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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Tools and Taborets

May 5, 2017


My dad must have been smiling in heaven the other day over something that, while alive, he wouldn’t have anticipated —his mechanically challenged son walking into an auto parts store. My dad was a professional mechanic who retired from the City of Sunnyvale after twenty-five years of servicing fire trucks, ambulances and patrol cars. I did not inherit my dad’s aptitude for repairing things. At our house, if it can’t be fixed with a screwdriver, butter knife, rusty pliers or duct tape I get on the horn and call someone.


Backing up a bit; it’s spring, the weather is turning warmer and, as usual for this time of year, my thoughts turn to painting. Our house doesn’t have a proper place for me to paint so I use the garage as my studio—when it’s warm enough and the daylight is strong.


I was intrigued when son CJ swung by to show off an old tool cart he’d picked up on Craigslist. CJ inherited his grandfather’s mechanical ability and currently works in the shop at our local police department. He has several massive tool carts and thousands of dollars of tools, but he needed something more portable that could easily be moved to different auto stations in the shop. He only paid a few bucks for this battered cart, but I offered him double what he’d paid because I instantly saw how I could put it to use. Only he wouldn’t part with it.


Instead, he took me to Harbor Freight, an auto parts outlet where they have lots of tool carts on sale. We purchased the one I thought prettiest (don’t judge me—I’m an artist not a mechanic) and drove home to assemble it.


Included in the box was a bag filled with an ungodly amount of nuts and bolts. CJ shook his head in disgust when I handed him a plastic screwdriver and pair of rusty old pliers. I guess if you buy a big tool cart the manufacturer expects you to have tools. Stupid assumption! After fifteen minutes we’d managed to fasten only three bolts, with about fifty remaining. CJ disappeared for half an hour, returning from home with—wonder of wonders—power tools.


My tool cart, now an artist’s taboret, was assembled lickety-split. I can’t believe how pretty it is, and therein lies the problem. I don’t want to mess it up, but mess it up I must in order to start painting. Maybe I should have offered CJ triple what he paid for that beat up old tool cart that looked like it had survived an atomic blast. I wouldn’t have worried about messing that one up. It was scratched, rusty and dirty. I was forced to make do with something new and unblemished.


CJ has all the luck.  




Finished with CJ's help




Ready to go!




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Ready set go paint! Have a great day painting!
By: Kathe W. on May 5, 2017
I've been looking at those. I actually have mountains of tools in my shed. I trip,over them...thus the need for a tool taboret.
By: Rick Watson on May 5, 2017
Wow you even have a paper towel dispenser. That's awesome. Most furniture I buy that needs assembly comes with one of those Allen wrench things. I think I have about a dozen saved up. My grandpa on my dad's side was a carpenter and even got a street named after him in Midland, MI for building a lot of the houses in that area--houses that none of us can afford to live in of course.
By: PT Dilloway on May 5, 2017
Super! I love your new cart even if you have to mess it up a bit for work. Funny the way talents, like blue eyes, can skip a generation! Yay for CJ coming to your rescue with power tools!
By: Lexa Cain on May 5, 2017
Reminds me of how we crafters like to use fishing tackle boxes and garage organizers (the little ones for nuts and bolts) to keep our craft items sorted! That is one fine art storage unit.
By: jenny_o on May 5, 2017
Wow, that has it all. Glad you got a picture of it while it was still virgin. Got a feeling it will have a lot more "character" soon.
By: Arkansas Patti on May 5, 2017
I'd be like you. I would buy the prettiest and wouldn't want to mess it up. But, it's like a new car. Once you get the first ding, it doesn't matter anymore.
By: Mitchell is Moving on May 5, 2017
Maybe CJ would trade? Anyway, i hope you have lots of fun painting!
By: messymimi on May 5, 2017
Go ahead and scratch it to get it over with...its a TOOL CART!!
By: cranky on May 5, 2017
Maybe you could ask him to change his mind before you actually use it. When he sees what a good exchange it could be he might relent. On the other hand, it could be that a nice shiny new tool cart looks a bit sad to professional mechanics. This makes me wonder if there is a marketing opportunity in beating up toolcarts ....
By: jenny woolf on May 5, 2017
This is great. I love the thought of being organized in every project! I also think that guys who can repair things with tools are almost as sexy as a man in uniform.
By: Tabor on May 5, 2017
Sometimes (but not often) I get so organized I'm afraid to touch anything!!
By: fishducky on May 5, 2017
Pretty Nifty! I was studying it to see if I could use one like that, but, no, I have no place to put it! You could put a towel or something over the top to catch some of the spatters.......
By: Linda on May 5, 2017
That's a nice little cart! Your dad would be proud, I think, that at least you're using something meant to hold tools.
By: Val on May 5, 2017
Hey, with the wheels and the pull-handle on one end you're also set up for some plein air work!
By: Catalyst on May 5, 2017
My handycraft skills extend to rough carpentry (as evidenced by the tree fort and pirate ship in our back yard) but not mechanical engineering. Nifty alternative use for a tool cart, though! You'll just have to bite the bullet and christen it. The first dab of stray paint is the hardest, after that it's easy :)
By: Botanist on May 5, 2017
I've always wanted one of those carts, but I have no reason whatsoever to get one. I'm jealous!
By: The Bug on May 5, 2017
I'll bey you're saying, "Why didn't artists think about this along time ago.?"
By: red Kline on May 5, 2017
Looks good, you are going to get a lot of use out of this cart, I like Harbor freight.
By: Jimmy on May 5, 2017
That's a nice tool cart---my hubs would love that!
By: Marcia @ Menopausal Mother on May 5, 2017
What a perfect set up! I'm going to make sure my favorite artist, the woman with whom I've shared my life, sees your post.
By: Tom Cochrun on May 6, 2017
That cart definitely looks good. Enjoy! :-) Greetings from London.
By: A Cuban In London on May 6, 2017
It makes perfect sense to me to re-purpose a tool box as storage for artist supplies. I know someone who used a fishing tackle box for her makeup stuff.
By: Pixel Peeper on May 6, 2017
Now that is a great solution to keeping your tools of the trade... organized and accessible.
By: Daniel LaFrance on May 6, 2017
Maybe you could throw a party where everyone can mess up your cart a little bit -- spill some paint on it or whack it with a hammer to give it a dent. They will have fun; you will have the cart you want. P. S. You forgot the most important home-improvement tool: glue!
By: Tom Sightings on May 7, 2017
Fancy!! Now you're ready for sure. I had to buy a new baby gate for the hall.. the other one... broke. I brought it hope, it's in pieces on the table.. I'm pretty sure the directions are only in chinese... Heyalp!
By: Hey Monkey Butt on May 7, 2017
those things are perfect for all kinds of uses.
By: Ellen Abbott on May 8, 2017

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