The good: Grant’s house is now officially in move-in condition.

The bad: This means that Grant will be moving out of the Tumbleweed soon.

The ugly: Grant’s house. The interior is beautiful, but I swear that siding gets uglier every time I look at it. Grant considers this a grand joke: The outside of his house is a serious contender for Ugliest Building in Coldwater, but the interior looks like something out of a magazine. I think he also has some sentimental attachment to the siding, as he says it reminds him of his grandma’s house.

Next up: Spend three or four days ogling a shirtless Grant replacing the roof.

— Sierra

Almost done

June 15, 2010

Sorry I didn’t post last night. We spent the the whole day painting — Grant worked on the living-room walls while I took care of the bedroom floor — and then had to hurry back and turn over all the rooms before dinner so they’d be ready for the eight Spaniards who were scheduled to arrive on Harleys immediately after dinner. We wound up doing laundry after they checked in.

They liked the fire pit. I brought out the ingredients for s’mores, and they sat out there laughing and talking and swapping stories in graceful Spanish. I hope tonight’s guests have fond memories of Girl Scout camp, because all of the sheets smell like burnt marshmallows. I’d like it if my sheets smelled like marshmallows, but that might just be me.

I don’t know how long my guests were outside, because I was so tired that I nearly fell asleep in my plate twice during dinner, and Grant wound up clearing the table and sending me to bed at 9:30 with the promise that he would take care of the dishes and give the guests instructions to call his room if they needed anything.

I think I was asleep before my head hit the pillow.

We installed the toilet and the bathroom sink today, and then Grant painted the kitchen walls while I worked on the trim in the living room. We’re going to paint the bedroom tomorrow, and then we’ll be more or less finished with the interior. Grant says we are taking a day off before we start moving his stuff or replacing the roof, because he wants to take me out to dinner in Santa Fe. I think that’s an excellent idea….

— Sierra


June 13, 2010

The bathroom floor is done. The grout has to cure before we can seat the toilet and install the sink, but I think I did a pretty good job with the tile. It’s not terribly elaborate, but it looks pretty professional, IMHO.

Grant sanded the bedroom and went over it with a vacuum and a tack cloth this afternoon. He was pretty wiped out by the time he finished, so we called it a day and headed back to the Tumbleweed for a nutritious dinner of frozen pizza and cheap beer.

Harvey is now asleep on Grant’s lap, Grant is asleep on my shoulder, and I am trying very hard to stay awake so I don’t fall over and wake up my boys.

— Sierra

Another step

June 12, 2010

We finished putting up the paneling and installed the shower enclosure today, so the bathroom is now halfway functional. The paneling should have been a quick, easy project, but of course it wasn’t.

We’re doing floors tomorrow: Grant is sanding the bedroom floor while I lay tile in the bathroom.

Hopefully we can put in the sink and toilet Monday and then get to work painting. We’re just going to paint the bedroom floor instead of refinishing it, partly because of the condition of the boards — which are pretty stained up — and partly because it’s just too bloody hot to fool with sealer again.

Grant has informed me that he intends to sell the XC70 and buy himself a Harley as soon as this project is done. The only thing about this that surprises me is the idea that Grant would rather have a cruiser than one of those Japanese crotch rockets….

— Sierra

Potty time, excellent

June 11, 2010

Grant and I took my truck over to Albuquerque today to pick up bathroom paneling and fixtures. The old fixtures were probably usable, but the toilet was an older model that used an unconscionable amount of water per flush, and the finish on the tub was pretty worn, so Grant went ahead and bought replacements for everything.

We had a great idea that involved putting in an entry-level shower stall, with a glass-block wall separating it from the rest of the bathroom, but between the time constraints and our lack of experience with such projects, we decided it was probably wise to keep everything as simple as possible and just relegate the fancy stuff to the “someday” list.

The kitchen appliances — including a fabulous old GE monitor-top refrigerator — are all in good working order, and the linoleum is in pretty good shape, so I think another week should see us clear on the interior work. I’m looking forward to getting that done so we can start working on the roof.

I realize how bizarre that sounds coming out of my mouth after all the whining I’ve done about the heat this week, and even more bizarre in light of all the whining I did before my last roofing project, but if you keep in mind that this project is probably going to resemble nothing so much as a very long 11:30 Diet Coke break, you can understand why I’m a little more willing to put up with the heat and the heights….

— Sierra

Here’s the Skinny

June 10, 2010

Sorry this post is so late. WordPress had some kind of glitch tonight that delayed things.

It was too hot to work on the house today, so Grant and I just went over early this morning and opened all the windows to take advantage of the strong winds that were predicted for today. With any kind of luck, the fumes from the floor sealer will be out of there by tomorrow so we can close up the house and cool it down.

We went up to the truck stop to buy some orange push-ups before heading back to the Tumbleweed. As we got out of the XC70, Skinny Rodriguez pulled up and asked Grant whether he was the guy who owned that great-looking old Volvo that was always parked at the motel.

