Moonflower Morning

Fall fell all at once this week.  One day the high was 90 degrees, the next the high was 64.  I expected a more gradual drop, but I love the cooler weather and the impending turning colors of leaves.  Here, we have a lot of oaks, so the dominant color of fall is this lovely golden light filtered through yellow and brown leaves.

But these last few days have been cloudy and my moonflowers aren’t following their usual bloom schedule.  The first cool cloudy morning, they were open, big as you please.

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This is a bit blurred, but it was a delight to see the moonflower and dahlia blooming at the same time.

In these fall days, leaves are dying back.  Some leaves give you more color for a minute, but some just go from green to brown and you become deeply aware of mortality.  I don’t try to cut back the diminishing leaves too much.  That’s part of the landscape, even of a porch garden.  Plants bloom, give me pleasure, then fade away.

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Moonflower among the fading dahlia leaves

I cut and watched a waning elephant ear leaf fade over a few days.  The yellows and browns seemed so vivid, I enjoyed watching the curling edges brown and the complex swirl of the leaf structure.

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Fall is a welcome relief from the heat of summer.  A beautiful and melancholy season.  I stroll around the neighborhood and see gardens transforming.  People are decorating for Halloween and I see everything from ghoulish bones and monsters to funny pumpkins.

I think of the people I know and love who have died, and I long for another kind of ritual, more like the Day of Dead, celebrating those we have loved and lost and want to keep close through stories, food and visitations to their resting places.  Cleaning a grave, remembering that we are mortal, that we don’t have all the answers, that our lives passing like an undecipherable dream.

I saw a dead robin as I was strolling around and it opened up a stream of grief, I started thinking of lost friends, sad songs, and then actually started crying.  It was so strange.  I wondered if a depression was coming on.  Is the change of light going to be especially hard this year?  I have so enjoyed this sunny summer.  I can’t believe it’s over.  Though many sad and troubling things happen in summer, it seems I reflect more on them in fall.

I wrote a poem about 5 years ago about what leaves tell us about life.

Leaf Story

Under the gray sky

We walk upon a carpet

Of ruby and gold leaves

Enchanted to find

The ground so much

Brighter than the sky

We say this is the time of loss

The leaves blazing a

Last gasp of color

Before they die

Dust to dust

 

But the leaves crackle out

Another side of the story

As they make their yearly journey

Back to simplified elements

Flowing in the winter rains

Back to their roots

Where the tree absorbs them

Where they make their slow way up

To begin life on a limb

Again

And again

 

A friend took me to a local nursery for discount plants — the ones that didn’t get watered and are drooping and browning.  We grabbed up all the ones with live buds and brought them home to give them some TLC.  I should have mums blooming in another week.    Another friend brought me some new plants, new color.

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Ornamental peppers – probably will miss the heat but they hold on to their jewel like colors
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Coleus good for summer and fall
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Angelonia looks like a little orchid — one of the sale plants enjoying the care it’s getting
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Egyptian Star flower and angelonia

I’m learning this year that there are flowers that prefer shorter days and long cool nights.  They are coming to life as others are dying back.  It’s normal to feel the sadness of this old world more keenly as summer ends.

A robin doesn’t worry about its mortality, it flies, it maybe reproduces, it lives, it dies.  As do all things.  Even the oaks, hundreds of years old, who will give me filtered golden light in the coming month.  They will one day fall, making room for some acorn to thrive.

Everything, perhaps, is as it should be.

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Moonflower, watercolor and ink on paper

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Thanks for reading my post.  If you like it, share it.  If you find a typo, please let me know and I’ll send you a thank-you postcard.  

You can get prints and cards of some of my work on Redbubble.  They also print my work on lots of other items, including phone skins, tote bags, shirts and journals:

https://www.redbubble.com/people/JoyMurray?asc=u

If you’d like to support my art and writing, please consider becoming a donor on Patreon, a monthly donation platform that helps me pay for internet service, art supplies and living expenses.  A little bit each month goes a long way.  If I get enough supporters, I can make this blog ad-free!  Here’s a link to my Patreon page:

https://www.patreon.com/user?u=8001665

If you prefer to make a one time donation, you can do so at paypal.com  Please email me at joyzmailbox@gmail.com if you’d like details.

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Dahlia and Moonflower

The days are getting shorter but some flowers like that.  Moonflowers, of course, and dahlias, asters, mums.   Last night a moonflower opened right next to a dahlia bloom and I was able to get a good photograph of it.

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I like that the heart shaped moonflower leaf came out, as well as the dew on the purple dahlia.

