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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”

You are absolutely right Julie….I haven’t seen anyone toting guns on the streets of Rosslyn….thank goodness. Maybe it’s like snakes in Australia…they are dangerous and closer than you think but you don’t see them that often!

I love the discussion of the origin of words and phrases. We have a show called Letters and Numbers….well it’s not in production now but when it was they did a lot of discussion about such things. It was fascinating.

Freezing here…literally but the sun is out and shining. I see there are terrible floods in West Virginia and fires in the West and south.. Be careful everyone and hopefully the weather is calm where ever you are.

Anna, I totally understand where you’re coming from. First things first, though – I’m so glad that Erin has not had to change her viewpoint – to be different in your thinking is wonderful and creative, and soul-supporting. It’s just not something they encourage in most schools, unfortunately. Luckily, she will find it better as she gets older and realizes that “there’s no one right answer” is a good thing.

But second – the guns. It’s scary, absolutely. But speaking as a person who came to the US from another country (Canada), I can tell you that guns are not everywhere, though it seems so from the media. I’ve never seen an actual gun in anyone’s hand, except for a police officer, and I’ve been here for 26 years now. I think you’ll find that you won’t see many (if any) in DC except in the hands of authorities, whether military, government security or police.

I completely disagree that people should be able to have “concealed gun carry” permits, but I have to say that I’d rather they be concealed than worn in a holster on the outside, a la the old westerns. I know it seems odd to say that what I don’t know can’t scare me, but to a certain extent, it is so. Whoever feels the need to carry a gun to protect themselves (a foolhardy thought if you ask me), I don’t want to know about it, and I just want to go about my business while they go about theirs.

The people who are terrorizing people with AK-15s – while they may have bought their guns legally, they are NOT allowed to carry them around with them, and had they been casually walking down the street with a semi-automatic weapon over their shoulder, they’d have been arrested. Those incidents seem like they are everywhere, and absolutely, they happen way more often than they should Absolutely, there should have been a law against selling that kind of gun to anyone, and absolutely, every one of the people that I’ve known about who one day “snapped” and went on a shooting rampage, should never have been able to buy guns legally in the first place. Our laws need to be changed and the gun lobby needs to be shut down, as it has way too much power in DC. But it’s not the normal thing to see any of this, and I’m sure you will find that there is no need to go around being afraid. It’s terrifying when it happens BECAUSE it’s not normal, so we are all shocked. If it were normal, that’s a whole different kind of terrifying, and I’d be first in line saying – “Don’t come – never mind about how good it might be for your husband’s career – you don’t want to be here if you don’t have to be.” Not only that, but I’d be saying it from Canada. Luckily for me, I have that option should things “go south” for us here – I will still be able to live in Canada.

So, as I wrote that, I wondered about the saying “go south” – it means to go wrong. If everything suddenly “goes south”, it means that it all went as badly as you could possibly imagine – the worst has happened. I think it must be from slaving days when a slave who “misbehaved” (especially by trying to escape to freedom) often enough was given the ultimate punishment being “sold south” – that is, to be sold to someone who lived in the deep south where it would be more difficult to escape, and I imagine implicit is that it would be to someone who would much more strict in applying the whip. In Gone with the Wind (by today’s standards , filled with racist language and ideas), Scarlet often threatens her servants with “I swear, I’ll sell you south if you do that again.” We’re given to understand that she wouldn’t, but that this is a common threat. I think it’s also akin to “being sold down the river”, which I think comes as much as anything from Huckleberry Finn (another book that has been accused of being wildly racist, though the Jim character is the only honest and honorable one in the book). I assume the easiest way to move a slave “south” would be on the Mississippi river. I find the whole thing odd, because, for instance, Scarlet lived in and near Atlanta – you can’t get very much further south geographically – yet, the saying continued. Certainly, they didn’t necessarily mean geographically south, but just to someone who would treat them more cruelly.

So – after that interesting interlude – back to the present day, hahaha. Anyway – don’t come thinking it will be obvious everywhere that we’re a gun-totin’ nation, Anna, because, really, most people don’t want to be carrying guns around.

