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”

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.

I was treated like a Princess Julie but it was more than what to buy, it was how to wear it. I learnt about layering and scarf tying and what shoes to were with what. When we came home, after a lie down on the couch and a restorative cup of tea, I had to do it all again while the girls gave approval and my friend took photos and offered further instruction. I woke the next day and my confidence had dribbled away but she was back at me to do it right and I think I have the hang of it. At the very least you shouldn’t have to be embaressed if you see me snapped in the society pages!
I do have lovely friends and it was all highly fortuitous but most of my friends seem to live a long way away!
I do hope all is well Cathryne and Barbara and Julie and Mille and Nancy and Peg and everyone. No floods where any of you are or riots?! Maybe everything will settle when the hot summer and the elections are done. Sending love

Anna, what a wonderful friend and what perfect timing. “Wardrobe reenforcements,” check! Mirrors are great, but not the same as a friend to stand back and watch you move in the clothes. I hope you felt like a queen! Have you given a fashion show at home yet? All part of the fun!
I love the idea of going to lunch, resting feet and mind from the hard work, and returning for your packages of treasure. It must be fun for you and your friend to share motherly pleasures and worries, with daughters so close in age and with such a long friendship.
Of course you bought a lottery ticket!
“…there is goodness in the world when you least expect it.” Yes, all part of why Louise Penny’s books resonate with us over and over. Surprised by Joy, indeed.

Thinking about everyone and hoping all is well. Thank you, Anna, for sharing your story!!

Oh, I love “princess” stories – where you get to be the princess and people just jump up and help you find/get/do just what’s needed! The shopping day sounds like heaven. I didn’t stop to think about what kind of wardrobe you’d need in Washington, but your friend was right – it won’t be the same as what you need for daughter/mother caring, hahaha. I’m glad you had such great help and a good time!

I hope all are well and getting very excited for the end of the month.
Having a lovely weekend here. Cool but glorious sunshine. A friend and her girls are visiting from Dubai. First thing she did is bundle me off to the shops Nd completely updTe my wardrobe for DC. She was very worried about what I would be wearing. Me too I must say. Oddly, ten years of being a mother and daughter carer doesn’t quite equip you, wardrobe wise, for the diplomatic circuit. Are you sure I can’t find black tie pyjamas??
We found a lovely lady in a favourite store and she and my friend were amazing. I didn’t have to do anything except change clothes constantly and walk up and down. Mind you, that was exhausting enough. I was quite done in at the end but the assistant packed all my purchases while we went to lunch and was just so delightful. More lovely people! My stars must be in the right alignment this week so I bought a lotto ticket. Need to pay for the clothes.
My friend and I were pregnant at the same time many long years ago and she used to make my dinner every night and drop it around as I was so ill with ‘morning sickness’. Our daughters are two. Months Apart in age and she has a girl two years older. The girls have always got on well together even though they have only seen each other half a dozen times since my friend moved to Dubai 11 years ago.
I do hope everyone is having a similarly wonderful weekend. If not, can I just assure you that there is goodness in the world when you least expect it.

I am using the Cambridge Latin Course which is pretty easy so far. It is designed for High school students. I am awfully glad I didn’t have to learn English as a second language. The rules are clearer in Latin. I do like knowing the roots of words and so many come from Latin that it makes it easy.
So glad the story about the toilets was just a dream. Made me laugh and laugh.
Meet more nice people today and the ophthalmologist was good to Dad.

“…but I am learning Latin…” she tosses off! Oh, yeah, and in my spare time, I’ve been working on Lithuanian frog singing, hahahaha. Latin is a devilishly hard language to learn – I had to take two years of it in high school, and here’s what I remember: “amo, amas, amat, amamus, amatis, amant” and “Latin is a language, dead as dead can be/ First it killed the Romans, and now it’s killing me!” Both of these things we were told by our teacher on the first day of class is all that we would remember, so of course, that’s all I figured I needed to remember, hahahaha.

Glad to hear that things are coming along with getting things done around the house, Anna. I’ve been wondering about your reno’s too, Barbara – I hope they are all done now and you are happy with a gleaming new bathroom! (I dreamt last night that Vern removed both the toilets from the house to work on them, simultaneously, leaving me with nothing. Apparently, he figured he’d get them both fixed and returned before I woke up! Fooled him!)

I seem to be behind on my Nature of the Feast – just as I found the Mousse, up comes the salsa from TNOTB, so I lost a step there, somewhere. Yet, I know it means we are closer than I thought to A Great Reckoning, so I’m happy!

Glad all is well Julie. I like to think it is a reasonably happy week for all. After the nice electrician on Monday…haven’t seen the bill yet so still glowing there….had a lovely older handyman yesterday and today who fixed some annoying stuff. He put me on to a painter who is coming tomorrow or the next day. No joy getting a builder. Might have to work around that. The book buyer is coming Friday. I will be strong…both if she wants my books and if she doesn’t! Can I bear rejection.
How are your renovations Barbara? They are tricky beasties.
Did I tell you Pete finally leased a car? Took a while to get his social security number and he finally got it the day before he left for Harvard for two weeks! He does like it though.
Beautiful day here…warmish and sunny but the wind is picking up and there is a cold front due.
Might re read TNOB but I am learning Latin so that has been taking some time….as well as writing. Where do people find the time!

