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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Blog Archive

04/2014

All Too True

April 02, 2014 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  What happened when one of the world’s greatest painters set out to portray a man who was powerful, vain, nepotistic and suspicious, someone who also happened to be the Pope? In 1650 after leaving his native Spain and traveling to Italy, Velazquez impressed Rome with a brilliant portrait of his assistant Juan de Pareja. He then positioned his easel in front of Innocent X. Velazquez’ encounter with the pontiff was a duel of personalities; the artist was classy, restrained and intellectual; the Pope was coarse, cautious and cantankerous—a pirate in clerical robes.   Velazquez was accustomed to painting the pale complexions of his countrymen, but here he was confronted by a ruddy Italian in red clothing. The t ... read more

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The Accumulator

April 04, 2014 :: written in: All Blog Posts
The townhouse Mrs. Chatterbox and I currently live in has more square footage than any of our previous homes. I remember walking through it before we made our purchase; cabinets and storage space were plentiful and I figured it would be great having so many drawers that we could afford to leave a few empty. Six years later all of the drawers and cupboards are choked with stuff. How did this happen? Sometimes I feel like I’m a magnet and everything in the world is made of metal.      I’ve often dreamed of living in confined quarters, like a tree house, sailboat or studio apartment, a place where accumulating art books, travel souvenirs and Hummels (Mrs. C. has a fine collection) wouldn’t be possible. I ... read more

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Enough With The Depression Already!

April 07, 2014 :: written in: All Blog Posts
        Once again the nice folks at Retirement and Good Living have invited me to contribute to their site. I’m honored they think enough of my writing to have me back, and I credit my success there with the flood of responses these posts generate. Thank you in advance for supporting me through your comments. I hope you’ll once again follow this link and leave a comment there. If the response is big enough perhaps they’ll continue to invite me back. Check it out here:     http://retirementandgoodliving.com/enough-with-the-depression-already/      I’ve written about a topic that has irritated me for years, and yes it involves my eighty-nine year old mother in ... read more

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Color Test

April 09, 2014 :: written in: All Blog Posts
A few days ago Mrs. Chatterbox was engaged in one of her favorite activities, filling out a psychology quiz posted on Facebook. She completed the test and asked what color I thought she was. I had no idea but said, “I hope it isn’t pink because with your pink complexion you look a bit washed out when you wear pink.”      She rolled her eyes at me. “It isn’t a test to learn what color you should wear; it’s about what color you are.”      What a colossal waste of time, but I’ve been married long enough to know the pitfalls of honesty when it comes to discussing my spouse’s interests. “I see,” I said, not really seeing at all but try ... read more

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CJ's First $50

April 11, 2014 :: written in: All Blog Posts
      My mother came to Oregon for a visit when our son CJ was ten. As many of you know, my mother is a firecracker who doesn’t suffer fools easily. It was tax season and Mrs. C. was working overtime at an accounting firm. One evening after CJ had finished his homework, he walked through the dining room and saw his grandmother playing a game of solitaire. I couldn’t help overhearing their conversation.      “Grandma, can I play cards with you?”      “Solitaire is a game played by only one person.”      “Do you know another game, one we could play together? Do you know how to play Crazy Eights, or War, or Go Fish, o ... read more

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Tulip Time

April 14, 2014 :: written in: All Blog Posts
I’ve been enjoying the many Spring photos posted by my fellow bloggers, especially those featuring wonderful skyscapes and blooming flowers. I’ve resisted bemoaning the fact that Spring seems to be avoiding Portland. On Saturday Mrs. C. and I decided to get in the car and find Spring. We found it.      Twenty miles south of Portland is the town of Woodburn, home of The Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm and Tulip Fest 2014. It might seem strange to have tulip fields in Oregon when they’re mainly associated with Holland, but tulips aren’t native to Holland either. The colorful flower originated in Turkey.      Tulip Fest was started in the 1980s by the Iverson clan and it’s stil ... read more

