That’s where I’ve been for the last week. Preparing, participating, recovering. For those of you who don’t know, Fandrews are Fans of Andrew Mocete. Who’s a fan of Andrew Mocete? I’d have to say probably everyone who meets him, IRL or virtually.
When Andrew told me that he and his wife, Tracey, would be able to come visit me for a few days while he was in this part of the country to see his sister, I set about planning the first FandrewCon–after the initial squee, of course. Kait Nolan and I are trying to see each other more often. After a break of a few years since she came to see me, I went down to see her in June of last year to workshop parts of Hush Money. So she came up here for a long weekend of FandrewCon goodness. I was also able to get Lauralynn Elliott to join us for an afternoon.
Kait arrived on Thursday afternoon, right after my daughter, Briar, got home from school. The whole family went out Puleos for dinner. If you’re ever in the Knoxville area, Puleos is a local chain with this Italian + Southern thing going that’s both unique and delicious. After everyone went to bed, Kait and I watched Buffy’s musical episode from Season 6, “Once More With Feeling.”
Once Briar was off to school on Friday, we had a lazy morning in and then went down to Pigeon Forge. For those of you unfamiliar with the area, that’s the town near Gatlinburg, at the foot of the Great Smoky Mountains. The Dollywood theme park is there, along with a lot of other attractions, shopping, etc. It’s a real tourist spot, complete with drive-thru wedding chapels, an area that is sometimes referred to as the Vegas of the Smokies.
After a lunch at the Smoky Mountain Brewery, we moved on to our main quest which was the Levis outlet store for Kait’s precious 529s, only to be told that the 529 line had been discontinued! There was much griefage followed immediately by a stop at Ben & Jerry’s for cups of Clusterfluff which Rodzilla Reviews (read it here) described thusly:
Ben & Jerry’s has churned out another great flavor, and everyone should try it. I don’t care if you get mild lactose issues (man up) or you’re deathly allergic to peanuts. Grab an EpiPen along with your pint and head over to the local ER. When the swelling of your throat subsides enough for you to talk, you’ll thank me.
And, yeah, pretty much! I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it.
So having recovered from the initial shock of the discontinuance, we decided to hit the 3 Duncan’s stores along the strip, outlet stores that carry Levis, Carhartt, and Wrangler. Unfortunately, this was the second weekend of the Fall Grand Rod Run. That’s when people bring their classic and otherwise spiffy cars to town, park them all along the strip with the hoods up, and people walk up and down the sidewalks checking out each other’s vehicles, talking car stuff, etc. Which is cool except it takes up a lot of the parking for actual shopping, and makes a nightmare of traffic with some people preferring to cruise the strip in their cars rather than walk it.
But we persevered and Kait ended up with, like, seven new pairs of jeans. And I have to say that after watching her do all that shopping, I was really wanting those boots I’ve been lusting after for the last few weeks.
Well, we stopped at the grocery store, intending to get stuff to make dinner. My husband, Les, had come home early to meet the school bus and he and Briar were making vegetable kabobs on the grill. We got out some fish and Kait took over getting that prepared. I really had nothing to do but watch everyone else get supper on the table. Everything was delicious, Kait even did the dishes, and Les declared that she couldn’t go home. In the evening, I baked cookies. I had special FandrewCon M&M’s made, but sadly all the writing melted off during the baking. The cookies were good, though. And I gave away all the M&Ms as party favors before I thought to take a picture of them. I also gave Kait posterboard and a box of crayons.
Kait whipped up a pot of Taco Soup while I did some cleaning up on Saturday morning, and Les took Briar to the fair. Lauralynn came over around noon and we had a really nice afternoon together. Andrew and Tracey showed up around 4pm. And there was great rejoicing.
Les and Briar came home and we all trekked out to the west Knoxville location of Smoky Mountain Brewery. When in doubt, eat at Brewery, I guess. Had I known there was going to be football involved, I’d have chosen someplace else. And honestly, it’s like this Catch-22 thing. Hate it so much you don’t want to see it or hear about it, so of course you don’t follow the schedule and then it sneaks up on you. Ugh.
Lauralynn had to go home after dinner, and then the rest of us stopped at the mall on the way home, went to Journeys, and bought my boots. These are still me enough while satisfying my inner Joss, but I confess that once I got them home it took me a while to figure out how I was going to wear them. I’m just sayin’, if you have 14 eyes, the laces should be long enough for them. But then, maybe they would be if I had younger calves? The cuffs folded down the way they have them in the pictures online is pretty ridiculous, especially under jeans. The cuffs are now laced down so they stay tight and they’re really comfortable that way. What’s personally amusing about these is that the floral fabric in the lining is the same print as I had on my bridesmaid’s dresses (which I made myself 20 years ago), only in a different color.
Sunday was a lazy day, most of which was spent talking. It was awesome. It should be noted that Kait and I have done our duty to the collective and introduced Tracey to “North and South.” And while you’ll no doubt want to buy it, let it be known that it is also available on Netflix so you can get started on it right now.
Kait took pictures Sunday evening. She hasn’t sent me any or I’d post some. The main goal was to get me an author photo so that you could see kind of what I look like without being scared. To that end, her husband needs to go over it with the super powerful photographer’s software to remove some of the scariness, so I’ll have that for you soon.
Andrew and I, the morning people, had a really good conversation Monday morning after we got Briar onto the school bus. He gave me tons of ideas for Heroes Under Siege, some of which will carry over into book 4 of the series.
Andrew and Tracey left late Monday morning. Kait lingered until after lunch. I declared the first FandrewCon a success.