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”

Anna, I didn’t realize that you were already full into drought season, though I know wildfires are a concern for you all every year – just like Southern California here. These are the times I feel I could shake the “powers that be”. We are about to set out on a new agenda with an EPA Director who is in bed with the oil companies. He doesn’t believe the science and thinks the scientists don’t believe it either. With magical thinking like that, how can we go wrong? Do they think these “storms of the century” every year and huge droughts that crack the earth are normal? “Just one of those things”? I have settled into my routine now of seeing what fresh ____ we have to deal with.

What we need are more truth-tellers, and Gwen Ifill is one we couldn’t afford to lose. I grieve for her family, but for us, too.

On a positive note, I’ve been sorting out what to do for myself. I’ve zeroed in on a number of organizations that are fighting the good fight – keeping Planned Parenthood funded, continuing to fight FOR the EPA (even if that will mean fighting AGAINST it in the coming four years), making sure people’s civil rights are defended… I have now a list of organizations to donate to regularly, on a rotating basis. Once a month, I can write a check for the rights of American citizens no matter their sex, gender identity, gay or straight, white or black or purple. I can write a check to countermand whatever new evil Donald Trump brings to bear. And I can work to make sure we are ready in 2020. This can never happen again. I’ve come to the conclusion that the alt-right will soon be disillusioned when they realize that his agenda has more to do with making sure big business doesn’t pay, and a LOT less to do with their welfare.

On Nov. 7th, Mary posted a question on the reading group guide of AGR. I don’t check there often but did see her post later when I did check. Some of you might want to check in. I didn’t have a good idea or answer. As usual, I probably missed something.
A beautiful, cool, sunny fall day here. The air advisory still in place again today though. I rush from houses to car and back. I loved to walk in the woods in the 1950s and ’60s out at the property we owned in the county. The crunch of the leaves was a happy sound.
I feel for people so much closer to the wildfires than we. We gave thanks for the 1/2 inch of rain we had last week, but it was no where near enough to break the drought.
Hope all have a good day.

Thanks for all the wise thoughts; something I love about the bistro is the ability of those who stop by here to surprise me. Just having ideas to process all week, like Millie’s son, has been helpful, just letting your ideas roll around behind my still-so-present anger and feelings of stunned helplessness. At the end of a week, at least I’m able to entertain the idea of keeping my mind open to ways I may be able to help. I don’t have to know how those ways will look, a scary thing to accept.

Julie, you made me smile every day, each time I remembered, “…had no one to bargain with..” Perfect.

I loved the singing of Leonard Cohan’s Hallelujah by the actress portraying Hillary Clinton to begin SNL last weekend, beautifully conceived and carried out.

AND THEN, last night, to complete an astonishingly difficult public week, heartbreaking news. My husband called me to come and look at the tv. I thought, “Oh good, the world’s most _____________ bridge.” I told myself to be nice and went to see what he was so surprised about. And he was right to call me. Letters crawling under the other news announced that our wonderful journalist and amazing citizen Gwen Ifill had died. She’s someone we can try to emulate in these coming times.

Best thoughts to all.

Cathryne, we were shocked and saddened by the news of Gwen’s death at 61 also. I hadn’t known she was ill. We stopped watching over-the-air tv several years ago with the digital conversion and we didn’t have a good enough directional antenna. Gwen and the Friday evening PBS news shows were one thing we missed, as well as the Sunday morning news shows. It’s been a sad month for us all around.

You and Millie are being very inspirational Julie. So easy for the bad to drown out the good. Thank you both for reminding me that while hate shouts loudly and is overwhelming, goodness carries on quietly and efficiently beneath its notice. Goodness doesn’t need to get rowdy…just ever more present.

I’m processing things now. I think that we need to not give up hope. Millie – what an inspiration you are to me this morning. Sometime during the afternoon yesterday, the depression started to slowly lift (I was sure it wouldn’t last long, as I’m normally a cheerful and upbeat person). As I have been reading things written by other thoughtful people I admire, I realize that we will need to be ready in the coming years to fight for what we believe in. I mean, of course, to do what we can to let our voices be heard, to not allow poor women and children suffer from not having health care, to uphold our vision of the America we want to be. I’m not sure how to do this just yet, but there will always be someone who can show me the way. This is a setback, but we got here once – we know the way, we can get back to here and then commence our travels forward.

Paul and I are both in shock too. Wish we could move to Cape Breton Island since we like it up there, but we’re not rich enough. Wisconsin, you let us all down.

Hi Barbara. My youngest son read a few of the posts and when he finished reading mine said, “That’s really nice but I need to process this for a while.” He’s very much afraid that we may enter ‘another ill conceived war where more of my friends die’. So I do understand there is much anger and fear. I’m not sure how I came out of all I was feeling when I gave up on TV watching and just went to bed last night and woke up feeling grateful no one had bombed us, we still had a home… Maybe I’m just feeling resigned to the ‘now’, but that nothing lasts forever? I’m not sure. I am sure that everyone is entitled to their feelings. I echo Barbara’s sentiment: Love and peace to all.

