Monday, September 14, 2020

How much can I blast through on a jam-packed Sunday? You’d be surprised. Actually, I was a little surprised it was more than ‘nothing’. We are a long weary sigh away from the home stretch of this project, but we are into football season and far ahead of where we need to be to hit our goal of 2,000 celebrations. In fact, I’m moving the goalposts. Two grand isn’t enough; we are now aiming to celebrate at least 2,020 this year. Doesn’t that seem poetic? 2,020 in 2020. Let’s just hope that with 20/20 hindsight I don’t regret starting this thing. Here’s what was up yesterday:

Wife Appreciation Day

The third Sunday in September is supposed to be the day we take to celebrate our wives, assuming we have them. After that, I guess wives are on their own for another year or so.

I have no doubt that when Jodie and I tied the knot, there were a few folks – maybe even folks at our wedding, I don’t know – who figured we weren’t going to last. I had met her when I was 20, so my experience was limited. She was older than me and had a kid, and was fresh off her previous marriage. We came from different backgrounds, and besides, don’t half of all marriages end in divorce anyway?

We’ve been married for 21 years. We’ve been together for 25. We’ve gone through ups and downs like anyone, but none of those downs were deal-breakers, and none of them brought us to any sort of brink of marital collapse. We still laugh, we still enjoy a lot of shared interests, and hell, we passed the Quarantine Test of 2020. By the end of our isolation, we both simply wanted to stay here with each other. We can’t seem to get sick of one another.

How? Well, for starters, Jodie is tremendously patient. She puts up with my quirks and obsessions (like this project, for example), and she even seems to love some of them. It’s easy for me – she is an amazing human to be around. She is overflowing with empathy and compassion, she wants to make the world a greater place and still believes she can, she has a sense of humour that rocks my world, and her smile could power the Lighthouse of Alexandria. She frequently receives praise and adoration from students past and present because she literally changes lives and inspires people to excel. There’s something magical about waking up next to that every day.

I have plenty of regrets in my life, but if all those fuck-ups brought me to this place I’ll flush the regrets into the ether. She’s my world, and my world is magnificent. Thanks, honey. Now wait until the third Sunday in September, 2021 for more gushing praise.

Roald Dahl Day

Yesterday Mr. Dahl, he who crafted so many beloved books from our childhood, would have turned 104. His output is astonishing, with titles like Charlie & The Chocolate Factory, James & The Giant Peach, The Twits, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Matilda, The BFG and  The Witches, to name but a few. These are stories that inspired us, not just to keep our creative minds aloft but to simply love literature. What kid wasn’t blown away when James’ giant peach wound up impaled upon the spire of the Empire State Building? Or when Charlie Bucket, Grandpa Joe and Willy Wonka blasted through the roof of the chocolate factory in an elevator? Mr. Dahl knew how to create stories, and the man knew how to craft an ending.

We’d have spent some time watching a film adaptation of one of his books, but yesterday was football day so that was out of the question. I did want to learn a little more about him though. He led a pretty fascinating life.

When Roald was 3, his sister died of appendicitis and his dad passed a few weeks later. So he was off to an unusual start. At 8 he was caned for having plopped a dead mouse into a display of gobstoppers at the local sweets shop. He was a camera nut, and also 6’6”. During his time at school, the Cadbury company would send over new chocolate creations for the students to try out. One can easily see how this inspired some of his later work.

He joined the Royal Air Force for WWII. He was trained in a class of 19 men, only four of whom survived the war. At one point while flying over Africa, he crashed in the desert and was blinded for a while. He worked as a diplomat for a while after the war, then in the world of espionage. He married Patricia Neal, an American actress who you may have seen playing one of the wealthy matrons in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, or as the war widow in The Day The Earth Stood Still. When their four-month-old’s baby carriage was struck by a New York cab, Roald became part of the team that developed a piece of technology to alleviate the pressure of hydrocephalus.

