Adela Crandell Durkee

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

Gratitude Monday: Sliding into the week

Some weekends just seem to slide into Monday.  Other Mondays, I’m planning what I want to do with my week on Sunday night.  I had a packed-full weekend.  Packed full of Movies.  Don’t you think hot weather is just the right time to see movies?  First I saw Ghostbusters. Oh my!  I loved it.  Even more I loved when I heard the men in the audience say it was better than the first.  That very evening I went to “Movie in the Park” with CeCe and her kids, CoCo, and Loved-One.  We saw The Good Dinosaur.  That movie left us wondering, “What was good about that dinosaur?” along with other questions about the theme and the intent.  Next Loved-One, CoCo and I watched Fundamentals of Caring on Netflix.  It’s a Sundance Film and oh, oh, so uplifting.  Yes, there are some F-words, but so worth overlooking those.

So, yes, I’m happy that I can watch movies in the heat of summer. (Or anytime, really.  

) Here’s a few more things that bring me joy:

  • Camping trips with my family.
  • Camping gear put away.
  • An illustrator for my read-to-me book. Yay Niall Brady.  Here’s a peek.

Continue reading

Photo Friday: Storms-a-brewing

I went to the cemetery to take some photos at sunset, inspired by Jen over at Pierced Wonderings, but alas, there was no sun.  The photos turned out lifeless and one-dimensional.  Not what I hoped for.  Trying for some interesting angles, my eyes turned to the sky.  

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It was a doozy of a storm.  No trees downed, no one hurt. Just a lot of wind and  rain and noise.  So good for growing.

No worries.  I never take photos while I’m actually driving.  That would be insane.

What’s in your lens this week?  I’d love to take a peek. Hop on over and get wasted away by Jen’s Hawaii waves, but clicking the link below:

Pierced Wonderings


or link up with me by copy and pasting the code here. You can do both, too.  won’t that be fun?

My Life is Now Energy Efficient

My dishwasher broke.

For a week or two, I washed dishes by hand, while the new, more energy efficient, one arrived.

I kinda liked washing dishes by hand. I liked the hot water and bubbles.

I liked the time it took to wash the dishes.  I liked the organization it took to wash from least soiled to more to keep the water clean as long as possible.  I liked the rubrics-cube puzzle of stacking the dishes so they drained without puddling.

I found dishwashing sorta meditative and relaxing.

Washing dishes by hand. brought back memories of my childhood, washing dishes with Mom, and later as she trained more of her daughters, washing and drying with my sisters. Rinsing and draining made me think fondly of my Aunt Pat, who broke from the tradition of a wiping dry and getting clean dishes back in the cupboard and out of sight.  Aunt Pat, much to the chagrin of Grandma Z, her mother-in-law, insisted that it was more sanitary to let the dishes dry.

My new dishwasher arrived. It took minutes to install.  The youngster that installed started  a cleaning cycle to wash out all the factory oils.  He warned me it could take some time and then he left.

These new dishwashers are energy efficient.  It could take up to two hours to run the first load.

It did take a long time. About two hours. Holy Mackerel, I better read the instruction.

Umm-hmmm.  Here’s what I learned:

Efficient dishwashers run longer to save water and energy, just as driving a car slower saves on gas.

And this:

For exceptional cleaning,, cycles are longer due to the soak and pauses.

I decided to take a life lesson from my new dishwasher.  

I‘m saving energy. I may take a little longer.

But… exceptional performance comes from bit more contemplation and a few more pauses.

Don’t you think?

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Pause for a moment of contemplation.


Throw-Back Thursday: The Naked Truth

Every year, after the 4th of July, Mom, her kids, grand-kids, great-grandkids go camping.  This year, we  paired down a bit.  Only two brothers, the kids they have at home, Mom, CeCe and her five,  CoCo, Loved-One, Wrestler #1, and Miss S camped,  Yes, that’s a small crowd for our clan of over 50.

We all have memories of camping as kids.  One is as memorable to me as it is  to my brothers. Why?  Well the title of this post says it all.

Please follow this link to peek down memory lane and see what I remember.  (And what they remember.)  Once A Little Girl.


Gratitude Monday: Teenagers, etc.

This weekend, my two oldest grandchildren, Mr. B and Miss E dropped by for a visit.  They brought their respective, girlfriend and boyfriend.  They stayed for and chatted about politics, their summer, the concert they’re going to, their vacation.  And every once in a while, one of them jumped up and ran into the back yard to “capture” a pokémon in the virtual game “Pokémon Go.” Boyfriend said “Michelle Obama worked for 8 years to get people to move, Nintendo did it in 24 hours.”  So funny.  Mr. B stayed for lunch, and confessed that he didn’t really like Boyfriend.  “Do you think it’s because you’re feeling protective?
I said.  “Maybe, Miss E is more like a sister.”  Girlfriend is Miss E’s best friend, which causes its own set of complications.

Teenagers visiting G-mom, unprompted and unaccompanied by parents.  That has to be the highlight of my month, maybe the whole year.

Last night I  got a text from Wrestler #2’s wife, who advised me to get “Pokémon Go.” “We’re having so much fun running around outdoors.: I got it.

At last year’s Chicago Writes,  I was the only writer who raised her hand in response to, “who uses Snapchat.”

Maybe this year, someone will as about “Pokémon Go.”  I am ready.  Unless of course, I’m on the sidewalk chasing a Pokemon. Grandchildren are so much fun!

Mr. B stayed for dinner. And he still hugs me goodbye.

