Monday, January 6, 2020

The focus of this project is, of course, celebration. The surprising second focus appears to be discomfort. I suppose, when seeking to sever oneself from an interminable rut of eat-tv-sleep-work-repeat, one must expect some discomfort. We’re okay with that, but damn… why so much cold?

National Bird Day

For National Bird Day we wanted to venture outside our comfort zone (the borders of which uncoincidentally align with the borders of our bed, dogs and all) and try birdwatching. We’ve watched birds before – through our windows, above the reclining furniture in our yard, and I suppose back when the local shopping mall used to feature a peacock display over near the McDonalds. But we’ve never immersed ourselves in nature, viewed our little ornithological friends from within their own habitat.

I (Marty) reached out to the Edmonton Nature Club, and they hooked us up with Wayne, a retired Mountie and a man generous with knowledge and experience. We met Wayne yesterday morning and together we wandered into our river valley in search of some winged creatures.

We learned that small black oil sunflower seeds are best for feeding birds, and that most commercial mixed birdseed is mostly filler and crap. We saw non-poop-related evidence of voles and weasels, and learned that great blue herons regularly nest around our city. We saw numerous chickadees (that’s one eating from Wayne’s hand up there), as well as red-breasted and white-breasted nuthatches, and even captured a nifty video of a pileated woodpecker thwacking a tree and scooping out its bug-bounty for Sunday brunch.

Amassing new hobbies and interests were one of our highly anticipated side effects of this little project, and digging into Edmonton’s ecosystem falls neatly into that category. Starting in springtime; no more of this winter shit. It was ten below zero when we headed out yesterday morning, and the cold lingered in our bones for significantly longer than it did on January 1 when we splashed around in frigid water in our backyard. Fuck it. It was worth it.

National Whipped Cream Day

For this celebration we melded our festivities with the event below. Whipped cream is great and all, but slapping some onto an ice cream sundae seems a bit too tame for this project. Comfort zone, remember? Gotta think beyond the obvious.

Whipping cream clocks in at 30-36% fat, so if you’re using it regularly for your coffee, that’s probably not a healthy choice. Whipped-up cream has been popular for at least the last 500 years or so, and it used to be known as neige de crème, or cream snow. For our celebration we made use of the spray stuff in the can, but it was real whipped cream… National Cool Whip Day and National Fake-Cream-Made-From-Petroleum Day are not actual things. We kept it authentic.

National Screenwriters Day

Want a helpful tip? Check out the nominees for screenwriting for the Oscars, Golden Globes and (though it’s just called ‘Writing’) Emmys. Those awards focus on the words that propel the story, and the nominees are almost certain to be fresh, interesting, and well worth the investment of time.

For this revelry we merged National Whipped Cream Day. It has long been a dream of mine (not so much of Jodie) to be in a pie fight – to smack someone in the face with a pie and to be similarly smacked. So we filled a few pie plates with whipped cream, took turns reciting some of our favourite screen lines, crediting the writers, then pied one another in a most satisfying manner. I opted for lines from Airplane! and The Hangover, while Jodie went more serious with lines from Casablanca and The Shawshank Redemption. We each got one pie heaved at a distance and one at point-blank range.

It was ridiculous. If our neighbours were watching, we’re sure they have questions. But it reinforced the inevitable weirdness of this project, and we are grateful. We were also sticky and gross, and still smelling whipped cream in our noses hours later.

Today marks our return to our respective workplaces (Jodie is a teacher; I am a provincial government office drone), and we will see how easily we can wind this little project around our actual lives. We suspect it won’t be easy, but we’ll probably figure it out. We hope. Here’s today’s roster o’ mirth:

  • National Bean Day. We were going to cook up a big ol’ bean stew, until we realized that neither of us are really big fans of bean stew. So we got some baked beans from local German feast-haven Barb & Ernie’s, and we’ll serve them with supper.
  • National Shortbread Day. We have not yet exhausted our supply of Christmas baking, which means we’ve still got a couple dozen homemade shortbread cookies to enjoy for dessert.
  • National Cuddle-Up Day. Well, hell. We’re going to do some cuddling. The dogs will no doubt insist on intervening.
  • National Technology Day. We will each come up with one piece of technology we feel should exist, and explain why. The “how” portion, we’ll leave to someone else.
  • National Thank God It’s Monday Day. Mondays tend to suck, but we’ve got some great festivities planned for Mondays this year. We will compile a few and share, and hopefully give ourselves a bit of optimism that Mondays in 2020 might just be fun.