Gamache Series Open Discussion

Join us here in The Bistro for a discussion on the entire Gamache series. Feel free to ask or answer any questions about any of the books or the series as a whole.

Paul Hochman

Discussion on “Gamache Series Open Discussion

  1. Barbara H. Johnson says:

    Good luck to those trying to rid the construction business of corruption in Quebec. It is a very difficult and dangerous move. You mentioned Watergate, Sylvia. That was a wake-up call for many Americans.
    I wonder what the central idea for investigation will be in the next story of Three Pines and if it will be tied into a larger problem in the Provence or Country. Evironmental questions are often in the local news here as well as state and national news. Air quality, safety of the aquafiers, and pollution ( (mainly chemical waste) of rivers are problems. There are concerns about the nuclear waste storage facility and the nuclear energy plant both which are nearby. Security has greatly increased at Ft. Gordon with the addition of the Cyber Command Center.
    If any of these type problems are in the news in Canada, they might appear in future novels as LP keeps current with problematic events.
    Can’t wait for the next book. Guess that’s obvious. LOL

    • Sylvia H. says:

      Me, too, Barbara. I’m dying to see where Louise takes us and what she tackles next! As regards the environment, we have been having an issue in the Maritime provinces about hydro-fracking for natural gas. You’ve got the problem of the fracking itself and risk to water wells, the huge waste of good water to use in the fracking, and then the disposal of the waste water after the gas is out. Nova Scotia has banned fracking altogether. In New Brunswick, we just had a provincial election. The party in power was all gung-ho to do fracking, it would create thousands of jobs, etc. and bring in money we desperately need to overcome our debt burden. However, the people spoke clearly against it, and booted that party out after one term in office. The other party had proposed putting a moratorium on hydro-fracking until we can get more information about the risks and benefits involved and see which outweighs the other. Right now it looks as if risks outweigh the benefits, but some places seem to do it successfully with no problems. We’ll see over the next four years where all that goes. We had some very strong protest against hydro-fracking, which got pretty ugly at one point. It’s hard to know what to think, but we voted the party in that was going to give us a bit of breathing room to examine the issue more.

      With Louise’s resolution of the overarching story that involved Arnot, the premier and the construction fraud and the bitterness between Gamache and Francoeur, it was looking as if there might not be any more stories, but she gave us The Long Way Home, and is continuing to write stories about our beloved heroes and the villagers. This will get more and more difficult for her as Michael’s illness develops. We will need to be very patient and understanding as we wait for each new book. And in the meantime, I hope The Bistro picks up again!

      I have just started reading the Elizabeth George book about writing, called Write Away. As she makes a point about character, I can see what Louise has done. Now I’m reading about setting as character and how it shapes the people and the story. I’m looking forward to starting again to read Louise’s books and then the discussions on each one.

  2. Cathryne Spencer says:

    Sylvia, after reading your post involving fracking, fracking, and more fracking, I can’t seem to get ,”frack, frack, frack” out of my mind as I go about the house completing chores. It seems like it must be Ruth and Rosa’s best new expletive and I’ve adopted it for the time being. My husband has been in the hospital after an emergency room visit last Friday and will stay for the time being as he and the fine doctors try to avoid surgery. I’m at home with the cats right now, chanting frack, frack, frack! They don’t know what to make of it but they are pretty tolerant of their funny humans.

    • Barbara H. Johnson says:

      Cathryne, you gave me a much needed laugh. Frack, frack, frack indeed. Keep your sense of humor and frack way. Hope your husband does well. Good thoughts to you both.

    • Julie says:

      Cathryne – I hope everything turns out okay for your husband. It’s so scary to have those emergency room visits. I’m fine with them, if they’re for me, but if they’re for Vern, then I can’t handle it at all! I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed for you…

    • Sylvia H. says:

      Wishing you and your husband all the best, and hope he will soon be well again, preferably without surgery!

    • Anna says:

      Dear Cathryne, I do hope your husband is feeling better and that you are also ok.
      I haven’t been in the Bistro much as I have been a bit tied up with family and work. I was sorry to come back and see that your husband was unwell. Sending you positive thoughts. I must say, frack, frack, frack makes me giggle. What a great expletive. I seems to have a faded memory of the original Battlestar Galactica series and Starbuck using Frack the same way….hard to know, the memory is a bit overloaded at the moment.

