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”

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?
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.

My husband is going to Louise’s book launch in DC. While I am envious I am also very pleased for him. Such fun he deserves!.
Not sure if the Bistro is working or not. Last night I couldn’t even access the site.
Sending my thoughts to all after yet another tragedy.

Hello! Are the Bistro’s doors open again? I do hope so. It’s ironic that I hadn’t posted in ages but when I couldn’t I felt a tremendous loss.

Catheryne, thanks for the welcome back. I shook my head when you mentioned you enjoyed Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude. I had been avoiding it also because my mom read it and said she didn’t like it. I shouldn’t be surprised. We rarely like the same books. Adding it to my reading list. And a book that always makes you smile when you think of it is a must. Sometimes an internal smile is just what I need.

Anna, I thought I had been banned until I saw that your and Julie’s posts disappeared too. So here’s a replacement virtual (((hug))). Though no one can replace Julie herself.

And speaking of irreplaceable, here’s a big hello to Barbara. Hope all is well with you and yours.

Long live the Bistro!

Hi Cathryne,
I was so pleased to see Millie too and then it all disappeared and I thought I was going a little mad when I popped back and they were gone!
Life has been hectic so I haven’t had a lot of time or energy to write.
I do hope all is well with everyone.

Trying again – I’ve posted a few times, but my messages all disappear. I still think this site doesn’t want us to have more than 86 pages, hahaha.

Yes, it’s been very disconcerting – glad to see new posts at any rate. I’ve asked Paul to look into it, so at least he will be able to either stop it or get us a new Bistro page or something.

I had done one message to Millie, which disappeared, and then, right after that, Millie’s disappeared, and I think one of Anna’s. Don’t know how much else I might have missed… Anyway – it’s encouraging that Anna’s and Cathryne’s last messages are here. Maybe it’s already fixed – if so, thank you, Paul!

As part of my message to Millie I had talked about what has fired my imagination a bit lately – you will remember that we talked (at least a year ago, probably more – time means nothing to me, hahaha) about “dream houses” – places we built as our “castles in the air”, where everything is as we would want it to be. I had said I wanted a pretty condo with a lovely view, that I would decorate in Art Deco. Well – I found it! It exists, it’s no more than three miles away from me, and it’s affordable! There are actually about 100 condos in a development – they’ve been around since 1974 and still look great – so they’re well built. The rooms are large and every one of them has a spectacular view of Lake Washington. They’re on a hillside, have lovely grounds and public places, and I’ve seen photos of quite a few of the interiors and they are so lovely! Most have chosen to decorate in all white, and photos taken on a sunny day featuring the view are absolutely stunning. They all have either 2 or 3 bedrooms, the rooms are very large, for condos. That’s amazing in Seattle, as downtown, all the condos that I could afford are teeny-tiny! I mean, if I were to spend $10 million, then, yes, I could get large rooms, and three bedrooms and a wonderful view of Puget Sound, but really…. the thing about these others is that I know that if we sold our house, we’d have money left over after we moved in. Of course, Vern won’t even think about it – he thinks there’s no value in a condo – here at our house we have land, and the fact that we’re not able to properly take care of it anymore doesn’t seem to enter into it for him. He doesn’t want to pay condo fees that will “always go up and never go away”, whereas I think that’s just akin to paying a landscape company to keep our yard in good shape, and a handyman to keep the house in good shape, which I’d have to do if I were in the house alone. Ah well – daydreams… I go and look at the pics from time to time and plan my renovations – “this one is nice, but I don’t want the washer/dryer in the kitchen – at least not where you can see them from the dining room”, “that one has so much balcony space, but if I could enclose most it, it would make the living room huge and still leave room for a little table and chairs outside,” “I love the fireplace in this one, but I’d change the flooring” – so fun to dream and doodle with the imaginary plans in my head, hahahaha.

Yes, Anna, including Millie’s.
Very glad to hear from you, Millie, I looked up the books that you mentioned and I want to ask my younger son if he has heard of them. They sound right up his alley.
I, too, have enjoyed reading and talking about books with my sons over the years. It’s a great way to connect and has certainly led me places I had never been and might never have gone. My older son got me started on Gabriel Garcia Marquez, someone I might have continued to avoid. (Really? Magical Realism???). One Hundred Years of Solitude is one of my favorite books now.
My younger son introduced me to Christopher Moore, a writer I would have missed. Thinking about The Stupidest Angel always makes me laugh. Another book I read on his recommendation was about computers, snow, dreams of unicorns… I don’t remember the name of the book or the author and I didn’t really understand what was going on, but that was useful too because it helped me to see how and why we are on different wave lengths sometimes!
I hope no more posts disappear!

