September 30, 2010

Brother Jerry had a great idea today: Since Grant and I plan to get married this fall, and since I’m already up to my teeth in preparations for the fall chili cook-off — which coincides with the first day of fall break for Coldwater Public Schools — Brother Jerry suggested we just have our wedding ceremony sometime during the festivities, thus saving me the hassle of planning two separate events. He pointed out that almost everybody we know will be there anyway, and we can save ourselves the expense of a reception if we just make the wedding part of the activities.

I love Brother Jerry….

— Sierra


September 29, 2010

I always get a little wistful as the days grow shorter, the nights grow cooler, and baseball season winds to a close … but this particular autumn feels unusually bittersweet.

I walked outside last night to watch the stars glitter against the blue-velvet dusk, and it suddenly struck me that this time a year ago, Dad — frail and fading, but still possessed of a poet’s heart — was with me, probably trembling against my shoulder on the old metal glider on his deck, looking up at stars I am pretty sure he could no longer see, holding my hand, singing a song he’d just made up about the steady, irresistible imposition of evening.

I sniffed the darkness once, dropped my coffee, and ran all the way to Grant’s house to collapse in his arms, sobbing hysterically until I couldn’t breathe, couldn’t think, couldn’t do anything but cling to him and cry, remembering and longing and forgetting to be grateful for all I have instead of mourning all I’ve lost.

God, I wish Mom and Daddy could have met him.

I wish Mom and Daddy could meet me. I’m not the girl they knew. Sometimes I wonder whether they’d even recognize me.

— Sierra


September 28, 2010

Sorry for the silence. My phone has been ringing off the hook since word of my recent engagement got out. In the few moments between calls, I’ve been busy running a motel and trying to sort out the logistics of planning a wedding and — more importantly — honeymoon for a motel owner and a busy school administrator.

Is it wrong that I’m totally not into the whole froufrou white-lace-and-overpriced-cake thing? The prospect of planning a road trip delights me to no end. The prospect of organizing a theatrical production that has the potential to turn into a political event? Not so much.

I do not want to get all stressed out over this and turn into one of those Brides from Hell who can’t enjoy their wedding because they’re too busy panicking over whether the napkins match the bridesmaids’ shoes.

— Sierra


September 26, 2010

Remember the old Burma-Shave ad campaign, which involved little poems written on carefully spaced signs placed along roadsides during heyday of Route 66?

Yeah, I don’t remember them, either. Too young. But I’ve seen plenty of replicas along the road in recent years. They’re really popular with Route 66 travelers.

Set of Burma-Shave-type signs that mysteriously appeared along westbound 66 in front of the Tumbleweed yesterday afternoon as I was coming back from a grocery run in Tucumcari:


Set of signs attached to the backs of those signs at some point between the time I went to bed last night and the time I slipped out for a jog this morning:


Set of hastily made cardboard signs currently taped over the westbound signs for Grant to see when he picks me up for church this morning:


Technical difficulties

September 26, 2010

The WordPress app has evidently eaten another post. Lil Miss’ first encounter with international travelers vanished into the ether this morning as I was writing a draft that was supposed to appear later this morning. I created a new post, saved it as a draft, and promptly found it listed as “Published,” with the previous post’s permalink and tags. This is the second time this has happened. I have no idea what causes it, but it’s really starting to hack me off….

— Sierra

Lil Miss

September 22, 2010

Grant sent a diminutive blonde teenager named Lillian into my lobby yesterday afternoon to inquire about a job.

Lillian, who hates her first name and just goes by “Lil,” is an honor student and president of Coldwater High School’s FFA chapter. Lil drives a ’73 Ford pickup she inherited from her late grandfather, loves history and geography, and assures me that there is not a motel guest alive who can make a mess any nastier than anything she’s cleaned up on her family’s ranch.

A well-known Route 66 historian happened to check in while I was showing Lil how to run the credit-card machine this afternoon. Upon hearing her name, he told her about another Lillian with ties to a historic motel on the Mother Road, then announced that Lil should henceforth be known as “Lil Miss.”

Lil Miss nodded. “I like that,” she said, her eyes downcast and her voice soft. “I like that a lot.”

