A project

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

“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

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

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

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

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

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:

<3

— Sierra