Thursday, January 31, 2013

Coaching Sports

Recent news in Japan has been about the practice of strict sports trainers in the Japanese athletic world and even in schools.  In the past few weeks the newspapers and TV are swamped with stories of the militaristic training methods that border on or are actually abusive.

This is not really a surprise to anyone.  In fact Tetsu and I have had a running discussion about educating methods especially connected with sports.  I am the least sporty person there is.  But I have opinions on what I think is right and wrong.  Tetsu had trained throughout Jr. high, high school and college on judo teams and he is much more accepting of the traditional Japanese way of using physical punishment (in sports... not in our home!) to get a message across.

I remember as a child in the US watching a TV program (black and white TV) about the Japanese Olympic Women's Volleyball team in training.  I STILL remember watching the coach slam balls into the women's faces from a short distance, the team members sobbing and falling to the floor and taking the slaps and verbal abuse.

"What is wrong with those girls that they would take any of that?  Why doesn't someone stop that coach?"

It seems that the accepted way of training at that time was to yell and insult and hit and kick until the team could get the moves right.  Strange way of building team relationships... I had always heard that praise and positive input was the best way to boost morale and form teamwork.  But it seemed to work for Japan.

I continued to stay out of the sport scene until my children hit grade school and Jr. high school.  Takumi joined the Jr. high school judo team.  (Tetsu had already been teaching him judo.) But Takumi didn't last very long on the judo team.  He claimed the volunteer coach was too strict.  I never did understand what was too strict... there might have been verbal abuse, there might have been so much running and practices that Takumi got fed up.  Tetsu explained and explained that the coach was obviously earnest in his commitment to help the Jr. high students just because the man was a volunteer... taking time from his own life to coach judo.  Sure, he might be strict, but strict was necessary in sports.  Takumi was not about to listen to any of that and quit judo.  Tetsu was very disappointed and still claims that one day Takumi will think back on the strict coach and recognize his dedication.

When Leiya was in elementary school there was a girl's basketball team.  And Leiya wanted to join and be with her friends who were joining.  So I went to watch a practice and was horrified.  The coach (another volunteer) shouted abuse calling individual girls "stupid" and "no good".  There was a slap or two, there was a lot of anger directed at the team who "couldn't get anything right!"  I consulted the mother of one of the team members about the coach's training methods.

"We just accept the abuse.  She's a good coach.  Under her instruction the team wins a lot of games.  Sometimes her language is bad.. and I've seen slaps too but that is part of sports.  I'm sorry, but if you won't be able to accept any of that then it is best if Leiya doesn't join the basketball team."

You can be sure I wasn't letting Leiya near that team!  My goodness, not that abuse is good at any time but the coach is not training an Olympic team!  These are 10 and 11 year olds!

In Jr. High, Leiya did join the kendo (bamboo sword fighting) team.  And in its way, the training methods did seem very militaristic at times...  If one person makes a mistake then whole team is responsible and receives the same punishment...  At an intensive training weekend Leiya reported that there were buckets available for anyone who needed to vomit!  Well!  But I never heard of physical abuse and Leiya was quite happy with her kendo team.

The world and Japanese society is changing.  What was acceptable 10 years ago in the sports world, physical and verbal abuse, is now being openly challenged.  I think all Japanese agree that the abusive coaches need to be removed from the educational scene...that praise and encouragement make for better results...but nearly everyone I've talked too will add,

"but it USED to be the norm."  

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Cats in the cold

I haven't featured my cats on the blog lately.  They are too cold to get into any mischief (except for Toi and Patora upstairs in the sewing room.  They destroy boxes and knock things off the shelves regularly... but  the sewing room was such a mess to begin with it would be too hard to explain what was cat clutter and what was mine.)

Here is Mi "caged" in the newspaper rack...  The rack is something we put our read newspapers into everyday and when it gets full all the newspapers can be easily tied even while in the rack... and then pulled out in a bundle.  Tetsu just turned the rack upside down on Mi when getting ready to recycle the newspapers.  Mi doesn't seem to mind and stayed happily there for quite a few minutes.

Here is Chip under the Fiery Starr quilt.  Chip is anti-social and won't cuddle with any other cat but she loves my quilts.

