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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”

Barbara, I’m so glad you like the new Dr. – that’s one of the most important things, I think, to feel at ease with a Dr’s orders – to like and trust him or her. I know that sounds kind of frivolous, but it’s not – we have great instincts – the reason we might not like a Dr. is because we know they are not doing what’s best for us…

Opening the flood gates and having homes flooded out is awful – the choices we face sometimes can be heartbreaking. Even if there is money given to people to help mitigate the devastation, nothing is going to bring back precious belongings lost in the floods – photographs, especially. I am glad that basically ALL of my photographs are on the computer and therefore, also in the cloud, so they can’t be lost. Even all the old family photos – we scanned them in years ago for my parents’ funerals and shared them around the kids, so we all have a set. Mine are in the cloud, so I will always be able to get them back even when I lose a computer. Actually, wouldn’t that be a good project for kids to do for families – scan in old photos and put them on the cloud, so everyone in the family can have copies, and also so they won’t be lost…

I’m still busy reading along in the Anne Perry books – I had read what I thought was all the books available in the Monk series long ago, and but clearly either I hadn’t, or it was so long ago that she has done so many since… I don’t know how fast she writes – Louise’s one book a year seems lightning fast to me – how much faster could you do a good job, and Perrry’s books are full of research, though I expect a lot of it is almost second nature to her now as she must have been researching Victorian London for years now. But this latest one I’m reading is all about the life on the river and the docks, and the Pool of London, which is a term I hadn’t even heard of, but basically, the London Bridge was so built-up all around the pilings that it basically almost stopped the flow of the Thames in a big part of the river in the city and formed a “pool” which is where all the ships docked and unloaded cargo. The life of the poor people who lived on or near the wharfs there had to be hard to research, and she goes into great detail. I’m enjoying the books, and even more so now that I know some of her history, as I think it colors all of her discussions about good and evil.

I stand corrected. There is a Federal Law that bans the use of bed rails in nursing homes. I understand the dangers but falling on your head is also dangerous.
Anna, are you home? Hope you have recovered.
I see the new pulmonologist this AM. Couldn’t get warm late yesterday and head congestion came during night. At least I have an appointment.
The practice my former Dr referred me to did not answer the phone for two weeks after a call to say I needed to reschedule. The machine had the message that I was calling out of office hours even though I was not. I hope all goes well today.
On another, and more interesting topic, I learned last week that the dam shown in the Hunger Games was Thurmond Dam near us. Digitalization was used to show the dam with all the flood gates fully open. Recently, the Army Corps of Engineers, which manages the dam, opened all the gates fully due to too much water coming in from rains north of us. They waited too long and had to release so much water that homes along the river flooded. The gates were open for days. The local news showed breath taking views of the water roiling through the gates. Many pictures were on facebook as people posted pictures of themselves by the dam. The gates are not often opened fully so some wanted pictures.
Must dress for Dr.’s appointment.

Oh,Barbara – such a time as you’ve had! I’m glad you are seeing a different doctor – there are some things that are just too important to let things lie, and your health is definitely one of them! I hope the new doc can make a big difference for you!

I can’t imagine that there isn’t something that could be done to help your MIL… when someone falls out of bed that often, it becomes such a danger at that age… I constantly worry that my poor hubby is going to fall out of bed… I get up in the night and come back to see him barely hanging on the edge of the bed – this is from years when my hot flashes meant he couldn’t be touching me or I’d be burning up! Well, that’s all over now, and I’d welcome him being closer, but of course, now he is trained, even in his sleep, hahaha. I have to keep waking him up and having him move. If he fell, I certainly couldn’t get him up, and I don’t see how even paramedics would get him down the stairs (we have a very narrow staircase that they had trouble getting me down – they wouldn’t let me walk, even though I could). He’s a big man. I have a new rule now, for if either of us needs a paramedic again, and that is to get downstairs and wait for them there.

Anyway – it does seem to me that guard rails ought to be available if a patient isn’t going to fight them… safety first!

This, too, shall pass, I know – but it gets frustrating, doesn’t it? Meanwhile, at least it’s a nice, crisp day. My friends are all going to Georgia today – I have one friend in Poughkeepsie, and two from here, who are attending a conference on needlework for MESDA (Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts) which is in Old Salem, in NC. They are holding their conference this time in Athens, Georgia as there are some things they want to study that cannot be moved. I took a look at the schedule and then at the location of the suggested hotels, and realized that the museum is on campus and the hotel just outside, and my friends would want to walk – it’d be about a mile, which I can do, but not at a brisk pace, which they would want to do. Unfortunately, it became clear to me that it was better to skip than to try to change their expectations. If we’d been able to get a hotel further away then we’d have to rent a car, and I know they’d prefer not to do that, while I would definitely prefer to do it, so I decided to just let it be.

