Sunday, May 10, 2020

The stars brightened as the earth solemnly dimmed yesterday, as the news of the passing of one of rock ‘n roll’s most vivacious architects spread through the cyber-waves. Beyond grief we found gratitude, as our lives are all a little richer with a dollop of a wop bop a loo-bop, a wop bam boom in it. We persisted with our celebrations because that’s just what you do. Around here, the party just doesn’t stop.

National Lost Sock Memorial Day

Where do the missing socks go? This is a question that has vexed humankind for as long as we’ve had washing machines. Probably longer – I imagine socks went missing perhaps at a greater rate back when laundering them required rocks and churns and bluegrass percussion instruments. Some weeks I’ll find I have a single in the clean laundry, usually of the forgettable plain black or white pairs from Costco. The next week, its mate will sometimes show up. I chalk it up to a clothing vacation. Hey, sometimes we all need a break.

So today is the day we are supposed to comb through our drawers and source any single socks whose mates went out for cigarettes and never came home. I looked, but both our drawers came back in happy even numbers – we had no socks whose partners might show up on a milk carton. Everyone and their mate was accounted for.

If you’ve got a sad and lonely single in your sock drawer, maybe take him or her (or them, if your sock is gender-fluid) and give them a bit of love. If enough time has passed, maybe consider repurposing that lonely little dude or dudette (or dude-them) into a puppet, a nickel-filled weapon for under the bed, or even a mask, if you’re okay wearing something over your mouth that was once draped across your foot. Be creative!

And long live the lost socks. Above is one that Liberty has been carrying around the block in stages over the last few days. Hopefully it’ll find its way home, and not into ours.

National Butterscotch Brownie Day

Back on January 22, we celebrated National Blonde Brownie Day. Those were delicious brownies made with brown sugar, which gave them a buttery flavour. Back then, in those simpler times, we could eat a few then bring the rest to work for our lucky coworkers. Yesterday we celebrated the butterscotch brownie in a very different way, which is funny because it’s the exact same brownie. Of all things to get two days this year, congrats to the blondie.

And honestly, these should get two days. At least. They are far superior to the standard brownie, having a fluffier texture and a creamier, lighter taste. Another huge thanks to our team baker (hi, Mom!) for coming through in a huge way, and with a different recipe that was much tastier than the ones we made back in January. It came down to either this or the coconut cream pie this week. I have no regrets.

Of course, we don’t have the ability to simply drop the rest of this batch into a common area for our fellow staff members to enjoy. And that’s okay; now that staying home is the new everything, we can just say “fuck it” and keep these around until we eat them all. Our team baker kept half the batch, which lessens our guilt, but then do we need to feel guilt anymore? We’re indulging in these celebrations because it’s all we have in the world to indulge in right now. Nope, I’m calling this a win, regardless of the quantity we devour. These are damn delicious.

National Sleepover Day

This day has a curious origin. I was expecting some kids’ craft store or maybe a sleeping bag company coming up with this one to promote kids getting together and having a fun, wild time, just quiet enough to not awaken the parents in the next room. Instead this day was created by makeup company bareMinerals and Cosmopolitan, the noted sex-quiz magazine. I suppose trying on makeup and giggling along with “57 Ways to Satisfy Your Man with a Spatula” might fit in with an all-girls sleepover. I honestly don’t know.

How did I spend my childhood sleepovers? Eating too many snacks, staying up as late as possible and talking about anything and everything. Video games factored in most of the time, and if it was on a Saturday (which it usually was), tuning in to Saturday Night Live was always on the menu.

Last night we celebrated this in the most authentic way possible. We had sweets (our weekly doughnut run, plus brownies), and we both fell asleep next to our best friend, plus numerous dogs. We stayed up late talking. That said, no one put on makeup and no spatula-related pleasuring took place so maybe we weren’t wild enough. Fortunately, the sleepover continues tonight and indefinitely into the future, so we’ll get there.

National Dog’s Mom Day

This celebration is brought to you by Dig, the dog person’s dating app. That’s comforting to know that if things ever go south in our marriage (and let’s face it, she’ll only put up with me through so many weird long writing projects), there’s an app out there strictly to link dog lovers together. They created this day to honour their female clientele, the mommas of dogs around the world.

That said, we are going to take a slightly different spin on this. Since our resident human dog-mother is also a human human-mother, she will get all that love poured onto her today, on the proper Mother’s Day. Her kids aren’t in this province right now anyway, so she’ll get her thanks-mom hugs from our canine associates. Yesterday we celebrated our two elder statesdogs, Trixie and Rosa, as they have both spurted out a litter of puppies apiece (pictured above), and therefore know the tribulations of motherhood, albeit in a weird dog context.

