Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Yeah Tetsu!

Let's all give Tetsu a rousing hurrah! He met his goals (somewhat) this month and amazed his doctor with great blood test results! He made me go over the medical list in minute detail and see all the numbers that have gone up or down that are so important and that I don't understand a bit. But Tetsu does and besides the fact that he wanted to lose more pounds than he did, he is out of the red zone. All that pool walking has paid off!

Let's give him a Japanese cheer!

Yoi~~ Clap, clap, clap. Clap, clap, clap.

Clap, clap, clap, clap, clap, clap, clap! Omedetou gozaimasu!

I know that doesn't make any sense to you but hopefully it will to Tetsu.

As for me at the pool... No losses to record. BUT I must have passed some test because yesterday after nearly a month of walking around the pool with hardly anyone looking at me or saying a word suddenly I was ENGULFED, yes, that's the word, ENGULFED by people on all sides chattering at me, walking arm in arm with me, asking questions and calling across the pool to tell others that I spoke Japanese and I was from CA-RI-FUO- NI- A. etc. etc.

Suddenly as I walked passed one of the regular ladies last night and gave her the same smile and the same nod, she grabbed my elbow and started chattering.

"Where are you from? Where do you live? How long have you lived here? Are you half Japanese? Were you born here? Which of your parents is Japanese and which is American? We've been wondering about you and so I volunteered (probably got pushed into it) to approach you first. Hey, everybody! Let's all learn English!"

So, now it looks like I've got pool walking friends. A little confusing because some people want to practice their English, some people don't understand English at all but anyway, the walking time goes quicker when there is someone to chat with (Tetsu showed up later...)

And just because I have no pictures of my poolside friends (no cameras allowed) here is a picture of my swim cap. Yes. Excitement abounds. This dumb thing is a requirement. It is made of nylon and is not waterproof. I suppose the purpose is to keep hair from clogging the drains, not for protecting the hair. It is constructed in a very unattractive style though thinking about it I don't know how anyone could construct an attractive swim cap. SOOOO just because I dislike it but still have to wear it I sewed on rick-rack flowers that are pre-made. Yahoo! I'm the only person with a decorated swim cap! Minor decorating that's true, but I've finally made friends, I don't want them to think I'm too outlandish.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

A cat

The cat came back on Thursday morning. Actually it was at a neighbors' and the wife was petting it so I said,

"Oh, is this your cat?"

"No. But it is a friendly cat isn't it? It's been hanging around here for about two weeks. We don't want a cat though. We're not feeding it but it keeps coming back."

We chatted a bit about what to do and the wife and the cat followed me home where Tetsu got involved in the conversation.

"It's a female so it's going to have kittens if we aren't careful. How about if we (Tetsu and I) get it spayed and your family adopts it."

"My kids keep wanting to adopt it and I like animals but when they die... Anyway, I'd have to talk to my husband about it first. He'll be home in an hour."

So the cat stayed on our front door mat and the neighbor went home. But she didn't come back and in the end Tetsu and I decided that whether the neighbor wanted the cat or not, it was going to need to be spayed so we both went to the vet.

The vet is sort of our family friend. He and Tetsu have worked together (pet therapy programs at the convalescent home etc.) so the two of them chatted while the nurse ran a few tests and we arranged for the cat to be spayed that evening.

"Oh dear… I'm sorry to tell you that this cat has an immune disease."

So another cog thrown into the gears. The cat is healthy and can live a healthy life but it cannot be let into contact with other cats. So now what are we going to do? Find it a home but who is going to take a cat with a disease. So do we put it down? The vet did NOT think that was a choice.

"This is a perfectly wonderful, friendly, lovable cat. If someone with no other cats kept it there wouldn't be any problem."

We all spent a long time talking about whether to go ahead and have it spayed, or let it back loose as a feral cat, or trying to rearrange our own cat family to include another cat; one that can't be allowed with any of the others or finding someone to take it. We left it with the vet to be spayed.

