Rubber ducky is my sign.

I reminded myself of the dog last night, pacing and pacing, unable to settle down, needing to go pick up one more thing or settle one other pile. Task piled onto task so that a dash to the living room for a box of tissues became a beeline into the study (tissues in hand) to clean off the desk for the morning. Back in bed and attempting to read, the realization came: where were those tissues? still on the desk? But they were the reason I got up ten minutes ago! After about an hour of this kind of rising and settling, rising and settling, I finally lay down for my first night's sleep here.

After milky strong coffee in bed this morning, after a two-hour phone conversation with my beloved Lexingtonian, after the end of the book I hadn't realized I was about to finish, I received yet another revelation about why it's good that I'm here now: my Japanese rubber ducky works in my bathtub.

My father's company had him working long stretches of weeks in Japan several years ago, and at the end of each of his sojourns there, he would send me a package of things he had acquired for me in various Hiroshima department stores. Striped socks anchored these packages--he would send ten pairs of socks at a time--but the packages also contained a wide array of the unexpected (though generally not the unthinkable). In one package, I found a little rubber ducky, attached by a long white chain to a bathtub stopper. But my drain in the tub in Ithaca was the wrong sort, so I left the ducky in his white mesh bag and moved him around with me year after year. I've had him since 1998 or 1999.

And early this afternoon, I put him to work for the first time.

According to the illustration included with the ducky in his mesh bag, I'm supposed to cut his chain before using the plug or the ducky. But that seems to me to take away the terrific fun of having a tethered rubber ducky drifting about at one end of the tub.

And the fun of having a rubber ducky in the tub at all? Worth the years of wait. I'm thrilled that he wasn't the victim of a previous move.

Coming back from dinner tonight in Wooster, we passed an inflatable swimming toy, an inner tube with a ducky head, lying abandoned at the side of the road. A strange bookend for the day.

(For those keeping score at home: I did indeed write today, at the studio, and it was an almost entirely pain-free experience. Invigorating, even! And so I will go back to the keyboard tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow again.)