I suppose it’s not reasonable to thank the same TV show for existing, twice in one month? Or has it just been a week? Anyway, “The Good Place” is just about the only good thing right now. 

Too much.

It’s been a tough day. Get this: I got to take the morning off, sleep in, enjoy an unrushed breakfast, play a computer game I haven’t played for a couple years, go on a run to Rapid with my favorite person, eat a tasty lunch out, come home early, make a delicious dinner, and watch four episodes of the best TV show ever. I’m snuggled into bed with a warm furry cat, and I say today was a tough day.

It was a tough day. I’ve been emotionally off-balance since the moment I didn’t get out of bed at my regular hour. I tried to treat my discomfort by staying in bed even longer than I should have, by derping around with computer games, and by trying to buy things in Rapid City that didn’t exist. Things totally fell apart when we drove by a pet store and I had a half-second fantasy about going in to see the cats and magically finding Minou there. I sat in the car and sobbed for half an hour while Dustin went and bought the groceries without me because I was unfit for public appearance. (He also sat and patted my head for awhile, which I appreciated even though I suspect it wasn’t very nice for him.)

I’m feeling better now, but this yuckiness is still lurking near the surface. I am grateful that I have a safe place to be unhappy when I just can’t help myself. I am warm and cozy on this sloppy wet cold night. I have someone else to start breakfast in the morning. Everything is okay, and I’m going to be okay. We’ll try again tomorrow.
❤ Laura


Monte Amende & Molly Brown, who make the music

Dear Monte and Molly,

I got to come listen to you jam today as part of the Songwriters’ Festival here in Deadwood. I haven’t been able to come to one of your proper gigs for a long time, so it was especially great to get to hear you today. I know I shouldn’t be surprised by your talent anymore, but every single time I hear you play or sing, I am stunned. Molly, your voice and musicality are so sharply honed. Monte, you play the guitar beautifully of course, but it is your gift for composition that really blows my mind.

One of the things I particularly loved about the songs you played today were the ways they were musically surprising. How to explain? Okay: the other folks who were playing during your jam session were also very fine musicians, but had either of them struck up their guitar melodies, I feel like I could have improvised a pretty fair rendition of a melody that would have matched their rhythms and chord progressions. Your melodies were unpredictable and that it is SO musically appealing to me. This was particularly true of “Mixed Messages,” which I’d never heard before and which I found absolutely captivating.

Thank you for sharing the fruits of both your talent and your very hard work.

And all the rest of you reading this: go check out Von Varagon Society’s first album, “Roman Fire.” It’s kind of awesome.
❤ Laura


It was a work-all-day sort of day. Breakfast service was low-key, but then I stuck my nose in my computer and spent the rest of the day trying to get my rates set for 2019 and figure how, oh how, could I offer rooms this winter with no breakfast included? (This is a seriously hard proposition. I’ve had four companies so far tell me I can’t do this the way I want to do it. Bah.) It’s 11:16 and I’m going to go ahead and fold my computer up and go to bed now. These strategic monkeys will still be here in the morning.

But I am grateful that I did get all the way through my 2019 rates. I’m grateful that my staff has stuck with me this long, leaving me optimistic about my ability to keep coping with my frustratingly successful business over the winter. I’m grateful to the guests who keep wanting to stay so that I’ll be able to buy my groceries in the middle of the winter. I’m also grateful to the guests who aren’t staying on my second floor tonight, because it makes everything so quiet and peaceful.

I’m also grateful to my mom, both of my Megans, and friend Anne for providing occasional social distractions to break up the day a little. And of course, I’m grateful to Dustin for bossing me into things like taking a pause to eat dinner. I don’t want to be the kind of person who forsakes meals for work. Thanks for helping me keep my priorities straight.

Good night, moon.
❤ Laura

Deadwood, our small town

Dear Deadwood,

You are a great little town. Some days, I find myself walking down the street, marveling at your beauty and charm. This Fall has been particularly lovely, and I found myself feeling deeply enamored. Life here sometimes feels like life inside a snow globe. (I know this sounds strange, but I think about this all the time.) The scenery is picture-perfect, we’re nestled down in a valley between lovely hills, and sometimes it also snows a little. When it’s very quiet, I get the feeling someone might pick us up and shake us any minute, and I imagine floating through the sky and settling gently back down among the bricks and aspens.

We went downtown for dinner at the Social Club tonight, because they put a picture of their dinner special up on Facebook and it looked SO good I could hardly stand it. We were seated by a host who knows us by name and said hello to several other patrons throughout the evening. It’s delightful to have Regular Places. Troy at the Social Club, Toni at the Pump House, Jamie at LotusUp, Trish at Legends, Amanda at the Eagle. Dustin actually walks into places and asks for “the regular.” This cracks me up and also pleases me.

