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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.

3,650 replies on “The Bistro”

“Life rafts”. I ran into the family room and told sister about it. We both think you are very clever to have thought of it. Carol and I would have been so busy being upset about the situation we would have never have thought of making the boxes a part of the decoration for the tea party. That is the best “when life hands you lemons, make lemonade.” stories I have ever heard. You have given me a Life Lesson for today. I’m going to try to remember your story when the mess gets to me. Thanks.

Pete will be there at the back end of the week, from Wednesday for a couple of days. A submarine is being decommissioned. There is a story behind it that links to Australia from WW2. Have to get Pete to tell me again as we were both a bit distracted. His computer died so he has spent today getting a new one. Sound familiar Barbara. Great story about the boxes Julie. You are so clever!
I just sold more furniture and am discovering all sorts of household hacks. Cleaning old stickers from Erin’s desk with WD40. It isn’t perfect but it helps. Lucky I like the smell.
Spoken to Dad twice. My brother on his way in. Nice for me not to have to do the hospital run for a change but I do miss him. Off for a coffee with a friend and to see mum. Then more cleaning up. I also manage to sort a bunch of financial stuff. No wonder I am tired!

Hahaha – Barbara, I love that you can decipher the coded message (though they’re mostly pretty easy, aren’t they? “Please come home and feed me”… just about covers it for Vern, I think! I, too, am making a mental note to not throw flour – I can’t even imagine the mess! As for your vanities in the living room – no worries – you’d have a long way to go to beat my story on that. I had wanted to turn one of our bedrooms into a dressing room/closet, and have the adjoining room be our bedroom. It had originally been built, I think, to have the room I wanted for the closet as the master bedroom and the room we now sleep in as a nursery, as there’s not much room in there for much more than a bed. So, I’d bought a couple of big closet organizers from Costco online and had them delivered. We got them into the living room, and left them there until it was time to do the work. Well, I think you know what happened – they were there for 3 years!!!! I had a tea party for the 100th anniversary of the Titanic, and had lots of cute little things like a menu card from the Titanic, and tickets for first class, etc. So I just put great big stickers on the boxes in the living room that said “Life Rafts – don’t bother to open”. I knew I couldn’t hide them (they were way too heavy to move except to open the boxes and take things upstairs one little bit at a time, and we had no place to put them up there, so they really did have to stay where they were). Luckily, people thought I’d put them there just for the tea party, hahahaha.

E.E.E. sounds about right, Anna – and while it’s not a word, it IS a sound you make when you feel that way! I am glad that your dad is improving. I’m sure it’s worrying to know it’s a stroke, but it seems to be one that he can recover from, and that is wonderful news! Meanwhile, the Bistro is here, and isn’t that lovely? I, too, am very grateful to Paul and Louise for this safe haven – or should I say heaven? Either way…

Anna, what is Pete doing here in WA? And where will he be? Depending on that, he might not find it any cooler here. We had 95 here in our neighborhood, though the official Seattle temp was just 91 I think. Today, however, we are expecting maybe 75 which is such a relief. But it’s expected to start heading back up to 90 later this week. And on the eastern side of the state, it will hover around 100 the whole time! Once you cross the Cascade mountains, you get no help from the ocean in moderating temperatures. In the “other Washington” as we say, you will get all the seasons, so it will likely start to cool a bit in September, and be freezing and perhaps too much snow by December. That’s the kind of weather that builds character, hahaha. I hope he will be somewhere very pleasant while he’s in our neck of the woods, and doing something fun. If he can’t have that, then maybe at least something productive.

Hi, Julie. I’m looking forward to AGR too. With each book I promise to limit my reading to make it last longer. Each time I rush ahead to the end. The books are so good I can’t control my reading. Much like me with the foods I really like.. Oh wait, that includes most foods.
I loved the Scissors Frog. How darling and still useful. I arranged many flowers using those frogs in a clear glass bowl with fluted glass around the center of the bowl. Hydrangeas were a favorite of mine for them.
Must go. Sam called and said Petey was looking for me as I am usually home much earlier on Sun. That is his way of saying Please come home and feed me.

