Thursday, March 31, 2011

Quilt shop

Yesterday I had a day out with Mrs. Furui.

"Furui-san, I'm coming into Utsunomiya and I want to go to the quilt store. Do you want to go and get away from things for awhile?"

Yes, she did and so off we went.

At the quilt shop we looked at backing for our donation quilts and found what we wanted on sale...

Mrs. Furui needed some red for her Anne of Green Gables quilt (another quilt for her hospital work) and she found a lovely pink/red...

I wanted a light green or blue for a surprise quilt but instead found a medium green with a lovely print. I hope it's not too dark for what I'm planning...

We both bought white thread (again for me!) and grumbled about the price but realize the cheap stuff gives off too much fuzz...

I bought two spools of machine quilting thread.

Mrs. Furui found a complete kit of Anne of Green Gables for a good price (I never knew she liked Anne of Green Gables so much... Maybe she doesn't. Maybe it is going to be for hospital decoration) and she put that in her basket too.

I vacillated between whether or not I was going to buy some pretty flowered fabric for a someday Wonky Word quilt and went ahead and bought a meter.

And Mrs. Furui joined me on that purchase and bought a meter and a half too.

I did put back a few things just because my bill looked like it was running up. It was!!

"Furui-san, we've got to get out of here! The longer we stay, the more we are liable to buy!"

And the clerk piped up,

"Buy it. Fabric is good for you now."

"Yeah, right... It's not like I don't have enough in my sewing room. What am I doing buying more?"

"No, really. A lot of people have come in the past couple weeks after the earthquake and have said how comforting it has been to have handwork to do while having to stay home or while watching the news on TV. And they say they get a lot of comfort seeing the bright fabric on the shelves and just running their hands over the patterns. I think so too... At first I was really depressed with all the terrible stories but coming in to work everyday and talking to all the ladies who are sewing really cheered me up. And I think the customers feel camaraderie talking with other quilters here too. That's true of the ladies in the yarn section too. The knitters just feel close to each other at a time like this. Buy fabric ladies! Go home and make things! It will brighten your day and your family and your life!"

So Mrs. Furui and I did. We came out of the store gasping at how much we spent.

"I don't think I've ever plunked down so much money at a quilt shop like today."

"I know... It's like a dam burst and everything looked so beautiful and tempting. It's a good thing we didn't go into the knitting section!"

Despite the fact that our wallets are lighter, BAD; (by about $100 for me! For only this!) our hearts are lighter too and that is definitely GOOD!!!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Protect my pet

Though it doesn't do any good to worry about things yet to come, it is hard to keep my mind from flitting to the possible calamities.

I have a neighbor who has six or seven dogs. Two are outside dogs and she has at least 5 miniature dachshunds. I often give the outdoor dogs dog biscuits when she takes them for a walk. Yesterday, as is now usual when neighbors meet, we were talking about the problems in Fukushima. She resignedly said that if worse comes to worse, her family will put up a tent and live with her dogs.

"What happened to all the animals up north? All those people were evacuated but what happened to their pets? To their livestock? I guess I don't really want to hear the answer to that..."

This is another problem that I hope I never have to face. If radiation spreads, then the smartest thing to do is get out of the area but what will happen to the animals? I think all pet owners and livestock farmers are worried about this. There would be no one to take care of them... What do you do? Lock them up to die of starvation? Let them go to fare for themselves? Take as many as you can along with you and try to keep them in a car? (if you have a car). Tetsu and I had a brief conversation about this and I ended up in tears.

"I'm not leaving the animals if it comes to that."

Well, the people in Fukushima have had no choice. The Defense Force is evacuating people. But still some of the farmers are going back into dangerous radiation zones hoping to care for their livestock.

Pet owners probably understand the dilemma. Non-pet owners may think this a small worry. For all the headaches that my animals give me, they are part of my family. I don't think I could leave them any more than someone could leave their child to fare for itself. It is just the way I think.

Tetsu listens to me scold the cats, or watches me cuddling one of them and he says it sure is a good thing that we have all these animals to keep our minds off of other things. And he says he doesn't worry about me being alone everyday when he knows I'm talking to cats.

This morning when Tetsu left for work he said,

"Tanya, you look worried when you watch the TV. You look happy when you are talking to the cats. Just enjoy the animals today."

