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

07/2017

Tag---You're It!

July 03, 2017 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Many families have quirky habits not shared by other households, special words or favorite activities that bond a family together. Here at Casa Chatterbox we have such a quirky habit—okay, it’s really just me! I’m taking a risk that you won’t judge me harshly for admitting to such an aberration, but we’re all friends here, right?             I can’t recall when it first started; I think it began with a stereo/turntable Mrs. C. and I purchased in the 70s. I didn’t give it any thought until months later when it was pointed out. By then it seemed too late to rectify the situation. People figured I was making some sort of statement; if I were, I d ... read more

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A Near Disaster in Chartres

July 05, 2017 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Several followers recently asked if Mrs. Chatterbox and I ever felt in danger during any of our trips. The answer is “no” although there was a time when we almost died.   In 1999 Mrs. Chatterbox and I celebrated our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. We’d traveled to Paris to celebrate, but unfortunately everything was on strike: museums were closed, monuments shut down, cabs and garbage collectors had ceased being operational. Since the French government had a tight grip on the media, there wasn’t a word about this in the papers. Thousands of tourists were lined up in front of the shuttered Louvre and Musée d’ Orsay. Other than eating at overpriced cafes and bistros, there was little to do in Pari ... read more

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A Dining Disaster

July 07, 2017 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  Last week Mrs. Chatterbox and I celebrated our 43rd wedding anniversary. We’re past the gift giving stage but I wanted to celebrate by taking Mrs. C. out for a nice dinner. I had no idea the evening would conclude with the manager of the restaurant threatening to call the cops if I didn’t leave.   The restaurant was La Provence, a place we’d previously been served good breakfasts. I selected it because of our recent trip to the South of France. It was a beautiful evening and I’d reserved an outside table near their pond. The restaurant wasn’t crowded, and it was only six o’clock; we tend to dine early.   Things started out well, although it took a long time for our waiter to appear, ... read more

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Sorting Fish on Tonle Sap Lake

July 10, 2017 :: written in: All Blog Posts
You might recall a post I published before heading off to France, a post about the new painting taboret I assembled with the help of son CJ. I mentioned that I would have preferred buying an old beat up one off of Craig’s List but instead settled on a new one that I was afraid to use because I didn’t want to mess it up. I can now report that my new taboret is “messed up.” I’ve painted several canvases since returning home, a self-portrait Mrs. C. says makes me look older than I am, (Ain’t love grand) a female head of no one in particular and a large painting based on photographs I shot on Tonlé Sap Lake in Cambodia a few years back.     Tonlé Sap Lake is a massive body of fres ... read more

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Fire and Ice

July 12, 2017 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Winston Churchill was a competent landscape painter. When asked about his paintings, the former British prime minister famously quipped, “They’re too good to give away but not good enough to sell.” In 1954, to celebrate Churchill’s eightieth birthday, a full length portrait commission was awarded to Graham Sutherland, one of Britain’s most highly acclaimed artists. The fee was 1000 guineas, approximately $35,000 today. The story of this painting was featured in the Netflix series The Crown, with John Lithgow playing Churchill, a role that won him an Emmy.       Graham Sutherland     Churchill had been painted many times, and was even sketched by that titan of Edwardian portrait ... read more

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It's Almost Here!

July 14, 2017 :: written in: All Blog Posts
                  I don’t usually gush over TV programs but Mrs. Chatterbox and I are diehard fans of Game of Thrones. Last year we binge-watched all six seasons, and it was even better the second time around. So it may be July…but winter is coming. This Sunday marks the premier of Season Seven of Game of Thrones. If my dragon egg doesn’t hatch before then I’ll be glued to the television.             Are you ready? I am!     Winter is coming!       Follow my blog with Bloglovin  Save Save ... read more

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Casinos

July 17, 2017 :: written in: All Blog Posts
It’s summer and several fellow bloggers are grabbing their lucky talismans and heading to casinos. Our son CJ recently returned from an Indian casino in Washington State after winning a hundred and fifty dollars on a nickel machine, and he managed to leave without losing it.   I’ve been to Vegas and Reno a few times, and we have several Indian casinos in the Portland area, but I never win and always lose my money in record time. Two pathetic casino experiences come to mind.   Once while staying at The Venetian in Las Vegas, CJ and I wandered into a tawdry casino next door where I spotted a five-dollar blackjack table, a rarity in Vegas. I queued up behind one of the chairs and waited for my turn at the blackjack ta ... read more

