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Milli Gilbaugh

A special Christmas gift

Food For Thought

For years, I tried to convince my family and friends I was done with the commercial rat-race that had taken over the Christmas season. Everything from Christmas cards and tree decorations, through the piles of purchased and gaily wrapped gifts, right down to the peanuts and oranges that went into the toes of the stockings was due for a drastic makeover. For too many years, I tried really hard to make sure those presents met my expectations and made at least some of the wishes come true.

Oxymoron gone wrong

Food For Thought

I don’t quite understand the logic that causes people to “do their part” for conservation by using recycled paper in their correspondence, and then wasting paper to advertise that fact. A recent letter I received pointed this out in a ridiculous and bewildering manner. It reminds me of the charities that waste the money I send them by spending some of it on letters begging me to send more. If I’d been able to send more and had chosen to, I’d have done it in the first place, don’t you think?

Nature’s way

It’s been a few weeks since I witnessed the episode I’m about to describe, but I’ve been more or less haunted by it ever since. The window over my desk, where I spend a lot of time writing and daydreaming, looks out at a row of walnut trees along our lane. There are two constants in the scene, for the most part. One is there are birds visiting the lane to peck at the gravel for the grit that is necessary for their gizzards to function.

Don’t blame it on Stephen King

Food For Thought

Clowns have always been frightening to little kids. The recent epidemic of scary clowns doesn’t surprise me, for I remember the clowns of my childhood as alarming. To my young eyes, they were noisy, unpredictable, invasive and extremely odd in appearance. We went to the circus at least once every year, sometimes twice if more than one troop of performers came to town during a summer.

Do-not-call

Food For Thought

Now that the election is over with, we can relax a little every time the telephone rings and hope the call is from someone we actually know and wish to talk to. Enough with the surveys and polls and political pitches. Nearly every one of those calls started out with a recorded message, and after a lifetime of feeling guilty about being rude, I’ve been able to hang up on them without apology. I guess I got the most satisfaction from hanging up, several times, on Donald Trump.

Why are floods getting worse?

Food For Thought

It appears that flooding is getting worse in spite of our best efforts to prevent or control it. While we make remarkable progress in other fields, it seems we are losing ground when it comes to dealing with our swollen streams and rivers. And “losing ground” is an apt expression when we see our precious black Iowa farmland running away down our rivers at such an alarming rate. This is closely related to the problem of a decline in the quality of our drinking water.

Junior high

Food For Thought

As I look back, I find it odd our summers on the acreage were so isolated compared to life in our former neighborhood. Even though there were classmates within shouting distance, we seemed to cut off contact once school was out for the year. Summer vacation put us in a different world we seemed to accept as normal, even though nobody indicated in any way the rules had changed.

Life on the acreage

Food For Thought

Although we lived in town with neighbors all around, life on Washington Street was significantly different from the way it had been on First Street where I’d had many neighborhood playmates. There had been, besides Norma Jo and Charles, the Craig twins, Bobby and Beverly; Jackie Slatterback; Dwight and Dwayne Stone; Bert Reynolds; Gladys Fee and Les Stevens.

Responsibilities

Food For Thought

Rosemary had a younger sister named Marlene, a stepfather who was one of the town policemen, and a new baby half-brother named Darrel. Their house was across the street and down the hill from ours, past a vacant lot. I often walked with her, past my house, around her house to the back door where we entered into the kitchen. Rosemary would go to the living room, where her mother seemed to always be seated at her sewing machine, while I waited in the kitchen. For some reason, I always imagined her mother sewing for someone else, as Mrs.

The winds of change blow gently

Food For Thought

Eleanor and I talked about just about everything on those slow walks home from school. Even though it was only three blocks from school to her house, it could take us as long as a half hour, as we sometimes became so absorbed in what we were talking about we stopped walking and poured all our attention into the subject at hand. We compared likes and dislikes, attitudes and opinions. She thought she might join the Girl Scouts. I didn’t like the idea of uniforms and regular meetings and having to fill a bunch of requirements to earn a little badge to sew on my uniform.

A special teacher

Foot For Thought

I think second grade was the best year of my elementary school career. To my mind, Miss McDowel was the best teacher in the school. Every year, my uncles asked me the same two questions about school: Did I have a boyfriend? And, was my teacher pretty?

The girl with the leg brace

Food For Thought

Eleanor didn’t come to my attention until first grade. There were two half-day kindergarten classes each day, and attending kindergarten was not required at the time. As she would have been recovering from a bout with polio, she could have been in the morning class while I was in the afternoon one, or not enrolled in kindergarten at all.