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

01/2017

Welcome 2017

January 02, 2017 :: written in: All Blog Posts
I hope everyone had a safe and relaxing New Year’s holiday. I, for one, won’t feel sad 2016 has come to an end. For us, it began in a hospital intensive care unit and ended at a funeral home. It was the year our son survived a brain aneurysm, but more recently it was also the year we lost my mother.   My time has been filled making funeral arrangements, having Mom’s cremains shipped to California so she can be laid to rest beside my dad, who passed away unexpectedly eight years ago. Mom never got over losing Dad and I don’t think her final years were happy ones, in spite of the efforts Mrs. Chatterbox and I did to bring some pleasure into her last years.   Cleaning out her apartment has been a painful t ... read more

 + photos!,  read more

Simplifying Buddhism

January 04, 2017 :: written in: All Blog Posts
I came across this fun story which attempts to explain Buddhism with a simple parable.   **************************   A young Buddhist monk walks through a forest, so deep in meditation that he doesn’t notice he’s being stalked by a large man-eating tiger. When he becomes aware of the beast he hurries away and a chase begins. In his haste, the monk doesn’t pay attention to where he’s going and runs off a cliff. As he falls his robes catch on the exposed root of a tree protruding from the cliff. Instead of plunging to his death the monk hangs suspended in the air.             He looks down and sees sharp rocks projecting upward. His robes begin to ... read more

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After Christmas Miracle

January 06, 2017 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Here is a reworked fictional piece I wrote in 2012 that was inspired by a post Christmas trip to the mall.   ******************************** The mall was choked with shoppers returning Christmas presents and looking for end of year deals. My sister had gifted me an unsuitable sweater and I’d come to return it. With the refund tucked into my wallet I worked my way to the mall exit. The aisles were jammed with sullen children, screaming babies and tired parents. Maneuvering around them required patience which at that moment I sorely lacked. I dodged into a pet store to calm my nerves and build up energy to slash my way through the jungle of shoppers to reach my car.           & ... read more

 + photos!,  read more

Snowgaritas

January 09, 2017 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Yesterday was a snow day here in Portland—just a light dusting with freezing rain on the way—but the inclement weather reminded me of a time a few years back when our son CJ was visiting for the holidays. We were living downtown and an arctic front had moved down from Alaska. We were snowed in.             With little to do, CJ and I decided to sit out the storm wrapped in the warm glow of liquor. But what to drink? Over the holiday we’d drained nearly all of our potent potables, with the exception of a bottle of tequila.             A brilliant idea surfaced. “Let’s make a batch of margaritas,&rdqu ... read more

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Something Strange in the Neighborhood

January 11, 2017 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Something strange is going on at Casa Chatterbox; one room unaccustomed to action is now receiving it—our bedroom!             I wish I could admit that I’m responsible for the new level of excitement in our bedroom, but credit goes to the cable man. Sure, there was a time when I was a firecracker in the bedroom, but these days I’m an inconsistent “Ole Sparky.”   We recently had our equipment updated by Comcast, not that I noticed anything different, at first. I’m typically an early to bed and early to rise person; I don’t get up much during the night, but recently I woke around 2:30 in the morning and noticed a strange light show&mdash ... read more

 + photos!,  read more

Snowmageddon Revisited

January 13, 2017 :: written in: All Blog Posts
    Thanks to all of you who heard about Portland's big snow storm and e-mailed to ask if Mrs. Chatterbox and I were okay. We survived the storm quite well, although we've been snowbound since Tuesday night and are now suffering from cabin fever. I'd just finished packing the last of my mother's things into a U-Haul truck when the flakes started falling. They say we haven't had snow like this in a decade.   Here are a few pictures I managed to take yesterday when I finally ventured outside:       View from our rear balcony       Looking across our driveway. The fellow in the yellow slicker shoveling snow didn't offer to do our driveway.         This fath ... read more

