Monday, September 30, 2013

California Sunshine Bag

So, I took the plunge and became a pattern tester.  In today's sewing world, young designers often depend on the fans of their previous work to help them by testing their new patterns, working out the kinks and giving them a host of examples of possible colors and fabrics.  The testers are not usually paid, except they receive a copy of the pattern and have at the end one of the projects for their very own.

I've been working with Anna at Charmed Liebling on some editing jobs and when she asked if I'd like to test a pattern, I decided to do it.  She has announced the pattern today on her blog, so I am free to share my work with you.

She's calling this the California Sunshine Bag and the fabrics I chose remind me of being in LA in the late 60's, the era of peace, love and psychedelic colors. I used four fabrics from the Amy Butler Lotus Garden collection.

If you think you'd like to make one of these yourself, you can find her patterns available here as a download-able PDF.

If you think you'd like to be a pattern tester, start hanging out with young designers on your favorite social network.

Church and a Party and Fish and Chips

It poured with rain on Sunday, September 30, 2012, but we found a reasonable parking place didn't get too wet.  This is the inside of St. George's Tron church where we worshiped that morning.

In the afternoon there was a birthday party for Taylor's grandson.
Here's mom holding the cake for the candle blow out.  (She might be helping a little.) The party theme was monsters and we were virtually overrun by children under a meter tall.

When I entered the room I thought I probably wouldn't know too many people.  I was shocked when a tall young man came directly to me and gave me a hug! Thinking this was a rather warm welcome for Glasgow. Then he said, "Don't you remember me, Georgia? I'm Robbie Brodie!"  Here is a photo of him and his family.  Robbie also was a volunteer on the OMF Office Project in 1999.
Seonaid and Tom were at the party too. Nice to see all the Taylor kids married!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I may have the day wrong, but one evening when I was in Glasgow we had fish and chips from the local chippy.  What's not to love about this meal?  I didn't have mushy peas though either of the times I had this in the UK. Not too sure if that's a regional side dish.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      John also got one serving of haggis and chips and gave me some to taste.  In this modernized form, without it's sheep's stomach casing I found it to be quite tasty.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Am I a Scot or what?      

Sunday, September 29, 2013

It wasn't there when we were young, but it's not new!

(I need to say up front that this picture of the Taylors and the one below of the Andersons  are ones that I got from Facebook.)

The 29th last year was a Saturday, of course. My gracious hosts, the Taylors had not only extended to me the hospitality they are now world famous for, but had devised a full schedule of activities that included meeting up with some special old friends.

James was on the 1999 OMF Office Project Building Team. Since then he has married and they have had a son, and he has gotten fit enough to fit into his kilt again.

You have to love the Anderson tartan; well I do anyway.

In the afternoon we drove to Largs and had ice cream with this great couple.  Gerry and Emmie were also on the building team.  They were newlyweds then. A year ago they were going strong.

In the early evening Elspeth and I drove through their neighborhood to see another couple, Ailsa and Ralph. Ailsa had been the OMF Field Nurse in Japan when I was there in previous years.

What a day, full of great reminiscences, laughs and catching up.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

North to the Land of My Forbears

I suppose, since I spent the majority of the day on one train or another, it is not so surprising that this is the only photo I took on September 28, 2012. I remember trying to take some out of the train window that were not successful.

On that day one year ago, I went from the Midlands of England to the heart of Glasgow. It was a Friday, and as the afternoon progressed, the train became a sort of rolling party with people leaving their weekly toil behind and kicking back on their way to the weekend.

Unlike the day before I had a window to watch the passing landscape. There was quite a bit of rain, and in late afternoon there were rainbows.

At Glasgow Central I was met by dear friend John and was whisked away to join Elspeth for dinner at home. Great beginning to some great reunions in the next two days.

Friday, September 27, 2013

On the Move Again - 27 Sept 12

 Being careful not to mistake King's Cross for St Pancras (I was heading north, but didn't need the Hogwarts Express!) I was able, with my knowledgeable guide to enjoy this interesting old station before boarding the train for my next destination - Loughborough.

This was the trip that taught me the truth about travel in the UK on a Rail Pass.Walking up the platform I saw the First Class cars and kept walking. There were two cars for those who had not paid the extra fee. I went clear to the front of the train, which in my experience in Japan might have meant more space.  I pressed the door button and was flabbergasted to  see several people sitting and standing in the section at the end of the car where there are no proper seats.  After a brief exchange with a male passenger about my kind of ticket, he arose from his fold-down jump seat and said I should "Go on then." He was adamant and I gratefully accepted the seat where I had a clear view of the luggage storage closet. There were several people standing in there too. During the trip people, bags and bicycles came and went. I held on to my seat and was grateful to arrive in Loughborough.