Anna, didn’t expext to find you here due to time difference. It’s Sun afternoon now. I am still at sister’s and wrote two posts and then went to watch TV and then the Church service. I came back to see if anyone had posted and surprise.
Had a laugh at “if they can find us”.
So far this area has had no flooding or fire. A friend of sister’s in Miss. went to LA to help his parents, age 90, when their home was threatened and then flooded. He saved some of their belongings and was there with them in the shelter until his sister came and took them back to Miss with her. Friends came this weekend and helped get out some things he had managed to get upstairs even there was no more room in the truck. He and his friends knew to rent trucks in Miss as there would be none available in LA.
Will welcome Fall with open arms. Heat Index 105 expected today. I’ll ge3t in my car in Carol’s carport, put on AC and go from my carport into cool house. Only way I can be outside. The dreadful humidity makes it hard to breath. I know Peter will enjoy a break from the heat when in Washington State.
Thinking of you.

Oh dear Barbara…..flour?! Gosh what a dust cloud. Note to self…don’t throw flour. I have been very restrained and managed not to break anything…at least not on purpose.
Dad staying in hospital a bit longer. Moved to high dependency as stroke has been confirmed. He is ok but a bit anxious once the S word was spoken.
I have thrown my energies into trying to tidy up. Made a bit of progress and did the tax file but have been struck by the dreaded lurgy. Tired but can’t sleep so made some toast and headed here. So nice to find you by the fire Barbara! Thank you for the kind thoughts. Mum not fabulous but loves it when I take her muffins from a local cafe. They seem to calm her. They are calorific; full of butter and chocolate and healthy blueberries. She can use the calories.
Don’t worry about the boxed vanities or the mess Barbara. I have a sofa in the front hall and boxes everywhere! People will just have to take us as they find us…if they can find us under the piles! Very exciting to know the new computer will arrive before AGR! Much to look forward to.
Was just chatting to Pete…before the toast…and he was saying it is still warm but the end of summer is not far away, at least as far Labor Day being just around the corner. I think he will appreciate a breath of cool air. He is headed to Washington State this week so keep your eyes out Julie.
Hope all are well. I a very grateful to have you as friends!

Cathryne, every time I log into the Bistro, I see the first post. It is yours and you posted on Oct. 6, 2014. Can you believe this site has been here that long. We had already done the rereads and the discussion of TLWH, I think. In a way it seems longer ago. We seem to have come so far together. Bless Paul for this wonderful gift of the Bistro and giving me the opportunity to get to know some very special people. Thanks to LP, too.

Anna, I was so sorry to read about your Dad. Brings back the sense of panic I felt at times with my Dad. Wonderful news that his vision is improving.
Once when when I was extremely frustrated, before I had medication for bipolar, I threw an unopened bag of flour from the kitchen through the den into a wall. Normally, I wouldn’t have had the strength to throw 5lbs that far. The bag hit the wall and burst open. Flour everywhere. Sam had push me to the breaking point and I broke. I do not advise throwing flour. What a mess !
I have been enjoying reading all the posts, even if I haven’t been joining in. The new computer will come this week or the next. Then we will have the Geek Squad come and set it up. I will probably be with it for hours before I’ll be willing to leave it. Sam will just have to wait. I check his emails anyway and take out those he considers trash and tell him of any he needs to reply to or read.
I loved reading about the good experiences you have been enjoying. Your friend who went on the shopping trip sounds wonderful. Just what I have always needed. When I was out and about with some of our more elite citizens, I tried to watch what they wore and take hints from them. But I must say, I have always tended to wear what I liked and not what the “in” style was.
Got a laugh out of you selling the bookcase before the books. I’m still in the planning stages of offering some things for sale.
NO progress on the bathrooms redo. I now have two boxed bathroom vanities in my living room. Oh well, everyone comes to the carport door anyway.
The only problem there is that they step into the kitchen/family room area which can be messy.
I so admire how well you are handling everything. Congrats on asking for help when needed. It takes a smart, confident person to know when to do that.
Good thoughts to you and prayers for your Dad. Hope your Mother is doing well.

Not sure I meet all the F.I.N.E. More E.E.E. But that isn’t a word. Emotional, exhausted and exasperated! Dad has been scanned and prodded and will probably come back to the Nursing Home tomorrow. Probably small stroke as eyesight affected on both sides. Getting better fortunately.
I had great plans to do the re read but all reading and writing has been on hold while I sort the house etc. I could throw dishes but like the rest of you I am too practical knowing I am the bunny on clean up duty. Perhaps people who smash dishes have maids.
Right, gather strength to face the day.

Oh, Anna, it sounds as if you are F.I.N.E.!!!!! I’m glad you have the tea and the chocolate cake – that will help a lot. And all love of everyone here in the Bistro. It must be so scary not knowing what’s happening/going to happen with your dad’s vision… I’d be ready to throw things too. Like Cathryne, though, I’ve always kind of wanted to throw dishes and vases, etc. to vent my anger, but more than not being willing to clean up (which I’m not), I’d the be the one in a million who has glass shards come up and hit her somewhere really important, like the jugular! I’m just that clumsy, hahaha.

