Monday, January 31, 2011

Quilty miscellaneous

Sort of a miscellaneous quilty post today. I've finished blocks of various types.

The Insecticus Humbugium (along with the scarab-looking Humbug) went together as planned. Tonya said I could send just a bug head so this went in the mail to her on Friday.

I quickly finished off Mrs. Ochiai's blocks for the block game. Mrs. Ochiai asked for TWO blocks to be made for her... TWO! Some of us are saying "seven..." "four pineapple blocks with a hundred pieces..." "Hawaiian applique block..." Mrs. Ochiai is too conscientious. AND she had cut out the white fabric for all of us! AND she had prepared little Ziploc pouches with cardboard inserts (to keep blocks from getting wrinkled) for each of us. Different personalities are sure drawn to patchwork. Most of us ask for "the more the better!" and stuff wrinkled choices of fabric into their box (whoops. That's just me... My other friends iron their fabric.)

I finished four star blocks for the bazaar quilt. Yes, that is the quilt with the tree but around the tree we are going to add stars. I may not be neat but I am fast. The four blocks didn't have to be done until April but I wanted one job out of the way.

I made one block for the surprise quilt... If I show too many of those blocks here it won't be a surprise...

I've been working on a Hawaiian quilt style bag for a friend who does hula dancing. This pattern is from Kathy Nakajima's books. Kathy is a native Hawaiian, married to a Japanese (actor) who introduced the whole concept of Hawaiian quilting to Japan. She has her own line of fabrics in Japan now and has become quite famous!

A couple people wanted the pattern to the little Totoro bean bag I had some students make last week. I'm afraid I don't know how to make a PDF file but I took a picture of the pieces used laying on the ruled cutting board so maybe someone can draw up their own templates. It shouldn't be too hard.

Trace the bigger piece onto fabric. Cut out adding seam allowance. Trace the arched pattern onto lighter fabric and cut out. Gather the rounded part with a running stitch and then applique onto the body fabric. Sew on the tracing line by hand or machine. Trim corners and clip points. Turn and embroider upside down Vs. Stuff with left-over batting and beads. Gather at the bottom and sew closed. Hot bond google eyes to finished Totoro.

And last but not least, June sent me more kitty fabric!!! These are so cute with kitties drinking milk and playing together etc. She also sent me some 1930's die cut hearts that would work together well with the fabric or might even find their way into a quilt for the kindergarten someday. (I can also see teaching those little girls that come for English, how to do a button hole stitch around a heart of their choice for Valentines's Day...)

Thank you June!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Heated to the core

I've got another hot spa post today... That's where we were off to yesterday again... Tetsu really loves these places... I guess because it is cold out, these places are popular. Spas offer to "heat you to the core."

Yesterday's place issued "polyester pajamas" so guests could walk around the premises in a relaxed mode. A large sleeping area with more reclining chairs and TVs. Numerous saunas and baths again.

A popular addition to sauna places recently is Ganbanyoku, a hot rock sauna. This is a dry, low heat co-ed sauna. The room is darkened, the music is soft. On each side of the aisle are slabs of marble that are heated from some underground system. Everyone lays on the slabs (in pajamas) and when first entering, except for the fact that the room is HOT it sort of reminds me of a morgue! All these bodies lying around in rows! This type of low temperature sauna is supposed to heat you to the core. It sort of gives me a headache.

Another sauna that was unique to yesterday's spa was in the bathing area (naked right?) and was called the Aroma Therapy room. Another type of herbal aroma but I was flabbergasted to find little holes in the marble seats... Um... like a communal toilet? What is this place? A quick read of the instructions on the wall.

"Place your wet towel around the seat opening. Sit down and enjoy the medicinal aroma which will waft upwards from the hole, through your XXXX and warm you to the core."

Oh, come on. I don't need to be THAT warm!

In the locker room while changing back to street clothes, I eave's dropped on an exchange between a chance meeting between friends. One lady had just stripped down to her birthday suit and was clutching a towel in front of her. Another two friends were in their "pajamas" enjoying soft drinks.

"Oh it's Mrs. Y! I haven't seen you in years! Do you remember us? Our kids went to elementary school together!"

"Mrs. M and Mrs. T! How nice to see you both! Of course I remember you!"

"Oh, Mrs. Y. You haven't changed a bit! How long has it been? At least 10 years!"

"You're the one who hasn't changed a bit!"

