October 28, 2010
Grant is asleep, Joey is watching TV in his room, and I am wrapped up in a falsa blanket, blogging from a metal lawn chair under a clear New Mexico sky, watching the steam curl from my cocoa mug and drift off into the cold night air, and thinking that this quiet evening is probably the best chance I’ll have to post a full account of the wedding.
The ceremony itself was simple but pretty. Brother Jerry and a couple of deacons from church set up a little metal archway at the park, and Sandy decorated it with solar-powered Christmas lights, faux-fall-leaf garlands, and a couple of small chile ristras. Lil Miss presented me with a bouquet of sunflowers and daisies that she and Joey had arranged, and we set up a portable sound system and played a couple of Dad’s songs during the ceremony, which made me cry.
The most memorable part of the whole wedding — at least for me — was the gift Grant presented to me immediately after the ceremony.
Hank Freed came over one night last week, while Lil Miss was working, and offered to donate a junk car to the FFA for a fundraiser. He talked Bill Swinney out of some spray paint and a sledgehammer, towed the car to the festival site, and let the FFA kids charge people $5 to spraypaint an enemy’s name on the car and then hit it as hard as they could with the sledgehammer.
As soon as the ceremony was over, Grant took me over to the car, painted Jim Hendry’s name all over it, handed Lil Miss a crisp $100 bill, and told me to have fun avenging Ryno.
I’m no Willie Stargell, but I think I did a pretty respectable job with that sledgehammer. :)
Remarkably, I still had enough energy left to change a tire on the Volvo after Grant ran over part of a broken bottle on the way up to Santa Fe — the only glitch in an otherwise lovely weekend.
We stayed at the beautiful El Rey Inn. I’d had some good intentions about leaving work at work, but El Rey’s owners have given the property so many cute little flourishes that I couldn’t resist photographing some of the details and writing down a few ideas to bring back to Coldwater. We spent part of Sunday afternoon hiking La Bajada Hill and then spent Sunday night in Santa Fe before heading home on Monday.
We came home to find a check in the mailbox from that consignment lot in Flagstaff where Grant put the Firebird up for sale. After five months, it finally sold. We’re thinking about using the money to get the neon sign out front relit.
July 3, 2010
We’re on the brink of monsoon season. I could feel it when I went out for a jog this morning before the guests got up. The languid air, pregnant with moisture, felt more like the Mississippi Delta than the high desert, filled as it was with a cloying humidity that mixed with the darkness and wrapped itself around my ankles as I ran.
Brother Jerry and several of the guys from church were out at Wallis Park, setting up tents for Coldwater’s annual Fourth of July picnic and fireworks show. The church and the Chamber of Commerce sponsor the festivities every year. Joey is very excited about it. A team of volunteers — mostly the usual suspects from Casa de Jesus — will spend most of the day barbecuing, and everybody in town is supposed to bring a side dish to share. All the kids get free sparklers, and they have a “patriotic pooch” contest. Joey is working on some sort of ridiculous getup for Harvey to wear. We have come to an understanding about the extent of Harvey’s participation in the festivities: Once the sun sets, the dog goes in. I don’t want him traumatized by all the explosions.
I promised Brother Jerry that I would make Miss Shirley’s special New Mexican bread pudding for the potluck. Coldwater has held a potluck ever July 4 since 1972, and Miss Shirley’s bread pudding — a wild but tasty concoction involving pinon nuts, stale sourdough made from starter that Miss Shirley inherited from her grandmother, and a red chile rum sauce — has been present at every single potluck. When I bought the Tumbleweed, one of Miss Shirley’s gifts to me was a little tub of sourdough starter and a lesson in making bread pudding. She asked that I either carry on the tradition or share the starter and the recipe with one of the ladies in town so Coldwater wouldn’t have to give up what had become one of her favorite traditions.
I loved Miss Shirley the minute I met her, but the longer I am here, the more I appreciate what she meant to this community, and the more awestruck I am by her foresight, attention to detail, and generosity of spirit. I’m still not sure how or why she chose me to take care of her motel, her town, and her boy, but I’m honored and grateful that she did.
June 19, 2010
We hit the mother lode this afternoon in Tucumcari: a porcelain-topped kitchen table ($30), four shaky but salvageable wooden chairs with alligatored paint ($10 for the lot; I’ll strip them, reglue them, and repaint them next week), a Danish modern coffee table ($20), two big bookshelves ($10 each), and a mid-century sofa ($25).
