The Bistro

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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”

Ruth Filter 2 – Still Life continued:
In chapter 10, Gamache goes to Myrna to find out what Timmer Hadley had told Myrna about Ruth. Myrna narrates Timmer’s story of Ruth trying to convince Jane not to marry the lumberjack then, that having failed, telling Jane’s parents. Timmer says about Ruth,
“There’s something about her. Something bitter that resents happiness in others and needs to ruin it. That’s probably what makes her a great poet. She knows what it is to suffer. She gathers suffering to her, collects it and sometimes creates it…” Timmer does say that perhaps she was being too harsh.
I want to believe so, especially viewing Ruth’s character development throughout the series. Sigh. I’ve grown to really like Ruth! This is fertile ground to expand upon, though. Darn it.

Chapter 11, when Gamache visits Ruth right before the reading of Jane’s will is full of snippets of Ruth telling Gamache, when he asks probing questions about what Ruth did to Jane in her late teens. What else did Ruth do in the past?
“Let the past lie.”
“It was long ago, gone and buried.”

And our first introduction to the poem that I thought I knew so well.
Who hurt you once…
More on that later. And there are two more points in this same section, as well as a Bravo Ruth in the last chapter, that I hope to get to later today. Ruth is such a complex, multidimensional character.

Ruth Filter 1 – my bookmarks and questions from Still Life.
In the first chapter we are introduced, through Myrna’s eyes, a Ruth who gets down on her hands and knees to help scrub clean the Bistro. Only Myrna saw the pain in Ruth’s face as she got down, but she helped all morning… That is an act of incredible kindness.

Then in Chapter 3, when she goes to sit with Gamache at the Bistro we are introduced to an entirely different side of Ruth. She is sarcastic, rude and whacks her cane. In apology, after Gamache demands to be treated with respect she seems to ‘deflate’ and says,
“Forgive me. As you’ll discover, I’m just like this. I have no talent for choosing my battles. Life seems strangely like a battle to me. The whole thing.”
Why? And how sad…

Then in Chapter 7, when Clara finds Gamache at the Blind, she starts to quote, and Gamache finishes one of Ruth’s poems which Clara thinks must be inside the person who has killed Jane.
“I’ll keep it all inside, festering, rotting. But I’m really a nice person. Kind. Loving. Get out of my way you mother fucker. Oops, sorry. That just slipped out. Escaped. I’ll try harder. Just watch. I will. You can’t make me say anything. I’ll just go further away where you will never find me. Or hurt me. Or make me speak.”
That is just heart breaking.

Moving on to Chapter 8 before dinner at Clara’s while she and Myrna are working out the details of selling back and buying books, Ruth walks in and says,
“I’d make a good detective. Unlike you Clara, I see people the way they really are. I see the darkness, the anger, the pettiness.”
Isn’t what we see in the world, in others, a reflection of what is inside us? Isn’t that why two people seeing the same event can come away having witnessed two entirely different things?

So interesting. I’ve long thought that Ruth acts one way but speaks another. All her acts seem to be acts of kindness (except, maybe, for drinking everyone else’s scotch), but her words are vitriol. Something that happens is that people love her for what she does, but they are wary of her because of what she says. I think you’re exactly right, Millie, what’s inside us colors how we perceive the world, and how we think everyone is thinking… So if you are a generous-hearted person, you think everyone thinks well of you, too. Ruth must have been hurt so badly, that she has to interact with the world this way. I think for a long time, I’ve made sure that if anyone was going to put me down, I’d be the first to do it, so it wouldn’t hurt so much when others did. (still a result of my parents, who were so like Peter’s) I work hard to see the world as a sunny place, and for the most part, I succeed. But my heart is absolutely on my sleeve, and right near the surface – easy to touch my heart – and easy to wound it.

Terrific article, Anna. Thanks for sharing. I had no idea that Carl Jung was extolling the benefits of coloring as creative relaxation. Isn’t it interesting how several generations can so easily dismiss something as too insignificant to even mention, then like magic, it appears as truly noteworthy?

Anna, I have a lot of family scattered all over CA. None have even mentioned the fires. So I’m hoping that means it’s a normal-for-CA fire…

Julie, I just scrolled up to the previous two pages. I completely missed your question of did anyone know where M. Beliveau lived. I believe it was mentioned in The Cruelest Month that he had a tree dying at his ‘home’ but he wouldn’t let Gilles try to save it… And didn’t Gamache go to his ‘home’ when his fingerprints were discovered on the police tape? Let’s revisit the entire question of where homes and shops are after TNOTB.