We were fortunate when those two had their brood that their breeders took over and handled the dirty work. When our previous dog-mom, Yoko, had her batch of nine pups, we ran the show. This meant tube-feeding two of them every two hours, day and night. It was a wild time, and no one ever threw us a special day. Happy day to both our mom-girls. May you be forever grateful you’ll never have to go through that again.

National Train Day

Launched as an initiative by Amtrak in 2008, this day has actually been discontinued. In a sense. Initially I think Amtrak wanted to remind people that trains exist, and that they’re a great way to get to your destination much slower than taking a plane, but just as expensive.

Neither of us have been on a train – not counting subway, light rail public transit or the train at Disneyland – in decades. It’s not out of disdain for the railways or anything – our society exists because of those lengthy coast-to-coast tracks. It’s just that there aren’t a lot of places to go. We’d love to take a train to visit our son in Toronto, but that’s a long trip and not cheap. We could venture out west through the mountains, which would be terrifically scenic, but then we’d be there without a vehicle. It’s on our list of maybes, but not in our plans for 2020.

In 2015 Amtrak shelved National Train Day, which would regularly get a famous person some event-appearance money, for a series of train days throughout the spring and summer. So it’s entirely possible we were the only ones celebrating National Train Day yesterday. And all we did was head to the tracks on the south side of the city and take a couple of photos. Actually riding a train would have meant close human contact – assuming the trains are even still running right now, apart from freight.

So long as people undertake these bizarre mirth-a-thons, National Train Day may live forever. We did our part.

National Miniature Golf Day

I felt I needed to consider this celebration, even though we couldn’t go out and physically play 18 holes of mini-golf. This one hurt. Mini-golf is a sport so inviting anyone can play it. You can thoroughly stink at the game, but it doesn’t matter. If you’re with the right batch of people you’ll laugh a lot, and ideally set a maximum stroke limit for each hole, so that no one falls too far behind.

I’ll never forget the night many years ago when Jodie and I turned on the TV to find a miniature golf competition on the sports channel. This was no fancy course with windmills and animatronic gorillas, just a series of tricky greens with a few obstacles and corners to hit around. In addition to the small number of players, the audience consisted of three or four elderly white guys, two of them shirtless, overweight, and with very little body hair. They stood stoically, their hands on their hips, as though they were watching a delicate medical procedure, or possibly an oil change, taking place in front of them. It was riveting.

We have two mini-golf courses at our mall, the “outdoor” one by the food court where every passing tourist and shopper can marvel at your lack of putting skills, and the black-light course upstairs. Last year my coworkers and I took a run at the upstairs course, which is decked out in a medieval sort of theme. I don’t know if the lighting really enhanced the experience, but it’s mini-golf – it’s just fun. No one cares who wins, you just need to hang out with people who make it enjoyable.

This celebration is merely a statement of longing for the day when I can feel the worn green felt beneath my shoes, and the plastic, germ-crusted handle of a borrowed putter between my palms. One day we’ll be back on the mini-links once more.

Stay Up All Night Night

This is an event created so that those of us who do not stay up all night because of our jobs, or studying, or any other commitment can experience the hardships of making it to sunrise with no slumber.

We did not do that. We have both stayed up all night in the past, usually (for me) with some sort of medicinal assistance. But we’re middle aged adults who both still technically report to work on Monday mornings so spending one night burning that proverbial candle at its mouth and ass ends would lead to days of recovery. This year is stressful enough without adding ‘days of recovery’ to the schedule.

Much love to the overnight shift – it’s not an easy thing to set one’s internal clock to something askew from the rest of society, but without you things simply wouldn’t get done. Shelves wouldn’t be stocked, supplies wouldn’t be shipped, and late night anal-insertion episodes would not be tended to by emergency physicians. We salute all of you, but last night we did it from bed. I mean, it was also Sleepover Day. Sleep is right there in the title. We couldn’t mess that one up.

Today is about as light and easy as a Sunday gets around here. For Jodie, anyway. I get to treat her, so I’ll stay hoppin’.

  • Mother’s Day. Did you forget? You’re screwed at this point if you did. My mom, our team baker, is coming over for our first hosted dinner since before all this madness.
  • National Clean Up Your Room Day. Good advice for kids everywhere; no way this is a coincidence that it lands on Mother’s Day. We’ll tidy up. Well, I will.
  • National Washington Day. Washington cuisine? Well, we had Starbucks on Saturday, so we’ll opt for salmon, a Washington favourite.
  • National Shrimp Day. Did I say salmon? Okay, salmon with shrimp. No worries, I found a recipe.
  • Trust Your Intuition Day. Always good advice. Unless you have crappy intuition.
  • National Small Business Day. Small businesses are facing a year unlike any other, so they’ll get some love from us. We aren’t leaving the house, but we did on Saturday, and we did support local businesses. At this point, we all pretty much have to.

