This short piece of fiction was inspired by a post Christmas trip to the mall, where I learned magic can occur in unexpected ways. Read about it (here).
Sunday, December 29, 2013
Sure, it’s funny now, but when it happened I was in a panic and wondering how I was going to deal with such a dramatic change in my life, a change that would undoubtedly effect everything I cared about. I also had to think about my wife and how this dreadful turn of events might affect our marriage. Check it out (here).
Friday, December 27, 2013
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. I'll never forget what happened next. Check it out (here).
Wednesday, December 25, 2013
Monday, December 23, 2013
This illustration was the companion piece to the Hanukkah picture I painted and posted the day after Thanksgiving. Both were commissioned for a greeting card company, but I can’t remember which one. Click (here) to see the entire illustration.
Sunday, December 22, 2013
Santa Claus is an integral part of our Holiday festivities but he has certainly changed over the years. The historical Saint Nicholas was a Greek bishop living in what is today Turkey. He loved children and often put coins in shoes left on stoops, and an interesting miracle is associated with him. Read about it (here).
Friday, December 20, 2013
Wednesday, December 18, 2013
Like many folks I’ve tangoed with the notion of buying a live tree for Christmas. Why kill a tree just to have it in your living room for a few weeks? In 1985 I decided it was time for a live tree, one I could plant in the backyard after the Holidays as a fond reminder of our boy’s fifth Christmas. The living tree I selected did serve as a reminder of that festive day, but not in the way I planned.Check it out (here).
Monday, December 16, 2013
I was hunting for an interesting illustration to post for Peculiar Pictures when these two paintings fell out of an old portfolio. They aren’t much, but they do bring back memories. These little pictures were painted in oil on scraps of canvas. They are small enough for me to place in my scanner without resorting to photography. Both are dated on the reverse—1966—back when I was fourteen years old. For better or worse, they are my oldest surviving paintings. Check them out (here).
Sunday, December 15, 2013
As many of you know, Mrs. Chatterbox works for the local police department. One of her tasks is to give tours of city hall, where our police department is housed. On Friday she hosted a Cub Scout tour of forty-eight second graders. These tours are extremely popular with youngsters. Check (here) for some of the interesting questions asked by these kids.
Friday, December 13, 2013
When CJ was five, I took him with me to pick up our dry cleaning. He asked if we could check out the pet store next door. He enjoyed being licked by puppies and kittens when he poked his little fingers into their cages, but the goldfish captured his attention most. Read (here) what happened when two unfortunate goldfish lived with us.
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
I prefer art that asks more questions than it answers. It’s unlikely this painting by Goya was intended for a client. It isn’t dated (most likely painted around 1809-12) and the title The Panic was ascribed long after the artist’s death. Goya left no notes or letters enlightening us as to the meaning of this painting, but check (here) to find an interesting clue as to what this painting means.
Monday, December 9, 2013
This is the time of year when boxes of Christmas tree trim are plucked from the garage, dusted off and brought inside. If you’re like me and have been married a long time, those boxes are sure to contain an interesting ornament or two, particularly if you have children or grandchildren. My favorite Christmas decoration was made by our son CJ when he was seven or eight. It wasn’t intended as a Christmas ornament. Check it out (here).
Sunday, December 8, 2013
Friday we woke to snow here in Portland. The garbage can Mrs. C. had dragged down our long driveway to the curb the night before was shrouded beneath a layer of snow. Around eight a.m. I was enjoying a hot cup of coffee and admiring our partially decorated artificial tree when I heard the grinding gears of the garbage truck growing louder as it headed our way. I had an important item to add to the garbage can, but could I reach it in time? Check (here).
Friday, December 6, 2013
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 have something to keep her busy. But then one day Grandma did something that made Mom cry. Read about it (here).
Wednesday, December 4, 2013
Dave was the jeweler in the store I managed for six years. I spent hours watching him at his workbench as he set stones and made molds for custom rings and pendants. Dave didn’t talk much although he had a wicked sense of humor and a sideways glance that made it seem like he was privy to your darkest secrets. Check (here) to see my entire portrait of Dave.
