This was Valentine’s Day in Coldwater:

A love note written in dry-erase marker on the bathroom mirror and a delicate half-and-half heart with baseball stitches etched into the sides, floating atop a decaf macchiato, from Grant.
A lopsided construction-paper heart decorated with Necco sweets and a lot of glitter from Joey. Message: “Happy Valentine’s Day. I’m glad you’re my Sissy. Love, Joey.”
A sunrise hike up Sangre Mesa.
A spirited softball practice in which Lil Miss taught the rest of the team how to slide under a tag. I love that kid. She’s the scrappiest little thing I’ve ever seen — no bigger than a minute, but she puts on that catcher’s mask and scares the living crap out of everybody who even thinks about crossing the plate on her watch. Funny girl.
A couple from Tularosa celebrating the holiday by coming back to the room at the Tumbleweed where they spent their wedding night 50-odd years ago.
A pack of coyotes singing somewhere out on Hank Freed’s back 40.

Hope you had a good Valentine’s Day, wherever you are.

– Sierra

Almost spring!

February 13, 2011

Pitchers and catchers report to Mesa on Monday. Meanwhile, Ryno should be arriving in Clearwater any day now, if he hasn’t already. I’m not sure about the reporting date for the Ironpigs, but the Phillies pitchers and catchers report tomorrow, so the minor-league affiliates should be along directly.

I need to get off my butt and figure out the Isotopes’ schedule so we can plan some trips to Albuquerque this summer.

On a related note, Grant couldn’t find anybody to coach baseball this spring, so he’s doing it himself. Meanwhile, Lil Miss informed me that the softball coach is a 22-year-old first-year art teacher who played one season of coach-pitch softball when she was in second grade and only agreed to take over the team because she is inexplicably terrified of Grant and will basically do anything he asks, whether she has any business doing it or not. Coaching softball, Lil Miss assures me, falls into the category of Things She Doesn’t Have Any Business Doing, as she knows almost nothing about the game, so I tagged along with Lil Miss to practice this morning (the past two days, incidentally, have been much warmer than the last couple of weeks have been) and offered my services as third-base coach.

I am pleased to report that Coldwater High School’s head softball coach now knows how to keep score, fill out a lineup card, and give signs to the pitcher. She still plays ball like a girl, but given sufficient practice, I think Lil Miss and I can cure her of that.

Wisely, I think, I elected not to tell Grant about my latest volunteer project until after I’d cleared it with Dr. Scherer.

Grant, predictably, was apoplectic. He is under the impression that “pregnant” is a synonym for “invalid.” I explained to him that when I played summer ball in junior high, my coach — who had been the star pitcher on her college team — threw BP for us in the middle of June, while she was eight months pregnant. Her daughter was born perfectly healthy, after less than three hours of labor, and grew up to lead her high-school softball team to the state championship four years in a row, with the lowest ERA in school history.

Grant remains unconvinced.

I remain unconcerned.

The girls’ home opener is March 14, if anybody’s interested.

– Sierra

Nowhere I’d rather be

February 4, 2011

It is literally a degree outside. Fortunately, I am curled up under a warm blanket inside, with Grant’s arm around me, the stereo playing an old Neil Diamond album very quietly in the background, and the smell of freshly baked gingersnaps hanging sweetly in the air.

There’s nowhere in the world I’d rather be.

Well, nowhere except the bleachers at Wrigley Field on a summer afternoon, of course.

The bleachers at Wrigley would be awfully unpleasant this evening, so I’ll settle for what I’ve got. It’s a pretty close second, anyway.

– Sierra

Great advice

February 2, 2011

It is six degrees below zero in Coldwater. That is the actual temperature.

The National Weather Service has issued some helpful advice for the general public: Try to stay warm, because exposed skin can get frostbite in less than an hour.

You think so?

Grant, who just came in from a 15-minute trip to the convenience store, assures me that the windchill is now “somewhere between holy shit and sonofabitch” and that it’s probably best for the gene pool if NWS stops offering survival tips to people who are too stupid to come in out of the cold.

He’s obviously enjoying this weather almost as much as I am.

– Sierra

It is currently 12 degrees outside, with a windchill of five below zero, four inches of snow on the ground, and more falling.

Our rooms are full of stranded travelers who lost their nerve when the snow started blowing across the interstate. I fed them chili mac and sent them off to bed with big mugs of hot chocolate topped with marshmallow creme. Lil Miss came by after school, but by the time Grant got out of the building, the temperature had dropped about 20 degrees and the roads were starting to get slick, so he sent her home and followed her in the Volvo just to make sure she got there OK. I worried about him until he got back, but I really shouldn’t have; as he pointed out, a decade in Flagstaff will teach you a thing or two about driving in the winter.