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A Rose is a Rose

July 19, 2017 :: written in: All Blog Posts
          Gertrude Stein once commented that the reason so many people look alike is because there are only six faces out there and we keep encountering them over and over. She might have been joking, but it does seem that many faces look familiar.   Several days ago, son CJ and his fiancée Andrea came to dinner. During the course of the evening I showed them a few paint sketches I’d been working on.   CJ took a look at an imaginary woman I whipped up and asked, “Why did you paint Rose from the movie Titanic?       I said, “I didn’t. It’s just a face I invented.”   “It’s Rose, alright,” he said, reaching for h ... read more

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A Gold Skeleton in Our Closet

July 21, 2017 :: written in: All Blog Posts
I was unable to locate the accompanying photograph when I first published this piece in 2012. I recently found the photo in my late mother's things.   *************************************************   Most families have their own stories and legends, and mine is no exception. In Hayes family lore, Great Great Grandpa Phil is credited with finding the second largest gold nugget ever discovered in the state of California.   As I understand it, my ancestors were once wheelers and dealers in Central California. They lived on an impressive ranch near Hollister and rode around in monogrammed carriages. The source of their affluence was—GOLD. In 1886; Phil Hayes found a single gold nugget weighing in at nearly forty po ... read more

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A New Dinner Hangout

July 24, 2017 :: written in: All Blog Posts
The weather here in Portland has been fantastic, with temperatures hovering around 80 degrees. Thanks to CJ’s fiancée Andrea, we now have a new summer place to dine, Island Cafe. I say it’s a summer place because it’s closed in winter.   There are many islands on the Columbia River separating Oregon and Washington, and Island Cafe sits on Tomahawk Island, one of the smaller ones. Island Cafe floats near a marina that connects to the much wider Columbia River, and boats sail up to the dock and moor beside the restaurant. It was a fantastic place to people watch, one of our favorite pastimes, and pick out our favorite boat from the many expensive pleasure crafts sailing past.   On Saturday we had a table ... read more

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Six Minutes

July 26, 2017 :: written in: All Blog Posts
These days the police seem to be receiving a lot of bad press, so a good cop story would seem to be in order. You might have missed this on the news because there wasn’t a tragic outcome, but for me it’s personal; it happened in the building where my wife and son work.             The Police Records Department is located several yards inside the front door to our city hall. A thin young man, approximately eighteen years old, paced in the entryway before approaching the window and mumbling something.             Kathy (not her real name) was working the desk. “Could you repeat what you just said?”    ... read more

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Peculiarities #5

July 28, 2017 :: written in: All Blog Posts
This strange device was on our living room mantel during my childhood, and I’ve now owned it for over fifty years. It looks like a small oil lamp, but it served a different purpose. It’s an antique vaporizer. Herbs and medicated oils were placed in the bowl at the top; when the wick was lit it warmed the liquid and made breathing easier.   My mother spotted it at my grandmother’s house and expressed an interest in it, and my grandmother gave it to her since she hadn’t experienced asthma attacks in years. She had my dad clean and paint it a few times, which probably destroyed any value it might have had. Back then Antique Road Show hadn’t yet premiered, so people weren’t cautioned against over clean ... read more

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Summer in the Garage

July 31, 2017 :: written in: All Blog Posts
This summer I’m spending less time writing and more time in the garage painting. I even cancelled a tennis game last week so I could paint. I told my partner I was taking time away from tennis to take advantage of the great light for my painting. She sent an e-mail telling me to be careful and not fall off my ladder. She must have thought I was painting our house.   In the past week I’ve painted another self-portrait, a few oil sketches and a portrait of Mark Twain, just because I felt like capturing a likeness that wasn’t mine. I combined several photographs and made him look a bit younger than he appeared in my reference pictures, and I’m pleased with the results.       Mark Twain (oil o ... read more

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