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, April 12, 2013


On our way home from a doctor's appointment  on April 4, hubby and I stopped at a grocery store for a few items. We walked out of Food Lion and blam! We were pelted with sleet heavy enough to sting my cheek. We had almost an hour's drive ahead of us, but didn't worry. After all, the weather had been pretty warm and the roads still held some of yesterday's heat.

The farther we drove, the worse it got. Snow mixed with the sleet. Slush built up on the roads. The last two bridges we crossed were covered with nearly an inch of snow. And I loved it all!

  Almost home.

Looking through the sliding glass door at home.

Birds gobbled seed and sought shelter. 
(Click picture to enlarge.)

Buds on the maple tree just off the deck.

Yep, I like snow. But I'm ready for it to end now. Spring is my favorite season (until the next season rolls around). I look forward to more trees budding, flowers blooming, birds singing and having babies, my annual visit from my beloved hummingbirds.
So go away Winter. Welcome Spring!

Tuesday, April 02, 2013


Trying to outwit squirrels on our bird feeders over the past 13 years hasn't worked. In 2000, we mounted our first feeder from a hanger 30 inches off the deck. We didn't think squirrels could get to it. Wrong! They learned to walk across the black iron rod in about two days.

Next, we  bought flexible PVC conduit, cut it in two-inch-long sections and covered the rod with it and watched, grinning, from inside the house. The squirrels tried to cross it, the conduit spun, and the squirrels slipped and clawed themselves back to the deck railing. We laughed, congratulated each other. Bad idea! After several squirrel-free days, one brave fellow jumped from the deck to the top of the feeder, then feasted on seed. His buddies soon followed.

 Conduit covering rod.

My engineer husband, not to be outsmarted, attached a solid vertical piece of white plastic to the rod in hopes of deterring the squirrels.

Wouldn't you think the height and the plastic 
would intimidate a squirrel?

  Nope. Here Angus watches a squirrel 
mentally processing the problem.

 You can almost see squirrel's brain working.

 He made it!

How did he do it? He figured out that he could leap to the top of the plastic barricade, then quickly leap to the feeder. Problem solved.

Through the years we tried other feeders; the squirrel always won. Last Friday we bought a feeder that closes when the squirrel puts his feet on the edge of the feeder, and hung it from a post (see foreground). We put no seeds in the stationary feeder in the background.

Squirrel spent an entire day trying to solve this.
I spent a good part of the day watching.

Yep, he did it.  

He kept his hind legs on the support rod at the railing, 
propped a front foot on the edge of the feeder, used the other 
front foot to grab a handful of seed, then ate his fill.

Feast over, he left.

 Don't underestimate the mind of a squirrel!

Yesterday we replaced the stationary feeder in the above picture with our new feeder. So far squirrels have sat on the railing and pondered the problem. To date (unless one is feeding on it as I write this) it has been squirrel free.

Jack Rupert, a friend and fellow Lake Writer who is now deceased, tried every way he could to keep squirrels off his feeders. He wrote some hilarious essays about his battles with squirrels, finally admitted that squirrels always win. I think Jack's correct; our respite will be short-lived.