Tuesday, January 31, 2012


Yesterday a book came in the mail. Ahh~~ I remember this... Last summer I spent two or three months (and hours and hours and hours) helping translate a book for the prefecture. I consulted with the original translator (I don't read Japanese so someone translated into English and I corrected the translation), I sent in my final copy and I was paid well. But I never heard hide-nor-hair of anything after that. Do I really want to know? I was getting frustrated at the translator and with trying to keep close to the original Japanese...The translator sent her work to me while I was in the States and I resented having to work on my vacation. I pouted and ranted and told everybody that I was NEVER going to do translation work again!

Yesterday I peered into the postal envelope. Yep a book. Wow. A good sized book!

Not bad... not bad... I leafed through a few pages. Japanese on one side of the page, English on the other. No glaring errors and I am not going to look for any. (I'm sure there must be a few I missed. Gulp.) The book goes directly onto my shelf

I had been so frustrated with this translation attempt but seeing the final product makes me slightly proud to have been a part of it. No, my name isn't anywhere in this book and I had nothing to do with the contents but still I helped out a bit.

I'm sorry that I grumbled about the original translator. I hope she is proud of herself too.

Monday, January 30, 2012


Tetsu and I made the rounds of recycle shops yesterday and for dinner we stopped at a revolving sushi place. I have posted about these places before but so long ago I guess I'll do it again.

Sushi restaurants and bars can be expensive and many businessmen will conduct business over sushi but young families and people who are not picky about their sushi, love to go to revolving sushi restaurants. Depending on the restaurant, each plate runs a little more than a dollar and the sushi runs by your table (or counter) by a conveyor belt. When a restaurant is crowded, the sushi gets taken off the belt faster than it can be made!

But what if you want a type of sushi that hasn't come by recently?

Nowadays at each table is a touch screen and a person can order the type of sushi, the number of plates, and specify with or without Japanese horseradish (wasabi). In this restaurant, the sushi arrived at the table on a differennt rail/belt by Bullet Train, special delivery! It stopped directly at our table and then hurried back to the kitchen to bring another load to another table. Busy place!

Lots of interesting food running by the table on the conveyor belt. Let's see... besides regular seafood sushi there were deep fried squid tentacles... French fries... Tiamisu dessert!

Tetsu and I ate 14 plates between the two of us. Well, conveyor belt sushi might not be the real thing (I think the rice balls are made by machine) but it is actually quite good! Tetsu and I haven't been to a real sushi bar in years! And the price is right!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Cat photography

Yesterday I took off with my friend Mrs. Nakazawa and went to a photo exhibition. Mrs. Nakazawa and I are old time "cat-lover" friends. And for the past couple of years she and Rumi-san have been coming every month or so to do patchwork.

On Friday Mrs. Nakazawa and Rumi-san came for patchwork and showed off their latest quilts.

Same quilt in different colors... (and interestingly, Mrs. Nakazawa's turned out smaller.) A great first try at a largish quilt! (and the first time using a sewing machine, quilting with a hoop etc.)

Mrs. Nakazawa forgot something on Friday so I took it to her yesterday morning.

"What are you doing today, Tanya?"

"I'm going to visit a cat photo exhibition. Are you going?" (I knew that she had tickets, she had offered me some the day before.)

"Yes, I'll probably go later on today. My car is being repaired this morning."

"Let's go together!"

And within 10 minutes we were on our way.

The photo exhibition was amazing!!! Only photos of cats by a wonderful wildlife photographer named Mitsuaki Iwago. He is quite well known in Japan especially for his cat photos. As would be expected, no photography allowed at the exhibition but Mrs. Nakazawa and I spent nearly an hour oohing and aahing and laughing and sighing at all the beautiful, beautiful photography of feline activity. (It made me want to go out and buy a professional camera and take pictures of my cats all over again!)

(Actually I have one of Mr. Iwago's book so this picture is a photo of one of his photos.)

There was a gift shop set up at the exhibition's exit where books and post cards and files etc. were being sold. We decided that many of the goods could be bought in regular bookstores so we bypassed the lines there. And then, at the far end of the room was a booth of hand crafted items...

"Oh! Look at these! They are so cute!!!"

Mrs. Nakazawa and I both started pawing through the bags and aprons and hats and things that were all hand painted.

"These are one of a kind and if you'd like I'll paint your name on anything too."

The nice artist was organizing the bags that we'd tumbled here and there while looking at all of them.

Both Mrs. Nakazawa and I came home with hand painted-personalized items. I'm such a sucker for cat things! (But I think everyone at the exhibition was too. The line at the gift store wound back to the entrance!)

"La-la-la ♪~♪~♪~! Look what I bought!"

