Sadness – then joy with Barnes and Noble

March 5, 2018


Sadness has prevented me from posting much news lately. This is a photo snapped by my friend Rhonda’s family at my book signing at Barnes and Noble at the Summit in Birmingham. After this day, I wanted to tell you all about how it went, but suddenly, the world seemed to cave in.

The tragic death of an 18 year old friend of my son knocked our entire community off our feet. Days and days of sadness and disbelief were thrust upon us, then, came the news that a much beloved community member, and the founder of our awesome independent bookstore, Page and Palette, had passed away. The last time I saw Betty Joe Wolff, she was in the store to get a copy of my book. Such an encourager of mine, and a great lady, it was a dark cloud over my head to know she was gone. Then, like all of you, I watched as the shooting of 17 children in a Florida school unfolded, the death of the great Billy Graham, and I thought sadness was taking over the world. And of course, when it rains, it pours, so I also encountered more than my share of thoughtless snippy people as well. So disappointing!

Then, came the unexpected death of the husband of one of my college friends. She’s young and has three teens to raise, and although she’s a strong faithful woman, my heart was yet again, broken for her.

My darling friend Rhonda and her family.

So  . . . that’s why posting here has been sparse lately. I haven’t felt like doing much of anything. Oh — and on top of that, I’ll soon need more heart surgery. Dang. I’l fill you in later, but it should be scheduled for sometime this month. If I go silent again for a while, you’ll know I’m being held captive with no salt and no caffeine on the cardiac floor of the hospital. (It sounds gloomy, but actually, I’m looking forward to feeling better. Bob and I have plans for our soon-to-be empty nest,  and I need to feel good.  (HERE is my first hospital stay).

It’s like I told my son, no matter how our hearts are broken, there are always people who are just as sad or even worse, and have no hope. At least we have hope. That’s HUGE.


But — on to the happy book signing. I had so many great blog friends stop by and see me in Birmingham. Above, is Ellen, who used to blog, but has taken a break (I hope she’ll return soon), and Ricki Jill from The Sketchy Reader, who is a new blog friend of mine and bubbled over with joy. I hope I get to spend more time with her soon.

And these lovely ladies are Emily from The French Hutch, who has the most fascinating tales of traveling the world and a knack for decorating, and Nancy, who doesn’t blog anymore, but has become a friend and is kind to ring me up when she’s visiting Fairhope so we can grab a cup of coffee. And I finally . . . finally got to meet the adorable Arlene Grimm from Nanaland. I could immediately tell she and I could spend hours together talking. I hope to see her again someday when we have more time. Doesn’t she look snazzy? I love snazzy ladies!

Here’s my sweet Birmingham family who came out to support me. Cousin Ruth, and her beautiful daughter Addison, and my Aunt Beth and Uncle Phil (and my Bob in the background who travels with me and takes good care of me). It’s good to have cheerleaders in your own clan. Uncle Phil is my Dad’s youngest brother and was in high school when I was born, so he was always fun to play with when I was little.

And here she is . . . the star of the show. I looked up, and this beautiful woman was standing in front of my table. After looking at her for about three seconds, I said, “Are you my majorette?” and she said, “Yes!” This is Vivian, or “Vicki”who is the majorette on the cover of my book — second from the right. The photo is of the Decatur High School  (in Decatur, Alabama) majorettes in 1961, but Vicki now lives in Birmingham and came to meet me. She is as sparkly and Southern and charming and FABULOUS as I could have ever dreamed! Just like the girls I wrote about in my book. I was thrilled to meet her and she filled me in on all the other young ladies on the cover photo, which we licensed from The Decatur Daily News, but never dreamed we’d actually meet!

I had many new people stop by to meet me, but my favorite visitor of the day showed up early and said his name was David. He reads my column every week to his wife, who suffers from Alzheimer’s Disease, and he handed me an envelope with a clipping of a recent newspaper article  of mine, and a note with a crisp $1 bill. The note explained the dollar was to pay the debt of Mrs. Adams who failed to pay me when she was distracted by my hamster who popped out to see her when she was putting money for the missionaries in my bank (read about it HERE). David said he loves my column and it brings back happy memories for him. What a kind man, to take the time to come see me and let me know these things. I got big hot tears in my eyes as I hugged him and let him know how special his visit was.

And to balance the demographics of my readers,  I was thrilled at First Friday Art Walk to meet several younger fans of my book. One even said, “Mrs. Tarabella?” I thought at first it was one of my son’s friends, but he was a young husband and dad there with his wife and baby who told me how much he loves reading my articles and book. Isn’t that nice? I love nice people. They make us all feel better when life seems to be kicking us in the head.

The good news is – since I had a good turn-out of people at my signing, Barnes and Noble will now be carrying my book. Yippee!!!  All you have to do is request for it to be added to the shelves . . . so — ASK!  Ask and it shall be given. Thank you in advance for bugging the crud out of your local B and N store for The Majorettes are Back in Town! And by the way, this store, at The Summit, was the most beautiful, huge bookstore I’ve ever seen and the staff was awesome!