What I discovered with certainty today is that my copy of ‘A Rule Against Murder’ is not with its companion volumes. I remember referencing it during last year’s book discussion so it was ‘shelved’. Once… Nor is it in any of my ‘usual suspect’ places we hide things that are on my desk when our toddler granddaughters are coming. I did find my colored pencils and crayons. I chose to laugh at the synchronicity of it. Seems a lot of that is happening lately. Just not spending as much time at the computer as I used to when I couldn’t do much more. I’ll give ‘Ruth Filter 1’ a go tomorrow because I really want to do it.

Oh, I’m reading The Cruelest Month now – and have found lots of references as to where people’s homes are in relation to others, but I’ve not seen anything yet about M. Beliveau – I’m about halfway through, so I expect I’ll come to it. Thanks. I’m a little confused, as the Bella Bella runs behind both the Bistro (or was it the B & B – I’ve marked them all, so I can fairly quickly go through and find all the references to be sure) and Clara’s homes, as well as the Hadley Mansion… but I’m sure it’s a very curvy river, as Clara’s house is below the Hadley Mansion, which looks directly into the Bistro, as we learned from The Brutal Telling!

Maybe you decided to hide A Rule Against Murder so as not to have to see Peter’s family anymore! 😀

Thanks for the warning Barbara. In the old days at least the criminals had to pay postage when they scammed us by mail! Guess that is why it wasn’t as common. Good on you for letting everyone know.

Thought you might be interested in this article on adult colouring books. You can’t be alone if the books are in the best seller lists.


I hope anyone in California is safe. The ongoing coverage of the bushfires is scary.

Thanks for the link. I didn’t know the books were so popular in other countries. To think, an activity that had been thought of as only for children, is now seen as good for adults and relaxes them. Interesting.
The California wild fires are terrifying. I wonder how any forested areas remain when the fires occur every year.

SCAM ALERT. I received an email this AM supposedly from Amazon for an auto confirm of a kindle book I had ordered it said. When I clicked on the cancel prompt, a form requesting credit card and other info appeared. I called Amazon customer service at once. They had not sent it and I was told other calls had already been received about the same problem. I also left a message with AARP Fraud Network.
Since we are all readers, I wanted everyone to be aware. Tell your friends about this. I’ve made some calls to friends but must wait till later to call others.

Thank you, Barbara. I am amazed at the constantly inventive ways that people are working to cheat others. If that energy and ingenuity had been applied to a useful endeavor, I can’t help but wonder what they might achieve.

P.S. The link didn’t work from my own Facebook page on my device. It worked just fine from Louise’s.

Millie, I connected from Louise’s page too. Yes, the narration is as well done as I hoped it would be.
The word “global” was used in one review (don’t remember site). I wonder if we are going back to the garden from TLWH.

Barbara, that’s an interesting ‘speculation’. 😉 I hadn’t thought of that. I saw that review also and just took global to indicate universal theme. Something which could happen anywhere to anyone. But wouldn’t it be fun to hear from the Constable again. Such great humor.
This week I read an article posted by the NY Times and to my joy say an ‘ad’ for TNOTB at the bottom. The cover on the left and snippets of what I’m assuming were pre-reviews. One said something like, Where else would the devil go but to paradise? I wasn’t expecting that, to be sure. It keeps getting more interesting, doesn’t it?
Take care, Barbara. I’ll try to write more this week.

Oh, wouldn’t I love to go back to that garden… Louise has always said that there are little bits of info about upcoming books in the current ones, so she might very well have meant to come back to this special place… it’s so fun to speculate!

Hello all, I saw on Louise’s Facebook page an announcement that an audio preview of TNOTB was finally available. The link provided just kept popping up a message that I needed to download something called soundcloud. I searched around till I found a way to listen without another app… I hope this link works for those who haven’t heard it yet…
It’s the preview we were able to read, but Bathurst does a terrific narration! Enjoy.

Julie, your mentioning Paint by Numbers brought up a memory from long ago. In the first six years of our marriage, my husband was an Army Reservist, fulfilling his military obligation of that time. He had monthly weekend meetings and two weeks duty in the Summer. I would work on my Paint by Numbers sets when he was gone. I had forgotten about them. I framed them and give them to a local charity shop. They actually sold, although it may have been for the frame. LOL. A few dollars for the shop anyway.

