Time for Takeout! - theHumm April 2020

Time for Takeout! - theHumm April 2020

By Sebastian Weetabix

Weetabix has long been of the view that food matters are well within the editorial mandate of theHumm (food combines art, entertainment and ideas!), but there is a key difference which is one of urgency. The famous aphorism of Rene Descartes “I think therefore I am” should perhaps be restated to “I eat therefore I am” since clearly if one does not eat, soon one is not. On the contrary side we have all experienced too many examples of those who do not think and yet clearly, they are. COVID-19 presents all of us with multiple serious challenges and with them the opportunity to make constructive changes in what we do and how we do it.

Simply put: COVID-19 is a serious and highly contagious disease and a significant fraction of those infected need intensive medical care to improve their chances of survival. Our medical system and our supply chain of essentials has very little “reserve” or surge capacity. So far there are neither vaccines nor effective drugs and there won’t be for some time. This means that social (also called physical) distancing, which includes self-quarantine measures, is the only practical way to manage a situation which impacts all of us.

Let’s take a closer look at what this means in practice, since there is a lot of wishful thinking in and around the term “social distancing”. The good news is that it can work. The bad news is that minor “escapes” can wipe out the benefits of a lot of effort. COVID-19 has been shown to be transmitted by people who are not symptomatic. Apparently some people can get a mild form of the disease, and in any case, many people can be sources of infection before they (know they) are infected. So far, testing in North America is only done on people who have symptoms. While test results are important, we do not have critical information needed for assessment. So why subject ourselves to the difficulties and social consequences of social isolation? Well, remember that if you have not been infected you are a good candidate to get infected. Only breaking the chain of contagion (which is mostly by contact) slows things down enough that the limited care resources (caregivers and ICU beds) may be available when you need them. If things can be slowed enough, other measures may be available. Just don’t expect anything to happen in a couple of weeks or so — we are all in for major disruptions that will last for months with unpredictable consequences.

So, speaking of consequences, Weetabix returns to matters concerning food, how we get it, and why. Previous articles have discussed the origins and development of restaurants and specifically dealt with examples of the genre. Restaurants and closely associated enterprises such as specialized suppliers are a significant part of our local economy. A sudden and devastating change has been forced on all parts of our society, but “social distancing” hits this sector particularly hard. The obvious blow is that operations which, by design, require people to gather, have been shut down. The less obvious consequence is that for most restaurants, even a short period of suspended operations may not be survivable. At minimum, shutting down requires releasing key staff who represent a significant investment in recruitment and training. Meanwhile, expenses such as rent continue but without revenues to offset them. Few independent operators are well enough capitalized to withstand this for long. For those not in the business this represents a double loss — one is the direct loss of cultural and social services; the other is that our economic well-being is interconnected.

What to do now? The why is clear enough but there is also the matter of how. Obviously, constrained by the requirements of social distancing and anticipating that this may last for some time, we need to change our behaviour. Weetabix reminds his readers that the very term “restaurant” has its root in “restaure” or, in effect, “restoration” of our energy, of our mood and of our bodies. Getting fed is so much more than achieving nutritional sufficiency; a cook or chef can offer experiences from simple satisfaction of our needs to the sublimely transformative. These people are important assets to our communities, and we owe it to them and to ourselves to develop new and economically viable business models so that we may continue to enjoy the services they provide. Weetabix will, in a future article (yes there will be a future), detail some of the benefits we enjoy through the efforts of restaurateurs, but right now wants his readers to focus on their current business problem and how (at least for some of them) they can help them and help themselves at the same time. In a word: takeout!

Yes, even with social distancing we all need to eat, and by now everybody is aware that even shopping needs to be done with an acute awareness of risk. Food service professionals are trained in sanitation practices that make them very aware of the need for appropriate handling precautions. Containers can be sanitized on receipt and pickup, and delivery procedures should be implemented with care. Last month Weetabix wrote about Valley Eats — a delivery service that can provide a measure of control and safety to the process of getting your takeout.

