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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Just Slap on Some Paint

December 12, 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I've been spending much of my time tending to my ailing mom, so here's a reworked post from 2012.

 

 

 

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“The guestroom needs to be painted,” Mrs. C. said to me one day.

 

“Why?”

 

“We agreed to change the color when we bought this house.”

 

I shrugged. “That was a year ago and we haven’t had a single guest. So what’s the point?”

 

“We’ll do it together. It’ll be fun.”

 

That’s what she said about Lamaze classes thirty years ago and I still hadn’t gotten over them.

 

"Painting is harder than you think.”

 

She let out a tiny snort. “How hard can slapping around a little paint be?”

 

“Okay. If you’re willing to help, how can I say no?”

 

She told me what color she wanted and I drove to the paint store for supplies. I could tell when I opened the can that she wasn’t happy with the color. “It’ll change when it’s dry,” I promised.

 

“What’s all this stuff?” she asked, pointing to the supplies I’d lugged upstairs.

 

“This is the stuff we need to do a good job.”

 

She rolled her eyes while I unfolded drop cloths and covered the bed and hardwood floors. “Hand me a brush,” she ordered.

 

“We aren’t ready for brushes.”

 

A little kid must have lived in this room because there were crayon marks everywhere. “Wax and acrylic paint don’t mix,” I explained. “The paint will peel off if we don’t remove the crayon marks. Then we need to pull out nails, spackle over the holes and sand them smooth. Then we need to tape off the moldings so we don’t get paint on them, along with the ceiling to keep a straight edge where the ceiling meets the walls.”

 

“How long will all of this take?”

 

“An hour. Maybe an hour and a half.”

 

There was that little snort again. “They make it look so quick and easy on the home improvement shows.”

 

An hour later I trudged downstairs and found her in the living room with her nose buried in her Oprah magazine. “I thought you were going to help me?”

 

“Are you ready to let me slap some paint around?”

 

“Almost. The prep work takes up the most time.”

 

“Call me when it’s time for some serious painting.”

 

I called for her a half hour later. She climbed the stairs, grabbed one of the brushes I’d laid out and began slapping paint on the wall facing the street. This wall had a large window and the least surface to cover. “You might start with applying paint to the corners where a roller can’t reach,” I said.

 

She slapped paint into the corners for a few minutes while I finished taping and sanding the dried spackle covering the nail holes. When I grabbed a roller and started applying paint she said, “That looks like more fun.”

 

“You said you wanted to slap on paint. You can’t slap it on with a roller.”

 

She was beginning to look like she wanted to slap something other than paint. I handed her the roller. Her arm got tired before she’d gotten far. “I think you bought the wrong paint. I can see the old color through it. Did you buy single coat paint?”

 

“Like the chupacabra, single coat paint is a myth. You always need two coats, especially if you’re covering a dark color with a light, which is what we’re doing.”

 

Five minutes later she was back downstairs with her nose buried in her Oprah. Two hours later I finished the second coat and carried the ladder downstairs, along with the paint, brushes, rollers and drop clothes. When everything was put away, Mrs. Chatterbox looked up from her magazine and asked, “Are we all finished?”

 

“Yes, we’re all finished,” I said, my tone dripping with snarkiness.

 

That night, our guest room received its first guest—me. She never told me to spend the night there, but for some reason it seemed like a good idea.

 

 

 

 

When you paint, do you spend time "prepping" or do you just slap on paint?

 

 

 

 

