Thursday, June 28, 2012

Defeating Darkness

Yesterday, I met with a couple of women who work for Darkness to Light, an amazing organization that is working to "empower people to prevent child sexual abuse." That's a huge and incredible mission, one that impacts the lives of so many people I know.

The reason we met was because of BookCrossing. D2L is seeking ways to get their message out into the community further, particularly during August, which is sort of their kick-off month each year for raising awareness and letting people know about resources and programs available. We had a great talk, in the courtyard of Kudu, and have come up with some ideas that might just work for them.

But the whole exercise got me thinking, which is a good thing, I suppose. I was not personally sexually abused, but two women, who I hold very dear, were, and by a perpetrator I actually knew when I was little. He was a man of contradictions, very gruff, but very devoted, and he scared the bejiggers out of me, enough so that I told my mother I didn't want to be alone with him.  I couldn't articulate why, but she seemed to understand, and told me that no one should ever have to be afraid to be with another person.

As I mulled over what I'd talked about with Liz and Sterling, an idea came to me.  We'd talked about ways to release books that had child sexual abuse as part of the story, to help raise awareness of the issue. D2L may be here in Charleston, but this organization has reached far beyond the local community, modifying  the advice to think globally; act locally. For them, local is global. They've got training sessions set up internationally to help raise awareness of the prevalence and consequences of child sexual abuse. My world, too, may be local, but thanks to the internet, I can easily and quickly communicate with friends and family thousands of miles away.

My idea, that is still being fine-tuned, is to create a book release challenge through BookCrossing, for members to release books that in some way reflect to the mission, purpose, or any way they can relate, of D2L. I would ask that each book have in a journal entry a blurb (which I could provide, with the assistance of D2L) and a link for further information. I think it could be an amazing challenge, promoting awareness of a cause that needs to be brought into the light, and totally extinguished.

Because, as Bumma said, no person should ever have to be afraid to be with someone else.

PS Today is the third anniversary of her passing. She is still with me, guiding, teaching, comforting, and making me smile.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Summertime, and the figging is easy

Went for a walk this afternoon, and when I got home I realized more figs were ready for picking, despite having harvested some this morning and yesterday. Gotta love summer. Mmmmmm...

(And yes, that's my hat, being used as a basket.)

Some views of Stanford Graduation 2012

Monday, June 25, 2012

There's something special about Sundays

Even though it's now Mondy, one more bit of Sunday summertime specialness for me:  The Sunday Brunch Farmer's Market at Medway Park in Riverland Terrace. It's been going on a few weeks, and has one more Sunday, as I think July 1 is the last market scheduled.

There's my friend Rena, the genius behind Happy Camper Snoballs. Whenever I see her or her vintage 1965 camper (not to mention the colorful and tasty snoballs, served in mini takeout food cartons), I can't help but smile.

I waved to her on my way to see Amber over at Diggity Doughnuts , where I was collecting an engagement gift for my friends Kiley and Jeff.  Kiley had written an article on Diggity a few months back, and was dreaming of picking up a few doughnuts when she's here in July. Unfortunately for Kiley, Diggity is going on vaycay for July and August, but I arranged to grab some goodness and park it in my freezer until Kiley gets here.

Yeah. Like they're gonna last.

I love the farmer's market on Saturdays at Marion Square, but in some ways, this smaller one on Sundays  is much more homey.  I get to see the lovely Meg from Dirthugger farm right here on James Island. I used her radishes in our farro salad last night. Mmmmm. Can't get more local than that, except in my own back yard.  Anyone as passionate about fruits and veggies as she is, is tops in my book. 

There's Andy from Artisan Tees (I'm wearing one of his original designs as I type),
Mary and Ron from Earth Maiden, Brian or someone from Rio Bertolinis, with fabulous pasta, and if you're lucky, fresh gelato, Bonnie from Lazy B Farm, who has fresh Japanese Quail eggs, the fine folks from Baguette Magic, a food truck or two, and some other vendors.

The thing is, though I'm not a farmer, or an artist, or a provider of fine local goods and taste treats, these people are all my friends.  They give their hearts and their talents to their community, and I give mine right back to them. 

Yes, it's special when I take a visitor from out of town to the market, and I'm greeted by name, but I've watched them greet total strangers who stop by, and those people receive the same warm and gracious attention I do. These vendors and purveyors of goods are part of the reason visitors to Charleston find our city so hospitable. They make me feel like one in a million, but mostly because that's part of their gift -- they share their bounty and their unique graces with the rest of us, and make the world a little better, one bit of deliciousness at a time. 

Thank y'all. See you next Sunday.

I've looked at clouds from both sides now

Driving home from choir and church (and my peaceful Sunday strolls around downtown Charleston) yesterday, my reverie was broken by a cloud formation. (Luckily Javaczuk was driving, so no cars or fishermen on the bridge were injured by my contemplative state or awakening from it.) I've always wanted to see rabbits, or puppies, or even dragons in the clouds.  I guess once a urology nurse, always a urology nurse, because the cloud I saw clearly only looked like one thing to me, and to everyone that I have showed the picture.

