2013 Highlights

Hi my friends and family!

2013 was a year filled with challenges. What year hasn’t been?

Mighty Mike continued a year of public service as the county’s Emergency Manager, IMAG2907conducting a brilliant wildfire exercise in June (earning high accolades from FEMA evaluators) and assisting with recovery efforts after the devastating floods in the Boulder area in September. After hoping that cortisone injections in his right hip would prolong the inevitable, he went under the knife for a complete hip replacement…just four days after completing his 8th Leadville Trail (LT) 100 Mountain Bike race! Although he’s not in any hurry to replace the other, he is quite pleased with his recovery and his ability to hike and bike pain-free again!

Nick has excelled in the ROTC program at UNM and continues his studies on an extended plan photoafter adding a year for course work in the Emergency Medical Services Academy. He, too, competed in and completed his first LT100 race. Still not certain about his follow-on assignment after graduation, he will be working in Albuquerque until he can find a way to return to Colorado! Jake opted for the work-over-school plan and is partnering with another young entrepreneur in Boulder. His facility with computing has allowed him to do what he enjoys while providing him with the resources to live independently while caring for his pet tortoise, Givenchy.

The Lead Ass Inn hosted many visitors this year: Sarah Collier (my good friend Nadine’s IMAG2809daughter) lived with us this summer and I got to pretend that I had a daughter for a bit! Niece Andrea and hubby started off the July revolving door, followed by race friends Brent and Lisa, then Mike’s bro Mark, his wife and two girls, then Anne and Eric from VA overlapping with Sam and Derrick from Abu Dhabi (en route to Germany), and finally Sarah’s boyfriend. Whew! Talk about musical beds! Our old Army friends from long ago (Kathy, Chris, Kristen and Michael Shalosky) visited for Thanksgiving and we made the best hand turkeys ever!

I completed the draft of my first novel (“Miss?”) in March just before my Dad underwent major surgery for cancer. Dad fought the good fight, and even helped IMAG1517organize a most memorable family reunion at my sister Carol’s home in June, but ultimately lost his battle on October 4th, not long after losing his youngest brother. I was blessed to have had several visits with Dad before he left us, one on the heels of my 30th West Point Reunion. Dad’s funeral was fitting for the wonderful man he was. Mom has been a pillar of strength, and we all are grateful that she lives in a place surrounded by friends and not far from Carol. She continues to teach us life lessons as she finds her way after 65 years of living with her best friend.

Somehow I managed to find a couple of weeks to act in a friend’s Indie film (“Peace MissPass”), and I published my novel through Amazon in November shortly before Mike and I decided to adopt a German Shepherd from a local shelter. Ranger (almost 3) has brought us great joy; his temperament is much like Guntar’s was (our first dog). Wishing you all health and happiness in 2014!

With love from the Lead Ass Inn–a name my Dad suggested for our far-away home.

Laurel, Mike, Nick, Jake, and Ranger


“We could turn around here if you want,” Mike says with just a hint of disappointment in his voice.

We’re not quite to the halfway point on the 3-mile Fish Hatchery loop, and our new dog, Ranger, is staging a peaceful protest. He sits in the snow staring at the pooch-booties on his paws—a gift from a friend—probably wondering why on earth “this family” rescued him from the shelter. He used to have it so easy, just laying around and getting fat.


It’s 5 degrees out, much colder with the wind chill, but it doesn’t feel too bad in the trees. I look at my dog who looks at me, and know that I must make the right decision.

“Come on, Ranger, let’s go!” I say with great, feigned enthusiasm as I take the lead back on course. We must not turn around. The sun is peeking through the trees. It’s not even snowing.

“We can take a water break at the top of the next little rise,” Mike says, happy to be finishing what we’ve started.

It is only because I now take the lead that Ranger will stand up and follow. Although he loves Mike—the one who takes him out first thing in the morning and picks up his steaming “presents”—he loves me more.

Both Ranger and I enjoy a few sips of water at the top of the rise. I’m actually sweating in my $10 gold retro one-piece ski suit, and with snow shoes on for the first time this season I’m feeling like I understand Ranger’s disdain for his treadless booties.


“This isn’t so bad, is it?” Mike asks. He loves this. He lives for this.

“Yeah, it kinda sucks,” I say, honestly.

“No way! Seriously?” he asks, befuddled.

“You know I always suck going uphill. It hurts,” I tell him, “but I didn’t turn around!”

Although I’ve lived at 10,200 feet for almost 7 years now, I nevertheless have not “gotten used to” the strain of breathing under exertion. Perhaps if I hit the gym more it would help, but even when I was doing that regularly, I still hated the feeling of suffering. In a recent Facebook status I confessed that I hate suffering, but love having suffered, which is why we did not turn around today when we could have.

Mike, who has recently had one complete hip replacement surgery and will put off replacing the other for as long as possible, looks at Ranger, who does not have the capacity to feign enthusiasm for continuing our hike.


“Hey, you’re only 21-years-old and you’re not even wearing a pack! I’m 53, so I don’t want to hear any of your shit!”

I laugh at Mike’s attempt at motivating our dog. Ranger just looks at him, looks at his booties again, then looks at me.

“We’re almost there, buddy!” I say, and although we still have a mile and a half to go, it’s all downhill. I’m actually happy now. I can walk forever if it’s not uphill.

We make it back to our car and Ranger is ready to jump in before the hatch is even up. I give him another treat—a trick my friend suggested as a way to get the booties on him—and all is right with his world again.


I remove the booties when we get home. Ranger’s feet are warm and dry.

We all settle down for a long winter’s nap.


Although the ice crystals hadn’t yet bonded over the toilet water, my always-be-prepared hubby nevertheless activated our forced gas heat this morning, 52 degrees in the house feeling too frosty even for him. By the time he returned from taking Ranger out for his morning constitution, I had the fire started and the coffee ready.


It’s -15 in Leadville this morning, the sun is sparkling off powder-dry snow crystals, and I’m trying to decide what to wear for my book launch event at our local Book Mine this afternoon.

But first I will be donating blood, and I suppose I’m more worried about my life force’s ability to flow in what will most likely be a cold room at the Mining Museum. So I will drink hot tea until I trudge over there at 1:00.

They say you’ll live longer if you stay slim and cold, but who would want to under those conditions?!

Day-dreaming of turquoise waves splashing over hot bodies on faraway beaches…


Erma’s Conference

Truly tickled to be attending the 2014 Erma Bombeck Writers’ Conference in Dayton, Ohio! This will be my first official conference! Many of the Not Your Mother’s Book series co-editors will attend also, and Dahlynn McKowen (of Publishing Syndicate) will be there are a faculty member and workshop presenter!

Registration opened today, so if you’d like to join me–and a bunch of very fun, funny people–go to humorwriters.org and register soon!