Friday, September 30, 2011


It's the last day of September already.  It's hard to believe that the month is already over.  It was a busy one, that's for certain.  Well, I promised pictures of Kamaishi and here they are.

Can you believe this huge ship, just sitting on dry land.  It will cost millions and millions of dollars to move it back to the sea, so no decision has been made yet as to the future of this beautiful ship.

Kamaishi seemed to be even worse than Ishinomaki to my untrained eyes, but then we didn't travel throughout the whole of either town.  I'm almost completely wordless when trying to describe the devasation and it's not just these two towns.  This kind of scene repeats itself along the entire eastern coast of this area.  Add to this the nuclear disaster and it becomes almost unfathomable.  So many people are homeless, jobless, almost to the point of giving up hope.  Please don't forget them.

I'm so grateful to each and every one of you that has contributed to them in whatever way that was.  Next week I'll post some happier pictures with some of the lovely people in Alex's town who made me feel so welcome.  As always, thanks for reading.



Thursday, September 29, 2011

Address for sending items to Japan

I mentioned in my post earlier today that unfortunately I can't continue to collect items for Japan.  After that was posted I recieved a message on Ravelry from craftyrider who gave me a possible link.

I emailed the contact given to me and he graciously emailed me back a long note about his project.  His name is Bernd Kestler and he lives in Yokohama, Japan.  He would LOVE to continue recieving items from any of you would like to continue sending them.

He is also collecting knitting needles and crochet hooks and yarn.  Preferably natural fiber yarns but will take anything.  They are teaching classes in all of the various areas affected by the tsunami/earthquake/typhoon.

How wonderful is this?  I know many of you still want to continue to help.  He said he knows postage can be an issue but that even "one wooley hat will keep someone warm and will fit into an envelope with not much postage".  He clearly has a heart to help the Japanese people.  Here's his address:

Bernd Kestler
Yokohama-shi 223-0062
Hiyoshi Honcho 6-39-9

His blog is at

I hope any of you interested will check it out.  I'll be back tomorrow and show you the pictures of Kamaishi as promised.



Matsushima Bay

After we left Ishinomaki we stayed the night in Matsushima Bay at the Japanese equivilent of a bed & breakfast.  It was very nice and we had a traditional breakfast of miso soup, fish, rice, pickles and green tea.  Yum!  Matsushima Bay was also affected by the typhoon but not as severely as many other towns.  From what Alex and I saw, the bay bore the brunt of the storm and protected the town itself.  Here are a few pictures of that area.

This was our room.  They served us green tea when shown to our room.  No furniture to sit on, just the floor.  The T.V. was 100 yen just to turn it on!  Needless to say, we didn't watch T.V. Alex was making phone calls to arrange to meet a daycare provider that evening to give her hats for the families in her area near Kessenuma.  Notice the only mirror in the room on the 6 inch box on the floor!

When we returned to the room the table had been moved and our futons set up for the night.  My 22 year old son insisted we move them to opposite sides of the room because he was NOT going to sleep that close to his mom.  That would be too "weird" you know!  :-)  They were actually very comfortable and cozy.

This was the bay area where all the bricks had been washed away from this sidewalk by the tsunami.

A boat, tossed onshore by the wave.

This was an undamaged mosaic on the sidewalk.  Notice the bricks to the left are washed away.

There was supposed to be a footbridge out to this island but it was destroyed and found inland after the tsunami.
 I did want to get more pictures of Matsushima Bay because there was much more damage, but it got dark very quickly.  We planned to go back to the bay area the next morning but woke to fog and rain.

I have been asked if I am still collecting items for Japan.  As much as I would love to continue, I simply can't afford to keep sending boxes there.  Alex has also exhausted his savings mailing boxes around Japan to areas we couldn't drive to.  If I find an outlet that will accept items directly from crafters I'll be sure to post the address for anyone who would like to continue to send items.  I know anything that can be sent would be appreciated.

I'll be back tomorrow with pictures of Kamaishi.



Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Good Morning!  This morning I want to tell you a bit about Ishinomaki.  The two towns Alex and I visited were Ishinomaki and Kamaishi.  Tomorrow I'll post pictures from Kamaishi.  These towns are very close to the Sendai area that was on the news so much.

We delivered the knitted items to a gentleman named Fumito Suzuki.  He told us his story of the day of the tsunami-riding his mo-ped to try to warn people and almost getting swept away himself by the giant wave.  He said when he finally escaped, he looked back and saw people being washed from cars and being swept away.

