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.

Stella’s Visitor – Act 5

meteorite-landed-5-by-steph-abbott

“Walk with me, Stella,” purred the blue cat. “Let me share something with you.”

Still grappling with the reality of a world with talking animals and no sun, Stella simply nodded and kept pace with her new azure companion as it shared with her a cautionary tale.

Stella listened for hours and learned of the continuing changes to this world’s landscape and the curious population.

“Our forbears suffered for thousands of years as their lives were drenched in greed, hate, and despair. Eventually, a mighty civil war fractured our democratic republic,” the cat told Stella as they walked.

Stunned yet curious, Stella wondered aloud, “How did this happen?”

The cat flicked its bushy blue tail and continued, “Humans grew increasingly hostile to outsiders. They began to fear and distrust their neighbors and build barriers between regions. Their paranoia increased with their isolation as did the wars. Clans continued to live separately, limiting their bloodline, denying progress made by others, and eventually their societies collapsed under the weight of such historical ignorance.”

Stella stopped to consider the folly of the humans and the azure feline with glowing opals looking up at her. She quietly asked, “So, what happened to the humans?”

“During those dark ages, as borders were constantly being redrawn with blood and as their youth continued to lose their lives, humans eventually lost hold of their dominance within the animal kingdom. And that is also when our world was visited by those from the first dominion.”

Stella halted and looked up at the chartreuse sky. “You mean there is life out there?”

“Of course. There has always been. But more to the point, they have returned.”

Stella stopped and asked, “How do you know?”

“Simple,” the cat purred. “They have sent a new ambassador.”

“Really? Where? When?’

The cat smiled and looked towards Stella’s door floating along the glistening horizon. “Yes. Here. Now. She landed in your dining room just moments ago.”

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Today’s post is the fifth and final act in this particular story, “Stella’s Visitor.”

I composed this post last night while watching TV in bed before I created the image using the ArtRage app on my tablet.

Let’s go, #NaBloPoMo.

Stella’s Visitor – Act 4

meteorite-landed-4-by-steph-abbott

Stella had fallen asleep. She was laying on the floor in the moonlight. She didn’t realize it, but she was also curled next to the meteorite that had mysteriously broke through her dining room window earlier in the day.

Breathing softly, Stella dreamed of vast flowing landscape. She saw hills of green sand dotted with strands of purple reeds. Looking up, she found no sun but watched as a gaggle of speckled orange geese glide past.

She listened as the geese discussed the timing for their next stop. The geese were planning to stop in northern Nevada. She understood the geese. They were going to Reno.

Stella looked down to find a blue cat staring up at her. The cat asked her, “Where are you?”

“I don’t know,” replied Stella.

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Today’s post is the fourth part from the continuing saga about “Stella’s Visitor.”

I composed this post last night while watching TV in bed before I created the image using the ArtRage app on my tablet.

Let’s go, #NaBloPoMo!

Stella’s Visitor – Act 2

meteorite-landed-2-by-steph-abbott

Stella sat enthralled. The flickers from the random ball of fire she found sitting on her dining room floor had finally died out. She thought it might be a good idea to call the fire department or NASA. Yet, Stella simply couldn’t bring herself to move.

She sat for hours listening to the sounds emanating from the alien rock. The pop, sizzle, pop, rat-a-tat she had heard originally upon entering the house had long since dissipated. Now, an ethereal and sonorous melody played with her imagination. Enthralled with the sounds, she lost track of time.  

Hours later she decided to call her elderly mother.

“Hi, mom. I need you to listen to this . . .” >>

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Today’s post is the second chapter of the continuing saga about “Stella’s Visitor.”

I composed this post last night while watching TV in bed. I created the image using the ArtRage app on my tablet. Then then I recorded the sound effects using an app on my Android phone. I am easily entertained.

A Problem of Overthinking

What’s my problem? I think too much. I may not know much, but I sure do overthink about what little I do know. So much so that I have developed a compulsive behavior. It’s not smoking, drinking, or drugging. Nor is it bad grammar, yet now that might become a possibility. It is overthinking.

short-attention-span-brain-by-steph-abbott

When does it happen? When I am faced with a decision or a deadline, my mind starts cataloging all the data necessary (and unnecessary) for my consideration. I get sucked into exploring too many options. For example, an overflow of data happens regularly during my day job where I am tasked with the layout and design of a professional periodical publication. How will I manage to fit 52 pages of content into 48? Which content can be bumped to the next issue? What’s the shelf life of the news item? I know the content will be stale, yet will there be relevant, historical value upon publication? Will the author ever forgive me if their content is edited for length or even dumped? Not to mention the constant e-mails, phone, calls, and other tasks that battle for my attention throughout the day.

How do I know it’s a problem? My mind races around non-essential tasks. When I’m in the drive-thru at Starbucks. Should I order the iced passion tea (no sweetener) or the flat white? Will the lack of caffeine today really provide me with the energy to focus and get the 48 pages layout finished by the deadline?

