Tuesday, August 4, 2020

A potentially happy holiday Monday was upended by a plumbing catastrophe that necessitated the disturbance of our plumber on a day when he’d likely rather have been drinking white wine and eating watermelon. Sure, the summer sun relented for the day, but with hauling wet towels and wet/dry vacuums up and down stairs it was hard to notice. I’m fairly certain the top three layers of my skin are completely made up of sweat at this point. I am not finding myself particularly attractive today. But luckily we still had all these lovely distractions, so the day wasn’t a complete waste:

Heritage Day

This is the reason we have an actual long weekend this weekend, and the reason our emergency plumber is going to cost considerably more. Such is the price of not wishing to live underwater.

In 1974 our Minister of Culture, Horst A. Schmid, decided we needed a holiday between Canada Day and Labour Day, and dammit, he was right. He created Heritage Day, which launched our magnificent Heritage Days Festival a couple years later. Growing up, I only knew this day as ‘Civic Holiday’, and as a summer-locked kid whose parents weren’t subject to the benefits of statutory holidays, it meant absolutely nothing to me.

But now it’s a precious day off, and one tied in with a great concept. Other places in Canada celebrate themselves (B.C. Day, Saskatchewan Day, New Brunswick Day), Nova Scotia celebrates “Natal Day”, which is actually a day to celebrate the founding of Halifax and not the general concept of childbirth, while Manitoba honours this as Terry Fox Day.

We had hoped to venture to Heritage Days today, as we haven’t visited in years. It’s like an impermanent Epcot Center – the part of Epcot with individual national pavilions selling regional cuisine and demonstrating their culture. Of course, Covid intervened and shut this celebration down before it could begin. But our multicultural heritage in this province is something we celebrate daily. We have folks of every tint and hue on our block alone, and we’re grateful that our unspoken policy is for people to show off their cultural backstory, rather than scrub it into a generic, grey shared identity with the rest of us. Hooray for the mosaic. We’ll actually get to appreciate this one even more next year, hopefully.

National Grab Some Nuts Day

Pretty much every different variant of nut has its own day this year, so this curiously-named celebration is superfluous. I think someone slipped it into the National Day Calendar people as a harmless prank, meant to spur everyone on to making the most obvious crude joke.

But we’re above that here at Celebrate366 Industries. We go that extra mile to make sure that, while our humour is not necessarily clean, it is at the very least plucked from at minimum one branch above the lowest-hanging fruit. So there will be no palm-to-scrotum joke here. In its place, we grabbed some peanuts.

Sure, it was handy that we happened to have some on hand to pair with our Coca-Cola on Sunday, and yes, we had more Coca-Cola as well, but we kept them separate. Yesterday was all about the nuts. And them nuts were good.

Now get your mind out of the gutter.

Clean Your Floors Day

Clearly the brains behind cramming this day into the wondrous miracle of an August long weekend were not the same benevolent brains that concocted most of our glorious celebrations. Clean Your Floors Day is a kick in the sufficiently-grabbed nuts on a day that could have potentially delivered hours of quality hammock time.

But the clouds stayed put yesterday, and in the most inaccurate use of the word, we were “fortunate” that we had to do some floor cleaning anyhow. Not sweeping up piles of Liberty-fur (that happens daily anyway), but in sopping up a tremendous amount of water from our little plumbing emergency. Fortunately, most of our valuables in that little storage space are crammed into Rubbermaid containers, as we’ve been down this road before. Hopefully nothing was ruined, except perhaps some of the furniture that we have been holding for a friend for the last 3 or 4 years.

So yes, we cleaned our floors. And not because the calendar told us to. We’ll call it a semi-happy coincidence.

National White Wine Day

We’ve been through the wine-making process back on National Wine Day in late May. White wine is made from fermenting the pulp of grapes, not the skin. Most of the time white wine comes from yellow or green grapes, but the pinot noir, a puckish little purple vine-dweller, is used to make champagne. Dry whites are fermented all the way, while sweet wines interrupt the process before all the sugar has been fermented into hooch.

We had two options for celebrating this one. At Jodie’s request I picked up some prosecco, which is her white wine of choice. She likes the bubbles, and prefers a mimosa to most other cocktails. I have no problem with this, being mainly a red wine drinker. But when I discovered some white wine sitting in our fridge from a couple weeks back, we decided to save the prosecco for National Prosecco Day, only ten days down the road.

The first traces of wine can be found over 7,500 years ago. What colour the wine was, or whether it was any good is lost to the ages, but Hippocrates used to prescribe white wines of different sorts to people, indicating that the process for creating it was well-established in Ancient Greece. Once the Roman Empire flopped, the wine world did as well. The Germanic tribes preferred beer.

But wine has survived and once again flourished, and we will gladly do our part to help with its ongoing flourishment. After all that floor cleaning, it was a refreshing break.

National Water Quality Month

I was expecting this to be another United Nations declaration, one that should steer us toward donating to ensure clean water can be found in every community on earth. But alas, this was created by the people at Culligan, who want us to check our tap water, decide it’s inadequate, and purchase a Culligan brand water system.

Well, fine. We’re already customers – or at least we were. We have a water dispenser, and at one time our local grocery store had a Culligan refill station, so it was their water we were purchasing. I believe they have changed suppliers however, so I have no idea whose water packs our ice cubes. It does the job, however.

Our tap water in this part of the world is really not concerning in the least. But the bottled stuff has a better taste, and it costs all of three bucks for a giant jug. But it’s worth checking things out where you are. That said, if someone shows up at your door and asks to inspect your water quality, or if they leave a container for you to provide a sample, don’t do it. Those people are trying to sell you something, and they are the source of an astounding number of fraud investigations our consumer team works on every day. Also, it’s illegal in Alberta for those schmucks to be going door-to-door now. So check your own water.

Be safe, and quench that thirst. August is here, and you may find yourself drinking more water than usual, especially if the weather is kind.

National Watermelon Day

Watermelon may be one of the most perfect snacks nature has ever produced. You can buy it with seeds that you can spit at one another in order to make snack-time into a sport, or you can buy it seedless and just enjoy the flavour. We opted for the latter, as I have an unfair protective advantage in a seed war due to my glasses.

The first watermelons sprouted into existence in western Africa, and if you head there now you can still find them growing in the wild. The fruit became intertwined with Ancient Egyptian culture, and watermelon seeds of two varieties were found among the goodies in Tutankhamun’s tomb. It took until the 10th century for watermelon to make its way to China, and now China is the world’s most active exporter of the stuff. We can thank the Japanese for inventing the seedless variety, which now account for roughly 85% of watermelon sales on this continent.

The US Department of Agriculture advises having one beehive per acre of watermelon growth for optimal pollination – yet another reason the bees are essential to our well-being. Over in the Zentsuji region in Japan they started growing watermelon inside metal and glass containers to produce rectangular melons. These were conceived for easy stacking and storage, but they wound up becoming a niche product for wealthy folks who wanted to show off their penchant for fruit with weird shapes.

We have no need for that. We enjoyed some tasty watermelon after dinner last night and called it a win. A seedless win – no violence required.

Once again we head back into the warmth of summer sun, or so we hope. My hammock is calling out to me. So are these things:

  • National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day. We’ll be celebrating this with two varieties because sometimes we try to overdo this shit.
  • National Night Out. Not a day to go out and close down a bar (unfortunately), but one to walk around one’s neighbourhood in an effort to reduce crime. Like Batman.
  • Hooray For Kids Day. We will not be spending any time with kids today, which might be how we celebrate them.
  • Single Working Women’s Day. Neither of us are single or working today, though Jodie is a woman. We will discuss.

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