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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Tina's Garden

May 28, 2014


Mrs. Chatterbox and I were invited to a Memorial Day barbeque at the home of our good friends and travel companions Bruce and Tina. In addition to the warmth and hospitality, I always enjoy spending time with them because Tina is an avid gardener and her backyard is brighter than the palettes of most artists. I’ve never been able to grow anything and Mrs. Chatterbox will only go near dirt if convinced the world has suddenly been rid of bugs, but Tina and her husband Bruce spend hours in their garden and their diligence pays off in beautiful flowers. Several years ago when we visited Monet’s garden at Giverny we purchased a package of seeds for them. Those seeds are now blooming plants. Lately, Tina has been delivering bouquets of flowers to my mother at her retirement home. What my mother did to deserve this special treatment I’ll never know.


Rain was scheduled for Monday but we were pleasantly surprised when the clouds blew away and left us with a perfect day for sitting outside and enjoying the fresh air and sunshine. Tina told us there were uninvited guests in her garden that morning; she looked out her back window and saw skunks lounging on her grass. I’m glad they scheduled their visit before we arrived. Here are a few pictures I snapped of Tina’s flowers.













My mother isn’t the only one who receives beautiful flowers from Tina and Bruce. I clicked a picture of this bouquet thinking it would make a good painting. If I do and the results are satisfactory, maybe I’ll return the favor by giving the painting to them. 




I hope everyone is having a great week.


I have to admire the patience of people who can stand gardening. I always found it to be an annoying hassle to deal with the weeds and all that.
By: PT Dilloway on May 28, 2014
Stop the presses, for the first time ever, I agree with PT.
By: Cranky Old Man on May 28, 2014
this is a gorgeous photo- hope you share your painting of them with us! And their garden is lovely- I bet it had a heady fragrance- not of skunk but all those flowers! Cheers!
By: Kathe W. on May 28, 2014
What a lovely way to spend an afternoon, friends, beautiful environs and BBQ. I'd say that your friendship is what has your friends taking an interest in your Mom.....that's special.
By: Oma Linda on May 28, 2014
Beautiful colors and beautiful flowers all.
By: Michael Offutt on May 28, 2014
so beautiful. and so nice of them to share w/ your mother. :) i love that they enjoy their gardening passion together.
By: TexWisGirl on May 28, 2014
While i can't grow things to save my skin, i tremendously admire those who can. Your friends are artists with living plants.
By: mimi on May 28, 2014
Beautiful gardens are part of the richness of life. Tina's is amazing~
By: Shelly on May 28, 2014
I always admire someone with a beautiful garden. I quite like doing it myself, but just manual stuff like cutting the grass and hedges and weeding. That's about my limit though. I hope to see your painting in the future.
By: LL COOL JOE on May 28, 2014
No wonder people don't visit me at The Little House On The Swamp. Besides the swamp, I have nothing to look at besides dog poop. Love, Janie
By: Janie Junebug on May 28, 2014
Forget the thumb. Tina has a green arm.
By: Val on May 28, 2014
I envy people who can make things grow. One of my friends enjoys gardening so much, he grows tons of tomatoes. He doesn't like to eat tomatoes, he enjoys giving them away.
By: Pixel Peeper on May 28, 2014
I'm always envious at beautiful gardens. That is even though I know I don't have any kind of a knack for it. Sometimes things grow on their own though, without help. that's what keeps me going with gardening. :)
By: Jenny on May 28, 2014
Boy they sure do have a knack for growing things. I'd venture to guess that what your mother did to deserve her bouquets, was to birth a fine son who became a good friend to these gardeners.
By: Hilary on May 28, 2014
Seeds from Monet's garden?? Wow what a treasure. I am a gardener but prefer the edible plants. Not as pretty but filling.
By: Akansas Patti on May 28, 2014
It is nice to see how others plant and arrange plants. Always gives me new ideas.
By: Tabor on May 28, 2014
Your friends certainly do have a touch for raising flowers. To each his own when it comes to liking what we do. I like gardening but I can accept those people who don't like gardening.
By: red on May 28, 2014
Hey, what happened to my invite? Don't tell me it must have got lost in the mail. I get told that all of the time. Anyway, if you missed my reply to you about The Muppet TV Show, below is a link to an episode you might enjoy. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LU1zkKnCkeY
By: Jerry E. Beuterbaugh on May 28, 2014
The only plant life I can grow are beards on my bread and cottage cheese. So, I admire someone who can actually coax beauty from seeds.
By: Al Penwasser on May 28, 2014
I agree, very vibrant flowers, very colorful photos. As for me, I spend minutes in my garden ... and it shows.
By: Tom Sightings on May 28, 2014
Absolutely beautiful. I can't wait to see your painting.
By: Carrie on May 28, 2014
Those are gorgeous. I hope you'll show us the painting when you're done.
By: Robyn Engel on May 29, 2014
Good friends are a great blessing, gifted good friends are an even greater blessing. Sweet they think about your Mom too!
By: John on May 29, 2014
Put me on the list of people who want to see the painting of that gorgeous bouquet.
By: Diane Laney Fitzpatrick on May 29, 2014
I would love to see Tina's gardens. I am surprised to see things blooming already. Not much is blooming here yet.
By: Cheryl P. on May 29, 2014
It would have been a disaster if the skunks left their scent. It can be overwhelming. Look forward to seeing more of your artwork... in the coming *days*.
By: Daniel LaFrance on May 29, 2014
What beautiful blooms!!! I wish I had the talent and patience to do that! ~shoes~
By: redshoes51 on May 29, 2014
I have a brown thumb and could never do what Tina and her husband do. Plus, flowering plants make me nervous as they attract bees. I'm just wimpy when it comes to being outdoorsy. I'll stay inside in the A/C please. :)
By: Lexa Cain on May 29, 2014
Oh to have a green thumb! I can only grow plants that don't need any attention and thrive on their own. Tina has a lovely garden- ix-nay on the skunks.
By: Coloring Outside the Lines on May 30, 2014
That garden looks heavenly.
By: Mitchell is Moving on May 31, 2014
Lovely! I hope you do paint the bouquet.
By: The Bug on June 14, 2014

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