LOUISE PENNY’S

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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.

Discussion on “The Bistro”

The traditional southern New Years meal is Blackeye peas, collards (a green leafy vegetable) cooked with smoked hog jowl (similar to bacon or streak-a-lean), rice, baked sweet potatoes or sweet potato casserole, baked pork loin or some other pork dish. Pecan pie or sweet potato pie for dessert if sweet potatoes aren’t served with the meal. Cooked tomatoes and corn bread are also served. It is a treat because we don’t eat so much pork other times. Even the tomatoes are seasoned with bacon grease. Not very healthy.
At last, I have the recording of Bury Your Dead by Ralph Cosham. What a treasure. He was as good as some of you said. Sad to think he won’t be reading LP’s future books. I don’t think I mentioned that we enjoyed the licorice pipes and gave some to friends.
I’ve read the first two Peter Robinson books and have requested the next three from the Library. They’re good.
I did get books from my husband for Christmas. I’m proud of him.

Strange but it is rainy here too in a very dull overcast way. Better than the heat we have had though so I can’t complain. It’s just hard to be motivated when it looks so dull.
It is time for our tree to come down too but I have to wait for my daughter to do that in a couple of days as she is away.
Our time in the States will be limited to two or three years but it is interesting that it has cropped up now when I “know” people over there. At least I can ask questions and not feel like a complete tourist on arrival. I wish to be a traveller and a resident, like the distinction we made between readers and fans. Readers implies a more considered outlook I feel as does travelers. Tourists are often viewed with a tolerant disdain!
I am putting together my wish list f travel destinations. Do feel free to contribute suggestions. I am not sure exactly how much travel we will get in as my husband will be working and Erin will be in University at some point I imagine depending on when we arrive. Cooler destinations are preferred or cooler times to travel! Looking at the weather over there, it is pretty cool across the country right now.
Stay safe all. Good idea for the soup Barbara. Pea and ham is a standard over here but I do a ham and vegetable with white beans that I like. Ok, now I am hungry. I shall peruse the cookbooks I received for Christmas and see what can be done.

Hi, We are having a quiet rainy Sunday afternoon here. Perfect for making ham soup from the Christmas ham leftovers. It also fits with my plan to try to empty out the freezer. It’s like a treasure hunt when I delve into the disorganized assortment of whatever is in there. I’m trying to “get organized”……again. Only one large job remains and the putting away of Christmas will be complete. The Christmas poinsettias must be brought in from the family graves and stored away.
I hope everyone had a Blessed Christmas and Happy Holiday Season. Cathryne, I’m so glad your husband was able to be home. Anna, I hope your mother was able to enjoy some of the happiness, closeness and loving spirit of the season.
I can’t believe you will be coming to our shores Anna! We welcome you and your family to North America. You said you had taken a road trip across the USA . That is some I have always thought would be so interesting. The landscape, people and history varies so much.
Your post of Dec 22nd describing the bistro was beautiful. I was reminded of sitting in the glow of the fireplace and quietly enjoying the Christmas trees of long, long go. As you said the firelight reflected on the ornaments. Ours were beautiful and delicate ones made between the Wars in Germany. I don’t know what happened to them. Probably discarded for more “Modern” ones. Must be stylish, you know. I would love to have just one of them now.
More later—-soup needs attention and my leg has gone to sleep from the weight of Petey sleeping across it.

We are big Newsroom fans too Julie. We have seen all three seasons and I daresay they will be bought on DVD or Apple TV to rewatch extensively. I love the version of Thats How I got to Memphis in the final episode.

Aaron Sorkin is an amazing writer but not loved by TV execs it seems. That is why he left after season four of West Wing too. He understand that the audience is so much smarter than TV developers think, that people like smart TV, they want to be challenged, they like to think. I also like that he uses real actors and not just TV personalities in his performances.

There are some interesting videos on YouTube of West Wing and Newsroom cast members talking at different events about the shows. I am not sure Aaron Sorkin would be the easiest person to work with but perhaps because he is so passionate about what he does.

I hope the New Year is bringing piece to all.

