LOUISE PENNY’S

The Bistro

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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”

We didn’t get to our hotel until 930 pm and raced to the restaurant for food. Then it was straight to bed. I wish we had more time Nancy as seeing you would have made the delay a joy!!

Anna, I’m sorry we missed you. Maybe next time we can get together for a visit. I used to fly from Sudbury (Northern Ontario) to Pittsburgh to visit my parents in the winter. I always stayed overnight in Toronto so I could see friends for a few hours. It also kept me from missing the next connection if there was a storm. (But really, I loved being able to see my friends.)

I was very sad the opportunity was missed Nancy but the timeline was tight. Catching up with friends is a good reason to stopover and avoiding missed connections is another. We nearly missed the plane home again. Lots of snow in Toronto delayed our flight. Never mind. Home now and very tired.
Thinking of you Nancy and will try to get that way again.

Thanks for the lovely long informative post Julie. I do wNt to do the train trip across Canada. It is on my very long wish list.
Tonight we are spending the evening in Montreal having missed our connection. Hopefully our bags will show up and we can go to our hotel and triple hope there is a food option. Staying calm.

Oh Anna, where are you? Will you have time in the morning before going to airport? We are only about 2 miles from the city center and I’d love to meet you. Is your hotel near the airport (that’s not far from us either)?

Have an uneventful trip, Anna. Are you going to be in DC on January 17th? You’ll have to tell us what it’s like. I imagine just being in the city will be quite strange – lots of protests expected, I think, and lots and lots and lots of security, which I’m afraid will all be needed.

Sharon, welcome to our little corner of the Bistro – we hope you like it, and we haven’t hogged all of the chairs by the fire. Since it’s in our imaginations, we always think that we can ALL have a coveted seat by the fire… Do tell us what it was like growing up in Paris – if there’s ever a city that captures people’s imaginations, that’s it!

Anna – Canada is very large and you’ll never see it all, hahaha – the area Nancy is talking about is often called “The Canadian Shield” and is marked by wild outcroppings of stone that is not seen anywhere else in North America. http://tinyurl.com/hbmp5xn

If you have the time, and feel like it – a great way to “see Canada” is to take the train across the country – it takes 2 weeks, but could be amazing, and will definitely give you the idea of immensity of the country. Canada is the second largest country in the world, second only to Russia (even after the breakup of the USSR). Lake Superior, which we’ve been talking about, is the largest freshwater lake in the world by surface area. The largest and most westerly of the Great Lakes (all of which have been very unimaginatively named), it really is a “great” lake – holding 10% of all the fresh water on earth. It was a really interesting place to grow up. There is still quite a bit of “wilderness” there, as 90% of Canada’s population is strung along the US border, leaving millions of square miles empty and wild and very beautiful. I often used to shake my head at whatever people would have traveled across the sea, and then across the land to come to a place like Winnipeg, and decide “yep – this is the place we’re going to stay”. I just KNOW it was summer when they did, because if it had been winter, they’d have kept on going. By the time you get to Winnipeg, heading west from Ontario, you have left the Canadian Shield right behind you. You are getting to the prairies, which have their own bleak beauty. They continue unimpeded for three large provinces, before you come to the Rocky Mountains, which are very large. Just the other side of that, you have the west coast, which has its own microclimate, and is Canada’s California! There is a lot to see.

Gentle snow is swirling and twirling beyond the airport windows in Quebec. We are about to start heading ‘home’. Haven’t quite spent enough time in the apartment for it to feel completely like home yet but it will. Thinking of you all

How are you managing Nancy? Cleaning out Jason’s apartment can not have been easy. I am keeping you in my thoughts. I am also very grateful that you are sharing this time with us.
I have added the north shore of Lake Superior to my try and see list. Wuite frankly, I could spend months up here in Canada trying to see it all.

Nancy, I am so sorry to hear of your son’s passing. How very difficult it must be. The way you and your husband wrote about him was beautiful and touching, and I felt as though I knew him a little. I grew up on the north shore of Lake Superior (in Thunder Bay, which was then, Port Arthur and Fort William – the town changed names when the two cities joined together). It was always known as “The Lakehead” and why they didn’t name it that, I’ll never know.

Thank you Julie. We just finished cleaning out Jason’s apartment today.

In regard to “Thunder Bay”, didn’t they have a vote to choose the name and “The Lakehead” lost? Seems to me that I heard something like that. We drove through there in 1966. I think that was before the name change.

Nancy – you are right. On both counts – in 1966 it was still the two cities – and there were several “names” we went by – as you might guess,”The Twin Cities” as well as “The Lakehead”. I’m not sure if “Thunder Bay” was the name of the bay we were sitting on or not. I never heard of it before the vote. I was a teenager coming up to the vote, and wasn’t old enough to vote when it came up. What the powers that be did was put both “Lakehead” and “The Lakehead” on the ballot, so they split that vote and got the one they wanted. Certainly, now that we’ve all gotten used to it, “Thunder Bay” sounds more dramatic.