      In Australia there is similar controversy and struggle with fracking. Our local area has fought against it and my daughter did a debate on the topic at school so it is very topical. I see fracking has been associated with tremors and ground instability. There is also a big concern about methane in the water system as a result.

      I hope everyone else is well and the Bistro fire is keeping your toes warm in the chill of the polar vortex. My sister had snow in Dallas but she arrived in Australia this morning for a week to attend my Aunt’s funeral. A very sad event but it will also be a grand family occasion. My Aunt knew how to party and there will be champagne in her honour.

      • Sylvia H. says:

        Lovely to hear from you, Anna! Things get in our way sometimes, and we can’t be here as often as we’d like. I usually check in late in the day to see if there are any new posts, or to send one myself. I’m glad you’re planning to celebrate your Aunt’s life and personality. I’m glad she was a fun-loving lady; you can remember that and smile when you think of her. All the best to you!

        • Anna says:

          Hi Sylvia,

          I hope you are safe and warm as i keep reading about snow storms on the North American continent. Wasn’t sure if your part of the world was affected. I wonder how Barbara is faring as it is cold even in the deep south.

          • Barbara H. Johnson says:

            Brrrrr. It was 25 here at the house when by husband went out to meet friends for breakfast. When he returned, it was 34 and he was able to replace the water in the bird bath since it wouldn’t freeze.
            Sorry to learn of your Aunt’s death, Anna. All of my family lived within 150 miles with most being within less than 20 miles. It’s hard for me to realize that so many people have to travel halfway around the world for a funeral. Two of my friends have children and grandchildren across the world from England to Hong Kong, both US coasts and north to Michigan. Thanks to the internet they are always in touch.
            Hope the writing is going well. Good thoughts to you and your Mother, Anna.
            Think I’ll move closer to the Bistro fire.
            Hope all who are experiencing severe weather stay warm and safe.

          • Sylvia H. says:

            Hi Anna and Barbara, it’s chilly here today, but not snowing. In fact it has been a bright and sunny day, but rather windy. We had some miserable weather last Friday and again Monday and yesterday, and I was out driving in it Friday and Monday. I have my winter tires on, and had no problems. It gets dark around 5 pm nowadays, winding down to the shortest day, then we can look forward to days getting longer again.

            I hope your mother is settling now, and I hope your writing is still going along. Maybe your fun-loving Aunt can become a character in one of your stories!

            Do go and vote in the final round, everyone! We want to see Louise win this time!!

  3. Sylvia H. says:

    Today I got a message from Goodreads to say The Long Way Home had made it to the final round, so I just went in and voted for it for the final round. Things are getting better, and maybe this time she will win.

  4. Anna says:

    Hi everyone. Will vote in Good reads, just have to find my password!

    Please all stay warm and safe. We have seen the awful weather. It is very warm here and we have fire warnings so wild weather all round. I have never had to be the driver in snow but I have been in a car that ran off the Parkway in Western Canada. Scary stuff. Be careful Sylvia and all else who drive in the snow!

    Mum is up and down but we had some good days so that is all I can hope for.

    The writing is slow due to other commitments so the sequel is on hold but it has started and that is ok. Doing the line edit on book one and thinking about what to do with the finished product. I have to let you all read it, as much as that scares me knowing the high standards you are used to, but I know you are also kind. I am thinking of Kindle so you can access it. I was going to enter a competition but all the family issues have thrown me off track for that, which is ok.

    • Julie says:

      Oh, I can hardly wait to read it, Anna. I only hope I can do you justice with thoughtful advice instead of just gushing… I think we all know already that we will like it! Glad your mum is doing a bit better.

      Weather is so odd lately, that we just have to take what we’re given and try not to take crazy chances. We have no snow here in Seattle yet, but we had a long cold snap (cold for us is right around freezing) and it was kind of nice, because in those high pressure systems, we get sunshine! Now we’re back to the dreary gray though, and our temps have come back up to normal. Either way, this is about the best place on the continent these days… the snow they’re getting back east boggles my mind!

