Vancouver, BC

We got our cruise ship out of Vancouver for the Alaskan cruise. We drove up there on a tour coach from Seattle. They had arranged a short tour of Vancouver for us before we went to the port to board the ship. We picked up a tour guide, Wilma, downtown and she pointed out things and shared tidbits with us as we drove around.


Gassy Jack statue.

It was hard to get pictures from the bus. We didn’t get to stop and get out anywhere. There is a vibrant Chinatown and a neighborhood called Gastown, but none of the pictures I took of them turned out worth a hill of beans so I deleted them. Gastown is the original site of the city of Vancouver. It’s named after ‘Gassy’ John Deighton who arrived in 1867 and opened a saloon for the loggers and a town sprang up around it. It’s a place I wish we could have spent some time. Gorgeous old buildings and quaint shops, a statue of Gassy Jack and of course the saloon. Gastown was designated a National Historic site in 2009 and they have done a nice job of preserving the buildings. Follow the links above if your interested in reading about Jack or Gastown.  This pic is one I got from Wikipedia commons.

I was surprised at the amount of high-rises there are there! As far as the eye can see! Wilma, the guide said that there are very few individual homes left and one day there won’t be anything but high-rises. The city has a high population and its saves space!

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There’s a Tiffany & Company there! Sadly we didn’t get to have ‘breakfast at Tiffany’s’!
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This is their court house…


We finally boarded the ship and and enjoyed the lovely harbor as we left the city behind.


This is Stanley Park (all the trees). A gorgeous city park!




The yellow stuff is sulfur. Not sure what it is used for.


Sea Planes were flying in and out like crazy!

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Lion’s Gate Bridge crosses the harbor and we had to go under it as we left the harbor. It was built in the 1930’s during the depression. The bridge was wanted to help promote development on the North Shore. Problem was the government couldn’t afford to do it so (according to our guide) the Guinness family, (of the Irish stout fame) paid for the bridge and in 1963 they sold it to the province for $5,959,060.


Not sure where or what lighthouse this is but we passed it in the channel between the mainland and islands as we cruised north of vancouver… IMG_2516

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Up next Juneau!

MacKay’s Used Book Store Trip

IMG_20170722_093855_985I finally got to MacKay’s in Knoxville! I had a wonderful morning all by myself roaming as long as I wanted to with no one else hurrying me. It’s a lovely big store, so organized and clean. They have cool little buggies that you put the plastic hand-held baskets like at the grocery store when you aren’t buying a lot. You can put two on this buggy. They sell used books, DVD’s, CD’s and video games. There was also a small table of used board games and one of jigsaw puzzles. There is a mezzanine and a glass elevator up to it. You can trade in your books for credit. I doubt I’ll do that as I won’t get over there often and I’ll give them to the library sale anyway.

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They don’t have a lot of older books like I like as they are quite picky about the books they take in. I did manage to get twenty six books though! Almost all the older mysteries I saw on the shelves! And most of them for .90 or .75 cents! They don’t seem to value older books at all! I also picked up a set of four Herule Poirot movies! Now I have a set of him and one of Miss Marple. Maybe my grand-daughter and I will sit up late and watch them while she is here. She loves watching my British mysteries with me. They are coming in this week for a month. Anyway back to the books…

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always wanted to read Elly Griffiths and our libraries over here don’t carry them. I was tickled to find one! The other day Yvette @ in so many words… reviewed Elizabeth Daly’s Arrow Pointing Nowhere and I told her I really wanted to read that one. Treasure of the day! Only Elizabeth Daly book in the store! Sweet!

And two jigsaw puzzles, one of which wasn’t ever opened!


The Kilvert’s Cornish Diary arrived in the mail this week and the other two books I picked up at a junk store we stopped in. Remember, I mentioned the Kilvert diary in my review of Lord Mullion’s Secret?


All in all a very good outing! Have you read any of these?

