Wednesday, July 15, 2020

The wind had plenty to say yesterday, buffeting the curb-side garbage day deposits all over the neighbourhood, launching our massive chimes into a perpetual chorus, and negating any joy the decent temperature and sunny sky might have offered in terms of a hammock respite. It was my first of three days off mid-week, mostly to enjoy Abbey’s company before losing it until December, but also to simply take another breath of responsibility-free existence. Except for all this, of course. There is no escaping the clutches of a day packed with all of this stuff:

National Tape Measure Day

Apparently a patent was handed out to Alvin J. Fellows of New Haven, CT on July 14, 1868, for the first retractable tape measure, thus pinning the birthday of the technology onto this day and creating this celebration. Then I found another source that points at William H. Bangs of West Meriden, CT, who was issued a similar patent back on December 6, 1864. West Meriden is about a 26-minute drive north of New Haven… is this a coincidence? Or was the 1860s a time of tape measure invention wars in Connecticut? Someone needs to do some research and create an easily-digestible documentary about this.

The point is, Billy Bangs was the guy who stuck a spring into the measuring device for a quick-retractable tool. I can imagine this changed construction in a massive way, not to mention clothes-making, or really any other craft or trade that relies on specificity of design. I’m not big on celebrating inanimate objects (food is much more fun), but as far as tools go, this is probably worth commemorating.

But is it a celebration? We measured a few things yesterday with our handy green tape measure, but the joy of doing so (and “joy” may not be the right word here) was tempered by the fact that Trixie, our primary canine research assistant, hates the thing. I tried explaining the benefits of Billy Bangs’ innovation, but she’d have none of it. She barked and snarled at the snapping tool with a fierce venom. There is no logical reason – she also reacts similarly to Jodie’s telescoping back-scratcher – but with Trixie logic is not usually in charge of steering the ol’ mental boat.

So apart from one dissenting, barking voice, this household happily wrapped its virtual arms around its tape measure and celebrated.

National Mac & Cheese Day

We literally celebrated National Macaroni Day last Tuesday. Since macaroni is best paired with cheese, we did so by baking a magnificently gooey treat using actual cheese, chorizo sausage, and bread crumbs on top. Now we find ourselves out of leftovers, and with zero desire to repeat the same feast. I mean, it was good, but it wasn’t let’s-have-it-every-damn-week good.

So last night’s celebration was handed over to Abbey, our beloved woman-child who is here in town for only a couple more days. She swore she could make a delicacy out of Kraft Mac & Cheese (known colloquially as KD in this part of the world), without adding any meat to it or jazzing it up with anything other than seasonings, some extra cheese, and for some reason green onions.

It was created as a side dish, just in case. We were still employing a base of powdered cheese-like substance and not a creamy blend of rich, natural cheeses. I purchased some Velveeta over the weekend, believing adding it to KD would create a creamier, cheesier concoction without altering the manufactured spirit of Kraft Dinner, but Abbey had no interest in using it. She did her thing – which involved reducing the noodle count for a greater cheese-to-pasta ratio – and I’m left with Velveeta I may never use in my fridge.

The results were… not bad. I will admit that the stuff was as good as can be expected with such a horrible base ingredient. I jazzed mine up with a bit of hot sauce, and it was actually enjoyable.

But next time we’ll make the real stuff again.

Pandemonium Day

In the novel Paradise Lost John Milton created the word Pandemonium and designated it as the capital of Hell. Perhaps not Hell’s busiest place (that would still be Detroit), but certainly where the legislature would be located. The word has come to refer to the chaos and unpredictability that is present in all of our lives.

And that brings us to this day. We are supposed to embrace the chaos around us, and acknowledge that yes, this is how it is and how it shall always be. That isn’t hard to do; if you can’t find the chaos in your life in 2020 then you are either living the simplest life in history (earning the envy of H.D. Thoreau, as discussed the other day) or you are in absolute denial. The one overarching and uniting theme of this year has been chaos.

In our home, chaos is most consistent closer to the floor, generally at the levels where our dogs operate. They get the zoomies and race around with no clear goal except to burn off their energy. They display little logic of behaviour, and when a dog has the audacity to be walked along the sidewalk outside our house our dogs devolve into yipping, screeching demon-beings.

That aside, with no kids to raise, the chaos in our house has dipped to its lowest point. Jodie’s studying schedule is manic, and I have days when cramming all the work I need to do for my job with all the labour involved in this little endeavour can be exhausting. Is it pure chaos? No, not really. It’s manageable. And that takes the fun out of it a little.

Pandemonium is, however, an extreme on the chaos spectrum, and probably one best to be avoided if possible. Pandemonium breeds panic, and panic won’t help any of us right now. So embrace the chaos, give it a hug and let it know it’s welcome in your life, but keep it contained. We’ve still got 5 and a half months left of this crazy-ass year and you’ll want to leave room for whatever comes next.

