Tuesday, June 30, 2020

And just as we anticipated the resurging cough of normalcy to puff its fog all over our lives once again as our son and his girlfriend boarded their flight back to Toronto, instead we found ourselves leaning into another plot twist. Jodie’s second year of her Masters program was slated to launch next week. She learned yesterday morning that it was actually kicking off yesterday afternoon with a two-hour class at 5:00. Her calm tossed into disarray, that left me and Abbey to fend for ourselves throughout all of this:

National Camera Day

Was yesterday the anniversary of the invention of the camera? Probably not; I have no idea why this day landed on June 29. But here it is.

We could have gotten really fancy for this one. Not actually possessing a standalone camera, we could have built a camera obscura out of a shoebox, or constructed a pinhole camera. We could have acquired some silver salts and tried to capture an image 1720’s-style. But this is the 21st century, when almost every appliance, gizmo and gadget has acquired a presence on our phones. That would have to do.

We took a few semi-interesting shots around the house yesterday, mostly of dogs, as usual. But using a camera now is a liberating experience. We used to have to worry about film, and about every mis-spent snap of a shutter being one less opportunity to get the right shot. We had to deal with getting film developed, and prepare ourselves for the possibility that some of the crappy shots we took weren’t even going to make it back. Now we can enjoy, share, and edit the hell out of a picture all within a minute of taking it.

Sure, social media feeds are packed to the gills with amateur photosmiths believing they have uncovered a deep talent when in fact all they’re doing is taking a close-up of a moth on a twig. But people have also honed their photo-snapping talents and improved significantly thanks to smartphones and Instagram. Hell, even our food pics have gotten better – though I have regularly promised my audience of friends and family that we won’t be sharing scads of food pictures once this project is done.

The digital camera gives us freedom to have fun with photography. And there’s no better way to celebrate the camera than that.

National Waffle Iron Day

Pictured above is our waffle iron. We have used it already for International Waffle Day on March 25, for Oatmeal-Nut Waffle Day on March 11, and we’ve still got National Waffle Day and National Chicken & Waffles Day coming up. We’re putting this baby to work this year for this project.

We also put her to work over the weekend, as we enjoyed a delicious Sunday brunch of waffles, fresh fruit and whipped cream. That was a day early, but it was when our son was in town and he has always loved the waffles this lovely device creates. They’re like little boats, ideal for holding the syrup and butter in its tiny square pockets, but also for stacking fruit on top for a more perfect bite.

Unfortunately, I was so flustered by celebrating this a day early I completely forgot to take a photo of the breakfast in question. But that’s okay – it’s Waffle Iron Day, not Waffle Day. I’d say the above photo works for this one.

We have already discussed the early history of the waffle iron, so there’s no need to go through all that again. This is good – this is a celebration that lent itself to a tasty meal; extensive research is not necessary.

Hug Holiday

We have done a lot of hugging this year. So far, in observing this project we have hugged a newsperson, our dog, our puppy, a plumber, an Australian, a cat, engaged in a girl-hug-boy celebration, and we’ve still got Hug Your Boss Day and Hug A Drummer Day to tackle. We’ve even gone right through National Hugging Day back in January. So what’s up with this one?

I have absolutely no idea. It’s another day for celebrating something we celebrate often. But, we’re good sports, and besides – we took the kids to the airport yesterday morning so there was no chance of not having a few hugs. Hugs are valuable and relatively rare this year, as we’re encouraged only to hug those who are closest to us, or ideally in isolation with us.

So we hugged. Not a big deal, not a thunderous celebration.

Please Take My Children To Work Day

To be clear: Take Your Son & Daughter To Work Day is a day to expose children to the workplace, either to present them with options for their own vocational futures, or to frighten them away from the dead-end dreariness of their parents’ perpetual hell. This day is specifically directed to the stay-at-home moms who don’t get a day off from their toils. It’s a day for the working dad to take the kids to work, to bond with the kids while mom gets a delightful respite.

Okay. I’ve got a few small gripes with this one. First off, it’s a bit presumptuous to believe that all stay-at-home parents are moms; I stayed at home for a few glorious years to raise Abbey, which also afforded me the opportunity to catch up on the last couple of seasons of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. Also, why would this show up at the beginning of summer? If a parent is ever weary from excessive kid-exposure, it’s in August when the kids have all been out of school for a few months. In 2020 I suppose this makes sense, given the weirdness we’ve gone through, but this should usually be an August 15 celebration, not a June 29 event.

The origins of this one can be traced back to a lady named Jen Singer, who penned an article for Good Housekeeping in 2008. She declares this is the sixth such day, so perhaps the holiday goes back to a time when fewer dads were staying at home. Actually, it stretches back specifically to when I *was* staying at home. Also, no mention of the summer factor, so I’m going to assume Ms. Singer just missed an opportunity with that one.

We have no children-aged kids, nor do we have workplaces to go to, even when we aren’t both on vacation. So we celebrate this in spirit, and encourage all those who have a stay-at-home parent to give that parent a day off. Either today, or in August sometime, just to be nice.

National Tennis Week

Alright, look… we’re not going to be playing tennis. Apart from having zero skill at the sport, we don’t even have the means with which to fake it. We have no rackets in our house, only two tennis balls (both of which have been claimed as property by the puppies), and Abbey even took our Wii to Vancouver so we can’t play pretend. But let’s take a moment to appreciate the sport for the awesome game it is.