Why is it a problem? My thoughts begin to circle into a compulsive need to explain actions. Actions by me or others. My god, I feel I need to provide an explanation for anything, everything, and nothing. I turn molehills into mountains. Left unchecked, my simple concerns might evolve into unreconciled anxieties. Each decision-making paradigm turns into a decision-making paradigm.

Why should I care? Because I have a soul. I am (too?) empathetic.

How do I stop from overthinking? I breathe. I watch (too much) TV. I read. I write. I doodle. I walk. I think.

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I drafted today’s post after considering the writing prompt, Hyperbole, by the folks over at Daily Post. You might recognize the  image of the brain shown above. It’s from a previous post, My Twelve Minute  Brain.

Beyond Belief

Show me. You could tell me, but I need proof. Seriously. Put it right in front of my face. I believe you. But I want to see it. Now. Not tomorrow. Here and now. Proof. Thanks.


Let’s go, #NaBloPoMo.

P.S. The brief post above was typed in 60 seconds using oneword, a website designed to provide the user with a timed writing prompt. While on that site, simply click “go” and one word appears with a text box. My word was “proof”. What was yours?

P.S.S. You may recognize the photo of Spider Woman and Lakshmi. I found them hanging out and captured the moment for a past blog post. See at https://stephabbottsays.com/2011/03/28/spring-cleaning-tends-to-evoke-my-imagination/.

Campaign Contrived, Segment of Voters See Red

solareclipsebystephabbott
A segment of voters are seeing red after realizing a contrived campaign may have been made by a major political candidate.

The alleged controversy seems to involve the natural effects of a solar eclipse. The eclipse has passed, yet the candidate continues to distract voters. See below for a summary of the exchange between the candidate and the voters.

“You won’t believe this!” exclaimed the candidate. “The sun is gone!”

Rolling their eyes, the voters commented, “What’s the big deal? The moon is simply…”

“Wrong! And I don’t care about the moon’s position, ” snapped the candidate.

Taking umbrage, the voters retort, “Well, have you considered…”

“I don’t have time. You need to come with me. We are all going to die.”

Appalled, the voters parlayed, “Perhaps we can work together to find a remedy…”

“No!” interrupted the candidate. “I know all about this,” the candidate insisted. “I think I can find the sun. I can use my flashlight. Believe me, I’ve got the best flashlight.”

“Really?” the voters replied, “What kind of flashlight?”

A segment of the voters have reported to be seeing red after staring into the flashlight’s strong beam before realizing they have only been distracted by the candidate.

With the election just days away and many voters having yet to respond, the affect on the campaign remains unclear.

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Wednesday, November 2, 2016. This story is a work of fiction, an exercise of artistic expression, and meant for entertainment purposes only. The next solar eclipse isn’t expected until February 26, 2017. I doodled the image using ArtRage.  I wrote this story with my tongue in cheek. Silly? Yes. Offended? Laugh it off.

Dangerous Modifier

danglingmodifyerbystephabbott

One day in November, she picked up where she left off. Offline for too long, she steps on board for #NaBloPoMo again. A gain for the month of November, she plans to share short stories. Stories of love, life, and liberty.

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Tuesday, November 1, 2016. I wrote my first lines for the first day of National Blog Posting Month (#NaBloPoMo) and created this image using Art Rage.

Engaging Stories and Authors to Binge On

If you have seen my work, then you know that I am easily entertained. I create doodles, write short stories, or share personal thoughts via haiku. I tend to indulge in popular literature and culture be it written, spoken, filmed, or painted.

When I read, I love the thrilling stories of political intrigue by Vince Flynn or dramas of crime and legal theory by John Lescroart. But I also love reading tragedies in verse by Euripides and Shakespeare.

Whoever the author, I prefer a good yarn that evokes my imagination. Sure it can be filled with eccentric characters and plot twists. But it also has to be passionate and thought provoking

If I find myself truly engaged, then I tend to binge. I might try to consume all of their works. (I can honestly recommend the curated tome, “The Complete Works of Oscar Wilde: Stories, Plays, Poems & Essays.”)

Typically, my binging does not start with their bestseller but with their first story. I like to travel with the author and his characters. And it may take me a while before I move on to another storyteller. (I felt that a season had passed while following Jack Reacher travel with a moral dignity on his shoulder.)

Whatever the story, and outside of the authors listed above, I prefer a story not to be too long with every bit elucidated. I do not want to hear the author justify his voice.  I prefer a storyteller to evoke imagery and engage the consumer as a participant.

One of my favorite storytellers is the poet Robert Frost. He did not write with any continuity of characters, nor did he seem to build or address a community. But I still love to jump into his well of work. Here are just a few of his stories to consider:

  • A popular piece about an alternative reality in “The a Road Not Taken
  • A nod at the end through “Fire and Ice
  • A story of an armchair traveler listening to “The Sound of Trees
  • A tale of the growth of communications via the telegraph in “The Line-Gang
  • Or (one of my favorites) the struggle with morality and reason in the “Quandary

Do you have a favorite storyteller? If so, then who is it?

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©2014 Stephanie Abbott. All rights reserved.
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Sunday, November 23, 2014. My post today was inspired by the prompt “Spinning Yarns” from the folks at Daily Prompt.