Saturday, May 23, 2020

A sizeable chunk of Thursday was devoted to updating the calendars in the So Far page up top, eliminating the celebrations we never made it to and adding in the new ones we’ve found. This allowed us to learn that (a) we somehow managed to record the same number of celebrations in March and April (203), and (b) we are currently sitting at 876 celebrations in the bag. Of course that number has already been surpassed with the revelry below, but it makes us wonder… can we actually achieve 2000 celebrations in a single year? Possibly, if the days are all as fun as this:

National Craft Distillery Day

Edmonton is home to a small handful of distilleries. Having never sampled any of them, this was to be the day we’d venture out and take a tour. Strathcona Spirits offers a $10 tour followed by a tasting of their goodies. They even offer evening tours on Fridays, so this looked like a slam-dunk post-work party, with the chance to bring home a bottle of something as a delicious souvenir. Then the damn lockdown happened.

Strathcona Spirits produces their own vodka and a trio of gin options. Given that recent events (notably National Gin & Tonic Day a few weeks back) have opened my palette once again to the wonders of gin, that’s where my purchase would be leaning. To keep our budget intact, the $49.50 purchase of a bottle of their Badland Seaberry Gin will have to wait until payday next week, but we’ll absolutely be picking some up.

Until then, we’ve got plenty of alcohol to enjoy. For example:

World Paloma Day

My brain mixed this up with Pavlova, the delicious meringue & fruit dessert delight we enjoyed for New Zealand Day way back in January. My aunt had baked that treat, and its magnificence still resonates upon my tongue, despite so many wonderful desserts we’ve had since. But alas, this is a beverage, and it necessitated us purchasing some tequila. So it’s not the dream dessert, but now we have tequila in the house and the universe is grooving along at a funkier vibration as a result.

The paloma is known as the “working man’s drink”. Apparently it’s tremendously popular in Mexico, and can be found in cans, much the same way we can now get gin & tonic or vodka soda in pre-mixed canned form. I opted to create ours from scratch, as the recipe is fairly simple to follow. We mixed some grapefruit juice, lime juice and sugar in a glass, stirred until the sugar was dissolved, then poured in the tequila, ice, and club soda. It’s a terrific little cocktail that truly made me want to quit working and drink more of these.

There are variants on the drink, including the Greyhound, which omits the sugar and soda, and the cantarito, which incorporates lemon juice and orange juice into the mix. But until those drinks get their own day, we’re sticking with the paloma. It was our more delicious alcohol celebration of the day. Much tastier than this one:

National Cooler Day

Ohhhh, I see how I got this wrong. This day was actually founded by a company that manufactures coolers – as in the things you bring food inside of to a picnic – and has nothing to do with ‘coolers’, the alcoholic beverages most of us tried as teenagers before we started drinking beer. We own two coolers, but had no reason to use either of them yesterday, given that it was nearly freezing for much of the day (snow was spotted in parts of the city) and we weren’t going anywhere. But for those who celebrated yesterday for the launch of Memorial Day long weekend, making sure they have a cooler might be crucial.

Instead we celebrated the other type of cooler – the liquid one. I remember drinking Seagram’s wine coolers as a teen, and imagining that the tiny amount of alcohol therein was somehow leading me down the grown-up path of inebriation. But I was just goofy and dumb, not drunk. And the flavour of those things never appealed to me.

Enter the new era of coolers: we’ve got vodka, gin, and all sorts of booze-anchored spirits crammed into cooler form now. Last night we indulged in some new gin-based coolers Jodie had found at Costco and purchased for me, knowing I’ve been enjoying gin more lately. These were mostly too sweet, and not really my thing. I think I enjoy them about as much as I enjoyed the wine coolers back then, only I know better than to think they’re giving me a buzz. These have a kind of sweetness that will inspire a headache before the alcohol gets a chance to muck about with my balance and speech ability.

It was alright, but in the end it just made me want another paloma.

National Solitaire Day

We both have single-person games that we play on our phones on a daily basis, sometimes to the point of ignoring one another. But neither of them are specifically classic solitaire. So to remedy this, I installed the classic Windows Solitaire from the Microsoft store, since it doesn’t appear to be built in to Windows 10. I mean – why not? Does it take up that much space? Whatever – the game is still just as fun as it was for all those hours we spent playing it back in the 90s, back when it was an exciting way to play solitaire without all those pesky plastic-coated cards messing up the table. And as you can see, my first hand was a roaring success.