Anna, Thank you so much for sharing your time in Quebec with us. It is fun to think of you seeing the places and doing things we have all thought about.
What a good idea to buy Enterrez vos Morts as a reminder of your visit. Maybe a chance to brush up on French too.
Just the thought of the river churning with ice floes makes me cold, but it must be exciting to see.

I was thinking of all Three Piners in the Bistro as I walked around today, especially you Nancy. It was a little melancholy I must admit.
There was a lot of snow last night and it is slushy today. But the town is pretty as always and I saw some lovely little buildings and could see the town as it might have been in a world before cars and modern things.
We had another maple taffy at the Chateau after I plucked the sheets of ice from a seat so I could sit. The river looks so powerful as it flows by churning with ice. I have seen small ponds with icy coatings but not such a big mass of water freezing. I am fascinated.
I did buy some new boots as my après boots are old and don’t grip so well. I slipped in Whistler last year and cracked my arm and I don’t want to do that again.
I also bought Enterrez vos Morts, Bury Your Dead in French. It seemed the best way to remember my visit.

Oh, Nancy, my heart aches for you and your family. Wisconsin is on the south shore of wild and beautiful Lake Superior, so I understand your son Jason’s wish to rest there forever. Thank you for sharing with us in the Bistro.

Hello Sharon and welcome to the Bistro. I was just looking at Bury Your Dead in French. I read French poorly but I am curious.
Growing up in Paris sounds wonderful. Please tell us a little about it!
Happy New Year

I too started with The Beautiful Mystery which propelled me all the way back to the first book. I purchased all of them and am about to finish How The Light Gets In. Sorry to learn of Peter’s death a bit early! I am totally in love with every character and cannot wait to read all of the books. I am bi-lingual in French and English so the French words are a balm to my soul which misses Paris every day. I grew up there. Thank you LP for your beautiful words. They and you are totally amazing. I’ll look forward to reading all of you Three Piners posts. Thank you very much. And a Happy New Year to all.

Hi, Sharon and welcome as Anna said. In the first few years after college graduation, I read many books and magazines in French. Unfortunately, I got busy with life and dropped them. Now so many decades later I can not read French.
Our posts are about many things and we would love to hear about you growing up in Paris. One wonderful thing about this group, we have very different backgrounds and interests. I think it is proof that LP is an excellent writer, because her writing appeals to such a varied group.

Hi, Sharon, welcome to the Bistro! I’m glad you found us.

I too started with The Beautiful Mystery, as read on the air on Wisconsin Public Radio’s Chapter A Day several years ago. I’m sure they chose it because of the Gregorian chant theme. Our local library had Bury Your Dead so that was next. I loved it, especially the thread about Champlain’s missing grave site, and was able to get the rest in order from Still Life onward. Been doing a re-read now and am up to The Brutal Telling.

This comfy Bistro has been a great place to relax with friends from all over the world.

Nancy, I’m sending you hugs and deep sympathy. Two of my aunts outlived their only children. Hard to deal with. It is comforting to know that Jason lived his life as he wanted and died peacefully.
I wish I knew the words to say to ease the sense of loss and grief you feel, but we both know there are no such words.

It happens a lot that a post appears after I have written which I didn’t see. You are right Millie, a difficult year for so many. But then, I am starting to wonder what an easy year would look like. I think there are few easy times but even in the darkest hours we have to grab moments of peace and pleasure where ever they appear. So hard to do but maybe simplicity and kindness are the best kind of peace and we can be surprised by Joy.

Dear Nancy,
Thank you so much for sharing your son Jason with us. How very challenging the last few weeks must have been for you all, particularly finding Jason. I am thinking of you very much and sending you and your family thoughts and prayers. What you and your husband wrote explains simply, yet captures beautifully, the essence of your son, his life and his passing.
Please accept hugs and heartfelt sympathy. When it is hard and the night is long we will be here in the Bistro ready to hold a hand or just sit, or talk. Xxxxxxx

Thank you, Anna. Yes, it was difficult finding him. That’s not the best memory. But we were fortunate to be able to see him at the crematorium (they weren’t sure that would be possible because of the delay in finding him). The staff had done an amazing job so he looked very peaceful and I’m sure that helped us to say goodbye. This was especially important to his siblings and friend. We could write with markers on the casket/box if we wanted and then my husband read some songs that he felt were appropriate (Go Now in Peace, Be Not Afraid). His brother and friend acted as pallbearers.

