Friday, February 7, 2020

On this inauspicious Thursday, offering little more than meetings and spreadsheets at work (meetings and children for Jodie), I found myself immersed in exhaustion. I worried for the stability of my consciousness, even as I walked from desk to boardroom to desk. Was it the cumulative effect of nearly 200 celebrations gobsmacking my endurance? Or was it the presence of a canine cyclone, chewing and leaping and peeing through our home?

Definitely the latter. Good thing she’s cute.

National Frozen Yogurt Day

No pic for this one, but here’s Rosa yawning as Trixie sits on her.

Oh, froyo. You’re like ice cream with a snarky, thick accent, one which is not at all unpleasant. You’re lower in fat, though that episode of Seinfeld will keep us all a little suspicious of that claim. You were rolled into North American mouths in the 70s, but people complained of your yogurtiness, as though you could express yourself in some other way.

Ah, but you did. You first called yourself Frogurt and slopped into cones. Then you mimicked soft-serve behind TCBY counters. New sweetener tech enhanced your Q rating. Overseas you greet your audience with an ebullience of yak and camel milk. You get your own National Month in June (when it makes more sense for us tundrarians to snarf you down). And you maintain your outlaw status by not being regulated by the FDA in America. Why? Because you’re just too bad-ass for all that paperwork.

The curse of dairy which has befallen those of us with late-onset lactose intolerance is broken by yogurt, that glorious dairy product with live bacteria cultures who eat the nasties and allow us to digest it. But froyo / Frogurt / Frogozyurt is more cruel… most varieties contain no lactose-munching bacteria and are therefore toxic to my insides.

And that’s why the heavenly creator gave us Lacteeze and its competitors. Pop a pill or four, and I can dive head-first into a swimming pool of frozy-yogi and live to tell the tale. Unfortunately, last night was dedicated to another, far superior dessert substance so our only tribute to this icy yum-fest is here, in prose..

National Singing Day

Again, no photo but here’s Rosa and Liberty, regretting my lack of talent.

Yesterday evening I improvised a wholly arbitrary lyric and melody as I tidied up the house, giving an impromptu concert that received scathing reviews from Trixie (whose musical tastes are immaculate), but some positive comments from Rosa, who was most likely just sucking up for some treats. Liberty, in a response we’d fully expected, bounded chaotically into a snowbank, then came in and peed on our floor.

Jodie joined in a Tommy James & The Shondells singalong during her afternoon staff meeting. Truth is, neither of us are seasoned singers. Jodie can actually hold a tune in place, whereas I tend to kick it above and below key like a hackey-sack, rendering it actually painful for me to listen to myself. When our kids were young I’d serenade them each night before bed, usually with a Beatles song (it’s good for the soul if their catalog is intrinsic). They didn’t care that I sucked. I didn’t care that I sucked. Our neighbours… well, we just didn’t ask them.

Singing is an expression of unrefined, raw energy. It immerses us in a moment, and connects us to something infinitely grander than anything in the tangible universe. Singing is, by its very nature a celebration, which is why so many traditional celebrations (real ones, not like National Nutella Day ones) include singing as one of their rituals. To celebrate singing in and of itself is to wrap one’s emotional arms around the galaxy.

Waitangi Day

The Treaty of Waitangi, signed 180 years ago yesterday, welcomed New Zealand into the British Empire, and set forward the nation’s roll of history. The key issue was, of course, what to do with the Maori, who had arrived there much earlier. Rather than enslave or sequester the indigenous tribe, the Treaty gave them ownership of their land and all the rights of any subject of the Empire. I don’t know enough about New Zealand’s ups and downs to know how things worked out for the Maori in the decades after the Treaty was inked, but this was a positive note upon which to begin to build a country.

The Treaty was grand, but there weren’t really annual festivities in place to celebrate it until much later; New Zealanders tended to cheer their nation on January 29, honouring the day William Hobson first showed up and planted his foot on local soil. In 1974 “New Zealand Day” was declared a national holiday, and (after a federal election flipped their leadership) it was renamed “Waitangi Day” in 1975, in order to properly commemorate the treaty.

The parties on Waitangi Day tend to include Maori traditions and military salutes. Locals aren’t parading through the streets or launching fireworks into the night – it’s more like our August long weekend. Just a great time for a day off in the middle of summer. Unfortunately, like Canada Day / Independence Day, it always lands on the 6th instead of getting bumped up against a weekend.

My beloved auntie (one of them) dropped by with a pavlova, a dessert that contains meringue, fruit, and some otherworldly dash of unfettered, unrestrained nirvana and bliss. It is a dessert that haunts you with memories for weeks afterward. There is simply no possible way to overstate the magnificence of this dessert. It makes my taste buds swoon so much they bump their heads against my teeth. I will likely dream of nothing else until at least June.

Named for Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova, this treat exudes an ethereal grace and unconquerable charm. We’d proudly call this the celebration of the week – possibly of the year, thus far.

Except for that damn dog. She’s still stealing the show.

Once again the volume cranks upward, as today takes on a bevy of unabashed bonanzas.

  • National Wear Red Day. I can do that! In honour of American Heart Month we will be sporting some crimson threads.
  • American Heart Month. While we’re at it, we will learn a bit more about why the heart deserves its own month.
  • Give Kids A Smile Day. I would have to seek out children for this, so I’ll entrust my lovely wife to get some giggles out of her students.
  • National Bubblegum Day. Hubba Bubba? Bubblicious? Some other brand? We’ll do a bit of testing and blowing and popping.
  • Work Naked Day. I have already promised my boss I’d celebrate this one from my home office, not from within the confines of my grey-beige cubicle.
  • National Send A Card To A Friend Day. I can do that. I have friends and access to postage.
  • National Fettuccine Alfredo Day. I love when these days select my evening menu and save us the consternation.
  • Wave All Your Fingers At Your Neighbours Day. Great. Because our neighbours don’t think we’re weird enough.

