The Hero and Hippopotamus - theHumm July 2020
The Hero and Hippopotamus - theHumm July 2020
By Sebastian Weetabix
Weetabix has remarked in previous articles about the historical origins and evolution of the restaurant as an institution. For those of you who have not been paying attention, the term, restaurant, refers to food as a restorative agent for weary workers and travelers. Together with the central social role of meals and the symbolic social importance of sharing food, we came in stages to restaurants as we now think of them; places to be served and eat prepared food while socializing with friends, family and business acquaintances (sometimes they overlap). Restaurant settings vary widely in size, style and formality. Meanwhile, just as dinosaurs were happily (we presume) unaware of astrophysical reality, we assumed that our world changes via what some scientists call continuous processes. Chickens fall victim to the same sort of logic by extending a series of observations of the behaviour of farmers-good until the day the farmer wants a chicken dinner.
A pandemic changes things in many ways and imposes discontinuities throughout society. Some changes are obvious and acute, others result in waves of change which propagate, as waves do, over long distances in space and time. But there are interesting differences between normal waves and tsunamis. Restaurants of all types have been impacted by the shutdowns and restrictions imposed in efforts to contain COVID-19. It is a new disease for which there is still no effective treatment or vaccine. It is also a serious disease with long-term consequences over and above its lethality for vulnerable people. The unfortunate truth is that social distancing, mask-wearing and local outbreaks will be with us for longer than initially expected. There is a great deal of “whistling in the dark” around vaccines, but even if there are available vaccines it will still take time before they can be demonstrated as effective. Continued caution and prevention measures remain the only prudent course of action.
So, are we destined to exist in a world of food trucks and take-away food? Perhaps, but it may be too early to say. Other sectors such as retail and travel are still hoping for a return to normal, and notable prognosticators, including some government economists and politicians, are still telling anybody who will listen that this will be a “short term” event or “V-shaped” in terms of the economy. Weetabix not so much. In other areas such as medical services, the pandemic has catalyzed changes that have turned out to be beneficial to patients and professionals as well. Telemedicine is here to stay because it can deliver more, better and cheaper services in several areas. Similarly, many people now enjoy the practical benefits of not needing to spend a large block of time commuting — of course this is not good for the commercial real estate market. As usual I digress, but economics is to the “invisible hand” as a map is to a pilot. The guidance from either is not deterministic since other factors may make predictions hippopotamus.
Enter the hero of this piece, Ian Carswell. Weetabix previously encountered Ian and his restaurant, the Black Tartan Kitchen, and has followed his development and success since shortly after he opened in Carleton Place. Our first piece started out slowly: “‘Vaut le voyage” is an accolade awarded sparingly by the redoubtable Guide Michelin. Weetabix can truthfully state that Carleton Place is now worthy of a visit for gastronomic reasons. Be sure to make reservations at the Black Tartan Kitchen even if we have none since this is an intimate venue with limited seating.”
And our second piece (January 2020) stated: “Weetabix is in a self-congratulatory mood for having praised Ian Carswell and his Black Tartan Restaurant some time ago (theHumm, July 2017). We are pleased to report that both have continued to develop. Ian has been recognized as an outstanding talent and earned a place on the National stage by The Great Canadian Kitchen Party. For those interested in cuisine and gastronomy, this is an important event and a significant honour.” Indeed.
And nobody predicted that shortly after the Great Canadian Kitchen Party Ian and his wife would meet with their bank to discuss expansion plans based on their economic success. The Black Tartan Kitchen is now “closed until further notice”. This is a personal disaster but also a heavy blow to Ian’s employees, suppliers and customer base. The only good news is that though often complained of, bank inertia resulted in less financial trauma than might have been the case otherwise.
Weetabix called Ian and immediately realized that one of the limitations of social distancing is that sensory experiences are limited by telepresence. For some things this is good; Weetabix usually disables his video feed. Food matters, however, do suffer from the lack of organoleptic and visual inputs so the conversation was mostly about the impact and practical consequences of lock-down and the uncertain prospects.