Thank you Julie, Barbara and Peg. I think Erin struggles with English because there is no right answer and she often has ideas that are a bit different to what is expected. She was worried because she hadn’t fl.owed the traditional thinking on TS Eliot and his influences. I like that she is unconventional and she just had to learn to support her views convincingly which is hard if you doubt your ability. The wonderful thing about the A was it showed her she could hold her views and present them with conviction.
I know you all worry about what I think about Americans right now. Fortunately, because I have you all as friends then I know what are you are really like and the caring and wonderful people that you are. It must be very frustrating to have negativity in the media and know that is not what most people are like but media is sensationalist and rarely gives a clear picture of anything….you have to do loads of reading between the lines.
The people we have met in DC have also been lovely. I hope to find some real American friends when I am in town and not just members of the expat circuit. I looked at the local library site and there are book clubs. Politics and Prose is a bookshop that hosts Louise’s events and they have events and book clubs too. So I shall get out in the real world.
I have to say, guns scare us. The idea that there are so many around is a bit freaky and this from someone who qualified on a handgun and semiautomatic weapon in the Navy. Having seen what they can do and how hard they are to handle effectively…..wouldn’t want one in my home or near my children! I think when I heard what Louise said….that when she was depressed she would have shot herself if there was a gun in the house……I mean what a tragedy that would have been. How many tragedies happen everyday? How much wonder has the world lost because guns make it easy to die intentionally or accidentally?
Sorry, not a rant but a musing from afar as I seek to understand the inexplicable.

Congratulations to Erin ! Way to go.
Hi Peg. Good to hear from you. Sometimes all we Americans can do is shake our heads too. I hope all goes well Tomorrow and Sat. It is Pride weekend here and security has been increased for the Parade and events. There has never been a problem and I hope there never will be.
Need to check and see how things are going in regard to the voting in England. My English friend is there for the Summer and voted to remain in the EU.
Hope some good comes from the DC events. Things must change in regard to gun laws.
Good thoughts to all.

I’m with Julie about English being easier for me than math, although science classes were always interesting.

And Anna – I’m sure you’re aware but most Americans aren’t like you see on TV or read about! My Canadian friends just shake their heads sometimes rather than ask why?

Yippee! Congratulations to Erin! It seems so foreign to me to have to work harder at English than for maths and science, but that is probably a good way to be – lots of fascinating work in those fields… especially science.

Erin got an A on her English. This is a very proud moment for a kid who thinks she is bad at English and worked really really really hard. I was just happy she saw how the hard work paid off and she isn’t bad at English, it is just harder for her than maths and science.
Thank you for your good thoughts. They work!
Oh, interesting developments on Capitol Hill!

Like Julie said, just email her or the address I put on page 87 and then we can stay in touch if another problem develops or poor Paul tires of his gatekeeper post.

I have just been watching Louise’s interview with her friend Wendy. The link is on her Facebook page. Louise says she can’t watch it and I understand that. It is very open and revealing and, for us, totally wonderful but for her-it lays her life bare. We have been reminiscing about the early days of the Bookclub and our fears of revealing ourselves to people. I look at Louise and her courage and think how amazing she is and how grateful I am that she has given us the courage to talk to each other. I love that she has such genuine pleasure and gratitude for her life. I need to emulate that more. So much to learn from a normal and yet extraordinary person. I can’t thank you enough Louise.

Nancy, Cathryne and anyone else who’d like to be included – I’m just going to jump in and put my email address here. abucksworth@gmail.com Please email me if you’d like to be part of our back-up group that is on email only. The regulars here got antsy when we couldn’t get into the Bistro for a little while, and it really made me realize how easy it would be to lose contact with people I truly consider close friends. So if you’d like to keep in touch even after a catastrophe here at the Bistro, please let me know, and I’ll get you on our list… Poor Paul never realized he was going to have to keep the Bistro open forever…

Hi All and a special hello to Nancy!
I am glad anything I said was helpful Millie. I am thinking of your son as he faces challenges but he will be fine because he has wonderful supportive family to bolster him when things are tough.
The credit issue is an interesting one. We have back up from the Embassy so we have bank accounts and credit cards etc. I think it will be fine. Interestingly BMW deal with diplomats so that has made it easier but we were never intending to go down such a prestige route! Sold Pete’s car yesterday so that helps. He loved that car and it was only two years old so he is a it sad but he will cope!
I can understand having credit issues moving for Australia but Canada. Gee Nanacy that makes it tricky. Glad it all worked out. It sounds like you are having a good summer without firenados and wicked storms. Pete had storms and flash flood warnings this evening when I spoke to him. We have gale force winds and it’s very cold with snow in the mountains. I love weather!

