23 December 2008

Mr. Falcon

He came back. Or she. Whatev'. It's the merlin. And this time, I took pictures. Mainly because Quickdraw McGraw (daughter of mine) said "get the camera". So, this is the merlin that came looking for more sparrows to eat in our neighbor's yard. You can see the bird perched on the trellis, eyeing our neighbor's suet feeder. What you don't see are sparrows. Hmmmm. This is the merlin closer up. I apologize for the poor quality, but at 0 degrees Fahrenheit, and not wanting to risk scaring the bird away, I took these through a double door. With rain/snow spots.
I just had to share that I was not delusional about seeing this bird in our yard! It flew to the tree by our bird seed feeder, then flew down toward the ground and vanished.
In other news, we were looking at the tracks in the snow, and what looked like this scenario. Please note that it is entirely fictional and supposition, but entirely, mostly, sort of plausible:

A rabbit was running around, making tracks. A hawk or owl (I think a merlin is too small) swooped out of the evergreens and picked up the rabbit, who was screaming its tiny rabbit scream by now, and took off in the early morning light.

I drew a picture to help you. I love scanners.

If I had any skills in MS Paint, I could have made this much more believable, but you just have to use your imagination. If that is limited, then I can't help you. Sorry. I have never held myself out as a drawing artist. Note the absence of tracks to the right of the miniature snow angel. For a long ways. At least going in the correct direction. You can draw your own conclusions if you like. I'm sticking with the raptor story.

16 December 2008


Well, we made it to the big 3-0. Hero hubby and I were married December 16, 1978. And it was almost as cold that day as it is today. I would upload a whole bunch of wedding pics from that day, but I can't find the wedding album. Aw shucks. That's what happens when the honeymoon's over. Today also just happens to be the day that I was able to get my wedding ring back on, and actually take it off again without taking half of my finger off with it!
We went to Chicago for a short weekend away. Stayed in the honeymoon suite (Saturday night) at the...Lombard Hampton Inn! It was sooooo cheesy. Greek columns in formica and sad pink bunting hanging from the mirrored bed canopy. But it was fun to be cheesy. Then we moved to a real room for the next night.
After visiting Lombard Gospel Chapel on Sunday we drove downtown. Jerry had to drive down Lower Wacker Drive just because it's cool. We walked the Magnificent Mile. Michigan Avenue. Only 2 wrong ways on one-way streets before finding a parking spot. Sweet. There was a Kristkindlmart at the Daley Plaza where they had all sorts of German crafts and artwork for sale, as well as the ubiquitous brats and beer. I went into Filene's Basement just to see what the hubbub was about. Reminded me of the stores we were in while I was in Japan. Sort of. Only American. Hmmm. The thing is, I only barely got in the door, because of the aforementioned hero hubby and his prediliction for staying out of stores he doesn't want to go into.
And, for the pi├Ęce de resistance, I introduced hero hubby to Bao, or Nikkoman as they are called in Japan. There is a "fast food" place called WOWBao, and they have amazing tasting ones. And homemade gingerale that really packs a punch. Pun sort of intended. I was soooo excited.
Monday we visited a customer just to make the trip legit, and had a long scary trip home in the ice. I think over the weekend everyone in the country got hit by ice. Now it's snowing today. Yee haw.

14 December 2008

These are some of the kitschy items that sold at my "sale". Two woven placemats that were in horrible condition on the reverse color scheme side, and the fringed edges were all falling apart.
This is the inside.

These are some snowman hangers that sold. They are the least artistic items that I had for display/sale. They are the first that sold. Gag me.


13 December 2008

Sashiko Handbag

My sashiko purse. The first of (I hope) many. I have one piece of fabric embroidered, but as usual, I don't know exactly what I will do with it.
This side is the Arrow Feather pattern. Don't be hypercritical. I have in no way perfected sashiko but I'm workin' on it!

This is the Diamond Blue Wave side.

12 December 2008

One Bag that Sold

This is a strip quilted log cabin-ish messenger bag that I made out of new fabrics. This is one item that did sell. This is the front.

This is the back.

This is the reverse side front.

This is the reverse side back. That's a log cabin patch pocket, which is the lining pocket when everted. Or inverted. I thought it was clever. So did the person who bought it. YAY.

