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”

Sam thinks we should buy another computer. I don’t know what I want. I’ll have to check around. He said it was just an accident that I broke the hinge…like when I hit Carol’s car when pulling in beside it last year. Yes, I’m accident prone. This poor laptop was two years old on the 11th.

Unfortunately technology is not designed to last Barbara, it has built in redundancy. I think we are all a bit accident prone…accidents happen to everyone. I second getting a new computer. Or a refurbished one. Only problem with the latter is a lot of computers really don’t last long so they have already used up some of their functional life. We have had lots of different sorts, Dell primarily for PC and now MAC for lots of reason. MAC are expensive and Apple are big on their equipment having a short use by date but I do find them easy to use now.
Julie, don’t give up on the apartment. I bet inertia and sticking with the devil you know is a big part of the reluctance to move. I was just talking to my cousins this morning and one of their friends was forced to move from a big house to a small villa. Their house had dreadful asbestos used in the insulation…it was a scandal here and the government essentially repossessed the house for a fraction of its real cost because of public safety. It forced them to declutter in a big way but now they only have what they really need and love. If the yard is not being cared for then it is time to leave. Maybe you could organise to see one of the apartments you love…or have you done that with hubby?
The move to DC continues. It is taking a lot of energy. Simple things are much harder in a new system. Getting a car is difficult if you don’t have a credit rating and some won’t talk to diplomats at all. Anyway, lots of calls and emails and we are making progress but its a tiring thing. I spend a lot of time on the internet checking prices and facts and car models…..you get the idea.
Two more days for Erin and then winter holidays. Yay for us both. Getting her to school at 730 is wearing me out! Actually she is worn out. It has been a big term for assessments. One to go. Next term I will have you all sending waves of positivity for her trial exams which count towards her final mark and then the big ones are in October. So anyone with powerful connections to Spiritual beings….we would appreciate your entreaties on her behalf.
So nice to have you all back. I hope no-one left thinking the lights had gone out permanently? Please just say hi if you are still out there!! We miss you.

Seems like I’ve got lots to say this morning – sorry about that. I’ve just found this online learning place – Futurelearn, it’s called – there are many free online courses going on that I had no idea about. The Jane Austen group tipped me off to one on English Country Houses in literature (it starts next week), and then one of the group who worked on the food for the Netherfield Ball program in our Jane Austen group, told us all of one about Historic Food. It’s called something like Royal Feasts in Historic England or something like that – we are starting with Henry VIII in this first week (we started officially this morning, but I got my first email with course materials last night). We will move on to Elizabeth I, James I, Charles… my memory fails me here – I know there will be a number here, but I can’t remember it – George III and then Victoria – what meals were like in each of their “courts” – the kitchens, etc. For Henry VIII, the kitchens being discussed are in Hampton Court and the celebration for which we’re looking at the food is the christening of Edward VI (I think I got that number right – anyway – Henry’s only son who lived past early childhood). We are getting recipes to try, and videos of techniques, etc., and it’s all so interesting so far. I now have a recipe for swan, including a black pudding made with the blood drained from the swan…. According to this course, it’s not illegal to eat a swan in England, just to kill it – so you have to come across some roadkill, or a swan who’s flown into a downed electrical wire, or something… So I’m keeping my eyes open, hahaha. I probably won’t be making that one. One thing they did for grand dinners was, for swan or peacock, they would pluck it, of course, then roast it, then decorate it with all the feathers that they’d saved from the plucking – to make it look like it did in life… a but much for me.

There are two recipes from this week that I WILL try, though – one is a wonderful looking cheese tart, and the other has a name I can’t remember, but it’s basically pork slices served in a caramelized onion sauce… Yum! The cheese tart came complete with a video, and the guy made a crust that stood up on it’s own with no pie tin around it – he just folded up the edges and crimped them, then put the filling in and then the lid – I’m not sure my crust would do that, but I’m dying to try it.

