Sunday, January 12, 2020

Another busy day in the hearty froth of perpetual gaiety, as we foraged for two weeks worth of supplies so we could plant ourselves indoors as much as possible while the temperatures scrape their knuckles just barely on the human side of -30. Then the day threw us a curveball.

National Arkansas Day

We are looking forward to dipping into the cuisine and culture of each American state. Missouri fed us a gooey cake last week, and yesterday was scripted to feed us some true southern culture by way of fried okra, which I (Marty) have neither prepared nor ingested. Okra in gumbo, okra in jambalaya, that’s all great, but what does this plant have to say when it’s given a solo?

Alas, we will never know. Well, not “never”, but not yesterday. The okra we’d picked up a few days earlier had grown a grey-white five o’clock shadow, rendering it unfit for jubilant consumption. With no other true Arkansas food in our midst, we turned instead to culture. The Reverend Al Green hails from Forrest City, while Johnny Cash was born in Kingsland. Some other options? How about Levon Helm, the lone American in The Band, who comes from Elaine? Maybe some Sister Rosetta Tharpe, from Cotton Plant? Conway Twitty from Friars Point? Ronnie Hawkins from Huntsville? The list is impressive, so you can rest assured that the Natural State was indeed celebrated yesterday.

National Milk Day

It always struck me as odd that humans consume the milk that spews from a cow’s undercarriage. But look at what milk begets: butter, cheese, ice cream, yogurt… most of which I can’t enjoy without popping some lactase enzyme pills thanks to the scourge of middle-age, which rendered my stomach unable (or perhaps unwilling, I’ve never asked) to process dairy as it should. But yesterday was the day we pop the pills and put our differences aside.

Milk, along with its numerous offspring, will get a number of hat-tips this year as we power through at least a dozen ice cream-related celebrations alone. We will do our part to deal out some applause to those magnificent milk-makers (the cows) and the people who do the utter-squeezin’. Well, I guess it’s mostly machines now, though we were unable to secure a proper tour of a dairy farm to see for ourselves. Turns out security is high – something about biological contamination, or perhaps there’s a national security issue at stake here. No matter, we’ll just enjoy the stuff.

Kagami Biraki

Kagami Biraki is a traditional Japanese ceremony. A true celebrant of this custom would go through the entire ceremony, but since we don’t know it, we thought we’d do the North American thing and glom onto what we can wrap our brains around and call it authentic. The ceremony refers to the breaking apart of a Kagami mochi, which features two round mochi (little rice-paper dumplings) stacked on top of one another. We made do with some mochi ice cream treats we’d found at the local store.

The opening of a cask of sake would have done just as well, but Jodie is not a big sake fan, while I am still recovering from the astounding perseverance of National Hangover Day ten days ago. The actual ceremony is often performed at sporting events, and I have to say the prospect of cracking open a cask of rice wine and enjoying some treats makes a lot more sense than hauling out the ol’ national anthem before playing ball.

National Girl Hug Boy Day

I know nothing about the history of this day, other than it showed up on nationalday.com, one of the resources we used to plot out this perpetual party. Nothing wrong with a quality hug, and it’s a bonus if it leads to a kiss, maybe some heavy petting and the cracking open of a cask of sake to celebrate whatever comes next.

Jodie gave me plenty o’ hugs yesterday, and I enjoyed every one of them. Rosa and Trixie, our two conscripted canine assistants, also provided hugs, but that was more in an effort to obtain food from our hands. Whatever, we’ll call it love.

National Hot Toddy Day

The hot toddy is a magnificent thing. When a cold or flu has ground your spirit into dust, don’t look to Nyquil or some other over-the-counter head-spinner to relieve your symptoms. Shoot some nasal decongestant up your nose before bed so you can sleep, then brew up a toddy or two. Hot water, rum (some use whiskey), honey (some use maple syrup) and a squeeze of lemon (some use a dash of cinnamon) will not only soothe your throat, but it will tickle your mind into the land of slumber. At least it works for me.

I wasn’t thrilled about enjoying a toddy while not under the influence of some sort of illness, as I felt it might trigger memories of sniffling and hacking and feeling like a spent scrap of sewer-sludge detritus. And… I was right. I didn’t enjoy the toddy at all, and therefore the celebration rang somewhat hollow. But, I reminded myself (ever the optimist, which is good because I can drown out the shrieking wails of pessimism that linger just beneath the surface) I can call this a split. I celebrate the notion of the toddy today: the simple ingredients, the delightful efficacy of its effects… but the actual savouring of the beverage itself I will leave until my immune system takes a breather and leaves me at the mercy of some wayward bug.

Thumbs-up to the toddy, just not yet.

National Vision Board Day

No, we didn’t draw up a vision board. Jodie has one already though, and we discussed what it contains – not coincidentally, mine would feature many of the same items. Trips to Europe and back to New York would dot the board, as would images of a comfy, well-decorated home. I’d also include some foodstuffs: a pastrami sandwich from Katz’s Deli, maybe a slab of ribs from down south, and definitely some beignets from New Orleans. Maybe an image of a Cleveland Browns Super Bowl win, if such a notion wouldn’t shatter the dimensions of creative reality.

A vision board is a key to getting what you yearn for, my dad tried to teach me. And indeed, he had one himself, one with a picture of a house remarkably similar to the one he would wind up purchasing just a year after he made up the board. So it could be there’s something to it, though I’d stop short of ascribing any magical properties to a chunk of poster board with some cut-outs on it. If nothing else, a vision board can crystalize what you want. It’s hard to achieve any desire if you can’t describe the desire to begin with.

Learn Your Name In Morse Code Day

What can we say? We learned our names in Morse Code and were thankful that our first names are only five letters. It took a bit of practice, but now if we’re ever stranded on an island and need to signal a passing ship, we can safely tell them our first names. Which will be great when it comes to identifying our remains, I’m sure.

It’s Sunday and we are hoping not to leave the house, lest the cold reach up and snap off our extremities. Let’s see what we can do from home.

  • Kiss A Ginger Day. This one isn’t looking good. Neither of us are gingers, and neither of our dogs are gingers. Unless one happens to wander by our house, I think we may miss this one..
  • National Curried Chicken Day. We both love a good curried chicken, so this will be our delicious repast for the evening. Speaking of which…
  • National Sunday Supper Day. Supper on Sunday used to be a prized family tradition, often involving Ed Sullivan and if we were lucky, Topo Gigio and… wait, we’re not that old. But we’ll have a quality meal and celebrate the Sundayness of it all.
  • National Youth Day. One advantage of staying at home is that we won’t have to encounter any youth all day. Jodie won’t be teaching at school and I won’t be… well, I ride the bus with some youths. But not today. Today we’ll listen to some of the great young musical legends: Little Stevie Wonder, Frankie Lymon, Michael Jackson, etc..
  • National Pharmacist Day. I’m thinking a call to my former-pharmacist uncle might be in order. Perhaps I can learn a little something about the profession.
  • National Marzipan Day. We picked some up, and will be enjoying some for our dessert, along with some leftover mochi. That stuff grows on you.

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