After several weeks of visitors, celebrations, and excitement, my home is finally calm again. My 100th birthday created much more activity than I had expected. I loved every minute of it, but now I’m ready for a nap.
I wrote last week about the party we had at the Gathering Place. More than a hundred friends came to greet me and visit with one another. I like to say it was the best one hundredth birthday party I’ve ever had.
Early the following morning my grandson Nick flew back to New York City. He called to let us know he had gotten to his office in time to put in a full work day, but admitted he was sleepy by late afternoon.
The family of my daughter-in-law Sharon drove back to Milwaukee. They took along my granddaughter Amanda to spend a week with her three cousins. They are close enough in age that they always enjoy their time together.
My son Bob returned to his home in Seattle. Before he departed we had a big dinner of bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwiches with newly-picked sweet corn and fresh garden-grown tomatoes.
My actual birthday was on July 31. The day began when my wonderful neighbor Kim Reed walked across the backyard with the pre-school children from her day care. They had made birthday cards for me, and while I could not see them, Kim described what the cards looked like. They surrounded me with hugs and then sang happy birthday. I hope they enjoyed it as much as I did.
My sons Jeff and Craig were still in Sidney, along with Craig’s wife Sharon. We were joined that evening by Bill and Laura Danforth from Shenandoah. Kim Reed came back, this time without the children but with her husband Robert. He brought delicious vanilla ice cream he had made himself. It was perfect with the birthday cake.
I will say that it is a strange experience for a person who cannot see to blow out birthday candles. Fortunately there were only three of them, the number one and two zeros. Even so, I needed help in knowing where to blow and when I had succeeded.
Craig stayed a few more days so he could be part of the 45th year reunion of his high school graduating class. That included riding on a float in the Sidney Rodeo parade. He told me that 15 of his 26 classmates were able to attend.
Craig also helped me write thank you notes to those who sent cards and were so kind to me. Many cards came from people I’d not heard from in ages. It is very good to be in touch with them again.
There were also some contributions to the Dulcie Jean Birkby Scholarship Fund. I am so grateful for that and know that for years to come, it will help deserving young women with college expenses.
A special visitor was Nancy Kedzior. She and her husband live in Iowa City, but still spend time on the farm near Sidney where Nancy grew up.
She made this trip to Sidney to sing the national anthem at the Friday performance of the rodeo. She asked if I would like to hear it. Oh my, did she sing it! She filled my little family room with the Star Spangled Banner as if it were the entire rodeo arena. It was wonderful.
Now everything is winding down. On Lawrence Welk they played Moon River, a song Bob played on the piano during my big party. It made me smile again as I think about how fortunate I am to be here and to have so many wonderful friends.
It is time to begin looking ahead to new adventures and continued connections with so many people I love.
Here’s a recipe our family has made using a hand-cranked ice cream maker. You can also use an electric powered one.
Homemade Ice Cream
2 ¼ cups sugar
1/3 cup flour
¼ teaspoon salt
5 cups milk
6 eggs, beaten
1 quart whipping cream (or half-and-half)
1 to 2 tablespoons vanilla flavoring
Combine sugar, flour and salt in a saucepan. Add milk and cook over medium heat, stirring, until it thickens like gravy. Stir a little of this hot mixture into the beaten eggs, then return to the rest of the hot milk mixture and cook another minute. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature, then chill well in refrigerator.
Mix cream and flavoring together. When well blended, stir into cooked mixture. Pour into a one-gallon freezer can, put lid on, and then fasten the crank in place. Put ice and rock salt around the freezer can. Turn the crank until the mixture inside is frozen, replenishing the ice and salt as needed.
The process is best done out of doors where the melting ice water can run off onto the ground. Since it is salty, take care where the water runs so plants are not damaged.