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The Monument

April 16, 2014 :: written in: All Blog Posts
First posted April 2012   Flowers are starting to bloom here in the Northwest and folks are ignoring the drizzle to prepare their yards for warmer weather. At this time of year I always think of Mr. Melcher, a celebrity in the Bay Area neighborhood where I grew up in the early Sixties.   Mr. Melcher was famous for having the best-looking yard in the neighborhood. His nickname was Mr. Mulcher because of the great care he took to insure that his yard was well-fed, well-organized, and a glimmering palette of color. Aside from feeding his lawn and adding mulch, he fertilized and aerated every year and mowed his grass twice a week. The reward for all his hard work was an award-winning landscape like those on the cover of Better Hom ... read more

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Mary's House

April 18, 2014 :: written in: All Blog Posts
 Although I don’t write about religion, I think this post from our trip to Turkey in 2012 reflects the spirit of the season.   **********************   Is this really the house where the Mother of God spent her last years? Like so many things, it all boils down to a matter of faith. Although I work hard to contain my cynicism, faith isn’t my strong suit. But I am painfully sentimental and the story of Jesus is a remarkably good one, as well it should be after thousands of years of embellishment.      You might be surprised to learn that the House of Mary is said to be in Turkey; I know I was. This all began in Germany with the 19th century bedridden nun Anne Catherine Emmerich. She had ex ... read more

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The Perfect Job

April 21, 2014 :: written in: All Blog Posts
A few days ago Mrs. Chatterbox informed me that our mattress needed flipping.      “Why?” I asked.      “We’re wearing trenches into our mattress and need to turn it over.”      For one reason or another, we didn’t get around to flipping our mattress that day but when we climbed into bed that evening I noticed we both appeared to be sinking into the mattress, as if we were toys in Styrofoam packaging. Granted we weren’t light people, but I had no idea we were slowly moving in the direction of hell. I later joked that we needed to hire someone to sleep on the mound separating us, to flatten the pitcher’s mound rising in the mid ... read more

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Hookers

April 23, 2014 :: written in: All Blog Posts
I’ve mentioned several times that Mrs. C. is the volunteer coordinator for our local police department. One of her tasks is to arrange for citizens to tour the police department. These tours are extremely popular, especially with seniors, Scouts and special needs groups. Mrs. C. and her volunteers do a stupendous job making these tours interesting, utilizing canine officers and even letting people examine the jail cells, unless they happen to be occupied. But every now and then my wife receives a comment that makes her shake her head. She recently took a call from an angry mom. The conversation went much like this:      Ring…ring…      “Mrs. Chatterbox. How may I help y ... read more

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The Most Beautiful Sound

April 25, 2014 :: written in: All Blog Posts
First posted 3/11/2012   A fellow blogger recently listed a few of her favorite things and one of the items, a classic TV sitcom, brought a smile to my face and made me remember one of the most beautiful sounds I’ve ever heard.   It was ’76 and Mrs. C. and I were on a bus riding from Patras to Athens, a journey that didn’t look long on a map but seemed endless on a bus with clucking chickens and grunting pigs. Mrs. C. and I were exhausted when we arrived in downtown Athens a few minutes before ten PM. We had yet to find a place to stay so I told Mrs. C. to keep her eyes on the other passengers so we could follow them to a hotel or pension after I collected our backpacks from the bus driver.   When I re ... read more

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The Purple Octopus

April 28, 2014 :: written in: All Blog Posts
In the 1990s I decided my fledgling illustration business had progressed to the point where I needed a permanent, full-time work space. Mrs. Chatterbox was growing disenchanted with art supplies cluttering her dining room. I’d managed to acquire enough regular customers to feel comfortable with the expense of a studio space, and downtown Portland was rich with old buildings capable of providing cheap work square footage. Besides, most of the publications, advertising agencies and professional organizations purchasing my work were located downtown and it seemed logical I should locate there.      Finding a suitable space proved harder than I’d imagined, but I finally happened across a suite with big window ... read more

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Brushes in Hand

April 30, 2014 :: written in: All Blog Posts
A few weeks ago I experienced a weird sensation, something I hadn’t felt in years. I was leaving comments for a few of my favorite bloggers when suddenly I felt the urge to …grab a few paint brushes and move paint around. A decade ago I baffled friends and family when I set aside my paints and brushes. Now it’s hard to remember why I stopped painting. I guess I burned out after years of illustration assignments, years of working to please clients. In addition to painting, writing had always been an interest so I changed course and began painting with words. Now that I’ve completed five hundred posts and three unpublished novels, the time seems right to pick up a palette and start moving paint again.   &nb ... read more

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