Sunday, September 16, 2012

Thinking of You...

   The Book of the Week for Week 37, Thinking of You, is a tunnel book. Inside it looks something like a human brain, but outside it looks like an ordinary book with hard covers and a button & ribbon closure. The coverboards are covered in cloth made from my mother's favorite apron from the 1950's... Every Sunday she donned that smock-style apron as she cooked our Sunday dinner. By the time I acquired the apron.. in her inheritance in 1979.. it was threadbare and torn.. but I loved it anyway. It stayed in the cedar chest until recently.. I've used it for several books... all precious in my opinion.

The opening page is a collagraph of red roses... a bouquet that mirrors the blue roses of the apron-cloth covers.

Inside Thinking of You are the 3 panels that form the tunnel into a human brain. The back wall is a photopolymer print of a young woman happily holding up her baby for the photographer. You can see from her clothing and hairstyle that the photograph was taken in the 1940's. This woman now would be in her late 80's or early 90's. As our parents, grandparents and great grandparents live longer and longer, it's not unusual to know someone of this generation. Their stories are fascinating to me.. even the mundane daily routines... Yet, many were heroes, heroines or groundbreakers in some way.

A fictional handwritten letter on handmade paper hinges onto the retro side of the tunnel. This is my response to the "Before I die" project by artist Candy Chang. (You can read about the original interactive art project at  or see Candy's Ted Talk about it at I've been thinking about that project for the past week.. what I would want to do "before I die..." Hummm...

The story part of this tunnel book is the letter...

Dear Mom, 
   I've been thinking about you lately. Your gentle manner and how you never raised your voice. I remember your platters of tomato sandwiches at the family reunions in Caswell county. Delicious! I remember in sixth grade when you spent your week's vacation teaching me to sew my dresses on the sewing machine. It was 1966 and I sewed the sides of my "shift" backwards and sewed up the armholes. As I fusssed and ranted, you patiently handed me the seam ripper- again and again. I remember the evenings we played cards and you listened to my teenage dramas without accusations or lecturing. I remember your pet name for me was "Sweetness." I wasn't really. 
   If you were here I'd tell you, It's OK. I'm OK.     


So the book comes together as a letter to someone loved, saying things that needed to be said... about memories, and patience, and sacrifice, and forgiveness. Things that should never be left unsaid "before I die..."