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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The Ultimate Rice Cooker

September 3, 2014


My only sibling, an older brother who happens to be a partner for a major Wall Street bank, has always been status conscious. He married the high school prom queen, owns homes in prestigious neighborhoods, drives highly touted luxury cars and only reserves tables at trendy restaurants. When time came for him to acquire a dog he researched the subject and paid top dollar for a golden lab from a well-known breeder. My nieces and nephew named the dog Wilsy.


When my parents moved into a retirement community my brother and his family paid them a visit, bringing along Wilsy. They didn’t know dogs weren’t allowed on the premises, not even dogs like Wilsy with remarkable pedigrees.


Shortly before hopping into their Mercedes to pay my folks a visit, my sister-in-law was putting away grocery items delivered by a personal shopper. She didn’t notice that Wilsy the chow hound had purloined a box of instant rice. I wouldn’t have thought my brother or his family ate anything as mundane as instant rice, but such was the case. Wilsy grabbed the box when no one was looking, took it to the backyard and gobbled down the entire contents. As I understand it, my nephew and nieces commented on the strange sounds emanating from Wilsy in the car. My brother considered canceling the visit, but he was anxious to show off his new pedigreed dog.


The journey from Piedmont to Aptos (near Santa Cruz) takes about an hour. As luck would have it, my brother and his family entered our parents’ retirement park just as the landscape committee was making its rounds, inspecting everyone’s property for infractions of the rules, of which there were many. The committee arrived at our parents’ residence just as my brother pulled up to the curb.


My parents came out to greet my brother and his family. They couldn’t help noticing the grim faces of committee members busily scribbling on clipboards and eying the golden lab, bloated like a piñata and struggling to get out of the car.


Beneath the fur on her face, Wilsy must have turned red; she crouched in the street like a center about to snap a football, but instead of pigskin she unleashed a geyser of instant rice that shot from her backside with the pressure of a fire hose. A blizzard covered the side of my brother’s Mercedes, the street—and shoes of several members on the landscape committee. The rice whiteout wouldn’t stop. Wilsy paused occasionally to catch her breath, only to unleash more torrents of partially cooked rice. I understand the expression on my brother’s face was priceless. My father tried to slink away in shame but my mother, who isn’t known for her sense of humor, uncharacteristically burst out laughing, which I’m sure didn’t endear her to the committee.


Not surprisingly, my parents moved out of the retirement park shortly after Wilsy resurfaced the street in front of their home. It’s my understanding that I’m the only family member who continues to enjoy instant rice.






I am a big proponent of instant rice, but there are some means of preparing it that are not appropriate. Labrador as you have so dramatically explained it is definitely not appropriate. Isn't it great to get a good story at the expense of a hot shot brother!
By: Cranky on September 3, 2014
I could picture the whole thing--HOW FUNNY!!
By: fishducky on September 3, 2014
It sounds like you have some pretension in your family. But I like the story.
By: Michael Offutt on September 3, 2014
oh, dear! so glad she could purge it before blowing up in the car!
By: TexWisGirl on September 3, 2014
It's my understanding that people no longer--hopefully--throw rice at weddings because it kills the birds, so maybe Wiley was lucky.
By: Snowbrush on September 3, 2014
I am exploding here from laughing! Lucky the "pedigreed" dog did not blow up in the car! Your brother sounds like our former brother-in-law- a pretentious putz to say the least! Your mother was right to just laugh! Glad they moved outta there.
By: Kathe W. on September 3, 2014
Poor Wilsy! I can't laugh- it must have been painful for the pup. But for your brother's sake, I am glad he didn't let loose in the car, although that might not have been as embarrassing as the way he did it.
By: Coloring Outside the Lines on September 3, 2014
That is hysterical! Although i know it wasn't for the poor dog.
By: mimi on September 3, 2014
I had no idea that dogs would eat uncooked rice. Nice story. :D
By: LL Cool Joe on September 3, 2014
and Wiltsy lived happily ever after.
By: red on September 3, 2014
Yikes, I was envisioning an explosion of the poor dog. not just the contents of her bowels. Must have been the pedigree that kept it in till she got outside.
By: Akansas Patti on September 3, 2014
Darn that ban on throwing wedding rice! They could have rented out Wilsy to spray it.
By: Val on September 3, 2014
I'm gonna have sore abdominal muscles tomorrow from laughing so hard!
By: Pixel Peeper on September 3, 2014
GOOD GIRL, WILSY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
By: Jerry E. Beuterbaugh on September 4, 2014
Piedmont to Aptos in an hour? Maybe at night. Great story!
By: Uncle Skip on September 4, 2014
I love this story. I had a retired Guide Dog for the Blind, he was a coss Lab/Retriever, a great dog. Like most of his breed he would eat anything at anytime, we had a label on his collar which said "Please do not feed me!", it didn´t make any difference. And of course dogs do not bother about status................. they are who they are and they know it!
By: John on September 4, 2014
Oh Wilsey, you're lucky you didn't end up in the emergency room. Yikes. That makes this a pretty funny story. :)
By: Kerry on September 4, 2014
Hilarious! A great not so shaggy dog story! Poor Wilsy must have been miserable until he could take his cue!
By: Tom Cochrun on September 4, 2014
Poor Wilsy. She must have felt miserable. It's a miracle that she didn't let loose in the car. I'm so glad your mom laughed. People who are status conscious can be pretty amusing when they are brought low. I'm glad I'm such a simple and easygoing Queen of Grammar. Love, Janie
By: Janie Junebug on September 4, 2014
Very well told. I'm afraid I'll never look at Instant Rice the same again. I think I'll go for Trader Joe's wild grain.
By: Robyn Engel on September 4, 2014
I almost died laughing! :D)
By: Michael Manning on September 4, 2014
It's not often that something I read makes me laugh out loud; but this did. So thanks from A Bit about Britain.
By: Mike on September 5, 2014
How poetic! (And now I understand your recent comment on my blog about instant rice!)
By: Mitchell is Moving on September 5, 2014
Oh my... just imagine how that would have played out in the car..
By: Hilary on September 5, 2014
Super story. It has left me with some great imagery of the retriever pebble-dashing the pavement with semi-digested rice pellets - priceless.
By: Bryan Jones on September 8, 2014
When you love to cook, you got to have the best kitchen items. You can acquire them either from recommendations of friends or by reading reviews online. TopProducts.com has an impressive range of cooking items reviewed.
By: Best Rice Cooker on April 21, 2017

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