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

2016

CJ Update

January 02, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Thanks to everyone for sending good wishes for our son CJ's speedy recovery. Today marks the seventh day since CJ was struck with a cerebral hemorrhage. He's still in the intensive care unit where he'll remain for the next two weeks but he's finally starting to show signs of his old self. He still has a drain in his head to relieve pressure, and controlling his headaches is a constant challenge. The doctors tell us his recovery will be complete but slow and it will be several months before he returns to work full time. He's been receiving lots of visitors from police co-workers and many cops have been dropping by to talk cars with him. The cops are great, rallying around CJ and reassuring him that he's part of the police family. I warned th ... read more

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Another CJ Update

January 06, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
A recent angiogram showed that our son CJ did in fact sufferer from a brain aneurysm on December 26th. It doubled in size the week he was in the intensive care unit, making it possible for doctors  to see what was previously invisible.   A decision had to be made as to how to treat it, either by entering the brain through the femoral artery in the groin (an angiogram) or open brain surgery. Because CJ was experiencing brain spasms, it was deemed too dangerous to perform brain surgery at this time so the angiogram procedure was used to insert metal coils into the aneurysm to stabilize it and prevent further bleeds. These coils are about as thick as a single human hair, yet the doctors believe they were successful at neutralizing ... read more

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The Contrarian

January 11, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
I called my mother yesterday to fill her in on her grandson’s status in the hospital (all good news) and when I’d finished reassuring her that CJ’s progress was slow but steady, the subject changed to the lottery, which as you probably know is now worth over a billion dollars.             “Why haven’t you bought me a lottery ticket?” she asked.             “They don’t sell them at the hospital, where I’ve been spending most of my time,” I answered. “Besides, you’re ninety-one years old and don’t need a billion dollars. You don’t spend the money y ... read more

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New CJ Update

January 18, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
When our son was told he’d be in the neurological intensive care unit for three weeks after suffering a brain aneurysm, it seemed hard to believe he’d actually be hospitalized that long, but Saturday marked three weeks. After having surgery last week to insert a permanent shunt into his head to drain excess fluid, he’s been moved out of the ICU and into a regular room for a few days. He’s no longer connected to dozens of tubes and monitors and can finally move about his room more easily.   We expect he’ll be released this week, perhaps as soon as today. A delay in his release might take place because he’s “salt wasting,” not currently maintaining enough body salt. He’s being given ... read more

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Going Viral ?

January 20, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
My dignity is currently in the toilet. It’s possible I’m about to be featured in a video that, if posted, might go viral.             I haven’t been getting much exercise lately so the other evening while Mrs. C. and I were driving home from an errand, I had her drop me off a quarter of a mile from home so I could stretch my legs. I wasn’t about to let darkness, wind or rain deter me and grabbed the umbrella in the trunk before she drove off.             A few words about that umbrella: I purchased it a few years ago as a Christmas gift for Mrs. C., who’d expressed a desire for a “cheerful&rdq ... read more

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Requiem

January 22, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
I’m here to lay to rest a beloved person from my childhood, someone who gave me hours of laughs and served as a fatherly role model for many years—Bill Cosby.             I’m not referring to the Bill Cosby currently in the news, the fellow accused of drugging and sexually assaulting nearly fifty women. I don’t know that Bill Cosby. The Bill I knew, or thought I knew, was warm and funny, a comedian who never swore or belittled anyone, whose keen insight brought to life universal humor based on the heartwarming foibles of the human condition.             When I was a kid, I mowed lawns and collected newspa ... read more

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The Chatterbox Awakens

January 25, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
I’m usually the person whose opinions run contrary to everyone else’s, but on Saturday I realized how far I swim from the mainstream. Perhaps I belong in isolation with other deviants, a chubby cellmate for El Chapo, or maybe I belong in a special camp for like-minded people unable to be assimilated into proper society, aberrant people such as those with a passion for Jerry Lewis or think Sarah Palin a gifted intellectual. On Saturday, Mrs. Chatterbox and I saw the new Star Wars movie, and throughout most of it I wished I was in a different galaxy, one far far away from the movie theater where my butt was growing sore.   Spoiler Alert: If you have yet to see the movie you might not want to continue reading.   & ... read more

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America's Michelangelo

January 27, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Frederick Edwin Church (1826-1900) is not a name that springs to mind in a discussion of great American painters, yet there was a time when he was considered the Michelangelo of American landscape painters.             A member of the Hudson River School, Church began his career by painting rural America at a time when our country’s natural beauty was first beginning to be celebrated in art. Church came from a wealthy family and never struggled to make a living; at eighteen he became the youngest associate of the National Academy of Design. Unlike his mentor Thomas Cole and other Hudson River painters who focused on American landscapes, Church grew restless and traveled the worl ... read more

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The Final Procedure

January 29, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Today CJ is having a final procedure to remove the aneurysm from his brain. Two weeks ago, before he was discharged from the hospital to recover from previous procedures, an angiogram revealed that the coils inserted into his aneurysm weren’t sufficient, leaving CJ at risk for future bleeding. The solution is open brain surgery to clip the aneurysm—a procedure that sounds terrifying yet is considered routine and has proven highly successful. CJ has shown remarkable poise throughout this ordeal; I doubt I would have been so even tempered while facing brain surgery.   Today’s operation is scheduled to take four to six hours. He will recover in the neurological ICU for a day or two and then spend three to four days in ... read more

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The Lighter Side of Brain Surgery

February 01, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
On Friday CJ had a final surgery to clip his aneurysm. The procedure took four hours and went remarkably well. We were told his speech and mobility might be affected for a few days, but so far this hasn’t been the case. When not knocked out by morphine and fentanyl, he’s been good natured and chatty—well, he is a chip off the old block. He does have an incision with fifty staples stretching from his left ear to the middle of his forehead, but the doctors were considerate enough to make their incision well into CJ’s hairline so, once healed, it will barely show. For weeks I’ve been reassuring our son that chicks dig “scars” (as if I’d know) but now it seems he won’t be sporting a visible ... read more

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Hair / Loss

February 03, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
    Mocking the misfortune of others is a good way to invite bad karma, but I was too busy bringing our son CJ home from the hospital yesterday to pen anything worth reading. Instead of skipping a post, I’ll risk bad karma by posting these pictures that made me laugh.     Karma may have the last laugh since Trump is currently ahead of Cruz in many upcoming primaries. While I dislike Trump and believe he’d make a terrible president, Cruz, the winner of the Iowa Caucus, scares me more.      What do you mean the people of Iowa FIRED ME?                         Follow my blog with Bloglovin ... read more

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The Fill Up

February 05, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Reworked from 2012.   In 1942 he was a lanky sixteen year old and glad to have a job pumping gas, checking oil and washing windshields at a Texaco in Modesto, California. Most of the men had dashed off to war or he wouldn’t have landed this job. He had numerous brothers and sisters. Now he was able to contribute money to the jar on the kitchen shelf to pay for food and a roof over their heads.   He’d just finished filling the tank of an old farm truck when a shiny black Buick pulled into the station. He’d seen the expensive car a few times and recognized the man behind the wheel. An icy claw must have squeezed his heart—he’d never been this close to the driver. It’s easy to imagine him runni ... read more

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Protest II: Finale

February 08, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Over the past few months much has happened at Casa Chatterbox and I just now realized I never posted final pictures of Protest II, my effort to recreate a smaller version of a massive painting I created fifteen years ago. Both versions of The Protest show a group of people on the steps of a public building. Some are actively engaged in a protest while others, like the bag lady with the shopping cart, pass this spot every day and have been swept up in the action. I haven’t stated what this protest is about, leaving it to the viewer to figure it out; there is no correct answer. I like painting people, and placing them on steps makes it possible to flesh out many personalities without those in the foreground blocking those behind.   ... read more

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Music of the Night

February 10, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
My mother is being haunted by the music of the night, but not the pellucid notes of Andrew Lloyd Webber. She’s hearing voices. Lately, we’ve been having conversations like this:   “How was your night, Mom? Did you finally get a good night’s sleep?”   “No! I’m hearing that music again!”   “Is it possible you’re imagining it? Could it be in your head?”   “Listen, Buster, I may be old but I’m not senile. I know when I’m hearing something.”   “Did it start up again at exactly 2:00?”   “Yes, but it didn’t wake me. I woke and then heard it.”   “I think you’re hearing i ... read more

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Face Off

February 12, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Mrs. Chatterbox and I ventured out last night to see a documentary on the Spanish artist Francisco Goya. Goya is a personal favorite, a painter whose bravado, womanizing (he was rumored to have had an affair with the Duchess of Alba) and deafness have long captured the public’s imagination. His flirting with danger caused him to come in conflict with the Spanish Inquisition, especially when he painted female nudes like The Naked Maja. Goya was a superb portraitist when he chose to be.   In spite of his interest in etching and lithography, Goya’s income was always dependent on portraits of the rich and powerful. Surprisingly, his sitters didn’t mind his frank assessment of them. His brush cut through pretense to lay ... read more

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The Madonna and the RV

February 15, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
It was an unsettling debate. Rest assured I’m not about to launch into a diatribe on the fiasco that was Saturday night’s CBS Republican debate. I’m here to dip my toe into waters far more contentious than an exchange over who should be our next president. Recently, Mrs. Chatterbox and I had an energetic discussion over who is more inclined to hold grudges—men or women.   This started during a recent visit with my mother at her assisted living facility. She launched into a discussion about how my late father took great care with his possessions while not giving proper consideration to her things. I mentioned that I always observed Dad taking care of everyone’s belongings, often fixing things she managed ... read more

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Sweet and Sour

February 17, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Reworked from a 2012 post.             This picture was taken in Sorrento, Italy. Those sunglasses are large enough to fit around my big head. When I snapped this I was reminded of an incident I hadn’t thought about since fourth grade.   My Portuguese grandpa had a green thumb and could grow just about anything. He was hard of hearing and didn’t mind me shadowing him and pelting him with questions he either ignored or couldn’t hear.   Behind his house grew a small grove of fruit trees he used for making brandies. But another tree in his front yard always drew attention; one side yielded oranges and the other side apples—Grandpa had grafted two trees to ... read more

