Saturday, July 30, 2011

Let's get going!

I am OFF to the Long Beach Quilt Show this morning! I have been up since before 6:00 and am raring to go but the rest of the family is still asleep at 8:00 (the current time.) Do you think I should go shake some shoulders? Not like anything is going to run away before I get to Long Beach but still.... Let's get going!!!

I don't plan to buy much (yeah, yeah, that's what we all say.) But I'm going to be keeping my eye out for a strange looking thimble called an Aunt Betsy or Aunt Becky or something. Kits are always so tempting but I veered away from buying those last year because you really only use them once... books are probably more useful throughout the year. Fabrics? Well, I'll have to look. And of course the main purpose is to see the quilts but that sometimes gets lost in the shuffle of looking at all the neat booths!

Anyway it is Marcy and Leiya and me heading down to Long Beach to meet Takumi and Bianca. (Kiana took off yesterday for a high school group trip to Europe!) I'll have a quilt show report tomorrow.

Summer flimsy

We have our first flimsy of the summer! I put together Marcy's baby quilt last night. She wanted the baby's name on it and this was the layout Marcy chose. And then while she wasn't looking I made a few hearts to set in.... I told her,

"If you want more hearts I will teach you how but that's it for me today!"

She didn't want more hearts.

This has turned out larger than we had figured so the backing that Marcy bought is not enough. Rats. That means another trip to the fabric store to buy more fabric. And I also need to make a decision about quilting this... Machine or hand? Stitch in the Ditch or some motif? (I don't like doing overall quilting patterns...)

Of course I could just hand it all to Marcy and she could quilt it... That might take awhile... Hey, I'm a quilter. Every summer I quilt for my sister-in-law. AND LOVE IT! (and her!)

Family pictures, family pictures.

Takumi and his girlfriend Bianca, and Bianca's dog came visiting the other day. I love the way the animals all mingle as well as the people. People bring their pets when they visit and everyone gets along.

The other day we were all driving down the freeway when we pulled up alongside a BATMAN car! How cool is that!

"Quick! Get the camera!"

My brother had to pass the car and fall back a couple of times before Kiana snapped this picture for me. It looked like a few other cars were doing the same. Lots of passing cars had cell phone cameras pressed against the windows. You never know what you are going to see in Southern California! Gotta keep my camera handy!

And another Grandma and me picture. Grandma keeps us laughing with her odd comments. She was referring to this one of my jowly face trying to read.

"Is that a chicken in that picture?

Excuse me? That is ME in that picture.

Friday, July 29, 2011

The girls

Yesterday we girls went off shopping AGAIN!!! Leiya loves shopping and we have hit so many malls in the last 4 days that I'm beginning to lose count! She doesn't really buy all that much but she sure likes to look! On the other hand, I don't find much to buy at all. The fashion this year seems to be feathers and Indian or animal motifs, which I like, but not skin tight or with all the flesh showing. (I do not understand the fashion statement made by bra straps showing... and I'm not even going to imagine me going braless!) Everything looks good on Leiya, though.

I remember my high school days when I would go shopping with my mother. She would refuse to try on clothes or buy things for herself because she said everything looked nicer on me. She also would refuse to have her picture taken next to me as she claimed she felt like an ol' hag next to my youth. I know EXACTLY what she was saying these days! This picture is for Tetsu. He can be tickled about his youthful daughter and grimace at how age creeps up on his wife... This picture took four tries before I was willing to post it.

Marcy says the same thing about her and Kiana. It took three tries for them.... Those two have always been look alikes.

And here we are at the Rainforest Cafe having lunch. Both girls have such pretty smiles...

In the evening some of us got involved with a game that I'd bought for Colin (he won). Grandma was watching from the sidelines and then started rummaging around in her drawers saying,

"Where's my camera?! I can't find my camera!"

(She used to take a lot of pictures.)

"No camera anymore Grandma. The old film ones went obsolete. Here... Try my digital. Everything is digital these days... Stores don't sell film anymore."

