Three years ago, it was a beautiful March Saturday in New Glarus, Wisconsin. The sun was out. The day, a crisp cool prelude to spring. Divorced mom Marley Lennox wanted nothing more than to spend time with her two kids at the family farm, a peaceful setting outside of town. They’d all been looking forward to helping tend to the newborn calf and spending a quiet weekend in the countryside.
But then the shooter showed up, armed to the teeth and ready to kill. The massacre lasted less than ten minutes, but the damage had been done. Marley’s entire family had been wiped out, gone forever.
Shaken, and suffering from survivor’s guilt, Marley’s life is spiraling downward. After three years of trying to leave the past behind, she realizes she needs to get out of Wisconsin and start over, otherwise she’ll go mad. But where does she go? She decides she needs an adventure, a road trip to get her head on straight and give her time to think about her next step.
When a car accident lands her in Pelican Pointe, she’s forced to stay until she’s healed. But after meeting her doctor, Gideon Nighthawk, things start happening fast, feelings surface that she never expected to feel again, feelings she thought were gone for good. But is she really ready to start her life over? Or will she forever live in the shadow of guilt? Will Gideon be enough to help her turn her life around? Or will she always feel trapped in a never-ending circle filled with grief and anger?
The weekend slid by without much drama, crisis, or fanfare. But hey, it wasn’t Monday yet. Little did I know Monday was preparing to kick my ass. And kick my ass it did. The week started simple enough—fresh bagels and blessed coffee. Who doesn’t like waking up to the prospect of fresh bagels, right? The night before I’d made a trip to Whole Foods to pick up a few things. The bagels were an afterthought. They’re great toasted smeared with cream cheese, right? That is, if they’re already sliced. Trust me on this. Unfortunately I bought the kind that wasn’t pre-cut. Simple fix. I take one out to toast, but first it needs cutting in half. This is where things go very wrong. I sliced open my finger instead of cutting the bagel. I’m bleeding like I’ve been stabbed so I grab a kitchen towel, wrap it around the wound to stop the flow of blood. All that red has ruined my bagel. After finally getting the bleeding under control, I’m out of the mood for the bagel. Totally. I throw back my caffeine fix like I’ve been a castaway on some tropical island for the past seven years. After getting enough coffee in me, I decide to run to the store for more Neosporin to smear on my owie. I’m also out of Band-Aids. Anyway, I get to my car, which is parked in the garage, and it won’t start. Nothing. It seems I have a dead battery because the night before—after making the trip to Whole Foods—I left the door open all night. The seat belt apparently got tangled up and kept the door from closing. After waiting for AAA to show up, I start out to the store and discover the place where I shop had a power outage during the night and they’re closed until further notice. At this point, I give up and surrender to Monday’s black hole. I drive back home, close the drapes, and crawl into bed. I figure I’ll try this again when it’s not Monday.
My hubby and I have been together for more years than I care to count. Somewhere during our early time together we developed a habit that pretty much has stayed with us. That is, we read the same book, more or less, around the same time and then sit for hours thoroughly vetting it. Back when we first got together, he liked stuff like The Hobbit and was responsible for finally getting me to read it. Once I did, I fell in love with the world Tolkien had created. His famous trilogy, Lord of the Rings, might’ve been the first trilogy I ever read, and yes, each book was a cliffhanger, and I LOVED that about them!! We read the books together, even read them aloud to our son. These days we trade genres. We listen to true crime or mysteries the same way we watch movies on Netflix or Prime and with certain TV shows (most recently Goliath) by discussing the heck out of them. We go over the characters, the pace, what we would’ve done differently, and re-read or re-watch the ones we like best. From one book lover to another, summer is our finest hour. During the land of reruns and the lack of anything good on TV, we can always crack open a book. We relish the search through our Kindle for something we haven’t yet tried. Or we load something new on the iPad and get comfy in bed. While we dissect the plot lines and laugh at the characters, we’re still connecting. After all these years, we still enjoy what began a long time ago…our love for books.
We don’t all live in a small town, but if you’re looking to experience that small-town feel, there are ways to do it. My neighbors recently announced that this summer they plan to set up movies in the park, once a week, until school starts up again in the fall.
The idea first took off in 2007 when neighborhoods across the US decided to set aside specific nights when they would “take back their parks.” It motivated them to get out and meet their neighbors in an attempt to deter mischief after hours. It isn’t all that hard to make it happen.
Here’s what you’ll need:
If you don’t happen to have an inflatable movie screen, create your own using the side of your house, garage, fence or other type building, then cover the area with a white sheet.
Make sure you have access to an electricity source and a LONG extension cord, probably around 100 feet and don’t forget a surge strip.
Find a good location for your projector. Make sure whatever model you have hooks up to a computer, tablet or DVD player and that you have access to the movie in the corresponding format.