And I told the neighbor that since it had a disease, that we didn't expect them to adopt it after all. The husband was very concerned about what we were going to do though. A few minutes later the wife came over and said her husband was willing to take the cat after all. Wow! Okay it would be home on Saturday and then we could make final arrangements.

The short of the story is that this morning, the neighbors decided they didn't want the cat after all. Yesterday they came over with their daughter who really wanted the cat. We talked about toilet training and costs of cat carriers, they went home to think it over again but this morning said they couldn't give an answer until after their kids' next doctor's appointment in two weeks. I don't think they really want the cat, they just feel obligated because the discussion has gone this far.

I was so let down. I've tried a couple other people but no one is ready for a new cat.

Tetsu has started building a cat house in our yard. He thinks the cat is a real cutie. I have not named the cat yet. I really haven't opened my heart to it yet though it is doing a good job of burrowing in. A cat lover friend is calling friends trying to help and she has been a God-send about keeping me upbeat.

So here is the cute cat all bundled up in its cat coat after being spayed (my vet's special invention!) Don't you agree with Tetsu? She really is a cutie!

Mexican Star finished!

I have more cat stories but will save that for another day.

I finally got the border finished on my Mexican Star quilt (gosh, when did I ever find the time to go upstairs and quilt?) I played around quite a bit. Tore out parts and tried again. Marked patterns with pencils and then ignored the markings (so I've still got pencil lines) and finally declared this a quilt that needed to get done just because I had no more ideas for it! So I quilted a fancy scroll pattern that I am actually quite please with... But... It can't be seen really on this border. This was not a good choice. It should have been bigger. It should have been on a less busy fabric. This quilt could have gotten by with just quilting a few lines on the stripes. Well, it is done!!!

I've put this up on my wall (to take pictures) and will leave it there a week and then I'm sending it off to friends.

I have another Mexican Star in batiks that I did at the same time (but it doesn't look Mexican that's for sure!) but I don't have any ideas for a border yet and after all my quilting frustrations on this one I'm not sure I want to start all over again!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Thank you Pat!

Remember when I wrote that I was in contact with someone who was doing a project about my grandfather? And how this person, Pat, was spending a lot of time researching and talking to people and sending pictures? And remember when we were trying to figure out a way to get Leiya to Indiana to attend the community event? Well, I didn't have anything to do with the figuring but Pat did all the work and arranged for Leiya to get to Indiana!!! On September 11th some of Pat's friends drove 2 1/2 hours to Leiya's college, picked Leiya up and drove her back to the little town of Columbia City. They opened their home and Leiya stayed with them two nights and then with Pat and all her friends, Leiya attended the exhibit focused on her great-grandfather!

Tetsu and I are amazed at the love and care that all the people in this little town gave to Leiya while she was there! Pat arranged for shop keepers and organizations to donate things for a welcome basket including popcorn, cookies and even a t-shirt from my grandfather and my mother's high school!!! (They both went to the same high school.)

Leiya said she was overwhelmed by all the people that greeted her and little old ladies would come up to her saying they had gone to school with my mother (my mother is 86). Other people were relatives or friends of somebody or other who had worked for my grandfather at his soy sauce factory, some people told her about his love for gardening and golf.

Something amazing was that when I was writing to Pat about my childhood memories I briefly mentioned the name of a young boy, Richard, who I remembered worked summers. I don't know why I remembered his name. I must have been 10, Richard must have been in high school. RICHARD came to the exhibit!!! He mentioned that he had worked summers at my grandfather's and Pat practically swooned and asked him to speak right then and there! Leiya wrote, "Mom! Richard remembers you!" So now I know who Richard was and Leiya and Pat reported that he had such nice things to say about my grandfather...

During the weekend Leiya was given a tour of the little town and was able to imagine how life must have been like 70-80 years ago for her great-grandparents and grandmother. Do you realize that all this history would have been lost to us if Pat hadn't stepped into our lives!?

