Friday, March 18, 2011

Savor The Moments

The aftermath of the earthquake in Japan seems to be an undulating, relentless horror....the news seems to worsen with every viewing. The survivors that I've watched seem shockingly resilient, considering that so many of them have lost everything and the outlook at the moment ranges from bleak to terrifying. They go on, though......they move forward, as we must, even in the most horrifying of scenarios.

Watching tragedies unfold like this tsunami nightmare remind me once again about how fortunate I am for this life I have and how grateful I am for the folks in it. Why, though, do I so often require tragedy of some sort to wake my sorry ass up and remind me to stop and smell the damn roses? Last Saturday night, we attended a family gathering that was another reminder to savor those special moments.

Keith's cousin Rhonda and her husband Brett hosted a party for their daughter Morgan, who had returned home from boot camp and would soon be departing for Turkey, where she'll be stationed. The party was a delightfully typical gathering for this branch of the calls and the others rally 'round, bearing food, gifts and abundant good cheer. Their kitchen was, as it so often is, the hot spot. Everyone gathered around the island; sampling some of the delicious appetizers that various family folk brought. Anne caught my attention with a simple and terrific snack: tater tots wrapped in bacon with jalapenos and cheddar.....who knew? Delicious dips ranged from assorted cheese dips to Rhonda's really awesome Reuben Dip to Dave and Kim's Roasted Red Pepper Hummus (my favorite). I made hummus as well.....a spicy black bean hummus from Guy Fieri's cookbook that turned out quite well(CC#33, recipe at end of post).

I've written about these family get-togethers countless times before and they never fail to fascinate me. Keith stopped me at one point in the evening and said, "look at everything that's going on." Indeed. Morgan was hanging with her best friends and having a great time. The kids were madly running about; inside and out. Baby Lindsay was sitting with her Dad; being her adorable self. Two tiny dachshunds skittered around here and there. K and I also met two of the funniest dames I've met in some time....Michelle and Sarah, both of them hilarious and with greatly infectious laughs.

How many moments can a family savor from one evening? Plenty. Morgan's cousin Aly told us that she's pregnant and this will be she and husband Tim's first child. Morgan's sister Shelby and their live-in exchange student Nonna modeled their prom dresses for everyone. A fully decorated Christmas tree sat in an adjoining room, signifying Morgan's belated holiday celebration. Easter was also making an appearance in various bunny-related decorations around the house. Morgan asked for a Mardi Gras theme for the party itself; so colorful beads were worn and an excellent homemade king cake was served. Mardi Gras of course, was officially over and this being a very Catholic family, the subject of Lent was not far behind. Leave it to young Caitlyn to steal the spotlight once again: when her parents asked her what she would be giving up for Lent, she replied that she would be giving up the word "is".

The setting for all of this frivolity was the Robert's truly beautiful newly-built home. One of the earliest posts that I'd written in this blog was the first to feature one of these family frolics....a camping trip. In that post, I wrote of the Roberts losing everything, including family pets, in a devastating house fire. They were still recovering from their tragic loss at that time. I would later write about a moving party, one of several times this family would gather and surround the Roberts with unwavering support. Now, once again, everyone was together in celebration for Morgan at the Robert's new home; a house that family even helped build. One piece of decor struck me like no other, though........on the dining room wall hung a framed newspaper clipping of the Roberts' original home in flames. It's a little disconcerting to see; at first. Rhonda and I chatted about it later and she helped me put it in perspective: that photograph reminds them of how quickly it can all be taken away, of what they've recovered from and how far they've come and to always count their blessings. Looking from that clipping to this kitchen filled with people and laughter certainly makes one appreciate all of these moments to savor.

The tragedy in Japan, of course, is on a far greater, almost unimaginable scale. This humanitarian crisis needs everyone's help. Please visit to donate or learn how to help the people of Japan.

Black Bean Hummus (courtesy of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives cookbook)

*also courtesy of Penguin Drive-In of Charlotte, NC


1 (15.5 ounce) can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15.5 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
2/3 cup blended oil (equal parts olive and canola oil)
1/3 cup water
1 tablespoon tahini
2 small garlic cloves, chopped
4 teaspoons chili powder
Juice of 1 1/2 limes, or to taste
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
pinch of ground coriander
pinch of ground cinnamon
pinch of ground cumin


1. Mix all the ingredients for the hummus in a bowl. Puree the hummus mixture, in batches if needed, in a food processor until very smooth. Taste and season with salt. Transfer the hummus to a serving bowl. Serve with pita chips.


Anonymous said...

Greg - a beautiful reminder to be thankful for what and who we have in our lives. Something we all need to be reminded about. - court

Lisa Mandina said...

Those tater tots sound delish! And hey, why no pictures of the dachshunds? My favorite type of dog!

Brett Roberts said...

Greg-Once again you've written a beautiful piece. You have captured the moment and helped me to keep all this in perspective and revel in its true beauty. Thank you.

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