I think some of the paint by numbers sets that I’ve seen (it’s been many years now), were really very good. They did actually manage to break images down to something that could be done that way and look great. The most successful, as I recall, were those with hard edges to everything – such as the Group of Seven paintings…

Paint by numbers: http://tinyurl.com/nexhnmu

Group of Seven: http://tinyurl.com/odqzgo8

To give credit to the engineers, though, I will say that one of the things that impressed me about my husband when we first met and still does is his awareness of things around us that I had no habit of noticing. Telephone wires, telephone poles, public utility boxes, shapes and sizes and patterns of bridges and freeways-details details details of the man made environment. I see the flora and clouds, he sees the beauty of metal, stone, and cement and whatever else it is that engineers make and use!

Cathryne, I’d have thought that an engineer would enjoy coloring the complex things in the adult books… I know there are an inordinate number of engineers and scientists who love to cross stitch, and that’s kind of “Paint by numbers” for thread… I’d think filling in the designs neatly would be fun for an engineer, as well as a bit creative and freeing, because you get to choose the colors….

You and your husband sound like a perfect pair with the two of you looking from different perspectives. Like you I tend to see nature and not man made environment so much. Architecture of older houses and buildings is the exception.
Next month the Main Library here will feature an exhibit on the incorporation of Adinkra symbols of West Africa in regional architecture. I’m completely unaware of them so I am looking forward with great anticipation.

Barbara, I think the fairies coloring book is a wonderful idea. I heard a reference to the growing popularity of adult/artistic coloring books from a suitably grownup source recently, as you and others mentioned. The beauty of the shapes, choice of colors, and appreciation of the artist’s talent, as well as the pleasure and soothing feeling of repetitive motion make it a wonderful activity.
When we heard the reference to this on tv, though, I remember my husband making a hhmmff sound, which I just let go. He is an engineer so there you are. Each brain has its own pluses and minuses, understandings and not. Coloring doesn’t seem any different from jigsaw puzzles and many other things people enjoy, even computer solitaire. I think the more we learn about our brains, the more we will appreciate the importance and place of activities like this in our lives.

Last year I bought a coloring book (Flower Fairies Alphabet Coloring Book) based on the original Flower Fairies Books by Cicely Mary Barker. The beautiful cover caught my eye. I had never heard of her or the book. Imagine when I did a google search and found lovely pictures of each flower and fairy for every letter. I put the book and pencils away as my husband was less than pleased. Following my big meltdown, when I was trying to think of actions I could take to help me, I thought of the coloring book. I told my husband I was going to color it as an effort to relax regardless of what he thought. Then a catalogue came and coloring books for adults were featured on the cover. The news paper supplement, Parade, called adult coloring a new, fun, popular activity. The are internet sites offering books. Newsletters from several organizations are touting it too.
I was only a little ahead of the times and not silly. It is fun !

I hve seen the revolution of adult colouring books Barbara and not silly at all. When I was in my late teens, early twenties, my cousin introduced me to DoodleArt which were big colouring posters for adults. So intricate. I actually found some for my daughter. They are not easy to manage though as they are poster size so she squats on the floor doing them which I also used to do. A book is better. I have seen colouring books for adults at our local bookstore and likewise in catalogues. You were very ahead of the times! By the way, I had an original Flower Fairies book. I used to use the pictures as inspiration to draw on Birthday card I made.

Barbara, that sounds wonderful! I find faries enchanting. See, you were avant-garde, like Clara. Color away and enjoy.

I have lots of friends who are coloring and find it so relaxing and still creative… I think it makes a lot of sense. When I was young, you could buy poster-sized prints of very intricate designs that you colored in with felt-tipped pens, and I got one and found it endlessly fascinating. It took me about a month, and I displayed it for a long time – it was gorgeous! Finally my (then) husband likened it to putting up a kid’s drawing on the refrigerator and since we didn’t have a kid, it seemed weird, so I threw it away. But I remember how addicting coloring on it became, and have watched the new books coming out for adults with fascination. I am just about ready to get one myself, but I think I would prefer to color with the felt pens than crayons, or maybe colored pencils…

I have a lovely, complete set of crayons, all still pristine, and though I smell that box from time to time, I don’t want to use them and make them “used”, hahaha. But pencils or pens I’d have no problems with… I think it’s simply that I never had the “big” box when I was a kid, and wanted to “have” it, not use it…

Julie, Get a book and a box of pencils and join in. I’m going out today to look for a larger box of pencils as I only have the 16 pencil box.
My friends don’t know about my coloring but I’m thinking of telling them. Also I just thought of getting a book and pencils for my sister. She thought it was a good idea for me so maybe she will give it a try.