Leiya was taken to the cemetery and visited her great grandparent's graves. I wouldn't have any idea where they lie. Leiya got to visit her great-grandfather's farm that I stayed at during the summers. I didn't remember the name of the area or the address. How big the trees have gotten that he planted!

Some pictures that I absolutely love are the ones from the second hole of the local golf course. My grandfather was a avid golf fan and the farm that he purchased after he retired was a jump through the hedge to the golf course. One day he went out to play golf with his friends (at 84), said

"What a beautiful day!"

hit a ball off the second hole and collapsed with a heart attack. For a golfer I can think of no better way to make the step from a place he loved to an eternal place he loved just as much. Look at this view!!

I will forever be thankful to Pat and the community of Columbia City for taking an interest in my grandfather and for allowing Leiya a glimpse of her family history. I hope I'll someday get to visit myself and meet the wonderful people and bask in the surroundings.

Thank you Pat, and much much love.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


Cat's back.

Okay. Let's see what I can get my mind on. This doesn't look like a Mexican Star quilt with binding on. I didn't get to that afterall but I did put binding on the nice little wall hanging that Veronica had sent instructions for. It went together very simply and I had fun pawing through my crumb basket for teeny-weeny pieces. Doing this sort of work makes me not want to throw away even the most minuscule piece. No! That will never do! My baskets are already overflowing!

And yes, I did have the cat button just sitting around in my drawers for years so I had to put him there just so that it is a correct autobiographical piece. And no, I'm not going looking for 4 or 5 or 10 more cat buttons.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Back in the living world

Nothing to report on the cat situation.

Thank you all for your kind thoughts yesterday. I'm so glad to know that I'm not headed for the funny farm and if I am that there are a couple of you who would go with me! And I'm so thankful that there are so many animal lovers out in the world!

This is how I looked yesterday. Tetsu was trying to make me laugh after my emotional roller coaster of the day before. I still wasn't laughing when he took the picture but I did today when I put it in the computer. I've got a few furry friends there trying to comfort me. (I don't know why the towel was on my head...)

And because Tetsu was threatening to boycott my blog if I posted anymore pictures of him, this one is REALLY trying to get me to smile!

"Here. Take my picture and show people that I don't really look like a slob all the time!"

This is a sign of love that he'll offer to pose.

So I'm back in the living world and wanted to show you what I was doing before the cat interruption.

My friend Julia sent me this fantastic link a few days ago! Fantastic!!! Julia is very update on what is going on in the computer world. She knows of links for everything! Anyway she sympathised with my machine quilting efforts and had found this link not long ago and let me know about it.

Leah Day is a young woman that has started a 365 project for sewing up a filler pattern everyday of the next year! Wow, has this girl got ideas! The patterns are so interesting! I decided to try my hand (not committing myself to all of them) and see if I can improve my quilting skills a bit. Of course so far I haven't even needed to do too much filling but it never hurts to learn how. So these are my attempts. The first three worked out well. The last one doesn't look much like Leah's. I think I should have taken the computer upstairs to the sewing room and used a visual prompt. Please take a look at Leah's and see what this is supposed to look like.

The first one is called Shadow Waves.

This one is called Etch 'n Sketch.

This one is called Gentle Flames.

And the last is Swirling Flames.

I need to get some binding put on my Mexican Stars quilt. Yes, I finally quilted that last week but I'm not completely happy with the result... Ah well, learning something at every turn!

Much love to you all and thank you again!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Do you remember this post? Or this one?

It is with effort that I sit down to write a post today. I am tired. Exhausted is the better word. And I fear I am crazy and know I am not normal. Yesterday morning I was back from a walk and ready to post about this and that when Tetsu calls me to the window and says,

"Now, don't get upset... Stay calm... There's a cat in our yard. A VERY nice cat."

Don't get upset? That is like telling the waterfall to stop midstream. I completely lost it! Why am I like this? Do I want to be any other way? Yes, I hate that I end up sobbing in a corner each and every time an animal shows up at our door. No, I'm glad I have compassion for God's creatures. I just wish there weren't so many out there.