I modeled my cap for Tetsu. I can just hear the neighbors when I go out walking Choco.

"There goes that crazy cat lady."

And while talking of cat photos, here are a couple I took last night.

"Vel, you might as well come up and join us on the sofa."

And so he did.

"Hey guys, Dad got to the sofa before us tonight!"

Maybe we need two sofas.

Friday, January 27, 2012


Oh dear, not much going on yesterday and today. And yesterday was a patchwork day but I never once picked up a needle!!

Mostly Mrs. Furui and I laid out our projects and gave each other advice. Mrs. Furui has designed a small piece to go at the top of my Crazy Goose Chase quilt and if I add that then it will be the right dimensions for a bed quilt.

"How are you going to quilt this, Tanya?"

Yes, that is the question. The Crazy Goose Chase will be pretty big for my domestic machine and there I go again hesitating to do overall quilting designs... I guess I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.

As for Mrs. Furui's project, she is designing an applique quilt for the hospital that she volunteers at. But her pattern calls for shadow quilting and it will mean more expense and a LOT more handwork. Instead she was thinking about needle-turn appliqueing the whole quilt.

"ARE YOU CRAZY! Do you know how long that is going to take you? And all those cute little BERRIES on this quilt? You won't have time to do anything else for months! And then you're going to give the quilt away?"

I don't have a problem with her giving away the quilt. I have a problem with her having another project taking priority over all her other unfinished projects not to mention intruding on her leadership and expertise at the other projects we are trying to get off the ground.

"Look, this could get done a lot more quickly if you machine stitched the raw edges. Could you accept a project that wasn't completely hand done?" (Mrs. Furui is such a purist).

"But Tanya, I don't know how to do raw-edge-machine-stitch-applique..."

"Ahh! But I do! If you promise you won't complain about my skills and the outcome of freehand machine applique stitching, I'll do it for you."

"Okay, then I'll do the hand quilting on your Crazy Goose Chase quilt for you!"

I wonder if we are saving each other time or just making more work for the both of us...

But it's more fun embarking on a cooperative effort!

Thursday, January 26, 2012


This week someone asked me if I would make them a quilt on commission. I'm afraid I declined. Has anyone ever done that?

It has always seemed to me that the amount of time put into making a quilt would never justify the cost and effort. The materials may only run $100 (think of that batting and backing too!) but all the time sewing and quilting runs into hours and days and months and sometimes years! And someone is going to buy this at even minimum wage? I don't think so! I feel sorry for the "handmade quilts" I see at Walmart or Penneys. They DO seem to be loosely quilted (not that well) but someone in China or Indonesia or somewhere has still spent hours making the quilt and it is being sold for $40?! How much was that person's time worth?

Occasionally I have gotten involved in selling small handmade things for church or kindergarten bazaars. Coasters, bags, even knitted caps. But I remember one time years ago when manning a booth some little obaachan fingered the wares and then said to her friend,

"Too expensive... Let's wait until the end of the bazaar... The prices will probably go down."

It made me sort of sad... I'd spent hours making patchwork bags and was trying to sell them for $15 apiece for the church... not for my own pocket. But someone still thought $15 was too expensive and in truth, some of the bags were sold later in the day for about $8. From then on I decided I would give away quilts, not sell them. It is more important for me to see a smile of surprised delight or know that somewhere someone was enjoying an unexpected gift (donation quilts included) than to make a little bit of money that wouldn't pay for the time put into the quilt making.

I'd be lousy at running a business.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Cat cushions

Think our cats like the heated mat on the sofa?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Making progress

I put together the Crazy Goose Chase flimsy yesterday.

Wow, a lot of bias edges so it pulls here and there (or I just wasn't careful about not stretching the fabric when sewing.) Still, if this ever gets quilted, the waviness might quilt out. (Please do not tell me I made a mistake on block placement somewhere! I've checked and it looks all right to my eyes but I'm not going to look any closer!)

The real problem though is how to add length to this quilt. It is a wonderful square quilt with the pattern being centered, but adding more at the top or at the bottom is going to be a challenge without messing up the symmetry or softness of the colors. I'll have to talk with Mrs. Furui before I try figuring out how much more length needs to be added.

In the meantime I'm still making stars for the Star Within a Star quilt.... I'm so middle of the road minded that I am trying to add more white, more stars AND use the nine-patches too. According to my calculations I need 12 more stars.

This doesn't look like it will be done for a LONG~~~ time...

Monday, January 23, 2012

Girls' Day exhibition

Yesterday I was invited to go to a local exhibition of Girls' Day dolls. It is still a bit early in the season to talk about Girls' Day but since I took the pictures...

