Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Cause for Celebration

This photo was taken 33 years ago. My father was serving at Fort Leavenworth, KS (the military post not the penitentiary, just to clarify) and it was the day he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in the US Army. I don't remember much about the day but I remember being horribly shy and not wanting to pose for this picture.

This photo was taken today. My brother retired from the US Army as a Lieutenant Colonel. It's frankly hard to believe so much time has elapsed; that we're all grown up. Because it does seem like just yesterday my brother and I celebrated the bicentennial in Fort Leavenworth by walking around the neighborhood banging pots and pans (and I remember being a little scared of the fireworks); or my brother matriculated at West Point as a Plebe cadet, or we celebrated my father's own retirement after 30 years in the Army. I mean, where do the years go?

Even though it seems like time does slip through our fingers, the many rich moments remain tattooed on our souls in a way that shape us into the people we are today. I'm so proud of my brother and his selfless and courageous service for the past two decades. The Nation has much to thank him for. But above all, as the head of the ROTC program at University of Tampa, I think it's a fitting swan song that Rob is shaping the future leaders and protectors of our country. I'm so proud of him, respect him immensely and feel blessed to call him my brother but more so my friend. People love Rob and were happy to come together today to help send him on his way in this next chapter. Because ever so often you meet people who make a real impact in your life. That's Rob. He doesn't try to be that way. He just is.

So today was a day of celebration. It was rather infectious actually. We all had a bit of a hop in our step, a brighter smile on our faces, were kinder to strangers, and more patient with loved ones. It was also a little bit surreal but isn't life like that to some degree? It keeps you on your toes and also reminds you of how important it is to honor and respect and remember and celebrate.

In that vein, I wanted to remind you that tomorrow is Cinco de Mayo, a day set aside to celebrate Mexico's heritage and history. I mean, who doesn't love a good margarita?! While this south of the border holiday may not be universally recognized, the folks south of the Mason-Dixon line have never been one to shy away from a reason to party. So even if you're not Mexican, or Southern, or your awesome brother didn't just retire after 20 years of kicking ass in the Army, you should celebrate. Because life is good. Trust me. Look closer if you have to, but it's there . . . beautifully there.

Whether it's the unconditional lick of love from a fuzzy creature; or the beautiful draping of Spanish moss on a warm Southern night; or finding yourself surrounded by people you love even though they drive you a little crazy; or the fact that you can run to 7-11 at 2 am and pay for vitamin-infused bottled water. . . . I mean, really, life is quite grand. Embarrassingly grand. Quietly grand. Remarkably grand.

So celebrate. Make this delicious guacamole. Make these margaritas. Because both are ridiculously good . . . and ridiculously easy, yet make things feel a bit special. But be prepared to have people high-fiving you like a Navy SEAL who just took out OBL.


Guacamole with Roasted Chile, Cumin and Feta

Note: For whatever reason, the roasted poblano transforms the typical jalapeƱo-infused guacamole.

1 poblano chile
1 medium lime
3 firm-ripe avocados, pitted and peeled
3 medium scallions, white and light-green parts only, chopped
5 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 tsp ground cumin, preferably freshly ground
Kosher salt
1/2 cup medium-diced fresh tomato
2 radishes, slivered
1 Tbsp crumbled feta cheese

On a gas stove, turn a burner to high and set the chile directly over the flame, turning it with tong, until completely charred, 5-8 minutes. Put the chile in a bowl, cover, and set aside to steam and loosen the skin. When cook enough to handle, peel, seed and finely chop.
Finely grate the zest from the lie and then squeeze the juice. Put the avocado in a bowl and mash with a potato masher or back of a fork. Stir in the lime zest and 2 Tbsp of the lime juice along with the scallions, cilantro, cumin, and 1/2 tsp salt. Season to taste with salt and lime juice. and then fold in the chile and tomato.
Heap the guacamole into a bowl and garnish it with the radish and feat. Serve with tortilla chips.


  1. Once again another delicious sounding recipe that I look forward to tasting.
    And Congratulations & Thank you to your brother from our family.

  2. Love the pictures! What a special day!