It turns out that this cat was in the yard when Tetsu came home the night before. He thought it was Chip so called to it and it happily came up to him and walked into the house. Tetsu's thinks Chip has gotten out right? He picks the cat up and vaguely notices Chip on the floor near his feet. YOU'RE not Chip! So he put the cat outside and comes upstairs looking for me and seeing that I'm not a neurotic mess (yet) does not mention the cat.

But the cat came back when he was out sweeping the patio the next morning and that's when I got alerted.

So I fell to pieces and Tetsu was late for work and we decided that we'd feed it and since it is cuddly and people friendly that we'll assume responsibility for it if it stays around this week. (Holiday for the next two days so the vet is closed now). Taking responsibility means we'll get it spayed (girl cat) but I don't think our house can adapt to another indoor cat.

Tetsu went to work but I went back to bed and slept 24 hours around. Just thinking about the possible complications makes me tired. My friendship with one neighbor is already very shaky since I would go crying to her every time a new animal appeared in my life. She bluntly told me after we picked up Toi that she didn't appreciate being brought into the animal problems that I take on myself. Tetsu and I already have arguments about how the cats are ruining the house and we live in a place where the walls and carpets are in shambles. (We don't argue that the cats do these things, we argue because I want to get the holes and scratch marks fixed and Tetsu says we chose animals so it is waste of money to try to fix things up.) People already think I'm crazy with 5 cats (and a noisy dog).

"Tanya, this is a cat I want to pick up. Not you. You picked up all the others so you can tell people it's MY idea. Now, cheer up. If it stays around you can be happy we're helping another cat, if it doesn't come back you can be happy it found someplace it wanted to go that's better."

So no pictures today. Not too perky. I haven't seen the cat yet today but the food is gone. I don't know if I want to report more on this subject or not.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Choco and flowers

The past couple of days have been beautiful and the cluster amaryllis have bloomed. These are clever flowers that without fail bloom on the Autumn Equinox. They adorn the banks along the rice fields and look like little puffs of fireworks in the grass. No leaves so they are very visible! And bright red.

Choco looks quite pretty against the pretty red flowers though she tramples them right and left on her morning walks.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Mood quilting

Not getting much done.

Yesterday I planned to do some machine quilting. I went upstairs with my whiteboard and pen, put the Mexican stars quilt under the needle and proceeded to make a mess of a nice quilt border. I ripped everything back out and tried again. Mess. I have no idea what I'm doing. I ripped out again. One more try. Mess. I left the whole dang quilt under the needle and came back downstairs. This morning I will do another ripping job.

I think I know part of the problem. My lack of skill is further frustrated by my mood. Yesterday I was thinking far off thoughts of the worry kind. I just could not get in jive with the sewing machine with my head spinning at a different pace.

I came downstairs and instead did some hand quilting. Hand quilting is very good mood therapy. Just quietly thinking. My mind didn't have to be on the quilting, it could go over scenarios of concern and evaluate things said and reactions made. In the end I decided that I was wasting too much mind energy by worrying.

I realize again how hand quilting soothes and gives a gift of time. You would think that machine quilting would be the time saver and that's true, but the extra time is used for extra activities. The hand quilting gave me time to learn more about myself.

I think I'm ready to go back upstairs and try machine quilting again today. Yesterday's hand quilting gave me the gift of a quieter mind and renewed energy.

Friday, September 18, 2009

"What" in the world?!


I swear, I am not boasting! I am rather humiliated as a matter of fact! But it is laughable so I decided to post about it.

I wrote a couple of months ago about ... shopping. Especially shopping for you know "what". I found myself in the department store again and in the you know "where" department. I found the "whats" on sale and since "whats" are expensive I looked through the rack and found what I thought was my size. And tried it on. And asked the fitter for help.

Japanese "whats" are beautiful, fit well, last a very long time and are very comfortable. And expensive. But truly ladies, Leiya and I concur that Japanese "whats" are worth their price.