You made the right choice, Julie. Athens is very cold and windy in winter. My Jr. and Sr. years of college were there. I hope your friends fair well and have a fun time. I never liked Athens in winter.
Like you I can walk at my pace. No speed walking or power walking for me. When Sam retired and started accompanying me everywhere, we had a few discussions about walking too fast. He still walks 3 times a week at the Y but just has to slow down when we are out.
I often had to remind the boys I dated in my teens that I was short and my steps were much shorter than theirs.

Hi to All. This is a beautiful sunny crisp day in Ga. As it should be this time of year. I’ve enjoyed reading the posts and learning all that you are up to. What an adventuresome group. Skiing, ocean kayaking, swimming with the wild creatures. WOW you folks leave me breathless LOL. I usually am away. Joke on me.

Yesterday was unbelievable ! After months of no pulmonologist, the situation settled. I have never dealt with such an unprofessional practice .

A person I was talking with at the grocery store was a former patient of the same Dr.(who married and moved) as I. She told me about her new Dr. Yesterday, I got my records from radiology at the hospital he had used. I also got a print out of his office records and took them to the Dr. I will see on Fri. I have been off one med since August.

Petey had a recheck too. We will be scheduling tests for him in a week or so. He has to complete some meds first. He will then go on flovent inhaler in addition to proair.

The 25 year old TV started acting weird along with all the other trouble a few weeks ago. We have a new flat screen and Sam has just assembled the stand\table. Next an appointment with the cable company. I watched both episodes of Downtown Abbey on line. Great to see them again.

Hope you are well Anna and your husband too, Catheryn.

My MIL fell after getting out of bed Sat. night. This time they did take her to the hospital and then back to the nursing Home. They say it is illegal to use bed rails on nursing home beds. Third fall in less than 3 months. Sam’s family accepts whatever they are told so it will happen again. I can’t think of it without wanting to scream. There must be an answer. I have not interacted with any of them since 2002. I can’t do anything to help.

I’m going to visit the Bistro and look into the fire.

Peace, calm and contentment to all.

I hope you scribbled down the details of the apartment Julie. That sounds like a great dream.
I managed to get out of bed and head to lunch with a couple of new friends and did a little walk in the snow. It has been snowing all day. So beautiful as long as you don’t have to shovel it.
The skiers have been home and out again to the pool or après ski. Hopefully they will collect me for dinner time.

I hadn’t heard it before, either, but didn’t think to go look it up – just kind of “extrapolated” as I do, and thought it was maybe short for “allergy” which then got extrapolated to any kind illness with coughing and congestion… I wasn’t that far off the mark, hahaha.

Anna, as I read you asking if I wasn’t the one who’d spent Christmas in the hospital, I thought to myself – “Oh, THAT, that was nothing”, hahaha. And luckily, it wasn’t anything awful.

Interestingly, I woke up this morning walking through an empty apartment to see if I wanted to buy it… Designing and decorating my “dream home” does take up most of my daydreaming time, but this is a first for it to be my night-dreaming topic, too! Hahaha. I do hope that apartment exists – it was perfect for what I want to do…

The Seahawks certainly managed to squeak through – but maybe they’re owed one after last year’s debacle!

The dreaded lurgy was from the Goons but it is very common vernacular in Australia! Didn’t realise I was using an uncommon term. It’s a favourite of mine. Sorry to hear your husband is sick Cathryne, it’s not nice!

“coming down with a nasty lurgy…” Anna, I had to look up the word ‘lurgy,’ a word I don’t remember seeing or hearing before. THE DREADED LURGY, what a wonderful word/phrase. I think my husband has it right now.

You are too funny Julie. Aren’t you the one who spent Christmas in hospital? We all have crazy lives but that is life, never bland. I am actually enjoying a day with nothing to worry about but me and my tissues. Of course, if there was someone here to make the tea that would be good too. Just have to enjoy whatever comes our way although easier said than done.
How are you Barbara? Is it cold down south? Millie said Florida was cold, for Florida but warming up again. Hope you are ok too Millie!

I looked up the Sharks Cathryne. Very sweet really. Prettier than wobbegongs but similar kinds of creatures that we have. I was interested to see that La Jolla sharks are primarily pregnant females!
I totally understand about putting out fires every day. I think the most tiring thing is that there is always something to fix but it does have smoother patches.
I am drinking lots of Earl Grey tea. The hot chocolate is a little rich for me right now. So hoping this cold is short lived but I lay in bed and watched the Seahawks win. It was a lucky win for sure but I am not complaining. My friend was watching in Australia and we video face timed during the game so that was good fun and he could explain the finer points of the game. I laughed when my daughter was doing that the other day, watching TV with her friend beside her on the iPad but hey, it’s quite a good way to have company and I know I won’t be sending my bugs over the wifi!

