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

Requiem for Civility

September 28, 2016
Shootings are taking place around our country with sickening regularity, and I think I know why. Sure, the proliferation of unlimited guns on our streets is a contributing factor, as is an entrenched overseas enemy (ISIS) using the Internet to ensnare disgruntled individuals for sinister purposes. Another factor is unequal opportunities for minorities trapped in an economic system that marginalizes them, but these are ...

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Peculiar Pictures #51 & #52 & #53

September 26, 2016
 
 
We had out of town guests for the weekend and our dishwasher malfunctioned flooding our kitchen right after our guests departed. I’ve spent the last few hours emptying the water and cleaning all the traps so I hope it will work properly. As a result, I didn’t have time to write anything new so I’m turning to my Peculiar Picture File—illustrations created when I was a professional ...

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Thanking Dad

September 23, 2016
Lately, I’ve been thinking abut my dad who passed away eight years ago. This post from 2013 is a reminder of the type of man he was.
 
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A rather large spider has erected its web above our front door and Mrs. Chatterbox has demanded I eliminate it. She refuses to exit our home through the front door until I practice spidercide. Some might ...

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Speed Racer

September 21, 2016
My dad was a professional mechanic for the City of Sunnyvale in California. His mechanical ability and interest in cars leapfrogged over me to our son CJ, who shares his late grandfather’s passion for cars.
           
Last Christmas, CJ treated himself to an automotive experience at Portland International Raceway. He signed up to drive half a dozen laps in ...

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Return of the Swifts

September 19, 2016
Mid September has arrived, which means the swifts are here but will soon depart.
 
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Mrs C. and I weren’t the only ones looking for a new home in Portland Oregon in the early 1980s. Winging up from Central America for a feast of flying insects, a cigar-shaped Vaux Swift was desperately seeking a new late summer home. The hollow tree serving as a roost ...

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The Chatterbox Neighborhood

September 16, 2016
 
 
 
Several of my favorite bloggers have shared pictures of their homes and neighborhoods, often including local wildlife. I always enjoy these posts because it makes me feel closer to people I don’t otherwise have an opportunity to know. Here are pictures of the area in Portland, Oregon, where Mrs. Chatterbox and I live. This region was once a forest bordering Dutch farmland; our neck of the woods ...

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The Scourge of Princes

September 14, 2016
“If you want to annoy your neighbors, tell the truth about them.”
—Pietro Aretino (1492-1556) —
 
Haven’t heard of Pietro Aretino? There was a time when he was one of the most talked about men in Europe, and one of the most feared. He was an Italian author, playwright, poet and satirist, but he was also a blackmailer who wielded tremendous influence on contemporary art and politics. ...

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An Incomplete Education

September 12, 2016
While growing up in the fifties, we were by no means the poorest family on the block. Both of my parents worked, which was unusual at the time. My brother and I had the best of everything, but there was one area where our household was lacking—books.
 
My mother was a hardcore reader and always had her nose buried in historical biographies from the library, but in the home where I was raised there were no ...

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Queen of Roads

September 9, 2016
I’ve always been interested in popular sayings and enjoy researching the source for popular phrases in our culture. Referring to someone as “upper crust” is easy to figure out: bread was historically cooked in a flat pan over an open fire. The bottom usually ended up burnt and was given to children or servants. The middle was given to adult family members with the golden brown top of the bread reserved ...

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Big Boy Toy

September 7, 2016
On Saturday, Mrs. Chatterbox and I were joined by our son CJ for dinner at a Mexican restaurant that recently opened near our home. As we neared the entrance, CJ spotted something across the parking lot that made him laugh. He pointed at a tractor on a trailer and asked if I noticed anything unusual. It took a moment, but I finally figured it out.
           
When ...

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Motu Man

September 5, 2016
 
 
 
When Mrs. Chatterbox and I travel we always search for souvenirs that encapsulate our experiences and serve as a reminder of our visits to exotic locations. Over the years we’ve filled our home with items, and now our home is bursting at the seams and can’t handle more souvenirs. These days I’m inclined to purchase Christmas ornaments or other items that don’t take up much ...

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Mending Holes

September 2, 2016
 
 
 
My mother went to work in the Almadén bottling plant in Los Gatos, California, when I was eleven. This occurred at a time when my grandmother’s life was slowing down and she had little to do. I don’t know all the details, but Mom and Grandma made an arrangement for Grandma to do our laundry. I doubt Mom paid for this service; Grandma probably did it out of love and was happy to ...

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Why Do Critics Hate This Artist?

August 31, 2016
It’s one of the most famous works ever created by an American artist, so years ago I was surprised to discover it on a wall near a men’s room at New York’s MOMA (Museum of Modern Art). I wasn’t alone staring at this iconic painting; dozens of others were clustered around Andrew Wyeth’s Christina’s World, a painting that captured the public’s attention as soon as it was ...

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