Range of thoughts
TulsaPeople revisits our November 2007 interview with Ree Drummond, winner of the 2009 Weblog of the Year for her blog "Confessions of a Pioneer Woman." Drummond beat The Huffington Post and PerezHilton.com for the coveted award.
AMERICA'S PIONEER WOMAN is celebrated as the heroic wife and mother who tamed the West. In Oklahoma, the sun-bonneted “Pioneer Woman” statue in Ponca City is dedicated to the women who “braved the dangers and endured the hardships” of daily life on the homestead.
But what happens when a city girl living in Los Angeles, a ballet dancer who studied journalism and gerontology at the University of Southern California, becomes a modern-day pioneer woman in northeast Oklahoma?
What does she do if she trades her pointe shoes for cowboy boots, marries a fourth-generation rancher and finds herself living on an isolated ranch nearly the size of New Hampshire with cattle, herds of wild horses and four home-schooled children? What if she swaps Rodeo Drive for a flat vista of bluestem grass that stretches over the horizon?
If her name is Ree Drummond, she becomes an accomplished photographer and starts an award-winning Web site, “Confessions of a Pioneer Woman,” which gets 20,000 hits from around the world every day. And a cooking blog, “The Pioneer Woman Cooks,” which another 8,000 to 10,000 people visit daily. Her blogs are illustrated with her stunning photographs.
Drummond’s blogs are reminiscent of Erma Bombeck, Jean Kerr (“Please Don’t Eat the Daisies”) and Betty MacDonald (“The Egg and I”). She writes with irrepressible humor about cooking (Becoming a rancher’s wife she worried, “Would I have to fry chicken every night?”), ranch life (about her favorite horse, L.B. — “Lawsie mercy, can it actually be possible for someone like me to love a horse this much? Let me back up: to love a horse, period?”), her four children (“Who poured honey in the bathtub?”), herself (“A red-headed city girl” accustomed to sushi and regular pedicures, she now lives “in the middle of nowhere” and loves it.) and a lot about her handsome husband, Ladd, whom she refers to on the blogs only as the Marlboro Man (“rugged, virile and 6 feet of solid muscle”).
THE PIONEER WOMAN
Drummond grew up in Bartlesville in a house on a golf course, danced with the Bartlesville civic ballet, spent the summers in Hilton Head and traveled to New York to see Broadway shows. When she moved to Los Angeles to attend USC, she wore black pumps to work every day, kissed James Garner and spilled a pot of tea on Gary Coleman’s lap. Back home on a visit, she met Ladd, who had grown up 40 miles from her but who had been away at Arizona State. This was her Marlboro Man.
“When I laid eyes on him,” she wrote, “my stomach had butterflies and my knees went weak. I told myself to take note of the date and time because I was officially in the presence of the most attractive man I’d ever met.”
She cooked linguini with clam sauce for him. He hated it. He likes Dr. Pepper and doesn’t eat fish. He took her to the ranch to work cattle with his family. She felt awkward and wimpy. But it was love. About a year later, he proposed, she accepted and then she fell on the floor wondering what world she was stepping into:
“Would I have to mow my own lawn wearing only a bra and overalls?
“Would we sit on the porch and whittle every evening?”
Someday, she thought, they would have a child. Some day. One child. By the time they returned from their honeymoon, she was pregnant. Ten years later, they have four children — two girls (Alex and Paige) and two boys (Bryce and Todd).
“I’ve changed 16,000 diapers,” she says.
In addition to the herds of cattle, yearlings and wild mustangs, she lives with ranch horses (L.B., Snip, Buddy, Peso and Jack — “our best friends and constant companions”) and dogs (Nell, “a border collie and useful cattle dog,” and two Labradors, Bob and George, “not useful at all”).
THE WEB SITES
Energetic and creative, Drummond photographs (portraits, nature and documenting life on a working cattle ranch) and writes tongue-in-cheek poetry. She began her blog, “Confessions of a Pioneer Woman” (www.thepioneerwoman.com), in May 2006 as a site to store her photographs. The Web site grew into a blog “to chronicle this bizarre, beautiful and often hilarious journey I’m on … my decade-long transition from spoiled city girl to domestic country wife,” she writes.
Last March, her Web site won the 2007 “Best-Kept Secret” Bloggie Award, which is known as the Oscars of the Blogosphere, and it was recently honored as Best Overall Blog at the Oklahoma Blog Awards. Drummond’s also developing the blogs into a book. The “Pioneer Woman Cooks” site (www.thepioneerwomancooks.com) includes step-by-step pictorials of cowboy-pleasing dishes — cobbler, cinnamon rolls and beans and cornbread.
Although she confesses that her “pioneer” life includes satellite TV, high-speed Internet, a four-wheel drive and a part-time nanny, Drummond has fallen in love with her home on the range.
“Sometimes I wonder if I over-idealize country life,” she says. She’s a city girl so in love with the country that once in a while, she says, “I will break into a pirouette in the kitchen.”