After our guest headed off to his room, Lil Miss looked at me, tears brimming in her eyes. “Nobody’s called me ‘Lil Miss’ since Grandpa died,” she said. “That guy called me ‘Lil Miss’ because it reminded him of someone he obviously loved a lot, who also died. Isn’t that odd?”

I glanced at the picture of St. Julian the Hospitaller pasted onto a jar candle above the fireplace and smiled.

“Around here, ‘odd’ is relative,” I said, pressing a heart-shaped milagro into her open hand. “Welcome to the Tumbleweed.”

Thinking of hiring some help.

September 20, 2010

I know tourist season is winding down, but I think I’d like to take a little time off now and then without having to impose on Joyce. I’ve been talking to Grant, and he knows several reliable kids at Coldwater High who would probably like to have part-time jobs turning over rooms and helping me man the front desk. I can’t spend a lot, but I’ve done well enough with the Tumbleweed that I think I could manage 10 to 12 hours a week without breaking the bank.

Whoever works here will have to be able to put up with Joey, Harvey, and the cats. Grant has a kid in mind. I’m trying to decide whether I want to mess with a formal job application or just say, “Come by and talk to me if you want a job.” The latter would be less work, but the former might be better for the kid, as it would give her some experience with the application process.

On an unrelated note, it looks like we’ve got some storms blowing in from around Moriarty and Dilia. Should be a good night for curling up with a book and listening to the rain….

— Sierra

Why I love my boyfriend

September 19, 2010

Reason Number 38:

Grant sent me a text at 3 a.m. today to ask if I was still awake. I was — barely — so I called him to see what he needed.

He’d just gotten some alarming news about one of his kids at school, and he was so worried that he couldn’t sleep. He just wanted me to light one of Abuelito’s candles and say a prayer and sit up for a little while and help him worry over his student.

As the kids say: <3

— Sierra


September 18, 2010

Sorry I didn’t post anything last night; the Roadrunners had a big game, so as soon as I’d checked in the Vespa club that had reserved all my rooms for the weekend, I gave them instructions to call if they needed anything and headed over to the football field. The game went into overtime, and it was ridiculously late by the time it ended. (The Roadrunners won; I think the final score was 34-28.)

With my rooms already filled for the entire weekend, I just switched on the “NO VACANCY” sign before dark tonight and headed down to Casa de Jesus with Grant. Joey tagged along. Jesus won’t let him drink beer, but he’ll fix a sort of limeade for him out of Sprite with a little sour mix and some lime juice stirred in, which is fine with Joey. (I can’t imagine he’d like beer anyway; he generally dislikes any beverage that isn’t sweet. I once made him a macchiato because he liked the looks of the rosetta in the top, and after he tasted the espresso, he was convinced that I was playing a dirty trick on him.)

As soon as he saw me come in, Jesus got out the karaoke machine. I wasn’t going to sing this time, but Joey begged, and you know how hard it is for me to say no to Joey. He has discovered my record collection and has been on a big Grateful Dead kick lately, so I sang “Ripple” for him, and then Grant leaned over and murmured something about Amy Winehouse, and the look in his eyes was so impossibly smoldering that I couldn’t really say no to him, either, so I wound up singing “You Know I’m No Good,” and then we had to leave, because the football captain’s parents walked in just as I was finishing the song, and Grant didn’t think it would be cool for them to see him sitting around a bar, watching his girlfriend give him come-hither looks while singing suggestive R&B songs with a microphone in one hand and a margarita in the other.

Sometimes there are disadvantages to living in a town this small….

— Sierra

Big step

September 15, 2010

Joey took a big step forward tonight. We’ve been working on addition and subtraction and making change for several months now. He counts his tips every day and keeps track of how much money he earns, how much he spends, and how much he has left. He thinks this is great fun.

Tonight, his lessons in personal finance went to the next level when a woman from Oklahoma came in to rent a room, and I let Joey run her credit-card transaction. We have a seriously old-school credit-card processing system — we’re talking carbons and everything — and it takes several steps to run a card. Joey did all of them and beamed from ear to ear when he handed the lady a receipt to sign. The lady was very patient with him, which I appreciated. I think she understood what I was trying to do.

I’m not going to leave him in charge of the lobby while I go out of town any time soon, but Joey is definitely a much bigger help than he used to be. I’m really proud of him.

— Sierra


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