The Giants are Retreating

It seems appropriate that our first hard freeze here in the Mid-South would be December 1. I always complain if it gets cold too early. But this year we had a pleasant fall and my garden kept giving me more and more beauty to enjoy.

But seasons must change. My elephant ears are now making their journey back into soil. All that green they worked to make will deteriorate back into their originals elements over the winter. Over the next few weeks, I’ll cut back vines and stalks, and use them as mulch, along with the millions of leaves that fall from the oaks in the yard.

After the freeze

I’ll miss the garden. I love having the porch as an extra room to spend time reading or people watching. Not to mention plant watching. There’s something quite magical about watching a little seed or bulb come to life, to see on a daily basis how it grows, changes shape, sprouts leaves and buds and flowers.

I only brought a few plants into the studio because I have less room. I’m sure I’ll be captured by a few house plants as the winter goes on. It’ll be a challenge to find a good place for them.

I didn’t draw the plants much this summer. But I did take a squillion pictures, so over the winter, and especially the long, long month of January, I’ll have plenty to base my paintings on.

I hope you are all warm and safe. I hope the winter brings you blessings. If you are able, make some time to walk and watch how the landscape around you changes, bit by bit, week by week. One day, our little part of the earth will turn toward the sun again and the garden will unfurl and the giants will return.

Thanks for reading my blog. If you like it, share it.

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This blog is brought to you by the generosity of people who support me on Patreon , buy my art, and who support me in so many different ways.  If you’d like to support me on Patreon, please follow the link. https://www.patreon.com/user?u=8001665&fan_landing=true

If you’d like to make a one time donation, you can do so at paypal at my email address joyzmailbox @gmail.com

Cards and prints on some of my art is available on Redbubble.  

If you find a typo, let me know, and I’ll send you a postcard.

The Strength in Weakness

On November 13th, a week ago, I had surgery on my right Achille’s tendon to lengthen it. For the past 40 years I haven’t been able to put my right heel on the ground except by forcing it. It’s part of my Spastic Parapelegia which has made my right leg significantly weaker than my left leg (although my left leg isn’t very strong either.)

I have done exercises, physical therapy, worn a boot at night to stretch it out (the torture boot), taken botox shots to take the spasticity out of my calf, and taken drugs for the same reason. Over the years, while was still walking, I was essentially walking on the ball of my foot. It’s caused intense pain there and on my toes.

A few months ago, I started seeing a podiatrist for toenail problems. He suggested the tendon surgery. I asked him how long the surgery had been available, was it a new technique. He said he had been doing it for 20 years.

I talked to my neurologist to find out if it would damage the little movement I had there. He said it wouldn’t. I asked him why I had never been offered this option before. He said quite frankly he’d never heard of it.

I thought about how my walking and my pain levels would have been lessened over the years. Maybe I’d not have the pain in my hips and knees. I would have been walking more correctly. I don’t imagine it would have stopped the weakness. I might still use a wheelchair, but maybe it would have postponed it.

How Life Passed Through Me by Joy Murray

And then I just had to stop thinking that way. The medical profession is compartmentalized. It just is. My life has taken a certain path. When I started using the wheelchair full time, my pain levels didn’t go down as much as I’d thought, especially on the right leg.

So, I had the surgery, and am now waiting for the tendon to heal, hoping that I will have less pain in my foot.

I’ve always resented that right leg. I feel like I’ve just been dragging it along for most of my life.

I figured my recovery would be easy. I already have the wheelchair. The apartment has lots of grab bars. I can stand long enough to make transfers from the bed to the chair, from the chair to the toilet.

When they did the surgery they did a nerve block on the whole right leg. It usually wears off in 12 to 24 hours. But because I’m so weak anyway, for 4 days I couldn’t feel or move my right leg at all.

What that meant was that I was completely paraplegic. I had to learn how to maneuver and transfer in a totally different way. I had to learn to wriggle in and out of my clothes without standing. The grab bar no longer helped — the right leg just collapsed and the left leg didn’t have enough strength to hold me up.

I was made aware of how strong that weak leg is. I hadn’t considered how much it contributed to my balance and stability. As weak as it is, it gave me enough strength to do a lot.