The furniture is in fairly rough condition, but it’s serviceable, and it will look pretty good with a little TLC.
I also found a couple of decorations for the kitchen, but they’re a surprise for Grant when the furniture is all finished. He was a little disappointed that he couldn’t find the ugly chairs he was talking about, but the ones he got will look more authentic, as they are the same age as the refrigerator.
June 8, 2010
Joey and the CSNY kittens are in the lobby, playing with a laser pointer Grant picked up for them at the truck stop today. I have no idea why the truck stop was selling laser pointers, but there they were, right next to the register, so Grant bought one while I was outside checking the oil in the truck. The kittens are having a ball chasing the red dot all over my lobby.
I’d had some good intentions about taking Crosby, Stills and Nash down to the feed store yesterday, but after the coyote incident, I decided Joey had gone through enough cat-induced heartache for one week, so the little monsters are still here. Grant says if they’re still in my lobby when he moves out, he’ll take Crosby and Stills with him. I guess I can put up with the other two. They’re bound to settle down eventually. I hope.
Meanwhile, Grant and Harvey and I are sitting out front, watching a storm roll in. It’s somewhere between here and Santa Rosa at the moment. According to my iPod, the temperature has dropped 11 degrees since we came out here an hour and a half ago, and the wind is picking up, so I’m sure we’ll be dashing for cover in a few minutes. In the meantime, I’m enjoying a mocha frappe and a much-needed backrub after spending the past two days on my hands and knees, going over every square inch of Grant’s living-room floor with a belt sander and a tack cloth.
It’s been pretty quiet around here this evening. A couple from Tulsa was supposed to be here at 10, but they called a little while ago to tell us they were running behind because they’d stopped for Indian food at the truck stop in San Jon and didn’t expect to get here before 11. I told them we’d probably still be up, but if we got tired, I’d just leave the key in the door for them and they could pay me in the morning.
For the record, if Grant ever gets tired of being a school administrator, I think he could have a real future in massage therapy….
May 20, 2010
We’ve been busy this evening. A woman from Indiana and a nice couple from Pennsylvania checked in a couple of hours ago, and a British biker showed up a little later. They were all taking Route 66 trips, so they spent a long time sitting around the lobby, discussing the merits of various alignments and swapping road stories.
I got a note today from an organization called Friends of the Mother Road, offering to repaint my sign this summer. Apparently one of the founders is a teacher and wants to use part of her summer to do some historic preservation along the road. She saw my sketch of the sign I’ve been planning to order and said if I’d buy the paint and let her crash here for a couple of days, she’d come out and do the work for free. I’m thinking about taking her up on it. I love Rudy’s work over in Tucumcari, but the idea of having the sign painted for free — and possibly getting some free publicity for the Tumbleweed at the same time — is really almost too good to pass up.
Speaking of signs, Joey has been working very hard on a sign welcoming Grant to Coldwater. He’s using individual sheets of paper, with one letter written on each sheet, to make a banner that says, “WELCOME, PRINCIPAL LOUCKS!” I’ve hole-punched the top corners of each sheet and stuck looseleaf reinforcements around the holes so we can string them on a long piece of yarn and hang them from the ceiling in the lobby before Grant gets here.
I got a text message from Grant today:
“2 wks = 2 long. school is crazy. 2 much drama. miss yr smile.”
Grant is counting the days, too. *Swoons*
April 9, 2010
I’ve been humming “One Day More” from Les Miserables all day. You know why.
Weird coincidence: After I spent the whole day humming a song from a French musical, I glanced up this evening to see three French couples roaring down 66 on rented Harleys. They pulled up to the Tumbleweed just before sunset, which is an awesome time to roll into Coldwater. I told them I’d hold their rooms for them if they wanted to go out and watch the sun set over Sangre Mesa before checking in.
They were duly impressed. We had a particularly fiery sunset this evening, and our famous “blood mesa” really lived up to its name. They’d never seen anything like it before.
They were really nice, so I fired up my chiminea and sent Joey to the convenience store to get hot dogs and marshmallows to roast over the flames. We had a nice little dinner party.
On a completely unrelated note, Jesus’ contractor friend, Albert, did an awesome job with Units One and Two. They looked so good when he finished — three days ahead of schedule — that I decided to go ahead and have him paint them, too. I didn’t want to take a chance on messing up any of his beautiful new walls with my clumsy brushwork. He finished painting today. I might make a trip to Tucumcari tomorrow to buy furniture, linens, and decorations for the newly remodeled rooms.
