Ravioli Dreams of Nonna

My dreams of preparing ravioli from scratch are inspired by mother and brief memories–real and imagined–of my maternal grandmother. I grew up calling her grandma, but now I want to remember her as nonna.

Steph’s nonna

Nonna was born in America in 1913 of Italian heritage. Her mother from Abruzzo, her father from Calabria. She lived a life I know little about, yet her shy muted spirit lives in my heart.

My few memories of Nonna have the naive fuzzy edges of a six or seven year old. She had gray hair and carried the weight of her years in a barrel atop two short legs. She lived humbly, in a rundown home patched with corrugated metal and an outhouse, in a depressed community out in the middle of the desert.

Visits with Nonna were short and usually involved my parents bringing her practical items from our middle-class home. (If we got a new kitchen table, then we brought her our old one.) Our trips from the big city took most of the day, with our visit to be just long enough to unload the car and for my folks to address any familial matters. My limited time with Nonna was precious.

Mostly, I remember that Nonna couldn’t speak–Italian or English. Her vocal chords were irreversibly damaged as a young child. Yet the spoken word wasn’t necessary for her to be understood and endeared.

Her smiling eyes would light upon an item and her body would dance. My eyes would follow her movements and my mind would race. Her gestures and facial expressions could tell stories and demonstrate basic needs.

Nonna lifted an item, made some moves, and I understood. She showed me a bottle of milk and raised her hand to her lips. I smiled and nodded. She made me an egg (or was it bologna?) sandwich, and I watched her cook potatoes. Her kitchen was bare, but my belly and heart were full.

Rocco’s Homemade Cheese Ravioli

Unfortunately, I never learned much about her or even how to cook ravioli by watching her. But I liked to imagine the sound of her voice, the stories from her life, and the tastes from her table. Perhaps her voice and her ravioli were as endearing as those of the nonna from my dreams?


© Stephanie Abbott. Sunday, November 24, 2019. The photo of my nonna is from my family tree. The photo of Rocco’s ravioli was taken while I cooked dinner tonight. The memories I shared are inspired from my youth, the ricotta ravioli from Rocco’s NY Pizzeria (“Just like Grandma used to make!”), and the video, “Italian Grandma Makes Homemade Ravioli” published by Buon-A-Petitti at https://youtu.be/n68W0bVolmU.

Let it Go

Does your mind, heart, and soul move in concert to make your world dance on its axis? Or does your mind take over? Grasping to lead you towards an assumed position? Distracting you with each dip, lunge, sashe, twirl, kick, ball, and step? Tilting your axis only to wobble your will? Losing your focus finally to fall down?

Don’t get carried away. Learn to let it go.

Take a deep breath. Pull back, square your shoulders, follow your heart, and let your soul dance.

Or listen to a song that tells you to let it go. My favorite rock and roll song for that is “Jenny Says” by Cowboy Mouth. Check out their video on YouTube at https://youtu.be/NEfpoUuKFOY

These are my silly thoughts late on a Sunday before returning to the frenetic dance of the work week.

My thoughts are inspired by this quote:

“By letting it go it all gets done. The world is won by those who let it go. But when you try and try, the world is beyond the winning.”

-Lao-Tzu, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 48, as translated by Raymond B. Blakney (1955)

About this post: I am trying to create daily this month. Today, I followed a prompt posted by the NaBloPoMo Revival group on Facebook: “Choose a quote, picture, song, etc that you feel epitomizes something important to you. Tell us why.” I created this image using ArtRage a few years ago.

#NaBloPoMo18 #Create30

Still Window Shopping

She strolled the congested streets of her cluttered memory. She recalled plenty of perfect places to shop for the holidays. Her mind hummed with a variety of concerns as she browsed through windows.

“Should I bother to brave the crazy crowds of the big box store to shop for the holidays? Where in my area are there small shops to browse to find a unique item? Will I choose a trite trend or a brilliant gift?”

