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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”

Sounds perfect to me Julie. I love Washington State and the whole northwest. Give me cool any day.

Cooler weather here has given firefighters some relief fortunately. The cold front that brought snow down south has cooled things here.

I hope you all had a good Thanksgiving full of family and peace.

Oh, prawns are another favorite, and I have no idea where ours come from (which is awful when you think about it), but I could eat a lot of them, too! Another thing I love cold with sauce, but at least that’s cooked, my hubby says! He can’t imagine how I can eat the raw oysters!

I forget how many of our images of Christmas are tied to snow and Santa Claus, which is odd, considering that if we’re really talking about honoring the birth of Christ, it should be hot and desert-like…

I’ve heard of your awful bush fires – we have the same problem in California and it’s seeping northward so that even Washington (which should still be damp after winter rains) smolders in the summer these days. I love summer for the carefree days I remember as a youth, but to actually go out in the sun and heat – ummmm – no. hahaha I am actually in the climate that suits me best. While the sun doesn’t shine much, it DOES sometimes, and it never gets too cold, and seldom gets too hot.

The end of the school year is nearly upon us Julie. The Private schools begin to wrap up late next week. The public schools have a couple more weeks after that and they all go back at the end of January so 6-8 weeks off for summer. Not quite as long as in the US. They also get breaks at the end of each term for about two weeks.

Very hot and windy here today but talk of snow in Tasmania! It’s been wild weather across the country. Awful bushfire in South Australia has destroyed a lot of property and taken at least two lives. Summer has become more a tense time of storms and fires instead of the carefree days of my youth but it is a mix.

Christmas is a little bizarre as so much of the celebration is heavily influenced by what happens in the Northern hemisphere, the carols, the idea of snow and snowmen and sleighs. We lap it all up as we eat salads and cold meats and he’d from the sun. When I was young we all sweltered through roast lunch, although chicken was more common than turkey. We have become more sensible over the years.

It’s a pain about your local seafood Julie. Oysters certainly appear on Christmas menus herbal thou I am more of a prawn girl. We couldn’t have them much as my mum is allergic but my daughter will eat a kilo if you don’t watch her!

I often think of the internet friends I have made who live in Australia and New Zealand, and what Christmas must be like in the summer rather than the winter. Are your kids off from school for the summer? If so, they are totally being cheated out of the extra Christmas holidays, hahaha. The lamb dish sounds amazing, Anna – I had to look it up, and while I don’t like curry, this one seemed that it would be less like a traditional curry and more like a really interesting taste on lamb, which I love in any form.

I remember Christmases when I was young – Christmas day, after all the gifts were opened and the turkey was in the oven, we would have a long open stretch of afternoon to play with new toys, visit with friends to see what Santa had brought, or read quietly, while the house filled up with the marvelous smells of turkey roasting- there is not much that smells as wonderful (the exception being bacon and onions being fried together).

I have a new recipe for cornbread sausage stuffing which I will be making. I love my mother’s recipe for stuffing, but my hubby is not overly fond of it, so I often try something new. I envy you all the summer sun and seafood, but we normally get lots of seafood here, so it’s not really bad, hahaha. This year, however, we’ve been warned not to eat the oysters and there is no fresh crab to be had. El Nino has sent up a big block of sea water that is 3 degrees warmer than usual, and it’s allowing for the growth of a lot of algae that is proving toxic to a lot of the sea life. We are hoping that the warm water veers away from the coast soon, and takes the algae with it. Add to this the big controversy over “Frankenfish” – genetically modified salmon, that doesn’t have to be labeled as such, and people around here are afraid to eat any of our old staples. I actually don’t think there’s any danger from the Frankenfish – I think they are just worried that they will get loose and mingle with wild fish and change the genetics of all salmon here on the west coast. A pretty reasonable fear, actually, as they are bound to get loose at some point. Ah well – interesting problems to be contemplating…

I am sorry, though, that I won’t be able to enjoy a plate of oysters on the half shell while we watch the Christmas ships roll by our favorite restaurant. There is a parade of ships (okay – boats) decorated with lights that runs by the windows of a lakeside restaurant every December 23rd, and for 25 years, we have been there to see it. It’s our one big main tradition for Christmas, and one I’d sorely miss.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all! Trifle sounds wonderful and the glass dish should be perfect. Love the sound of the Jane Austen party. Wonder what she had for Christmas?