Anna – your description of the DC move has me fascinated – how exciting to do this – I know I’ve said that before, but it really IS! And like Barbara, I’m a little embarrassed at what the world must think of us these days. Honestly, most people in America are NOT like the loud, mouthy, hate-spewing people who make the news! It’s a lovely country and very welcoming for the most part. I just know you’re going to have fun.

I can’t stop saying how much I appreciate you all now that we’re back! Like Barbara, I really was fearful that you were all just gone, and no way to find our way back. I’m so thankful to Paul for fixing it.

Cathryne – while we were “away”, those few of us who had each other’s email, decided we might have to keep in touch that way. We wanted to ask you to join us, but none of us knew how to get in touch with you. We have a little “mini-group” of Anna, Barbara, Millie, Peg from Wisconsin, and I – and we very much want you to join us, if you’d like to. We will be two things – a back-up just in case the lights go out in the Bistro again, and a place where we can discuss “off-off-topic” things without worrying too much that we are being a major snore for anyone who comes in to the Bistro and finds that we’re not discussing books at all! Paul is going to give you my email address, and we hope you write to allow us to “include you in”…

If there are others who don’t say too much, but want to keep reading about our lives in between issues of the latest book, please speak up – we’d love to have you, we’re just afraid of boring you or making this feel like a closed clique instead of the warm, inviting place it really is.

Isn’t it funny, how we all worried that we weren’t able to contribute to the discussions? You all seemed so smart and so well-versed in literature – the depths you found in the books amazed me! I really love how much I’ve learned from you all.

Barbara, I, too, would love to do a yard sale, but don’t have the energy. For me, eBay makes more sense, simply because it can be done piecemeal and at my own pace. The down side is packing and mailing, but those can be done from home using the Post Office site. I can’t actually remember the last time I went to the post office, hahaha.

I wish I could talk to Vern about moving, but he is adamant that there is nothing to talk about – he’s staying here. Period. The thing I worry about is that we’re not doing yard work these days, and also not paying to have it done. It’s just sitting there, looking more and more wild. I keep saying we should hire some people, and Vern agrees but does nothing. At this point, I think he is just “shining me on”. He doesn’t realize that the longer we leave work undone, the more our property is losing value. Ah well – this, too, shall pass. Meanwhile, I’ll dream of the apartment… Of course, I have so much stuff that I’d have to get rid of before we could move, that this will take me years just to do that, so I should get on with it and stop bellyaching, haha.

Hi Barbara. Your posts appear to be coming through loud and clear thank goodness. Well done to you and your laptop!
Peter is so busy in DC. He has already had one trip up to Newport and lots of functions in addition to “work” as well as organising the house and car. It is hard enough getting a new home in a country you know let alone one you don’t. I have to say the people we met were lovely. We had a relocation specialist assist us and she was fabulous and good fun. The real estate agent was similarly wonderful and very efficient. We love them both and I am planning on having them over when I get there. I told them Peter could have them to dinner but they may be better off waiting if they want to eat decent food. Pete has many many skills but cooking is still in the basic stages.
I know what you mean about the energy needed for a yard sale. I should do the same but simply can’t face it. We had one at our last home and it was simply a lot of work. But I do see the value in them and the money could go towards many good things including a new computer…or iPad!
I had to laugh about the Fuzzy Duck book! Too funny Barbara. We all felt exactly the same about posting because of course we did not know what to expect. Isn’t that like so much of life…first the fear and then the lovely reality. I too am amazed about how much deeper and more meaningful the books became as we chatted about them. What started as a good story took on so many other levels and layers. There is so much that contributes to that. Louise has created a real world full of real people so they bring meaning to their experiences. Of course they are imparted with Louise’s amazing self which adds yet another rich layer. Then we bring ourselves as readers and imbue the story with our own visions and beliefs and ideas. When you add all of us into the mix through our different viewpoints….well no wonder we can find so much more than when we read alone.
Reading is often seen as a solitary occupation but isn’t it amazing how connected it makes us. That could be a metaphor for life itself…we each walk alone but when we share our experiences we find we are part of something bigger even at our loneliest moments.