Just saying hi. Been a bit busy and husband home for first time in a month so not as much time as usual.

I hope everyone is ok? Barbara, have you seen the doctor, I think you were going for a review? Fingers crossed you are feeling better.

Julie, are you feeling calmer and is everything working out with the car?

Less than a month to go people. I am sure we are all getting excited.

Anna – can’t believe you took time away from your husband, if he’s not been home in a month! Of course, the Bistro DOES have it’s draw…. I’m doing very well – have “gotten back on the horse” and am now happily driving hubby’s car while mine is in the shop. Insurance is covering most of it -thank heavens – it’s thousands of dollars’ damage to my car, and I’m sure only hundreds to the other car, so, thank goodness, that nice young woman won’t be without her car quite so long. Mine will take about 2 weeks to fix, apparently. Yikes. I don’t like driving my husband’s car, as his is just not as nice as mine, hahaha. Ah well – this is my comeuppance!

I am so excited to get to TNOTB – though I will be in Utah when Louise is speaking here in Seattle, so sorry I can’t get to do everything! But I will be having fun with friends in Utah, so shouldn’t begrudge… Maybe next year, though I wonder how much traveling Louise will want to continue to do in the next few years, so I might just have to go on a pilgrimage to Quebec City and do the Bury Your Dead tour sometime, to get my “Louise fix”. Meanwhile, I’m sure she’ll continue to do radio and television interviews that can be on Youtube, etc.

The Bury your Dead tour is on my wish list for sure! Pity you will miss Louise, I thought of you when I read that. So glad the car situation is being dealt with….well done.

Hi Anna. I’m doing much better. Two big stressors over with excellent resolutions. Two others remain. Wow, half-way through. Dr. changed appointment to mid August, but I’m OK. Thanks.
I can’t believe there is only a few weeks left. Trying to finish an excellent study on Henry VIII. Very informative but s-l-o-w reading. Many sources are citied. I want to have nothing “waiting” when TNOTB is released.

Julie, couldn’t find a ‘reply’ button for your comment about needlework. I love your reply to people: ‘it doesn’t “take” patience, it gives it’.

I’m right there with you regarding anything to do with numbers. I think you might like what I found in an article I read last year. “…dyscalculia, the counterpart to dyslexia that makes learning math difficult.” I felt less ‘dumb’ when I read that. My brain is just not ‘wired’ for numbers and that’s OK with me. I’ll take words any day. 🙂

It might have been mentioned during the re-read, but I had no idea the bridge was in need of repairs to the point another is being built. Love the suggestions proposed for the the new bridge.

I didn’t realize that, either, Louise. I think we talked in general terms about how old the infrastructure is all around North America, and how little money had been put aside for upkeep, but not that bridge in particular. It’s scary how Louise has her finger right on the pulse of what’s new and relevant! That, in itself, is brilliant. Very much like the treatment of the Cree, both in her “Arnot case” storyline, and, unfortunately, in real life in Canada.

Millie – I just called you “Louise”! Now, you are to take that as the highest of compliments, and not as a sign of my dotage, hahaha.

Too funny, Julie. Please feel free to call me Louise any time! I take that as the highest honor. And who knows, maybe a little of her indefatigable positive attitude and dedication will rub off on me. 🙂

Millie, I did a little cross stitch many years ago. I didn’t find it relaxing at all. I don’t knit or crochet because I pull the thread too tight. Friends and family have told me that they find cross stitching, knitting and crocheting relaxing and that they feel creative too.tis
I also have arthritis in my hands.
Crossword puzzles, Sudoku, logic puzzles and cryptograms relax me and clear my mind of worries.
It is unfortunate that some women, trying to declare their worth, independence and equality chose to do so by belittling what they felt were stereotypical of “female pursuits”.
Thanks for caring and mentioning something that might relieve stress. Support always helps.

You’re welcome, Barbara. I’m glad you found things that work for you. I’m sure everyone cares. Just some are more vocal about it. Lol

I just realized, None of us posted about the balcony collapse at LP’s condo. If you haven’t read about it on her Facebook Page, you might want too. On the left of the page is a negative response about it. Interesting. I hope no ill will develops toward them. Everything seemed to be going so well. I read the Facebook page daily along with playing all my games.

