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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.

3,639 replies on “The Bistro”

Well Julie at least you had the full enjoyment of the milkshake before the side effects. We have lactose free ice cream in the supermarkets here but I know it is harder to find in the States because a friend in the same boat told me. There is Beyers ice cream which has lactose free in some stores. Check their website. Ben and Jerry’
s is making a couple of lactose free flavours too.
It is nice of you to make the strawberries for your fiend. I am glad your eyes allow you to assist and that things are improving in that regard.
I am back on a plane in less than two weeks. I am certainly racking up the air miles, unfortunately on a number of airlines so no free flights. I am off to DC to settle my husband in and look for a house. Coincidentally my brother will be there for a conference at the same time. What are the odds?

So happy to see your post, Anna. I know life sometimes overwhelms each of us, and it’s good to know that you can poke your head up once in awhile, at least, and come see your friends here in the Bistro! I’m recovered from my milkshake incident, haha – so silly of me. I can use lactose free milk to make my own, but I can’t find lactose-free ice cream, and the pills they have for it don’t work for me… which might mean I’m allergic to milk and not lactose intolerant, I guess… though I can have lactose free milk with no bad effects… oh well – no more milkshakes! Naturally, I had the biggest one, with whipped cream… hee hee. My eye gets better each day, and I have no problem reading or doing the computer. I haven’t tried stitching yet, which will be the big test as to whether the whole thing was worthwhile… I want to wait for things to settle down a bit – my eye is very bloodshot and I can see that out of the corner of my eye, which is disconcerting. After that settles down and I’m used to new things going on, I think I will try to stitch and see what happens. I still need to do six more strawberries for my friend. Did I tell you about that?

My friend in England (we’re in an online stitching group together, and met up once when I was over there) is stitching and making up 40 little strawberries for wedding favors for her son’s wedding. Kind of like this: http://tinyurl.com/zjv5lcj They’re very small and stitch up quickly, but 40 is a lot, and then she’s got to make them all up. So a bunch of us in the group said we’d stitch some. Since I had to buy a piece of linen the right color, I decided I’d do as many as the piece would hold, which is 12. I’ve got six done, and hope to get back to it. The wedding is in December, but I think she should be starting to put them together in September so she isn’t panicking at the last minute… It’s a fun project, and nice to be doing something that someone halfway round the world will be getting and, I hope, appreciating…

Hi everyone. Sorry I have been a bit of a hermit lately for lots of reasons. Just wanted to check in and see if you were all ok. So much to catch up on.
I am very glad the surgery went well Julie. Fingers crossed that you have a smooth course but do steer clear of those milkshakes or use lactose free milk!!!
Wonderfully exciting news Barbara. I love that you are looking into your ancestry. We all need to have roots to grow from.
I am glad you are ok Cathryne and so pleased that you have found assistance that is working for you. It is such a very very very tough time and it just takes the right support to make it a little easier. It is sad that such support can be hard to find but it is wonderful when you do. There is still so much on your shoulders though so do take care and I am sending my best wishes to you.
I hope all is well Millie and your eyes will improve enough to let you start posting again soon.
Hi Nancy and all the others who pop in from time to time. May the sun shine upon you all.

Congratulations Julie! Good to hear. Being able to see better is cause for celebration. Sorry the milkshake was not a good choice.

I had my cataract surgery on Wed., and it went really well. It’s too soon to tell if it’s done much good, as it takes up to 3 or 4 weeks for things to settle down, but already I can see that I’m getting more light into that eye! I will need new glasses, but they say to wait at least 6 weeks before getting them, as things change quite a bit in the first weeks. But I can see and read with my old glasses, so that’s good. I was feeling so good that I had a milkshake yesterday and that was a huge mistake – I was sick as a dog all night, and still feel pretty ill. I’m lactose intolerant, and knew I shouldn’t but thought I’d be able to get away with it, or at least, not get a whole full-blown incident! Instead, it’s the worst one I’ve ever experienced, so that will teach me! I will be back to tell more soon.

