December 30, 2010

Stupid WordPress app ate my last post. I love this blog service, but the iPad app is still Not Yet Ready for Primetime.

A quick update:

Sandy is moving to Coldwater. She’s semiretired anyway, and she says the birth of her first grandchild is as good an excuse as any to go into full-on retirement mode. Except she won’t really be retired, because she is planning to open a bookstore/coffeehouse in Coldwater. I suspect I’ll be pulling barista duty before she’s through.

Sandy has also befriended Abuelito. Raise your hand if you saw that one coming.

I think I’m jealous of the baby. I had an interesting childhood, but I’m thinking about Coldwater through a child’s eyes, and I can’t imagine a more fascinating place to grow up. I hope Rugrat sees it that way.

— Sierra


December 23, 2010

Overheard this afternoon in the lobby:

GRANT: What are you doing?
SANDY: Just downloading some things for my grandbaby to listen to. I read somewhere that if you play music and read to babies in utero, it makes them smarter.
GRANT: Allen Ginsberg?! Mom, I love you dearly, but I swear to God, if my child’s first word is “Moloch,” I am calling CYFD on your ass.

Somewhere, my English-teacher mama just collapsed in paroxysms of laughter. I’m sure of it.

— Sierra


December 22, 2010

No, I’m not dead. Yes, I have an excuse for my lengthy silence.

“Let me ‘splain. No — there is too much. Let me sum up.”
Inigo Montoya

Here are all the things I’ve done in the past week:

1. Made approximately seventy million cookies in forty-two different flavors. (You have no idea how many cookie exchanges are held in Coldwater, N.M., during the month of December. It truly boggles the mind.)
2. Attended two school programs, a band concert, a chorus concert, a Chamber luncheon, a chili supper, and a church Christmas cantata.
3. Helped the Chamber director sort and wrap umpty-three gifts for kids on the Angel Tree we put up at Bill Swinney’s place.
4. Watched Sandy and Joey use poster board and tinted craft glue to make a suncatcher for Grant’s office window.
5. Discovered firsthand that morning sickness is a bitch.

Yeah, you read that last part right.

Thus far, we have not told Joey. He will, of course, be utterly thrilled, but I am not sure exactly what he does and does not know about how pregnancy works or where babies come from, and we are not telling him anything until Grant works up the nerve to explain it to him.

If anybody wants to start a betting pool on when this will happen, I’ll put five bucks on “baby’s 35th birthday.”

— Sierra

Joey’s terror

December 14, 2010

Joey had a bad dream last night.

I don’t know what time he got up or how long he’d been there, but Grant found him shivering and sobbing next to the culvert behind the Tumbleweed at 5 o’clock this morning. While I made some cheese grits and hot chocolate to warm him up, Grant put a blanket around his shoulders and tried to talk him down from his terror.

“Mama … Mama …” was all he could manage for a long time. He sat on the couch, clutching his blanket and crying, while Harvey leaned against him, whimpering softly.

I handed him a mug of cocoa with marshmallow creme and sprinkles.

“Joey.” I put my arm around him. “You’re safe. What happened out there?”

“Mama went away,” he said. “Both my mamas went away, and then my sissys went away, and then Grant went away, and after that, nobody was left. Just me. Just Joey, and nobody else. I didn’t know what to do, so I went outside where I think, and I tried to think of what to do, but I couldn’t. I couldn’t take care of Joey and the Tumbleweed all by myself. So I just sat and cried.”

Bit by bit, I managed to piece together his dream: the awful memory of losing first his mother and then Miss Shirley, and the imagined terror of losing everybody else he loved and finding himself abandoned and alone in a world that felt suddenly strange and hostile and very, very lonely.

It occurred to me later that this will be Joey’s first Christmas without Miss Shirley. I don’t know whether that had something to do with his dream, but I hope Sandy’s visit will provide enough of a distraction to keep him from thinking of it next week….

— Sierra

Nothing doing

December 12, 2010

I wish I had something exciting to share this evening, but Coldwater is quiet, except for the yipping of the coyotes somewhere out beyond Hank Freed’s property line and the creaking of a speed-limit sign that’s trying to work itself loose from its post in the New Mexico wind.

Lil Miss spent this evening wrapping presents in the lobby with Joey and three or four members of the Coldwater High School FFA chapter. The kids organized a gift drive for the residents of the Coldwater Nursing Center, and I told Lil Miss she could use the Tumbleweed as a staging area for their project. My lobby was completely covered in wrapping paper, ribbons, and giggly teenagers for several hours this evening. The kids stacked all the presents in Unit Four when they finished. They’re going to load them into Lil’s truck and deliver them to the nursing home on Christmas Eve.

I was busy thawing out frozen pipes in Unit Three when the kids showed up, so Grant took over the kitchen and made some peppermint bark, a batch of chocolate-chip cookies, and a huge bowl of popcorn for them to munch on while they worked.

Not to belabor the point, but I think Grant may be the most awesome principal in the history of high schools. Sandy raised her boy right, and Coldwater was lucky to get him.

Speaking of Sandy, she’s supposed to be rolling into town next weekend. I can’t wait. I’m not sure what I did to deserve such an awesome mother-in-law, but I’m glad I’ve got her. She is one of the few people in the world who not only tolerates my quirks but understands and encourages them. I am blessed.