My daughter made the rule that the tree goes up the first Sunday in December so it will be made so! No turkey for us. There is always a ham on the bone for cold meats and We will either have a whole fish this year and prawns if the boys get to the Fish markets or I have had a request for roast lamb Mussaman. We might get both and a couple of salads and there will be enough for a couple of meals of left overs.

I always look forward to Boxing Day,Dec 26 th, when the drama and work of Christmas is done and we can all lie around and read whatever books we got as presents and watch the start of The Sydney to Hobart yacht race.

Another warm day here with blue skies and sunshine. I hope all is calm where ever you are.

In the US, it’s Thanksgiving week – this Thursday is Thanksgiving day. This is basically a harvest feast day, but has greater significance here in the US than it did for us in Canada while I lived there. This signals the opening of “the holiday season” – people often put up Christmas lights and trees the day after Thanksgiving, or that weekend, at least, and after this, it will be Christmas, Christmas, all the way.

We are Turkey people here in my household, by decree of the cook, hahaha. My husband would be so happy if we had ham on Christmas, but I insist it must be turkey, even though we just had it for Thanksgiving. These days, at least I usually just make it a turkey breast, so it doesn’t last for more than a few days. It’s always just the two of us.

For the Jane Austen Society, we always have a special meeting in mid-December to celebrate Jane’s birthday as well as Christmas and we have a large and elaborate pot-luck, with everyone bringing treats, both savory and sweet. This is where I often will make my fanciest dish. I’m considering making a big trifle this year, as we’ll be at someone’s home, so it will be easier to serve than otherwise, and I have a gorgeous glass bowl to make it in. It’s all about appearances, of course, hahaha. Otherwise, the only Christmassy thing I do is shortbread cookies, which I only make at this time of year, lest we grow too used to eating nothing but shortbread, hahaha.

Not easy I know Julie. How is everyone coping with the upcoming Holiday season? My brother asked me today what we were doing. I need to get my head around that. I did buy a cooking magazine with Christmas recipes. I am thinking whole BBQed snapper sounds great. Might send my brother to the fish markets Christmas Eve. That is one of their busiest days, along with Holy Thursday, and the place is usually jammed. Not my idea of fun but the boys can handle it.

I wonder what Louise has in store for us with the next book. I love what she said on Facebook about the first chapters dragging their knuckles, those are the hardest to get right for me. You want it to be exciting or interesting and ready to drag people in.

I just finished reading Elizabeth George’s latest. It is a weighty tome and it is a long way into the book before a murder occurs. She kept me reading though but weaving the characters’ tales along and keeping you guessing but it was a little long.

The Internet and 24 hour news has brought every evil act into our lives. Evil acts always existed but we were not aware of their volume before. Imagine if we had the same access to information during WW2. It would have been even more horrifically present in every moment. We need downtime from the horror. Switch it all off and find a spot in the sun, or enjoy the rain or the wind or the snow. Surround yourself with things and people that bring you joy. It is not to shut out a harsh reality that does exist but to remind ourselves that beautiful realities also exist all the time.

The Nature of the Beast has ever more relevance now. Evil is always in our midst, as the gun was hidden in Three Pines. It doesn’t stop good ness growing up around it.

Indeed – if I could live as graciously as Louise, I’d count myself very well satisfied. I, too, think kindness is the key. I may be close to having to stop watching the news, as I think between it, and Facebook, everywhere I turn there is hatred. I can’t live like that. Every act of kindness will heal and soothe me, I know, and the world is full of kind people I must remember that.

Hi Cathryne! Thinking of you. And everyone.

My way to survive at the moment is to remember a small mantra…every act of kindness!

That’s it. Every act of kindness, no matter how small, lights a light in the darkness and joins us together against the forces that drive us apart. A smile for a stranger, letting someone go ahead of you in a queue, hold open a door, compliment a friend. You may not think it makes a difference but I have had my whole day changed by a simple courtesy. Kindness and care are the antidotes to hatred. That is why we live Louise and the same mantra will get us through this as well.

There is no doubt the whole world has been stunned by the events of the last week. I can understand the feeling of retreat especially in the face of a harsh winter. It’s not a bad idea to catch our collective breath but I think it will be alright. In some ways the events have brought the world together with new resolve. Like Barbara pointed out, the world has been here before. We just need to find the moments of peace and instants of laughter and stretch them further than we have before.