      • Sylvia H. says:

        Hi Julie, it’s great to hear from you again! Buffalo, New York, just got hit with a huge dumping of snow and more to come!! Years ago, when we lived in Woodstock, Ontario, which is a bit west and across the lake from Buffalo, but we used to feel sorry for the people there because we would hear of these awful snowstorms they got. A new woman started coming to our church, and I asked her where she was from, and she told me Buffalo – so I remembered our sympathetic thoughts for the folks there. I think this one was even a record for them!! And it’s only November!! Goodness knows what the rest of the winter will be like! Here in southern New Brunswick the snow hasn’t accumulated because the temperatures are fairly mild. They are starting to slip just below freezing, but a cold snap to us is minus 20 celsius with a wind! That hits us about January-February. We bundle up in layers of clothing, but on very cold days I don’t go out if I don’t have to. The same in a real snowstorm. When schools are closed, I think that’s a good enough excuse to stay home! I consider those days as a real treat! I find having to go out to do errands in bad weather leaves me totally exhausted. I’m pretty much good for nothing for the rest of the day! The west coast has much milder winters than we do out here. Friends of mine are going to Victoria for the winter. Sounds very nice; I have been there once and it was a lovely place. While I was there, I had a chance to visit friends and relatives in various places, and that made me very intrigued with the part in The Brutal Telling, where Armand goes out to visit a Haida village and learn about the ways of the Haida and the totems. It wasn’t particularly pertinent to the story, but fascinating just the same! I love it that we are getting to see some interesting new places through Louise’s books. I have never been to Charlevoix, but now I feel as if I know it a little bit and would love to know it better. I bet the weather gets pretty wild out there at the mouth of the St. Lawrence River!

        • Julie says:

          Hi, Sylvia – oh, I know how lucky we are here, weatherwise. I left Winnipeg to come here, which has terrible cold weather. And my parents used to live in Fort Erie, Ont., which is just across the border from Buffalo – they would have had this last dumping of snow! I remember visiting them when the piles of snow after plowing were almost as tall as their two-story house!

          Sounds like you are in a better spot! My younger brother lives in Toronto and he never gets much in the way of weather. I was intrigued that no parking spots in Toronto have plug-ins, so I figure it probably doesn’t get cold enough to need them, at least most of the time.

          He and I visited my older brother last week – he’s in Thunder Bay, Ont. It was already starting to get cold there. I remember hating the winter there when I was growing up. We were there to celebrate older brother’s 50th wedding anniversary, and it was really fun to drive around and look at the houses we lived in as children. The main house where we all spent most of our childhood couldn’t possibly be more than 800 square feet, but we never thought of it as small. We had three bedrooms, and now I can’t even imagine how they crammed all that in the house. The house looks exactly the same from the outside – not a single improvement, though it’s been well-maintained. I wish I were one of those people who is brave enough to knock on people’s door and say “I used to live here as a kid – can I come in and look around?” – you hear about those kinds of things, but I could never get up enough nerve. But it would have been cool to see if they changed the inside.

          • Sylvia H. says:

            Hi Julie, yes you always wonder what someone else has done with a house you used to live in, how they’ve changed it to make it theirs. Sometimes we’d be horrified to find out!

            Speaking of winters, they certainly are changing – much more snow than we had been getting. We call them “old- fashioned winters” as the older people who grew up here remember winters with snow piled high. We used to have the first snowstorm right around Christmas, sometimes on Boxing Day, but lately they’ve been coming in November and not melting away, but staying right until spring, with a lot more added in the meantime. I envy people who do winter sports because they really enjoy winter, while the rest of us merely endure it!

          • Julie says:

            Endure it, is right, Sylvia. My last years in Winnipeg were terrible – it was even colder than usual, and as I got older I preferred weather that was much more mild. Not too hot in the summer and not too cold in the winter. I realize how pampered I am now, when I thought it was so cold in Thunder Bay last week, and it was hardly even freezing. I did notice how everyone in Canada heats their homes so well, though. That was nice. Being in such a mild climate here, our old house has absolutely no insulation, and we have drafts everywhere… impossible to keep out the cold, but it does make it necessary to have a fire almost every night, and I love to cozy up by the fireplace. Just like in the Bistro.

          • Nancy Miller says:

            Julie, we sold my family home in 2010. My parents built it in the 40’s and Mom lived there until she died in Sept 2009 at 94. We were blessed to sell it to a lovely young woman who loved older houses. She’s now married with a daughter. This family has been so nice to us. Whenever we’re back in the area we are welcome to visit and see the latest changes they have made. I can just imagine that my parents are delighted that someone is enjoying the house that they built and lived in for so long. Yes, it’s hard to see the changes but I know that we have to move on and it’s wonderful that someone else is taking such good care of our home.

            I know I haven’t said anything till now but have been enjoying sitting with you and listening to the conversation. (Even though part of the time we’ve been over in Vermont, Christmas shopping. And it is still green around Burlington…no snow.)

