In 2013, I began work on this book, "Hiraeth", the title of which comes from a Welsh word meaning: "that which is known and longed for, but un-nameable." I wanted to make a book about the season in human life which lies between autumn and winter, and decided to use my own writing and photographs to illustrate it. I have been working on it on and off for the last two years, and decided that this last month of overcast/rainy Oregon spring days might be a good time to try and finish it. Here is a photo of the entire cover of the book opened.
The cover, which was needle-felted, depicts a landscape with huge dark clouds dumping a lot of rain on the ground, which pretty much sums up "winter" in the literal sense in Oregon. What I wished to write about in this book was both literal winter and the winter of my psyche--intuitions, dreams, memories, and reflections on my life. About 18 months ago I shared some of the pages I had completed in "Hiraeth," and now I have more to share, which mainly concern my journey through two total knee replacements, one of which took place in the fall, going into winter, and the second, which took place in the winter moving into spring.
For this book, I painted large sheets of watercolor paper with colored ink on both sides and then tore the papers down into the size of the signatures I wanted. The book is large--9"x13". The black ink markings and smudges on the pages are "weather markings." There are five signatures which each contain 10 pages.
My spirits sunk as the year moved farther into winter. Lying on the sofa watching old movies really got old!
Somewhere in the middle of January 2015 I began to feel semi-normal again, but quailed at the thought of beginning the process all over again on the second knee. I used a photo I took of an ice storm the year before to illustrate my trepidation about going forward.
When I was not embroidering, I was reading:
Now that I am up and walking around on my second new knee without a walker or a cane, I can see the end in sight.I look back on the last nine months and feel relief that the worst is over, and a strange gratitude that I had all that time to read, write, and do these pages from a deep and soulful place. When I look out my studio doors, I see, not grey rain and overcast skies, but hundreds and hundreds of pink roses blooming on the fence between the back yard and the vegetable garden--and that is how it feels on the inside of me too.