Unfortunately, a deep look into Roald Dahl will inevitably lead to the accusations of anti-Semitism, which I won’t get into here. The man created a wealth of prose that helped this little Jew grow up and love the language. We’ll simply wish him a happy birthday and be thankful we had him.

9×13 Day

The purpose of this day is to bake something in a 9×13 pan. That is literally all that is required – one’s creativity may run amok. Given that the one luxury we have had this year (and that’s a really loaded little sentence clause, now that I re-read it) is having a team baker, we asked her what she felt she’d like to bake. Hi, mom!

The 9×13 can make anything from pizza to lasagna to brownies or squares. Naturally we were hoping for something from that last category, and our team baker did not disappoint. Pictured above are Lorraine’s Taffy Bars, made from caramel, chocolate, rice krispies, and a whole lot of other magnificence. It’s my favourite thing to emerge from my mom’s kitchen when I was younger, and even if made in a pan that doesn’t conform to the 9×13 restriction, they are terrific.

So we had treats. This is all about the treats.

National Hug Your Hound Day

We had Hug Your Puppy Day back in January. This means we were well-trained for this one, which is exactly the same thing. Remember what I said about ‘summer reruns’ yesterday? No, I don’t remember either, but it was something.

We hugged our hounds, who are technically not hounds. The entry for the day in my source material even suggests we should “spend the day much the way your dog spends it.” Our dogs are notorious for laying in bed for as much of their day as they possibly can. As luck would have it, with ten hours of football to watch, we were able to do the exact same thing.

This is what’s known as one of those ‘easy ones’ that are more about the visceral celebrating than the writing. I like those ones. We should do more of those ones. For example:

National Peanut Day

How did we celebrate? We ate some peanuts!

But no, this one deserves a bit of a deeper dive, as I have done for most other nuts and snacks along this weird 2020 journey. And just as it seems every ‘berry’ and ‘nut’ is not actually a berry or nut, the peanut is a legume. But we call it a nut, and a nut it shall be.

Peanuts can be traced back to South America, but now they grow all around the globe. China is the biggest exporter of peanuts in the world, but then China seems to be the biggest exporter of a lot of things. You can do a lot with the peanut. Dry-roasting it is delightful, and you’d be hard-pressed to find anything better on a hot summer day whilst watching a baseball game. You can boil them – in the deep south they’ll do so in a briny water to give them a unique flavour.

You can pour them into a bottle of Coca-Cola, which, as we learned on National Georgia Day last month, is not as grotesque as it sounds. Peanut oil has a pretty high smoke point, which is handy. Peanut butter may be the greatest food creation humankind has ever made. You can make flour for peanuts. It can be an ingredient in an entrée (Satay Chicken) or in a dessert (Cracker Jack). They can be used as animal feed, but you can also make them into furniture polish, insecticide and soap.

Of course if you suffer from a peanut allergy you probably didn’t celebrate this day, but you absolutely should! You have survived this long without being felled by a peanut, and that’s definitely a cause for toasting.

Snack A Pickle Day

No need to dive deep into this one either – it’s another celebration that can be embraced easily by simply doing what it says. National Pickle Day shows up in November, so we can dig into the history of the brined and soaked cucumber then. For now our instructions are clear: snack a pickle. Which I assume means to snack on a pickle. I worry sometimes that these sources I found do not properly appreciate the importance of a preposition.

But that’s for someone else to fret about. Pickles and peanuts don’t go very well together, but if you’ve got enough entertainment to distract you, you won’t even notice. We certainly didn’t.

National Pet Memorial Day

Once again, we find ourselves in familiar territory. I have posted the pics of our beloved lost bulldogs a couple times now, including just last month for the Rainbow Bridge day. These puppies are in our thoughts every day though, and not just because we now sleep in the same room in which we keep their earthly remains. Is that weird? It might be weird. But we’re big embracers of the weird so let’s just go with it.

Pictured below are Rufus (2003-2013), Yoko (2004-2013), Becky (2008-2016) and Bethany (2008-2016). They were all warm-hearted, magnificent members of our family and they are deeply missed.