Paul Hochman – Messages are disappearing from the end of the list here. A few days ago, Millie wrote a reply, and I replied to her, but the next day that was gone, and now Millie’s message is gone (probably others, but I was worried that I’d hit the wrong key and intended to answer again today, so I came to look for it). I don’t know if we’ve hit our quota for number of messages and we need to delete some earlier ones? Or maybe start a new forum for “waiting in between books and talking”? What do you think, Paul?

(((((Millie))))))))) (That’s a cyber-hug – wish I could give you a real one!) I’m so sorry to hear how challenging things have been for you lately. And of the agony your son is also going through – divorce is never easy, on anyone! I sometimes hear people making light of things like that – “you can always get a divorce”… I’ve never been through anything else that hurt more, and I’ve been through my share of physical pain and metal anguish. But the idea that something you had based your life on has shattered beyond repair requires much soul-searching and reflection, and sometimes, makes you sad for what seems forever. I wish him a recovery as speedy as possible, though nobody gets over it quickly, I think. I’m so pleased to know that you and he are having a “literary society” among yourselves, though. I think that goes a long way to heal things and to bring you closer.

I am working on my third go-round on purging and know it still will not be enough, but I inted to keep at it. The writing is on the wall for my eyes – the macular degeneration seems to be progressing fairly aggressively. I can now “see” the blank spot in the middle of my vision. Thank heaven I was able to have the cataract surgery, as it will add a few years of stitching to my life – but I have enough patterns, kits, fabric and threads, to stitch for hundreds of years, I think, so am beginning to think about selling off some of the things I know I’ll never get around to. EBay or Etsy will be my friend for awhile, I think.

On the daydream side, I found the apartment I want to live in! I have an acquaintance, who’s a member of my guild, and I’d heard that she was selling off some of her stash because she was going to downsize. This is such an elegant lady and her home is the one she “downsized” into when her kids left home – and not what I would call “small” at all! I can’t imagine where she lived before, but it must have been huge. So this was the second downsizing. In my latest guild roster, I got a new address for her, so I went online to see where the address was, thinking Google maps would tell me if she’d had to move far away… well, it brought up the real estate listing of her new condo. And it’s gorgeous! A huge pang of jealousy ran through me, I’m ashamed to say, but I started to read a bit more about the condo complex – and found that there are about 100 condos there, all of which have an amazing view of water and mountains. They are two or three-bedroom apartments, with large balconies (also called terraces, depending on what part of the world you live in). Several have sold recently, and I could see all the pictures of them all – and they’re all breathtaking! The rooms are spacious (not like any other areas of Seattle, where anything I could afford are tiny), the storage space is spacious, and they are affordable! We would have quite a bit of money left over after selling this house. Of course, I’ll never convince Vern it makes sense to leave a house with land to move into an apartment with HOA fees that will never go down and never go away. But to me, it makes a lot of sense. The grounds are beautiful, there are hiking trails around it, beautiful gardens, and that view! It spells stress-free living to me, but for now, it’s just for daydreaming. One day, Vern may very well realize that the stairs in this house, the yard work, the undone projects and upkeep are all too much for us… Then we could get ourselves on a waiting list for one of those condos, while once again, purging to downsize…

Good morning Three Piners. As Louise posted on Facebook today, sorry for the silence. All’s well in Florida, no major rain in our area, more like sprinkles compared to a heavy summer storm. But life sure has gotten interesting, well downright crazy at times. Some fun things, some frustrating things, some sad things but all requiring unplanned changes.

As was mentioned previously, I too marvel at how Louise pre planned and continues to adjust. But it’s hard to plan for what you don’t know is coming. Like a grown son moving back ‘home’ after an agonizing decision to get a divorce. The emotional aspects aside and on a personal level, this has brought a further need to revisit what I really ‘need’ to keep in order to make room for our son’s things. Thank goodness Julie posted a while back that one couldn’t really purge well in the first go around. That has given me great comfort.

In other news, when I couldn’t see well I decided to finally listen to two books my sons had wanted me to read for years. The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss. Certainly not everyone’s cup of tea but I have enjoyed them. I resisted because it was a coming of age story (actually a trilogy and who knows when book three will come out) and a fantasy (talk about world building) but it’s so much more. Full of poetry, suspense, humor, characters one really cares about, depth and nuance. It’s been good for son and mom to take time away from the demands and stress of the day and spend time with a cup of tea discussing the story.

Best wishes and positive thoughts to all as we await August 30th.

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