Almost spring!

Pitchers and catchers report to Mesa on Monday. Meanwhile, Ryno should be arriving in Clearwater any day now, if he hasn’t already. I’m not sure about the reporting date for the Ironpigs, but the Phillies pitchers and catchers report tomorrow, so the minor-league affiliates should be along directly.

I need to get off my butt and figure out the Isotopes’ schedule so we can plan some trips to Albuquerque this summer.

On a related note, Grant couldn’t find anybody to coach baseball this spring, so he’s doing it himself. Meanwhile, Lil Miss informed me that the softball coach is a 22-year-old first-year art teacher who played one season of coach-pitch softball when she was in second grade and only agreed to take over the team because she is inexplicably terrified of Grant and will basically do anything he asks, whether she has any business doing it or not. Coaching softball, Lil Miss assures me, falls into the category of Things She Doesn’t Have Any Business Doing, as she knows almost nothing about the game, so I tagged along with Lil Miss to practice this morning (the past two days, incidentally, have been much warmer than the last couple of weeks have been) and offered my services as third-base coach.

I am pleased to report that Coldwater High School’s head softball coach now knows how to keep score, fill out a lineup card, and give signs to the pitcher. She still plays ball like a girl, but given sufficient practice, I think Lil Miss and I can cure her of that.

Wisely, I think, I elected not to tell Grant about my latest volunteer project until after I’d cleared it with Dr. Scherer.

Grant, predictably, was apoplectic. He is under the impression that “pregnant” is a synonym for “invalid.” I explained to him that when I played summer ball in junior high, my coach — who had been the star pitcher on her college team — threw BP for us in the middle of June, while she was eight months pregnant. Her daughter was born perfectly healthy, after less than three hours of labor, and grew up to lead her high-school softball team to the state championship four years in a row, with the lowest ERA in school history.

Grant remains unconvinced.

I remain unconcerned.

The girls’ home opener is March 14, if anybody’s interested.

— 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

Explanation

No, I’m not dead. Yes, I have an excuse for my lengthy silence.

“Let me ‘splain. No — there is too much. Let me sum up.”
Inigo Montoya

Here are all the things I’ve done in the past week:

1. Made approximately seventy million cookies in forty-two different flavors. (You have no idea how many cookie exchanges are held in Coldwater, N.M., during the month of December. It truly boggles the mind.)
2. Attended two school programs, a band concert, a chorus concert, a Chamber luncheon, a chili supper, and a church Christmas cantata.
3. Helped the Chamber director sort and wrap umpty-three gifts for kids on the Angel Tree we put up at Bill Swinney’s place.
4. Watched Sandy and Joey use poster board and tinted craft glue to make a suncatcher for Grant’s office window.
5. Discovered firsthand that morning sickness is a bitch.

Yeah, you read that last part right.

Thus far, we have not told Joey. He will, of course, be utterly thrilled, but I am not sure exactly what he does and does not know about how pregnancy works or where babies come from, and we are not telling him anything until Grant works up the nerve to explain it to him.

If anybody wants to start a betting pool on when this will happen, I’ll put five bucks on “baby’s 35th birthday.”

— Sierra

Awesome idea

Joyce came by for coffee this morning. I hadn’t had a chance to talk to her since my wedding, but Grant has been telling Dr. Scherer all about Joey’s progress, so Joyce came by to see for herself.

As we sipped cappuccino and discussed the risk of ennui in Coldwater during the winter, she offered a terrific idea to keep Joey and me from getting bored while we wait for tourist season to return: Volunteer to help out at the grade school.

She said Coldwater Elementary is always in need of volunteers to help with stuff like making copies, reading to little kids, and helping teachers prepare materials for bulletin boards. There are a few parent volunteers, but most of the kids’ parents are working two or three jobs just to keep food on the table, so their ranks are fairly limited. Joey and I don’t have anything else to do with our mornings during the winter, and Joey is great with little kids, so I think we’ll head that direction Monday morning and offer our services as volunteers.

I am really amped about this idea. I think it will be really good for Joey, and it will keep me busy.

— Sierra

Relief.

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

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.

Love,
Dad

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

Burma-Shave

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:

LESS THAN
TWO OUTS
FORCE AT THIRD
GIRLS LOVE
DIAMONDS
(SO I’VE HEARD)

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:

CURSE OR NOT
SIERRA DEAR
LET’S NOT
“JUST WAIT
‘TIL NEXT YEAR”
MARRY ME

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:

HE UNDERSTOOD
THE INFIELD FLY
SHE KNEW
HE WAS
HER KIND OF GUY
YES