And for my medical friends, when the wind began to blow from the east, it developed hypospadias (which spell check wants to change to hypochondriacs, but I won't let it.)

I've heard it said that nature makes no mistakes, but clearly sometimes there's junk in the sky.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Keeping Time

There is a rhythm to life in Charleston that has soaked into my soul. It has to do with the way the marshes change from gold to green each year; how the angle of light changes as the seasons progress. The bright-hot colors of July are beginning to make an appearance, letting me know that soon, our mini monsoon time will become more pronounced -- afternoon thunderstorms chasing away the heat of summertime.  I watch the calendar for months with "R" in them, keeping track of oyster season by a rule that was in place here before refrigeration was common-place. Tides mean more than the rise and fall of water levels. Moon phases beat a pulse in the waters around our home. The migration of birds marks the spring and the fall. There's a time to plant, to collect the bounty of the sea, to gather the fruits of the earth.  Yesterday, we picked the first figs of the year, beating the birds to the luscious sweetness straight from the trees.
I had opportunity, recently, to reflect on time.  We flew to the west coast for an event that brought to a close something that has shaped our live with its rhythms and schedules for 21 years. As I listened to Cory Booker, the commencement speaker at Stanford University, I realized this marked the end (at least for now) of school days for our family.  I remember so clearly the start of pre-school and Montessori for our son; how our vacations and travels matched the calendar for the schools our son attended. How the events, ceremonies, celebrations, all shaped our lives. Last week, at Stanford, we attended the culmination of those years. While he may someday return for future studies, 21 years of continuous schooling were over, and a new phase of life was indeed commencing.

It was inevitable that my mother came to mind. She used to say that she had no intention of dying before she saw her eldest grandson graduate university. But obviously, the seasons of her life carried her a different path. I wondered if I would feel her presence on that day when her beloved grandson received his degrees, or if he would feel her or think of her. The answer to these musings is yes.  She was most definitively there, if not in spirit, then in memory. And she was smiling.  It's been a long time since she held her grandson in her lap, but her family held her in our hearts and carried her with us that day.

I've lived in cycles of 21 years with my mother -- the first 21 years of my life as I called her home mine; the last 21 years of hers as we once again shared a home after going separate ways for a bit.  Now, at the end of another cycle of 21, we've marked time as mother and daughter, mother and grandmother, in the seasons of our lives.  I miss you, Bumma.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Red Shoes: Bumma's bounty 2012

It's hard to think of what to get an 87 year old for a holiday gift.  We didn't know that December 2008  would be my mother's last December with us. I just knew I wanted to make the holiday time special; I wanted to make her happy. We had reason to celebrate. We thought she'd beaten cancer that past September. We had no clue it would be back late in April and that she'd be gone 8 weeks later.

So, what to get my darling mother for Christmas, or Chanukah, if she so chose to observe her heritage, or the solstice, or all three? Usually, if I asked, she just said "I want my family around me, and if I can't have that, then a box of Turtles" (which were a chocolate, caramel and pecan candy she loved.) Still, it seemed easier to ask her rather than guess. She surprised me with a very specific wish.

 "I want red shoes", she said. "I've never had a pair of red shoes, and I want some.  Pretty ones.  Not like the ones in the ballet, more like Dorothy's."

Okay, red shoes. Pretty ones.  In a size 7. I had a mission.  I was on it.

As I looked in various shoe stores around town, I thought about my mother's shoes. When I was a girl, I loved dressing up in her beautiful shoes and clomping around. She had dazzling pumps, leather flats as soft as butter, strappy sandals that cris-crossed her slim feet like something the goddess Diana would have worn.  But then, as her MS progressed, she developed a foot drop that made ambulation difficult. Her foot would drag, she'd lose balance, and often fall.  To prevent falls, but to keep mobile, she began to use a wheelchair more frequently. She lost weight. Both her clothes and shoes seemed too big for her petite frame. As her body dwindled, her spirit and determination began to blossom. She tried traditional leg braces to help combat the foot drop, but didn't have the strength to carry the metal contraptions.

It was in the summer of 1975 that she learned of a type of brace, an ankle-foot-orthosis (AFO), made of a lighter material. My father, who didn't want her to face more disappointment, tried to encourage her to focus on using a wheelchair more, but she wanted to walk. "The wind doesn't feel the same on my face when I'm in a wheelchair as when I walk, " she told me.

(As a sidenote, these were words that helped shape my practice as a clinical nurse specialist, when I worked with children with spina bifida years later. The message I took with me was to hear what the patient wanted, not what others thought was the best course of action.)

I was away from home, working at a camp in the mountains of West Virginia, when I got a call that summer.  My mother's voice fairly vibrated with excitement. "Listen," she said.  Then silence. "Did you hear that?!"

"Hear what, Mama?"

"Did you hear me?  I walked!"