A number of local restaurants already have significant takeout businesses. By accelerating the shift to takeout, we can preserve a diverse set of important services in our community and retain aspects of our food chain that elevate it from meeting bare necessities. Food is an important part of our lives and contributes to many aspects of living well. The loss of venues where food can be shared is a serious and tragic one; let us not compound it with the loss of the skills and expertise that extend food in directions beyond simple sustenance. Of necessity home cooking is having a resurgence; but remember that home cooking is not necessarily the same as good cooking — and that even good cooks need and deserve a break. Our cooks need your support to support you! Takeout is an attractive option — soon and often!


Re-purposing Your Gifts: from Costume Designer to Mask Maker - theHumm April 2020

By Kris Riendeau

In an article entitled “Covid-19 Cannot Harm Your Gifts!”, Bruce Anderson of the Core Gift Institute coregift.org writes: “…what is undeniable is that you have come into this world with gifts, and you will leave this world with those gifts, having given them along the way. Gifts form an essential part of our passion and purpose, and give us a lifetime of opportunity for finding our true identify and offering who we are to the world.“But, in times o......


Humming On in Uncertain Times - theHumm April 2020

By Kris and Rob Riendeau

Welcome to the first-ever online-only issue of theHumm. Back in mid-March as we were starting to put this issue together, we began to get emails from event organizers. They were watching the developing situation worldwide and locally, and were letting us know that they might have to cancel or postpone their events. It’s hard to believe that that was only three weeks ago. As a publication whose mission is to connect people through promoting community events, we made the difficult decision to not publis......


Supporting Canadian Authors, Bookstores and Publishers in Precarious Times - theHumm April 2020

By John Pigeau

In her profoundly moving memoir “This Is Happy”, Camilla Gibb wrote: “We are the storytelling animal; our stories are what make us human.” Indeed. Books bring us solace and pleasure in difficult times. Some help us escape to exotic and faraway lands, while others generously introduce us to different cultures. Books rinse our minds of the mundane, offering us instead adventure and intrigue, beauty and laughter, and meaningful insights too.

Books remind us, even in the best of times, th......


Reflections on Public Library Closures During COVID-19 - theHumm April 2020

By Meriah Caswell

The Carleton Place Public Library closed its doors to the public at 5:30pm on Friday, March 13, without knowing when they would reopen.

The previous day I had been naively trying to convince my staff and colleagues that with increased sanitation measures and enforced social distancing, libraries could remain open to serve our communities.

When I received the news that the library would have to close, there was an immediate whirlwind of activity. Library staff franti......


In-Between Days - theHumm April 2020

By Angie Arendt

Not long ago I was curled up on the couch in the livingroom with a copy of “Discover Canada” in hand, asking and answering questions Jeopardy-style while studying for my upcoming citizenship test. Who is Sir John A. MacDonald? What is the Order of Canada? What is July 1, 1867? I’m an out-loud processor, much to the delight (and chagrin) of everyone in the house.

So Canada has been on my mind for a while now, the excitement building about replacing my permanent residence card with a passport one d......


Just a Bunch of Country Kids! - theHumm April 2020

By Sarah Kerr

Okay parents, here we are in April after an extended three-week March Break. We now understand that this was just a training camp for our new homeschooling reality, to keep our kids and communities safe. All I have to say is, let’s thank the heavens we’re in the Valley, so we can “go country”!

Now, what does that mean? Getting back to our farming roots with our kids of course! Our family has taken this a little far and are renovating our neighbours’ old bunny hutch into a fancy new chicken coop......


Call Your Neighbour: Building Communities in Difficult Times - theHumm April 2020

By Jeff Mills

Remember the ice storm? We all have our stories, don’t we? Neighbours helping neighbours in every way possible. I remember driving a neighbour to my parent’s house so she could shower. We in the country were without power, so no pump and no hot water. My parents were in town, and but for one short interruption of power, they really weren’t affected. Although this weather event was a time of great inconvenience for some, those days of neighbours getting closer and helping neighbours are now seen as a period of great community building. We all have our stories. It almost sounds romantic in ......