Skinny — who is easily the biggest gearhead in Coldwater, and possibly in the state of New Mexico — is one of what you would call our local “characters.” He has spent his entire life in Coldwater, with the exception of the year he spent in the Army when he was 19. He went off to World War II and came home a year later with a Purple Heart, a wooden leg, and a drinking problem. He still has the medal and the leg. If you ask him about his experiences, he’ll sum up the entire war in two words: “Goddamn Japs.”

Skinny drives a 1968 Volkswagen Beetle with a Christmas tree in the back. He’s got it wired so that the tree lights up whenever he hits the brakes.

He occasionally drinks coffee at the liars’ table down at Casa de Jesus, but he spends most of his time raising racing pigeons, tending the veterans’ monument over at Wallis Park, and driving that crazy Beetle all over town. If Coldwater had a police department, Skinny would probably get a lot of traffic tickets, because he drives precisely 42 miles per hour everywhere he goes: interstate, city street, state highway, school zone — it’s all the same to Skinny. He says the Beetle gets its best gas mileage at 42 mph, so 42 mph is what Skinny drives, regardless of location, circumstance, or weather conditions.

Grant says guys like Skinny are the reason he wanted to live in a small town.

I totally understand.

— Sierra


June 9, 2010


To: God
From: Sierra Carlton
RE: Weather

I realize you are already aware of this, being omniscient and all, but we can’t run the swamp cooler at Grant’s until the polyurethane fumes have a chance to air out. Please take that into consideration when you are considering whether to subject Coldwater to another round of triple-digit temperatures tomorrow. Kthx.

Well-deserved rest

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….

— Sierra


June 7, 2010

I think a coyote got hold of one of Joey’s cats last night. He found its little body — or what was left of it, anyway — in the weeds out next to the road early this morning.

Poor thing probably strayed too far from the building. That feral colony usually hides out in the culvert behind the Tumbleweed and just comes out to eat the tuna Joey leaves for them. The coyotes are too shy to come onto the property, but I’ve seen them slinking around just west of here.

Whatever happened, it didn’t end well for the cat — or Joey, either, for that matter. Grant came into the kitchen this morning to find Joey practically howling with grief and anger over the “damn dirty coyotes” (guess who watched Planet of the Apes last weekend?) despite my best efforts to calm him down.


Grant’s I-am-the-principal tone cut through Joey’s wails of despair. Joey looked up, wiping his nose on his sleeve before I could stop him.

“Joey, do you know what my grandma once told me?” Grant asked, pulling a clean handkerchief from his pocket and handing it to him.

Joey shook his head as I set a bowl of cheese grits in front of him and poured Grant a cup of coffee.

“Grandma told me that we love our pets because they have good qualities that remind us of God.” Grant put his arm around Joey’s shoulders. “Can you tell me some good things about your kitty?”

Joey looked into his glass for a long moment. “He was smart,” he said. “Nice. And he had pretty fur.”

“Good.” Grant took a sip of coffee. “Now, when you miss your kitty, just think about how smart he was, or how nice he was, or how pretty he was, and then try to find something else that’s smart or nice or pretty. When you find it, you don’t have to be sad any more, because you know all the things you loved about your kitty are still alive.”

Joey was quiet, eating his grits with a thoughtful expression on his face. “My cat ran real fast,” he said at last. “God can’t run fast. He doesn’t have legs.”

Grant smiled. “No, I don’t suppose he does. But God is here in Coldwater, and if somebody needs him two seconds from now in Tucumcari, he’ll be there, too. That’s pretty fast, isn’t it?”

While Joey and Grant pondered this point of metaphysics, I said a little prayer of my own:

Dear God, if it be Thy will, make me the mother of Grant’s children.


— Sierra

Scorching Sunday

June 6, 2010

Grant took me to Brother Jerry’s church this morning.

He said he hadn’t been on speaking terms with God in a long time, but when he came to the Tumbleweed and met Joey and me, things in his life started falling into place, and he started feeling like maybe somebody was looking out for him after all. Then he met Brother Jerry, who has — as Grant puts it — “more sense than the average preacher,” and he decided maybe it was time to give God another chance.

I’m not the most religious girl around, but I completely understand where Grant is coming from. Coldwater just has God’s fingerprints all over it.

After church, I made a big salad for lunch, and then Grant and I went over to his house to finish tearing the carpet out of the living room and bedroom. It was 103 degrees outside this afternoon, so we worked out a system where we would spend 45 minutes pulling out carpet and loading it into the truck, and then we would drive down to Scout’s Yellow Snow and spend 15 minutes cooling off with a cup of shaved ice.

It took us three hours and $15 worth of snow cones, but we finally got all the carpet out. Grant was delighted to discover hardwood floors under the carpet. As soon as he gets the power turned on — which could happen as early as tomorrow morning — I’m going to bring my belt sander over and start getting the floors ready to refinish.

I think I’m going to get offline now and see if I can sweet-talk Grant into a backrub before I crash. I’m not terribly sore at the moment, but we’ve got a long day ahead of us tomorrow, and it’s always better to be safe than sorry, right? ;)

— Sierra


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