Category Archives: Columns

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

From kitchen to living room

I’ve been blogging about working on a book consisting of my first two years of columns. Words in My Pocket from 1980-1981 is just about ready. Still, I need help. I’m not printing anything out and wasting paper and postage. Instead, I’m looking for editing from across the Internet.

I tried sending my book WORD file via email to my friend Joyce in Illinois, but I kept getting error messages saying the file was too big.

I cut the file in half and managed to email part 2 to Joyce, but my Internet balked when it came to the first half. I don’t know why. (Being in the country, my internet is DSL. That means it is slow compared to cable, but it’s what I have.)

We finally used Google Documents and shared the whole book file. It took us a little while to figure this sharing out, but after finally connecting we’re going gangbusters.

Now if Joyce has time to check over my manuscript and find mistakes, I can see her comments right away.

This modern way to connect with the Internet is great.

It won’t be long when this is off the computer and in book form.

Stay tuned for updates.

Copyright © 2020 by Susan Manzke, all rights reserved

Crazy Cat

Along with a birdfeeder, we also have a heated waterer attached to a porch post. Birds stop there for a drink, but so do barn cats–not at the same time.

I understand the cats coming for a drink when everything is frozen outside. I just don’t understand how they take a drink some of the time.

Most get up on a ledge, also built for feeding birds, but mostly empty these days as cats like to sit there. Some cats take a sip from the edge near where they are standing.

Adventurous cats plunge their paws into the water and drink from the opposite side of the ‘birdbath’.

Taking a drink this way isn’t bad on a mild day, but I’ve seen them do this when it is extremely cold outside.

I haven’t seen any frozen cats, but I can’t see the reason they have to drink while dunking their tootsies.

I just hope they can off their feet fast before they freeze.

Taking a drink from the far side of the heated birdbath.

Copyright © 2020 by Susan Manzke, all rights reserved

Bob never changed

Since I’m working on my column collection, I’m coming across stories about Bob. This one was written in January 1981. I think it shows how Bob never changed. Over all his years on earth, he had an odd sense of humor.

Here’s misery in perspective — January 22, 1981

Days don’t come much more miserable than this. Outside, the wind howled, whipping snow and sleet into a cold lather.

I anxiously waited for my husband to return home. I expected him to be equally as miserable as the weather — cold, wet, and disgusted. So, thinking of him, I warmed some hot chocolate and turned up the thermostat.

Finally, he came in the door. But instead of stomps, groans, and grumbling about the weather, I heard laughter.

“What’s so funny?” I asked. I figured I could use a good laugh to brighten my day, too.

“I blew the van’s radiator hose,” he giggled as he shook the snow off his jacket.

“Oh, that’s too bad…. but what are you laughing at?”

“The radiator hose, on the van… It split right in two… Rotten clear through.” He continued laughing as he removed an icicle from his chin.

Had the pressure of the day finally taken its toll? Had Bob popped his cork, causing everything in his head to come babbling out?

Not wanting to upset him further, I said, “Why don’t you come and sit down. Put your feet up. Rest for a while. And tell me all about it. Start at the beginning… the very beginning.”

“I was going to town to get a tractor part when smoke started pouring out of the back of the van.” He giggled.

“It got worse as I drove. By the time I reached town I couldn’t see out the back window.” He laughed again. “I thought the engine had blown.

“The radiator hose broke… just the hose. Not that bad and I was right by the hardware store… I even had my tools with me and money in my pocket.”

“So?” I waited patiently for him to get to the funny part.

“So, I bought a new hose and fresh anti-freeze and fixed it right there… right in the parking lot.” He smiled.

“So?” There must be a punch line in all this.

“Nothing else… don’t you get it?”

“No. All I understand that you had trouble with the van. But somehow I don’t think that’s funny.”

“Don’t you see? It could have been worse… much worse… It could’ve been the engine… or it could have gone out halfway to town… or when we were broke… or when my tools were in the truck… or when YOU were driving alone…”

“I’m not laughing,” I told him as I lowered the thermostat.

“You don’t understand. The hose… the parking lot… Our luck’s changing… I guess you had to be there to appreciate it.”

“I guess so.” I nodded as I drank his hot chocolate. “I’m glad I wasn’t. I might have laughed myself to death.”

That was my Bob.

Bob relaxing back in the early 1980s.

Copyright © 2020 by Susan Manzke, all rights reserved