I had to smile when the petite saleslady donned her soft white cotton gloves to come into the dressing room to help me. Hey, she can moonlight as a bus guide or a politician! (Bus guides and politicians always wear white gloves.) I'm assuming that the gloves are there to make the customer less uncomfortable about being touched and patted. (I don't know why the people in the other two careers need to wear gloves.) The dressing room also had double curtains so that the saleslady could slip in and out without fear of "exposure".

Ladies (I hope you are all ladies...) I am not a large person by American standards. I mean yeah, I've gained a little weight but it is distributed evenly. Certainly not enough in one place to warrent a.... But still, in Japan I have to wear extra large clothing. A few weeks ago a friend handed me a huge bag of clothing from her deceased mother's closet because I was the only person she could think of that might be able wear the size 15 clothing. I got a lot of nice clothes but still it is depressing to be thought of as that extra large foreigner.

Yesterday the saleslady tut-tutted about my choice of size for the "whats" and brought me the correct size. What comes after F? How about FLABBERGASTED! (I just noticed that FLAB in there. I suppose that describes me all around pretty well.) There were only two after Fs in the whole department so I had my choice... And yes, expensive. And yes, I suppose it looks nice. But not too many people are going to ever see it.

Goodness! I wonder what even larger ladies do in Japan! There are such people (few and far between) but it's not a question one can ask a stranger and if one asks a friend they will no longer be your friend, right?

I will try to go back to posting about quilts and animals tomorrow.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Kindergarten artist

Yesterday was kindergarten day. I get to the kindergarten around 9:15 (leaving home around 8:45) for my first "class". I prefer to think of the 30 minute classes as "English Play Time". I've been teaching at this kindergarten for 20 years! GASP!

From 9:30 to 10:00 I am with the 5 year old class. Most of these kids have been coming to the kindergarten since they were 3 so they know me and I know them pretty well. In this class there are two autistic children but they cope pretty well and mimic the other children. Yesterday we went through the date,

"Today is Wednesday, September, 16."

And the weather,

"It's a sunny day."

And played around with food cards,

"Do you like bananas?"

Sometimes we play games, usually a song or two, sometimes a storybook. Recently I've been laying out name tags written in English and they try to find their own name.

From 10:00 to 10:30 I go to the 4 year old class and do similar things on a simpler level. I'm trying to teach these kids a song for the Christmas program (start early!) but these kids have got ants in their pants and I may have to change songs in the near future.

From 10:30 to 11:00 I'm with the three year olds and they sort of just repeat what I say, mimic my actions and work up enough courage to stand next to me and smile.

The 3, 4 and 5 year old classes have about 30 kids in each class and 3 or 4 teachers. There is almost always one physically or emotionally handicapped child in each class, sometimes two. (Sort of the kindergarten policy since most kindergartens will not accept children with special needs. The city usually provides other schools for those children.)

And finally I go to the 3 year old class, 3 year olds that have turned 3 after April of this year. These little ones have only been coming to kindergarten since the beginning of this month (still only two weeks!) and I have to practically crawl into this room (only 15 kids) because my height (5'3") scares them! Big scary foreigner! So I quickly sit down on their miniature chair and see if we can get through 10 minutes without too many tears. No crying yesterday! Yeah! The children in the littlest class will go home at 12:00 this month and then they will be on the regular schedule of 9:00 to 2:00, five days a week. It seems like a long time for such small children to be away from their mothers but my kids did it too and survived.

In one of the classrooms I spotted these absolutely adorable stuffed animals!!!

I went back after class to ask about them and sure enough, one of the kindergarten teachers had MADE THEM! She felted them!!! They are not stuffed! She bought raw wool and then felted them and molded them to animal shapes! Such a lot of work but SOOOOOO cute. The colors are wonderful! And then she handed me the storybook that she got the idea from. She designed these herself from the illustrations!