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
I don’t normally post on Tuesdays but I’m here to ask a favor. I’m trying to solidify my relationship with a site called Retirement and Good Living, a wonderful resource I hope you’ll check out. They just posted a piece of mine you might remember called, “What to Give an Eighty Year Old Man.” Few contributors receive comments and I’m trying to stack the deck in my favor. I’d appreciate it if you’d follow the link and leave a comment. Thanks for the help. Here's the link:
Monday, December 2, 2013
As most of you know, I was pet deprived as a child, only allowed small pets that could be flushed down the toilet when they died. As a married couple, Mrs. Chatterbox and I have owned several dogs over the years and I’ve noticed an interesting dynamic—the dogs Mrs. C. picks live with us for many years while the dogs I pick don’t seem to work out. The reason for this is obvious; as an artist I tend to rescue beautiful dogs while Mrs. C. looks for animals with wonderful personalities. She couldn’t care less what the dog looks like. But ten years ago when we were between dogs I foolishly inserted myself into the process by selecting an Australian shepherd named Freedom from our local animal shelter. He was the most beautiful dog I’d ever seen. Check (here) to find out what happened when we brought him home.
Sunday, December 1, 2013
Around the time our son headed off to college I returned to something I was good at—overeating. I’d managed to keep the weight off most of my adult life, but now I returned to those bad eating habits that had made me such a porker as a kid. I was approaching fifty and my illustration career seemed to be winding down. I was extremely depressed. I could have turned to alcohol or drugs, but I’d lost the taste for booze and I didn’t know where to go for drugs. Mrs. Chatterbox had suffered from kidney stones in recent years and usually had a few Demerol tablets stashed away in case of an attack. I once took a few and hallucinated all night that I was on a roller-coaster with Oprah Winfrey. Following that night of horror I returned to what I knew best—drowning my sorrows in food.
Read (here) what happened next.
Friday, November 29, 2013
I hope everyone enjoyed a relaxing a Happy Thanksgiving yesterday. I did so much celebrating that I didn’t have an opportunity to write anything new. But I did come across a set of holiday illustrations I painted for a greeting card company and I’ll be sharing the other one next month.
This picture is in honor of my Jewish friends who are celebrating Hanukkah, even though I mistakenly made the yarmulkes too big. Click (here) to see the entire painting.
Thursday, November 28, 2013
This was one of my first illustrations. I can no longer remember who the client was but I recall he wanted a black and white picture that resembled the work of Norman Rockwell. Unlike much of my work, this is painted on canvas.
Check (here) to see the entire painting.
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
Monday, November 25, 2013
Standing as tall as I could, I told my mother that if my pet Yama had to go, then so would I. There might have been a twitch of amusement on her face; she often referred to me as Mr. Softie yet here I was standing up to her. Was I permitted to keep my beloved pet? Check it out (here).
Sunday, November 24, 2013
I’ve decided to get a jump on my New Year’s resolution to be more proactive about submitting stories and seeing one published next year. To that end, I’m reworking and submitting this tale to a publication looking for stories about pets. I first posted “A Flushable Pet” in 2011 and some of you might have missed it.
Check it out (here).
Friday, November 22, 2013
It’s hard to believe fifty years have passed since President Kennedy was murdered in Dallas. I had just turned eleven and like everyone who lived through those traumatic days I know exactly where I was when I heard the news—sixth grade social studies.
Read (here) about my thoughts on that terrible day.
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
Monday, November 18, 2013
This impressionistic oil painting could have been titled Fall, but it’s actually a portrait of my son CJ when he was six or seven years old. As I recall, he wasn’t all that interested in football, and he was even less interested in standing still while I painted him. It’s hard to believe that over twenty-five years have passed since I created this portrait. I remember being irritated when people told me to enjoy our son’s youth because kids grow up so fast; of course this proved to be true. At least I have a dozen paintings of CJ that preserve his childhood. Check (here) to see the entire painting.
Sunday, November 17, 2013
Miss Part One of the story? You can find it (here).