11 December 2008

Unexpected Thanksgiving Visitor

Thanksgiving day we saw this bird sitting in the tree above our bird feeder:
Not this exact bird. This is a Google Image. But the great thinking person who thought to capture a photo got it right. It's a merlin. A prairie falcon. Falco combarius. It sat in our tree for a good half hour, then just took off. We were so excited. We see kestrels and red-tail hawks and other hawks around our neighborhood, but never a merlin. Wish I'd thought to get a picture of it. We almost thought it was a mourning dove, except mourning doves don't swivel their heads almost 360 degrees. That's when the binocs came out. Then Peterson's Field Guide. Made me late for getting the prime rib in the oven for Thanksgiving dinner, I'll have you know I was that excited.

Absence Makes the Heart Grow Something

Sorry, dear readers, for being absent for so long! I was chided by one of my staunchest readers that it's time to update. I will try to do so with a minimum of italics, bold and exclamations. I'm not promising anything, just that I will try. I've been sewing up a storm since I last posted. Here are some results. Since it takes so dang long to upload pics in blogspot, I will save some more for later posts.

This purse is made from obi fabric given to me by a lady in Japan. I can't remember if it was Takenaka-san or Makata-san. The strap is removable. I used black/gold cotton fabric for the lining.
Remember the orange wedge monstrosity? Under the advisement of my muse, I changed it into this

Remember the strip quilt block I did that I couldn't figure out what to do with? I just mangled that English all over. But I'm stickin' by it.

This is the back side of what I came up with: This is the front:
That's all I had the patience for uploading today. I had a "show and sell" at an Independent Living retirement community place yesterday. I sold a couple of things. Mostly kitschy stuff. I heard a lot about so-and-so's granddaughter or daughter who started a business sewing purses and now has three people working for her yada yada yada...translated: "you're a loser, my 'whatever' isn't. Take that. " I absolutely do not want to make the same thing 30 times over, nor do I want other people sewing something with my name on it. Note how I held back from bold, italics, caps and exclamations. Note my self-control. One woman droned on about how her granddaughter sells so much of her beautiful things at church bazaars and Adventureland craft fairs. After she droned for about 10 minutes, I asked what the g-daughter makes. Rice filled heat packs. Rice filled heat packs. You can take a sock and fill it with rice and tie it, and you have a rice filled heat pack. Phyllis said that "old woman" is a bore. Phyllis is 85. The "old woman" is probably only 80 or so. But Phyllis was right. That "old woman" is old and a bore. Back to the gist of this whole thing:
I believe I am going to try to sell these beautiful works of art to some boutiques in town. Maybe on the web. Who knows? More later, friends. I have 11 other purses to share with you. That you haven't seen yet. And then, I have the kitschy stuff that sold that I need to share with you.
Some people just don't get it. (bold, italics, capslock, exclamation point x 2.)

19 October 2008


I have actually done some pieces with some of the fabric I brought back from Japan. Bigger pieces than chiri-men boards, anyway. I thought I had better post them for posterity before I give them away. That's why I never have anything to show for all the work I do in my studio: it goes out the door before I take photographs! I will note that now I see these in picture form, I don't care for some of them. I will explain...
This is "Ishi Guruma" or stone wheel. The pattern was created for quilters by Sheila DeRose. If you are crazy about Japanese inspired quilting, these are great to have. Difficult as well - challenging and fun! Anyway, this was a practice piece. The quilt block itself is 100% antique Japanese silk fabric, recycled. The border and binding are new cotton fabric.
I scaled the size waayyy down, just did one block, and did an extremely simple border. Now I know how I want to choose my fabrics for the next one. And I will, young Skywalker, I will...
This is based on the Seven Treasures motif, and is one block in the quilt designed by Sheila DeRose. The only new fabric in this one is the black surrounding the quilt block itself. The rest is recycled Japanese silks. The solids are kind of a brocade. I did a very amateurish job trying to mimic the brocade pattern (kind of a greek key thing) in the black in machine quilting. I'm still learning. Be gentle with me!

This is a take off on the thistle quilt block pattern. I call it "water lily". The only new fabric in this block is the blue background. I did the "waves" and the "clouds" quilting before I got the book on motifs, or I would have been more true to Japanese motifs on it. Oh, well.

I got on a grandma's fan kick one day and made a whole bunch of just the fan portions. I started playing around with those, and thought it was kind of like a Rising Sun to put two together. Couldn't really come up with something that I like for a background, so I made a purse out of two of them. Looks like an orange rather than Rising Sun. This may have to go back to the drawing board...
Anyway, the orange and the peacock feathers are chirimen, and from the same piece of fabric. The green wheel fabric is a very fine silk - almost lighter than handkerchief linen.