  5. Anna says:

    Vote is in! Go Louise.

    • Sylvia H. says:

      Good for you, Anna!! Goodreads themselves had emailed me to tell me The Long Way Home had reached the final round because I had voted for it in an earlier round. So I just had to click the link and got right in to vote.

      Louise, we’re voting for you and cheering for you!!

  6. Sylvia H. says:

    Nancy, so glad you are dropping in, even if just listening!! What a lovely story of a beloved home being well taken care of by its new owners! That’s very heartwarming!
    Julie, with our temperatures, our houses all have to be well insulated. Sometimes the outside walls are 9 inches thick. Of course older homes were not built to today’s building codes, but they have to be insulated to some degree. I love the changing seasons, and winter gets away eventually and then there is the miracle of spring and rebirth. It always thrills me! I just baked my first batch of shortbreads for this Christmas season, which gets sent to my daughter in Australia. They’ll be shipped by air to get there in time. I make 9 or 10 batches each Christmas season to give to family and friends. If there are some left that won’t fit into the tin I’m getting ready for someone, then I get to keep a few for me. They are pretty popular in my circle of family and friends! It’s that time of the year when we all do special things for the people we love.

    • Julie says:

      Nancy – so nice to see your smiling face here! I love the story of your family home and that it is now so well-cared for by a new family, making their memories there!

      Sylvia – shortbread is my weakness – nothing says Christmas to me so much as shortbread, and if I never manage to get anything else done, I bake shortbread cookies. I use my mom’s recipe, which is a little finer than most shortbread, but I just love it. My addition is I will sometimes add some food-grade lavender to it. Oddly, I hate the way lavender smells, but love the way it tastes! So odd, but, then, that’s me, hahaha.

      • Sylvia H. says:

        Julie, how interesting! I never knew you could eat lavender, so I have no idea how it tastes. My shortbreads are made with some brown sugar as well as fine white sugar (not icing sugar) and also some rice flour is include with the all-purpose. They melt in your mouth!

        I have got my daughter’s batch all boxed up and ready to send tomorrow. Next week I have to make a batch for a special bake sale we’re having at church to raise money for our sponsored child. And then I start in on batches for my children who live in Canada and other friends and family around here. The only thing is, it is quite tiring as I am standing a lot. But it’s once a year and Christmas is special!

        • Julie says:

          Oh, they sound very delicious! I get tired when I stand too long, too. I have a tall stool I use if I am going to be a long time doing a single thing. (rolling the dough into little balls and flattening them with a cookie press, say, or preparing a lot of vegetables at once at the kitchen sink). My husband does me one better – if he wants an apple pie, he takes the pile of apples into the living room with the peeler and a couple of bowls and peels the apples while watching a football game from the sofa.

        • Julie says:

          Sylvia – lavender is available at places here, like Whole Foods – who have lots of organic produce. You can also buy it online, and it’s often added to Earl Gray Tea.

          http://www.thespicehouse.com/spices/dried-lavender-flower-buds-food-grade

          http://www.adagio.com/black/earl_grey_lavender.html

          • Sylvia H. says:

            Thank you very much, Julie, for these links. I’ll check them out when I get a chance. I got the box off to Australia this afternoon by air mail. They are supposed to get there if mailed by December 1st, but I’m somewhat skeptical! I know Canada Post too well!

  7. Anna says:

    Hi everyone. Hope all is well with the weather where ever you are. I love hearing tales of cold weather, even though I know it is a worry for you who are living with it. After days of over 100 deg F, 40 C, I am ready for winter again and it is only spring! It is so much cozier in the Bistro when the chill settles outside but it is a shady spot in the heat as well.

    I can’t wait to get to Whistler in January. It’s my favourite time of year, hot chocolate and waffles in the snow! Of course, as a visitor, I don’t have to worry about shoveling snow or driving in it or all the difficult stuff. I get that living in snow has its concerns and annoyance but I do love it.

    It was funny reading about the discussion of past homes. I was showing my dad today photos inside my childhood home. It seemed so big when we were young but the photos made it look small. The photos were on the Internet from when recent owners had it up for sale. It was interesting but weird to see it as others had changed it and not for the better. Think I will stick to my memories!

