From a hotel room in Pittsburgh

Molly–born on lucky July 13

Party hostess Kathy Ahl on left, with her mom, “Chick” on right

That’s me, with new friends Cheryl and Joel, and Stuart Krichevsky

Signing books at Spring Lake Library

Me–getting the joyful news about Molly’s arrival

Greetings from Asbury Park

Two different friends emailed me this week to point out that 13 should be my new lucky number. How right they are! Two weeks ago, THE FIXER UPPER debuted at #13 on the New York Times bestseller list. And on Monday, July 13, the world’s most perfect baby, Miss Molly Hogan Abel, made her debut in Atlanta. To say my week has been a whirl would be an understatement. After spending the weekend in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, I motored over to the Jersey Shore. At first, I was totally a stranger in a strange land. As I was checking into my hotel, the clerk asked me if I needed a beach badge. Huh? In the South, you don’t need a badge to go to the beach—just a sackful of quarters to feed the parking meters. I had to sign a document stating that the hotel could bill my credit card $150 if I didn’t return the badge. WTF? But Sunday night, Meg Walker, the marvelous marketing maven, and her mom, Kathy Ahl, picked me up to take me to dinner and give me a proper orientation to the Jersey Shore. Turns out there are different beaches for different folks. Spring Lake, where I was staying, is known as “The Irish Riviera.” Too funny–I guess a Hogan like me would fit right in–if she had a beach badge. Just down from the Irish beach is the Italian beach. And further down, was the gay beach. Good to know. Meg and Kathy took me past Ocean Grove, which has a famous summer religious retreat tent city, which apparently dates back to Victorian times. I’d seen photos in magazines, but the glimpse I got the other night was fascinating–the most adorable teensy canvas homes dolled up with gingerbread, flowerboxes, ect. For dinner we went to a restaurant called Moonstruck, which prompted me to tell Meg and Kathy to “Snap out of it!”. Very delicious food–washed down with a pink Pommerey champagne called Pink Pop. Then came a quick tour of Asbury Park, which has been totally revitalized since the days when Bruce Springsteen came of age in its gritty bars. I saw the Stone Pony, where an all female Led Zeppelin tribute band, called, yes–Lez Zeppelin–recently played. Lots of cool bars and restaurants and shops–and a restored beach boardwalk, made me want to spend more time in Asbury Park. We did go to a hip rooftop bar called The Watermark. On Monday, when Katie called to tell me she was checking into the hospital, I was too nervous to stay around the hotel, so I went to my happy place–junking. I’d heard about an antique mall in Point Pleasant Beach, a few miles away, so I headed over there. Of course I bought a sweet little vintage baby dress and slip for you-know-who, and then I found an awesome old sign warnign “No swimming, fishing, ect from bridge.” It’ll go in The Breeze Inn. I was so nervous I couldn’t even concentrate on junking–can you believe??? So I headed back to my hotel, where I was to meet Stuart, my amazing agent, who drove down from New York for my talk at the Spring Lake Library, and the party afterwards, given by Meg and Kathy. I was standing on the porch of the hotel when Katie’s best friend Carolyn called to tell me about Molly’s arrival. I think you can tell from the picture how excited I was. Stuart and I had drinks on the porch at a very cool Victorian place called The Palmer House, in Sea Girt. And then we headed over to the Spring Lake Library, which has to be one of the prettiest old buildings ever. It’s a 1920s era red brick wonder, built as a community center for returning World War I veterans, with beautiful mouldings and antiques. I gave my talk in the community theater, which is a jewel box. I was nervous that nobody in New Jersey would turn out to see a displaced Southerner, but we had a great turn-out, probably more than 100 people, and everybody was so warm and welcoming. After the signing, it was time to party! Meg and Kathy had a great spread, and I met lots of their family members and friends. Such fun. Tuesday morning, Stuart and I met Meg at a local luncheonette called Who’s on Third, where I sampled the local specialty–pork roll. Kinda like a cross between bacon and ham, on a yeast roll. Tasty. Then it was time to leave the beautiful Jersey shore–of course, the weather was absolutely gorgeous. I headed to Philly for a signing there last night, and tonight, I signed at Joseph-Beth Booksellers, which is in a revitalized development on the spot of a former US Steel mill. Appropriate, since Mr. Mary Kay’s family is from this area, and many of them worked in the mill or cokeworks. Tomorrow night, I’ll sign books with my old friends at Mystery Lover’s Bookstore in beautiful Oakmont, PA.–and then it’s home Friday to get acquainted with my new grandgirl. Can’t wait!

5 thoughts on “From a hotel room in Pittsburgh”

  1. MK – I am so glad to have found your blog and you should know that after I found it today at work I could have gotten fired as I read it for about 4 hours today! I went back one entry at time for at least 2 years and I knew there was a reason I loved Hissy Fit so much.

    We, too, must be kindred souls. I love vintage stuff and digging through stinky stuff to find "treasures" and really not much else makes me so happy (except my mister).

    I got my first of your books, Hissy Fit, from my Secret Pal in Garden Club (here in Tallahassee, FL – a good southern town too) and I can't wait to read the rest. I'll now be reading your blog every day and hope you check mine out at some time if you're sitting in a hotel room bored or something. Congrats on Molly and I can't wait for my new great niece Macy coming in August. I love Savannah and Tybee Island too. My hubby and I came to both on our honeymoon in 2002 and can't wait to come back.

    A new fellow blogger, junker, estate sale digger…Millie; well, I guess I'll fess up and tell you it's really Mildred, but I can't use that name without cringing. Named after my mama's mom and she didn't even like me!

  2. Having just finished "The Fixer Upper" [I've read them all and am onto the "earlier ones", "Lickety Split" being the last I've read] , I'm struck at how in the present I feel when reading MKA.
    An example, as I was reading Fixer Upper and the front porch was being attacked to the tune of "Wanna Be Startn' Something" from "Thriller" I realized I didn't have Thriller on my ipod so I went to the computer and began downloading it from itunes. I went back to the book and shortly checked on the progress of the download.
    On my way back to the book, I passed by the TV to learn that Michal Jackson had a cardiac arrest. It was all the most natural thing. The porch was being cleaned in a fury to Jackson's music. And at that moment Jackson was in distress.
    In addition to the circumstance being a little uncanny, my point is that MKA's books are all like that. It's as if they are taking place in real time in sync with your life and real world events. They are such fun to read!

    Ben from Atlanta.

  3. Do you need a ride from Tybee to B&N in SAV on Wed. evening? I'm probably going to go and take photos for I know you could drive yourself….LOL…. just thought you might want to carpool.

  4. Congratulations to you and Mr. MK and Katie and Mark. As you have no doubt already learned, from the first time you laid eyes on her, she stole your heart, and you were glad to give it up. They are a joy and believe me, as all grandmas know, no one elses grandbabies can possibly be a cute, as sweet, as clever and as amazing as your own. And that is as it should be. Enjoy.

  5. If you ever get back to Jersey…you need to try Taylor Pork Roll made this way….On a hard seeded roll with melted cheese and a slice of tomato…That's how we eat it…It's the best…We had horrible withdrawal symptoms when we first moved to Atlanta and they didn't sell it….luckily now we can buy it at Publix and we are very happy ex-Jerseyites!! Now if we could just find Tasty Cake cakes and pies….

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