Monday, February 28, 2011

Face masks

It is snowing again!!! Actually it is slushing but it is turning to snow as the morning goes on.

In case of rain and definitely slush, I wear a raincoat when I go to crosswalk duty. (My hat goes flop when it gets wet.) And after four days of dealing with a sore throat I decided to wear a mask until the last minute (gotta blow a whistle, right?) and stand at my corner thus clad. Catching sight of myself in the Japanese confectionery shop window I thought I looked like I was a member of the White Cult that once featured prominently in Japanese news...

I don't usually wear masks. Today's was to keep the cold air off my throat. I don't know if it worked. I guess I've posted about this before. Now, I'm going to get blasted by some of my Japanese friends about this but I dislike the custom of wearing masks and can find all sorts of imagined psychological reasons behind the custom. I don't trust the effectiveness of these little pieces of gauze, neither for protecting oneself nor for protecting others from cold and flu viruses. I sympathize with all the people in Japan who suffer hay fever and claim that masks filter the allergy spores, but I am astounded by all the people who have hay fever year round.

One of my friends gave me a present of a box of 50 face masks. I love her for the thought but I still haven't broken into the box... (The one I wore today was from a stash given to me during the swine flu outbreak last year.)

I especially dislike the custom of the kindergarten teachers all wearing masks throughout the school day. Yes, I know that when cold and flu germs are prevalent that there might be a high concentration in the kindergarten (that's probably where I picked up my own cold germs) but continually wearing a mask during class gives me the message that the teachers think all their students are vile and contaminated or something. And it seems to me that someone who perpetually lives behind a mask is trying to put a wall between themselves and the rest of the society. There. I've said it. Blast me!

At the beginning of the school term I very politely asked a couple of the little girls in the kindergarten class if they were suffering from colds. If not, then would they please put their masks in their pockets during English class? And I explained that if they were sick then go right ahead and wear them (but if they are sick, shouldn't they just go home?) and if they had hay fever then they could replace their masks when they went outside to play but in English class, no thank you. And I politely gave my reasons. 1)I can't see if you are participating or not. 2) I can't see your expressions. 3)Mask wearing is not a custom in the Western hemisphere so it is somewhat disturbing to Western foreigners... and by the way, leave your masks at home if you are ever visiting the States. You will be considered odd. This last reason brought cries of surprise and disbelief.

The kindergarten teacher quietly removed her mask and it hasn't returned in MY class. That was the point of my lecture anyways.

I will dispose of my own mask as soon as possible. It's going to take me awhile to get through the box of 50.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Better end of the deal

I chatted briefly with Leiya this morning.

"What's new with you?" she asked.

Not much since I've been in hibernation the past three days. That cold just might have been the flu, I didn't go back to the doctor's to find out and I huddled under the covers with cats all over me the whole time.

Saturday Tetsu was home and while I slept he spent the whole dang day cleaning for me. EVERYTHING is in order! Even the stamps on my desk! He shows his love by cleaning. And he cooked dinner last night too. (Curry... Not too great a choice for an irritable stomach but it is the thought that counts.)

My comment to Leiya was "you should find a husband so loving someday."

I am a terrible nurse. Whenever Tetsu gets sick the first words out of my mouth are

"Well, the way you take care of yourself it's no wonder you are sick."

and I'm not good with listening to health complaints either. I don't know why I got the good end of such a deal. Pampered is right! Okay... I'm finished with the mush but let it stand that I appreciate my husband.

When I'm perking again I should fix Tetsu a great meal. Trouble is I'm not only a lousy nurse, I'm a lousy cook too.

I could dedicate my next quilt to him...

Friday, February 25, 2011


A couple of mornings ago I came back from my crosswalk duties and walked in the house in full regalia. Uniform, flying white scarf, black overcoat, white ski gloves big black boots. You've seen me in uniform before. I'll spare you today. Tetsu took one look at me and said,

"You sure look "ganjou".

Ganjou by Japanese English dictionary definition is "strong; sturdy; burly; strongly-built; massive". Thanks ever so much Tetsu. That's always what I've wanted to look like. It's true, I've never been described as delicate and petite but burly and massive are not exactly compliments in my book.