Saturday, May 9, 2020

A strange anomaly in this ongoing mayhem, yesterday found us with little in the way of actual ‘celebration’. No special food to make, as we abandoned the coconut cream pie in an effort to stave off the ballooning of our midriffs that quarantine and endless desserts has caused. One special beverage to drink (well, two actually), and one wardrobe instruction – is this celebration? Or merely a manic addiction to a snarling behemoth of a calendar, packed to its spittly gills with arbitrary acknowledgments and recipes? Or could it be that all of this is simply driving us a little mad? These are questions for our 2021 therapists to uncover. For now, there’s this:

National Coconut Cream Pie Day

This week was filled with Jabba-Hutts, with nurses’ struts and endless ruts,

Alas, the weekend brings us coconuts.

Forgive us once; our alibi: we did not buy this creamy pie,

Our tolerance for sweets has said goodbye.

This cream pie may have been the peak, the true unique we can’t critique,

The perfect treat for both us lunatiques;

But we agreed upon collab, were we to grab another slab

We’d melt into a glob of utter flab.

And so we say with grave regret, we must forget this creamy threat,

For fear that we shall both become thickset.

And though in most treats we’ll immerse, we’re not averse to shuck this curse

By writing out a tribute here in verse.

Today we’ll opt for eating fruit: a choice astute, you can’t refute,

And give our endless pastry-run the boot.

But if you’ve got it in your head, to pull this thread, get cream-pie fed,

We’re grateful for the tribute in our stead.

National Have a Coke Day

On this day 134 years ago, John Pemberton was bitten by a radioactive spider, and BOOM! Coca-Cola was invented. I think. I’ll be honest, I may have dropped the ball on my research for this one.

In 2018 Coca-Cola was ranked #87 on the list of largest US corporations by revenue. But looking beyond the balance sheet, there is literally no other brand that has wormed its way into the collective culture of the world. Once intended as a medicinal tonic by its creator, the brand met its destiny when he sold it off to Asa Candler, who masterminded the marketing of the stuff through the 20th century. One of his first moves was to remove the cocaine. Yes, there were about 9mg of coke in Coke at one point, and Pemberton’s original 1886 recipe allegedly contained ten times that amount. A typical line of cocaine contains about 50-75mg, so Pemberton’s tonic would certainly help out with that morphine addiction, that headache or that impotence. But the 1890s version was much more tame.

Multiple volumes have been written on the history of Coca-Cola, from its popularization of Santa’s look, to its invasion into impoverished countries as their first identifiable mass-marketed product, to its foolish (though strategic) decision to change recipes in the mid-80s. I have no desire to delve into all of that. This is a celebration, not a research thesis.

So we enjoyed a Coke yesterday. Jodie had a Diet Coke, which she prefers somehow, while I cracked open a tall glass bottle of Mexican-made Coke, a product I am relieved has gained popularity in these parts. Pre-recipe-change, this was the way Coke was: cane sugar instead of high-fructose corn syrup. Coke used to market itself as The Real Thing – thankfully some of the real Real Thing can still be enjoyed. And damn it, it’s still the best cola out there.

No Socks Day

Thank you Thomas & Ruth Roy, you concoctors of the cockeyed and campy clashes of craziness, for a completely cromulent concept for a day. No Socks Day, but let’s drop it into May when it’s warm enough for everyone to enjoy. Unless they live in Edmonton in 2020, where the temperature may not scrape up past the single digits.

Fortunately we both have cozy fur-lined slippers. Fake fur? Probably, so don’t throw paint at us. But they did the trick for the most part, except for the unpleasantness of chilled ankles.

In a normal world this might have been fun, popping into work for casual Friday with a tiny breeze circulating about our Achilles tendons, but this is not a normal world. It was a day at home with no socks. A subdued celebration, but hey, it’s a celebration.

Fintastic Friday

This is a day to celebrate everything shark. We are encouraged to eat sustainable seafood from reputable sources that do not mangle sharks in the process of catching their product. We are told to speak up if our country allows the sale of shark fins, or does not have legislation to limit sharks being killed by fishing practices.

Good news, Canadians – we’re off the hook for the fins (pun not intended, but deeply appreciated in retrospect). The actual yanking of fins off sharks has been illegal here since 1994, and last year we became the first nation on the planet to outright ban the import and export of shark fins entirely. I suppose this means no more shark fin soup, but have you ever tried shark fin soup? I still get recurring flashbacks to the slimy texture. There are plenty of other, far better soups out there. For chrissake, save a shark, eat a matzoh ball. That should be the new slogan of the conservancy movement.

