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, December 09, 2016


On Thanksgiving, all our immediate family--except for granddaughter Bailey who works in Montana--celebrated at our home. We loved having 20 family members plus one family friend feasting on a gigantic and delicious Thanksgiving meal, a meal Ron and I lifted nary a finger to help create! We filled up on ham and turkey and green bean casserole and candied yams topped with healthy marshmallows made by 16-year-old Sarah, other veggies, fruit, and numerous pies.

Four sat at the kitchen counter.
Seventeen sat at the dining room table. Next year Anna 
will pass her chair/tall stool on to Levi who has 
occupied the high chair for three years.

 Dog Bosley enjoyed himself, too.

We feel blessed to have most of our family living near us, love that they enjoy visiting with each other, care about one another. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the grandchildren, who range in age from three years to twenty-two, interact with each other. And I am so thankful we were able to be together for another Thanksgiving.

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Tuesday, July 26, 2016


Seven different and loving dogs have enriched our many years of marriage. We've loved each one, thought our hearts would break each time we lost one. After losing Yellow Dog to cancer four years ago, we decided not to have another dog--losing one just hurts way too much. But last year we agreed there was an empty place in our lives that only a dog could fill. We looked at want ads and searched the local humane societies numerous times, but the right dog just hadn't come along.

That changed Saturday, July 23, when we met Bosley, a shepherd mix, at the Lynchburg Humane Society. In fact, we had planned to be at our high school reunion in North Carolina that weekend, but previous commitments had reared their heads, and even though we hated to, we had had to cancel plans to attend the reunion. If we had not met Bosley that Saturday, we would have missed out on what we think is a good dog. Things work in mysterious ways, and I think we were meant to have Bosley. We fell in love with him immediately; he felt the same way about us. And he chose us, which is what we felt would happen when the right dog came along.

Bosley, a 35-pound shepherd mix.

Bosley on the dock with Ron.

Another dock photo.

Little is known about Bosley because he came to the Lynchburg Humane Society through another facility. We know he's four years old and had not been neutered at the time we adopted him on Saturday. We took care of that two days later! He is terrified of chains--no, we don't chain him and never will. He knows the words "No" and "Stay," and responds immediately. He doesn't yet know "Sit" or "Come," but he's smart and we're sure he will soon respond to those commands, too. He doesn't get sick riding in a car, and walks well on a leash. He is quite timid around strangers and we don't know how he'll do with other dogs, so we're trying to work on his social skills.

Bosley likes for Ron and me to be in the same room so he can keep an eye on both of us, and if we're in different parts of the room he will position himself so he can see us both. He seems to have a herding instinct, and I think he might have some Border Collie in him. Yay! I like Border Collies; one of our past dogs was a Border Collie.

Stay tuned for the next Bosley episode!

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Thursday, May 26, 2016

A Great May

The month of May began with our oldest grandchild's college graduation from the University of Mary Washington. We are so proud of her and all that she has accomplished, know that she will be successful at whatever she does. After all, she participated in the NOLS Southwest 14-week adventure and came home wanting more.

Our graduate with her parents

On May 19, I drove to Atlantic Beach, NC, to be with four really good friends. Anne, Katherine, Kathryn and I have known each other since kindergarten. Dot moved to town the summer before the ninth grade. Kathryn's 1937 beachfront house is charming and full of old-beach personality. We spent lots of time swinging and talking on the upper and lower covered porches, talked sometimes until almost 1:00 a.m., showed pictures. Sweet hubby Ron texted me Saturday afternoon to remind me of the Preakness, which I would have missed if not for him. My horse won. Yay!

One of the covered porches.

View of the house from the ocean side.

For Saturday lunch we went to the Beaufort Grocery Company restaurant on Queen Street in Beaufort. I ordered the No. 2--the Fuhgeddaboudit sandwich--and sweet potato chips, the best chips I've ever eaten. The sandwich was also incredible. 

 Our waitress snapped this picture of us.

Meanwhile, as I was making the seven hour trip home in sometimes heavy rain, Ron, sons Ronny and Bill, and grandson Matthew went to the airshow featuring the Blue Angels in Lynchburg. They all thought the show was fabulous, are so glad they went. Below are some of the pictures Ron took. Click to enlarge.

This morning Ron saw a fawn bedded down between our house and the lake. 
I put my "big boy" lens on my camera and snapped the picture below.            

About three hours later a doe walked past my front porch on the street side of the house. I could tell she was searching for something, figured the fawn I'd seen earlier had moved and Momma couldn't find him.

Five minutes later I saw Momma in the next yard with the fawn (See above. Fawn is in bottom left corner.) Couldn't get a good picture because I was shooting through the screen door, but it was a happy ending. I like happy endings. And I have thoroughly enjoyed the month of May.

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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

A God-Given Talent

Our grandson Jacob has always loved and appreciated music. Mrs. Jarrett, his piano teacher, helped him develop a special love of classical music.

