The Bistro

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.

3,656 replies on “The Bistro”

That is fantastic Julie. I felt we as a group were in need of a ‘something good’ moment and you have certainly provided it. How lovely that there are beautiful people willing to help despite their own dramas. We all know accepting assistance is difficult but it really does feel nice for those who wish to help. I have heard that giving is “selfish” because it really is easier to give than receive!
I hope your friend finds some answers to her medical issues. Doctors are not good with diverse symptoms that could be a number of things. When you friend has some energy see if she will write her history down starting with when she last felt well. Then put down what happened in order. It can help clarify the picture and it’s much easier to do by yourself in slow time than in a doctors office. The story usually comes out more jumbled with pieces missing because of the time pressure. Once she has the story straight and accurate she can better summaries it to be delivered in clear and concise form. Doctor’s are more apt to pay attention as the patient is direct and knowledgable and you have done the bulk of the work for them.

Something good happened. I actually have had a most wonderful thing happen. I have a friend in England (she and I have been on the same stitching chat group for a long time, and I met her a few years ago when I went to England). Her son is getting married in December, and last January, she decided she was going to make a small stitched item for each couple who attended the wedding.. or each single… and felt that this would be 40 little “somethings”. She decided on a strawberry – like this: http://tinyurl.com/gvnt39c Being January, she was sure she had lots of time, but then she fell ill. She is still very bad – the doctors can’t figure out what it is, but it’s something along the lines of fibromyalgia – lots of debilitating pain, lethargy, and malaise. Some days she can’t get out of bed. Some days are better, but if she’s taking medication, her head is all fuzzy and she can’t concentrate on anything. It’s been a nightmare, and in May, a few of us from the group decided we would help her stitch. Some people stitched one, and a few of us stitched 6 or 7 – and she managed 8. She has 30 now, and needs 4 more, which I am now working on again. But one other “helper” and I began to talk with each other about how the heck all the finishing was going to be done. It’s one thing for us to stitch the pieces and send the flat linen to her, but now, she’s got a huge job to assemble them all! As she just seems to be getting worse and worse, with no help at all from the doctors as to what it might be or how to treat it, other than to take meds for the pain, so I decided I was going to look into hiring a professional finishing service in England (just to see how much it would be). I asked a friend, and never got an answer, so then went to Jane Greenaway’s Cross Stitch Guild page (this is a business, not really a “guild”, but she does have a lot of followers, who pay a membership fee and get some patterns, etc. at special prices.) I asked Jane if she knew of any professional services that she could recommend and she immediately wrote back and said that she didn’t know of any, but could she put my request up on her Facebook page? I said yes, of course, and found all kinds of people emailing me to get more details. One of the first ones, upon hearing the whole story (something I hadn’t wanted to post on a public forum), said she’d get back to me after talking with her friend. Ten minutes later, she wrote again, saying that she and her friend would do it all at no charge. If I really wanted to do something, I could make a donation to her favorite charity, which is Maggie’s Centres (services for cancer patients)! The more we talked about what needed to be done, and I got through all the “are you sure?”‘s, it was all settled. Except, of course, that my friend didn’t know a thing about it. So now I had to talk her into it, because I knew she was still thinking that she could handle it, even though it was easy to see from the sidelines, that she couldn’t pull it off.

But imagine strangers just jumping in like that to do such a huge favor for people. In the end, it’s 34 little strawberries that need to be sewn, stuffed and embellished! A really accomplished needlewoman (like my friend) could do it in about 2 weeks of normal stitching time (that is – not all day every day, but an hour or three most days). These ladies are so lovely and so loving. And come to find out – after I shared my friend’s health story with the one who was doing the writing, she shared that she has cancer, but that she’s lucky because the chemo is only bad for her on the day she does it, so she has one day out of two weeks that she can’t do anything, and she feels so blessed to feel good on the other days, that she wants to do this for someone else in a bad way… I was floored!

I have, finally, convinced my friend that she should do it – up to a point, at least – she is holding back the ones she stitched and wanting to do those because then she can give them to the closest family members and truthfully say that they came from her hands and her heart. Personally, I’d go with the full service, and maybe do some embellishing on them all, and I would feel very much that they all came from my heart and hands… but I know how hard it was to accept help like this at all, so I’m not quibbling.

