The week has come when I can say “hello” to my great friend Jo Anne Adams Wahlstrom and her daughter Kandi. They are flying from Washington to spend a week with me and her other friend, Leatha Earll, and her daughter, Tia. We have known each other since 1967.
Susan, Kandi and Tia went to school and grew up together.
Leatha, Jo Anne and I blazed the trail for our families to have a comfortable well-fed life in Alaska, starting in 1967.
By the time you read this Jo Anne and Kandi will have been here one day! We all have an overnight stay planned at Land’s End Lodge in Homer.
In the late ’60s and ’70s we did everything together. We are living proof that three heads are better than one. What one person did not know the other one did. I was scared to death of the pressure canner, but Leatha helped me get over half that fear. We canned moose and fish every fall. We made tons of jelly. Leatha and Jo Anne are wonderful bakers, and I will be forever grateful for the extra loaf of bread or cookies or cake they shared with me and my three kids.
Jo Anne is the beautician in the group and I learned the first day I met her that I would not have to curl my straight hair anymore, because she lived next door to me!
I had rented a small trailer from Helen McGahan and a few months later Jo Anne and her family moved in next door. I was sitting on a little couch and she knocked on my door to introduce herself and I hollered “come in.” I had just washed my hair. I had an assortment of pink and blue rollers with the brush that made your hair easier to curl, especially mine! I had lost all the white picks that were used to keep the roller from coming out so I was using toothpicks.
After Jo Anne introduced herself and sat down on a chair at the kitchen table in front of me while I kept on rolling my hair in my haphazard way — no mirror, just grabbing a hunk of hair and rolling it, then sticking a tooth pick in it to keep it from coming unwound. She sat there and stared at me with an uncomfortable look in her eye. She spent about three minutes in the chair, all of a sudden she jumped up and half way shouted — “OH! For heaven sakes! I’m a beautician and LET ME curl you hair!” I agreed and that is how we became forever friends. I am forever grateful to a perfect stranger.
She cut, curled and gave me perms for a few years. Only one mishap, though. I was getting remarried and moved to Daniel’s Lake with the most horrible-smelling, terrible looking water! Like most of the water in this region, the water is not that great. From a scale of 1 being good to 100 being very bad, red smelly, stuff, ours rated 101! White clothes turned red rust. We learned to buy only dark clothes.
I needed a perm, as the day of getting married had come after she helped finish my dress. She did her usual wonderful job, perm in, rinsed out and shampooed and rinsed again. She said, “You are not going to like this! Your hair is red!” We had forgotten that rust water and perm solution makes permanent red hair. OH well, nothing to do but live with it. Most people thought I had a new dye job!
Leatha, the forever baker, always brought me and the kids an extra loaf of bread or cookies or a few slices of cake when she baked for her family! I was grateful to her, as my income was meager by the time I paid for things we needed. She and Jo Anne shared fish and moose and jellies. Food will bind me to anyone!
This last week was a trying one as we had to have a water line dug up. After three days of searching, we found the most wonderful two people to do the job. AADan’s son, Ean, and Chase, son of Shawnda, owner of Bare Threads, came to the rescue. They put another job on hold while they so efficiently dug the hole and found the problem and went to get parts. With the hole repaired and covered up, they made it a most unstressful day of all. Chase was on his hands and knees making sure my Colorado blue spruce trees that I started from seed were not injured in any way. Ean is friendly, smiley and easygoing, confident in what he does.
We chatted with them both and we learned we knew everyone they knew and some of their friends and relatives were ours too. It is a pleasure to get to know new people who are young, helpful ambitious and happy too! I may give up negative TV News and just go around looking for new young friends.
These were two young men, caring, and helpful to us two old people that used to be able to do that kind of work ourselves. Our problem was we missed our good friend Dan Fenton! Upon seeing a problem, he would jump right in and getter’ fixed — no waiting around — no trying to find someone to solve the problem. He was the problem solver. Hardly a day goes by that we don’t mention his name. Dan rests in peace now. He left forever memories! (P.S., No relation to AADan)
John Turnbull is right in the mix of one of our favorite friends and if we have to have major or small things to be repaired he helps with his wisdom and great ideas. He is on leave right now because of an injured back. He has put in many hours at the Ricks Ranch fixin’ and doin’: Thanks JOHN!
John, Bob and Dan dubbed themselves as the Three Musketeers and always lent a hand to whoever needed it. Bob is right in there if someone else needs help. We do miss the third Musketeer! I pay friendship back by baking cookies and sharing!
Of course, we have lots of everyday good friends we are so happy to have. Thank you everyone! We are very blessed!
