Category Archives: Columns

Column from last July

I’ve been reading old columns on YouTube. Yesterday I thought I’d do something more recent. I chose one from last summer when Bob’s cancer treatments were working and he and I could happily work together. It turns out I couldn’t read it, but I’ll share it here instead.

A new adventure for the Manzkes

July 2019

When Bob and I lived in Illinois, we grew sweet corn to sell. Bob would pick it early in the morning into the back of the pickup truck. He’d then park the truck in the yard and put a sign up: fifty cents a dozen, self-serve. We never took our corn or pumpkins to a farmer’s market.

I’ve attended the Seymour Farmer’s Market many times in the past. Since we don’t grow much of a garden, I never even considered exhibiting. When I looked up the market on Facebook I saw the ‘about’ section said: Seymour Farmer’s Market has a venue of produce, crafts, and entertainment. “I do crafts and art,” I said. “We should set up at the Seymour Market.” The crazy thing is that Bob agreed.

Stashed in a shed I found the old canopy I used to use when I took my watercolor paintings to art fairs. To my astonishment, all of it was there. The two holes nibbled by mice were patchable. The only trouble was there weren’t any instructions on how to put up the canopy.

I started working on the assembly alone in our backyard, but I didn’t get very far. I needed help. Bob wandered out to see what I was doing and I drafted him to help.

There were all kinds of polls and six plastic connectors. All we had to do was to match everything up so it would stand on its four legs. I’m afraid that was easier said than done.

            Most of the braces and legs were the same length and could fit one into another. They even had numbers on them from 1 to 4. You’d think that meant four legs, but the 1s turned out to be part of the canopy roof arch.

            It took hours to get the stupid thing together, but we did it. It was a proud moment for us to stand under its shade.

            Okay, so we did this once, we shouldn’t have any problems when we took it to Seymour’s Farmer’s Market. Right?

            Lucky for us we got there early, because setting up that canopy was a bummer—and imagine I used to do it alone.

            Bob wasn’t much help our first Tuesday. I pulled all the parts out of the bag and put things on the ground in an orderly fashion—the canopy was very old fashioned compared to everyone else’s at the market. Since we were working from the ground up, Bob couldn’t bend to pick up parts. All he could do was hold the top and stop it from flying away.

            I put some of the legs together, but I couldn’t figure out how the plastic attachments connected them—and this is after practicing.

            Bob kept telling me I was doing it wrong, but he didn’t have very many ideas about how to get the darn bugger together.

            Did I mention it was a hot afternoon? Did I have to mention that I was totally frustrated?

            Somehow we got it together! Heavy sigh.

            The rest of the setup wasn’t hard: tables, chairs—painted tiles, copper trees, and my books were for sale.

            The rain didn’t come right away, but it did come. The only thing I had to worry about was my books. The other items could get wet. Luckily, it didn’t rain too hard and there wasn’t any wind to blow everything away.

            Our first afternoon had many highlights, like all the nice people who stopped by to visit.

We exhibited every Tuesday at the Seymour Farmer’s Market through August after buying a better canopy. (I wish I could say the same for 2020.)

Bob and I never went expecting big sales. Mostly it was to get out of the house and see people. We’d have lunch at the market and snacks, too. It was a good outing we could do together.

Here are some photos Bob took of me and our farmer’s market setup.

Susan with her books and more

Here’s a Farmer’s Market away from Seymour. There wasn’t a lot of traffic stopping by that day, but we still had fun.

Copyright © 2020 by Susan Manzke, all rights reserved

On my own at Fleet Farm

This morning, I headed off to Fleet Farm. The dry cat food I use for the outside cats was on sale. I get it in a fifty-pound bag.

As I was walking around the store, picking up dog treats (on sale), canned Frisky cat food with extra gravy (on sale) for the inside cats, I kept thinking about Bob.

It’s hard to travel those aisles without him. For too many years, that was our outing together. We’d mostly go when things we needed were on sale, or if Bob needed something for the farm, like fuel oil, or hydraulic oil, or spray oil–he used a lot of oil. Today I was alone.

As I filled my cart (groaning some when lifting the 50-pound bag) I thought of Bob. I kind of talked to him in my head as I ventured past his favorite aisles.

At least, I hoped I talked to him in my head, because if I was mumbling or talking out loud, someone’s going to come with a net and take me away.

Anyway, I got stocked up again on needed items, even fruit and nut bird food, which wasn’t on sale but was needed.

