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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A New Dinner Hangout

July 24, 2017
The weather here in Portland has been fantastic, with temperatures hovering around 80 degrees. Thanks to CJ’s fiancée Andrea, we now have a new summer place to dine, Island Cafe. I say it’s a summer place because it’s closed in winter.
There are many islands on the Columbia River separating Oregon and Washington, and Island Cafe sits on Tomahawk Island, one of the smaller ones. Island ...

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A Gold Skeleton in Our Closet

July 21, 2017
I was unable to locate the accompanying photograph when I first published this piece in 2012. I recently found the photo in my late mother's things.
Most families have their own stories and legends, and mine is no exception. In Hayes family lore, Great Great Grandpa Phil is credited with finding the second largest gold nugget ever discovered in ...

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A Rose is a Rose

July 19, 2017
Gertrude Stein once commented that the reason so many people look alike is because there are only six faces out there and we keep encountering them over and over. She might have been joking, but it does seem that many faces look familiar.
Several days ago, son CJ and his fiancée Andrea came to dinner. During the course of the evening I showed them a few paint sketches ...

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July 17, 2017
It’s summer and several fellow bloggers are grabbing their lucky talismans and heading to casinos. Our son CJ recently returned from an Indian casino in Washington State after winning a hundred and fifty dollars on a nickel machine, and he managed to leave without losing it.
I’ve been to Vegas and Reno a few times, and we have several Indian casinos in the Portland area, but I never win and always ...

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It's Almost Here!

July 14, 2017
I don’t usually gush over TV programs but Mrs. Chatterbox and I are diehard fans of Game of Thrones. Last year we binge-watched all six seasons, and it was even better the second time around. So it may be July…but winter is coming. This Sunday marks the premier of Season Seven of Game of Thrones. If my dragon egg doesn’t ...

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Fire and Ice

July 12, 2017
Winston Churchill was a competent landscape painter. When asked about his paintings, the former British prime minister famously quipped, “They’re too good to give away but not good enough to sell.” In 1954, to celebrate Churchill’s eightieth birthday, a full length portrait commission was awarded to Graham Sutherland, one of Britain’s most highly acclaimed artists. The fee was 1000 guineas, ...

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Sorting Fish on Tonle Sap Lake

July 10, 2017
You might recall a post I published before heading off to France, a post about the new painting taboret I assembled with the help of son CJ. I mentioned that I would have preferred buying an old beat up one off of Craig’s List but instead settled on a new one that I was afraid to use because I didn’t want to mess it up. I can now report that my new taboret is “messed up.” I’ve painted ...

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A Dining Disaster

July 7, 2017
Last week Mrs. Chatterbox and I celebrated our 43rd wedding anniversary. We’re past the gift giving stage but I wanted to celebrate by taking Mrs. C. out for a nice dinner. I had no idea the evening would conclude with the manager of the restaurant threatening to call the cops if I didn’t leave.
The restaurant was La Provence, a place we’d previously been served good breakfasts. ...

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A Near Disaster in Chartres

July 5, 2017
Several followers recently asked if Mrs. Chatterbox and I ever felt in danger during any of our trips. The answer is “no” although there was a time when we almost died.
In 1999 Mrs. Chatterbox and I celebrated our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. We’d traveled to Paris to celebrate, but unfortunately everything was on strike: museums were closed, monuments shut down, cabs and garbage collectors ...

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Tag---You're It!

July 3, 2017
Many families have quirky habits not shared by other households, special words or favorite activities that bond a family together. Here at Casa Chatterbox we have such a quirky habit—okay, it’s really just me! I’m taking a risk that you won’t judge me harshly for admitting to such an aberration, but we’re all friends here, right?
I ...

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June 30, 2017
“The land is the only thing in the world worth working for, worth fighting for, worth dying for, because it's the only thing that lasts.”
—Frank O’Hara to daughter Scarlett in Gone with the Wind—
I haven’t written about it, but I own land in another state. I haven’t mentioned it before because I didn’t ...

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