On Fresh Duckling, Second-growth Tomatoes, and Badly-named Chocolate

It’s blogday and until yesterday there wasn’t much to write about.  We visited New Orleans last weekend (more below), but otherwise, it’s been business as usual in the world.

But then yesterday, these guys visited.  That’s right!  I present the 2019 class of ducklings!  Yes, fresh, young duckling.

It’s a duck train! Look how good they are at single-file.

To some, this may represent cassoulet or confit or something.  But to me, this represents cuteness! And new life!

Of course, with cuteness and attachment comes worry and danger at every corner. It’s like being a parent. Sure, your full of love and joy but you’re always a little concern that something bad could happen.

Look at the little duckies hiding behind the potted plant. Come out duckies! We won’t eat you… yet!

There are an even 10 ducklings in this brood.  Is it a brood? Litter? Flock? Brace?  Whatever.  Ten little sister and brother ducks, waddling around on their little duck feet, following their mother who hovers over them. These are so young they seem to act as one unit.  Something of a duck cloud.  Of course, they do that for safety. Safety in numbers, right?

duck cloud
This is not a duck, but rather a “duck cloud.” It is believed that these ducklings are marching in formation to resemble a full-grown duck.

Well, these little waddlers don’t know a freakin’ thing about survival of the fittest, no sir (or ma’am).  For example, do they know that there are hawks here in Woodland Hills?  That’s right, they’ll swoop down out of the sky and it’s fresh duck for dinner.  Poor little duckling didn’t know what hit it.  With any luck, it’s over quickly.  Poor little ducky.

Ducks in water
They can swim at birth, but it’s only because they are incredibly buoyant.

So now, I will continue to feed them organic quinoa (research indicates this is a good food for wild ducks; for further information, please see “On Thanks and Ducks,” the November 22, 2018 entry to this blog), and sadly count how many there are each day, hoping they all make it to that large enough stage where they can get out of the way of a dive-bombing hawk or falcon.

What does this have to do with New Orleans?  Well, I will write more about that trip net week, but suffice it to say, I had a delicious duck leg, creole style, and I felt a little guilty. I was afraid the ducks back home would know somehow, like they could smell it on me, but they didn’t seem to notice.  At least for the duck I ate, it was over quickly.  Otherwise, there maybe a duck out there on crutches.


We haven’t had much of a garden in recent years due to apartment dwelling, but now we grow some nice stuff out on the patio, amongst the ducks.  Last year, we had a tomato plant.  At first, it grew a few tomatoes rapidly, and lots of blooms. But then after the few first tomatoes, nothing.  Research uncovered the cause: too hot in Woodland Hills.  Kills the pollen over 87 degrees.  That’s just about all summer for us.

So I kept the tomato-free plant healthy all through the heat, and then in the fall we got a few tomatoes.  Being from New York, when we had tomatoes in the garden after summer they’d die and you’d buy new plants in the spring.  But here, the tomato plant survived the winter and one day a week or so ago, I noticed that the darn thing started bearing fruit.

Already enough for a nice salad.

Already almost 10 tomatoes on there.  Could this be one of those heirloom things where the tomatoes get better each year?  Or will it be an old plant and the tomatoes will be no good?  If you’ve had any experience with second-year tomatoes, please comment below.


Speaking of ducks, there was an uproar in the UK over some chocolate Easter ducks that were packaged in an assortment of 3.  Here’s a description from a NY Daily News article by Gina Salamone, published on April 9, 2019:

“Called ‘Trio of Easter ducklings,’ it included baby waterfowl in three varieties. One was made with milk chocolate, called ‘Crispy’ on the packaging, another was crafted from white chocolate and named ‘Fluffy,’ and a third was dark chocolate speckled with pink coloring that was dubbed ‘Ugly.’”

Okay, there you go.  The ducklings were found to be racist. Well, not the ducklings themselves, but people were offended by the implied or inferred message: dark is ugly.

ugly duckling

I’m not going to bait anyone here, nor judge.  If people are offended, they’re offended.  Of course, some people argued that the name came from “The Ugly Duckling,” and therefor it is ironic rather than offensive, as that duck soon grew into a beautiful swan.

Wait. Did it turn into a black swan?  I think not. Maybe that’s racist too. The little dark ugly duckling is ugly but when it’s a big white bird?  Beautiful. Hey, maybe they’re onto something here.  And that’s not even considering that the duckling isn’t a duckling at all, but a swan.  Isn’t that a put down of ducklings in general, nay, in fact, a condemnation of the entire duck species.  Is that a species or a family?  Or a genus?  Whatever, I’m not a zoologist, or ornithologist, or urologist… wait, what was this post about again?

I looked at the picture and see this dark duck which is fine.  I like dark chocolate better than milk chocolate and not just for the anti-oxidants therein.  But what’s with those pink flecks?  To me, this looks like a skin condition.  So I’m thinking, well, maybe that’s why they called it Ugly.  And then I felt guilty because it’s like saying someone with a skin condition is ugly.

So I’m sorry.  Even though I sometimes get a bit ashy, or rashy, or even blemishy, it seems I have this subconscious thing about people with skin conditions, and I apologize for the hurt this may have caused anyone.

Hey, speaking of skin conditions, we’re going to be down at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books this coming weekend on the USC campus, at booth 184 on Saturday from 9-5, signing copies of Smoking in Bed: Dreams of love, sex and terrorism, so please come by, say hello and get a book.

Or get a whole bunch of books. They’ll be all over the place.

What does that have to do with skin conditions?  Bring some sunscreen and layers so you don’t end up with a skin condition.  That’s what.

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