"What! When did that happen?!"

Grandma is always amazed when I put pictures into my computer. She wants an explanation about how digital works but I guess I don't really know myself! I handed Grandma my little digital and instructed her in shooting... She did a pretty good job too!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Sewing session

We are sewing at my mother's house these days. Nothing completed to show yet but we are working on it! Here is Marcy sewing and Kiana cutting strips. Grandma can't understand how one can make a quilt from strips and asks me the same question tens of times a day.

"How can you make a quilt from strips?" "What are you trying to make?" "Is that going to be a blanket?"

Close enough... I'm going batty answering her constantly.

Scrappy (not a great picture of him) was helping hold down quilt blocks. He is a little more rambunctious than my cats.

And as I direct the sewing process I am working on some hand sewn stars for my block exchange game. I wanted to show you this nifty tool that Mrs. Furui found for us a few weeks back.

This is a portable needle threader. It is about the size of a lipstick.

There is a little compartment on the bottom half where needles can be stored. And a little magnetic dealy on the bottom too.

If you push the top of the blue cover down, the needle threader part is exposed and there is a thread cutter hidden away back there too.

It is handy to carry around in a little pouch or sewing basket and of course because it threads needles it saves me from a lot of frustrations!

I don't think you can get it in the States... I looked on-line and didn't see it.

I'm glad I have it!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Family and trees

I guess just family news today.

Takumi has been playing his bass guitar so much that now he's decided he might like to play folk guitar too and has taken up practicing with my brother's guitar. We had a mini-jam session in Grandma's kitchen with me teaching rudimentary chords. And last night Takumi went out and bought his own guitar so I suppose most of his summer will be spent practicing one of his new instruments.

Marcy and Kiana and I took Leiya out shopping and one of the things we bought her was this cute jumpsuit. It was on the 70% off rack and we all said "CUTE!" But Leiya thought it a good pajama while Marcy, Kiana, Grandma and I thought it a cute going out outfit (especially with those heels!) Keion (my brother) came home and said

"Nice pajamas, Leiya."

Do those look like pajamas? I guess she'll wear them where she wants when she gets back to Ohio.

Grandma and I went off visiting a friend of hers yesterday and on the way got waylaid watching some workers trim the palm trees.

Yeah, I guess when a person thinks of Southern California they think of palm trees and we do have a lot of them around here.

When left untrimmed palm trees get long and shaggy and look like they are wearing a fur trimmed stole. They look much better after they are trimmed. But it sure takes a lot of work to trim a palm tree!!! The freeway entrance had to be closed down as the workers rained palm tree debris on the street below. Can you see that there are THREE workers there on the palm trees? (The third one is right up amongst the branches on the right.)

And visiting Grandma's friend (92) with Grandma (90) was a little like talking to two faltering tape recorders. Makes me sleepy! Both machines get stuck on different thoughts and a 15 minute visit gets the same two or three phrases over and over and over again.

"Yep. These days I just live one day at a time."

"Well, I'm grateful for my health, sure thing..."

But Mrs. A still lives alone so she must be doing something right!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Southern California scenery

It seems like we are always running around but not really getting much done. I have discovered that I am an antsy type of person and the lazy days of Southern California have me foot tapping.

"Are we going somewhere or not? We said we are but here we all sit waiting for something or someone."

Maybe I am not as flexible as I used to be. Or maybe I have just gotten used to my just doing my own thing all the time in Japan and at a drop of a hat I can change my plans or rush off where I like. Or maybe this is a Japanese/American difference and I have adapted more to Japanese time. Or maybe I am a rushy type of person because Tetsu does never suffered delays easily... Leiya and Takumi's advice to me is:

"Just relax Tanya-san. Things will work out."


