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Milli Gilbaugh

There is no money in poetry...

Food For Thought

So wrote poet Robert Graves, but then he went on to say there is no poetry in money, either. Only the most naive, inexperienced poet expects to make his fortune through his published verses. About all that can be hoped for is a little prize money gleaned through contests, or perhaps a small check from Reader’s Digest for a particularly clever snippet of rhyming wit. Other than that, most poetry is published at the poet’s own expense and purchased mainly by the poet’s friends and relatives.

Don’t tell my mother

Food For Thought

Even though I’ve celebrated my 83rd birthday and am in no danger of having my mother discover I’ve broken one or more of her rules, I find I still feel pangs of guilt when I do. When we were kids, my big sister could blackmail me into almost anything by threatening to tell Mother I may have committed one or more misdemeanors. Whether I had or not, just the threat that Mother might be inclined to suspect or to investigate any such accusations was enough to make me knuckle under to my sister’s pressure.

Just how traditional are you?

Food For Thought

I can’t help laughing when I see and hear restaurants and grocery stores promoting their “traditional” Thanksgiving dinners and the ingredients thereof. Unless you were around, helping out in the kitchen before the 1950s, you might have the impression the ready-to-cook, pre-basted, Butterball frozen turkey has been around long enough to be called “traditional.” Let me tell you some of the truths about Thanksgiving turkeys before that time.

The yearly rush-hour

Food For Thought

Along about the end of October, Midwesterners seem to suddenly realize winter is on its way and there are a lot of things we intended to do during the past summer and fall that have yet to be accomplished. Between mulching the rose bushes and storing away the lawn furniture, we find ourselves scrambling to get to that family reunion put off almost too late again this year. And, didn’t we promise that favorite aunt we wouldn’t miss her 80th birthday party this month, but the visit is going to have to be shortened to two days, rather than the week she invited us for.

Disappearing women

Food For Thought

Several times a year, I drive to my hometown for lunch with some classmates who still live there, or who live close enough to make the trip occasionally. Sometimes, we are lucky to coincide with classmates who are vacationing and want to include a brief reunion as part of their trip. This monthly opportunity, along with our annual newsletter, keeps us in touch with each other, a habit that has become increasingly important to most of us over the years.

Halloween party

Food For Thought

Agatha Christie wrote a murder mystery titled “Halloween Party” in which a young girl is drowned in a tub of water used for the game of bobbing for apples. The challenge is to catch an apple floating in water without using your hands. I found it nearly impossible to sink my teeth into a floating apple, as it requires a bit of pressure to bite into the apple’s skin, and the apple tends to skitter away unless you can manage to corral it against the side of the tub. The game tends to be a rather soggy affair for all participants and is death on crepe paper costumes and face-painting.

Why Halloween?

Food For Thought

Throughout most of the month of October, we see pumpkins on porches, witches on broomsticks and ghosts in the shrubbery. We dress in frightening costumes, hide our faces with masks, and beg for treats from neighbors and total strangers. Why do we do it?

Readin’, writin’ and Sesame Street

Food For Thought

Before I get into this subject any further, I want to say I’m not denying Sesame Street is a wonderful program. It helps kids learn, not just one, two, three and A, B, C, but a lot of other important stuff, as well; things like tolerance, diversity, acceptance, cooperation, patriotism, honesty, and a few dozen other valuable things. I’m simply wondering if there shouldn’t also be room for silliness, fantasy and just plain fun.

News deja vu

Food For Thought

With all the things going on in this world of ours, I can’t believe that our news-gatherers find it necessary to report the same events several times in a day– sometimes even several times during one half-hour newscast. I turn on the evening news which reports a half-hour of local, national and world news, followed by a half-hour of national and world news from one of the big networks, and then another half-hour from the local station. During those 90 minutes, I am told about the “biggest” stories a minimum of three times, but often, eight or nine times.

A sense of secret

Children seem to have an inborn sense of secretiveness that leads to all sorts of misunderstandings and misbegotten adventures. I’m not sure where it comes from, perhaps it is the “self” attempting to define itself, to draw the lines between itself and the rest of the world. There are simply things children keep to themselves and protect jealously from their parents, siblings and best friends. It’s that little knob of reality known as “me” as opposed to everything and everybody else that is “not me.”

The girls of September

Food For Thought

I’ve always found it odd my three closest friends when I was growing up had birthdays within a few days of each other. Not only that, but two of them shared the same birthday, and the other had her birthday on the same day as my mother’s. This had to be more than mere coincidence and made me half believe in astrology which, logic tells me, is unreliable at best and superstitious nonsense at worst. I am ambivalent, after 80-some years, and may never be sure just what I believe about it.

Thinking literally

While I was writing last week’s column about my early days in school, I remembered a little neighbor boy we had while we lived in Iowa City. The youngest of three children, he missed his older siblings when school started each September. As happens with younger children, he had heard a lot about that somewhat mysterious and definitely wondrous place called school, and couldn’t wait for his turn. He had been told repeatedly that he could go to school when he was 5.