Be Not Afraid is a favourite of mine. I find that line running through my head a lot especially when life is hard. It is very Three Pines too….Noli Timere…

Oh Nancy, I’m so sorry for your loss! I had the comment page open for hours typing a sentence at a time so I didn’t see yours till just now. Extra special warm thoughts of peace for you, your husband and your son’s siblings. This has really been a hard year for so many in individual ways. Lots of hugs.

I wrote a nice long post. Really. Guess it was my turn to make one disappear. Only I know what happened. I went back a page to refresh my memory and when I returned… poof, gone. Oh well. And that’s the attitude I’ve stumbled upon in the last few days. “Oh well.” It’s a lot easier for me to deal with the many ‘this year is different’ things that have popped up. Do I like all the extra medical appointments and tests. Of course not. But I’m very grateful that basically I’m OK and my immediate family is doing well and going above and beyond helping me when I can’t do this or that so I’ve decided to just be happy as much as possible.

Some moments are still hard, but I think those may always sneak up on me. Like when I let Mike convince me to go with him to Toys R Us to shop for the grand- daughters. Looking at the assortment of Christmas Stockings I saw one adorned with a soccer ball and net. I pointed it out to Mike and said, “Look, my dad would love it!” Then… I remembered my dad passed away two years ago. Oh, that was a hard moment. I had to stop and take several deep breathes before moving on, but I did it. I got passed the moment and we found the perfect gifts for the little ones.
They were all over yesterday and since my speeds are now turtle or stop, I missed wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and/or Happy Chanukah but I can wish you all a Happy Boxing Day if I don’t delay much longer.

Please know I have loved reading everyone’s messages and I’m grateful to have this warm and cozy space (thank you Paul) when I’ve needed to hide from the real world for a bit with a cup of hot tea. Blessings and warm wishes to all.

Now that Christmas is past I want to explain why our Christmas was not the usual one. My husband wrote most of the following message to our friends which explains all. So this is ..” to inform you all of the passing of our middle son who died in his sleep of a heart attack at age 45. The doctor who came stated that he had been dead for three days when we found him on Friday morning, December 9. We had not heard from him since Tuesday night.

Jason has had heart issues for the past five years, yet had not taken his meds on any regular basis, nor was he willing to change his energetic life style. A truck driver, he was not a church person, yet had a simple and effective faith. He could carry on a conversation with virtually anyone, and was an influence for good with many people he met. ….he had said numerous times that when he died , he did not want a service, and that he wanted to be cremated and have his ashes scattered along the north shore of Lake Superior–a beautiful region where he had lived and traveled through many times while driving truck.”

He had never married and had no children. One brother was not able to be here in time but his other brother and twin sister, along with my husband and I, my best sister/friend and his close trucker friend gathered at the crematorium on December 13 to spend time with him and say our goodbyes. We will go to Northern Ontario next summer to scatter the ashes.

Jason was not happy for many years although he often wore a happy face. He felt that he didn’t belong anywhere and preferred to live his life “full out” rather than restricting it in any way. So we knew this was coming but the reality of his death is still a shock. I had the thought the other day that he actually did what few others can say…he lived the way he wanted to and died in his sleep (he had his earbuds in and had been listening to music) the way he wished. And now he is at peace.

And the wind blows. Gosh…watch the energy drain away when walking in the biting wind. We had to stop frequently to refuel. The first stop was Au Petit Coin Breton for crepes and to admire the different types of winter attire on everyone braving the chilly day. I did try my French but suffice to say I am much better reading than speaking.
Peter had already been for a walk and took us to the Lower town, by the road not the stairs. I am not good on hills and with a cold I get breathless even going down as there is still a bit of ice despite obvious clearing and salting. Must cost the city a lot of money!
The lower town is pretty but the shops are very touristy. We popped into a couple including the sugar cabin. Not sure I appreciate strawberry flavoured maple syrup..I like the regular flavour! We rested by the fire and I caught my breath then we wandered over to see the icy River. I found it spectacular but dangerous!
Unfortunately if one comes down to the lower town and one’s hotel is in the upper town, a climb must ensue and the funicular was not running. Ugh. I made my way slowly up the stairs and found a seat to rest upon. I sent Erin to buy herself popcorn from the popcorn boutique. We many varieties from which to choose she went with plain! We took the hill slowly. I think I would have been okay if my nose wasn’t blocked. At the Chateux we rested but the wind! Erin, who is devoid of fat, was looking miserable.
We opted to head for La Buche cafe and more food. Pete and I went soup and hot chocolate but Erin devoured sausages and eggs as though breakfast, a couple of hours before, had never happened. Back at the hotel we are resting in preparation for dinner at Chez Boulay. It is only a short walk thank goodness as it should be snowing by then.
Pardon any of my mangled French above!
Her is hoping that life settles into comfortable post Christmas routines for all.
I am thinking of you and sending strength Cathryne. If you look to the East and up a bit I am waving from my hotel window. I totally understand when you say you feel vulnerable.

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