He opened up his home to over 40 people after the disaster.  That was amazing when you think about how small most Japanese homes are.  He spends his days trying to help the many, many people still in shelters.  He is a photographer by trade, but feels bad about charging people in these difficult days so he is working mostly for free.  Fumito is an amazing man who is just trying to get by, day to day and help those who lost everything.  He feels guilty and humbled by turn to still have his home and possessions so does whatever he can for others.

Here are a few pictures of Ishinomaki.  I'll let them speak for themselves.  As I said yesterday.  All were taken from the car as we drove through.  I didn't want to seem to exploit the people any further by stopping to walk around.

This is a huge pile of debris that has been collected.  You can see how much has already been done in the cleanup by this pile.  But you can see by the pictures, how much still needs to be done.

This is the hospital that so many of you probably saw on the news.  It looks fairly good from this angle, but the first 3 floors are destroyed.  Windows gone, equipment gone.  Patients were floating out the broken windows.  The hospital is just 2 blocks from the ocean and they had virtually no time to react.


These pictures don't begin to show the absolute devastation.  Blocks and blocks of flattened areas with no buildings at all.  These used to be bustling towns where people lived and worked in the same buildings.  There was no dicrimination in the damage.  Well-to-do and poor people alike lost everything and now have to begin again.  After the typhoon last week, it was another large blow to the area.

Tomorrow I'll show you a few pictures of Kamaishi.  Thank you again for your help.



Tuesday, September 27, 2011


First of all I'm posting a picture of some of the people who welcomed me at Narita Airport.

This is Mayako, Yoshie, Me and Alex.  Mayako and Yoshie stayed at our house this summer.  It's no small trip to go to Narita, it's about 1 1/2 hours by train so I really appreciated the time and expense they went to to greet me.  And that, is my wonderful son, Alex.  It was SO GOOD to see him and give him a huge hug.

This was Alex's car trunk and backseat the morning we left for Kamaishi and Ishinomaki.  There was barely room for us! 

The following pictures are people who actually chose things directly from the trunk of the car!  It was raining but that didn't stop these ladies.  Each chose a hat and one also picked a baby sweater for her grandchild.

Here a just a few of the boxes that we mailed off to places that were too far for us to drive to.

Tomorrow I will post pictures of Ishinomaki and Kamaishi and the damage that still remains.  As I said before, I didn't get out of the car and we didn't take pictures of the recipients in those areas.  It just seemed that it would have been too much like we wanted to take advantage of them.  I'm not saying that very well.  It was just so sad, we didn't want to seem like tourists who were just trying to take photos of their sadness.

Thank you so much.  I hope you enjoy the happiness in the faces of the ladies in the pictures above.  That was the reaction everywhere and it wouldn't have happened without all of you!

On another note.  Here's a quick picture of the blanket I finished yesterday for Virginia.  Excuse the dark picture, it's raining cats and dogs here today.  I seem to have brought rain home with me from Japan.  We haven't had rain for a couple of months here in Spokane, until the day I get home!  The blanket is really very bright and I think it will bring cheer as well as warmth to her room in the nursing home.

 It's the Scrumptious Scraps Afghan on Ravelry if any of you would like the pattern.

I'll be back tomorrow with pictures of the damages BEFORE the typhoon in Kamaishi and Ishinomaki.



Monday, September 26, 2011

Home Again!

Good Monday morning to all of you.  I have many, many pictures of my trip but I thought I would begin by posting the thank you comments Alex received by email BEFORE I even left to come home.  People were so grateful.  Alex found a website that lists needed items and also items people have available for donations for victims of the earthquake/tsunami/radiation disasters.  We ended up mailing about 15 boxes out directly to individuals who were too far away for us to drive to.  These were emails recieved by Alex.  I've included the original Japanese message and also Alex's translation.

(2011/09/14 16:27)



(2011/09/14 07:47)
 (2011/09/17 12:57)




(2011/09/17 10:59)

  (2011/09/14 20:11)
本日受けとりました!子供たちは、箱を開けたとたん飛び付き 早速 帽子をかぶっています(^_^;)

デザインもどれも素敵で手作りした方の気持ちがこもっているなぁと ますます感謝の気持ちでいっぱいになりました
大切に大切に使わせていただきます 本当にありがとうございました

 (2011/09/13 16:33)





(2011/09/14 13:08)
こんにちは 先ほど 受け取りました。 メッセージがついていて嬉しかったです。手編みは 心がこもっていて とても気に入りました。近所の友達も うらやましいって言ってますよ。私は 指なしのレインボーの手袋が気に入りました。大切に使わせてもらいます。お母様にも よろしくお伝えください。

 (2011/09/14 23:45)



The hats and scarves all arrived in one piece. Tohoku’s winters are cold, so these will be of great help. Thank you!
We’ll treasure them.

