Life Lessons

August 13, 2016

I’ve been busy with work, Max, and lots of life lately. Walking this morning, I noted some life lessons which grow out of food and related stuff.

Life Lesson No. 1: Tools Matter. For most of my life I’ve heard about tools. They’re necessary for success, even if they’re not always sufficient. And for an overlapping period of time, roughly, I’ve been making pizza. For many years, the act of making pizza from scratch was enough. “You made that. From scratch?” For a long time how good it was mattered little.

Then, as pizza improved, I had to step it up. Forty years ago my tools were a bowl and a cookie sheet. And now? There’s a scale, measuring to a 5/100 of an ounce. A Kitchenaid Mixer for dough prep. And a Baking Steel for baking.

No pics from back in the day, but here are three recent pies. Tools matter!

Lobster, ham, hearts of palm, green onion

Lobster, ham, hearts of palm, green onion

Salami and ham

Salami and ham

Pepper, onion, roasted mushroom

Pepper, onion, roasted mushroom


Life Lesson No. 2: Want to Lose Weight? Eat Less Food. During the 12 month period between April 2015 and March 2016, I lost 20 pounds. Gone. Poof … and good riddance! What happened?

I cut way, way back on bread products. I gave up lunch, mostly. I still eat cheese—too much—but rarely eat red meat. More fruit. Veggies? About the same, unless potatoes count. In that event, less veggies. My portions are much smaller, too.

I do walk between 5 – 7 miles per day, per my Fitbit, but that walking really began after I lost the weight. It has mattered much in helping me maintain my weight, but exercise played a much smaller role in the weight loss process.

I have wondered for a long time about dietary guidance and habits in America. The big breakfast is a relic of our agrarian economy.* A luncheon meal provides a break from work, but if it’s large enough it lowers productivity for a chunk of the afternoon. (Even my 12:30 snack—I’m not sharing publicly, but it involves less than 200 calories and no alcohol—can leave me logy for a few minutes.) Finally, when I look at ChooseMyPlate I ask: Why does the United States Department of Agriculture establish dietary guidelines? And, How much does Big Ag say about diet in America?

Don’t rely on my advice if you have any health issues. I only know my weight is down, my numbers are good, and I feel healthier and more energetic because I weigh less, and I’m pretty certain I weigh less because I eat less.

Life Lesson No. 3: Enjoy Your Friends and Family at Home. Several months ago, for reasons personal, I cooked dinner for my mom and her Significant Other one Sunday evening at their home. It was not an extraordinary event, but I hadn’t been seeing them often enough. We had a pleasant evening, so we did it again. And again. And now, for 17 consecutive Sundays—but for one when I was out-of-town, and one when we went out—I have cooked dinner every Sunday. It has become a tradition and a highlight of my week. (They enjoy it too!) The dinners are simple: grilled something, with roasted potatoes and some raw veggies, with boiled shrimp to start and an AJ’s No Sugar Added Apple Pie for dessert. Martinis, too, with bleu cheese stuffed olives (hand stuffed) for the ’rents.

And those pizzas? All of them were enjoyed with friends. Restaurants are wonderful, and I don’t want “brickbats” from my restaurateur friends and readers. That said, a home-cooked meal and the ability to relax in ways not readily available dining out counts for much.

One other thing about dining in: Max gets company. My friends bring their four-leggers, Max does his Kramer act for everybody, and all is well in the world! (The Kramer act involves of herky-jerky motion, including a few minutes of figure eights in the back yard, with or without the other dogs. Excited, he gets!)

P.S. I spelled at the Educational Enrichment Foundation’s Fifth Annual Celebrity Spelling Bee on August 5, 2016. Here’s my Second Place trophy and bee hand puppet, as we wait for the Modern Streetcar to get us home.


P.P.S. “Wait. What,” says Max. “You didn’t put in any good pictures.”



*Our annual school calendar comes from the same place, despite the fact that we’ve said goodbye to ag and the industrial economy, and smart people are looking past the Information thing-y to “what comes next?”

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