Saturday, May 9, 2020

A strange anomaly in this ongoing mayhem, yesterday found us with little in the way of actual ‘celebration’. No special food to make, as we abandoned the coconut cream pie in an effort to stave off the ballooning of our midriffs that quarantine and endless desserts has caused. One special beverage to drink (well, two actually), and one wardrobe instruction – is this celebration? Or merely a manic addiction to a snarling behemoth of a calendar, packed to its spittly gills with arbitrary acknowledgments and recipes? Or could it be that all of this is simply driving us a little mad? These are questions for our 2021 therapists to uncover. For now, there’s this:

National Coconut Cream Pie Day

This week was filled with Jabba-Hutts, with nurses’ struts and endless ruts,

Alas, the weekend brings us coconuts.

Forgive us once; our alibi: we did not buy this creamy pie,

Our tolerance for sweets has said goodbye.

This cream pie may have been the peak, the true unique we can’t critique,

The perfect treat for both us lunatiques;

But we agreed upon collab, were we to grab another slab

We’d melt into a glob of utter flab.

And so we say with grave regret, we must forget this creamy threat,

For fear that we shall both become thickset.

And though in most treats we’ll immerse, we’re not averse to shuck this curse

By writing out a tribute here in verse.

Today we’ll opt for eating fruit: a choice astute, you can’t refute,

And give our endless pastry-run the boot.

But if you’ve got it in your head, to pull this thread, get cream-pie fed,

We’re grateful for the tribute in our stead.

National Have a Coke Day

On this day 134 years ago, John Pemberton was bitten by a radioactive spider, and BOOM! Coca-Cola was invented. I think. I’ll be honest, I may have dropped the ball on my research for this one.

In 2018 Coca-Cola was ranked #87 on the list of largest US corporations by revenue. But looking beyond the balance sheet, there is literally no other brand that has wormed its way into the collective culture of the world. Once intended as a medicinal tonic by its creator, the brand met its destiny when he sold it off to Asa Candler, who masterminded the marketing of the stuff through the 20th century. One of his first moves was to remove the cocaine. Yes, there were about 9mg of coke in Coke at one point, and Pemberton’s original 1886 recipe allegedly contained ten times that amount. A typical line of cocaine contains about 50-75mg, so Pemberton’s tonic would certainly help out with that morphine addiction, that headache or that impotence. But the 1890s version was much more tame.

Multiple volumes have been written on the history of Coca-Cola, from its popularization of Santa’s look, to its invasion into impoverished countries as their first identifiable mass-marketed product, to its foolish (though strategic) decision to change recipes in the mid-80s. I have no desire to delve into all of that. This is a celebration, not a research thesis.

So we enjoyed a Coke yesterday. Jodie had a Diet Coke, which she prefers somehow, while I cracked open a tall glass bottle of Mexican-made Coke, a product I am relieved has gained popularity in these parts. Pre-recipe-change, this was the way Coke was: cane sugar instead of high-fructose corn syrup. Coke used to market itself as The Real Thing – thankfully some of the real Real Thing can still be enjoyed. And damn it, it’s still the best cola out there.

No Socks Day

Thank you Thomas & Ruth Roy, you concoctors of the cockeyed and campy clashes of craziness, for a completely cromulent concept for a day. No Socks Day, but let’s drop it into May when it’s warm enough for everyone to enjoy. Unless they live in Edmonton in 2020, where the temperature may not scrape up past the single digits.

Fortunately we both have cozy fur-lined slippers. Fake fur? Probably, so don’t throw paint at us. But they did the trick for the most part, except for the unpleasantness of chilled ankles.

In a normal world this might have been fun, popping into work for casual Friday with a tiny breeze circulating about our Achilles tendons, but this is not a normal world. It was a day at home with no socks. A subdued celebration, but hey, it’s a celebration.

Fintastic Friday

This is a day to celebrate everything shark. We are encouraged to eat sustainable seafood from reputable sources that do not mangle sharks in the process of catching their product. We are told to speak up if our country allows the sale of shark fins, or does not have legislation to limit sharks being killed by fishing practices.

Good news, Canadians – we’re off the hook for the fins (pun not intended, but deeply appreciated in retrospect). The actual yanking of fins off sharks has been illegal here since 1994, and last year we became the first nation on the planet to outright ban the import and export of shark fins entirely. I suppose this means no more shark fin soup, but have you ever tried shark fin soup? I still get recurring flashbacks to the slimy texture. There are plenty of other, far better soups out there. For chrissake, save a shark, eat a matzoh ball. That should be the new slogan of the conservancy movement.