The big bag of cat food will get us through March
See the Frisky cans? Our two house cats are picky. They want the extra gravy or nothing.

I’m wondering what I got for myself… Oh yeah, I got a director’s chair on sale!

I’ll go again to Fleet Farm, but I will never go without Bob in my head and in my heart.

Copyright © 2020 by Susan Manzke, all rights reserved

My new book collection

When I went for coffee with friends this morning at Sissy’s, I brought a few of my new books and put them on the shelf for sale.

Two books went flying off the shelf–to friends.–Thank you ladies.

Two more are on the shelf. I’ll bring more in when needed. Maybe the rest will go flying to new homes soon too.

Of course, you can find all my books at, both in paperback and on Kindle.

Now back to work on my next column collection: A New Addition 1982-1983. I’m only half-way through that book. Hopefully, it won’t take years to get it in print.

Copyright © 2020 by Susan Manzke, all rights reserved

Old winter memory

I see on this photo that it was developed in May 1959 but obviously it was taken earlier in the year. At least, I hope so.

The people in the snowy photo are our neighbor, Marilyn, my sister Karen and me.

We didn’t care if it was cold. We loved to be outside in winter. For that matter, we loved to be outside at any time of the year.

We would wear anything to keep warm. I remember Mom putting socks on our hands when we didn’t have mittens. The absence of thumbs made play challenging, but that didn’t stop us.

I wish I could find the photo of my sister when she wore an old fur coat and miss-matching socks. She was quite the sight, but no matter. Karen was outside having fun.

We never seemed to get cold back then. I wish I didn’t chill so fast these days. Right now, I prefer looking out the window at the cold snow.

But if grandchildren happen to visit on a sunny winter day, I’ll join them in making snowmen or building a snow fort. There’s still a bit of kid in me yet.

Copyright © 2020 by Susan Manzke, all rights reserved

Booking it!

My 1980-1981 column collection is finished and is up on Kindle for purchase. The paperback will be in production as soon as I get my proof and check it over. I’m supposed to get my proof copy by next Tuesday.

Stories from these two years include three children: Robby, Becky, and Russell–Rachel came into the picture in 1982.

Here’s a romantic story form this book in honor of Valentine’s Day:

Oh, Rats!” to those bats

August 5, 1981

       He came out of the house. We sat by the picnic table, a full moon above our heads. It was so romantic, a fragile evening.

       The work noises of the day had faded. I was no longer overpowered by the roar of the tractor being tuned up near the shop. It sat quietly nearby—in pieces—not to roar again until a needed part was shipped in.

       Birds swooped about the yard in silent precision, eating hundreds of juicy insects. The sound of a muffled train whistle sounded in the distance.

       It was an evening all the money in the world couldn’t buy. It was an evening worth waiting for, for weeks… for months.

       He whispered into my ear, “You’re alone?”

       I sighed, “Yes.” And thought, “Oh Boy! Here it comes. Here comes one of his priceless romantic statements.” (They are so priceless because they’re so rare. Anyway, it had to be one the evening called for one; it yelled for one. And so did I, silently, of course.)

       So I waited and waited for the words that were sure to come from his lips—words I would cherish for another five years, until the next time, when he’d again stumble over another few.

       “I’m surprised you’re sitting out here like this,” he said.

       “The night was made for it… for us.” I thought a few words from me would help him spit out a good line.

       “I’m just surprised. I know how much you hate them,” he said with a yawn.

       Somehow it wasn’t quite what I expected him to say. I wanted romance. Instead I got a puzzle.

       “What are you talking about? What do I hate?” I had to ask, knowing his answer was sure to blow the evening for good.

       “Bats… you hate bats.”


       “Those happen to be bats flying around the yard,” he said, calmly.

       “Bats? No…. BATS? Are you sure?” (Why I asked him if he was sure I don’t know. He’s always sure. And with one more look up so was I.).

       “BATS!!! I thought they were birds.” I jumped up and ran to the house, my head tucked under my arms.

       “Where are you going?” He remained sitting on the bench, in the moonlight.


       “But it’s such a nice night…. I thought you knew they were bats. They weren’t hurting you.”

       “They didn’t hurt me when I thought they were birds. They might now that I know they’re bats.”

       For a man who claims to love me so much, he can be cruel. He stole away the night and the promise of romance, with one word – “BATS!”                         “Oh, RATS!”

I hope you enjoyed the story I shared.

I also hope that you would consider buying this kindle book or the paperback when it comes out.

Copyright © 2020 by Susan Manzke, all rights reserved