Arrangements

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

Bittersweet

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

Quiet

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

Burma-Shave

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:

LESS THAN
TWO OUTS
FORCE AT THIRD
GIRLS LOVE
DIAMONDS
(SO I’VE HEARD)

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:

CURSE OR NOT
SIERRA DEAR
LET’S NOT
“JUST WAIT
‘TIL NEXT YEAR”
MARRY ME

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:

HE UNDERSTOOD
THE INFIELD FLY
SHE KNEW
HE WAS
HER KIND OF GUY
YES

Technical difficulties

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

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.

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