"Thy lovingkindness, O Lord, extends to the heavens.
Thy faithfulness reaches to the skies.
Thy righteousness is like the mountains of God,
Thy judgments are like a great deep.
O Lord, Thou preservest man and beast."

Psalm 36:5~6

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Machine quilting

The biggest news around here is that we got a supply of kerosene yesterday! Yeah! I could have hugged the delivery man! Wouldn't that have been a surprise! No more cold days and nights (though, this morning we didn't even turn on the heater, we are so used to just huddling in the kotatsu.) So I no longer have to worry about cold. Gasoline is available. Blackouts are still scheduled but more often than not the government decides at the last moment to cancel them. Even the aftershocks are getting milder!

I hope in this return to normalcy I won't forget that there are still 10s of thousands of people without homes, without necessities, without family members. There are still people fighting with their lives to right the problems in the nuclear plant. My joy of a convenient life is tempered by thoughts of others far away.


I spent the day quilting yesterday, trying to free up space and safety pins for the string quilts. These pictures are mostly for Lorraine. The day before the earthquake she and I discussed the possibilities for machine quilting my Alphabet Soup quilt. Lorraine has done some beautiful machine quilting and I wanted her advice. She approved of my feathers but I was stuck as to what else to do. Together we worked out a small design for the small orange/red blocks. This turned out nicely I think.

I'm afraid I chickened out though on artistic quilting in the larger blocks. I'd thrown around the idea of quilting trees and birds and grape vines (I saw a beautifully machine quilted quilt last year with ART quilted in... but that may have been done by a professional long-armer anyway). I feel most comfortable quilting inside small spaces... even meandering has me befuddled, so I made little "flowers" in some of the 4 inch blocks. It draws away from the pretty batik but the other quilting doesn't really show much so I guess it's okay. I hope Lorraine approves.

I've finished quilting flowers and chains and flowers in two of the quarters so far. I'm hoping I don't have to add any more quilting in between those. At some point the quarters will need to be put together, and quilted... And then I'll need to figure out what to do on the border... This still has a long way to go...

Monday, March 28, 2011

Variety is the spice of life

I'd really like to get back to blogging about quilting but there's always something else to talk about.

If you were to think about what would change in your life after a major earthquake, you could predict a few things. Gasoline shortages, blackouts, runs on food. Those occurrences are actually fairly foreseeable. But did you ever think how the TV might change?

As you may imagine, whenever we aren't on blackouts I have the TV on throughout the day. News updates, information about radiation, emergency earthquake evacuation procedures, warnings about tsunami, heart-breaking or heart warming stories about the people in northern Japan. I don't much like TV but I confess, except for sleeping time the TV is usually on (not saving electricity there). For the first three or four days we left the TV on 24 hours a day and Tetsu slept in front of it.

Immediately after the earthquake, Japan news went to reporting earthquake disasters etc. which meant all regular programming was canceled. That's not a surprise. But what crept up on us quietly was the way the commercials changed. For awhile almost no commercials because advertisers didn't want to be seen as money hungry during the crisis. This left large blanks where the commercials had been so a non-profit organization stepped in and started running their moralistic commercials.

Actually AC (Advertising Council of Japan) has some very nice commercials. They are always uplifting, always aimed at bringing back traditional virtues. "Hug your children." "To make a friend, be a friend." "Take responsibility for your health, get a checkup." In the past, I have admired AC's commercials.

BUT... suddenly all of Japan broadcasting had (has) commercial time slots with no advertisers so AC ran its commercials. Let me tell you, you can only take so much of a good thing! "Get a gynaecological exam." commercial seen in repetition at least 30 or 40 times a day (I kid you not!) can drive you crazy! Multiply that by two weeks and you have a population that is having sleeping problems not only because of the disaster situation but also because of the so-called "good" commercial jingles and messages.

I've been complaining to Tetsu about ACs commercials. "I didn't like the old ones but at least there was a variety!"

Last Thursday, I had the TV on when Y-kun came for English (early again). At a commercial break AC came on with another of their virtuous commercials (I've got this one memorized too.) This commercial shows a teenager working up the courage to help an old woman up some stairs.

"We can't always see what someone is considering. But we can see consideration."

Y-kun piped up,

"The TV is showing that commercial all the time these days. Someone REALLY wants us to learn consideration!"

Yes, they do, and yes it is important to be considerate. I think we've all got the message.

