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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Moosh-vega and Happy Thanksgiving!

November 23, 2016

Thanksgiving is upon us and it’s at this time of year that we focus most on family traditions.

 

In my family, we have special words that aren’t found in the dictionary, words only those who share DNA with us can understand? A few weeks ago CJ was visiting and Mrs. C. fried up some chicken. After eating his fill, our son pushed away his plate and announced he’d had enough. I wasn’t finished eating and without thinking exclaimed, “Moosh-vega!”

 

“Are you having a stroke, Dad?” CJ asked. “What was that you said—moosh-vega?”

 

“It’s a Portuguese word your grandmother taught me as a child. Your grandmother’s family spoke it at Thanksgiving or Christmas, or any other holiday celebrated with food. It was spoken all the time in our house when I was growing up, and it was spoken often when you were growing up, too. Have you forgotten?”

 

“He scratched his chin. “I guess so. Wait a minute; I do remember. But I forgot what it means.”

 

“It means, “Glad you don’t want anymore because that leaves more for me.” I took another piece of chicken from the platter on the table.

 

“All that crammed into moosh-vega? Sounds farfetched,” he said.

 

“It’s really a useful word,” I countered.

 

He smiled at me. “Yeah, if you’re a glutton.”

 

Since this exchange I’ve tried to dig up information on the word that figured so prominently in my childhood—moosh-vega. I haven’t been successful. Aside from family members, none of the Portuguese people I know have heard of it. I’ve Googled it but I’m not familiar with the proper spelling and what I’ve written is a phonetic spelling. Making it even more complicated: Portuguese is spoken differently in Portugal, Brazil, and the Azores where our family came from. And a hundred years in America has probably twisted the language almost beyond recognition. In short, no one outside of my extended family is aware of this word.

 

I’m curious: do you have special words you use to call your children to the dinner table? Do you have a special code decipherable only to family members? I’m willing to bet you have certain words or expressions not understood by the general public.

 

Language is a feast for the ears, and I’m willing to share my special word with you—moosh-vega. It’s a fine word, but it might be too rich for the vocal palates of many of you. Fine! Restrict yourself to familiar words, words banal enough to show up in the dictionary. I’m a glutton for words real and imaginary. I gobble them up like a whale sucking in krill. What's that you say? You don't like krill?

 

Moosh-vega!

 

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Giveaway painting

 

 

Only two weeks remain for my holiday giveaway. Check out the details on winning this painting (here).

 

 

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Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

 

 

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Comments

18 Comments
That is a really cool-sounding word--or compound word, whatever. Happy Thanksgiving!
By: PT Dilloway on November 23, 2016
That sounds more Yiddish than anything else. Gubba - any small thing of undetermined origin. Ginder, pl of Gubba.
By: cranky on November 23, 2016
Tanney loney! I think it means stand alone. My Mom used it when she was dressing me!
By: Mrs. Chatterbox on November 23, 2016
Do you suppose "moose vega" is somehow related to the Portuguese words "mais" (more) and "vergar" (to bite)? After all, I had Italian American friends who insisted "pasta fazool" was the correct pronunciation of "pasta fagioli" and "va fon goo" was the correct pronunciation for something very different.
By: Mitchell is Moving on November 23, 2016
Well it sounds interesting anyways, but I sure don't know what it means. We don't have any secret family words, and now I am thinking I must make up a few to scare the family with tomorrow. Maybe start a new tradition! Have a happy Thanksgiving!!
By: Terri@Coloring Outside the Lines on November 23, 2016
We have"butterbugs" (pancakes) and "bommy-knocker" (anything you hit someone with). Also "crap on a stick" which may not be original (to denote a bad thing or day). Our son uses the line in your first cartoon ("that's crazy talk") ALL THE TIME, so much so that I thought of him as soon as I saw it. I love moosh-vega and hope you figure out where it came from! It's not by any chance a twist on the words "mooch very good", is it? :)
By: jenny_o on November 23, 2016
No--my family has a hard enough time understanding me when I speak English!!
By: fishducky on November 23, 2016
It's not Thanksgiving for us Brits, but I hope you have a wonderful day!
By: LL COOL JOE on November 23, 2016
Ooh, I wish we did. Somehow now I am feeling a bit uncool. Have a great Thanksgiving and hope you have many moosh-vega opportunities.
By: Arkansas Patti on November 23, 2016
You need to do a reverse look-up. Like what slang food terms are in Portuguese. Or overeating? Or being full? Maybe that would help. I wish I could remember the things my Dad and Mom saidin Italian...but it was rare
By: Tabor on November 23, 2016
Happy thanksgiving to you! Moosh vega ! I can't remember any special word we uses up words. a wiggins is used for anything that's small.
By: redKline on November 23, 2016
Happy Thanksgiving! We always greet ice cream with "bring on the ging-ging!"
By: messymimi on November 23, 2016
No secret words that we still use - when the boys were still little, we'd sometimes use the words they butchered because they were too young to pronounce them correctly. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!
By: Pixel Peeper on November 23, 2016
We use "vinchtables" for vegetables. And sometimes holler randomly, "I want my PUMPKIN PIIIIIIE!" Because that's what Genius hollered as I dragged him by the wrist down the sidewalk when he got expelled from daycare on the day before their Thanksgiving dinner.
By: Val on November 23, 2016
A word I would certainly appreciate!
By: John Gibson on November 24, 2016
I love that saying. I wrote it down so I'd remember it. R
By: Rick Watson on November 24, 2016
I follow a fellow card maker who lives in Portugal so I'll have to ask her. I have 2 words that I grew up with...Kanatch. My mom would tell us not to kanatch which was usually when we were chewing gum but any food really. It is when people chew their food loudly and with mouth open. "Don't kanatch!". The 2nd is a room that is not a room. Too small to be a room but to big to be called a closet. It usually was a storage place under the stairs....we call it kaboof. Boxes filled with stuff you rarely use or need always went into the kaboof. Happy Thanksgiving!
By: Birgit on November 24, 2016
A linguistic mystery. No mystery here-Happy Thanksgiving.
By: Tom Cochrun on November 24, 2016

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