It crossed my mind as to whether these acquaintances had ever seen each other in such "open" circumstances... You haven't changed a bit? I wondered which part hadn't changed...

The three ladies chatted for about 5 minutes and were actually joined by another lady (fully clothed) who'd overheard the conversation (like me) and realized that she knew them all. I hope the naked lady didn't catch cold standing there in the buff. I hope she headed for the hot rock sauna.

It always amazes me that Japanese can run into someone at a hot bath and carry on a conversation without a thought to lack of attire. Actually I've gotten fairly good at it too though if I had my 'druthers I'd like to get dressed first...

(Pictures from the Nandaimon website)

Friday, January 28, 2011

Male or Female?

On the road heading into the next town, there is a Do-It-Yourself lot in the middle of nowhere. Tetsu occasionally buys gravel or bricks etc. on an honor system. You write down what you are buying and place your money in a box. I've never seen anybody there but things seem to disappear and I assume people like Tetsu buy things.

The other day I noticed an owl object in front of the lot. Well, that's interesting.

Japanese like owls because the Japanese word fukurou can be a play on words of fu-kurou which means, without hardship. Anway, an owl object is not that unusual (though this one was very large... About the size of a gate.) But a closer look...

A male owl. Hmmm. I wonder what a female owl looks like. Or why it make a difference if a person displays a male owl or a female owl. I pondered that as I drove along. On my way home I stopped at the Do-It-Yourself place just to look at the male owl.

Ohhh!!!.... It's a MAIL owl! The place where the sign has been placed is actually an open space and there is an explanation that a regulation mail slot will fit in the space making an unusual but memorable mail box area for your yard.

I think the MALE owl is pretty memorable too.

Thursday, January 27, 2011


Today was the "freezingest" day that I've been out at the crosswalk! Everyday I seem to say that! I am bundled up like a bear (and am grateful that my uniform came too big so that I can wear layers and layers of clothes under it) and waddle around at the crosswalk much like a penguin. I actually stay pretty warm... except for my fingers! Even though I was issued regulation snow gloves (remember... they remind me of Mickey Mouse they are so big), they do not do much for keeping the fingers from freezing. I've started stuffing the hand warming bags into the over sized gloves, but the warmth doesn't get to the fingers. My hands are looking forward to spring.

While I stand at the crosswalk waiting for the elementary school children to arrive 5 or 6 junior high school girls ride down the street on their bicycles on their way to the junior high school. They all wear gym clothes and they look like they are freezing! Most of them don't even wear gloves. Are they crazy?! They are allowed to wear gloves! They are allowed to wear jackets and coats. Some of the sports teams even issue winter coats but no... these young teenagers choose to freeze on their way to school.

My kids were the same when they were in junior high. Leiya was issued a nice looking black coat that all the kids on her kendo team were given (paid for). But would she wear it? Nope. It was "uncool" so the nice, expensive coat sat in the closet. I wonder what ever happened to it. Leiya too chose to freeze on her way to school rather than be "uncool".

And I remember when Takumi entered junior high he had the option to buy the rain wear that all the kids had. Plastic jacket and gathered bottom pants. But I had mistakenly decided that since we already had a rain poncho that was usable that he could use that. One morning when it was raining cats and dogs I pulled out the poncho and insisted he wear it.

No way! He was not going to school in anything as "uncool" as a rain poncho.

"You are crazy! You can hardly see outside because of the storm! Wear the poncho. I PROMISE that I will buy you the dumb rain wear that everyone has! Just wear this today and I'll go to the store and have the rainwear you want for tomorrow."

We had a major argument over the poncho but my son left the house wearing it.

Grumble, grumble. What is the difference between a rain poncho and school rainwear? But that is the way teenagers think so later that day I bought him the jacket and pants. I happened to run into my neighbor while I was shopping and she innocently said,

"Oh, you are buying Takumi the rainwear? Yes, when I saw him today along the road near the junior high school, he was absolutely soaked! He looked like he'd fallen in the river!"

What?!! I sent him to school wearing the rain poncho!

It turned out that once outside our front door and at the other side of the forest, Takumi had removed the rain poncho, stuffed it into the bicycle basket and proceeded to school in his gym clothes. Soaked is right! These teenagers would rather look stupid than "uncool"!

And for all the ruckus about having that school rainwear, a few months later it was "uncool" to even wear that, and so it was relegated to the closet where I'VE worn it a few times. So what if I look like an over aged junior high school student. At least I stay dry!

