. Vel is concerned enough to check out the stranger but hisses and bats at it. Choco I'm afraid to let anywhere near it. One gulp and that would be the end and remember Choco doesn't like cats. So my life has gotten very complicated overnight.
Yesterday I took the kitten to my vet. Ah... he says knowingly. He has scolded me before about trying to save all the pitiful animals that come by my house. His thinking is that I can't expect to save all of them, that I need to set a limit in my mind. He thinks people know I have a soft spot and that's why they leave animals near my house.
Our little one is a girl. Very healthy. Maybe 6 weeks old. Not very good at drinking milk or eating cat food but can lick off the milk that she sits in. She's been given worm medicine and been disinfected from fleas and ticks that she might have picked up but I don't think she was out in the big world all that long anyway. She's still living in the cat box until I can make more of a home for her. She has no name yet.
As for me, suddenly all the noises I hear in the forest are more mewings. All the movement it the bushes are more animals searching for my house. All my own animals' sudden starts or turns or barkings are the result of a sound or sight that I can't discern. I look out the windows but I'm afraid to go out for fear of what I'll find. I peer at people walking past my house and wonder if they are the ones who left the kitten or know who did. I'm angry at people who throw out their unwanted animals and know that this is not so unusual in Japan. Even my neighbors do it. They are not bad people they just don't find newborn kittens and puppies much more than a nuisance so throw them away. Maybe the animals will be lucky enough to be picked up by someone like me. But where does that leave me? You see, I am beyond this one little kitten that found its way to (or was dropped into) my yard.
And something even more ridiculous is that in less than 24 hours I have lost my heart and do not want to find a new owner for it. That's the other problem. The animals I pick up I cannot let go even if there is someone that might take them (there hardly ever is). I picture myself sitting in an overstuffed chair with hundreds of cats and dogs perched everywhere in the house and people talking about that nutty cat and dog lady. But right now I'm not laughing.
Monday, August 18, 2008
So yesterday I took a walk with Choco. Just like I do everyday twice a day. We have had some torrential rains and my schedule gets a little messed up (even Choco doesn't want to go out in the rain!) but yesterday afternoon it cleared enough for us to wander around the rice and corn fields. How about some green Japanese scenery?
I am often amazed at the number of different shades of green that can be seen just a few steps beyond my house. So refreshing to the eye! And the mist rising from the mountains and hills surrounding us look like someone took an eraser to the sky. In the distance there is a pig farm and a dairy farm and just before that some farmer's family grave. It occurs to me that this is a common sight all over Japan that one doesn't see in America at least. Behind a house or on a street corner, or like this, in between the fields there will be a few graves sticking up. They are part of the scenery and don't seem especially grim or scary.
This week has been the week of Obon when the spirits of the ancestors are supposed to come back to their home for the week thus all the relatives gather to visit the grave together and celebrate. The house is cleaned to welcome spirits (and others) and special food is cooked. It is actually sort of a happy time for the family and around here, if the day is nice a simple lunch of rice balls may be taken to the cemetery and the family will enjoy a picnic and the verdure of summer.
And I took a similar green picture last year too but I wanted to show you again the beautiful flooded lotus field with the huge green leaves and pink and white flowers sticking up from between them. How I love the Japanese scenery!