Thankfully AC has frantically made some new commercials encouraging the Japanese people to stay strong in their rebuilding. I've almost got these memorized too.

(picture from the Internet)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Going back to normal

Yesterday, Tetsu and I spent the day out enjoying ourselves. He had part of the day off, I haven't been into the next city for over two weeks, we both wanted a hot bath. We called one place near us in the countryside but they said they were housing evacuees from Fukushima and would be closed to the public until further notice. That makes sense... There are lots of rooms for people to spread out in, there is a noodle shop that can be used for basic cooking for large numbers, and there are the hot baths that are relaxing and cheering. I'm glad someone has thought to use the facilities for a noble purpose.

Tetsu and I ended up at a gimmicky place and enjoyed ourselves immensely. It was as if there had never been an earthquake at all. Afterwards we did some shopping at the mall and again we were both struck by the normalness of things. Lots of people milling around, lots of food being sold. The only obvious difference was that there was a long line of young parents waiting to buy water for their babies. The city will sell water to people if they can show their "maternity passbook", a little book that mothers receive when they are expecting and where records are kept of the pregnancy and the first 3 years of a baby's life. Anyway, only certain people can buy drinking water. Everything else can be easily purchased. The shelves were filled.

I enjoyed the window shopping but did not find anything I needed to buy except for groceries. Vegetables are in abundance I'm happy to report. It is amazing how much we DO NOT need. No, I don't want to buy clothes nor accessories nor dishware (even though a lot broke I still have cupboards more). I don't need fancy coffees nor new shoes nor any magazines. So on my first trip out in two weeks what did I buy? A toilet seat cover (we've pulled the plug on our lovely warm toilet seat!) and sewing machine thread. Got to have that thread, you know!

And yes, I have been sewing. I've made quite a few string blocks that will go together as a donation quilt. I need to get some of the basic fabric again from Mrs. Furui before they turn into a quilt. Early in my cloistered two weeks I realized I didn't have too much white sewing machine thread left on the spool. Oh, this is terrible! And here I am with time on my hands and a sewing machine! But, I do have a lot of left over thread (you know like little packets from sewing kits and odd weights and colors from an old sewing box) so I've been using those up. Quite a variety of threads on the back of my string blocks! Good. Someday maybe some historian will take apart a quilt (I doubt very much) and realize that this quilter was doing "make-do" sewing during the Great Japanese Earthquake of 2011.

But I have white sewing machine thread again so I'll be working on my Alphabet Soup quilt next. I need to free that up so that I can use my safety pins before quilting the donation quilts.

It looks like gasoline is available again in rationed amounts. No long lines at the gasoline stations yesterday. I hope kerosene will be next.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Radiation scares

A couple of years ago I was pushing to become a "Sparkletts" family. (Well, not Sparkletts but the Japanese counterpart.) Tetsu often bought the 2 liter plastic bottles of water (when he wasn't buying the 2 liter bottles of cola) and I really felt that getting rid of all the plastic bottles was a pain not to mention not so good for the environment. We even looked into the Sparkletts option but Tetsu determined that it was too costly. The Japanese version gives you refrigerated and heated water from the same machine... Hot tea at your fingertips. But Tetsu and I aren't really tea drinkers and I couldn't see me using the hot water side... and the electricity to keep the machine running was high in the long run (that's probably why the company was hooked up with an electronic shop.)

I finally convinced Tetsu that Nikko was famous for its delicious water and tap water was just as good as expensive water shipped in from who knows where. (And believe you me... someone didn't go stand by a green bubbling spring and put water in those 2 liter bottles. The label just makes you think they did.) I felt very environmentally conscious just thinking that the water from my tap wasn't processed into bottles that had to be made, and labels printed, and guzzling gasoline to be delivered to stores, and more gasoline for me to go buy it, and more energy used to recycle the plastic bottles and caps. Whew! And truly, Nikko tap water has always been delicious so we've never missed the bottled water.

Until now... I'm not really missing it yet. We have not run to the supermarket trying to buy bottled water because the news reports that there is no bottled water to be bought anymore. Bottled water that is being made somewhere and processed into bottles and delivered to evacuation centers do NOT have labels on them because the label printer can't keep up with the demand. We are drinking tap water still. I don't know if that's smart or not but Nikko residents haven't been told to NOT drink the water (actually mothers were advised not to give tap water to their babies, but even that caution has been lifted.) It is not just drinking of course. What about water to make coffee? To make the daily rice? To cook? A lot to think about and my mind gets sluggish. Whoops... I just made a pot of coffee from tap water. Should we drink it? I guess we should have bought the water machine. Too late now.