It’s wonderful what an inspiration Louise is for us all, isn’t it? I can’t imagine anyone handling her situation with more grace and humor, yet it isn’t a “manufactured” kind of grace. It’s not PR – this is her real life, and she just throws the door wide open and invites us in. It takes a remarkable woman to do that. I wish I had half her strength! Cathryne and Anna – you, too, have to have that kind of strength for your parents, and you are handling it so well… Good on you! Barbara – I know you have struggles too, and some days I think of you all and what you have on your plates, and I am exhausted. Can’t imagine what I’d do if I actually had to DO anything, besides just read about it, hahaha. At any rate – I am here cheering you on. You’re all brave and strong in my book!

I’m not brave, Anna, but the sight of little kids snorkeling, peering down at the seemingly uninterested leopard sharks, inspires confidence. I’ve never heard of a problem in the 42 years we’ve lived in San Diego. That doesn’t mean I don’t jump and gasp when a seal or sea lion pops its head up occasionally! If you google La Jolla Shores leopard sharks, you can see pictures and info.

So sorry to hear about your cold, but I agree, a wonderful place to lie back and take care of yourself. Do you feel up to more gingerbread hot chocolate?

Assisted Living is the right place for my mom and it’s part of the same facility where she lived in Independent Living before. It’s been hard, but the staff is so kind and caring and smart. I’m still putting out fires, as it were, every day, but things improve, inch by inch. You and the Bistro friends have been such a help and encouragement, as well as Louise in her posts and monthly letters, such hearts.

Great line Julie-“struggled cheerfully”! I love it. I aspire to be like HH!
Great to hear from all. I have been thinking of you. Leopard sharks Cathryne’s?! You brave woman you but love the sound of the sea kayaking. It is quite popular in Australia too.
I did get out and ski yesterday in the new boots I bought at the end of the last trip so hadn’t really worked them out. They are very good and I skied without agony in my legs. The problem was twofold though. The snow was wonderful and everyone was enthusiastic and I overdid it somewhat. My ski carer is normally very careful to make sure I don’t do more than I should because when I hit the wall that’s it. The other problem was I was coming down with a nasty lurgy and was shaking which I thought was nerves. Turns out it might have been but I have a nasty cold. In spite of all of that I actually skied well and really enjoyed it until the wall was hit.
Being completely sensible today I am staying home in bed. The family has gone out and Erin is loving her new boots. They are making skiing more enjoyable and safer for her. It was pretty cold yesterday and that was a bit hard on her toes (lovely ice lollies for a cannibal she said). The cold is making the snow lovely so we aren’t complaining.
My friend is recovering and sending constant messages of advice and encouragement. He will be a little disappointed that I can’t ski today but I must say the bed is very comfortable.
How is your mum coping in the Assisted Living Facility Cathryne? How are you coping? It just isn’t easy is it. Big hugs.
I hope you get your mugs and cookbook soon Julie. When Louise advertised them on her Facebook they sold pretty quickly. Danny had emailed to make sure he put the right number aside for me. I am sure they will get yours to you very soon.
Sending love to everyone. If you have to be sick in bed, Whistler isn’t a bad place to do it.

Anna – you made it! Wonderful! I hope you are able to get out as much as you want and enjoy the skiing even without your buddy/carer. If that doesn’t work, I recommend the tobogganing, as Cathryne mentioned… most of the same kind of fun without the trauma of having to remain on your feet the whole way down… Of course, I’m sure tobogganing cannot be done on the same slopes, but hopefully, there are hills designated for sleds and toboggans.

I have ordered a Three Pines mug and one of the charity cookbooks that Louise mentioned awhile back, but the mugs were out of stock and I asked them to wait and ship them all together when the mugs came in again. I’m glad you got yours within the window of your being in the country – that makes life a lot simpler, doesn’t it?

Cathryne – I heartily recommend Helene Hanff’s other books, too. There are at least three others that I’ve read and re-read… “Underfoot in Show Business”, “Letter from New York” and the aforementioned “Apple of My Eye”… “Letter from New York” is a series of 5-minute essays that were broadcast in England on the BBC that Helene did for them, and “Underfoot” is the story of her young life as a failed playwright. She struggled cheerfully all her life, I think, and managed to live a “life of letters” without ever having achieved much fame or fortune. The little flurry surrounding “84” gave her enough of a taste, I think, and especially, finally allowed her to go over and see England which she was dying to do! Otherwise, she toiled away in anonymity but had a good, happy life, I think. Wouldn’t she just be right at home in Three Pines? Colorful, a tad acerbic, loyal to her friends and very creative. What more could they want?

