LOUISE PENNY’S

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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”

Hi Julie. The photos are stunning. Since watching shows like Miss Fisher, I have a much greater appreciation of the art of costume design. I am not one who sews, hemming pants is about it, but I am currently trying to work out how to make a support top for Erin to help hold her shoulders and clavicles in place. There are commercial products but they don’t work for her particular problems. So have a giggle at me trying to do that with no clue but a passion to help. Fortunately her physio has some skill so together we will manage. Sourcing the fabric is the hardest, it has to stretch in one direction only.

Dad has just rung twice for things he wants but otherwise he is settling. He actually has more independence in many ways in the home and it is a lovely place. A far cry from the Lino floored warehouses of my youth. It looks like a country hotel with artworks and chandeliers and a good coffee machine. They also have morning and afternoon tea delivered to them with cake or slice. There is a physio and a massage therapist and aromatherapy. The bathroom is much easier to use and he can mobilize more as there is always someone around. He woke up in the night and they brought him hot chocolate!

I have been overstretched though. This week I slept a lot and it is hard to get used to the house. Erin says it seems very quiet and empty. The dog isn’t coping at all so there are little doggy disasters to clean up on a regular basis. We will all settle into our new routines eventually but it is hard.

I think your neighbors were lucky to have the help of you and your husband Julie but it must have been so difficult for all. I hope they found a place of peace when they moved. It really isn’t necessarily bad, just different.

Oh dear, watching the news from Paris. Don’t look at the TV Barbara. Sending my thoughts to the Parisians. Such a lovely place.

Anna – such a time you’ve had! Oh my – both parents needing you so fully has been so draining on you, I can tell. Thankfully, your indomitable spirit shines through. I don’t know how you find the energy, and clearly, getting sick in the middle of it means you stretched yourselves too far, but what a lot you have had to deal with! I’m glad your mum is getting some rest – I always think that when we sleep that much, it means we need rest, though of course, it can also be symptomatic of so many other things… But I think that rest above all else will help in some cases at least. And for your dad to go through such a lot, too. I know it had to be hard for you to get him settled, but I’m so glad he seems to be enjoying having some company and playing scrabble. As life gets narrower, I hope I can continue to find small joys to keep me at least pleasant to be around. I know it’s hard.

When I was a young wife for the first time, we lived across the hall from an elderly couple. He would often fall in the night either on his way to or from the bathroom, and they would wait til morning and knock on our door to ask for help to get him up. I was home alone one morning and couldn’t lift him up. He was a thin, frail old man and probably didn’t weigh as much as I did, but when he can’t help, which he couldn’t, it’s just dead weight, and impossible to lift. I felt so bad when they finally realized that they couldn’t live in their own home anymore, and they moved into a facility. They had so wanted their independence. It’s shameful that we’ve attached such stigma to places, and I am really hopeful that when my time comes I will be able to enjoy what is offered, as the seniors homes are so much better these days.

Why do I always go off on tangents? So hard to tell with me, hahaha. I’m so happy to have you guys posting – thanks to Millie for getting us started again!

Here comes another tangent. In the Jane Austen group, we have a lovely lady who is always dressed in something vaguely vintage. She does her own sewing, and it’s couture-quality clothing that she wears. Her daughter persuaded her to do an exhibit of her “life’s work” – for 50 years, she has been “costuming” – making clothes with vintage materials in the style of different eras in history. There are 40 dresses spanning from the 1740’s to the 1920’s – all stunning! I went with friends yesterday and was so completely blown away by her work. The 18th Century pieces are amazing – I wish you could see pictures, but photography wasn’t allowed – I’m hoping because we will be able to see a book coming out of it. I intend to push for that – I know they have a professional photographer who is taking photographs – so I’m hoping it means a book is in the offing. I will lend whatever help I can, of course. The exhibit is just through this weekend – a short 5 days – but so beautiful, and thankfully, lots of people were there when we were there. I’m docenting for her on Sat. and Sun., so get to see them again – yay! Here’s a link to the website with a few teaser photos: http://www.artofthecostume.com/costume-gallery.html

I typed my last post on my phone. Can you tell? It’s full of errors and reads poorly but I wanted to say hi.

