Thursday, May 7, 2020

Another joy-filled day within the walls of quarantine, with a respectable amount of celebrations on the radar and a respectable amount of leftover sweets to keep us fuelled. Fuelled for what? That’s a question with a circular answer. We power-up to relax. We relax so we have the strength to power-up once more. Were it not for the forced weirdness this project has injected into our 2020, our lives would be beige and boring. And we may have gone crazy from it all by now.

A special big ol’ hug to my belated grandmother today, on what would have been her 100th birthday. She was a deeply cool lady who taught me more about kindness, compassion and family than a lifetime of Disney movies ever could. She would have loved this project. Especially the silly parts, like:

National Beverage Day

In a year when every single variation on the beverage appears to get its own day, from Moscow Mules to amaretto to orange juice, this generic tribute to the ‘beverage’ is about as odd a festivity as we’ve run across so far. What’s the message here? “If you’re thirsty, try drinking something!” appears to be the inspirational slogan of the day. What a fantastic insight.

This apparently traces back to the 1920s and something called National Carbonated Beverages Day, which makes sense since those were still fairly novel at the time. But ‘beverage’ day? I refuse to take the vague message of what this day might have meant – as evidenced by my shed-hugging yesterday, I’m all about the literal interpretations right now. So for National Beverage Day, I drank.

And oh, how I drank. I drank a sampling of every kind of beverage I could get my hands on. Coffee? Of course. Water? Naturally. Tea? Had some in the evening. Juice? It’s how I started the day. Milk? Our milk was past its date, and I’m lactose intolerant anyway so I get a pass. Beer? Dinner! Wine? Post-dinner pick-me-up! Hard liquor? I had a shot of whiskey in the evening. Liqueur? Something before bed. It was a beverage-filled day because May 6 was jam-packed with vagueness and ambiguity. Hooray!

National Nurses Day

This day took a while to come into being. Dorothy Sutherland, a lowly Department of Health worker, send a note to President Eisenhower in 1953, asking for a nurses’ day. It didn’t happen, so nurses started celebrating on their own. Nixon brought in Nurses’ Week in 1974, but it took until 1982 for the day to be recognized by Washington. Even then, International Nurses’ Day is next week, so America’s just getting an early jump on things.

But this year, nurses deserve all the days. They’re the ones getting very up close and uncomfortably personal with COVID-19. In many places they’re doing it with sub-standard or insufficient equipment. In other places they are grossly underpaid. Up here in Alberta, they’re facing potential wage rollbacks, layoffs, and a battle with the government as soon as this crisis is over. And make no mistake, the government has assured us they will be just as hard on nurses and doctors after this virus as they were planning to be.

Yet they keep showing up. They keep doing their jobs. One doctor and another EMT committed suicide last month because they couldn’t handle what they were facing. Nurses are in the spotlight now the way firefighters were after 9/11, but the question remains as to whether or not they’ll still be just as revered when this crisis is over and their unions go forth into contract negotiations around the world. They deal with the ugly stuff: the bedpans, the spittle, the cries of agony and the stuff the rest of us don’t even want to imagine.

Thank you from all of us with rational minds and the ability to perceive what these fantastic men and women do every day. We are tremendously grateful, and as a tribute we promise neither of us will dress as a slutty nurse this Halloween. My costume will keep until October, 2021.

National Totally Chipotle Day

Bumped from yesterday due to marinating time needed, this one made for a delicious little dinner. Thankfully this day is meant to celebrate the pepper, not the food establishment we can’t visit due to their zero locations in our area code. Chipotle is actually just a plain ol’ jalapeno pepper that has been smoke-dried into something great. This technique dates back to pre-Aztec Mesoamerica. It’s likely what Chris Columbus would have sampled and brought back to Europe. This is old-school pepper consumption.

The dish we made last night used the prepared spice rather than the peppers themselves, and I’m pretty sure the aim was to capture the essence of Chipotle dining – the food establishment, I mean. This is one of those copycat recipes, much like what we did to impersonate the In & Out Double-Double burger back on National California Day. I’ve never even eaten at a Chipotle, so for me this was not so much a tribute to the restaurant as to the spice itself. We dropped that chicken into a salad and it was perfect.

Chipotles are spicy, but only if you’re not accustomed to really spicy foods. It only ranks between 2,500 and 10,000 on the Scoville heat unit scale, on par with the Espelette, the Guajillo and of course the jalapeno pepper. Serranos, cayenne, and the tobacco pepper all score notably higher. But this was spicy enough, and a really tasty little meal. It fit the Cinco de Mayo vibe nicely, albeit a day late.

International No Diet Day

With all the gluttony and sugar-coated, sugar-loaded, sugar-frosted eating we’ve been doing for this project, it’s kind of nice to see a day dedicated to body acceptance finally show up and pat us on our ever-widening backs. International No-Diet Day is a day for everyone to toss away those New Year’s resolutions, even the ones they may have made for Renewal Day a few days back, and just eat what they want today.