I've thought about buying some cheapie gloves for the junior high girls that ride by me every morning but I know it's not because they can't afford them that they don't wear gloves It's because it is "uncool". I imagine their mothers are shaking their heads every morning when the girls leave for school. I sure did!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Stupid cats. Good friends

Every Tuesday morning 4 of my friends come to my house for English. We sit around my dining room table and drink coffee and eat lots of cakes, chocolate, cookies and crackers (sometimes all on the same day!) We talk about our week and then do a bit of studying from a book or a print out. All of these friends have been coming to my house for over 10 years. All of them are animal lovers and two of them are cat owners. Usually my cats gather in the entryway a few minutes before 10:00 when my students/friends are supposed to arrive. I don't know why the cats know that it is Tuesday morning and my students will be arriving soon. Maybe it is because I'm running the vacuum cleaner and setting up the coffee maker. Maybe the cats are just smart. They seem to know that some one of the four ladies will open the cupboard door and give any cat who is around some dried sardines as a cat treat. My cats look forward to Tuesday mornings.

While we ladies are chatting and eating the cats retire to different parts of the house. The sofa, the arm chair, the futon upstairs. Nowadays during the colder months I keep a heater on in the living room and turn on the electric mat under the carpet in the dining room. The cats love to sleep on the warm mat between everyone's feet and it is true that a quiet cat makes a good toe warmer (but the frisky ones attack socks and ankles.) Usually there is an unspoken agreement that if a cat is quiet under the table then he or she can stay there and the humans will try not to step on them.

Last week Mi was sick to her stomach. My two cat owning friends know that an occasional cat ball is par for the course. Mi was having a harder time though and urping up a lot of stuff because THE DUMB CAT ATE MY RUBBER BUNION PROTECTOR!! It was a little rubber piece that I can slip between my toes… anyway, now you know I have bunions. I do remember seeing it upstairs on the dresser. When Mi started urping while under the table I kept finding chunks of rubber and a quick look upstairs proved that my bunion protector was gone. Into Mi. My friends were very sympathetic and someone suggested butter as a way to relieve and "send through" any more chunks. Sigh… Such understanding friends. They waited while I cleaned up. Mi revived in a couple of days.

Today my friends were back for the weekly lesson. Everyone was around the table when somebody noticed that SOME cat, who knows which one, had urped up under the table AGAIN. This time a bunion protector was not at fault. AGAIN English was put on hold while I ran around with paper towels and crawled around under the table. And another urp spot very close to someone's lovely handbag! Oh my goodness!

"If you dumb cats are going to be sick, can't you go do it in private?!!! Why do you have to do your urping between my friends' feet?!"

I'm amazed my friends are still coming back each week. They never know what they might step in or be christened by. I'm not too sympathetic to whichever cat is sick to his/her stomach.


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Sewing lessons again

I messed up in the photo department yesterday. I had sewing going on but didn't get a picture of any finishes.

My friends Rumi-san and Mrs. Nakazawa came over to work on their Irish Chain quilts. I am forcing them to make a machine pieced quilt (neither one of them has a working sewing machine so they can only sew at my house. I have one everyday use machine and one "use for emergencies" machine.) I think both of these friends would rather sit at home and stitch by hand, that is their image of "Patchwork". That's fine but they've both got unfinished piecework that is just so tedious that it doesn't get finished. I wanted them to see how something fairly substantial can come together in a relatively short period of time. And both friends are very loving, giving people so if they can get over their sewing machine allergies then they would be able to make and GIVE AWAY quilts with great joy. That's why I'm forcing them to learn the usage of roller cutters, flag piecing and sewing machines. I am NOT sure that they are having fun.

After a couple of hours there was the enlightening moment when they could see how all this strip cutting and down the line sewing and Omnigrid cutting finally came together in a Chain block and I think they got a rush of satisfaction. Of course each of them only got 6 Chain blocks made and they've got another 12 to go plus background blocks... Well its a start.

Then in the evening I had two little 4th and 5th grade girls who came for English but one other girl was absent so after 15 minutes of English review I pulled out fabric and needles and thread.

So much concentration and both girls were very good doing the small amount of applique, a little embroidery and using the sewing machine to stitch two pieces together. We were running out of time so we hot-bonded eyes on and filled the bottoms with car deodorant beads and then gathered the bottoms closed. A real rush-rush job at the end. (Moms are waiting out in front of my house in the cold night air!) And that's why I didn't get a picture of the finished products! Sorry!