And then she showed me the "tapestry" she made from the book too! This is also hand felted (but of course flat) and is really a work of art!

I am amazed at all the talent that surrounds me!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Miscellaneous again

To give equal time to Vel and Choco (and Tetsu) on this blog, here are a couple pictures of them.

Vel is usually hiding away so he doesn't get photographed much. Choco is usually dirty or in her in cage so she isn't a first choice as model either. Tetsu just doesn't like to have is picture taken but since he was with the animals at the time, he came in by default. (He was picking up garbage along the roads this day. Good citizen. Bad picture.)

And apropos to nothing. Look at this house we came across the other day. That is a porthole in the wall of the house. (It is cutout... It's a little hard to tell in the picture). On the other side must be a deck of something. We were driving along and I yelled out "STOP! I have to take a picture!" Tetsu made a quick u-turn to see what I was so excited about and I got my picture. I'd love to have a window like that!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Stained Glass quilt finished!

I finished the stained glass quilt. If I could do this two more times I might get this to an acceptable stage skill-wise. To the naked eye and to non-quilters this probably looks pretty good. The colors are nice, the church looks like a church, it is not falling apart at the seams (much) but to another quilter this quilt has quite a lot of flaws. In case I ever make another one of these here are some of the lessons I learned.

  1. Cut fabric a bit larger than the applique paper. When I got to the tape sewing stage many of my pieces pulled away from each other and left gaps that could barely be covered by the tape. That means that in some places the fabric did not get caught under the tape and frays. Bad. It would have been much better to err to the "too much" fabric side because there is nothing to be done to fix an "not enough fabric" situation.

  2. Same goes for the black tape. Instead of cutting to just hide the raw edges under the adjoining black tape I really needed a smidgen extra in places and pulling on the bias just makes it thinner and less likely to cover the edges underneath.

  3. Ideally I should have been able to quilt and sew the black tape at the same time and cut out a lot of extra work. I think with practice I might be able to improve my skills but I abandoned that plan fairly quickly and just sewed the tape down first.

  4. For all of you suggested a double needle, YES!!! That would have been a god-send! Going around the black tape on both sides, trying to turn corners, pulling the quilt here and there really messed up things. The tape started coming loose before I'd get to the section to sew it down. Sort of a nightmare in the making. Every time I reloaded my bobbin I put the quilt back under the iron in hopes of holding down the tape a bit longer but it was a race to see if I was going to get the tape sewn before it all came off. And no, I tried gluing down in some places and now have glue residue that I can't get off.

  5. The blind stitch to sew the tape down was not that successful. I probably would have done better to just sew a straight stitch right on the black tape. I had thought stitch in the ditch with a zig on the tape would work but DEFINITELY NOT! It looks so messy with the black thread on the fabric pieces. Half way through I opted to just sew directly on the tape (black on black) and that made the stitches much less visible.

  6. When I finally got to the quilting stage I gave a try at SITD but that was terrible for the same reason as above. So I figured "what the heck, just freehand quilt on the black tape and go over and on top as much as needed". The tape doesn't poof but at least you can't see the quilting (much).

  7. Unfortunately their are a few puckers on the backing. I am not taking this out! I consulted Noriko-san and decided that since NO ONE in my church knows up or down about quilting they are not going over this with a judge's list. That goes for any further quilting. You and I know that the blank areas should have some design quilting in the larger areas but no one else knows that. I'm afraid I'll ruin this if I put much more work into it. IT IS DONE.

All in all this was a very enjoyable project. I started this August 29th or 30th. It took me about two weeks. The final quilt is about 30 inches by 40 inches. I have the satisfaction of knowing I made an original quilt from the planning and drafting stages. I learned new techniques like how to use a computer to draft, how to machine quilt bias. I'm left with a desire to master other techniques such as sewing with a double needle. I enjoyed pawing through my scraps to find fabrics that might look like stained glass (the hand-dyed fabrics were the best!) I hope I've honored one of God's houses but if not, maybe He'll smile at the effort.