Then, I got on a strip quilt kick, which I am still presently on. This is 100% recycled Japanese fabrics. I will probably devise a clever border for this and quilt it as it is. Strip quilting is really great for "odd" quilting fabrics like silk because if you are a little off line-wise, just put another piece on there to compensate! Love it.

One day, all these "kicks" I get on will pan out into something stupendous. At nearing the big 5-0, I would hope that would pan out soon.

Although, there's always Grandma Moses.

14 October 2008

Purses, Crazy Quilting and a New Addiction

I have been a busy little beaver. It all started with me getting a book (on a whim) by Janet Haigh called Japanese Inspirations, 18 Quilted Projects. Wellllll, I actually read the thing before trying out the techniques in there. What a good girl am I! She explains different motifs that are commonly used, and some ways to achieve the look of Japanese made fabric by using applique, quilting, painting, stencilling and embroidery.

So, she has a section on crazy quilting, and explained it in a way that I could finally say "I could do that!" So, I took some of my Japanese antique fabric, and made a crazy quilt purse. My first. This is the front. The handle is not antique Japanese fabric, but it IS silk and it worked.

This is my second try, using leftover toile fabrics with coordinating fabrics. It's based on what the pattern company had for instructions for doing crazy quilting. Not crazy enough for me, actually, but it did go quickly using all squares.

This is the lining. My daughter asked me what I used for lining. So I had to take a picture of that as well. That's a "patch" pocket inside.
I even made a cell phone purse to go with it. Can you feel the simpering through cyberspace?

Then, using the author's idea of using medallions on top of crazy quilting, I made this purse. This is the front. The front medallion is "snow on bamboo". This is a real mixture of Japanese fabrics and recent fabrics I have been making clothing with.

I call this my "2 Seasons Purse" as I was only able to get 3 medallions on this particular purse pattern. I will have to do a "4 Seasons Purse" at some point, I expect.

This is the back. Plum blossom and the pine bough for winter, and the maple leaves for, of course, fall.

02 October 2008

BACK in the saddle, again!

Hello, dear readers. Tired of the same old posts? Finished going back to the beginning and reading all the misadventures? Gotten all caught up on this blog? Can't wait for more? You may have to. Haven't really been anywhere, done anything...
Except, welcome home my daughter from Japan (see Daddy Dayton's Southern Comfort: Celebrations!); help throw my mother an 85th birthday party, together with my two sisters; (actually two birthday parties - one small "family" celebration) Table scape. Free advertising: Barbara's Champaign Cakes are the BEST if you are in Des Moines. She makes mini filled champaign cupcakes that just pop in your mouth.
There were almost 100 people there. About that many more couldn't come long distance.
Mom, on the right, got to reune with a number of "old" friends.
Saw my son married to a wonderful young woman.
That's the photo with the grandparents.
My two boys.
I just loved this picture.

Went to Indiana to find my daughter an apartment (after the birthday party, before the wedding); moved her to Indiana after the wedding. Came home for about 10 days during which I pulled up the carpeting on the stairs to the basement and the family room; got new carpet laid in same. Hero hubby's aunt died and we went to the funeral Labor Day weekend; had houseguests for that. Went BACK to Indiana on Labor Day, alone; moved my daughter OUT of the apartment she was originally put in, and to a different apartment in the same complex. Long story. Collapsed for two weeks when I got home. Literally. And figuratively. Bounced back for two weeks during which I created some amazing items from my antique Japanese fabrics; finished up some projects; collapsed again for about a week; bounced back again. Started learning how to do sashiko embroidery; started learning how to do more creative applique work (which I used to disdain, sorry applique lovers); started learning how to do crazy quilting, all leading up to something wonderful which will coalesce out of all this learning, incorporating all of these arts. I will devote another blog entirely to what I have created. And now, for something



I'm tired.

