Blog Archive


Peculiarities #8

December 01, 2017
My mother passed away on Christmas Eve last year and I’ve been thinking about her a lot lately.   Over the years, Mrs. Chatterbox and I struggled to find suitable gifts for my parents. Dad liked everything and was easy to please, but Mom was a challenge.   Forty years ago, Mrs. C. and I purchased an antique spinet desk and we needed a lamp to set on it. After a long search, we spotted a desk lamp in an antique store that suited the desk nicely. On our way out the door I noticed a small green bronze statuette on a shelf, and remembering Mom’s birthday was just around the corner I jokingly asked the store owner to throw in the statuette for good measure. To my shock, he did!   When I gave it to my mother, I re ...

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A Complicated Question

December 04, 2017
This week the Supreme Court is going to hear a case I have mixed feelings about. A gay couple is suing a baker for refusing to make a wedding cake. The baker claims he can refuse this couple on religious grounds because he and his church don’t support same-sex marriages.   It seems to me that baking, especially something as elaborate as a wedding cake, is an art. As an artist myself, I can’t imagine the government telling me I must use my talent to create something against my will. In fact, I’ve turned down creative projects for a variety of reasons. Fortunately, I’ve never been sued.   Sexual orientation is big news these days, but what if a skinhead walked into this bakery and requested a cake in the ...

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Power of Music

December 06, 2017
Regular readers know that my grandfather played a significant role in my life, but until now I haven’t mentioned that Grandpa and his two older brothers were orphaned when Grandpa was five years old. They’d been living on Terceira, a poverty-stricken island in the Azores and no relatives had the resources to take in three hungry mouths.             One brother was sent to live with distant relatives in Lisbon, another was shipped off to São Paulo, Brazil, and my grandfather came to America and settled in California’s Santa Clara Valley. The three boys had been very close and once they learned how to write they communicated with each other regularly. One of the ...

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One of Life's Great Mysteries

December 08, 2017
There are many mysteries in the world: what happened to Amelia Earhart: how has the Loch Ness Monster remained hidden for so long; did D.B. Cooper survive jumping out of that plane? But I have a contender for the biggest mystery of all—women’s purses.   Reaching into them makes me quiver, like plunging my hand into a pumpkin. Mrs. Chatterbox will infrequently ask me to pluck something from her purse, which usually hangs on the back of a barstool in our kitchen. I hate reaching inside, even on those rare occasions when I’m asked to do so. I fear the unknown lurking inside. When I reach within I’m confronted with a surreal feminine vortex, a denial of the science explaining our universe and everything in it. Spa ...

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Secret Language

December 11, 2017
    Yesterday I “booped” my wife.   It’s not what you think. We were Christmas Shopping and she got lost. She says I was the one who got lost, but that’s beside the point. I couldn’t find her—so I booped her. A few heads turned, but no one said anything.   It all began when CJ was around two years old. Our family room couldn’t have been farther from CJ’s bathroom and in the evenings, during bath time, Mrs. Chatterbox and I took turns checking on our son, who loved spending hours in cold grey bathwater with a floating model of the USS Missouri. Stories of children drowning in bathtubs were high on our minds so we were quite diligent about checking on him.   Even ...

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Face Off

December 13, 2017
        I seem to be spending less time writing these days with most of my creative energy going to painting and drawing.   Before closing my studio space in our cold garage and moving indoors to pursue charcoal drawing, I painted a portrait of our local mayor, just for fun, and an oil sketch of a young man I found on the Internet.   This portrait is of Mayor Denny Doyle. I was prompted to paint him after studying John Singer Sargent’s portrait of Henry James, in particular the challenge of portraying a hair-challenged person against a dark background. The head needs to recede into the background at the top to prevent a cutout effect. I presented this painting to the mayor at a city council meetin ...