I agree – he probably would be difficult, but the results are so good! We love the music from the last few episodes, too. “Ave Maria” is given such beautiful treatment for the wedding, and “Shenandoah” for the second-to-last episode, as well as “How I Got to Memphis”. My hubby is always on YouTube looking for these songs and so we have been listening to them while we are at our computers for weeks now. So beautiful. Some people have a real knack for weaving music into a story – we think that Nora Ephron was wonderful at that, too. The soundtracks for her movies are great!

Back to humdrum for us tomorrow – time to take down the Christmas decorations and begin the long slog through the cold and rainy months here. (Seems like I don’t mind them so much on the run up to Christmas, but afterwards, it seems like such a long time before we can reasonably expect anything fun. And this is with me with several fun trips planned this year!

Delightful scene you paint Julie! And Barbara what is a traditional Southern New Years feast? That sounds like something I am going to have to experience. It may well be that we will be living in the States come next New year, well at least my husband will and we will join a few months later. In preparation we have learnt the position of all states and are working on their capitals. I used to know them because my husband and I did a road trip across the U.S. years ago and made sure we knew them all but I am rusty.

Thanks to people I have got to know in the Bistro, the prospect of the move is a touch less daunting. I will be relying on you all to prepare me for the change.

It is bright and hot down here as the New Year takes hold. A far cry from the snow and chill which I see covers much of the Northern hemisphere. Mind you, we are looking forward to the all of that. I look forward to a few days time when I will be snuggled by a fire sipping a mocha and thinking I am in the Bistro. Much better than sitting in front of a fan though I dare say some of you would swap.

In additional preparation for our move to Washington, we have been bingewatching, one of the words of 2014, The West Wing. I am not sure if there are fans among this crowd but it does remind me of Louise’s heart and writing. Both are filled with a hope and idealism against the struggle of life’s darker moments. They both contain acts which are more stage drama than anything else, where the humanity reaches out and touches you.

West Wing has been criticized for its idealism but in truth ideals are what we strive for. The hope in shows like WW and in books like LPs are what lifts us from our own lives. To imagine that there are better ways to act, better people to be, is what inspires us to be those people and act that way. Hope is never bad. Striving is what makes failing acceptable.

My resolution for the new year is to believe I can be more than I am today.

Anna – I didn’t realize you might be moving to the ‘States! You will be a very welcome addition. The West Wing is one of my favorite shows – written by my very favorite TV writer – Aaron Sorkin! His latest – The Newsroom – was the smartest show I have ever seen – and touched my heart profoundly. He has his finger on the pulse of what’s wrong with the US today – and how those who would fix it need to be idealistic to a ridiculous degree. It was roundly criticized from all sides because we don’t like to be reminded that we could and ought to do better. To my mind, it’s the smartest thing on television. It’s not on TV anymore, though, and I think Mr. Sorkin was so stung by the last round of criticism that he has avowed not to work in television again. His movies are much more critically acclaimed, and, of course, there is much more money to be made in movies. Unfortunately, TV is the medium in which he shone, in my opinion. His movies are “okay” – his TV was groundbreaking! Ah well – if you get a chance to watch The Newsroom, do it. You can practically bingewatch it in a day, as there were only three seasons, the first two 10 episodes long and the third 6 episodes.

I would switch places for someplace a tad warmer than here, but really, I don’t have it very bad here in the Pacific Northwest. We have just had a run of cold, clear days, but cold here means just a few degrees above freezing in the daytime and a few degrees below freezing in the night. The sun has been very welcome, and has helped me to kickstart my resolution to walk every day, rain or shine. As you know, it’s always easier to do that when it shines! 😀

Hope all are well and happy…

Yes, Happy New Year! I can see everyone now – Gabri baking, while nursing a hangover, Ruth rapping her cane on the floor extra hard, as she tries not to spill her vase, which still has some of Clara’s scotch in it, and the fire burning cheerfully, while we wait for our French Toast…. Our group huddles together and TALKS THINGS OVER…

HAPPY NEW YEAR ! A picture of fireworks over the Sydney Opera House is on the front page of the local paper and it is already Jan 2nd there. Must go and cook my part of our traditional Southern New Year’s meal as it is 9:18 AM here.
I pray 2015 will be a better year for all people of good will. I am so glad that 2014 brought us The Bistro.

