Adela Crandell Durkee

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

Photo Friday: Red Sky in Morning

Sailors take warning?  Maybe it’s true.  For me it is pure delight when I wake up to this site from my bathroom window:

red sky in morning - 4


I go to the balcony to get a better look:

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Gratitude Monday: Little Brother and such

Last week a 36 year-old colleague passed away.  She had a severe asthma attack.  Of course I knew asthma can kill. But for me, that was just in theory. I had asthma as a young adult.  My youngest brother, John, had asthma. My asthma was relatively mild. I had the horrible sensation of being able to breathe good air in, but unable to push the bad air out. For John, it was life-threatening.  We rushed my little brother to the hospital many times. 

 Not so for Anne. She left behind a young daughter, a husband, and many people who loved her dearly.  I am happy to know Anne, if only for a brief time.

John & Jude at Crandell Christmas, 2013 (Allison & Jesse’s house

John and his grand-nephew, Jude.

I suppose it’s only natural that Anne’s death fills me gratitude that I still have my brother.  She reminds me that happy endings don’t always happen.  John is 14 years younger than me in years. Yet, we are so close in ideas, humor, and spirituality.  I am so thankful he had the chance to grow up into such a wonderful friend.

Here are a few more things on my gratitude list:

A nearby beach. One last day in the sun before school starts.

Amtrak reduced rates for seniors and people with disabilities.  CoCo is going to visit her grandmother, my Mom.  We’ll travel via Metra (again reduced fare!) and shell travel on via Amtrak.  Without government subsidies, that might not be possible.

The Olympic coverage. I’m learning about so many sports I rarely, if ever see.  This weekend I watched golf with Mr. R1.  We marveled at the commentator whispering, “I thought the ball would drop-drunk into the hole.” How colorful.  I wondered what the strategy might be for sprinters.  Don’t they just run as fast as they can? And synchronized swimming:  Holy Cow! Those women traverse the pool three times, without touching the bottom, and we never see them sweat.


Generous writers. Tomorrow, the speculative author, Clayton Smith, will join my book club.  I can hardly sit still in anticipation. He’s the author of Anomaly Flats, and Apocalyption. Funny and creepy at the same time. His books, not Clayton. Well, Clayton is funny.

Photo courtesy of Clayton Smith and Emily Rose Studios

Photo courtesy of Clayton Smith and Emily Rose Studios


What’s on your gratitude list this week?  Please share.  When you do, you so often remind me of others things for which I’m, too, am grateful.


Photo Friday: A weed by any other name…

My cover designer, Chad Green, asked me to take some photos of Queen Anne’s Lace.  The setting is mid-Michigan, so

.  Chad wanted a better view of the underside for his design.

I got to appreciate some of the nuances and beauty of the Queen.

Queens - 1


inside book photo - 1


Queens - 2


Queens - 3

There’s something so hopeful about a weed called Queen Anne’s Lace.  Don’t you think?

For more photos, hop on over to Pierced Wonderings and take a look.  You will love what you see.  I promise.


Pierced Wonderings

Installment #1: The Party Platforms. It’s all about the jobs and the economy

Acrylic platform shoes.

Acrylic platform shoes. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you missed my preamble, no, not those platforms.

And not that kind of party.

I’m reviewing and comparing the Democrat and Republican Party Platforms.  I’m doing this because there’s more to the election than getting a new President.  I already know who I want for my next President.  I, like, Thomas L. Friedman of The New York Times, hope that all 50 states go to one candidate.

Both Parties have rebuilding the economy and creating jobs as the first thing on their respective Agendas.

The Democratic Party has nine pages on job creation, pay, and workers.  The Platform mentions Donald Trump or the Republican Party seven times in these nine pages.  The Republicans have eight pages on restoring the American dream; they mention Obama/the current administration or the Democrats eleven times.

Just so I can keep everything straight, I put the information into a simple chart, like I would for corporate goals.  This is also the way CoCo’s Individual Education Plans got laid out, too.  Pretty easy to understand; I think:  We will______________ by_____________ so that______________ happens.  I added a column for how the action will be financed, too.  Sadly that’s pretty empty.

So here’s the Democrats’ Plan for jobs and the economy:

We will By So that Finacing by
Raise workers’ incomes Incrementally raising the minimum wage to $15/hr Everyone can earn a living wage Federal dollars to support employers
Protect workers’ rights Allowing unions to be certified by simple majority Workers are protected at the bargaining table
Protect workers’ rights Opposing right-to-work legislation Workers are protected at the bargaining table
Support working families Enacting  national 12 weeks paid medical & family leave We have a strong, stable caregiving workforce
Support working families Fighting for 7 days of paid sick leave, and paid vacations We have a strong, stable caregiving workforce
Help more workers share in corporate profits Incentivizing companies share in corporate profits with workers Worker productivity increases  



Expand access to affordable housing Expanding incentives to ease local barriers to building. We create millions of good-paying jobs,

Address the housing crisis.