The girls were making Totoro, a Japanese animation character and their Totoros looked like this, (my sample) one girl's in green and one girl's in red check.

Monday, January 24, 2011

A quilt rack

Yesterday after a date out and about Tetsu and I stopped in at a recycle shop (remember? My favorite place to shop.) And look what Tetsu bought for me!

"Tanya, Tanya! Look what I found for you! You can use this to show your quilts!"

It said on the tag that it was a brand new towel rack but a husband who lives with a quilter knows right away that this will function as well or better as a quilt rack.

I don't have a lot of places to put this but then I don't have a lot of places to put my quilts either so at least a couple are out of the box and can be displayed on the rack. (I have another rack that holds 4 or 5 more). Tetsu is a dear for realizing that this is just what I need!

(And even more amazing was that we were at the tag end of a three day argument. Suffice it to say that the argument is finished...)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Signature blocks again

Friday morning I had to drop something off at Mrs. Furui's house before going on to a class.

"Come in. Do you have 10 minutes?"

I had 10 minutes so I sat down at Mrs. Furui's dining room table and got the latest scoop around her neighborhood and the kindergarten.

Last week a little Down's Syndrome boy who had graduated from the kindergarten a couple of years ago, passed away from heart complications. Many of the teachers and kindergarten mothers and Mrs. Furui went to the funeral.

"Tanya, I want to make a signature quilt for Ken-chan's family. I was looking at your blog and saw that you had been making signature blocks. Do you think I could make blocks and take them to the kindergarten for the mothers and maybe some children to sign them?"

Well, yes, that sounds like a wonderful idea. And within the 10 minutes we had decided to get blocks made and to the kindergarten by this coming Monday. I'm included of course.

"I'm so sorry. You don't have to get involved if you don't want. I know you have so much else on your schedule."

"Don't worry about it. I want to help. I knew Ken-chan too. I even have some already made signature blocks that I decided not to use. I'll pull those out and that will help the block sewing go quickly."

But I came home and can not find those blocks.

"Oh, come on! This sewing room is not that big."

Not in the drawers. Not in the boxes. I've looked everywhere.

"What a waste of time. Just make some new ones."

So yesterday I went through my drawers and cut out fabric to Mrs. Furui's measurements. But the blocks were turning out a different size than she'd figured so I must have been doing something wrong. (Actually we were using different techniques.) I called.

"Mrs. Furui, my blocks are not the right size. And you are not using the technique that one normally uses to make signature blocks. (I'm such a know-it-all.) Are you free? I'll come over and we can work together on this."

Both of our husbands were working on a Saturday afternoon so what do two quilters want to do more than anything? It's a thirty minute drive to Mrs. Furui's but I gathered up my WIP and drove over.

Working together, Mrs. Furui and I made up 80 blocks (she was going to put the last 20 together today.) I cut, ironed and trimmed. Mrs. Furui sewed. I was at her house until nearly 5:00!

"I'm so sorry I got you involved, Tanya. You came into town yesterday and then again today. Maybe I should have just kept my plans to myself."

"Think how I would have felt if I'd found out later that you'd made a quilt without me! Working together on quilts is inevitable!"

It's true though that every time I cross Mrs. Furui's threshold I come home with a new project to work on. That woman! She is such a slave driver! But I love her lots and lots!

(Thus said she will have to forgive me for posting her picture. "Don't take my picture! I hate photos!" Don't we all!)

Does anybody remember where I put my signature blocks?

Saturday, January 22, 2011


Yesterday I did something I've never done before and probably won't do again. I went to a Karaoke "bar". (It wasn't a bar... It was a Karaoke room...)

There was a time when Karaoke was the big thing in Japan and there were Karaoke bars and people were buying Karaoke systems for home use. (By the way, the word Karaoke comes from a composite word, kara, meaning empty, and oke taken from the English word orchestra. An Empty Orchestra). I have been to places (like in the gimmicky spas) where there is a stage and customers will pay to have a song played while they stand up in front of everyone and pretend they are famous crooners. ... But I've never tried myself and Tetsu shuns Karaoke places with a long arm. (He doesn't even keep hymn melodies very well. He says he refuses to make a fool of himself in front of a lot of people.)