The Power of Tech Shabbats - theHumm April 2020

By Kris Riendeau

Back when COVID-19 was just a gleam on the social media horizon, Rob and I listened to an intriguing podcast while delivering the February issue of theHumm. Presented by The Long Now Foundation, it featured author and life-long techie Tiffany Shlain talking about her new book “24/6: The Power of Unplugging One Day A Week” blog.longnow.org/02020/02/03/podcast-24-6-th......


Stand and Listen - theHumm April 2020

By Glenda Jones

We call our oldest Sheltie “Miss Clockhead”. At precisely 6:35am she starts making little squeaky noises that indicate she is ready to start her day, and we should be as well. The other two are still sound asleep when Bonnie starts this morning ritual. If the squeaks don’t get our attention, she will chase her tail until she falls over. We were looking forward to the time change, thinking naively that we’d get an extra hour of sleep since it would still be relatively dark. ......


Local Residents Roll Up their Sleeves on Climate Action - theHumm April 2020

Back in early March, over 100 Lanark residents attended a day-long workshop to plan deep climate action for our community. This Climate Action Where We Live workshop was organized by the Climate Action Network.

“We originally booked a hall that would hold 60, but within days of opening up registration we were at 80 and so had to find another venue,” says Gord Harrison, one of the event organizers. “We finally capped the numbers at 115, with a waiting list… It’s very hearteni......


The Music Will Keep Playing - theHumm April 2020

By Tony Stuart

These are definitely interesting, challenging, and frightening times. I don’t think anyone expected to see society shut down the way it has. This shutdown is having profound implications for all of us, and I hope that all of you who are reading this are able to stay healthy and keep your spirits up.

Obviously, I have been particularly aware of how social distancing and self-isolation has affected musicians. We have seen all of our gigs completely dry up, with no end in immediate sig......


Updates from Area Museums - theHumm April 2020

By Jennifer Irwin and Michael RikleyLancaster

Most years, local museums begin fundraising in earnest with the return of spring. This year they are having to cancel or postpone events and close their doors, so they are reaching out to patrons and community members for support. Here are some updates that were sent in response to theHumm’s recent query.

The Carleton Place & Beckwith Historical Society and the Museum are thankful for the ongoing support of The Town of Carleton Place and of Beckwith Township; however, March and April are traditio......


greenshaus, inc. (aka the Thursday Lettuce Place) - theHumm April 2020

By David Hinks

“Not bad for a guy that knows nothing about growing.”

I am standing in the midst of hundreds of gorgeous heads of buttercrunch and romaine lettuce chatting with a very modest Rob Lyle. Rob is the owner of a modern looking high-tech greenhouse on the north side of March Road east of Almonte, just a stone’s throw from the border with Ottawa.

Rob is a relative newcomer to the world of horticulture, having worked in the banking system as an investment manager for 27 years. He lost interest in tha......


Mandatory Mindfulness! - theHumm April 2020

By Helen Antebi

To quell COVID-19 and do our part to support health care workers, not to mention our families, friends and our communities, there is one skill we must acquire if we have not already.

The skill or art (depending on your approach), of mindfulness has been “trending” now for some time. Maybe there was a reason. Virtually overnight we have had to become acutely aware of our environments, the contact — or rather the distance — we have from others, the way ......


Art… and Soul… and Social Distancing… and Advice on How to Cope from Valley Artist Valerie Fulford - theHumm April 2020

By Sally Hansen

Over twenty years ago theHumm appeared on the scene to promote the arts in the Ottawa Valley. April 2020 is our first non-appearance on your newsstands and at your local businesses and libraries since then. We, like the artists and arts-related businesses and events we publicize, are struggling to survive in the short term and to figure out how to revive and thrive in the future.

These are extremely challenging times. Humans dislike uncertainty and right now there are more than 7.7 billion pe......


Time for Takeout! - theHumm April 2020

By Sebastian Weetabix

Weetabix has long been of the view that food matters are well within the editorial mandate of theHumm (food combines art, entertainment and ideas!), but there is a key difference which is one of urgency. The famous aphorism of Rene Descartes “I think therefore I am” should perhaps be restated to “I eat therefore I am” since clearly if one does not eat, soon one is not. On the contrary side we have all experienced too many examples of those who do not think and yet clearly, they are. COVID-19 pres......