I went up into the hills this morning and captured my annual "Scenery from Southern California" picture. Old visitors to this blog will say "I've seen that same picture four years in a row!" but I love the view from up above the hills in the early morning. My brother's house is somewhere directly under the sun... The dried flowers look the same. Even the clouds look the same!

I made the jaunt up the hill with wonder that merely 6 weeks ago I was having knee surgery. Thank You, Lord that You've have healed this knee! Daily I am guiding Grandma and her walker, carrying extra things for her, boosting Grandma and myself into my brother's large car (they call it the Lganbus), climbing over the baby gates (it keeps the animals off of the new carpet) walking the shopping malls for hours! If my knee wasn't in shape I'd sure be limited!

Thank You again dear Lord!!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Boy project

Marcy and I have bought fabric. And more fabric. And more fabric! You know how it is... You have a project in mind and think about it a bit more and realize you'd like a bit of purple in there... or green... or maybe the yellow that you have isn't quite right. And while we're here let's get new roller cutter blades and some thread (dang... I wish I'd brought some of the threads Mary in Indiana sent me!!!) and might as well get batting while it is on sale...

Before we know it the cart is full!

I was looking for scraps from last year's summer sewing and what should I come across but a whole bag of fabric in one of Marcy's closets!

"Marcy! You already have enough fabric to start a store!"

She was making fleece blankets last year... But there was a lot of calico too and pulling it all out of the bag I find that she had "started" some pillow cases and gotten waylaid.

I always try to keep the Works In Progress bags at a manageable level. (LIE! I have enough WIP bags at home to start my own store.) Okay... I'll feel better about starting something new with Marcy if we can cross the half-made pillow cases off the list. Kiana got in the act and together we put together quite a few pillow cases. I guess Marcy has her Christmas shopping started!

Kiana and I will start the baby quilts next.

Colin always gets left out of things. He's not interested in fabric shopping (what 13 year old boy is?) and he's not particularly interested in the girl talk around the sewing machine. But he doesn't have a whole lot to do this summer...

"Colin, do you like sushi? (I had found some sushi fabric in Marcy's scrap bag.) Let's make a belt."

I was visiting Nancy Near Philadelphia and she had these neat belts. Hey, that would be a good project for Colin! So in one evening Colin put together a belt. I mean, he really did it! I instructed him in roller cutter safety and he'd already learned to use a sewing machine in a Home Economics class and Ta-dah! Colin has made a belt!

What would be another good "boy" project this summer?

Skinny guy, isn't he...

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Leiya's here!

Leiya came in last night! Well, actually she came in the night before and Takumi picked her up at LAX and took her back to his apartment. I expected them to come yesterday morning but we waited and waited and texted and called and finally my children rolled in around 5:00. Well! Not too anxious to see good ol' Mom I guess!

The only big change with Leiya is that she has cut off all her pretty long hair. She's had it long for 8 or 10 years. But the general consensus of the family is that short hair suits her so she is looking good.

I whipped my children off to the bank before it closed at 6:00 because I wanted to put at least one of them on my account. The Japanese earthquake and radiation scare has made me think that a joint account, one that the kids could get into if I couldn't, would be the smartest thing for our family.

And in the evening we went off to a street fair and I bought Leiya a birthday present (tomorrow). Takumi and Bianca strolled around holding hands...

We are all lazing around the house catching up on the past year!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Birthday husband


Not much of a birthday for Tetsu. Work all day, home to cats and dog who are probably driving him crazy. A lot of heat, a lot of humidity. A box lunch for his dinner.

I did send Tetsu a text message yesterday which got to him on the 22. Since Japan is a day ahead of us here in the States I have to keep my wits about me and think ahead. (Barely!) Poor Tetsu always gets left out on his birthday. No one but me remembers it and I am always in the States. Obviously our family has never been one for big celebrations. Here is a picture of us at the airport bus stop just as I was leaving for the States...

I have dusted off Kiana's sewing machine that has been in the closet the past year. The only time Marcy and Kiana get the sewing bug is while I am here. Marcy wants to make more pillow cases and Kiana has to finish an apron started last summer. Marcy also has a baby quilt she wants Kiana to make for somebody.

