Dear Friends and Family Across the Sea

Posted by Laura Cohn on

Dear friends and family across the sea,

First let me apologies for not writing sooner, as I feel I have been away from home for years. The past three weeks have flown by as fast as the snow has fallen for most of you in North America and the sweat has dripped down my back here on the equator. I write from my beloved old home of Yogyakarta in my dear friends Linda’s home. Norah Jones is singing in the other room in eerie harmony with the echoing call to the mosque down the block. It is 10 in the morning and the temperature is already 92 degrees. Hot and happy I am. My heart is soaring for many reasons, but at this moment the truth that Bill and Daniel are en route to me is a big reason. They arrive tomorrow afternoon in Bali as I also return from Java to rendezvous at the airport and meet them. Yahoo!

As expected, and as always, coming home to Indonesia completes in me sense of coming home to a part of me which is difficult to access in America on a regular basis. I have energy that fuels me through out the day from which I move with glee. For those of you who know me well, I never ever have to nap when I am here. In light of what I have just said, I must admit that one of the reasons I haven’t written in the past few weeks has been because I lost a week laid up with a chest infection which complicated my asthma a bit. My friends and family here in Bali cared for me and brought me back to health with such love. I feel once again blessed by how my loved ones here for the past 16 years continue to infuse me with the same love I feel for this special place. Again, always the lesson for me is the love you put out there comes right back to me. The cycle goes round and round and round. Do not worry; I am in good health once again, strong and breathing deeply, grinning from ear to ear as I do.

Norah Jones has stopped singing and the Imam wails away on his own. Five times a day he calls the loyal to partly and reminds me to take the time to take deep breaths. Yesterday we tooled around Yogyakarta shopping and shopping and shopping for my favorite batik wood products. What fun. Before I fell ill (that is the Indonesian translation of getting sick, literally they say you “fell into sickness”) I got much of my shopping done in Bali. Lots of goodies for you all. One of my favorite days was going to pick out some of the stone carvings that I brought back for the garden last year and am trying again this year. All of the carvings are done in Bali by the deft hands of the Balinese carvers, but some of the cast stone pieces are done in Java and brought to Bali by truck. My dear friend Connie and I delighted in witnessing the unloading of the truck freshly arrived from Java as I waited for a specific Dewisita sculpture that I wanted to be unpacked. Six totally taut small Indonesian men picked through the truck stuffed to the top with hay. As if on a treasure hunt for hidden gods lost in the hay pile, they unearthed layers and layers of packaging to uncover Buddha heads, 50, 60, 70 and 80 centimeter sitting Buddha, exquisite Dewisitas, Shiva sitting in prayer; all resting in their hay padding until snatched by the hands of the deft man who plucked it up, tossed it down off the truck to the waiting arms of the next man in line and so on and so forth. Every so often, there was a big enough Buddha that warranted two men to lift him and they tossed it down onto a waiting bed of hay to break the fall.

The Buddha landed softly and was picked up again and carted off to and garden of other carved Buddha and friends of the Buddha. After over 100 pieces of carvings uncovered from the treasure hunt, there lies in wait the Buddha of all Buddha. At the bottom of the truck, after watching for almost an hour, was a Buddha twice as big as me sitting in meditative prayer waiting patiently for all the others to be brought down off the truck. It took four men to lift him as they last bit of hay fell around their sweaty backs. I smiled and laughed at the memory of Bill schlepping my little sculptures I brought back last year and will again this year into our garage. Buddha’s journey from Java via truck and hay pile to Bali, into the strong arms of the Indonesian workers bringing it to rest in a garden studio waiting for me to purchase it and have it packed into a wooden crate, picked up once again by truck and escorted back to Java where it will set out by cargo ship, sailing for 3 months via Singapore to LA and then by train to Philadelphia, finally picked up by Bill in the rental U-haul truck with our hand cart to roll the Buddha home to my garage studio four months from the time the sculpture initially left it place of creation in central Java. Such a journey for the Buddha, none? If all goes well the sculpture will sell in my annual show. If not, I get the joy of having the final resting place for this Buddha in the middle of my Bala Cynwyd garden between the basil and chili plants that remind me so of my Indonesia – her food, heat and the profound love affair I have with her.

Deep sigh. By now, the rain has started and cools down the day a bit. I will set out shortly to visit my dear brother Jon (my batik teacher and old friend). Tomorrow I fly home to Bali (so many homes I have, aren’t I lucky?) to meet Bill and Daniel. We will settle into Ubud to the comforts of a guesthouse with a pool, yummy breakfasts, and great desserts. I will close with love from Java, via Bali, straight from my huge explosive heart. Write if you wish, I only go on line every 4 days or so. Before you know it we will be home to you all. I vow and strive to bring my love affair home and continue to fan the flame of my happy heart back in the States. From Bali to Bala is more than just my annual show and business, it is really the way I live my life and love my life. Thank you to each of you for helping me keep this dream a reality.

All my love,


P.S. Because I was initially busy shopping and then laid up being sick and getting well, I haven’t had the time to devote to the relief work in Aceh. Now that I am mostly done with business I will send out a report next week to update everyone on the progress being made in the region. There is lost of talk and good work being done by many devoted folk in Bali and I am sure I will have a lot to send you word of. Sorry I can’t offer more now, but know that the people of Aceh are moving forward with their lives as I write.

P.S.S. I am now back in Bali, in Ubud with my two loves. Bill and Daniel arrived in fine form and we spent a night at the beach. Oh I am so happy to have them here, and they are also equally elated. More later after we swim the afternoon away.


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