Sunday, August 30, 2020

And here I am again! We have hammered through so many celebrations I am now regularly dreading the act of adding them all up, which I need to do. We had surpassed 1,400 a ways back. But with the few hours of the day I seem to have outside of this little Microsoft Word-bubble, I can’t find the motivation to do a properly updated count. There always seems to be something that requires my attention just a little bit more, be it a dog that needs walking, a meal that needs preparing, or a nap that needs taking. I joke, of course. A nap is also but a notch on my wish-list, as I remain busy with all of this:

National Lemon Juice Day

There are two distinctive brands of lemon juice, as pictured above. You’ve got your squeezed lemons, which requires a bit of muscle work but provides the most pure form of lemon juice you can find. Then you have the stuff that pours out of plastic lemons, which grow in abundance at local supermarkets everywhere. This is the stuff you use when you aren’t really concerned about the sanctity of whatever you’re making.

We don’t use the latter often, except as a fill-in when we find we have no fresh lemons on the premises and avocado toast (or whatever) simply has to be made. Yesterday I wrestled for all of four seconds over which to use and for what recipe. With a batch of simple syrup still sitting comfortably in my fridge from the day before, I felt the prudent thing to do would be to revisit the whiskey sour, and to properly squeeze a lemon into the mix. The plastic stuff wouldn’t do.

And that’s the full-throated gist of this bizarre holiday. Lemon juice is not something you’d consume on its own – you need the sugar to ‘ade’ it to drinkability if you catch my third-rate pun. Lemon juice is an ingredient in food and drink recipes. This is actually an outlier in our year of on-going prescribed mirth. We haven’t had the chance to celebrate specific ingredients very often. There is no National Oregano Day, and no National Baking Soda Day, at least not that we have encountered thus far.

Hopefully if we run into any more, they’ll be an ingredient in the whiskey sour, or something equally as refreshing and delicious.

More Herbs Less Salt Day

This is pretty clearly a warning to folks not to get to heavy-handed with the salt shaker, and to rely on fresh or dried plant-stuffs to enhance the flavour of one’s food. I have always been a bit wary of going crazy with the salt for a couple of reasons. First of all, as I travelled through those glorious, sepia-tone days of young adulthood, I was aware of the dietary concerns that would face me when I was older. Don’t eat too many fats. Watch one’s intake of sugar. Ease up on the salt. I felt I should probably dial into one of these early, and salt was the clear winner, as I wasn’t about to sacrifice bacon or candy.

The other reason was taught to me when I worked as a prep cook (technically my title was ‘Salad Boy’). Using salt before trying one’s food is an insult to the chef. So I held back and tried everything before salting it up, and I found I rarely had to lean on extra salt to make the food palatable. For eggs, and often for potato side-dishes I’ll still grab some salt by default. But otherwise, I hold off.

Yesterday I made a twist on the avocado toast that so captured our hearts a few weeks ago when the calendar encouraged us to try it. Yes, there was salt involved, but I purposely used less. That was fine – we had smoked salmon lying beneath the avocado for a novelty, and that did the job. No herbs were even needed, apart from the chili pepper flakes.

But if you’re not familiar with the taste of each fresh herb, you should be. At least you should be if you intend to stake any claim on having talent in the kitchen. A well-made main course shouldn’t need extra salt.

And for that matter, neither should bacon or candy.

According To Hoyle Day

The plus side: Edmund Hoyle was all about games. The down-side: He was about games like whist and backgammon, so playing Grand Theft Auto V is not going to be enough to celebrate this day. We could play whist, but that would involve inviting two more people to play and learning all of the rules, since neither of us have played it before. Again, not going to work.

Edmund Hoyle, who passed away on August 29, 1769 (so yes, this is another celebrate-their-death-day event), made his mark teaching the members of uppercrust British society how to play games. In 1741 he wrote out the rules, and he wrote them so well that they became the go-to reference point for any fan of the sport. Hoyle wrote about backgammon. He wrote about chess. He wrote about piquet, which is another card game we’ve never tried. He became such an authority, the phrase “according to Hoyle” became a colloquial saying to mean “according to the rules” in all sorts of contexts.