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Feast or Famine

February 19, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
                For hundreds of years, few words struck more terror than those calling you to appear before the Roman Catholic Inquisition. In 1573, Venetian painter Paolo Veronese was summoned to appear before the Inquisition to answer for the irreverence of his painting The Last Supper, designed to cover the entire rear wall of a Dominican refectory and one of the largest paintings of the sixteenth century.       The Feast in the House of Levi by Veronese (1573)       Center scene (Detail)   In Florence and Rome most large paintings, like Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling and Last Judgment, were done in fresco—wet plaster appli ... read more

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Peculiar Travel pictures

February 22, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
        As regular followers of this blog know, I’m a retired illustrator and from time to time I post peculiar pictures I created for clients, pictures that for one reason or another were never published. This time I’m posting a few peculiar pictures I snapped while on vacation with Mrs. Chatterbox. There’s no rhyme nor reason to these pictures; they just made me smile.       This picture was snapped in the lobby of a hotel in Izmir, Turkey. If they didn’t want people smoking, why place ashtrays on every table? Note: I emptied the ashes before taking this picture.       Hong Kong has many islands and on one of them I spotted this statue in a four- hun ... read more

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Weird On Ice

February 24, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
I can’t recall how the subject came up, but at a recent breakfast with some friends I found myself in a discussion about the strangest item ever placed in my freezer. Hey, one can only talk about politics for so long. Heads at nearby tables in the restaurant turned in my direction when I blurted out that the strangest item in our freezer was—a cat head.   I know many of you are fond of cats, but before you report me to the police for animal cruelty let me assure you that I’d never intentionally harm an animal. The cat head in our freezer was not real. It was made of white chocolate.   Mrs. Chatterbox was an Army brat and grew up in Germany where white chocolate was popular. When she and her family returned to ... read more

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Blubbery Infamy

February 26, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
It happened in 1970, ten years before Mrs. Chatterbox and I relocated from Southern California to Oregon. It was a moment sure to live forever in the annals of Oregon infamy. Until Bob Packwood (U.S. Senator 1969-1995) humiliated Oregon with his sexual peccadilloes or Tonya Harding (1994 Winter Olympics figure skater) soiled the state with her icy indifference to morality, this was Oregon’s great claim to shame.   In November of 1970 a dead sperm whale washed up on the beach at Florence, Oregon. The Oregon Highway Division settled on a questionable method to dispose of the rotting carcass. The solution for removing tons of rotting whale included—dynamite.   Years ago this video gained wide circulation when Dave Bar ... read more

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Durnstein Castle

February 29, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Mrs. Chatterbox and I were headed toward the famous Melk Monastery in the Wachau Region of Austria when our bus stopped so we could tour a vineyard in a region famous for producing Riesling wine. Having worked in a winery during college (Almaden Vineyards) I wasn’t much interested in seeing another winery but didn’t fancy sitting on the bus while everyone else toured the facility and sampled wine.             As we were walking among well-tended vines beneath a darkening sky, the ruins on a nearby hilltop caught my eye. I asked our guide about it.             “That is Dürnstein Castle,” I was told in ... read more

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The Sphinx of 22nd Place

March 02, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Reworked from a 2012 post.   In 2005 Mrs. Chatterbox and I decided to explore urban living; we bought a hundred year old house on Northwest 22nd Place in downtown Portland. The neighborhood, dotted with late Victorian houses, had a shabby chic quality. Our street was slightly run down but our realtor convinced us to overlook the decay.   The area was adjacent to the trendy shops and restaurants of Northwest 23rd only a block away. Our street had seen its ups and downs over the years but our realtor told us it was about to experience gentrification. By gentrification he must have been referring to all the money we would need to invest to keep our house from falling down.   Not long after moving in I decided to explore ou ... read more

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Peculiar Pictures 42, 43, 44

March 04, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
I’m about halfway through my files of peculiar pictures, created back when I was a professional illustrator. My specialty was conceptual illustration—images created to accompany articles and make people stop turning the pages of magazines and newspapers long enough to read the articles.   Many of the pictures in my files were created on speculation, without a buyer, and some of these turned out to be my best sellers. The challenge was to create images useful to different art directors who understood that unless they purchased the copyright to an image I’d market it elsewhere, a common practice in the industry. Some illustrations were tailor made and very specific, making them less successful in a secondary market. ... read more

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What Happened to Apricots?

March 07, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
It’s been cold and dreary here in Portland. Emotionally, I’ve been sailing over spring and thinking about summer, particularly the sunny summers of my childhood in California. I grew up in the Santa Clara Valley, famous for fruit production before the massive orchards were ripped up and asphalted over to make room for the Silicon Valley. Jack London wrote about the astonishing fertility of a valley so famous for fruit that it prompted my ancestors to migrate from the Azores to work the orchards and canneries. Many people had fruit trees on their property, resulting in a steady supply of cherries, apples, pears, oranges. But when I close my eyes and thing about those warm summer months, it’s apricots I think about.  & ... read more

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What Size Humanity?

March 09, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
The other day I spotted a dapper gentleman at the mall; he was impeccably dressed in a black suit, sported a well groomed beard and black derby. His head was of normal size but he had a child’s body and was less than four feet tall. I’ve seen dwarfs in Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones, but I haven’t encountered many in my lifetime—outside of museums.             Dwarfs were once considered property, owned by royalty for purposes of entertainment. You might recall the dwarf in a jester’s costume I recently posted in Veronese’s painting The Feast in the House of Levi. For centuries, artists included dwarfs in paintings to highlight the nobility a ... read more

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The Birth of Reason

March 11, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Rest assured this is not a post about Plato, Descartes, Rousseau or the Age of Reason, subjects I’m not qualified to expound on. I’m no philosopher, but recently I did witness the birth of reason—as experienced by a toddler.             Mrs. Chatterbox and I live rich and rewarding lives, but there is one area that is lacking. We don’t have small children in our lives. Our only child is thirty-five and still looking for the right woman, so grandchildren are nowhere on the horizon. I offer this not as a complaint but rather as an explanation for why I was so intrigued by an incident I witnessed at our park and recreation facility where I swim.     ... read more

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Art and Money

March 14, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
These days the news is replete with stories from the art world of record-breaking auction prices. While it’s highly unlikely any of my works of art will auction for millions of dollars, some of them do include money.   On more than one occasion I’ve referred to the CD I created in the 90s for Getty Images. These sixty royalty-free images were quickly created in fast-drying acrylic in less than five weeks. The topic assigned to me was Business Fundamentals, with the focus on money or business issues. This assignment inspired me to create images that included money.   I struggled to think of imaginative ways to include actual money in my compositions. This isn’t to say I glued actual greenbacks to my artwork, b ... read more

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Lions in the Closet

March 16, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Our son was an easygoing child. Mrs. Chatterbox and I coasted through his terrible twos and beyond without any problems. Many parents have difficulty putting their children down for the night but CJ, our blond haired, blue-eyed little Hummel, slept until morning without incident—until the monster arrived.             “Daddy, I can’t sleep. There’s a monster in the closet!”             “A monster?”             He nodded.             “What kind of monster?”  & ... read more

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My Best Vacation Ever!

March 18, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Last week my mother called in tears because she couldn’t hear. We’d gone to the doctor the day before for her annual check-up and she hadn’t complained of hearing issues, although she doesn’t hear anything in her left ear which was damaged after working many years in a winery bottling plant. The doctor examined her and concluded the problem was a blockage from ear wax, which my mother packed tightly with a Q-tip, even though she’s been cautioned many times not to use them in her ears.   After her ear had been irrigated and her hearing restored, I was driving her home when she asked if anything similar had ever happened to me. Indeed, it had. This reworked post from 2011 is about a true incident that took ... read more

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Keeping My Mouth Shut

March 21, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
It won’t come as a surprise to most of you that someone who identifies himself as a chatterbox would find it challenging keeping his mouth shut. Here’s an example of when I probably should have zipped my lip.             I was at Michaels Arts & Crafts Store over the weekend thanks to a discount coupon cut from the Sunday paper. According to my coupon, if I purchased a regularly priced item I could get a second item of equal or lesser value for a penny. I purchased a small art canvas for a few bucks and received a second one for a penny. While leaving the store I spotted a young man talking with a salesperson about airbrushes. I’d studied airbrush techniques in p ... read more

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The Pool of Pamukkale

March 23, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
I’m definitely in the mood for warm weather, which is months away for Oregonians. Lately I’ve been thinking about some of the warm places Mrs. Chatterbox and I have visited.   We try to absorb as much local flavor as possible. We’ve ridden camels in the Great Thar Desert, explored Old Delhi in rickshaws and bathed elephants in Thailand. I never want to return home feeling like we missed out on an experience, but there was a time when I denied myself one, and I think about it often.             We were exploring Hierapolis, an ancient Greco/Roman city founded in the second century B.C. in southwestern Turkey. Ancient Greeks had been drawn to the location becaus ... read more

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Free Expert Advice

March 25, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
In an effort to make my blog more educational, I’m here to share a special expertise I’ve kept hidden until now. It’s quite possible that a few of you might someday be coerced into an activity of which I can offer useful tips. No, I’m not going to advise anyone on painting or writing because there are already too many so-called experts marketing their expertise. I’m here to help you claim a blue ribbon should you ever find yourself in—a pie eating contest.             It shouldn’t come as a surprise that anyone who identifies themselves as a “chubby” chatterbox has eating skills. I’ve never been selected for my athletic prowe ... read more

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Learning How to Share

March 28, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Last week I shared my expertise as a successful pie eating contestant. I mentioned that I was never selected for sports competitions and had no sports accomplishments to speak of. After reading my post, Mrs. Chatterbox reminded me of a time when I did manage to win a sports competition. Many of you will have celebrated far more memorable moments of athletic prowess, but this is all I have so I’ll cherish it as much as possible.             The event in question took place at a street party to celebrate the Fourth of July, back when our son CJ was six. In Portland, the Fourth is often dreary, but on this occasion the day was clear and sunny, if not warm. Mrs. Chatterbox’s p ... read more

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Time to Forgive Michael Jackson

March 30, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  In 1984 Michael Jackson was flying high with Thriller, voted the most influential pop music video ever. I was managing a jewelry store in Oregon at the time and Jackie, one of my employees, approached to ask for a few days off. “Why?” I asked.             Jackie was one of my best salespeople when she wasn’t attending classes at a local college. She seldom asked for time off. “I want to buy tickets for the Michael Jackson Concert at the Tacoma Dome up near Seattle. The concert is in a few months and tickets go on sale in two days. I plan to camp on the sidewalk in front of Ticketmaster to have a crack at choice seats.”     &n ... read more

