Smith Mountain Lake Mystery Writer

Contemplations from a quiet cove on Smith Mountain Lake.

My Photo
Location: United States

I'm a Southern gal who loves life, my husband and our family (which, to date, includes 13 grandchildren). I enjoy being with friends and family. But I also like being alone and thinking up plots for future books. I've published two novels, both mysteries, and I'm working on my third. For more about my books, visit me at If you ever hear me say, "I'm bored," please get me to the ER immediately! Paddling my kayak and snapping pictures of the critters I see relaxes me. Beach music has the opposite effect--when I hear those old "doo-wops" I want to dance.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Glorious Fall

I couldn't resist snapping this photo from my deck this morning. Leaves are falling rapidly--some trees are nearly bare--and I want to capture as many glorious fall days as possible. At this time each year, I'm positive fall is my favorite season. I love the golds, reds, burgundys, greens, and even browns. I love the crunch underfoot when my dog Angus and I take our daily morning walk. On those walks we sometimes spook wild turkeys crossing our little road. Deer stand watchful as they see us coming, then bound quietly (how do they do that?) into the woods. Soon winter will come, opening vistas not easily visible the rest of the year when the leaves cling tightly to the trees.

You know what? Today I've said that fall is my favorite season. But when winter arrives with her snow and ice, I'm sure I'll say winter is my favorite season. And at that time, it will be. And I'll take some pictures to share with you.

Labels: , ,

Grocery Shopping Could Be Fun!

I detest grocery shopping. I do it only because eating is one of the few things I excel in. (I never met a potato I didn’t like—or hardly any other food dish, for that matter, nuts included.) I don’t like comparison-shopping the grocery flyers, I don’t like the 25-plus minute drive to the nearest grocery store, and I’d rather be in my kayak or writing at my computer. To me, grocery shopping is just plain boring.

But guess what! I’ve come up with ways to make grocery shopping an enjoyable experience. And if the stores played it right, they could increase their revenue. How could this be accomplished? Well . . .

Monthly cart competitions:

1. I’ve always wanted to use a grocery cart as a scooter. I’ve thought about this for eons. Cart competition would work this way. Using those orange traffic cones, the grocery store would set up an obstacle course in the parking lot (away from customers’ vehicles, of course). Each competitor would select a cart, receive a can of WD-40 and a rag, and be allowed 10 minutes to oil the cart’s wheels and make other adjustments. At the appointed time, each competitor would hold onto his/her cart handle, put one foot on the metal bar near the bottom of the cart, and push off with the other foot. (The push-off foot could push as often as desired.) Of course each entry would be clocked, with seconds added on for each time one of the cones was clipped or missed.

This event could mushroom into a big deal. Preliminary competition could start on the city/town level, then county wide, state wide, and national. The national winner could receive a year’s supply of groceries, a new hybrid car or pick-up truck, or maybe a vacation to Hawaii along with a copy of my book “Secrets at Spawning Run.”

2. Ever wonder how many stacked-behind-each-other carts one grocery store employee can guide through a parking lot? I want to know! In this cart competition, the grocery store would have each department—i.e. meat, produce, beverage, dairy, deli, etc.—choose a worker from their respective department. Or maybe all employees would be eligible if they wished. That would depend on the individual store. Willing employees would put their cart-guiding prowess to work after training for 15 minutes. The winner would receive a stainless steel trophy in the shape of, well, a grocery cart. A package of T-bone steaks, and Popeye’s favorite—canned spinach—would also be won! This competition could also go national.

3. Because little kids are adorable and draw big crowds, there would be an event for them, too. Besides, the kids’ parents and other relatives would come to watch and cheer their little darlings to victory—and spend lots of money at the store. The children would use the child-sized grocery carts we’ve all dodged numerous times. Parents would be given 10 minutes to decorate their children’s buggies with items purchased at the store. Each child would race a cart through the store’s aisles while trying not to hit cardboard cut-out persons with carts popping up unexpectedly. Along the way, the child would be required to pick up a product from each aisle. Groceries knocked off the shelves by runaway carts would count against the contestant. I suggest that all competitors be timed the way a downhill slalom skier is timed so that they wouldn’t ram each other, cry, and cause fighting among the parents. Also, helmets would be required. The winner—and all losers—would receive the same prizes. (It would never do for one child to receive more than the others. We certainly don’t want kids to think they need to excel in order to receive prizes.) This could be a national competition, too, but we don’t want any children’s feelings hurt, so maybe not.

At each of the above competitions, the deli would sell sandwiches, drinks, and other goodies. Maybe even Ida B. Peevish, Proprietress of Ida’s Beauty and Live Bait Shop in Rock Bottom, U.S. of A., would donate one of her fine “Peevish Advice” and “More Peevish Advice” books!

Dancing in the aisles:

How many times have you wanted to cha-cha to the sounds of 40s music, bop to 50s music, shag to Carolina beach music, all playing on the grocery stores’ speakers? Sometimes it takes every bit of my will power to resist; a couple of times I couldn’t control myself. A few years ago I was stared at when I did a few cha-cha steps in the canned foods aisle. “Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White” by Perez Prado was playing. This year when I heard “Under the Boardwalk” by the Drifters, I scurried to the produce department and squeezed in a few shagging steps in the aisle between the apples and the avocados before another shopper intruded. But the overwhelming desire to really “break out” still persists. Here is what I propose.

Grocery stores could set aside a small area (probably best not near the wine display) of perhaps 15 x 20 feet for those who are moved (literally) by a catchy tune. If customers preferred doing a two-step as they pushed their carts down the aisles, then that would be okay, too. In fact, this should be encouraged. I believe shoppers would stay in the stores longer—they wouldn’t want to stop dancing to a great beat until the song ended. Therefore, they’d spend more money. I visualize dance lovers stopping by the grocery store on the way home from an evening meeting in order to end the night on a relaxing note. Diners who’ve just feasted on a delicious restaurant meal would stop by, too. Cheap guys who promised their dates a night of dinner and dancing would also drop in. The bakery department could have four-tiered cakes ready to ice with the appropriate romantic inscription on top at a moment’s notice. And the possibilities for wedding receptions are endless!

So talk to your grocery store manager and get his/her opinion. And please let me know where you think I will enjoy grocery shopping!

Labels: ,