At first I thought I could repair the cake. I tried feverishly to return the top layer to its original spot, but it crumbled in my hands. Before long, the bottom layer also slid to the floor. There was nothing left to do but clean up the mess. Since I’ve always turned to food during times of stress, I ate as much of the damaged cake as I threw away. I was in deep trouble if I couldn't find a way out of this pickle. Fortunately, an idea popped into my head. Read about it (here).
Friday, November 15, 2013
I’m often asked if my childhood stories are factual and I always maintain they are. But I’ve withheld this tale until now because part of it is made up, a small but significant part. For those of you who can’t figure out where I let my imagination wander, I’ll reveal the fictional element at the conclusion. Read (here) about my mother's entry into a 1963 Harvest Bake Sale.
Wednesday, November 13, 2013
First posted 9/30/11
Monday, November 11, 2013
Today we salute all who have worn a uniform and served our country. Having never served, I’m not included in this distinguished group of heroes. I’ve heard phrases like “Band of Brothers” and “Comrades in Arms” and wondered how different my life might have been had I heeded the call. When this season of thanksgiving rolls by, I listen to stories of heroism and sacrifice. Like many who stood on the sidelines, I shed tears when seeing pictures of unbelievable sacrifice, men and women with broken bodies trying to rebuild their lives. It isn’t difficult to support patriots with mangled bodies. Their wounds are often easy to see and deserving of respect, but too many soldiers carry less obvious scars of war.
A good friend told me a war story I'll never forget. Read it (here).
Sunday, November 10, 2013
When I was given an assignment to create sixty illustrations for a CD to be called Business Fundamentals, it seemed like a good idea to include a conceptual illustration depicting a bean counter. Check (here) to see the entire illustration.
Friday, November 8, 2013
Wednesday, November 6, 2013
I have good cause to place my wife on a pedestal; she’s a great wife and mother, a marvelous listener and a kinder person you’ll never meet. In the two and a half years since I started this blog I’ve extolled Mrs. Chatterbox’s virtues, but I think it’s time to throw a bucket of reality on the woman I’ve shared my life with for forty years. Believe me, she ain’t perfect. She has a serious flaw, a disability of considerable proportions. My lovely wife can’t curse to save her soul. Read about it (here).
Monday, November 4, 2013
I’ve tried on numerous occasions to drink beer, especially when frequenting British pubs and Bavarian beer halls, but ales and beers just aren’t for me. I’ve had to come up with more creative ways to maintain my beer belly. I enjoy the hard stuff, and my appreciation for powerful spirits goes way back. The vagueness of my memory will soon become understandable and the dialogue is imaginary, but I’ve heard enough relatives repeat this incident to accept it as true. Read about it (here).
Sunday, November 3, 2013
I work out of the house and don’t have as much contact with people as I’d like, so I enjoy it when Mrs. Chatterbox comes home from working at our local police department with stories about co-workers. The other day she came home with an interesting tidbit that made me think. Check (here) and let me know what you think.
Friday, November 1, 2013
Many of my new followers might not be aware of the fact that for many years I was a professional illustrator. While my work sold on five continents, I have a file cabinet of pictures that never sold. I use these images for a feature I call Peculiar Pictures. Many people don’t like discussing art for fear of being made to look foolish but that isn’t possible here. You can’t be expected to know what these pictures mean if the artist who created them doesn’t know.
Check (here) for the entire picture.
Thursday, October 31, 2013
I don’t normally post on Thursdays and I don’t usually post fiction, but here’s a fun story to celebrate the holiday.
A shiver runs through me when I think back to the time when Tammy, my wife of five years, came to the conclusion that the gray tabby who’d lived contentedly with us since we bought her on our honeymoon, was lonely. Tammy convinced me that Sausalito, “Saucy” needed another feline to keep her company. On Halloween of ’79 we decided to purchase a kitten. Read (here) about the horrors that followed.
Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Haunted houses and Halloween go together like dots on dice, but the haunted house on our street never did anything to attract trick-or-treaters. So why was there a light burning on Verna’s porch?If you missed the first part of this story, check it out (here).
Read the conclusion (here).