Apparently the folks at, who originated this celebration back in 2011, are not too keen on stepping up to support our finned friends this year. They have plenty of reading suggestions and activity ideas for the 2019 edition of Fintastic Friday, but nothing updated for this year. At least their list of great shark research is probably not too far out of date.

You’ve got Mahmood Shivji, who unlocked the genome sequence for the great white shark. There’s Dr. Dean Grubbs, who researches the deep-water sharks like the Bigeye Sixgill shark – that happy little dude pictured above. And don’t forget Jackie and Graham Hall, who stepped up to monitor and protect the sharks they saw off the coast of the Isle of Man because nobody else was doing it.

Sharks, despite everything Jaws taught us, are pretty cool creatures. It’s an important thing to remember that more people get killed every year by pigs than by sharks. Send out some love to the deep blue sea for these creatures – and please don’t seek out their fins for your slime-soup.

Iris Day

A day to devote to the lovely iris – not Jodie Foster’s ground-breaking underage prostitute character in Taxi Driver, but rather to the plant. Let’s see if we can learn a little about irises.

Iris was the Greek goddess of the rainbow, and the word also came to be the Greek word for rainbow. The flowers themselves are about as stunning as any rainbow I’ve seen, so I get how the name transported over. The flowers are actually quite stunning in design, shaped in a way so that a pollinating insect will scrape off any extra pollen from another flower onto an outer portion of the flower so as not to cross-contaminate.

Irises are big in flower shows, boasting proud and noble names like “Maui Moonlight”, “Raspberry Blush” and “Titan’s Glory”. There are also Irises named “Neglecta”, “Dr. Bernice” and “Depute Nomblot”.

The iris used to be a medicinal plant, though today they’re more often found in aromatherapy. They are also used in the creation of Bombay Sapphire Gin. This worked out well, as we still had enough left to make a stiff gin and tonic last night, which I enjoyed as we dug deeper into our 3,000-piece jigsaw puzzle. This is delicious gin, and a fortuitous opportunity to drink back some iris juice on this sacred and glorious day.

World Red Cross / Red Crescent Day

It’s no surprise that the three big items on the front of the Canadian Red Cross’s webpage are COVID-19, the Nova Scotia shooting, and the flooding up in Fort McMurray. The Red Cross’s mission is to be in the thick of disaster, human-made or nature-wrought. They’re the ones you can send a text to and donate $10 to whichever cause is at the forefront, allowing us all to feel like generous philanthropists without physically dragging our asses off the couch and away from Dancing With the Stars.

The organization came about courtesy of a businessman, Jean-Henri Dunant, who was looking to meet up with Napoleon III to bitch about how difficult it was to do business with French-controlled Algeria in June of 1859. He happened to pop into the town of Solferino on his way, a town that had been devastated just hours earlier in a furious battle, part of the Austro-Sardinian War that literally none of us were taught about in school, possibly because it only lasted two months. Jean-Henri had plopped himself accidentally onto a battlefield where some 40,000 soldiers on both sides had been wounded or killed. He helped to organize the villagers to not only treat the wounded, but to do so without discrimination over which uniform they wore.

He went home and wrote a book about that day, calling for an international treaty that would protect medics and field hospitals in war. Eventually the Red Cross movement was born from this mission, with a slight adaptation to Red Crescent for countries in which that is the more sacred symbol. The Red Cross/Crescent has been through it all, from every war since to terrorist attacks and natural disasters.

And they’ll be here long after this quarantine is lifted and life has adjusted for most of us into whatever the new normal will look like. When you see those ads inviting you to donate, please do. This isn’t one of those organizations that gets raked for pouring heaps of money into its executives’ pockets (looking at you, United Way). These are good people doing great things.

Another bountiful Saturday, chock-full (right up to the chock!) of celebrations, the most fun of which we will have to skip because of this damn virus:

  • National Lost Sock Memorial Day. Sure, sometimes the dryer (or possibly the dryer is just taking the fall for the washer) eats a sock. It’s tragic.
  • National Moscato Day. We may see if we can source some from a local liquor merchant.
  • National Butterscotch Brownie Day. We already did blonde brownies, which is the same thing. But we’ll have more!
  • National Sleepover Day. Every day is like a sleepover with another human and three dog friends for us.
  • National Dog’s Mom Day. A mother’s day for dogs, and two of our canine research companions have been moms.
  • National Train Day. Perhaps we’ll go for a bit of socially-distanced train spotting.
  • National Archery Day. We had plans for this. Alas, no archery.
  • National Miniature Golf Day. DAMMIT!!!!
  • Stomp Out Hunger Food Drive Day. A good time to support your local food bank.
  • Stay Up All Night Night. Not likely. We both still have jobs and internal systems that would not recover quickly from doing this. We’ll see.