How exciting Barbara – I was wondering if they were due soon! Do you watch “Who do You Think You Are?” I love it, as they take people’s ideas of who their ancestors are from stories that have been handed down, and there’s always a surprise or two in store. Glad you got them – now you can explore some of it a bit more…

DNA results came in late yesterday. Just as I stopped shouting for joy……an unexpected clap of thunder hit and everything shut down. Finally was able to get to results but had a terrible time with the site. I checked mine first. Nothing surprising there. What I wanted was specifically listed as “0”. I had hoped that Jewish would be listed. I guess G-G-G-Grandfather was not Jewish but just German. Certain ideas in my family about food prep, etc. are like Kosher rules and that had made me wonder.
I am 56% Great Britain, 39% Western European, 2% Irish and 1% Eastern European. The rest are trace that I don’t have written down. The Western European breaks down into areas. Sixty-two pages of history followed but we gave out of ink while printing. As Daddy said,” If it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all. ”
Sam’s was all over. Carol’s differed from mine only a bit.
More later on this and other topics. Good thoughts to all.

I loved the newsletter and can’t wait to hear more about the apartment. Couldn’t get to sleep last night so I got up and started looking through old favorite books on a neglected bookshelf. There was E. B. White’s Here is New York. I got comfortable and read most of the short, thoughtful and conversational essay/book about New York. It seemed so fitting. Then I moved the book from its place with other E. B. White books to a spot next to Helene Hanff’s Apple of My Eye. It just seemed to belong there.

Excited already about Book 13! I suppose it’s too early to preorder! I’m dieing for an excerpt from A Great Reckoning.

Barbara and Julie, so glad to hear from you both.
I’ve been wondering what birds everyone is enjoying right now. We talked about this once before, I think. I remember being impressed with such variety, but I don’t remember what they were. I love to watch and listen to birds, though I’m not especially good at it. It took me decades to realize we have hooded Orioles, our prettiest, I think. And so noisy, chattery! For a few months my neighbor and I admired a pair of “Magpie Jays” but have not seen any since. They too were noisy which helped us know when to run out to see. We have Caifornia Phoebes all over and they are very handsome and very friendly. I wonder what birds Louise and Michael see.
Anna and Millie and Nancy, sending best thoughts.

Again, I loved the newsletter. No such thing as too many Mark Twain quotes.

Hugs and wishes for everyone to be surprised by joy when you need it most.

Hi, Cathryne – the birds are such a joy, aren’t they? We used to feed them at a feeder right at our window, and it was such fun to see them all. We don’t get a lot of variety – at least not in our yard, because we’re in town. We see chickadees, which are my very favorites, dark-eyed juncos, and house finches mostly. The house finches have some red coloring, and are prettier than you’d think. My favorites, though they never came to the feeder, are Stellar’s Jays – a type of bluejay, and very much bullies. We made sure we never put out food they wanted, as they’d never let anyone else have a turn. But they are fun to catch a glimpse of. They’re very beautiful. And of course, crows and ravens abound. We see the odd hawk and eagle and very seldom, a Northern Flicker.

Like you, I’d love to hear all about the apartment in NYC. I hope Louise can have fun decorating it and making it just right for her.

She is, isn’t she? I so admire her ability to find the joy in the details of life, no matter how hard life gets.

Another lovely newsletter from LP. I read her words and wish I could follow through and just “live”. She is so inspiring.

Cathryne, that’s so very heartening to hear that there is good care out there. I’m going to check into Vitas against the time Vern or I need extra care. Since Vern is not willing to leave our house, I worry that the day will come that we will find ourselves in a situation where we HAVE to leave, and right away, so will have little choice in where we go. Knowing me, I’ll fight to the end, but this is a topic I’ve thought a lot about. If Vern dies before me (likely, as he is 15 years older than me), I won’t have anyone close to take care of me, and I will need to have put myself in a good position. You hear so much about elder abuse and private caregivers taking advantage of people, so I know I need to figure this out for myself. I know Vern’s daughter will do what she can, but I’m not really kin to her, and it would be difficult for her to do much from another city anyway. And I’m not really looking forward to being a burden on her and her family. So, I think I need to be more proactive in making sure I’m at least in an assisted living place that will really be able to give me what I need. The more I look into them, the more I think they will be great at the end, but not so great in the middle of the end, if you know what I mean, hahaha. There is a place here that is lovely – the apartments are very nice, and there’s a beautiful dining room, and other common rooms. It’s in a beautiful spot and has lovely gardens. BUT, once, some friends and I were visiting another friend there, and went to dinner in their dining room (anyone can go there for dinner, it’s just like a restaurant). While the food was mediocre, it wasn’t awful, but the waiter got every single one of our bills wrong – and never in our favor. There were 8 of us! At that rate, those older people who live there and just sign their bills to have them charged to their accounts, are probably being ripped off at every turn. How discouraging! Still, I’m sure there’s a way to figure everything out, and I continue to make my plans…. Vitas sounds like a good place to start.