I have been reading your blog of England Julie. It is so well done and the photos are stunning too. I love clotted cream and scones. Yum yum. I have been to a few of the same places but not that many. I lived in London for a couple of moths but didn’t end up doing all the tourist spots. I did see the Mousetrap though….that was over 25 years ago!

I am glad Julie’s writing cheered your sister Barbara. There is no time limit on grief but good on you for trying to find things to interest her. That isn’t easy when someone hasn’t shown much enthusiasm for life. I hope the weather isn’t getting you down. Did you find a light box?

My mum isn’t good of late. She has had a lot of hip pain. We have increased her pain meds as she was crying in agony and it was horrible. That was the other drama I had this week along with settling dad into the home. The good thing is she was much better today but very sleepy. The nurse was concerned but I would much rather she slept . She has cycles with the dementia where she is agitated at times and then sleepy at other times so it may be a combination effect.

I am happy the weather is miserable. Sorry Julie, but we need the snow and I have being doing a snow dance. It’s my fault entirely because it is working! Whistler is opening their season a week early. El Niño has been such an unknown quantity where the snow is concerned. It has brought moisture but not always the right temps to drop the freezing level. Hopefully when we arrive in January it will be spectacular. I wish we had longer then I could have popped down and bought you the coffee I owe you but that may have to wait until I am fully in country next year.

I was exercising hard to prepare for skiing but I was sick for a few weeks and with everything else going on so I stopped. Now I feel like I am starting from scratch again. But the snow has enthused me so I will make an effort.

Isn’t Millie doing great! You are Millie. I can’t wait to read your book but in English. I promise to give it a go in Spanish at some point. I will use Duolingo in preparation! Your mum has been a stunning literary success but only because she has had you. We appreciate the efforts you made. I think your mum does too but she doesn’t express it. Don’t worry, you are acknowledged and understood by us.

Cathryne….are you ok? Whatever is going on for you, my love and prayers are flowing in your direction.

Hi all. It has been an exhausting time so that is why I have been offline. Dad had a fall a couple of weeks ago in the short time I was out seeing mum. He wasnt basly hurt but I had to get the paramedics to help get him up and it was very distressing for all. It meant I couldn’t leave the house at all which is impossible. He moved into a home this week, initially for respite but I cant see how he would get home again fortunately he is happy enough and has had two scrabble games. It isnt perfect but it became necessary.
I have restarted writing. Heading toward 10000 words on book 3. It will get better but it has been too draining to do much.
I only briefly scanned the posts as I am on my phone. I have minutes as I wait at school for pickup. I will look and hopefully respond later tonight. Even though I dont have to be home for dad i have hardly been home getting done everything I couldn’t over the last few months. Sending love to you all.

Hi, Anna. Think of you working away on your books. You had gone directly to the draft of the 3rd book after writing the draft to the 2nd you told us. I imagine you are busily creating. What a fun and exciting time for you.
Hope your Mother and Father are doing well. My MIL still manages to have some days where she responds to questions like ” Do you hurt?” Or such that she answers yes or no. She seems content and eats well. We really can’t expect more.
Good and caring thoughts to you.

Julie, I loved reading about your experiences in England. Needlework tours ! You must have seen some beautiful pieces. I have learned so much from my fellow Three Piners. I appreciate that you share your experiences. Four weeks in London……I would have eyestrain from trying to see everything possible.
You are generous to help others with their books. It must be very rewarding.
Thanks for the link to the Ball. Being in the midst of so many people dressed in beautiful period clothing dancing to the music of the era must have been like a trip back in time.
Your dress was beautiful. I showed the links to my Sister and she was amazed. She was really interested. She seldom has interest or enthusiasm for anything and I was elated to see her reaction. October was a bad month for her as it marked the 4th anniversary of her husband’s auto accident and death 10 days later. November 7th would have been his 98th birthday and then yesterday was Veterans’ Day and he was a career soldier. Don’t intend to sound maudlin but I wanted you to know that your sharing had a farther reaching outcome than just sharing with The Bistro Group. Thanks.

