So much for the January thaw.

It is currently 12 degrees outside, with a windchill of five below zero, four inches of snow on the ground, and more falling.

Our rooms are full of stranded travelers who lost their nerve when the snow started blowing across the interstate. I fed them chili mac and sent them off to bed with big mugs of hot chocolate topped with marshmallow creme. Lil Miss came by after school, but by the time Grant got out of the building, the temperature had dropped about 20 degrees and the roads were starting to get slick, so he sent her home and followed her in the Volvo just to make sure she got there OK. I worried about him until he got back, but I really shouldn’t have; as he pointed out, a decade in Flagstaff will teach you a thing or two about driving in the winter.

When he got back, Grant spent most of the evening playing Pac-Man with Joey while I made a batch of chocolate-chip biscotti. They’re planning to make ice cream out of snow tomorrow morning.

At this writing, Grant is asleep on my shoulder, Harvey is asleep on my foot, and the cats are asleep in a big, furry pile on my lap while the snow falls softly over Freed’s Garage.

Despite the general crappiness of the weather, life is very, very good right now.

— Sierra

Warm weekend

We are booked up for the entire weekend. Every biker in northern New Mexico seems to be taking advantage of this glorious weather. I don’t blame them. If I had a bike, you can bet I’d be on it. We’ll definitely be Mother Roading tomorrow when I finish the laundry….

— Sierra

Winter travelers

We had an unexpected deluge of guests this evening: A Japanese travel writer, a young mother from San Bernardino with a toddler in tow, and a 3-foot-tall Elvis impersonator from Milwaukee who saw my copy of Veeck — As In Wreck on the coffee table and immediately began trying to convince me that he is a direct descendant of Eddie Gaedel.

I love this place….

— Sierra


Dr. Scherer called me today and told me to bring the truck to the district storage building behind the middle school. Joey was helping the janitors clean a bunch of surplus equipment and books out of the building, and they found a seven-foot-long slide rule buried under a mountain of other obsolete equipment. It’s all dirty and scratched up, and some of the numbers are worn almost completely off of it, but the head of maintenance showed Joey (who is having a devil of a time with long division) how it worked, and he was so enthralled with it that Dr. Scherer told him he could have it if I’d come and haul it home.

Grant and Joey and Lil Miss are now sitting in the middle of the floor in the lobby, using it to do Lil Miss’ algebra homework and trying to figure out the best way to mount it on the wall. Because if there’s one thing I need in my lobby, it’s obviously a seven-foot-long slide rule.

Lil Miss has promised Joey that she will help him refinish it and repaint the faded numbers and tick marks this weekend.

Between that and the coin-op Pac-Man table in the corner (my Christmas present to Grant), I might as well change the name of this place to the Nerdway Motor Inn.

— Sierra

Dear Rugrat …

… I have given up all of my really good vices for you. In recognition of this, I think it would be a nice gesture on your part if you could stop forcibly rejecting every single thing I attempt to eat that isn’t Slim-Fast or popsicles. I realize you don’t have a tongue yet, but here is the unfortunate reality: Slim-Fast tastes like dog food. If you could develop a fondness for green chile, that’d be great. Mommy might even look the other way when you’re slipping your vegetables to Harvey in a few years if you could work with her on this. Kthx.

Post-holiday update

I’ve been so busy decompressing from the holiday craziness that I forgot to post anything about the holidays themselves.

We rode a bit of an emotional roller coaster around here, and I don’t think my hormones are to blame for most of it. This wasn’t my first round of holidays without Dad, but last year, I was so busy settling his estate, tying up loose ends, and selling everything I owned in preparation for the move to New Mexico that I didn’t really have time to think about how much I missed him

This year, I had plenty of opportunity and plenty of reason for reflection and quiet contemplation.

It was wonderful to spend Christmas Eve curled up in Grant’s arms, listening to Harvey snore softly under the Christmas tree and discussing what sorts of traditions we’d like to establish when the baby is old enough to participate. It was wonderful to spend Christmas Day exchanging gifts with Sandy and feasting on the homemade duck ravioli she’d worked on for two days. And it was wonderful to watch Joey and Lil Miss shoot off fireworks in the front yard to welcome the new year the following weekend.

It wasn’t so wonderful to burst into tears in the middle of the lobby when Dad’s version of “Happy Xmas” came on the radio while I was running a credit card for a couple from Michigan who just wanted a quiet place to sleep, and it was even less wonderful to find Joey sobbing inconsolably in the kitchen on Christmas morning because there were no gingersnaps waiting for him in the cookie jar. Miss Shirley, it seems, used to make gingersnaps every year on Christmas Eve, after Joey went to bed, and they would be waiting for him in the cookie jar when he awoke. Although she’s been away from the Tumbleweed for the better end of a year, it didn’t really click for Joey that she was gone forever until he wandered into the kitchen, opened the cookie jar, and found nothing but the chocolate-chip cookies he and Lil Miss had made a few days earlier.

We are a mess.

— Sierra