My shout of joy at her joy was so loud, it brought the camp director running to see what was wrong. Soon, there was a roomful of friends who knew her only from my stories of our family, whooping and hollering congratulations to her, as she listened, long-distance, on the line. (Apparently, telling stories of my mother is a long standing habit in my life.)

The AFOs came with a price, though. She had to give up her pretty shoes for sturdy ones that tied. She carted around her shoe collection for two or three more moves, but then, before she moved to Charleston in 1988, found new homes for them. Now, in the sunset of her years, she was using her wheelchair more and the AFOs less.  She wanted pretty, red shoes, and I was going to make sure she got them.

Her face, when she opened the box on Christmas morning and saw the red shoes nestled in the tissue, was one of surprised joy. She was dressed all in red, like a little Christmas elf. She immediately kicked off her slippers to put on the flats. "They're so pretty!, " she exclaimed.

She only wore those red shoes a time or two, before she left us. I've had her red shoes out maybe a half dozen times to pass on to a charity, and just couldn't do it.  The other day, I was with some friends, when I felt a strong nudge in my heart. I knew what I had to do.

"Does anyone wear a size 7 shoe?", I asked. One of the women present, who has been through some extremely rough times these past few months, said she did. When I explained about Bumma's red shoes, which had ridden  in the back of my car as I searched for the right place to give them, her face lit up.

"I'd be honored to wear them," said my friend. When I brought them out of the boot of the car, she exclaimed, "They're so pretty!" And I knew Bumma's shoes had found their next home.

As my friend turned to leave, she stopped, and said,"This is just about the best thing that has happened to me in months.  Thank you."

"Don't thank me", I thought.  "Thank a little lady who loved the feel of the wind on her face when walking."

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Books, Bread, Bumma

I put the "book" part of bookczuk to use in many ways, either through my love of reading, embracing the joy of the feel of a book in hand, talking with others about literature, or through the simple art of bookcrossing -- sharing books by leaving them in a public place to be picked up and read by others, who then do likewise. 

Books wanting to become BookCrossing books often stumble into my path, eager to be set up with that all important BCID, the number that lets their journey be traced on as they travel the world. When books I have previously read come my way again, it is my habit to find my old reviews and enter them into the new copy as well, for half the joy of finding a book and coming to the site is to see where it has been and what others thought.

This morning, while registering some serendipitous finds, I came across Bread Alone, by
The best part about looking up this review, though, was seeing a review written by my darling mother, bumma, after she read the book in June of 2008. Bumma was the one who led me on the path of books. She taught me the golden rules of life: practice kindness, keep hope, a good cup of tea is a fine cure-all, always carry a book with you to help pass the long waits that life sometimes brings. She had an amazing spirit -- one that still is vibrant today, three years after her death.  And so, on this rainy June morning, as I sipped my tea, I read her thoughts on Bread Alone. (The caps and other typing idiosyncrasies are completely hers.)

Despite the fact that I picked this up from my daughter's hand and not at a BookCrossing Meeting or in the wild, I was glad to read it.

The backdrop of the bakery, its employees, its product were interesting to meet and follow.

Bread making IS exciting.

My beloved mother died the following June.  Here it is, three Junes later, and we're still sharing a book and a cup of tea.

Monday, June 11, 2012

A bit of Sunday goodness at Wildflour Pastry on Spring Street.

Love is a curl

Behold the lowly zucchini, turned into zucchini pasta.

Having fun with my new padermo vegetable spiralizer, and all the delights it can add to slicing, dicing, and eating all the delicious veggies of summer.

Add pesto and yum.   And rest assured, cleanup is easy.  That's my spiralizer in the sink, waiting for soap and H2O.
Trying something new here -- a new view on sharing images, books, coffee, Charleston, and other favorites of my life.  It may or may not work.  We'll see.

Sunday, June 10, 2012 rehomed as of January 2017

You have not time travelled. In January 2017, I moved this post to the front of my blog as a landing page from my shop, If you've come looking for my czukart shop, it is no more. However, I am still creating pysanky, pysanky inspired art, and line art. As of April 2019, I am no longer creating Wheel of Time™ related art. Feel free to contact me, via email or this blog, with your inquiries. I welcome your interest.


Writing pysanky is the traditional folk art of decorating eggs. It has been handed down through generations for millennia. The word pysanky stems from the Ukrainian word “to write". Pysanky are considered to be written thoughts using a combination of wax resist and dye to convey symbols and colors, rather than painted. Each pysanka carries a one of a kind message of hope and good wishes. Though often now associated with Easter, pysanky are for all of life's events, made for special occasions, or to transmit special wishes or prayers. The symbols and colors all contain meaning, representing life: wishes of hope, health, prosperity, safety, and blessings. Legend has it that as long as pysanky are written, goodness will prevail over evil throughout the world.
I write traditional, and nontraditional pysanky, including a many which reflect original art on eggshell in a pysanky-style, based on Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time™ series. Prints, coloring art, and original line art is also available.

The White Tower Collection

Birds of a feather

The Ajah Collection

As of May 2019 I am no longer creating Officially licensed WoT artwork.