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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Pioneer Woman Comes to Charlotte


I've been blogging for a little over 2 years now and few have inspired me like Ree Drummond.  I really like her. She is funny, smart, a talented cook, photographer, and writer.  She is a good mother, a loving wife, and a good friend to many who have had the pleasure to get to know her.  She has her act together and keeps her readers, her family, and her friends smilin' and laughin'.

I read a number of blogs, but my favorite is by far is Ree's "Pioneer Woman." I wrote to her several times that I hoped she would come to Charlotte. I don't know if my emails made the difference, but I was so happy she chose our Queen City to visit last week.


Ree and I became acquainted after her precious Border Collie, Nell, was lost. I was so taken by her expression of loss and all the stories that she had written about Nell, that I painted an oil of Nell and shipped it to her. She loved the painting and wrote a very nice story about it on her blog. That story caused chaos at Six Apart who host my blog via TypePad. In less than 10 minutes after the story posted, my blog crashed. Fortunately, the down time was short-lived as TypePad contacted me and let me know that they would have my blog back up as soon as possible. That "up" time came about 15 minutes later. I had thousands of hits that day in October, 2008 and many of the visitors from that day have returned and become regular readers of Raisin Toast and distant friends.


Ree is so nice. We've talked on the phone twice since that day and I feel a real connection with this pioneer woman. She is as real as her blog portrays her to be. It just goes to show you don't need to be vulgar or over-the-top to have a successful blog. You just need to be honest, funny, real, and a good writer. In her case, she is all of the above and more, and I am proud to call her a blogging friend.



Well, last Friday, Ree came to Charlotte - solo, and I know that was difficult for her to be away from her family. I was looking forward to finally meeting her; so, my daughter, Sarah, and my Big Bear (hubby, Bob), went to Joseph-Beth Booksellers to meet Ree.



We waited 4 hours, but it wasn't so bad.  Joseph-Beth was very organized and courteous about how to manage the mobs of people.



We met a number of other very nice Charlotteans, like Carla here, who just started her own blog, The Country Diary of a Southern Lady.  She came with her daughter and hubby to meet this Pioneer of a woman - Ree. 



The place was packed. At 6pm, Ree walked out onto the 2nd level balcony of Joseph-Beth and addressed the crowd.



There were hundreds of people there and I was in the middle of it all. Bob was sitting down somewhere and Sarah was around the corner from me looking at books.



Ree was telling jokes and laughing, telling everyone how happy she was to be in Charlotte, when she surprised me from the balcony and said "Oh Hi Susan!" I looked around thinking "There must be another Susan here" when I realized she was looking right at me. I responded "Oh Hi Ree!" and for a moment wanted to hide behind a shelf of books. All eyes were momentarily on me - including Ree's. Then the questions began - "Do you know Ree?" and "How do you know Ree?"



Sarah was standing across the room and I noticed her as she put her hands on her cheeks and said "That's my Mom!" Sarah showed up by my side shortly thereafter and gave me a hug. Ree, for that brief moment, made me and Sarah both feel special. I was surprised that she was able to pick me out from the crowd. Must have been my blinding gray hair.


Even though Ree and I have spoken twice on the phone and emailed a couple of times, I never thought that she ever visited my blog. She is so busy with her ranch life, homeschooling, cooking, and writing, that I can't imagine she has much time for anything else.



But, when we met Ree, she gave me and Sarah, both, a big hug and told me how happy she was to finally meet me. I was telling Big Bear "this picture better not be blurry!"



She looked at Bob, who was taking the blurry pictures, and said "And that's Big Bear, right?" I laughed and said "yes."



She then looked at Sarah and said "My goodness, you are so grown up! I can't believe how grown up you are from the pictures I have seen of you!" I said "Ree, I think it's the haircut" and Ree gave me and Sarah a big hug and dimpled smile.



Dimples. Ree is definitely working those dimples. Sarah said to Ree "Ree, you are so beautiful" and Ree laughed. As we were leaving, Ree said "It was nice to meet you too, Big Bear" and then we drove home.



When Sarah told Ree she was beautiful, she meant it on many different levels as she explained to me in the car going home. Sarah said "Mom, Ree is so beautiful - on the outside and the inside. She is so gracious and funny and real. I am so happy I came with you tonight. I will never forget this."



We are looking forward to Ree's new book - Black Heels to Tractor Wheels! She wrote the last 49 words of her book in Charlotte. I certainly hope we meet again some day, this was a lot of fun!



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