Barbara – so glad to see you posting. I was starting to get worried that nobody was posting, even though I knew we’d have some fall-off after we’d discussed the book initially, and then people get busy – I know that Anna is trying to edit while dealing with a busy-busy life, and planning her trip to North America! She’ll be in Whistler this winter, but I’m afraid I don’t remember when she leaves…

Thank you so much for letting me know about your sister – I had such a wonderful time in England, and originally wrote the blog the way I usually keep a journal when I travel. I wanted to be able to share with my needlework-happy friends as it was happening, and it was such a huge trip for both my husband and myself. Still, we had an ITINERARY to try to keep to – we had so many appointments that couldn’t be missed, and so we soldiered on at times… I would need at least two weeks just to see everything I wanted to see in the V and A – of course, a lot of it, I’d want to see twice, hahaha. I tried everything to get my eyes full, but jet-lag was such a problem, it was over a week before we could even sleep through the night. And I still drag around some after every time change! That doesn’t make a lot of sense, because it’s only one hour – but what a difference it makes for me now. When I was younger, it didn’t really affect me. I’ve spent the last week sleeping til noon every day and being awake til at least 3 – I need to try to move back a little, and maybe get up by 10… The next two weeks should do it – I’ve got tons of appointments – they don’t start til around noonish, so not at the crack of dawn, but still, it will force me to at least get up in the morning, hahaha.

I hope all is well with you, Barbara. I’m sensing something – sometimes, when I’m quiet, it’s because something’s wrong. Maybe not any big thing, but a lot of little things? Just a sadder time of year, maybe, as everything is dying for the winter… and of course, it looks like we are in for another horrible winter. The weather these days seems hell-bent for scraping us off the face of the earth – can’t say I blame it, we haven’t been very good stewards…

I’m rambling now, so I’ll stop. But I’m just so pleased to hear from you again…

Hi, to all! I’ve been quiet for a while. No big problems. Just the quieter side of me. I have read and reread the postings. I’m thrilled with Millie’s story of her trip to Puerto Rico. How wonderful that you helped your Mother to have such an experience. If not for you, none of it would have happened.
I just can’t wait for your book. You already have opportunities to showcase it ! Having a deadline set puts you in the situation of an author with a deadline for publication. No pressure there.
Your DIL is talented too. Do your grandchildren show writing ability or are they too young yet ?
What an exciting time in your life. I’m happy and thrilled for you !

Oh, Millie – what a wonderful thing to go with your DIL to the writer’s conference. I love how encouraging the organizer was, and on the lookout for new talent! Wonderful!

Millie, the V & A lives up to every one of your dreams! Used to be, you could go into the sampler study room at any time, pull out one of the samplers from the drawers, take it to a table and study it all you wanted. I was one of the very last people to get to do that, as right before my visit, they had shut it down for “refurbishing”, but since they hadn’t actually started yet, the guard was wheedled into letting a group of us go in for just a half hour. We ran in and pulled out the couple of samplers that just HAD to be seen, and then whatever else we could see in the time. It was a rush in more ways than one, hahaha. Now, you have to make an appointment, but it is well worth it. You need to make an appointment at the Fitzwilliam museum in Cambridge, too, as well as the Embroiderer’s Guild, and The Royal School of Needlework – both those are housed in Hampton Court, which is wonderful fun to look through. I couldn’t get an appointment at the Royal School, even though I had asked for one about a year in advance – but everywhere else, I was able to get one. In fact, I did a blog while I was over there. I see my other post was finally put up, so I’ll post the link here. In case you’re interested – I did mostly needlework tours, but a few other fun things, like the theatre and afternooon tea. I love England, and we were 5 weeks in England (four of them in London, and then one week in Yorkshire, for a needlework course).

http://juliegoestoengland.blogspot.com/search?updated-max=2010-06-12T13:46:00-07:00&max-results=100&start=1&by-date=false

Thank you Anna, for your kindness in updating the Bistro on my behalf. I really need to work on finding time for all the things and people important to me and not focus on just one thing only one thing for weeks or even months at a time. But I do have moments I’m 5 years old again around my mom…

I haven’t completely caught up reading all the posts, but hope all with aging family members are coping, and everyone is doing well.