George Carlin once described tennis as ping-pong played while standing on the table. He’s not wrong. But tennis stretches way back beyond the histories of almost every sport in existence, all the way back to France in the 1100s. It was played with hands, not rackets back then. Louis X (also known as Louis the Quarrelsome, so he must have been a riot) was a huge fan of the game, and ordered the construction of the first indoor courts. The sport even killed him, as he succumbed after an exhausting game and died of either pneumonia or pleurisy. Or possibly poisoning. Maybe we shouldn’t blame tennis here.

In the 1500s rackets came into use, and because the person serving would often call out “Tenez!” (meaning “Hold!” or “Watch out, here comes a yellow ball aimed directly at your face!” or something to that extent), the name ‘Tennis’ came to be its official moniker.

The object of tennis is to be the first to reach four points, and you have to win by at least a margin of two. Of course, it never looks that simple on TV because that’s not how they score tennis. ‘Zero’ is called ‘Love’, possibly because of the French word ‘L’oeuf’, meaning ‘the egg’, which is round like a zero. Or possibly because you can still love the game, even if you haven’t scored a point. I’ll guess it’s the former.

As for the points, instead of ‘1-2-3-4’ you get ’15-30-40-Game’. This may stem from medieval French times, it may have come from using clock faces for scoring (the 45 was shortened to 40 somewhere along the line), or it may be a leftover from the handball-style early version of the game, where the server would move forward 15 feet every time they scored a point.

Tennis is great TV, and it’s a lot of fun to see live. It’s probably a riot to play too, but we are too out of shape to dig into that hobby right now. But we love it, and if we can’t play the real thing, we’ll just climb down off the table and play some ping-pong instead.

Children’s Awareness Month

Just as we said about Insurance Awareness Day yesterday, we are aware that children exist. Is that good enough? No? Dammit.

It turns out this month actually does have some significance to it. According to the Campaign for Youth Justice website, this month is meant to draw our attention to the injustices that children may face in the system as it exists today. In 22 states (and I’m quite certain not at all in Canada) children as young as seven can be prosecuted as adults. What on earth would be the point of prosecuting a pre-tween as an adult? By what measure could they possibly understand the seriousness of their actions to warrant derailing their entire lives?

I have no response for this. But I strongly advise everyone take a few minutes and check out the above website, in particular the most recent entries which you can find on the main page. It includes the story of being an LGBTQ 16-year-old incarcerated in an adult facility, a terrific article about Juneteenth (which apparently the current president made famous somehow?), and a few pieces written by US Senators on the cause of underage incarceration.

It’s a bit dark to read through, but it’s also Hug Holiday, so you can get a little respite if you need it.

National Candy Month

We have been celebrating this all month long. From the Fun Dip I received at Christmas and just rediscovered in a cupboard last week to the fudge my mother keeps bringing over to the Lorraine’s taffy bars pictured above, which aren’t candy per se, but contain caramels and chocolate – two of the best candy elements.

I’m not going to ramble on for this one. We ate plenty of candy, and this year promises to deliver a whole lot more. Pray for our teeth and our various innards. 2020 still has a lot of punch left.

Pride Month

No, we didn’t forget. We are always in a state of celebrating Pride, with many of our friends scooting all over the spectrum of sexuality and/or gender. We support them, we march with them, and every year the Pride Parade is a highlight of our early summer. Last year, our city’s Pride Parade was shut down due to in-fighting among a handful of groups, and of course this year there was no parade due to the pandemic. But we took part in whatever we could online, and our volume on this particular cause is always cranked to maximum.

On Sunday we journeyed downtown and found ourselves pulled into a Black Trans Lives Matter rally. It was not our first Black Lives Matter event (we’d stumbled into one in Grand Central Station back in 2016, so we’re probably on an American watchlist), but it was our first that was integrated with Pride. The stories the speakers told were heartbreaking and deeply moving. We were also swept up in our own little civic pride, as there were no hecklers, no rednecks trying to shut down the proceedings, and no interference by police. Just a lot of people – mostly allies, as we saw almost no actual black trans people from our vantage point – waving flags, raising fists and committing to the cause.

Pride has come a long way since Stonewall went down 51 years ago in Greenwich Village. Pride is an international movement, and it has been gaining strength and support consistently. Laws are starting to catch up to common sense, and while we’ll never drown out the ignorant and despicable anti-love crowd, they are being bullied into their own little closet where they can grumble about Straight Pride and such with their equally unenlightened friends.

We even got an extra celebratory treat on Sunday when we met Janis Irwin at the rally. Janis is an MLA for the opposition in Alberta, so for my American friends think of her as a fiercely left-wing member of our provincial ‘Congress’. She’s an LGBTQ champion, and probably the most vocal voice of dissent against the backwards policies of the current administration. Meeting her was like meeting a Beatle, albeit in a provincial-legislator capacity. We thanked her for fighting the fight, because as much as Pride echoes the successes we’ve seen over the last 51 years, it is also reminder that the battle is not yet won.

But it will be.

We are deep into the muck of June wildness now. Here’s where we go moving forward:

  • National Meteor Watch Day. Not ideal on an overcast evening, but we’ll see how it looks after sunset.
  • Social Media Day. We will make an effort to communicate with a few people we don’t talk to often on social media.
  • National Outfit of the Day Day. This one doesn’t make a lot of sense, but we’ll choose some outfits to wear. I guess.
  • Blink-182 Day. I guess we’ll be listening to some pop-punk on this, the 182nd day of the year.
  • International Sailor Moon Day. Not really our thing. Maybe we’ll find an interesting way to commemorate it.

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