Twenty-some years ago, Hoyle was the go-to name for PC solitaire games. I sold a bunch of them when I worked at a computer shop, advising customers that Hoyle was the “authority on card games” because that’s what it said on the back of the box. It turns out that was true, though he never contributed to the official rulebooks on solitaire, at least not to my knowledge.

He didn’t contribute to the rules of poker either, given that poker was invented some 60 years after his death. But he still obtained an entry into the Poker Hall of Fame in 1979 because he was a hero of 18th century gamers. We didn’t play any of Hoyle’s games last night, but I did play a handful of games, including sodoku, kakuro, and a couple of futoshiki puzzles. And I re-read the rules for each, because I wanted to make sure I was doing things “according to Hoyle”, as they say.

Play Music On The Porch Day

I truly love this idea. In 2013 some savvy musicians, who understood the roots of music in community and the open air, started this day to encourage folks with even a modicum of talent to sit on their porches and jam. Pictured above is my auntie Kathy, who is proudly strumming her new ukulele on her porch as a celebration. She loves the instrument so much, and she plays with such joy at our family get-togethers, which are more musical nowadays than they have ever been.

I’m glad she celebrated this one for us, as neither of us possess the skills to get away with this ourselves. Sure, I could have taken one of my hand-held drums out front and pounded out a basic rhythm, but it wouldn’t have been very musical. Also, given that my neighbours are fans of modern R&B on one side and classic rock across the street, I doubt I’d have prompted a surprise neighborhood jam with a pair of bongos. This is a celebration best honoured by those who can do it properly.

I did my part – later in the evening I sat outside and enjoyed one of our dwindling comfy summer evenings by listening to music. Playing music through headphones is technically form of ‘playing music’, so I’d say it counted.

I approve of any celebration that pours more joy and beauty into the world, and I’m grateful to my auntie for jumping on board and brightening the world. My family is such good people.

Speak Kind Words Saturday / Be Kind To Humankind Week

Okay, maybe I’m the clueless schmuck who is so far out of the loop he can’t even see the crest of it over the horizon, but I have no idea what the hell Sevenly is. It’s a website, and from what I can see they have been posting all week on various kindness-type subjects – or “all week” in a previous year. I have no way of knowing in which year they came up with this particular week of niceties, but they put up a blog post for each day, and this final one is the day we are supposed to speak kind words. So sure – I’ll speak some kind words, and I’ll speak them about the company that appears to have created this celebration, even though I’m just now learning about them.

Sevenly sells clothes. Menswear, womenswear, kidswear, even petswear. They also sell hats, blankets, buttons and (of course) masks. But everything they sell appears to be tied in to some charity or another. They are partnered with the American Heart Association, with the Red Cross, and somehow with Mr. Rogers. This is a company that only sells merchandise that helps other people. This is a company we all should be supporting.

They have products for which proceeds will go to help victims of Hurricane Laura. They have ‘Voting Matters’ shirts, because it fucking does and Sevenly wants to help to create a more informed and engaged populace. They are partnered with Pepsi and John Krasinski to help raise money for a couple of key charities to assist restaurants who are having a rough year… so pretty much all restaurants then. Suicide prevention, human trafficking, women’s achievement… shit, just head over to their site and support ‘em. These are good folks doing lots of good things on the planet.

They have a collection of clothes licensed by the estate of Fred Rogers to promote kindness. If this world needs anyone’s words right now, it’s Fred’s. I can’t speak to the quality of the merchandise, but I can attest to the quality of the message. Head over to sevenly.org and spread some kindness.

Today we face another busy Sunday, which will be only as busy as we decide to make it. Will I find time to count our progress so far? Time will tell. So will all of this:

  • National Toasted Marshmallow Day. I tried. I even found an Aero Bar S’mores Kit. But Jodie said no. This one’s on her.
  • National Beach Day. We have no beaches around here, and we aren’t travelling to one.
  • National Holistic Pet Day. The dogs need some lovin’ today, and more than just food. Brushes and bath towels will be at the ready.
  • National South Carolina Day. This technically falls on Monday, but we have been bumping these to Sunday. Not sure we will this week though.
  • Frankenstein Day. Or are you going to be one of those pains in the ass who tells me it’s Frankenstein’s Monster’s Day?
  • International Whale Shark Day. This will be even wilder than International Dolphin Porpoise Day!
  • Slinky Day. I don’t think we have a working slinky around here, but it’s worth looking into.

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