A project

November 29, 2010

From the “Watch What You Wish For” files: The Chamber director came by this morning to ask if I’d be willing to design a 2011 calendar featuring historic photographs of Coldwater businesses and landmarks.

She gave me access to the Chamber’s entire photo archive, which basically consists of a 20-gallon storage tub full of prints, negatives, and slides — some labeled, some unlabeled — crammed haphazardly into shoeboxes and old one-hour photo envelopes.

For reasons unknown to me, I took one look at that bucket o’ pictures and said, “Hey, why don’t I take that home and digitize it for you?”

Sorting, inventorying, and scanning roughly 3,000 images ought to kill a good month or so….

— Sierra

Wintry feeling

November 27, 2010

“People ask me what I do in winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring.”

— Rogers Hornsby

Substitute “tourists” for “baseball,” and you’ve pretty much got my take on Route 66 in winter. I know a girl who loves the offseason. Loves it. She drives 66 all year, every chance she gets, and she swears the best time to be on the road is in the winter, because that’s when the crowds and the tourists are gone, and you can sit in a cafe and drink coffee and eat chili with extra hot sauce and listen to the regulars or check into a motel and have the whole place to yourself, absolute silence except for the buzz of the neon transformers, and look up at a cold, clear sky and catch your breath and think.

She obviously doesn’t own a motel. That silence gets old when you’ve gotten spoiled to daily adventures with tourists from all over the world. A day or two is nice — you can catch your breath — but the charm wears off in a hurry. I need a project of some kind, stat.

Maybe I should use the winter to work with Joey more. I wonder how much he could learn if I gave him my undivided attention for the next four months or so?

— Sierra

Lights on

November 26, 2010

Grant spent most of this afternoon up a ladder, hanging Christmas lights all over the Tumbleweed.

I spent most of this afternoon standing on the ground behind Grant, admiring his handiwork. And by “handiwork,” I mean “arse.”

I’m told this sort of diversion will eventually cease to amuse me.

I would like to point out that the women telling me this are not married to men who look like Grant. No offense, ladies, but until I hear it from Margaret Sandberg or Billie Perry, I’m afraid I’ll have to take your matronly wisdom with a grain of salt. Just sayin’.

For the record, Grant did a nice job with the lights. The Tumbleweed looks really beautiful this evening, with hundreds of little twinkly lights tracing the rooflines and architectural details.

Hope your Friday was filled with beautiful things to admire, too.

— Sierra

Cold Thanksgiving

November 25, 2010

Yikes. Winter has apparently arrived in Coldwater: It’s currently 16 degrees outside. Grant and I set the thermostats in all the empty rooms to 60 degrees this afternoon just to make sure the pipes wouldn’t freeze.

Cold weather notwithstanding, we’ve had a nice Thanksgiving. Grant and Sandy don’t like turkey any better than I do, so I made a big batch of chicken and dumplings instead, which was nice and warm and satisfying on a frigid afternoon.

We braved the cold to walk down to Casa de Jesus this evening. As usual, Jesus got out the karaoke machine. Just for Sandy, I worked up the nerve to try one of Dad’s old songs. When I finished, she cried a little bit and told me Dad would be proud of me … which, in turn, made me cry a little bit, but it was a good cry. Jesus was a little puzzled. We just told him the song reminded us of someone we used to know.

We capped the evening with big bowls of menudo — courtesy of Jesus’ wife — and then another short walk through the cold to get back to the Tumbleweed, where we found Joey checking in a pair of travelers all by himself. Add that to the list of blessings I can count this evening: Joey has come SO far in the past year. The first time I met him, he was completely dependent on Miss Shirley. He couldn’t read, his speech was barely coherent, and the most complicated financial transaction he could handle was the purchase of a couple of cans of tuna and an orange sherbet push-up from the convenience store. A year later, he’s waiting on guests and checking them into their rooms in my absence. I’d love to take credit for that, but Dr. Scherer, Grant, and the grade-school librarian have had at least as much to do with it as I have.

Hope you’re warm and happy and counting plenty of blessings this evening.

— Sierra

Giving thanks

November 24, 2010

I have a million blessings to count tomorrow, but the one I’m savoring the most at the moment is the simplest: a flock of brown construction paper hand turkeys decorated with tempera paint and embellished with gold glitter and red, orange, and yellow marabou feathers. Sandy and Lil Miss helped Joey and a pair of 4-year-old twins from Minnesota make them as decorations for the lobby this evening.

I cannot begin to explain why construction paper turkeys made by tracing around children’s hands delight me so much. They just do.

— Sierra

Crash and burn

November 21, 2010

Sorry for the extended silence; I’ve been a bit under the weather the past few days, and I just haven’t had the energy to do much of anything. With tourist season winding down, the Tumbleweed has been largely devoid of customers, so I’ve spent most of the week resting and trying to figure out why I’m so bloody tired all of a sudden.