Barbara, I was so glad to see your post! I tend to “turtle” as a couple of people here have called it, at certain times myself. It does help to have a place like the Bistro to come, though, where we can just be ourselves and know kindness and calm and good wishes await. Sometimes it is hard to find words and we don’t really have to explain here if it’s too hard, too overwhelming. And we don’t have to explain why rereading Louise Penny’s books may be our mental health tool of choice at the moment! We all have experienced being Surprised by Joy and Wonder over and over in her books, her author page posts, and in the Reread and Bistro posts of found friends.

I would like to share some information with anyone in the Bistro who may find in useful.
A wonderful visiting medical/caregiving group is helping me with my mom right now, starting about two months ago. They were recommended by my mom’s hospital dr. when she was hospitalized in mid Feb. for the manyeth time. So far, because of their great communication skills/plans, geriatric training and experience, insights and respect, Mom has been stable and feeling heard, listened to. And I know what is and isn’t happening and why and can give input. They are called Vitas Healthcare and work through Hospice, at least that’s how I was introduced to them. They are really worth looking into and are NOT just for the last weeks or months of life. Medicare covers all their services. Even though my mom lives in Assisted Living, we needed a very good Visiting MD service, including visiting nurse and other, less highly trained caregivers on a one or more times a week basis. The Visiting MD service we started with last Nov. just did not provide the care and communication needed, despite my serious efforts and the efforts of the Assis. Living medical staff to set up a system. I’m still pretty overwhelmed, but head above water, thanks to my family and Vitas. I’m posting about this group because I think there are others in the Bistro who are in similar situations and we all need each others’ understanding and help. I have found Louise’s sharing so helpful as I recognize some of my mom’s behaviors in the last year or so that mirror Michael’s early signs of trouble then and ahead and, slowly so it goes. Still, Mom is 91, so she and we have been fortunate. Both Anna and Louise’s information has been very, very helpful. I often think of what you have shared about your M.in-L. too, Barbara, and have used that info to help navigate my way, so many rules and procedures and, of course, emotional quicksand lurking around every corner.

More later, I hope, on a cheerier subject. Best thoughts to all.

Barbara, we all have times when we prefer to be quiet, and that’s perfectly okay. It’s always good to see your smiling face, and always good to know that you are here in the Bistro, curled up in a chair, reading, or just listening. I really ought to read some of the other pages again – keep thinking I’ll do it during a reread, that looks now, like it will not be until after the Great Reckoning. That title always reminds me of Sometimes a Great Notion. I didn’t read the book (probably should), but I immediately recognized in the title the words from the song Goodnight, Irene.


In the movie, the scene of Richard Jaeckel drowning in the river was so powerful that I have never forgotten it, even though I don’t remember much about the rest of the movie at all. So there’s a sense of dread coming with the next book, also tied up with a few loose ends from the last book… A good dread, as I know Louise won’t let us down on the Gamache front…

Anyway – enough of my musings – I hope everyone is doing well and keeping dry in some of the horrendous weather ravaging the US these days.

Hi to all. Thanks Cathryne and Julie for the concern. I visit multiple times a day. Sometimes I just choose a previous page and read. The primary reason I haven’t written lately is that I have been in another of my reclusive moods. I don’t phone or email friends. I think of them often as I do my friends here at the Bistro. Thanks for your concerns. Hugs and best thoughts. Now that I’ve posted maybe I’ll continue to do so. I feel better. Thanks, friends.

