Thanksgiving 1963

I don’t know why this particular Connecticut Thanksgiving, when I was 9, came to mind, but it could be because of the two Kennedy books I’ve just read back to back.  It got me thinking of that sad November in 1963, at my family dinner table.

My parents, especially my mother, took John F. Kennedy’s assassination very hard.  I remember her glued to the television set those hellish, haunting three days.  The fact she still produced her top-of-the-line Thanksgiving meal six days after he was killed, needs to be noted.

My father, trying to lighten things up, said she shouldn’t add salt to anything since she was already crying so much.  All that did was make her cry more along with wanting to stab him with her electric Black and Decker turkey knife.

I was her helper, collecting all the Kleenex she kept dropping on the kitchen floor.  My Italian grandparents who always ate with us, came up (they lived on the first floor), my grandfather in his brown satin holiday vest with the paisley lining, Gramma in a pink polyester twinset.  My dad, after being downsized for being a knucklehead, wore black like all whipped bartenders manning the bar before noon.

My mother, weeping, her pearls all wet, served enough food to feed Sing Sing: melon wrapped in chilled prosciutto, rigatoni bolognese, tossed romaine lettuce with toasted garlic croutons topped with shaved Parmesan, and this is when no one shaved…a roasted turkey so stuffed with sausage, apples and various nuts it looked like Orson Welles if he stayed in the sun too long…mashed potatoes, string beans, broccoli in cream sauce, turnips, glazed onions, yams and mushrooms rammed with ricotta cheese. All that was missing was a nurse and a heart surgeon.

Martini & Rossi Asti Spumanti, the cheapest wine you could buy back then, but her favorite, flowed like the Ganges.  By the time we got to pie and 53 kinds of Sealtest Ice-cream, we were all crying.

“Oh, povero John F. Keen-adee, said Gramma,” holding out her glass for a refill.

“He was so handsome,” mewled my mother, “and poor Jackie….and John John and Caroline.  Frank, open up another bottle…make it three.”

If you’re wondering what I was doing, I too was sipping, along with Fluffy the cat who didn’t mind a little nip with the turkey I kept feeding her under the table.

It might have been the first time I ever got drunk, since in our house it was a rite of passage to fall down the stairs, which I did, mistaking the cellar for the bathroom.

By the time the after dinner mints came out, no one was in an upright position.  My father had passed out on his BarcaLounger with my grandparents knocked down like bowling pins on the couch.

My mother, who could drink Erroll Flynn under the table, was clearing with me fearing, she’d want me to wash and dry.

“Ma, I’m not feeling quite up to doing the dishes.  Could they wait till later?”

“No, but as usual I’ll just have to do everything myself.”   For the record, I would have happily helped if I could stand up, a requirement when you’re drying platters the length of the Chesapeake.

As I headed toward my room I suddenly heard the sound of plates crashing thinking, well that’s one way to clean the kitchen, but then heard, “Susannah get in here, I need you to sweep the floor.”

Grief is certainly a mysterious emotion.

As writer Kurt Vonnegut said, welcome to the monkey house.

Happy Thanksgiving everybody.

SB     images

There will be no post on Friday.



Posted in alcohol, animals, Books, dessert, Family, food, Home, humor, kids, parents, Politics, Women and men | Tagged , , , | 22 Comments

Notes To Self

images-1Open your eyes…take those blinders off there’s so much to see, and since sight is now your chief sense, you better well use it.

Compile your blessings like building blocks reminding you how much you’re given minute by minute.  Rid yourself of lack syndrome since when you get right down to it, there is no lack.  What do you need that you don’t have?  Keep your eye on the day, not tomorrow or next month, just this 24 hours and goddammit, you’ll see, your needs are easily met.

Be patient with yourself and others.  Try to understand we’re all not alike, and even though it’s perfectly alright to choose not to play in someone’s yard, you can still wave as you go by.

Stop whining, though a glass is good, since it keeps you in a holding pattern boring those in your path.

Have more ice-cream.  Treat yourself, the kid in you who’s never had enough.  Treat someone else standing in line.  Be beneficent…generous, sharing what’s in your pocket.

Over tip, to quote Nora Ephron.

