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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August 4, 2014
A mirror is handy to have in my studio because it allows me to see my work in reverse. I find this useful because after long concentration my eyes often go dead to what I’m painting and a mirror reveals the flaws. Yesterday while painting I reached for the small mirror on the taboret beside my easel. It slipped through my fingers and hit the concrete of our garage floor, shattering into many pieces. Looking down at the glinting shards, my first thought was, “Uh-oh, seven years of bad luck.”


I thought this in spite of the fact that I consider myself too intelligent to fall for superstition, which I consider the realm of the uneducated and under evolved. I’ve been known to pick up pennies, but only because I’m cheap. I’d never cross a street to avoid a black cat, and I don’t think someone in the future is walking on my grave when a shiver runs down my spine. I don’t even know where this mirror superstition came from.


Thank you Google:


     The belief that you’ll have seven years' bad luck if you break a mirror is said to come  

     from the Romans, who were the first to create glass mirrors. But long ago, many

     cultures, including Greek, Chinese, African and Indian, believed that a mirror had the

     power to confiscate part of the user’s soul. The thinking was that if the mirror was

     broken, then the person's soul would be trapped inside.


I don’t believe in absolute good and evil which, like fairness, are manmade notions, nor do I believe in superstition to help me navigate through a world that often seems dangerous and haphazard. Perhaps thousands of years ago glass mirrors were so expensive that it took seven years of payments to replace one. But I live in an age where mirrors can be picked up at the Dollar Store.


I’ve never picked a loose thread from my clothing and promptly received a letter. Itchy palms never brought me good luck. I’ve walked under ladders with immunity, and opened umbrellas indoors without suffering any ill effects. Knocking twice on wood has never reversed my bad luck. In fact, most superstition seems to deal with the manipulation of luck.


I’ve always considered myself to be a lucky person. Maybe fortunate is a better word. Still, it seems arrogant to question any of this so I’d best be careful. In fact, Google has informed me as to the best way of avoiding those seven years of bad luck. If you come to Portland this week you just might catch me burying that broken mirror in the moonlight.


I may be smart and evolved, but why take chances?



Are you superstitious?  



I only get superstitious during sports playoffs if one of my favorite teams is in it. Even though I doubt whether I shave or not actually affects what the Red Wings do, what does it hurt?
By: PT Dilloway on August 4, 2014
now, now, it's not nice to tempt fate. Bury your mirror and be happy.....or lucky.....or evoloved.
By: omalinda on August 4, 2014
I have learned that itchy palms may soon lead to an itchy pen...ooh, I've said too much already.
By: Al Penwasser on August 4, 2014
Perhaps it is 'good fortune' that you have been so fortunate. They say 'luck is a lady' did your good fortune begin when you met Mrs. C? No... I'm not superstitious... but... I have seen a UFO. :)
By: Daniel LaFrance on August 4, 2014
not exactly saying i believe in superstition, but i try not to press my luck, either. :)
By: TexWisGirl on August 4, 2014
Uh- oh! Yes, I am superstitious. Well, in that I believe that whatever I believe has power. That kind of superstitious. HOWEVER, now you must bury the pieces under a tree during a full moon in order to prevent 7 years of bad luck. At least that's according to the Romans who were the ones responsible for mirrors and their ability to steal our souls for 7 years. I know how helpful I've been here. Ha! You're welcome. Mindy
By: mindy on August 4, 2014
Not superstitious at all.
By: izdiher on August 4, 2014
I guess I am to a certain degree. For instance, I believe bad things happen in threes, because all of my life I have seen this ring true. But, I don't walk under ladders- not because of bad luck, but because with my luck, I would trip and the ladder would fall on top of me. I think black cats are adorable and would stop to pet one. If I broke a mirror, I would be more apt to be upset because it takes forever to pick up all the pieces of it and 9 times out of 10, my bare foot would find the sliver I missed. To be on the safe side, my advice would be to buy a new mirror. Of course, you probably need to bury the broken one, because now that you've thought about it- it could come true. or not.
By: Coloring Outside the Lines on August 4, 2014
I've had my weak moments, but I wouldn't call myself superstitious by any stretch of the imagination. I've broken many mirrors and had my path crossed by many a black cat without consequence. KNOCK WOOD!
By: Mitchell is Moving on August 4, 2014
Nope- I am not superstitious- but I do believe in karma. I do believe in treating others as you would want to be treated. I believe in being kind. That said- I have seen karma in action and I really really try not only to not say- "told you so", but to even think it. That's because I think if you do think it the bad karma from "gloating" can come back on you.
By: Kathe W. on August 4, 2014
Not superstitious, but i do believe that you reap what you sow. And i do tell people "good luck" as a shorthand way of saying that i hope and pray good things happen for them.
By: mimi on August 4, 2014
I broke a mirror once, when I was going thru the loss(es) of family members. I took lipstick or something and wrote on the biggest piece I could salvage "Thank goodness for ONLY 7 more years." It didn't hurt. I actually was blessed with two decades before my next significant trauma.
By: Robyn Engel on August 4, 2014
I'm not superstitious, and I don't believe in luck. Have you seen Tim's Vermeer? Love, Janie
By: Janie Junebug on August 4, 2014
Superstitions fascinate me but I don't believe in them. I feel I am pretty much responsible for my own fate, not a mirror, cat or umbrella. .
By: Akansas Patti on August 4, 2014
I'm not superstitious. Like you, I consider myself lucky. And the harder I work, the luckier I get.
By: Pixel Peeper on August 4, 2014
Superstitious? Not exactly. But I have healthy kids, so I donate to St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital every year. And when my enlarged thyroid was removed, it was at least not diseased, so I donate to Siteman Cancer Center. I don't want for much, so I give to the local United Way. Just preventative measures like that.
By: Val on August 4, 2014
A lot of truth, wisdom here and most importantly they are dressed in humor!
By: John on August 5, 2014
The only thing that concerns me about a broken mirror is stepping barefoot on the glass (which has happened, more than once).
By: Shelly on August 5, 2014
Have you seen the movie "Tim's Vermeer"? Gives you a different idea of using a mirror for artwork.
By: Catalyst on August 5, 2014
My mom was very superstitious, but the only one of her's that has stuck with me is insisting that someone give back a knife as it was given. In other words, if I had you an open pocket knife, you should not give it back to me closed. Oh, and I only stick with that out of respect for her memory.
By: Jerry E. Beuterbaugh on August 5, 2014
I'm not superstitious, although I do, prior to an important football (soccer) game find myself setting arbitrary targets to ensure a win for my team - for example, I must reach the other side of the road in 14 strides otherwise my team is doomed!!
By: Bryan Jones on August 6, 2014
My Grandmother was superstitious, and to this day I laugh at her Eastern European beliefs that "mirror" some of the examples you've noted here, Stephen! :)
By: Michael Manning on August 7, 2014
I really want to say that I'm not superstitious but I'm hesitant to wear navy blue tops. They do seem to bring me very bad luck. Aside from that, I was more inclined to "not take chances" when I was pregnant. Otherwise I'm scoffing at myself. ;)
By: Hilary on August 8, 2014

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