Happy Birthday, Bob!

Susan Manzke

January doesn’t have a lot to celebrate. New Year’s Eve starts the month, but after that we’re left with a lot of winter. The only other bright spot for us is my husband’s birthday. This January 17th Bob turned 75!

Happy 75th Birthday, Bob!

Bob and I gave up exchanging gifts long ago—the real low point for me was 30 years ago when Bob allowed the kids to give me a dustpan as a gift. It was their choice, but he could have directed them toward a more appropriate…but that was years ago.

These days Bob and I will celebrate his special occasion by going out to lunch. We really don’t need anything.

Our children do like to surprise us for our birthdays. I’m lucky my birthday is in August. This past summer I was surprised by family and friends. We had a campfire, hotdogs, and an ice cream cake. Winter birthdays are much more challenging.

Bob usually gets flannel shirts for his day. Good gloves and warm hats also have topped his gifts. All those seemed ordinary for the big 75. Our children decided on something else this year.

Only half of our family could come home to celebrate the weekend before Bob’s birthday. Still all were involved in the gift giving.

Rebecca and Andy, Russell, Cynthia, and Harrison came for lunch. The cold day was clear for driving to the farm. I finally had a reason to make the frozen ham I had bought during Christmas sales.

Barn cats gathering at the backdoor of the Manzke farmhouse were happy to have their images captured on Bob's new toy - a trail cam.

But what to get their father was the question. Their final decision was perfect. The whole family bought him a trail camera—we call it our critter cam.

It was a great surprise and what was better there were people here to help set it up—maybe Bob and I could have figured it out, but it was so much easier with Russell pushing the setup buttons.

By the time the birthday cake was eaten the camera was ready to go. Too bad the weather turned too cold and messy to take it where the wild things live.

Bob’s first trial run with his critter cam was in our kitchen. It wasn’t below zero there and much easier to set up. We attached it to a kitchen chair before going up to bed. When we came down in the morning we couldn’t wait to see what Bob’s new toy captured.

Mostly we have blurry photos of a house cat. The photos taken were out of focus because the cat jumped up by the camera for extreme close-ups.

The camera placement was a little high. All we got of our dog Sunny was the top of his head and tail. The best photo was of Bob when he came downstairs at four.

We changed the setup the next night. This time we strapped the camera to the back of the chair. That way the cats couldn’t get as close. Still the setup wasn’t perfect. We only caught part of our inside critters, tails and heads. Even the photos of Bob were only partials. Still we were having fun.

Bob caught on his critter cam.

Last night I put the critter cam on our front porch. Barn cats took center stage there, coming for food that I had I set out for them. No real wild critters showed up like they did a couple weeks ago.

Getting the perfect gift for a person who has all he needs is always a difficult one. Five years ago the kids bought their father a TV which he appreciated very much. Now the critter cam will add to Bob’s fun across the seasons—lucky for me he shares his gifts.

Happy 75th Birthday, Bob. Wishing you many more good years that we can spend together.

Susan & Bob Manzke, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54165;