And the other day standing at the crosswalk chatting with the proprietor of the Japanese sweet shop, the wife looked me up and down and declared that I looked very "healthy".

Announcement everyone! Under all that fake leather and many layers (including fat deposits) there resides a frail and fragile woman. I succumbed to the cold virus that is going around and stayed in bed most of yesterday. (Rats. A sewing day too. Better that than a teaching day I guess.)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


I'm in a rush.

I wrote to Y-kun and I talked with someone who knows something about him and all they could tell me is that he can't be returned to his home still but he is doing fine where he is right now.

The two cats have been gone since Sunday. Maybe into the forest, maybe into the neighborhood. One friend said she has seen them in various parts of the neighborhood for the past couple weeks so maybe they were just traveling and making a rest stop at my porch. They are large males and are making a lot of racket.

My friends Rumi-san and Mrs. Nakazawa have been over a couple times to work on their Irish Chain quilts that I'm trying to teach them. AND they each wanted to make another Happy Village so they came to do that bringing another friend. Boy, when they catch the patchwork and quilting bug they REALLY catch it. They also are doing handwork homework and both came with finished Bethlehem Star blocks.

I slowly continue embroidering cat faces on my Tessellating Cats quilt top. Is that a cute cat? I tried making the eyes bigger and I decided appliqueing eyes were easier than completely embroidering. How many more of these do I have to do?

Busy kindergarten day today! Bye!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Onward to the feathers

I have started quilting my Alphabet Soup quilt. (Is that really the name I've given this quilt? It seems so inelegant...)

The borders are on... I decided to do the borders in two colors. I'm not sure why and I'm not sure it was a good idea or not. Too bad. They are now made that way. Both mottled batiks, one in reddish tones, one in blue... Maybe someday when the whole quilt is put together you can see what I was aiming at. I realized when I washed the batik borders that they bled more than I thought they would. Gulp. I DID NOT wash all the batiks before I used them. So the finished quilt I guess will remain mine and if it bleeds then I will mark it up to a "hand dyed, blended" look. Positive thinking don't you think?!

So staring long and hard at a quarter of the quilt on the floor I came up with feathers in some of the larger blocks. How to do that is another problem. What's this sitting along the wall? An old glass piece that came out of a cupboard.

Place it on the quilt and start drawing some feathers...(I think I've seen Mary do this with a computer or picture program but I don't know how to do that.) Okay... If I make a grid then basically I'll know what direction I should move and I'll be able to do feathers (...maybe).

I REALLY basted that quarter quilt together with safety pins! Onward GO~~~!

And I managed my first row of feathers... So far so good.

BUT, there is a lot more unquilted space in the smaller squares and I don't know what to do with those yet... This is going to be a long process.

And besides which, I've run out of batting for the other three quarters so I'll have to go order another roll.

At least I've begun...

Monday, February 21, 2011

Towel thievery

Last night Tetsu and I went to the pool and spent some time in the sauna (which I usually don't frequent). Afterwards I popped out of the sauna and went into the bathing area. Nice and toasty warm and I sauntered into the shower room, washed up, took a hot bath and went out to where people leave their towels and things in baskets. Towels and things.

"Is this my towel? My towel is white. I thought my white towel was larger than this one."

I held out the towel and looked at it and at all the baskets.

"No other white towels here... I guess this is mine." and I wrapped it around myself and went into the locker room.

A few minutes later I noticed a lady (a friend, thank goodness!) standing naked and cold and looking into the baskets. Oh my gosh! Are you looking for a towel?

"Yes. I brought in a white towel but it's gone."

"Then THIS must be YOUR towel!" I said whipping it off and handing it to her. "I'm SO sorry. I thought it was different but my towel is white too and since there weren't any other white towels I decided it must be mine."

My friend tried to get me to share her towel with her which was already damp from me but I apologized profusely and went dripping back to the lockers.

"So, where is YOUR towel then, Tanya? Isn't it there?"

"No... Someone must have taken it by mistake."

"You know, there could be towel stealers. Was yours a nice towel? Someone must have liked it and taken it."

"No... I'm sure no one would steal a towel... It was probably some child that made a mistake."

I got dressed but everyone who came into the locker room heard from my friend that Tanya's towel had been stolen.