And here is a cat ball!  Better than a hair ball!  I came back from somewhere and Velvet, Cleo and Mi were clumped together doing their best to stay warm in the freezing house.  The cats love it when people are home... not so much for the company but because humans like a warm house too! (Toi and Patora have a heated cushion upstairs in the sewing room.  It is making my electric bill run very high this season!!!)

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Foot warmer

We have different ways of keeping warm in Japan.  Air conditioners (that also heat rooms... so it is a bit strange to hear someone ask if I'm cold and want the air conditioner turned on.  The host means heat.)   We have kerosene space heaters.  We have spot electric heaters.  The most traditional style of heating is kotatsu which is a low table with a heating element in it.  The whole thing is covered by blankets and quilts so that the lower half of your body is warm while the upper half freezes.

And yesterday when visiting the pre school, I asked if I could take a picture of the principal's foot warmer.  She has a very elegant foot warmer!  It is a large heavy thing that sets under her desk.  It is electrically heated and there is a large slab of rock at the bottom that warms first and then keeps the heat.  The wooden container must be insulated too because it keeps the legs very warm.  And when the principal sits at her desk with her feet inside the heater, she lays a blanket and a lap quilt over all and the heat stays completely trapped.

I really like the looks of this foot heater but I've priced them and they are very dear...  If I did a lot of desk work I might splurge for one of these!  But I only catch small bits of computer time during the day and even when knitting and quilting I seem to be up and about quite a bit.

Thank you Principal N for letting me crawl around under your desk taking pictures.

Monday, January 28, 2013


I've had an unpleasant report from the elementary school principal this morning.  This weekend a mutilated animal was found in a wooded area along the way to the school.  This means that the district is on alert and this morning  five or six teachers arrived early at school and then walked to the various neighborhoods to accompany the walking children back to school.  (They are all walking children... there are no school buses in our area.) 

Our community has been fairly free from crime for the past few years, but we've had our tragedies too.  Seven years ago a child was kidnapped and murdered on her way home from school. The forest area was one that Leiya had sometimes used when walking home from Jr. high... It is a road I will use on my way home from the supermarket. That crime has never been solved and annually it makes national news as the police continue to investigate.  For the first year or so each family was questioned a number of times... what car we drive, where the adults were on that day...  We were warned about going out alone or walking in the forest and questioned about eccentric neighbors (this did not make for great community relationships.)  There are still posters taped to buildings and telephone poles asking for information.  Our lovely, quiet country town is marred by this terribly sad crime.  Because of it, the system began of an adult (the parents take turns) walking the groups of children to and from school.  Most of the elementary school children no longer remember why they have to be careful.

I do hope that the community can prevent similar occurrences of the small animal crime which often leads to larger crimes...

The greatness of a nation and its moral progress 
can be judged by the way in which its animals are treated.   
Mahatma Gandhi

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Blocks and more blocks

I think my hand sewing output goes up during the winter.  I sit in the warm living room with little pieces of fabric fluttering at my feet.   This week I've been working on buttonhole applique for this year's kindergarten bazaar quilt and the Pine Burr blocks.

This year's bazaar quilt is called Cake Walk from a pattern in a magazine... but I've left the magazine at Mrs. Furui's so I'm not sure which one...  The blocks in the magazine were made on a black background which was very striking... but we chose traditional white hopefully making this a bright and cheery quilt.

The first month we got together and cut and sew the center Nine Patch.  And at the last meeting we sewed the additional white background and marked applique shapes.  6 of us took home a block or two with homework to applique the leaf shapes (but we're not calling those leaves in order to stay away from just green) and circles.  Altogether in the next couple months I hope we'll end up with 24 vibrant blocks!

And I spent the evenings quietly sewing away at another Pine Burr block...  I really ought to have a purpose in mind, but committing myself to another bed size quilt is exhausting to think about...  As many of my quilts go, I will probably just make blocks until I start thinking the final product will be too scary to quilt. Well, that's not all bad.  A perpetual hand project never leaves me wondering what I should do with my time.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Snail Therapy

I don't have much interest in beauty and skin care products, nor make-up nor hair care goods.  I rarely spend time nor money trying to beautify myself.

Every few weeks Tetsu has to stay overnight at the convalescent home and I have the night alone with the cats and Choco.  I watch TV.  I do patchwork.  I spend extra time on the computer. And this last time I tried a facial mask someone had given me.  I don't have the courage to put one of these on when Tetsu is around...

