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.

Thursday, October 29, 2015


I've wanted to visit Holland ever since my dad brought me a pair of wooden shoes from that country when I was a teenager. And on May 7, 2015, my long-awaited dream came true. Anticipation mounted as our ship cruised toward the village of Kinderdijk.

My first view of windmills at Kinderdijk. 
Click photos to enlarge.

Our first stop on our guided tour was at the pump house located in this building. Here we saw all kinds of machinery that works to help keep the area from flooding. Because the area is below sea level, a system of windmills was built in the 1740s. Nineteen are still standing; a few are still operating daily.

Wooden shoes like the pair I had when I was a teenager.

At one time there were more that 150 windmills in the Alblasserwaard and Vijfheerenlanden region, but that has dropped. Kinderdijk claims 19 of the 28 left.

As you will see, I snapped lots of pictures of windmills.

We toured one of the working windmills. As soon as I stepped inside, I sensed the presence of smart, hard-working Dutch people. If not for them, much of The Netherlands would have been covered by water centuries ago.

The view from inside a windmill. One of the sails is to the right.

We climbed up and down steps.

A huge wooden cogged gear.

Families lived in the windmills. Here are
a living room and a bed. This particular 
windmill had two tiny "bedrooms."

Note the sewing machine on the 
table, and the lovely hanging lamp.

A walk through the kitchen.

I liked the frilly curtains on the window.

The wheel that turns the cap and the sails to face the wind.

We were fortunate to see the keeper unfurling the sails, which are made of sailcloth. Every evening he removes the sails; each morning he puts them back on. Sails must also be removed during the day if a too-strong wind comes up.

Both Ron and I hated to leave The Netherlands, but we are thankful we had the opportunity to visit this incredible place.

Goodbye, lovely Holland.

To see a Kinderdijk windmill working, go to:

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Saturday, October 03, 2015


Can't believe I haven't already blogged about the fabulous Marksburg Castle, one of my favorite places on our Rhine River cruise. Actually, the castle was built in the 1200s as a fortress to protect the river town of Braubach, Germany, but it expanded over the centuries, always strengthening its defenses. Because of this, Marksburg Castle was never defeated by marauders.

Our first view of Marksburg Castle.

Because of the long, steep stone path leading up to the castle, we were advised that we should be in good physical condition for this tour. Good shoes were a must. One of our party, a sweet, 84-year-old lady, fell, hit her head. Even though she was bleeding and hurting, Gladys insisted on continuing the tour. We were delighted to see her smiling and laughing at breakfast the next morning.

Rough slate steps made walking difficult.

A view of the Rhine River.

Flowers growing out of the rocks.

A view of Braubach and the Rhine.

The carved slate steps were kept uneven to prevent 
the horses from slipping in wet weather. Yep, they 
kept their horses inside!

Cannons were often placed in 
windows like this one.

Another view of Braubach and the Rhine.

The flooded and muddy Rhine River.

Many herbs grew along this pathway.

Ron in one of the doorways.

Above and below are pictures of the kitchen.  

The oven is big enough to roast an ox!

We viewed over 2,000 years of weaponry in the weapons room.

Our tour guide led us to the torture room which was full of horrible instruments meant to inflict great pain. I started getting all these weird feelings, felt a little dizzy. I hurried out of the room. I purposely took no pictures. Even though I'd read about torture chambers, I couldn't believe man's inhumanity to man. And, folks, it's still happening, just in different ways.    

One of the most interesting things--and I didn't get a picture of it--was the privy/toilet. The castle actually has a small room that hangs out over the moat below. In the room is a seat with a hole so that "droppings" in those days would fall into the moat. Because potential invaders knew this was a weak point in the castle's defense, it locked from the outside.

A view of the castle as we were leaving.

The bus ride back to our ship took much longer than 
it should have because of wrecks on the autobahn. I 
snapped many photos of the yellow fields.

Next post will be about windmills in The Netherlands.

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