C’est magnifique!

The meeting room of the Carnegie Public Library was transformed on July 27 into the French countryside as the ninth Adult Summer Reading Program held its closing party and tea. The theme for this summer was France. One hundred participants signed up for the program with 77 percent completing the requirements for the tea.

To be invited to attend, participants read one of the book selections and attended four of the 13 offered programs, including a Skype session with one of the authors, British novelist Beatrice Colin. Special guests were Shirley Gumbel, Chef Jeff’s mother, and Dr. Margaret Gray, associate professor of French at Indiana University. Dr. Gray provided one of the programs on “France in the 19th Century.”

Guests were welcomed by Rick Chambon, adult outreach coordinator and organizer of the Adult Summer Reading Program. Upon entering the meeting room, guests were greeted to a delightful scene of exquisite table settings and lovely murals of France. The murals included a vineyard in Provence, the gallery of the French Opera House in Paris, the Eiffel Tower, a chateau on the River Cher, a garden in the Loire Valley and the courtyard of the Louvre Museum.

The color scheme of the setting was blue, gold and white. fleur de lis, the symbol of France, was prominent throughout the room. Ceilings were draped with blue fabric swags. There were decorative columns covered with blue and gold fleur de lis wallpaper and holding gold-toned electric candle sconces. Several lit crystal chandeliers hung from the ceiling.

The tables were covered in blue cloths topped with gold and white fleur de lis placemats. The china plates were topped with blue napkins folded in a standing fleur de lis pattern. Center piece were crystal bowls filled with white roses and lavender that each guest received as a favor. The white cloth-covered chairs were adorned with a fleur de lis pin that was an additional favor for guests.

The tea table held an extensive assortment of imported Taylor’s Teas and Infusions. In addition to the normal accompaniments for tea, there was delectable orange-infused syrup.

Prior to the actual tea, guests were treated to several selections on the harp by Chelsea Balmer. She also provided background music during the afternoon. Balmer is a student in the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University and is pursuing a bachelor’s degree of harp performance. She has studied with Distinguished Professor Susann McDonald and recently spent a semester in Vienna, Austria, studying with Anneleen Lenearts, the principal harpist for the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. Balmer has participated and received awards in multiple national and international harp competitions and maintains an active performing life through special events and university ensembles while furthering her training.

Following the musical interlude, an extensive array of luscious foods was presented by Chef Gumbel. The serving table included a 2-foot chocolate replica of the Eiffel Tower and a chocolate painted Mona Lisa, both crafted by Gumbel. He was assisted in presentation by Abigail Minger and Kim Billington. Savory items included plain, raisin/currant, lavender, and feta/cranberry scones. They were accompanied by lavender honey, jam and Devonshire cream. Finger sandwiches consisted of egg salad, coronation chicken, cucumber and ham.

Desserts, made by Chef Jeff, included poppy seed cake, carrot cake, candied orange slices, espresso mousse with chocolate-covered coffee bean and chocolate spoon, fresh fruit tarts, chilled pear/champagne soup, chocolate-covered marzipan, chocolate dark cherry financier, banana/macadamia/white chocolate financier, white chocolate coconut truffle, lemon macaroon, lavender macaroon, lemon/lavender shortbread, orange madeleines, Langues de Chat, chocolate flourless cake topped with a handcrafted chocolate fleur de lis, Mille-Feuille, camembert brie straws, lemon-cured filled meringue nests and the ever popular brandy ginger snaps and raspberry mousse.

Following the tea, several door prizes donated by the program’s sponsors were distributed. Corporate sponsor for this year’s Adult Summer Reading Program was German American Bank. Additional sponsors were Thompson Insurance, Friends of the Library and Beta Zeta Chapter of Tri Kappa. The Adult Summer Reading Program is entirely funded on donations.

Although summer reading is over, the Washington Carnegie Public Library will be having several special programs in the upcoming months. The first event will be a STEM Meet and Greet on Monday, Aug. 13, from 3:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. This will be a community open house for the new STEM programs and will showcase what equipment can be used and checked out. The STEM program is for students in grades kindergarten through 12.

On Tuesday, Sept. 18, at 6:30 p.m., Jane Milligan will conduct a class on creating unique and custom greeting cards and other paper crafts. The program is free and supplies will be provided, but registration is required.

On Tuesday, Oct. 9, at 6 p.m., Rebecca Baumann, curator of the Indiana University Lilly Library will present “Stitched and Bound: Frankenstein and the Book.” Unlike the creature brought to life by Victor Frankenstein, the first edition of Frankenstein is not a freak. Rather it appears to be a typical novel of its time, three volumes bound in plain boards, published without the 19-year-old author’s name on the title page. However, the story of Frankenstein’s publication and the history of its readership over the past two centuries is just as exciting as Mary Shelley’s novel. This talk examines not only the birth of the novel but also its reception, emphasizing how physical formats changed the way readers have understood the story of the monster within. This program is provided through a grant from Indiana Humanities speaker’s bureau as a part of its Quantum Leap series of statewide events.

A program for all ages will be Tuesday, Oct. 23. It is the “Science of Frankenstein with Professor Steve.” The program will focus on the science behind the novel and demonstrations of some of the experiments will be shown.

Finally on Tuesday, Oct. 30, at 6:30 p.m., the library will have a showing of the 1932 horror Boris Karloff classic film “Frankenstein.”

All of the above programs are free and open to the community.

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