I’m feeling the same way, Cathryne. I know that both have lots on their plate, and I’ve decided to think that Anna is busy writing and polishing the second book in the Cove series, and with that, her daughter’s school activities, her planned trip to New York coming up, and her parents’ needs, she doesn’t have much time to write to us right now. I’m hoping that’s it. And Barbara, I’ve been hoping, is enjoying some spring weather and she and her sister are able to enjoy some time together… Little Mary Sunshine here. My husband’s daughters always would call and email when everything was fine, and when it wasn’t they’d “go dark”, and we wouldn’t hear from them, so no news was bad news to him. I keep trying to fight against that, just thinking that people with lots of “busy nothings” to quote Jane Austen, are happy and otherwise engaged… I think that’s because I’m the other way – when I’m worried, or upset, or sick, I tell everyone to the extent that I’m sure they wish I’d just go curl up somewhere and leave them alone, and when you don’t hear from me, it’s because I’m busy, hahaha. I do hope Millie is just taking it easy, and perhaps also enjoying some spring weather.

Our spring came in a real hot flash, but we have more seasonal weather now. It’s been nice as the sun shines every day or at least almost every day, but the temperatures are more moderate – 90 in April was enough to do me in! Especially one day after needing the furnace!

Julie, thanks for the remoulade sauce information. I’m going to try it and I HAVE to have some sautéed chicken livers too!

I can’t help feeling worried about Anna and Barbara. It’s been so long since either has posted. I’m hoping and assuming that Millie is following dr.’s orders and resting her eyes. Best thoughts to all.

On page 4 of the Bistro comments, Suzy Conover asked a question on March 10, 2016. She asks how Gamache inherited his dog, Henri. Suzy, he was Emilie’s dog and when she died in A Fatal Grace, Gamache adopted Henri.

Hi, Cathryne – I hope that cold stays away now! Doesn’t it know that spring is upon us? Here in the northwest, summer with all it’s sizzling heat has descended for a couple of days. We go from a 60 degree day to 90 degrees, to what is supposed to be 85 today! Two days ago, we needed the heat on – and now, we wish we had our window fan in, but tomorrow is supposed to go back to 60… crazy weather.

The tomatoes had a savory relish on them – I almost always find shortcuts to things, and in this case, I’m trying to replicate a remoulade sauce I had with some fried green tomatoes in Old Salem. They wouldn’t share their recipe, so I had to wing it, and I usually can get close to the taste. Mine wasn’t right there, but it was good, and hubby loved it I started with a red relish (I think it’s usually called Hamburger Relish in the stores). If we liked spicy foods, I’d probably start with a chili sauce, then I added diced garlic and crumbled bacon. It was tangy and a good complement to the tomatoes. Of course, you can’t find green tomatoes in the stores, either, so I went with a very firm heirloom tomato that is always green with red streaks in it. A nice combo.

I don’t blame you for listening to Still Life again – it’s nice to go back to the beginning and know it’s all ahead for these folks, isn’t it?

Julie, I’ve been meaning every day to let you know how much I loved your 26 dish dinner menu, with pictures! What a wonderful idea for your special celebation(s). And, afterward, no financial regrets! Pretty dishes and table, great memories.
Everything looked and sounded delicious, but my mind keeps coming back to the sautéed chicken livers and fried green tomatoes. What was on top of the tomatoes? I’m going to have to try those, if nothing else. My husband cooks more than I do these days and it would be fun to surprise him. Your idea was brilliant and I’m so glad you shared it with us.
I’m just finishing Q’s Legacy as I go through Helene Hanff’s books with such pleasure. A lovely woman.
i hope everyone is well, I’ve been worried with the Bistro so quiet, but maybe just silent comings and goings. I’ve been in and out without speaking as we’ve been passing a spring cold from 2 year olds to 5 year olds to their parents to the grands and back around again. I hope to not hear another cough for a long time.
Beat wishes to all as we navigate The Cruelest Month. I just listened to Still Life again, couldn’t help it! Enjoyed the remembered pleasures and, as always, marveled at a new joy here and there.
Recently read the new Jacqueline Winspeare, Journey to Munich. I liked it very much.
Again, best wishes to all.

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