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

Prologue

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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Bugged!

June 8, 2016

Can one insect make up for a lifetime of bug torment?

 

All my life I’ve been bugged by—bugs! It isn’t that I’m afraid of them; the sight of multi-legged and winged insects doesn’t set my heart to palpitating. My problem is that bugs like me too much. They see me as a smorgasbord, a yummy blood buffet, tastier than anyone else. I’ve joked that I should rent myself out for outdoor picnics and barbecues to keep insects from biting guests. A doctor once told me that my body temperature is slightly higher than most people’s, drawing blood-hungry insects to me. I don’t know if this is true or not, but what is true is my nasty relationship with bugs.

           

When Mrs. Chatterbox and I were planning our trip to India, I took drugs to protect me from malaria and other maladies, but the drugs made me hallucinate that I was on a roller coaster with Oprah Winfrey. The hallucinations were so bad I stopped the medication, preferring to risk contracting malaria. Concerns over the Zika Virus prompted extra caution for our recent trip to the Florida Keys. I doused my clothes in DEET and sprayed myself in the strongest repellent available, but still managed to acquire a few bites.

           

After mentioning our trip to Key West, several people (including favorite blogger Cranky Old Man and master gardener Tina Nelson) suggested we check out the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory. I like butterflies, but they are bugs after all and, like I’ve said, I have a dicey relationship with these critters. Nevertheless, Mrs. Chatterbox and I headed off to see the butterflies. It turned out to be a positive experience. The butterflies were plentiful and beautiful although they seldom landed, making them difficult to photograph. Some of these images were borrowed from the Internet.

 

 

 

A noisy pair of mating flamingos.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Internet image of the blue butterfly everyone was trying to photograph.

           

 

Magnificent cobalt blue butterflies were winging about and swarms of tourists were struggling and failing to snap pictures of them. I made numerous attempts, but just as I thought I had a decent picture, my subject would fly away. Then, to my surprise, I felt something land on my face and glimpsed a blurry butterfly at the edge of my vision. My camera was actually our son CJ’s old I-Phone, and I struggled to remember his directions for reversing the image to take a selfie. I finally figured it out and began snapping pictures of the butterfly perched on my face.

           

Fellow tourists who hadn’t managed to snap a picture of these swiftly-moving blue beauties took notice. They started snapping pictures of me with a blue butterfly on my face.

 

           

I’m not ready to absolve all the bugs that have sucked my blood over the years, but this little ambassador of goodwill put me on the path to forgiveness.

 

 

 

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Comments

28 Comments
At least that one won't suck your blood. Warmer body temperature? Maybe that's why I also attract them. Here mostly gnats that like to buzz my face and ears. No wonder I hate the great outdoors...
By: Alex J. Cavanaugh on June 8, 2016
You must have an odor that they like.
By: Snowbrush on June 8, 2016
I bet there are loads of photos of you plastered all over different people's Facebook pages. You are probably a meme now! I visited Butterfly World in AZ once, and I'm glad to say nothing landed on my face. :D
By: LL Cool Joe on June 8, 2016
Maybe you had a salty snack left in your beard? I have had them land on me as well. Now I will google bluebutterfly face and see if I get you!
By: Tabor on June 8, 2016
I've heard it said that a butterfly is just a friend "gone west" who is looking in on you. Works for me! :)
By: scott park on June 8, 2016
No doubt you are now part of photo collections of all of those tourists. A kind of fame! Quick work on your part btw. As for your anti malaria hallucinations, I understand. Assignments took me to malaria zones frequently and I "experimented" with a variety of medicines. I had one cycle that left me with a few dreams while in Africa that are still a bit chilling. Happy trails.
By: Tom Cochrun on June 8, 2016
gorgeous flutterby and you ain't so bad either!
By: Kathe W. on June 8, 2016
My body temperature is LOWER than 98.6 but I ALWAYS get bitten!!
By: fishducky on June 8, 2016
I googled "butterfly on face". You aren't on there--YET!!
By: fishducky on June 8, 2016
Like you, I'm a mosquito (and any insect that bites) magnet. But I DO love butterflies and butterfly. We've got one here that I could visit all the time. However, butterflies have not interest in me!
By: Mitchell is Moving on June 8, 2016
That butterfly thinks you're hot! But who knows where its six feet have been!
By: Val on June 8, 2016
We have been locked in mortal combat with ants for the past three years. No, the fight has not been going well for us. Sigh.
By: Jerry E. Beuterbaugh on June 8, 2016
My wife would find a lot to sympathise with you about in your post. She is the bug magnet in the family so I know where you are coming from. :-) Greetings from London.
By: A Cuban In London on June 8, 2016
Little Girl is our bug magnet, and i've been told that, for mosquitoes at least, it's foot odor that attracts them. You should be the next internet sensation with that beautiful butterfly on your handsome face!
By: messymimi on June 8, 2016
I'm your opposite. I rarely get bites. I eat lots of tomatoes and somebody told me mosquitoes don't like that in a person and leave them alone???
By: RedKline on June 8, 2016
The skeeters like me too; it must be something with chubby guys. I think it was New Mexico where I went to a butterfly exhibit, though I'm not sure they had blue ones like that. They are really pretty, especially since they come from caterpillars.
By: PT Dilloway on June 8, 2016
sweet. :)
By: TexWisGirl on June 8, 2016
A butterfly on your face is much, much more attractive than...oh, let's say a roach!
By: Pixel Peeper on June 8, 2016
I was on a river trip once when a butterfly landed on a woman's plate. she threw the food away because she said butterflies get their moisture from animal poop.
By: Ellen Abbott on June 8, 2016
That's interesting about body temperature having an impact on bug bites... Great closing shot!
By: Sage on June 8, 2016
Best jewelry I've ever seen. What a beautiful shade of blue. Perfect. My body temperature is low, but bugs adore me. I don't think of butterflies as bugs, but I hate all others, and unlike you, I am afraid of them. I have been for as long as I can remember. I had nightmares about bugs as a child. Love, Janie
By: Janie Junebug on June 8, 2016
Face-candy for butterflies. You must be producing nectar or some sort of chemical compound to attract them. :)
By: Daniel LaFrance on June 8, 2016
What a pro! Fab picture. My good lady and I are off to Greece for a fortnight in early July - I can hear the local mosquitoes preening their suckers as I write.
By: Bryan Jones on June 9, 2016
I love that! Great job on the selfie.
By: The Bug on June 9, 2016
I'm still laughing about your hallucination: being on a rollercoaster with Oprah Winfrey. Now that's frightening.
By: Robyn Engel on June 9, 2016
I don't have too much trouble with bugs, the occasional bee, or (shudder) yellowjacket might buzz me, but I don't tend to be mosquito food. When I was little, I remember a monarch landing on my nose. It tickled, and when it spread its wings, I couldn't see anything. I sneezed, which wasn't appreciated by said bug, as you could imagine... Cat
By: Cat on June 9, 2016
There is a place in Scottsdale called Butterfly Wonderland which holds a screened in atrium with thousands of butterflies flying about. I can attest that if you visit there and wear a colorful Hawaiian shirt, butterflies will light on it and stay long enough to be photographed. Including the blue ones. You can see them in my post of June 26, 2013.
By: Catalyst on June 9, 2016
I still don't know how to do that selfie thing!
By: cranky on June 9, 2016

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