Today I want to revisit a few things I've dealt with in earlier entries.

Back in November, I asked "Can this Pantry be saved?" Word was that The Pantry, a (mostly) vegetarian lunch place operating weekdays during the school year out of the Glebe Community Centre, would be forced to close permanently at the end of June because the Centre needed the space for its activities.

I'm pleased to report that the answer seems to be, "Yes, it likely CAN be saved, at least for a couple more years." We went back there a few weeks ago, wanting to at least enjoy one more family lunch there before the bitter end, and I asked about its status. Already they have made some modest changes such as putting casters on their tables to facilitate quick rearrangements at the beginning and end of their stints there each day to accommodate other groups that use the space. Dare I speculate that the petition we signed actually made a difference?

We haven't seen too much media coverage of it since the initial threat of closure so I guess talks are still ongoing and its future is still uncertain. But I'm keeping my fingers and toes crossed!

Then there's the continuing saga of my PRESTO card. Again, the news I'm reporting today is mostly positive or hopeful. I haven't had any problems using it in Ottawa since I got my new PRESTO card. I also managed to use it successfully inToronto earlier this month - at Queen's Park station. There's still the problem that many Toronto subway stations simply aren't equipped with PRESTO readers at all. According to the Toronto edition of Metro (the newspaper), many won't be before some time in 2016.

Finally, today marks a sad anniversary. An Ottawa high school student was killed three years ago after a metal drum he was cutting through for shops class exploded, critically injuring him. The inquest into his death was only recently concluded and hopefully school officials will henceforth be extra careful to avoid another (presumably preventable) tragedy like this in the future. I was in Halifax at the time of the incident, attending a conference of the Canadian Library Association, but it was reported on the Halifax TV news and in their paper.

Back in 2011, it was reported that the drum (acquired second-hand for the project) had previously contained peppermint oil which (or so it was reported at the time) was a highly volatile and dangerous substance. Again, I remember that well because we had recently been advised to spray peppermint oil in our car to deter mice, which had been gnawing at some of the innards and shorting out the wiring.

Well, guess what? In the news reports of the inquest earlier this year, no further mention was made of any peppermint oil - instead, it was reported that the drum had previously contained a toxic cleaning solution (possibly involving lye?) Moreover, just a week or two ago, domestic mavens Steven and Chris were waxing eloquent over how fabulous peppermint oil could be in the kitchen, to deter ants!

So is peppermint oil safe? Who knows?
The Pantry, a vegetarian restaurant located within the Glebe Community Centre, will be closing its doors for good in June 2014. Apparently it had been allowed to pay substantially below-market rents for years but now the Centre has said "Enough is enough" and wants to reappropriate the space for other purposes.

And that's a shame. Because the Pantry was a destination location unlike, say, yoga classes or children's art classes which, while certainly valid uses of a community centre space, may be found in just about every community, often within easy walking distance of the participants' homes.

I was frankly very disappointed in the lacklustre response of the local councillor, David Chernushenko, whom I usually find to be fairly in tune with my views on things. After all, today's Glebites are to a great extent a well-heeled, highly educated bunch, who pay a small fortune in property taxes. The Glebe is certainly not the ghetto for Carleton University students that it might have been in the 1960s and 70s. Don't Glebe residents deserve something in return for their tax dollars, other than a sole-sourced big-box shopping centre at Lansdowne Park that no one except the developers really seems to want? There were a few tepid murmurings along the fact that maybe The Pantry could stay open if, say, some of the food preparation was done off-site and the meals brought in. Why, for heaven's sake? Most community-oriented buildings - churches, community centres, child care centres - have their own kitchens! And to a great extent, it's the feeling of sitting among friends in someone's sprawling farmhouse kitchen that gives the Pantry a lot of its charm. The pine tables and furniture, the make-do, mismatched tableware, the shelves of cookbooks and children's books and toys, the friendly personalised service you get from the long-time cooks and servers.

It also must be stressed that the hours of the Pantry are, and have always been, quite limited. It is open from noon to 3 PM, Monday through Friday, and only during the school year (i.e. from September through June and excluding the Christmas and March breaks and other school holidays). So except for those fifteen hours a week plus maybe another ten for food preparation and clean-up, the space is available for other purposes and would, I think, be quite suitable for other functions. What about a teen drop-in and coffee house on Friday and Saturday evenings? What about a get-together venue for stay-at-home parents with small children? Or activities for seniors? Family board-game nights, anyone?

The Pantry has always been supportive of local and community activities and people. When we last went there a couple of weeks ago, they were showcasing and offering for sale two items: Gwendolyn Bests's "The Cats of Parliament Hill" calendar; and a CD called "At the Doors of Guapalo" with mezzo-soprano Donna Klimoska and Wolfgang Lendle on guitar.

The Glebe as a whole has seemed to be in a bit of a slump lately. That's a pity, because it has some quite unique independent businesses - Britton's Smoke Shop with its wide variety of international magazines, which every weekend features Linda Wiken's Prime Crime Bookshelf; The Papery; a shop devoted to all things Cat (whose name escapes me at the moment); Glebetrotters (a shoe store with a wide selection of upscale but very comfortable footwear); The Emporium (kitcheny stuff); and much more. This year, in an effort to encourage holiday shopping, Glebe merchants are offering a promotion - they stamp your "ballot" every time you spend $20 in their store; when you have enough stamps on your ballot, you can enter it in their draw for a $10,000 "Glebe Spree". And then pick up a new ballot and start again - until December 31. For details, see

But looking out the window today, it certainly doesn't look as if it'll be a green Christmas in any sense!



October 2017



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