Posts Tagged ‘Nonna’

Desultory Blues

Today in my head:

–  I consider bad luck, like passing my freeway exit or traveling an hour and a half for an event only to realize I missed the date by a week, karmic retribution for something I did wrong.  Then I rack my brain for what I did and who I might have hurt.

–  I slept in by 1/2 an hour today because yesterday was long and I was already dreading today’s “boot camp on the home front” run and work-out.

–  Figured I could take my time getting started, as I had the whole day ahead of me.  Made coffee & checked out my favorite web sites.

–  Reluctantly dressed to exercise.  Did yoga, stretched & did push-ups, sit-ups, leg-lifts, etc., indoors, all the while considering not running today.  Debated over & over again between cutting myself some slack & the knowledge that there is no slack in boot camp & I would feel guilty the rest of the day if I cheated.

–  My neighbors were outside talking & I got it in my head that I did not want to go outside & start my run in front of them.  I wished they would hurry up & go in before I lost my nerve.

–  Come on!  Go home (neighbors!) so I can run!  Get in your houses!  I don’t know why I would care – just a silly excuse not to run, I guess.  My neighbors are in their ’70’s & are from Italy.  I listened to them speaking in Italian out there on the sidewalk for nearly an hour while I agonized over my run.  They would think running for exercise is a symbol of a frivolous existence.  If I did ‘real’ work for a living, like till the soil, farm the land, chop wood, make bread from scratch, sew clothes, hand-wash laundry, etc., I wouldn’t have time to exercise nor would I need to.

–  I mill about the house.  I wander into the bathroom.  Now I hear my other neighbor & her 6 year-old daughter in their backyard.  Oh, God, please don’t make me have to start a run in front of them.  She is a successful single mother with a big house & a red BMW in her garage.  She is taller than me & regularly hops onto her bike, fully suited up, like Lance Armstrong, & probably cycles to Ohio & back.  And when she’s not on her bike, she is jogging with her 3-wheeled stroller out in front of her – probably for 6 mile runs on weekdays and 13 miles on Saturdays.  Other times I see her pull out of her garage with her one-man kayak on the roof-rack & she’s off to row the rivers.  Please don’t let me have to leave the house to run a mile and a half in front of her!

–  Finally the neighbors, all of them, disappear & I throw myself out the front door onto the pavement and I cannot look back.  Just do it.  Ha.

–  I meditate, concentrate while I run.  I think of Mycol, I think of strength.  I try to focus my mind on what I will accomplish today.  I am interested in daily progress.  Will I write?  Will I paint?  Will I garden?  Will I do it all?  What are my priorities?  What will satisfy me most of all?

–  Three quarters of the way and I am so over it.  I think I may stop running & start walking.  I envision Jim on his run this morning out at his place.  I envision Mycol running this morning under the watchful eye of his company commander.  I envision my company from 20 years ago, running in formation an all sides of me.  I challenge myself to make it to the stop sign ahead, then I can walk.

–  I run to the stop sign & past it.  I run the entire way & don’t stop until the end, at which point I am proud of myself for pushing &  I cool down with a walk around the block.

–  In the shower I contemplate what zodiac sign has the most competitive nature.  I am a Capricorn.  While I am on the zodiac, I also consider that jealousy is a fatal toxin for a relationship & that Scorpios are such jealous creatures.  (Not you, Mom.)

–  Even though I pushed through a work-out & it is a beautiful day outside, I feel sad & disinterested in any of the day’s possibilities.  Solitude has become depressing whereas I used to relish it.  I miss my son.  Jim calls & I start to cry when he says, “Don’t worry, you’ll hear from him soon.”

–  I decide a power nap could lift my spirits.