Facial masks seem to be very popular in Japan.  Actually last summer, Leiya requested some masks from Japan to give to her friends and I was surprised to find a whole array of "flavors".  Let's see.  There was strawberry and milk and orange and pearl and honey and marine and herb and bee sting and snake venom.  Snake venom?!  And they are all pretty cheap too!  Maybe a dollar or so a pack.  I must have bought 20 for Leiya to give to her friends... 

MY friend had given me a pack labeled Snail Therapy.  Is this what I think it is?  Yep...  Made of snail extract...  Well, maybe a small amount.  I hope a very small amount.

Not being very good at this I opened and applied the pack and then sat around the house for 20 minutes scaring the cats. 

"This is kind of boring.  Maybe I'll eat some ice cream."

I had forgotten that wearing a pack, my mouth only opens a crack. 

"Well, I'll eat my ice cream daintily."

Nibble, nibble. 

"Oops, did I just take a lick of Snail Therapy mask?  YUCK!  I've just eaten snail extract!!!"

But thinking a bit about it... which could be worse...  having snail extract on the tip of my tongue or all over my face?  I decided it is about one and the same.

Snail Therapy didn't make me sick...  But it didn't make me beautiful either...

Friday, January 25, 2013

Trip Around the World flimsy

I had a free Thursday yesterday and went up to the sewing room to see what Works In Progress I had. 

Ah...  A stack of leader/ender blocks.  What was I doing with those?  And over here?  Wow!  A Scrappy Trip Around the World top! 

I vaguely remembered that I'd been working on a donation quilt for the Ronald McDonald House before I got started on my niece's quilt.  It's been at least 6 months since I worked on this.  I didn't remember what other fabrics I had planned to use or how big I was trying to make this but I was pretty sure the two blocks and the top were supposed to go together.  (I'm really going to have to start a Works In Progress notebook or something.)

I spent the morning sewing the leader/ender blocks into long strips and then went ahead and put a narrow border as a dividing line.  By afternoon I'd made a flimsy!  Well!  That was easy!

I don't have any idea when I'll get around to basting this or how I'll quilt this.  Probably an over all machine quilt design which isn't my forte.  I'd better not let this spend too much time on my shelves or I'll forget what I was doing all over again!

Thursday, January 24, 2013


There are times when I'm not really sure if what is normal in Japan is unusual in the rest of the world or not.  There are big things like "Is this the way educators do it all over the world?" and there are little things, like... parking the car.

I went to the kindergarten as usual on Wednesdays.  The kindergarten has a couple of parking lots for parents and teachers.  There is the daily dropping off and picking up of the children and when there are event days, like the Christmas program or the bazaar or Sports Day, then there is hardly enough parking to go around. A couple of years ago the kindergarten had a new parking lot put in at the corner of the grounds and it is asphalted and well marked.

The kindergarten, trying to get the most out of the very small amount of land that they have (well, they have land and that in itself is something!) marked VERY NARROW parking spaces.

"How many spaces can we squeeze in here?  15 cars easily?  Okay then let's mark 16 spaces."

I am rather proud of my rear parking skills (of course everyone else can do it too... but as a Southern Californian driver that is used to being a road hog I think I have developed a great maneuvering technique.) Still... it takes a lot of glancing in both the side mirrors and rear view mirror and opening my driver's door to lean out and check before I can get my car into a narrow space.  And once parked!  I carry lots of stuff with me to the kindergarten.  Computer, book bags, white board etc. etc. Trying to get all that in and out of a car door that is only open a few inches is a bit time consuming.  I am also not a petite Japanese lady, so even getting myself out of the car takes a bit of maneuvering!

BUT... this parking situation is not unique to just the kindergarten, the majority of parking lots in Japan require some skill on the driver's part.

And that is why Japanese cars all have retractable mirrors.  Here's my question.  Do all cars in the world have retractable side mirrors?  I don't remember.... If my brother's car, which I drive when I'm in the States, has the retractable mirror button then I've probably never used it.  The parking spaces are so much wider in California!

But in Japan.  It is... park the car, retract the side mirrors and then shimmy yourself out of the car and the parking space.  It would be inconsiderate to park your car without retracting your side mirrors!  The next driver would have quite a time getting back into his car or even driving out of the parking space.  Thus retractable side mirrors are a must in Japan.