In his book The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Joseph Campbell describes a journey in stages that are similar to Ian’s journey. The rise to the very top of the culinary profession is in many ways an epic story of challenges to be overcome. The path is long and arduous, demanding not only brilliant execution but day-to-day consistency. The archetypical hero lives in the world of myth and sometimes magic.
Ian and the Black Tartan live in the real world and just outcomes are not assured. The arc of the Journey or Quest has been interrupted, but there are still possibilities for return and — just as Campbell’s hero can return in triumph — we hope to see the resurrection of the Black Tartan Kitchen in some form. Ian is a formidable talent with the energy and enthusiasm needed to recover his business. He is also cautious about “jumping the gun” in a time of great changes which go far beyond the problems of any single establishment. For some restaurants a shift to take-away may be the basis for a future business. That is an unlikely route for the Black Tartan, but Ian is looking at several options. We look forward to seeing his vision of the future of fine dining. In a world of uncertainty, we can be assured that Ian will deliver an interesting and tasty offering.
Take a Quick Survey for The Hub! - theHumm July 2020
Almonte Community Coordinators (also known as The Hub) is conducting a survey of local needs and experiences related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The survey is short (ten questions). Results will be shared with the public (once anything that could identify individuals has been removed) and will be used by community groups to help them know how to help.
Anyone over the age of 13 living in or around Mississippi Mills is welcome to complete this survey. We would like to hear from as many residents as possible so we know how you’re doing and where to focus our efforts to support the communit......
By Sally Hansen
Art… and Soul
Whether it’s in her pottery studio or in her garden, Barbora Balaban’s work is inspired by her love of nature. She has hiked and camped across Canadian wildernesses and farther afield in Argentina, Chile, Nepal and Iceland. Her unusual sculptural pottery compositions are a stunning testimony to her love of the great outdoors.
Balaban loves to have dirty hands. On her website she writes: “In my mind dirty hands means challenge, relaxation, creativity, ins......
Virtual Celtfest: July 4 & 5 - theHumm July 2020
Almonte Celtfest organizers are delighted to announce that they’ll be hosting a virtual festival on Saturday, July 4 and Sunday, July 5. They have coordinated with a number of performers who have pre-recorded video performances — these are currently being produced professionally and edited into a single video that will be broadcast as the virtual festival. It will be posted in two parts — one on Saturday and one on Sunday — and each will run about two hours in the afternoon.
Have a PerfectPICNIC in Smiths Falls Support Local Restaurants, Enjoy the Outdoors! - theHumm July 2020
Picture this: it’s a warm summer evening, the sun is filtering through shady trees, and the gentle sound of nearby water provides the perfect backdrop to a delicious picnic prepared for you by top-notch local restaurants. And when you open your picnic box you find free gifts! If this sounds appealing to you, then Smiths Falls is the place to be this summer.
The Town of Smiths Falls, in partnership with participating restaurants, is pleased to announce the lau......
By Suzanne Patry
For many years gardeners have marked their calendars for the third week of July when the display gardens and daylily field at Whitehouse Perennials are in full bloom. This year there is another reason to make the trip to Almonte — our Garden Art Show and Sale.
The display gardens and daylily field are a great venue to showcase garden art! Beginning on July 21 the work of twelve artists will be installed, and it will remain in place until August 3. The gardens are extensive and the......
theHumm is reaching out to members of our Ottawa Valley community to ask how they are finding ways to use their gifts and skills in these challenging times. Today’s subjects are Joey Wright and Jenny Whiteley — an award-winning pair of musicians who are also happen to be married (to each other, no less!). We contacted them to find out how all this togetherness is influencing their art, and what their hopes and plans are for the future as performers.
theHumm: Do you h......
Each year, the Almonte General Hospital Fairview Manor Foundation has four signature events to support our patients and residents, ensuring they receive high quality healthcare in our community.
As we look at 2020, three of our four signature events have had to be postponed until 2021. This challenge presents us with an exciting opportunity to develop some fresh ideas and create some new fundraising events that will continue to support patient and resident care at the hospital and manor.
Orchid Viewing a Go! - theHumm July 2020
The highly popular Purdon Conservation Area, home to Canada’s largest colony of Showy Lady’s Slipper orchids, is open for the 2020 bloom season. Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority (MVCA) has put the following measures in place to help protect the health and safety of all visitors and staff:
Directional signage: A portion of the boardwalk will be one-way.