National Kids Take Over The Kitchen Day

Let’s be clear: we don’t have any kids who could still be called ‘kids’ by any definition apart from the fact that they are our offspring. At 23 and 27 it should be nothing special when they cook a meal. They are adults; when I was either of their ages I was cooking for an entire family. But this is not a celebration for us to pick at nits, it’s one that quite clearly emphasizes that what our kids do in the kitchen is significant.

Both of our kids have prepared meals for us. Abbey put together a delightful sort of stirfry omelet thing for us when she was home over the summer, and Colton crafted one of the finest steaks I’ve ever eaten when we visited him in Toronto a couple years ago. They are both capable and competent in a kitchen, Colton in particular because he has had more time to learn this mastery. Abbey is still in school, and sometimes has to eat as a student has to eat: quickly, cheaply, and without a lot of fuss.

So to celebrate this day I requested that both of our kids send us photos of what they put together for their Sunday night dinner. Below you’ll see a sampling of Colton’s recent culinary creations. Abbey was at work, and ate Wendy’s. She sent a picture of the bag.

Grandparents Day

I just wanted to give a big shout-out to our team baker and inspiration, and the best damn grandma that our kids or dogs could possibly ever have. Thanks, mom!

Positive Thinking Day

I know, I know. Another day for keeping one’s chin up and being positive? Well hell yeah, pardner. This is the journey the calendar has led us on – if we haven’t learned how to add a little chipperosity into our outlooks by now then we will have deeply failed this bizarre mission.

We kept ourselves upbeat because we had a great little day. Jodie had some school work to do, so she couldn’t indulge in as much slothful activity as I, but we still felt very good about the amount of horizontality we shared yesterday. And we tried to put forward a few positive thoughts about the upcoming school year and what it might mean for us.

Yes, we might get sick with this virus. But Jodie says she feels safe at her school, relatively speaking. The students are doing a great job of keeping their masks on and respecting the restrictions placed upon them. Her co-workers, not so much, but Jodie doesn’t spend nearly as much time in a room with them. We remembered that we are relatively young and somewhat healthy, and might make it through the virus unscathed.

In fact, we already may have. Jodie and I were both sick just before the Covid veil descended on our world, and our doctor thinks we might have had it. Jodie has felt some side effects in the months since, including a lot of fatigue and some pain. But maybe we’re passed the worst of it. Maybe the worst of it is yet to come and it won’t be so bad.

We’re staying positive because by now we’re damn good at it. I’m just not particularly great at being brief. This was a busy little day.

International Chocolate Day

National Chocolate Day is in October. World Chocolate Day was in July. This is just number two of three this year, so let’s not pretend there’s a whole lot to learn. Let’s just shut up and enjoy some chocolate.

I did a very poor job of limiting the celebrations on this busy football Sunday. But hell, I’m not going to start cutting here. Chocolate is life. We ate some chocolate. We celebrated. The world keeps on spinnin’ its funky little twirl.

Back to work today for another wild week, one which appears particularly jam-packed with celebrations. Here’s what’s up first:

  • National Boss / Employee Exchange Day. Do we get to swap places with our bosses? Having seen what my manager has to put up with, I’ll pass.
  • National Sober Day. Of all the alcohol-related celebrations of the year, this one sucks the most. No booze today, folks.
  • National Cream-Filled Doughnut Day. Okay, this might almost make up for the lack of booze.
  • National Eat A Hoagie Day. Probably not, but we did honour the same sandwich on National Submarine Day.
  • National Live Creative Day. Well this already describes us.
  • National Virginia Day. We are falling behind in these geographic culinary celebrations. Maybe we’ll catch up a bit?
  • National Coloring Day. Good, a day with some recreation built right in. I like that.
  • Gobstopper Day. And more candy to enjoy. Cool.
  • I’m On Top Of It Day. Well, I’m already on top of my chair, on top of my floor, on top of my bedroom. Looks like I’ve got this covered.
  • National Quiet Day. Now we’re talking.

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