    I wonder how the Goodreads competition is going?,

    • Sylvia H. says:

      Hi Anna, yes I have no idea how long it is open and a decision is made on the winner. I’m so glad this book made it to the final round, even if some were disappointed with it. I loved it myself, realizing it had to be different from previous books because the overarching story line had been resolved. Louise is such a great writer and deserves all the accolades she will get as she gets better and better known.

      Sometimes new owners make changes that look awful to the previous owners. I designed and built a house here and lived in it for over ten years (somewhat of a record for me as the longest time I have ever been at the same address was 12 years). The people I sold it too loved it and didn’t do anything drastic to it, but the next owners did – they tore out walls, etc. – and here I thought it was just about perfect the way it was!! The house I’m in now is a better size for me. The other house was too big, especially after my husband died. It just seemed too much space. One’s needs change as circumstances change. In between I had a period where I couldn’t seem to settle, and I believe it was because I sold that big house too soon after his death – I didn’t wait the year, and I regretted it. But I’ve enjoyed this house, and now I’m making plans for my future as I get into mid-eighties and later. I’m pleased to be looking forward!

      • Anna says:

        Hi Sylvia. You are quite right, housing needs change over time and it is good to plan ahead where possible for those changing needs.

        I am a homebody but due to work etc, I have changed houses a lot. Moving is always hard but it can also be exciting. I love looking at house shows and the website/app Houzz is free and a wonderful resources to house planners. It’s also great for authors looking for places a character might live.

        I hope your shortbread arrive! Australia Post can be good so fingers crossed this end!

        • Sylvia H. says:

          Hello Anna, I have heard of Houzz – somebody may have mentioned it in one of the discussions – it’s fun to play around with house plans. What an interesting idea for an author to visualize a house that a character might live in. When you’ve created your character and know him/her really well, you would know what house would appeal and what wouldn’t, whether he would live in an apartment or a condo or a house with land around it and a garden. By that time the character has become a real person, jumped right off the page!

          • Julie says:

            Think of the fun Louise had with Jane’s house! When I think of it, almost all the characters live in places we can visualize because they’ve been so well described. And I love that so many are traditional Quebec homes filled with antiques. I feel like I can actually go and sit down in their kitchens and have a cup of coffee….

  8. Anna says:

    It actually may have have been me who mentioned it. I remember we had a previous discussion on houses. As Julie reminds us they are a well described feature in LPs books. I think it is one of the many things that attract us to her novels, the characters live in places we enjoy and want to visit. We are drawn to the comfort of the Bistro and the the B and B and the homes. These are not palaces but places with heart and soul that are an extension of the character. Both people and places are a big draw card in these stories.

    Do you find that is true in other books you read? I think the ones I return to often have that feature. Perhaps books without well drawn places of comfort are harder to reside in!

    • Sylvia H. says:

      Well, Peter Robinson’s books describe well where his chief character, Detective Chief Inspector Alan Banks, lives in the later novels after his wife, Sandra, has left him. He buys a cottage in a hamlet a short walk away from a village outside the bigger town, Eastvale, where he works. One of the criminals broke in and put date rape drug in his favourite whiskey, and then visited him in the evening. When Alan drank his Laphroeg, he started to get woozie, then he lost control of his muscles and couldn’t stand up, let alone walk, and the criminal then set fire to the cottage. Luckily, his assistant, Annie Cabott, came by and rescued him. Anyway, after he recovered, he rebuilt the cottage and that’s very well described as well. It’s his oasis of peace when the pressures of work get to him, so the reader enjoys visiting him there. But the same detail is not extended to other characters’ homes.

      In How the Light Gets In, the description of Jean-Guy’s apartment in Montreal and the state it’s in gives the reader a very clear idea of his state of mind. He’s just about at rock bottom then and it’s heartbreaking! I love the old-fashioned comfortableness of Emilie’s home with the Gamaches now living in it. We haven’t heard that they have done anything with it, but just enjoy it as it is.

  9. Barbara H. Johnson says:

    Happy Thanksgiving to all US folks. The very bright sunlight is pouring across the patio and on the lovely assorted leaves that almost cover the grass. The variety of colors is amazing. It is cool and very windy but not cold. We never know if we will need winter or fall clothes for Thanksgiving or Christmas.
    I stop by several times a day.
    Hi to all. I thought of listing all the people who used to post regularly but feared I might omit someone in error.
    Good thoughts to all.

    • Julie says:

      Happy Thanksgiving to US people, and happy day to all. We are bit more relaxed now, with posting. I know several people are re-re-reading the novels, and I will so enjoy a further discussion of those. I stop by once a day now, when I first open up my computer, just to see what’s up.