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An Arrangement in Amsterdam

April 01, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Travel can be strenuous and taxing on the body, and Mrs. Chatterbox and I often share colds and other maladies while traveling. In 1976 on our first trip to Europe, I contracted the flu while in Dijon, France, and it was a nightmare. Dijon is the mustard capital of Europe and has been producing mustard for hundreds of years. Believe me, when you’re sick, your head is spinning and your nether region is leaking like the Exxon Valdez, the last place you want to be is in a city where everything, including every wall in your hotel room, is painted mustard yellow. But this isn’t a post about illness—it’s spring and this post is about flowers.   After regaining my health in Dijon, we loaded our backpacks and headed f ... read more

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Peculiar Pictures #45, #46 & #47

April 04, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
      I didn’t get a chance to write a new post for today because I spent the weekend trying to purchase a new coffee maker for my mother. Regular Chubby Chatterbox followers will recall that my ninety-one year old mother can be a handful, and when the nerve-calming martinis wear off I’ll write a post about this called: Death by a Thousand Drips. Until then, here are a few more Peculiar Pictures from my illustration files.       Catching a Tiger by the Tail (Acrylic on panel)   It’s hard creating characters that don’t resemble anyone in particular. Our son CJ wasn’t thrilled to have the fellow holding the lion’s tail resemble him so closely.     ... read more

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Death by a Thousand Drips

April 06, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
My mother is extremely particular about her coffee. For years she swore the only coffee worth drinking was percolated. For those of you who haven’t checked recently, percolating electric coffee pots have become as illusive as dolphin safe tuna. My mother has a habit of cleaning appliances so aggressively that when finished they no longer work. A shelf in her walk-in closet is a mausoleum of fallen coffee makers no longer capable of providing her magic elixir. The oldest resembles a camping coffee pot designed to sit on an open flame. These are still available at camping gear outlets but fire and my mother are a bad mix since she often forgets she’s left the stove on. I’ve yet to impress her with the virtue of a single-cup ... read more

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ASS-Law College

April 08, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
      The news can be so dreadful that it’s good to pause and laugh when you can, and something I recently read made me chuckle out loud. It involves the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who I won’t pretend to like, but this isn’t about that.             An anonymous donor (thought to be the Koch brothers) just gave twenty million dollars to George Mason University on condition that its college of law be renamed to honor Scalia. The University accepted the money and changed the name to Antonin Scalia School of Law.   Students bristled at the acronym, and expressed concern over attending an institution that would henceforth be loving ... read more

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Theater Courtesy

April 11, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Several Bloggers have weighed in on a topic I think about every time Mrs. Chatterbox and I go to the movies, which it seems we do less and less as we grow older. But when we do go to the movies I’m particular where we sit. Here in Portland, most of the theaters are divided into two sections with a horizontal aisle dividing the first twenty-five rows from the remaining seats. I like the first row in the second section because there are a few seats behind a metal rail perfect for resting your feet on and nobody to sit directly in front of you, as there would be on either side of these few seats. I hate it when we pick empty seats only to have Mr. Lincoln show up in his stovetop hat and slide into the seat in front of you just as the mov ... read more

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Who Wears the Pants in Your Family?

April 13, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
    When Mrs. Chatterbox and I go to the mall, one of our favorite things to do is people watch. As a portrait painter, I analyze people and mentally sketch them. When it comes to couples, I often find myself trying to figure out the family dynamic—as in who wears the pants in the family. In my own family, it was my mother who wore the pants, figuratively and literally, and made all the decisions. This brings me to Thomas Gainsborough’s double portrait of Mr. and Mrs. Andrews.   Painted in 1750 when the artist was twenty-one, this stunning double portrait remained in the sitters’ family until the 1960s and was relatively unknown until recently. Today it’s one of Britain’s most popular paintin ... read more

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Grandpa's Ghost

April 15, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
A ghost sat at our kitchen table when I was a child, a ghost by the name of Grandpa Frank. He was my mother’s father, and he died eighty years ago in 1936. How he died always depended on who you asked. Stories range from scarlet fever to an accident brought about by falling from a church steeple he climbed on a dare. I don’t think I’ll ever know, but I have it on several counts that he was an invalid for the last two years of his life.   My mother has refused to let go of her father and carries his memory with her to this very day, speaking of him constantly. As a kid growing up it was as though Mom had fabricated him from a mental matrix, projecting his image at our kitchen table. Mom wasn’t a crackpot, didn& ... read more

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Giants

April 18, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
I consider myself to be a somewhat skeptical person, someone who looks for hidden truths and questions nearly everything I’m told. I’ve been called a contrarian, a Doubting Thomas, but this wasn’t always so. I was a gullible kid and easily accepted what I was told. It didn’t help that my extended family included people who loved pulling my short little legs. As an example: it took very little to convince me that giants existed.             Uncle Art lived close to my grandmother’s house and after visiting Grandma and Grandpa my family would often walk over to Uncle Art’s house for a visit with him and Aunt Betty. In the corner of Uncle Art’s f ... read more

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Enough is Enough

April 20, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
I can’t stand it any more. Everyone has a limit and I’ve reached mine. The human brain can only handle so much before gray matter starts squirting out your ears. You’re probably wondering, at least I hope you are) what has brought me to this fever pitch of annoyance? The current state of our politics? No. The idiocy of those who can’t read the writing on the wall and accept that humans are affecting climate change so we can finally begin doing what we can to save our planet? No. Is it that Blogger keeps eliminating people from my blogroll and I’m never going to reach three hundred followers? No. My panties are in a bunch because I’m sick and tired of hearing about…Jon Snow.      ... read more

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Old-Fashioned Selfies

April 22, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Most painters create self-portraits during the course of their careers, and a few, like Rembrandt, made them a focus of their output. Vanity isn’t usually the reason for staring into a mirror to capture the nuances of your own countenance. At a young age I desperately wanted to master flesh tones and capture likenesses, but posing for a portrait is an odious task and no one was willing to sit for me. Artists are often reduced to painting from photographs, which limits the ability to capture the ineffable qualities of human existence.   The greatest drawback to painting from photographs is the lack of psychological information more readily available when an artist interacts with his subject, even if the subject is himself. Clien ... read more

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The "Shred"

April 25, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Yes, I was a chubby kid, a plump roly-poly who seldom turned up his nose at food, with one exception. I could never bring myself to eat something that resembled vomit, and I put my ample foot down when it came to consuming something that looked like it had already been eaten and rejected by someone—creamed corn.   My mother ignored my revulsion and served it often, doling out a generous scoop of creamed corn onto my plate. The vile stuff triggered my gag reflex. I couldn’t bear looking at it. I can still hear my mother saying, “Eat that corn or go to bed without supper!”             My response: “Fine!”   Off to bed I’d go. When ... read more

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Motoring with the Chatterbox

April 27, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Our son CJ just informed me that my vehicle needs four new tires. I was reminded of his guest post from 2011, where he describes what it was like buying a car for me.     *****************************   People have referred to me as a “Car Whisperer,” a term I am not particularly fond of; I don’t have conversations with cars. Well, that’s not entirely true. I may thank my car from time to time when it completes a particularly arduous task like towing a trailer or getting me home safe in the snow or pouring rain. I might also utter a colorful metaphor from time to time as I repair and maintain my cars in a rainy driveway. This isn’t, however, a story about my love for cars. It’s a tale ... read more

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Peculiar Picture #48

April 29, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
    This picture was originally an illustration for an Oregon nursery association’s spring catalog. The art director’s idea was to show the map of Oregon being pushed into outer space by a giant beanstalk. I thought this a questionable concept, but the client is always right, especially if you expect payment for your work.             I seldom sold the original artwork, so when this piece was returned I scraped away the map of Oregon and tried to think of something to replace it. At the time, Bill Clinton was going through his impeachment woes so I entertained myself by adding him to the picture. I was pleased with the likeness, especially since this was painte ... read more

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As Old as You Feel?

May 02, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
I don’t think about my age very often but it’s undeniable that the years are stacking up; I’ll be sixty-four in November. Many people think I’m younger than I am. I often joke about possessing a disarming immaturity most people mistake for youth. It’s often said that you’re only as old as you feel, and lately I’ve been trying to do things to feel younger- like taking tennis lessons from Tina N., a good friend you might remember as being a master gardener.   One of the few advantages of being overweight is that fat tends to reduce wrinkles. My facial hair has gone grey but when I add a bit of color I can pass for forty-five, which annoys Mrs. Chatterbox who is often thought slightly older than ... read more

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Tornado

May 04, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
This might be a peculiar picture, or just a prophetic one.   This wasn’t an illustration assignment. When I painted this years ago I was already troubled by climate change. I’d flown over Greenland and seen the missing ice and snow, and my home state of California was beginning to experience the droughts that would only intensify over the years. Scientists, who aren’t the best at public relations, left themselves vulnerable to ridicule by referring to changing weather patterns as global warming. It was beyond many people to understand how the world could be growing warmer when so many severe snowstorms were affecting the country. The science behind this phenomenon is beyond a simple answer, but is understood and acc ... read more

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Parody

May 06, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
While teaching conceptual illustration at our local art college I was asked one question more than any other: Where do your ideas come from? As an illustrator, I enjoyed problem solving almost as much as painting. If an art director had a problem, I was paid to solve it—visually. Perhaps the text in a layout was boring and in need of a punch to keep readers interested, or the writer was dealing with complex issues requiring a visual to help readers understand the concept.             When my students were lacking in inspiration I suggested they create a parody, defined by Webster as   an imitation of the style of a particular writer, artist, or genre with deliberate exagg ... read more

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Happy Birthday, Mom

May 09, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
To all the moms out there, I hope you had a wonderful Mother’s Day. Today is another special day in the Chatterbox family; it’s my mother’s ninety-first birthday. I’ve written about my mother many times but I’ve never mentioned her eating disorder—she doesn’t like eating in front of people. She cooks her own meals and refuses to eat the food she pays for in the dining room of her retirement facility. In fact, I can’t recall sitting down to a meal with her when she actually ate. Years ago when she and my dad would fly to Oregon for a visit, she’d refuse to join us at the dinner table. After their departure we’d find crumbs of food she’d squirreled away and eaten in bed. Mom cl ... read more

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Portland's Lan Su Chinese Garden