There were no apologies from the railway people.  Repeated announcements simply stated that the train had one fewer car than had been intended. This too was far different to my Japan experience where announcements are commonly made to apologize for being two minutes behind schedule for the next station.

A quick phone call had my host on his way to pick me up for my one night stay on my way to Scotland.

Thanks to the Aylings, G and H who made my brief stay in the Midlands enjoyable.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

First Day in London

It was grey skies in the morning as we walked along the Thames.
 Passed the London Eye, crossed the bridge toward Big Ben and the Methodist Hall, across from Westminster. Skies cleared after lunch.

 We walked by the Cenotaph, through Whitehall and on toward Trafalgar Square.

We finished with tea in the Crypt at St. Martin in the Fields.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Take Off - Flying Home the Long Way Around

Today's date one year ago marks my flight from Tokyo Narita to London Heathrow on my way home to Tampa Florida. I left Ichikawa early-ish to catch the BA flight to London. The gang at the OMF Office and Guest Home wished me a safe journey from the front steps, as is traditional. (Yes Julie, this has happened many times in the same place.) Check in and shopping for a book and boarding all went without any memorable hitch.  They did not confiscate my Alien Registration Card as they had in the past, but punched a hole in it and handed it back to me for a souvenir. The flight itself was not particularly memorable. I just know that I was happy that it was shorter than flying to the US.

On the other end of the flight I was met by dear friend Ruth M. who was my guide to London and surrounds. Once I understood that Clapham Junction was the center of the Universe, the British Rail system was a snap.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

September 24, 2012

The second in this "Anniversary" series of posts is not an exciting memory, but one that anyone who has traveled, especially far from their home, will recognize; final packing.

I had booked my trip home via London for several reasons.  The first was that flying that direction happened to be less expensive. At first I balked at the idea of flying the "wrong way" around the earth to get home. After checking I found that I could stop in the UK for a bit and then continue to Florida with no penalty. After checking with friends in the UK I found that I could visit in various interesting places, and that I could travel by train for much of he distance.

How do you pack for that? For guidelines you look at the airline restrictions and at traveling convenience. I had already decided to reduce all that I had in Japan to the barest minimum. I had packed four boxes to be shipped by sea and had sent them on their way.  The rest needed to fit into luggage that I could manage on my own.  I was thankful for the airlines limits. Gone are the days of hauling two bags weighing 75 pounds as I did on my first trip to Japan!

I was finding it hard, funnily enough, to throw away old clothes.  I could not buy clothes to fit me in Japan, so I rarely threw things away, choosing instead to keep them clean and mended as well as I could and carry on. During the packing process I managed to throw a lot of things away. I had to think too about the weather in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland as well.  That meant I needed what I considered early winter gear in Japan. I was grateful that my friend Ruth M who was meeting me at Heathrow had mentioned that I could leave extra luggage at her place while I rambled about.

So, at the end of the day, I had packed my large hard-sided case on wonderful 360 degree wheels, the large wheeled duffel  for which this was the last big trip, a wheeled carry-on, and my new red canvas bag which was combined purse, lunchbox and computer bag. This is really one bag too many to handle, but I had scouted ahead for information on the availability of wheeled buggies at my destinations.

Below are group pictures which are required at any Japanese gathering of note. In this case, they are of additional goodbye celebrations in my honor.

Monday, September 23, 2013


July through November is our family's Birthday sector.  It seems most families have some part of the year when most of these celebrations cluster. I am notorious for forgetting birthdays and anniversaries of those I love.  I'm not proud of it, but somehow I rarely have been able to come up with appropriate greetings on any sort of regular basis.  I have been trying to turn over a new leaf (yet again) to say something, send an email or mail a card even if it is a few days or weeks late. A sad state of affairs and I'm sure it says something about my personality or childhood or something.

This week marks some special remembrances for me. I started actively thinking about it when I received an email from the couple who now run the Ichikawa Guest Home. They've been there a year, which means I've been gone for a similar amount of time.

I've been to Japan four times and have come home from each of those trips in the late summer/early autumn. The last trip ended last year on September 25 when I flew from Tokyo to London.

I've said many times before, this last transition to the US from Japan was a difficult. But, you know what? I'm starting to get over it. I no longer am reduced to tears thinking of all that I left behind. I have started to embrace where I am now. Ready to think about moving forward, making decisions I couldn't come to grips with as yet.