Face masks: Given the narrow boardwalk, a physical distancing space of six feet cannot always be maintained and therefore it......
theHumm is reaching out to members of our Ottawa Valley community to ask how they are finding ways to use their gifts and skills in these challenging times. Today’s subject is Mike McCormick — a member of the beloved Canadian musical/comedic super-group The Arrogant Worms and a (normally) active member of the Ottawa Valley live music scene. We contacted him to find out what effect the pandemic is having on his sense of humour, and what his hopes and plans are for the future as a performer.
In celebration of National Canoe Day — Friday, June 26 — the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists (MVFN) created a virtual pictorial tour of the Mississippi River and other waterways and lakes of Lanark Country, as seen from the water. They invited everyone to get out on the water between National Canoe Day and Canada Day to capture in pictures the natural world that we can see from the water in beautiful Lanark County.
After July 4, everyone is invited to visit ...more
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a variety of impacts on our food system. Shortages of some products created a new appreciation for and concern about supply chains that many of us take for granted. foodcoreLGL (Leeds, Grenville, Lanark) is a regional network working to bring to life to the LGL Food Charter drafted by our communities in 2012. While recognizing the many challenges and hardships the pandemic has created, foodcoreLGL members are hopeful that the boom in interest in the food system and demand for locally sourced food will be a lasting, positive shift in our communities.
By Miss Cellaneous
Weaving is Unlimited!
Cheryl Straby of Strévé Design Studio Boutique and Gallery is pleased to announce a summer exhibition of handweaving by Weavers Unlimited, opening June 29.
Founded on a shared passion for handweaving, Weavers Unlimited is a collective of dedicated artisans who strive to explore the intricacies of handweaving and develop new approaches to creating woven fabric. The group has gathered since 2003 to share their interest in mastering traditiona......
Ramsay Creek: New Kids on the Block - theHumm July 2020
By David Hinks
As someone who lives in Almonte and drives to Carleton Place frequently, I was fascinated to see a new, rather large greenhouse develop from the ground up last fall along Ramsay Concession 7A. As someone who prefers not to travel 110 km/hr on the highway, Concession 7A is a wonderful rural road with lots of opportunities to check out the latest bird arrivals (please don’t tell anyone about it!).
Not surprisingly, the business that was unfolding there is not part of a global multi-nat......
Summer of Quarantine Family Fun List 50 family-friendly activities in the Ottawa Valley - theHumm July 2020
By Sarah Kerr
Dear folks with kids: Welcome to the “summerofquarantine” Family Fun List! At first glance, the summer seems pretty daunting with little ones when everywhere you turn your go-to fairs and festivals have been cancelled. No summer vacations outside the province, no Ferris wheels, no concerts in the park. It is going to take a bit of time to rework your family summer traditions, but I hope to help you realize that there is still so much fun to be had.
So take this list and sit down with your family ......
By Susie Osler
The vision that came to me today, on the summer solstice, while the world continues to grapple with the uncertainty around COVID-19 and rallies to rid our systems of vile toxicity, is a dandelion-covered lawn. It may be an odd association, but I love dandelions and a sea of them registers for me like a wave of brilliant resistance — deep rooted, resilient and unstoppable.
I believe wholeheartedly that plants have much wisdom and medicine to offer us if we spend a bit of time with them observing a......
By John Pigeau
I love reading about where famous authors wrote their books. It’s no surprise that many of them cherished peaceful, quiet, isolated places in which to write — sheds, huts, cabins and cottages, many of them quite modest.
Dylan Thomas, for instance, wrote poems and stories in a small wooden boathouse in Laugharne, Wales. The place was tiny but serene, and overlooked the River Taf. Virginia Woolf wrote in a shed hidden away in the garden at Monk’s House in Sussex, England. Sparsely f......
