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Mili Gilbaugh

Cerebral housecleaning

Food for Thought

I’ve never been very good at making, or keeping, New Year’s resolutions, mostly because I already have more things I OUGHT to do than things I WANT to do. Thus, I am taking a different approach this year and getting rid of some of them, rather than adding to the burden.

Don’t hang up!

Food for Thought

Go back to about a month ago. It’s just a few minutes past 5 p.m., and I’ve settled into my recliner with a drink to watch the evening news while my dinner simmers on the stove. The phone shrills, predictably, as it has every evening at about this time for the past month. I know it’s not a personal call. How do I know it’s not a personal call?

And now a word from our sponsor...

Food for Thought

Once upon a time, there were television commercials that were sometimes more entertaining than the programs the product manufacturers sponsored. Remember the Alka-Seltzer bellies? The dancing cigarette pack? The unusual tortures those Timex watches were subjected to? And how about that instant coffee commercial that nearly turned into a soap opera? People used to drop what they were doing and run to the family room just to watch the commercial when it came on, hoping to see another episode of what appeared to be a budding romance.

...and he huffed and he puffed

Food for Thought

The old farmhouse was torn down a couple weeks ago, and I couldn’t help thinking about the story of “The Three Little Pigs” and how easily B. B. Wolf destroyed their little houses of straw and sticks. This particular little house stood for around a century and wasn’t so easily gotten rid of.

Bread and beer, the wonder of yeast

food for thought

Early mankind gathered grains, pounded the kernels to flour with stones, mixed it with water, sometimes adding other ingredients such as fat and salt, and baked it on a rock in the heat of the sun. The Egyptians were the first to bake leavened bread, and that was probably more or less by accident. We speculate that some Egyptian housewife left her bowl of bread dough sitting too long before baking it, and it collected wild yeast from the air, causing it to form bubbles and swell up a bit.

The demise of magic

Food for Thought

For centuries, magicians have guarded their secrets from the rest of us on the principle that, once we know how the trick is done, it loses its entertainment value. They were right, of course, and as we gain an understanding of those little mysteries, we lose our sense of wonder and the pleasure of being mystified by the cleverness of it all.

Rhubarb by any other name …

food for thought

My mother called it “pie plant,” and my dad, by example, taught me that all treats don’t necessarily have to be sweet-tasting. Dad was big on what I came to think of as “grazing” in the garden. He’d pull up a radish, baby carrot, or little green onion, brush off the soil and eat it right there, standing amid the rows of growing vegetables he’d planted weeks earlier.

Silence on the phone

Food for Thought

There is something eerily askew about a phone call to the telephone company that does not require anyone to speak a single word at the actual time. This happen periodically when my land line develops an annoying hum that makes it impossible for me to understand a single word from someone who calls me. I can barely hear, let alone understand what they are saying, but they can apparently hear and understand me perfectly well.

Pointing the finger of blame

Food for Thought

I guess it’s human nature to try to find someone to blame when unpleasant things happen. We don’t want to shoulder the guilt all by ourselves. Maybe we believe it will be easier to put up with trouble, loss, failure, and all those other unpleasant things if we can dump it on somebody else.
I’ve always tried to be philosophical about such things, and truly believe that, often, things just happen and they’re nobody’s fault. There isn’t always an explanation, or a reason for disasters except, perhaps, for just plain bad luck that isn’t anybody’s fault.

Food for Thought

Going bananas

I’ve been helping my friend Lois Muehl put together a book of poetry she’s written over the past few years. This isn’t her first book, or even her first book of poetry, as she’s been writing for most of her ninety-three years, having sold her first effort at age eight. A retired professor of rhetoric at the University of Iowa, she has published scholarly works, magazine articles, light verse, children’s stories, travel pieces– you name it. You’ve probably chuckled over some of her short witticisms that, over the years, appeared in The Readers’ Digest and other publications.

Food for Thought

Bird-watching?

Species: Snow-crested Female. (Common name. Older Iowa Woman.) This individual is usually mated to the Gray-bearded Male (also known as the Grizzled Old Codger), though she often outlives her mate. A rare number can be found who have never chosen a mate but are not significantly different from all others of the species.

Memories of Christmases past

Certain holidays stick in children’s minds, not necessarily for any spectacular perfection, but often for something as simple as an unexpected guest, unique gift, or unusual weather, or any variations from expected events. I must have been in first or second grade when Santa left Pinocchio under the Christmas tree with my well-stuffed Christmas stocking lying across his wooden knees.