For about 8 or 9 years the gals who work or worked at Fireweed Greenhouse get together and have a once a month birthday party for everyone that has a birthday that month. It is a tradition that has gone on to this day. We have added a few friends and lost one original Judy Platz, who lives in Wisconsin now.
This winter was not a good time to get together it seemed and so we combined birthdays and had one big blow out Saturday, the 29th of April, which fell on my birthday. (I now think this was planned as it turned out to be one of the biggest surprise birthday I have every had! ) Pam Burg birthday in May, Nadine Gabbett and Bernie Titera’s in March and Me shared a wonderful pot luck, cake and good company.
We held it at Susan and Porter Jordan’s house so Susan could watch the greenhouse and share in the fun. She asked me to be there early
so I could coordinate the food coming in and help with details. I was more that happy to do that!
Seems like before the party Saturday morning, I threw a monkey wrench in plans as I arrived early and was most oblivious of what was going on. After going to IGA for strawberries I had forgotten for my dessert, arriving back at the house, I decided to go through the greenhouse and then into the house. Susan went scurrying to the back of the greenhouse! Porter met me at the greenhouse door and kinda blocked it, he took a deep breath and bent over, said his back hurt. I rubbed his shoulders and talked a minute. Susan came back up the isle and told me we had some things to do in the house to get ready before people arrived. Ok I said and followed her into the house. She mixed and fixed and was very busy, then said I gotta to back out to the greenhouse, Mom, you need to do this and that. I said OK again.
A few minutes later Susan came back and she said, Mom we have a change of plans, something come up and we need to talk about it - I thought something was wrong with Porter!! I said “OH NO!” As I turned around to ask about Porter, up popped this curly gray-hair head over the railing of the stairs….It was my friend of 50 years, Jo Anne Adams Wahlstrom who had flown in from Buckley, Washington!!
After blubbering, tears of shock and happiness and me pointing fingers at Susan and Jo Anne - asking how could they keep that a secret? Come to find out, Jo Anne has flown in the night before. I am still in shock and full of happiness for the special people in my life that keep such secrets from an old lady!! As everyone arrived for the potluck we all gibbered and jabbered and ate very fine food. They all sang “Happy Birthday’ to Pam, Bernie, Nadine and me. Then we all ate yummy vanilla cake with chocolate frosting that Susan made and Lemon Delight Dessert and a cherry “cloud” salad that Susan also made.
We had a wonderful lunch, talked and exchanged birthday cards and looked at a wonderful Memory book that everyone contributed to! Susan has taken charge of putting it together and it is beautiful. Memories abound in that book!!
After telling everyone thank you and how happy I was to see them…Jo Anne and Marty Ragan loaded up my car and we headed out to Ricks Ranch. Seems there was another secret lurking in the air. As we drove down the drive way, balloons were tied to Bobs Cave step railing and all kinds of cars and tucks in the yard, including a little pink jeep that Arleigh brought down for his two little cuties, Braleigh and Bralyn to ride in.
Great grandson,Braylyn tells me it is “thissies themm-eye” (Sisssie Semi ) he is driving. He says he has a black “themm-eye” at home. He had it all figured out and he took “thissy” with him to drive up and down our drive way with big grins on the cute little faces.
Then when Bralyn was eating birthday cake with us, “thissy” went for a spin all by herself in her pink “themm-eye” They will be two and three years old in a couple months. What a hoot! Grandma Gail was the overseer dispatcher and Dad, Arleigh was the mechanic and road detailer.
As we went inside The Cave That Bob Built - there was the rest of the “culprits” David and Kyanna and Bob! Balloons, banners and a beautiful lemon cake was setting on the table, with purple plates and napkins. More surprises! Kyanna decorated a most tasty lemon cake with all kinds of frills. Of course on top of the cake was candles saying 80! I had help from Bralyn blowing them out.
Setting on the table was a pint canning jar full of dandelions. I did not have to guess who they were from. David! Every since he could walk, in the spring time he would spy the first dandelion out of the ground, pick it and give it to me. Well, no different 50 some years later! I got a bouquet of dandelions from David, but he had help! Seems like the yellow flowers were not in bloom yet so they looked far and wide all over the frozen Alaska tundra for a bouquet. Gail pointed at a black pot - it had dandelions planted in it. They are about ready to bloom! Gail every so carefully has taken out of the almost frozen ground and transplanted them to the pot. Gail also gave me Lily of the Valley and Columbine in separate pots for my garden this summer. Am I lucky!!??? Yes I am!!