Anyway, my pool friend, Kyoko-san called me on my cell phone when I was in her city and wanted to get together to go bowling or do Karaoke or go a hot spa. (This week the pool is closed for its annual cleaning and repairs so we patrons are left with finding other ways to bathe.) Hmm. I really had wanted to go home and do patchwork but I believe in putting people first so I met up with Kyoko-san and we decided what to do with a couple spare hours.

Bowling? I've been bowling years before and wasn't very good at it. Yeah, I could probably spend an hour doing that though it sounds like more exercise (and I've been so happy free from lap swimming!) Karaoke? I've never done that. I know that is one place Tetsu is never going to take me. And if it is just Kyoko-san then maybe it doesn't matter if I make a fool of myself. So I voted for Karaoke (with a hot spa bath afterwards.)

Use of a Karaoke room is about $5 an hour with a free refillable soft drink thrown in. We signed into a narrow room with a TV screen and a menu (you can order nibbles if you want) and were given two sterilized microphones and a type-in keyboard. Knowing nothing I let Kyoko-san man the keyboard and she punched in a couple songs and stood up to warble.

She was really very good! A very nice voice obviously trying to emulate one of the famous Enka stars in Japan. Enka is translates as:

", based on the pentatonic scale has some resemblance to blues. Enka lyrics are usually written similarly around the themes of love and loss, loneliness, enduring hardships, and persevering in the face of difficulties, even suicide or death."

Not a too cheerful set of topics but a singer can put a lot of emotion into one song and Kyoko-san played it to the hilt!

I'm afraid I'm more self-conscious and I sat with the microphone a foot away from my face and tried to pick out the tune to Country Roads. There were enough Simon and Garfunkel, Celine Dion, and Disney theme songs that I had a good time but I doubt that I'm going to make Karaoke a part of my regular schedule. I do better (I think) with gospel music and a guitar than with Enka and a microphone...

(Illustration from the Internet, Karaoke definition from Wikipedia.)

Friday, January 21, 2011

Patchwork kits

Yesterday I ended up with a mostly free day (I love those!) and did some preparation work for my friends. I have three friends who are going to work on some blocks (at my request). None of them are quilters, thus none of them have a large supply of fabric. THAT'S okay as I have enough fabric for all of us so I started making patterns, bias tape, choosing fabric and making applique pieces. It actually took all morning to make up three kits and I didn't get too much done myself.

I don't really see the joy in kits. I think I've bought one kit in my lifetime and though it turned out nicely, I never felt that it was really my creation... even with all the time put in! Part of the fun of doing patchwork is choosing the fabrics but a lot of people get hung up at that point.

My advice is to "choose three or four fabrics and start cutting!" Patchwork almost always looks better made up and I don't really think I've ever seen an ugly quilt. (I know, there are some that end up in the ugly quilt competition but even there the owners got some fun out of it!)

Many first time quilters agonize over matching colors or patterns. I don't remember if I started out that way or not... The only thing I do remember from a long ago piecing session with a teacher, was to try to mix large designs and small designs (I had a vague idea that patchwork was only small print florals).

Anyway I have made up my kits and will go deliver them today. I had fun choosing fabrics and I have a bounty to chose FROM!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Junk, trash, garbage and crumbs

I'm in a "throwing away" mood. Do you ever get that way? I probably should have these moods more frequently and then I wouldn't accumulate so much junk but usually I go along collecting and once in a blue moon I decide I can live without all this stuff. If I need it again I'm not so poor as I can't go buy it again and so things are getting tossed. Old CDs, old sweaters and mufflers, a couple old stuffed animals, lots of empty notebooks, unused English material, hand-me-down dishware. While I toss I occasionally feel guilty, but once a year or so all this stuff just makes me feel constipated!

Right now all of the junk is still in wastepaper baskets so I hope my will holds through tomorrow when the garbage goes out. (Sometimes I rethink and drag stuff back out of the wastepaper baskets.) And yes, I did do a little trashing in my sewing room too... A little. Bent and dull needles, one pin cushion that had rusted pins in it...some of the crumbs (and I really mean crumbs! 1/2 inch triangles?) in the overflowing crumb basket.

"Why are you saving those when you have drawers of fabric, Tanya!"

Unfortunately even with a toss-a-thon there isn't a big difference in how my house looks... I can still look at drawers and shelves and see stuff I haven't used in years... but can't throw out...

Oh, and I DO NOT throw out anything of Tetsu's. Years ago I learned the hard way that he does not appreciate my judgement on the necessity of his things. So if you come to my house and see a lot of junk, please assume it belongs to my better half...