Cathryne – you are exactly right – the delicious re-reads! I’ve kept meaning to go right back to number one and read through this year, but I think I really might do it next year. (I always have some big reason why next year, I won’t be as busy as this year, hahahaha. – You’d think by this time I’d have figured out how this works, but NOOOO – I still think next year I’ll have time to reread them all! – That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!)

Oh Cathryne. I do feel so much better for reading your post and all the comforts of the Bistro. Thank you. As a result of asking for help I have just returned from putting dad in an ambulance for a trip to the Eye Hospital in the city. My brother will meet him there. Fingers crossed it is all a false alarm.
I have chocolate, tea and am flopped on the couch fielding phone calls while watching Jungle Book with Erin.
Love to all.

Anna, I’m so sorry to hear about your troubles. It must feel like a new fire lurks around every corner right now. Breathe deeply and thank Erin for saving your computer! Clever girl.
I’ve always thought it would be satisfying to throw and just shatter a few dishes in fury, but I’ve never been willing to clean up the mess!
Now that you’ve virtually screamed, which has the advantage of not hurting your throat, relax by the fire with a big cup of camomile tea and licorice pipes. And chocolate cake. Let Gabri pat you arm as he sits on one side and let Rosa climb onto your lap from Ruth, who is sleeping on your other side. There. Remember that, “All shall be well and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well.” Which is good because all manner of things are throwing themselves at you right now. The bistro won’t fix the misbehaving computer site or your dad’s vision, but I hope it will give you some peace and renewed focus. You were smart to come and “collapse by the fire.”
Sending hugs and best thoughts. Don’t forget to reach out and ask for help when and where you can.

I will try and savour but will probably dash through the Kindle and then I can reread the copy Peter brings me when we meet in September in Hawaii!!
I am going to have a little vent….arrrrrggggghhhhhh. There, that feels better. It has been a really tough few days friends. Erin took my computer away before I threw it when a government website completely failed to do as it was told. I was trying to sort things for my parents. Then it has been stressful rearranging and dismantling the house. We are feeling a bit discombobulated. Not to mention juggling being available here to sell things and dad going virtually blind today. He was going well after having his lens layered and now he can’t see. He is panicked and I have been at the home on and off for much of the day.
Thank you for listening. I just needed to collapse by the fire and have a good old explosion of feeling!

Absolutely Peg. I couldn’t agree more and today I sold two bookshelves, a recliner and two mattresses. Well, a friend did. She does this all the time and has organised the sales online. Still it means I have stuff strewn everywhere that was on the book case as I wasn’t quite ready for it.
I think you are very sensible using the library. After trying to decluttering books take up a lot of space but I will never have fewer than the hundreds that still remain!
Erin has survived exams. 25 school days remaining then two and half weeks break before the final hurdle begins. The state exams are spread over a three and a bit weeks. We won’t know ourselves.

Hi, Anna -sounds like you are making headway with the packing up process – slow but sure wins the race! I’m going Kindle – it’s my preferred way to have books, really, because then I can carry all my books with me wherever I go, hahaha. I had bought all the books in paperback up until the Beautiful Mystery, but then I went back and bought them again for my kindle. I agree, though, Peg, reading on a pc wouldn’t be good. And of course, there are those who really want the tactile experience that book gives, and you can’t get that with a sleek piece of electronics, hahaha. I will be trying very hard to read slowly, Anna. But as usual, as we get closer to the climax, I expect I’ll read the last bit of it all in one go. And then the long wait starts again…

Just want to say hi everyone not long now. How are we all getting our books? Hard copy or electronics? I am having a copy downloaded on my Kindle and Peter will get my hard copy at the book launch. It is hard to wait. The next decision is how to read it. That shouldn’t be hard but the compulsion is to devour and the logic is to nibble and make it last longer!
Been busy here doing more organizing for possible sale or rent. Moved a bookcase yesterday with a friend and nearly collapsed it was so heavy. Handy use of Erin’s old scooter came into play. Much of the tidying isn’t visible because it is taking things out of cupboards. Three big bags went to the charity donation bin and you wouldn’t even know.
Hope all are well and safe from flood and fire!

Don’t forget, Anna, every bag gone now is one less for later.

