Friday, March 13, 2009


Specifically, indoor ducks.  Observe this fine specimen of Duckus touristii attractus:

Aren't I the pretty mallard?

(preen preen preen)

More about me later.

The need to write is a powerful thing, an overwhelming urge which is sometimes like the passion you feel for a lover, sometimes like an addiction, and sometimes, lest we take ourselves far too seriously, like the need to find a restroom -- it is urgent and intense and it needs to be addressed, done and over with.  Out with it, and it's over -- it's either put down on paper or preserved in a mishmash of zeroes and ones in a computer program.

I don't think of writing as a talent -- not on my own resume.  For me, it is simply a need. 

 Writing well is a talent.   Oh my, yes.   And I deeply admire those who manage to do so.

But writing in general, good or bad, is mostly an itch that needs to be scratched, an either you have that itch or you don't.  You may scratch that itch with divine elegance, or with the clumsiness of a rhinocerous in high heels, but no one who writes anything on a more or less regular basis can deny the complete, obsessive and overwhelming quality of that need.

Writing also requires inspiration, and when inspiration is not readily forthcoming, neither is the written word, and the lack of both is depressing for the writer, causing further ennui, and helping one spiral down into that black hole known as "writer's block."  Writer's block is what happens when the urge to write is beating on the door, but the muse is hiding under the bed. 

Sometimes, writing is like trying to do gymnastics on Jupiter.

Very often life's demands get in the way: sometimes fatigue, and sometimes it's other things, but sooner or later, we must all sit down at the keyboard and attempt to entertain our faithful readers once again.

Lately, I've honestly been too damn tired to blog.  Oh, I've whipped off my share of comments on Ravelry and on other blogs in the past several weeks, but reading other blogs takes little energy and posting a comment is merely a two-minute word emission.  Not much real energy goes into it -- I think of comment strings as casual conversation.  Pub chat, if you will.  If I'm tired and a Ravelry post is not well crafted, I don't lose much sleep over it.

However, I do think that my good, patient and faithful blog readers deserve much better than a hurried puddle of verbiage, even though that means that sometimes many weeks pass in between posts here at the Asylum.  

So here I am.  Back on the job.

This winter has brought a new complication into our home life.  Dave was diagnosed with squamous cell cancer invasion in his right eyelid, conjunctiva, and the surrounding tissue, and he  went through two surgeries -- one in December, a radical attempt to remove the cancer while still saving the eye, followed by unhappy biopsy results which necessitated a second surgery in January to completely eviscerate the eye socket.  Both surgeries took place in Memphis, at the Hamilton Eye Institute.

Last week, we returned to Memphis for a post-op exam and a follow-up biopsy.  The surgeon wanted to be sure that no cancerous tissue had re-invaded -- when everything is removed from the eye socket, Nature, over a period of time, provides the bone with a covering of skin, and Dr. Wilson wants to be sure the new skin growth is healthy.

This time, instead of staying at the hospital's cancer center or the Holiday Inn Express, we thought we would treat ourselves to Memphis' famous Peabody Hotel, home to the Peabody Ducks.  

Indoor ducks?  I'm on it.

Seriously, the Peabody is a stunning old building, still infused with the aura of a grand old hotel.  The lobby is spectacular, with an amazing ceiling sporting intricate woodwork and painted glass panels from around 1930.

Each time you turn a corner, you see a bellman in an old-fashioned uniform.  In the lobby, you half-expect to see a flapper in a beaded dress rise from a couch or emerge from behind a column.

And, in fact, you do get flappers.  Maybe without the bathtub gin, rolled stockings or beaded dresses, but in fine attire of their own:

The Peabody Ducks.

Here's the story: back in the 1930s, one of the hotel's owners came home from a duck-hunting trip ... and maybe he'd had a bit too much of the moonshine, hm?  

(note to self: define "enough moonshine")

At the time, it was still legal to use ducks with clipped wingfeathers as decoys, so the gentleman thought it would be a grand joke to plonk his live decoys into the lobby's elegant marble fountain.

And that's where they have remained ever since.  Generation after generation of ducks have learned to march, every morning, from their roost on the Peabody roof down to their day job of entertaining the tourists in the hotel lobby.  In the evening, the ducks are led back up to the roof by the hotel's Duckmaster.  

Gotta love that job title.  

And yes, the ducks take the elevator. 

The Peabody, of course, makes a show of the daily commute, while the tourists (including myself) line up to take the appropriate photographs during the duck's daily march to and from their fountain duties.

We spent a good bit of time enjoying the lobby and the ducks.  Dave brought his book down from our 1930s-style room and sank into a posh, cozy chair, and I deployed myself on the adjacent couch with my travel project: beaded lace.

Beaded lace for a travel project?  Am I insane?


For the airplane-riding part?  For the galloping-around-the-Dallas-airport part?  For the hours-in-Starbucks, delayed-connecting-flight part?

Yes, I am certifiably insane, although I must admit to a certain amount of gloating when I devised a turbulence-resistant method for managing beads, cable needles and crochet hooks in the confinements of a steerage-class seat.


For the sitting-in-the-hotel-lobby part of this trip?  

Beaded lace was delightful.

Very soon on this blog:  Dave's surgery resulted in an outpouring of knitterly support, both intangible and in the form of knitted objects.  Just as soon as I can get these items properly photographed, they will be appropriately gushed over.  Stay tuned.


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At 3:17 PM, Blogger pdxknitterati said...

Duckmaster. What a great title! I'd rather be Duckmaster than the person who cleans up after the ducks.

Dave looks quite debonair with the patch! Best wishes and hugs to you both.

At 6:49 AM, Blogger Suna said...

I am glad you are back, and have been thinking of both of you all this time!

At 11:27 AM, Blogger turtlewoman said...

Dez - If I am ever in TN for an overnight I will most certainly stay at the Duck Hotel :-D

The very best of "luck" to your husband and to yourself. You have been through a lot of health issues together and deserve a break. Soothing knitting and delightful animals - what a great combination!

Lindy in the AZ Outback.

At 7:42 AM, Blogger Mary Lou said...

I was stuck in Memphis after 9/11 and went over to see the ducks on a regular basis, even up to the roof. Glad things are going well, and happy to read your writing.

At 4:20 AM, Blogger Jo at Celtic Memory Yarns said...

Love the ducks. And the beaded knitting was of course perfect for the location. Did you dress the part too?

Hugs from West Cork


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