They all sang to me - we ate the luscious cake that Kyanna made as we visited and jabbered. John Ragan came to pick up Marty and brought me a cherry tree start in a pot. Yes! I am ready for spring now!!
JT and Nikki brought a beautiful basket of fruit from Pam and Felix Martinez at M&M Market, with a helium balloon tied to it from JT and Nikki. I was instructed by JT to tie a note on the balloon and let it go into the sky and see if someone finds it. No replies yet!! Dan and Cathy came to offer a happy birthday and gifts. I cannot tell you how lucky I am or if I am still dreaming….BUT WAIT, THERE IS MORE TO THIS STORY!
The next day, Sunday, Jo Anne and I went to look for quilt stores.(What else?) We found the new one in Soldotna at the old Log Cabin Corner. Barely Threads. If you have not been there, you are missing something! We traveled out Funny River Road about 20 miles to see where Jo Anne had moved to with three kids about 45 yrs ago. She survived one winter. It was so terribly cold! We could not find the place as that area has really changed and its all paved roads! We came back to the greenhouse and transplanted plants and jabbered the afternoon away among the blooming flowers and hanging baskets that Susan and Porter have so skillfully, seeded, hand watered and lovingly taken care of. There is a lot of work going into just one plant!! Monday we went to - where else??? Wal-Mart! And to Safeway. We met at noon to visit Leatha Earll, (Tia was working) David and Kyanna at Susan and Porters house and ate take-out Playa Azul lunch. We are going to do that again!! Good food.
Leatha, her two kids and husband, Jo Anne and two kids, Me and my three kids all arrived in North Kenai (now Nikiski) almost at the same time in 1967. Our kids played together and two additions were added, Tia Wendy Lynn Earll and Kandi Ruth Ann Adams were born in 1968 in Kenai at Dr. Hansens office. So there is a lot of history in 50 years that we tried to jam in, in an afternoon. We said goodbye to Leatha who lives in Soldotna surrounded by most of her grown kids, grandkids and friends. Jo Anne’s kids lives in the same area as she does in Buckley, Washington and her oldest daughter lives not to far from them.
In our travels around the area allot of places in Soldotna and Kenai are closed on Sunday and Monday so we did not get to browse through and pick out material at Kenai Fabric. We will NEXT time!
Time came to tell Jo Anne goodbye and have a safe trip (last night, Monday) at Susan’s and thanked her for her journey to Alaska and back in time with all our memories, as she as flying back on the airplane early this morning (Tuesday, May the 2) headed home to Washington. Tearful hugs and promised to still keep in touch, I was off to my home the Ricks Ranch with a secret.
I got up at 4 this morning (Tuesday). I drove into the airport to surprise Jo Anne almost as much as she surprised me - I wanted to tell her one more time how much I appreciated her efforts and her friendship through all these years. More tears, more hugs and she was off on the airplane for home. Susan was the taxi and she was in on the secret.
There is nothing more wonderful in this world than to have so many, many friends and relatives send their well wishes, see their smiles and hear the stories!! I am every so grateful to Susan putting the whole thing to together, Gail, David and Kyanna for the party here at the home place. Most of all, to Jo Anne jumping on an airplane at a whim and spur of the moment, to see an old friend of 50 years celebrate her 80th birthday!! Yes I am so lucky to have my health and grateful and thankful to all.
Ten years ago Susan rented the Rec.Center room in Nikiski and put on a potluck surprise for my 70th birthday. Lots of Pioneers of Alaska and relatives and friends brought pot luck and greeted me with many happy memories. You would think by now I would catch on!! I gotta wait another ten years. Maybe I will be wiser by then!!
The Pioneer Potluck series is written by 50-year resident of Alaska, Ann Berg of Nikiski. Ann shares her collections of recipes from family and friends. She has gathered recipes for more that 50 years. Some are her own creation. Her love of recipes and food came from her mother, a self -taught wonderful cook. She hopes you enjoy the recipes and that the stories will bring a smile to your day. Grannie Annie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.