strawberry-closeupYesterday, I turned 39. It wasn’t a birthday for the record books, I’ll tell you that for free, but it did prompt some useful reflection. And so I present: Things I’ve Learned in 39 Years:

  • An air popcorn maker really does make the best popcorn. Plus the butter tray on top. Come on.
  • Fish emulsion is the very best fertilizer for my garden, introduced to me by my friend Rick. Warning: it smells and looks exactly like it sounds. Mix it with water in an old water jug so it doesn’t stink up your bucket and doesn’t splash on your leg when you pour it. You don’t want that stuff on you.
  • Watching a great movie, one that lets you re-evaluate, immerses you in art and makes you feel like maybe even you can produce some, is always a worthy way to spend your time. Best ones I’ve seen lately: “The Big Short,” “The Revenant,” “The Hateful Eight,” “Carol.”
  • A lilac bush will make you happy every spring and remind you what the end of the school year smells like.
  • Always freeze more strawberries than you think you should. And eat as many as you can with your stepdaughter when they’re in season.

  • My life is better for reading a short story in “The New Yorker” every week. Period.
  • Reading “The Hunger Games” on the beach was one of the most delicious treats I’ve ever given myself. I’m never going to read literature on the sand so I shouldn’t even pack it.
  • I should always read more than I do.
  • Always be thankful for your bosses, whether they’re nice or not. The mean ones teach you to be thick-skinned. The good ones will push you to be better.
  • Drinking more water really does make me feel better.
  • Not being out of breath even after I carry in a boatload of groceries makes working out all the time worth it. Even though my thighs haven’t gotten any smaller.
  • When shopping online, I should always just buy two sizes of everything and plan to return whatever doesn’t fit.
  • Your girlfriends are your touchstones who make you see yourself more clearly. Always make the time for them. Always.
  • When you say you’re going to be somewhere, be there. Don’t flake out.
  • There is nothing more important in life than good health.
  • Feeling good in a bathing suit is worth the dieting it takes to get there.
  • But when you’re on vacation, go nuts. And have all the butter.
  • The best bread I’ve ever baked came from the cookbook “The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.” And it really did only take five minutes
  • Pinterest recipes are mostly crap. Don’t be romanced by the pictures.
  • Always take time to go back to your roots. Because there is nothing, nothing in the world, like being at home and with your people.
  • Always look for a deal. And bask in the glow when you get one.
  • Always make time for the farmer’s market because it will always make you happy.
  • No matter how annoyed you get at the bank, in traffic or picking up the trash from the can that a dog upended the night before, remind yourself how lucky you are. Perspective is all-powerful. Even if it doesn’t improve your mood, the shame that the reminder evokes is important.
  • An excellent chef’s knife is worth the cost and will please you every day. However, all those years with dull knives are still useful because they remind you how much better your life is now that you have a sharp one.
  • A bouquet of flowers from Kroger lasts forever. Especially the irises.
  • Always push yourself to learn new things. Even if you feel like an idiot in the process.
  • Yes, getting older is a privilege, but turning 39 is a tough pill to swallow. Wine helps


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