"That's terrible. I've heard of people stealing new shoes at an event when we all take off our shoes. People are so low!"

Shoe and towel stealing! Wow! What is the world coming to?

"Tanya! Didn't you lose an earring too last month? Someone must have stolen it."

"No, no. I'm sure it must have dropped into a drain or something. That was my fault. I shouldn't have left it on the counter. No one would steal ONE earring."

By the time I left the locker room 4 or 5 other ladies were commiserating with me about being a victim of locker room thievery.

I went out into the viewing area to wait for Tetsu. Wait a minute... What is that I see on the shelf outside of the sauna? A towel that looks distinctly like my white towel. I asked the lifeguard if he could bring out the towel for me to check. Yep. My towel. I'd left outside the sauna that I usually don't use.

How embarrassing... And all those ladies sympathizing with me and the stories getting bigger and bigger about what gets taken in a quiet locker room.

Today I teach until late and can't go to the pool. I'm ever so happy about that! Do you think by Tuesday everyone will have forgotten Tanya's stolen towel incident? Or am I going to have to apologize to everyone and explain it was another symptom of my ever increasing absentmindedness?

I guess I've learned to mark my towels. And NOT use the sauna!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Down and miscellaneous

Some miscellaneous stuff.

I'm in a down in the dumps mood because two cats were left in the lot next door and they have moved onto my wall and porch. How do cats know? I realize that there are people who think

"Oh, some bothersome cats. I think that foreign lady likes cats. I'll leave them near her house."

but these cats have been hanging out at my house for the last three days and you would think they would go check out the rest of the forest. Especially with Choco barking at them.

You would also think that the world has an infinite amount of feral cats and it is not something for Tanya to get upset about. She sure leads a protected life if she can waste time worrying about cats when other people are without jobs, in poor health and struggling with finding their way through life. I have 6 cats. I can't take in any more. The two in my yard will have to learn to hunt and carry on their own lives. I can only pray for them.

Lord, please take care of the stray cats. Give them food (I know that means some other creature is going to lose it's life...) Help them to find warmth in this cold. Help them live the lives You made them to live. Help me figure out what my role is in Your animal world. Please don't give me more than I can handle.

I wish I could say that it is out of my hands, that I have given it to God and won't worry about it anymore but I'd really like to just go to bed with the covers over my head.

More miscellaneous.

Someone asked about Japanese baths and why they aren't in the same room as the toilet. Japanese toilets are in a small room off by themselves (and often next to the front door. WHY?) and the tub room is in the back of the house and is a large room all in itself. Ours is completely tiled and is really a very large shower room with a tub on one side. We rarely use our bath (tub) room anymore because Tetsu and I go to the pool and use their wonderful hot soaking bath afterwards. Yes, public but male and female separate. I've written about our bathroom here and here.

And someone wanted to know how Mr. Foreign Traveler found husbands for his daughters. He went back to Pakistan, asked relatives and found a few candidates and then set about negotiating marriage plans. Tetsu and I have had long discussions (while walking around the pool) with Mr. Foreign Traveler and Tetsu's comment was that he would NEVER try to second guess what kind of man would make a good husband for Leiya. As a father, he wouldn't want to be responsible if the marriage didn't work out. To which Mr. Foreign Traveler responded that THAT was exactly what being a father is about. Taking responsibility for making sure the daughters make happy marriages. And how do the daughters feel about it? They know their father will only choose the best for them and so they are happy to leave it all in their father's hands. Yep. A big cultural difference. Not many divorces in Pakistan though... (Of course the man is allowed 4 wives if he wants...)

Now, shall I go back to bed or go sew?

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Mixing cultures and customs

Last night Tetsu and I went out to dinner with some pool friends. In the year and a half that we've been going to the pool we have made some good and interesting friends. But we are all so very different and maybe the cross cultural, wide-age difference, and different economic levels makes the friendships unique.

Mr. Company President is quite well to do and he keeps us laughing with his joking. Miss Pretty Walker is a new member who lives close enough to the swimming pool that she can walk there. Ms. Mountain Climber is a school teacher who loves mountain climbing on her weekends and holidays. Ms. Beautiful Smile is a lovely lady with a huge, generous personality. Dr. Soft Spoken is a dentist (also Christian) who compliments freely. Mr. Foreign Traveler is from Pakistan and he always has words of wisdom that balances out the hilarity. And then there's Tetsu and me.