Merry Christmas to you all and the blessing of whichever season you celebrate. I have been very grateful to travel with you over the last few months. I hope the journey is long.
Peace for the coming year and rest for those who need it.

Merry Christmas! It is 7:14 AM here. I wish the blessings of Christmas for all here in the Bistro and out. You are a special group of peoploe. Just think, last Christmas we didn’t know each other. Memories of Christmasses past fill my mind. I hope everyone has a special day. Good thoughts to all.

6:05 a.m. on the U.S. Pacific Northwest coast. Barbara, I loved that special touch of inclusiveness in your message. Not all fans of LP might visit the Bistro, but we have been much blessed and bound together in heart and spirit by her extraordinary books. She is truly a dear soul and has given us many precious “gifts that cannot be wrapped”.

Thank you all for the kind thoughts and prayers for Mum. She was much better in the last two days so. It is working. Now that is a great gifts for Christmas! Well done

Yes – to everyone, here in the Bistro, and out and about – enjoy a calm and peaceful holiday. I know as I get a little older, I want to do less of the “hustle and bustle” and more of the reflecting on my blessings. I still decorate a tree, but it’s a small one. Every night, last thing, I sit in the darkened room with just the tree lights on and “think a little think”. I love that peaceful, calm. I’ve done this ever since I was really little (only it used to be first thing in the morning, while it was still dark, as I was never the last one up as a child – strict bedtimes!). The glow of the Christmas lights is always something special to me. Something small that I can do no matter how little I manage for the holidays…

May you all be blessed with happiness and togetherness with all your loved ones.

Hi Julie, what lovely thoughts! I love to sit at the end of the day with just the pretty lights on. You thinking a little think made me think of dear Bert Finney doing his sums, i.e. counting his blessings. So far I haven’t got my little tabletop trees decorated, but I’ll get to it and enjoy doing it after all the gifts are wrapped.

We are expecting a major wet storm, heavy rains, and some freezing rain before it warms up, and very high winds. This is now due to start tomorrow night and be with us all day Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. I go to my stepson’s about an hour and a half drive away, and I was talking to him this evening about the impending storm. If it’s too nasty to drive down Christmas Eve after the church service (in the dark, of course), I’ll wait and go Boxing Day when it is expected to be sunny. This will be the first Christmas I have been home in at least the last twelve years. I’ll open up the box with the Peter Robinson book and indulge! I’ve been saving it for Christmas.

Cathryne, I’m so glad to hear your husband is home again with you! I hope you have a special and blessed Christmas.

Sylvia do be safe. I saw there were storms. We are having some right now, although warm wet storms. Don’t drive until it is safe and if you do spend Christmas at home I can think of nothing better than curling up with a new book. Wonderful.

Hopefully we will all meet. It looks as though fate has us headed in the direction of North America in the next 12-24 months to live for a while so a trip to Hovey Manor is definitely on my agenda. A Bistro reunion seems perfect.

Well done Sylvia and thank you for thinking of my Mum. It’s been a bit tough there but everyone’s kindness keeps me going. I am sure you spread amazing good cheer with your shortbread. Put your feet up for a moment please!

Hi Cathryne. Best wishes to you and your husband and extended family. I hope it is a peaceful Christmas and I am glad you have your husband home with you. It is nice to pop in to the bistro and feel the calm. I have my Earl Grey beside me.

Storms are brewing again here again. It will be a wet and warm Christmas. Maybe we will have a white one in a year or too. My daughter is keen as am I!

Thinking of everyone. Take care.

Is everyone okay? Christmas is just around the corner and as wonderful as this time of year can be, it can also be very stressful.

Don’t let anything get too much. Take time to breathe and have a quiet moment. If the family are coming and its a pressure, plan some escape strategies. A walk outside. A long shower. Quiet time for everyone with a cup of tea.

Pop into the Bistro and rant with us if you need an outlet.

Above all remember to enjoy!

Thanks Anna. This time of year does get stressful, but I’m seeing the daylight at the end of the tunnel now! I have my shopping all done and a few days to wrap it all. I just finished baking my last batch of shortbread cookies for the season; I have made 11 batches this year. I make them on separate days because it’s too tiring to make more than batch in a day as I’m on my feet for several hours. But they are so good and everyone I give them to enjoys them so much that it’s worth the stress and tiredness.