I just had a problem. I went back to add some words I omitted in my first post of today. Fine. Then when I clicked on reply I was sent back to page one. Anyway, I was trying to say I had thought of placing an ad in the classifieds for several weeks but had not. Maybe tomorrow.
I hope this posts correctly. My own laptop has been perfect today. Wonders never cease.

Thank you, Julie. You got something done about our problem of the “disappearing posts” and then the “come and go” Bistro. I tried to find a way to get help but completely failed. Cudos and flowers to you. I was in a panic when I thought everyone was gone. It is hard to realize it has been years since this all started. But on the other hand Three Piners feel like lifelong friends. As Anna said The re-read and then the Bistro were ways of publicizing LP’s books. What came to be is nothing short of amazing.
Julie, you mentioned entering the discussion fearfully. I could hardly type the first few times. I read and reread each word I wrote. I just knew I was going to say something and someone was going to suggest that I go and read my Fuzzy Duck book. Some may have thought that but everyone was so kind and didn’t say so.
When I realized how thoroughly everyone seemed to read, I was astounded. Truthfully there was a time I wondered if I had the same edition or what. Yes the title and the names of the characters were the same, but others seemed to be reading a book with more meaning. I have learned to sit back, relax and read all the words… not just rush for the end.

Thought I had better post before I made what I had written go “Poof” off into never, never land.
Anna, I am certain that your choice of apartment over free standing house and land was the better one. I see so many advantages. I hope Peter is adjusting to his new home, new job and your absence. A lot at one time I know. I just can not even imagine what you are dealing with. The actual moving, the living in a new and unfortunately odd country. I thought for a long time to find a word to describe the current USA. Most of us feel much the same…..when will we awake from this nightmare. We don’t appear very warm or welcoming I am sure. All those
years ago when we thought of moving to Australia, I never even thought of not being welcome.
Maybe youth or maybe just another time.

So many posts I want to comment on. Julie, your dream about the apartment sounds just wonderful. Maybe you can use some of the ideas, if not now in the future. Although I, too, think making a move sooner rather than later is a good idea. Good luck. I have had no luck getting Sam to even discuss moving.
Some time back, I mentioned I wanted to have a yard sale but didn’t feel up to it. One of our Senior groups had one in May. Members paid $20 for a table and what ever they sold was theirs to keep. The group ad 4 tables and many members donated items. Sam made more money than even they did. Down side is that we gathered up far too many items. I had moved the boxes into a “junk” room that is getting really crowded.
Sam says he wants to have a sale here at the house. I have thought of putting ads in the Maybe tomorrow or at least this week.

I was just sitting here reading Louise’s posts about the passing the f her sister in law. Of course I am having a cry now. I love the picture of Carol and Michael together having high tea in London. We must savour every moment. Love to you Louise and Michael and Carol’s family.

Years! Oh my – it DOES seem like just yesterday – and I can’t believe how perfectly you’ve captured the feelings I had when we first started. I felt like I was the only one who wasn’t A SERIOUS READER WITH SOMETHING VALUABLE TO SAY! Thankfully, you all humored me and let me stay…

I somehow managed to miss Louise’s FB posts, too – no wonder I felt like I was in limbo. I see she’s now home from London, where, unfortunately, she had the terrible job of saying goodbye to Michael’s sister for the both of them. I’m sure they were all thankful that in the past couple of years, there had been several visits when everyone was at least well enough to enjoy the time together.

And there’s a new Nature of the Feast entry, which I’d missed. I adore Shrimp, but really, I need to explain to Louise that it’s okay to leave all the Brie, red meat and wine just as it is – if I can’t eat vicariously through Three Piners, then how will I live? I love that they will not have to worry about their cholesterol unless it becomes a major plot point.

