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BATIK ART BY JONATHAN S. EVANS
Confessions of an Itinerant Batik Artist

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FAMILY LIFE

 

The Zankel Family finally moved up to live in the Dome on the land at the end of October and I moved into my snug, almost winterized chicken shack to live. A month later, with all the building permits in order, I reported early one morning to the house site on our land to become part of the house building crew. Jeffrey had bought a "salt-box" style prefabricated house and had hired a crew of four which included me to assemble the house. It was backbreakingly hard work and we were constantly interrupted by bad weather as December started. We lost electricity for quite awhile I recall when our line came down. We spent days with candlelight at night until we hired Ermon Sands, a hugely fat local gentleman with his tractor to come and help us put up a new pole in the deep mud. With our electricity reconnected, we pushed on with the house and had the roof on in exactly two weeks. But the work left me feeling sore and achy and I resolved not to do such heavy physical work in the future. I was really getting a bit too old for that. I started a new batik called "Housebuilding in Winter" which included portraits of all of us who were involved in the project. I spent my free time mostly alone at the chicken shack, working on new batiks when I could, writing letters and reading a lot. The Family often came together at night though I tended to stay out of Jeffrey's way a lot, for he seemed very unhappy and pressured and was often unfriendly. It was hard to know what made him happy during this period. He hated the long commute that his work necessitated and often didn't have much time for his kids whom I spent lots of time with and loved deeply. The news from the Susan Front was mostly bad. She got out of hospital and vanished, then wrote a strange letter saying that she had a new boyfriend and asked me to send her some money and then wrote a long loving letter. Jeffrey and Simma were very against her coming back to live with us in Grass Valley which troubled me a lot but I was trying to stay single. It was probably just as well that she didn't show up in one of her manic states. I went on seeing a lot of Ron and Sarah and they were always very supportive. Sarah and I did come dangerously close to starting some kind of affair at one point which I'm happy to say we managed to avoid. I liked them both very much, valued them greatly as friends and neighbours and definitely didn't want to rock that boat. I met Sarah's sisters too and batiked a portrait of the three of them against a view of the Sierra Nevada snow peaks. Christmas 1983 slipped by almost unnoticed in the bosom of my Jewish family and that year ended a lot more quietly and peacefully than it began. I was completely broke again but had just got a new job, baking once a week for the "Kitchen" Restaurant in Auburn. It felt as if I was slowly putting my life together in California.

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