When he got back, Grant spent most of the evening playing Pac-Man with Joey while I made a batch of chocolate-chip biscotti. They’re planning to make ice cream out of snow tomorrow morning.

At this writing, Grant is asleep on my shoulder, Harvey is asleep on my foot, and the cats are asleep in a big, furry pile on my lap while the snow falls softly over Freed’s Garage.

Despite the general crappiness of the weather, life is very, very good right now.

– Sierra

Nerdtastic.

January 24, 2011

Dr. Scherer called me today and told me to bring the truck to the district storage building behind the middle school. Joey was helping the janitors clean a bunch of surplus equipment and books out of the building, and they found a seven-foot-long slide rule buried under a mountain of other obsolete equipment. It’s all dirty and scratched up, and some of the numbers are worn almost completely off of it, but the head of maintenance showed Joey (who is having a devil of a time with long division) how it worked, and he was so enthralled with it that Dr. Scherer told him he could have it if I’d come and haul it home.

Grant and Joey and Lil Miss are now sitting in the middle of the floor in the lobby, using it to do Lil Miss’ algebra homework and trying to figure out the best way to mount it on the wall. Because if there’s one thing I need in my lobby, it’s obviously a seven-foot-long slide rule.

Lil Miss has promised Joey that she will help him refinish it and repaint the faded numbers and tick marks this weekend.

Between that and the coin-op Pac-Man table in the corner (my Christmas present to Grant), I might as well change the name of this place to the Nerdway Motor Inn.

– Sierra

For the record …

January 12, 2011

… I just totally kicked Grant’s ass at Frogger.

Obviously we have way too much time on our hands this evening.

– Sierra

Conversation

December 23, 2010

Overheard this afternoon in the lobby:

GRANT: What are you doing?
SANDY: Just downloading some things for my grandbaby to listen to. I read somewhere that if you play music and read to babies in utero, it makes them smarter.
GRANT: Allen Ginsberg?! Mom, I love you dearly, but I swear to God, if my child’s first word is “Moloch,” I am calling CYFD on your ass.

Somewhere, my English-teacher mama just collapsed in paroxysms of laughter. I’m sure of it.

– Sierra

Explanation

December 22, 2010

No, I’m not dead. Yes, I have an excuse for my lengthy silence.

“Let me ‘splain. No — there is too much. Let me sum up.”
Inigo Montoya

Here are all the things I’ve done in the past week:

1. Made approximately seventy million cookies in forty-two different flavors. (You have no idea how many cookie exchanges are held in Coldwater, N.M., during the month of December. It truly boggles the mind.)
2. Attended two school programs, a band concert, a chorus concert, a Chamber luncheon, a chili supper, and a church Christmas cantata.
3. Helped the Chamber director sort and wrap umpty-three gifts for kids on the Angel Tree we put up at Bill Swinney’s place.
4. Watched Sandy and Joey use poster board and tinted craft glue to make a suncatcher for Grant’s office window.
5. Discovered firsthand that morning sickness is a bitch.

Yeah, you read that last part right.

Thus far, we have not told Joey. He will, of course, be utterly thrilled, but I am not sure exactly what he does and does not know about how pregnancy works or where babies come from, and we are not telling him anything until Grant works up the nerve to explain it to him.

If anybody wants to start a betting pool on when this will happen, I’ll put five bucks on “baby’s 35th birthday.”

– Sierra

Nothing doing

December 12, 2010

I wish I had something exciting to share this evening, but Coldwater is quiet, except for the yipping of the coyotes somewhere out beyond Hank Freed’s property line and the creaking of a speed-limit sign that’s trying to work itself loose from its post in the New Mexico wind.

Lil Miss spent this evening wrapping presents in the lobby with Joey and three or four members of the Coldwater High School FFA chapter. The kids organized a gift drive for the residents of the Coldwater Nursing Center, and I told Lil Miss she could use the Tumbleweed as a staging area for their project. My lobby was completely covered in wrapping paper, ribbons, and giggly teenagers for several hours this evening. The kids stacked all the presents in Unit Four when they finished. They’re going to load them into Lil’s truck and deliver them to the nursing home on Christmas Eve.

I was busy thawing out frozen pipes in Unit Three when the kids showed up, so Grant took over the kitchen and made some peppermint bark, a batch of chocolate-chip cookies, and a huge bowl of popcorn for them to munch on while they worked.

Not to belabor the point, but I think Grant may be the most awesome principal in the history of high schools. Sandy raised her boy right, and Coldwater was lucky to get him.

Speaking of Sandy, she’s supposed to be rolling into town next weekend. I can’t wait. I’m not sure what I did to deserve such an awesome mother-in-law, but I’m glad I’ve got her. She is one of the few people in the world who not only tolerates my quirks but understands and encourages them. I am blessed.

– Sierra

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