Our area has now been warned about vegetables too. "It is safe to eat but if you are worried about it then there is a warning not to consume too much." The farmers are getting worried about what is going to happen to their crops. The street markets that set out buckets from local farmers don't know how long customers will buy their produce. The dairies are worried about their milk. Contaminated or not, when people hear it comes from Fukushima or this area they are not going to be making a run to buy.

During this season, my neighbors produce a lot of their vegetables in hot houses to protect from frost. In the near future it looks like these vegetables will be in demand but even those are radiation suspect. How on earth is Japan going to lodge the economic boulder that is teetering to fall down on them. It is so sad to see the old farmers with tears in their eyes.

It is hard to find the balance between going on as normal and being foolish.

Friday, March 25, 2011


Many of my daily conversations consist of one morning and one late night discussion with Tetsu. (And a few words with the school kids, but they rarely answer back...) There aren't too many people out and about... Not many cars because of gasoline shortages. Not many walkers because of radiation scares of course. Occasionally I find someone walking their dog (human hidden under masks and hats and gloves... dog, fending for itself) and we will stop and chat about where we were when the earthquake struck etc. Before the earthquake people only nodded to each other (if that) but now we are hungry for conversation.

The day before yesterday I had just taken a shower with Choco (if she is going to be living in the house she needs to smell better) and though dressed, I was still dripping.

"Ding-dong." Someone at the front door. I quickly put Choco in her kennel and opened the door...

"Bajiwa-san!!!!!" our friend from the swimming pool! What a foreign display of public affection right there on the front porch!

Bajiwa-san had sought our house out from the vague directions I had given him months ago. "Over in the direction of an elementary school. Near a cemetery" Since the earthquake the pool has been closed and Bajiwa-san and I hadn't exchanged telephone numbers nor addresses. Until the pool opens (and we get gasoline) I assumed my pool friends were lost to me for the next few months.

But Bajiwa-san was worried about us and he came driving through the district, stopping at farm houses along the way asking if anyone knew where an American lady and her Japanese husband named Watanabe lived. And what do you know! I guess we are more observed than I thought because Bajiwa-san was easily directed to our house!

Such a good friend, and we chatted about what we've been doing since the earthquake. Not much in the way of work for Bajiwa-san. He has sent his son and daughter-in-law and their baby back to Pakistan for a few months. The relatives haven't seen the baby yet. But like me, he considers Japan his adopted country that has been good to him all these many years so he is not bailing out. (And he has a wife and her mother here that he doesn't want to leave.) It was so nice to chat with Bajiwa-san. Too bad I was all wet, but he usually sees me in the pool so I guess that's not new to him....


I got an text-message from one of my friends/students. We have canceled English until it is easier to move between cities. Mrs. S sent me this message:

Hi, Tanya-san! How are you again? I am fine, but I am depressed with the nuclear explosion plant problem. I wonder if it will really end or not. Day by day we are really worried about it.

Nowadays, it is still hard to get gasoline. There are so many cars in line to the gas stand. Mrs. K. said that her friend waited 5 hours to get it yesterday. So we decided this week's English lessons should be canceled. We really want to get together and chat together.

My husband still stays in my house, and he will stay one more week here. I rarely go out. I don't need to go out to buy food at the supermarket. The delivery service delivers food to me. I have no one to chat with except my husband. My husband is so so. Better than nothing. I really hope things calm down and we can get together next Wednesday.

Love, J
Better than nothing, huh? That made me laugh. Better than cats for sure. They say less than the school kids!

So, we are all a bit lonely, a bit bored, a bit unsettled. I feel blessed to live in an age when communication is at my fingertips and though you thank me for my updates, blogging and writing my small part of Japan's history has been a cheering and driving part of my past couple weeks. And I really must thank you all for commenting so much on my blog. It makes me feel connected and that friends are outside the closed doors. Thank you so much.

Thursday, March 24, 2011


Good morning from Japan.

We are having a cold day. Snow even in my part of the country! I really feel for the poor people in the north with no homes to protect them.

