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

12/2016

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

 + photos!,  read more

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

 + photos!,  read more

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