The first time we all went out to dinner was to an Indian restaurant where Mr. Foreign Traveler ordered for all of us and told us about his Pakistani culture. In some ways, the cultural and religious differences are curious. Food has to be prepared a special way in order for Mr. Foreign Traveler to partake and it seems like a lot of extra work to Mr. Company President. It sounds much like keeping kosher in the Jewish tradition but that is unheard of in Japan. And Mr. Foreign Traveler retains his Pakistani customs (and dress) in his everyday life and rarely eats anything but specially prepared curry. For him to go out to dinner with us last night was truly an act of friendship!

The next time we went out to dinner (Mr. Foreign Traveler was in Pakistan for two months finding husbands for his two daughters) we went to a Korean style barbecue place and ate EXPENSIVE beef and seafood. Tetsu and I would never normally eat such dear and pricey food. (Like three slices of beef for $10 a slice! I remember one foreign friend's family going to such a place and even after paying a fortune they came home and made peanut butter sandwiches!) The Korean barbecue place was recommended by Mr. Company President and I think he paid for most of it after collecting a minimum amount from the rest of us.

And then last night we went out to a sushi place that Mr. Company President favors. Mr. Foreign Traveler was back from Pakistan (successfully found two husbands) and Mr. Company President wanted to introduce him and me, to the delights of Japanese cuisine. It was a little tricky and Mr. Company President went to a lot of work to make sure Mr. Foreign Traveler would be satisfied. For one, Mr. Foreign Traveler can't eat (for religious reasons) shellfish nor shrimp nor squid. And Mr. Foreign Traveler, in all his years of living in Japan (17) had never eaten raw fish nor sushi but he realized how important it was to TRY for Mr. Company President's sake. I'm not sure he enjoyed it but he was so polite to thank the sushi chef afterwards. To most of last night's dishes, Mr. Foreign Traveler added red pepper.

The main event of last night's meal was.... a large fish head! One for each of us... Okay~... Let's give it a try... I don't know if I've ever eaten such a big fish head before but Mr. Company President was so anxious that we enjoy the dinner that there was nothing to do but plunge in and eat. (I took off my reading glasses. The better to not see by!)

I am happy to say that both Mr. Foreign Traveler and I were able to eat our fish heads down to the bones. (Sorry... I couldn't manage the eyeball... Mrs. Beautiful Smile ate mine for me. She claims all the collagen in the eyeball makes a woman beautiful. Could be... She definitely is beautiful but I guess I'll stay wrinkled and dry, thank you anyway...)

Mr. Company President collected a minimum amount from each of us again but I'm sure he forked out a lot of money for last night's meal. Mrs. Beautiful Smile gathered all the fish head bones from everyone's plates and took them home to make fish broth today. She probably appreciated last night's dinner the most... A good meal, fish broth the next day and a beauty treatment all in one evening!

Thursday, February 17, 2011


I did some cleaning yesterday. To be specific, I washed some floors. And I got out a bucket and a rag and made up some hot soapy water. And I really did wash floors. But with my hands in the hot soapy water what do you think I got an itching to do? Felting!

All the connections in my brain lead back to handwork. I don't think normal people wash floors and end up felting. Anyway I hurriedly finished washing my floors, filled a sink full of hot soapy water and pulled out the colorful raw wool that I've had stored in my closet for years. I spent an hour felting and made a necklace. My craving to do felting is satisfied until the next time my floors need a wash.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Bicycle safety

I enjoy my crosswalk duty job but I must admit these days I am earning my salary! Yesterday I spent half an hour shoveling snow with the principal and vice principal. Usually I leave the snow shoveling around our house to Tetsu but yesterday at the crosswalk and on the sidewalk area leading to another neighborhood, there was enough snow to keep us three school people busy. I think the principal came back later in the morning and shoveled some more. And this morning I was out spreading sand around the intersection in hopes to keep cars and children from slipping. My arms are tired!

Another traffic safety job that I have that only comes up twice a year is helping with the bicycle safety program. Yesterday there was a special class on bicycle safety for the 6th graders. (I went to another school a couple of weeks ago so I have fulfilled my bicycle safety class duties for the year.)