Oh, that’s terrible that there was a negative comment regarding them – I didn’t see it, though I did, of course, see the original posting. How awful – I should think that everyone would be glad that it happened in a way that nobody was hurt – it’s amazing it hadn’t happened earlier when there was a party there – it could have come down at any time, as the wood was rotten – that can’t be Louise and Michael’s fault – it’s because of them, it was found and is being fixed!

Hi Barbara! I follow Louise’s FB daily page as well, and did notice that very negative comment (at least it did seem even rather ominous to me) on the left side of the page where usually only three comments “stand alone”. I think this was about two days ago, soon after the alarming photo of fallen deck mishap. I immediately thought UH-OH! Now it appears that public comment has been pulled as well as Louise’s seemingly unrelated musing for the same day. Sort mysterious coincidence (or else my computer is acting up once again?) Hmmmmm. Praying that issues have been resolved by now….

Anna – that is lovely! What a clever girl. I’m sure it must be difficult to hold two opposing viewpoints in your head at the same time, yet, she’d have had to, to get that outcome – brilliant, and really very uplifting!

If ever I get discouraged about anything, I will read this. Thank you so much for sharing. It is a brilliant example of the mind is its own place, it can make a heaven of hell or a hell of heaven.

Thank you all for your thoughts on Go Set a Watchman. Work has been too busy for too long and there has been no time to read anything (other than less than riveting property tax assessment files and drafts of arguments which I won’t describe for fear of putting you all to sleep or causing you permanent eye damage from involuntary glazing over during the ever so exciting run down on statistical testing). I had to take vacation time coinciding with release of TNOTB to make sure that I would have time to read it. Just a month left – so exciting. I enjoyed popping back in to catch up. I wish I’d had the idea to re-read through a Ruth filter. And the time to do it. Now, back to work. Take care Bistro People.

Hi Kim, great to hear from you. Love your sense of humor towards work overload.
I had given thought of sharing some of my ‘Ruth filter’ observations and questions while re-listening, but thought it might be redundant for all those who participated in the discussions from the beginning.
If you, or anyone else, think you’d have the time or interest, I could still give it a go as time permits…
I’m glad you’re taking time off during book release. I really enjoyed your contributions. Chat again then, if not sooner.

Millie – I would love to hear your thoughts as you read with a Ruth filter… I have been doing the most haphazard of re-reading. First I had re-read the first two books, then I got antsy that I wouldn’t be able to finish before the release of TNOTB, so jumped ahead to The Brutal Telling, Bury Y our Dead and then How the Light Gets In – now, I’m back reading The Cruelest Month… but my filter got lost somewhere – and I’ve been filtering now for exactly how the village is set up. I have been fascinated since hearing about the map of Three Pines, and have thought that, if I don’t win one, then I’ll have to make my own. I want to do it as a kind of cross-stitch – but need to know just where things are in relation to each other. The Cruelest Month has proved gold, as it tells the order shops are lined up in, and that they are all connected to one another – not just the Bistro and the bookstore, as I had thought. It also tells that Clara’s house is clapboard, some are stone, some are brick (but haven’t figured out which, yet.) So, of course, while I kind of notice Ruth, I’m not as focused as I had thought I’d be, hahaha. Story of my life. I’m so easily distracted.

Julie, be grateful you get distracted. It’s one of the hallmarks of a creative person. Which is one reason I’m putting things away where I sort of know at least what room it’s in… I swear I need side blinders on if I want to finish something. lol…

Love the idea of a cross stitch map of Three Pines. Sometimes I get so confused. Like what compass point is Stage Coach Road? But here are a few things I recall about the layout. Clara’s house is next to the bridge that takes one to the firehouse and Emily’s house, now Armand’s, is right next door to Ruth’s.
I’d be willing to buy a cross stitch of the map! Maybe you could work out a deal? Why not? There are Three Pines mugs and totes… How exciting would that be??? Something the the needle artists. Three cheers.

IF I get it done, of course, you may have a copy – I’d never sell it, because it won’t be polished enough, and I think that if you buy something, you should get a really polished and professional result, but it will be easy to read and follow, and will be accompanied by a colored rendition of how it “should” look, so hopefully, would be something you’d want. Naturally, this is going to be pretty far in the future, as I’m also working on another large, original piece based on Pride and Prejudice and since a friend and I are working on these together and will exchange them at some point to stitch something on each other’s, like a mini friendship sampler, I have to commit to that this year. But maybe by this time next year, I’ll be ready to start.