How upset I was with friends refusing to give to the Carmela fund.  I had to talk myself off the roof reminding me, largesse sometimes falls by the wayside even in the most plush situations.

What’s important is that I give.  Tithing is a sign of trust more is coming, more is en route.

I will give thanks for unseen blessings already on the way, which is key, since they can’t be identified till they get here, but when you think of blessings past, you remember, hey…I got that big job out of nowhere.  In the 11th hour a friend rode up on his steed.

Be kinder Susannah.  Go the extra step to help another, even if it makes you late or leaves you broke.  The coffers will refill if you give them a chance.

Walk more dogs, like the little bichon frise next door who has become a frequent houseguest.  She plumps your heart as a pal asking no questions soothing your Carmela wound.

Breathe in your life.  Despite its zigs and zags, ups and downs and highs and lows, it’s a pretty good one all and all.  When you think, well it’s not perfect, define perfect.  Who’s really to say?

So I will embrace, value and treasure each day as the gift it is, recalling all those no longer here…celebrating them when they were.

Bill, Grampa, Jackie, James, Joyce, Mallory, Nancy and Phil to name a few.

And as hard as it is, let those go who no longer want you in their lives wishing them well as you wave from the shore.

Shit, I’ve just run out of paper.


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Mistaken Foreplay

Why do men always think something means something else?  I know you’ll all take umbrage, but it’s a topic I wish to discuss.  images-1

I recently got a job for an actor I know…it was print, paid pretty well and knew he was a natural for what they wanted.  Corporate, urbane, slim as a pencil…a man with built-in style making it look easy, great for film.

That said.

We do the job together, goes well like I anticipated, get fabulous pictures that I suggest we parlay to glean more work.

He says with a big shit-eating grin on his face, “Hold on baby, lets just take it a little slower.  I’m married you know.”

When I came to, I said, “Excuse me?  There’s a campaign going on for Bank of America we’d be perfect for.  Pays 5K…what exactly is the problem here?”

“I know you want this to go further.  I knew right away, but I’m not just not sure I’m in the market.”

I wanted to hang his head in the market like a freshly shot elk.

Have you heard no good deed goes unpunished?  I’m crocheting it on a sampler.

This is guy who complained rather loudly he wasn’t working, so Gwenevere over here, hops on her steed to the rescue, and he thinks I’m trying to fuck him.

To my credit I didn’t castrate him verbally or otherwise, but he really disappointed me.

It’s happened before, those crossed wires you should have remembered to gingerly step over.

Camille, that sage of wisdom, always warns, “be careful what you say to a guy…I like your tie…nice jacket, because the next thing you know you’ll be up against the wall with a zipper in your mouth.”

Too long for a sampler.

I am so upfront it’s a wonder I have a back.  What you see is what you get.  Frankly, who has time for such intrigue.  I certainly don’t.  But if a guy thinks there’s a blowjob in his future just because you like his shoes, he has another thing coming.

Then again, that would be more wishful thinking.


Posted in humor, men, modeling, money, New York City, sex, Women and men | Tagged , , , , , | 39 Comments

A Gentleman And His Lady

There I was, loping up 80th Street behind an old couple walking arm and arm while the man hummed Isn’t it Romantic (from the film Sabrina).

As I was about to cruise past them, I looked at the woman and said, “It must be so nice to be on the arm of such a good looking man, who sings.”

“It sure is,” she said, shining like a sunbeam.

The man, in what looked like a lime green Brooks Brothers cardigan with a beigy parka over it, looked at me before thrusting out his other arm.

I was so surprised not to mention charmed, and naturally being polite, took it.

They could have been two mechanical Hummels I’d say in their late 80s, perhaps even older, walking like snails, so by the time we got to the corner I was their age.

Despite being late for an appointment, the dental hygienist ready to stab me with my complimentary toothbrush, I was so moved by them strollin along just happy, to still have each other, on a sunny November afternoon…sigh.


Posted in friendship, Health, humor, Love, men, New York City, sexual relationships, women, Women and men | Tagged , , , , | 23 Comments

Hall Of Mirrors

If someone really wants to know about you they should get to know your friends.  Not to grill mind you, but to see your reflection they hold in their eyes.

To put it another way, our friends represent us.

