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Milli Gilbaugh

The winter hump

Food For Thought

Right around Christmas time, when days are beginning to get longer and the advent of spring is within sight, my spirits, while they don’t exactly soar, do show a few weak flutters of future flight and I begin to believe I may actually live to see the buds and birds of March and April. I don’t know why it is so, but as I get older, winters are longer and harsher than they once were.

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Say cheese, please

Food For Thought

I never knew my paternal grandfather. He died young, of tuberculosis, before my parents married. He was a photographer by profession, in the small town of Mellen, Wisconsin, and he and my grandmother operated a grocery store there. Above the store was office space they rented to a dentist and, I presume, my grandfather’s photography studio. He had immigrated from Norway as a young man and built violins as a sideline and hobby.

Panthers and other cool cats

I received a number of Christmas cards from my high school classmates and was reminded the mascot for our athletic teams was a panther. For a long time, I was unaware a panther was really just a black leopard, not a separate species of cat. I’ve been told you can actually see the spots, black on black, on a leopard pelt, but as I’ve never had the opportunity to examine one in person, you may want to check that out for yourself. I assume the spots show up because of a variation in the texture of the hair, or perhaps the coloration of the skin beneath it.

The package looks the same, but...

Way in the back of the bathroom cupboard, I found a roll of toilet paper that had been there for probably as long as 12 or 15 years. I set it on the counter next to one, of the same brand, I had just brought home from the store. What a contrast! Both claimed to be double rolls. One was, not only fatter than the other, but wider, and the newer one had a larger cardboard tube in the center.

A special Christmas gift

Food For Thought

For years, I tried to convince my family and friends I was done with the commercial rat-race that had taken over the Christmas season. Everything from Christmas cards and tree decorations, through the piles of purchased and gaily wrapped gifts, right down to the peanuts and oranges that went into the toes of the stockings was due for a drastic makeover. For too many years, I tried really hard to make sure those presents met my expectations and made at least some of the wishes come true.

Oxymoron gone wrong

Food For Thought

I don’t quite understand the logic that causes people to “do their part” for conservation by using recycled paper in their correspondence, and then wasting paper to advertise that fact. A recent letter I received pointed this out in a ridiculous and bewildering manner. It reminds me of the charities that waste the money I send them by spending some of it on letters begging me to send more. If I’d been able to send more and had chosen to, I’d have done it in the first place, don’t you think?

Nature’s way

It’s been a few weeks since I witnessed the episode I’m about to describe, but I’ve been more or less haunted by it ever since. The window over my desk, where I spend a lot of time writing and daydreaming, looks out at a row of walnut trees along our lane. There are two constants in the scene, for the most part. One is there are birds visiting the lane to peck at the gravel for the grit that is necessary for their gizzards to function.

Don’t blame it on Stephen King

Food For Thought

Clowns have always been frightening to little kids. The recent epidemic of scary clowns doesn’t surprise me, for I remember the clowns of my childhood as alarming. To my young eyes, they were noisy, unpredictable, invasive and extremely odd in appearance. We went to the circus at least once every year, sometimes twice if more than one troop of performers came to town during a summer.

Do-not-call

Food For Thought

Now that the election is over with, we can relax a little every time the telephone rings and hope the call is from someone we actually know and wish to talk to. Enough with the surveys and polls and political pitches. Nearly every one of those calls started out with a recorded message, and after a lifetime of feeling guilty about being rude, I’ve been able to hang up on them without apology. I guess I got the most satisfaction from hanging up, several times, on Donald Trump.

Why are floods getting worse?

Food For Thought

It appears that flooding is getting worse in spite of our best efforts to prevent or control it. While we make remarkable progress in other fields, it seems we are losing ground when it comes to dealing with our swollen streams and rivers. And “losing ground” is an apt expression when we see our precious black Iowa farmland running away down our rivers at such an alarming rate. This is closely related to the problem of a decline in the quality of our drinking water.

Junior high

Food For Thought

As I look back, I find it odd our summers on the acreage were so isolated compared to life in our former neighborhood. Even though there were classmates within shouting distance, we seemed to cut off contact once school was out for the year. Summer vacation put us in a different world we seemed to accept as normal, even though nobody indicated in any way the rules had changed.

Life on the acreage

Food For Thought

Although we lived in town with neighbors all around, life on Washington Street was significantly different from the way it had been on First Street where I’d had many neighborhood playmates. There had been, besides Norma Jo and Charles, the Craig twins, Bobby and Beverly; Jackie Slatterback; Dwight and Dwayne Stone; Bert Reynolds; Gladys Fee and Les Stevens.