We are still having regular strong aftershocks three or four times a day. The news reports that there have been 343 aftershocks of magnitude 5 or greater in Japan since March 11. Well, they aren't all right near us so I haven't felt that many but the continual jiggling is probably residue of larger aftershocks elsewhere.

Occasionally things still fall off the wall or roll off the table and yesterday morning we had two tremors that had Tetsu holding onto the TV saving it from a crash on the floor. When I went to the crosswalk there was another aftershock so the principal announced that students would have to wait on the school grounds until all the teachers arrived. Usually the children just go into the opened building and set about reading or doing homework or going about their regular duties (setting out the flag on the flagpole etc.) I caught this picture of the whole student body crouched on the play ground waiting for all staff to arrive.

The night of the first earthquake when the telephones didn't work, I was trying to figure out how to send mail with the cell phone and I noticed this application called "earthquake". Too bad I hadn't registered myself BEFORE the earthquake!

Now that I'm registered my cell phone regularly sets off a loud alarm and lets me know a few seconds before a large earthquake occurs. It is not 100% accurate and it only sounds if an earthquake over 5 magnitude is expected but still it gives me time to turn off the gas or move away from the bookshelf. I've been outside walking Choco when the alarm begins and I'll move off onto the bank of a rice field and wait until things settle down. We are learning to live with earthquakes in a daily way.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Camping and cats

Good morning from Japan!

Yesterday I did little things for most of the day. I made a label for my Drunkard's Path quilt, no longer called Drunkard's Path. It is now called "Encampment". Sewfun reminded me that covered wagons would encircle a camp for protection. Though this does have a pioneer feel about it, I've never seen a covered wagon whereas I've met a few angels so I added the Bible verse... "The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, and rescues them." Psalm 34:7. I'm partly referring to my camping out in the living room too.

And I finished embroidering faces on all of my Tessellating Cats. Some are ugly, some are cute. The upside down black ones I got tired of doing so they are all "sleeping" with eyes closed except for this one whom I put a few "sparks" into. Before I get to machine quilting this I need to work on the Alphabet Soup quilt (I'm no too thrilled with that name yet.)

More blackouts yesterday afternoon and evening. Here is Chip keeping me company at the kotatsu. A couple friends asked about how the cats are reacting. Chip has reverted to babyhood and will not be left alone for a minute. She hides her face in my arms or in pillows or under blankets and is truly a Scaredy Cat. Poor kitty.

Cleo, who used to live undisturbed up in the sewing room with Velvet, can no longer stand to be locked in there. It must have been all the banging and things falling and sewing machine crashing that has spooked him. Cleo prefers to prowl around the house, slinking under chairs and sofas for protection. He has become another Scaredy Cat.

Vel, tends to like his solitariness and would prefer to have nothing to do with any other feline but in a house of 6 he finds it hard to be alone. He and Toi are archenemies yet because of the freezing rooms I have found Vel actually sitting in a box with Toi. They are not exactly friendly but the battle to stay warm has united them in sharing body warmth. (Mi is in there too, oblivious to the bad vibrations.)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Cabin Fever

Good morning from Japan!

My blog is getting thin of blogging topics. There's only so much you can talk about when the blogger has been housebound for 12 days.... This morning Tetsu said to me,

"Well Tanya, you've always said you'd have no problem living at the top of a mountain with no one around but cats and your patchwork. Now you're really doing it."

Not at the top of a mountain and I certainly would have preferred CHOOSING this lifestyle rather than being propelled into it. Though not relaxing it IS quiet.


Tetsu came back late last night from an overnight stay at the convalescent home. Four elderly residents from a Fukushima convalescent home were brought in and though there were no beds available, a place was made for them on the floor of some room. This isn't so terrible as it seems because they probably lived most of their lives sleeping on Japanese tatami (mats) anyway. Other convalescent homes in the prefecture are dealing with the same situation... new residents, many already confused with dementia, are being brought from Fukushima and packed into available spaces...In some cases no one knows where the family is...

Today is a rainy day. But we still have three more days of school so out to the crosswalk I went out with Takumi's words of caution in the back of my mind. The children are walking to school as normal. Excuse me, aren't we worried about radiation in the rain? I guess not. For the people in Fukushima the instructions are to stay indoors, wear a raincoat in the case of going outside, remove raincoat and anything else that is wet and seal them in plastic bags, wash clothes and shower as soon as returning to the house.

