Audrey's Christmas Letter "2002"
|November 5, 2002
I finished reading Jill Christman's book Darkroom. It is amazing to read about a person you knew, (I haven't seen her since she was a little girl) but don't know. When she talks about what happened on certain dates I think back about those same times with different memories. I sat and sketched her on a couch in the house on the sand. I traced her body an outline, with no knowledge of the inside workings. I visited her mother every Saturday for a weekly bath at a time we had no hot water and we had long philosophical discussions . Her neighbor friend would come over and we drank coffee and ate muffins, good times good memories. It is because of Jill that Christopher married Diane and lives on the other side of the country. Jill has intersected my life and caused events to change Chris's path. Jill mentions a fisherman who lived with her mother on Plum Island in the house on the sand. I did a portrait in watercolor of Billy that I still have. He had a kind face and intense blue eyes. Billy abandoned fishing and went on a spiritual quest. He gave me a book and when I was reading it I had an epiphany. From thought comes all things, we, each individual manifest reality. From thought comes the material world. I cried for a while. I could hardly belief what I had come to understand. The problem is realization and application are two separate things.
This is the last day of my annual show at the Newburyport Art Association. My work is hung in the new addition, a building that was moved and attached to the Association. It was used by the theater group years ago when Charlie was part of the group as musical director. The Saturday reception was well attended. Charlie's sisters and Aunt came up and other friends that we only see now at my openings. I am always glad to see these people, glad that I am not forgotten, glad that they make the effort to come to the gallery to see me and my work. Seeing friends is like following a thread back to the beginning, back to the time and place when we shared events together. From those first stitches in and out the memories merge and multiply. The voices are the same but the bodies reveal the passage of time. I am staying at Doug's house and I have enjoyed being will him. It is morning and I have a little time before I go to the gallery. It is raining. The water pours off the roof and onto the metal chairs that line up against the house on the deck, a loud tin sound. The dog and I have had our walk down by the river and now he lays his wet muzzle on my lap. At 5 o'clock I take the paintings down and pack the car
November 8, 2002
The day I drove back to Waldoboro was clear and cold. When I drove past Portland it was 1:38 and 38 degrees. When I reached Damariscotta it was 2:30 and 30 degrees. When I reached our driveway Charlie was standing there, said he knew I would be there then, funny coincidences. "All thoughts communicate faster then the speed of light" Seth.
I trace the seasons progressions, mild winter with one eventful storm that took out the power for three days, spring that was an extension of winter and turned into a hot dry summer, a warm September that extended my swims into October. I didn't paint as many paintings as I usually do, but I did paint some good ones that I like. Sales were off and Charlie had less jobs. Charlie works every day he can on his music on the Computer. He helps me with my prints and posters for my shows. We were sad when our coon cat Puff died suddenly in early July, She was 11 years old.
December 31, 2002
The train moves along bumping and swaying, moving across the plains of Canada on this last day of 2002. Charlie and I spent Christmas with Doug, Chris and family in Eugene OR. We drove to Montreal, took the train across Canada and drove from Vancouver to Eugene, a six day trip. Doug flew. This is the second time we have crossed the country by train. The first time was across the northern part of the US. This trip the train went north around the great lakes, a region of rocky hills covered with pines and hardwoods, pocketed with ponds, lakes, rivers, and streams. This vast wilderness sparsely inhabited was frosty white and snow covered. The great plains, mostly farm land, divided like a checker board by tree lines, with hedges and roads that disappear into the horizon. The train chugged night and day across the plains proceedied into the foot hills that lead into the Rockies ... National Geographic in real life. An hour was spent in the small town of Jasper, nestled in the snow covered peaked mountains of Jasper National Park. We even saw elk and mountain sheep.
After trying to sleep upright four nights in the chairs of the train, and driving nine hours, when we reached Eugene we were tired and frazzled. We got lost, called Chris. They came and led us to their home. It was a happy reunion.
Christmas 2002 is one of the best Christmas I have experienced. Every night a great meal, cooked by Diane or Chris or both, beef stew, lasagna, roast pork and red cabbage, cajun style red snapper and fresh boiled crabs, the largest I have ever seen. Of course there were the holiday eating treats of nuts, fruit, candy, cookies, and more. What I enjoyed as well as eating the beautifully prepared food was that I did not cook or wash dishes the whole time.
The Christmas tree that reached the ceiling was as wide as it was tall and had more presents under it then I have ever seen. It looked like a Christmas scene from a Hollywood movie or one of those perfectly decorated rooms from House and Garden. Christmas eve we watched "A Christmas Carol" with George Scott as Scrooge. Christmas morning with a cup of coffee in hand we gathered around the tree, and one by one emptied our stockings of various small delights. Again one by one we opened the beautifully wrapped gifts. It was grand, lavish and extravagant. My present from Doug and Chris, a monumental surprise, was an exercise bicycle, which will be good for my circulation. It had to be shipped to Waldoboro a completely crazy thing to do and a part of what made this Christmas so great. We talked, read, took naps, walked, shopped, went to a fair. We had breakfast where Chris works. The last day I painted with Chris in his expanded studio and the last night we all went to see Tolkien's, "The Two Towers" in a theater that was huge and full of people. It was an experience of over exposure, like watching the multiple quick action ads on TV that take place all within a few minutes.