(But it's true the the wastepaper basket in my sewing room is the least filled in the house...)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Climb every mountain~

Yes, well, 19 people recognized yesterday's picture as a bug. One person thought it was a robot which I was afraid of. But one out of 20 isn't bad. And a few of you got the hum part. I guess if there are enough humbug looking humbugs in Tonya's quilt that mine will blend in, so my Humbug will go to Tonya at some point.

And still playing, I made letters. I feel more confident about letters than I do about figures but by themselves they don't have a lot of personality. These aren't connected yet but hopefully before Tonya's cut off date they will be sewn together.

And I tried another bug. That's what it is trying to be. With a humbug expression. I don't know about anyone else but it looks like an unhappy Martian to me... What's the difference between a bug and an alien? Maybe the 6 legs... Arghh. I did not want to make 6 more legs.... Rats.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Because it's there

Hmmm. Not much to say today. On days like this I should just close the computer and go do housework.

I had a little extra time the other day and I spent it up in the sewing room. Yes, I know I have homework to do but I when given a block of free time, I wanted to play. Do you know what this is? Depending on your answer this will or will not get sent to the recipient. Talk about playing outside your normal frame... I would NEVER have thought I'd want to take a try at making THIS but a challenge was given and I had to see what my abilities are up to...

I often think quilters are like the mountain climbers that scale great heights with much risk to body. Now, you would think that there are no two people further from each other in attributes. As a quilter I am not physically in shape. I don't like excitement nor hardship. I don't even like being outdoors all that much. I like comfort and quiet and the feel of fabric not thin air and snow and hiking boots.

So what's the comparison?

Like a hiker might look up and see a far off mountain that they want to climb "just because it is there", I sometimes stumble upon quilt patterns or see something on someone's blog, or am met with a challenge (as in today's case) and I want to make something "just to see if I can". Sometimes I can't but most often I can. Sometimes the challenge is

"Can I really make this quilt with all the hundreds of pieces all by hand?"

Such was the case with the Feathered Star. Tetsu asked me why I was making it and my answer was...

"I don't know... I wanted to see if I really could."

which he thought a strange reason.

Bonnie Hunter's mystery quilts often sing to me just because I want to see if I can really follow her instructions without know where this is going.

New techniques call to me because I want to see if I can master them and who cares what I end up with when I'm finished... Usually a lot of loose blocks that have no destination.

So this is another "just because" block.

I need to stop playing and do my homework. Or my housework...

Monday, January 17, 2011

One piece of homework done

With all the snow yesterday I worked on my sewing homework. Okay, one piece of homework done. That went quickly. This is the Anne of Green Gables church block and it was easy to do. I wasn't sure if I was supposed to be doing Redwork in backstitch or in outline stitch or with one strand or two strands of embroidery floss so I mixed and matched as I went along!

My part of Japan doesn't get much snow but when it falls everyone freezes (literally and metaphorically). Many people figure that the area gets so little snowfall that they won't change their tires over to snow tires and thus when it DOES snow they get caught off guard and can't move. When I went to the pool last night I found cars slipping on the roads and stalled by the wayside. I think their cars can't make it up the hill to the tunnel that connects the two cities. Anyway, I made it safely to the pool but decided I didn't want to risk the tunnel road on the way home so I went the long way around on more crowded streets. Tetsu, who came home early in the evening hoping to avoid the frozen roads was horrified to find me out and about on winter streets and he started calling me on the cell phone. Well....!

I'm trying to drive home husband-dear. Your calling me only startles me as I drive and I can't drive and talk at the same time (and it is also illegal).

When I finally got home my cell phone registered 5 phone calls and 3 text messages from Tetsu within a span of 20 minutes. At least I know he worries about me.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Hot Spa

We woke up to snow this morning and Tetsu is out shoveling. Not that much compared to some parts of Japan that we've lived in, but enough to make traffic slow down in my parts and to put a hush on the countryside. I thought that Choco would rather stay indoors than outdoors today so I brought her in but she was complaining so I've put her out in the snow. Dumb dog! She doesn't know what's good for her! What do you bet that she will start complaining and want to be brought back inside!

Yesterday I missed posting because Tetsu and I went out to Denny's for breakfast, then to an early morning spa and finally hit a movie.

Tetsu has always loved the hot spas throughout Japan. They don't even have to be authentic spas, he loves the so called health spa centers with all sorts of fancy baths and saunas. I am not as fond but figure that Tetsu and I need a common interest and so I am willing to go along if I can take my Kindle or a book to pass the time.