Wrestler #1 invited me on a vacation with him and his kids.  I couldn’t go.  Drat it all!  But we FaceTimed several times and he shared photos every day, so I almost… Almost felt like I was there. Continue reading

Photo Friday: Manual time-lapse

I love flowers. Especially in my backyard where I can watch them unfurl and unfold changing the landscape right before my eyes.  For the past few weeks, I watched the coneflowers progress.

Here’s what I saw.

A starburst hint

A starburst hint


Close-up green view

Close-up green view

Ugly duckling stage

Ugly duckling stage, just beginning to pink


See the little mite on the petal?

See the little mite on the petal?


Color and spender

Color and spender

Wow!  What a change.  I’m not sure which stage I like best.  Perhaps it’s like raising children.  Each stage seems the most beautiful, until the next stage reveals new glories. Whadaya think?

What’s in your lens this week?  For more splendid photos, please visit Pierced Wondering by clicking on the box below. She has lots of colorful flowers to look at, but it’s the black and whites that I found most striking this week.  Gorgeous and haunting cemetery scenes. That reminds me to take some photos of an old cemetery nearby.  Maybe for next week.

Pierced Wonderings

Meet Jena C. Henry

book1_headshot_low copyHave you ever read books like Who Moved My Cheese by  Spencer Johnson or Zapp the Lightning of Empowerment by William Byham and Jeff Cox? Well, Jena does for retirement what these authors do for corporate leaders.  She leads the reader down a fun story that’s meant to enlighten and empower us through our Golden Age.

Even though Jena lives just a boat ride away, I got a chance to interview her via FaceTime.  Okay, it’s not just a boat ride.  I’d need to navigate Lake Michigan, go under the Mackinaw Bridge, south on Lake Huron and finally arrive at Lake Eerie.  I guess it’s kinda like saying our golden years are a walk in the park.

Jena’s written two books about Charli and Pud McAntic. In her first book, The Golden Age of Charli:  RSVP, Charli and Pud reconnect with kids, extended family and each other.  In The Golden Age of Charli: BMI, you guessed it, Charli and Pud tackle their growing mid-sections.  Possibly made worse from too much RSVPing.

Like me, Jena always loved to write, and unlike me, she always wanted write a book.  I was quite content to write stories, until a story took over and became a book.  Jena started writing in earnest a little over a year ago.  He younger son just graduated from college, and “I just decided to do it.” she explained to me.

Like me, Jena did many things on her way to writing her books.  She started as a speech therapist. Ten years later she went to law school, got married, and adopted her two sons.  She liked the law, in theory, but not in practice.  Still, she put her knowledge to use when she started volunteering and working for non-profits.

Hey, wait a minute.  Doesn’t Charli volunteer, have two sons, and live near Lake Eerie?

Yes, indeed.  Jena’s first book, though fiction, draws heavily on her real-life experiences.  Her second book draws less on reality and more on fiction.  Still, Jena’s husband fretted a bit when the fictional Charli seemed harsh to her fictional husband, Pud.  Aww, ‘come on now, real-life-Jena-hubby, as I see it, that Pud had it coming.

Jena says she’s not as introspective as her character, Charli.  “I just keep on going.” Charlie’s experiences are based as much on what she’s observed and what other people tell her, as it is on her own experience.

She originally thought she’d self-publish. Instead she is an Artisanal publisher. That’s what Guy Kawasaki calls it in his book, APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur-How to Publish a Book

Jena used a cafeteria-style publishing service that provided a variety of options, including developmental editing, editing, cover design, and marketing.  “Getting published was much easier than I thought,” she told me. She started thinking that she’d write a document, because

Just like the two books mentioned in my first paragraph, Jena’s story-lines are easy to follow. At the same time, she wants to make us laugh and give us something to think about.  Mission accomplished, Jena.

The next book in her series is The Golden Age of Charli: GPS. I bet you can guess what that’s about.  I already know, cuz Jena told me.  But I won’t spill the beans.

If you’d like one of Jena’s books, leave a comment below and whether you’d like a paper or electronic copy.  One lucky winner will get a book from Jena.


Jena says to anyone who wants to write at book:

Just do it! It’s a bit like making friends.


Well, I feel like I have a new friend.  You can too.  Just leave your comment below, to enter the drawing, or visit Jena at her website:


STEM Tuesday: Time is a human construct


4th of July 7

I planned to write about fireworks today.  How do they work?  Of course colors explode because of chemical reactions, but my oh my, the fireworks today are so amazing and they change colors, and little whirligigs shoot out blue then white, and how do they make those smiley faces and hearts pop out?  I turned to my favorite podcast, “Stuff You Should Know,” and soon I found something that reminded me of something that I really wanted to learn more about.

Several years ago, I read an article by a physicist about Time.  That we humans invented it to fit our need to categorize, record, and capture our history and plan our future.  That our nows all happen at the same time, piled on top of each other like a stack of photographs. Well, that’s the intriguing way I remember it.  Josh and Chuck flagged Aeon’s post by Robert Lanza and Bob Berman  as part of their “Best Stuff We’ve Read this Week.”  If you’ve never heard of Josh and Chuck or “Stuff You Should Know,” click here.  You will be so glad you did.

‘If you try to get your hands on time,’ said the physicist Julian Barbour, ‘it’s always slipping through your fingers. People are sure that it’s there but they can’t get hold of it. Now my feeling is that they can’t get hold of it because it isn’t there at all.’

According to John Wheeler, you can change the past.  He set up an experiment Continue reading

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