Have a Marlis Day!

Archive for December 2011

Sandy and I taught on the 7th grade team for many years. She taught science while I taught language arts. If I had a question, I went to Sandy; she always knew the answer. Her quirky sense of humor kept me laughing on days when the system failed us and our students. A great lover of mysteries, she introduced me to her favorite authors and soon I loved them too. After immersing myself in the mystery genre, I decided to write one of my own, set in our school. Heaven only knows schools are loaded with means, motives, and opportunities for  murder. After settling on a plot, I developed Margo Brown, teacher and amateur sleuth. Of course, Margo needed a partner in crime solving and I wanted her to be like Sandy. I asked her if I could model Margo’s sidekick, Roxie, after her. She agreed and Roxie became real to me. She had that same raspy voice and West Virginia drawl as Sandy. She also loved science, paranormal activities, dinosaurs, sci-fi movies, bizarre outfits and jewelry. Nothing scared Roxie and she was ready to battle the toughest enemy, twice saving Margo’s life during their daring and sometimes zany investigations.

When Why Johnny Died was published, followed by Death of a Hoosier Schoolmaster and The Curriculum Murders, I visited libraries and bookstores all over the country in shameless self-promotion. Readers invariably commented on how they enjoyed Roxie. I explained there really was a Roxie, but her name was Sandy. One book club asked if I could bring Roxie along when they took me to dinner. I invited her, but she declined and had me convey the fact that she was very shy. (Imagine me rolling my eyes here.)

We retired on the same day and since then have met once a month for a day of shopping and lunch. During these times, we buy new clothes, browse antique shops, flea markets, used clothing stores, eat a lovely lunch, and end up at Wal-Mart where she makes me sniff every new candle scent. I always drive and Sandy always pushes the cart. I look forward to these long days with her, days when we laugh easily and often.

Today Sandy battles a fierce enemy, a disease so dastardly I won’t pen its name. After surgery and aggressive chemo we thought the dragon had died, but it returned mandating more surgery and chemo treatments. Through all this, Sandy keeps her sense of humor and positive outlook on life. I visit her and take books, ice cream, and pickled beets (her favorite.) I look forward to spring when her treatments will be complete and we can resume our monthly adventures.

My daughter has always been creative, but with her busy work schedule and shuffling her kids off to games and practices, I was surprised when she decided to start a home baking business. First she made cupcakes, custom designed for parties and showers. Then she decided to try her hand at cake pops. I had never heard of cake pops but am now a big fan.

She crumbles cake, then stirs in icing. She rolls this mixture into balls, chills, inserts sticks, dips in chocolate, lets cool, then decorates. How awesome. Although I’m showing you her Halloween pops, she can design them for any season or party. Everything is edible, but the best part of all is that they taste exactly like Hostess Ding-Dongs.

Imagine the eyes of children and adults when she displayed about fifty of these into a pumpkin at a church supper. So, if you need any special, hand-made goodies, let me know and I’ll introduce you to my talented daughter.

Hi! I'm Marlis.

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