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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Happy Birthday, Mom

May 9, 2016

To all the moms out there, I hope you had a wonderful Mother’s Day. Today is another special day in the Chatterbox family; it’s my mother’s ninety-first birthday. I’ve written about my mother many times but I’ve never mentioned her eating disorder—she doesn’t like eating in front of people. She cooks her own meals and refuses to eat the food she pays for in the dining room of her retirement facility. In fact, I can’t recall sitting down to a meal with her when she actually ate. Years ago when she and my dad would fly to Oregon for a visit, she’d refuse to join us at the dinner table. After their departure we’d find crumbs of food she’d squirreled away and eaten in bed. Mom claims she was a chubby kid and had to work all her life to remain thin, but I doubt she was ever truly overweight.


Mom dislikes leaving her apartment (she hasn’t accepted an invitation to our home in years) but I know she enjoys pizza. A few days ago I phoned to let her know I’d be bringing Mrs. Chatterbox and grandson CJ to pay a visit on her special day, and we’d be bringing a large pizza.


Knowing she won’t eat in front of us I said, “We’ll each have a small slice and leave the rest for you to eat after we leave.”


Picture her eating cold pizza in the middle of the night by the glow of a flashlight.


She said, “That sounds fine, but there’s something else I’m craving—Kentucky Fried Chicken. Haven’t had it in ages.”


“No problem,” I said. “We’ll cancel the pizza. Instead, I’ll bring some KFC.”


The silence on the phone ended when she replied, “Since I’m going to be ninety-one you’d think I could have both.”


I sighed. “Tell you what, Sunday is Mother’s Day so I’ll bring a few pieces of chicken for your supper. We’ll bring the pizza on Monday, your birthday.”


“Fine, but don’t be skimpy. Bring a whole bucket, not just a few pieces.”


This from a woman who takes three days to eat a banana. “A whole bucket of chicken would be too much. You couldn’t possibly eat it all, especially since we’re bringing an entire pizza the next day. Why do you want so much chicken?”


“Fried chicken freezes beautifully.”


My mother freezes everything. If she had a big enough freezer my late father would probably be in it. She believes items remain fresh if fresh when frozen, even if frozen years ago.


But I plan to give her what she wants.


To make Mother’s birthday extra special I considered contacting the White House to see if I could get Obama to send her a Birthday card, but knowing how she dislikes him I worried she’d have a stroke and not make ninety-two. Hmmmnn….






Note: The photo of Mom was taken on my parents' wedding day in 1949.




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You're a wonderful son. Even if she doesn't say it out loud, I'm sure she's very proud of you.
By: Susan Swiderski on May 9, 2016
Happy birthday to your mother! Take her both chicken and pizza. Then be prepared for her to request tacos the next day.
By: Alex J. Cavanaugh on May 9, 2016
And yet, you are so normal and such a good son??
By: Tabor on May 9, 2016
Happy Birthday, Mrs. Hayes!
By: Linda on May 9, 2016
So she has a few quirks... who doesn't. If I lived to be her age (I doubt it) I think I'd be a royal pain in the behind.
By: Daniel LaFrance on May 9, 2016
you are a very good son and I hope she appreciates everything you do. It almost sounds like you are to buy this food only for her and that she gets first dibs..or maybe the only dibs on the food even if she doesn't eat it. She sounds like she doesn't want to be thought of as second to anyone which means you buy the whole bucket plus the pizza for her and she has it first ,away from eyes) and then you and your family may get the rest. It's funny, my mom had an issue with food as well. She always prided herself on being able to go into a store and buy her size and have it fit perfectly without trying it on. She would often forget to eat and, when she cooked for all of us, she would nibble at her food but never eat much. When she went into menopause, she gained weight and she was so focused on her weight gain that she thought she looked like my aunt who was very overweight. She would buy a size 16 pants when now she had to buy a size 10 instead of a size 8. I was a teenager then and thought she was spun.....I still do.
By: Birgit on May 9, 2016
You could always contact Glenn Beck and see if he'd send her a card. I bet he would. Anyway, I loved visiting with you and showing you bananagrams. Also, stories about your mother never cease to entertain.
By: Michael Offutt on May 9, 2016
Happy Birthday to your Mom! I hope she enjoys her chicken bucket and pizza!
By: LL Cool Joe on May 9, 2016
You are being a good son. Your mom looks like she was a beautiful young woman.
By: Tom Cochrun on May 9, 2016
Happy birthday, Mama!!
By: fishducky on May 9, 2016
Happy birthday Mrs. C!
By: The Bug on May 9, 2016
You have such a delightful and entertaining Mom. Gotta love her taste in food. You are a good son from coffee pots to pizza. Happy Birthday to your Mom.
By: Arkansas Patti on May 9, 2016
I hope your Mom has a wonderful birthday and enjoys her treats...so that she doesn't ask you to return them without a receipt!
By: Val on May 9, 2016
Let her freeze things, the worst that can happen is freezer burn. Happy Birthday to her!
By: messymimi on May 9, 2016
You did the right thing by giving your Mom both foods. I've never heard of such an eating disorder.
By: red Kline on May 9, 2016
Hope you don't mind me saying ... she was a looker in her day!
By: Tom Sightings on May 9, 2016
I hope your mom had a very HAPPY, HAPPY, HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!
By: Jerry E. Beuterbaugh on May 9, 2016
Stephen: Mom's are special and you're a special son. What a beautiful picture you've shared!
By: MICHAEL MANNING on May 10, 2016
Pizza and KFC! What an interesting story...
By: sage on May 10, 2016
You are such a patient man! No wonder your Mrs. C. loves you so much- and your Mom does also- she just doesn't know how to express her feelings too well!!Cheers!
By: Kathe W. on May 10, 2016
she is a pill!
By: TexWisGirl on May 10, 2016
Wow! Pizza and KFC! What a birthday! Toss a nice New York Strip in there and I would die happy.
By: Bruce Taylor on May 10, 2016
I hope your Mom enjoyed her pizza. When we do pizza at home these days it's often accompanied by BBQ chicken wings. Started as an occasional treat, now it's a must-have :)
By: Botanist on May 10, 2016
Did your mom eat with you when you were young? She was a beautiful woman. Happy Birthday to her; she has a good son.
By: jenny_o on May 10, 2016
Yeah, I like Obama, so I'm glad you didn't do that. She might try to throw him into a freezer too. This snippet has some hilarious lines, like the one about your Mom taking three days to eat a banana. I hope she had a great, tasty 91st bday and Mother's Day.
By: Robyn Engel on May 10, 2016

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