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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Finding the Porziuncola

December 17, 2014
Like many Catholics, I grew up enthralled by the story of Francis of Assisi, patron saint of animals and the environment. Francis and I both shared a profound love for God’s creatures, and one of my childhood treasures was a book showing a fresco of Saint Francis preaching to birds. One of the details in St. Francis lore capturing my attention was the Porziuncola, a small ...

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Free Delivery

December 15, 2014
I’m only being honest when I say most people like me. I’m light-hearted and don’t take things too seriously, and I’m great at faking sincerity. It’s true that the corners of my mouth curve upward in an impish grin that people sometimes take for a smirk, but all in all I get along well with people. I’ve also spent years in retail and know what it means to give good service, and I treat ...

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Playing With Food

December 12, 2014

First posted 3/21/12
I was driving home from the grocery store yesterday and the deejay on the radio was spinning moldy oldies and asking trivia questions. One of the questions was: “What was the first toy or game advertised directly to children on television?”
I’m terrible at trivia and usually rely on Mrs. C. to fill me in on the Zeitgeist, but I ...

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Contest Update

December 11, 2014
On November 17th I mentioned that I was entering a travel writing contest with my entry Whirling Dervishes. My piece made it through the first round and is being considered for a prize. The originator of the contest is We Said Go Travel and my story was posted a few days ago. Unfortunately, it hasn’t received any comments and I’m hoping a few of you can provide some. I know this is asking ...

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Complaining About the Weather

December 10, 2014
Everyone talks about the weather but nobody does anything about it.
—Mark Twain—
Most regions of our country are currently experiencing severe weather and quite a few bloggers are commenting on it. It seems that weather reports on the evening news are getting longer and longer, as if we’re all still farmers and need to know when to go out and plant ...

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A Fraud at Westminster Abbey?

December 8, 2014

Most of Britain’s great writers are memorialized in Poet’s Corner in Westminster Abbey, and quite a few are buried there, including Chaucer, Blake, Browning, Dickens, Tennyson and Kipling. Interred here is James Macpherson. Never heard of him? He pulled off the most successful literary scam in modern history.

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I Almost Felt Guilty

December 5, 2014

The nice folks at Retirement and Good Living have asked for another story, and I’ve shared an account of a special car I purchased to celebrate my retirement. I might have gone too far with a practical joke I pulled on my salesman—you be the judge. Please follow the link and leave a comment so they’ll invite me back. Thanks.

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Why, God?

December 3, 2014
I’m receiving pictures from fellow bloggers showing snow-covered front lawns and backyards, reminding me of the first time I saw snow. Mrs. Chatterbox was an Army brat and grew up in Germany where snow is plentiful, but for me snow was an elusive mirage constantly out of reach. The Santa Clara Valley, home until I was twenty, was famous for its moderate fruit-growing weather, and the snow I coveted would have destroyed ...

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December 1, 2014

It’s been cold and dreary here in Portland, and I’ve been thinking about a wonderfully sunny excursion Mrs. Chatterbox and I took several years ago. After cruising through the Panama Canal, we stopped in Cabo San Lucas at the tip of Mexico’s Baja California Penninsula. At the end of the pier was a tired old vessel. I’ve always been interested in vintage ships and once wrote ...

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My New Friend

November 28, 2014
I was new to blogging when I began Chubby Chatterbox in 2011. Back then, I’d never even read a blog. I was looking for a way to find an audience for my storytelling, and starting a blog was my son CJ’s idea.  He helped me design my site, and guided me through how it operated so I could maintain it properly. I had no idea blogs came with a statistics page, but once I became aware of mine I waited on pins ...

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