Most Japanese families, if they have daughters, will have a display of Girls' Day dolls. The dolls represent the Emperor and Empress and their attendants during the classical period of Japanese history. The placement of the dolls, the implements each doll holds, the miniature decorations and the colorful ornaments all have special meaning.

The two dolls on the top tier are the Emperor and Empress. On the second tier sit the court ladies. The third tier holds the imperial musicians. Below them are the court ministers. Under all that are the miniature furniture and household implements.

In our home, Leiya never had any Girls' Day dolls, mainly because we couldn't afford them! They are tremendously expensive! But besides that, they take up so much room to store during the year and then take up a good portion of the room to display. Sort of like Westerners and their Christmas ornaments, the Japanese housewife has to dedicate a day to bring out all the dolls, (and probably even make a place for the display to begin with!) set up the tiers and place each ornament in its proper place. They may invite friends to come and admire their doll display and have a small tea party with green tea and bean sweets and then March 4th will come and everything must be put away. If a mother is tardy in putting her dolls away, the daughter is in danger of marrying late!

Nowadays many families will opt for buying a smaller display... Less dolls but maybe more elaborate dressings and decorations. They would certainly take up less room to store and are no less beautiful!

Yesterday's exhibition had displays from the 1800's up to present day. Gorgeous! But the pre-school children's handmade Girls' Day dolls made of paper cups, straws and paper plates made me smile.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Ready for Girls' Day (March 3)

I finished the Girls' Day quilt. I wonder if one can call this a quilt. It is a small tapestry only about 12 inches tall and 20 inches wide.

I used foundation papers and starch to make all the pieces first and then hand appliqued them to the background. The fan shape with the flowers was a little difficult to put together because I just turned under the edges and didn't use binding. The hand quilting is freehand.

This is not a particularly original quilt; the pattern was in one of the Patchwork Japan magazines that I've had around for years. Hopefully I will be able to just take the foundation paper pieces to my friend and let her use the same ones instead of making a whole set again. (I started this quilt as a sample in the first place.) And if I get really ambitious I'd like to see how I could arrange this quilt using the collage process and tulle rather than applique.

But I have other things I need to get done so for now I am finished with the Girls' Day quilt!

Saturday, January 21, 2012


Yesterday I spent quite a long time up in the sewing room (nothing to show there yet). Because Toi and Patora don't get along with the other cats, this winter they are living in the sewing room. Locked in the sewing room! They know how to open the door so I have rigged up a locking system! Pretty soon I could hear Mi on the other side of the door meowing. She set up quite a racket and I finally opened the door to let her in.

Nope. Mi doesn't want to come in. She bounded down the stairway and I followed.

In the Japanese room, Cleo was sitting by an open window. AN OPEN WINDOW! Oh dear, Vel opened the window (and the screen) and went out exploring! Vel knows how to open windows and doors too. I'll have to remember to keep that window locked too. I counted up the cats. Yep, only Vel is gone. Maybe Cleo and Mi thought it too cold and too wet to go outside. Usually those are the three cats that make an escape.

I looked out a few windows before before braving the weather. And there was Vel sitting on a outside table. He certainly didn't go far!

Vel was quite pleased to come back inside. Maybe he didn't want to get his paws muddy. Chip spent a lot of time spitting at hissing at him. Too many outdoor smells?

"Stop that!... You are just regretting that you didn't take the chance to go out too."

Mi was very happened to have Vel home again.

"Velvet, I love you! Don't leave me again!"

Friday, January 20, 2012

Two half finished projects

It's snowing today! Yeah! (Because I don't have to go out at all today!) This may be a full sewing day... I have one student scheduled to come this morning but I have a feeling she'll call and say she can't come. She really hates driving in the snow...

Yesterday was a pretty full day of sewing too. I spent time upstairs putting the blocks to the Crazy Goose Chase quilt together into rows. Well, partly put together. If my student doesn't come today putting the rest of the blocks together is on the docket for this morning.

Looking good, looking good. It has much more of a "pink" tint than I expected but with all those maroon pieces in there it shouldn't be surprising. Now the only problem is that this is going to turn into a square quilt and I really wanted a rectangle quilt to give to the Ronald MacDonald House. So even when I'm finished sewing this together I'm going to have to figure out some more blocks to make this longer.

And I got sidetracked with some applique. The pre-school principal where I teach on Mondays asked if I had a pattern for a Girls' Day quilt. (Girls' Day is March 3rd.) She wanted to make a quilt, maybe for the preschool. I have a cute pattern, not very big, so I brought her the book and she jumped at it!