Suddenly, the house hushed. She looked up from her keyboard to find herself sitting alone. Her family had just departed to get shit done.

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About this post: I am creating something every day this month as part of a personal challenge and the NaBloPoMo Revival group on Facebook. This morning, I wrote “Still Window Shopping” before getting ready for a day of errands on the last Saturday of November. I limited the length of today’s story to 100 words upon inspiration from a piece of flash fiction posted at Failing Haiku. See https://failingathaiku.wordpress.com/2018/11/23/vengeance-ff/.

Years ago, I created this doodle of how I like to remember the small frontage of the vast cavern of a popular bookstore in Berkeley. (It doesn’t look anything like my doodles.) If you can’t pull away from your computer to shop small businesses locally, consider shopping a small business like Lynn Cobb Silver or Moe’s Books online. See my past posts related to this particular image (or Moe’s Books) as follows:

#NaBloPoMo18 #Create30 #SmallBusinessSaturday #lynncobb #moesbooks

————–©2018 Stephanie Abbott. All rights reserved

Surviving Family

Family expands and contracts throughout our lives. Some members saunter in as if they returned from running errands; others choose to leave forever without the courtesy of an explanation. Each member infusing life for us to accept, appreciate, and love. To embrace each other regardless of our current circumstances provides a relative rhythm for surviving family.

Surviving-Family-by-Steph-Abbott

About this post: I created this sloppy sketch of family using my finger on the glass of my mobile device using ArtRage app while sipping coffee this morning. I am creating something everyday this month. I created “Surviving Family” from a prompt I provided to the NaBloPoMo Revival group for November 23: “Tell me what you want but only focus on what you need.”

#NaBloPoMo18 #Create30 #FamilyDay

————–©2018 Stephanie Abbott. All rights reserved.

Living Life Thankfully

Thankfully, my hearth and heart are full. Full of a life dramatically spiced with savory memories and biting privilege, my heart chuffs to awakening and prophetic dreams. Dreams for my family, friends, and those less fortunate to realize, prepare, and savor, are mine to share but ultimately their own to fulfill. Fulfilled for the beat, I am living life with gratitude, thankfully.

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About this post: I am participating in a challenge to create daily during the month of November. This is my post for November 22, which also happens to be celebrated as Thanksgiving Day here in the USA this year. My inspiration today comes from the holiday, my hopes for humanity, and our curious use of language. The doodle is one that I created for a post two years ago. See Heartfelt: https://stephabbottsays.com/2016/11/14/heartfelt.

#NaBloPoMo18 #Create30 #openheartsurgery #survivor #bleedingheart

©2018 Stephanie Abbott. All rights reserved.

Holiday Meal Plan Portal

Planning the holiday meal remains one of my annual aspirational goals. I dream about cooking up a wonderful meal for my ravenous den of giants. I have even sketched out a plan with dishes they would inhale. Then, out of nowhere, some freaky portal from hell opens and sucks all my culinary skills right out the kitchen.

I live in fear each year. This year, I have secured a reservation at a local restaurant. My minivan might be our bolthole. #fingerscrossed

————–©2018 Stephanie Abbott. All rights reserved.

About this post: Several years ago I planned our meal, as the photo above will tell (from 2010). #NaBloPoMo18 #Create30 I am participating in a challenge to create daily during the month of November. This is my post for November 19. I was inspired by the writing prompt: “It’s the Monday before Thanksgiving! Share a planning tip or two for the upcoming holidays – is there a particular trick or strategy you use that helps minimize stress and keep you on track?” courtesy of Kathleen in the NaBloPoMo Revival group on Facebook. Check out her more practical post on the topic via this portal: https://www.kathleenhowell.com/nablopomo/holiday-planning/.

What am I called?

Were you teased and called names during your childhood? My childhood was rife with bullies who called me by many names, but rarely by my formal one.

Many names I have heard could have been problematic. But here’s the thing…

People’s problems with me are just that–people’s problems.

