Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Yesterday squirreled its way in and out of focus like a hyperactive gadfly, with a surreal soundtrack, a massive dietary shift (for a day), and a dessert of unholy proportions.

National Gluten-Free Day

Checking for gluten in everything really clips the spontaneity out of the daily feast. Does rice have gluten? No, of course not. How about our leftover Cherry Blossom candy? Doesn’t look like it. A bowl of Shreddies? Nope, so long as you skip the cereal and include only the milk.

We like the idea of sacrifice as a celebration, as it can both morph and enhance one’s perspective. Attentively depriving ourselves of gluten yesterday reminded us of the struggles a lot of people have to wrestle to the ground before they can pop a morsel of anything into their gullets. As a lactose-intolerant (just Marty – not Jodie) since the iron gate of middle age had first clunked shut my young adulthood, I take for granted that a magic pill can temporarily restore my ability to snarf down some top-notch dairy. Those whose innards can’t cope with a gluten guest are not so lucky.

National Peach Melba Day

There is no gluten and no regret within the confines of a peach melba. This is good, because if there was gluten it would likely be in the form of melba toast, and that stale-ass cracker-bread belongs nowhere near this delicacy. Peaches, raspberries and ice cream are the star attractions. Sure, that means the dairy thing is a consideration, but I’ve got my magic pills. And yesterday I was particularly grateful for them.

Peach Melba is the brain-child of a French chef named Auguste Escoffier, who brightened the palettes of those fortunate to dine at the Savoy Hotel in London in the 1890s. When Australian soprano Nellie Melba came to stay at the hotel in 1892 or ’93, Chef Escoffier concocted this little beauty in her honour. Interesting note: Chef Escoffier, who must have been crazy-crushing on Dame Melba, created four dishes for her: this one, Melba Sauce (a purée of raspberries and red currant), Melba Garniture (chicken, truffles, mushrooms and tomatoes), and yes – Melba Toast. So we’ll be revisiting this bizarre Escoffier/Melba infatuation on March 23.

National Hobby Month

Our time allotted for such luxuries as hobbies ain’t much. But when we can scrape together an hour or so between devouring ice cream treats and throwing pies at each other, we enjoy jigsaw puzzles. I know, that is tremendously unsurprising for a middle-age couple whose kids have moved away. We sit around and try to fit pieces of cardboard into other pieces of cardboard. But dammit, it’s fun, you can drink while you do it, and it goes better with great music. It’s really the perfect hobby.

I love hearing about people’s weird hobbies. We posed the question to r/askreddit to see if people can offer up some strange ones. Some of the responses included collecting foreign money, learning swears in Latin, and studying spiders. We would love to hear from our friends, family and followers in the comments section or on social media. Do you collect stamps? Bottle caps? Matchbooks? Roadkill? Soiled napkins from behind southern BBQ restaurants? Tortilla chips that look like members of ‘N Sync? We want to know!

National Sticker Day

Were it not shamefully unfashionable (I’m willing to be unfashionable, even shameful, but rarely at the same time), I would still collect scratch ‘n sniff stickers. Who doesn’t love stickers? They accentuate, they ring praise and applause, and they spruce up everything from a laptop to a suitcase to a spice jar.

Jodie gave away some stickers yesterday to a few of her luckier (or perhaps more industrious) students. In the evening we went through our spice cupboard, found a bunch of spices we’d bought in plastic bags, then dumped them into new spice jars, using stickers to identify the contents. Stickers can be practical, but they are just as awesome if they aren’t. That said, if you’re going to stick one on the bumper or window of your car, avoid political statements, avoid demeaning jabs and just be funny. And not simply ‘funny’, but the kind of funny that still elicits a giggle a few years later. Those stick-family stickers are done. The Calvin peeing on another vehicle brand stickers are not only idiotic, but they are a copyright violation. Find something that will never go out of style. Like “Where’s the Beef?”

National Clean Off Your Desk Day

This celebration took longer to post to social media than it did to complete. Jodie is meticulous about her desk-landscape, ensuring it is as barren and unadorned as the flats of Tatooine. I’m not usually quite as fastidious, but I happen to be writing this article on a desk we purchased three weeks ago, and set up specifically for the start of this project. I haven’t had the time to really muck things up yet.

All that aside, we understand if cleaning off your desk simply isn’t within the realm of possibility. Some people soak in the clutter, and ascribe sufficient convenience to offset any claims of madness. I would never prescribe someone else’s workspace. But a desk, same as any space within one’s life, could benefit from at least a moderate tidying. At the very least, clear a place to rest your coffee, your phone, and your head when you need a quick nap.

Stephen Foster Memorial Day

He was the most famous songwriter of the 19th century. His songs have been a part of childhood education curriculum since before any human who is presently on this earth has been alive. If you took piano lessons as a kid, you learned some Stephen Foster tunes. The guy was incredible: he taught himself to play piano, flute, guitar, violin and clarinet. If the keytar had existed during his time, he’d have learned that too.

Listen to these chart-toppers: “Camptown Races”, “Oh Susanna”, “My Old Kentucky Home”, “Old Folks At Home” (a.k.a. “Swanee River”). Yesterday would have been Mr. Foster’s 194th birthday. Alas, he didn’t make it past 37. The story goes that he became ill, had a nasty fever, then fell in his New York hotel room and cut his neck, bleeding out. That seems unlikely, though maybe there used to be a dangerous amount of sharp objects strewn about hotel floors in the 1860s, I don’t know. But this dude drew the blueprint for American music in his century – we were happy to listen to a collection of his works yesterday.

Rumor has it Edmonton is supposed to be the coldest place on the planet today. So here’s how we’ll be keeping warm:

  • National Dress Up Your Pet Day. More specifically, this is how our puppies will be keeping warm. We’ve got some great yuppie puppy clothes for them to enjoy.
  • National Hot Pastrami Sandwich Day. There is no greater hot pastrami sandwich than one you’ll find in New York, and the few I’ve enjoyed from Katz’s Deli still haunt my taste buds today. We’ll be enjoying a lesser alternative – all we can get up here.
  • Poetry At Work Day. Jodie will read some poetry to her students. I will compose all my emails in haiku, and try to pen a verse or two while I’m at the office. Should be fun!

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