Right as rain today, so I think it must have more likely been my tummy suggesting that perhaps eating every meal in a restaurant is just not the best thing for me, hahaha. Have settled in – working on a few needlework projects again, now that I can see well again, and just really taking things easy. I lead a discussion on “Emma” this Sunday with the Jane Austen group, which should be fun, and am now happily re-reading some chapters of that book, as well.. Not too long to wait now for Louise’s next! I’ve been enjoying the Nature of the Feast – the mousse looks very good, which was from The Long Way Home – and then I guess we will get one from The Nature of the Beast, and it will be time to start the next read… can’t wait!

Hi Nancy. Always lovely to see you.
Sorry you were feeling off Julie. Hope all is well now.
I always feel lovely when I see any sort of kindness. It is a light in the darkness.
Erin is doing well. Just a few more results to change me in and then we will know how she is placed. School ranking affects how they go in the external exams!

Anna – such a nice story about the electrician – what a lovely person! Yes, that’s just the kind of thing that can totally make someone’s day! And great news about Erin and the results she has had so far! I am so very happy to be home. I got sick last night with a kind of flu feeling, though I’m better this morning. It meant that a bunch of things I meant to do yesterday didn’t get done, and we have the cleaning people arriving today, so this morning I was running around doing things – if we have the house nice and tidy, they can do the deep cleaning that we need done for us, and after cleaning day, I am always so happy. It’s nice to have the house all clean for the next little while… about halfway through the two weeks between appointments, we start getting careless again, but not so bad that it’s a huge chore to tidy up again. This morning was a little worse than normal, as hubby was home alone for 4 days, and you know men – they live like bears with furniture if women are not around. (I love that line – I can’t take credit for it, though – Rita Rudner said it first).

So glad you had a good time Julie even if it sounds as though there were some dramas. It is always good to be appreciated for making an effort but sad they are disbanding. I do like your gift. I think we should all have handlers or butlers! Someone dedicated to ensuring we get through the day unscathed.
I had a good day today because people were kind. It is amazing how powerful a small kindness can be, really uplifting. The electrician came to help me with my lights and the insinkerator. I needed a new sensor for the outdoor sensor light and the ones his film carried were four times the cost of the ones at the store but I had a friend coming by with a sore back and ai was reluctant to leave so I was going to bite the bullet and pay the extra. He wouldn’t hear of it and went to the store and bought it. It made my day that he would be so helpful. My friend arrived with her shoe laces undone because she couldn’t bend down to do them up. Fixed that, gave her a hot pack and a TENS machine and two cups of tea and she was much better. Turns out the electrician served on a ship with my husband and he was a butler for a while!!
The day continued well. Mum was teary at first and then became quite funny. That was lovely. The lady in the grocery store was kind and Erin was second in physics and one of her maths classes. She passed the first English paper but apparently many didn’t so we are happy with that. Fingers crossed for the rest. Hopefully the world will continue to shine happily this week.

Anna, it was so nice to read about your good day. It’s so important to dwell on the good things and keep that focus when the other threatens to overwhelm us. Thank you!

Hi, all – Anna, I’m so glad Erin survived! Sounds like you both did – though you will need to start training now for the October exams! Chocolate and pie will both help! Utah was fun, but a trip also to be just barely survived! I’m lucky I got there at all, and again, lucky I got home. Two long stories that make me look like a complete idiot, and not to be let out on my own, without a handler… Suffice to say that air conditioning was the least of my worries, and all’s well that ends well, hahaha. In fact, Linda was very considerate of my needs, and I was very comfortable. Phew!

We were doing classes, which were fun, and my part went very well. The guild is disbanded now – this was their very last event, so it was bittersweet. Wonderful to see everyone, and sad to know that I won’t be back for more. They gifted me, and the two other teachers for the weekend with lovely “scissors frogs” – they take the old glass flower frogs you can find in most antique stores, and put them in another vintage piece of glassware (in my case a shallow parfait cup of pink depression glass). The idea is you put your embroidery scissors in the holes to display them. Here is a picture of what I mean:
I felt very honored to be considered part of the teaching group, as my presentation was more something that would be offered at a regular meeting as just a program, not a bespoke class for embroidery. But it made me feel so nice to be appreciated by the group for coming.

My next little while is pretty quiet, and I’m glad, as I need a bit of time to recover now that I’m home again, home again, jiggety-jig.

Any thoughts about a new computer for you Barbara? With the new LP available in a just a couple of weeks you will need to have one so we can all chat! Erin and I still recovering slowly. Wow, the last few weeks have really taken it out of us. Are we wimps! I am in training for the really big exams in October. These were called trials, they count towards the final marks but the real ones are worth 50%. Back on my bike to get in shape.

Ah, Anna, my younger son enjoys Haruki Murakami. I’ve enjoyed the surprising titles and buying the books for him over the years. Who can resist Kafka on the Shore? I haven’t read it, mind you, I just like the title!

Thank you Peg and Cathryne! You are both so lovely. There was definitely chocolate so we must have picked up that vibe quite clearly. I wanted to take her for lunch after the last exam but she was so tired we came home to veg out. Interestingly she hasn’t been reading much for a long while and she has gotten back into it. Japanese author called Murakami.
Hope everyone is well and surviving the heat.

Yes, Peg, you made me smile, “Thanks for sharing her [Erin] with us.”
I, too, sent powerful best thought across the sky and water during her exams, with just a tinge of chocolate for inspiration!

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