So Tuesday Marcy and Kiania and I got to M and L's fabric store. Of course I can always find excuses to buy fabric. I guess I'll make a demonstration baby quilt for Kiana to follow... I will have to find the baby to give it to later. And I always need backing for my donation and comfort quilts so I picked up four more yards of that... And a beautiful yellow batik because I realized I didn't have much yellow in my stash.

While I was shopping I realized my cart was blocking the aisle and the poor lady behind me couldn't get through. As I rounded the corner she said,

"Are you Tanya?"

Now... who would I know way out here in Anaheim? And it turns out she is a blog reader!

Hi Anne! Thank you for greeting me! It was fun to meet you. You made me feel like a celebrity!

Whew! I'm sure glad I wasn't grumbling or scowling at people that day! To think that Anne could recognize me from my blog pictures! (And she was looking for a scar on my knee to see if it was really the Tanya from recent knee surgery. I showed her the three pin pricks!) I guess if I want to be recognized I'd better choose realistic pictures of myself. Not too much sucking in of stomach for pictures, Tanya. No one who meets you in person will believe you are the same lady!

Thursday, July 21, 2011


Windows. I see windows in my mother's days. I find a small open window and see how long I can keep it open. I grow sad when I see it closing.

Our day yesterday was pretty normal on the outside. Another tandem shower (normal maybe by Japanese standards), a trip to the doctors then a trip to K-mart. An afternoon nap (book reading for me), a trip to the library. A treat at Jamba Juice, a shopping spree. It was a great day yesterday!

The windows come in because so much of what we do is determined by whether my mother is willing (and able) to do things.

"Grandma, do you want to take a shower with me again?"


What? Okay, quick! A window is open! The other day Grandma said the same thing but 5 minutes later when I was stripping her down she suddenly did NOT want to take a shower and she made a lot of fuss about it despite the tickling feet episode. Not that she fights us... just a lot of sighs and pouting and mumbling.

So when my mother is willing I take all the opportunities I can get! A nice mother-daughter shower that she said "feels good!" and we were ready for a visit to the doctors.

If nothing else, my mother is a pretty cheerful old lady. Her favorite comment when she meets anyone, whether for the first time or in the morning is

"That is such a pretty shirt."

and she will finger the material like she's discovered gold. If a man is wearing a tie she will make the same comment about his tie. Marcy says to Grandma,

"Come on, Grandma we've got to go to Dr. J's office today and see what tie he's wearing."

And even Dr. J, when Grandma oohed and aahed about his tie yesterday, said

"I will know when something is really wrong with you when you stop commenting about my ties." (He was wearing a pink and purple paisley tie yesterday.)

After the doctor's visit it was off to K-Mart to buy Grandma her $5 shoes (she won't wear anything else). Since they were on sale we bought her 4 pairs (I'm afraid they get "soiled" easily...)

"I don't need 4 pairs of shoes! (yes you do, since everyday two pairs go in the wash) I'll be dead before I ever wear out 4 pairs of shoes!"

At age 90 that could be true...

And I have to remember that my mother is almost 90. How could that be? She shuffles along with her walker... Slowly trying to maneuver it through the aisles... stopping to finger things but forgetting what we are doing in the store anyway. Why is the dang shoe department so far away! And don't these stores have wheelchairs for people (almost all stores do in Japan.... even supermarkets!) Or a bench so that a person can take a rest?

"I'm tired." "I'm dizzy." "Let's go home." and my mother rests her head on her forearms leaning against her walker. Shopping is too much for her... The window has closed and she looks ancient and ready to be carted away right there and then.

Once back home I offer her food but she only takes a bite of anything. I am surprised at how little she eats. Take up a Grandma diet and I would be slim and trim in 5 days!

But in the afternoon, Grandma opened a window again.