05 August 2008


Here is another update on Motoko-chan. We talked on the phone not long after her packages arrived.
Motoko-chan was born in 1930 (so she is 78, not 60-something as I originally thought). She lived in Hiroshima when the bomb dropped. All she had to say about that was "it was terrible". I'll bet. Then they shipped her off to the countryside in the Kansai province.
Piecing that together with some other things, like the fact that she has only been in the States for 14 years, and was in England before that in "a sanitarium" (at some point), I would gather that living through the bombing of Hiroshima was rather horrible and life changing. Yet, here she is. In love with America and Americans. Go figure.
That would explain Motoko-chan's (if it is acceptable for me to be so familiar with her) poor English. My gosh, she came here when she was 64. If I had to speak in a new language and learn it well at the age of 64 -- well! Should I be so spry.
What humbles me is that she chose me to connect with after all these years. Thirteen hours on a plane. That's all. And she decided I was one she could connect with. Am I the only "young" one who would take the time to listen to and speak with her? I know she has friends, or at least acquaintances, at the Senior Center in the town in which she lives.
I'm scared of the responsibility. Each time I "collect" a person, I seem to let the ball drop and I know it disappoints them. It disappoints me.
So, what do I do with the responsibility she's passed on to me? What about the futon and the other items? Why does this haunt me? (Okay, I know why -- rhetorical question.)

I still have a honking big box in my [now dry] basement and I just don't know what to do with it!

04 August 2008

Waiting with my puppy

Okay. This is it. Why do we place such importance on the arrival of someone? Because we have a connection to them and want to reconnect. Not the umbilicus but the life, the relationship, the friendship, the HUGS.
Hammering out relationship with one's adult offspring is like walking a mine field blindfolded. Once a mother, always a mother. It just won't go away, no matter how hard one tries. On the one hand, a certain amount of mothering is expected, if not required. On the other hand, a certain amount of restraint is required, if not expected.
We are expecting our daughter to be in country from her two year stint in Japan. Countdown is down to hours, not days, now. Except, we can't pick her up for a couple more days. (!) Okay. Time to tell the mother to chill. She's an adult. She has adult relationships. Good thing she's independent. Has a life outside Mom and Dad. WAH. WAH WAH. WAAAAAHHH.
I know that we will drive her crazy within 3 days of her living in our house. She will drive us crazy within 10 days. (The parent factor extends the crazy factor by 66%, evidently. Look it up.) The only one who won't drive her crazy will be the dog. And he will, eventually. Drive her crazy. He's just so NEEDY. Cute, but needy.
As the countdown continues, and my fingernails dwindle, all I can do is wait. And wonder - will that parent factor actually extend the crazy factor by 66% or is it much, much lower?
We'll see, won't we?

25 July 2008

Gifts from the past

Read the previous post (below), this is an update:

I received yet another package FedEx yesterday. This was in a FedEx letter sized envelope. The contents are described below:

  1. One souvenir shop book on Higashi Honganji (Shinsu Honbyo). This is in English, has a treatise on Shin Buddhism and Buddhism. It is a seven minute walk from Kyoto Station, and we totally missed it. Hmmm.

  2. A tablet of Utamaro stationery that is beautiful. (The cover is pictured below). It says 20 sheets. I suspected that a few have been used. And I was right - as usual. There are 9 sheets left.

  3. Some sort of flat pocketbook, with some paper in it. The fabric is beautiful and it's in its original package, which is old.

  4. A furoshiki - looks fairly new and definitely unused.

  5. A handkerchief in a package. It is wrapped like it has a napkin holder on the top and has chickens on the motif. And sakura.

  6. Another thing of stationery - this with the modern stylized kimono wearing girl. I wonder if she is the Japanese version of Holly Hobby? This has 4 sheets of cloud shaped paper (with sakura water stain as well) and 4 envelopes.
  7. Two pieces of finished cloth in a package. They are new (possibly 21st century) and of a size that could be tea towels, or placemats.

That is it. Now the questions are coming: in light of what comments I could understand from Motoko-chan, is she planning hari kiri and giving away her Japanese life's gatherings to someone who would (possibly) appreciate them? Am I too nice to strangers? Or just too nice to strange people? Was conversing with someone on a plane being too nice? What could I possibly send her that would not clutter up her life further, causing her to send it on to someone else that was kind to her? (I would love her to send it to her English teacher. Hmm, there's an idea. If I had a beard, I would stroke it now.)

So, I have two big futon, a collection of stationery and fabric things and a book about a shrine I didn't know existed.

My daughter can have the futon when I'm done scalping them.


