As many of you know, I am a barefoot country girl living in the (small) big city of Pittsburgh, PA. Granted, I do have a suspiciously large collection of high heels for a six foot tall barefoot country girl as I believe it is important to be prepared to play dress up at the drop of a hat. My love of the country, the city, high heels, and muddy fields led me to fall in love with the marvelous Pioneer Woman blog as soon as I first read it five years ago, when I was working with farmers in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Appalachia. I have been reading the blog regularly ever since. My three younger sisters are also fans of her writing, recipes, and lifestyle. As Mary mentioned in a recent post, the Pioneer Woman blog was a definitely an inspiration for the Sweet Ridge Sisters- so when we noticed that Ree Drummond, the Pioneer Woman herself, would be heading to Pittsburgh for a book signing, we were all excited.
And so, yesterday I loaded my toddler into the car and headed out of the city of Pittsburgh along the Ohio River, past great rusting bridges and crumbling steel mills and on into the quiet streets of Sewickley PA, where the Pioneer Woman was scheduled to sign cookbooks and meet the masses. Sewickley is a suburb in the old fashioned small town American-as-apple-pie sense. On this March afternoon, the skies were blue and the apple blossoms were in bloom.
And the small town streets were lined with fans of The Pioneer Woman.
Just after I arrived, a very sweet Penguin Bookshop employee made her way through the line handing out tickets for the book signing. With half an hour to go before the signing began, we were 125th in line.
Did I mention that I was wearing heels? Lovely, stylish, very high heels?
This may not have been the wisest choice- but I don’t really regret it. At six four, I can clearly see over almost everyone’s head, which prevents claustrophobia. That is, I could see over heads during the moments in which I was not crouching down in an attempt to distract my almost two year old daughter. Luckily, I wasn’t the only one toting a small child.
Not by a long shot.
Even more luckily, as you can see, our first spot in line was conveniently located next to the bright window of a toyshop. Olympia was thrilled.. at first. But after 45 minutes or so, the allure began to wane.
It was time for some serious distraction. A quick stroll down the street yielded chocolate milk and a brownie.
While this was immediately effective in cheering her up, perhaps the next time I am in a public place I will not feed my child so much sugar and then ask her to stay still for another hour and a half. Still, we headed back to our place in the line with our spirits lifted.
It really was a beautiful day to stand in line. There was a slight breeze with the scent of apple blossoms, the temperature was just over seventy, the shops along the way were lovely…
and creatively displaying their wares for the throngs of women passing through…
and the throngs of women were nice people. Good people. Happy people. The mood was very cheerful, and very polite.
Even this young man was patient and polite. I thought he deserved a dramatic prize of some sort, he was so patient.
Besides being nice and polite people, the Pioneer Woman fans had some other similarities. As a whole, they seemed to possess Very Nice Bags. Look at this one- the most stylish diaper bag ever, with the Pioneer Woman cookbook tucked in sweetly:
and here is a nice bag in the company of cheerful prints and nice shoes!
It was all very stylish and impressive. So was the interior of the Penguin Bookshop, when we finally arrived inside.
It was bright and cheerful and warm and welcoming.
There were lots of penguins, as well as many books that I really wanted to read.
Sadly I could not peruse them at leisure, as I was busy chasing the toddler who was starting to lose it, especially in the presence of so many books. And cards, and paper clips. She began to dance wildly in jubilation, clutching the latest Dominic Dunne novel in her sweaty brownie stained hand. I lunged for her, just as a palpable rush of excitement swept through the crowd outdoors and into the bookshop sauntered Marlboro Man himself, along with his three youngest children. I will not lie. He is indeed a handsome man.
They are one heck of a good looking and photogenic family.
I was in the home stretch with the melting down toddler and my high, high heels. I just had to make it up a set of stairs…
And on up into the Children’s Room, where the Pioneer Woman was seated at a wooden table with a gorgeous vase of daffodils, looking fresh and beautiful and radiating charm and ladylike composure. With good hair. And great boots. And incredibly well behaved children! All of them!
The Children’s Room was lovely- did I mention that Penguin Bookshop is a really, really beautiful bookshop? The Pioneer Woman was lovely too- really, I was incredibly impressed with her gracious manner and her warmth and real consideration for her many many many fans.
But I was distracted by the fact that my toddler was definitely on the verge of a breakdown.
And then, just before I met the Pioneer Woman, as I was crouched down on my high heels ten feet away from Olympia, picking up a pile of books she had swept to the ground, she ran wildly into a wall, bumped her head, and began to wail. And I didn’t even see her, but the Pioneer Woman DID, and exclaimed “Oh! She bumped her head! Is she ok?!”
Of course I had wanted to make a good impression on the Pioneer Woman, and this was definitely not a part of my plan- but as the eldest of the nine wild hellions in the Slattery family, it wasn’t exactly a surprise to me, either. Oh dear. And so, clutching my tearful toddler, I headed up to have my cookbook signed, babbling about the fact that her family is an amazing example of farming and home-schooling and how to behave in public…
Note my limp, stringy hair! And my double chin! And the fact that, unlike the other Pioneer Woman fans, there are large jagged holes in my purse!
But it was definitely worth it, tearful toddler, high heels and all. I got an autographed cookbook and a chance to tell Ree Drummond that she has been a great inspiration to all of my sisters, and to see for myself that she is a kind and lovely lady- with great hair. I may even brush mine, next time I leave the house.