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

07/2016

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

 + photos!,  read more

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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