Bats in the Miner’s Cabin

I love bats. Such tiny, mysterious little creatures, with their furry little bodies and leathery little wings, and little pointed ears. Unfortunately, I think the heat may have gotten to our bat population today. I saw one out in the heat of midday, which is almost unheard of, and then I found two babies as they fell out of their roost. By the time I had come back with gloves and my camera, they had died, presumably from the heat. Hopefully not from a bad disease. IMG_6913

Tonight in the Miner’s Cabin, there was a high-pitched squeaking and an occasional scrabbling sound coming from outside. When I went out to look, there was a baby bat clinging above the window, sometimes retreating into a crack above the window frame, and adult bats swooped around, sometimes coming to rest right near the baby. I’m afraid I agitated them a little bit in my admiration, since they swooped closer and closer to my head! They didn’t seem to appreciate my presence.

Judging from the number of adult bats and the squeaking, I’d say we have a bat nursery in our Miner’s Cabin! I can think of a handful of people who might not think this is such a nice thing. But I have no complaints.

Laura Elizabeth



In places like the Black Hills, glimpses of and participation in the past are not uncommon – History and its memory is kept alive in the tumbledown buildings scattered throughout the hills and plains, and some have worked to maintain those historical structures. Historic livelihoods are still flourishing. Historic ways of doing things are still practiced. I love catching glimpses which remind me of how the hundred-year-old past must have looked. Such as this washbasin in the window of our Miner’s Cabin.
Untitlednostalgia – noun nos·tal·gia \nä-ˈstal-jə

1 :  the state of being homesick

2 : a wistful or excessively sentimental yearning for return to or of some past period or irrecoverable condition

3 : pleasure and sadness that is caused by remembering something from the past and wishing that you could experience it again

Amazing how one can feel nostalgic, homesick, for a time one hasn’t even experienced.

Laura Elizabeth

Whimsical Windows

IMG_8609.1There’s a lot of fabric in an old bed sheet. And, depending on the sheet, good fabric, quality fabric. Perfect for curtains. Yesterday afternoon and evening, I sewed and hung curtains for the two living room windows in the homesteader cabin, from sheets we found while cleaning up the place. Until yesterday, we’d been using blankets (and these sheets actually), draped over the curtain rods to keep the warmth in and the dark out. But simple white curtains are so much homier and more beautiful, and are a lot better at diffusing the light.

IMG_8612.1I’ve always loved the look of glass sparkling in sunlight – Old jars and bottles and prisms, anything to add a little simplistic sparkle and shine. So, naturally, old insulators catch my attention. A little touch of rustic whimsy.

Laura Elizabeth

Homemaking in the Miner’s Cabin

IMG_8266.1It has been awhile since I last wrote about the Miner’s Cabin, and a lot has happened since we first started cleaning it out a year ago. Time for an update! Early this year, Dad got the electricity working again, and also got the stove cleaned out and in safe, operational order. Light and warmth are kind of important when it comes to being productive in the winter.

So, over the last couple of months, slowly and steadily, I got the bedroom closer to livable, and Sarah helped me get one of our bed frames set up. Mom and I brought a load of bookcases, a dresser, and my desk from our storage unit in Hermosa, which is helping with the organizing of books and boxes. IMG_8273.1Growing up, some of my favorite books were Gone-Away Lake and Return to Gone-Away, two treasures of children’s literature written by Elizabeth Enright. The stories got into my imagination, and I pored over them, again and again. The story was pure joy to read, and I think as I was reading I was the little girl who visits her cousin, Julian, and the two of them on their explorations end up discovering a mysterious, abandoned set of lake houses on the shore of a swamp. As they explore the old lake houses, and Portia’s family ends up buying an old boarded-up mansion in the woods nearby, they rummage through boxes filled with ancient “treasures,” things that spark their imaginations, things from a bygone era. I’ve felt some of that same excitement as we’ve worked on the Miner’s Cabin, cleaning up and putting back to use things that had been all but forgotten. IMG_8279.1It is exciting to put the life back into a dusty old cabin, to feel it start to breathe again, with windows open and sunlight streaming in, or with a blazing fire crackling in the stove. It is deeply satisfying to see the hominess emerge, as order and beauty return to the Miner’s Cabin. It is rewarding to see the forgotten things adorn the dusted shelves, Sarah’s and my artwork and photography mingled with ancient family photos, along with the drawing that Dad had done as a Christmas gift for Grandpa and Grandma years and years ago.

IMG_8280.1Old blue Mason jars we found in the cabin loft, sparkling olive oil bottles which I’ve collected, my great-grandmother’s old pincushion, precious shelf nick-knacks I brought from Illinois, old fox furs that have been in the Miner’s Cabin for a couple of decades, family crests, a framed family tree, a chamber pot, shelves and shelves of my books, and a whole encyclopedia that Grandma and Grandpa put in the log cabin – A pleasant mingling of old and new and just plain interesting.

IMG_8286.1A home should reflect something of the people living inside of it – How enjoyable, then, to be setting up house both with things that Sarah and I brought with us from Illinois, as well as with those things that are tied somehow to our heritage.  Not only that, but the wood heat and lack of plumbing tickle my sense of adventure, to get a closer glimpse of the lives my great-great grandparents lived, as homesteaders in eastern South Dakota in the late 1800s. It will be a far cry from roughing it, but living in a 100-year-old cabin definitely has romance to it.

We enjoy repurposing and reusing, and on my agenda for this week is making brand-new curtains from some old white sheets I found while we were organizing and cleaning. Sarah and I have so many ideas for making this little place our home. Moving day can’t come soon enough! We can’t wait!

Laura Elizabeth

Daily mysteries

IMG_8486Sometimes it takes a country song and moonlight to rattle me out of my own self-centeredness and back into a state of gratitude before God. Last night, I was tired and grouchy and feeling a little sorry for myself when Montgomery Gentry’s song “Lucky Man” came on the radio. I felt rather sheepish. Then light from the almost-full moon peered over my shoulder and brushed my cheek. I looked back and there was the moon, rising above the rugged hills on the road a few miles from home. What in the world do I have to not be thankful for? Thankfulness in all circumstances should be the state of the Christian heart, but it took a country song and moonlight to remind me just how good my circumstances are, and how petty and pathetic and wrong my complaints are. And how good God really is – how incomprehensible!

This morning I restocked our wood supply for the Miner’s Cabin. Up the hill at Grandma’s house, there is a whole woodshed of old dry pine that probably hasn’t been touched in years. Squirrels have used the shed as home-base for probably a decade, so there is a decade’s worth of pine cones and pine cone pieces piled all over the woodshed, which make great fire starter. I brought down enough wood and “fire starter” to last awhile, and spent a good chunk of the afternoon sorting and organizing and straightening.

IMG_8796.1It is so pleasant to sit and listen to the crackle of the fire, to hear the metallic rush of sound as a log collapses, to feel the heat slowly warm the room. Wood heat is exquisite. It is simple and sweet and fierce. I love to watch the glow of the embers beneath the logs, in the place where the very air seems to burn and blaze. I love the dance of the heat along the edges of logs, the blossoming of flame, the crackle and release of sparks. I could sit before a fire for hours.

Moonlight and flame, and the God who created both – Three beautiful mysteries.

Laura Elizabeth