So – does anyone know where M. Beliveau lives? Is it above his store? Is it the same with Sarah, from the Boulangerie? Do all the storekeepers live above their stores like Myrna? I had thought not, but now that I know that they are all adjoining, I feel like they must also be alike. Of course, some may use the loft upstairs for storage, and live elsewhere… but if I had that space available to me, I’d probably live in the store.

I hadn’t realized that Gamache was right beside Ruth – that would be interesting… I know they’re both on the Village Green – do you happen to know if they’re directly across from Clara? People always seem to have to cross the green to get to Clara’s house when she has everyone for dinner. I think, in a Trick of the Light, I might get a better handle on exactly where Clara’s house is, as I think people were able to park adjacent to her house as soon as they got into the village.

What a great idea! I can’t do needlework but would love the pattern of Three Pines. Surely, I could hire someone to stitch it for me. The Three Pines world grows.

Barbara – I’ll put your name on a copy! 😀 All the caveats already given to Millie apply, of course, hahaha.

Barbara, I’m curious. When you say you can’t do needlework, what do you mean, exactly? Do your hands have arthritis? Or better put, is there a physical reason you can’t? Or did you try once without the result you expected?

The reason I ask is because recent studies have shown any form of needlework lowers blood pressure, soothes feelings of anxiety and nerves and has other beneficial properties. True, it may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but personally, any form sure takes my mind off of the ‘worry’ I can do so well. Plus, the soothing, repetitive motion engrosses my mind to the point I don’t feel the physical pain of my hips not quite staying balanced on their own just yet.

Yesterday I spent some time on the computer searching through information on Margaret Atwood, the poet Louise Penny attributes as the author of many of Ruth’s poems. I was searching for the complete poem so often quoted in bits (Who hurt you once…), or at least which of Ms Atwood’s books it might be in. To my dismay, I found a ‘famous quote’ where Ms Atwood dismissed the pursuit of ‘needlework and gardening’ as beneath even consideration of a modern woman who should be free to pursue issues or topics that are usually the domain of men. And of course, I can’t find it now… It was during an interview, I didn’t notice the year, and I’m paraphrasing badly, but that was the gist of it. I agree that women have every right to persue whatever ignites their passion. And this may have been Ms Atwood’s own defensive posture before the feminist movement when being ‘lady-like’ had strict rules. It was a quote completely out of context so frankly, I don’t know…

My dismay was due to a feeling of defensiveness. (I do that really well also, much to my chagrin.) Needlework is no longer something women of means in days of old ‘used to do’ to fill their days. It’s an art form. It engages the mind, heart and spirit. Spirit? Yes, it gives many the child-like joy of ‘I did that!’ I created something. Personally, I need that in my life once in a while.

Anyway, cross stitch is one of the easiest forms of needlework as far as the stitch itself. The color changes can make incredibly ‘complex’ pieces, but the stitch itself is not beyond anyone. I think, and hope, Julie would agree.

My intent is not one to push anyone to try it or create a sense that one must justify why it’s not for them, just to share that it isn’t impossibly hard and has many ‘health’ benefits too. Hugs, Barbara.

Millie – the Margaret Atwood quote is distressing, but sounds so much like it came out of the maelstrom of the women’s movement, when I feel that all efforts to bring a woman’s right to do whatever she wanted (even if it was a traditionally male pursuit) had to be magnified and shouted from the rooftops in a very strident voice. I bet you’d find a different attitude today, as we now think what was lost by always having to be “on the defensive”. At any rate – there are so many excellent reasons for anyone (male or female) to do needlework, that I don’t worry at all if someone doesn’t see its worth. Not least of that is the relaxation. I, too, find it very relaxing. So often, people have commented to me that “they wouldn’t have the patience”, and my answer is always that it doesn’t “take” patience, it gives it. But it’s not for everyone.

Barbara – I’ve known plenty of other people who tried cross stitch and found it actually stressful – unlike so many other pursuits, there IS a right and wrong way to do it, and sometimes the thread gets all knotted up, and sometimes, you just can’t see that tiny little hole your needle is supposed to go through, and sometimes, it just doesn’t seem appealing. No worries – you have the mind-teasers to help with stress reduction – I also find crosswords, especially, to be relaxing. If I can’t sleep, sometimes I pull out a crossword and start on it, and I’m sleepy in no time. I find that fascinating, because you’d think it would make you more alert. Sudoku, on the other hand, is completely beyond my ken – Can’t imagine the mind-power it takes to be able to figure that stuff out…

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