My boys

October 30, 2010

Grant and Joey went to Bill Swinney’s this morning and picked up materials for their latest project: They are building a birdfeeder to put in front of the Tumbleweed this winter. Grant found a pattern for it online and doubled the size so I won’t have to go out in the cold to fill it as often. He’s going to get Joey a book on birds so they can identify the critters that show up out there. They built the feeder this afternoon, and Joey painted it this evening. It’s very colorful.

We rented a room to a couple from Wisconsin; otherwise, all is quiet. We thought about going to Casa de Jesus, but somehow it just seemed nicer to snuggle up on the couch and relax.

I think we are officially boring.

— Sierra


October 29, 2010

Grant is at a ballgame tonight, so I’m spending a little quality time with my old friends Ben and Jerry, listening to Tom Petty on the stereo, and relaxing into the familiar, strangely comfortable depression that settles over me every fall like a great soft-feathered bird, dulling my senses as the cold clouds dull the sky.

You know that old Karen Carpenter song that goes, “Talking to myself and feeling old”? That’s how I feel this time of year: nothing wrong; just a vague sadness that feels oddly reassuring in its familiarity and predictability. I don’t remember the first time I felt this way. Was it the year I lost Mom? Was it earlier? Later? Did something trigger it, or did it just drift in one afternoon, spread its wings across my consciousness, and take up temporary residence?

I’d thought I might avoid it this year, but here it is, quietly announcing the arrival of autumn as I lie here on the couch, waiting for the game to end so Grant can come home and put his arms around me and drive away the shadows that creep into my thought when I have too much time on my hands.

— Sierra

Wedding update

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.

— Sierra

Still alive

October 26, 2010

OK … I promise to give a full report on the wedding in the very near future, but right now, I am busy watching a big, grizzled biker from Detroit teach a 5-year-old Japanese girl how to make s’mores over the fire pit in front of the Tumbleweed. In case you are wondering, it is quite possibly the cutest thing I have ever seen.

— Sierra


October 23, 2010

I was expecting something a little more dramatic right about now, but the primary emotion flooding my mind at this moment — three hours after Brother Jerry pronounced us man and wife, and fifteen minutes after I broke out a four-way lug wrench and wowed Grant with my best impression of a NASCAR pit crew after he ran over a broken beer bottle in the middle of the interstate somewhere between Dilia and Starvation Peak — is relief.

Flat tire notwithstanding, the day went very smoothly, and if the rest of the evening goes according to plan, I’m less than an hour and a half away from a long, hot shower, a cold bottle of champagne, and a much-anticipated evening at the beautiful El Rey Inn in Santa Fe.

In case you are wondering, I will be out of pocket for the next few days….

— Sierra

Catching my breath

October 21, 2010

Last-minute chili entries have been processed. Lil Miss reports that the FFA activities are all lined up and seem to be coming along smoothly. Cake ingredients are neatly arranged in the church kitchen for tomorrow’s baking marathon. Sandy is curled up in my bubble chair in the lobby, drawing a sketch of her idea for the cake, which involves airbrushing food coloring directly onto the icing to create a tie-dyed effect. (Have I mentioned how much I love this woman?) Grant is loading all of our excess stuff — unwanted books, old VHS tapes, outdated clothing, duplicate kitchen gadgets, ugly furniture, mismatched dishes, etc., etc., etc. — into the truck to take to a thrift store Albuquerque tomorrow. Joey and Lil Miss are putting the finishing touches on my bouquet.

What am I doing? Sitting in front of the Tumbleweed, sipping cappuccino and listening to the coyotes talk things over on the vacant land behind Hank Freed’s place. I’m too tired to do anything else.

This time two days from now, I’ll be married. That’s sort of weird to think about. “Wife” sounds very grown-up and responsible, doesn’t it? Then again, I suppose “business owner” sounds very grown-up and responsible, too. How quickly things change….

— Sierra

Dear Mr. Ricketts …

October 19, 2010

… I don’t think you’ve done quite enough today to flaunt your utter lack of respect for the history of the Chicago Cubs. While you’re at it, why don’t you take a piss on the Harry Caray statue, pour some Roundup on the ivy, and build a shrine to Steve Bartman just behind the right-field wall?

Seriously: Why does Jim Hendry still have a job, much less the final word on hiring decisions? Harvey would make a better general manager. For somebody who’s supposed to be so gung-ho on sabermetrics, Hendry certainly didn’t seem to be interested in the cold, hard facts when he got all starry-eyed over Mike Quade. (Oh, wait — I forgot: Sabermetrics are only important to the extent that they give you an excuse to snub a legend. Marge Schott Tom Ricketts told Ryno that Hendry was hiring Quade on the basis of “a gut feeling” about him. Please. I’ve heard better excuses from Joey. Way to ruin what was supposed to be the best week of my entire life, a-hole.)