I put this print in my Redbubble shop.  It’s available as cards, a canvas bag and a few cases for phones.

Or just to look at and enjoy here.

~~~

Thanks for reading my post.  If you like it share it.  If you find a typo, please let me know and I’ll send you a thank-you postcard.  

You can get prints and cards of some of my work on Redbubble.  They also print my work on lots of other items, including phone skins, tote bags, shirts and journals:

https://www.redbubble.com/people/JoyMurray?asc=u

If you’d like to support my art and writing, please consider becoming a donor on Patreon, a monthly donation platform that helps pay for internet service, art supplies and living expenses.  A little bit each month goes a long way.  If I get enough supporters, I can make this blog ad-free!  Here’s a link to my Patreon page:

https://www.patreon.com/user?u=8001665

If you prefer to make a one time donation, you can do so at paypal.com  Please email me at joyzmailbox@gmail.com if you’d like details.

Less Facebook, More Time in the Garden

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A dahlia bud starts like this

This week I took Facebook off my phone (though I still get alerts for some reason.)  I haven’t yet decided on whether or not to remove messenger.  I don’t mind people getting in touch with me through it.  It functions more like email.

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And it blooms like this.  You can see my sandal and footplate from my wheelchair.  

I found myself looking at my phone a lot for awhile, then remembering, there’s no stream of information.  Nothing to follow.  I read my email, maybe a blog, but then it’s back to reality, baby.

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I brought a lot to life, even though my own health degenerated.  Every day, this summer, I watered my front porch garden from my wheelchair and it just bloomed and bloomed.

A few days later, I took it off my kindle.  Now I don’t check facebook before I start to read.  I just start whatever book I’m reading and become engaged in a long insightful story.   Or, I pick up an actual paper book, and let myself get lost in another person’s story, or the story of natural history, or the way our brains work.

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I went with a friend to see the giant Art Outside installations of Brook’s Museum of Art
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Installed on an abandoned building on E H Crump Bvd
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The original painting at the Brooks has always been a favorite of mine — William-Adolphe Bouguereau, Au pied de la falaise (At the Foot of the Cliff), 1886

Now the only place I can check facebook is by sitting down at my desk and deliberately looking at it, checking on a few people.  I read a post that seemed pretty benign, a joke, but turned into a lot of argumentative comments, and I turned the damned thing off.  Still, I felt residual anxiety about needing to inform the people I disagreed with.  As if that would make a difference.  They aren’t going to make a difference in the way I think.  Not in the small, hostile comment format.

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Another exhibit at the Brooks — Wednesday is free day

It’s an addiction, facebook.  I have an addictive personality, in many ways.  I also tend to fester over things that make me anxious, things I hear about from others.  I feel my own powerlessness over it all.  And yet, I keep on looking into that small screen of the world, and thinking I can somehow make a difference.  Or maybe it’s a kind of thrill seeking.

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How will she bear the weight of her hair? by Joy Murray 2017

My goal with my own facebook page was to share my art, share others’ art, and add a little bit of beauty to other people’s day.  I shared serious matters, too.  I found a community of people dealing with long term disabilities like me.  But it all got overwhelming in this past year.  Maybe the whole world was going to hell in a handbasket.  All that anguish, it colored my life.

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The Fragile Nature of Delight by Joy Murray

Then I realized I can do all I want to do online with just my blog, and by reading other people’s blogs.  Blogs are more thoughtful, I think.  We take a little more time, it’s more lie an essay.   It’s a long deep breath, not a short sharp gasp.

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Still She Rises by Joy Murray 2016

There were so many times this week that I thought, I should put that on facebook.  I’ve become used to looking at the world in terms of whether it will make a good facbook picture/post.  The first few days, it really was like withdrawal.  What will I do with all my photos?

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Hibiscus, Morning Glory, and City Street

Well, I found I could edit my photos a little bit.  And then if I want I can share them here, with you.  Friends who support and make time for me.  Comments can be made here.  Communication can happen.  There are no algorithms to worry about.

I’m happy if people share my blogs on facebook or twitter or reblog them.  But my job is to deepen and improve my art.  That’s what I can do to make the world a better place.  Open my eyes to it all, paint and write.

And share.

Thanks to all the new subscribers and Patreon supporters.  I hope we all take a deep breath, hold on to our sanity, and take some time to see what it blooming all around us.

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I saw Delight by Joy Murray

~~~

Thanks for reading my post.  If you like it share it.  If you find a typo, please let me know and I’ll send you a thank-you postcard.  