May 11, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Sometimes it takes out-of-town guests to prompt a visit to wonderful attractions in your own backyard. Last week I was visited by one of my favorite bloggers, Michael Offutt, and his good friends James and Brad. They wanted to visit Portland’s Chinese Garden, build back when I had my downtown illustration studio but a place I’ve never visited.             I was amazed at the masterful manipulation of space in a setting surrounded by high rises and urban traffic. The Lan Su Chinese Garden is a recreation of a sixteenth century Chinese scholar’s garden, built from traditional materials and methods, a historical treasure and a place where people, ideas and cultures inte ... read more

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A Stupid TV Show

May 13, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
    A forensic team would have difficulty finding my DNA on our TV’s remote control because it’s usually in Mrs. Chatterbox’s hand. She schedules most of our programs. She thoughtfully records programs I like and I’m grateful. However, she also records programs I refuse to watch. I won’t mention which programs because I know my good friend Cranky at Cranky Old Man watches many of these shows and I don’t want him tearing me a new one.             The other day I walked into the family room and Mrs. C. was watching a cooking show on the Food Network.             “What show ... read more

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Saving a Life in Key Largo

May 30, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
One of the reasons Mrs. Chatterbox and I travel is to challenge our preconceptions of a place with firsthand experiences. I’d heard about the Florida Keys my entire life and was excited to lay my eyes on them.             We rented a car in Miami and drove to our first stop—Key Largo, made famous by the film with Bogie and Bacall. Frankly, there wasn’t much to do in Key Largo except eat key lime pie and try to cool off in swimming pools hot enough to poach an egg. The Keys are surrounded by a massive coral reef so the water is still, without waves. However, we took an excursion that proved extraordinary; doused in insect repellent, we toured a saltwater portion of th ... read more

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The Conch Republic

June 01, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Among the first things we noticed after pulling into Key West were confusing references to the Conch Republic. Hundreds of souvenirs were labeled Conch Republic, including a hat I purchased for Mrs. Chatterbox. A little research provided information on an interesting event.   In 1982 The United States Border Patrol, in an attempt to apprehend illegal aliens and drug traffickers, set up a road block and inspection point on US#1, the only bridge leading into the Florida Keys. The mayor of Key West, Dennis Wardlow, made repeated demands for the removal of the barricade as it was destroying Key West’s tourist business, but his complaints went unanswered.      Wardlow decided that if the Feds were going to seal ... read more

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The Big Squeeze

June 03, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Most people are now aware of the python problem in the Florida Everglades. We didn’t see any on our trip through the mangroves, but our guide, Captain Dave, had much to say about the region’s invasive reptiles.             A fallacy has taken root, convincing people that these invasive Burmese pythons were released into the Everglades by pet owners who didn’t want them anymore, but it turns out this is an urban myth. Eight hundred of these reptiles were freed when Hurricane Andrew destroyed a breeding facility in 1992. One can only question the wisdom of allowing anyone to breed an invasive species in the backyard of the Everglades. Word of the release was quickly re ... read more

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Hemingway's Polydactyls

June 06, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
One of the things Mrs. Chatterbox was keen on seeing in Key West was the Hemingway House. The celebrated writer lived here less than ten years, but it was where he was most prolific, penning The Snows of Kilimanjaro, To Have and Have Not and The Green Hills of Africa. Key West has claimed Hemingway as their local celebrity and his name and image turn up like Saint Francis’ in Assisi.             The house, built in 1851 by a rich maritime salvager, had suffered years of neglect by the time it was purchased for $8000 by Hemingway’s second wife’s uncle and given to the couple as a wedding present. Hemingway had little money at the time. The property stands at sixteen f ... read more

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Bugged!

June 08, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Can one insect make up for a lifetime of bug torment?   All my life I’ve been bugged by—bugs! It isn’t that I’m afraid of them; the sight of multi-legged and winged insects doesn’t set my heart to palpitating. My problem is that bugs like me too much. They see me as a smorgasbord, a yummy blood buffet, tastier than anyone else. I’ve joked that I should rent myself out for outdoor picnics and barbecues to keep insects from biting guests. A doctor once told me that my body temperature is slightly higher than most people’s, drawing blood-hungry insects to me. I don’t know if this is true or not, but what is true is my nasty relationship with bugs.         ... read more

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A Few More Pictures

June 10, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
        On our final day in Key West we bought tickets for a hop on hop off open-air trolley providing running commentary on points of interest. I was particularly interested in literary luminaries who found inspiration here—writers other than Ernest Hemingway.   Our guide pointed out that after a terrible fire in the late 1800s, a law was passed requiring all buildings to have metal roofs. Years later a writer holed up on the third floor of  the Crowne Plaza Key West La Concha Hotel on Duval Street, and while looking out the window at all the metal roofs he was hit with inspiration. The writer was Tennessee Williams, and the work was Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.       Crowne Plaza Ke ... read more

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Last Night in Key West

June 13, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
I’ve always had a fascination with the sea. This might be the result of an atavistic connection with my seafaring ancestors from the Azores, but I get crabby if I go too long without smelling ocean spray or seeing the unfettered horizon. Whenever I vacation at a coastal destination I make an effort to be on the water. I love sailing ships and once had an opportunity to sail on a schooner built in the 1800s, the very ship used in the 1937 film Captain’s Courageous. It was awesome walking the same deck as Spencer Tracy, Freddie Bartholomew, John Carradine, Mickey Rooney and Lionel Barrymore.   Mrs. Chatterbox and I booked a sunset dinner cruise for our last night in Key West. We weren’t able to book an actual sailing ... read more

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The Cure Will Kill You

June 17, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
I can’t even remember writing this post from 2012, back when I only had five followers.   ***********************************   Last night while watching TV a commercial appeared that went something like this. (Note: imagine this being voiced over by a minor celebrity from the Seventies whose career stalled after several DUIs.)       “Is your life so empty that you don’t care your kids are now covered in tattoos heralding a Zombie Apocalypse, or that your spouse has a house account at the Embassy Suites and a credit card receipt for a strip pole in his hotel room?  Or that you’ve broken the tail-wagging mechanism on the formerly exuberant golden retriever that now whimper ... read more

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A Huge Announcement !

June 20, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  Considering the topic of this post, I shouldn’t use the word “huge.” But a few of you left comments on my recent Key West posts that I should address. Some readers noticed that in my photographs I look thinner. In fact, I’ve been working at becoming healthier; so far I’ve lost fifty pounds.             It all began last year a few weeks before our trip to Germany. I’d taken the light rail into Portland to see an El Greco painting on loan from the Cleveland Art Museum. It was wonderful weather, a fine day to enjoy the walk from the transit station to the museum, but I arrived at the museum short of breath, my heart pounding. As I stared at th ... read more

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A Humbling Confession

June 22, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  In spite of the fact that my interests lean in the direction of art and history, I’ve always tried to present myself as a competent, if slightly atypical, American male. I’ve worked hard most of my life, paid my taxes and was an active parent when it came to raising our son. I’ve traveled the world and participated in some amazing adventures, but I have a dark secret.             Confession is said to be good for the soul, so today I’m coming clean. In spite of many (questionable?) accomplishments, there’s one task where I’m hopelessly deficient. What makes this deficiency galling is that most of you—even you ladies—are comfortab ... read more

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Sorry, Mr. Einstein

June 24, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
                I’m not a fan of Facebook and other than blogging don’t spend much time on social media, but every now and then something will catch my eye, like this rejection letter addressed to a young Albert Einstein, who’d seemingly applied for a doctorate in Physics at the University of Bern.  It was posted on the Internet to inspire people. After all, if Einstein could overcome rejection, so can we. The Internet is filled with patriotic and morally uplifting platitudes, and if you drew inspiration from this rejection letter please accept my sympathies, but I snickered when I saw this—because it’s so obviously a fake.       &nbs ... read more

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The Eye of the Beholder

June 27, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so the saying goes.   My dad’s Uncle John was a curious fellow. He lived in a hacienda in the foothills of San Jose, built with his own hands in the late 1920s. Uncle John was a painter, potter and writer, quite the intellectual in his day. Once a year his good friend Zane Grey would arrive from New York for a month-long visit. Uncle John was married to Josephine. The couple were not blessed with children, but the couple took an interest in my fatherless dad, who spent many childhood summers running barefoot around the property, killing rattlesnakes, hunting mountain lions that frequented the area, and helping Uncle John with his pottery business.   Uncle John sold his pottery from a ... read more

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Forty-Two Years Today!

June 29, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Today Mrs. Chatterbox and I are celebrating our forty-second wedding anniversary. It’s hard to believe we’ve been together that long, and I’m reminded of the day I asked her father for her hand in marriage. This post is an excerpt from my memoir The Kid in the Kaleidoscope.   ***********************      It was late December in 1973. The future Mrs. C. always seemed to know me better than I knew myself and figured a proposal was near. She suggested that, when the time came, it would be classy if I asked her father for her hand in marriage. Although I’d seen this done in movies, I should have been better prepared. When I arrived at her parents’ house, I felt like wide-eyed Wally ... read more

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On Bent Knee

July 01, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
In 1973 I decided to propose to Mrs. C.  I sought out the perfect spot to ask her to marry me, and finally made reservations at a restaurant in Sausalito reputed to have a beautiful view of San Francisco across the Bay. I knew Mrs. C. would enjoy the illuminated skyline of her favorite city. The restaurant, William A. Sterlington, was everything I’d hoped for—I couldn’t imagine a more romantic setting to pop the question. The restaurant was elegant, with linen tablecloths and upholstered chairs, and there were so many ferns and flowers that it was like eating in a botanical garden. I spotted an old portrait on one wall. William A. Sterlington? If so, what had this winking dandy with piggish features done to merit havi ... read more

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Please Be the Judge

July 04, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  Mrs. Chatterbox and I seldom have disagreements, but an issue has developed where we disagree and I’ve agreed to let my readers decide who’s right and who’s wrong. I promised Mrs. C. I wouldn’t prime the pump by slanting this in my direction, so here goes.   Lately, instead of spending hundreds of dollars ordering custom frames I’ve been purchasing them at Goodwill. It’s unbelievable what I’ve found; frames I’d pay $200.00 tagged at only a few bucks. I recently purchased an amazing frame that looked like it had been stolen from New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art—priced at $5.99.   Last week I discovered two frames I had to have; one was perfect for a portra ... read more