I admit.  I occasionally get back in the car and drive half a block or so before I realize my side mirrors are still retracted. I guess I'm not THAT great a driver.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Pine Burr blocks

The cold weather is keeping me from spending much time up in the sewing room.  Thus no machine sewing.  Instead I sit in the warmth and do piecing.  For no real reason I've made another Pine Burr block. 

A couple of years ago, my friend Mrs. Nakazawa, gave me a couple bags of hand marked triangles that she had made for something.  She thought I'd be able to make use of them but actually, as a machine piecer I didn't think I'd have the patience to sew with them.  Hand marked, scissor cut.  They would be too hard to work into a machine pieced quilt.  I debated tossing the bags out... but instead stuffed them in my closet.

Yeah!  The little triangles aren't the exact size I need for the Pine Burr block but with some minor marking and cutting they work just fine and there is a lovely assortment of fabrics!  One of the few bags of stuff STUFFED in my closet that I've actually found a use for!

Thus another Pine Burr block has been made and I'm working on a third.

Dear me...  This looks like it is trying to grow into a quilt.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Education is...

Grumble... grumble... steam... steam...

I have been teaching English to my little 6th grade N-chan for.... nearly 6 years!  She has always been a cheery, motivated, show-offy sort of student.  When she was in a class she would get upset if I didn't call on her and her ability has always been far above students even older than she.  When everyone else graduated to jr. high last year, she wanted to stay on and so she's been having a private lesson each week.  I have tried to treat her as an adult... for example serving tea while we study English, using the dining room table rather than the room where I teach children.  We've played games and cooked and sewn together.  All in all I think we have had an enjoyable 6 years.

But last night N-chan turned ornery and lazy, propping her head on her elbow...  giving me grunts to questions.  After the third "Whatever" I lost my temper and slammed books shut and asked her to explain her attitude problem or go home.  We faced off in a silent stare for a minute or two and N-chan grudgingly mumbled that she was tired.

Let's say... I'm not surprised.  Not that she's tired, that she has an attitude problem.  Hey, she's going into her teens soon.  This is what pre-teenagers do!  I don't think I have EVER had a pre-teen student (including my own children) that hasn't had me wishing I'd chosen a different profession!  I've sent students home, I've stormed out myself until an apology was given, I've called parents and asked them to reconsider the student's English motivation, I've lectured and scolded and explained my position (... and I mangle the Japanese language so when I'm upset.  I wonder if anyone even understands what I'm sputtering about.)

Whether N-chan and I repaired our relationship after 15 minutes of mumbling (her) and sputtering (me), I won't know until next week I guess.  She SAID she wants to continue until March (when she graduates) but other students have never come back after one of these confrontations.  It makes me sad because I have put a lot of time and effort and LOVE into making English enjoyable and encouraging each student to develop as they can.  After one of these episodes I fear the student will hate me (who cares about that!) and for the rest of their lives will have negative connotations about English.... because I lost my temper once.

"Education is..." Well, I've lost my temper and my confidence both.  You know... most of these students never say boo to me again even after 6 years of coming weekly to my house.  Now WHY did I want to be an English teacher?

Monday, January 21, 2013

Red tape

A quiet weekend.  Today I went for crosswalk duty and found the road in front of the school all cleared away from ice and snow.  This is thanks to the sweet shop owner's son.  Let me tell you... I guess we have red tape woes all over the world. 

At the beginning of December I personally reported to the City Safety Bureau that the street in front of the school needed a supply of sand for when snowy days come upon us.  I was told I was jumping the gun and the city would deliver sand by the new year.  (And I was assured it wouldn't snow before January...  How do THEY know?)

But January came and though sand was delivered to other corners of the neighborhood, no sand bags in front of the school.  The principal and I commiserated.  He said he would call and ask for a delivery.

And then it snowed.  And then the snow melted.  And then it froze.  And for two days last week we had children slipping and falling on the sidewalk.  But that is actually a small problem.  The kids seem to LIKE the slipping and tumbling.  They purposely walk on the icy patches no matter my warnings.  It's the ROAD that is the problem!!!  The one road on the corner is clear of snow (a snow truck came by and cleared the road).  The other road at the corner is icebound and unsuspecting cars skid at the stop sign.  THAT'S the road that needs the sand!