–  My bedroom is on the first floor of my house.  It is western-facing, with a window on the west wall.  I love to take a midday nap anywhere from 30 to 70 minutes long, depending on how I feel, and any time between 1 and 4 pm.  So often in the summertime, on a sunny day, I lie down to nap, & before I drift to sleep I am transported to another familiar place.  Something about the quiet against the background sounds of car wheels on pavement, birdsong amongst the trees or transmitting from a telephone wire perch, the occasional door opening or closing & sometimes a lawn mower, takes me to the second story of my grandparents’ house.  Something about the air, soft & comfortable as a linen sheet, & the sunlight diffused to shade, that sets me to recalling moments spent, perhaps napping as a child, in the big, floral bedroom of Nonna & Tata’s house.  I have a clear memory of the view from the bathroom window, a strong recollection of the smell of the bedrooms; the small one, the floral one, & Nonna’s dark and holy bedroom.  I experienced the nostalgia once & considered it coincidence, but now it is nearly regular, all things being equal, & it seems an atmospheric footprint, fossilized in my memory.  I can practically recall every fine detail; one of my favorites being the red-topped water sprinkling bottle on Nonna’s ironing board, forever ready for use, it it’s open position, between the dresser & her bed.  Anyway….

–  I have a new phone, but since I didn’t take the tutorial on how to use it, it rings when I had thought I’d set it to ‘alarm only’ & my nap is interrupted.

–  I think a smart phone would do what I verbally tell it to do.  This phone is not as smart as I want it to be.

–  There is nothing in the mailbox yet.

–  Tomorrow is another day.

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Italian Potato Dumplings

The main event the day before Easter was the gnocchi.  Gnocchi has long been a favorite dish in our family, made ever more desirable by the fact that it takes a day of labor to provide the hungry with about a half an hour of devouring the scrumptious dumplings until they are but a memory one is left longing for until the next time.

(Are you tired of Easter posts already?  Well, life takes precedent over writing a daily journal, uploading photos to share, and organizing said journal and photos into a comprehensive article that can be shared with the interested and dearly loved.  Certainly the dearly loved still anticipate a recap of the holiday, yes?)

Zia got started early at her own place and then UB chauffeured her down to the Estate where she continued to work.

For those who don’t know, gnocchi are Italian potato dumplings.  Here Zia is removing the skins from the boiled potatoes.  It is essential to use a good potato like an Idaho.  Nonna always insisted upon “eee-da-ho patate.”  Speaking of Nonna, all of my life I can remember yearning for her gnocchi, but you know, as with any pasta dish, it is the sauce that makes or breaks it.  Without a good sauce, you cannot clinch the blue ribbon.  Fortunately, Zia mastered the sauce before Nonna died and we are still able to enjoy our traditional Italian dishes just the way she used to make them.  Also, while Zia made the gnocchi we all conversed about Nonna and Tata.  When we are all together and collectively remembering them and talking about them, that is exactly when they are still with us.  And why wouldn’t they be?  In my opinion, that is the meaning of eternal life; i.e., that when you have lived, laughed, and loved well, you will live on as long as the lives you touched are still feeling the effects of your existence.

When Nonna was alive, she taught me to make gnocchi.  Zia taught Rock to make gnocchi.  But if Zia is around and there is gnocchi to be made, you’ll be lucky if she lets you help.  Yim asked her to teach him for my birthday dinner, but she mainly made him watch!  This time, though, she put Luvy to work.

Once the potatoes have cooled and are peeled, they are pushed through a ricer.

On the night that Luvy went into labor with Rockwell, we were all together at their house.  That day, while Luvy and Rock were at work, Zia, Mummy, and I made gnocchi.  We were sure that baby was going to come sometime soon and we were in a celebratory mood.  By the time Luvy got home from work the table was set with heaping bowls of gnocchi ready to be eaten.  But Luvy went straight to her room to lie down.  By the time Rock got home from work and checked on her, she was moaning in pain.  Rock came out of their bedroom and announced that we’d better eat quick.  That little baby smelled our gnocchi and was trying to push his way out.  Of course Zia let Gnocchi Rocky help, as well.

Once the dumplings were made there was time to relax, regroup, and do the dishes.  Rockwell watched a video while the womenfolks set the table.

The day stretched on towards mealtime and we gathered to the feast.

When Zia and I host an Italian Ladies Social Club get-together, we should make gnocchi.  But half of the members are going dairy-free vegan on me.  I may be forced to serve lettuce and wine.

After dinner the menfolk sat around looking at YouTube while the gals colored Easter eggs with Rockwell.

A late evening banana makes for a good night’s sleep for little Rockwell.

And everyone dreamt of the baskets filled with chocolate goodies the Easter bunny would leave that night.

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