I am fortunate enough to have my three kids close by. Gail has been picking raspberries and sharing them with us. But last week Susan came out to fix my “Country Garden” and Gail dove in and climbed the hill to pull out wayward weeds and little trees and bushes sprouting up. Susan joined in after she groomed my other flower beds.
Fixing the Country Garden is not an easy task as you do have to be part mountain goat. This is the first year I have not been able to do that; I am just an old retired goat now!
But, the biggest helper was great grandson Bralyn, age 5, who took his favorite big black wagon and picked up the remains of the weeds and brush and twigs and put them in his wagon and hauled them off to the dumping place. He never stopped to play or got bored as he finished to the very end and asked for more! He acted like he had an important job and finished it well! I am so proud of him. Thanks to my two girls that finished until the end themselves, even as hot as it was!!
Little Miss Braleigh, age 4, my great granddaughter was the queen of everything that day and kept Grandpa Bob entertained and once in a while stopped her important work of playing to check on us. I LOVE YOU GUYS!
Bob and I have to have our eyes worked on in a month in Anchorage and son David and Susan got all the flight schedules and the hotel rooms figured out for us, almost a daylong job. We could have not done that without you both! Thanks very much David! Thanks Susan! I kid her, she should have a shingle hanging on her front door: Lawyer, Insurance and Travel Agent.
We love you!
Susan has been putting extra time at the Ricks Ranch redoing, painting and hanging drapes, cleaning, cleaning and cleaning the Ranch. We love her company and her friendly ideas and chatter. WE LOVE YOU !
Which brings me around to the fact that we are ready for company tomorrow — well, almost! We will have a friendly get-together with other friends this week end AND that will be FUN!
I must add that important friends in our lives are Mary Anne and Skipper from Friendship Mission. Our lives changed for the better because of them and our gratitude is immense. Sadly Skipper is no longer here. He’s, I am sure, sitting by the right hand of God, helpin’ out. His memorial at the Mission was Friday. It was a wonderful touching ceremony to a fine man. Mary Anne is continuing and we wish her peace and hope she is getting the rest she needs now. WE LOVE YOU GUYS!!
Our dear friends Paula and Brad Dickey, whom we met in Eagle River in 1970, have gone to a better place now, but they both shared their love for rhubarb as we do. Here is Paula’s favorite.
PAULA’S RHUBARB CRUNCH
1 cup flour
3/4 cups uncooked old fashion oats
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup melted butter
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup walnuts, crushed if you like
Mix until crumbly. Press half mixture into a 9 x 13 dish and reserve the other half for the topping.
Place 4 cups diced rhubarb on top of mixture in pan.
In a sauce pan:
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup water (if your rhubarb is frozen, drain off liquid and use that in place of water. Pineapple juice and orange juice work well with this also).
Bring to boil and cook until thick. Stir constantly.
Add 1 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract.
Pour sauce over rhubarb and sprinkle the remaining topping over rhubarb.
Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 60 minutes.
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon soda
1 cup buttermilk or sour milk
2 cups diced rhubarb
1 teaspoon vanilla
Cream butter and sugar; add the rest of the ingredients. Mix well. Spoon into prepared muffin tins.
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 chopped pecans or walnuts
Lightly press into cupcake batter.
Bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes.
These freeze well!
RHUBARB-STRAWBERRY CREAM DESSERT
Read this over first — it is decadent and worth the effort.
45 minutes to prepare. Bake time is 20 minutes. Plus chilling, 6 hours.
2 cups flour
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup butter
1/4 cup sugar
Press into a buttered 9 x 13 x 2-inch baking dish. Bake for 10 to 20 minutes at 350 degrees. Take out and completely cool.
1 cups brown sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
6 cups fresh or frozen rhubarb
Place in pan on low heat and stir until rhubarb softens and liquid appears. Bring to boil and stir often. Reduce heat until thickened about 4 to 5 minutes.
Remove from heat and chill and stir in:
1 cup fresh strawberries sliced
Return to refrigerator to chill.
In a mixer bowl beat:
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1 cup powered sugar
1 1/4 cups heavy whipping cream, whipped and divided
Fold in 1 cup of whipped cream into cream cheese.
Spread over cold crust.
Top by spooning in the chilled rhubarb mixture. Garnish with additional brown sugar sprinkled lightly over top. Refrigerate at least 6 hours before serving.
ALL THE RHUBARB RECIPES ARE IN MY COOK BOOK “Eat Dessert First”
• By ANN “GRANNIE ANNIE” BERG, For the Peninsula Clarion