Shark Awareness Day

On Fintastic Friday, back on May 8, we looked at the plight of the shark, and learned a few interesting facts about the magnificent creatures. On August 9 those who have Discovery in their cable package can enjoy the majesty of Shark Week. So I feel like pouring a whole heap of attention into this particular day would be a bit redundant.

But redundancy is all part of the game here at Celebrate366 Industries. We thrive on it, and we swim in it. And today we swim with sharks once more. Did you know there are over 1,000 different species of shark? They also keep our oceans healthy by being terrific strategic murderers. That’s right, our oceans are healthier because sharks devour the sick and old of other species, paving the way for the young and spry to swim their hearts out. For now.

People still kill sharks for ridiculous reasons. We boasted our pride at shark-fin soup being on the legislative naughty list up here, and we reiterate that now. Sharks don’t need to be eaten. That soup is slimy and gross anyway, so is it really a loss? Sharks are among nature’s most effective killing machines, but of course the threat of sharks leading to our own demise is overblown.

So yesterday we upped our awareness of sharks once more, as something of an amuse-bouche before Shark Week drops next month. Happy swimming, little monsters.

National Nude Day

From what I can gather, this was a day to consider nudism (or ‘naturalism’ if you want to confuse people) as a way of life. Jodie’s family took her to a nudist colony when she was young, and all she can remember from the experience was the bizarreness of watching people clad only in shoes playing tennis, whilst their parts flopped here and there all over the court.

Nudism, I can assure you, is not for us. First of all, I like having pockets. Second, Jodie gets cold on a whim, and this summer appears to be delivering a consistent flow of whimmery. Also, neither of us have any desire to hang out with people and engage in hang-out activities like billiards or shuffleboard with everything hanging out. I mean, we aren’t the most social creatures even when there isn’t a pandemic. The idea of not only attending a facility with dozens of other people but of also being surrounded by constant nudity doesn’t appeal to us.

What does appeal to us is the magic and wonder of the Nude vodka soda beverage. These things, based out of BC, are consistently terrific. It’s bubbly and lively, with the same alcohol content as the average beer, but unlike coolers there is no element of sweetness in them, just a splash of fruit flavour. They are perfectly refreshing when the weather is warm, and when it isn’t – more the norm this year – they are still a great way to consume alcohol without getting sick of the taste of it.

So rather than torture our daughter with excessive nakedness we simply enjoyed a couple cans of vodka soda. It was an ideal Nude Day, and no children were mentally scarred from it.

National Grand Marnier Day

Growing up, my mother had me convinced that Grand Marnier was the ultimate beverage. She loved it above any other type of alcohol (which is a low bar – mom has never been much of a souse), and she’d allow me to sip its powerful orange might. Being a fan of oranges, and having only sampled miniscule sips of the stuff, I’ve always quite enjoyed it.

Alas, our liquor cabinet is threatening to collapse beneath the weight of all the bottles we have needed to buy for this project. And while I’m trying to keep my drinking from getting all Hemingway-esque, I still want to indulge in each of these little parties. Liqueur will never be among my favourite drinks, but that amaretto liqueur we bought in the spring was a terrific investment. That said, we kept our Grand Marnier purchase down to two little airplane bottles for a quick sample. We can only drink so much.

Grand Marnier’s first distillery would be 193 years old this year, though it wasn’t until 1876 when they put out a cognac sweetened with Caribbean bitter orange. The triumphant name came allegedly at the suggestion of César Ritz, the man who would later go on to establish the Ritz Hotel in Paris, and lend the word ‘ritz’ to the English language as a way of denoting top-tier, uber-classiness. And also crackers.

Having sampled a few orange liqueurs, there’s no question Grand Marnier will always have a place in my heart as the finest of the bunch. It’s also family. It’s always good to make the most out of family.

Today moved forward with what looked at first to be the busiest non-weekend day of the summer, with a heap of celebrations. But, out of respect for Abbey’s final day with us, we might not get to much of it. Here’s what’s up:

  • National Give Something Away Day. Will we have a contest? Or just give something to the kid? She’ll probably make us give something to the kid.
  • National I Love Horses Day. I don’t personally, but Jodie does. She can talk about this one.
  • National Tapioca Pudding Day. This creates zero excitement in our house. But dammit, we’ll eat the stuff.
  • National Pet Fire Safety Day. Our dogs will learn the quickest way out of the house.
  • National Gummy Worm Day. Beats tapioca pudding, I guess.
  • Amazon Prime Day. We have no corporate sponsorship here, so we may or may not bother with this one.
  • Be A Dork Day. Jodie and Abbey should find this one comes quite naturally to them. I’ll wing it.
  • Take Your Pet To Work Day. Take Your Dog To Work Day happened last month on a day neither of us were working, so this one fits perfectly, since neither of us are working.
  • National Respect Canada Day. Respect is nice.
  • Saint Swithin’s Day. I think I remember Colonel Potter referencing this once on M*A*S*H. Not sure how we make a day out of it.

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