Good morning!

My reply is late, but the hats and scarves arrived last night

The colors were such a warm blue that my son loved it!

We’ll cherish them. Thank you!

Thank you for coming all the way down to Ishinomaki the other day.

I took the hats, scarves, and blankets to the daycare center.

All the children were happy to wear the hats. Thank you for your support!

Please tell your all the people who made the hats thank you, too.

Sorry for the late message!
Everything got here safe.

Next month there will be a “mommy’s meeting”, so I’ll hand them out to the ladies there.

These will be a great help!
Thank you so much!!


We got the hats today. The kids snatched the hats out of the box as soon as I opened it. They still have them on! I wonder if they’ll ever take them off…
All of the designs were beautiful, and I could feel the love of the people who handmade each one. I’m filled with a feeling of gratitude.

We will cherish and treasure them!
Thank you so very much!

I received 3 children’s hats and scarves from you.

My heart was warmed by each and every one of the messages tied into the hats and scarves.

I would have liked to send a picture of my three children wearing them, but I’m not really sure how to work this site, so I plan on sending you a letter with a picture.

They look so warm; they will help a lot!

Thank you. Please tell your mother and everyone who made these hats thank you.
Kindest regards.

Korin Korin

Hello. I received your package a few minutes ago. I was happy to see all the messages. I could see all the loving care goes into all of the hand-knitted items, and I like them all. All of my neighbors say that they’re jealous of me! I really like the fingerless rainbow gloves myself. We will cherish them all! Give everyone who made these beautiful gifts a big thank you!


The hats and scarves arrived.
Thank you for taking the time to send them. I will cherish them. I will take some of them to my friend tomorrow!

I hope these messages warm your heart the way they did mine.  The devastation we saw was horrible.  I will share some of those photos in the next post.  I didn't get out of the car to take pictures because I didn't want to be seen as just another tourist, so I just snapped pictures as we drove through the towns to make the deliveries.

It was an interesting journey to say the least.  Last Saturday we had earthquakes all day long.  Many were above 6.0.  Since we don't have earthquakes in Spokane, they were nerve-rattling to me.  I was alone for most of them since Alex wasn't home.  For those of you in earthquke prone areas, you probably think I'm a sissy but I've only experienced one very small earthquake before in my entire life.  In Japan, no one even stops what they're doing since earthquakes are so common.  However, by the end of the day Saturday, everyone was commenting on how many had happened that day and people were getting concerned that they may be a precursor to a larger one again.

Then, last week a HUGE typhoon struck Okinawa and the main island of Japan.  Would you believe the typhoon just seemed to hover directly over the disaster area?  Those poor people just can't seem to get a break.  Several families had just moved into new temporary housing the week before that the government provided.  Those homes were completely flooded out by the typhoon.  So, for a second time in less than six months they are homeless again and have lost everything.

I had never experienced a typhoon before either.  So, all in all it was an eventful two weeks.  I'm still recovering from jet lag.  By the time I arrived home on Saturday and went to bed I had been awake for 31 hours!  I was in a daze all day yesterday, but managed to go to both morning and evening services at church and get some crocheting done on a blanket that needs to be finished tonight.  It's a gift for my friend in the nursing home and I want to deliver it to her tomorrow.  The nights are getting much cooler here and she will need this extra blanket to cuddle up in.

I'll be back tomorrow with pictures for you all.  I wanted to post this morning though and let you know I'm back and how very grateful the recipents of all of your lovely gifts were.

See you later!!



Saturday, September 10, 2011

In Japan

I made it!  So here I am. I arrived yesterday late afternoon, and by the time I went to bed I had been awake over 26 hours!  No sleep on the plane thanks to my seatmate. Long story.  Anyway, I am still in Tokyo with Alex and Anri.  Anri was so sweet, she let us both stay the night at her family's condo.  The bed was sooooo nice!

Today we will take the shinkensen (bullet train) to Aomori and Alex's apt.  On Tuesday or Wednesday we hope to begin passing out the knitted items.  He has a few days off work this week so we want to get it done right away.  Here are a few pictures of my arrival.  Excuse the jet lag!

 Mayako, Yoshi, me and Alex at the airport. They all came to meet me!
 Me with Yoshi and Yu. They stayed with us this summer in Spokane.
 Me and Alex on the Narita Express from the airport. Excuse the jet lag and the triple chins.
 Anri, Alex's girlfriend of two-and-a-half years (and maybe my future daughter-in-law?!) We took this picture at the Ebisu Garden Place, just a station away from Shibuya--the Times Square of Tokyo.