I have come to realize that names are simply handles, something for people to hold briefly then let go without much ado.

What am I called? It depends on who you are. Below is a list of names I’ve been called (chronologically and not exclusively):

  • Stephanie
  • Steph
  • Friend
  • Communicator
  • Director
  • Designer
  • Darkhorse
  • Mother
  • Snapperhead
  • Witch
  • Shikseh
  • Lover
  • Street-smart
  • Spirited
  • Hippy
  • Wallflower
  • Lost
  • Denier
  • Jock
  • Enabler
  • Greaser
  • Smartass
  • Wannabe
  • Tweety
  • Bird
  • Sprite
  • Touched
  • Stephleupagus
  • Steffie
  • Steph
  • Stephanie
  • Sister
  • Daughter

Remember the adage: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never harm me.”

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————–©2018 Stephanie Abbott. All rights reserved.

About this post: I am participating in a challenge to create daily during the month of November. While I have missed a day or two, this is my post for November 17. I was inspired by the writing prompt: “What are you called?” courtesy of Angela in the NaBloPoMo Revival group on Facebook. I doodled the image for a previous post, and felt it would complement this one too. See “Heart on my Sleeve” at https://stephabbottsays.com/2011/11/10/heart-on-my-sleeve/

Season’s Greetings, Harold

This is doodle of Harold. He was a marionette. I built him with the ever expanding imagination of a five year old. Though I may have been six at the time (Thanksgiving, 1972-ish). Regardless of my age, I found Harold to be the perfect gift for my mom that Christmas. We didn’t have much, so learned to create my own presents.

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“Season’s greetings, Harold” by Steph Abbott.

Harold was fashioned out of left over bits of purple, brown and yellow felt, pipe cleaners, some glue, a few pieces crazy amount of masking tape, styrofoam balls, bright red carnival feathers, and googly eyes. He looked great, but he still needed to walk. I strung him together with light blue yarn from my mom’s crochet basket and fastened the whole kit and caboodle to a set of cheap chopsticks. (My creation was inspired by my favorite book, Harold and the Purple crayon, a rare evening of take out dinner, and a recent showing of the timeless movie, The Sound of Music.)

Harold was one of my favorite things that year. He brought me joy, and I believed my mom would delight from my unique creation. Seriously, who want to take a break from a long day to break out in joyful song and dance about the house with a brightly colored bird and their child?

————–©2018 Stephanie Abbott. All rights reserved.

About this post: I created this sloppy sketch of Harold using my finger on the glass of my mobile phone while half asleep last night. So, I truly appreciate your creative imagination. I was inspired to doodle and write from this prompt: “What was the ONE holiday gift that shaped your life or at least a few years to follow. The memory of a fantastic one and the story it spun.” #NaBloPoMo #Create30

Note to My Younger Self

Dear Younger Steph:

I have one piece of advice:

  1. Write more, read everything, sing often, listen again, and love anyways.

Sure, that might seem like more than one thing, but it isn’t. It’s just one life.

Sincerely,

Older Steph

P.S. It’s not too late.

—-©2018 Stephanie Abbott. All rights reserved.

About this post: I wrote his note to self today. The photo of me (and my naive utopian poem, “Hug O’War”) is from my early teens.

Morning Fowl

After last night’s hen party, I felt a bit peckish. I scrambled for something to eat, and found a single egg laying in the carton. Before the rancid yolk hit the sizzling surface, I cringed from the foul smell. Turns out, my simple task wasn’t going to be over easy.

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About this post: I am creating something everyday this month. For Day 9, I fear I may have ran a foul of the writing prompt: “What is your favorite weekend breakfast and why? Tell us a bit about the memories you have associate with it. And maybe share a recipe if you have one?” courtesy of Lis of the NaBloPoMo Revival group.

I confess this was not my favorite breakfast. But I just spent the day trading bad puns with good friends, poaching their ideas. Now, I fear I will have to eat crow.

©2018 Stephanie Abbott. All rights reserved.