2009 recital at Mrs. Jarrett's home

 In 2010 Jacob won his district's 
Bland Competition

2010 Bland Competition at VMI

Jacob practicing at home

Jacob Joseph's Junior Recital
Liberty University School of Music, April 23, 2016

The five pieces he played--all by memory--were:

     * Fugue in B-flat Major, BWV 955 by J.S. Bach (1685-1750)
     * Nocturne in B Major, Op. 33, no. 2 by Gabriel Faure (1845-1924)
     * Etude in C Minor, Op. 25, no. 12 by Frederic Chopin (1810-1849)
     * Allegro moderato ma energico by Jan Ladislov Dussek (1760-1812)
     * Un poco allegro, Op. 20 by Samuel Barber (1910-1981)

I am so proud of him I could just about pop. God gave him this talent. Jacob's passion for and love of music kept him interested. Thank you, Jacob. And thank you, God.

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Thursday, April 07, 2016

Hello Spring, Goodbye Winter

Spring is my favorite season--as are Summer, Winter, and Fall. I know, I'm a Fickle Season Person, and I'm glad; I enjoy every season. But Spring--oh, my--what beauty and pleasure she brings! 

Watching our ornamental cherry tree's leaves sprout and blossoms suddenly appear is something I look forward to every year. The Lake Writers organization gave us this tree in 2006 in remembrance of our grandson Jonathan, who died suddenly on January 13, 2006, from arterial venous malformation of the brain. Every year we remember and appreciate the Lake Writers' kindness and generosity. And, of course, we remember Jonathan and all the love he brought us. 

At first, I thought a weeping cherry tree would be the perfect choice when asked what kind of tree we would like, but then decided I wanted nothing that signified weeping or sadness. Instead, we settled on an ornamental cherry tree, a tree whose branches reached upward to heaven, to Jonathan. I think we made the right decision.

Every time we check the mail, fetch the newspaper, or drive in or out of our driveway we think of Jonathan because we have to pass his tree. And what a blessing that is.

The yard is also loaded with wild dogwood trees. I took this picture from our deck, even though the blossoms aren't in full bloom yet. Spring continues to excite me.

This year I'm glad to say goodbye to winter except for one thing: SOCKS! I'm serious. Helen, one of the three  friends I play bridge with every month, gave each of us a pair of socks for Christmas last year. These aren't just socks--they're SOCKS! Comfortable socks, soft socks, knock-that-chill-right-outta-your-bones-and-feet-and-legs socks.

This morning I grudgingly put them away. But next year, my excitement at winter's arrival will be made with a bigger smile than usual knowing that I will once again be able to wear my SOCKS.

Goodbye, Winter! Welcome, Spring!

Sunday, January 24, 2016


On February 28, 2015, I got the bright idea to give a photo quilt made by me to each grandchild when he/she turned 21. Even though my oldest grandchild would be 21 in a month, I figured I could do it in time for her birthday. After all, how hard can it be to make a little quilt? Ha!

First I searched through my old photo albums, scanned those pictures, then scrolled through hundreds of digital pictures. After scanning and selecting all the photos I really liked, I edited each one through Adobe Photoshop. Be sure to double-click on the pictures.

 A few of the fabric photos.

I bought Inkjet Printable Fabric, and printed all the pictures--two pictures per one 8.5 in x 11 in sheet--edged each photo in a plain white fabric, then pieced them together with the green fabric. Well, the size of the quilt grew because I decided to add two strips of bright coral fabric and one strip of white fabric. And I kept adding pictures. What I intended to be a single-bed size became queen-size.

The quilt on a queen-size bed.

One reason it took me so long to finish this quilt is because I took so much time looking at each photo, smiling at my sweet granddaughter's expressions and remembering details of when each photo was snapped.

Hubby Ron holding up the quilt before we took it to Bailey.

I took my last stitch at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, January 11, and rushed upstairs to show Ron. I was thrilled to have met my deadline. I knew that Bailey would leave on January 19 for a three-month adventure with NOLS, the National Outdoor Leadership School, and even though she wouldn't be taking it with her, I wanted her to receive her very late 21st birthday present.
Bailey (left) and Ron holding the quilt.

By no means is this a perfect quilt; I made numerous mistakes while making it, thought about trying to fix them. Instead, I decided that life itself is full of mistakes, and that if we didn't learn from our mistakes and move on with our lives we'd never accomplish anything.  


Thursday, January 21, 2016


I blog about my grandson Jonathan every year, either on the date he was born or the date we lost him. This year my old malfunctioning computer (which we ended up trashing), and then a new computer (which had to have a brand new mother board and a visit from the computer repairman) kept me from blogging. I was able to put something about Jonathan on Facebook, but I keep notebooks with all my blog posts in them to re-read when I get really old and have nothing to do. Just a fleeting glance at a Facebook post about my grandson just wasn't enough for me. I was so frustrated. Thank goodness the computer problems are fixed, at least for now. 

January 13, 2016 marked the 10th anniversary of the day our grandson Jonathan Stephen Joseph entered the kingdom of heaven. He was two years and 17 days old when arterial venus malformation of the brain killed this precious child. We still remember Jonathan--remember how wonderful those small arms felt when they wrapped around our necks as we snuggled him, how he loved (and was loved by) his parents and his five older siblings, how much he enjoyed riding in his granddaddy's truck, and playing in Smith Mountain Lake.

Jonathan enjoying his hobby horse on 
December 27, 2005, 17 days before his death.

Jonathan with his older brother Jacob (now 21) 
and their dog Charlie.

Jonathan in his granddad's truck. 

Jonathan, we still love and miss you, and we always will.  


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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