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

Racism and Truth

July 25, 2016
My liberal leanings are no doubt apparent to most people reading my blog, but today I’m questioning my beliefs because of a recent conversation I had with Mrs. Chatterbox, a conversation about race. As you might have heard, Steve King, a Republican congressman from Iowa famous for making controversial statements, was recently called a “racist” for suggesting that white people have contributed more to ...

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Travel Tantrum

July 22, 2016
 
As most of you know, Mrs. Chatterbox and I enjoy trekking to faraway places and do so frequently, resulting in a lot of air travel. Air travel has changed significantly over the years with consumers being nickel and dimed to death, with fees for extra bags (in some cases even one bag). Headphones often come at a price, as do movies. Adding insult to injury, meals that are gas producing and flavorless are no longer ...

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A Bloomin' Onion

July 20, 2016
Reworked from a 2012 post.
 
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This is how The Outback Restaurant describes its Bloomin' Onion appetizer: a true Outback original. “Our special onion is hand-carved by a dedicated bloomologist, cooked until golden and ready to dip into our spicy signature bloom sauce.”
           
Sounds good, doesn’t ...

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What's Going On in Turkey?

July 18, 2016
 
Mrs. Chatterbox and I visited Turkey in 2010, and Turkey remains Mrs. C’s favorite travel destination. We found the people warm and friendly, eager to engage with Americans, and there are few places on earth with such a long and impressive history. But we were troubled to learn about the attempted military coup over the weekend. This is a brief attempt to explain what’s happening.
 
At the end ...

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Parents and Children

July 15, 2016
When I was little, my best friend’s mother took up painting. Helen Delgado lived next door and I’d spend hours watching her slap paint on canvases. Unfortunately, she had more enthusiasm than talent, but she ignited my passion for painting. Helen painted fruits, vegetables and flowers. One day I asked if anyone had ever tried to paint a person.
           
She ...

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Two Tight Asses

July 13, 2016
There are blogs I follow that consistently receive hundreds of comments, an accomplishment I’ve yet to achieve. But this true story from 2012 is one of my most popular, and comes close.
 
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Mrs. Chatterbox and I just returned from four days of rare sunshine on the Oregon Coast. We had a great time. On the drive back to Portland I was reminded of this incident ...

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Parallel Universes

July 11, 2016
 
 
Scientists tell us that our universe might be drastically different from what we think. The universe might be a holographic projection from billions of miles away. Astrophysicists tell us that time, speculated to be the result of a universe expanding due to the Big Bang, will eventually slow down as the universe reverses direction and contracts, causing time to run in reverse, which might currently be happening ...

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Picture of an A*#hole

July 8, 2016
I recently saw someone familiar in the obituaries. It took me a while to place the face but it finally came to me. Years ago she came regularly into the jewelry store I managed at the local mall. She never bought anything but she was a pleasant widow and I’d clean her jewelry. I’ve always been chatty and let it slip that, in addition to managing the store, I was an artist and my work could be seen around ...

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Peculiar Picture #48

July 6, 2016
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Most of the images in my Peculiar Picture File were created as illustrations and designed with a purpose in mind, even though they were not commissioned. This picture is different in that it was never intended as an illustration. It’s a 36” x 48” acrylic painting that grew out of a doodle I made in my spare time back when I was a ...

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Please Be the Judge

July 4, 2016
 
Mrs. Chatterbox and I seldom have disagreements, but an issue has developed where we disagree and I’ve agreed to let my readers decide who’s right and who’s wrong. I promised Mrs. C. I wouldn’t prime the pump by slanting this in my direction, so here goes.
 
Lately, instead of spending hundreds of dollars ordering custom frames I’ve been purchasing them at Goodwill. It’s ...

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On Bent Knee

July 1, 2016
In 1973 I decided to propose to Mrs. C.  I sought out the perfect spot to ask her to marry me, and finally made reservations at a restaurant in Sausalito reputed to have a beautiful view of San Francisco across the Bay. I knew Mrs. C. would enjoy the illuminated skyline of her favorite city. The restaurant, William A. Sterlington, was everything I’d hoped for—I couldn’t imagine a more ...

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Forty-Two Years Today!

June 29, 2016
Today Mrs. Chatterbox and I are celebrating our forty-second wedding anniversary. It’s hard to believe we’ve been together that long, and I’m reminded of the day I asked her father for her hand in marriage. This post is an excerpt from my memoir The Kid in the Kaleidoscope.
 
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It was late December in 1973. The future Mrs. C. always seemed ...

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The Eye of the Beholder

June 27, 2016
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so the saying goes.
 
My dad’s Uncle John was a curious fellow. He lived in a hacienda in the foothills of San Jose, built with his own hands in the late 1920s. Uncle John was a painter, potter and writer, quite the intellectual in his day. Once a year his good friend Zane Grey would arrive from New York for a month-long visit. Uncle John was married to Josephine. The ...

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