Erin has done her speech but hasn’t texted to say what happened so of course I am on tenterhooks as I know she was very stressed.

I am glad we all the support here. Everyone has their humps in the road but we are all on the sidelines cheering each other on and over the obstacles.

Hi all. Nice to read your posts. We’re finally enjoying/wallowing in/delighting in…summer! The weather here has been perfect. How wonderful it is not to have to wear parkas and boots, hats and mitts, etc. etc. I’m trying to soak up each beautiful day since I know that it just speeds by.

Anna,I can sympathize with your credit rating problems. We are duel Canadian/American citizens but when we moved back to the U.S. briefly (only 4 years) we found that we had no credit rating and no driving history for getting car insurance. Nothing transferred to the U.S. which seemed a little surreal since we had only moved an hour’s drive away. We also had problems getting our car registered because it was a Japanese model which hadn’t been sold in the States. Somehow everything worked out (and we didn’t have to buy another car..phew!) but at times I wondered if it would. I forget if the same thing happened when we returned to Montreal but each move has had it’s challenges.

Hi, Nancy – that’s so interesting about moving back to the US after some time in Canada – who would have thought that these things don’t transfer at all – you can bet a bad credit rating would follow you everywhere! If you are an hour’s drive from Montreal, are you in Vermont now? I dimly remember (how I remember everything these days) that you said that, but I can’t quite recall.

Something very strange just happened. I came to the bottom of page 88 to reply to Nancy’s post, and started typing. When I looked up, I was on page one, and my reply was going to be posted there. So I quickly copied what I’d written and went back to page 88. I’m copying again, just in case that’s where most of our replies had been going – to page one – when messages were disappearing… Of course, it’s also entirely possible that I just hit the wrong button with my heavy-fisted typing!

Hello all. I just wrote a nice long post which went poof when I went back a page to copy a few lines from a post from Anna. I had written thanks to Barbara for mentioning way back on page 77 that the synopsis for the latest book was posted on FaceBook which allowed to me look for it on Louise’s webpage once I could read again…

I don’t seem to have a confluence of uninterrupted time and energy to comment in a timely manner lately. But I have been reading and feeling the true caring for others that shines so brightly at the Bistro. And sometimes the words here reach further than we realize to uplift, comfort or help another. My younger son is going through a rough time so I read him these lines from a post from Anna on the previous page:
“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.” I was just what he needed to hear.

Thanks 🙂 Thank you all. But now, it’s past cooking dinner time. There seems to be a crazy amount of business that I must tend to lately which limits my Bistro time. But I care for you all. Big (((hugs)))

I, too, think a new computer is the way to go, Barbara. I would probably get a Surface if I had to get one today, because you could use it both as a tablet and as a laptop. In general, I don’t like Microsoft, and so I’m hoping when the day comes for me to need a new computer, there will be other similar choices from other companies. If I could find a tablet with enough memory to have software on it, that would be the way I’d go – and just get a keyboard for it… but so far, tablets don’t seem to have the capability of running software like I’d want, and I don’t think we are there yet as far as running software that’s in the cloud…

Anna, I never thought of the credit hassles, and like Barbara, I was amazed that some won’t deal with diplomats. I guess because they are here today and gone tomorrow, perhaps some have left debt unpaid when they left… I never would have thought that! I hope he can get things sorted out and can settle in somewhat. I don’t know what public transportation is like in DC, but expect it’s not good enough to forego having a car altogether. Now, New York would be a different matter altogether.

Vern won’t even talk about moving. I’ve barely got him talking about hiring someone for the yard, and he talks, but no action… I will jump at any opportunity, but who knows if he will ever be open to moving until we have to for health reasons. If you wait until you HAVE to move, you have a lot less control over the situation, because you’ve got to take whatever’s available. We’ll see how things fall out over the next couple of years – I do know that I’ve got to do a LOT of decluttering yet, and that I can’t do it all at once, so it’s just as well…

So many details and hoops to jump through. I never thought of the credit hurdle. I’m glad the relocation person and the realtor were of help and likeable. I would have thought that diplomats would have no trouble securing whatever was needed. Then I remembered diplomatic immunity.
Of course, some people behave in ways that makes difficulty for others.
Your life in DC is going to be very exciting, but like everything, not perfect.
Wishing the best for Erin at a very important stage in her life. Remind us when the test times come. Prayers will be raised.
Good thoughts to all.

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.

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