Dana Mentink

A Spoonful of Fun and Intrigue with Trinidad Jones

I never imagined I’d be opening an ice cream shop in the tiny town of Upper Sprocket, nestled in the “swiss alps of Oregon.” Come to think of it, I never imagined myself opening any kind of shop anywhere. How did I get here? Good question and to be honest, it’s a blur. I went from city girl stenographer, to the resident of a town where folks spend lazy days fishing at Three Egg Lake, the local coffee shop is owned by a retired English butler, and the winter brings an annual Alpenfest complete with yodelers and a sausage fest. Unbelievable? You’re telling me. Then again, I never conceived of being divorced from my hubby Gabe Bigley, learning about his other two ex wives, or the embezzling scheme which landed him in prison. And living within a stone’s throw of both of Gabe’s ex wives and forming a “sisterhood of exes” so to speak? Well that is a whole other dollop of madness. But Gabe deeded me an old storefront in Upper Sprocket before he took up residence in the Big House, and I scooped up every bit of courage I possessed and took the plunge. The Shimmy and Shake Shop was born.

So early morning finds me at the Shimmy and Shake, prepping some incredible Freak Shakes. What’s a freakshake you say? Milkshakes festooned with fantastic edible decorations like donuts, slabs of pie, cookies and candy, the bigger the better. Papa Luis, my darling Cuban grandpa who drove his classic Buick all the way from Miami,  joins me sometimes, especially since the whole maniacal episode which resulted in my youngest “ex wife” sister being accused of murder. Oh, and did I mention that the chief of police in this teeny town happens to be Gabe’s big sister? Uh huh. You heard that right.

I have another faithful sidekick who sticks right by my side, a dog I rescued from the pound after he was dumped there in favor of a younger model. His name is Noodles. He was named by the shelter workers after he swiped an unattended noodle bowl lunch. Noodles is a service dog flunkout. He never made the cut, but he has an arsenal of covert skills, like activating the turn signal on my Pinto, opening the door for visitors, and stockpiling pencils to whip out with a flourish when one is required. He will also bring me a jar of pickles from the fridge at random moments, whether or not I’ve asked for them. He’s the best companion a gal could ask for.

I’ve hired a couple of local Sprocketerians, twin high school brothers, Carlos and Diego. Those two were not surprised at all when I found a body, my first few months in town. They have a myriad of conspiracy theories which I thought were completely fanciful…until people started dying and my sleuthing turned me into the target of a killer. And the rumors of a treasure spread faster than melting ice cream. At least Sprocket has brought me into close proximity with Quinn Logan, a local hazelnut farmer who is the sole caretaker for his special needs brother. There’s something about Quinn that makes my heart go thunkety thunk, but after my disastrous track record, I’m in no hurry to be anything more than good friends, at least for now.

My newest creation in honor of Independence Day is the Fourth of July Freakshake, featuring a frosted sundae glass with a swirl of strawberry and vanilla ice cream, crowned with a glorious cloud of bruleed marshmallow, and a sparkling ganache to adhere red, white and blue stars around the rim of the glass. The twins agreed with my suggestion to add a chunky brownie star, enhanced by red, white and blue frosting stripes. It’s been a hot seller so far, along with the Chilly Dog, a canine friendly dessert approved by Noodles.

How am I going to keep the Shimmy going with a killer on the loose, rumors of treasure sidelining my teen helpers, my reputation as “one of the exes” preceding me all over town and people going mad for a purported hidden treasure? Time will tell, but one thing is certain… it’s going to be a rocky road!


Kathleen J. Robison

No Man is an Island

When I was a young girl, I watched the movie “No Man is an Island.” I remember the World War II flick bothering me long after seeing it. The brutality of war haunted me. Even back in 1962, when the film didn’t contain gratuitous violence. To this day, images pop into my head.

Perhaps I recall it now, because I just finished a week of blogging entitled Islands in the Storm. I researched the Gulf Coast Island, and the theme of islands and isolation mulls in my brain. I seriously felt isolated while researching, writing, and blogging every day all week.

In celebration of my release week of Restored Grace, Book Two of the Bay Town Series, I wrote the posts the barrier islands off the shores of Mississippi. A small fictional town on the coast is the setting for my series. But I never knew about the islands. Now that I do, I may incorporate them in my future books. Check out the posts at www.kathleenjrobison.com/blog.

My Facebook followers loved learning the fascinating history, and I did too.

Going back to research the movie proved fascinating too. It follows a lone Navy serviceman, a radio operator trapped on the Island of Guam in the Mariana Islands. If you remember Jeffrey Hunter, he’s the actor. Maybe that’s another reason I remember the film so well! The movie was based on true accounts George Tweed. Interestingly, the movie took the theme from a poem by John Donne, who I’ve since found out was a Christian cleric in the Seventeenth Century. He preached a sermon on his poem. The theme, of course, was that no one is self-sufficient, but more important, Donne was comparing people to countries and arguing for the interconnectedness of all people with God. Another sweet note was that the movie had a priest who sacrificed to help George Tweed, along with many others on the island. When I discover things like that, it makes me smile and warms my heart. Like a little wrapped packaged from God. Let me share it with you.

No Man is an Island by John Donne

No man is an island entire of itself;

every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;

if a clod be washed away by the sea,

Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were,

as well as any manner of thy friends or of thine

own were; any man’s death diminishes me,

because I am involved in mankind.

And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;

it tolls for thee.

When I was blogging, the first few islands had me excited at what I discovered, and I immediately put them on my invisible bucket list to visit. But as the week went on, the loneliness and isolation about the history enveloped me. They’re small, uninhabited islands. While the sereness was appealing, digging into the past and learning about those who lived and died there affected my heart. Especially so because of the lack of the Lord being mentioned.

We are like that, aren’t we? Amidst this crazy world, we can often feel like islands when a figurative (or literal) hurricane rocks our foundation. The world swirls around us, and we dig in, trying not to sink. Every day I receive prayer requests, and my heart breaks. I’m always adding pages to my prayer journal, literally. I’ve started a few other journals, but I love my torn, ragged, broken binding one. As I grip it, I can feel God’s hands at work there, reminding me of the power of prayer. Of Him. I’d love to pray for you, please drop me a line on my Facebook page or my blog.

In Restored Grace, my new release, the main character Carol Scape is an admittedly broken woman. Aren’t we all? Although her brokenness is shielded by her free-spirited look on life. She stands like an island facing the storms in life all on her own. She makes mistakes that might be avoided if she trusted the Lord and those around her who love Him. But she finds hope!

And I hope you will too. As you trust our sovereign God, reach out to ask for help and offer help to those around you. Sometimes we feel like that island in the storm, but the Lord created that island, he created the storms, and He holds the answer to our rescue, Jesus Christ.