Adela Crandell Durkee

The Black Tortoise, A Noun Blog: Writing about People, Places, & Things

This, I believe…

I’m forgoing my usual STEM Tuesday post to bring you my opinion. Well, my opinion is influenced by my life in science.

It’s become a popular point of view:

All things happen for a reason.

It’s God’s will.

If God will’s it, it will happen.

It grates on me when I hear these and similar phrases.  It annoys me when a football player points a finger at the sky and bends a knee, giving God credit for his touchdown.  Does he think the other team lacks the grace to win?  I don’t believe that God’s a micro-manager.

I believe in God.  I believe in the will of God.  But I don’t believe all things that happen are God’s will.

Physics, biology, nature, and our own human will all play a part in our destiny.  Tornados don’t destroy a town because God wills it.  The weather conditions dictate tornadoes, and towns people built are in the way.  Babies aren’t taken from their mothers arms because God wants them back in heaven. Illness, genes, mistakes, negligence, and acts of maliciousness cause children to die. Unsuspecting tourists don’t get their  pocket picked in a crowded New York souvenir store because it’s God’s will. And for the love of Mike, baseball games aren’t decided based on whose fans have the better prayer life.

DSC00530You may wonder then, why I pray.  I do believe in the power of prayer. I believe in listening in quiet meditation, so that I can be open to God’s call.  I believe in the peace God brings.

This weekend I opened Ruth Myers’s “31 Days of Prayer,” for the first time.  I was at my sister, Bonita’s house, so we read the prayer together.   My heart fixed upon the motto that Myers invites us to live by:

God’s will, nothing more,nothing less, nothing else.

Bonita, half-joking, mused “that pretty hard to keep in mind, when your car gets a flat tire and leaving you stranded on the side of the road.” We both laughed before I jumped in my car and began my three-hour journey toward home.  Still, these simple words played in my mind as I traversed a radio-free area of Michigan, with plenty of silence to free my thoughts.

I believe that yes, if we live in this motto, we will be blessed.

If I’m stranded with a flat tire, I can decide by my will how I will handle it.  Will I curse the universe, the tire manufacturer, maybe my husband for my fate? Or will I be thankful for the cell phone in my pocket; the drivers ed teacher that taught me to change a tire?  Will I spend the time in anger, or in quiet meditation? Will I use the experience as a reminder to lend a hand when someone else is in distress? Or will I think, ‘glad I’m not you,’ and leave them in my dust.

Recently I interviewed a woman, Ms J, whose young son has a rare form of cancer.  Things look bleak.  He’s in a lot of pain. His siblings, all older, but still children, suffer, too.  “I know it sounds strange,” she tells me. “Even though this is horrible, I am blessed.” Ms J went on to explain how so many people help the family: with prayers, with meals, with rides, with fundraisers, with a shoulder to lean on.  “I don’t even know some of the people who’ve stepped up to help in so many ways.”

It’s not that her son’s fate is God’s will.  It’s that people recognized her family’s suffering and wanted to do something to help. That is God’s will.

I believe that if we approach every aspect of life asking how can I do “God’s will, nothing more, nothing less, nothing else,” our lives and the lives of others will be truly blessed.  Perhaps this is the one way our prayers are answered.


In the meantime, since I believe God’s listening to all our prayers, I really wish people would stop praying for sporting events.  I don’t want to get a busy signal because God’s tallying up all the prayers during the White Sox v Cubs game. And I know there’s a lot of prayers said when those two teams are playing.  Do you agree?


Gratitude Monday: Sunshine and Sisterhood, Pizza and Prayer

Oh the sun shine! Yesterday I heard warm weather by midweek.  

 It’s May, and poetry month is behind me.  I still love reading poetry.  I still love the exercise of learning new ways to express myself.  I apologize to faithful readers who stuck through April and my lack of poetic talent.  I feel full of energy, re-committed to following a morning routine. So with that gush of enthusiasm, here’s a list of 10 things I am thankful for this Monday:

BAM Connection:  I love reading the various blogs of my sister-bloggers. Meeting them face-to-face is encouraging, fun, and invigorating.  But… connecting after the fun is over is super-duper-dope-great.  Dina, Sara, Beth Ann, Joanne, Julie: We have some great things planned!


What? Where’s Jolan and Bonita?

 LTYM:  Listen to Your Mother in St. Joseph, Michigan.  My first BAM roommate was not to be.  Or were you my second, dear Kim?  With LYTM coming strong behind BAM, and a lack of volunteers, she bailed on me.  That’s okay, I volunteered to help her take tickets.  After all, I’m a Michigander.  My kids were born and got through middle school before I left Bad Axe. (Yes, that really is the name of a town in Michigan.)  St. Joe’s is not too far away. What a wonderful treat!  Such a wonderful chat and sip dinner with Jolan and Joan and Yvonne before the show.  And the show − wow!