Just a few words about what the family is doing: Doug works for Fila, (Doug flies out to visit Chris every summer and on this summers visit he helped rebuild Chris's studio. It is now 12 x 20 feet). Chris paints, makes sculpture, and waits on tables to make money, Diane teaches literature, Cortney, 3rd year at Brown and Haley is in her last year of high school.
Switching between reading and looking out the window of the moving train, I watched the sun rise in the east. The crescent moon was pale in the sky only a few hours ahead of the rising sun. At noon the sun was low, close to the horizon. The book I took to read on the train is The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell. The basic formula of the hero myth is separation, initiation, return. "A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encounted and a decisive victory is won: The hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man." Along the way the hero is helped by Gods or humans with special gifts or powers. The myths are symbolic teachings that represent ancient truths that man seeks to understand. My reasoning in a nut shell, from what I have read is that the hero travels to unknown regions ... symbols for the psyche, and battles ... symbols for beliefs that are tested. The inner self some how brings about change and new ways are revealed. From crossing the river or going underground the past is cut off. The hero can not go back to old ways, is reborn, an understanding comes, the ego dies, the hero is one with the father. He comes back to his home land as a full human in the image of god, or the understanding that the energy of god is within all. Campbell writes "The contemplation of the life (of the hero) then should be undertaken as a meditation on one's own immanent divinity, not as a prelude to precise imitation, the lesson being not, "Do this and be good" but "Know this and be god."
In this age the social unit is not a carrier of religious content, but an economic, political organization. In today's world the highest buildings are not churches but buildings for banks and insurance companies. This is the time of the self expressive individual. We give all our attention to the winner. Does it matter how he got there? Campbell said the individual is unconscious. " One does not know toward what one moves, or by what one is propelled by. The lines of communication between the conscious and the unconscious zones of the human psyche have all been cut, and we have been split in two. The hero- deed of this time is that of making it possible for men and women to come to full human maturity through the conditions of contemporary life, a transmutation of the whole of social order is necessary so that through every detail and act of secular life the vitalizing image of the universal god man who is actually immanent and effective in all of us may be somehow made known to consciousness." The message of the myths is eternal, however they are stories of the past and for the past. With out Campbell's knowledge of interpretation I wouldn't have grasped the meanings. I would say that Joseph Campbell is a modern day hero, and a stepping stone for things to come.
January 7, 2003.
For a lot of people, traveling is as common as going to the grocery store, for us it was a unique experience. The people on the train were friendly and there was help along the way when we needed it On the drive back the car started to overheat and by luck the station we pulled into had a repair shop and replaced the water hose with a new one. We got to Doug's house about eight and after a good nights rest on a real bed we set out in the morning for Maine ahead of a coming snow storm.
Charlie and I listen to a community radio station run by volunteers in Blue Hill. Maine. Beside hearing great jazz we listen to programs like Democracy Now, Alternative and Free Speech Radio that gives a different version to the news that is given on NBC and the other radio and TV stations. There are people all over the world that are actively protesting corrupt governments, war, and the power of the corporate businesses. These movements for justice and peace are growing. One day I heard a man talk about the changes that he believes man will be going through. He said we are in the caterpillar stage, the stage where the caterpillar eats everything, greedily consuming all in his path. In the dormant stage a transformation takes place and when the shell opens, out comes a beautiful butterfly. The butterfly pollinates plants and flowers. Going from taking to giving, from crawling to flying, from a worm to a beautiful insect. I always associate the dark winter cycle as the time of incubation. The mind is empty and receptive and in the unknowing sleep state where all is possible, information and ideas are given and received.
The Christmas season is a joyful time and a reverent time, a time to contemplate and to be thankful, to be with those you love and to share. I have not taken down the Christmas decorations. The tree, my center of Christmas, the symbol of the axis of the world, stands for life, fruitfulness, and for potential. I could never celebrate Christmas without the decorated fir tree. I am still listening to Christmas music on tapes and CDs and Charlie did add a couple more of his original xmas songs to his incomplete CD. Our neighbors came over the day of the snow storm, the twelfth day of Christmas for dinner. Yes it was a very long holiday.
January 13, .2003
I love the winter, the snow, the long shadows, and the night sky. Now the light of the growing quarter moon in the western sky shines on the snow surface. Shadows stretch out from tree trunks telephone poles, houses and barns. They follow the contour of the snow over drifts and out into the fields. The shadows on the snow are as distinct as you would see them on a summer day. They do not move for in winter all things seem frozen in place. Late at night when everyone else is asleep and all is dark and still, I walk with Mocha up our long driveway. Coming back I see the candles in every window, the tree lights, the warmth inside contrasting with the cold and dark, the frost on the window panes behind which glows the candle light. So inviting is the inside and I go into it.
Best wishes for a healthy and happy New Year and get ready to fly ……Audrey
For more information, please contact:
Audrey Bechler 968 Backcove Rd. Waldoboro, ME 04572 1-207-6832-6806
Layout, Design, and Revisions ©2003 by Douglas Bechler...... Revised, Jan. 31, 2003