In April all the new jr. high school 1st year students will be riding their school bicycles to their school and the city makes sure they know "how" to ride a bicycle. Well, they know how of course but anyway, three crosswalk guards and two policeman showed up at the school with remote control traffic signals and stop signs and we mapped out a bicycle course in the school gym for the kids to ride through. I suppose everyone had fun. I learned about bicycle riding. Did you know that you are supposed to mount a bike from the left side because cars are going by you on the right side of your bike? At least in Japan. I wonder how that works in the States with cars and bicycles driving on the right side of the street. I never rode a bicycle in traffic in the States and I've never thought about which side is the "correct" side to mount a bicycle...

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Snowy days

More snow and so I have a free morning (my students are as afraid to drive snowy roads as I am). I may spend the day embroidering cat faces or I may thumb through magazines trying to find ideas for quilting the Around the World quilt.

This is the part I dislike about patchwork and quilting. Not knowing what to do. I probably would enjoy a challenge but to just look at the pieces of quilt and try to decide what would be a viable quilting pattern drives me nuts. And I know there are people who like the thinking through process but can't get around to doing it. Not me. I'll do it if someone tells me what to do!

The cat face embroidery isn't going to well either. I made one cat face. (Let's see... I have 23...) And I don't think it is particularly cute. You would think with all the cat things I have in my house as well as cats, that I could come up with a cuter cat face... Maybe after 23 I'll get better at it.

Anyone want to see snow pictures?

This is an early morning shot looking out over a family farm cemetery. Actually I took this picture last month. We've got more snow now.

This was another early morning picture with Choco. By the time we got back after 45 minutes the snow had deepened. Choco likes walking in the snow but doesn't like sitting outside in the cold. Thus today I've let her in the house where she is meandering and bothering cats.

And when I'm not looking she creeps up on the sofa (where she is not supposed to be). Choco got a bath the other day so I'm a little more forgiving than usual about her sitting on my quilt!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Toilet talk again

Someone suggested I tell you about Japanese toilets. I posted about them once a few years ago but for any new visitors you can look at the link here.

Japanese toilets are wonderful. If there is ever a place where I see Japanese technology at its best, it is in the bathroom. But if I think about it, Japan has come a long way in a short time.

When I first came to Japan 30 some years ago I lived in a modern building with running water and flushing toilets. Nothing fancy. I remember one of the missionaries saying that her daughter waited to use the bathroom at home because it was a drop down, non-flush toilet and the girl was big on being environmentally sound. No wasted water. That seemed like it was taking it a bit far but if you have a calling in life then go for it!

Some of my friends' houses and apartments still had Japanese style, shared toilets (all the apartment dwellers on a floor shared a toilet), that were squat toilets. One would change into wooden clacking slippers when you went into the bathroom, roll up your pants' leg cuffs (and pull down the pants) and squat. That always takes some skill. Foreigners usually fall backwards. I think the leg bones of Westerners are longer or the joints don't bend at the right degree or something but it is really hard to get down into a squat position, hold up anything you don't want dragging on the ground, and not fall over...

Most of my friends had "flushing" toilets but that was sort of relative. Sort of like an airplane toilet, the flush didn't go far and there wasn't much water and every couple of months a vacuum truck had to come around to clean out the toilet. We all knew when the vacuum truck made an appearance in the neighborhood!

I have lived with all types of toilets in my many years of apartment living but I never had to deal with a drop toilet though my mother-in-law's apartment had one up until 10 years or so. Those need special skill to squat, keep cuffs off the floor and not lose things from your pockets into the hole... Gone forever!

At some point in my Japanese life I came into contact (literally) with heated toilet seats. These are absolutely fantastic and nowadays are standard bathroom equipment. Takumi misses those enough that he asked me to send him old fashioned toilet seat covers because he can't believe American toilet seats aren't heated! There is a low outlet behind the toilet just for plugging in the toilet and the seat heat is regulated to your fancy by a knob... No eye-opening wake-up sits in the morning... WARMTH! (But remember... the bathroom itself is not heated so besides your rear everything else is cold....)