 Ruth Myers and 31 Days of Prayer: A little gift from my friend, Judy, added to my list of meditations.  Day 1 filled me with such inspiration, it will  soon metamorphose my thoughts into a blogpost.  (Tomorrow maybe?) Continue reading

Photo Friday, Shrooms and a last NaPoWriMo

I love that it’s almost over, and I’ll miss it.  I suppose it’s a bit like hiking the Grand Canyon:  

Today’s prompt:

write a poem based on things you remember. Try to focus on specific details, and don’t worry about whether the memories are of important events, or are connected to each other. You could start by adopting Brainard’s uniform habit of starting every line with “I remember,” and then you could either cut out all the instances of “I remember,”

Mushroom Farm

I remember a cube of black dirt left in the corner
I remember Christmas just behind me and January bleak
I remember six weeks of waiting before pleasure’s hint.
I remember disappointment after rolling back a peek.
I remember sinus recoil from musty waves rejoinder.
I remember the hope’s tiny pearl delivered.
I remember yesterday’s forest floor taste.
Tomorrow promises more.

And here are  the photos that inspired my poem

mushrooms - 2

mushrooms - 1

mushrooms - 3

mushrooms - 5

See more photos at Pierced Wondering.  Oh my, such great photos over there.  I wonder if anyone is writing poetry.

Pierced Wonderings

Outfit of the Week, BAM friend, and NaPoWriMo

Today is CeCi’s birthday and I’m spending the whole day with her.

The BAM-16 Conference seems like just last week.  I reconnected with my friend, Doreen, who I met in person for the very first time at BAM-15.

I met Doreen McGelligan virtually when I read and reviewed her book, BRISTOL STOMP last year.

Here we are last year:


And here we are this year. I picked this photo because I love Doreen. And because I got so many compliments about the way I tied my scarf. Yes! Even from the fashion bloggers! I did have my pink Hotter open-toed heels on, but by the end of the day, I opted for my Gltterflops.

April 27 OFOTW - 1

I let my hair go its own wavy way on this day.

I also like this photo because it shows how tall and lanky Doreen is.  I never realized how much shorter I am.  Don’t we both look gorgeous in our different fashion pics?

And here we go with a little poetry challenge:

write a poem that incorporates a call and response. Calls-and-responses are used in many sermons and hymns (and also in sea chanties!)

Call-Out to BAM

Making friends is easy, as long as you have a pen.
Yesterday, today, tomorrow, women of midlife: BAM!

Next we harnessed keyboard, buzz and whir of modem.
Yesterday, today, tomorrow, women of midlife: BAM!

YouTube, Blab, and GoogleMeets over toast and jam,
Yesterday, today, tomorrow, women of midlife: BAM!

Prose and verse, humor and vice, even a poetry slam,
Yesterday, today, tomorrow, women of midlife: BAM.

Hugs and laughs and salutations, into a small car we cram.
Yesterday, today, tomorrow, women of midlife: BAM.



STEM Tuesday: Aging Stinks (NaPoWriMo)

Old People Smell

Getting older
Has an odor.

It's not as unpleasant,
As pesky adolenscents.

Grandpa with one of my sons and one of my daughters.

Grandpa at 89 with Adolescent Wrestler #1

My brother Frank said to Mom, “Why don’t you smell like old people?”  Mom, after all, is 87. Mom just laughed.

Yes, old people really do smell old.

It’s a dull, kind of sweet stink, sometimes described as a musty green smell. Just like everyone else,  chemicals from the skin glands get broken down into small odorous molecules.  But, as we age, more 2-nonenal gets created, giving us what’s been identified as an “old smell.”

The “old smell” starts to increase after the age of 40. And the oldest people (Mom) produce 3 times as much 2-nonenal as middle age people.

A study in Japan compared tee-shirts slept in for three days of various people. tee shirts with high levels of 2-nonenal actually smelled less unpleasant than tee shirts of younger people. That is, when the sniffer, sniffed without benefit of seeing the age of the body in the tee shirt.

Researches hypothesize that the “old smell” might signal a genetic advantage.  “Mate with this old person, cuz she/he has hearty genes.”  Duh, that only makes sense if the old person is a viral male.

Perhaps this is an advantage for the old woman’s gene pool, eliminating competition for her growing children. Mate away with the old woman, cuz she’s  not going to do a thing for perpetuating your gene-pool. “Fooled you, all that mating was just fun and games.”

So why doesn’t Mom smell old?

The answer may be in n a comment that Loved-One makes from time to time.  “Our sheets smell like an old man.” (He’s a smart man. He never says they smell like an old woman. )

Older people  tend to lose the ability to regulate their temperature, so they close up their houses to prevent drafts and chills. Plus, older people can feel more vulnerable, and stay inside with the windows closed.  This can concentrate the “old smell.”

We all go ‘nose blind.’ It’s the same reason, Larry was identifiable by his over-application of Stetson cologne back in the ’80s.  He couldn’t smell himself, but the rest of us knew as soon as Larry walked in the room.

