Wedding update

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


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

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

Wedding gift

At five minutes after seven tonight, Dad’s agent, Valerie, pulled up in front of the Tumbleweed in a rented Lexus and presented me with a small package wrapped in yellowed paper with wedding bells on it and a slightly frayed silver ribbon around it.

I opened the package. Inside were a CD and a small envelope containing a note written in a familiar hand:

Dear Sierra,

I wanted so much to be there to give this to you myself. It breaks my heart to think that after missing so many moments of your life through my own selfishness, I’m missing this one through a cruel trick of fate, but I console myself with the knowledge that I am there now in the same small way that I was there when you lost your mother.

The enclosed CD is my wedding gift to you. Do with it as you will. I hope you enjoy it, and should you choose to release it, I hope and pray that it will be the most successful album of my career. I’d like nothing more than to provide my daughter a proper dowry.

I wish I could have met your fiance. I wish I could have heard you squeal with excitement and stumble over your words, giggling breathlessly, while delivering the news of your engagement. I wish I could have glanced down and seen my own dark eyes sparkling up at me, your mother’s smile spreading across your beautiful face, on the way down the aisle. I wish I could have hugged your husband and congratulated him and whispered, “Welcome to the family, Son.”

Some wishes are impossible. Love and a dozen songs will have to suffice.

I love you, Sweetheart. I always will.


P.S.: I am proud of you, even if I’ve no right to be.

I have no idea when or how he recorded it without my knowledge, but it couldn’t have been too long before he passed, because in addition to ten songs I’d never heard before, the album includes the song Dad was singing while we looked at the stars.

It also includes a cover of “Coldwater Morning.” Really.

— Sierra


Remember the old Burma-Shave ad campaign, which involved little poems written on carefully spaced signs placed along roadsides during heyday of Route 66?

Yeah, I don’t remember them, either. Too young. But I’ve seen plenty of replicas along the road in recent years. They’re really popular with Route 66 travelers.

Set of Burma-Shave-type signs that mysteriously appeared along westbound 66 in front of the Tumbleweed yesterday afternoon as I was coming back from a grocery run in Tucumcari:


Set of signs attached to the backs of those signs at some point between the time I went to bed last night and the time I slipped out for a jog this morning:


Set of hastily made cardboard signs currently taped over the westbound signs for Grant to see when he picks me up for church this morning:


Sunday Morning Coming Down

A quiet Sunday morning and a cup of coffee feel good after the day I had yesterday.

I went over to Tucumcari to pick up groceries and have breakfast at Kix on 66 while Grant and Joey were setting up for Coldwater’s annual back-to-school carnival.

I didn’t realize I’d forgotten my cell phone until I got to the grocery store and started to send Grant a text asking whether he wanted me to take advantage of a sale on his favorite cereal.

I was seven miles from home when the truck sputtered to a stop on the shoulder of Route 66.

Good thing I took up jogging this spring.

Hank Freed is on vacation this weekend, thanks to the holiday, but four miles into my unplanned jog, I heard the unmistakable beep of a Volkswagen’s horn, and Skinny Rodriguez pulled up and asked if I needed a ride.

Skinny, as I think I’ve mentioned once before, is the biggest gearhead in Guadalupe County. If your truck breaks down, Skinny is probably the first guy you’d want to see pulling over to offer you a ride.

Fifteen minutes later, Skinny had diagnosed the problem as a leak in the fuel line. One of the ancient hoses had cracked, and I hadn’t noticed that most of the gas had leaked out of the tank. Skinny took me to Teague’s, where we picked up a can of gas and a roll of duct tape, and I crawled under the truck and patched the hose well enough to limp the old girl back home. Hank will have to fix her for real when he gets back next week.

I got cleaned up just in time to catch the end of the school festival and help the teachers take down tents and streamers and tables and chairs.

It’s always something….

— Sierra

Quiet evening in Coldwater

It is 71 degrees outside here in Coldwater. A gentle breeze is fluttering the curtains in the lobby. Harvey is snoring on his back in front of the door; Nash and Young are piled up next to him, a silent confusion of calico and gray tabby fluff with little paws and ears and baby-pink noses sticking out in random directions.

Joey is sitting in my bubble chair, reading The Spaceship Under the Apple Tree all by himself — which makes me so proud I don’t know whether to burst into tears or smile until my face hurts — and I am trying to type this very quietly so as not to wake Grant, who has fallen asleep here on the couch with his head on my shoulder.

I hate to see Grant so exhausted, even if he has assured me that it’s a temporary and completely normal condition that will correct itself in a couple of weeks, but he is so very cute when he’s sleepy that I can’t help relishing these peaceful moments when he is dozing beside (or on) me with his soft, dark hair tousled and his impossibly handsome face relaxed except for an occasional twitch at the corner of his mouth as he dreams.

Earlier tonight, I was looking back at the blog entry I wrote the day after I met him. Did I really think he looked ordinary? How did I miss the movie-star smile, the carelessly perfect hair just beginning to flirt with a trace of silver, the gentle eyes, the commanding presence, the beautiful complexion darkened but somehow undamaged by 10 years of rough-and-tumble weekends in the Arizona sun? Is he this stunning everywhere, or are my eyes the only ones that see it?

I should wake him so he can get home and go to bed, but I’d rather sit still and study his face for just a little longer. Beautiful boy; selfish, selfish girl.

— Sierra