So happy to be back!

I have gone back and read through the posts to catch up. Such fun.
I totally empathise about your computer Barbara. As I recall it has been an ongoing issue. Is there a place you could buy a refurbished or second hand one?
https://www.yelp.com.au/search?find_desc=Refurbished+Used+Computers&find_loc=Atlanta%2C+GA
I found the above site that list a few. I know it is an expense you probably don’t need but have a look and see whether it is cheaper than constant repairs. We would miss you if your computer died…argh! Even my dad loves his computer and iPad. We all are very fortunate to have our own devices and we would be lost without them.
Julie….the apartment sounds perfect. I think with everything that has happened and your eyes that you are being very sensible to consider the downsizing. When Peter and I were looking at places to live in DC we oscillated between a home on land and a townhouse or apartment. It can be very hard to get your head around the apartment idea if you are independent and know the value of land but as we all get older simplicity trumps all. Right up until we signed the lease on the Penthouse we were still looking at homes…online for me directing Peter to look in person. Now that we have signed the lease I feel very relieved we didn’t get a house despite the space and storage we would have had. In the apartment we have security, we don’t have to manage the yard (which is taking so much time and effort in our Australian house), we don’t have to take out the garbage, there are no stairs, there is always someone at the desk to receive parcels, etc etc. You are quite right that the fees you pay are the same if you have to pay landscapers etc. Perhaps you could go over the money you spend maintaining the place you are in…everything you spend on it and compare that to the HOA fees. Also you could explain that with your eyesight, it would be better to make any moves now rather than when it becomes desperate or when you would struggle to make the transition. Don’t give up on the idea.
Millie…I giggled when I read that you thought you had been banned. Honestly woman! Glad to say nope…your seditious posts must have passed unnoticed thank goodness.
So much has happened to all of us in the last few years. Yes people we have been in the Bistro for years even though it feels like only yesterday we made our first tentative forays through the door…eyes wide, heads down, wondering if we would be welcome and if anyone would talk to us. Would we say something stupid and be ignored? We took such a chance on something new. But look how well it turned out. I hope you remember to be brave the next time an opportunity presents itself because I know you were all brave to post and keep coming back. Revealing yourself to new people is not easy but every risk has its rewards and life is really deciding to step up to each new challenge hoping for something good despite our fears.

Thank you Paul. It seems to be working. Some of my posts originally disappeared and now they are back but some also worked because I had a couple of emails. We are incredibly grateful that you have created and maintain the Bistro for us. I am sure you have many other things that are very important to do. Perhaps you never envisaged what you would create when you opened the doors to our cosy retreat for the first time. Although only a few of us post regularly I am sure there are many who pop in and out and enjoy the space equally as much even if they are relatively quiet in their passing through. I know it started as a sideline to promoting Louise’s books and never fear we all still do in our real world lives. I have put many people onto the series. Interestingly the Bistro really does feel like an extension of Three Pines where care and comfort are a priority of life.

(((((((Barbara)))))))))) I had a feeling you were needing some cyber-hugs as well. We all do at one time or another… I missed everyone so much when I couldn’t get in – I was starting to panic! My only solace was the hope that some others WERE able to get in and talk to each other. Now that I’m back, I can’t tell if people could see each other’s posts or not, or if we were all just posting “blind”, hahahaha.

Barbara, your computer woes sound awful – I hate when I can’t find any of my “stuff” – Vern and I stopped sharing the same computer when he had one given to him by his work. After he retired, they let him keep it because now it was out of date, of course, but it’s perfect for what he does now that there’s no work to be done on it. He surfs the web, reads newspaper sites, etc., and listens to music. Now that I’m not doing much for our company, that’s about all I do, too. Now it’s like a little old lady who only goes out to the grocery store driving a Mack truck to do the weekly shopping, hahahaha. This big, powerful computer was needed to run my design software, but now, of course, I mostly surf the web, read Jane Austen fan fiction and talk on FB. Ah well – hopefully, it will stand me in good stead for some time yet, as my next jump will be to a laptop that the keyboard comes off of so I can use it as a tablet as well. I won’t need a lot of memory, but I will want SOME…

It’s terrible what repair people want for computers – it means so many more computers get junked instead of fixed, which is a shame.