I think we’re all so quiet as we face the lull after TNOTB and the idea of the long winter coming. El Nino is plotting a particularly wicked winter for us, I’m afraid. In the east, it seems to have started already, and I know that we are expecting lower temps and higher winds than normal over on the west coast. I think that to some degree, at least, I have been affected by the increased threat of terrorist attacks and the seemingly endless ways people have of expressing hatred. If ever there was a time for us all to stand together, it’s now, but we seem to be cracking apart… It gives me great heartache as I see it, and makes me want to withdraw somewhat.

Always happy to see that Louise is chugging along – she amazes me. Her cheer in the face of hardship gives me great hope.

Is everyone ok??

Just saw on Louise’s website that she has finished the first draft of the next book. Hopefully we will see the final soon!

Thoughtful as always Barbara. It is hard to know how to resolve the issues that face the world without sinking into the mire at times like these. I liked your historical comparisons. Remember, it may have looked like the end of times to those in the path of rampaging armies in the past, just as it must look that way to Syrians today but the world moved forward and onwards even so. Times are scary as they were in 2001, but do not lose hope.

It is good to see Louise and Michael in their new home. Thank goodness they have the love and care of family and friends. It must certainly ease a difficult process.

Cathryne, I have thought of you often in the past weeks. I also went back to the reread and read many posts again. I hope you can sense our concern, support and caring. While, we can not really take on any of the stress… we would if we could. Whenever any of us visit the Bistro for a respite, we can always review what has been said earlier. I think that is wonderful. The words of encouragement are as meaningful as they were the first time we read them.
Prayers are said for you. I care. We care.

After visiting the Bistro many times in the last few days, I’m going to try to write.

Paris. I saw the horrific news on my home page. Then to the Bistro where Anna had posted not to view the news. Thanks for the thought and concern. I watched a news conference by Obama earlier today. He was in Turkey. I agree that stopping people who are willing to blow themselves up to kill others are hard to stop. I think we just have to be more cautious. It is heartbreaking to think that perhaps we must turn deserving people away from freedom and safety but that may be the outcome. We must try to protect our homeland and ourselves. If we allow them to destroy the US, who else will be able to stand against them and try to save civilization. As I do at times like these, I have given much thought to the views and ideas of others as to end times or the destruction of the world as we know it. I have thought of the way people must have felt when the Goths, Visigoths, Vikings, Mongols and others ran rampart over Europe. All must have seemed lost for the villages and towns as they fell under attack. It was the end for many.
The accomplishments of mankind are awe inspiring. The Arts and the Sciences. Everything. Yet, how to guard against mad men bent on destruction and still reach out to those who need help ? I am thankful such decisions and responsibilities are not mine and I pray for guidance and wisdom for those whose duty it is.

Ooop – I forgot to give you some links to places for stays, Anna. The ones I found were on Etsy – short stays or half-stays are basically like a very stiff bra. I got that because it laces in front, so I can put it on myself – anything that requires someone else was not really looked at, hahaha. I expect that the long stays or full stays would be even more supportive, though – especially of my back. And I did find some of those that fastened up the front. They are not inexpensive, but considering the materials and the work, I think they’re worth it. If something is sold out, you can usually message the person to see if they’re taking any custom orders.


That last one is the ones I bought, but I found that the straps were too short – yet I was sure I’d given her my correct measurements. My dressmaker fixed them for me by putting an elastic strap on their place. So I would choose the kind that have the ties on the straps next time, so I can adjust them. I’m still thinking of getting the short stays with petticoat attached…

They recommend wearing a chemise under these (to prevent any chafing), like they did in regency times. My chemise came up too high in the back – I didn’t like people being able to see it, though that’s definitely a Regency look. Anyway – I wear a cotton tank top under mine, and that works great.

I agree, Anna – Paris still seems shocking to me. I don’t know if it’s because it’s Paris, or because the culmination of terror events in the past week has been so much, and the cumulative effect is that there is a growing sense that there must be some way to stop this. I think we’ll see some more shocking things in the next few weeks. I’m almost ready to stop watching the news, as it’s so depressing. Our national news that we watch has been, for about a year now, ending its show with a “feel good” story, but I’m so cynical now that most of the time I feel like they are not newsworthy…

I would so love to get together… Hovey Manoir would be lovely, but even if we had to make it somewhere else, it would be so welcome…

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