Now, wasn’t that something good?

Australians are used to long flights to get anywhere so the 9 hour trip to Hawaii is no biggie! Erin needed a destress break before her big exams. We have swum on the beach and done some shopping and she was studying in a hammock a little while ago. Peter has a much longer trip from DC especially as he was delayed in LA…no surprise. He arrives tonight. Haven’t seen him since May so we have a couple of days together. We go back Saturday. It’s wild at home. The entire state of South Australia lost power to n a huge storm last night.
I think it is hard Julie to face the prospect of the consequences of aging. I can understand even more why you want to be a condominium and make life easier. I am in a ‘enjoy every day’ mood right now as the future is always a uncertain place. For right now I hope everyone is ok and something good happens.

Yes, such an understandable thing. I have a little bit of it with my husband, who is 15 years older than I am. At 55 and 40 that didn’t seem such a big thing, but at 82 and 67, it makes us both realize I will probably be alone at some point… we both try not to dwell on it, though I also know that he has worked very hard to make sure that I will be comfortable. Still, it’s something that you think about. I can only imagine how much more difficult it is when you know someone is ill with a terminal disease. She squeezed every ounce of joy out of their time together, though, and that’s something that most of us aren’t smart enough to do…

Anna, you sound like you “just dropped in” to Hawaii – I know it’s somewhat closer to you than North America, but it’s not close… such the island hopper you are! I hope you are enjoying life and the weather is good for you.

Hey all. Just wanted to say hi from Hawaii where the weather is balmy and I am relaxing for a couple of days.
I read Louise’s Facebook today and my heart went out to her. I understand the dread she experienced.

I think you are right, Anna. Michael would be very happy about the discussion. I was thinking about the little things that Louise shared with us about Michael – the little moments like the one Cathryne mentioned, about the buttoning of the sweater. I think one of the last things he was able to verbalize was “I love you, too” during a moment when she was caring for him in some way. She shared how much it moved her because he was becoming more and more unable to speak. Their little world was lovely and I’m sure he was pleased at how gracefully Louise was able to handle everything. I was offline all day yesterday – out with my stitching friends – and so need to go over to look at the discussion page.

There has been some great discussion about the book on the reading group page. I think it is still difficult as we are still processing the passing of Michael. I honestly think he would be very happy that we are discussing and debating AGR. He was so proud of Louise and he must be thrilled for her, not just for her amazing success but for the acceptance of the Three Pines worldview where, as Louise says, the passport for entry is simply kindness.

Anna – I can imagine the myriad of feelings rushing in as you heard this news and being with your mother at the time… knowing you will soon be going away from her, but also that she is on her own journey away from you… Life is short, and seeing someone like Louise live it with such amazing grace (to coin a phrase) is very inspiring. I am in awe of how she can share so much with her fans, and I feel honored to be one of them.

I think we should talk on the other page as well – I hadn’t thought of that – good brain on you, girl!

Thank you for posting the questions Paul. We will get to them. I am sure you are saddened as we are by Michael’s passing but ever more so as they are people in your life. Thinking of you too at this time.

Thanks for the link, Anna. What a nice write-up. How sad for Michael’s family to lose both him and his sister Carol so close together.

Thank you Cathryne. I had no internet all day so sorry for the slow response. Thank you for reminding us of those delightful images of Michael.
I loved what Louise wrote….he gave it all away.

Thanks for the information, Julie. I hadn’t seen the post, the news was shared with Louise’s customary warmth and wisdom and generosity in allowing others to offer their support, and their thanks for being allowed to go along on the journey Michael’s illness included.
I have smiled many times remembering a moment Louise described- as she buttoned Michael’s sweater, he reached out to try to button hers. So sweet and loving.
Anna, I’m sending best thoughts to you and your mom. Hope, too, that your dad is feeling better and seeing better.

I just read Julie’s words. My mouth dropped open and I was shocked. I had no internet at home. I am sitting holding my mothers hand and was quickly catching up on everything. Special poignancy for me in this moment. I have gone quite teary.
Of course we all send our love to Louise. There is nothing else we can give her.

I have just read on Louise’s facebook page that Michael passed away last night. Our Lady of Grief seems very apropos right now.

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