Full circle

My butt is cold.

That’s probably not the classiest way to start a blog entry, but it’s what I’m thinking as I sit on this ancient metal lawn chair in front of the motel I bought exactly a year ago, watching the tumbleweeds struggle to free themselves from the barbed-wire fence across the highway and waiting in the brittle night air to see whether the coyotes will serenade me again like they did last night.

Like the tumbleweeds and their namesake motel, I am a latecomer to this ancient land.

Uprooted and directionless, I blew in from the east and found myself caught on the fence of a life unlike anything I’d ever known.

A year later, I remain unsure of why I thought this was a good idea, but I am certain it was the best idea I’ve ever had.

At 11:38 a.m., Feb. 15, 2010, I became the proud owner of the historic Tumbleweed Motel, which now consists of five lovingly restored rooms, an office, a functional wringer washer, a pair of clothesline poles that I still haven’t gotten around to sanding and spraying with Rust-Oleum, a developmentally disabled handyman who calls me “Sissy” and walks two miles to the truck stop next to the interstate off-ramp every morning to buy canned tuna for the feral cats that skulk around the edges of the property, an espresso machine, a collie mix rescued from a barbed-wire fence, four cats rescued from a culvert during a rainstorm, a dark-eyed man with a wry sense of humor who became my boyfriend in April and my husband in October, a feisty teenage desk clerk whose rightful title probably ought to be “assistant manager,” and a three-month-old fetus who waits silently for the right moment to make a grand entrance into a world full of everyday adventure and fiery sunsets that never fail to take my breath away.

I tumbled into town with a splitting headache and a heart full of grief, orphaned, jobless, uncertain of my future, with nothing to lean on but a small insurance settlement and the publishing rights to my father’s music.

A year later, sitting here on my own property next to Route 66, with my freezing butt and my freezing fingers and a faster Internet connection than I had a year ago, waiting for a visit from unseen coyotes, I feel my shallow chaparral roots beginning to deepen, having probed this dry land and found enough love and beauty to heal a broken heart and support a life whose quietude somehow manages to dazzle me more than the glitter and flash of the city I left behind.

My butt is cold. My life is beautiful. And with that note to open their song, the coyotes are just beginning a lullaby wild and familiar.

– Sierra

Valentine’s Day in Coldwater

This was Valentine’s Day in Coldwater:

A love note written in dry-erase marker on the bathroom mirror and a delicate half-and-half heart with baseball stitches etched into the sides, floating atop a decaf macchiato, from Grant.
A lopsided construction-paper heart decorated with Necco sweets and a lot of glitter from Joey. Message: “Happy Valentine’s Day. I’m glad you’re my Sissy. Love, Joey.”
A sunrise hike up Sangre Mesa.
A spirited softball practice in which Lil Miss taught the rest of the team how to slide under a tag. I love that kid. She’s the scrappiest little thing I’ve ever seen — no bigger than a minute, but she puts on that catcher’s mask and scares the living crap out of everybody who even thinks about crossing the plate on her watch. Funny girl.
A couple from Tularosa celebrating the holiday by coming back to the room at the Tumbleweed where they spent their wedding night 50-odd years ago.
A pack of coyotes singing somewhere out on Hank Freed’s back 40.

Hope you had a good Valentine’s Day, wherever you are.

— Sierra

Nowhere I’d rather be

It is literally a degree outside. Fortunately, I am curled up under a warm blanket inside, with Grant’s arm around me, the stereo playing an old Neil Diamond album very quietly in the background, and the smell of freshly baked gingersnaps hanging sweetly in the air.

There’s nowhere in the world I’d rather be.

Well, nowhere except the bleachers at Wrigley Field on a summer afternoon, of course.

The bleachers at Wrigley would be awfully unpleasant this evening, so I’ll settle for what I’ve got. It’s a pretty close second, anyway.

— 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

Whining, or: Things That Would Totally Rock

You know what would rock? Not having to drive all the way to freakin’ Tucumcari to see an obstetrician on Grant’s provider list.

You know what else would rock? Good decaf. Good decaf would rock like a Jimi Hendrix concert.

You know what would rock most of all? Not feeling gross. Not feeling gross would rock harder than Joe Perry, Jimmy Page, and Angus Young put together.

OK, OK, I’ll stop whining. I really don’t have any legitimate reason to whine. It sucks to drive 30 miles to go to the doctor, but I probably shouldn’t bitch about it, because I’m making the drive down Route 66 in New Mexico, in a late-model SUV manufactured by a company whose entire reputation is built around its stellar safety record.

My insurance coverage might be a little spotty and inconvenient because of Coldwater’s rural surroundings, but at least I have it.

And despite the fact that I feel totally gross about half the time,  the doctor says Rugrat and I are doing just fine. I definitely need to remember to be grateful for that. Healthy babies totally rock.

Here is something else that rocks: Joey and Lil Miss bought me a Space Invaders ice cube tray, a Tetris ice cube tray, and three big jugs of orange Gatorade for Christmas, so I now have an old rainbow sherbet tub full of Gatorade mini-popsicles in the freezer. Orange Gatorade mini-popsicles aren’t as nice as cappuccino, but they’re pretty good — especially when they’re shaped like Space Invaders.

It also rocks that the doctor told me I’m not supposed to change the litterbox while I’m pregnant, which means that job is officially Somebody Else’s Problem from now until August. That most definitely rocks.

— Sierra