You can get prints and cards of some of my work on Redbubble.  They also print my work on lots of other items, including phone skins, tote bags, shirts and journals:

https://www.redbubble.com/people/JoyMurray?asc=u

If you’d like to support my art and writing, please consider becoming a donor on Patreon, a monthly donation platform that helps pay for internet service, art supplies and living expenses.  A little bit each month goes a long way.  If I get enough supporters, I can make this blog ad-free!  Here’s a link to my Patreon page:

https://www.patreon.com/user?u=8001665

If you prefer to make a one time donation, you can do so at paypal.com  Please email me at joyzmailbox@gmail.com if you’d like details.

My Guerrilla Garden

This summer I’ve spent a lot of time communing with plants.  I’ve had some changes in my life.  My adult daughter moved in with her two cats.  She’s going to help me out around the house while she regains her financial composure after changing careers.  So my studio got smaller, but it’s a good thing for us both.

I planted a lot of flowers in pots on the porch this summer, and if you follow my facebook page, you’ve seen the progress of that enterprise.

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In the back of my house, in the neighbor’s driveway, there’s been an abandoned motorcycle since I moved here over a year ago.

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At least it looked abandoned.

I wanted to take some good close ups of the rusted gears, and the way things that once moved become stationary.  I have transitioned to using a wheelchair for most of my outdoor and indoor activities this year, and I felt a bit of attachment to the rusting old thing that once must have glided with ease through the streets of Memphis.  My photography was limited, however, by the quality of my camera as well as my ability to get in close without my own wheels getting stuck in the gravel pavement of the driveway.

I decided in the spring to use it as a guerrilla garden.  (I sometimes plant left over seeds in abandoned lots and in other people’s property just to see if they grow.)  I started adding pots of plants that might vine into and over the bike.  It’s in an awkward place, not much soil, inconsistent sunlight.  But I know plants strive to grow no matter what, so I went ahead and sneaked plants onto it.

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But it didn’t really look right to me.  So I went ahead and planted some purple hearts in the ground around it.  I also planted some morning glory seeds hoping they were strong enough to handle the thin layer of soil under the gravel and dry conditions.  And within a month, things were growing:

And the morning glory was more than prepared to take a ride on those old wheels.

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My neighbor told me about mid-project that it was indeed his motorcycle, not really abandoned by some former tenant.  He’d bought it to fix it up, but that he’d never had time to.  He was happy that I was able to create a little garden with it.

Then a few weeks ago, he told me that someone had bought it to fix it, and would pick it up soon.   It’ll be interesting to see if the morning glory will continue to grow even when the support is taken out from under it.   I’m not worried about the purple hearts, they grow and grow.  They don’t let circumstance stop them.

For now, though, the old motorcycle is still there.  Thriving in it’s disrepair.  Rust settling in deeper and deeper and my little bit of wild gardening twining through it.

This summer.  I’ve felt like I’ve been in a fallow period artistically.   I haven’t been painting a lot.  I’d planned to paint the flowers I grew on the porch, but instead, I do brief pencil sketches then just sit back and meditate on color, on growth, on life.  On Change.  I keep thinking things in my life will settle, but sometimes it feels like change keeps knocking me off course.

My morning glories, hibiscus and moonflowers bloom only once and then they fall away, their bright brief task in life carried out with color and grace.  They go to seed and another flower takes it place.  I check the plants each morning for buds and for new flowers.  My marigolds, petunias, celosia blaze out, and will bloom til the end of summer.  It’s mid-August and I’m sure they know their days are numbered as the sun slowly changes angles and they keep growing towards it.  And I am with them, every day, watering, tending and delighting.

So, now as I see my garden’s progress, I don’t feel it’s been a fallow time.  Only a change in season.  All these little growing things are here for the summer, then they will go fallow, and with or without me, they will come back.

I think we all need fallow periods for our roots to grow, so when the time comes, we bloom freely and with whatever color we can muster.

Life is change, but I feel rooted in it nonetheless.

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Thanks for reading my post.  If you like it share it.  If you find a typo, please let me know and I’ll send you a thank-you postcard.  

You can get prints and cards of some of my work on Redbubble.  They also print my work on lots of other items, including phone skins, tote bags, shirts and journals:

https://www.redbubble.com/people/JoyMurray?asc=u

If you’d like to support my art and writing, please consider becoming a donor on Patreon.  If I get enough supporters, I can make this blog ad-free!  Here’s a link to my Patreon page:

https://www.patreon.com/user?u=8001665

If you prefer to make a one time donation, you can do so at paypal.com  Please email me at joyzmailbox@gmail.com if you’d like details.