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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.

3,650 replies on “The Bistro”

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…

Mmmmm…..I need to explore the idea of the stays. Any websites I can look at that sell them Julie?

The TV has had nothing but Paris for 24 hours and yet it is still unbelievably shocking. I watch with trepidation and solidarity. We are one world.

After Cathryne’s mention of her imagined conversations with us I spent the night pondering how we could all get together at Hovey Manoir. It must be possible. An autumn sometime I hope.

Paris. I don’t even have words. This is still all so hard to believe that our world has changed so. I’m set enough in my ways now, that visiting other countries seems far beyond my reach, as the world seems such a dangerous place these days. Another day, I’ll feel differently, but today… I’m very grateful for my warm and comfortable home, and that I have a place like the Bistro to come to.

Cathryne, I am so sorry for all the overwhelming things that are going on for you right now, but so happy you can take solace in imagined conversations here in the Bistro. Now, if I say something stupid in one of those conversations, pay me no mind, right? That would be just like me, hahaha.

Anna – sounds like the poor dog is having the worst of it, but visits will, no doubt, make the transition easier for both him(?) and your dad. I’ve never heard of a cup of tea and a slice – does that mean pie? Whatever it is, it sounds like a lovely place. They really are a far cry from what kinds of places were available even a short while ago, aren’t they? You can probably all thank us baby boomers for that – we had to make sure they were ready for us, hahaha.

I laughed at your description of your sewing adventures – sounds like me – I don’t even do hems – just roll up the waistband if things are too long. (Hey, it worked in school!) I can embellish things to beat the band, but the original sewing – not so much… I hope you are able to come up with something for Erin. I know it sounds strange, but the stays that go under the 19th C. costumes are so comfortable and supportive, it’s not funny. They also don’t allow you to slouch, so are very good for your posture, which is good for the dresses…

Dear Cathryne, I understand completely when it is just too hard to post but we are thinking of you all the time. We can the dog to visit whenever we want. I hope to do so tomorrow. It has been a big day for other emotional reasons. It does seem ongoing but nothing compared to our French friends.

Sitting with you in the Bistro with a hor chocolate and calming thoughts. Sending love to all but especially you Cathryne. Thank you for mustering the strength to write. Xxx

Oh Anna, hot chocolate and scrabble for your dad! It made me so happy to read that. I hope he continues to settle in well. Can you take your dog to visit? When my dad was in his last months and bedridden, I was allowed to bring his dog to visit every day. It was the highlight of the day for both. When my mom was in the hospital recently, a social worker came in with her little dog hanging over her shoulder. I ran out and asked if she would come into Mom’s room and she petted and petted the dog with delight. I thought of Linda Maday who, I think, takes her therapy dogs to visit.
I just haven’t had words to share the hard times with my mom right now, but they are very much like those described by Anna, Millie, Barbara and others in the Bistro, even early in the reread, before the Bistro. I know it is part of the human condition. I have had many conversations with you all in my mind, and that helps amazingly! Also reading Louise’s so wise and sincere sharing of her joys and challenges. I love to hear what pleasure she gets in going Three Pines. I started over listening to the books and they keep me from feeling overwhelmed, in a place where kindness exists. And, wonderful, so thought-provoking writing.
Thanks for the support, I feel it even though posting seems too hard right now. Congratulations on the wonderful things you are doing! I love reading about them.

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.

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