Older people often are less physically active.  This often results in hanging clothes back in the closet instead of washing them.  The 2-nonenal builds up in the closet. The odor permeates the house and gets taken out the door when the clothes get put back on.

So there some truth to the advice I heard when I was a kid with my head buried in a book,

Mom has people coming in and out of her house every day.  She loves the outdoors, and is busy volunteering and getting involved with other people.


Mom: out and about and not smeeling (or acting) old.

Soon Mom’s children will attack her Spring Clean-up to-do list.  I’m pretty sure she’ll add, ‘get rid of any 2-nonenal,’ as soon as she reads this. That is, unless she’s thinking about protecting her now aging offspring with some non-gene-pool-perpetuation mating.




Gratitide and NaPoWriMo 

I love starting the week with gratitude.  Plus it’s NaPoWriMo (National Poetry Writing Month.)  Yay!  A challenge wrapped in blessings.  Umm…hmm.

The challenge:

write a poem that begins with a line from a another poem (not necessarily the first one), but then goes elsewhere with it.

The poem I  picked is The Chambered Nautilus.  It’s the poem that my novel keeps circling back to, so it’s dear to me.  Still, I never had the patience to memorize it..

This is the ship of pearl, which, poets feign, 
Two lips and cheek recline at table,
A child's repose. 
As lovers' ardor shaken; bend to regain anew.
Glances linger, hope flames and departs
Green blades push through prickly death
Protecting young tenderlings from the hunter
Under aging feet as 
warmth expands the dying tulips.
Memory fades, phantoms linger, clear.
Uncle and son sojourn miles together,
Deliver a last word, connect with new,
Before traveling different paths toward home.
Birthdays, death days, slow days become faster,
Spring fades winter, speeds toward summer solstice.
Vanity of vanity or Grace
In all things birth the divine.

Here are a few photos that spurred my gratitude and poetry. 



NaPoWriMo: Style from the Stylus

Well this morning I woke from an interesting dream: I dreamt I was sleeping and woke rested and raring to go.  Guess what?  I did. And I’ve got a lot to do.  Starting with back to poetry. Can I marry this prompt with a bit of Style from the Stylus?

…think of a single thing or person (a house, your grandmother, etc), and then write a poem that consists of kenning-like descriptions of that thing or person. For example, you might call a cat a mouse-stalker, quiet-walker, bird-warner, purr-former, etc. If you’re looking for examples, you can find one that Vince wrote here and a different example here.

So here goes.  A poem about my first fashion icon.

Feedsack Dresses

[tweetthis]As a child, she knew how to strut her stuff.[/tweetthis]

Born with Style


Yarn unraveled.
Democratic winker,
Socialistic thinker.
Great-lake resider
Red-head Michigander.

Sister to many, 
Friend to more, 
Daughter of the wisest, 
Mother, wife, and  Nonnie.
Always looks her bestest, 
Even at the wostest.
The Kelly Women

Okay, she’s not a red-head anymore, but she was. She was. The beautiful kind, with rich, deep color.

 Deanna & Mike
Deanna - 6

Daughter of the wisest.

Deanna & Swiss Guard - Version 2

At the Vatican, she’s gorgeous 

Deanna eating ice cream

She manages to look stylish, and spot-free eating ice cream on a hot day.


Look, she can even stay neat in white, while camping.


Gratitude Monday: New Friends in Old Places


 Yay! for Julie, my roommate.  From across the stratosphere, we discover that we grew up about an hours drive from each other.  Another Michigander to add to my friend list.  More new friends, Joanne, Sara, Kathy, Beth, and more.  Meeting old friends, Sharon, Doreen, Pam and others.  What a blast we all had.  Plus, my head is abuzz with new ideas for my blog, new things to write about.

Ahh… but it’s good to be home.  And now this afternoon, I’m off again.  This time to South Carolina, to use the left side of my brain.

So in no particular order, here’s what’s on my Gratitude list this week.

  • Midlife and Beyond girlfriends.  You are so dear to me.
  • Tons of ideas to make my writing more appealing.
  • A special surprise greeting from Beth. IMG_0901
    • Sisters who believe in the drop in visits.  Julie, on her way to see her second son, will stop to see her second sister (that’s me!)
    • UBER.  Yes, there’s Uber drivers way out here.  The drive to the airport will be much less expensive than the last time I hired a driver.
    • Jonquils.  You tiny little replicates of my larger daffodils.  You are a giggle to the laughter your sisters bring to my heart.
    • Sweet Sixteen.  Miss E, can it really be?  Yes, indeed, another grandchild is authorized to drive.
    • Bridge to Life.  I am so privileged to work with a company that helps transfer life from donor to recipient.
    • Clean counters.  Loved-One knows just how to make my homecoming perfect.  Yes.  Nothing says “I love you” like clean counters.
    • Clouds from the other side.
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