Sunday, May 31, 2020

Bibi and Poldi

Atlas Obscura is one of my favorite websites.  They have many interesting stories and an email newsletter. You never know what you will find if you poke around on their site.  Recently I came upon the story of Bibi and Poldi.  

Bibi and Poldi are two Galapagos tortoises that live at the Reptilienzoo Happ in Klagenfurt, Austria.  They were hatched around 1897, and grew up together at a zoo in Switzerland, and had been a couple since the 1920's. They moved to Austria together in the 1970's.  

One day in November 2011, something changed. A keeper says Bibi bit off a large chunk of Poldi's shell with her powerful jaws, drawing blood.  The keepers were afraid they would kill each other.  

After spending nearly 100 years sleeping with their shells touching, they had to be separated. The keepers tried everything they could think of.  After moving Poldi to a temporary bachelor's apartment, they tried arranging a date night.  Bib and Poldi did not make up. The zoo tried counseling, and then introducing fake plastic tortoises, which didn't fool anyone.  Time magazine said, "If they can't make it work, what hope do the rest of us have?" 

Years after the split, Bibi still does not want to have anything to do with Poldi. The zoo was forced to create two separate houses, with two baths. Not wanting to give up entirely, the zoo keepers installed a glass window in the wall that divides the two gardens.  Bibi likes to hang out in the garden and eat grass.  When she looks up and sees Poldi, she hisses like a snake.  The message is clear - she doesn't want to live with him.  

Check out Atlas Obscura - interesting places and stories!

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Tokyo International Great Quilt Festival 2021 Partnership Quilt Announcement

Thank you Queenie (Queenie's Needlework) for keeping us informed about next year's theme! Let's keep our fingers crossed that we will be able to attend in person next January. 

The theme for the 2021 project is Love the Earth. Kathy Nakajima and her son Yosuke Katsuno are in charge of the project this year. I am already thinking about what I can make. The deadline is only two months away.

Thank you, Queenie, for the information below.

The rules are:
  • size 15x15 cm + seam allowance of 1-2 cm
  • no quilting,
  • name written in lower right seam allowance,

  • enclose a self addressed 63yen postcard, if you live in Japan and want to know in which quilt your block has been added
  • NEW and IMPORTANT: print out, fill in and enclose the slip at the bottom of the website (see details below)
  • DEADLINE: 31st JULY 2020, when the block must have reached NHK
  • send to: 

Partnership Quilt NHK Sutekini Handmade 2-2-1 Jinnan Shibuya-ku Tokyo 150-8001Japan
PLEASE NOTE:More information can be found on the official website. Sorry only in Japanese.The slip you need to fill in looks like this:

Friday, May 29, 2020

Friday Finish - Sleigh Ornament

This "Christmas Sleigh" ornament is designed by Judy Whitman of JBW Designs. I used the called for thread and beads.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Nothing is Normal This Year

Every year, there is an auction of the first melons of the year in Yubari, Hokkaido.  Last year, a pair of these premium melons sold for five million yen at this auction.  This year the first melons sold for just a fraction of last year's record sale, at only 120,000 yen.  

An official at the market where the auction was held said the coronavirus kept the rich corporate clients away.  These corporate clients compete to outbid each other in a normal year. This year the market has been closed since April 20th, in order to stop the spread of the coronavirus, but it held this one time auction to encourage support for local produce. 

Every year, people comment on the extreme prices for these early perfect melons, but it does call attention and offer support for the Hokkaido farmers. 

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Work In Progress Wednesday - Beads Needed

I've finished the cross-stitching on this little ornament, but now need to add a few beads.

I've also finished the rhodes stitches on this project, but want to add a few beads to it also. I've used different color metallic threads, but it is difficult to tell that in the photos.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Dream Jobs of First Graders and their Parents in Japan

Since 1999, Kuraray, a major manufacturer of synthetic leather for school backpacks (randoseru), has been conducting annual surveys on what jobs Japanese first graders want to have in the future.  Here are the results for 2020. 


1. Baker 

2. Celebrity, singer, or model 

3. Nurse 

4. Florist 

5. Nursery school teacher 

6. Worker at ice-cream shop 

7. Doctor 

8. Teacher 

9. Police officer 

10. Beautician


1. Athlete

2. Police Officer

3. Driver (of buses, trains, etc.)

4. Firefighter or rescue worker

5. TV star or anime character 

6.  Researcher

7. Baker

8. Doctor

9. Carpenter or artisan

10. YouTuber 

An interesting look at boys' number one choice - 56.9% want to be a soccer player, 19.1% a baseball player, and 4.0% a rugby player.


Parents of new first graders did not have the same choices, but overall want their children to have steady jobs. 


