This blog reports events and interesting tidbits from Rensselaer, Indiana and the surrounding area.

Saturday, January 31, 2009


You may think soap an unusual topic for a post, especially soap as ugly as that pictured below.
However, consider that this soap was a gift not purchased in a store, but handmade by a woman who was once my neighbor, Irene Firzlaff. Irene died in 2001, and for several years had before that had lived in a retirement home in DeMotte. She was a wonderful neighbor who had had an interesting life, and she was the only person to ever give me a bar of handmade soap. I did not know what to do with it, so I let it sit in my porch for many years where it dried out and began to crack. Recently I decided I should either throw it away or use it. Because it was from Irene, I decided to use it.

One of Irene's passions was her bird feeding station, and if she were still here, I would be able to get interesting bird pictures for this blog. The feeding station attracted the squirrels, and Irene did not like the squirrels, so she live-trapped them and released them at St. Joes. Despite removing dozens of squirrels from the neighborhood, I never noticed a reduction in squirrel density. Sometimes she caught something other than a squirrel--a cat or an opossum or a raccoon. I do not recall if she ever caught a skunk, but she did once catch a badger, an animal I have never seen in Rensselaer.

Irene had been a schoolteacher and was always interested in our kids as they came up through the grades. Her attention was partially repaid when the kids got older. My oldest son took her for a plane ride after he got his pilot's license. (He no longer flies.) Somewhere we may have some pictures of that, but for now I have only a picture of her in my daughter's truck that she had just purchased to take a job at Death Valley National Park. The back of the picture says Irene was 93 when this picture was taken in the fall of 1996.

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