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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Complaining About the Weather

December 10, 2014

 

 

Everyone talks about the weather but nobody does anything about it.

—Mark Twain—

***************************************

Most regions of our country are currently experiencing severe weather and quite a few bloggers are commenting on it. It seems that weather reports on the evening news are getting longer and longer, as if we’re all still farmers and need to know when to go out and plant the back forty. Well, I don’t know any farmers and I don’t need to know if it’s going to drizzle in Gilliam, Sherman, Wheeler or other counties where people are few and a good time is had by dressing farm animals in people clothes.

 

As far as I’m concerned, rain is rain, and I don’t need a twenty minute broadcast to tell me I’m gonna get wet. I see little difference between rain and rainstorms, rain and showers or rain and sprinkles. Even if I decided to rely on weather forecasts to determine if my wardrobe on any given day should include an umbrella, the forecasts are so often wrong that it would be a waste of time.

 

Snow seems to be a big problem in my corner of the country, not that we get much. It does snow here but not enough for anyone to get used to it, so when flakes fall logic and common sense go out the window. Here in Portland we’re as far north as Minneapolis and Montreal but Japanese trade winds keep us fairly warm in the winter. I’ve only built snowmen once or twice since I’ve been here and the poor things looked like the result of gruesome genetic experimentation.

 

Mrs. Chatterbox and I moved here from Southern California in 1980, the year Mt. Saint Helens blew. I took the eruption personally for a few months, a sign that I should hightail it back to the land of palm trees and balmy Santa Ana winds, but we dug out of the falling ash and stayed.

 

Then came the day when I decided to get an Oregon driver’s license. I’d been driving for years and was cocky enough to assume I could ace the test, but there were questions on the written exam I hadn’t seen before. Such as:

 

Circle the answer below that is the most correct.

 

#A… It’s safest to drive when rain turns into snow.

 

#B… It’s safest to drive when snow turns into freezing rain.

 

#C… It’s safest to drive when freezing rain turns into ice, and then it rains, followed by more freezing rain.

 

#D… It’s safest to drive when ice turns into freezing rain.

 

#E…All of the above.

 

#F…None of the above.

 

What the heck was freezing rain? It sounded like a nickname for margaritas. I remember staring at the question and thinking then, as I do now, if any of this shit starts falling I’m staying the F*#&K at home!

 

 

