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COLUMNISTS

Author's online blog provides more hopeful news to audience

Susan Manzke
The stars and stripes lends a patriotic feel to these John Deere tractors that were a part of the impromptu tractor parade on the rural byways of Seymour, Wis.

Life on Sunnybook Farm is definitely different, especially without Bob. The land is rented to another farm family, as it was last summer. That means there’s no reason for me to drive a tractor.

Staying at home on the farm, still staying safe, I’ve worked to keep myself busy. I’m not talking about cleaning out closets, though I have done a little of that. To keep myself going, I’ve invented different work for myself.

Over a year ago, I started writing a daily blog (www.susanmanzke.net/blog) to keep my hand in writing. Some days, when my husband wasn’t doing well, I didn’t have the heart to write even one word. Making myself create little essays, helped me hold onto my sanity.

I wrote about the weather, about the dog, about the color of the eggs given by my chickens. I could work almost anything into a blog, except the real news about Bob’s cancer. Eventually, I did share some about cancer, too, but only when things seemed to be getting better, which lasted all summer.

I’ve continued with my daily blog during this pandemic. Oh, I’m not writing about the big news items. There’s enough bad news on television and radio to keep everyone in tears.

I’ve been addressing the little things, like a recipe for Rhubarb Crisp or trying my hand at artwork using alcohol inks.

Scott Volkman on IH 1066.

My blog for Sunday, May 24, 2020, was about a tractor parade that drove down Miller Road. I didn’t expect to see this parade, so I had to run back into the house to get my camera so I could document it passing by. I’m not sure where they came from or where they were going, but seeing those tractors and farmers made my day.

According to organizer Al Timm, the ride was simply a way for friends with old tractors to travel around the backroads of Seymour, encouraging a few country neighbors who happened to be ill. 

The impromptu event involved 31 tractors and 52 folks, who gave out signed, handmade posters emblazoned with the friendly slogan "We are pulling for you".

Doing this daily blog keeps me thinking. But even writing it wasn’t enough to keep me busy. I needed to do more, especially if I wanted to avoid housework.

My second current project is recording old columns on YouTube.com.

I wasn’t so sure about recording my column readings. It’s not like getting up in front of a club and talking about saving family stories. I certainly had odd feelings about seeing myself on the computer screen.

Tractor parade heading south on Miller Road.

My first experimental column readings went up on my Facebook page. I was so naive that I didn’t know I was going live with my recording. I found out from a friend who happened to be online at the same time I did my first recording and she responded to me immediately, telling me she liked what I read—I thought I had to approve my recording first before anyone saw it.

Now I make my recordings on YouTube so more friends can find it, even those who aren’t on Facebook. I take particular care that I am not going live with my recording. This way if I don’t like what I’ve recorded, I can stop, delete what I messed up, and start over again—I’ve started over again because I’ve stumbled over too many words, or Sunny barked or something. It seems as soon as I start recording, Sunny needs a drink and goes over to his water bowl for a sloppy drink of water. Those recordings I will often do-over.

Doing these recordings means I have to get up, comb my shaggy hair, and look half-way decent for the camera. This non-paying job gives me another reason to get up in the morning, hoping to entertain people with other things than the virus news—I can’t listen to my regular local news without hearing too much badness. I figure others, like me, might want to take a little break and listen to something fun from the past—I started my readings with columns from the 1980s.

Duane Zuliger is the caboose of this tractor parade.

I hope you take the time to read and listen to my essays and stories, maybe consider sharing one with your grandparents if they don’t have the internet. For me, having followers makes it all worthwhile.

Susan Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54165; sunnybook@aol.com; www.susanmanzke.net/blog; https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=susan+manzke