Friday, March 13, 2020

Sometimes the calendar dominates the day, adding chunky reverb to every tick of the second-hand and squeezing our energy from bed-spring to bed-flop. Other days are kinder, offering not much in the way of obligation, allowing real life to take a turn pummeling our moments. Yesterday planted its flag in the latter camp, which is why today’s article will be refreshingly tight.

National Baked Scallops Day

My first task on this delicious day was to look up what scallops look like in the wild. I’ve always known them as milky white blobs of fish-flesh, harnessing a unique flavour that when channeled properly can clang the chime of the exquisite. Turns out they spend their waking hours inside of beautiful, elaborate shells, the shape and texture of which will evoke an oil company’s logo. But enough about their waking hours – we weren’t looking to subvert this day by getting a bunch of live mollusks  high… though I suppose that would have worked too.

I stumbled upon this recipe for tonight’s dinner. It was simple and quick, and tasted like something I’d pay too much for in a restaurant. We have had some incredible food-related tributes this year, but this one is riding into the top five with a bullet. But because the flavour was top-grade, it’s only fair that I gross myself out a little by learning about the creatures.

Okay, scallops have up to 200 eyes along their perimeter. After their food (mostly plankton) is digested, the scallop poop passes in and out of its heart before taking its anal journey into the deep blue ocean. Scallop sex is non-existent: the sperm and ova get spewed into the water, and if they make a connection, they’ll sink to the bottom and grow a little baby scallop. A little scallopini, if you will. There’s no romance, but since they don’t have brains, they probably don’t mind.

Most of all, they’re delicious. This was a great celebration.

National Girl Scouts Day

108 years ago marked the beginning of the Girl Scouts, an organization based on Robert Baden-Powell’s Boy Scouts. Unlike the Boys, who launched their scouting society in Britain, the Girls got things rockin’ first in Savannah, Georgia.

Jodie went through Brownies and Girl Guides, but never achieved Scout-dom. That’s because we don’t have Girl Scouts up here – the Canadian Scouting organization (Scouts Canada) accepts either gender, but the Girl Guides still reign supreme. Over 20 US astronauts have the Girl Scouts on their resumes though, as do Dakota Fanning, Katie Couric and Lucille Ball. Girl Scouts learn to be resourceful, capable and confident – we looked into the organization when our daughter was young, and though she never made it her thing, it sounded great.

Then there are the cookies. Up here it’s no longer news when a group of Girl Guides sets up shop beside a legal cannabis store and makes a killing. In the US there’s a menu of Girl Scout cookies, but up here we either get the chocolatey mint (so, not real chocolate) in the fall or the chocolate and vanilla Oreo knock-offs in the spring. They’re all great, but I feel they could mix it up a little.

The Girl Scouts have been publicly inclusive of sexual preferences since 1991, and numerous state-wide Scouting organizations have fought to include trans girls over the last decade. I’d say there’s plenty to toast for Girl Scouts Day. Now if only we had some of those damn cookies.

National Plant A Flower Day

Full confession: we did not plant a flower.

We could have grabbed some seeds and planted something indoors, but we wanted to make an elaborate plan for our outdoor space, as we have lots of room out front for a snazzy little flower display. Actually doing any outdoor planting right now would require budging several feet of snow aside, and would likely only result in a premature horticultural death.

So we discussed our plans for the tulip bulbs we’d like to see make their home outside our domicile. Jodie has a vision of a row of tulips on either side of our front walk, where presently there is nothing but grass. I feel that’s a larger job than we’ll end up wanting to do (see yesterday’s article about how incredibly handy I’m not – that also applies to gardening), so it may not get done. But we can plan.

Marigolds and daffodils are apparently the “flowers of March”. Up here in the tundra the flowers of March are whatever you can grow indoors, even if they’re plastic. This celebration will gets its due once the weather permits – I’ve been told we’re looking at -17 as a high this weekend so it’ll have to wait. Those of you who actually get some spring in March, plant away!

National Alfred Hitchcock Day

On the one hand, I’m thinking… “why the hell is this Alfred Hitchcock Day? He was born in August – from what I can tell, March 12 has no special significance in his life.” Then on the other hand, I don’t care. I’ll celebrate Hitchcock any day.

I have probably seen over half his films, though when I look at the list of silent films he made – of which I’ve seen only one – I’m not certain. Hitchcock spent some of his early career working in Germany alongside F.W. Murnau during the peak of expressionist film-making. He soaked in the aesthetic, how lighting and shadow can set a mood, and how camera placement can stir up suspense. His early films show a man exploring his craft. He never wrote his stories, but he meticulously chose tales of intrigue and originality.

Then he came over to America in 1939 and found his groove. His first film was Rebecca, a mesmerizing tale of manipulation and anguish, and the only Hitchcock film to win the Best Picture Oscar. He never won as a director, which is unforgivable by the Academy.

I could honestly go on for pages (and I have!) about all the brilliant movies on his IMDb page: Shadow of a Doubt, Lifeboat, Rope, Notorious, Spellbound (which features a sequence by Salvador Dali), I Confess, Strangers On A Train, Dial M For Murder, Rear Window, To Catch A Thief, The Man Who Knew Too Much (both versions), Vertigo, North By Northwest, Psycho, The Birds, Marnie… Family Plot was kind of dorky, but it was fun. He has been called the greatest director of the 20th century, and while there is no definitive standard for such a case, I feel I could agree.

Last night while Jodie was trying to get over her vicious cough I watched the documentary about the lengthy interview Hitchcock did with French New Wave director Francois Truffaut. Watching one genius pick another genius’s brain was a fantastic celebration.

Today the volume knob gets turned higher once again:

  • National Good Samaritan Day. A day to hold doors open, to be a courteous driver, and to pitch in and help out wherever we can.
  • National Earmuff Day. I don’t think we even own any earmuffs. I wear headphones – they muff my ears sufficiently.
  • National Open An Umbrella Indoors Day. Do we dare tempt fate in such a brash and open way? Yeah, probably.
  • National Coconut Torte Day. My mom, our team baker, has concocted an astounding piece of dessert for this.
  • National Jewell Day. Jodie will wear them, and I’ll… listen to some?
  • National Elephant Day. To see an actual elephant we’d have to take the day off work, as the zoo isn’t open in the evening. So we’ll learn about our flappy-eared friends.
  • National Blame Someone Else Day. Stupid zoo, not being open late enough. It’s all their fault.

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