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Comments

24 Comments
F?
By: Cranky on December 10, 2014
lol! dallas is much like your zone in that any threat of freezing anything or dusting of snow makes people freak out. but i've also been one of the wisconsinites that hit the road no matter, but then regret it with all the texans who have no clue how to drive on slick streets...
By: TexWisGirl on December 10, 2014
We don't do snow well, either. Especially the time the nuts who run the schools didn't decide to cancel school until after all the kids had been safely delivered to the buildings all over the city. It was a mess!
By: mimi on December 10, 2014
I think that "F" may be the best answer. Then again, when you're talking "snow" and "freezing rain," EFF sounds about right.
By: Al Penwasser on December 10, 2014
Now this post made me laugh!
By: John on December 10, 2014
F of course.....having lived in POrtland metro area for 50 years my opinion of the PDX drivers is not great. There are those who should not go out at all, those who should not see how many doughnuts they can make on I-5 and those who should just stand back and let us with studded tires and common sense drive by. Hilarious post- were those really the questions on the Oregon Drivwers test? hahah someone had a sense of humor!
By: Kathe W. on December 10, 2014
I have NO idea, because I'm still in Southern California!!
By: fishducky on December 10, 2014
We've just come through a couple of weeks in which freezing rain was predicted (or, alternatively, was NOT predicted but did fall) during seemingly every time period in which we needed to drive somewhere. So I did pay attention to those long, technical weather forecasts, even though I knew there was a good chance they'd have it wrong.
By: Nancy/BLissed-Out Grandma on December 10, 2014
Here in the UK it snows almost every winter yet, when it happens, the whole country grinds to a halt.
By: Bryan Jones on December 10, 2014
Yup, stay home and build a freezing rainman.
By: Hilary on December 10, 2014
I came from Florida where only hurricanes kept us home and those forecasts were pretty accurate. I know the theory of driving in the snow but have never practiced it. Thus I heed all warnings and would have chosen E.
By: Akansas Patti on December 10, 2014
Oops, my F grew an appendage. I meant F.
By: Akansas Patti on December 10, 2014
Funny, funny you are! I stay at home as well when the temp varies between freezing and thawing. The TV forecasts are so long because they need to fill the time and because those guys get paid a lot more money than you and I will every see...if they are not too local.
By: Tabor on December 10, 2014
I'm not afraid of a little blizzard...I used to live in Buffalo. I think they invented snow there.
By: Pixel Peeper on December 10, 2014
Hey! My county needs those half-hour forecasts. How else will we know when to rush out for milk and bread? How else will teachers get a glimmer of hope for an impending 22nd snow day of the year? Besides, the people clothes might shrink if they get wet and we toss them in the dryer on 'high' to warm up the farm animals.
By: Val on December 10, 2014
since I'm on he side of the weatherman, I have to say that we have to understand weather from a scientific point to understand the forecast or else we just say it's wrong. At one time in my life I had a pilot's licence. You had to know and understand the weather or you were in big trouble. When you were flying you had to watch the weather and see what it was about to do.
By: red on December 10, 2014
I was flabbergasted to hear a few years back that the National Weather Service finally officially recognized freezing fog as a weather condition when it had been quite easy for me to see for years before. How could it not be? For how could it be missed when heavy fog starts turning fairly solid when the temperature drops low enough below the freezing mark? By the way, if the storm they are talking about now hits you-all as hard as it is expected to, you might be wanting to know when it will be over with much sooner than later. Be assured that I hope it will not be that bad.
By: Jerry E. Beuterbaugh on December 10, 2014
Happy to say that rain is our severe weather now and after three years of drought in California we welcome the "storms." Being natives of Indiana, "winter storms" had an entirely different cast. Freezing rain, ice storms, winter blizzards, and deep freeze cold. Spring brought thunderstorms, tornados and frequent flooding. Trees on houses and cars, seemed to happen year round. There the weather report was very serious. As Paul Simon sang, "I get the news I need from the weather report."
By: Tom Cochrun on December 11, 2014
We write about the weather a lot here but that's because there are extreme changes. A few years ago it was almost warm enough to swim and by nightfall there was 4 inches of snow. We have violent thunderstorms that can spawn tornados, some of which are so powerful, they rip up pavement. We have hurricanes, frigid weather and in summer we have the double whammy of triple digit temps with humidity thick enough to sip with a straw. Yes, we write about the weather a lot:)
By: Rick Watson on December 11, 2014
I hear ya. I was raised in southern CA and have lived in five states as an adult. Now I plan on living out my time on this earth here in NE. And that means snow, and cold and wet drizzles. But it is the people that attract me to this place. Great people. Waking to temps in the teens is the usual for this time of year and then we are rejuvenated when it is up to 30. When you brought up visiting the DMV in OR, I thought you were going to mention how much easier it is taking care of business there compared to CA. I just visited the DMV here to change address and renew car registration, and also did change address for driver license and all that took a half hour. I almost got the giggles.
By: CiCi on December 11, 2014
I'm going with F. Now if I still lived in Canada or North Dakota, I would say all of the above, because I would have snow chains, and we'd all drive 10 miles an hour, but down here in the south..everyone freaks out and drives crazy because they don't know what to do on snow or ice.
By: Coloring Outside the Lines on December 11, 2014
Talking about the weather is a Canadian pastime. Doesn't really matter where you live, weather it's happening here, there or somewhere. We count our blessings that we don't experience some types of weather that wipes out communities, injures and or takes someones life. Yes, weather is part of our lives be it wet, windy, flooding, freezing, dry and or horribly hot. Not-to-mention, mudslides, hurricanes, typhoons, tornados, earthquakes and lightening strikes. In fact, I'd add that much of the severe changes we hear and red about is likely in part due to climate change. As always, we do our best to live with it. Stephen, you can always press the mute button on the remote, change to another channel or best yet... turn it off. I'm not sure, it's just a hunch... but you're beginning to sound like your mother. lol
By: Daniel LaFrance on December 11, 2014
Have you learned what freezing rain is? It's not the same as sleet. Love, Janie
By: Janie Junebug on December 11, 2014
I'm going with F too. After 17 years in Ohio I'm more comfortable than I've ever been driving in snow, but NOBODY is comfortable driving in ice!
By: The Bug on December 16, 2014

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