The spa we went to yesterday was a recently built one in the middle of the city and next to the movie theater. How authentic can that get? By authentic I mean that someone has spent a fortune boring into the earth until they hit a vein of volcanically heated water that is pumped to the surface and leads into a bath, no reheating or recycling needed. Most places have to reheat or add water or bring in authentic spa water from somewhere else etc. And most places focus on gimmicky things to draw guests. Yesterday's spa center was using all the gimmicks! Tetsu had a great time!

Let's see... The building was huge and after signing in Tetsu and I separated to go into different male and female bathing areas. (Thank you, I'm not ready to bare my body for the male population!) The locker area was bamboo lined with carved benches and soft music. Not a high school locker room for sure! After changing I went into the bathing area where there were rows and rows of showers, and bathing buckets, mirrors, bottles of shampoo and rinse and body soap. (You don't have to bring anything but a hand towel and even those can be purchased in vending machines.... along with toothbrushes, shavers and underwear. Hmmm.)

A quick suds up (and rinse off... that's very important)and then I made the rounds of the gimmicky baths.

An indoor bath, high temperature, authentic spa water brought in from somewhere.

Next stop an outdoor kettle bath.

Then a hot bath surrounded by rocks and trees and winding paths. (picture from the Internet)

An even hotter bath outside (I managed 30 seconds before I popped out of that!)

and then into the herb sauna. Yesterday's aroma was chamomile.

A quick stop at the hot slab sleeping bath which is a hot rock that has hot water bubbling around it. The only trouble with that is you are completely exposed (whichever side is up) and besides since the air is wintry this season, my back side was hot while my front side was freezing (you know which way I was laying.)

Back inside and I opted to skip the electric bath... Yes, voltage is shot through the water to give you a buzz while you bathe. As a child I was taught to keep electrical appliances away from water so I do not understand how one can sit in electrified water! No way!

There was a carbonated bath (sort of like sitting in Sprite minus the stickiness)

and a salt sauna. I should have skipped the salt sauna. There was a mountain of salt in a huge dish for people to grab a handful and scrub onto their body. Ouch, ow, oh, ouch!!! I forgot that I have a lot of cat scratches on my legs and arms. Think of rubbing salt into all those cuts. I escaped from the salt sauna as soon as possible.

Another quick scrub and shampoo and then I went out to the relaxation room and watched TV in my own reclining chair and private screen until Tetsu showed up. We could have had a hair cut, lunch, a massage and facial etc. if we had wanted to spend more time there but we opted for a pop-corn and soda lunch at the movie theater.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Patchwork Thursday

Yesterday was a patchwork day and a few of us gathered at Mrs. Furui's. I came home with so much homework!!! I hope I can keep up this month!

Mrs. Furui is determined to make the hospital children's ward where she volunteers, a quilt decorated area and so she has started yet another project and asked me to help again. How can I refuse her! Twenty some years ago someone (Mrs. Okutomi?) sent us an Anne of Green Gables redwork kit. I actually traced one pattern and had Leiya make the block and then make a wall hanging... I wonder where that went to? Anyway, the kit has sat in Mrs. Furui's closet for 20 years and she has decided to make it into a quilt for the hospital.

"Tanya... Wouldn't you like to make a block or two?"

"Well, if you put it that way, let's say I'd like to make a block (not two)."

and so I got started. Mrs. Harada took home number two (Mrs. Furui has 7 more to get done but she is gathering recruits at the hospital so I don't feel sorry for her!)

And I came home with our block exchange game and instructions to make two stars for Mrs. Ochiai's quilt. And I came home with templates for making 4 blocks for our bazaar quilt.

The bazaar quilt by the way has had a beautiful start thanks to Mrs. Harada who appliqued the whole dang tree trunk for us last month! This month we are going to start appliqueing leaves to the main panel. Those of us who aren't appliqueing leaves are supposed to prepare 20 leaves for later appliqueing. That is also homework.

And then the surprise quilt block needs to be done too this month...

I did a bit of show and tell yesterday too and took my Feathered Star quilt and the Word Play Quilts book. Mrs. Ochiai was our photographer yesterday with her magic camera so I'm including her pictures of me though you've seen this quilt before.

I also passed along the Angel quilt for Mrs. Furui's hospital and picked up some more fabric for the next one (when that will get done I don't know...)