A Far Cry From Kensington

by Muriel Spark

FullSizeRender-2Muriel Spark’s eighteenth acclaimed novel is a modern morality tale combining with, pathos, and outrageous irony with a touch of the sinister and fantastic. The story moves from a rooming house in South Kensington to the grubby edges of London’s post-war literary circles – a somewhat off-kilter world populated by a remarkable group of memorable eccentrics: The staff of a seedy publishing concern – a mad menagerie of the deformed, the disabled, and the socially outcast… A malicious journalistic hack who practices a deadly brand of pseudo-technological witchcraft… And, most important, the narrator herself – stout young war widow and editor whose razor-sharp tongue inadvertently spawns more than one disaster. By turns hilarious, sad, and utterly enthralling, it is a stunning tour de force from the author of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.

I thoroughly enjoyed this first dip into Muriel Spark! By page 14 I was totally involved with the characters and would have loved to be able to jump right into ‘that boardinghouse in South Kensington’. She does characters to perfection, and eccentric ones too!

Mrs. Hawkins is our narrator, a war widow, only 26 years old. She is very heavy and because of that people seem to see her as trustworthy and reliable, almost motherly and pour out their problems to her. She sees this and just accepts the perception and acts accordingly. As our story moves on though she begins to chaff at being expected to act in a certain manner and decides to lose weight and just be Nancy, a young woman, not Mrs. Hawkins.

Throughout the story she is always thinking ‘Now, my advice to anyone…’.  She usually had excellent advice. She had a lot of common sense…

“Now, it fell to me to give advice to many authors which in at least two cases bore fruit. So I will repeat it here, free of charge. It proved helpful to the type of writer who has some imagination and wants to write a novel but doesn’t know how to start.

‘You are writing a letter to a friend,’ was the sort of thing I used to say. ‘And this is a dear and close friend, real – or better – invented in your mind like a fixation. Write privately, not publicly; without fear or timidity, right to the end of the letter, as if it was never going to be published, so that your true friend will read it over and over, and then want more enchanting letters from you. Now, you are not writing about the relationship between your friend and yourself; you take that for granted. You are only confiding an experience that you think only he will enjoy reading. What you have to say will come out more spontaneously and honestly than if you are thinking of numerous readers. Before starting the letter rehearse in our mind that you are going to tell; something interesting, your story. But don’t rehearse too much, the story will develop as you go along, especially if you write to a special friend, man or woman, to make them smile or laugh or cry, or anything you like so long as you know it will interest. Remember not to think of the reading public, it will put you off.’

In the two cases where this method succeeded with first novels they did very well.It was also successful in other cases with short stories.”

The wonderful people sharing the boarding house with Mrs. Hawkins are:

Milly, her landlady. She was sixty years old and a widow of ten years from Ireland. She wouldn’t undress in front of the TV and have those eyes on her! She wouldn’t think of walking down the street or cross the road with a man, she told wonderful stories and having borne three children, thought you could not conceive a child unless you experienced an orgasm.

Then there is Wanda, a Polish refugee. She was a seamstress and worked from her room. Generous of heart, devoutly Catholic, she had many visitors in and out of her room and would never admit to a minute of happiness, her capacity for suffering was tremendous.

The young married couple, Eva and Basil were both approaching forty and childless. They were unusually quiet.

Kate Parker, a twenty-five year old district nurse, was small, dark and plump and a cockney. She had great courage and vigor and was frequently out or away on a job, but when she was home she was cleaning like mad as she had a fetish about being clean! She would often say when visiting others ‘Your room’s nice and clean’. If she didn’t, it meant that your room wasn’t clean. She detested germs!

William Todd was a medical student. He often studied to classical music.

Isobel was a young woman who had a telephone of her own so that she could ring her Daddy in Sussex every evening; it was the only way he would let her come to London to live. She spent hours on the phone to Daddy and her friends and didn’t seem to need to work.

