Suzanne Bianchi's Journal
Written Oct 30, 2013 2:16am by Jennifer Browning
My mom is still feeling the same as yesterday- still weak and very bothered by nausea and pain. They have increased the pain medication so hopefully that will help with the latter. She wrote some emails in the morning, and finished with Mad Men in the evening. She also read some of The Casual Vacancy today.
Aunt Di arrived! We are very happy to see her and laugh with her.
My parents and Aunt Di reminisced about the trip that they took at Christmas time in 1983 on the West Coast (pre-kids). My parents flew to Seattle first and stayed with dear friends TC and Sandy who had recently moved there. They took a ferry to Victoria. My dad says we should go to Victoria if we ever get a chance; it’s stunning.
After Washington state, my parents flew to LA and stayed with another good high school friend Wetz. They remember putting him on a plane to Chicago to celebrate the holidays. It was 70 degrees in LA. It was minus 20 in Chicago. My parents wondered about Wetz’s mental state, voluntarily choosing a 90 degree temperature change. I guess my mom took note then of how LA's climate could be a nice to reside in.
My parents then drove up the Pacific Coast Highway. They stopped at Hearst Castle, and they also visited Carmel. They made it by Christmas day to pick up Diane from SFO and headed up the 101 to Willits where my Dad’s Aunt Gerry and Uncle Walt. They spent a few days in San Francisco for the American Economics Association meetings. My dad explained that the AEA meetings always used to be held in between Christmas and New Years. That sounds horrible. They said it was fun. With friends Chris and Kay who had also been attending the meetings, they spent two nights in Yosemite. They remember having a wonderful dinner in the magical dining room of the beautiful, imposing Ahwahnee Hotel on December 30th.
On New Year's Eve, everyone had an early flight the next day so they decided that they could celebrate New Years on East Coast time. Always party animals, my parents. Diane! I would have expected more from you!
Except for the Willits part, this Californian itinerary all sounds very familiar. Like, they did this trip years later with three always appreciative kids. We might not have loved all of the car time, but I did love visiting the Hearst Castle. My brothers loved seeing the barking seals. My parents have taken us to some incredible places, and while it might not always have been clear in the moment, now we all appreciate it.
For dinner, we had the second and last tomato jar sauce our Italian relatives’ nonna had prepared for us along with the pasta and parmesan they had brought from Italy. Gianni likes to say that the Bianchis show their love through food. Delicious! We, along with our stomachs, felt very loved.
Jen, James, Josh, Mark, and Suzanne
Written Oct 29, 2013 2:07am by Jennifer Browning
My mom is very weak, is having lots difficulty with nausea, and some pain. So, what’s a mom to do? Mad Men Marathon of course. The nausea does not seem to bother her during episodes- it’s that addicting.
Before diving into Mad Men, my mom saw her oncologist today who is going to try a couple more things for the nausea which really takes away from her quality of life. He is going to add some antacids to the TPN and has prescribed artificial saliva to help with her dry mouth and raw throat. We are hoping it provides some relief to this problem that is admittedly difficult to address.
My mom always feels a bit sorry that we have to spend so much time at the doctor’s waiting with her. The thing is, there is no where we would rather be than with her waiting.
We stopped to look at the view of Santa Monica and ocean from the 6th floor of the oncologist clinic. My mom said, "It's so beautiful." She does love it here. Coming out of the oncologist's office, the Birds of Paradise where in full bloom. My mom smiled, "I remember coming to LA and seeing bouquets of these flowers in my PAA Presidential suite." We'd practically never seen Birds of Paradise before.
I’m glad to get to share this adventure watching Mad Men with my mom. My mom and I have had lots of adventures. I remember going on business trips with her. My brother James always went to California. I refused because of earthquakes, and Josh was too little. Funny because Josh and I were the ones who ended up going to school in California. You just never know in life.
My mom took me to Miami when I was ten. It’s a blur of parrots, a new straw sunhat with a turquoise ribbon, a rental car where suddenly the windows would not roll down and the air conditioning stopped working, and water taxis. But I do very clearly remember that we got to do a pay per view movie in the hotel- a real treat. We selected Ace Venture Pet Detective (set in Miami). It was our first exposure to Jim Carrey. We had never seen anything like him; he seemed so out there and crazy. He seems so tame by today’s standards. We thought he was hysterical.
Today, in Mad Men, I loved watching this great scene between Peggy and Don in the 5th season. Perhaps I am projecting, but I think my mom was rooting Peggy too- the young, talented caring woman with a promising career ahead of her. The characters all are imperfect, but you come to really like some of the women.
My dad cooked steak, but the biggest steak eater, Josh, was at his basketball game. He was our biggest steak eater until the age of 15 when he came home and announced he would become a vegetarian. Only spending nine months studying abroad in Italy could decidedly cure him from this. After he got back from his game, I walked into the living room to see him chomping on a cold piece of leftover steak. Yup, still a carnivore.
We are really looking forward to seeing my mom’s sister Diane tomorrow. I know James has mentioned her visit a couple times. We are grateful to have the family we do. We are lucky you see.
Jen, James, Josh, Mark, and Suzanne
Written Oct 28, 2013 12:38am by Jennifer Browning
My mom had a Mad Men Marathon today. She continues to be plagued by bad nausea, but she is somehow endures it without complaining. My dad picked up the Sunday LA Times sections devoted to the anniversary of the assassination of President Kennedy and remarked that he couldn’t believe 50 years had passed. I said I could believe it; that happened a long long time ago in my mind. My mom mentioned that one reason she likes watching Mad Men is that it brings her back to that era.
This morning Josh made pancakes. He and my dad now make batter from the basis of Bisquick. The pancakes were good, but I told my dad how I loved the pancakes he made from scratch when we were kids. I remembered sifting the flour. My mom added that I used to have a lot of fun propped up at the counter “helping” with that. I remember that we would always receive one bottle of pure maple syrup around Christmas time. I asked my dad where it came from- Great Aunt Jean and Uncle Don of course! My dad has always been the one who makes breakfasts. In addition to pancakes, french toast, and waffles, he makes great omelets and frittata...and of course does an amazing job buying Bethesda Bagels and cream cheese. When us kids were little and tagged along on weekends, we used to also make him stop across the street at Dunkin’ Donuts. Josh and I liked strawberry frosting. Actually, I think we all liked donuts with frosting, especially the holiday specials they would have.
Tonight, I made crispy oven-fried chicken. A successful almond salesman at the farmer’s market had given me the idea. He said I could cover the chicken in egg and then these garlic herb almonds ground up for yummy chicken. However, I was in desperate need for a quinoa recipe to accompany the dish. I did what any girl who had lived in Stanworth Apartments in Princeton would do, I called Betsy Hoody. She quickly supplied me with two delicious recipes.
At dinner, we talked about our upcoming visit from our Aunt Diane, arriving Tuesday. Then somehow the conversation switched to football. I don’t think it is because Diane is from Colorado and the Broncos just trounced the Redskins. Luckily, we could take comfort in the fact that the Cowboys had blown their game.
The weekend is as it should be I guess, ending with conversations about football.
Jen, James, Josh, Mark, and Suzanne