But card solitaire is just one definition of the word. Mahjong solitaire, peg solitaire and Concentration are all variants on the theme: any game you can play by yourself, battling the forces of random distribution and your own skill level, is a game of solitaire. Nowadays any single-player video game could arguably be called solitaire. The hundreds of hours I’ve poured into Civilization VI can be seen as simply a next-generation version of my mom sitting at the kitchen table, dealing her Riviera Hotel & Casino cards and sorting them into a red-black-red-black pattern.

That form of solitaire, the one we most closely associate with the word, is known as Patience. That’s actually a genre which encompasses Klondike, Spider, and other games. It’s thought to be of Scandinavian origin, and it surged in popularity in France in the early 1800s, spreading to the rest of Europe and North America a few years later. Solitaire is a magnificent way to pass the time whilst still nudging the brain into some basic activity and decision making.

And now it can be my new (old) distraction on my computer.

National Buy A Musical Instrument Day

Well this is an expensive proposition for a day. Especially given that budget concerns have forced us to bump our craft gin purchase to next week; it seemed highly unlikely that my dream instrument purchase of a Hammond B3 organ was going to happen yesterday. Instead we plotted a purchase also for next week, a $7.73 set of musical conjoined spoons from amazon. Now I’ll finally be able to jam to that Soundgarden song, over and over.

I have no idea who had started this particular celebration, but odds are it was an instrument manufacturer or a store that sells them. Could be my capitalist cynicism there, or simply the experience of delving through almost 900 of these celebrations and understanding how they work. The timing is pretty good though – kids would be rolling up to the end of their school year now, and if they’ve stuck with band and found a passion for the instrument they’ve been playing for the last nine months, it might be the right time to invest in a keeper item so they don’t have to return the instrument to the school for summer.

I couldn’t find any retail establishment cashing in on this particular day with a sale, which is a shame. But if your kid has a passion for music, even if you’d prefer them to be a lawyer or acupuncturist or sporting goods salesperson, you should invest in their dreams. They only get the time and learning power of youth once, and if you let that time elapse without supporting their passion they may never rekindle it later in life. Just maybe make sure they really love it before you fork out Hammond B3 money.

World Goth Day

For someone who is not an adherent of the goth subculture to attempt to explain or deconstruct the goth subculture would be insulting. Goths get dismissed by many as moody or miserable, or particularly dark and fatalistic. Their excessive use of dark makeup, dark hair and dark clothing would suggest to some that they reject all traditional notions of beauty, and perhaps have a satanic or witchcraft-based leaning. But to paint everyone with a goth look as the same sort of goth would be foolish.

Goth as we know it today can be traced back to the late-era punk scene, the more atmospheric sounding stuff that gets labeled as “post-punk”. This would include such brilliance as Siouxsie & the Banshees, Sisters of Mercy and Joy Division. The act of calling these bands, or any musical artist ‘gothic’ is a vague identifier, meant to evoke a dark and mysterious link to old-timey outsiders who worshipped things the church abhorred. It’s hard to pin down an exact understanding of the culture unless you spend some time in it. The only common denominator I’ve found among goths is the black clothing and (usually) makeup. If you’re reading more into a person’s likes, interests or beliefs simply because they’re dressed in all black, that’s on you.

When you think of goth you might think of Marilyn Manson, but you can just as easily think of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, who incorporated strange voodoo theatrics as he blasted “Susie Q” on stage. The Cure’s Robert Smith and actor Bela Lugosi may seem like goth ‘influencers’, but so are Bettie Page and David Bowie. Goth is, from what I understand, a journey through one’s own self, landing on a particular style of expression that is likely to alienate the more closed-minded among us.

Our plan had been to meet up with a friend of ours who is an adherent of goth culture (and a huge fan of 80s Michael Jackson, so figure that out), then to have him adorn us with a spooky goth makeover. It would have been fun, especially with Jodie being so damn cute and me looking like a shaggy hippy. Alas, we’ve been COVID-derailed once more. Perhaps next year.

National Don’t Fry Day

And once again I scootched right over the correct meaning of this day into the wrong one and planned my life around it. Don’t Fry Day sounded like an effort to encourage us to enjoy foods without frying them in oil. We had arranged it so that we’d be heating up leftovers from the barbecue for dinner, and eating sandwiches for lunch. So we wouldn’t be frying a thing.

Turns out we were way off. National Don’t Fry Day is promoted by various cancer organizations as a reminder that on this May long weekend (the one coming up for you Americans) we should be applying sunscreen and watching our time spent at the mercy of those dastardly UV rays which deliver skin cancer as an occasional bonus gift with that deep, rich tan. Fair enough, and this is likely a more important way to observe the day. That said, yesterday afternoon it was five degrees outside here, the sky so thick with clouds they were scraping the atmosphere. There was zero chance of the sun frying us.

