January 24, 2011

Dr. Scherer called me today and told me to bring the truck to the district storage building behind the middle school. Joey was helping the janitors clean a bunch of surplus equipment and books out of the building, and they found a seven-foot-long slide rule buried under a mountain of other obsolete equipment. It’s all dirty and scratched up, and some of the numbers are worn almost completely off of it, but the head of maintenance showed Joey (who is having a devil of a time with long division) how it worked, and he was so enthralled with it that Dr. Scherer told him he could have it if I’d come and haul it home.

Grant and Joey and Lil Miss are now sitting in the middle of the floor in the lobby, using it to do Lil Miss’ algebra homework and trying to figure out the best way to mount it on the wall. Because if there’s one thing I need in my lobby, it’s obviously a seven-foot-long slide rule.

Lil Miss has promised Joey that she will help him refinish it and repaint the faded numbers and tick marks this weekend.

Between that and the coin-op Pac-Man table in the corner (my Christmas present to Grant), I might as well change the name of this place to the Nerdway Motor Inn.

— Sierra

Dear Rugrat …

January 18, 2011

… I have given up all of my really good vices for you. In recognition of this, I think it would be a nice gesture on your part if you could stop forcibly rejecting every single thing I attempt to eat that isn’t Slim-Fast or popsicles. I realize you don’t have a tongue yet, but here is the unfortunate reality: Slim-Fast tastes like dog food. If you could develop a fondness for green chile, that’d be great. Mommy might even look the other way when you’re slipping your vegetables to Harvey in a few years if you could work with her on this. Kthx.

For the record …

January 12, 2011

… I just totally kicked Grant’s ass at Frogger.

Obviously we have way too much time on our hands this evening.

— Sierra

Post-holiday update

January 7, 2011

I’ve been so busy decompressing from the holiday craziness that I forgot to post anything about the holidays themselves.

We rode a bit of an emotional roller coaster around here, and I don’t think my hormones are to blame for most of it. This wasn’t my first round of holidays without Dad, but last year, I was so busy settling his estate, tying up loose ends, and selling everything I owned in preparation for the move to New Mexico that I didn’t really have time to think about how much I missed him

This year, I had plenty of opportunity and plenty of reason for reflection and quiet contemplation.

It was wonderful to spend Christmas Eve curled up in Grant’s arms, listening to Harvey snore softly under the Christmas tree and discussing what sorts of traditions we’d like to establish when the baby is old enough to participate. It was wonderful to spend Christmas Day exchanging gifts with Sandy and feasting on the homemade duck ravioli she’d worked on for two days. And it was wonderful to watch Joey and Lil Miss shoot off fireworks in the front yard to welcome the new year the following weekend.

It wasn’t so wonderful to burst into tears in the middle of the lobby when Dad’s version of “Happy Xmas” came on the radio while I was running a credit card for a couple from Michigan who just wanted a quiet place to sleep, and it was even less wonderful to find Joey sobbing inconsolably in the kitchen on Christmas morning because there were no gingersnaps waiting for him in the cookie jar. Miss Shirley, it seems, used to make gingersnaps every year on Christmas Eve, after Joey went to bed, and they would be waiting for him in the cookie jar when he awoke. Although she’s been away from the Tumbleweed for the better end of a year, it didn’t really click for Joey that she was gone forever until he wandered into the kitchen, opened the cookie jar, and found nothing but the chocolate-chip cookies he and Lil Miss had made a few days earlier.

We are a mess.

— Sierra

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


December 30, 2010

Stupid WordPress app ate my last post. I love this blog service, but the iPad app is still Not Yet Ready for Primetime.

A quick update:

Sandy is moving to Coldwater. She’s semiretired anyway, and she says the birth of her first grandchild is as good an excuse as any to go into full-on retirement mode. Except she won’t really be retired, because she is planning to open a bookstore/coffeehouse in Coldwater. I suspect I’ll be pulling barista duty before she’s through.

Sandy has also befriended Abuelito. Raise your hand if you saw that one coming.

I think I’m jealous of the baby. I had an interesting childhood, but I’m thinking about Coldwater through a child’s eyes, and I can’t imagine a more fascinating place to grow up. I hope Rugrat sees it that way.

— Sierra


December 23, 2010

Overheard this afternoon in the lobby:

GRANT: What are you doing?
SANDY: Just downloading some things for my grandbaby to listen to. I read somewhere that if you play music and read to babies in utero, it makes them smarter.
GRANT: Allen Ginsberg?! Mom, I love you dearly, but I swear to God, if my child’s first word is “Moloch,” I am calling CYFD on your ass.

Somewhere, my English-teacher mama just collapsed in paroxysms of laughter. I’m sure of it.

— Sierra


December 22, 2010

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

Joey’s terror

December 14, 2010

Joey had a bad dream last night.

I don’t know what time he got up or how long he’d been there, but Grant found him shivering and sobbing next to the culvert behind the Tumbleweed at 5 o’clock this morning. While I made some cheese grits and hot chocolate to warm him up, Grant put a blanket around his shoulders and tried to talk him down from his terror.

“Mama … Mama …” was all he could manage for a long time. He sat on the couch, clutching his blanket and crying, while Harvey leaned against him, whimpering softly.

I handed him a mug of cocoa with marshmallow creme and sprinkles.

“Joey.” I put my arm around him. “You’re safe. What happened out there?”

“Mama went away,” he said. “Both my mamas went away, and then my sissys went away, and then Grant went away, and after that, nobody was left. Just me. Just Joey, and nobody else. I didn’t know what to do, so I went outside where I think, and I tried to think of what to do, but I couldn’t. I couldn’t take care of Joey and the Tumbleweed all by myself. So I just sat and cried.”

Bit by bit, I managed to piece together his dream: the awful memory of losing first his mother and then Miss Shirley, and the imagined terror of losing everybody else he loved and finding himself abandoned and alone in a world that felt suddenly strange and hostile and very, very lonely.

It occurred to me later that this will be Joey’s first Christmas without Miss Shirley. I don’t know whether that had something to do with his dream, but I hope Sandy’s visit will provide enough of a distraction to keep him from thinking of it next week….

— Sierra

Nothing doing

December 12, 2010

I wish I had something exciting to share this evening, but Coldwater is quiet, except for the yipping of the coyotes somewhere out beyond Hank Freed’s property line and the creaking of a speed-limit sign that’s trying to work itself loose from its post in the New Mexico wind.

Lil Miss spent this evening wrapping presents in the lobby with Joey and three or four members of the Coldwater High School FFA chapter. The kids organized a gift drive for the residents of the Coldwater Nursing Center, and I told Lil Miss she could use the Tumbleweed as a staging area for their project. My lobby was completely covered in wrapping paper, ribbons, and giggly teenagers for several hours this evening. The kids stacked all the presents in Unit Four when they finished. They’re going to load them into Lil’s truck and deliver them to the nursing home on Christmas Eve.

I was busy thawing out frozen pipes in Unit Three when the kids showed up, so Grant took over the kitchen and made some peppermint bark, a batch of chocolate-chip cookies, and a huge bowl of popcorn for them to munch on while they worked.

Not to belabor the point, but I think Grant may be the most awesome principal in the history of high schools. Sandy raised her boy right, and Coldwater was lucky to get him.

Speaking of Sandy, she’s supposed to be rolling into town next weekend. I can’t wait. I’m not sure what I did to deserve such an awesome mother-in-law, but I’m glad I’ve got her. She is one of the few people in the world who not only tolerates my quirks but understands and encourages them. I am blessed.

— Sierra


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