Yes, it’s been a rough few weeks, but with the sadness, there has been joy. With tears, there has been laughter. And with pain, there has been bubbling, enthusiastic joy. So goes life. So goes the learning experience of writing and marketing a book. So go the days of raising a teenager in a fallen and hurt world. Thank you Birmingham readers, and thank you to all of you who are sweet, good people. I appreciate your support, whether it is in Birmingham, or beyond.

(Now, go call your Barnes and Noble!) heheheheeee! thanks. 

  • Cammie Plummer East Cowan says:

    Sorry to hear of your recent adversities, and hope that present pleasures (including restored health) far outweigh the troubles. I have good reason to admire the skills and kindness of Mobile/Fairhope cardiologists , and hope you are enjoying the fruits of their good works and your own improved health.

    And as another who shared your enjoyment of and admiration for Betty Joe, I also admire your persistence in pursuing the written word. Here’s encouragement to continue. I believe writers do make a difference, and can encourage and support healthy growth of the best in us — especially in these recent days of what has seemed like a Joe Bfltsplk!* cloud of gloom and doom. Humor’s among the hardest things to accomplish, and i think you score contact with your readers. And people remember the darnedest things… i’ll bet you often encounter readers who thank you for sharing a moment of humor, goodwill, or just plain old kindness.

    Good wishes, and be of good cheer! And thanks for your efforts among the “inky wretches!” (Imho, newspaperi g is one of the few things in this tired old world that has become almost too clean, since the good old days of the Linotype and hot metal, both of which I regret that I mostly missed.)

    • Hello Cammie, Welcome to the blog and thank you for your insight and encouragement. You are right that writers can make a difference, but then again, I think all of us have a voice of one kind or the other. Thanks for the good wishes. We’ll keep on doing what we love!

  • Sorry you have to go through heart surgery again….however the options are usually less desirable. I had to have a pacemaker 12 years ago and just had my second one two years ago, and yes, Dr. Robichaux is wonderful.

    Ten years ago I had to have double bypass which was a shock to my doctor and me! It turned out to be an answer to my prayers for God to heal my severe atrial fibrillation since my surgery was scheduled with the only surgeon in the area who could (at that time) do the maze procedure for Afib….has to be done open-chest but has a high rate of success. Not how I would have chosen for my healing (forgot to tell God HOW to heal me! 😉 but just so grateful. I had always feared open heart surgery, but the expectation was far wrose than the reality. And, besides my improved health….bring on the dark chocolate and espresso!

    Prayers for successful surgery and an uneventful recovery. I was much older when I had mine and you have the age advantage. Blessings!

  • Too much sadness the children of our country should not have to bear. But we can rejoice over Billy Graham’s long life on this earth and the fact he is in Heaven now with his beloved Ruth.

    Since you are a dog lover like me, I will share one of his quotes…
    “God will prepare everything for our perfect happiness in heaven, and if it takes my dog being there, I believe he’ll be there.” ~ Billy Graham

    Many prayers that your surgery goes well.

    • Thank you so much for sharing that quote with me. My mother has always said the same thing, but to hear Billy Graham said that about dogs in heaven is priceless. Our children are in peril. I think intensive prayer is the only thing to save them from the horrors that swirl around them. Thanks so much for these wise words, Roxanne.

  • SANDY HILL says:

    Hi, Leslie Anne,

    Sometimes February does seem to be full of cruelty as another friend confided to me also. Please know that you have a large support group concerning your health and upcoming surgery as well as all of the travel and activity connected with your new book.
    Your columns and blogs just get better and better and show me how fortunate I am to be a Southerner and live here. Try to rest and know that you are being surrounded by prayer!


    • Thank you so much Sandy. At least February was the shortest month of the year and we can move forward from here! I appreciate your kind words of encouragement!

  • Oh Leslie Anne, I am so sorry to hear of your heartbreaks…and I will be praying for your surgery and safe recovery…and new and improved life! Once again, I am so sorry I missed the BN fun, I ended up in the emergency room, but all is fine now. So glad you got to see Ellen Ricki Jill and Emily, and so many other friends and family. That is so fabulous one of the majorettes came, that had to make your day. Congrats again on the success of your book, and I will be thinking of you!

    • Emergency room?? Oh no! That’s the best excuse ever for missing my book signing! So glad you are okay. If I had known, I would have come to help you in some way. I guess being the food blogger, you are the last person to need a casserole, but I’d be glad to bring you flowers or sweep your kitchen for you! Take care, and we truly missed you.

  • I’m so sorry about the sadness, but thank you for sharing with us and glad to hear you’ve had joy as well! I wanted to tell you that I just called my local B&N. That said that they would be willing to stock a few copies but there are none in the warehouse right now. I’m happy to try again if you’re able to find out about when there will be more in the warehouse.