23 July 2008

More Non Sequitors

I got a call from Motoko-chan the other day. (See "Random Acts" 04/17/08) She wanted to send me *something-something* in the mail and wanted to make sure that I was still there, which is here, which is where I am currently. It is very difficult having a telephone conversation, as I have stated before, with someone who sounds like they are pronouncing the English in kanji. And is ahndoh, etc. However, I was able to understand these things:

  1. Motoko-chan goes to the Senior Center once a week for English class and TaiChi. (I personally think the English teacher should be fired. If you know this person, tell them to look into some other program, please.)
  2. When asked if she misses her homeland (near Hiroshima) she informed me that, no, people where she lives in the U.S. are very nice and friendly. People there smile a lot, and people smile at her. According to her - remember she is well over 60 years old - women who smiled too much when she was growing up were "loose women". NOT my opinion. Do NOT shoot the messenger. It just cracked me up. Especially since things have changed a lot, I think.
  3. She is going to die sometime soon, and has no one to inherit her *something-something* that her mother made (I know it involves siruku or silk - she says siruku) and she wants me and my daughter to have it because we like Japan and things Japanese.
  4. The above item was made before WWII. 1938 I think she said. or 1948. Which would be AFTER the war. Just in case you have trouble figuring that out.
  5. I have forgotten all of the rudimentary Japanese I learned in two weeks. Unless I think about it for a few days. Sad. Very sad.

I received a package tonight. From Motoko-chan. It is a huge package and I thought she sent me her life's belongings in one go. Not so. Just the futon that her mother made. From silk (at least on the front sides). I could not believe she sent 2 futon. I didn't see the silk, the way they were folded and just laughed out loud. The way the Japanese say futon it sounds like spitting. Almost. Which is what I wanted to do after sleeping on 2 of them for 2 weeks.

The silk is very beautiful, though. Very beautiful. Hmmm.

Toad and Vole are GONE. Sad as well.

Something mysterious is breaking off the tops of our tomato plants and dill weed and even sunflowers and peppers. These are TALL plants. Hero-hubby has the idea that it is revenge plucking by angry grackles, frustrated that he changed to safflower seeds in order to discourage them from coming around. So he changed the seed back to what he calls "real bird seed" to appease any and all bird creatures that might have revenge as a motive for breaking off the tops of plants. The actual truth may lie in a number of STORMS that we have been having, but these things are GONE and not just green-stick fractured and hanging. So...

I think it's punk squirrels, up to mischief.

My nephew (37) thinks my son (27) is his nephew. He is the oldest grandchild of either set of grandparents. Logically, he is the oldest offspring of my sister. He could not possibly have a nephew 10 years his junior. I am seriously concerned for him. Seriously. Could have just been a Freudian typo, but it will still be fun to razz him for the rest of his life about it.

Speaking of water, my hero-hubby once again used his superpowers and not only figured out (during one of the above mentioned blinding rain storms) how the water was getting into the basement, but fixed it temporarily so that water has not been gushing in every time it rains. AND got another superhero set up to fix the problem permanently.

And now for something completely different...

15 July 2008


This is virgin's bower. It is in the same family as what us tame people call "clematis". I had read about virgin's bower, but never seen it, and never knew that it is, in fact, wild clematis. How unexpected and delightful. More v.b. because I couldn't get enough photographs of it.
It's amazing how trees grow in the mountains. They find all sorts of ways to get around rocks, snow and ice. Hence the interesting shapes. They grow in and around solid rock, breaking it up yet cementing it together with their roots. There's a lesson in there somewhere.

This is bracted honeysuckle. Doesn't smell like honeysuckle, but that's what the book says.

Lupines. In the wild. Very thick up there this time of year, and beautiful. Everything was blooming, it seemed.

Lupines, gallardia, all sorts of different white flowers that are hard to distinguish in the photo (cow parsley, yarrow, wintergreen, pearly everlasting and bear grass were all abloom) and mallows are in there as well. And crane's bill geranium, let's don't forget them. And yellow columbine.

These are glacier lilies. They are nodding together with the common European dandelions, which are not to be confused with Japanese dandelions, which grow only in Japan and are white/yellow. Anyway, glacier lilies only bloom just after the snow melts away from the plant that has been growing under the snow. Like croci, only up higher. We were up high. Oh, yeah.

These are carpets of yellow monkey-flower, according to the pathetic Rocky Mountain Nature Guide I have. It says they are in the snapdragon family, and were all over these hillsides on the Loop trail.

I thought this was orange agoseris, but I'm not so sure now. I did see orange agoseris, but I believe I took this pic to identify the flower, and can't find it! HELP. If I don't name this flower, I will probably die trying, and that wouldn't be pretty, now would it?

And last, but definitely NOT least, bear grass. It's actually a lily. Blooms once every 3-7 years and is fragrant only when there are a lot of them. One on its own doesn't do much for the olfactors. There was a lot of bear grass blooming this year, much more than we've ever seen. It was just beautiful.