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Milli Gilbaugh

Giving thanks

Food For Thought

You sneeze; “Gesundheit,” says your friend. You say, “Thanks.” The waitress deposits your hamburger and fries on the table. “Thanks,” you murmur, reaching for the ketchup. The check-out girl tells you to have a nice day. You mutter something that sounds like, “thanks,” even though you know she doesn’t care because she’s busy asking the next person in line if they found everything okay. Most of us say “thanks” several times every day. Dozens of times in a month. Hundreds of times during the year. That doesn’t mean we’re grateful; it simply means that we’re polite.

Strange gifts indeed

Food For Thought

You hear the expression quite often, in regard to just about anything; “I have a God-given right to...”
To drive a car. To own a gun. To carry a gun. To shoot anybody who annoys me beyond endurance? Mankind has been interpreting, and sometimes attempting to dictate, what God does, wants, grants us, since we first suspected there might be some greater power than ourselves, and we still haven’t any clear evidence that we’re right. At best, we can only suppose that bad results from our actions are signs that we probably acted unwisely.

Music and math

Food For Thought

I’ve been told that music is a mathematical skill, people who are good at math are also good at music, and composing music is a matter of patterns and equations similar to those found in numbers. You’ll have to take somebody else’s word for it because, although I was a whiz at math up through high school, it failed to spill over into the piano and guitar lessons thrust upon me for seven or eight years before my parents gave up hope.

Ghosts of Halloween Past

Food For Thought

When I was in grade school, we had a different spelling list each week. The list consisted of 10 new words we were to learn to spell, and five review words from past lists. During October, the list was sure to include Halloween, which, at that time, was officially spelled with an apostrophe between the double E because, it was pointed out to us, the word was a contraction for “All Hallows Eve.” I’m afraid I didn’t notice just when that apostrophe was dropped, I just know it’s been missing it for quite some time.

How much is too much?

Food For Thought

It was just a movie after all, but it brought back memories of a long-ago television program called “The Millionaire.” Every week on that half-hour program, an anonymous multimillionaire gave away a million dollars to a working class person, then sat back and observed how the windfall changed that person’s life. There always seemed to be some problem that accompanied the gift and made us, the viewers, wonder if having so much money was a blessing or not. Apparently many of us didn’t have the self control or good judgment to deal with sudden riches.

Two-way traffic

Food For Thought

At least three mornings every month, I have 9 a.m. meetings in Iowa City and I head in that direction during the same time many people are trying to get to their jobs on time. Some days I wonder if everybody in Iowa City has a job in Cedar Rapids and everybody in Cedar Rapids works in Iowa City, for there is a steady stream of traffic going in both directions on Highway 1 during that half hour, or so, each weekday morning. I sometimes have to wait 10 minutes or more before I can turn off my road and join the parade into town.

Dumpster diving

I’ve long thought of my memory as being more like a dumpster than that tidily-packed trunk in the attic Edna Ferber cited as her storehouse of memories. Her metaphor is a great deal more elegant, but then, her mind was considerably more refined than mine. Mine has always been a hodgepodge of stuff that accumulates haphazardly, like that junk drawer in the kitchen—but contains considerably more junk, which is why I think of it as being more the size of a dumpster.

I checked my dictionary, and...

Food For Thought

Over the years, I’ve seen word fads come and go. You know the sort of thing I mean, remember when nearly everybody referred to supplies and equipment as “materiel” rather than “material?” The first version refers to military supplies and equipment, specifically those necessary to conduct a war, but that didn’t stop people from using it to refer to everything from the school supplies needed by a kindergarten student to stocking the larders and pantries of a cruise ship.

A connection?

Food For Thought

At the risk of sounding like a crackpot, I find myself wondering if there is a link between the flurry of so many people to suddenly decide they needed to buy handguns and obtain permits to carry them a couple years ago, and the current rash of mass shootings in crowded public places.

I’m still wondering

Food For Thought

When I was in grade school, a friend of mine had a modest coin collection. It consisted mostly of pennies, which she polished by scouring them to a shine with a pencil eraser and placed in slots in a blue cardboard book. Sometimes I stopped at her house on the way home after school and helped her with the penny-polishing. I never quite understood or appreciated why she wanted to spend her time and effort doing this.

Remembering birthdays

Sept. 10 was my mother’s birthday. Because of her small stature, I was surprised to learn that my 4-foot-11 mother had played on the girls’ basketball team when she was in high school in a small town in northern Wisconsin where she and Dad first met as classmates. Unfortunately, Mother never finished high school. Her father, who was working as a carpenter at the time, fell and injured his back which kept him unemployed for some months. Mother and her sister Opal dropped out of school and found jobs to help support the family.

Support your local authors

My life, for many years, seems to have been blessed with Marys. It all began in the Solon schools where, sometime in the 1970s, I met Mary Ferryman, a local artist who volunteered to help with the Picture Presenter program we started at Lakeview Elementary.
I had been writing this column for some time when Mary invited me to attend a meeting of a writing group she belonged to. I had just had two of my short stories published in the short-lived “Iowa City Magazine” and was anxious to meet other writers who knew more about the ins-and-outs of getting things published.