    • Thank you so much for taking action! I needed to know that. My publisher is responsible for sending books to them, so I will forward this info on to him and I’m sure he will spring into action. You’ve been so supportive, and I know your heart is breaking as well over our college friend. thanks for your note and I’ll get books in the warehouse soon, if I have to drive them there myself!Thank you so much for taking action! I needed to know that. My publisher is responsible for sending books to them, so I will forward this info on to him and I’m sure he will spring into action. You’ve been so supportive, and I know your heart is breaking as well over our college friend. thanks for your note and I’ll get books in the warehouse soon, if I have to drive them there myself!

  • I’m so glad that the book signing provided a much needed bright spot during this stretch of sad happenings. To lose three people in such close succession really takes a toll. And then to hear that more surgery is in your near future? Please do take care of yourself!!! No caffeine and no salt but maybe another cupcake? And maybe it will look tasty this time? Good luck! You will be in my prayers, Leslie Anne.

    • Those cupcakes were a farce. I didn’t fall for it. They look good but it’s all smoke and mirrors. Don’t ever trust a hospital dietician! thanks for your sweet note Mo!

  • I’m so sorry to hear of so much grief in your corner of the world as of late. But, I’m pleased that you’ve been able to balance it with joy and new faces as well. I hope all goes well with your surgery and that ticker is running better than ever soon! HUGS!

  • Patricia Potts says:

    I love hearing about you and your family. It truly gives me hope. I will have continued prayers for you all.
    P. Potts

  • WOW! That is way too much sadness lately. I know things will definitely get better.

  • Leslie Anne, life is terribly hard. I feel your pain. But, we know that this is not all there is. With all the bad, God remains faithful and true. I was so disappointed that I could not make it to Birmingham to meet you. The photos of all those who did were so fun! Hang in there, prayers for your upcoming surgery!

    • Thank you Pam. I know your prayers are heartfelt and genuine and I appreciate it so much. I’m sure we will have a chance to meet someday, so keep in touch!

  • I am in tears myself. It does often seem if bad news comes in groupings. All of that is enough to bring one to not feeling so cheerful. You will be in my prayers for your surgery.
    Meeting the elderly gentleman is wonderful. That was so sweet for him to come and share his story and the majorette. I hope I look that good when I mature a bit more.

    • Thank you so much Sandy. Sometimes I think Satan dumps all the bad things on us at once with irritating people and bad news just to see how strong we are and to see if we remember who to turn to. If we look for the good – like David, who came to my signing, then we’ll remember life isn’t always going to be bumpy. Thanks for the prayers and the nice note.

  • Sharon Calvert says:

    Thoughts and prayers out to you. Please know that while I seldom comment, I AM following along with your posts and appreciate whatever you share. You are a source of joy to those of us ‘of a certain age;’ your humor and wit are uplifting, and your kind and caring nature is evident in your writings. Hang in there, girlfriend!

    • Thank you Sharon. I was hoping you were still out there somewhere! Pop in again from time to time, and thank you so much for the encouragement.

  • Ellen Shook says:

    I am so sorry for all these incredible losses and sad events in your life. Sorrow and pain do seem to come in torrents sometimes. The longer I live, the more I realize how tenuous and precious those moments of incredible joy and happiness are, and how they should be savored and held close to remind us that when the inevitable sadness seems to overwhelm us, joy will come again in it’s own time. It is simply part of the rhythm of life.


    P.S. We need to lobby B & N not only to carry your book, but also to do something about that lighting — could it have been any worse? ?

    • The lighting . . . that’s why I adore you so!
      And yes, “torrents” is the perfect word for how our grief sometimes hits us. Well said, indeed! Thanks Ellen.

  • Leslie Anne, You have had a lot to be sad over and I’m sorry. There are just no words when we see this happen to 18 year olds and loose good friends. Yes, the FL shooting, loosing the wonderful man Bill Graham and knowing there is and never be one like him! On a happy note, it was good to see you at B&N in Hoover. I have a cute pic of you on my blog you should grab. Sorry you have to go through the procedure again. hopefully this will be the final time. Do let me know how you are doing please. Take care and delight in this beautiful spring like weather………..

    • Thank you Emily. It was so wonderful of you to take the time to drive over and see me in Birmingham! Friends like you make the sadness flee.

  • Yes, so much sadness lately. I wish there wasn’t so much hopelessness among some of our teenagers these days. I pray every day for more kindness and love to envelope the youth of our country.

    So happy that your book is doing well for you! I STILL don’t have my copy yet…surely our local B&N will have it, right? Otherwise, we might just have to have lunch one of these days soon so that I can get one!

    Love you, girl.

    • Any excuse for lunch, but yes, our Spanish Fort Barnes and Noble should have copies soon. You are so right about the youth of our country. They’ve grown up fearful of even attending school. How stressful must that be?

  • Julia Crow says:

    Prayers with you and your family and the Fairhope community.

  • Julia Crow says:

    Precious, Leslie Anne,
    My thoughts and prayers will be with you and your family and the Fairhope community.
    After the storm, there is a rainbow.

  • Your story shows that life is a continual mix of sadness and joy. Together they create balance.

    • Great point. I guess when we have an overdose of joy for a while, it spoils us and we forget that others don’t always see sunshine and flowers. It’s a good thing to be balanced. – Thanks Linda!

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