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.

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Artisan Center Along the Crooked Road

Yesterday I discovered what promises to become one of my favorite places to shop. "The Artisan Center Along the Crooked Road" is located in downtown Rocky Mount, and showcases the works of over 60 talented artisans and authors of Southwest Virginia. Here you can purchase original paintings, pottery, wood carvings and turnings, sculptures, photography, stained glass, mosaics, books and other media.

Many items appealed to me, especially the paintings of birds and other animals. When I return next week I'll buy one of the gorgeous cutting boards, and maybe something else, too.

The Artisan Center will host an open house/ribbon cutting on Thursday, February 24 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Stop by, meet owners James and Mary Wray and the artists and authors, and tour the shop. You'll be glad you did. Refreshments will be served, too, so how can you go wrong?

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Tuesday, February 01, 2011


After visiting the Alaska Pipeline (see post LOVE AFFAIR WITH ALASKA: Part 7) in Fairbanks, we boarded the riverboat Discovery II and cruised the Chena and Tanana Rivers.

From the riverboat, we watched a float plane land and take off. As I mentioned in a previous post, float planes are common in Alaska, and are often docked alongside boats.

We passed the Trail Breaker Kennel and the home where Susan Butcher, an Iditarod champion who won the 1,100-mile sled dog race four times, lived with her husband Dave Monson. Susan led the only climbing party to the top of Mt. McKinley, which is 20,320-feet tall and the highest point on the North American continent--and she did it by dog team! She died of leukemia in 2006. Her husband and their two daughters continue to care for, raise and train sled dogs. Her sled dog Granite led the teams that won the four Iditarod races. The book "Granite" tells the story of Susan Butcher and her lead sled dog. Started by Susan, her husband finished it after his wife's death. Even though it's a child's book, I plan to buy a copy.

Trail Breaker Kennel

Trail Breaker Kennel sled dogs preparing to train.

We tied up at the Chena Indian Village where Athabascan Indians took us on a fascinating one-hour guided tour of the village.

The Athabascan Indian woman above expertly demonstrated how to clean and filet salmon. Be sure to click on the picture. After cleaning, she hung the fish in the cabin pictured below. Salmon are the mainstay of these villages. The cabins are made of spruce.

Salmon hung up to dry.

In the picture above, the Indian girl is wearing an Athabascan Yukon-style winter parka made of fur pelts. This particular young lady is a sophomore in college. The other girl we talked with was leaving for college a week later.

Below is a primitive shelter made of spruce logs with spruce boughs draped over the top. Animal pelts cover the floor.

The fur-covered hut below looks much warmer than the one above. If you have the pelts with you, then I guess this would be the way to go, although I'd like pelts on the floor, too.

Remember the old TV days when Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone had birch bark canoes? Well, the one above is the real thing made without any metal fasteners. And now I'm resisting the urge to sing, "Born on a mountain top in Tennessee . . . " and "Daniel Boone was a man, a big man . . . " I can almost hear all y'all singing, too.

From the riverboat we could see Fairbanks (above). In the other photos in this blog post, you'd think we were in the boondocks. We were. But in Alaska, the cities appear to be dropped into the wilderness. And there's a LOT of wilderness in Alaska!

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