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

05/2016

As Old as You Feel?

May 02, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
I don’t think about my age very often but it’s undeniable that the years are stacking up; I’ll be sixty-four in November. Many people think I’m younger than I am. I often joke about possessing a disarming immaturity most people mistake for youth. It’s often said that you’re only as old as you feel, and lately I’ve been trying to do things to feel younger- like taking tennis lessons from Tina N., a good friend you might remember as being a master gardener.   One of the few advantages of being overweight is that fat tends to reduce wrinkles. My facial hair has gone grey but when I add a bit of color I can pass for forty-five, which annoys Mrs. Chatterbox who is often thought slightly older than ... read more

 + photos!,  read more

Tornado

May 04, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
This might be a peculiar picture, or just a prophetic one.   This wasn’t an illustration assignment. When I painted this years ago I was already troubled by climate change. I’d flown over Greenland and seen the missing ice and snow, and my home state of California was beginning to experience the droughts that would only intensify over the years. Scientists, who aren’t the best at public relations, left themselves vulnerable to ridicule by referring to changing weather patterns as global warming. It was beyond many people to understand how the world could be growing warmer when so many severe snowstorms were affecting the country. The science behind this phenomenon is beyond a simple answer, but is understood and acc ... read more

 + photos!,  read more

Parody

May 06, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
While teaching conceptual illustration at our local art college I was asked one question more than any other: Where do your ideas come from? As an illustrator, I enjoyed problem solving almost as much as painting. If an art director had a problem, I was paid to solve it—visually. Perhaps the text in a layout was boring and in need of a punch to keep readers interested, or the writer was dealing with complex issues requiring a visual to help readers understand the concept.             When my students were lacking in inspiration I suggested they create a parody, defined by Webster as   an imitation of the style of a particular writer, artist, or genre with deliberate exagg ... read more

 + photos!,  read more

Happy Birthday, Mom

May 09, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
To all the moms out there, I hope you had a wonderful Mother’s Day. Today is another special day in the Chatterbox family; it’s my mother’s ninety-first birthday. I’ve written about my mother many times but I’ve never mentioned her eating disorder—she doesn’t like eating in front of people. She cooks her own meals and refuses to eat the food she pays for in the dining room of her retirement facility. In fact, I can’t recall sitting down to a meal with her when she actually ate. Years ago when she and my dad would fly to Oregon for a visit, she’d refuse to join us at the dinner table. After their departure we’d find crumbs of food she’d squirreled away and eaten in bed. Mom cl ... read more

 + photos!,  read more

Portland's Lan Su Chinese Garden

May 11, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Sometimes it takes out-of-town guests to prompt a visit to wonderful attractions in your own backyard. Last week I was visited by one of my favorite bloggers, Michael Offutt, and his good friends James and Brad. They wanted to visit Portland’s Chinese Garden, build back when I had my downtown illustration studio but a place I’ve never visited.             I was amazed at the masterful manipulation of space in a setting surrounded by high rises and urban traffic. The Lan Su Chinese Garden is a recreation of a sixteenth century Chinese scholar’s garden, built from traditional materials and methods, a historical treasure and a place where people, ideas and cultures inte ... read more

 + photos!,  read more

A Stupid TV Show

May 13, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
    A forensic team would have difficulty finding my DNA on our TV’s remote control because it’s usually in Mrs. Chatterbox’s hand. She schedules most of our programs. She thoughtfully records programs I like and I’m grateful. However, she also records programs I refuse to watch. I won’t mention which programs because I know my good friend Cranky at Cranky Old Man watches many of these shows and I don’t want him tearing me a new one.             The other day I walked into the family room and Mrs. C. was watching a cooking show on the Food Network.             “What show ... read more

 + photos!,  read more

Saving a Life in Key Largo

May 30, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
One of the reasons Mrs. Chatterbox and I travel is to challenge our preconceptions of a place with firsthand experiences. I’d heard about the Florida Keys my entire life and was excited to lay my eyes on them.             We rented a car in Miami and drove to our first stop—Key Largo, made famous by the film with Bogie and Bacall. Frankly, there wasn’t much to do in Key Largo except eat key lime pie and try to cool off in swimming pools hot enough to poach an egg. The Keys are surrounded by a massive coral reef so the water is still, without waves. However, we took an excursion that proved extraordinary; doused in insect repellent, we toured a saltwater portion of th ... read more

 + photos!,  read more

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