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Comments

32 Comments
Prepping is infinitely much more than mere painting. It's the difference between a great job and slopping it on and leaving drip marks everywhere. But this story is more about you being primed by Mrs. C !
By: Daniel LaFrance on December 12, 2016
I hope your mom feels better soon.
By: PT Dilloway on December 12, 2016
Covering dark color with a light one? Need two coats? You need considerably more if, while all the while thinking you're hilarious, you paint "Eat Me' on the wall before you start to paint in earnest.
By: Al Penwasser on December 12, 2016
I slapped on paint once. It was such a mess that my son completely re-did the job. I was not born to paint. I was born to relax while my son paints. Love, Janie
By: Janie Junebug on December 12, 2016
Prepping takes forever. Painting is one of those things that leads to a ton of other things. Take care of your mother.
By: Alex J. Cavanaugh on December 12, 2016
They say if a couple can stay together after painting or wallpapering a room, they can get through anything. We do it pretty much like you two did - my husband paints and I stay out of the way. As for prep, the times I painted my own apartment, I did a lot of prep; my husband, on the other hand, just wings it. I've learned to not look too closely at edges and corners and just thank my lucky stars I wasn't the one doing it!
By: jenny_o on December 12, 2016
P. S. Sorry to hear your mom is not doing very well; wishing you strength and patience. It's a difficult thing, no matter how you look at it.
By: jenny_o on December 12, 2016
I don't paint. I know my limitations when it comes to home improvement. Best wishes about your mother.
By: Kelly on December 12, 2016
prepping is annoying, but I know it's necessary....the best thing about painting a room is when you are DONE!
By: Kathe W. on December 12, 2016
I hate prepping. I know it's necessary but if someone else enjoys doing it... well. I hope that your mother is soon more able to cope again.
By: Jenny on December 12, 2016
Hope your mom is doing okay. I have someone around here to do MY painting, too. I do just enough to make him wish he'd never asked for my help...
By: Val on December 12, 2016
I hire a painter!!
By: fishducky on December 12, 2016
Heeheehee! We, as the flea said to the elephant, have done it! Yes, i do some prep work before i paint, it want it to last, If it's something i can't do correctly, i hire someone. If there's a hole, i hang a painting there, or put a book shelf in front of it.
By: messymimi on December 12, 2016
Maybe would have been more fun if you'd turned one of the walls into a big mural?
By: Tom Sightings on December 12, 2016
I don't paint. When Rich and I bought our house in 95 we hired someone to remove the old wallpaper and paint the colors we wanted. Even if I could physically paint...I wouldn't!!
By: Bee BB Bee on December 12, 2016
We only rent, Stephen, but when paint goes on the walls it's the little lady that does it while I suddenly have an errand to run. In Phoenix. 100 miles away.
By: Catalyst on December 12, 2016
You always have surprise endings to your stories. I do prep before I paint.
By: red Kline on December 12, 2016
Fun post, glad you ran it again, I think I missed it before. Leave it to a woman to think painting is fun. It is work, which is why professionals get paid pretty well. Funny how everyone thinks it is one job they can do themselves, but without a little knowledge, a lot of prep work, and a basic skill set, they will not like the result...I'm with fishducky in this one.
By: cranky on December 12, 2016
Yes, it's all in the preparation. Even then, the actual painting can be hard work. Ali & I worked right through our old house in our DIY heyday. Not so much recently.
By: Botanist on December 12, 2016
Firstly I hope your Mom is feeling better. My father was a painter and decorator and he always made it look so natural and easy. When he started the apprenticeship took 6 years, nowadays it is far less. I am not a DIY person however he did his best to show me the basics and I know preparation is most important, what I found though I would prep and still find things I had missed............ And hanging wallpaper I never found to be easy although most rewarding when finished, that is if it stayed on the walls! :)
By: John Gibson on December 13, 2016
I would prep and tape and hate all the work. So I now hire!
By: Mitchell is Moving on December 13, 2016
sorry to hear about your mom. yes, I do all the prep work and all the painting. the husband is the one sitting on the couch with his nose stuck in a book.
By: Ellen Abbott on December 13, 2016
Having painted once, I now hire it done, sometimes watching.. Ahhh. Thoughts, prayers and wishes for you and your Mom at this time.
By: Arkansas Patti on December 13, 2016
There is an art to decorating well, one I haven't quite mastered. I hope your mom is okay. I know how time consuming attending to their needs is.
By: LL Cool Joe on December 13, 2016
This reminds me of a time I went out of town for the weekend and left the hubbie (ironically Mrs. Chatterbox's brother) home alone. He decided to paint a spare room we had and proceeded to paint around all the switchplate covers and window covering brackets, and never masked anything! Once I returned home and "praised" the effort, I could hardly wait for him to go to work to repaint (he only did one coat ð) and fix things up. Mrs. Chatterbox and her brother are lucky they have us!!
By: Laurie on December 13, 2016
That was hilarious. I'm glad we're finished. I laughed out loud at Mrs. C's line about the Home Improvement shows. They do make everything look so damn easy. And those DIY (Do It Yourself) snippets? Even more ridiculous.
By: Robyn Engel on December 13, 2016
Yes, prepping takes the most time! I am with you! I always liked cutting in. If I had help (and that's a BIG IF) I had them do the rolling... I hope your mom is doing ok. Tell her I said hi.
By: Linda Morris on December 13, 2016
While I HATE painting, whenever I commit to it, I'm a meticulous, seriously good painter. I've found the trick is to go slow. A pro needs to be fast AND good, while an amateur only needs to be good. Speed is not an issue.
By: scott park on December 13, 2016
Oh my...I might have killed her..hahahahaaa...sorry:) one always has to prep and make sure everything is covered and in good shape before paint ever finds the wall. One has to start with the paint brush in the corners and along the ceiling and edges before rolling the paint on. What colour did you end up choosing?
By: Birgit on December 13, 2016
Prepping is a big deal--in time and for what follows. We are sorry about your mom's condition and certainly understand the time and emotion such a situation demands. We send our best to your family.
By: Tom Cochrun on December 13, 2016
Thankfully, as long as it is inside, my wife enjoys painting--I mostly move furniture and avoid making comments on the color. I think she paints cause she knows I will only paint white walls as I prefer art on the wall and she doesn't
By: Sage on December 14, 2016
You guys are too funny. My wife is the paint expert and she agrees with you that most of the time is spent preparing the room before breaking out brushes and rollers. She loves painting. In fact, she's sitting at her desk painting Christmas cards as I type. R
By: Rick Watson on December 15, 2016

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