I hope your weather is pleasant, Barbara – I know it gets hot and sticky there, but I hope it’s not too bad yet. We’re still pretty cool, but lately, they’ve told us the forecast is for showers that don’t seem to appear, so we’ve got cool temps but sunny skies, which is my favorite! Come back in to the Bistro for a little “pick-me-up” whenever you feel like it. We’ve got a vase just waiting for the scotch…

Hi, to all. What a wonderful surprise to have the lovely emails this AM. This computer is giving me big trouble. The hinge is broken and the screen comes and goes. I’m going to try to post anyway. What happened? To be honest I have always been a clumsy person, a real klutz. Back when the weather was cold, I closed the laptop on the sash of the very heavy robe Sam gave me for Christmas. Then I did it again. The only way it can be repaired is to ship it to HP and repair it for what would almost pay for a new one. Sam had a fit. He had taken I to the Geek Squad. They did manage to clear out a great deal of malware which did improve the speed. Only I recognized nothing when I turned it on. Sam and I share the computer. I call my site or what ever is the correct word my side. I had to keep trying until I was able to locate the tools, sites and everything else. I am still trying. This came after they had it for almost a week. I think I can make a workable fix with Duct Tape. I am lolrof that I just said such a thing. Duct Tape and “me repair” in the same sentence.
I have been off the radar here at home too. I haven’t attended anything in months. I do still keep Dr.’s appointments and sometimes go to the grocery and Carol’s 6 0r 7 days a week. Lots of ongoing things that just pile up and make me go to ground. Feeling better today. More later and good thoughts to all.

Phew! We’re back. And I see that all my posts that “disappeared” are back, so I’m sorry for the one double-post. Paul – thank you so very much!

Julie tells me Paul is aware so if these posts can be read then hang in there people. Still feel free to drop a line. There is a new Fox and Collie story on the boil. I might actually write it if there are people to read it so happy to email it if the Bistro is stalled.

I had lots of trouble, Paul. The first sign was a message popping up saying it had to be moderated. I thought it odd, there were no links but it showed up for a day or two before vanishing. Then no others would stick.

Every day for awhile now, I try to post something. I don’t know if my posts are getting through and only I can’t see them, or if somehow, it doesn’t like me and Millie. But I know our old posts haven’t shown up that I can see at least. Anyway – Anna, how exciting for your hubby – I’m so glad he’ll get a chance to see Louise and be able to extend your greetings!

Thanks for the article on kind words – I’ve noticed this phenomena myself, mostly in the negative. I see people who only speak negatively about things – who are pessimistic, cynical, and unhappy. Those are the kinds of words that come from them, which perpetuates the unhappiness, I believe. And I’ve noticed in myself that calming, kind words coming from me goes a long way toward making me feel better about something. I’d never thought of this specifically, but now that I’ve read this article, I see exactly what is going on inside me as well as around me, and I intend to act on it. It’s so easy to get caught up in the distress and anger being expressed everywhere. I really ought not go on Facebook, except that I have a small cadre of friends who used to “meet” in an email group and now want to use FB, because it’s easier. What I’ve noticed, of course, is that the messages are all much shorter, and we don’t get the same sense of community and support that we used to get. Now it feels so much more like lip service, or superficial “nothings” that we express. Face book is well-named – you get the sur-face, but not the deep connection. Well, wherever that came from, it’s probably time to stop this post, as I’m pretty sure nobody will get to read it anyway.

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