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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Leaving Dijon

June 7, 2017






Before leaving Dijon I popped into a museum and wandered through many rooms of impressive Medieval art. One sculpture caught my eye, not for the boring gold-draped couple but for the wonderful demons presumably tempting them.




Every city in France seems to be famous for something, especially in the Bourgogne region where food production reigns supreme. The city of Bresse (pronounced Brez) is famous for its milk-fed poultry production, with 1,200,000 chickens produced annually. This roadside sculpture proudly touts the city’s pride and joy.




There’s a joke about Bresse chickens that, frankly, took me a while to appreciate. It goes like this:


A man sits down in a restaurant and orders a Bresse chicken. When the waiter returns with a chicken, the customer sticks a finger in its ass and rejects it saying, “This is NOT a Bresse chicken; it’s from Lyon!”


The waiter later returns with another chicken. The customer sticks a finger in its ass and rejects it saying, “This is NOT a Bresse chicken; it’s from Marseilles!”


A third chicken is brought forth and again the customer rejects it saying, “This chicken is NOT from Bresse; it’s from Toulouse!”


At which point the waiter turns around, drops his pants and says over his shoulder, “I’m an orphan. Can you tell me where I’m from?”


On our way to taste some local Chablis, we motored through several small villages and spotted these crappy little cars. Most were quite banged up. When encountered on the road they were slow-driving nuisances. Our guide explained. Called AIXAM, they won’t go more than thirty miles an hour. Instead of confiscating licenses from people caught motoring while intoxicated, drunk drivers must use these cheap cars that are incapable of dangerous speed. Curious since a child or senior can easily be killed by a car traveling only thirty miles an hour.










A strange Frenchman (or Italian) enjoying wine at a local market.



Chamonix, a famous ski resort and site of the first winter Olympics in 1924, is nestled in the shadow of Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in the Alps. Ski resorts are not very interesting when there isn’t much snow, but we were treated to the sight of wild Ibex as we traveled through the mountains. I didn’t see any at first, but after stepping away from our group and standing still a few minutes, I turned and grabbed my camera.








These animals live in a beautiful place.






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Love the humor and what great photographs!
By: John on June 7, 2017
Cool shot of the sheep. Or ram. I wouldn't think even driving a bicycle would be safe while drunk.
By: Alex J. Cavanaugh on June 7, 2017
And vehicles driving insanely slow are a pretty bad road hazard, but I guess it's a way to shame the drunk drivers, like wearing a scarlet A. That's a neat sheep; I think I've shot quite a few of those on the Deer Hunter game on my tablet.
By: PT Dilloway on June 7, 2017
That is a gorgeous location! And LOL at the chicken joke :)
By: The Bug on June 7, 2017
Funny joke! Great pictures. Don't think I've come across the car in any of our travels through the country. Love the pictures of the Ibex...
By: The Broad on June 7, 2017
Silly joke- and even sillier cars....I'd make them walk with a T-shirt that would point out why they are walking. Thanks for sharing your adventures!
By: Kathe W. on June 7, 2017
I actually love that joke:) I really, really need a pick me up today and this did the trick! Plus, I can imagine travelling far away through your blog right now. Those bad demons especially the one with the money bag. I love medieval art so that museum is right up my alley. I think it is quite cool to see the wild ibex since most don't even think of wild animals still living in Western Europe. Great shots. As for the cars...I don't get it? Why not just take their licenses away??
By: Birgit Bedesky on June 7, 2017
Lots of chickens in my neck of the woods, so I'm laughing at that joke and love the sculpture. But, milk fed??
By: Kelly on June 7, 2017
It appears that one of golden ones has sprouted horns... is she crossing over to the other team? Is there milk-fed poulet any good? Love your pics of the mountains and Ibex.
By: Daniel LaFrance on June 7, 2017
Who knew chickens liked milk. Love the joke and that shot of the mountains was splendid. Guess they don't have Uber for the drunks.
By: Arkansas Patti on June 7, 2017
I love the photos of Chamonix and the Ibex. A slow-moving car could still be driven into a crowd of people. Love, Janie
By: Janie Junebug on June 7, 2017
So much to learn reading your posts. It might be that anyone driving one of those "punishment" cars would be too embarrassed to drive one while intoxicated.
By: messymimi on June 7, 2017
Love the photo of the Ibex and the mountains and, the moral of the story: "when in France, keep your hands to yourself"
By: Sage on June 7, 2017
Thanks for the tour.
By: red Kline on June 7, 2017
Great photos and post. I can't wait to tell the joke! Would love to have one of those Bresse Chickens to roast, though we are pleased with the Petaluma birds. Cheers
By: Tom Cochrun on June 7, 2017
I love your posts about your travels. The joke was a scream. R
By: Rick Watson on June 7, 2017
I think the slow car for a drunk driving conviction is a great idea. In this country the DD's get a second chance, their licence back after a short suspension or they just drive anyway without the licence. The slow car allows them to still get to work without driving illegally, the slow speed makes it somewhat safer, the car itself makes others watch out for them, and the embarrassment of "wearing the DD badge" by driving that thing might encourage other drivers to stay sober.
By: cranky on June 7, 2017
Loving the guided tour, and the local details. BTW, not all slow-moving cars on the roads are for drunk driver punishment. We got caught behind one that sounded like it was powered (if that's the right word!) by a lawnmower engine.
By: Botanist on June 7, 2017
You've shared a fascinating mix of scenes. Thank you. Welcome home! I look forward to more snapshots of your adventures.
By: Robyn Engel on June 7, 2017
Great pictures and great stories! I love the big chicken and the little car and the beast with the magnificent horns. I'm pretty sure my husband will appreciate that joke.
By: Val on June 7, 2017
Thanks for the wonderful tour & the FUNNY joke!!
By: fishducky on June 7, 2017
Wow! I've never seen a wild Ibix. So exciting. I love the joke (Jerry wouldn't get it). AND I adore those demons!
By: Mitchell is Moving on June 8, 2017
You always find the most interesting things to photograph and write about . I loved this! Thanks.
By: scott park on June 8, 2017
That joke is hilarious! I'm wondering, too...milk-fed chickens???
By: Pixel Peeper on June 11, 2017

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