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Peculiar Picture #48

July 06, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
                    Most of the images in my Peculiar Picture File were created as illustrations and designed with a purpose in mind, even though they were not commissioned. This picture is different in that it was never intended as an illustration. It’s a 36” x 48” acrylic painting that grew out of a doodle I made in my spare time back when I was a professional illustrator. It’s hard to explain how an idea germinates, but I’ve always been fascinated with hot air balloons. This painting, nicknamed The Conversation, exploits the link between conversation and hot air. At the time, I was fascinated with Goya’s “Black Paintings” and I tri ... read more

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Picture of an A*#hole

July 08, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
I recently saw someone familiar in the obituaries. It took me a while to place the face but it finally came to me. Years ago she came regularly into the jewelry store I managed at the local mall. She never bought anything but she was a pleasant widow and I’d clean her jewelry. I’ve always been chatty and let it slip that, in addition to managing the store, I was an artist and my work could be seen around town.             One Saturday afternoon in 1989 she came into the store and said, “I was downtown yesterday at the Oregon Biennial. I saw your work.”   My illustrations were beginning to show up in local newspapers and magazines and people often told me ... read more

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Parallel Universes

July 11, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
    Scientists tell us that our universe might be drastically different from what we think. The universe might be a holographic projection from billions of miles away. Astrophysicists tell us that time, speculated to be the result of a universe expanding due to the Big Bang, will eventually slow down as the universe reverses direction and contracts, causing time to run in reverse, which might currently be happening without our awareness. But the idea that captures my attention most is the idea of parallel universes.           Scientists have speculated that countless universes exist with infinite Earth variations; in some of these I might have red hair, be thin or even a professional athlete. It ... read more

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Two Tight Asses

July 13, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
There are blogs I follow that consistently receive hundreds of comments, an accomplishment I’ve yet to achieve. But this true story from 2012 is one of my most popular, and comes close.   **************************   Mrs. Chatterbox and I just returned from four days of rare sunshine on the Oregon Coast. We had a great time. On the drive back to Portland I was reminded of this incident from my childhood after spotting two pairs of jeans flapping on a clothesline.   The Holloway twins lived across the street from the house where I grew up in the 50s and 60s. Janice and Janet Holloway were blond, sported bouncy ponytails and were high school cheerleaders. Ricky Delgado, my best friend and neighborhood delinquent, c ... read more

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Parents and Children

July 15, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
When I was little, my best friend’s mother took up painting. Helen Delgado lived next door and I’d spend hours watching her slap paint on canvases. Unfortunately, she had more enthusiasm than talent, but she ignited my passion for painting. Helen painted fruits, vegetables and flowers. One day I asked if anyone had ever tried to paint a person.             She smiled and said, “Of course. Maybe someday you’ll go to a museum where you’ll see many paintings of people.”   When I was older I went on a school field trip to a museum in San Francisco where I saw a painting that astonished me—my first Rembrandt. I studied it with amazement. Wha ... read more

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What's Going On in Turkey?

July 18, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  Mrs. Chatterbox and I visited Turkey in 2010, and Turkey remains Mrs. C’s favorite travel destination. We found the people warm and friendly, eager to engage with Americans, and there are few places on earth with such a long and impressive history. But we were troubled to learn about the attempted military coup over the weekend. This is a brief attempt to explain what’s happening.   At the end of WWI, the Ottoman Empire found itself on the losing side; Istanbul was occupied by European forces, including France and Britain. Mustafa Kemal, a brilliant Turkish general, decided to unify his country and throw out the occupying forces, which he was successful at doing, earning himself the moniker of the “Turkish G ... read more

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A Bloomin' Onion

July 20, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Reworked from a 2012 post.   **************************   This is how The Outback Restaurant describes its Bloomin' Onion appetizer: a true Outback original. “Our special onion is hand-carved by a dedicated bloomologist, cooked until golden and ready to dip into our spicy signature bloom sauce.”             Sounds good, doesn’t it?             Several years ago, Mrs. C. and I ducked into our local Outback for an early dinner. We often sit in the bar where it’s permitted to order from the regular menu.   We’d just ordered our drinks when the server arrived with a Bloomin' Onion. ... read more

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Travel Tantrum

July 22, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  As most of you know, Mrs. Chatterbox and I enjoy trekking to faraway places and do so frequently, resulting in a lot of air travel. Air travel has changed significantly over the years with consumers being nickel and dimed to death, with fees for extra bags (in some cases even one bag). Headphones often come at a price, as do movies. Adding insult to injury, meals that are gas producing and flavorless are no longer included in the airfare on many flights. But what really puzzles me is the manner in which airlines load passengers onto planes. It makes no sense.   It begins with couples complaining that their seats aren’t together, with requests for those of us who planned ahead and preselected our seats—to move. I&r ... read more

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Racism and Truth

July 25, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
My liberal leanings are no doubt apparent to most people reading my blog, but today I’m questioning my beliefs because of a recent conversation I had with Mrs. Chatterbox, a conversation about race. As you might have heard, Steve King, a Republican congressman from Iowa famous for making controversial statements, was recently called a “racist” for suggesting that white people have contributed more to civilization than any other subgroup of people. A firestorm ensued. I find myself on an unfamiliar side of the fence—acknowledging that this conservative Republican was correct.             I’ve always been drawn to the notion that all people are equal citize ... read more

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Our Personal Florist

July 27, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  Many people enjoy gardening, but I’m not one of them. I don’t enjoy the feel of dirt between my fingers, don’t enjoy the bugs, don’t care for the whiff of fertilizer or dragging a hose around the yard. And there’s all that nasty weeding. Yuck!   People who enjoy all this deserve to be surrounded by wonderful flowers, the fruit of their labor. Mrs. Chatterbox likes gardening even less than I do. Neither one of us deserve credit for the fabulous flower bouquets that lend their scent and colors to our home.   Those of us who haven’t lifted a finger to cultivate flowers don’t deserve to benefit from their soul-lifting beauty, yet there are often glorious flowers in our home. Why? B ... read more

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Hey God, Can We Talk?

July 29, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
There are still months to go until the November election, and I imagine most people can use a break from politics. Here’s what I hope is a humorous diversion.     ********************   “Hey God, it’s me, Adam. Can we talk?”             “No, Adam. We can’t.”             “Why not?”             “You know why. You don’t know how to talk. I gave you the gift of telepathy so you could understand My thoughts until you invent language. You don’t seem to be getting very far. I hear that Eve is a ... read more

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Ball's Pyramid

August 01, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
It’s an understatement to say the world is a fascinating place. I’ve traveled to many exotic locations and the diversity of lands and peoples is truly amazing. Recently, I was surfing the Web and my attention was drawn to an island I’d never heard of, not that I profess to be an expert on islands, but they’ve always held a fascination for me ever since reading Robinson Crusoe as a kid.   The article capturing my attention asked: “What’s been hiding on this island that hasn’t been seen since the 1920s?”   I’d never heard of Ball’s Pyramid and had no idea what was hidden on it. Yet I was intrigued by a photograph of the island rising from the sea, the erosional remnant ... read more

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5th Blogiversary

August 03, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Today is my 800th post and marks five years since my first Chubby Chatterbox post. Sometimes it seems like I started blogging yesterday, yet at other times it seems much longer. Back in 2011, I felt it would be quite an achievement if I could keep it going for five years, all the while wondering if my ideas would dry up, if I’d run out of things to write about. Many of you have been supporters since the beginning, and your comments and encouragement have meant a great deal, especially the love and support Mrs. C. and I received when our son CJ was struck down with a brain aneurysm. I’m happy to report he’s made a complete recovery.             Many of you have been b ... read more

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The Happiest Picture Ever Painted?

August 05, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Most people have heard of the artist Pierre-Auguste Renoir, the Impressionist painter famous for painting naked women in flickering sunlight. Monet and Renoir are the most famous Impressionists, but lately Renoir’s reputation has taken a hit, with emphasis on many of the terrible pictures he painted in his later years when his hands were crippled with arthritis and he was hampered by an overabundance of geriatric sentimentality. Many of his late paintings fail at auction and others are refused places on museum walls by curators and art directors. Yet Renoir managed to create some of the most magical paintings ever.             The artist’s Luncheon of the Boating Party has ... read more

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My Favorite Brazilian Artist

August 08, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
The Rio Games are finally here and this seems like the perfect opportunity to introduce my favorite Brazilian artist—Moi!   A few years before retiring from illustration to focus on writing, my agent contacted me to ask how much more work I could produce. There’s a lot of down time being an illustrator so I told her I could churn out twice as many illustrations as I was currently producing—if she could sell them. She said, “Why don’t you change your style?”   I was insulted; I liked the way I painted and had spent a lifetime mastering my craft. But I was lured by the prospect of more money and decided to try. Over the next few months I painted some of my worst pictures. Mrs. Chatterbox offer ... read more

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Much Better !

August 10, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
      Last year I wrote a post about a questionable statue of Lucille Ball erected in her hometown of Celoron, NY. The statue, nicknamed “Scary Lucy,” was the subject of much ridicule. You can read my original post (here). The sculptor offered to fix the statue to provide a better, more acceptable, likeness of the comedian but the offer was denied. Another artist, Carolyn Palmer, was selected to create a new statue.       Original statue dubbed Scary Lucy   I can’t say this one is a better work of art but it’s definitely a better likeness. As for “Scary Lucy,” the decision to remove it from view caused an uproar since it had become an Internet sensation. Visit ... read more

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Color Me Red

August 12, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
When budget cuts prompted our son’s school to slash funding for its art department, I volunteered to teach an Art Literacy course. As a professional artist/illustrator, I felt well prepared to share my enthusiasm for art history and figured instructing middle school kids would be fun. This was my first time teaching and what I lacked in experience I intended to make up for with enthusiasm.   I knew from my own school days that kids enjoy looking at pictures more than studying math or history, so I figured it would be easy holding their attention. Still, I was nervous my first day as I lugged a slide tray and projector into the classroom. No projection screen was available; an empty wall would have to do.    &nbs ... read more

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Can't Please Everyone

August 15, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
A well-used adage reminds us that you can’t please everyone, a fact brought home recently by a letter received by Mrs. Chatterbox.             Mrs. C. is the volunteer coordinator for our local police department. Among her many duties is planning our city’s National Night Out, a summer event designed to bring communities and police departments together on the second Tuesday in August.  Mrs. C. works hard to provide a fun event, coordinating vendors and local agencies. This year she had fire trucks, squad cars (kids love being photographed in the back of squad cars) and SWAT vehicles for kids to explore. The biggest hit, aside from free food, are the K-9 officers who p ... read more

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Remember Customer Service?