Hi Cathryn, nice to hear from you. Stay calm
I have Louise and the wonderful folks at The Bistro to thank for inspiring me to put into action in communications among family members the importance of being aware of the words we use or think which then informs our actions and our feelings. I’m remembering how often we have spoken about how we don’t care for change when it comes as a surprise but also dear Louise through Gamache telling us over and over that ‘life is change’! So let us not be fearful or depressed or too overconfident, but hold our heads high and become individual beacons of ‘a place where kindness exists’. This country has so much work to do to become a ‘more perfect union’. Actually the entire world needs to be ‘surprised by joy’. What better place to start than in our hearts, our home, our family and our friends and neighbors.

Seems we are faced with a collective fear of ‘what’s next’? I firmly believe it’s whatever we want it to be in our hearts. I personally want to follow in Michael’s footsteps and be ‘the happiest person in the room’. I’m sure there will be many times I fail, but every success in showing compassion instead of judgement, and so on, will be a tremendous victory that will leave me surprised by joy.
Wishing all rembember “all shall be well”.

I can’t imagine what DC people are feeling today. I’m having a lot of trouble figuring out how I’m feeling. Terrified, certainly. I think I’ve gone through Denial, missed Anger, had no-one to Bargain with and went straight to Depression, where I’ll probably make a nest.

Friends, I’m feeling in shock. Hope you are all well. Right now I’m trying to focus on Louise’s advice, deep breath in, deep breath out. Love to all.

Pete has booked a hotel in Quebec for a few days across Christmas. I shall look and see if the Bury Your Dead tour is available but otherwise it will just be wandering the Old Town and eating in cafes and that sounds fine. Canada looks like the place to be.

Oh, Anna – Quebec would be wonderful! You could do the Quebec CityBury Your Dead tour – or even visit the Eastern Townships to get a “feel” for Three Pines. You could even go to the Brome Lake Bookstore!!!!! Get your fill of licorice pipes! Or tool around Montreal which is supposedly, a very European city, very sophisticated! Wherever you are, there will be some wonderful memories made in your first North American Christmas, I’m sure! I have a secret vision of your Christmas tree in a darkened room, in front of a window, and as we look out the window, we see the Capitol all lit up in the background… I realize you likely don’t have quite that iconic a view, but this is MY dream, hahaha.

Barbara – I have struggled with mac and cheese – it’s never cheesy and creamy enough, and the macaroni always seems to come out crispy, not like I want at all. I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to totally cook the sauce, and macaroni first and then maybe just pop it under the broiler to crisp up some buttered breadcrumbs on top. I don’t know how or why I’ve become so “domesticated” lately – if you knew me at any other stage in my life, you’d know that I always railed against the normal “woman’s place” and here I am now, still obsessed with pies and baking bread and cakes… I blame Jane Austen. Through her, I found that History of Royal Food course online, which took me to pastry in the first week. It was all downhill (or uphill, depending on your perspective) from there! Bread is my latest obsession, and I’m getting ready to start going on it…

Hi, There is no real recipe for the mac and cheese we make. I’ll try to remember to measure when I can make it again. Ours has milk, eggs, cooked elbow mac and lots of very sharp cheddar cheese plus salt and pepper. Be glad when I can eat it again.
Anna, Quebec in winter ! That sounds thrilling. I’ve been thinking of how great to take your time and visit all the sites in and around DC. Not having a tour group schedule to keep to would be great.

Thanks Julie. We were talking Christmas trees and decorations yesterday. Erin is very much into decorating and is excited to have a chance to get Christmas paraphernalia…I believe Christmas jumpers and Pyjamas were mentioned! I am thinking of keeping it more low key but could be over-ruled. Also thinking of going to Quebec for Christmas to try and have a white one.

Oh, you’ll be in plenty of time for Christmas! I hope the city puts on its finest for you. And you can make finding the perfect Christmas tree and decorations your first task when you get there – fun!

Poor lizard – er – dog… the critters keep you guessing sometimes. I’m sorry it was such a hard day for your mom. All you can do is keep on keepin’ on.

Arrive same day we leave Julie thanks to old International Date line, Dec 9.
Summer arrived all of a sudden today. Very warm and a beautiful sky. Took Uncle and cousins to see mum. Not easy. She was not in the mood unfortunately. Saw Dad and then brought them home for lunch. It has been a big day.
Dog decided to go all attack dog and tried to take out the big blue tongued lizard outside the back door. The dog wasn’t actually winning. The lizard was over a foot long mind you and fierce. Rescued both of them.
I don’t have any other exciting news. I am hoping Barbara that the freezer is functioning and the home renovation circus is going well. Keep juggling!
How is everyone? Is it getting cold yet Peg? Cathryne are you ok? Millie? Nancy?

When do you actually fly out, Anna? It must be getting soon… (okay, that’s not really a phrase, but you know what I mean).

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