The principal reported back that the city told him that one road is a prefecture road, the other is a city road, and the only roads that are included in budgeting are the prefecture roads.  Thus the other road gets ignored.  The sweet shop owner came out and joined the conversation.  It seems they have asked the city to uplug their gutter too but they got the same run around. 

So between the principal going out and buying sand himself and the sweetshop owner's son spending hours clearing the road of ice... the road is now safe.

Tonight it is supposed to snow again...

The sweet shop owner's grandson and me... before the snow.  Yep.  That's the get-up I wear daily!  The baby only dresses up as a monkey on alternate days.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Winter decoration

I haven't been paying much attention the the photography website I visit that gives out weekend homework.  I'll never get better at photography if I don't take up their challenges!

This weekend's assignment was to take a picture showing contrast.  Hmm... now as a quilter I should know about contrast but what was that again?  Something about light and dark images.

On Thursday Mrs. Furui gave me a pretty winter decoration she had made out of paper.  Regular old light-weight colored paper!  Mrs. Furui will do things like this.  She sees something that strikes her, be it a patchwork  bag or a quilting motif or a knitting pattern... or in this case a paper ornament, and she'll sketch it on scratch paper.  Mrs. Furui does not carry a camera around with her like I do.  She is one of the purists who doesn't even own a cellphone so no camera there either.  Just sketches on the backs of receipts from her wallet or a paper bag...  Anyway....

Mrs. Furui found the pretty paper ornament and spent some minutes sketching it and then went home and played around with colored paper for awhile, cutting here.. bending there.  It is not origami.  As she tells it, the decoration is a simple piece made of 8 sections that are glued together and then hung.  The color on one side and the white on the other make the intricate design.

So this is my attempt at the photography contrast assignment.  I photographed it hanging in the window late at night so that the outdoors scenery wouldn't get in the picture (a quilt reflection did.)

Camera: Olympus E-PL2
Exposure: 0.04s (1/25)
Aperture: f/1.7
Focal Length: 20 mm
ISO Speed: 1600
Exposure Program: Creative Program (dramatic)

Mrs. Furui had made quite a few of these decorations for her own home and to give to her friends and family.  This is another reason her quilts take quite awhile to get finished.  I don't mind if she doesn't mind!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Patchwork lessons

Yesterday, my friends Mrs. Nakazawa and Rumi-san came for their patchwork lesson.  They  have big ideas and lots of dreams about making things but not that much time.  We've been working on a Bible Sampler for months now and they are finally getting to the lattice stage.  (But Mrs. Nakazawa is making TWO Bible Samplers so it is taking longer than she expected...)  Yesterday, both ladies spent the time sewing borders and lattice for their Bible quilts. 

But Mrs. Nakazawa and Rumi-san are also the friends who bought the sewing machines last year.  I am horrified that neither friend seems to have used their sewing machines enough to remember how to wind the bobbins or thread the machines!!!  WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?   This means that both ladies are content to bring their machines to my house once a month and use the machines here (under my instruction) and then they take their machines home and never open them up again.  And it also means that they don't get their homework done.  It means, THEY LIKE SEWING AT MY HOUSE BUT NOT IN THEIR OWN HOMES!!!

Now those machines were very expensive and it was under my recommendation that my friends bought them.  They both seemed to want to make so many quilts but all the hand piecing was such slow going.  And both were so gung-ho about owning their own sewing machine!  But look!  They actually don't use their sewing machines very much.  If they're only going to sew at my house then they could have used my two cheapy, old machines...  Sigh.

That is not to say that things are not getting done.  Mrs. Nakazawa and Rumi-san are making the same Loves Me quilt and they both finished the chain stitch embroidery in the border.  Aren't these flimsies pretty?!  Mrs. Nakazawa made the black one... Rumi-san made the brown one.

Well, I guess my friends did do all the free hand applique on their sewing machines so they are making some progress...The next step is going to be sandwiching the quilts but I suggested that my friends work a bit more on their Bible quilts this month...  That's the trouble with doing two or three things at the same time... None of the projects get completed!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Machine quilting... Hand quilting...

