Monday, February 17, 2020

Our daughter arrived home for a visit, just in time to miss the fun stuff like gumdrop day and cream-filled chocolate day. Instead she showed up for this:

National Do A Grouch A Favor Day

Our house-grouch right now is Trixie, our primary research and revelry assistant. She’s a four-year-old English bulldog who is somewhat less than thrilled at the arrival of her newly-mandated sibling. She was not interested in the magic of celebrating National Golden Retriever Day. She has been in full disgruntlement mode since dog #3 entered the premises, despite our attempts to explain the benefits of a larger family.

Today we made sure we gave Trixie a few extra treats and an extra long belly-rub. It effectively wiped out that expression of grumpitude above, and when Abbey arrived to pay her some exclusive attention that perked her joy-meter a bit as well. But the adjustment continues, and her grouchiness quotient will likely hover around its current altitude for a few more days. We’ll see if we can’t keep cheering her up, and maybe next year at this time we’ll need to find a grouch outside of our house for whom to do a favor. We’ll see.

National Almond Day

Consider for a moment the noble almond. An embryo beneath a seedcoat, nestled within a shell inside a drupe, dangling from a tree – possibly in the middle east where they grow in abundance. It can be blanched, smoked, or squeezed into milk, oil, butter or syrup. Things that look like one are considered to be “amygdaloid”, hence the name of the amygdala in the human brain, which is made up of an almond-shaped cluster of nuclei.

Almonds have always been one of the royal subjects in a jar of mixed nuts (the cashew still reigns supreme), but a package of the super-salted smoked Blue Diamond variety would put everything in its class to shame. Once lactose-intolerance struck my gut-parts with a nasty vengeance during adulthood, almond milk became my go-to dairy substitute. It’s an incredibly versatile food.

Bitter almonds contain cyanide. Not enough to kill you (unless you eat a stupid amount of them), but enough to make you feel a little queasy for a while. Fortunately all domestically-produced almonds are sweet almonds: cyanide-free. Almonds will fill you full of protein, potassium, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin E, calcium, copper and a lot more. As long as you aren’t allergic, you should be eating the hell out of these little creatures.

Last night’s repast consisted of an easy almond-crusted chicken dish from Martha Stewart’s website. It had a wonderful crunch, and the flavour of the almond spread throughout. It was our only food celebration of the day, and it was divine.

National Bird-Feeding Month

The Great Backyard Bird Count is running this weekend (see Saturday’s article), and the fifteen minutes I spent gazing out my bedroom window yesterday yielded one single magpie, who swooped in and out of my backyard in a single loop. That was it. So, I loaded up the bird feeder, hoping to submit a more impressive count this morning. I found no more luck, perhaps because it’s around -25 out there.

We are, as everyone suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder are acutely aware, in the midst of the darkest, dankest, ugliest stretch of winter. Now is when the birds are most in need of a little leg-up (or wing-up) from humans. We have a bit left in the bin of assorted birdseed goodies we picked up at Costco. But back on National Bird Day our guide recommended black-oil sunflower seeds for the little winged critters. You’ll draw cardinals, jays, woodpeckers, chickadees, sparrows, doves, and a veritable birdy-Benneton ad of ornithological diversity. Also, the stuff we’ve got is made up of a substantial amount of filler. Black-oil sunflower seeds are a lot more nutritious.

A bird-feeder invites a bit of life into a yard. If you’ve got a place where you can sit and watch the action, why not toss a little food out for nature to enjoy?

Another quiet day today, which fits this day off just fine:

  • Family Day. The reason we have a day off. We will be enjoying our time as a more fully-realized family, with a an actual human child joining our puppy children.
  • National Cabbage Day. Brussels Sprouts, those tiny little cabbages, will enhance this day nicely.
  • Random Acts of Kindness Day. We will ensure our acts of kindness are particularly random today.

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