Category Archives: Memories

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

Meeting author Michael Perry

Snow last night almost kept me home. If it wasn’t for two good friends (Jennifer and Doris) I wouldn’t have gone to Green Bay to hear Michael Perry speak.

GreenStone’s Ladies Day Out is always around Valentine’s Day. I hesitated to be among all the hearts and flowers. Yet, I really wanted to hear Michael speak again.

Bob and I were both fans of Michael’s writings, enjoying his wit and wisdom. We really liked listening to his recorded books together.

It took a lot to force myself out of the house this morning, but I’m happy I did.

Michael Perry entertained for an hour
Doris, Susan, and Jennifer
Two writers, Michael Perry and Susan

It wasn’t until the end of the morning that I had tears when two of my column readers came to me to give me hugs and send their sympathy about Bob. They were sweet ladies. I guess the hearts and flowers finally got to me.

Copyright © 2020 by Susan Manzke, all rights reserved

In Rob’s words

I’ve shared the tributes from Rachel and Russell in my column. Today I’m working on a column with off-the-cuff stories from Rob and Rebecca. These will come out later this week in the newspapers.

Today, I have the written words of Rob about his dad. I want to share them here today. This is what Rob wrote, though he did go off-script at Bob’s memorial.

“My dad was a hardworking, compassionate, every-man farmer who had two priorities in his life.  His family and his farm.  And, as my mother often pointed out, they weren’t always in that order of importance for him.  But, those two priorities were interdependent and intertwined.  He worked tirelessly every single day of his life to provide for his family.  When my siblings and I were still growing up and living at home, my dad worked two jobs to help put food on the table and keep the roof over our heads.  The summers meant that Dad was working the night shift at the canning company.  He’d leave for work at 6 pm, come home at 6 am (sometimes later if he fell asleep in his truck in the driveway), sleep until 10 am, work on the farm, and then head back to the canning company at 6. He worked so his family could live comfortably and happily on the farm on Gardner Road.  That was my dad.  

My dad was the ever-creative, self-taught engineer.  The tools of his trade – tractors, trucks, plows, and other farm equipment – had frequently lived a long and productive life well before he purchased them.  While I know he couldn’t have afforded to buy new, I also believe he thrived on the creative challenge of giving new life to old equipment.  It was through dad’s example that I learned the values of ingenuity, grit, creative problem solving, and self-reliability.  And, while I know absolutely nothing about the mechanical workings of a 1972 International Harvester, I do know how to face challenges in my life with the same level-headed determination as my dad.   

“It would be a near impossibility to live your life as a farmer without possessing an unyielding sense of optimism.  My dad was the epitome of optimism.  Every spring, he took countless tiny seeds and planted them in the ground – knowing that much of the success or failure of the crop was out of his control.  In the time between planting and harvest, my dad would manage his fields to give his livelihood the best chance to grow. 

Together with my mother, my father the farmer raised his children with the same philosophy of patient optimism.  Every day, he instilled in me and my siblings a strong work ethic, a passion for life, a steady disposition and eternal optimism.  He planted those seeds within his children early in our lives, he tended to us throughout our childhood by living those ideals, and he waited (patiently) for us to reach our potential – knowing that much of our success or failure was out of his control.  I for one think he and my mom did a darn good job with their crop of children.  

“So, let us take the time this afternoon to celebrate my dad’s life and his accomplishments.  Although we won’t have the opportunity to have new interactions and experiences with him, we have countless memories to cherish.  But, more importantly, we help him live on through each of us.  He lived his life true to his ideals – universal compassion, a steadfast commitment to his family, self-reliance, working hard for what you believe in, and eternal optimism. We all can take those ideas with us to honor him and keep him alive.”

Our first family Ph.D.–Congrats, Rob!

I’m also sharing this photo of us with Rob when he got his Ph.D. A wonderful day Bob and I were so proud of our firstborn.

Copyright © 2020 by Susan Manzke, all rights reserved

The gift of a laugh

I felt a chill this afternoon. Before going onto the front porch to feed the barn cats, I grabbed one of Bob’s heavy shirts.

After feeding all those moochers, I got a laugh. I had missed a snap on the shirt and the front was cockeyed.

Bob had done this often. Many times during our life together I was telling him to fix his shirt.

Today, when I did the same thing, I couldn’t help but laugh and thank my husband for all those years of fixing his buttoning/snapping.

Copyright © 2020 by Susan Manzke, all rights reserved

Chop suey

Today I used my pressure cooker to tenderize beef bits to use in a batch of stirfry–in reality, it turned out to be chop suey.

I had vegetables from the freezer and some from the fridge. It’s the kind of meal that doesn’t take measuring. I just throw veggies into hot oil to get them cooking, add shredded beef, soy sauce, molasses, and ginger.

I hadn’t made this in quite a while. Bob had seconds.

The trouble was that partway through cooking I had the wish that I had a can of La Choy Chop Suey vegetables. That’s what we used when I was a kid.

I haven’t used this kind of canned vegetables in many years, but just thinking about a meal made by my dad gave me warm feelings.

I doubt if I’ll buy a can of La Choy, but if I do, I’ll make it the way Dad did.

leftovers going into the fridge

The photo doesn’t do my chop suey justice. My meal was very good. I’m pretty sure, Dad would have approved.

?Copyright © 2019 Susan Manzke, All rights reserved