Posts Tagged ‘ducks in a row’

Do you have trouble getting your ducks in a row? Following a snow storm earlier this month, my photography mentor and neighbor Cindy Dyer and I played around in the snow with a device that makes snowballs in the shape of little ducks and arranged them atop her fence.

Cindy, her husband Michael, and I have made up our own little pod during this pandemic.  Cindy, Michael, and their three cats (Lobo, Queso, and Pixel) have helped keep me from going completely bonkers during our time of isolation. Zoom and other virtual communications means are good, but they can never completely replace physical contact with other humans or pets.

Humor helps too. When I walked through my neighborhood the day after the storm, I looked for subjects that were whimsical or simply made me smile, like the snowman with its leafy earrings and the butterfly in the snow. If you look at its nose, it is not hard to tell that the snowman is a celeried employee.

Many of you know that I have been attending a short virtual church service, called Compline in the Episcopal church, each weekday night at eight o’clock in the evening. It is a short service that, among other things, allows us to share our moments of thanksgiving and our personal prayer requests out loud or by typing them in the chat feature. After the service, we talk for a bit to see how everyone is doing and it has become traditional for me to share a daily Dad joke. If I forget, someone will usually remind me. What?

For Christmas, some dear friends sent me a daily calendar of bad Dad jokes, the kind of jokes that always elicit a combination of laughs and groans. It is a curious juxtaposition to tell jokes in the context of a church meeting, but it is a sign of how close we have become with each other—we can cry together and we can laugh together, sharing our unfiltered feelings.

How bad are the jokes? Here is a recent favorite, “I just bought a thesaurus and when I got home I discovered that all of the pages were blank. I have no words to describe how angry I am.” Sorry.

Happy Mardi Gras.

ducks in a row



© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.



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What does it mean to have your ducks in a row? For most of us, it means being well-prepared and organized in advance. Personally, I am a little scatter-brained and disorganized, so it is not a term that I would apply to myself very often.

As is the case with many such expressions, it is sometimes fun to apply them literally. Last week I spotted some Ruddy Ducks (Oxyura jamaicensis) in the waters off of Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. The wind was blowing pretty hard and the ducks seemed to be struggling to stay together. From my perspective, they seemed to be ducks in a row, though from their perspective, they probably felt like they were ducks in a column. It’s all a matter of perspective.

Most of the time that I see Ruddy Ducks, they are in groups like the one in the first photo, usually in the deeper waters. For more than a month, though, I have been seeing a solitary male Ruddy Duck in the more placid waters of a small pond at the wildlife refuge. I captured him in the second image below on the same day as the first shot. In both of the photos, you can see the stiff tail that is one of the distinguishing characteristics of this species.

I often wonder about the origins of expressions like “ducks in a row.” I assumed that it had to do with a mother duck and her ducklings, but decided to search the internet to see if that was the case. I came across a wonderful posting by The Word Detective that addresses speculation that the expression comes from the game of pool. It is a fun read, particularly the comments from readers suggesting that the expression is related to ship or aircraft construction or to duck hunting.

Ruddy Duck

Ruddy Duck

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.


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