Blog Archive


The Panama Canal

November 03, 2014 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  “Yes, but only if we can cross from one ocean into another,” I answered when Mrs. Chatterbox asked if I was interested in seeing the Panama Canal. Most cruises only take you to Lake Gatun at the halfway point, where you reverse direction and return to your port of origin. For me, crossing the entire Isthmus of Panama was the whole point of any Panama Canal adventure.             Mrs. C. found a cruise that departed from Miami, made a full passage through the Canal and ended in San Francisco. In spite of the Canal shortening the distance thousands of miles by removing the need to sail around South America, this would be the longest cruise we’d undertaken, near ...

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An Old Radio

November 05, 2014 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Aside from the city dump, my grandfather’s basement was the next best thing to kid nirvana. It had a musty under-the-house smell, with a hint of yeasty fermentation from the oak barrels where Grandpa stored brandies made from fruit trees he tended behind his garage. There were old fishing poles and wicker baskets to hold fish, strange musical instruments with broken strings, moldy books in a language I couldn’t read, and brownish photographs of  people in stiff clothes and even stiffer poses. Grandpa even had a giant whiskey bottle that stood nearly as tall as me—filled with pennies. But the item that intrigued me most was an old radio.             Made from sev ...

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Manly Me!

November 07, 2014 :: written in: All Blog Posts
        I’ve once again drained the shampoo bottle in my gym bag, prompting this repeat from 2012.   ********************************    This morning Mrs. Chatterbox said to me, “So how’s that shampoo I bought you?”             I’d asked her to pick up some more when she went to the store because the bottle in my gym bag was empty. I looked up from my iPad and said, “It’s fine.”                  She looked at me curiously. “Did you notice anything different?”         &n ...

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November 10, 2014 :: written in: All Blog Posts
We’d run hard to catch the train, only to realize it wasn’t attached to anything; the correct train was on the far side of the station. We reached it and threw our backpacks aboard the train as it started moving. Exhausted, we fell asleep in one of the empty compartments shortly after pulling out of the station.             We woke in darkness to discover our train was no longer moving. It was 1976, and Mrs. Chatterbox and I were catching a ship from Brindisi, Italy, to Patras, Greece. I couldn’t shake the feeling we’d been sitting there a long time. I left Mrs. C. in our compartment and went to explore. The compartments I passed, like the rest of the train, ap ...

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Tons of...Fun?

November 12, 2014 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  Like most kids growing up, money burned a hole in my pocket. If I found a nickel or dime I’d spend it as quickly as possible, usually on candy bars. Unlike most kids on the street where I grew up, my brother and I weren’t given an allowance; our parents (my mother) didn’t believe children should be paid to do household chores.             Some summers my brother David and I would cut apricots at an orchard owned by one of Mom’s cousins, but for the most part we had to make do with Christmas or birthday money. When old enough, athletic David had a paper route; with an arm honed on many a little league pitcher’s mound, he could throw papers with rem ...

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Not So Smooth Sailing

November 14, 2014 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Travel can add stress to any relationship, especially new ones. Mrs. Chatterbox and I have always gotten along with remarkably little friction, but one incident when we were newlyweds comes to mind, a time when things didn’t go well. Like most marriage squabbles, I can’t recall the cause for the dust up.             Shortly after our dangerous train experience in Bara (Here if you missed it) we reached Brindisi and spent the day in the old harbor waiting for a ship to take us to Patras, Greece. We’d selected the cheapest transport, but when it chugged into port I was surprised to see how old the ship was. She was named the Posedonia, a tramper plying the deep blue wa ...

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Whirling Dervishes

November 17, 2014 :: written in: All Blog Posts
I’m submitting this story to a travel magazine contest. The entry needs to be less than 800 words, express a feeling of gratitude, and reflect a destination that makes you feel strong and hopeful. Wish me luck.   ************************   A curtain was pulled back and figures emerged from darkness in a shaft of light—a half dozen cloaked musicians with medieval instruments. They arranged themselves on rugs, the light faded out, and the sounds of reeds, drums and unfamiliar string instruments filled the dark confined space. It was surprising how these primitive devices could create such a palpitating mood of expectation.             My mouth was dry as the v ...

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The Raft of the Medusa

November 19, 2014 :: written in: All Blog Posts
What do you do if you’re athletic and good-looking, talented enough to catch the public’s attention, and you’re engaged in a scandal serious enough to get you horsewhipped and thrown in a French jail? If you’re Theodore Géricault (pronounced Gericho) and you’ve impregnated the young hottie your uncle recently married, you lock yourself away in a studio for two years, shave your head to avoid the temptation of showing your face, and paint one of the masterpieces of western civilization.             Theodore Géricault (1791-1824) is regarded as one of the forerunners of Romanticism, an artistic movement that swept Europe by rejecting classical ...

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Bordello Chair

November 21, 2014 :: written in: All Blog Posts
This is the history of a chair, nothing as important as a throne or relic, but it has been in the Chatterbox household for forty years—our so-called bordello chair.             Mrs. Chatterbox and I had only been married a few years when a really stupid idea crossed our minds, the type of idea that’s fodder for TV sitcoms—we decided to move into my parents’ unused lanai. (An enclosed patio with a kitchenette and bathroom.) We figured that saving rent for a year would give us enough money for a down payment on a house.             My parents agreed to let us move in, but Mrs. Chatterbox had yet to experien ...

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The Harrison Stamp Company

November 24, 2014 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  As if I haven’t already given you cause to believe I was a nerdy kid ( I was an artist, chess player, member of the Latin Club, poet, devotee of ancient civilizations and skilled puppet maker) I also collected stamps.             I got hooked when Grandpa gave me a dog-eared album with a few stamps from exotic places like India and China, including some German stamps from the ‘30s showing a stern man with a Charlie Chaplin mustache. My desire to travel was piqued by these stamps and I swore I’d one day trek to exotic places. I used birthday money to buy a new album and began collecting. The nice Guatemalan lady across the street gave me letters with stamps in ...

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The Best Turkey Ever!

November 26, 2014 :: written in: All Blog Posts
This story is the closest thing I have to a Chatterbox Classic. I don’t post on Thursdays so here it is today. I haven’t posted it in a while. If you’re reading it for the first time, I hope you enjoy it. If you remember it from the past, congratulations; your long term memory is still intact.     ****************************   This morning I woke alone in bed. Mrs. Chatterbox got up before dawn and began working on the feast that is the hallmark of this special day. I don’t deserve having a spouse willing to get up before roosters crow just to please me with a sumptuous banquet, but I’ll accept this gift as graciously as I can.            & ...

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My New Friend

November 28, 2014 :: written in: All Blog Posts
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 and needles for that first visit, one not originating from friends or family. A few hours after going live, I received my first international visit. According to my statistics page, the visit came from…Romania.             I couldn’t imagine why anyone in ...

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