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Lady Mandy:

Well, it all started off when I got home on Thursday afternoon. That's my late day. I got home around 5:30 and I intended on leaving right away to go to Surrey Place. However my mom had other plans. She insisted I eat something for dinner. (Food? Who needs food when you're about to meet Herself?) So, after quickly slamming down a meal, I headed out. I arrived at Surrey Place at about 7:15 or so. I walked into Black Bond books and thought it looked mighty deserted for someone as big as DG's signing. So, I wandered around the store a bit before the lady at the counter mentioned there was a note there for me. The other Ladies were kind enough to leave me a phone number and address so I could meet them in Hope's room. (Diana's plane had been delayed in Phoenix)

Well, I went to the front counter and asked for Hope's room number. They gave me the phone and I believe I talked to Kate. She told me which room to come up to. Funny thing is, Hope and Charyl were at the desk just as I hung up. So, not knowing who they were at the time, I went up to something like the 21st floor with a group of Japanese people with A LOT of luggage.

Finally I got up there and Judie answered the door. I think someone mentioned something about how all Canadians take off their shoes at the door. Anyways, I went in, and sat down and was offered food and drinks.

Later we were joined by Faith (aka Andrea). To anyone who couldn't be here, try to make it next year. These women were the most amazingly funny and hospitable women I've ever met. I felt really at home with them despite the age difference.

It'll be too long to describe everything that happened there that night. But here are some highlights:

- Gifts were handed out (we made a promise not to say what one of the gifts was, but the other gift was a hand-made Jamiebear by Kim).

- Charyl tried on a kilt Hope had, and "flashed" us.

- Hope regaled us all with her "I was on Oprah story." This started a chain-reaction and we went around the circle and everyone (well, almost everyone, I managed to sneak out of it by leaving early) told their story. Including an *interesting* one by Judie about how she met Rick. Which her daughter Tamara said she was disgusted when she found out about it. (By the way, it's sooo cute how close Judie and Tamara are. I hope when I have kids I can have a relationship like them).

- We passed around the book that Judie printed out for Diana, and then signed some cards and stuff.

It was just a really fun evening and I really regretted having to leave early but I had a midterm the next morning that I had to study for. So, I made my farewells, and Hope walked me to the elevator. It was then that I really REALLY regretted leaving early, since I was going to miss Kiltboy by about half an hour.

The worst part came a few days later when I found out that Diana showed up about 15 minutes to half an hour after I left. But I'm really glad that her plane was delayed, even if I didn't get to meet her. For one, I had a wonderful time with all the Ladies of Lallybroch, and I think I got to know them in a way I couldn't have if Diana had been there. Secondly, there's always next year. I'm hoping that this "Gathering" will become a yearly event, and if it does you can count on my being there!

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