Monday, October 28, 2013
This story, a true tale from my memoir The Kid in the Kaleidoscope, has become a Halloween tradition here at Chubby Chatterbox. I hope you enjoy it:
Haunted houses belong in the realm of goose bumps, foggy nights and old neighborhoods, not pristine suburbs with freshly asphalted streets, unblemished sidewalks and immature trees. But a ghost lingered across the street, in a house where a man died. Read about it (here).
Sunday, October 27, 2013
Jerry was one of my best customers. He and his lovely wife Mary Anne had purchased a small fortune in bling from me over the years. I was polite with all of my customers but over the years I developed a real fondness for Jerry and Mary Anne. It helped that Mary Anne was a beautiful woman, shapely with cascading Pre-Raphaelite red hair, but I didn't know what to do when Jerry approached me with an unusual request. Check it out (here).
Friday, October 25, 2013
Years ago when I worked in a jewelry store the manager required all of his sales associates to pierce ears. I hated the idea of holding a needle-loaded gun to someone’s ear and firing so I managed to be busy when customers came into the store asking for this service.
But one time I couldn’t get out of it. Read more (here).
Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Monday, October 21, 2013
Rick said it best in Casablanca: “Of all the gin joints in all the towns in the world, she walks into mine.” Like Ilsa, my femme fatale had no idea I was here when she flew into town.
Titian's La Bella 1536?
I read about her arrival in the newspaper. Titian’s La Bella had arrived in town for an exhibit at the Portland Art Museum; her smiling face filled an entire page. I hadn’t seen her in years, but she’d fluttered through my thoughts too many times to count. She’d aged well over the years, not that it mattered; I’d always had a thing for older women. Still, no expense had been spared keeping her preternaturally in her prime, no easy task since she was over four hundred years old.
Read about the other woman in my life (here).
Sunday, October 20, 2013
My dad was a professional mechanic who always kept our cars running like well-oiled clocks. Unfortunately, I didn’t inherit Dad’s mechanical ability, which skipped a generation to take root in CJ, our son. CJ is a remarkable mechanic who treats cars the way accomplished musicians treat their instruments. He can diagnose what’s wrong with an engine by listening to cars whizzing past on the highway. He does a great job of keeping our vehicles in proper running order, but he leads a busy life and isn’t always around.
Read (here) what happened when we took our car to a new repair shop.
Friday, October 18, 2013
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 things written about most was their determination to see each other again.
Sixty years would pass before they would see each other again. Read about it (here).
Wednesday, October 16, 2013
Although my writing has yet to reflect it, fantasy has invaded my artwork over the years. Many of my conceptual illustrations play on familiar tales like The Goose That Laid the Golden Eggs and Jack the Giant Killer, and I’ve created several paintings that visualize an imaginary world much different from that depicted in my published illustrations.
Check (here) to see the entire painting.
Check (here) to see the entire painting.
Monday, October 14, 2013
Today is Columbus Day and I’ve no doubt many of my fellow bloggers will be airing opinions as to whether or not Columbus was a hero or a villain. I think it fair to say that never was the world changed so much by a person who didn’t know where he was going or what he was doing, but instead of dwelling on this I want to relate an experience from a trip Mrs. Chatterbox and I made to Granada, Spain.
Check it out (here).
Sunday, October 13, 2013
Some of you have e-mailed to ask how my books are coming along. Slowly but surely I’m progressing. I’m nearly through a collection of The Best of Chubby Chatterbox and I’m also working on a collection called The Ricky Delgado Chronicles. My progress is uneven but I’m determined to complete these books and make then as perfect as possible. When I consider their lack of perfection I’m reminded of other projects where perfection was not achieved.
Check them out (here).
Friday, October 11, 2013
Not all countries are blessed with an abundance of conveniently located restaurants. On a recent trip to India our tour bus drove many miles through desolate territories before stopping at roadside eateries deemed acceptable by our guide. At one such stop on our way to ride camels in the Great Thar desert Mrs. Chatterbox had an interesting conversation with the only member of our group whom she didn’t like. What happened next made me a believer in karma. Read about it (here).