1. Nurse 

2. Public servant 

3. Pharmacist 

4. Doctor 

5. Medical professional 

6. Company worker 

7. Baker 

8. Teacher 

9. Nursery school teacher 

10. Celebrity, singer, model


1. Public servant 

2. Doctor 

3. Company worker  

4. Athlete 

5. Police officer 

6. Figherfighter or rescue worker 

7. Researcher 

8. Engineer 

9. Driver (of buses, trains, etc.)

10. Medical professional 

I don't remember if I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up at the start of first grade. Do you remember?  If you have grown children, did they end up doing what you or they wanted?

Monday, May 25, 2020

Monday Morning Star Count - Gift Bags and Week 3

I decided to use some of the orphan hexies I had to make some unlined gift bags. They could be regifted or repurposed by the recipients.  The bag fabric is kimono fabric.

Year Four of the temperature quilt  

Week 3 

May 10 - 16 

77, 84, 75, 81, 77, 81, 68

First 3 weeks, Year 4

I am reporting the high temperature each day.  My Year Four temperature/color (Fahrenheit) scheme remains the same: 

100 + Brown 

90-99 Red  

80-89 Orange 

70-79 Yellow  

60-69 Green  

50-59 Blue 

40-49 Purple 

30-39 Pink 

20-29 White 

10-19 Black  

You can see my finished Year One Quilt here.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Canadian Zoo to Return Giant Pandas to China

I read this week that Calgary Zoo has decided to return its two giant pandas, Er Shun and Da Mao, to China due to difficulties getting enough bamboo to feed them.  The coronavirus pandemic has caused flights to be limited, so getting a steady supply of bamboo flown in has become a challenge. 

Er Shum and Da Mao spent five years at the Toronto Zoo before moving to Calgary in 2018.  They were scheduled to remain in Calgary until 2023.  The zoo's president said the safest thing to do for the animals is to return them to China, where their food supply is abundant. The risk of not being able to provide food is unacceptable.  

Fresh bamboo makes up 99% of the panda diet, with each adult panda consuming about 88 pounds a day.  In other areas where there are zoos with giant pandas, the bamboo can be grown locally, but that is not the case in Calgary. I'm sure this was a difficult decision to make, but the welfare of the pandas is the most important thing.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Road Accidents Fall to Record Low in Japan - April 2020

Recently released data for April, shows a record low number of road accidents nationwide. The low number of accidents, 20,805, is attributed to the government's request for people to stay at home due to the coronavirus pandemic.  

According to the National Police Agency, the number of road accidents was down 36.2% or 11,827 from a year earlier.  This marks the lowest monthly figure since the record keeping began in 1989.  All 47 prefectures saw reductions, with Tokyo Prefecture seeing the sharpest drop with a 48.2% drop, followed by Gunma Prefecture with a 47.7% drop.  

The number of deaths also decreased by 19.9% to 213, the lowest April figure on record.  The number of injures fell by 37.7% to 24,587, according to the National Police Agency.

Staying home saves lives in more ways than one.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Friday Finish - A Pair of Pears

I decided to finish my two stitched pears into a pair of bags for travel - one for small things like socks and underwear, and one for shoes (square bottom). The kimono fabric came from a kimono jacket I bought at the Mariko flea market a couple of months ago.

I'm happy with them.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Mt. Fuji - Summer 2020

Is climbing Mt. Fuji on your bucket list? Summer 2020 will not be to be the summer to get there.  There are four climbing trails to get to the top.  Last week, Yamanashi Prefecture announced the most popular trail, the Yoshida Trail, will be closed.  The Yamanashi Prefecture government stated it is not possible to ensure the safety of climbers during the pandemic. Shizuoka Prefecture made the same announcement days later about the three trails in its prefecture. In addition to the trails, the first aid centers and mountain huts will also be closed.  

The trails are usually open from July 10 to September 10, with up to 300,00 people climbing each year.  Last summer there were 236,000 climbers, according to the Mount Fuji official website. Many climbers spend the night in crowded mountain huts, in order to reach the top in time to see the sunrise.  

I was able to reach the top last August and wrote about my experience here.

I hope everyone will accept the decisions of the two prefectures that Mt. Fuji straddles and make plans to climb next year.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Work in Progress Wednesday - Small Stuff

These six sets of fob sides are ready for beads.

I started a new cross stitch ornament.

I continued working on the rhodes stitches.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Tuesday Tutorial - Chop Stick Carriers

Do you carry your lunch to work or school? How do you carry your eating utensils? I'm making this to carry chop sticks, but it could just as easily carry a fork and spoon.  

First, I cut two 14 inch squares, then cut diagonally into triangles.  (You need two triangles for each chop stick carrier, so two squares will make two carriers.)

Cut one strip about 12 inches by 2.5 inches. Press it in half long ways and press the raw edges to the inside and top stitch.  This will be the tie.