So I wore my raincoat and plastic gloves. And I got all wet. Okay.... If I sit down wet in my car afterwards then the seat is going to get all wet. But do I want to stand in the rain and take my raincoat off and stuff it in the back of the car? Ah, I have a towel. I'll wipe myself down and lay the towel over the car seat before I sit down. Now the raincoat is somewhat rid of rain and the seat is somewhat covered but the towel is soaking... Now what? I feel like the Cat in the Hat Comes Back trying to get rid of that big ugly PINK CAT RING in the bathtub. Who knew that Dr. Seuss was giving a lesson on radiation.

I realize some of you don't have any idea what I am talking about. I think I'm getting cabin fever... "Cease striving."

No, I didn't make all this just in the past couple days. I had made this string quilt (one row smaller) last year or maybe even earlier. I wasn't too thrilled with my choice of lattice so it has been sitting in the drawer. I measured it and found it a scant too small for Quilt Tsushin's measurements so I made up 6 more blocks yesterday (and mis-measured the lattice... You can't even tell, right?) Since Quilt Tsushin is saying not to send quilts to them until May 1st I could even add another row or two. I still have lattice fabric and of course a lot of strings...


I've gotten questions about the address for Quilt Tsushin. The last I heard it was this one:

Patchwork Tsushin Co.Ltd

Tohoku Kanto Earthquake Comfort Quilts

113-0033 Tokyo, Bunkyoku, Hongo 5-28-3


And someone suggested we label our packages "Bedding for Japan" rather than "Quilts".

Monday, March 21, 2011


I'm getting an early start today. It is only 7:00 am and I've had breakfast and chatted with Leiya and talked with my mother. Tetsu had to stay the night at the convalescent home so he isn't here. It is drizzling outside so I thought it unwise to take Choco for a walk. Just a quick potty stop and she is back in her "kennel".

Okay... Along a completely different line.

Friends and family have offered lodging in the States. People outside of Japan offer advice to get out as fast as we can. And I would say that if I was a tourist here, or on a temporary assignment that that would probably be the best thing to do all around. Get to safer ground... one less person in the country is one less person the government has to worry about. Even Takumi wistfully wishes we would come to the States, "on a visit". But the slogan of Medicine without Borders rings in my ears. Just because I have American citizenship and American contacts does not mean I should leave "my" country of 30+ years for my own safety. That sounds pretty high falutin' but I married Tetsu and this country for better or for worse and I guess this is part of the worse right now.

And I know Tetsu would NEVER leave. He doesn't like American lifestyle (he loves America, he just can't live there for more than a week. Truly!) He is one of those people who would be the last to go down with a ship. As a college student he said he just decided NEVER to sit down on a crowded train. Instead of trying to decide whether to give up his seat to someone who might be more in need it was easier to just not claim it from the beginning.

I'm rambling...

So, we are sticking it out. But with all that said, I am SO happy that Takumi and Leiya are not in Japan right now. Leiya was feeling guilty because her friend's father asked if she wanted to go back to Japan and be with us, and she said,

"Um... No. I don't like earthquakes..."

and then she felt like she was being cold-hearted and selfish. My comment was,

"Don't even THINK about coming back to Japan right now. We have enough problems without worrying about you too!"

But that comment alone is very self-centered. One of Mrs. Furui's sons is in Sendai treating people in a hospital amidst the chaos of the system breakdowns and city rubble. I had to apologize to Mrs. Furui when I unthinkingly mentioned that I was glad my kids weren't anywhere nearby.


I talked to my mother this morning for the first time since the earthquake. I wasn't even sure she knew about the world situation...

"Didn't Marcy say that you'd had a big earthquake? Where were you?"

"In a rock quarry."

"Why would you go in a rock quarry during an earthquake?"

So she knows but maybe doesn't have such great understanding of the immensity of the problem. She thought it highly humorous that I refer to my situation as "luxury camping". It was good to hear my mom and Marcy laughing at the other end of the phone line! Had me in stitches too!

I'm making string blocks today. As usual I've got my measurements off... Some things never change.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Eeny Meeny Miny Mo

Good morning from Japan!