I better go to my desk now and seriously pick up where I left off writing… I’ve come to realize all I have to do is ‘show up’ at my desk every day and let the story unfold before I have the entire story mapped out in my head. It’s a lot like life itself. Just take it one day at a time.

Yes, a cruise sounds delightful, but when my hubby’s car is in the shop he takes my wheels and I’m house bound. Not a problem when I could hardly walk, much less drive. Yesterday I did have my vehicle so picked up my DIL (who has written 15 books – ahh youth filled with encouragement) and we went to the first writers conference held at the fine arts center of a local college to listen. Most authors couldn’t hold a candle to Louise but I kept that to myself. 🙂

The really terrific part came afterwards. I walked up to the woman organizing the event, asked if they ever did bilingual events and told her of mom’s book of poetry and the International Book Fair we had just attended. “As a matter of fact, we want to next year.” I’m ‘booked’ for April to present mom’s poetry and talk about her, that’s it’s never too late to pursue a new creative adventure… The school has a great fine arts program and wants to show students ‘success stories’.

Then I introduced her to my DIL. Poor thing turned beet red. Years ago she had taken only one class at this college, having gone to UCF by Orlando. The class was on self publishing. She remembered my DIL and asked her to participate in an upcoming panel discussion. But I almost passed out when my DIL turned the table on me and told the organizer I could probably finish my own book for the April event. And I thought October was too soon! It’s a testament to how much we care about each other that we’re still on speaking terms. lol…

You should be proud of yourself helping others launch their books. It’s a lot of work but very satisfying, indeed.

Thank you so much for sharing your adventure, Julie. You look glorious in your dress. And your talk was fascinating. At least to me who loves needlework. My jaw dropped at the white cut work, pulled and drawn thread sampler done by a child! I haven’t mastered that but my mom has beautiful table cloths embellished that way along with embroidery. I’m so jealous you’ve been to the Victoria and Albert Museum. It’s been on my bucket list for years. And the video of the dancing was a treat. Wish we lived closer.

Millie – I wrote a long answer to some of your questions about how things went, but because I had some links in there, the comment “awaits moderation”. So, if they don’t go through – you can email me at abucksworth@gmail.com and I can send you links to see “the dress” as well as a link to a blog post that outlines my talk, and another to a little bit of film showing the ball at the event, with so many in costume.

Millie, thanks for all the questions about my fall adventure – the answers are hidden away in previous pages, but I don’t want you to have to go looking for them, haha. The Jane Austen general meeting was held in Louisville, KY, which turns out to be a very beautiful place – who knew? Rolling countrysides – you can see why this is where they have all the thoroughbred horses! My talk went well – and in fact, if anyone’s interested, you can read a version of it here http://randombitsoffascination.com/portfolio/schoolgirl-embroidery-in-regency-britain-by-julie-buck/
– my writer friend asked if she could put it on my blog after the event! She is such a lovely person. Proofreading for her has been so good – she is so thankful, and I love her writing very much, so that works out really well. As well, she’s a member of JASNA (Jane Austen Society of North America) and I got to meet her in Louisville – in fact, we spent some time together, and it was wonderful.

Besides the talk, there was the even itself – 1000 people attended the ball on Saturday night – and I think fully half of them dressed in period garb! It was wonderful. My dress was ready to pick up practically on my way to the airport – and it was so beautiful! I didn’t do it justice, but it was fun to wear, and I got compliments galore on it. Here’s a pic of me and the author friend. She has a funny kind of bump-out at her rear end – it’s where she has her train hiked up and held out of her way by a little piece of the design – very clever – she made her gorgeous red dress herself!
https://picasaweb.google.com/116634764800697602903/Oct152015?authkey=Gv1sRgCLHZtonViI734AE#6206033881758952402

I think that link works, though we had trouble finding one that did.

