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Milli Gilbaugh

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.

The shopping list

Food for Thought

While cleaning out a drawer the other day, I pulled out an old purse I’d saved for some reason. It was beyond any practical use, but before I tossed it into the trash, I checked to make sure there wasn’t something valuable in there– some treasured photos, a book of postage stamps, a few dollars tucked into a forgotten pocket in case of emergency. No such luck, but I did find a rather lengthy shopping list that intrigued me because of the memories it brought to mind.

Wake up!

Food for Thought

I just read an article that pointed out the fact that, by time we reach age 80, we will have spent approximately 233,600 hours sleeping. That’s the equivalent of 26.67 years– almost enough to make me want to sell my bed.

Green memories

Food for Thought

For some reason, November almost always sends me off on a nostalgic journey to my husband’s hometown of Graettinger. That’s in the northwest corner of the state, not far from Spencer, Okoboji, and the Minnesota border. Maybe it’s because it was at this time of year that we became aware that winter was near at hand (and, believe me, winter in that part of the state is definitely a thing to remain aware of). Maybe it was the pheasant hunting that got us there every year, in the days before everybody farmed right out to the road. There were fence rows then, and cover for the birds.

Making magic

Food for Thought

I put a new canvas on my easel the other day but haven’t the slightest idea why. Or what I had in mind to paint on it. There’s something intimidating about a blank canvas. Maybe it’s because of all that white– the same thing that sometimes causes writers to be reluctant to commit those first words to a fresh sheet of paper.

A shocking misnomer

Food for Thought

I confess to being an Antiques Roadshow addict. It’s not that I am an avid antiques collector, for I seldom actually buy antiques, although I enjoy browsing through the shops with collections of those relics from the past. The stories that go with them tend to intrigue me, even though the people who bring their treasures to the program often have incomplete or erroneous tales to tell about the items. Part of it, I guess, is that the history of anything is a part of the history of mankind, of the world, of western civilization, of ourselves.

Leave off the bacon

Food for Thought

I should think that doctors would be delighted that the price of bacon has risen so dramatically in recent months. Just think how much less bacon we’re eating, not to mention all that good bacon grease we’re not using to fry our fish and potatoes– even though grandma always told us that was best. Who knows– without all that bacon in our diets, we may be able to save a few cents a day on those meds we were taking to get rid of the cholesterol. I really missed those bacon and tomato sandwiches this summer, though.

Subliminal road-rage?

Food for Thought

I can’t help but wonder just how much the design of today’s cars influences the rising prominence of road-rage on our highways. One can’t help but see faces on oncoming cars, with the grille suggesting a toothy grin, and the headlights representing eyes. Some sports cars, with their sleek profiles have always brought to my mind the image of a predatory shark.

It’ll probably self-destruct

Food for Thought

I don’t think the pay-for-TV people need to work too hard to eliminate the competition of so-called “free” television. Judging from the direction it seems to be heading, it’s going to self-destruct within a few years. And we’ll all be stuck with cable and satellite, and then we will really be sorry.