Having a birthday in a pandemic-induced quarantine is probably not anyone’s first choice for a 9th birthday. But that is the situation that we find ourselves in, so for my nephew’s 9th birthday today, we decided to have a group video chat to share birthday cake. My niece baked a tie-dye birthday cake at my sister’s house, my mom baked a cupcake at her house, and I baked a cake at my house, and then we all got on video call, along with my nephew’s other grandparents, aunt, and cousins, to sing “Happy Birthday” and wash our hands eat birthday cake.
In order to build some extra excitement, I made a movie trailer for the event. This may be because I had to fire up the old iMovie to add some intros and outros to some videos I’d made for an online course I’ve been working on and I noticed that iMovie has templates to make movie trailers. Clearly, an online birthday cake eating party warrants an action-movie trailer, right?
I had to improvise a bit with the clip of the cats, as that part of the trailer required a video clip for slow motion, but I don’t have any video clips of my nephew. I also have almost no photos of my and Thomas together, so that’s something that I need to rectify the next time I see him!
Also, here’s the cake I made:
Thomas and I like to play Pokemon Go together, so I though the design was appropriate.
vanilla buttermilk cake – I usually make cakes from a mix because it’s easy and I’m lazy, but I wanted to make a small cake since it’s only Scott and I here to eat it, so I decided to try a new recipe from scratch rather than using just part of a cake mix.
caramel sauce – surprisingly easy to make. Surprisingly easy to ruin as well, but my second batch was perfect. And I needed caramel sauce to make:
caramel buttercream icing – this was tasty, but sooooo sweet. I mean, caramel is mostly just melted granulated sugar with a splash of butter and cream, and then buttercream icing just butter and a tonne of icing sugar, so I’m not sure why I’m surprised by this.
So the cake was a vanilla buttermilk cake with caramel buttercream filling. It was decorated with regular buttercream icing because I didn’t want the caramel to mess with my colours. Also, I used a bucketload of gel food colouring to get that vibrant red and black. Totally worth it.
While we were on our video chat, Thomas told us about how his best friend, Jack, and Jack’s little sister and brother drew a birthday cake and wrote Happy Birthday Thomas in sidewalk chalk on the sidewalk outside of my sister’s house. I thought that was really sweet.
Thomas also reminded us that in just 10 years it will be his champagne birthday and we will all be drinking champagne. Here’s hoping we can do it in person!
Which I’ve already surpassed, because what else are you going to do in quarantine? But that is for another blog posting. [↩]
So somehow we are 9 weeks into this whole stay-at-home/isolation/quarantine/shelter-in-place/lockdown thing. I struggle with what to call it, as here in BC we’ve actually not been ordered to stay-at-home or shelter-in-place or quarantine (unless you are coming across the border or have a specific reason, like you’ve been in contact with someone who tested positive or have tested positive yourself). We were just asked nicely to stay-at-home unless we were in an essential job and then we (mostly) all just did. Or, as Justin McElroy put it:
As other provinces started to announcing their plans to re-open, BC was getting criticized for not announcing plans to re-open stuff as soon as other provinces. But the province pointed out that other provinces were opening things that we never closed. In fact, that only things that were ordered closed in BC were dine-in restaurants and personal care services (like hair stylists, massage therapists, physiotherapists, nail salons – stuff where the practitioner has to get close to you to provide their service). Three of the health authorities in BC ordered gyms to close, though that was actually quite recent (and I learned at one of Dr. Henry’s pressers that that was because there were cases of COVID-19 that were spread at gyms) and the vast majority of gyms closed voluntarily.
It helped a lot that many businesses, organizations, and post-secondary institutions quickly moved to set up working-from-home where possible. Not every type of business can easily be moved to remote work, so there were many companies and employees who made huge sacrifices by shutting down voluntarily. And we’ve seen that some businesses haven’t been able to weather the storm and won’t be reopening ever again, which is really sad. Some companies found have ways to creatively continue to operate in new ways that are safe in the middle of the pandemic. I guess it’s kind of like evolution of organisms – “survival of the fittest” is context dependent. When the context changes, sometimes it’s just luck of the draw as to whether you fit well – or can quickly adapt – to the next context.
Many people are talking about being excited to get a haircut once we move into the next phase of re-opening society. I only usually get my hair done like every 6 months in normal times and I had it done in January, so I wouldn’t even be thinking about a haircut for another month or two anyway. (I love my hairstylist and will be delighted when I get to see her again, when she feels that it’s safe to re-open her shop, but at least as much because I want to catch up with her as friend as because she makes my hair beautiful). I’m most excited to see my massage therapist! When he feels it’s safe to start seeing patients again, of course.
Every month Google sends me an email to tell me where I’ve been the previous month. Because, as my mother puts it, my phone is spying on me. I found the email from April hilarious. Here are some of the images from it:
Clearly, Google can verify that I’ve been staying close to home and not doing anything frivolous.
Due to the lack of going anywhere, my car battery died (We’ve been taking Scott’s car for grocery trips). I used to only drive my car once or twice a week (to hockey mostly), but I probably hadn’t driven it in about a month when I tried to start it up to go to the store and it was dead. Figuring that I didn’t really need it since I don’t really go anywhere, I didn’t bother to call BCAA to get a a boost for a few weeks. But then I needed something from my car and since the battery was dead, I had to use the actual key to unlock the door instead of the fob. But then the key wouldn’t let me lock the door! I mean, it’s in my parkade and I don’t have anything valuable in there and it’s not like anyone could steal the car because the battery is dead. But then I got a reminder in the mail that I need to renew my car insurance. And I remembered that there is a discount if you driver fewer than a certain number of kilometers in a year, so you have to take a picture of your odometer and the insurance broker compares that to your odometer reading from last year to see how many kilometers you have driven. But my odometer is electronic, so without being able to turn on my car, I can’t see my odomter reading! So I called BCAA and got my battery boosted (Fun fact – the battery in a Smart car is underneath the passenger’s feet and is a huge pain in the butt to get to when you need to boost your battery). The guy who fixed it said to run it for 30 mins, which I did, and then to take it for a spin at least once a week. When I tried to start it again the next week for it’s weekly drive, the battery was dead again. So I guess I need to buy a new battery. The car is 11 years old and Google tells me that car batteries last about 3-5 years. I don’t recall ever having bought a new battery, thought it’s possible I bought one at some point during a routine maintenance appointment and I just don’t remember it.
Speaking of things that stopped working: the seal on my dishwasher decided that it didn’t want to seal things anymore. We were super lucky that it only caused a small leak and not a full on flood! After some Googling, we learned that it’s relatively easy to replace, so parts were ordered. They were supposed to be here in 3-5 business days. That was on May 1. I know the postal service is super busy with everyone buying everything online these days, but it’s been 10 business days, and the Canada Post tracking service says they are still “in transit”.
So we’ve had to wash the dishes by hand like in the Olden Days. (The Olden Days were long before the Before Times, which is what I have taken to calling the time before the pandemic. Given that we were already running the dishwasher way more than usual due to always being at home and my stress reduction baking habit, this is really getting untenable. Hopefully the parts will arrive on Tuesday (curse you, holiday Monday!) and we can get the dishwasher back into action. I think in the not-to-distant future, I should probably just buy a new dishwasher. While looking at the manual to find out the make and model to be able to order parts, I found a receipt from when the former owner of my condo had the computer board in the dishwasher replaced… in 2009. So the thing must be over 10 years old (given that they paid for the replacement, it must have been past its warranty period). And the last thing I want is my dishwasher to have a full on meltdown!
Random thought: people’s Christmas letters are going to be hella boring this year.