Another standard in the bathroom is the spout of water that drizzles water from the toilet tank up and into a small sink... allowing you to dabble your fingers a bit. That's also the reason that all Japanese bathrooms, which only are wide enough for a toilet anyway, have a towel hanging there so that after dabbling you can dry your hands. (As an aside. Every single private bathroom that I have ever been in, the lady of the house has decorated it with a calendar. I don't know why calendars are so popular next to the toilet... How much schedule planning does one do there? But calendar art abounds in the bathrooms of private Japanese homes.)

So what's all so high tech? Nowadays, though sadly not in my own bathroom, toilets come with bidet gadgets and washing nozzles that vibrate and pulse and shower you with warm water directed where you want... And there are also blow driers if you prefer that to paper... There are buttons that will lift the lid for you but make sure you press the right button depending on whether you are male or female, and buttons to drown out nature's sounds.

In fact, there are so many controls on a Japanese toilet that I have stood staring at the many buttons and levers and not known how to flush the dang thing! Some have sensors that you can wave your hand over and that will cause the flushing mechanism to work, some do the flushing automatically for you when you leave.

(I'm afraid I have to admit that there has been one time when I stayed so long in a department store bathroom waving my hands over knobs and buttons and pushing things that sent water squirting on the floor, that I wiped up the water with toilet paper and left the stall without ever figuring out how to flush the thing. I dearly hope that it was an automatic flusher but I still recall my one failure to flush with embarrassment.)

By the way... Japanese toilets run from between $2000 and $4000 dollars if you want high tech. I sincerely recommend at least a seat heater if your budget is tight...

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Impulse... Alphabet Soup

I've got to stop sewing and get a life... The snowy days have been fun though.

It sounds like, hands down, everyone thinks that machine piecing the batik quilt is the best bet. I am at the decision point. Yes, I finished the quarters. (The quarters are just laid out on the floor in this picture.) Another BIG quilt. It didn't fit flat on the floor of the sewing room, it doesn't get completely in the picture even in the Japanese room with furniture moved. And it still doesn't have borders so this will be bigger still.

Now I will probably spend days and weeks looking through past quilting magazines trying to get ideas for quilting this. I'm not very good at overall quilting designs... I might be able to quilt this in a vine or loopy pattern through the different sized squares. I get lost in over all patterns and usually get a lot of puckering on the back. Any suggestions? Seen any great quilting patterns that would move diagonally with the blocks?

BrendaLou wanted to know the name of this pattern. I founded it in a HOUSE of WHITE BIRCHES published book called Twisted Classics. The pattern itself is called Impulse (p.110). I'm wondering what I should name my own quilt... Alphabet Soup (no one would understand that but me... 26 letter coded colors that got me very confused).

I'm afraid this is going to have to season on a shelf now... It has been fun. Filled the urge to machine piece for a few days.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Batik Around the World

I had a full day of sewing yesterday. Snowed in, A holiday. Tetsu was off enjoying the day himself so I spent the whole day matching seams and chatting with Leiya. Yes, we were both on the computer at the same time but I wanted to sew so I took the computer upstairs, turned on chat and Leiya watched me sew (and I got to watch her fall asleep... it was 2:00 am her time.)

I finished the smaller blocks for the Around the World Batik. I should have realized that they were going to turn out a shade smaller than the other blocks because of all the seams but I didn't discover that until I was done. They have to have a bit of pulling to match up but so far so good.

These are the firery orange-pink blocks up on the wall in no particular pattern.

Then I worked on medium sized pale blocks. You should have heard me reciting the alphabet as I worked on all these. 26 alphabet coded colors. It was a good thing I had put away all the batiks in the right order because for the life of me I couldn't remember which color was assigned to what letter... I know I could have MARKED them but I'm not that organized and I enjoy frustrating myself.

"A, B, C, D, E, F, G~~~♪♪♪~"

The pale blocks got made and up on the wall.

Chatting with Leiya confused me more as I sewed wrong blocks to wrong sides. (And I had already put in so many hours my eyes were blurring...) However, by the end of the afternoon I had a quarter of the quilt made. THAT is what THIS is. A quarter done. I'll be hoping for another day of sewing so that I can finish the other three quarters.