August 17, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
As I grow older I’m starting to feel grumpy about changes in our society. I remember being a kid and marching into a bank with my little bankbook to add a few dollars to my account. Back then, schools encouraged kids to open savings accounts as a means of fostering an awareness of money—an awareness lacking in too many children. Walking into a bank as a child was a positive experience; I was always treated nicely and I felt I was given the same attention as adults. I stayed with that bank for decades because of such positive experiences.   At the risk of sounding like Cranky Old Man, one of my favorite bloggers, I’m noticing the rapid decline of customer service. Several weeks ago I was in need of small bills and wa ... read more

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The Hammer

August 19, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
          This story about my childhood best friend is one of my favorites. It’s languished on my menu bar for five years. I’m posting it here in case you missed it.   ************************   Ricky Delgado nearly turned inside out the summer of ‘62 when ten rusty carnival trucks rattled onto the fresh asphalt parking lot of the new shopping center that sprang up a few blocks from where we lived. He watched as the attractions were unloaded and assembled: a carousel, a haunted house and a rickety roller coaster. But one attraction captured his attention more than the others—rising into the sky, even higher than the Ferris wheel, was The Hammer.    ... read more

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Do Women Smell Better Than Men?

August 22, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Of course women smell better than men, but pheromones aside, do their noses work better?          Mrs. Chatterbox is often saying to me, “What’s that smell?”   I seldom know what she’s talking about. I have a terrible sense of smell. She’s in the habit of saying, “Time for that shirt to go into the wash.” Or, “I think you left some dirty socks under the bed.”             We’ll be watching TV and she’ll say, “Something in the fridge has turned.” She’ll get up and clean the fridge right in the middle of Game of Thrones. Dragons are flying overhead and my w ... read more

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Peculiar Pictures #49 & #50

August 24, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
      Considering that I’ve been posting Peculiar Pictures for five years, it’s reasonable to assume I painted more peculiar illustrations than any other kind. And here are two more, both from my Business Fundamentals CD.   I was commissioned by Getty Images to create spot illustrations dealing with business and money issues. Unfortunately, at the time I didn’t know what spot illustrations were. Here’s a later example of two of my spot illustrations; simple, without complex details and lots of blank space (cropped here) to accommodate text.     Cutting Through Red Tape (Spot Illustration)       Struggling With an Idea (Spot Illustration)   Instead, I ... read more

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Tennis for Dummies

August 26, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
A few months ago I announced that I was finally tackling my weight problem and working at becoming fit and healthier. I’ve lost ten more pounds since then. All my life I’ve had doctors tell me that the secret to weight control was eating less and moving more. Turns out the SOBs were right.             I recently went to watch our good friend Tina compete in a tennis tournament. Tina has been playing a few years, and while watching her it occurred to me that I could be out there also, away from the TV, interacting with people and getting more exercise. So I signed up for lessons at our park district.             Let m ... read more

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Growing Up in an Instant

August 29, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
      Like many senior citizens, my ninety-one-year-old mother spends much of her time watching television, particularly old movies. She’s constantly asking me questions about actors and actresses from the 30s and 40s, questions like who was John Hodiak married to, or what was the name of that guy who played Ashley Wilkes in Gone with the Wind. I often remind her that these actors and actresses were plying their trade long before I was born, and while I enjoy old movies my interest doesn’t compel me to research the lives of long-dead movie stars. But a recent conversation with good ol’ Mom brought to mind a childhood experience when I was eight, one that rocked my little world.   Growing up in the ... read more

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Why Do Critics Hate This Artist?

August 31, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
It’s one of the most famous works ever created by an American artist, so years ago I was surprised to discover it on a wall near a men’s room at New York’s MOMA (Museum of Modern Art). I wasn’t alone staring at this iconic painting; dozens of others were clustered around Andrew Wyeth’s Christina’s World, a painting that captured the public’s attention as soon as it was finished in 1948, at the same time drawing the scorn of art critics. When I was taking art classes in the 70s, it was fashionable to trash Wyeth’s work.       Christina’s World by Andrew Wyeth, 1948   Andrew Wyeth was born into what would become one of America’s great artistic dynasties; h ... read more

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Mending Holes

September 02, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
      My mother went to work in the Almadén bottling plant in Los Gatos, California, when I was eleven. This occurred at a time when my grandmother’s life was slowing down and she had little to do. I don’t know all the details, but Mom and Grandma made an arrangement for Grandma to do our laundry. I doubt Mom paid for this service; Grandma probably did it out of love and was happy to have something to keep her busy.             Whatever the arrangement, it worked well for a few years. Grandma lived nearby and Mom or Dad would pick up our laundry once a week after work. This might have been Grandma’s real payoff because she loved company and a ... read more

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Motu Man

September 05, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
      When Mrs. Chatterbox and I travel we always search for souvenirs that encapsulate our experiences and serve as a reminder of our visits to exotic locations. Over the years we’ve filled our home with items, and now our home is bursting at the seams and can’t handle more souvenirs. These days I’m inclined to purchase Christmas ornaments or other items that don’t take up much space. Motu Man is an item we purchased before deciding to downsize and limit our acquisitions.             Motu Man (a motu is a small Pacific island) was purchased on Raiatea, an island we visited while touring Tahiti and French Polynesia. Motu Man is hand carved fro ... read more

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Big Boy Toy

September 07, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
On Saturday, Mrs. Chatterbox and I were joined by our son CJ for dinner at a Mexican restaurant that recently opened near our home. As we neared the entrance, CJ spotted something across the parking lot that made him laugh. He pointed at a tractor on a trailer and asked if I noticed anything unusual. It took a moment, but I finally figured it out.             When CJ was a toddler he was fascinated with tiny cars and trucks. Eventually, he ended up with hundreds of them. Two of his favorites were called Red and Yellow, for obvious reasons. He slept with them in his chubby little hands and when we heard the metal cars slide to the floor we knew our little boy was in the land of nod. He ... read more

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Queen of Roads

September 09, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
I’ve always been interested in popular sayings and enjoy researching the source for popular phrases in our culture. Referring to someone as “upper crust” is easy to figure out: bread was historically cooked in a flat pan over an open fire. The bottom usually ended up burnt and was given to children or servants. The middle was given to adult family members with the golden brown top of the bread reserved for high-ranking company. Eventually these esteemed guests were referred to as “upper crust.”             Many sayings originate with ancient Rome. Romans were incredible engineers. They developed the arch, making massive structures like aqueducts, baths an ... read more

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An Incomplete Education

September 12, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
While growing up in the fifties, we were by no means the poorest family on the block. Both of my parents worked, which was unusual at the time. My brother and I had the best of everything, but there was one area where our household was lacking—books.   My mother was a hardcore reader and always had her nose buried in historical biographies from the library, but in the home where I was raised there were no books lining the shelves. Books could be had for free from the library. Spending money on them was foolish.   One day while accompanying my dad to the grocery store, I spotted a promotional display of encyclopedias. I was immediately drawn to the colorful pictures and easy-to-read articles on the history of mankind. The ... read more

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The Scourge of Princes

September 14, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
“If you want to annoy your neighbors, tell the truth about them.” —Pietro Aretino (1492-1556) —   Haven’t heard of Pietro Aretino? There was a time when he was one of the most talked about men in Europe, and one of the most feared. He was an Italian author, playwright, poet and satirist, but he was also a blackmailer who wielded tremendous influence on contemporary art and politics. He also invented modern literate pornography. His prose might be beautifully constructed, but many of his stories were based in brothels and poked fun at the rich and powerful.   Born out of wedlock in Arezzo and banished before reaching adulthood, Aretino made his way to Rome where in 1516 he penned a satirical pamph ... read more

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The Chatterbox Neighborhood

September 16, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
      Several of my favorite bloggers have shared pictures of their homes and neighborhoods, often including local wildlife. I always enjoy these posts because it makes me feel closer to people I don’t otherwise have an opportunity to know. Here are pictures of the area in Portland, Oregon, where Mrs. Chatterbox and I live. This region was once a forest bordering Dutch farmland; our neck of the woods is still called Peterkort Woods.   We’ve lived here for eight years, and I really enjoy the landscaping. Our development backs up to trails maintained by the local park district so the woodland behind us will never be lost. I haven’t enjoyed the trails much because I’ve spent the last eight years ... read more

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Return of the Swifts

September 19, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Mid September has arrived, which means the swifts are here but will soon depart.    **********************************   Mrs C. and I weren’t the only ones looking for a new home in Portland Oregon in the early 1980s. Winging up from Central America for a feast of flying insects, a cigar-shaped Vaux Swift was desperately seeking a new late summer home. The hollow tree serving as a roost for generations had been toppled by a recent storm. With thousands of hungry swifts soon to arrive, this scout must have been desperate to find an alternative roosting site.             In early September of 1980 a student from Chapman Elementary School in Northwest Portland wa ... read more

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Speed Racer

September 21, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
My dad was a professional mechanic for the City of Sunnyvale in California. His mechanical ability and interest in cars leapfrogged over me to our son CJ, who shares his late grandfather’s passion for cars.             Last Christmas, CJ treated himself to an automotive experience at Portland International Raceway. He signed up to drive half a dozen laps in a high powered vehicle, but the aneurysm he experienced the day after Christmas forced a postponement until after his recuperation. He finally took his ride in May when Mrs. Chatterbox and I were in Key West so I wasn’t present to take pictures, but here are a few CJ snapped. I wish he’d taken a selfie.  &nb ... read more

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Thanking Dad

September 23, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Lately, I’ve been thinking abut my dad who passed away eight years ago. This post from 2013 is a reminder of the type of man he was.   *************************************   A rather large spider has erected its web above our front door and Mrs. Chatterbox has demanded I eliminate it. She refuses to exit our home through the front door until I practice spidercide. Some might comment that Mrs. C. should dispatch it herself if she wants it done so badly, but over the years we’ve devised an equitable plan dividing household chores (Mrs. C. would rightfully scoff at my usage of the word equitable.) Bug killing falls to me. I’m not fond of spiders but, unlike Mrs. Chatterbox, I’m not terrified of them. I w ... read more

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Peculiar Pictures #51 & #52 & #53

September 26, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
    We had out of town guests for the weekend and our dishwasher malfunctioned flooding our kitchen right after our guests departed. I’ve spent the last few hours emptying the water and cleaning all the traps so I hope it will work properly. As a result, I didn’t have time to write anything new so I’m turning to my Peculiar Picture File—illustrations created when I was a professional illustrator. These are based on clichés popular with art directors and all three of these have appeared in print.     The Tip of the Iceberg         Behind the Eight Ball         A Long Road to Hoe     I hope everyone has a terrific week. ... read more

