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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Peculiar Picture #29

September 29, 2013


This unpublished illustration might qualify as my most peculiar picture ever. I was reminded of it when Mrs. Chatterbox came home the other day and said, “I have terrible news.”


“What is it?” I asked, waiting for the rug to be pulled out from under me.


“Sergeant B. (Mrs. C. works for our local police department) had lunch today at our favorite sushi bar (name withheld). He says he was halfway through his meal when a giant cockroach dropped from the ceiling and scurried across the counter.”


“That’s terrible,” I exclaimed. “What did Sergeant B. do?”


“He dropped an empty glass over it before it could scurry away. He says the waitress admitted they were having quite a problem with cockroaches.”


This is interesting because I’ve lived in Oregon 35 years and have never seen a cockroach. Needless to say we won’t be returning to this sushi restaurant anytime soon.


I have a delicate constitution when it comes to bugs in kitchens or restaurants but I doubt the fellow in my illustration would be bothered by a cockroach falling on his head.






I have seen so many cockroaches.
By: izdiher on September 29, 2013
I know they are hard to control in any restaurant, but if I see one in the dining area, I will not go back.
By: Cranky on September 29, 2013
That is one huge bug! We had cockroaches in the Burger King I worked at in college. The place is now a Tim Horton's so if you ever go to Midland, MI don't eat at that Tim Horton's.
By: PT Dilloway on September 29, 2013
In some countries, bugs and other assorted 'things' are considered a delicacy. For example: Thailand's fried bug carts.
By: Daniel LaFrance on September 29, 2013
When we lived in Maryland, I had an exterminator check our house for termites every year. During one visit he told me about a restaurant that had been shut down because of its problem with rats. He added that when the rats lost their food supply, they moved to the donut shop next door. I shuddered every time I passed that donut shop, which remained open. Love, Janie
By: Janie Junebug on September 29, 2013
By: fishducky on September 29, 2013
When I lived in Washington, DC the cockroaches were everywhere. A yearly visit from the exterminators was absolutely necessary. Once I entered a kitchen at night, turned on the light and found the entire ceiling black with them -- That was the worst infestation I ever encountered. Horrible creatures -- but apparently one of the few that would be able to survive a nuclear holocaust!
By: The Broad on September 29, 2013
Horrible bugs, and almost impossible to kill. In AZ we have a bug man that sprays the outside of our house every month, but occasionally I'll see a dead cockroach in the garage.
By: LL COOL JOE on September 29, 2013
Yoicks! I have only seen a few cockroaches in my lifetime, but I sure don't need to see anymore...ewww. Once when I was waiting for a Tri-met bus at night I saw a HUGE one come up out of the storm drain and the other was a little cockroach who stuck his head out of a switchboard I was working at in an un-named flower shop in down town Portland. Needless to say I "plugged" that little guy.
By: Kathe W. on September 29, 2013
That was awful! I'm not into animals that much but cockroaches top the list of insects I'd stay away from.
By: Anne on September 29, 2013
Entomology in a sushi bar!
By: David Walston on September 29, 2013
I had never seen a cockroach in Germany, though they do exists. When I moved to Louisiana, they were everywhere. Ugh. Large enough to harness and have them pull a carriage...
By: Pixel Peeper on September 29, 2013
Here in Florida the bugs are huge. And they fly! Gross. Nice blog btw!
By: Bouncin Barb on September 29, 2013
Clever! I have no cockroach stories for you.
By: red on September 29, 2013
coming from the northeast i grew up with the notion that cockroaches connotes filthy housekeeping. then i moved to the tropics where there is no way to avoid them. i found out quickly that you wash the dishes both before and after using them...
By: lime on September 29, 2013
I got physical, literal shivers thinking about roaches in the same vicinity as the food... Oh my word, that is just ick.
By: Carrie on September 29, 2013
I stomped one crawling across the floor of my classroom Friday morning. Better to get it over with before the kids come in and get hysterical. Like they've never seen a cockroach before.
By: Val on September 29, 2013
I have never seen a cockroach, except in pictures. Now I'm wondering if we even have them in our part of the world ... I don't have to wonder what my reaction would be, though. Pretty sure I'd scream and then I'd get a hammer.
By: jenny_o on September 29, 2013
Ewwww! I really think this is one of your most memorable though. I dated an entomologist once..not that you care...just thought I would mention it..
By: Tabor on September 30, 2013
No matter how you cook it, a bug is a bug. Not very appetizing. I like how the drawing has a bug in different views. The largest cockroaches I have ever seen were in Florida. I think the relatives we frequently visited there would call them water bugs instead of saying cockroaches.
By: CiCi on September 30, 2013
I don't particularly care for roaches. They are very unappetizing.
By: Michael Offutt on September 30, 2013
How unfortunate for your wife and her dining partner. I have always assumed that there are things happening in restaurant kitchens that I need to NOT know about. I once saw a mouse scurrying through a chain restaurant and choose to think it was a once in a lifetime instance and no other mouse ever would come to that restaurant.
By: Cheryl P. on September 30, 2013
At an open-air market in a town in China, I and a fellow traveler slurped a bowl of noodles and as a chaser tried a barbequed insect. The sauce tasted like teriyaki and the bug crunched a little as I chewed. It was delicious. We were a heroines for a day as the others in the group watched and waited for us to get sick. We didn't . JO
By: Jo on September 30, 2013
That is an exceptional illustration. Maybe the restaurant can use it in a new ad campaign.
By: Mitchell is Moving on October 1, 2013
We get the odd cockroach here. The Spanish name for cockroach is Cucaracha and I am sore that was a famous song from to 60's?
By: John on October 1, 2013
I'm creeped out by the illustration (by the way, masterfully done!) because I was imagining what the guy looking through the magnifying glass would see - although in the past I've managed to kill some when living in an older house. Thanks for coming to my artblog:) (watercolor from Utah) - am writing you now from my other blog
By: Jesh StG on October 9, 2013

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