|Me, Ree Drummond, and Older Daughter |
I did not dress like the PW on purpose.
Ree Drummond, better known as The Pioneer Woman,
likes to describe herself, “an accidental country girl.” It’s no accident, though, that her website and blog are highly successful, as are her books and Food Network cooking show. She works hard, has an appealing way of looking at the world and a “voice” that's witty and sisterly. I’m a longtime fan.
On Tuesday night, Ree signed her new cookbook, The PioneerWoman Cooks: A Year of Holidays at the Blue Willow Bookshop in Houston. I wouldn't have missed the event for anything and went, accompanied by Older Daughter. Both of us have successfully reproduced many of the Pioneer Woman’s recipes.
There’s a lot of talk nowadays about independent bookstores closing. Blue Willow thrives. It’s carved a niche for itself among young-adult authors and readers but attracts marquee authors of all stripes. YA authors Ally Carter and Jen Barnes will sign at Blue Willow this Saturday. Sue Monk Kidd will sign her latest, The Invention of Wings, February 17.
The Pioneer Woman was scheduled to sign from six p.m. on. A week before, I reserved copies of the new cookbook and places in line and was told not to show up before 8:30. You read that right. The Pioneer Woman is one popular lady.
At eight-forty-five, Older Daughter and I drove to Blue Willow, collected our “will call” books and signing-group numbers, and were told to report back in sixty to ninety minutes. You read that right. We could have hung with the convivial crowd in the parking lot where a food truck dispensed sustenance, but because the night was chilly and we’re caffeine hounds, we drove to a nearby Starbucks.
The coffee shop crawled with Ree Drummond fans comparing their signing-group numbers and exclaiming over the photographs and recipes in the new book. At nine-fifty, the barista announced the place would close at ten, and Older Daughter and I returned to the bookstore to find our number had just been called. We hurried inside and got on line.
From that point on, things moved fast. As we approached the signing table, a bookstore employee whisked away our coats and purses. Another employee took Older Daughter’s cell phone to capture photos of us with Ree.
Since I’m a rabid fan, you probably think I mentioned my favorite PW blog posts or recipes to Ree.
You figure I told her how my family enjoyed her brownie recipe, oven brisket, and meatballs.
I was tongue-tied. Struck dumb. You read that right. I couldn’t think of a thing to say except, “Hi, I’m so glad you’re here.”
Poor Ree Drummond, who had already been signing books for hours, coaxed conversation out of me. She asked if I liked the cold weather.
She apologized for the long wait but pointed out that Old Daughter and I got to spend quality time together.
“Yes,” I repeated.
I attest to the fact The Pioneer Woman is charming, gracious, and can put the most awkward fan at ease.
The Blue Willow staffers made sure all our books were signed, bundled us back into our coats, handed us our purses, and returned Older Daughter’s cell phone with four shots of us and The Pioneer Woman. What paragons of organization!
We exited the bookstore at ten-thirty. Ree Drummond had vowed to remain until every book was signed, so Blue Willow must have stayed open into the wee hours of Wednesday.
Outside, the waiting fans were in good spirits. The Pioneer Woman has that effect on people.