Brother Jerry had a great idea today: Since Grant and I plan to get married this fall, and since I’m already up to my teeth in preparations for the fall chili cook-off — which coincides with the first day of fall break for Coldwater Public Schools — Brother Jerry suggested we just have our wedding ceremony sometime during the festivities, thus saving me the hassle of planning two separate events. He pointed out that almost everybody we know will be there anyway, and we can save ourselves the expense of a reception if we just make the wedding part of the activities.

I love Brother Jerry….

— Sierra


I always get a little wistful as the days grow shorter, the nights grow cooler, and baseball season winds to a close … but this particular autumn feels unusually bittersweet.

I walked outside last night to watch the stars glitter against the blue-velvet dusk, and it suddenly struck me that this time a year ago, Dad — frail and fading, but still possessed of a poet’s heart — was with me, probably trembling against my shoulder on the old metal glider on his deck, looking up at stars I am pretty sure he could no longer see, holding my hand, singing a song he’d just made up about the steady, irresistible imposition of evening.

I sniffed the darkness once, dropped my coffee, and ran all the way to Grant’s house to collapse in his arms, sobbing hysterically until I couldn’t breathe, couldn’t think, couldn’t do anything but cling to him and cry, remembering and longing and forgetting to be grateful for all I have instead of mourning all I’ve lost.

God, I wish Mom and Daddy could have met him.

I wish Mom and Daddy could meet me. I’m not the girl they knew. Sometimes I wonder whether they’d even recognize me.

— 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:


Why I love my boyfriend

Reason Number 38:

Grant sent me a text at 3 a.m. today to ask if I was still awake. I was — barely — so I called him to see what he needed.

He’d just gotten some alarming news about one of his kids at school, and he was so worried that he couldn’t sleep. He just wanted me to light one of Abuelito’s candles and say a prayer and sit up for a little while and help him worry over his student.

As the kids say: <3

— Sierra


Sorry I didn’t post anything last night; the Roadrunners had a big game, so as soon as I’d checked in the Vespa club that had reserved all my rooms for the weekend, I gave them instructions to call if they needed anything and headed over to the football field. The game went into overtime, and it was ridiculously late by the time it ended. (The Roadrunners won; I think the final score was 34-28.)

With my rooms already filled for the entire weekend, I just switched on the “NO VACANCY” sign before dark tonight and headed down to Casa de Jesus with Grant. Joey tagged along. Jesus won’t let him drink beer, but he’ll fix a sort of limeade for him out of Sprite with a little sour mix and some lime juice stirred in, which is fine with Joey. (I can’t imagine he’d like beer anyway; he generally dislikes any beverage that isn’t sweet. I once made him a macchiato because he liked the looks of the rosetta in the top, and after he tasted the espresso, he was convinced that I was playing a dirty trick on him.)

As soon as he saw me come in, Jesus got out the karaoke machine. I wasn’t going to sing this time, but Joey begged, and you know how hard it is for me to say no to Joey. He has discovered my record collection and has been on a big Grateful Dead kick lately, so I sang “Ripple” for him, and then Grant leaned over and murmured something about Amy Winehouse, and the look in his eyes was so impossibly smoldering that I couldn’t really say no to him, either, so I wound up singing “You Know I’m No Good,” and then we had to leave, because the football captain’s parents walked in just as I was finishing the song, and Grant didn’t think it would be cool for them to see him sitting around a bar, watching his girlfriend give him come-hither looks while singing suggestive R&B songs with a microphone in one hand and a margarita in the other.

Sometimes there are disadvantages to living in a town this small….

— Sierra

How cool.

Grant was late to dinner tonight, because he stayed after school to see what was going on in one of his teachers’ classrooms. A second-year English teacher noticed a bunch of her kids were falling behind on their assignments, so she stayed after school until about 6 o’clock to help any of the students who wanted to stay late. She brought in a bunch of snacks to motivate the kids and to let them know she cared about them, and whatever work they did was graded and recorded on the spot so they could see how much difference a little effort could make in their grades.

Grant said it was really inspiring to see how well the kids responded. Some of them were having trouble with other subjects, and he wound up sticking around later than he’d planned to help tutor them.

I told him to let me know if this teacher decides to hold another tutoring session, because I would certainly be happy to donate some cookies and kettle corn to the cause.

I love it that Grant is willing to stay after school for the better end of three hours just to hang out with the kids and help them with their homework. Something about that reminds me of the principal I had when I was in first grade. Mr. Morris would always make homemade ice cream in the cafeteria and hand out little scoops of it as rewards for good behavior, high test scores, cleaning our plates at lunch, etc., etc., etc. It wasn’t particularly great ice cream, because he had to make it out of powdered eggs and government-issue sugar and milk and stuff, but the taste wasn’t really the important part. The important part was that it was a reward, and it was a reward that Mr. Morris had taken the time and effort to make especially for us. We knew he loved us, because he made us ice cream.

Nearly three decades later, if I close my eyes, I can almost taste that ice cream.

I’d like to think that Mr. Morris would approve of Grant. They have the same sensibility about what school should be and what a principal is supposed to do.

— Sierra

Time well spent

After church this morning, Grant and Joey and I spent the afternoon making caramel apples and half-bake cupcakes. Half-bakes are the greatest invention ever. The first time I ever had them was at Cake Fetish in Albuquerque. Cake Fetish’s version involves white cake batter with chocolate chips stirred in and a dollop of chocolate-chip cookie dough dropped into the center before baking. You end up with an ordinary-looking cupcake with a big blob of half-baked cookie dough in the middle, topped with frosting and miniature chocolate chips. I don’t know who came up with half-bakes, but that person is a genius.

Our version involves chocolate cake batter with white chocolate chips stirred in, chocolate-chip cookie dough in the middle, and chocolate ganache on top. They’re every bit as good as you think they are, and maybe a little bit better.

I’m glad it’s finally gotten cool enough that I can bake without making the whole lobby unbearably hot. I hate to see summer wind down, but fall has a few advantages.

— Sierra