At that point I'll need to make a decision about hand quilting or machine quilting. If I'm going to hand quilt this then I'll just put it all together, mark it and get it ready for quilting. If I'm going to machine quilt this I'll leave all this in quarters and do the more manageable size in my domestic sewing machine. I have more confidence in my hand quilting abilities but the speed of machine quilting is tempting...

Friday, February 11, 2011


I had fun yesterday with my patchwork friends but didn't get to see Lorraine after all. The forecast of snow caused a concern from some members who live far away and Mrs. Okutomi didn't want to risk it. Lorraine will be in Japan until March so hopefully she'll be able to come next month...

So, with three of our members not attending yesterday the rest of us did things like making leaves for our bazaar tree and stars for the border. We still need a few more border stars but that is this month's homework. Mrs. Harada seems to have dedicated herself to appliqueing leaves and though these are not all on yet, MOST of the leaves have been sewn on by her. I've appliqued ONE leaf so far.

Our least confident member (LCM) really got into gear and worked long and hard on a few of her homework pieces. She wouldn't even stop for lunch!

"When I get started I get into a rhythm... it's getting started that is hard."

We all feel a little guilty for pushing this friend into doing our patchwork game. She is a very busy woman and when she sits, she likes to chat more than sew. But she is such a big part of our group bringing lots of laughter and insights, and we know she loves the end results of our patchwork games that we STRONGLY suggested she participate again and we PROMISED to forgive tardiness and slow work. Mrs. Furui often ends up tutoring or making up "kits" just so our LCM can participate. It would probably be easier for Mrs. Furui to do all the work in the LCM's place but yesterday our LCM really got a lot done.

"Oh, that is so wonderful! You're doing such a great job and you are working so fast! Look how much Mrs. XXX has accomplished today! Isn't she doing beautiful work?!"

LCM was shyly pleased with all the praise but she did humbly say,

"It seems unfair that when someone like me, who isn't very good at something finally gets it done she gets showered with compliments and praise. No one bats an eye when the rest of you do things beautifully and on time and get twice as much accomplished."

That's one of the reasons we love our LCM.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Happiness bag

No news yet from the Child Protection Services about Y-kun. I should just go ahead and write a card and keep it so that I can send it off immediately when and if I do hear...

The clock in yesterday's post was in a fukubukuro, "Happiness bag" that I bought just after the turn of the year. Japanese departments store always have a big sales day on January 1st or 2nd and they sell bags of surprise stuff for quite a large price cut. $30 a bag, $50 a bag, $100 a bag etc. I don't really like these sales because though you can probably get a lot for your money, I want to choose how I spend, not just open a bag and be surprised. More and more people are probably feeling the same way and so recently the department stores are saying

"Here is a very cheap fukubukuro and LOOK what is inside it!"

Yes! They let you see what the assortment of goodies are and thus you can choose. I happened to be at some store NOT looking at Happiness bags. I was looking for a toilet cover. And there were these bags with toilet covers peaking out of the mouths of the bags and for a lot cheaper than the toilet covers were on the wall! Okay... Maybe I'll look at those Happiness bags after all. They were going quickly though... In this bag? Toilet cover, slippers, a pencil case, and a wall clock. A cat wall clock! (Well, maybe it is trying to be a lion) and all those colorful "leaders/enders" around it. Well, I have a new appreciation for Happiness bags and I grabbed the wall clock fukubukuro before someone else could claim it. And there you have the story of how I got the cute clock... Yes, it resides in my sewing room (of course) and doesn't photograph well because of the window reflection.

Okay... And is it crass to show my toilet cover? (Yes~~) I've now got fruit in my bathroom...

Quilty stuff? I started doing a little embroidery on the cat faces of my Kitty Memories quilt (remember that one? Forgot? I almost did too! It was folded and waiting for me.) Right now I don't have any handwork by my chair... no quilting or piecing, so I thought I'd plod away on the embroidery. I find though that after I had paper pieced the border and then removed the paper, the seams were all coming undone! YIKES! That will be a nightmare if the whole thing unravels so I spent some time late last night stabilizing the edges... thus didn't get much done on the embroidery...

Today Lorraine from Australia is coming to visit our quilting group again! I wonder what things she will have to inspire us!