Smith Mountain Lake Mystery Writer

Contemplations from a quiet cove on Smith Mountain Lake.

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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.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Out of the blue . . .

The voice on the phone said, “Sally Ross (that’s me), this is Sallie Bette. Do you remember me?” Remember her? Even though I hadn’t seen her in 48 years (Mother will haunt me for inferring how old I am), I’d never forget Sallie Bette, one of my college roommates. “I’ve found Honey, Harriet, Mary Jane and you. Haven’t located Barbara yet, but I will. We need to get together at the rivah.” (In case all y’all don’t know, “rivah” is Southern-girl talk for “river,” in this case the Pamlico River in North Carolina.)

Because of doctor appointments and other commitments, I couldn't join Sallie Bette, Harriet and Honey at Sallie Bette’s cottage in Bayview, North Carolina, a few months ago. “We’ll do it again soon when you can come,” they promised me.

True to their word, a few days ago I waited for these same three gals to arrive at my home. Would I recognize them? Would we have anything in common, anything to say to each other? Would our days together be full of gigantic periods of silence? Sallie Bette’s husband Tom was coming, too. Would he and Ron enjoy each other’s company? I looked forward to—and, I'm ashamed to say, dreaded—their coming. The driveway alarm signaled their arrival. I took a deep breath and walked out to greet them.

Honey stepped out of the car first. The others followed. They all looked the same—a little older, but as cute as ever. I would have had no trouble recognizing them. Within minutes the 48 years disappeared. We talked, laughed, showed family pictures, discovered that we still had the same values, reminisced for two days and nights. I learned that Honey is a master scuba diver and that her husband had passed; that Sallie Bette and Tom had spent nine months together chasing blimps (I’m serious—blimp chasing is an honest-to-goodness job!); that Harriet, who looks to be pushing 40 instead of old age like me, loves cats and lives in my home town. Ron and Tom enjoyed each other, too.

We toasted our together-again status with a bottle of champagne—and Honey Brown beer, not named for college friend Honey, but a good excuse to drink it, although I still prefer white wine, preferably Hickory Hill Winery’s Vidal Blanc. Sorry, Honey. Anyhow, Honey was in a North Carolina grocery store and saw, of all things, Honey Brown beer! Even though she didn’t make it, she had to buy a case. And, of course, we drank it. Well, some of it.

All six of us piled into Ron’s beloved boat for a three-hour cruise (was Gilligan of the Gilligan's Island fame a two or a three-hour cruise?) of Smith Mountain Lake. Because all four of our guests were huge (like gigantic book worshipers) David Baldacci fans, the first place on our tour, of course—and because it’s not too far from Ron and me—was Baldacci’s waterfront home. (In case you haven’t guessed, he’s my favorite author. His first novel, Absolute Power, hooked me. I recently stood in line in broiling, desert sun with no water and big red killer ants crawling up my legs—just kidding about the desert sun, the water and the ants--for an hour and a half just to get his autograph on his latest novel, The Whole Truth.) Note to My Favorite Author: We waved and yelled and acted like crazy folks and waved some more. So sorry you missed us!

And guess what else. I can’t believe it, but for once I was in the right place at the right time! At the Smith Mountain Lake State Park, we watched two osprey eggs hatch, saw two babies break through their shells, watched as Daddy took care of them until Momma returned. But that’s my next blog. Don’t miss it!

Too soon we said our goodbyes, but promised we’d get together again soon. I hope that next time Barbara and Mary Jane will be able to join us. And maybe by then we’ll have located Martha. If you’re wondering where Martha fits into this, she lived across the hall, was a good friend.

All y’all come back now, you heah (that’s Southern talk)?

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