So we celebrated this one twice over, once the way it was intended and again by relying on the microwave instead of the frying pan. This day comes to us courtesy of the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention, so for those of you in more forgiving climates, and in particular for those of you who are ready to indulge in some deep-focus sun absorption, make sure you take the necessary precautions. Don’t fry out there.

National Road Trip Day

Flying J, that company with all those gas stations and snack stores you see along the highway, created this day last year to encourage folks to hop in their cars and head out on the road, presumably for the long weekend as it shows up on the Friday of the Memorial Day weekend. They put out a notice that they anticipate most of us will be travelling virtually this year, though given the rapid pace with which people seem eager to get back to normal life, I’m sure many will still head out on the road.

Our family loved road trips. Vancouver was a frequent destination, as we have family there and it’s only a day of driving. But we have ventured down to California and all the way to Toronto on road trips. We always have fun, and always have some sort of weird quirk of circumstance befall us, be it a flat tire on the highway, a missed turn that results in a 6-hour detour, or coming within an ass-hair of smashing into a moose. Plus we all travel well together.

Our days of journeying on the road as a family came to an end in 2011 when we drove our son across the country to go to college. But we still enjoy getting out there and seeing the world, especially for the scenery along the way. Yesterday we had nowhere to go, nor were we facing a long weekend, so we looked through some of our old pictures of former road trips. The shots above are of Trixie and Rosa as we drove to Vancouver last summer to visit Abbey. Turns out they both love travelling as much as we do. And thankfully, there were no close calls.

Canadian Immigrants Day

A Toronto-based immigration lawyer invented this day, and it is recorded in Chase’s Calendar of Events as a regularly-occurring May 22 ritual. From what I can tell this day holds no significance in any official government capacity, so we can simply use it to reflect on our own experience with immigrants in Canada.

There are a lot of them. Technically, everyone is an immigrant or descended from an immigrant to this country. Even the indigenous peoples, they immigrated here across the Bering Strait some few thousand years ago. Actually scratch that, they’ve been here long enough and they were here first so they get dibs on not being called immigrant descendants.

My father is technically an immigrant. He was born in Edmonton, but on the American army base, which is technically US soil. When he turned 18 he had the choice of declaring himself a US citizen (and possibly going off to fight in Vietnam) or a Canadian citizen (and thusly remaining home to pursue a degenerate counterculture lifestyle). Immigrants are everywhere in this country, and it riles some folks that we don’t insist that every immigrant bend and conform to become “Canadian” but rather they celebrate their heritage as part of who they are. I feel it makes us a stronger and much more interesting nation.

Immigrants. They get the job done, and they do it well. We are grateful for all of you who have chosen to call Canada home; you can truly say you are proud to be Canadian, as it was an achievement. For those of us who were born here, we’re just happy you’re around.

National Death Busters Day

Were this a food-related celebration it would no doubt be some awesome candy, possibly with a sour bent, that would rock our taste buds into the weekend. But alas, this is a rather sombre event.

Memorial Day weekend is notably one of the most dangerous times to be on American roads. And I’d guess that Memorial Day weekend when many folks are feeling it’s the first time they can safely venture out into the world after an extended lockdown, might be worse. There are going to be traffic fatalities; you can’t have thousands of massive metal beasts hurtling forward down the same stretch of pavement without expecting some of them to crash into one another from time to time. But we can take precautions to minimize the threat. Control your rage. Put down the phone and leave it down until you’re in park. If you’re drinking or smoking or snorting or crushing mad amounts of MDMA into your rectum, hand your keys to someone else.

Remember to respect the sheer audacity of how humans have learned to propel themselves at crazy speeds, and be safe out there.

Am I over 3400 words in today’s article? Crap, I totally am. Sorry for rambling, even though I’m not sorry at all. Here’s a relatively light Saturday for us:

  • National Taffy Day. Do we have taffy? Hell yes we have taffy. Carole’s Sweets comes through for us yet again. We even have dill pickle!
  • World Turtle Day. We were hoping to venture to our big mall (our zoo only has tortoises), but that exhibit is closed. Instead we’ll eat some of the chocolate variety.
  • National Lucky Penny Day. What do Canadians do now that pennies are gone? Do we have lucky nickels? Lucky twonies?
  • National Best Friend-in-Law Day. A day to celebrate friends we are only friends with because of who we married.
  • International Jazz Day. We celebrated this on April 30. Is this another duplicate or did one of my websites screw up? Tune in tomorrow to find out.

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