The Gift by Joy Murray

Immediately after the surgery, they had me in a splint wrapped in gauze and an ace bandage. It had very little traction. My leg would slide away when I tried to transfer in my usual way. I depended a lot more on my arms. I learned what it is going to be like if I do lose all motion in my leg.

Fortunately, the nerve block wore off and now I have more control over my weak leg. I also have a big boot to hold my ankle in place and to provide stability and traction. I can stand for long enough to pull up my pants. Hallelujah!

My Grandma! What big feet you have!

The experience has taught me to be grateful for that weak leg. It’s still doing the best it can despite being weakened over the years by my thinning spinal cord. All those years I felt like I was dragging it along, it was actually keeping me upright, doing all it could to keep me walking.

We tend to get angry about our weaknesses, the parts of ourselves that don’t work the way we think they should. But I am spending this time while I recuperate trying to purge that negative way of thinking, to appreciate whatever weak function my body has. Strength manifests itself in ways we don’t understand or fully appreciate.

But I’ve learned so much from being weak, from living with long term disability — the weakest parts of my life have given me the most strength.

She Let Go of All That by Joy Murray

Thanks for reading my blog. If you like it, share it.

~~~

This blog is brought to you by the generosity of people who support me on Patreon , buy my art, and who support me in so many different ways.  If you’d like to support me on Patreon, please follow the link. https://www.patreon.com/user?u=8001665&fan_landing=true

If you’d like to make a one time donation, you can do so at paypal at my email address joyzmailbox @gmail.com

Cards and prints on some of my art is available on Redbubble.  

If you find a typo, let me know, and I’ll send you a postcard.

The summer reading list

This is a great piece on reading lists, and reading, from The Book Keeper blog, written by the owner of a shop by the same name in South Australia. I always love her little stories of customers and how wonderful it is to have books to read.

The Book Keeper Book Shop

Your summer reading list should contain a dozen of the best books about the holiday season, relaxation, the summer, warmth, sunlight, wine, evening and song.

Actually this is rubbish. Your summer reading list is whatever you want to read. However, it should not be measured in numbers (of books). This is for the amateur. Real lists are measured in years. It should never be an achievable list (also for the amateurs). It should have a life of its own, way beyond your control and way ahead of you in knowing what you need.

A reading list is a priceless document. It should remain intact, unconquered, and be passed on to your children.

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Tree of Exuberant Dreams

I started this painting while we were waiting for the elections results, which was taking an anxiety producing amount of time — though I really believe it’s a great feat getting them all counted so quickly. Thanks to all those ballot counters.

I mounted some red gampi paper — a highly textured paper — on to a canvas some months back. I knew I wanted to paint either a forest or a tree. Tuesday I went with the tree idea. I’ve done several trees where I don’t used local color. I seem to enjoy painting blue trees. I also wanted a leaf pattern that was more like an arc, with vague leaf shapes not necessarily attached to the tree. These ideas came as I was working on the painting.

I did some background abstract shapes then painted them over in red, so they are like distant shadows. I began with a twisted blue tree, then leaves of many colors. At some point, circles made their appearance. I indulged my love of shiny colors with gold, and silver paint, as well as gold foil flakes.

The Tree of Exuberant Dreams by Joy Murray, Mixed Media, 18×24″ $200. (Sold)

There’s a lot of detail work and I used a nib pen and ink for a lot of the lines — not necessarily a good choice for such roughly textured paper — but a good one for filling up long periods of time. I hope the jagged lines add a bit of dynamic movement.

Tree of Exuberant Dream, detail
Tree of Exuberant Dreams, detail

So I finally finished it today, and I’m happy with it and the election results. Maybe even exuberant.

Thanks for reading my blog. If you like it, share it.

~~~

This blog is brought to you by the generosity of people who support me on Patreon , buy my art, and who support me in so many different ways

If you’d like to make a one time donation, you can do so at paypal at my email address joyzmailbox @gmail.com

Cards and prints on some of my art is available on Redbubble.  

If you find a typo, let me know, and I’ll send you a postcard.