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


Thinking of hiring some help.

I know tourist season is winding down, but I think I’d like to take a little time off now and then without having to impose on Joyce. I’ve been talking to Grant, and he knows several reliable kids at Coldwater High who would probably like to have part-time jobs turning over rooms and helping me man the front desk. I can’t spend a lot, but I’ve done well enough with the Tumbleweed that I think I could manage 10 to 12 hours a week without breaking the bank.

Whoever works here will have to be able to put up with Joey, Harvey, and the cats. Grant has a kid in mind. I’m trying to decide whether I want to mess with a formal job application or just say, “Come by and talk to me if you want a job.” The latter would be less work, but the former might be better for the kid, as it would give her some experience with the application process.

On an unrelated note, it looks like we’ve got some storms blowing in from around Moriarty and Dilia. Should be a good night for curling up with a book and listening to the rain….

— Sierra

Peanuts and Cracker Jack

Things have been slow around here lately, and Ryne Sandberg is bringing his I-Cubs to Albuquerque this week. Unless somebody can give me one good reason not to, I think I’m gonna shut down the Tumbleweed and take Joey to the Duke City for a few days. He still hasn’t forgiven Grant and me for going to the last game without him. Maybe an autographed baseball would make it up to him.

At least the weather won’t be so bloody hot when we’re standing in line to meet the man of the hour, and I can make it an educational excursion by taking Joey to the Biopark and some of the museums while we’re in town. I don’t think he’s ever been on a vacation, so this could be really exciting for him.

— Sierra

Within minutes …

Grant just called from Santa Rosa. He should be here in the next 20 minutes.

Joey and Harvey are out front, pacing up and down the block like crazy men. I hope they aren’t creeping out the guests too much.

Harvey is excited because Joey is excited. Joey is excited because he has learned to read “Where the Wild Things Are” since Grant’s last visit and has been gleefully reading it to every little kid who walks into the lobby. He’s dying to ask Grant to help him find where the Wild Things might be on his map.

Meanwhile, I am excited about an idea somebody sent me.

Lillian Redman, who owned the Blue Swallow Motel in Tucumcari for many years, used to have a little card in each room that talked about a prayer for “The Stranger Within Our Gates.” I just got a text message — complete with photo — from somebody who found Miss Lillian’s blessing hanging on the wall in a motel in Missouri.

I am planning to type it up and turn it into a little postcard or something for all my rooms.

— Sierra

Life at the Tumbleweed

This is what the Tumbleweed office looks like. I mention this because I am trying to decide what to do with that empty space to the right of the counter in the lobby. I’m torn between adding another table and chairs or putting in some racks and shelves and filling them with Route 66 merchandise. I think some Tumbleweed Motel T-shirts and coffee mugs would sell fairly well. I’d like to hand out postcards, too, and maybe some kind of small toy for little kids — car bingo cards or coloring books or something.

If you were going to buy a Tumbleweed Motel souvenir, what would it be? I’d like to get some feedback on this before I invest in a lot of inventory. I don’t want to end up with boxes and boxes of T-shirts nobody wants, y’know?

— Sierra

Sunny afternoon

Today was sunny and warm. Tomorrow is supposed to be even hotter: They’re calling for temperatures in the 90s.

I think this might be the perfect time to have a science lesson on solar energy. I read somewhere that you can turn your dashboard into a solar oven by setting a sheet of cookies on there and letting the heat bake them.

Something tells me Joey would get a kick out of baking chocolate chip cookies on the dashboard of my truck….

— Sierra

Nice touch

A friend of mine from Oklahoma gave me a great marketing idea today. She said she just received a postcard from a motel in Las Cruces where she spent a couple of nights during a business trip last month.

She said the postcard was very simple and appeared to have been printed on-site, but it had the name and address of the motel and a little map showing its location on the front, along with some clipart representing things in New Mexico. The back listed the motel’s amenities, and under that, the owner had written a little note, thanking my friend for her business.

I’ve never heard of a motel doing such a thing. My friend hadn’t, either, but she was utterly charmed by the idea. I was, too. I think I am going to swipe the idea and start sending thank-you notes to my customers. If I got a personal note from a motel owner, thanking me for staying at her business, I would go back there every time I was in town.

Little things like that make a big difference with me.

Based on the comments in my guestbook, I don’t think I’m alone. It’s not the big stuff I’ve done at the Tumbleweed — the room renovations or the painting — that really impresses people. It’s the little stuff: the line-dried sheets; the cappuccino in the morning; the chile ristras next to the doors; the homemade biscotti beside the coffee pot in the lobby; the big, fluffy towels in the bathrooms.

I think maybe the little stuff makes people happy because it shows that A.) you’re willing to expend a little effort to please them, and B.) you’re paying attention to the details. If you’re willing to hang out sheets and make espresso to order every morning, it’s probably safe to assume you remembered to bleach the pillowcases and disinfect the bathroom.

— Sierra