We'll try to keep the blog up-to-date, but we will be traveling all over the Tohoku and Hokuriku areas, and there might not be Internet access. Nevertheless, we'll try our best!


Thursday, September 8, 2011


So this is it everyone!  I leave early tomorrow morning for the airport and then I'm off to Japan!  I'm getting so excited for this trip and I'll be sure to post lots of pictures when I get home.  My biggest problem right now is trying to get my clothes into one carry-on bag.  Since I'm packing for summer and fall I have to take more than one pair of shoes.  I had only planned on the pair I would be wearing.  There is a LOT of rain falling in Northern Japan right now so I have to plan for that too.  Oh well, I'm not going to the ends of the earth.  If I need something desperately I can always buy it there!

To add to the chaos we decided to buy a camper this week.  We have such good memories of camping with our children in our pop-up camper that we want to do it again.  I've been watching Craigslist faithfully since April and the day after Labor Day, (when camping season is unofficially over in the Northwest), I found a wonderful deal on a 15 year old pop-up.  It has been taken care of very well and stlil has the original curtains, uphostery, etc.  It is all in great condition.  The only thing that will probably have to be replaced soon is the outside awning and that's just from age and weather.

So, to add to my myriad of other last minute details, I have to go to the DMV and register it today.  You only have 5 days after purchase and my DH works 12-13 hour days so he can't do it.  I'm also having lunch at Taco Bell, (isn't THAT fancy?), with a friend who was laid off from her job yesterday.  This darn economy just keeps hitting people we know.  Then we have Bible Study at our house tonight.  My day is pretty well jam-packed.

I didn't want to leave without saying goodbye to all of you though, because if it weren't for you, I wouldn't be making this trip.  Thank you, thank you to each and every one of you who contributed a handmade item to go to the shelters.  I appreciate you all so very, very much.  I'll check back as soon as I get home and give you all the details.



Sunday, September 4, 2011


The world is sure getting hit with bizarre and powerful weather lately.  Earthquakes, hurricanes, drought and floods!

Last night we talked to Alex in Japan for quite awhile.  He's in the process of applying for a new job and wanted to bring his Dad up to date about it.  There was a major typhoon that affected central and western Japan this weekend.  Last I heard 8 were dead and 37 missing.  So tragic.  Our midwest is still underwater.  My brother and sister in Iowa both had such large hail that it went through the shingles, the tarpaper and the wood on their roofs.  The hail lodged in the ceiling of my sisters house but went all the way into the livingroom at my brothers!   I've never heard of such a thing.  Hail that big could have killed someone.  We must count our blessings where we see them!

On a much happier note, my dear husband is busy rescreening a few windows and the patio door.  Our son-in-law got him hooked last week in Portland.  They re-screened all of Brad & Mandy's windows.  Bless his heart.  Brad just cannot sit still.  On the bright side, nothing goes undone at their house!

Off to evening church now.  I'm singing tonight so I need to get a few minutes of practice time in first!



Friday, September 2, 2011


We have had the most beautiful weather the past three days.  After I mowed the grass on Tuesday we had the most tremendous rain.  You have to realize that's it's been over 2 months since we've had rain at our house!  I realize that some parts of the country are much worse off than we are-too wet or too dry.  This, however, is normal for a Spokane summer.  After a dinner that we ate while listening to the pounding rain on our deck roof this is what Dennis and I saw:

Isn't this beautiful?  This is the view we saw from our dining room table and the rainbow just seemed to get brighter and brighter as we watched!  Since Tuesday we have had three days of 70-75 degree weather with bright blue skies. Perfect Spokane weather.  I love my home.
 Wednesday I made zuchinni relish with some zuchinni's a friend "donated" from his garden.  We love this on sandwiches and especially meatloaf.  The recipe belonged to Dennis' grandmother.  She made this for years and years and the family all begged for it.  Aren't the jars pretty?

I love the colors of the peppers and zuchinni and spices.  And the taste is out of this world.  I'm hoping that I can still find enough tomatoes to can for chili sauce and plain tomatoes when I get home from Japan.  We've had the strangest growing season this year.  Spring was so cold and wet that everything is late.  I like to can my own tomatoes for chili, lasagna, etc.  Much fresher tasting without so much sodium.

We have no plans for the Labor Day weekend except to rescreen a window and the patio door. (Someone tried to walk through it!)  And of course, church on Sunday.  This will be our first weekend with no plans for almost three months and we're looking forward to sleeping late!  That's about 7:00 a.m. for us! 

I leave for Japan a week from today and I'm getting SO EXCITED!  I just want to thank all of you for making this happen with all of your contributions.  I can't wait to get there and take lots of pictures for you all to see.

I'll be talking to you all again soon!