Set up your speakers. If you don’t own a decent set of speakers, ask your neighbors. Someone always seems willing to bring a pair they have sitting around in their garage. Even a Karaoke machine will work. Just know that you will need to make sure you have the right jack to hook up to the DVD player.
If you need extra lighting, you can always hang twinkle lights or tiki torches so people will be able to find their way to the bathroom in the dark.
While everyone arrives and is milling about trying to find their perfect spots for their blankets, yoga mats, and chairs, you can always offer short cartoons until the main feature starts. Anything from Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies would work. Let Daffy Duck or Porky Pig entertain the kiddos until the main event.
After all your hard work, grab the popcorn and pretzels, then sit back and enjoy a night under the stars.
Here’s a few movie suggestions to get you started:
Lilo and Stitch
The main thing is to have fun and get to know your neighbors.
I started listening to classical music right after 9/11. Nothing else seemed to soothe my broken soul like Rachmaninoff or Mozart or even Tchaikovsky. No other music seemed to put things in perspective. I felt overwhelming sadness. I was in shock at the events I’d witnessed on TV and didn’t know what to do about them or where to turn to get things back on some type of even keel. I was reeling from a lot of things in my personal life at the time, and it seemed knowing that loss of life could occur on a massive scale just because you got up and went to work seemed categorically unfair. The realization that life could be altered in a matter of seconds and changed forever hit me hard. Children had lost a parent. Parents had lost children. The death toll was staggering. It was the devastatingly comprehensive low of all lows.
I remember the moment a friend mentioned to me how she dealt with the darkness that seemed to surround us all. She locked herself away in her bedroom and listened to William Grant Still. I thought she was slipping into major depression or maybe inching toward a full-blown mental blowout. But when my feelings of despair went on and on for days and then turned into a week, I decided to replace Pearl Jam with Mr. Still’s The American Scene and never looked back. The change in my mood didn’t come overnight. But slowly I began to develop an appreciation for the music and the composers who could get me out of my doldrums by their moving arrangements, their upbeat strings, and their evocative symphonies. Their music made me see a sliver of hope, a slip of silky color in the darkness around me. It made me wish that I’d known about the classics at other dark times in my life when I needed to be pulled out of my grief and into the light. If you haven’t discovered William Grant Still yet, I suggest you invest spending an evening with him and his American Scene. I guarantee you will not regret a moment of it.
No, I did not give up Springsteen or Pearl Jam or Nirvana forever, but for a time after 9/11, I realized I’d grown up somewhat in those moments as I watched the buildings topple and listened to the news about Flights 77 and 93. I’d finally left behind an innocence I could never get back. But at least I’d moved past the darkness. And for that, I thank those brilliant, genius composers who got me through it.
After perusing through Instagram using the hashtag #containergardening and the like, I’ve decided that’s definitely the way to go. It means getting past the way my dad gardened. It means giving up on an actual “in-the-ground” concept and abandoning digging in the ground every spring for good. It also means giving up weeding and opting for a more sensible approach without putting strain on my back, a back that’s getting older by the minute.
I’m stoked to get started.
Inspired by the Home Depot commercial and the sexy voice of Josh Lucas where he encourages everyone to, “Let’s Do This,” I went shopping. I purchased bags and bags of soil, along with cute little seedlings and starter plants, anything that might produce pretty, aromatic yield. I treated myself to a new pair of gardening gloves, a few new containers, although using the concept of a neighbor, I already have a lot of “junk” containers to toss into the mix and some gorgeous ones I got on sale last month to celebrate spring.
I’ll document my progress on Instagram: @ vickie.mckeehan.author
But first I have to spend the weekend putting it all in pots. Woohoo! I can already see several upsides. I’m thinking of getting a dog soon and won’t have to worry about the little thing digging up anything I plant. Smaller space means using less water. Or so I hope. My back is already celebrating an easier time of it.
Ocean. Sand. Long summer nights. A sexy Cape Cod escape.
What could possibly go wrong?
Simon Bremmer has put war and the Army behind him. He’s living the good life stateside in Pelican Pointe. He’s doing what he loves. His business is booming. He has no complaints. But all that is about to change when he gets a visit from a Boston lawyer. She not only drops a bombshell but delivers a package he never expected.
Single mom, Gilly Grant, has given up on men. She’s trying to raise her three-year-old son by herself and deal with her mother, who has suddenly developed complicated health issues. When Simon walks into the hospital on her shift, the world as she knows it tilts toward a love she never wanted or expected.
Together these two will forge a bond that grows deeper until one night it’s all put to the ultimate test. Will Simon be able to pull Pelican Pointe back from the brink of tragedy? Will he be able to save its future? Will he be able to come through for the people he loves?
For this former sniper who’s tried so hard to put the war behind him and live a normal life, he may find it all too much, because this time everything he loves hangs in the balance.