Increase funding for the National Housing Trust Fund
Expand access to home ownership Expanding efforts like the Neighborhood Stabilization Program We counter the Lingering effects of the foreclosure crisis are addressed
Address homelessness Expanding initiative to end veteran and family homelessness Veterans no longer go homeless.
Protect and expand Social Security Fighting efforts to cut, privatize, or weaken Social Security. Every American can retire with dignity Ask those with incomes above $250,000 to pay more.
Ensure a secure and dignified retirement Enacting legislation so that earned benefits will not be cut Workers get priority and protection when pension plans are distressed. Closing tax loopholes that benefit millionaires and billionaires
Create good-paying jobs Building a better infrastructure Millions of Americans are put back to work Create an independent national infrastructure bank
Create good-paying jobs Claw back tax breaks for jobs shipped overseas We foster a manufacturing renaissance
Create clean energy jobs Making American manufacturing more internationally competitive Our industries are the greenest and most efficient in the world Invest in efficiency
Pursue an innovation Agenda Supporting public and private investment in science, technology, and research We Enhance opportunities to achieve greater self-sufficiency
Pursue an innovation Agenda Connecting every household to high-speed broadband, increase free Wi-Fi We enable the Internet of Things and a host of transformative technologies.
Support a free and open internet Opposing roll back of net neutrality rules ??
Expand space exploration Strengthening support for NASA Americans continue to push beyond the boundaries of what we know.
Support small businesses and entrepreneurs Cutting red tape We grow jobs faster.
Support small businesses and entrepreneurs Providing targeted funding and support We grow jobs faster.
Make investments to spur the creation of millions of jobs Creating jobs for America’s between the age of 16 and 24 We decrease the number of young people who are unemployed (Currently 10%) Direct federal funding for a range of locan programs

Whew! That was a lot of work.  Next up….

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Gratitude Monday: A grateful mourning

This morning I finished A LITTLE LIFE by Hanya Yanagihara.  Wrestler #1 recommended A LITTLE LIFE months ago, maybe even around the 1st of the year.  Finally, I picked it up.  This is bound to be my favorite book of 2016.  It is hopeful and mournful at the same time.  It made me cry from the guts out, and it made me appreciate all the love in my life, and how we never really know anyone, that there are always secrets too tender to share.
Yanagihara skill a turning research into story is exceptional.  Wow!  Thank you Hanya Yanagihara and Thank you Wrestler #1. I grieve the loss these characters already.

Here are a few more things on my gratitude list, in no particular order:

Another grandchild turning the corner into teenhood, and still loving his Legos.webs - 2 (1)

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Photo Friday: Funnel in the grass

Saturday, almost a week ago, Loved-One and I took a walk in the early morning.  I needed to take pictures of Queen Anne’s Lace so Chad can finish the back cover of A SHIP OF PEARL.  Every lawn we passed had gauzy patches covered with dew.  Small patches, that may have gone unnoticed, if we’d waited until later in the morning. The dew covered gauze shimmered in the still-waking sun.

Well, of course we had to take a closer look.  And then a still-closer look, and closer, and closer:

webs - 4

webs - 1

webs - 2

webs - 3

Notice the hole in the center of the web? A black and  brown spider sulked inside one of the holes.  I tried to get a photo, but she scuttled into the hole.

Here’s a photo and some info that I found on-line:

The “Grass Spider” I saw was maybe a 1/2 inch long.  She’s  from the funnel weaver family Agelenidae. These spiders spin dense, non-sticky, sheet-like webs with a funnel-like retreat where the spider hides.  They eat insects and other spiders.

“Grass spiders” are timid and non-aggressive. When anything other than  their web is a than an insect approaches, they typically retreat to the back of their funnel web. (And just in case you’re wondering, they cannot bite humans, because their “jaws” are too small.)

 They build these beautiful and practical webs, only to have them mowed down or crushed.  
Now for some other lovely photos, shared by Jen at Pierced Wonderings.
Pierced Wonderings

Platforms: Fry it up in a Pan

Acrylic platform shoes.

Acrylic platform shoes. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

No,  not the shoes. The party platforms. 

United States criminal justice system flowchart.

United States criminal justice system flowchart. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

No, not the fun parties.

The Presidential Democratic and Republican Party Platforms.  These go beyond what the Presidential Candidates say in their stump speeches. The platforms go beyond any one candidate.  These are the statements re-written every four years that describes in detail the  official principles, policy stances, and priorities of the party. The Democratic Platform is 51 pages long.  The Republican Platform is 59 pages.  They both have table of contents.

I’m going to read them both.  Yes, I am.  Cuz, you know what?  I’m going to vote in November like I do every year.  And you know what else?  There are more than just Hilary and Donald duking it out.

I’ll report back next week.  Interested?  I hope so.

Just for a little sneak-peek, here’s a look at the tables of content: Continue reading

Blaming August



Some days are perfect for laying on the carpet, face up in a “deadman’s” pose, watching the ceiling fan makes a slow squeaky turn. Light filters in through tree leaves the  that whisper “stay inside, rest.”

August..  I’m languid, I lack an appetite.  

Even long forgotten goals tickle at my conscience.

Maybe it’s the book I’m reading: A LITTLE LIFE by Hanya Yanagihara.  So sad, yet so full of hope.  It’s been a long time since I’ve read a book that refuses to be closed and left on the table.  Thank you Yanagihara and curse you, too.  This is a novel that will be haunting me for months to come.

Can a person feel impatient and sluggish at the same time?  I think I do.  I delegated some tasks for my novel, A SHIP OF PEARL and now I’m impatient to move to the next step.  How often should I check in with people?  How much oversight is micro-management.  In my former career, my team checked in with me regularly.  Outsourcing has its own challenges. New ones for me.

My new novel won’t leave me alone.  I have a strong first draft of the first chapter, with the second chapter/second voice nipping at my heels. Yet, there’s some technical type housekeeping tasks that need my attention, or my work will be like a spiderweb.  I know this to be true, because I’ve been there before. Untangling is a pain.  Like ripping out stitches or unraveling a half-knit sweater. One of my characters proclaimed her name as Patience. Perhaps she will teach me to be patient.

Well, enough of lying on the floor.  It’s time to get up and get at it.  If nothing else, I have a newspaper deadline looming.  Go now!  It’s time to pick up the pace, before August turns into fall. Besides, it’s almost lunchtime.

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