Mrs. Hawkins co-workers at Ullswater Press publishing company were equally as delightful. Her boss, Martin York, was playing fast and loose with the companies funds and it looked like the company might not be around long and Martin might go to jail!  I loved how all of these characters interacted with each other.

One of the characters was into Radionics, a new fad when this story was set. I looked it up online and I see that it is still practiced and the ‘Box‘ can still be bought! I’m sure it is a racket and scam! Mrs. Hawkins thought so too! This teaching and magic ‘Box’ plays into a bit of a sad mystery in the story. Click on the links above to read about this scam.

Just a simple little story of a group of peoples intertwining  lives, but thoroughly delightful!

This book counts toward the Read Scotland challenge on Goodreads as Ms. Spark is Scottish. Only 8 so far this year for me and I signed up for 21-25! I don’t think I’m going to make it this year!

Dover One: A Mystery

by Joyce Porter
first published in 1964, first in a series.

For its own very good reasons, Scotland Yard sends Dover off to remote Creedshire to investigate the disappearance of a young housemaid, Juliet Rugg. Though there’s every cause to assume that she has been murdered – she gave her favors freely and may even have stooped to a bit of blackmail – no body is to be found. Weighing in at sixteen stone, she’d be rather hard to overlook. But where is she? And why should Dover, of all people, be called upon to find her? Or, for that matter, even bother to solve the damned case?

I’m not sure what to say about this book! I’m of mixed opinion. The main detective, Chief Inspector Dover, is as unlikable as they come!  To be honest there really wasn’t any character in the whole book likable.  Sgt. MacGregor might have been if his character had been delved into a little, he was overshadowed by Dover. Let me introduce you to Chief Inspector Dover…

 ‘Detective Chief Inspector Wilfred Dover was a big man. His six-foot-two frame was draped, none too elegantly, in seventeen and a quarter stone of flabby flesh, an excessive proportion of which had settled round his middle.  Well-cut clothing can, of course, do wonders to conceal such natural defects as the spread of middle age, but Dover bought his suits ready-made, and the one he was wearing at the moment had been purchased a long time ago. It was made of shiny blue serge. Round his thick, policeman’s neck he wore a blue-striped collar which was almost submerged in the folds of fat, and a thin, cheap tie was knotted under the lowest of his double chins. He wore a long, dark blue overcoat and stout black boots.

   Over the whole of this unprepossessing ensemble there was, naturally enough, Dover’s face. It was large and flabby like the rest of him. Only the details – nose, mouth and eyes – seemed out of scale. They were so tiny as to be almost lost in the wide expanse of flesh. Dover had two small, mean, button-like eyes, a snub little nose and a sulky rosebud of a mouth. He looked like one of those pastry men that children make on baking day out of odd scraps, with currants for eyes – an uncooked pastry man, of course. His hair was thin and black and he had a small black mustache of the type the the late Adolf Hitler did so much to depopularize.’

He burps, scratches, rumbles and when he speaks its describes as…screamed in fury, snapped, commented nastily, growled sourly, grunted, roared, he digested moodily, scowled blackly, made no attempt to keep exasperation out of his voice. Not a very pretty picture painted of this lazy man!

The victim, Juliet Rugg, wasn’t painted much better. She was ‘obese’, wore layers of make-up which was never washed off, nails thick with grime, revolting, intolerable behavior, a nymphomaniac, blackmailing single mother who pawned her kid off on her mother. No one had a kind word to say about her. We don’t know for almost the whole book if she is murdered or kidnapped.

I do love eccentric, quirky characters and this book is full of them! I wish just one of them stood out as likable. That said, I did read a review on Goodreads that said this is not one to judge Porter or the Dover books on. It is the first one and the character of Dover gets better with each one as Ms. Porter developed him and that she does eccentric characters beautifully. I’m glad to hear that as I have Dover Two and Dover Three on the shelf too. There are 15 in the series! It wasn’t a book that pulled in and begged me to pick it up. I sort of thought oh, I need to finish this, but when it was all said and done it wasn’t a half bad mystery. I told you I had mixed opinions on it!