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End of the Trail

January 16, 2017 :: written in: All Blog Posts
I mentioned in my last post that Mrs. Chatterbox and I were going to break out of our snow-choked prison and travel to the coast for a weekend get-a-way—and I promised pictures. CJ and his lady, the lovely Andrea, arrived with news that CJ had finally popped the question and the two are now officially engaged. Mrs. C. and I couldn’t be happier.             It was CJ and Andrea’s idea to make a trip to the coast. I’m not a confident driver and wouldn’t have considered such a trip in these conditions, but this particular snowstorm arrived from the south and hadn’t blown down from Alaska so the coast was actually 15/20 degrees warmer than Portland, or ... read more

 + photos!,  read more

Toby

January 18, 2017 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Years ago I came to the conclusion that animals were not put on this earth to entertain us; they have as much right to exist as we humans. But I have a confession to make. I didn’t always think so.             You might have heard that after one hundred and forty-six years Ringling Bros. Circus will soon be collapsing its big top for the last time. If you’re like me, you recently applauded when Ringling announced it was retiring all its elephants to an animal sanctuary. I’ve always loved animals, and when I was a kid I loved elephants more than any other. But I also loved lions and tigers and other animals that my childhood imagination transformed into fun companions ... read more

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Comparing Apples and Oranges

January 20, 2017 :: written in: All Blog Posts
During the election, and later over the holidays, I overheard many conversations about politics. People were comparing presidential candidates. Someone said, “They’re all so different! It’s like comparing apples and oranges.”             I’ve heard that apples and oranges reference my whole life and I just don’t get it. When I was small it was right up there with: Six of one, half dozen of another, which I didn’t understand as a kid but now makes perfect sense. Another strange one was: If wishes were horses, beggars would ride. Growing up I never saw a horse or a beggar in our neighborhood. But why has the comparison of apples and oranges become su ... read more

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Free is a Very Good Price

January 23, 2017 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Cleaning out the apartment of a deceased parent can be traumatic, but I’m the sort of person who always looks on the bright side, often finding humor in the most unlikely of places.             Mom had some nice pieces of furniture but Mrs. Chatterbox and I already have a house stuffed with furniture, and our son CJ didn’t want much more than a few mementos. We contacted a consignment store that had previously sold items for Mom when she downsized into her apartment. The consignment store refused to take the items I was most eager to see hauled away, so I made numerous pilgrimages to Goodwill. I think I made up for that time I talked them down on the price of a frame, for ... read more

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Peculiarities

January 25, 2017 :: written in: All Blog Posts
          It turns out that I don’t need to check my peculiar picture file to find peculiarities: I’m surrounded by them. There are countless peculiar items at Casa Chatterbox. Some of these have stories, others are a mystery and I have no idea where they came from. Little unintentional arrangements seem to be springing up like mushrooms, perhaps a commentary on our ability to keep an orderly home. These items can be attributed to our eclectic style and sense of whimsy.             Señor Chill was purchased on a trip to Mexico. Painted in bright colors and crafted in various sizes, millions of these brightly painted grinning skulls gree ... read more

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The Face of Genius

January 27, 2017 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Until modern times, a widely accepted premise in the art world held that a bad picture of a famous person was more valuable than a brilliant painting of a still life or landscape. America has always lagged behind when it comes to creating great portrait artists. There are no masterpieces showing George Washington because the best painter in post Revolutionary War America was Gilbert Stuart, a competent craftsman lacking the spark of genius. And we can only wonder how Abraham Lincoln’s soulful eyes might have been rendered by a master like Rembrandt.   In the 1840s, photography began dealing a deathblow to oil portraits. Sitting for a photograph was easier and became a popular activity, even though it required the subject to rem ... read more

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Diamond Shopping

January 30, 2017 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  Our son CJ recently asked me to help find a radiant cut center diamond for the engagement ring he planned on giving his fiancée. CJ generously shares his automotive expertise with us and I was happy to reciprocate by sharing my knowledge of diamonds, since I’d managed a jewelry store for eight years.   Society has changed significantly since I stood behind a diamond counter. When we walked into Jared Jewelers we were greeted at the door and asked what brought us in. CJ responded by saying we were looking for an engagement ring.   The greeter grinned and said, “Congratulations, you two.”   What the F*+#K? CJ is my son. The greeter thought we were a couple!   As we browsed through t ... read more

 + photos!,  read more

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