Here is a little bit of film of the ball – so very fun, though I just watched.

https://www.facebook.com/lynnae.elisabeth/videos/10153629735882158/

It all sounds so wonderful! I’m so pleased that everyone was so nice, and that your mom was honored – it sounds like a dream. I’m also glad that you were able to come to the rescue and read some of her poems, too. Loved your descriptions of the food – what a wonderful “add-on” to so much fun already! And so happy that people took you both under their wings and made things work so well for you. It sounds like it was everything it should have been and more, and what more could we wish for you?

I hope you do, indeed, go back next year with your own book, but don’t put pressure on yourself – if it’s two years away, so be it….

I’ve had a little bit of experience with the book-signing. My business partner and I put together a book on a friend’s collection of needlework samplers, and to launch the book, we came to San Francisco (where she lives) and did a few book-signings in different places. The first was at Hospice in San Mateo, where all the profits went – it was her favorite charity. She sold a lot of books there, and for each one she signed, she must have written half a page! She is such a gracious lady – she wouldn’t be rushed, she gave each person her undivided attention, and wrote such lovely inscriptions – each different and personal – that I know she endeared herself to them forever. She stayed and wrote for hours… At the last shop, even after she’d signed books for everyone who was there, and some who had called in orders but couldn’t make it, she was asked to sign a number for the shop to have. She wrote an inscription that was much more than her name, but I can’t recall now what it was – but she wouldn’t hear of just putting her name, even for people she would never meet!

A few years later, another friend wrote a wonderful book that Becky and I laid out, designed and published. This was a big, serious book, and we are quite rightly proud of this accomplishment. For that, we also had a small “launch” and the author signed books for hours – she was so excited that anyone wanted her autograph! For both of those, I always felt good that we were able to give these two ladies something that they’d remember forever.

Next, it will be your turn!

Millie, I vote for the cruise! After a very short while, the car will seem like nothing special, but on the cruise, you will make memories that will last forever! Plus – you unpack once but visit so many places, take each day as it comes, have a quiet day of being pampered, or a whirlwind visit to sights in a new locale – what could be better? And if you all go, depending on numbers, you can get a couple of suites, with more room to spread out, and a nice place to “hang” if you’re having a day so lazy you don’t feel like leaving the room… Just saying…

P. S. I forgot to mention another highlight for my mom. For the last two weeks she’s been at our house and it was a whirlwind of visits from our sons, seeing their homes, meeting my 2 granddaughters, her great grands for the first time. That was a treat for her because my grands are not shy and immediately took to her. My brother’s granddaughter lives only a few miles from mom, yet at almost four has never let my mom near her, much less sit on mom’s lap and give her hugs and kisses… Also drove mom around to see some houses for sale in the area, at her request. I’m not sure she’s ready to move but she showed interest. My younger son went out of his way to make her feel she was important in his life. And she met his wife for the first time too. My elder of the two has his hands quite full with the babies and didn’t have the opportunity to come over as often, but nontheless a great catch up. This trip was good for both of us. I know mom is dealing with dad’s passing well, so I can relax about her. And mom knows she can travel on her own just fine. She mentioned during the drive to the airport a family cruise to the Bahamas would be fun. We’ll see. new car for hubby or cruise? Lol. Good night all.

Hi Julie, today I got a lot of errands done that had been patiently waiting and then realized I had to go back to mid May to start catching up. I’m afraid I haven’t been a good Bistro friend for a while. Just re-read this afternoon about your proof reading for a fan fiction author. How’s that going. And do you have any more news on your needlework workshop for Fall of 2016 in the East Coast? Hope you haven’t had any more bouts with pneumonia…

The International Book Fair was amazing. Being a year they highlighted poetry mom was a huge success. One, she’s 84 so a lot of the really young writers were in awe of her. Then, she traveled such a long distance to get there. One evening she was honored and given a gorgeous certificate. She was too emotional to recite more than one her poems so one of the organizers whispered in my ear… After the clapping died down, the organizer took the mic from mom, and started reciting poems had I whispered back were mom’s favorites. Then she introduced me and I read others. The clapping, the approval was not something mom expected. Nor did she expect anyone to buy much less ask her to sign their copy. I had her practice ‘book signing’ the night before and she didn’t believe me that people would ask. Told her I had waited in line to have an author sign my copy of their book… Huge new experience for her.