Barbara, I loved your “Happy So Far So Good New Year” too. Pretty much covered it all. Yesterday I went to my mom’s Assisted Living facility in the morning and heard someone ask the receptionist how things were going. Her “So far so good,” answer made me think of you and smile.

Anna, I was thrilled to see that you are in Whistler now AND enjoying your Three Pines mugs! It seemed so far away in time when you mentioned ordering mugs to be delivered to you on vacation, but here you are and here they are. How smart of you to think of doing it. And Danny and Lucy did their part so efficiently. Aren’t the mugs nice? Perfect for hot chocolate, with a marshmallow spreading itself across the top. Gingerbread hot chocolate sounds wonderful.
So sorry about your friend not being able to come, I hope the skiing is going well and safely. Are the new ski boots for darling daughter working well?
When I was growing up, we lived in Denver for a year and we often went to the mountains to toboggan, the greatest fun! Happy memories. Even here in Caifornia, we took our sons to the mountains sledding and loved it. In some ways comparable to surfing and ocean kayaking, now that I think about it. I love kayaking and once my older son and I rode a wave into shore at La Jolla Shores with leopard sharks surfing in, one on each side of us! There are many leopard sharks there, just part of the scenery. Or maybe we’re just part of the scenery to them…
Have a wonderful time on your vacation in such a beautiful place. When I think of you I don’t have to imagine you being in a different time of day, tonight or tomorrow, but right now in my own time zone, like Julie.

Julie and Anna, when I read your posts about Helene Hanff’s books, I pulled my copies out and reread 84 Charing Cross Road and The Duchess of Bloomsbury. They were, again, a treat beyond words and just what I needed. I’m so glad you talked about them and shared your pleasure with them here in the Bistro. I’ve had some reading disappointments lately and keep going back to Louise Penny’s books for familiar pleasures, new insights and deeper thoughts. The H. H. books were a lovely interlude and I kept thinking how well Helene would fit into Three Pines!

Well we made it to Whistler yesterday and upon checking in to the hotel I found a parcel waiting for me from Brome Lac Books. Thanks to Danny and Lucy and the team I have my Three Pines mugs. I was very excited. Just waiting for my friend to finish skiing and we are have gingerbread hot chocolate in our mugs. No skiing for me today but maybe tomorrow. I had to leave my ski buddy/carer behind as he needed surgery. It is a very different holiday without him and horrid for him too as he was looking forward to it. My husband, daughter and friends have offered to help but bless them, they aren’t quite as au fait with making it work for me. Needs that combination of doctor and expert skier that my friend is. Still, I should be able to do some baby runs in the morning and a friend who is a ski instructor is going to take me out in the afternoon.
My daughter got her first pair of ski boots today. Hope they work better than rentals to hold her feet together. She also has some unique needs in that department. She is out trying them now.
How is everyone holding up? There has been some cold weather in lots of places. Stay warm. On the flight over the flight map listed different cities and I would think of who lived near each place and hoped all was ok

It’s funny, isn’t it, how much you care about Patsy and Helene? She (Helene Hanff) was another one who had a real gift and it is so wonderful to read about her adventures and friendships. She was what I think of as one of the many, many, unsung talents toiling away in obscurity. She poked her head up once, for awhile, and got some recognition, with 84 Charing Cross Road, but her other books are just as wonderful, in my opinion, and she was clearly a very intelligent, well-read person. I missed being in New York at the same time as her by a few months. She lived in the last apartment (whose real address is on the letters in the book) until she died, in April of the year we went, but we went in October. I still went to her building, to see where she sat on the “stoop” outside with all the dogs and their owners, and spoke to her doorman. He said lots of English people came to see the building, but not many others. I also went to see the hotel she stayed at on her first trip to London, though she’d never have been able to afford it now – they “poshed it all up” to the extent that I was too intimidated to go in and have a drink in the bar, hahaha. I’m a silly girl…

Thank you Julie for the book. I rationed myself as much as possible but I finished it just now. Of course I can read it again and again. I am sure much of NY has changed but I will not something of what it was as well as what it has become! I can hear Helen and Patsy’s voices chatting away as I see the sights, Helen telling informative anecdotes and Patsy dashing around excitedly and saying “Write that down!” I was so sad to see Patsy died young.

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