      Thinking of Thanksgiving makes me recall the wonderful meals held at Peter and Clara’s home. I know there was one which was a dish that Peter’s family used to make, apparently (and now that we know them, I can’t imagine it!), which had the turkey, gravy, stuffing, and maybe potatoes all smooshed together into a casserole, which apparently looked absolutely awful but tasted divine! I should go back and find that and give it a try.

  10. Anna says:

    Sad news today with the death of PD James. I know there are readers of her novels in the Bistro. She was 94.

    I do wish all a safe and wonderful Thanksgiving. I hope everyone spend time with someone they love.

    • Sylvia H. says:

      I just got to the Bistro, late at night! So sorry to have missed wishing my US friends a Happy Thanksgiving. I hope it was happy! Will you all be off to do your Christmas shopping tomorrow at the Black Friday sales? And why is it “Black” Friday? I associate “Black” with a stock market crash!

      Anna, do you have celebrations at this time of year in Australia? In my part of the world, we got to stay home because we had a snow storm last night and into today. It was a nor’easter; I’m not quite sure where it originated, but it brought a lot of snow to the New England coastal states and up the Bay of Fundy into New Brunswick. It was mostly rain in Nova Scotia.
      Sorry to hear about PD James; she will be missed.

      • Anna says:

        We don’t have a Thanksgiving equivalent at this time of year. We are gearing up for Christmas and the end of the school year. Our school year is the same as the calender year so the big summer break is Dec to January. It’s not long by American standards. Most kids have 6 weeks off. Private schools tend to break up in the next couple of weeks, next Thursday for us, so they get a bit longer. Public schools finish just before Christmas. Most schools go back on or around Jan 27 as Jan 26 is Australia Day.

        Hard to describe Australia Day. It commemorates the arrival of the First Fleet in 1788 at Port Jackson in what is now Sydney. It is a time of BBQs and picnics. Not the same as Thanksgiving, more of a community celebration, maybe like Fourth of July? It has been controversial as for the Indigenous population that is the day they were invaded so tricky to navigate in some respects.

        It is extreme weather everywhere. We had a burst of very hot weather and then the heater back on last night. There have been bad fires in some states and poor Queensland has been battered by storms. Brisbane received extensive damage yesterday.

        We are watching the storms across North America. Please all stay safe.

        I always wonder about Black Friday as a shopping day too! We have the Boxing Day sales.

        • Julie says:

          Anna -Australia Day sounds a bit like the Fourth of July, but also a bit like Columbus Day for us. Columbus Day (the second Monday in October) is controversial here as it signifies when native Americans were over-run by the Europeans, and basically wiped out, or herded onto ever smaller pieces of land. Attempts to mollify the native American faction by re-naming the day, always manages to upset the Italian American community. And, of course, these days, it’s nothing but a big shopping day, and not a real holiday at all. It’s a federal holiday, so banks, schoold and post offices are closed, but not much else, and it seems to start the rush for sales for the Christmas season…

          • Anna says:

            Columbus Day sounds similar for controversy and 4th July for methods of celebration, although no veterans marches that day. Our veterans all march on ANZAC day which is a more somber occasion. It is very interesting, the similarities and the differences in what we commemorate and how and what it reveals about national psyches. Australia Day is relaxed and ANZAC Day is sad and somber but both have aspects of Fourth of July. There is an essay of comparison there I am sure.

      • Barbara W says:

        Sylvia, I think it’s Black Friday because merchants hope for enough profit to put them firmly in the black for the year! No citation to back that theory, though.

      • Julie says:

        Sylvia – the story I’ve heard about why they call it Black Friday is that this is the day of the year when many stores finally use black ink (instead of red, signifying that they are still losing money for the year) to record their finances. I think it’s a bit of a stretch to think that very many of the stores don’t make money until this late in the year, but a poor Christmas season CAN break a store!

        Personally, I wouldn’t be caught dead in that kind of crowd, and I don’t really think the deals are so wonderful that it could entice me. I usually do my Christmas shopping at the computer these days, and have them gift-wrapped and delivered. So civilized… and why I feel so sorry for the residents of Three Pines with their dial-up connection. Of course – they get a lot in return…

        • Sylvia H. says:

          Thanks Julie and Barbara, for the explanation of “Black” Friday. Yes, it is a bit hard to believe that the retailers have been in the red up to now, and one massive shopping season can put them in the black and give them a profitable year. But Christmas is the main shopping season, where masses of people want to give gifts to friends and family at the one time.