I know my neighbors, and they watch out for me. We share garden goods and borrow cups of flour, stock and patronize the best Little Free Library in the Black Hills, and throw a pretty good Christmas Party. My phone hosts the numbers of the city’s Mayor, Building Inspector, and Fire Chief. Being involved in the community is simply a matter of voicing your interest. I’ve sat on the Historic Preservation Commission and several committees dedicated to the town’s history, culture, and future.

I’m not always in love with being a small-town resident, but on cozy, first-snowy nights like this, I feel so affectionate for my little community. You get a sense of belonging and connectedness in a place like this that I’m not sure is available in places where you can’t walk everywhere you need to go.

Thank you for being my home for these last eight years, and my community for more than a dozen. I may leave some day, but I can already tell that I will always come back to you.
❤ Laura


I’m having a day off! Due to a pretty alignment of stars, I have no guests tonight. (A certain amount of engineering may have gone into this.) I have forgotten how great a quiet house is. SO QUIET. I spent most of my day reading and chattering with friends. Also I made some apple butter so the house smells amazing. Tomorrow morning, I’m going to sleep in!

Enjoying it all immensely.

❤ Laura

Gary Jurgens, who makes great chili

Dear Gary,

Thank you so much for having us all over to dinner tonight. Nyla usually hosts, but she and Tom are out running amok, so you picked up the baton and planned a lovely chili dinner on this night that was supposed to be cold and snowy. Even though we didn’t have the wintery view that would have been the crown jewel on a chili dinner, the chili and the company were both good enough to make up for it.

We’re so glad you moved closer so that we can get together like this more often. We’re already looking forward to the next event!
❤ Laura

Ed Olson, my helpful and compassionate neighbor

Dear Ed,

You introduced yourself as we were moving into this house, and half a second later, you were helping Dustin carry in some heavy piece of furniture. Without knowing a thing about us, you just jumped right in to help. Before long, I came to realize that you are equally kind and helpful to all your neighbors, to our huge benefit.

I began referring to you as “Smokin’ Ed” early on, because you were always out on your porch, enjoying a cigarette and keeping an eye on the neighborhood, in every kind of weather. I was tickled when, earlier this year, I learned that we’d have to start calling you “Non-Smokin’ Ed.” Congratulations to you for the change! I hope you feel great about it, physically and emotionally.

This afternoon, you stopped by to ask if Minou had come home yet. You told me you and your family have all been watching out for her, along with many of the other folks living in your house. You know from personal experience how hard it is to lose a pet, and you had been thinking of us today, on the anniversary of the day you lost Garfield. I can’t tell you how touching it was to talk to you today, and how grateful I am for your concern about us.

You are unfailing kind and helpful to those of us in your sphere. We might have fancier neighbors, but you and Kara have always been my favorite neighbors. We’re thinking of you, today, too.
❤ Laura

The Good Place, the only funny thing on TV

Who told me about The Good Place? Who told me I had to watch it? I can’t for the life of me remember, but YOU WERE SO RIGHT. Everything about it is wonderful. It’s forking hilarious, to start with (see what I did there?), while nothing else in the world is even a little bit funny right now. It is also vastly kind, a rather bizarre quality for a comedy, in a world where so much humor is based off the humiliation and discomfort of others. It combines the silliness I’ve always loved about cartoons with some pretty serious themes on the nature of goodness and belonging. The relationships between the characters are brilliant and uplifting. Even the Fake characters are charming and completely relatable.


We’ve been gobbling down two or three episodes a night (they’re short! Only 20 minutes each! That’s not even a commitment!), which means I’ve only got about a week of this deliciousness left to enjoy for the first time. It’s gonna be a nice week.
❤ Laura


Today ran away with me, and I can’t seem to get my brain back online.

So let’s start with a little personal gratitude: even though my plans for the day fell completely apart when two sets of guests arrived an hour before check-in time, I did not have a meltdown. I didn’t get anything else done all day (unless you count watching two episodes of The Great British Baking Show and petting cats), but I also didn’t fall to pieces and get angry with myself about it. I am grateful that I had the space to just let it wash over me.

I am also so, so grateful that my friend is back to being okay after giving birth to a beautiful baby girl. I can’t wait to meet her!

I am grateful for Thursday morning breakfast dates.

I am grateful for fuzzy pajama pants to wear on cold nights.

Have I mentioned lately how grateful I am for my employees? Please get healthy soon.

You’re okay, I’m okay. It’ll snow on Saturday and be November before we know it.
❤ Laura


My sister’s boys, who are the best entertainment

Dear Brody and Garrett,

Thank you for sharing your sweet sauce and silly faces with us tonight. I can’t quite remember the details of what made me laugh until I snorted my soy sauce (all delightfully little-boy things, I know), but it was a nice break from my regular routine.
❤ Laura