My birthday is coming up, and, as my friends and family know, I tend to use it as an excuse to spend money and enjoy ourselves for a week or so before and a week or so after. There is no precise definition of how long Steve-fest goes on, but this year's Steve-fest lacks restaurants, movies, and hanging out with friends in person. Instead, I intend to increase the pace of stress-baking and zooming.
Today, I will be making cinna-buns. King Arthur has yet to fail me, so I am looking forward to one of my very fave things to eat. I did grab a cupcake already at the entirely too convenient cupcake shop next to the physio place. I did try to make coffee shortbread cookies last weekend, but they failed utterly. The Nigella Lawson app had a missing ingredient or two, so I guessed and, well, meh. I think of all the stuff I have baked since March, I am proudest of the apple turnovers I made. The challah was fun for both taste and size--it barely fit in the oven--and the shortbread cookies for two were very good. I am going to make a second try at Nigella Lawson's chocolate cookie dough pots now that I have the proper size ramekins (yes, I bought them for exactly this recipe). They tasted great before but were not as gushy as they were supposed to be because I didn't have the right equipment.
Oh, and I have greatly enjoyed cooking as well with Nigella Lawson providing a good paella recipe, some simple pasta sauces involving pancetta, and more. Because I have had no travel and am doing all of the cooking (Mrs. Spew has had bronchitis), I have sought to break the usual ruts by trying some new stuff. They have mostly worked out. I had never cooked with buttermilk or pancetta before. Some new ingredients, a number of new dishes.
This week was notable as I got my haircut for the first time since February. Why? Because I had my first in-person meeting (we were widely spaced). I can't say much about it, but I got some insights into how some people are thinking these days about the challenges facing Canada. I also wore pants for the first in a few months and a suit/tie for the first time since the CDSN capstone event in March. I was early so I had a chance to enjoy a beautiful, mostly quiet morning in downtown Ottawa.
The other notable event of the week was the announcement of the retirement of the Chief of the Defence Staff. I have known Jon Vance since I interviewed him for my book long ago. He had the distinction of being the only Canadian (and perhaps only allied) commander to have two tours in the same job. Vance had to go back to commanding the Canadian troops in Kandahar because his successor was fired for sleeping with multiple subordinates (and perhaps also the negligent discharge of his firearm in a helicopter occupied by the CDS didn't help). Vance served a much longer term than most (any?) CDS's--something close to six years. It was a fairly tumultuous time--a major report on sexual harassment in the CAF came out just around the time he started, Trump became President upending most/all assumptions about Canada's place in the world, his #2 was investigated for leaking about a major procurement decision which led that position to be the Spinal Tap drummer of Canadian defense, and, oh, yes, a pandemic. I guess I will be writing this weekend about Vance's legacy, but I have already done a couple of media hits putting things in context.
My outrage at my former home country continues--Trump and his brownshirts are expanding beyond Portland. Thus far, the responses in the courts and in Congress have not achieved much, although the Black Lives Matter folks and their allies--the Moms and now the vets--are doing far better. Just so deeply angering.
So, to distract myself from the madness down south (and in Ottawa, as the Liberals here are doing their best to shoot themselves in their feet due to their obliviousness and entitlement), I am going to embrace Steve-fest by eating too much and by arranging heaps of zooms with friends and family. And enjoying the presents, although the lightsabers may not come until August or September.