A year ago today, I was being farewell-ed by my friends at church, watching the end of the Sumo tournament and being taken to a really nice restaurant for dinner.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Great News for Aging Quilters

This was posted on Facebook today and I found it quite encouraging, especially since I have been balking against exercising outdoors as our daytime high temperatures remain in the low nineties.

So keep on quilting and improve your health.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

One of Those Years

When I saw a friend today she was shaking her head and looking skyward.  "It's one of those days," she said. I replied that I felt like I had had "one of those years."  She couldn't believe that was possible, but with a string of anniversaries coming up for me I really feel this has been a year that is better behind me.  One of the most difficult aspects of my year was the amount of time it took me to work through the issues of returning to America after being away four years.

I'm a bit better now. Not so resentful of my home country for being what it is. I've pushed myself to get out and do some volunteer work. Now I'm reevaluating the need for additional income and keeping healthy.

A year ago, I was still in Japan, showing my able replacements at the Guest Home the ropes. The farewell parties and get-togethers had already started and I had booked my flights in and out of the UK and on to Florida. I had started to pack. I ran on adrenalin to get things done.  More excitement was on the horizon.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Binding Nearly Completed

It's been a long haul, but the new binding on the Double Wedding Ring Quilt is nearly complete.  I was reminded again today as I sewed binding on one of the quilts completed by our Wednesday Morning Sewing
Group that I really like the newish clips I bought for this, among other purposes.  Before, when I have been doing the binding on quilts, I tried to take great care in pinning to try to reduce the chance of scratching myself in the process.  The clips eliminate that problem and hold the binding really well.  I have also used these clips when sewing bags and purses together and there are several interfaced layers and piping and maybe batting needing to be sewn together.

The last major jobs to be done are the hanging sleeve and a combination pocket/label for the back that will give a bit of the quilt's history so far, and document the repairs made.

I have a question for all of you reading my post.  I know that some friends and family read these blogs regularly.  I am also aware of a whole batch of other people who read them from various parts of the world. It would be great to know who you are.  Would you please leave me a comment? All you need to do is list where you live, why you came to my blog. You could make other comments if you like. No need to write more than a few words. Please feel free to use the option to comment anonymously if you like.

Looking forward to hearing from you all!

Monday, September 2, 2013

What's Going on in The Current Sewing World?

Let me say at the outset, I am from the generation of sewists who learned the craft at Junior High and High School.  I even majored in Home Economics Education at University. I tell people that if I hadn't sewn my wardrobe for school, I might not have had one.  I certainly had more clothes because of my ability to sew for myself. We all know that somewhere in the seventies schools across America cut back on things like Home Economics, Shop, Music and more, and the norm of girls learning to love, appreciate or hate sewing at school was no more.

My mother knew how to embroider, crochet and could do mending. My father often hemmed and even cuffed his own trousers. During the early years of his retirement he bought a treadle sewing machine at a yard sale and made pillow covers and curtains. One important fact is that both my parents were supportive of my wanting to sew and gave me encouragement in many forms. 

I was (am) a bit of a perfectionist. I liked things finished nicely and usually the insides of my garments were as neat as the outside. I learned to use the patterns that were available in local stores. I often bit off more than I could chew in the time frame available and have been known to finish hems late into the night, or even on the plane on the way to somewhere (before the days of restrictions on scissors and other sharp things on planes.)

During my visits to Japan over the years I investigated craft shops and fabric stores. I visited small medium and huge shows of quilts and other handcrafts. I was privileged to be able to take quilting classes. I learned a bit about the Japanese way of teaching sewing and crafts. This was all very exciting to me as it seemed that in America the interest in garment sewing had really atrophied. 

So, now I see there are a lot of young women who are interested in sewing. Without the background of having courses in school they often strike out in interesting and unusual ways. Their interests are tempered by the culture of "instant everything" and really can be innovative. The Internet is buzzing with free tutorials on hundreds of projects and techniques. 

It's an exciting time in the sewing world again. Yay!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

September First

This last week has been one to be glad to be finished with. Two days without air conditioning and then a good sized repair bill to follow. Waiting for the repairman I missed one day of volunteering at school and my usual Wednesday at church doing sewing with the ladies.  The week finished up with the funeral of a church member who has been a great example of a servant leader.

So, I'm happy to see the first of a new month and the first of the week coinciding and the feeling of having a new start. Tomorrow, of course is Labor Day and laundry day. Hopefully I will get two days in at school as well as my Wednesday sewing. One more solid month of hot weather  with the hope of cooler temps in October.

I received an email from the couple who replaced me at the Guest Home. They reminded me that it has been a year since they moved to Japan. Soon it will be a year since I left.  Many things have changed and many have stayed the same for me. It's time to get settled in and move on from here.