Monday, March 9, 2020

It was a day of beer, treats and the opportunity to ruminate upon those women who triumph every day over the assault of life’s particulate matter, those ladies who retain and even empower their energy despite a culture of persistent patriarchal swagger. It was a day bathed in quiet and scrubbed by light – another glorious stretch of celebratory wahoo.

International Women’s Day

To the harnessers of the lunar fortitude, the bearers of humankind’s grandest injustices, the descendants of the great and glorious She, we raise our glasses high. I took time to salute the women in my life, all of whom possess a strength and fire that could churn the universe’s thistle into a bubbly nectar. I am fortunate to have grown up surrounded by strong, dynamic women. I understood the established tropes of chauvinism, but saw no evidence of inequality in spirit or strength. My mother – compassionate and crafty as an Austen protagonist – did not make me into a feminist. Society and common sense took care of that.

The history of this day predates most known women’s movements, starting up in 1909 by the Socialist Party of America. It spread around the world over the next decade, which led our culture into the era in which women were finally granted a few crumbs of equality. An equal vote. Equal access to most services and businesses. The right to wear bathing suits that couldn’t also double as barbecue covers. These were morsels of moral correction, tweaking the dial ever-so-slightly toward equality. And they should be celebrated for what they are, and by no means assumed to be complete.

Let’s look at the events that took place just yesterday. Women marched in London. In Islamabad, the march was deemed too “un-Islamic”, and women were met by stone-throwing men. In Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, masked men stormed the march and started throwing fists. With each generation we move forward, but the world hasn’t yet caught up to the progressive heart. Even in America, where women have (on paper, anyhow) genuine equality, sexism is rampant, bias is unavoidable, and women’s rights are perpetually being questioned before the courts.

International Women’s Day should be equal parts celebration of success and somber awareness of what’s still to come. It ain’t over yet. And it’s time for everyone of every gender identification to accept a simple truth: if you’re not a feminist, you’re probably an asshole.

International Women’s Collaboration Brew Day

To cite an example of how the shift to equality remains in progress, behold the astonishingly small number of female brewmasters at breweries around the world. In 2014, 60 female brewasters at 60 different craft breweries around the planet all brewed the same beer, with the intent of marketing it as a signifier of a movement in the industry. The tradition has continued, and it fits in snugly with International Women’s Day and humanity’s collective love for beer.

Yesterday we raised a pint of Pilsner to Julia Hanlon, brewmaster of Steamworks Brewery based out of Vancouver. Their beer was born in their Gastown brewpub, and Julia has catapulted the brand to award-winning status. She’s a self-proclaimed brew science nerd, and an enthusiast of great food and drink. As luck would have it, my selection for yesterday also happens to be her desert-island pick for a favourite beer.

I opted for the Pilsner because I love the smack of the hops with the dry finish of this European specialty. It sated my craving and bounced my Sunday evening into a state of happy, hoppy smiles. Jodie didn’t join me on this journey – even if it’s brewed by a sister, she’s not a beer drinker. Other options for those who seek to celebrate this one a bit later include Regina’s Rebellion Brewery and Calgary’s Prairie Dog Brewing – actually that’s a female founder / marketing guru, not a brewmaster, but it’s still a female executive in a male-dominated industry. Still worth celebrating.

National Oregon Day

With our weekly state salutes having shifted from Saturday to Sunday, we found ourselves in the Beaver State yesterday. Oregon is an unfettered gem in America’s patchwork. It offers forth nature the way a flight attendant might drop a bag of pretzels on your tray table – like it’s no big deal. And the nature in Oregon appears to be consistently stunning. There are emerald mountains crinkling the landscape, dense thickets of trees so lush and indiscreet they’ll haunt your dreams for years, and the coast is 584 kilometers of absolute magic. We spent 10 days hiding out by the seaside near Gold’s Beach in ’07 and we haven’t been able to erase the vibe from our thoughts.

History will unspool the importance of the Oregon Trail to the development of America, but I’m more fascinated by the deepest lake in the nation, Crater Lake. Also, by the largest organism in the world, Armillaria ostoyae, which lives in Oregon. This big ol’ dude is a fungus that runs underneath 22 acres of the Malheur National Forest. They call it the humungous fungus, because of course they do.

Nike is headquartered in Beaverton. Astoria, founded in 1811, was the first English-speaking permanent settlement west of the Rockies. Perhaps most importantly, Portland features the largest number of breweries of any city on the planet. But it’s to Ashland we turned for yesterday’s festivities, which included yet another brew. This time it came from Rogue Ales, a brand that has been fuelling my muse for nearly a decade. They make exquisite beers, and the kombucha-blended ale I enjoyed last night complemented the delicious salmon – classic Oregonian cuisine – magnificently. I liked it more than the stuff we had on National Booch Day actually.

It was a great state to celebrate. A quick mention of some Oregonians who may have been celebrating with us: Matt Groening, sage of Simpsonia, was born in Portland; Ndamukong Suh, deadly defensive end for the Bucs, also born in Portland; Sally Struthers (a.k.a. Mrs. Meathead), also from Portland; Linus Pauling, doctor who won two Nobel prizes – yep, Portland again. Wow, the magic really seems to stem from Portland.

National Peanut Cluster Day / National Peanut Month

For this I find it hard to pen more than a sentence or two. Peanut clusters are simply peanuts fused together in a magical robe of chocolate and peanut butter, creating a perfect dessert experience. We made this recipe, which was simple and sublime. More treats for our coworkers… perhaps. They might not make it out the door.

Check Your Batteries Day

National Batteries Day was February 18, so going through our batteries once more to ensure they were full of life was mostly unnecessary. But as luck would have it, the warning lights began to flicker on my game controller last night, indicating the need for a fresh pair of AAs. It’s like they were just waiting for this day to pop up, just for us.

The reason this day was plunked upon March 8 this year is because the day after a daylight savings switch is a good time to remind oneself to check one’s battery situation. Since we’re running just groovily now, we’re hoping another one of these drops in the fall with the next time change.

A day with Jodie at work and me at home with the dogs – not due to illness, just good fortune.

  • National Crabmeat Day. We have already undertaken the landlocked-city tradition of paying too much for crabmeat – tomorrow we’ll make it.
  • National Meatball Day. Crab and meatballs? Nope. But crabmeat meatballs? Hell yes.
  • National Get Over It Day. We will each conquer something that has been dragging us down. For Jodie, hopefully it’s that persistent cold.
  • Panic Day. Sounds like a great day for mental health.
  • Napping Day. I think I can manage this one.
  • Fill Our Staplers Day. Jodie just filled hers last week and my stapler will be awaiting my return to my grey-beige cubicle on Tuesday. So… there’s that.