Thursday patchwork day was great fun.  We met for the first time this year and lots of winter holiday tales to tell.

 As promised, Mrs. Ochiai photographed my Fiery Starr quilt for me, with ME in the picture. 

And the ladies raved and complimented me on my machine quilting.

But you know... 

Mrs. Furui pulled out a simple quilt she has been making for the past four years (all pieced by hand).  Such a simple pattern... Nine Patch.  But as usual, Mrs. Furui is going to do fantastic things with her hand quilting!  It makes me sigh...

"Yes!  Hand-quilting is really the ultimate art form!"

And hand-quilting really makes the quilt!  I would have put in a motif in the open white squares and maybe some vines in the rectangles but Mrs. Furui has a very intricate pattern going.  Such beauty.  The only drawback that I can see is that this will probably take her another 4 years to complete...

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Fiery Starr Finish

I have finished the Fiery Starr quilt!!

Hip Hip Hooray!  Well, that was a time consuming quilt!

Okay.... Now I'm very happy with the overall quilt and how it turned out.  Sort of proud of myself, sort of smug.  But there are a lot of bloopers in it too.  It would never will a prize in a quilt show... not that I've ever thought about showing my quilts.  For my niece, for whom this was made, it will be a nice, showy quilt and she will never notice the "mistakes".  I don't have a great place to spread this quilt out and photograph it but I'm taking it to my patchwork group today and maybe Mrs. Ochiai will photograph it for me.  In the meantime, here is a critique for my own reference.  (No sense in making the same mistakes twice.)

The pattern for this was called Starr Fire... and there was a wedge template with markings on it included in the pattern.  Unfortunately my seam allowances were off just a bit so from the beginning my blocks didn't completely match up.  You'll have to think of a way to check those seam allowances if you want to make this quilt again, Tanya.

And the original pattern didn't have the extra two borders but it seemed a waste to not use the extra fabric that was left over so I added the thin rainbow strip around the quilt.  Quite a nice touch I think.

While I was in the States at the Long Beach Quilt Festival, I bought a cone of Superior thread (and a thread holder) at one of the booths.  Come to think of it, I may have bought the quilt pattern there too.  I was interested in seeing how the Superior thread worked...  But you know, even with the thread holder, the thread seemed to unravel into three strands as I sewed and then they'd get tangled up in the needle.  I'm not sure what I was doing wrong.  The needle was too thick?  The sewing machine didn't accommodate the thread well?  If I were doing this again I'd try different thread.

It took me a long time to find a rhythm for making the feathers in the wedges.   Some of them are jerky... the balance is very haphazard.  Some have 9 loops, some have 11...  I wish I could have been more consistent when quilting those but probably no one is going to compare 192 wedges of quilting.

And then the flowers...  They look great from the top!  BUT...  Some of those (not all...  maybe a quarter of the flowers) have birds' nests on the back!  I even took out two and redid them.  Now why did this happen?  The tension somewhere was too loose, but most of that was continuous stitching so though the wedge quilting looks smooth on the back, the transition to the flower quilting messed up something.

Okay.  A quick look so you know what I'm talking about and then no one is ever supposed to look at the back of this quilt again!  If I were a perfectionist I could take out the matted flowers, it isn't that much work to take them out (not with all those loose threads) and it isn't that much work to quilt them again...  But I swear... from the top, the flowers look just fine.

Moving out to the border...   A simple swirl and petal design that wasn't too difficult and hopefully tied in to the flowers.

The final feather border improved with the extra quilting but... though I marked the quilting area... for example a line a quarter inch from the quilt edge... when using the machine I was maybe a bit too flamboyant and worked in too close...  The result is the loss of a few feather tips in the binding.  I should have made my feathers a bit smaller?  And if you look closely at that picture you'll see I "quilted in" a fold or two of the border fabric.  Again, though I basted the edges to prevent the quilt from shifting, the top did warp a bit as I swooped around to sew my feathers.  A quilter's eye would say this is a big no-no.  My niece is not going to notice.

So.  A finished quilt!  I started piecing in August last year and started quilting in October.  Still, it took a lot longer than I thought it was going to.  This will be hand carried by me to the States sometime this summer and given to my niece as a high school graduation present.

I sure hope she doesn't plan to get married for a few years because I don't think I have the energy to make her another quilt any time soon.