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A Few Travel Tips

December 15, 2017
Although we’re not travel experts, Mrs. Chatterbox and I have traveled to nearly forty countries and we’ve learned a few things over the years. These tips might come in handy on your next trip.    #1. When dining in Europe, Spain and Italy in particular, expect to eat late, around nine or ten o’clock. Siesta time in warm countries bordering the Mediterranean, usually between 2-4 in the afternoon, is more than a nap. Shops and public buildings actually shut down. People go to bed for a few hours before returning to work so dining comes much later than here in the States. As diabetics, Mrs. C. and I find it a challenge to eat late, but if you enter a restaurant early you’re often served food left over from ...

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Brontosaurus Ribs for Christmas

December 18, 2017
    I recently saw an online statistic claiming that more than seventy percent of American families enjoyed prime rib for Christmas dinner. At Casa Chatterbox we’ll also be having prime rib.             Years ago, shortly after we were married, Mrs. Chatterbox decided to roast our first prime rib for Christmas. A few days before the holiday we drove to the grocery store and studied the meat behind the counter while waiting for the butcher to call our number.             “How much prime rib should we buy?” she asked me.             It should co ...

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Big & Small

December 20, 2017
      Mrs. Chatterbox and I have been married for forty-three years, and in that time I’ve come to realize that her intelligence is greater than mine. But every now and then she’ll say something outrageous that makes me throw back my head and wonder, “What the F*#K!”             Case in point: recently, Mrs. C. was lunching at a popular restaurant with some fellow retirees, women she’d worked with for many years. Several of the ladies, including Mrs. Chatterbox, decided to use the ladies’ room. (Women seldom go alone.) Of course there was a line, with no one waiting in front of the men’s room. Mrs. C. really had to go, so one ...

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Online Shopping

December 22, 2017
      I’m not a great gift giver so this time of year can be challenging. Mrs. Chatterbox and I aren’t in need of anything and most of our desires have long since been met. Our son CJ loves Christmas and is practically one of Santa’s elves. He lavishes the people he loves with remarkable generosity. He recently told me that he’d gone to the local mall to pick up a few gifts and had been disappointed at not finding anything he’d been looking for. So he walked back to his car and in a matter of minutes purchased everything he wanted—online! I know more and more people are shopping online, which is why Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, will soon become the world’s first trillionaire.   ...

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Christmas 2017

December 24, 2017
      It's hard to believe that Christmas is here already. It's a bittersweet time for me since my mother passed away last Christmas Eve, an hour after my last visit with her. She died on the same day as Scrooge's partner, Marley, and somehow I think that coincidence would have pleased her. Our sadness is brightened by the arrival of a daughter-in-law, who we love dearly.   I won't be near my computer tomorrow so I want to wish everyone a peaceful and serene Christmas, filled with love and joy.   Note: This picture, which has become something of a holiday tradition here at Chubby Chatterbox, was commissioned long ago as a design for a Christmas card, so long ago that I can't recall painting it.     ...

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A Mystery

December 27, 2017
Mrs. Chatterbox and I are puzzled by a mystery—the disappearance of a family member.             By 2005, having had enough of Oregon winters, we decided to move to Arizona. Before flying to Phoenix, we contacted a realtor and placed our townhouse on the market. At the time, we shared our lives with an adorable Corgi named Ellie, who we kenneled before heading to the airport.   After landing in sun scorched Phoenix, it only took five minutes to realize I wasn’t fond of the desert and could never relocate there. We made the best of it, visited Frank Lloyd Wright’s summer studio and a few other touristy places, and after four days returned home to learn our town ...

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Sometimes a Turban is Just a Turban

December 29, 2017
Mrs. Chatterbox has informed me that at a recent Christmas gathering I made an offensive comment. I was surprised, and had no idea what she was talking about. Granted, I was self-employed for many years before retiring and might not be up on all the new ways to offend people, but I always try to speak politely, taking people’s feelings into consideration.   “What did I say that was offensive?” I asked.   “You told that food truck story. Pete was offended.”   “Pete was offended by my food truck story?”   “Yes, he was. You shouldn’t have said what you did.”   Pete (not his real name) is married to our best friends’ daughter. Although you&rsquo ...

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