Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Enhanced Reading

Reading has always been a passion of mine, but recently  I've discovered a way to really enhance the experience.

I was reading a book called Inferno by Dan Brown.  His main  character in his books, Robert Langdon, is a specialist in symbolism and the story took place in several European cities.  Mr. Brown often mentions such things as artwork, architecture, and city streets without boring you with long descriptive detail.  That's where my tablet came in handy.  I simply Googled whatever he was talking about and got to see the settings, or the art he was interpreting for myself.

 The next book I picked up was The Perseid Collapse, by Steven Konkoly.  This is a near future apocalyptic story, realistic enough to get you thinking about storing things to help you survive.  It's set on the east coast, and the characters travel around a lot, getting to safety.  While Mr. Konkoly is more prone to long winded descriptions than Mr. Brown, his references to towns and highways also had me opening up the tablet to check where he was taking his characters, and where rivers were, so I'd understand how far a wave of water might travel inland.  For this I used Google maps.

Actually, at the beginning of the digital version of The Perseid Collapse, there was a link to download the Report of the Commission to assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack.  I did that, as it was free from within the book. I found it fascinating to discover all ways our lives would be affected by an EMP.  The way we live would be disrupted in so may ways, there would be complete chaos.

I always knew reading could take you to another world, but now I can get a good look at it, if I want to, and maybe even learn something about these places along the way. I have no idea why I've seldom thought to consult the computer about what I have been reading in the past.  Maybe it was just too much trouble to walk to another room and turn the darn thing on.  But a tablet is different.  You can pick it up along with your book, or maybe even download the book and read it on the machine in the first place.   It's now so easy to  take a moment to see what is in the author's mind that reading will never be the same for me ever again.  It might take me longer to read a book in the future, if I keep looking things up.  I don't see that as a problem with that, other than, as I've mentioned before, my stack of books grows faster than I work my way through them. 

It is said that in life we should stop and smell the roses.  While reading, I will now stop and at least take a look at some of them.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Instant Celebrity

Since I have written about the TLC Soupfest for the past three years (2013) (2014) (2015), I was not really planning on doing it again. But here I am, about to tell you what happened.

This was the 8th annual Soupfest, and I've been to at least seven of them, if not them all. The event was originally in Winchester, but moved to Kemptville several years ago, and will be held there next year, on March 4th.  Mark your calendars now.

The Kemptville Municipal Centre has enough space to feature 16 restaurants and their soups for the public to get acquainted with, and then vote on their favorites. Restaurants this year were from Merrickville, Morrisburg, North Gower, Perth, Manotick, and of course, Kemptville.   I didn't see any advertisement for the event this year, until just the week before, so it was a bit of a scramble to gather those who usually go with us.

While we were happily doing our taste testing, the organizer, Lynn Ford, was speaking to the assembled group about the event. She asked how many of us had been coming for several years, and a lot of hands went up, including those of everyone at my table.  She then asked if anyone would care to say a few words about their experiences at Soupfest. For some reason several members of my group decided to suddenly point at me.  I laughed and responded to them by saying, "Oh ya!"  Lynn apparently heard that but must have thought I was volunteering as she handed me the mic.  Oh well, I do tend to talk a lot, so I stood up and told everyone how my husband and myself came each year with a couple of his cousins and their spouses.  We always find it fun to compare opinions on the various soups, as we never, ever agreed on which ones we liked the best.  I mentioned that I have even brought my young grandson to the event a couple of times.  He enjoys being able to make his own pronouncements on the various soups, and voting for his own personal favorite.  Soupfest is indeed a great family outing.  For speaking, I was awarded a souvenir Soupfest apron, that I happily traipsed around in from the moment she put it on me until we left. I felt like a bit of a celebrity.  I have since read that public speaking is the number one fear people have. I can't vouch for that as I didn't have time to conger up a fear, let alone figure out what I wanted to say. I only hope whatever came out of me made some kind of sense.

I must say, that if it were not for Soupfest, there are a great number of soups I would never have even tasted, simple because of their ingredients.  No way would I ever have walk into a restaurant and buy whole bowlful of soup made with things that do not sound appealing to me.  But now I've sampled many of those, as a little taste and a chance to express my opinion isn't as intimidating as having to pay for a whole bowl of something I may not care for.  I found out that even though I do not like squash, or pumpkin or the idea of fish in a soup, all of those ingredients have been in soups offered to me at Soupfest, and I discovered that I actually liked them. This year the McIntosh Country Inn from Morrisburg served Pumpkin Gouda Soup, which was lovely and the Marlborough Pub from North Gower served a Smoked Salmon Bisque, that I was almost afraid to taste, especially since some others at my table didn't seem to care for it. I could smell the smokiness, but every sip I took made me like it more. This year my favorite was from a new restaurant to this event, The Keystorm Pub, from Brockville.  They made a Maple BBQ soup with Pork & Bacon.  I want to go to that restaurant just to get a whole bowlful of that soup, I liked it so much.  While other soups in the room may have been more imaginative,  as much as I liked them, I wouldn't make a special trip just to get some.  They Keystorm's offering will have me marching through their doors.  The chef told me it wasn't a fancy place. They just wear hockey shirts, and serve good food. If that soup was an example, I'm going to go as often as I can.  One other soup I went back and got more than one sample of was a delectable dessert soup.  Kemptville's Crusty Baker served up a Black Forest Soup. Yes, it had chocolate and creme brule, whipped cream (I think) and cherries. There was also a dash of kirsch in there too.  I don't know that I'd ever want a whole bowlful as I'm not one for sweets, but these little sample cups were just the right size for this lovely treat, at least for me. It made my heart sing.

I went to the bank yesterday and the first thing the teller said to me was, "Did you go to Soupfest?"  I told her I had. She said she saw a picture of me on Facebook (so of course she knew I'd been there).  The picture was taken just after I was given the apron.  I now have it on my Facebook page too, and already 40 people have liked it. I think the idea that a bank teller spotted me on the TLC page just proves I'm a bit of a celebrity now, don't you think?