    • Sylvia H. says:

      Yes, that was a great photo! Sorry for the damage to property and lives. That poor lady looked stunned.

      • Anna says:

        The whole storm came out of nowhere and left everybody stunned. We have had some bizarre wether in the last little while. It was fortunate in that one that injuries were minor as it hit early evening. Certainly the damage was tremendous.

  11. Lizzy says:

    Hello!

    Nice and warm in here. We had a wonderful, chaotic thanksgiving. It snowed the day before and we got a couple inches.

    I’ve been working many hours. Was suppose to work today(Saturday ) but was sick in bed all day. Sore throat and very blah. I must go into work tomorrow. Won’t be off again till Thursday.

    So sad about PD James. I finally read a book of hers last month. Did Penny’s book make it? I voted all 3 rounds for it!

    How is everyone? I confess I did not read through every posting since my last visit. Too daunting. Sorry!

    My grand daughter helped me decorate the house for christmas. Next Saturday we chop down our tree!

    Take care. Blessings to all!!

    • Anna says:

      Hi Lizzy. Sorry you haven’t been well. I hope you are feeling better.
      I haven’t heard what the finl results were on the Good reads competition.

      My daughter spent the day putting up the tree today. I can’t believe that Christmas is so close. I can not imagine being ready.

    • Barbara H. Johnson says:

      Hi Lizzy. Hope you are much better today. You have been on my mind. Missed your posts but realize life is hectic. I mostly stop by and read only.
      Anna and Lizzy, you have a head start on me with decorations. I did get Mother’s antique vase out last week. Now to get my branch for the bourbon and branch arrangement. Christmas tree lots opened Thurs. So I can get a branch or I might just use an artificial one. I wish I could have a live tree, but asthma stopped that years ago.
      I hope the destructive weather lets up . Many areas have had it so bad.
      Hi to all.

      • Anna says:

        Hi Barbara,
        Of course you must do Bourbon and branch!! Try to resist sipping from the vase until Christmas if you can. I am sure the flavoura will be better developed by then. Of course, if you use an artificial branch I am not sure how it will taste…..

        Sorry to hear your area has been suffering with the storms. It seems a particularly bad time all around the world. Fingers crossed for a more settled month.

        Hope you are improving Lizzy.

    • Sylvia H. says:

      Hi Lizzy, nice to hear from you! I hope you are feeling better now. Blessings to you too!

  12. Barbara H. Johnson says:

    Oh! I just looked at the link for the terrible storm in Queensland! How awful. The ice storm we had last Feb. was very destructive but nothing like this. Our problem was mainly from the many old trees falling and taking electric , phone and cable lines down. The newer Subdivisions have buried utilities but the older ones along with the city do not.
    Last week 4 very large, old trees fell when a heavy rainstorm and high winds struck less than 3/4 of a mile from us. The ice storm damaged the trees and now more will fall with each storm.
    I hope the clean-up will run smoothly in Queensland. The emergency services and the local, state and federal agencies involved here seemed to be at odds with each other….As was to be expected.

    • Anna says:

      From what I saw on the news the clean up moved quickly. The Army cleared the roads while other emergency services were able to support those with damaged homes. We are pretty lucky in that each state has an Emergency Managment centre that coordinates the response to crises and we have a few. We also have a volunteer organisation called the SES, State Emergency Service, and they answer calls to put tarps on any damaged roof, cut up fallen trees etc. They are an amazing volunteer group. Think the fire brigade in Three Pines. Actually they are like our rural fire service, also volunteers.

      We are having storms where I live all week. They started about 3 pm yesterday with loads of thunder and lightning. Then at 11 pm I was awoken by the loudest crack of thunder and continuous noise and light. I have never heard anything like it. The thunder did not stop at any time. I am sure I will have to include it in a book sometime.

  13. Karen Gast says:

    Every time I sign on I see that there have been more comments, but have no way of knowing where the new ones appear. Is there some way to tag them so I can follow new posts?

    • Barbara H. Johnson says:

      Hi, Karen, at one time, we were posting at the end and mentioning the name of the person we were responding to. I’m not sure I always do that, however.

  14. Anna says:

    The best way I found was to just scroll through looking at the dates of the posts. Usually the most recent is at the end but sometimes the conversation has moved forward and I go back to reply.

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