"Mother, I'm going to the library. Do you want anything?" Grandma used to be a great reader. Nowadays she keeps a book by her side but will no longer open it.

"Library? I haven't been to the library in ages. Maybe I'll pick out a book too!"

Window open! Grandma wants to go to the library! I grab her purse and my purse and yell out the window in the direction of the main house that we are going to the library. I need to get Grandma out before she closes that window on me!

We picked out books (she from afar while sitting at a table). As we were getting back in the car I suggested going to get something cold to drink and Grandma was game! Off to Jamba Juice.

With anything edible, it is a waste of food and money to buy Grandma anything. She takes three sips through her straw and says she's done. This is true with meals too. She'll accept a plate but will only eat a tiny bit. The first three days here that would annoy me. Why does she order anything if she isn't going to try to eat it? But I realized yesterday that I am paying for a few minutes of mother-daughter time... a few minutes of normal California life... a few minutes of how days of yesteryear were... not a Jamba Juice. We enjoyed ourselves out under the sun umbrella, watching people and cars go by, reveling in the cool breeze and the icy paper cup...

"Mother, we are right here by the mall. Do you want to look at clothes?"

This is pushing it a bit. How long will this window stay open?

"No. You'll have more fun shopping with Marcy. You go later."

"Okay... but if I go with you, then I know that YOU'LL pay for it!"

This brought gales of laughter from her.

"Then let's go... If it doesn't get too extensive."

"Extensive or expensive?"

"Both!" more laughter from both of us. What a lovely time together.

We found a shirt for Grandma. We found a shirt for me. The wonderful summer breeze flowed through the window all evening.


This morning I took my usual fairly long walk around the Southern California hills over to the high school (my old alma mater) and back. I felt very proud of myself. A little slower than some years but I think I can pronounce me knee completely healed if I can do that hike! (About an hour.)

It seems as if things are always hopping at my brother's house. Shopping, breakfasts out, partying, a lot of games, swimming, guitar playing, reading old magazines, cooking.

Saturday the family had an impromptu barbecue party. It started out with JUST family, and then there were children's friends coming for a sleep over and old friends dropping in, more friends being invited at the last minute and pretty soon there was a driveway full of cars, cars and more cars! Hamburgers and sausages on the grill, macaroni salads and salsas in the kitchen.

The men folk hung out in the very messy garage with a loud amplifier and Takumi got some bass lessons. The younger generation swam in the pool, the ladies laughed in the kitchen. There must have been over 20 people milling around or sitting on all the horizontal surfaces that could be found. A very all-American gathering.

Tetsu and I rarely have friends over. For one, Tetsu isn't around much and when he is home he would really like to hang loose and sleep on the sofa rather than play host to people. Another reason is that the house is so small that it is hard to find more than 5 chairs for anyone to sit down on in the same room. Also being a lousy cook makes it hard to invite people over and lack of cookware or a kitchen counter makes it even more difficult. These may all be excuses but in general Japanese don't entertain in their own homes. It is much more common to treat everyone at a restaurant or rent a room at a community center or something. Japanese homes don't have guest bathrooms, guest closets, not much in the way of a yard, no lawn furniture or barbecue grills.

I do have my English friends over once a week so I keep a cupboard of coffee mugs available and I'm pretty good at baking up a batch of cookies, but my friends would never think to go help themselves in the kitchen or even be left in a room by themselves. That would not be a good hostess on my part. And I think it is difficult for Japanese to chit-chat with people they don't know well, so when there are gatherings it is usually in groups of relatives or people who know each other well. The one ice-breaker among strangers would be alcohol but since neither Tetsu nor I drink we don't plan nor get invited to informal parties very much. (ever!)

I'm not so great at chit-chat myself so I stayed in the background of Saturday's party trying to keep everyone straight.

"Now that must be so-and-so's cousin. And that must be whosit's son even though she couldn't come... I don't know who that child belongs to..."

I had a lot of fun though!