— Sierra

Back online

December 10, 2010

What is it with truckers and telephone poles? Last Saturday morning, a big rig hauling a wind turbine blade failed to swing wide enough while making a turn and took out the telephone pole on the corner — the same one Mouse hit last March. (Speaking of Mouse, he sent us a Christmas card this week. He said he’s planning to be back out this direction in a couple of weeks, and he’s looking forward to stopping and staying at the Tumbleweed on his way through.)

It only took a couple of days to fix the phone lines last spring. I don’t know what the holdup was this time around, but we haven’t had phone or Internet service all week. If it were tourist season, I’d probably be pretty hacked off about the delay, but I’m sure I haven’t lost too many December customers over it. I’ve just used the time to finish up the calendar for the Chamber, spend time with Joey, and digitally archive about 600 historic photos.

Joey and I started volunteering at the grade school this week. Joey is a library monitor, which basically means he hangs out with the librarian, helps sort books, and reads to little kids during story time. The kids love him because he’s a grownup who understands what it is to be a kid. I love watching him work with them, because he mimics everything I do when I read to him — including stopping every few minutes to ask the kids if they recognize a particular word. If they get it wrong, he says, “No, but that’s a good try. Look at it again,” just the way I do with him, and if they get it right, he puts down the book and gets everybody to clap and cheer.

The kids eat it up, and I think he’s really getting a lot out of being in the library so much. He’s learning how to use the resources to find information — if a kid comes in to ask for help finding books about a particular subject, Joey watches over the librarian’s shoulder and then tries to help the next kid himself — and he’s very curious about the kids’ class projects. He asks them a lot of questions about whatever they happen to be learning, which is great for him and probably even better for the kids, who are reinforcing their own lessons by teaching them.

Meanwhile, I have been grading a lot of papers, making a lot of photocopies, and filling out a lot of paperwork so I can get certification to cover classes when teachers are absent. The principal was pretty amped when I told him I’d be willing to serve as a volunteer sub. He said a lot of substitute teachers — even the ones who are paid to be there — have trouble following a lesson plan, so the kids don’t learn much when their regular teachers are gone. I guess Dr. Scherer and Grant have told him about my work with Joey, so he’s pretty confident that I’d make a good sub.

Every time I think my life can’t get any weirder, some new project presents itself. If you had told me 13 months ago that I would be married to a high-school principal, taking care of a developmentally disabled man nearly twice my age, running a motel, and substitute teaching in a tiny town in the middle of New Mexico, I’d have been convinced you were taking way too many hallucinogenic drugs … but here I am, and I love it.

— Sierra

Blogging from Grant’s iPhone this evening as we drive around Tucumcari, looking at Christmas lights, after dinner at Golden Dragon and a trip to the grocery store to stock up on supplies.

I don’t anticipate any guests at the Tumbleweed this evening, but we left Joey and Lil Miss in charge just in case. When we left, they were making kettle corn and hot chocolate and getting ready to spend their evening watching A Christmas Story and playing video games.

Hope you’re having a good Friday evening, wherever you are.

— Sierra

Awesome idea

December 2, 2010

Joyce came by for coffee this morning. I hadn’t had a chance to talk to her since my wedding, but Grant has been telling Dr. Scherer all about Joey’s progress, so Joyce came by to see for herself.

As we sipped cappuccino and discussed the risk of ennui in Coldwater during the winter, she offered a terrific idea to keep Joey and me from getting bored while we wait for tourist season to return: Volunteer to help out at the grade school.

She said Coldwater Elementary is always in need of volunteers to help with stuff like making copies, reading to little kids, and helping teachers prepare materials for bulletin boards. There are a few parent volunteers, but most of the kids’ parents are working two or three jobs just to keep food on the table, so their ranks are fairly limited. Joey and I don’t have anything else to do with our mornings during the winter, and Joey is great with little kids, so I think we’ll head that direction Monday morning and offer our services as volunteers.

I am really amped about this idea. I think it will be really good for Joey, and it will keep me busy.

— Sierra

Me time

December 1, 2010

I’ve decided to make peace with winter by using it to give myself some much-needed “me time.” Tourist season was awesome, but a few months of uneventful dreaming probably aren’t a bad thing. I could stand to spend a little more time jogging.

More Joey time would be good, too; I’ve kind of neglected him lately, and he’s noticed. He broke my heart yesterday when he asked, “Sissy, why don’t you read to me any more?” Not that he can’t read to himself these days, but he misses the attention, and he misses hearing stories that are a bit too hard for him to read to himself.

Harvey could use some obedience training, too … and then there’s the stack of books I bought in Tucumcari a few weeks ago and haven’t had time to read … and the sign out front that needs to be repainted.

I’ve already sorted and inventoried two-thirds of the photos, so I should be able to give the Chamber director a calendar design by Monday so she can start taking orders. Would it be totally self-serving if I included one of Miss Shirley’s historic photos of the Tumbleweed in the calendar?

— Sierra

Full house

December 1, 2010

Freezing fog — which is, for the record, the weirdest weather phenomenon I have ever seen — forced five couples off the road and into the Tumbleweed tonight.

I don’t think anybody was crazy about spending Christmas Eve in a motel, but a big batch of green chile stew warmed them up (and, oddly, settled my stomach; you know you’ve spent too much time in New Mexico when you can’t keep down anything except Hatch chiles), and their spirits seemed to lift when Joey put a Christmas movie in the DVD player in the lobby and started making s’mores over my fondue burner. I made kettle corn and hot cocoa and hot mulled cider, Sandy made brownies (quit giggling), and we’re just having a little impromptu Christmas party in the lobby.

Hope you’re safe and warm, wherever you are this Christmas Eve.

— Sierra


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