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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President Raisin

October 23, 2013

A few days ago I had a discussion with my eighty-eight year old mother about the current state of American politics. Mom, in case you’ve forgotten, is about as fond of the Federal Government as a bootlegger during Prohibition. I don’t need it pointed out that this was a stupid thing to do. I stay away from politics in my posts because my blog is designed to entertain and uplift, not cause strife, but Mom doesn’t go anywhere or do anything in spite of my offers to drive her anywhere she’d care to go. I run out of safe topics to talk about and frequently stray into dangerous territory.

    

So there we were discussing politics, with Mom blaming the Democrats in general and Obama in particular for all of society’s ills. I finally got around to asking her to name a president she liked.

    

“I’ll tell you which president I liked,” she barked into the phone. “I liked President Raisin!”

    

Even though Mom doesn’t have a racist bone in her body, at first I thought she was making a derogatory reference to the current occupant of the Oval Office.

    

“Raisin was a fine president,” she explained. “He never raised the debt ceiling and didn’t spend more than the government took in.”

    

It occurred to me that she was referring to President Reagan, who raised the debt ceiling eighteen times while in office. Mom has never been troubled by facts.

    

My mother doesn’t do crossword puzzles, which I’m told is good mental exercise for the elderly, so I do my best to keep her mind active. As a test I ask her the same question once a year; it was obviously time for Mom to be retested. “How many “T”s in pizza?” I asked.

   

“Dammit! I hate it when you ask me that. Let’s see—last time I got this wrong. There’s one ‘T.’ No wait a minute; that’s what I said last time and I think I got it wrong.  There are two ‘T’s. No, wait just one minute; you’re trying to fool me and there’s only one. Heck, there’s probably two. Stop annoying me with such a stupid question!”

    

“Your final answer…?”

    

She sighed. “There’s only one ‘T’ in pitza.”

    

She might have gotten the fortieth president’s name wrong, but when it came to spelling pizza she answered the same as last year.   

 