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Requiem for Civility

September 28, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Shootings are taking place around our country with sickening regularity, and I think I know why. Sure, the proliferation of unlimited guns on our streets is a contributing factor, as is an entrenched overseas enemy (ISIS) using the Internet to ensnare disgruntled individuals for sinister purposes. Another factor is unequal opportunities for minorities trapped in an economic system that marginalizes them, but these are only contributing factors, and like the five blind men trying to describe an elephant after each touched a different part, they don’t provide a true picture of the overall problem which was birthed from a lack of civility.   As I see it, the polarization of American politics escalated when Newt Gingrich tried to u ... read more

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A Heavy Price

September 30, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
I’ve mentioned before that after my morning workouts at our local park district I head to the cool gym/auditorium before I hit the showers. There’s usually a toddler play session in the gym and I enjoy watching the kids stagger around like tiny drunks, having fun with a vast assortment of toys. Yesterday, a toddler around eighteen months, with what looked like a full diaper, climbed into a plastic car. I cracked up when he adjusted the glassless mirrors before pedaling away.   Yesterday there were ten parents present, seven mothers and three fathers. At first I thought it great that there were more dads present than mothers. Historically, dads have concentrated more on bringing home the bacon than spending time with their ... read more

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Back Soon

October 03, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Mrs. Chatterbox and I are fortunate to have new friends who have offered us their condo in Puerto Vallarta, so we’re off to Mexico to enjoy sunshine, eat fabulous food and shut out presidential politics for a while. Our son CJ will be joining us with his lady friend, who Mrs. C. and I like very much.   In the meantime, I’m thinking about having a Give-A-Way when I return. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that I have a lot of paintings. Churchill once quipped that his own canvases were, “—too good to give away, not good enough to sell.” Well, Churchill did give away some of his paintings, and now, if there is enough interest, I’m thinking about raffling one of my framed paintings, and ... read more

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Hola!

October 17, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
We’re back from Puerto Vallarta. Although it’s always good returning home from a successful vacation, it was hard leaving balmy weather and returning to a nasty storm in the Northwest that uprooted trees and caused flooding. Fortunately, our home remained dry and undamaged while patiently waiting for our return. Unfortunately, the presidential election isn’t over although we did enjoy a temporary hiatus from the nonsense.   We are indeed blessed to have friends willing to let us enjoy their sumptuous condo in Puerto Vallarta, lodging we couldn’t have otherwise afforded. The deck was enormous and provided the feeling of being on a ship.         View looking down from the balcony. & ... read more

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A Dash for Survival

October 19, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
              Most of us have seen footage of newly hatched turtles racing into the surf while trying to navigate waves and avoid predators looking for an easy meal. I’ve always been intrigued by the sight of these little guys battling the odds as they ventured into the sea.     Early morning fisherman     I’m an early riser and a few days after arriving in Puerto Vallarta I woke before sunrise and headed down to the beach for an early morning stroll. Halfway down the beach I spotted a baby turtle in the sand. It was on its back, dead.   It was a disheartening sight, but as I continued on my way I rationalized that most baby turtles don’t make it ... read more

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Rhythms of the Night

October 21, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
One of the big Puerto Vallarta attractions is a show called Rhythms of the Night, a production hawked on most street corners and shops. The last time we were in Puerto Vallarta, Mrs. Chatterbox and I were turned off by all the vendors and took a sunset cruise instead of Rhythms of the Night. We had a fabulous time, but afterwards fellow tourists convinced us we’d missed out on something spectacular. This time we were determined not to miss it and we booked tickets as soon as we arrived.            Drinks flowed freely as we cruised across the bay to the island where the show took place. Clouds were gathering and we were handed umbrellas before leaving the boat. Because of building cl ... read more

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Announcing the Start of the Chubby Chatterbox Give-away

October 24, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Today I’m announcing the beginning of my give-away. Since my goal is to increase readership, I’ll briefly mention what my regular followers already know. I was a professional illustrator for many years as well as a college art professor. The prize for this give-away is a painting I executed of a Victorian lady playing with her cat.   A few words about the prize: Several years ago I did a class demonstration on blocking in an oil painting. One of my students happened to have a greeting card featuring a painting entitled Hydrangeas, created in 1901 by little-known British artist Phillip Wilson Steer. I used it for my demonstration. Throughout history, artists have made copies of works they’ve admired—Titian copi ... read more

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Requiem for a Sandwich

October 26, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Sign up for my oil painting give-away. Check out the details (here).   ***********************             At the beginning of this year, Mrs. Chatterbox and I decided to pay New York City a visit, but after our son suffered an aneurysm we decided we didn’t want to travel far. We hadn’t been to New York in decades and I’d wanted to see Ground Zero and check out the museums. I had another reason for wanting to visit New York.             In the 80s I won a trip to New York, and a friend told me that I absolutely had to visit Carnegie Deli, where Woody Allen filmed Broadway Danny Rose. I love pastrami and ... read more

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The Ghost of Kilarney Park

October 28, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  Thanks to Janie Junebug, Fishducky and others for featuring my give-away. Check out Janie's blog (here) if you are unsure how to do this. I’ve already received a new follower, thanks to her.   ***************************** I’d thought to make this story from my memoir The Kid in the Kaleidoscope a Halloween tradition, but I haven’t reposted it in years. I hope it helps put you in the mood for ghosts and goblins.   ***************   Haunted houses belong in the realm of goose bumps, foggy nights and old neighborhoods, not pristine suburbs with freshly asphalted streets, unblemished sidewalks and immature trees. But a ghost lingered across the street, in a house where a man died.   &n ... read more

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The Ghost of Kilarney Park: Conclusion

October 31, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Part One can be found (here).   ***********************************************   Haunted houses and Halloween go together like dots on dice, but the haunted house on our street never did anything to attract trick-or-treaters. So why was there a light burning on Verna’s porch?             My feet began pulling me to the light. My head swirled with thoughts of murder: rat poison, asphyxiation, throat slashing, but I was more interested in candy than safety.              I inched up the front steps to her porch and peered into Verna’s kitchen window. She was seated at her kitchen table, her head resting in her hands. ... read more

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Adult Coloring Books

November 02, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  Many kids, including future artists like me, begin their pursuit of art by filling in the spaces in coloring books. I was not yet a teenager when it occurred to me that coloring between the lines was restrictive and unnecessary; in fact, creating my own lines was far more interesting. If one were to remain within the borders, why not go all the way and create those borders yourself? Why rely on someone else to create lines for you?   The kids on my block in the 50s and 60s expressed no such thoughts. They prided themselves on navigating the lines and adding proper colors where deemed necessary. Skies were blue. Grass was green. Trees were brown. Back then, coloring books were the domain of children, but today that’s cha ... read more

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Are You a Night Owl?

November 04, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
I am most definitely NOT a night owl. I’ve always been a morning person. I wake in a good mood and my creativity runs strongest before noon. I seldom paint or write in late afternoon or evening.   Ben Franklin’s advice is sound: “Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy wealthy and wise.” Well, I’m not wealthy or wise but I do go to bed fairly early—usually around ten o’clock. In college I had a reputation as an “early crash,” and many a dorm party took place around my slumbering body. During finals week at UCLA, I needed to stay awake the night before my Shakespeare final because I hadn’t read most of the plays covered on the test, but I was asleep by eleven. Bul ... read more

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Giveaway Update

November 07, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
We’ve reached the halfway point for my giveaway; time for an update. Below is a list of those who’ve indicated an interest in owning this painting. Some of you have offered encouragement without directly stating an interest in participating so I might not have entered you. If you don’t see your name and want to be included, please let me know and I’ll add you to the list.   My goal for this giveaway is to increase my followers on the Blogger Follower widget, which can be found on the right sidebar under Chubby Chasers ( here ). Just follow the URL to the widget and click the blue box that reads Follow. The winner must be posted on the widget to win. A few folks have said the widget wasn’t working, yet se ... read more

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Are You a Germophobe?

November 09, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
This election has made many of us sicker than if we’d eaten at a Chipotle or been bitten by a rabid dog, but this post focuses on a different type of illness.   The gym where I work out has spray bottles and cloths to wipe down sweaty machines after use. I do most of my sweating in the aerobics room not the weight room, but I always make a point of wiping down my machines anyway. I don’t mind doing so because using a machine dripping with someone else’s sweat is unpleasant.   This post was prompted by a middle-aged lady at my gym who takes this to the extreme. When she arrives, she wipes down ALL the machines before starting her workout, even machines I’ve just vacated and already wiped down. At first, ... read more

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Painting Children

November 11, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
John Singer Sargent (1956-1925) was one of the last great portrait painters before the camera replaced paint and canvas as the best way to capture an impression of someone. Sargent was once asked to give a definition of an oil portrait, which he defined as a picture of a person with something not quite right about the mouth. Mouths are hard, and only a few masterpieces, like Sargent’s portrait of Henry James, attempt to show a person in the act of speaking.   Most people like paintings of children, but children aren’t easy to paint. They don’t tolerate sitting still for any period of time, much less multiple sittings, and when they’re coerced into sitting still they often get fidgety and look bored. Sargent re ... read more

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Straining a Relationship

November 14, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Caution: If you have a delicate constitution you might not want to read this.   Last week not only brought disappointing election results, but I lost one of my dental veneers. Fifteen years ago I decided it was time to fix my teeth, particularly the gap that made me speak with a sloppy sibilant “s”. Over the years, a few of my veneers have come off but I’ve always found them and my dentist was able to reattach them. This time I was eating a baked potato when I suddenly noticed a veneer was missing.   Although I was eating at the time, I hadn’t noticed biting down on anything hard and was sure I hadn’t swallowed it, but after checking the floor around our eating area (TV trays in front of the boob ... read more

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Framed

November 16, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
If record-breaking auction sales are any indication, Impressionist paintings are more popular than ever, yet we might never have heard of the Impressionists were it not for one individual, someone who wasn’t even an artist. His name was Paul Durand-Ruel, the son of a picture-seller who became Paris’ premier art dealer.   During the Franco-Prussian War (1870-71) Durand-Ruel left Paris and escaped to London where he met Monet, also in England to escape the war. When peace was achieved, Durand-Ruel returned to Paris with a new passion for Monet and other artists who would later be known as The Impressionists.   Durand-Ruel held numerous shows, but the French public considered these new paintings sloppy and unprofessio ... read more

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Vanity Plates

November 18, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
It wasn’t my smartest decision, slightly better than using a kitchen strainer for an unintended purpose, but Mrs. Chatterbox and I had come into some unexpected money and we thought…why not?   Mrs. C’s dad had recently passed, leaving her a fairly new, Titanic-size baby blue Cadillac. Mrs. C. was too young to be tooling around in her father’s caddy so I suggested she trade it in for something sportier, which she did—a BMW which we couldn’t have afforded without the trade-in. At some point we had a discussion about vanity plates. Our careers had been humming along without setbacks so we were in a position to splurge. But what should our vanity plates say?   Mrs. C. decided on “HAPPY GI ... read more

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In or Out of the Box?

