Magnolia’s Fantasy Streets

When researching my 1950s era books, I’m always referring to my old Seattle map. A few weeks ago, I posted a map-mystery about some Seattle streets that have disappeared, but my old map also shows several streets that never even existed.

Seattle’s Magnolia neighborhood is a peninsula northwest of downtown. Per my 1950s era Kroll Map, Magnolia’s footprint was expected to balloon out several blocks into Elliott Bay and Puget Sound. My map shows that future fantasy expansion complete with streets names.

I’m not sure if they planned to wash away the Magnolia hillside (that’s what happened to Seattle’s Denny Regrade neighborhood) but whatever they were planning, all that remains is an old map showing the streets and avenues of a future that never happened.

The Tugboat Murder

img_5744I confess that I’m a picky reader, but I don’t think I’m alone.

To help folks decide whether or not they like the Elliott Bay Mysteries series, I’m including a freebie. The Tugboat Murder is only 15K words, so it’s somewhere between a short story and a novella. But it’s a single crime that’s solved over a single weekend (in 1950s Seattle, or course) so I’m calling it a “Mini-Mystery.”

My wonderful publisher, Barking Rain Press, is prepping it now and The Tugboat Murder should be available, totally free, on their website by the end of March.

Read what you love, especially if you love mysteries!



Seattle’s Ghost Streets

20170223_112510Seattle once had a neighborhood called Ross. As the city evolved, the name was lost, but my old map still shows streets overlapping the water. The Wedgewood Historical Society was nice enough to explain what happened:

When the Army Corps of Engineers built the Ballard Locks a 100 years ago (and the waterway which connects Lake Washington to Puget Sound) they dug out a few streets. The fun part is that my old 1950s Seattle map still shows those “ghost streets” in the water. Kinda spooky.

Welcome to my blog!

This is where I share my love of classic mysteries, my work as a mystery writer, some random stuff, and a bit about my dog. Do you love sleuths, detectives, clues, and puzzles? If so, you’re in good company!

I love comments, so please feel free to add your thoughts, follow me on social media, or just browse around. 🙂

Enter the holidays

20161129_113335Originating from the great green north, I’ve always found California Christmases a tiny bit challenging. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy sunshine as much as the next person (well, nearly as much as the next person) and I admit that there’s a certain appeal to strolling along a cool yet sunny beach in the middle of winter. But, truth be told, I like scarves and sweaters, and not just because they give me something to knit. (Scarves are the easiest thing in the world to knit 😉 I like weather that’s cold enough to justify mulled wine and fuzzy slippers. And I like curling up on the couch by the fire with a wonderful Agatha Christie mystery. I find that books read differently in wintertime and I miss that, too. But life is life, I’m lucky enough to have my life in southern California. So, I’ll celebrate. Bring out the garland and the cheer. Deck the halls. I’ll walk in the sunshine and admire the snow themed lawn decorations. (There are many!) And should the thermometer happen to dip, I’ve got my scarves ready.

Why I love the ballard locks

The Hiram Chittenden locks as they are officially know, is one of my favorite spots Seattle. Why? Well, for one, it’s noisy. But not in the usual ways. Besides the rushing water, there are boat horns, and people are always calling 12322727_184659975218574_6230118208411956963_oas they throw lines and secure their boats to the chambers. And of course, there’s the noise of the all visitors and seagulls who are hanging around watching the action. Then there’s the smell. Even though the rushing water is fresh, it smell like salt. And the chamber walls are lush with seaweed. During spawning season you can see salmon jumping. To me, the surrounding ships, boat yards and neighborhoods are almost as beautiful as the garden park that surrounds the locks. The salmon ladder itself is on the opposite side of the locks, and you have to walk over the spillway to get there. Of course, you can always look from above, but you won’t be able to see much. If yo want to see salmon climbing the ladder, you have to go underground. From a bunker-like chamber you can see a few tall windows with greenish water. These windows show a few of the 20-something steps the salmon must ascend to reach the fresh water of their birth. All that, so they can spawn and die. What’s not to love? When I was a kid, my grandma always took me to the locks. We’d get some some fish and chips at a local stand. Then we’d spend an afternoon at the locks, just watching the traffic.

Salmon Ladder Salmon Bay

DSC04021There are lots of great shots of the Hiram Chittenden Locks, but not so many of the surrounding area. I took this photo from the fish ladder look west. The Ballard Locks (as they’re usually called) are out of the shot on the right. What I love about this photo is the churning water. The fresh water flows from Lake Union and Lake Washington. When it passes through the lock chamber, it rushes out toward Salmon Bay and Puget Sound. As you can imagine, the mixing of fresh and salt water effects the ecosystem. But the locks have been there since 1906. Lets talk plurals. The Ballard Locks only have one “step” but they’re referred to in the plural because there are two side-by-side chambers. The smaller chamber is run almost constantly, raising boats up to the fresh water and lowering them down to the salt water. While the enormous chamber beside it is reserved for massive ships. Sometimes after a heavy rain fall the level and the lakes will rise, and the army corp of Engineers will let more water pass through the locks. By the way, the smaller chamber only takes about 10 minutes to fill. These locks transport more boats than any other lock system in the U.S. In fact, there is so much boat traffic heading in and out of the locks that the train bridge you see is this photo is usually kept in the raised position so the tall boats can move freely. It’s lowered at this moment because a train just passed. And if you’re wondering, the locks are operated 24 hours a day for 365 days a year. And they’re free.



Salmon of Seattle


I took a Northwest History class at the UW as part of my undergrad.The professor, who’s name I’m completely forgotten, had a theory that if the Seattle region were to have a symbol, it would be the salmon. Not because salmon and their fresh water cousins are unique to the area but because the Seattle area has a unique relationship to the fish.

I listened to the lecture, mulled it over, and decided it was baloney.

Of course, there’s the fish latter at the locks and Pike Place Fish Market is famous for throwing the daily catch around. And it’s true that locals eat a lot of salmon (fresh, cold and hot smoked, whatever), but that’s hardly a reason to saddle an entire region with a salmon fixation.

As a poor student, I had a colorful salmon dish and a salmon wall print. Oh, and another salmon dish for my keys. But that was all.

Over the next two weeks, I encountered dozens of salmon sightings. I saw them painted on bus stops, trash cans and mailboxes. Salmon sculptures and artwork decorated business lobbies and my doctor had displayed salmon watercolors in the waiting room. A salmon mural was painted on the side of a coffee house.

Okay, so Seattle may like Salmon.

Then, I walked into an elementary school and learned that the theme of the month was salmon. (what? really?) The school’s long hallway had been transformed into an elaborate science project depicting the life cycle of salmon; (salmon eggs were cotton balls dyed pink, the spawning action was shown with glitter). The social science readings covered Native American legends and rituals around the sacred salmon. And the art projects were big posters explaining what we all must do to protect the environment and save the Salmon.

That’s when I conceded.

For kicks, here’s my Pinterest board Salmon of Seattle