With right sides of the triangles together, pin the tie to the inside of the right angle corner. Pin the rest of the way around.

Stitch the parts together, leaving an opening for turning right side out. Trim the points so they aren't so bulky.

After turning right side out, press.  There is no need to stitch the opening closed.

Fold one side in to about the half way point.  This will be the pocket for the points of the chop sticks (or silverwear).

Top stitch all the way around.  It's finished.

To use, put the chop stick points in the pocket, fold over opposite side, roll and tie.

How easy is that?

Monday, May 18, 2020

Monday Morning Star Count - Week 2

Year Four of the temperature quilt  

Week 2 

May 3 - 9 

79, 73, 81, 63, 72, 72, 70

I am reporting the high temperature each day.  My Year Four temperature/color (Fahrenheit) scheme remains the same: 

100 + Brown 

90-99 Red  

80-89 Orange 

70-79 Yellow  

60-69 Green  

50-59 Blue 

40-49 Purple 

30-39 Pink 

20-29 White 

10-19 Black  

You can see my finished Year One Quilt here.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

New Plastic Bag Law in Japan

photo from the internet

A new law goes into effect in Japan on July 1, 2020, making it manditory for all grocery stores, convenience stores, and other retailers to charge a fee for single use plastic bags.  The law doesn't specify the price, but does say it must be at least one yen. Many grocery stores already charge for bags. Where I shop, a small bag is three yen and a slightly bigger bag is five yen. Since I always have my daypack with me, it is more convenient for me to refuse the bag and carry things in my backpack. 

Japan uses between 30 to 50 billion plastic bags a year (more than 300 bags per person each year), so reducing non-recyclable plastic is a priority for the country.  

What about in your country?  Is plastic waste a problem?  Do stores charge for plastic shopping bags? Do you carry your own shopping bag? I'm curious to know.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Maria Branyas and Shobushi Kanji

Maria Branyas, Spain's oldest woman at 113 years, has recovered from the coronavirus.  She was diagnosed in March, after Spain went into lockdown, and has now recovered having only experienced mild symptoms.  She lived through the Flu pandemic of 1918-19, the Spanish Civil war of 1936-39, and now the current pandemic. 

She was born in Mexico in 1907, moved to the US with her family when she was a child, and later moved to Spain during World War One with her journalist father.  She raised three children, has 11 grandchildren, and 13 great-grandchildren.  For the last two decades she has lived in a care home in the city of Olot.  

The news is not so good about 28 year old sumo wrestler Shobushi Kanji, who died of multiple organ failure brought on by COVID-19 triggered pneumonia. He is the youngest confirmed corona-related death in Japan and the first such death of a person in their 20's in the country.  He began his sumo career in March 2007 and fought his way to the sandanme level with a 147-189 record. How sad to die so young.

Friday, May 15, 2020

Friday Finish - Panda Lunch Bag

I carry my lunch to work every day and have just been putting it inside my backpack.  I decided I needed a bag inside the backpack and made up this little bag.  It has a six inch square bottom to accomodate a box container.  It is tall enough to hold my drink bottle. Pandas on the outside and cats on the inside.  I'm pleased with this finish.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Throwback Thursday

Recently, as I stay happily at home, I've been thinking about places I've been and things I've done.  I am very thankful that I have been able to travel as much as I have, as well as see and do so many things at home.  

I decided to look back at my blog and see what I posted about on May 14th in other years. 

On May 14, 2019, I wrote about a day on the Camino de Santiago in Spain, when I met Brigit.  On that trip, I walked from Porto, Portugal, to Santiago, Spain in two weeks. It was a bucket list trip. 

On May 14, 2018, I was working on the borders for Year 1 of the Temperature Quilt.  

On May 14, 2017, I wrote about a neighborhood walk when I saw Mt. Fuji and visited a temple and a shrine.  Sounds like what I'm doing these days!  

On May 14, 2016, I wrote about eating a soba lunch set at the Takamatsu train station.  

On May 14, 2015,  I wrote about getting to be part of a TV show segment where a TV personality tries out the job of being a bicycle taxi driver.  That was fun!

May 14, 2014,  was a Work in Progress Wednesday post, where I documented attaching the pearls to the Queen, and piecing the crazy quilt hussif.

On May 14, 2013, I wrote about beginning to sew the yo-yo's into rows. (If you are curious about what this ended up being, check out this post.)

On May 14, 2012, I wrote about a book I was reading and a movie I watched.  

I moved to Japan in December 2011, which was when I started this blog, so I don't have anything to say about May 2011.  I've enjoyed this look back and I hope it has been interesting for you, too. Do you ever go back and see what you wrote about in previous years on a certain date?  I'd love to read your post like this.