November 21, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
People often comment on how in sync Mrs. Chatterbox and I are, and it’s true that after being together for nearly fifty years we’re capable of finishing each other’s sentences, but in one regard we’re remarkably different.   It’s become a cliché, but for years people have been encouraged to “think outside the box,” to step outside your comfort zone to expose yourself to possibilities you wouldn’t normally consider. This has never been a problem for me. Truth be told, I’ve always had a problem with authority and have always danced to my own drumbeat.   As an example, while working as a display manager for a major department store, I was tasked with creating a kite dis ... read more

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Moosh-vega and Happy Thanksgiving!

November 23, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Thanksgiving is upon us and it’s at this time of year that we focus most on family traditions.   In my family, we have special words that aren’t found in the dictionary, words only those who share DNA with us can understand? A few weeks ago CJ was visiting and Mrs. C. fried up some chicken. After eating his fill, our son pushed away his plate and announced he’d had enough. I wasn’t finished eating and without thinking exclaimed, “Moosh-vega!”   “Are you having a stroke, Dad?” CJ asked. “What was that you said—moosh-vega?”   “It’s a Portuguese word your grandmother taught me as a child. Your grandmother’s family spoke it at Thanksgiving o ... read more

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Toilet Rage!

November 25, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Mrs. Chatterbox was upset when she returned from shopping at a Christmas bazaar. She explained that the bazaar had unisex restrooms, and when a man exited he’d left the seat up. She was enraged that this fellow had been so impolite as to not lower the seat himself, leaving it for her to do.   We’ve explored this topic before. It’s always bothered me that at public venues women are forced to wait in long lines to use the restroom while men can saunter into a men’s room and be out in a matter of minutes. Biology has a lot to do with this, but it still doesn’t seem fair. I think ALL bathrooms should be unisex to make it more equitable. Of course women need to feel safe, so all restrooms should have privacy ... read more

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Peculiar Pictures #54 & #55 & #56

November 28, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
                                My mother, known to followers of this blog as Grandma Chatterbox, is having health issues that will require a move to a facility where she can receive better care. I’ve been too busy to write anything for today’s post, but here are a few more Peculiar Pictures from my illustration files.         Bait (Acrylic and collage)       Hitting the Target (Acrylic)         Rolling the Dice (Acrylic)     ********************************************           Giveaway painting     On ... read more

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Fanning the Flames

November 30, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Eight years ago Mrs. Chatterbox and I decided to downsize. We gave up our big hundred year old home and purchased a townhouse. It’s a nice townhouse, and one of the features I admired about it was its large stone fireplace. I’ve always felt a home should have a fireplace and this one was particularly attractive.   I consider myself a fairly intelligent person, and as an artist my eyes usually ferret out details others miss, but this time my eyes failed me because there was something unexpected about our fireplace, something I hadn’t noticed when buying our new home.   We’d been in our new residence a few months when the builder called to say it was time for an inspection to be sure everything was workin ... read more

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What's Between Your Nose and Chin?

December 02, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
While reflecting on our recent presidential election, I was reminded of this post from 2012, and how countries often have their moment in the sun before slipping from the world stage. Sometimes it can happen over something as important as an election, or as insignificant as— tulips.   **********************             A fiercely independent people once wanted to govern themselves and worship as they pleased, but first they had to wrestle their country from the control of an overbearing European monarchy. A bloody war was fought, and this collection of states came together to defeat its oppressor and create the greatest military and economic superpower on Earth. I’m ... read more

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Murder in the Afternoon

December 05, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
When I was a kid growing up in the Bay Area in the 50s and 60s, most of our television programming came out of San Francisco. The three big channels were KRON, KPIX and KTVU. After school I tuned in to KRON to watch The Mayor Art Show, which ran from 1959-1966. The mayor was played by Art Finley, who dressed up like a nineteenth century mayor in a morning coat and top hat while telling jokes, running Popeye cartoons and Three Stooges movies, in addition to educational segments. He also encouraged kids to send in artwork and he’d show them on the air, including a questionable picture of a robot by yours truly.       The program was shot live, and he had a live audience of children, called his “city council,&r ... read more

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Giveaway Winner!

December 07, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
      Thanks to everyone who signed up for my Holiday Giveaway, especially those who hosted my giveaway on their blogs.   Several of you had your name placed in a hopper more than once because of referrals from these posts, and this morning Mrs. Chatterbox did the honor of randomly picking a name. I’m pleased to announce the winner—Janie Junebug, who featured my giveaway on October 27th. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Janie, she’s an editing expert and I learn much from her superb posts. Check out her blog (here).       2016 Giveaway painting     This was only the second giveaway I’ve attempted and it was an interesting experience, one I just ... read more

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Snowmageddon

December 09, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
                    I don’t usually post weather pictures but yesterday we experienced a rare dusting of snow, not the anticipated snowmageddon or snowcalypse that was forecast, but enough to blanket us in the white stuff. These pictures are from yesterday, looking out one of our back windows.                 This is our view on a spring day.             In case you’re wondering, that’s my flying pig in a metal flower box hanging over our balcony. He’s actually a cast iron piggy bank and extremely heavy, and not because there’s any money in him. He seems to be ... read more

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Just Slap on Some Paint

December 12, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
              I've been spending much of my time tending to my ailing mom, so here's a reworked post from 2012.       *************************************   “The guestroom needs to be painted,” Mrs. C. said to me one day.   “Why?”   “We agreed to change the color when we bought this house.”   I shrugged. “That was a year ago and we haven’t had a single guest. So what’s the point?”   “We’ll do it together. It’ll be fun.”   That’s what she said about Lamaze classes thirty years ago and I still hadn’t gotten over them.   "Painting is harder ... read more

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Grandma Chatterbox Update

December 14, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Thanks to those of you who have sent good wishes to my mother, who I’m sorry to report isn’t doing well. Two weeks ago she was languishing in bed at her retirement home, too wobbly to stand and experiencing so much pain in her shoulder that Mrs. Chatterbox and I brushed aside her objections and rushed her to the ER. A CAT scan showed she has many tumors, a large one in her head with another in her lungs causing terrible pain. A biopsy has shown the tumors to be lung cancer—Mom gave up smoking forty years ago. Untreated, Mom has been given two to four months to live; with successful treatment as much as a year.   Although the tumor in her lungs has cracked a rib, Mom remains alert and isn’t suffering from heada ... read more

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Grandma's Holiday Apple Pies

December 16, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
A hallmark of Christmas is delicious food, and few things have as much power to transport me back in time as the smell of foods from my childhood. My grandmother always provided delectable Portuguese treats during the holidays, and one item, while not Portuguese, was made just for me.   Grandma was a diabetic, which back in the day was a serious life-threatening disease. This didn’t prevent her from spending hours in the kitchen cooking for her family. I recall being in her kitchen, listening to the sounds of clattering pots and pans and watching her create mouthwatering foods. She’d put her grandchildren to work chopping and dicing apples and rolling dough. At Christmas she’d make apple pies as gifts, pies loaded w ... read more

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A Wonderful Mother-in-Law

December 19, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
It’s strange, but as my mother fails my thoughts turn not only to her, but to someone who passed away from emphysema in 2000.   Joan, my mother-in-law, was a wonderful woman who accepted me into the family with open arms. In addition to her many abilities, she was a terrific golfer and master Bridge player, and she was an amateur painter, always claiming with a smile that what she lacked in talent she made up for in enthusiasm. Often, while working on a painting, she’d call and request help. We lived around the corner and when I showed up she’d hand me a martini and paintbrush and together we’d finish her painting.   When I first started dating the future Mrs. Chatterbox, I noticed the portrait hanging ... read more

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A Dumb Idea?

December 21, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Several of my favorite bloggers post fun pictures of signs or points of interest in their communities, but until now I haven’t spotted anything amusing enough to share. But yesterday while driving across town to visit my mother I passed a sign that gave me a much-needed laugh.   Hookahs weren’t designed for marijuana use and were originally intended as devices to enjoy tobacco, but I’ve never known anyone who had one who didn’t use it with marijuana. The fact that this sign includes the word “UNDERGROUND” settled the issue with me.   But RESUMES?   It’s an interesting concept; enjoy a few hits of mind-altering smoke and then order a resume? Does a hookah come as a free gift with ... read more

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Merry Christmas!

December 23, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
I hope everyone is having a safe and festive Christmas. With Mrs. Chatterbox’s help, Christmas at Casa Chatterbox is humming along. Cookies are being baked and our tree is trimmed, its base covered with presents thanks to Mrs. C, who’s done the lion’s share of getting us ready for the holiday while I tend to my ailing mom.   I’ve included a picture of my favorite Christmas painting, an illustration of Ol’ Kris by N.C. Wyeth, who you might recognize as Andrew Wyeth’s father. This was painted before a burlier version of Santa was created for the Coca-Cola Company in the 1930s by famous illustrator Haddon Sundblom, cementing a brawnier, more virile Santa into our collective consciousness. The little m ... read more

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A Sad Announcement

December 26, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
It saddens me to report that one month after being diagnosed with cancer, my ninety-one-year-old mother, known to followers of this blog as Grandma Chatterbox, passed away just after noon on Christmas Eve.   Mrs. Chatterbox and son CJ accompanied me to her bedside on Thursday and Friday, and CJ and I had visited on Saturday an hour earlier and found her sleeping. We tried to wake her but she looked so peaceful and pain free I didn’t have the heart to forcibly rouse her. Pain from her cancer had made her last few days a living hell; she couldn’t walk, reposition herself in her bed or feed herself—a terrible situation for someone as fiercely independent as my mother. Hospice was tending to my mother at the nursing hom ... read more

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