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Milli Gilbaugh

The end of summer

Having lived in Iowa all my life, I’m not familiar with the policies of other states regarding summer vacation and the beginning of the school year. I know there are places that take into consideration the weather (extreme heat or cold) and holidays (both religious and national) when scheduling the school year. Circumstances have changed dramatically since early pioneer days when schools were strictly local matters, often managed and taught by individuals with no official oversight by local government or even school boards.

A matter of relativity

I’m not talking about Einstein’s theory here, but the third, or maybe the fourth definition, depending on which dictionary you’re using, “Relativity; dependence on a factor that varies according to context.”

Bad ideas

Food For Thought

In 1890, a New York City man named Eugene Schieffelin had the not-so-bright idea to import every species of bird mentioned in the plays of William Shakespeare. Among the few species he managed to actually introduce to the city’s Central Park, was a flock of European starlings (referred to in Henry IV). Within 50 years, starlings colonized the entire North American continent– with dire results.

Before Dr. Seuss, even

Food For Thought

It has been said that J. K. Rowling has coaxed more kids into the reading habit in this century than Dr. Seuss did a generation ago. Her Harry Potter stories enchant and entertain adults and kids alike, and while both authors have influenced movies and television, I think their greatest contribution to society has been in the cause of literacy. Tempting children to read, to prefer books to the more passive activity of sitting and watching the screen, not only establishes the reading habit; it requires the exercise of imagination.

The green menace

Food For Thought

Many years ago, I enrolled in an art class to learn more about painting with watercolors. I’d majored in art in college and had concentrated more on oil painting, but had always wished I knew more about this more portable form of painting. The watercolor class was in the summer and most of the sessions were held outdoors. I became acutely aware of the many different shades and variations of green there are in our landscape and eventually became seriously tired of green paint.

When is a rose a weed?

Food For Thought

For all the years since 1971 that I’ve lived at my present address, a single wild rose plant has survived at the edge of the gravel road that dead-ends at my house. Every year, it has bloomed in June or July and, every year, it has been mowed off soon afterwards by the county crew that keeps the roadsides trimmed so tall weeds and grasses don’t obstruct the view of drivers and cause accidents. I appreciate the need to keep obstructions from growing at intersections and access roads, but I’ve always thought mowing off everything that grows beside the road to be a bit of overkill.

When dishwashers were sisters

Food For Thought

The automatic dishwasher, which started appearing in most homes during the 1950s, did more than leave the plate, glasses and silverware sparkling and sanitized. It changed some long-lived practices and altered dynamics between certain family members. Prior to that time, dishes were scraped, rinsed, washed, dried and put away by hand, and it was more often than not a cooperative effort between sisters or mothers and daughters. Families without daughters were known to actually teach boys to deal with the used cutlery, soiled plates and greasy pots and pans.

Making your own good luck

Food For Thought

I’ve come to believe our perceptions and expectations affect things that seemingly happen to us by chance. Aside from birthday candles and chicken wishbones, we halfway believe praying or wishing for something will increase its chances of happening. Sometimes, even though we’ve given up hope, the thing we’ve dreamed of actually comes true and we start to believe in Lady Luck. Such things happened to me often enough I have become curious about the role of luck (or the lack of it) and dug out an old magazine article I’d saved.

Touring the past

Food For Thought

A recent visit to my hometown involved my usual tour of former homes and other familiar places. This is a slice of pure nostalgia sprinkled with both dismay and amazement at some of the things that have changed since I lived there.

Looking back–’way back!

Food For Thought

Now that Memorial Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and the graduations are out of the way, we have time to sit back and think about what those observances mean to us. They are about people in our lives, their achievements and the contributions they made to the world in one way or another. While most such celebrations honor the past, graduations are more about the future. Granted, the graduation ceremony itself recognizes accomplishments and celebrates the completion of a stage in learning. Graduation is also called Commencement, and that word means “beginning.”

Learning more about racoons

Like the displaced persons who have fled from war, floods, forest fires, earthquakes and other natural disasters, animals whose homes and food sources were devastated first seek food and shelter. Often they occupy temporary “refugee camps” and are usually driven out in short order by the established residents of the area.

Coexisting with Mother Nature

Food For Thought

For the past 46 years, I’ve been trying extra hard to live peacefully with Mother Nature and all her children. Like the old woman in the shoe, it seems she sometimes has too many children and doesn’t know what to do with them. Recently, I’ve begun to suspect she commandeered me to be babysitter, whether I’m willing or not.