Apparently the folks at whaletimes.org, who originated this celebration back in 2011, are not too keen on stepping up to support our finned friends this year. They have plenty of reading suggestions and activity ideas for the 2019 edition of Fintastic Friday, but nothing updated for this year. At least their list of great shark research is probably not too far out of date.

You’ve got Mahmood Shivji, who unlocked the genome sequence for the great white shark. There’s Dr. Dean Grubbs, who researches the deep-water sharks like the Bigeye Sixgill shark – that happy little dude pictured above. And don’t forget Jackie and Graham Hall, who stepped up to monitor and protect the sharks they saw off the coast of the Isle of Man because nobody else was doing it.

Sharks, despite everything Jaws taught us, are pretty cool creatures. It’s an important thing to remember that more people get killed every year by pigs than by sharks. Send out some love to the deep blue sea for these creatures – and please don’t seek out their fins for your slime-soup.

Iris Day

A day to devote to the lovely iris – not Jodie Foster’s ground-breaking underage prostitute character in Taxi Driver, but rather to the plant. Let’s see if we can learn a little about irises.

Iris was the Greek goddess of the rainbow, and the word also came to be the Greek word for rainbow. The flowers themselves are about as stunning as any rainbow I’ve seen, so I get how the name transported over. The flowers are actually quite stunning in design, shaped in a way so that a pollinating insect will scrape off any extra pollen from another flower onto an outer portion of the flower so as not to cross-contaminate.

Irises are big in flower shows, boasting proud and noble names like “Maui Moonlight”, “Raspberry Blush” and “Titan’s Glory”. There are also Irises named “Neglecta”, “Dr. Bernice” and “Depute Nomblot”.

The iris used to be a medicinal plant, though today they’re more often found in aromatherapy. They are also used in the creation of Bombay Sapphire Gin. This worked out well, as we still had enough left to make a stiff gin and tonic last night, which I enjoyed as we dug deeper into our 3,000-piece jigsaw puzzle. This is delicious gin, and a fortuitous opportunity to drink back some iris juice on this sacred and glorious day.

World Red Cross / Red Crescent Day

It’s no surprise that the three big items on the front of the Canadian Red Cross’s webpage are COVID-19, the Nova Scotia shooting, and the flooding up in Fort McMurray. The Red Cross’s mission is to be in the thick of disaster, human-made or nature-wrought. They’re the ones you can send a text to and donate $10 to whichever cause is at the forefront, allowing us all to feel like generous philanthropists without physically dragging our asses off the couch and away from Dancing With the Stars.

The organization came about courtesy of a businessman, Jean-Henri Dunant, who was looking to meet up with Napoleon III to bitch about how difficult it was to do business with French-controlled Algeria in June of 1859. He happened to pop into the town of Solferino on his way, a town that had been devastated just hours earlier in a furious battle, part of the Austro-Sardinian War that literally none of us were taught about in school, possibly because it only lasted two months. Jean-Henri had plopped himself accidentally onto a battlefield where some 40,000 soldiers on both sides had been wounded or killed. He helped to organize the villagers to not only treat the wounded, but to do so without discrimination over which uniform they wore.

He went home and wrote a book about that day, calling for an international treaty that would protect medics and field hospitals in war. Eventually the Red Cross movement was born from this mission, with a slight adaptation to Red Crescent for countries in which that is the more sacred symbol. The Red Cross/Crescent has been through it all, from every war since to terrorist attacks and natural disasters.

And they’ll be here long after this quarantine is lifted and life has adjusted for most of us into whatever the new normal will look like. When you see those ads inviting you to donate, please do. This isn’t one of those organizations that gets raked for pouring heaps of money into its executives’ pockets (looking at you, United Way). These are good people doing great things.

Another bountiful Saturday, chock-full (right up to the chock!) of celebrations, the most fun of which we will have to skip because of this damn virus:

  • National Lost Sock Memorial Day. Sure, sometimes the dryer (or possibly the dryer is just taking the fall for the washer) eats a sock. It’s tragic.
  • National Moscato Day. We may see if we can source some from a local liquor merchant.
  • National Butterscotch Brownie Day. We already did blonde brownies, which is the same thing. But we’ll have more!
  • National Sleepover Day. Every day is like a sleepover with another human and three dog friends for us.
  • National Dog’s Mom Day. A mother’s day for dogs, and two of our canine research companions have been moms.
  • National Train Day. Perhaps we’ll go for a bit of socially-distanced train spotting.
  • National Archery Day. We had plans for this. Alas, no archery.
  • National Miniature Golf Day. DAMMIT!!!!
  • Stomp Out Hunger Food Drive Day. A good time to support your local food bank.
  • Stay Up All Night Night. Not likely. We both still have jobs and internal systems that would not recover quickly from doing this. We’ll see.

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