On a semi-related note, if a certain Hall of Fame second baseman needs a quiet place to escape the media circus while he figures out what to do next, I know of a little town in New Mexico where he can find a comfortable room and a sympathetic ear.

— Sierra

Closing in

October 17, 2010

We’re six days out from the chili cook-off/fall festival/wedding. I’ve got a dozen entries for the chili cook-off, and I think the Chamber added a couple the other day. Brother Jerry has tables; we’ll just have to take the truck over and pick them up Friday afternoon. We’ve lined up a Jupiter Jump for the kids, and Lil Miss and the FFA have organized the rest of the Kids’ Zone, which will include face painting, pumpkin carving, a petting zoo, pony rides, and a bale of hay with a fake steer head attached to it for the kids to practice lassoing. She’s also found some guy who owns a cider press, so there will be cider, and people can see how it’s made. We also got a half-dozen craft booths before the registration deadline, which was yesterday, and a car club from Santa Rosa is organizing a car show.

About the only thing left to do is make the cake, which I am doing Friday morning in the church kitchen, with some help from Sandy (who used to sell cleverly decorated cupcakes out of the back of her van at Dead shows) and Bill Swinney’s wife (who used to teach home ec at Coldwater High). If this cake does not include herbal ingredients, lifelike icing roses, and a Steal Your Face logo, I am going to be shocked….

— Sierra

Please release me

October 14, 2010

From my father’s album:

I Should Have Been There

An anxious moment
A panicked flight
‘Just young and foolish’
Don’t make it right
I should have been there

First steps to mama
First day of school
First pitch, first strikeout
I was a fool
I should have been there

First costume contest
First pony ride
First disappointment
First time she cried
I should have been there

Tough girl at fifteen
Left all alone
Grief-stricken, shattered
If I had known
I would have been there

The spitting image
Her mama’s face
My own eyes flashing
A moment’s grace

Long years of silence
Come to an end
This second chance is
A long-lost friend

From girl to woman
As time goes by
The years so fragile
Is this goodbye?

From child to mother
Daughter to wife
So time continues
This precious life

Wish I had been there….

His label is chomping at the bit to release this album. Valerie sent me the contract today. It’s a generous contract. I should probably sign it. I should probably play nice and share my father with his fans, who have no idea any of these recordings exist, and who will almost certainly crash Apple’s servers downloading them from iTunes the instant they are released.

I should, but I don’t know if I can. It’s bad enough when I find myself in some public place, minding my own business, and my father’s voice suddenly drifts out of some speaker embedded into the ceiling and takes me back to the day I lost my mother and had to choose between forgiveness and insanity. It’s taken me years to get used to that, to be able to hear it without falling apart in the middle of a restaurant or the dentist’s office or the lumberyard while strangers stare at me as if I’ve lost my mind.

Beautiful as it is, I don’t know if I can handle being blindsided by this gift from beyond the grave while I’m picking out avocados at the grocery store or waiting for the optometrist to update my contact prescription, y’know?

— Sierra

Still moving

October 12, 2010

Every square inch of my bedroom is now covered with books, boxes, clothes, and random objects pulled from closets and cabinets as I attempt to sift through everything I own and sort it into piles: yard sale, Freecycle, fireplace, landfill. I am actually sleeping in one of my own motel rooms tonight because I can’t find my bed.

I’d take a picture of this craziness, except I think my camera is buried somewhere under the clutter.

A very big part of me secretly wants to pile all this stuff in front of the Tumbleweed and put a big sign next to it that says, “Free Useless Crap….”

Lil Miss came up with one idea that I really like. She pointed out that motel rooms — including mine — always feel sort of sterile and cold, no matter how cheerful the paint job or how friendly the clerk in the lobby, but even the worst bed-and-breakfasts generally feel warm and inviting. She suggested that we might give the Tumbleweed more of a B&B feel while reducing the monumental piles of clutter in my bedroom by putting a shelf full of books in each guest room. Lil has even volunteered to sort the books into collections that include a little bit of something for every sort of reader, and she said if I will get some boards and brackets from Bill Swinney’s tomorrow, she will help Joey build the shelves, paint them to match the trim in the rooms, and install them for me this weekend.

I would like Lil if she were merely bright and efficient, but her patience and willingness to go out of her way to include Joey in things are just amazing. I should send her mama a thank-you note for raising her right, because she is an absolutely great kid.

— Sierra


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