My antenna was repaired yesterday. TV has gone back to inane programing (well, they are trying to keep the stupidest things off air and giving us cheering dramas and documentaries.) The government has put a hold on spinach and dairy products coming out of Fukushima (radiation levels). Tetsu was able to get 10 liters of gasoline after a two hour wait. I am doing applique.

10 days ago, I was enjoying patchwork camaraderie with friends at Mrs. Furui's house. 24 hours later I was racing up a stairway and shaking like a leaf and since then I've been camping out in the living room.

On the Thursday 10 days ago, Mrs. Harada couldn't come to patchwork because of a fever. The rest of us ate a lot and chatted a lot and did the handwork that we had brought. Our block boxes were exchanged and new homework was assigned. Mrs. Okutomi's Hawaiian quilt blocks are looking beautiful and the box has gone around once to all of us. She wants 9 blocks and so far she has 7.

"I'll make one!" volunteered Lorraine.

Yeah! So Lorraine took home one block and a pattern to work on in the next few weeks. That leaves one more... Is anyone going to volunteer?

"Let's draw lots."

Mrs. Furui made up an Amidakuji... Hmm. Like English Eeeny Meeny Miny Mo. First she wrote down all our names. We took pity on our Least Confident Quilter because already her homework was one Hawaiian block. Two would send her over the edge! Oh, add Mrs. Harada's name. She'd feel left out if she wasn't included.

Vertical lines were drawn and then the paper was passed around to all of us to add horizontal and diagonal lines wherever we wanted and as many as we pleased. And finally a star was added at the bottom.

"Okay. Are we ready for the final results? Here I go."

Mrs. Furui started from the star at the bottom and followed the vertical line up to the first horizontal line. At whatever line (vertical or horizontal) her red pencil encountered, she continued up the path until....

"Mrs. Harada is chosen as the person to make a Hawaiian block!"

Oh no! Poor Mrs. Harada. And she's not even here to accept her "defeat" gracefully. Anyway, that's the way lots are drawn in Japan...

When Lorraine and I were gathering things up to go home I looked at our Amidakuji and decided to take pity on Mrs. Harada home sick with a fever.

"I'll do it. Mrs. Harada has been working hard on the bazaar quilt all month. Let's give her a break." And I took the block home with me.

Am I ever glad I did! Being confined to my house and kotatsu has been wonderful for doing hand applique on a Hawaiian block! Yesterday I finished.


By the way, Sandra e-mailed me again with more information about Comfort quilts. Here is a message from "Quilter's Newsletter".

Dana Jones { 03.19.11 at 1:03 pm }

I emailed with Naomi Ichikawa today. She has asked that if you are sending quilts directly to Japan, that you do not send them until May 1 at the earliest. Please watch this blog for regular updates on this time frame as things are changing daily in Japan.

If you are sending quilts to Quilters Newsletter [in Colorado] and do not want to write “Quilts for Japan” on the box, please enclose a note that says this. We receive many quilts in our offices and will only send quilts to Japan that we know are intended for Japan.

Please send only new quilts.

I am amazed but not surprised at the compassionate response to this call for quilts. In just 24 hours, we at QN have heard from quilters in the United States, Canada, South Africa, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, the United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, and Italy. We are truly an international community!

Dana Jones, QN managing editor

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Patchwork Quilt Tsushin

Message from the Japanese Patchwork Quilt Tsushin website

(Roughly translated by Tanya again)

Comfort quilts

Comfort Quilts are quilts to ease pain and sadness. In North America, at times of natural disasters or when there is a need in foster facilities, volunteer quilters have had the custom of donating quilts. There are no definite requirements but quilts with warm batting and light stitching are made for both children and adults

Patchwork Tsushin is asking for donations of any quilt (brand new or in nearly new condition after washing) or any quilt that quilters might take on to make especially for this cause. There are no size requirements but quilts either square or rectangular and at least 100 cm. large (approximate 40 inches) would be appreciated. Rather than works of art or quilts for showing, quilts that can and are appropriate for use are necessary. Baby quilts for newborns are especially welcome. Any quilter’s level (beginning and advanced) is appreciated.

Mailing address:

Patchwork Tsushin Co.Ltd

Tohoku Kanto Earthquake Comfort Quilts

113-0033 Tokyo, Bunkyoku, Hongo 5-28-3

Telephone 03-3816-5538

Please pack quilts in plastic for handling and send by delivery service. Please assume sending costs as part of your donation.