Libraries are Lifting Spirits - theHumm July 2020
By Kelly Thompson
The challenges of working in a public library in these times! It has been perplexing, stressful, amazing and heartwarming, all mixed in together. Speaking with colleagues in other smaller libraries, we have been overwhelmed with telephone calls, social media messages, emails and even frantic waves on the street. People asking when we are re-opening, if curbside is available, saying how wonderful it has been to watch a virtual story time, participate in a Zoom program, or how fantastic that library staff can pick books for them. While we have had to step up our game and figure out how to c......
For the Love of Pets - theHumm July 2020
By Glenda Jones
When I was twelve my father and I conspired to get a puppy, a spaniel we could name Mickie, like the one my grandparents had when my Dad was courting my Mom. My Mom was adamantly opposed, saying it would become HER dog, and she didn’t want one. She knew full well that regardless of our whining and total commitment, she would become the owner of the dog. She opined that spaniels smelled of “wet dog” all the time, that she’d be the one walking it, cleaning up the messes, feeding it… and having a......
Making Music at the Perth Manor - theHumm July 2020
Gordon and Linda Craig — owners of the Perth Manor Boutique Hotel — are bringing a very special musical opportunity to the Town of Perth this summer. We spoke to them about how they are finding ways to safely incorporate music instruction into their summer plans.
theHumm: First of all, how have you and the Manor been faring since COVID hit? Have there been any noticeable changes since this part of Ontario moved to Stage Two?
Linda and Gordon: March had started off quite stron......
Amanda West Lewis is an actor, author, and founder of The Ottawa Children’s Theatre (OCT). We contacted her to find out how the OCT is rising to the challenge of providing creative instruction to kids during this time of social distancing.
theHumm: You live in Brooke Valley but have been active in the Ottawa youth theatre scene for many years now. Are you finally getting to work from home? If so, what have you enjoyed about it, and what are you missing?
Amanda West Lewis: I’v......
By Jane Stott
I was in our theatre just a few days ago, remembering the first few plays of our 2019-20 season. We had talented actors in amazing costumes interacting on gorgeous sets, being exposed by brilliant lighting designs. Then we entered into the drama of the pandemic. These days, everyone is slowly trying to find a new normal. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, our theatre will be back, and the arts will return to Perth Studio Theatre. We are a vibrant community theatre offering film, concerts and live ......
By Sherryl Smith
I am writing this as an appeal to our community residents when considering whether to wear a mask. I am an active and (so far) healthy 75-year-old retired health care professional. I understand germ warfare and once demonstrated the hidden violence of these invisible critters to nursing students by having them swab their purses and culture what grows on them after being left on a public bathroom floor. You don’t want to know!
I have been a diligent adherent to the rules these past many weeks (now m......
Radiothon Supports Local Land Trust - theHumm July 2020
By Carolyn Piche
It’s no secret that the forests and wetlands within the Mississippi and Lower Madawaska watersheds provide us with countless environmental and health advantages. Being in these wild areas can give us many emotional, spiritual and physical benefits. They also purify both our air and water and provide homes for so much of our favourite wildlife. Wild areas are a key resource in our efforts to slow climate change because they sequester large amounts of carbon from the atmosphere.
The Mississippi M......
The Hero and Hippopotamus - theHumm July 2020
By Sebastian Weetabix
Weetabix has remarked in previous articles about the historical origins and evolution of the restaurant as an institution. For those of you who have not been paying attention, the term, restaurant, refers to food as a restorative agent for weary workers and travelers. Together with the central social role of meals and the symbolic social importance of sharing food, we came in stages to restaurants as we now think of them; places to be served and eat prepared food while socializing with friends, family and business acquaintances (sometimes they overlap). Restaurant settings vary widely in si......
Feb 17 - Mar 26 Exhibition: Mary Pfaff's paintings
Mar 10 - Apr 16 Exhibition: Jim Hake's Sculptures
- Kaija Savinainen —A Brush with a Gifted Environmental Activist
- Interested in Writing? Check Out Winterwords Online Events!
- Artistic Excellence in our Area
- Build a Birdhouse!
- Happy Hiking: an Interview with Vickie Walsh
- The Last Generation: to Act on Climate Change
- Hedgerow (where the domestic and the wild mix and mingle)
- Finding Joy in Lockdown
- Back to Better in the Valley
- Dear Little One