Grant says it’s probably just the letdown after a long tourist season and a very eventful summer, coupled with the approach of a sad anniversary (Friday marked a year since I lost Dad) and a happy anniversary (next Monday marks a year since Miss Shirley, Joey, and the Tumbleweed turned my life upside-down and gave me a new raison d’etre). I guess he’s right, but I’ve ridden my share of emotional roller coasters in the past 20 years, and this doesn’t feel quite like any of them. I just feel … not even sick, really; just vaguely uncomfortable and very, very tired.

I’d better pull myself together pretty soon. Sandy is rolling into town tomorrow, and I don’t want her to get stuck with all the Thanksgiving preparations. She’s an amazing cook, but she’s our guest; she shouldn’t have to spend her whole visit in the kitchen while I lie around feeling sorry for myself.

— Sierra

Fairy tale ending

November 16, 2010

Having read my last blog entry, Grant came in after the rest of Coldwater was tucked into bed last night, put “A Song for You” on the stereo, swept me into his arms, and slow-danced me around the lobby.

As the kids say on Facebook:


— Sierra


November 15, 2010

I can’t sleep. I don’t know why. I’m tired. Exhausted, in fact. But I can’t seem to shut down, and when I can’t shut down, I fidget. Fidgeting is fine when you live by yourself, but when it’s 2:30 a.m., and your husband has to be at work in four and a half hours, it’s probably best to get up and find something to do while your mind races from one topic to another, panicking over a plethora of deadlines that don’t really have to be met.

So it is that I find myself curled up under a hand-crocheted afghan in the lobby of this old motel on this cold northern New Mexico night, listening to the new Neil Diamond album and dreaming of my father through a haze of sleepy tears.

I’m not sure I should have downloaded this album. Diamond’s voice has always reminded me of Dad’s, and his latest project is a soft, stripped-down, contemplative collection of covers with a simplicity as elegant as the minimalist photo on the front of the album. That familiar voice — world-weary and gentle — carries the whole thing, and on “Alone Again (Naturally),” it breaks my heart. If Dad had recorded another album, this could just as easily have been his song. If I hadn’t stumbled into the lobby of the Tumbleweed a little less than a year ago and wandered into a life unlike anything I’d ever imagined for myself, it could have been mine, though unsung.

I wish Grant didn’t have to work in the morning. I wish I could wake him up and put on “A Song for You” — oh, my God, is it sublime — and melt into his arms and dance around the lobby in the middle of the night with nobody around to wonder why the hell the principal and his wife are awake and slow-dancing in their living room at 2:30 a.m. on a school night.

I wish … but of course I can’t, because I am a grownup, and more importantly, he is a grownup, and so I will just sit here under one of Miss Shirley’s afghans and listen to Neil Diamond and think of my father and have a good cry by myself in the dark.

At least it’s a good cry.

— Sierra

Chilly evening

November 12, 2010

It is clear and cold tonight, with temperatures hovering right around freezing. It’s a perfect night to curl up in my bubble chair with all four of the cats piled on my lap in a purring, dozing heap.

I’m still not convinced four cats are a great idea, but we’ve gotten so attached to all of them that we can’t bear to give any of them up. We won’t talk about what it cost to have all four of them fixed, but I probably would have done that before I gave them away.

It’s awfully nice to have them around on nights like this. They squirm a lot, but they’re warm and fuzzy and nice to cuddle when it’s cold outside.

Coldwater High School’s last ballgame was this evening. The booster club threw a big party for the team after the game, so Grant will be at school for at least another hour. Joey went with him, so I’ve got the lobby all to myself except for Harvey (who is sleeping under my chair) and the cats.

Hope you’re warm and comfortable, wherever you are.

— Sierra

November 11

November 11, 2010

November 11 is important around here for two reasons.

First, it’s Veterans Day, which means Coldwater starts the morning with a sunrise presentation of the colors at Wallis Park — organized by our local VFW — and a prayer by Brother Jerry. All the schools hold assemblies to honor faculty, staff, and parents who have served in the military, and the kids spend the day learning the history of Armistice Day and writing thank-you letters to soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. I took Joey to the assembly at the grade school. The third-graders had made flags out of tissue paper and Elmer’s glue. Joey insisted on making one for Grant when we got home from the assembly.

Second, it’s the birthday of Route 66. Our guests this evening — a couple from Belgium and a photographer from Japan — were pretty excited about the fact that today was the 84th anniversary of the day Route 66 was commissioned as a federal highway.

I’m pretty excited about the fact that it’s cold and rainy, which gave me a perfect excuse to make a big batch of posole for dinner this evening. If there’s anything more wonderful than homemade posole with plenty of roasted green chiles, I’m sure I don’t know what it is.

Hope you had a warm-posole-on-a-cold-evening sort of day, wherever you are.

— Sierra


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