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


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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Flying Without a Net

August 16, 2017
Last night I did something in bed I haven’t done in years. I was contentedly lying there, dreaming I was King of Bloggers and had finally figured out the difference between further and farther, and a while and awhile, when it happened. Mrs. Chatterbox was on the far side of our king-size bed and in no position to monitor what was going on. That’s when it happened. I felt ashamed when ...

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The Guitar Player

August 14, 2017
Last week I finished my painting of a guitar player, based on a photograph a fellow blogger was kind enough to give me permission to use as a photo reference. I’m not familiar with the person in the photograph (country blues singer/songwriter Charlie Parr from Minnesota) and was more interested in creating a genre piece rather than a portrait. I was captivated by the golden Rembrandt quality of the image.

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America's Great Pastime: Conclusion

August 11, 2017
Check out Part One (Here).
My difficulties as an umpire fell into two categories: first was a lack of familiarity with the rules of the game, conveyed to players and spectators by the erratic methods I used to communicate my decisions; second, my co-umpire (Mrs. C.) found it all but impossible to remain impartial and not show favoritism to the hardworking smallest kid ...

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America's Great Pastime

August 9, 2017
Summer is the time for reruns, which this is, and sports. Many bloggers have great tales to tell about their athletic prowess. I’m not one of them. But there was a time when I was coerced into participating in a baseball game. Those of you who know me are right to assume it didn’t go well.
Mrs. C. and I were attending one of CJ’s Junior ...

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Twenty-One Years

August 7, 2017
Last week was National Night Out, a time for the community to come together and enjoy free pizza and ice cream on a summer night while mingling with the police in an effort to build bridges between citizens and our municipal government. Readers of this blog know that Mrs. Chatterbox works for our local police department. In addition to managing over a hundred volunteers who save our taxpayers more than a hundred ...

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August 4, 2017
I’ve seen it many times over the years, a bronze buffalo on a credenza in the Roosevelt Room of the White House. Lately, I’ve chuckled when I’ve seen it behind Trump in pictures taken during cabinet meetings. Strange that Trump, who prides himself on his ability to stage photo ops, hasn’t realized the odd visual presented by this sculpture.
I’d ...

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It's the Principle!

August 2, 2017
When people squabble over small amounts of money they often claim it isn’t about the money; it’s the principle. Money has never been my life’s focus and I’ve dismissed these people as being foolish. Well, here’s yet another example of my hypocrisy.
Last May my mother cancelled her cable service, but accidentally overpaid ...

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Summer in the Garage

July 31, 2017
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 ...

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Peculiarities #5

July 28, 2017
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 ...

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Six Minutes

July 26, 2017
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 ...

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A New Dinner Hangout

July 24, 2017
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 ...

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A Gold Skeleton in Our Closet

July 21, 2017
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 ...

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A Rose is a Rose

July 19, 2017
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 ...

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