Friday, February 21, 2020

Yesterday was a fine day for laying around the house, as I felt a slight plague begin to creep into my system, only to force its way out periodically through coughs. Fortunately, this day was all about love and food.

National Love Your Pet Day

So, Hug Your Puppy Day was January 21, and Hug Your Dog Day is April 10… there’s really no shortage of days tuned into celebrating our adoration of the creatures that surround us. This one seems to have quite a fair amount of traction though. It was all over social media yesterday morning, in posts from the Chicago City Clerk, the Obama Foundation, The Sims, and even @DCBatman, the official Batman twitter account.

Of course if you’re waiting for a special day just to love your pet, you probably shouldn’t have a pet. We showed some extra love to our three she-beasts today, but they get that every day. There is no ‘extra’ – what, do we buy them jewelry?

I suppose we could. I’ve always felt Rosa would like dapper in a tiara, and Trixie’s neck is just crying out for a bejeweled choker. Liberty would probably try to eat anything we gave her, so the diamond tennis bracelet will have to wait. But jewels are not love, contrary to what a lifetime of Kay Jewellers commercials may suggest. Give ‘em some hugs, give ‘em some treats, and just love them. Pets are what gives life purpose. They are comfort and compassion, wrapped up with absolute devotion.

Well, dogs are anyway – cats serve a more esoteric purpose. Fish? Quiet entertainment. Hamsters, gerbils and other rodents? Fuzzy adulation. Birds? Great companions, especially if you want to pretend you’re a pirate. Snakes and spiders? Those aren’t pets, they’re ill-advised animal boarders. Ferrets? Okay, we’re done here.

Just go hug your pet. It’s the best thing you’ll do all day.

Hoodie Hoo Day

Once again we travel to Pennsylvania and the realm of Thomas Roy, that guy who invented 80+ weird holidays. Some we’re ignoring, but this one kind of makes sense in a weird, unapologetically goofy sort of way.

The purpose of Hoodie Hoo Day is to welcome forth the shift into spring. As anyone who lives in this tundra can understand, spring is still a ways off no matter what we yell at the heavens. But yell we must – at least this year. Yesterday I walked outside, raised my arms above my head and cried, “HOODIE HOOOOOO!!!!!” to the sky. Then I came inside and had lunch. It’s a simple celebration.

Hoodie Hoo Day shows up twice this year: once yesterday, and again on August 22 for the folks in the southern hemisphere to cry out for their spring. I won’t be joining them, as the weather slated to show up here after August 22 is not something I want to hurry along. But yesterday, for a brief moment removed from time, I felt spring was listening. My voice cut through the crisp air, rose high above the reach of snow and entered the ear-holes of the heavens. When spring does decide to ring our bell, I’ll hope it’s because it heard my call.

Probably not, but we can pretend.

National Muffin Day

The beloved muffin truly deserves a day. The cupcake is blunt, it’s almost unpleasantly obtuse with its intentions. But the muffin sidles onto your plate with an air of potential complexity. Will your teeth be plunging into a sweet berry or chocolate concoction? Will there be a bite of cornbread, biting you back? Or will you be experiencing the bland (but well-intentioned) taste of bran? You really can’t lose with a muffin.

You can splash some butter on a muffin. You can spruce it up with some cream cheese if you’re feeling particularly insouciant. But a cupcake? A cupcake will deliver what it promises: sweetness and sweetness alone. There’s no adventure there, no passion. My mother delivered a batch of her incredible lemon-blueberry delights last night, and they will keep our taste buds giggly and giddy for days to come.

Of course the muffin’s top portion is the star of the show. But a muffin is an experience, and shutting out the stump means filtering a journey. It’s like listening to the AM radio edits of great classic rock songs – oh, sorry, is that keyboard solo too interesting and long for your attention span? Here, listen to the 2:52 version of “Light My Fire” and munch on a muffin top; you don’t really care about biting into life anyway. No, in this house we eat the entire muffin, and we take our 1967 Doors singles in their 7:06 format.

The quick bread muffin (what some Brits call ‘American muffins’ and what we just call ‘muffins’) date back to 19th century American cookbooks. The flatbread muffin (what we call ‘English muffins’) goes back at least a century before that. I enjoyed one of each yesterday. It was a muffin-tastic little Thursday.

How best to celebrate this day? By covering the muffin gamut as I did, that’s a good effort. But San Franciscan tech lawyer Jacob Kaufman truly does it right: he bakes muffins then hands them out to the hungry and homeless on the streets. Actually he does this all the time, but on National Muffin Day he encourages people all over the world to do the same. He also celebrates this day on March 1 for some reason (we’ve got enough planned for that day), but any day is a great day to do this.

National Cherry Pie Day

Another day without a specific origin story that I could find, but the cherry pie deserves a day. According to the American Pie Council (and one does not dare contradict the APC), fruit pies date back to the 1500s. It’s said that the first ever cherry pie was baked for Queen Elizabeth I.

The pie is a perfect encapsulation of dessert. The sweetness derives from the fruit or cream (or whatever) inside, but it’s surrounded by a pastry that gives it form and purpose. Pie goes brilliantly with ice cream, which is further proof of its perfection. We sampled a delicious pecan pie back on January 23 (National Pie Day #1 of 2 this year), but since this is a more specific day, we had to shift gears.

Thankfully my mother, who has proudly declared herself to be the official bakesmith of this project, came through with a terrific creation from her oven. This day encapsulates this project beautifully: an over-indulgence of tasty foods, plus dog hugs. 2020 has been a pretty great year so far.

National Cherry Month

The cherry is truly the fruit of utter magnificence. If there’s an assorted fruit-flavoured anything, the cherry is most reliably the greatest. We’ll call this a double celebration, and I will finish every bite of this pie.

Today leads us into a bizarre contradiction we’re not entirely certain how we’ll overcome:

  • National Sticky Bun Day. The High Level Diner in Edmonton makes sticky buns that are the stuff of legend. Easy to celebrate.
  • National Grain-Free Day. How the hell do we go grain-free *and* eat a sticky bun? We don’t. The sticky bun wins. Perhaps the rest of the day will be breadless.

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