Not to confuse it with National Eat What You Want Day. That’s next Monday.

This day began in England in 1992, and was taken on by feminist groups in hopes of promoting actual human women shapes and not the phony ideals put forward by our culture. There is no ‘right’ body shape. Embrace who you are and just go with it – especially if you’ve got someone whose fire is lit by exactly the person in your skin. The important thing is to take care of your health. That’s something we’re still figuring out, and trying to cram into our busy days of stuffing sweets down our throat.

We didn’t actually have a dessert-oriented celebration with which to rock No Diet Day, but we did have plenty of leftover desserts from previous days. Also some cinnamon buns Jodie inexplicably picked up from Costco last week. Well, it’s in the spirit of the celebration so we’ll do what we must.

National Tourist Appreciation Day

I’m sure my guess that there are millions of empty hotel rooms around the globe right now is pretty accurate. I found one source that claims there are 15.5 million hotel rooms in total on the planet. Given that most of them must be sitting dormant right now, either because of the virus or because they exist in a place no one in their right minds would want to visit, this must be true.

National Tourist Appreciation Day is a gimmick that a resort, a hotel, or any business in a touristy area can use as an excuse for a sale, or a deal to lure in the visitors. And from what I’ve found that is exactly what has happened in the past. In the present? Not so much. There are still tourists out there, but probably only because they were stuck on their vacation and couldn’t get home as the world wound down. Hopefully they’re being treated just as well on this sacred day.

Neither Jodie nor myself are in professions that intersect with the tourism industry. But that hasn’t always been the case for me. I’ve worked five jobs in West Edmonton Mall, the centre of tourism in this city. My livelihood in each of those jobs was tied to people checking out the entire map of the world, discounting Disneyland, Tokyo and Venice as either too expensive or too boring, and opting for Edmonton as their destination. And a lot of folks did it. A lot. One estimate has 18 million people visiting Disneyland in a year. The mall gets 32 million. Sure, a lot of those are locals making trips to pick up birthday presents or a new velvet smoking jacket, but that’s still a lot of humans.

We all look forward to when we get to be tourists again. With Jodie’s October New York trip shut down until next year, it’s definitely looking like 2021 before we get to haul the suitcases out of the basement again. That’s okay – this celebrating stuff is like a daily holiday. Just… you know, kind of a lame one. With no tourists, except you kind folks who read along.

No Homework Day

Needless to say, Jodie didn’t spend any time bringing this subject up with her students. It wasn’t that she was shirking her duties at all, nor was her role as an educator coming into conflict with her equally important – some may say more important – role as a professional celebrator.

This was all a question of timing. Jodie meets in “person” online with her students once every week. That happens on a Tuesday, so any homework Jodie might assign for the week gets assigned then. This day landed on a Wednesday – if her kids wanted to not do any homework on that day, that was up to them. Jodie didn’t assign any, and she couldn’t have if she’d wanted to. This worked out well for us.

This one comes to us via Ruth and Thomas Roy, those goofballs in Pennsylvania who have foisted dozens of weird celebrations upon us this year. This would have been a great one for the students of the world, especially if they also follow this page (which, I’m sure, they do). Alas, they’ll just have to find out about this one on their own.

Great American Grump Out

It has been a whopping two days since our last celebration dedicated to smiling and laughing, so here we go again.

Janice A. Hathy, an author and motivational speaker, came up with the Great American Grump Out in 2002. Her mission? Let’s push all that grumpiness and misery deep, deep down inside us by laughing and smiling today. I’d suggest yelling “Serenity now!” whenever you feel that stress rise back up as well. I mean, what could go wrong?

As cynical as this sounds (and it does!) I do appreciate that most of us need to overcome some dark moods from time to time, perhaps more so now as we all drift a little closer to the brink of cabin fever-induced insanity. I say flip back to our Garden Meditation Day on Sunday. Meditate – the smiles and the laughter will roll in once your mind has been turned down from 11. We’ll get there.

Wow – not even 2000 words today, when the last several days have all scratched closer to 3000. Should I stretch it out with a really long section here? Nah. Here’s all we’ve got for today:

  • National Packaging Design Day. There is no more stupid packaging design than the one currently being used for cannabis. We’ll investigate.
  • National Roast Leg of Lamb Day. Unfortunately we could only procure a rack thereof, no legs. But the recipe will still be great.
  • National Cosmopolitan Day. Alas, we lack the ingredients to make cosmos and hang with Samantha and Charlotte.
  • National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day. Not a celebration we’d planned to observe, but it might be worth a mention, given the weird world around us.
  • National Day of Prayer / National Day of Reason. This sounds like a really fun argument to get in the middle of for a Thursday.

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