Welcome to the Chubby Chatterbox Newsletter, where I’ll be posting favorites from the Chubby Chatterbox archives. In addition, my complete thriller Return of the Mary Celeste will soon be serialized here for those who have asked for something beyond a regular post.

My novel is based on a true event, arguably the greatest maritime mystery of all time. In 1872 the crew and passengers of Boston brigantine Mary Celeste abandoned their seaworthy ship and its valuable cargo, vanishing in the middle of the Atlantic. Speculation over their fate has never abated. History records that after the Mary Celeste tragedy no one from that fateful voyage was ever seen again. History is about to be rewritten…

Return of the Mary Celeste


Tragedy struck the brigantine Mary Celeste on the morning of November 25, 1872. The hourly log was later recovered from the deserted vessel; At 8 a.m. the last notation was made. By 9 a.m. no one remained aboard to chalk the next entry.

Something had terrified Captain Benjamin Briggs and his crew, prompting the seasoned skipper to make a decision certain to affect not only himself, his ship and crew, but his family as well—his wife and two year old daughter were aboard Mary Celeste. Much ink has been spilled in fanciful and scientific attempts to explain the calamity that engulfed this perfectly seaworthy ship, yet all that is known for certain is this: in a matter of minutes Captain Briggs became convinced that the only way to save their lives was by ordering everyone into a hastily launched lifeboat. By giving the order to abandon ship, he also launched the greatest of all maritime mysteries.

On December 5, 1872, a month after leaving New York Harbor, Mary Celeste was found drifting on a calm and empty sea. The ship was in fine condition, perfectly intact with valuable cargo safely stored in her hold, but the crew and passengers had vanished. None were ever seen again.

Until now….

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Hitting the Road

May 10, 2017
 It’s that time of year when Mrs. Chatterbox and I dust off our suitcases and prepare to hit the road. This time we’re headed to the south of France, the lavender fields of Provence to be specific. I was a bit worried about our trip because of the French election, but the French seem happy with their selection for president and, fingers crossed, there won’t be terrorist attacks or angry protests. ...

 + photos!,  read more

Two for One

May 8, 2017
Yesterday morning while Mrs. Chatterbox was cracking eggs for breakfast, I was reminded of something I hadn’t thought about since childhood.
My dad liked his eggs cooked “blindfolded,” where hot frying pan oil is flicked over eggs with a spatula. Like Dad, I preferred my eggs blindfolded. My mother was a good cook but she always broke the eggs, and even though I was a chubby kid I wouldn’t ...

 + photos!,  read more

Tools and Taborets

May 5, 2017
My dad must have been smiling in heaven the other day over something that, while alive, he wouldn’t have anticipated —his mechanically challenged son walking into an auto parts store. My dad was a professional mechanic who retired from the City of Sunnyvale after twenty-five years of servicing fire trucks, ambulances and patrol cars. I did not inherit my dad’s aptitude for repairing things. At ...

 + photos!,  read more

A True Story of Kindred Spirits

May 3, 2017
A fellow blogger recently asked if anyone has had a psychic experience, reminding me of this reworked post from 2012.
In 2002 when we bought our house it was nearly a hundred years old. We’d only lived in it a week or two, not long enough to learn about the neighborhood or meet our neighbors. We’d arrived in the fall and the golden leaves on the old maple trees lining the ...

 + photos!,  read more

Pope Paul III and His Grandsons

May 1, 2017
When I was an art history instructor I often told my students to check out “unfinished” paintings because they reveal far more secrets than finished ones. Like trees laid bare in winter, unfinished paintings reveal the architecture of their creation, illusionary tricks making the effects possible.
Titian was arguably the greatest painter in Western art, certainly the one who pushed oil and canvas beyond ...

 + photos!,  read more

Dad Goes Solo: Conclusion

April 28, 2017
Miss Part One? Check it out (here).
Valuable time ticked by as Dad fiddled with the plane’s flight instruments. When he’d finished tapping and adjusting every device in the cockpit, he contacted the tower on the squawky radio and we were told to proceed to the runway. With my heart beating like a hummingbird’s, I looked over at Dad. He appeared fully ...

 + photos!,  read more

Dad Goes Solo

April 26, 2017
I was inspired to post this reworked piece from 2012 after discovering this photograph among my late mother’s things. It was taken after Dad soloed, earning his private pilot’s license. I’m the little grinning dork in the copilot seat, although I waited on the ground during the solo.
Whenever Dad saw a picture of Amelia Earhart, he’d get a wistful faraway ...

 + photos!,  read more

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