There are no deadlines yet as to when the quilts need to be received but we will update on our website as the situation changes.


Patchwork Quilt Tsushin is a reliable quilting magazine in Japan. One of my blog readers directed me to the message and I have checked out the website and confirmed that PQT is asking for comfort quilts. The English part of the website does not have the information yet but the above is the message from the Japanese part. I'm pretty sure that when they say delivery service that means from people in Japan and the postal service can be accepted outside of Japan. You might want to try and contact them first before sending quilts. There is a way to send e-mails at the bottom of the English part of the website.

And just now, after I've recorded all that, Sandra Shigeno, sent me an e-mail with this information in it also.

Quilters Newsletter has long enjoyed a friendship with Patchwork Tsushin, a leading Japanese quilt magazine. So when Editor in Chief Naomi Ichikawa emailed to say her magazine is collecting comfort quilts for those impacted by the recent earthquake in Japan, we wanted to join the effort. QN will gather quilts from U.S. quiltmakers then forward them to Naomi and her staff, who will deliver them to those in need. (If you live outside the United States, email me as indicated below, and I will provide information on how you can send quilts directly to Naomi.)

Here’s how you can be part of this important worldwide response:

• Send quilts of any size from baby to adult to:

Dana Jones
Quilters Newsletter
741 Corporate Circle, Suite A
Golden, CO 80401

• Mark your box: “Quilts for Japan.”
• Send quilts as soon as possible and no later than April 30, 2011.
• Enclose your name, address, phone number, and email address with the quilts.

Out and about

Good morning!

Already a week has past since the earthquake. And I am happy to report that around here at least, things are slowly getting back to normal.

The clock in my Japanese room has been stopped at the time of the earthquake. The time was really 2:46 but this clock was always running fast. The battery fell out and we haven't been using the Japanese room much this week (English lessons in the kotatsu) but I put a new one in this morning.

This clock however suffered fatal injuries. My poor sewing room clock! It didn't live long in my house but it brightened the room while it did. I hope someday I find another one just like it.

Yesterday's graduation was very moving. There was one large tremor during the ceremonies and the teachers got ready to evacuate the gym but all went to completion. (Sorry about the quality of that video, I tried hard to be unobtrusive with my digital camera... Shooting against the light).

In the afternoon my neighbor called and asked if I wanted a ride to the supermarket... She has two cars filled with gas and she needed to get some things. I jumped at the chance just to get out of the house and see what is going on in the outside world. And I was so happy to find that not that much has changed in this area. The stores are busy, though only one of the two automatic doors was in operation (saving electricity). Lots and lots of fruits and vegetables and meat and fish. Milk and eggs and bread and instant product shelves were empty but the snacky aisles were well stocked. It was actually JOYFUL to wander around the store and see that there was a wonderful supply of rice, cheese, sweets, sausages and cat food. I bought tofu (that doesn't last long) and some vegetables.

Some of you wondered why the evacuation centers are handing out rice balls instead of meat, fish and vegetables. Well, for one just salted rice balls are a lot easier to make if you don't have energy. And no supplies can get into the evacuation areas yet either (though that should change from today or tomorrow), so they are living off what the self defense force has had (rice keeps if kept dry).

Another question was about if there is anything quilters can do. I really don't know. I have heard that the editor of a major quilt magazine is asking for comfort quilts but I haven't confirmed that information. I'm afraid I don't have a way to get quilts to people myself but I'll try to research that.

And I was directed to an interesting and entertaining video explaining what has happened in Fukushima for children. You might find this a cheering spot in the media world... The video is in Japanese but it has English subtitles.

Friday, March 18, 2011

I believe in Future

The song sung today at the Inokura Elementary School graduation. My rough translation...

Even if you’ve been hurt, and you feel like giving up

I will be beside you and lift you up.

The earth is spinning with the whole world’s hope

Right now, when I open the door to the future

I think that surely sadness and hardships will someday turn into happiness.

“I believe in Future”

Yes, I believe.

Remember, if there is someone near you who looks like they are about to cry

Just take his hand without a word

And walk together with him

I want to wrap the earth in the kindness of the whole world.

Right now, I think my feelings could burst forth

And light up the heavens with love and expectation
I believe in Future
Yes, I believe.

Right now, when I open the door to the future,

“ I believe in Future”

Yes, I believe.

written by Ryuuichi Sugimoto