I always use the public library for fiction, saving new book purchases for technical ones. We do buy used hardcovers and paperbacks at the library’s annual book sale. I am first in line on the list every year for Louise’s books. Kindle for PC is okay but just not a real book reading experience for me, and Paul won’t even try it.

Has Erin survived her exam ordeal okay?

50! Now, THAT’S hot! Oh my – you will, of course, have to get used to thinking of temperatures in Fahrenheit, Anna. When I was little, Canada used the same weights and measures as the US, but when I was a young adult, we switched to metric and Celsius, which took some time to adjust to. I guarded my old measuring cups and spoons carefully, because all my recipes were NOT in metric, hahaha. I still find it odd to see people on the Great British Baking Show weighing their flour rather than putting it in measuring cups. But I was actually surprised at how fast we all learned the new systems, and then when I moved to the US, I had to “re-learn” the old way again. Of course, in Winnipeg, it wasn’t that big a deal – forty below is forty below in both F and C!

It’s a very surprising sign of the times when you have to hope that none of your friends has been washed away in a flood or caught up in riots… Sad that I couldn’t say “I don’t know why she’d say that!”

I love thinking of you with your new clothes and photo-book of outfits. Perfect help for you just when you needed it! There are a great many things that I have always done a certain way, and now with the internet, find out that there is a better way to do almost everything! “Life Hacks” they are usually called, and they’re just a lot of brilliant, little ideas that can make your life so much easier! As you talked about the photo book, I remembered about “Packing cubes” which is such a brilliant idea – if I thought I were going to be traveling much any more, I’d totally buy these to have – they can also keep your drawers organized and what is for some people really important, lets you put your clothes in a hotel bureau drawer without coming in contact with the drawer (some people are worried about bugs and germs – I have always unpacked into the drawers and closets in hotels if I’m there for a few days, because it’s just easier to find what I’m looking for without crumpling up everything else in my suitcase)… How is it some people have been living their lives so well organized and ordered? It’s not me, but I see the brilliance of it, hahaha. For those who haven’t seen them before – this explains it all:

Of course, the one thing I still would love to have is this that I first saw Sheldon using on The Big Bang Theory: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Twh-oF6VHUo

Thank you Cathryne! You are totally correct. Lots of time to make it my own. I was very good and dressed up a bit for my coffee date this morning. I also found the last item my friend wanted in my wardrobe, wide leg pants and they were on special. Love the idea of having someone put it all together and packed ready to go. I do need a Lise….who doesn’t! I will be satisfied with my photo book of outfits that we made and following through on those ideas.
I forgot about the badges. I would love to go to the Bookstore and buy them in person. Soon! It won’t be long until Peter goes to the book launch. I am so excited for him. Let’s hope the weather cools a bit first. The temperatures are unbelievable in the US at the moment. Although it was 50 Celsius in Dubai so it could be worse!
Thank you for your love and support Cathryne. I do hope things are going well for you.

Anna, it’s not at all surprising that you woke with some confidence “dribbled away”! There was so much to take in and process, but the great thing is that you have plenty of time to make it all yours by trying the ideas ahead of time, at home and here and there before you leave for Washington D. C. Surprise your mom or dad or friends occasionally with a dressed up Anna so it all begins to feel comfortable and more natural. They will love it!

A wonderful young friend had a similar experience with her mom in your friend’s role. This young woman is a wife, mother, and PhD with an exciting job involving travel to special places, as well as local presentations and meetings at events. Her mom coordinated all her outfits with shoes, scarves, jewelry, jackets, whatever appropriate, even bagged for packing. It was a huge help. We need our friends and family to help us in so many ways. “We Are Our Mother’s Daughters,” as Cokie Roberts reminded us in her book, a favorite of mine. You are and have been much too busy and under too much pressure for so long. You needed and deserved a friend to help you navigate the princess part of the overwhelming things you have to do before you leave. Also, the darling electrician and lovely handyman, you needed them too!

I keep thinking how smart and fortunate Louise Penny is to have her “My Assistant Lise” (MAL) and her assistant’s husband, as well as friends and family. Otherwise, she couldn’t complete her books for us to enjoy.

Hugs to all in the bistro, a place that gives me joy and peace and smiles and laughs when I need them!

By the way, I keep forgetting to say that I ordered Three Pines pins from Knowlton Bookstore right after Louise’s announcement about their availability. They came right away, with a licorice pipe again, of course, just as delicious as the first time! A pin for me and a pin for my sister-in-law. They are so pretty, small, simple, just right.

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