If you put all my intimates together you’d see they have much in common, a thread that connects them loosely, but tightly to me.

Collectively, they’re all kind and noble, generous and smart.

Every one of them has a great sense of humor.

No one is mean or spiteful, petty or cruel.  What their attributes say on the top of their lungs?  Wow, Susannah is one helluva gal.


Chris, the voice of reason, is someone you can rely on trying never, ever to let you down, something I aspire to.

Ed is smart, smarter than me (nicknamed Edipedia), reads like his life depends on it, same as me.

Pam is so bighearted it’s somewhat criminal.  I’ve been accused of that many times, even left by men because of it.

Bill is disciplined beyond the call of duty.

Joan is independent, dependable, compassionate and presses on no matter what.

Evelyn is quiet and dignified.  I have that, though dusty, in my Connecticut archives.

MJ, the one who found Carmela, my beloved basset hound, because she wasn’t convinced Carm was safe persisting till the truth was known.  It taught me a great lesson since, without trusting one’s instinct, where would we be?  MJ reminds me, to quote Mel Brooks, to listen to my broccoli.

Joanne has a heart the size of Montana.  She’s the one who initially gave me my first Society Library subscription truly changing my life.  Her thoughtfulness inspires me to respond to others in kind.

Camille has no qualms giving you anything she has even if it’s very little.  If it’s a dime she’ll gladly give you a nickel then call a hottie she knows to buy lunch.  Let’s just say she bleats the practical along with the whimsical side of Susannah.

They all have interchangeable traits which is why I’m drawn to them.

They also make me want to be more like them in areas where I might come up a little short.

As someone I love would say, we mirror one another, that’s why we look into each others eyes to begin with.

There’s a familiar feeling much like a homecoming when we’re in their midst.

I find great comfort in this.   getPart


Posted in friendship, Gratitude, humor, New York City, women, Women and men | Tagged , , , , , , , | 33 Comments

Trash Talkin

I was sitting in the window at Starbucks at 5:30 in the morning, when a garbage truck pulled up with three of the handsomest black men I’d ever seen.  Tall, muscular not to mention well-groomed considering their line of work.

Aside from their good looks, what really got my attention was how happy they were dancing in the street, tossing bags of trash to one another like basketball players, before slam dunking them into the compactor.

It was quite a show, and one that had me smiling, no easy feat at that hour of the morning.

One of them saw me in the window smiling back.  Then the other two waved while the driver climbed back into the truck.

As I was leaving, I saw them again, so I stopped and said, “you know what? You’re the Harlem Globetrotters of Sanitation, that’s who you are.”  250px-Harlem_Globetrotter_playing_with_spctators_01

They are a famous basketball team from Chicago sired in 1926 that toured the country putting on shows with comedy and fancy footwork, known for their whimsical, silly  entertainment.

“You know,” one of them said,”my Uncle Charlie was one a those.”

“Well, Uncle Charlie is in your blood.”

He then threw a huge bag at his co-worker who tossed it back with a big, old grin.

After stopping at the florist to visit Rosie the cat, I found myself grinning, feeling happy all the way home.


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The special ops cat assignment!

Susannah Bianchi:

For all you cat lovers, this is so funny not to mention touching, well…if Hazel lets you get that close. I’m a sucker for a good cat story. Enjoy. SB

Originally posted on Views and Mews by Coffee Kat:

I had a terrible night’s sleep. I kept waking up worried about the morning. (Do Navy Seals have this problem before a special ops assignment).

There have been cats in my life for 60-ish years. We had them when I was a child. I know how to handle them. I can handle the untouchables, the biters, the people-haters. Cats that will not allow other people near, cuddle up to me.

I am the cat whisperer (sorta).


Hazel at her largest Hazel at her largest

For the past couple of weeks, my semi-feral cat Hazel has not been friendly. It’s a crap shoot as to whether she will allow me to scratch her. Or touch her (heaven forbid!)

I don’t know why. She’s never been people-friendly but not like this.

Both she and Mollie had their vet visit scheduled this week. I set it for first thing because typically I could pick her up…

View original 489 more words

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Manhattan Exchange

images A cab pulled up to the corner of 80th and Madison while I waited for the light.  The driver jumped out to throw his trash away in the nearby bin.