This fulfills the hat category in the Silver era Vintage Cover Scavenger Hunt @ My Reader’s Block.

Dolly’s House, a Brothel

One fun historical place to see if you go to Ketchikan is the famous brothel, Dolly’s House.    Thelma Copeland was born in 1888 in Idaho, left home as a teenager and eventually worked her way up to Ketchikan. Having learned early on that she could make more money by serving up more than just food to men in a restaurant she put her ‘people’ skills to good use and set up a thriving business on Creek Street. Thelma started working in The Star, the largest brothel in Ketchikan. She changed her name to Dolly Arthurs. After one and half years she bought a house and set up her own business. It operated from 1919 to 1954 with Dolly being the only girl working there.

In 1919 there were roughly 100 men to every woman in Alaska and the average salary was $1 a day. Dolly bought her house in 1919 for $800 and paid it off in two weeks! She was a busy girl! In 1917 Prohibition came to Alaska and Dolly didn’t like moonshine so she brought in bootleg Canadian whisky and kept one bottle and one glass in a little hide-a-way built into the wall. It was easier to dispose of in the creek if she was raided that way. She charged 50 cent for a half shot and $200 for a full. The charge for three minutes with Dolly was $3 and it was often said of her establishment that you could ‘get hammered and nailed’ at Dolly’s for $5.

Creek Street is the infamous ‘Red Light District’ in Ketchikan. It operated from 1903 to 1954. It’s origins lie in a 1903 city ordinance banishing brothels from the city center to the ‘Indian Town’ area on the east side of the creek and it operated until the brothels were outlawed and shut down in 1954. Numerous houses of prostitution sprang up on this difficult terrain, supported by wooden stilts. Winding behind the houses into the hills behind the houses is Married Man’s Way, a trail used by patrons of the brothels to escape raids. Creek Street is now a tourist shopping district and the only brothel is  Dolly’s House, left as it was and now a museum. Creek Street was put on the National Register of Historical Places in 2014.

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You can see the house is not in very good shape! The siding is missing outside where that sign is hanging. The owners don’t seem to take very good care of it. The guide said it was all original, everything  just like Dolly left it when she moved out and into a nursing home. They have only replaced some wall paper in one area because it was coming off the wall so bad. It was $10 a person to go in and you can roam around all you want and take any pictures or video you want. There was a guide at the front room to tell us a little history of the place and she was dressed in costume. It probably wasn’t worth the $10 dollars, but it was fun and I love ‘going back in time’!

One of the ‘big’ selling points in the tour is the shower curtain in the upstairs bathroom. The flowers on the top of the curtain are made from silk condoms! The guide told a  story about a Frenchman who developed them, named Joseph Condom, thus the name condoms. That is a lot of hooey! You can read the quite interesting history of the condom HERE if you want. No telling what other info the guides told us was really true or made up! Check out the cool, round toilet tank!

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Dolly plied here trade until she was 72! Can you believe that! She did end up lonely in a nursing home, she died just two months before her 88th birthday.

You can check out the ‘men’s restroom’ in this short video I found on Youtube and see her 1910 model vibrator and other paraphernalia in a case in her bedroom on this video by the same man.

I’ll leave you with a lunchtime in Ketchikan shot…


Barn Swallows

This afternoon we heard so much racket from birds in the front and went out and looked and there was a bunch of barn swallows out front. They were perched on the electric lines and flying around and a bunch were down on the road laying on their bellies on the hot asphalt! Strange indeed. Small groups were in the lawn eating insects. This is a first! I found it fascinating. They are only here in the States in the summer for breeding, then they go south of the border. 

I found this great app for bird lovers yesterday. It’s put out by the Cornell Lab for Ornithology. They have a great website too. Click the link to check it out!

Here’s the photos I took today…