I hope you have a wonderful Christmas and that your mother finds some peace and calmness and relaxes over the holidays.

I love your reflection on the lights Julie. What a good idea. There is a beautiful Christmas tree in the corner of this Bistro. The ornaments are antique and intricate, the glow from the fire reflected in each surface.

Take a seat by the fire and sup on the gingerbread nd Christmas cake. Sip your favourite beverage and relax.

Can you smell the pine and and the cinnamon, the chocolate and the ginger? That is scent of Christmas rest among the hustle and bustle.

I wish you all peace

Anna, that is so beautiful!! Yes, I can see it and smell it in my mind’s eye and nose! We really need to figure out a way to get together to meet one another. I’d love to meet in July or August at Hovey Manor in North Hatley, Quebec, as that delightful place was the base for Louise’s Manoir Bellechasse. Oh well, it’s the time of day for relaxing and dreaming sweet dreams!

Thank you, Anna, for your good wishes and wise suggestions. I’m going to make a cup of camomile tea right now! My husband is home from the hospital/skilled nursing facility, to our great relief. The medical staffs did their jobs amazingly well day after day for 4 1/2 weeks. We’re getting great pleasure from the joy of our children and grandchildren during the holidays and celebrating in easy, fun ways ourselves.
It made me smile to read your post. Many times in the last few weeks I have taken myself into the Bistro and felt myself relax with a cup of tea and friends. Thanks to all.

You could give her a photo of them and an IOU and get them on order Sylvia. I would wait for a great gift like the box set so maybe your recipient will. You can get them from Amazon and they probably shouldn’t arrive too long after Christmas! It’s a great thought though.

Thinking of all my new friends around the world. I hope you are safe and well and there are wonderful times surrounding you all.

Anna, after all, I got my friend something else. This year the Nobel Prize for Literature was won by a Canadian short story writer named Alice Munro, and they had a collection of her stories. I had already bought two copies for people, and I thought my friend would enjoy them too. I shall buy the boxed set when I can and have it for her for next year. I haven’t actually asked her if she has read any of Louise’s books, so I had better find out first – she may already have become a devotee just like me! Anyway, I’m all set for now.

Dear friends, did you receive the message that there is now a boxed set of Louise’s first three books? I got the message yesterday, and thought it would be ideal for a particular person on my list. However, the bookstores round here don’t have it in yet, so it will be too late for this Christmas. If I can get all of the first three books, I could get them singly and give them all together, but one bookstore has only the last three books and the other local one has various of the titles, so I may just purchase something else for now and buy the set to hold for next Christmas. Too bad, but I’m sure she’ll enjoy them as she comes from Quebec.

Happy Holidays to all …from our house to yours. With all that’s happening in the world I agree that we need more kindness.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Holidays, or whatever applies to all of you Three Pines friends! And may the spirit that reaches out to people who are hurting or afraid remain with us all throughout the year!

Dear Barbara, you may have to be more direct! I hope you get books too!

I like the information about Hanukkah. It is good to enjoy all the different cultures we are fortunate to be surrounded by.

I tried to shop yesterday for food and fast decided we would be eating what I had in the house as town was a mess! About to take daughter to the orthodontist so hopefully we can park!

Happy times to all!

Happy Hanukkah. A menorah was lit on the Augusta Common last night for the 18th year. Although a minor festival, Hanukkah has come to be celebrated more and more here in the US. Hanukkah trees are decorated by many families in our area although the sentiment, “There is no such thing as an Hanukkah tree” is sometimes heard. Parents say the constant ads featuring Santa and toys made Hebrew children feel left out. The trees decorated in blue and white lights are very pretty. I always enjoy my neighbor’s menorah burning in her living room window.
Must tackle the Mall today. UGH.
I hope Sam gives me books for Christmas. I left a list of books I want where he will come across it.

Thank you everyone for thinking of us.

I must say, the events in Sydney pale in comparison to the school massacre in Pakistan. I am in disbelief at how any group can treat children with such inhumanity.

I send love, prayers and hope for a safe Christmas for you all. You too Paul!

I can only repeat, every act of kindness is important. I am grateful for the amazing kindness shown here in the Bistro. I will endeavor to replicate that in real life every day.

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