Comments

28 Comments
In her defense, by the time he was elected President, Reagan was no longer in his grape stage. We used to have a woman at work who... um, made a lot of mistakes. She'd worked at this place for decades. I once said I was afraid to make fun of her, because if she had Alzheimer's, it would make me look like a jerk. Another long-time employee assured me: "I will tell you now, that woman has the same mental capacity she had when I met her 25 years ago!"
By: Katy on October 23, 2013
I love Katy's comment about Reagan. To be honest, I'm not in my grape stage either (except the part where I'm shaped like a grape). Ha! And now I'm craving pitza. Sigh.
By: The Bug on October 23, 2013
I love stories about your Mom. It always gives me hope that someday when I am dead and gone, that my grandkids will have something interesting to talk to people about because they had a nut for a grandmother. You are proof positive that being slightly "off" never hurts a good story. Like we say here at Casa de Cuckoo...the nut doesn't fall far from the tree......yes?
By: Oma Linda on October 23, 2013
When my mom used to write grocery lists for my dad and us kids to get from the store her handwriting was often atrocious. On one list "pizza" looked like "pizzazza" or something like that, which became a running joke.
By: PT Dilloway on October 23, 2013
I used to be a reasonable speller...but am thankful every day that I have spell-check. Some part of our brain atrophies faster than others! Facts be damned, many vote for the person they like not the policies they like...(and yes, I had to look up the spelling of atrophy, but I did realize I had misspelled before spell-check kicked in.)
By: Tabor on October 23, 2013
I loved President Raisin as well. But then I also liked Nikon. There are two T's in pittsas! One T is silent.
By: joeh on October 23, 2013
You'r mom never ceases to entertain me!
By: David Walston on October 23, 2013
Phoenetically she's right. It's peetza....one T. :) S
By: Scott Cody Park on October 23, 2013
oh, boy...
By: TexWisGirl on October 23, 2013
Very funny. Gosh, can you imagine what our children will be saying about us!
By: Anita on October 23, 2013
I'm more in the raisiny stage myself and I don't raise the debt ceiling at all in our house (just don't ask my husband about that). You are such a good son~
By: Shelly on October 23, 2013
If I remember correctly, your mother is Portuguese, not Italian. She MUST be forgiven for the pitza. Not sure about Reagan.
By: Pixel Peeper on October 23, 2013
Your post made me smile. FYI, when our girls were younger and I was responsible for a lunch, I used Pita bread to make a pizza like dish. I told the kids it was Pitza. They bought it!
By: Tom Cochrun on October 23, 2013
I'm reminded of the old saying, "My mind is made up--don't confuse me with facts!!"
By: fishducky on October 23, 2013
Your mom is a card! One i'm glad, i have to admit, that i don't have to live with. (Rather like, it's a nice place to visit, but i don't want to live there.)
By: mimi on October 23, 2013
I love the California Raisin picture. What a hoot. My Mom is going on 89 and she will tell you when you are wrong in statistics, spelling, grammar, and history. I learned to never, ever tell her she was wrong. Zing!! I'll forever think of Ronald Regan as Raisn from now on. haha
By: Bouncin Barb on October 23, 2013
It's an honest mistake. Reagan did get kind of hardened and shriveled up, after he quit acting and went into politics. But I won't go there. I'll just think about a raisin pizza. Nah, that sounds awful. xoRobyn
By: Robyn Engel on October 23, 2013
As many stories as I've told about my father (the charming eccentric father before he went frikkin' nuts), I'm sure my kids will have the same amount to tell about me. And that's the way it should be.
By: Al Penwasser on October 23, 2013
So when you're talking to your Mom on the phone are you holding the receiver out and laughing . If you were talking to her in person you'd have to keep a straight face.
By: red on October 23, 2013
Damn! I've gotta learn how to do these comments. Just ignore the one above. I, too, love your Mom though her politics are just to the right (or left) of my brother's. Awful.
By: Catalyst/Bruce on October 23, 2013
Sadly, when it comes to politics or policy, most Americans aren't troubled by the facts either. But I must admit even I loved Reagan no matter what he did. He was just so sweet and grandfatherly. I suggest you talk to your mom about TV shows she likes...or the weather. ;)
By: Lexa Cain on October 23, 2013
I wonder if the raisin reference might have been for Arnold the former governor or perhaps the Carter the peanut farmer. Hell, what do I know... I'm just eh Canadian. lol
By: Daniel LaFrance on October 24, 2013
I am sure that it can be hard dealing with your mom at times, I think older people are just so interesting. I have coffee each week with two older women that are very set in their ways. I love when they spew all their nonsense but when I point out a fact, the 88 year old will resort to telling me " I know things"....like she is privy to some classified info that makes her right. Her other fall back line is "I am glad I will be dead soon and won't have to deal with it." Hard to be to harsh with her when she is reminding me she might not live much longer.
By: Cheryl P. on October 24, 2013
You should tell your mother that when the S&P hit 1750, Obama officially shattered Reagan's administration gains for the stock market. Obama is on track to be the best president for the stock market that the world has ever seen.
By: Michael Offutt on October 24, 2013
I liked President Raisin. He was cheerful.He made me feel better after President Farter. Love, Janie
By: Janie Junebug on October 24, 2013
He he! Well written, that made me smile even though I couldn't abide Pres Raisin (sorry) and those cutchy coo pictures with the equally abhorrent Maggie Hatchit. Sorry, where was I, that just slipped out and I was enjoying a political post which made me laugh rather than want to throw things at it... Janie, your comment made me smile, too :)
By: Jackie Buxton on October 25, 2013
President Raisin! That made me smile.
By: Bryan Jones on October 25, 2013
A very entertaining tale, I feel as if I am sitting there when you talk to your Mom.
By: John on October 29, 2013

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