"I want to make that! I don't think I'd be able to get it made by THIS March, but surely by NEXT March I could sew at my own pace and get it finished. If you'll help me."

I'm happy to help her but of course, I've never made the quilt myself. I came home and got started. I had to make one stop at the craft store to see what was available in kimono style prints and found some small cuts (not fat quarters... they don't sell those in Japan.) After making the applique pieces I got started on the sewing.

The FIRST problem is that the girl kimono cloth is made of chirimen crepe rayon. I knew that when I bought the fabric but I figured that since this is going to be a decorative quilt and not get washed, that I could mix fabrics without any problems. True and false. True chirimen is made of silk but that is expensive and the little craft shop didn't have any. Rayon chirimen is lovely and easy to sew BUT when I spray starched it for ironing a sharp edge, the chirimen "shrank"! Well, it scrunched up... That is what rayon chirimen does... So I ironed it out flat again and made applique edges without using starch. So far so good. (I wonder what will happen during the rainy season...)

The boy kimono is made from heavy cotton so it should be okay.

For the picture these are just laid out on the background fabric. The sewing will get done in front of the TV today.

All in all, there is a lot more work to making this than I thought there was going to be and I really wonder if the principal, who is a non-quilter/sewer, is going to be able to do this. Maybe this would be a better collage type project with me offering to do the final machine quilting instead.

We'll see how it goes today.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Two sayings

Well, I spent a week looking for my camera.

I e-mailed three of the four students that had come for English on Tuesday morning (the last lady is very put together and besides, I didn't have her e-mail address... ) I cleaned out closets, I looked in unlikely places. Furniture got moved, the car got cleaned out.

I made one trip to the electronics store. I spent hours looking at the Internet comparing prices, specifications, reviews. I followed links and advice given on my blog Comments page. I looked at blogs with great photos combing posts for hints on cameras.

I evaluated my needs for a new camera... Do I want a professional one? No, too big to carry around. I use a camera to post pictures on my blog, not to make prints. I don't need a wonderful video function.

I consulted with Mrs. Ochiai. I counted the spare cash on hand and checked my bank account.

I even pushed the BUY button on Amazon.com choosing a somewhat expensive camera, but a few minutes later canceled the purchase when I realized I had to pay by credit card (not pay on delivery or convenience store payment). I didn't really want to get Tetsu involved in MY camera purchase (it's his credit card). I wanted to buy it myself so decided to make another trip to the electronics store.

Tuesday morning came around again.

"After English today I will buy a camera. By this afternoon I will have a new camera in my hands! It is a shame that I lost the other one but what fun it will be to play with a new camera... A camera is a necessity for me." (I'm always careful about making unnecessary purchases.)

A few minutes later I got a phone call.

"Tanya!!! Y-san has your camera!!! (The one student I hadn't e-mailed.) She didn't realize she put it in her purse last Tuesday! Did you buy a new camera? No? Oh, thank goodness! Y-san is running home to get it now!"

The ladies had been talking about my missing camera while they carpooled to English Tuesday morning.

"Camera? Camera? I found a camera on my dining room table about the time I cleaned out my English bag. I thought it was my husband's... or my daughter's... Oh my! It was Tanya's?!"

Y-san handed me my camera when the ladies arrived at my house. Everyone was so happy that the mystery of the missing camera had been solved.

...except I really had been getting excited about having a new camera... which is now no longer a necessity...

Thank you Lord for the safe return of my old camera. Now... do I need a SPARE camera?

"The person who waits too long loses the opportunity."


"Haste makes waste."

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Tea break

Shopping in the grocery store I came across a new series of ice tea. Milk tea, straight tea and lemon tea. The name caught my eye and made me smile.

"Break on the Desk"

Break WHAT on the desk? The carton? Anything else that happens to be on the desk?

At least it didn't say "Breakdown on the Desk". I'm sure that has happened to people before...

I know... I know... "Have a tea break AT your desk".

I bought the milk tea and am enjoying it AT my desk.

Monday, January 16, 2012

9 patches... add or not add?

I'm sewing 9 patches while I sit in front of the TV. Sewing BY HAND! I'm not sure why... I thought that my Star Within a Star blocks were a little boring alone and I wanted to add a little more movement. Thus the 9 patches. But now that I have half of them made, I'm not sure that this is what I want or not. What do you think? Again, this is from my cell phone so it is a bit blurred... And I didn't lay out all the blocks...

I liked the idea of 9 patches because I was hoping they would bring out the small square inside the stars and I was expecting the 9 patches to lead the eye here and there and cut the white a bit... but maybe they just make the whole thing too busy.

So I have this... With 9 patches.

Or this.... without 9 patches.

Should I keep making 9 patches? (BY HAND!)