Thursday, February 6, 2020

To anyone keeping track, it was thirty-six days into this party when the sewing spool of rationality began to throw its hips into a wobble – one so acute we could feel it through the floorboards. Our attention is being pulled through a pneumatic tube, changing direction from celebration to celebration on a manic whim. And in the foggy middle of the miasma we have an as-yet-untrained puppy with more kinetic energy than a Thor-powered dambuster shot.

Yeah. We’re making croquet references now. We are celebrating at peak frequency, motherfuckers.

National Weatherpersons Day

In a flit of departure from style, I wanted to utter a few words in honour of the weatherperson of my childhood, a man who will always be the standard-setter in this town’s public meteorological hall o’ fame. The great Bill Matheson, pictured above.

Bill didn’t so much present the weather as he performed it. He introduced characters we’d come to know: the Idaho High, the Mother Low, and “that dreaded of all meteorological phenomena, the Siberian High.” He drew swirls and arrows on his map with a black marker, long after every other TV weather-spinner had switched to graphics. He’d warn us to “gather ye rosebuds, while ye may” if a frost was approaching, and he’d conclude every night’s forecast with a slam of his pointing stick upon the floor, like a beat poet decreeing the light into darkness.

Bill oozed his love of language in every broadcast, turning science into music and balancing it on its head. He’d tell us about the town of Baker Lake, N.W.T. on a regular basis, if only to offer us a comparison with one of the nation’s most frigid and barren climates. Bill made the weather an event.

In 1995 at the International Weather Forecasters’ Festival in Paris (and sadly, I missed attending that year, due to a women’s skeet-luge competition I was covering for GQ), he was voted the world’s best weather presenter. We were lucky to have him; he was offered a job with ABC in New York in the 70s, but opted out of applying for citizenship. He was a WWII paratrooper under a Canadian flag and he wasn’t about to relocate.

Our beloved Mr. Matheson retired in 1999 and passed away in 2006. Congrats, Bill, for being the best we’ve had.

National Girls & Women In Sport Day

The plan was for Jodie to attend a sporting event in her school – one powered by girls, of course. Unfortunately, the Avalon girls’ basketball team had played on Tuesday (and won!), so there was nothing to watch but an empty gymnasium.

We both attended a game last year, which is doubly exciting because they went on to win the city championship. We’d had the same good fortune when we caught a live preseason Denver Broncos game in the summer of 2015.

We will soak up our share of female sport later this year when the Olympics take over popular culture for a couple weeks. We’ll also hope for equal pay with their male counterparts for all those women when they return home.

National Shower With A Friend Day

What else is there to say? We shared a shower yesterday morning, which meant one was perpetually cold and away from the water stream, mostly shooing away our aforementioned pooch from making it a full-on social scene in our tub. Needless to say, at the unholy crack of 6:00am, with a manic golden retriever infant drawing our attention, there was no funny business.

Also, there was no photograph. We’re still a family website, motherfuckers.

National Chocolate Fondue Day

When you give someone the gift of a little fondue set, they probably won’t use it until at least one of them forgets it’s there. Then the other (more mentally-sound) half of the couple will note that, hey, it’s National Chocolate Fondue Day and we can finally break it out! Meanwhile the forgetful one had been ready to give up on this celebration. Let’s just say I married well, and thank goodness for that.

Just a note about chocolate fondue: the chocolate is also often flavoured with rum or kirschwasser (a liquor I’ve only ever heard about in a Steely Dan song). We kept it simple tonight. We also learned how easily we can make a habit out of this. Fondue Fridays has a great, sonorous ring to it, no?

National Nutella Day

Originally sold from a bakery in the hazelnut industry town of Alba, Italy, Nutella was the brain-kid of a man named Pietro Ferrero. Once he figured out his product would sell better as a creamy spread than as a solid block (this went down in 1951), he changed the face of breakfast for millions.

Yeah, breakfast. It feels like you’re eating candy when you spread Nutella on toast, mostly because you are eating candy when you spread Nutella on toast. Or on anything – it’s a chocolate spread. The jar still suggests it should accompany our first daily meal, but Ferrero was sued over claims of nutritional value, paying out a $3 million settlement in 2012.

A single U.S. serving of Nutella clocks in at 200 grams. That’s for two tablespoons. The Canadian serving is half that. Odd, given that our bread is not any smaller.

If the name Pietro Ferrero sounds familiar, it’s because his company also makes Ferrer Rocher chocolates. And Kinder chocolates. And Tic-Tacs. Ferrero was basically the Italian Willy Wonka, minus the slave labour (I hope).

We tacked on a sampling of Nutella to our fondue experience last night. The stuff may not be healthy, but it’s damn addictive.

Read Aloud Day

We had initially planned an elaborate video in which we’d take turns reading to our canine creatures, but Jodie took her medication a couple hours too early and she was laying perpendicular in our bed, wholly unconscious, by 8:30.

So I took the reins on this one, grabbed some Walt Whitman and amused Liberty with some fine verse and emotive imagery. She sat still for nearly four seconds so I considered this one a win.

Today will be lighter in celebrations, but heavier in fun.

  • National Frozen Yogurt Day. Yep, another day all about frozen desserts, smack-dabbity in the middle of winter.
  • National Singing Day. We will sing. We will sing a song. We will sing it loud. We will sing out strong. We will annoy anyone in earshot because neither of us are great singers.
  • Waitangi Day. New Zealand’s big day means a New Zealand feast, when my beloved auntie (one of them) comes by with a delicious pavlova. And no, I’m sure she’s not just coming to meet the new dog…