We lived in Puerto Rico during my late teens (dad was transferred there for five years) and mom had made some long lasting friendships as well as having some distant relatives. One became our chauffeur during the entire stay. Picked us up in the morning at the hotel where we were staying. An absolutely gorgeous place. Then stopped bye around noon to check on mom, and came back to pick us up. That is until we met an author who now is a professor at the University I attended while living there and who lives close to the hotel we were staying. She knew all the incredibly good ‘local’ places to eat. So off we would go with her after the second day. OMG! I felt I was in a tropical Bistro with incredible food everywhere. But the first night we asked the concierge if there was a place with good food we could walk to. Just around the corner was an Argentine (where I was born) restaurant run by an Argentine family. From salad to desert I was in heaven. I’ve never mastered a type of cookie sandwich with a cooked condensed milk filling then edges rolled in shaved coconut which is served at all big family reunions as desert. They had them. Only they were salad plate sized and served with a scoop of Vanilla Bean ice cream and sliced strawberries. Good thing mom said she didn’t want desert. We shared.

OK, enough about the food, back to the event. The day after mom being honored, there was a big news write up about the event AND my mom and the President of the Book Fair went to mom’s table and apologized for not having been able to attend (his wife fell and broke her arm) but was delighted to hear she had received such a warm reception etcetera. When he asked if we had any questions, I jumped at the opportunity. He was indeed a fount of helpful information but when others realized he was there the cameras and smart phones came out. I took a few pictures of mom and him surrounded by her new ‘adoring fans’! I thought that was the end of our conversing. To my surprise he showed up the following day with books for me from his collection. Said I couldn’t possibly accept them he said he just wanted to see me back next year even if it was in English only and not translated to Spanish.

Another wonderful outcome for mom was friends told friends and she continued to meet the warmest, kindest people the entire time.

Those are the good parts, the not so good part was sharing a room with her for 9 nights. She’s an early to bed person and I’m not. We got there two days before the event to get our bearings and sightsee. The night before the event started we were both nervous and at one point I thought she was going to ask for a separate room. I had turned off all the lights and was just sitting out in the private patio trying to get to my happy place so I could fall asleep. She kept coming out asking when was I going to get to bed. That would make me jump out of my skin and make it worse. Next evening I set boundaries. Don’t DO that! Lol. But all in all we both had a terrific time.

It did and didn’t amaze me the amount of work it took before and during to make it seem effortless for mom. Louise’s assistant Lise must have her hands full! I did most of the talking, answering questions, writing down the names of people who wanted their books signed. I loved it and was grateful for the experiences I’ve had that prepared me for this. And that I could walk and stand with ought hurting. I’ll never forget it. Actually, I hope to repeat it. Does the idea scare me? You bet! It’s hard to critique poetry, a novel is a different beast. But the warmth and affection I’ve received here and during the event have replaced most of my fears with enthusiasm. So as of tomorrow I have serious, but fun, work to do to meet my deadline. At least I have one now.

Thank you all for just being who you are. I’ll work on popping in more often.

Millie – we’ve been waiting to hear how it went – sounds wonderful! I don’t think it could have gone better, from the sounds of it, not having the Mac totally under control notwithstanding! Yippee! I’m so excited for you – we will be standing by watching as next year, you take your own book to the fair! I hope your Mom had the time of her life! Such excitement!

Oooh – I found not only Barney Miller but also Mary Tyler Moore and Dick Van Dyke – I’m in heaven! This was real television – entertaining and witty!

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