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Milli Gilbaugh

Getting over it

Food For Thought

“Does one ever get over loneliness?” asked my friend Richard whose wife of 62 years had died about a year ago. That long-lived marriage between high school sweethearts had survived all the usual hurdles of life including the tragic death of their only daughter. I could relate to that, I’ve learned that some things can’t be “gotten over” and that we simply must get accustomed to them and keep going.
Two of the kindest people I’ve known in my lifetime, they chose to stay right there in the hometown where we all went to kindergarten together and graduated together.

A jug of wine

Food for Thought

I was strolling down the wine aisle in the supermarket, looking for my old standby, Blue Nun Riesling, which I have always thought was just right to serve with that Thanksgiving turkey. (Or any other turkey, for that matter.)
It used to be an easy bottle to spot, for it was the only blue wine bottle in the whole store. (About the only other things I remember being consistently sold in blue glass were Vicks Vap-O-Rub and Phillips Milk of Magnesia.) But, things have changed.

My mother’s kitchen

Food for Thought

Kitchens, as our grandmothers knew them, have virtually disappeared from houses under 50 years old. For 12 years, we lived in a nice old house in Iowa City’s Goosetown, a house that was similar to the house I grew up in. Both had been built in the early years of the 20th century and featured kitchens that were definitely separate from the rest of the house.

Four feet of music

It was slightly over four feet tall, that stack of 78 rpm records, leaning slightly south, in the middle of the kitchen floor. Dad had finally given in and bought an electric phonograph for us to use in making the tapes of music to be played over the loudspeaker at the miniature golf course on summer nights.

But what does it mean?

Food for Thought

It’s been well over a year since I first joined a poetry writers’ group. We call ourselves The Poetry Gang, though I’m not sure why. Possibly it’s some sort of rebellion against being stuck with a name more lofty or esoteric. I was not invited to help decide on a name for the group, and I don’t know whose brainchild it was, but I rather like it. It sounds like a group that Carl Sandburg might have joined, no nonsense, tell-it-like-it-is, frank and earnest.
Pun intended. You want to watch out for me, one of my favorite poets was a master at word-play, and so I sometimes emulate.

Retiring or withdrawing?

Food for Thought

The number of Christmas cards, and those “Christmas Letters,” has dwindled over the past few years. Probably because of the ease of communicating via e-mail. Or maybe people think twice about sending Christmas cards to everyone they know because of the constantly rising cost of the cards themselves and the stamps to send them on their way. A few years ago, I cut down my Christmas mailing list considerably because I was in touch with most of my life-long friends through our class newsletter. And I don’t think it makes sense to send cards to people I see frequently.

Dancing and dreaming

Food for Thought

I remember when dancing used to be something people did for exercise and recreation, not just a spectator sport as it appears to be rapidly turning into. My parents went out in the evening occasionally for dinner and, for many years, to dance afterward. By the time I was a young adult, people went out to hear bands, and dancing was mostly reserved for special occasions such as proms, wedding receptions, anniversary parties and New Year’s Eve. It used to be a New Year’s Eve tradition to watch Guy Lombardo and his orchestra on television broadcasting from New York City.

Alphabetical turns

Food for Thought

A recent proposal to introduce something known as J-turns on Iowa’s busier highways seems to have brought about a great many more objections than anticipated. I suppose Iowans, who think the state is pretty much okay just as it is, don’t like to see any dramatic changes, be it weather, politics, fishing regulations or highway designs.

Christmas Eve magic

Food for Thought

My parents were geniuses at making childhood magic for my sisters and me. Maybe that’s one of the reasons I wanted to have several children so I could have the fun of creating the wonderland for them, watching them learn and grow and thrive in a secure and rich environment similar to what I had known. The world changed a lot in the quarter century between my childhood and theirs, however. Iowa City was a very different place in 1959 than Knoxville had been in 1936 when my earliest memories begin.

Spying on Santa

Food for Thought

When I was still young enough to have that unshakable faith in the Christmas myth, we lived in a house that had a coal furnace in the basement and the heat it produced depended on gravity to get it where it was wanted. Needless to say, without an automatic fan or duct work to the upstairs bedrooms, gravity didn’t always produce the desired effect. The ground floor rooms had big square metal grates near the walls closest to the furnace below. These were fed the warm air through large ducts that came as straight as possible from the furnace itself.

It’s snow fun anymore

The earliest winters I remember were spent in the neighborhood where we lived until I was in third or fourth grade. Our streets weren’t plowed after a snowfall, instead, most people had chains on their tires to aid traction on the streets which soon became slick with packed snow. Many of the older boys indulged themselves with a free ride, belly-flopping with their sleds onto the road behind a passing car and grabbing the rear bumper to be towed at a fast clip for blocks at a time.

Frost on the windows

There’s one thing about winters from the past that I realize I’ve missed for a good many years. That’s those ferny, ostrich-feather plumes of frost on the windows. It seems that, when I was a child, the kitchen windows in our house were etched with frost nearly all winter. Frost on the inside of the windows where we could scratch it off with our fingernails to peer out, watching for Dad to get home for supper.