Like many these days, I'm thinking of Japan. As the news images of earthquake and tsunami devastation give way to even scarier worries of nuclear meltdowns, it is heartbreaking to think of what the Japanese people are going through.
I have long had a fascination with Japan. I had a Japanese penpal when I was a child, and we wrote to each other for about 5 years, beginning when I was 10. Shizue was 6 years older than I, and her English was quite good (very good, compared to my Japanese, which was nil). A Japanese child of my age would not have had sufficient English to converse, she told me. Her letters were all written with fountain pen on the finest onion skin paper, in beautiful penmanship; I still have every letter. We both collected stamps at the time and I looked forward to the stamp-covered envelopes as much as I did the contents! I was always very grateful that she tried to find many different commemorative issues to make the envelopes as colorful as possible - they were like a gift in themselves! It was so exciting to arrive home from school and hear Mum say- "You have mail!" Back in the 60's (OK I'm really feeling old here...) getting a letter from the other side of the world was pretty exciting. I dreamed then of visiting Japan some day, and it's still on my wishlist, but in light of the recent events, I suspect it will be quite a while before life there returns to normal. I can't help but wonder where Shizue is today... and if I could ever find her... Shizue Kakinuma - where are you?
It seems the world has had it's fair share of tragedies lately with flooding, earthquakes, tsunamis and tensions in the Middle East - I feel very fortunate to live where I do. If like me, you would like to do something to help the situation in Japan, please consider joining in on this project: Hearts and Hands for Sendai. You can get all the details here or here, but here are the basics: sponsored by Crazy Quilt International and co-ordinated by Leslie Ehrlich of Colorado, this project is open to the quilting community at large. They invite the submission of traditional or crazy quilt blocks, along with a donation of $10.00 USD per block. Blocks will be assembled into quilts which will be exhibited in Japan, with funds being raised by viewers' admission fees. It is thought at this point that the quilts will later be auctioned with proceeds going to charity. Blocks are to be 8" finished size, with a 1/2" seam allowance around the perimeter, in a jewel tone palette. The theme is friendship and the rebuiding of a country. Blocks must be sent to Leslie by end of June. Please check out the links above for all the important details if you would like to participate.
Hideko Isheda, a member of Crazy Quilt International and a fellow blogger, lives in Sendai and is the inspiration for this effort. Hideko has a wonderful blog which I read, called
Wind from the East; click here and here to see her recent posts of the devastation in her area. You'll want to read further and see her beautiful handwork as well. She is thankful that she and her family have survived....
And so, readers, I challenge you to join with me on this special project. A flickr group has already begun with photos of people's blocks in progress.
"Be more prompt to go to a friend in adversity than in prosperity". ~Chilo