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Milli Gilbaugh

Songs of the South

Food For Thought

I turned on the television just in time to catch the Big Race at the Kentucky Derby. The horses were being saddled, the jockeys, in their bright jerseys were posed for an official photo, and the band was tuning up to play “My Old Kentucky Home,” the official state song. The camera panned across faces in the crowd, showing more than one race-goer shedding a sentimental tear as they sang those much-loved words written by Stephen Foster.
Even though I’ve never been near Kentucky, I found myself feeling sentimental, too, though for a quite different reason.

The poetry of spring

Food For Thought

“In the spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love.” I don’t think there’s ever been a spring that somebody didn’t recite that line from Tennyson. I’d heard it for a good many years before I became curious about where it came from. That line from “Locksley Hall” is followed by further description of romance and warns maidens that after the passion has waned “he will hold thee ... something better than his dog, a little dearer than his horse.” which is not all that flattering for any lady to learn.

What I learned about leftovers

Food For Thought

My paternal grandmother was a child in Germany before emigrating to the United States as a young teenager. She was from a large family. I’m not sure just how many siblings she had, but the one family photo of them that I remember looked like enough children to populate a country schoolhouse. Possibly close to a dozen all told.

Ah! Those spring hikes

Food For Thought

It was usually quite unexpected. We’d come home from school and Mother would be armed with a couple empty coffee cans, a quart jar full of water and some empty bread sacks. We were going wildflower hunting– while Mother was after mushrooms. Why she didn’t enlist us to look for mushrooms, I never understood. When taking similar springtime walks in the woods with my own children, I found that they were better at finding those elusive fungi than I was.

A dissappearing tradition

Last Friday was May Day and I didn’t see a single May basket. That was a big deal when I was a child. “Tomorrow is May Basket Day,” Mother would say, and we would scramble to the hall closet where, somewhere in it’s back recesses, there would be the old wallpaper sample book that we last used to redecorate the dollhouse or cover an empty soup can to serve as a pencil holder. Mother always managed to bring home at least one outdated sample book from the paint store every year and we chose our favorite colors and designs for various craft projects.

Big - bad or beautiful?

Food For Thought

Not many years ago, people were complaining that all the characters in movies and television were too slim and lovely to be taken seriously. The average American didn’t look like a movie star, wasn’t fashion-model slender and couldn’t relate to the ideal image projected by movies, television and Madison Avenue.

Am I lucky or what?

Food For Thought

For the largest part of my life, I’ve been just plain lucky. When I was a child, I believed my good fortune was a combination of Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy and my parents– pretty much in that order. I guess I outgrew the Tooth Fairy first. After all, we have only so many baby teeth to lose and then the shiny dimes no longer appear under the pillow.

Go fly a kite

Food For Thought

My mother used to tell me and my sisters to do just that quite often in early spring. She wasn’t telling us to go away, however, she meant that we should get outdoors, get some fresh air and exercise and literally FLY A KITE.

April fool!

Food For Thought

My mother used the same April fool prank every year– and I always fell for it. She’d come bustling into my room, full of her usual, early-morning energy and sing out, “Time to get up. And dress warm. It snowed in the night!”
I’d struggle up out of the depths of my deep sleep, totally unaware of what day it was, and squint toward the window, seeing nothing but sky and a few bare tree branches. With the fog beginning to clear in my brain, I tried to remember if it was a school day. Did I have to get up so early, or could I just acknowledge the news and go back to sleep?

Hunting unicorns

Food For Thought

A good many years ago, I joined the Unicorn Hunters Club, a campaign started, I seem to remember, by a professor of English at the University of Wisconsin. For a small fee, I received a membership card and a lapel button about the size of a nickel and was urged to track down and eradicate misuses of the English language. Even though the mythical unicorn is supposedly endowed with eternal purity and would seem to be desirable, unicorns are also reputed to be elusive and I suppose that is why they were elected to symbolize the sins of poor grammar.

A spicy tale

Food For Thought

Winter seems to be conducive to browsing and learning.
I suppose that’s a throwback to my childhood days when I resisted joining my sisters in some of those damp and chilly outdoor activities in favor of curling up in Dad’s big chair with a good book.

About that box of chocolates

Food For Thought

A heart-shaped box of chocolate-covered candies is one of the most popular Valentine’s Day gifts, along with red roses, jewelry and anything heart-shaped.
I was lucky enough to be at a Valentine’s Day party where we were served some incredibly delicious desserts, one of which was a white chocolate mousse. It was so delicious that I consulted my favorite cookbook, hoping to find a recipe for something similar. In the process, I discovered that white chocolate isn’t chocolate at all—but a product of vegetable fats, coloring and flavors.