Caitlin Murray

Caitlin Murray is the Archivist and Programs Manager at Judd Foundation in Marfa, Texas.
websites: impossible objects / marfa book co.

01    Nature

My husband Tim built a raised garden with our friend Nick. It’s made of cedar and sits perpendicular to our bedroom window. I visit throughout the day and marvel at each new growth.

It’s summer in the desert and it rains regularly in the afternoon. When you wake up in the morning it smells like wet dirt that is wet for the first time.

The rabbits, which have been scarce for a decade, have come back.

That being said, one thing I try not to forget is that the idea of nature is a human construct and as such, I think it creates unnecessary and non-existent boundaries between humans and the world. The idea of nature and of the natural is very powerful; I am weary of that power.

02    Object (old)

Along with my husband I own a bookstore called the Marfa Book Company. A lot of our energy and attention has gone into the store for the past 10 years. When I go to the store I enable a selective vision so that I don’t feel overwhelmed by the number of interesting books there are to read. I try and fail to not take too many books home with me. That being said, I recently brought home the new Agnes Martin catalogue that accompanies a large retrospective of her work. I hope to see the show at the Guggenheim in November. I have looked at about a fourth of the book so far. I had never seen her early paintings, which I find very beautiful. One question that has recurred to me as I go through the book is: what is the difference between joy and happiness?

03    Object (new)

Last weekend I cleaned off the large desk in our bedroom where we pile notebooks, pens, papers, books, and magazines. In the pile I found two postcards from two trips that we made this year, both of Charles Burchfield paintings, which we bought at the Albright-Knox Museum in Buffalo. Charles Burchfield moved to Buffalo when he was 28. I was born in Buffalo and moved away when I was 10, I hadn’t been to visit in 20 years. In the early spring we took a morning flight there from El Paso. When we arrived at 2am, it was below freezing and snowing. We attended a conference on poetics at the University of Buffalo and met up with my mother, who had flown in from Austin, and we all rode the Maid of the Mist together.

I wrote a poem for Charles Burchfield:
that golden year
followed by those 50
a lexicon
planted and tended to
on scraps

telephone notes
shopping lists
card-game score sheets
safe-kept and vouchsafed
moths and spider webs

what does one do with one’s tenderness?

The other postcards were of the Charles and Ray Eames house in Los Angeles, which we visited last summer. Our friend Christina Kim suggested that we drive all the way down Santa Monica Boulevard to the ocean to get to the Pacific Palisades, where the house is located. The Eames house is up a steep road. It’s hidden behind trees and there is no large surrounding wit, which is different from the surrounding homes, which are primarily mansions. The house sits in a grove and looks out to the ocean. Swarms of butterflies greeted us as we entered the property. All around the house were potted plants.

I took the cards and taped them to a small alcove in our house that has been empty since we bought it two years ago. We have intended to put shelves in the alcove but haven’t gotten around to it yet. I felt that the space needed to hold something.

04    Surprise

When I was thinking about recording this list, I decided to write down some things that had happened over the past month. I mistakenly wrote the word “MOONSHOTS” in my notebook, recalling the name of the list incorrectly. Later, I was surprised that I had misremembered the name and thought about the distinction between a moon list and a moon shot, one being an attempt to remember what was or to think about what is, and the other, a hope for something more or different, a striving for the impossible. I wondered about the influence of these two moons upon each other and I thought that this opposition might be an inherent part of human struggle and suffering.

05    Encounter

I live in a town that has a lot of visitors. There are many tourists, but also many artists in residence who spend periods of time here from three weeks to a few months. We have become accustomed to regular encounters with people with whom we form close bonds over short periods of time, but see irregularly, if again. If these encounters were less meaningful, they would be easier to describe. Here are notes from several encounters in the past month:

a poet and his devotions
a songwriter, facing forward
a writer and his home
a poet and his ancient friends
a writer and her misconceptions
a writer and her power
a poet and his presence
a mother and her warmth

06    Night Out

At the end of last month I organized a star viewing party that was hosted by the place where I work. I live in a town with one of the darkest skies in the Northern Hemisphere. Hundreds of people came to see the constellations and look through telescopes to view Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars. I saw Jupiter’s four moons, which were discovered by Galileo in 1610. When I looked through the telescope they formed a line jutting away from Jupiter like a short ladder in the sky that one might walk up to get to the planet. A little girl in the crowd asked the astronomer if you could make a wish on any star and the astronomer said yes.

07    Day Out

More important to me than a day out is a day in. I have been very busy this past month and unable to spend as much time at home as I would like, which is a lot. Instead of leaving this month, I stayed in and enjoyed the comfort and relaxation of my home. When I did leave, I went on short trips to two neighboring towns, each 25 miles away, forming a triangle. On those trips we bought groceries and items for our garden and ate at our favorite lunch spots.

08    Time Alone

I took a sick day this month, which I rarely do. I am in a constant state of being propelled, which usually means in a forward motion, but I don’t mean it that way. One can be propelled in every direction. Stasis can be powerful and lifesaving. I have tried to internalize this. One way for me of internalizing this is by taking a sick day.

09    Time With A Friend

Almost five years ago I lost a close friend. Recently friends of mine lost a close friend of theirs, which made me think of the friend that I had lost. Not getting to spend time with him is one of the most painful pains that I have ever felt. But sometimes I am lucky and memories of him become clear and the past seems more present.

010    Movie / TV / Book

We don’t have a movie theater in our town and I always seem to start a movie too late, after I am already close to sleeping, and see only the very beginning. My husband has tried to get me to watch the new Coen brother’s movie four times this month, but there are only so many times when you can rent a movie on Amazon before you give up.

My mom doesn’t like to say that she watches “TV” although she streams many shows on her iPad. She calls them her “programs.” In this past month a friend of mine lost respect for me when he found out what TV shows I watch, but he watches Law and Order so I don’t feel too bad.

I’m currently reading a number of things, but the longest book I am reading is War and Peace, which I am fairly confident is incapable of being topped by TV or a film version

011    Creative Act

I wrote a poem called “Rte. Beyonce.” If you search “Beyonce” in WikiLeaks you get 334 results. Most of these are from the emails of Sony Pictures Entertainment, but a handful of them are from the Iraq War Logs. These specific logs that appeared when the term “Beyonce” was searched recall reports concerning Improvised Explosive Devices detected by patrol on a route, named Rte. Beyonce, in Iraq.


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caitlin's garden

caitlin's garden

caitlin's garden

caitlin's garden

early agnes martin painting

early agnes martin painting

A diagram of a vintage telescope owned by Donald Judd, via  Marfa Public Radio

A diagram of a vintage telescope owned by Donald Judd, via Marfa Public Radio

War and Peace author Leo Tolstoy and his Starley Rover Bicycle, 1895.    

War and Peace author Leo Tolstoy and his Starley Rover Bicycle, 1895.