April 1, 2010
Does anyone know the best way to remove exterior latex enamel from hair? Not that I know anybody who forgot to tie her hair back before attempting to paint a stucco wall in the New Mexico wind, of course.
March 27, 2010
A photographer came by today, selling postcards of Route 66. I bought some, partly because I thought they were pretty, and partly because I’m a sucker for photographers who are trying to make a living with their work.
I have no idea whether I’ll ever sell them all, but I like them. I need to get a wire rack to display them.
Jesus’ friend came by to give me an estimate on the ceiling work in Units One and Two. After finding out how cheap he works, I decided to let him do the drywall and rewire those units as well. He says he can have them ready for me to paint in a couple of weeks. I was tempted to let him do the painting, too, but I just can’t bring myself to pay someone else to do work I can easily do myself.
When my new contractor left, I bought some masonry caulk off of Bill and filled the cracks in the stucco. I’ll let it cure out for a day or two before I start scraping and painting.
It feels good to sit out here in Dad’s coat, listening to the wind and drinking cappuccino while Harvey puts his chin on my knee and tries to look endearing. (In case you are wondering, it is not very hard for Harvey to look endearing. He looks like a short-haired version of Lassie — all earnest brown eyes and good-natured smiles — and has a habit of snuggling up as close to his humans as he can get in hopes that someone will scratch him behind the ears.) He looks much better than he did when Joey found him a few weeks ago. I’ll try to remember to take a picture of him if he ever sits still long enough for me to do it.
March 19, 2010
Big, dark clouds were already gathering in the west when Brother Jerry joined me on the roof early this morning with a Bible in his hand and a hammer in his belt. Before I could say “good morning,” he opened the Bible and proceeded to hold a little prayer service right there on the roof.
I can’t remember it precisely, but his prayer was something to the effect that I was doing a good thing by taking care of the Tumbleweed, and when people take a mind to do a good thing, the Lord won’t let anything stop them. He said he was just coming to the Lord like Elisha, asking Him to open my eyes so I could see that.
Then he said amen, and I literally opened my eyes and looked around at the most perfect morning you ever saw for putting on a roof: 60 degrees, just overcast enough to keep us from getting too hot, and the ever-present New Mexico wind suddenly still as a churchmouse.
Next thing I knew, Brother Jerry had that hammer out of his belt, and he helped me get that whole roof shingled before the afternoon was out. We’d no sooner put up the ladder than the scary-looking clouds came back, the wind kicked up, and the temperature dropped to about 25 degrees.
It didn’t occur to me until tonight that I’d just spent an entire day shinnying up and down a ladder and walking around on a roof like one of those monkeys that live in the rainforest canopy. It wasn’t something I forced myself to do. I just did it, like that was a perfectly normal thing for me to be doing. It was like I just forgot I was scared of heights.
I was planning to take tonight off, but as Joey was coming back from the convenience store this evening, he noticed a family struggling to put up a tent in the city park, which is within sight of the Tumbleweed. Joey being Joey, he stopped and struck up a conversation, found out they couldn’t afford a motel room, and asked me if we could give them a room.
Somehow I don’t think it’s a coincidence that God and Brother Jerry handed me a new roof three hours before a family showed up in town needing one over their heads.
March 17, 2010
If I don’t post for a couple of days, I promise I’m not ignoring you; I’m just too tired to stay up and blog. This roof project is coming along well, but it’s absolutely wearing me out. I finally gave up tonight and turned on the “NO VACANCY” sign, because I just couldn’t face the thought of another day like today.
I filled up all three of my finished rooms last night. Normally, I would be delighted to have that many guests, but I realized this morning that washing sheets in a wringer washer is a lot more fun when you do not have to worry about hitting said sheets with dirty shingles while they’re hanging on the clothesline near the building you are reroofing.
On the up side, the project is picking up speed. I got the other half of the shingles off and the rotten boards replaced today before I ran out of daylight. I’m hoping to get the felt and at least part of the shingles on tomorrow. I’m kind of playing beat-the-clock, because there are thunderstorms in the forecast for Friday.
Joey found out I was worried about the storm, so he went down to Casa de Jesus this morning and asked Brother Jerry to pray for good weather.
Rumor has it that Brother Jerry’s prayers are very effective. I hope they’re effective enough to control the weather patterns around here….