“Wow, that’s great that you did that,” I said to him.

“Did what?” he answered, looking confused.

“Get out of your taxi to throw your garbage away. ”

“What else would I do with it?”

I had to laugh.  “Toss it out the window, something I’ve seen many, many times.”

“Really?  I’d never do that.”

“I want you to know I have such respect for you not littering.”

He smiled, shook his head in wonder, and got back in his taxi.

Nothing like a humble hero, especially one with a clean cab.


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Why I Read

I just finished a book of New Yorker profiles by John Lahr called Show and Tell (2000).  They were no more than 40 pages long, more like 30 ranging from Woody Allen to Frank Sinatra, David Mamet and Bob Hope to what had to be my favorite, one on actor/director Mike Nichols.

John Lahr is the son of Bert who played the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz, so there’s a piece on him as well and one on his mother, Mildred, who was a Ziegfeld Follies girl.

All 15 essays are awe-inspiring, for a writer, reader and everyone in between.

Mike Nichols had Alopecia, a condition resulting in no hair on his body, so he always wore a wig.  Sometimes, like in the case of Winston Churchill, it’s a partial loss since he still had hair on his head but none anywhere else.

Nichols, flirting with the writer, Susan Sontag, was surprised when she was aloof to his notorious charm…from Lahr’s essay:

Thirty years later, Sontag confessed to Nichols that she couldn’t accept the scars from her mastectomy: “I have this thing, and every time I take a bath I’m horrified.” He said, “Susan, now you know how I have felt all my life.”

Here were two brilliant people hesitant to show their imperfections for fear the world would judge them.

Did that speak to me with the shame and discomfort I feel over my hearing loss.

Of course these two brought lots more to the table talent wise, but it didn’t matter, they felt as I do, as though they committed a crime.

My heart both hurt and rejoiced when I read this…aching for them, but feeling hopeful  learning they suffered yet rallied over their trials.

Inspiration, empathy, and self-acceptance are three reasons why I read.

Show and Tell comes highly recommended.  51u--bUrwML._SX335_BO1,204,203,200_


Posted in Books, Cinema, comedy, Family, History, humor, words, writing | Tagged , , , , , , | 25 Comments

Peace Interrupted

It’s Sunday, the day I usually reserve for peace of mind leaving my problems till Monday.  I’ve had a very stressful week right up till some woman in the Food Emporium pushed my things out of her way when I ran back to get a tomato.  I took it well even when she said, when you get outta line, you lose your place in line.  Took all I had not to say, how bout, you’re outta line lady, but did not pick up the rope and engage.

I’ve come a long way.  There was a time I would have duked it out with her like a seasoned prizefighter.  I learned, I’d rather be happy than right?  Being right quite often causes ulcers.  Did you know that?

All week I was challenged by the rude and inappropriate.  I held my tongue till I thought  I’d swallow it.  I kept wondering, why was I attracting so much unrest.  I’m very kind as a rule, why wasn’t I receiving what I was giving out.

There’s a great line in a West Wing episode when the publisher of a major newspaper asks C.J. Craig, the White House Press Secretary, if the water was over her head and she said, “no, but it’s right at my head.”

It was 6 a.m. when I went to Starbucks since Panera now opens at 7.  It was just me and the workers till a 40sih looking man came in with a snazzy backpack over a very nice leather bomber jacket.  He wasn’t handsome, but well put together sitting right across from me.

I was answering Paul’s comments ( who’s been away sweetly reading all my back essays when suddenly the peace of the room was invaded by this guy on his phone.  Now my hearing, as some of you know, isn’t great, so in a public place a loud voice can actually hurt my ears.

I was not happy and well, the water was no longer at my head.  I was about to do a belly flop into the deep end of the pool.

“Could you please get off your phone?” I said politely.

He proceeded to ignore me.

“Excuse me, but I’m talking to you.  It’s 6 a.m…on a Sunday.”

Now it dawned on me this man was not American, he was Middle Eastern when his ire began spewing like a geyser.  I couldn’t hear much of it, but did hear the word bitch so we were then off to the races.

“What do you get exactly for being so rude?  I asked you nicely.”

“Why shood I care aboot you?”

I was a little stunned and decided he was a terrorist.  That was my first thought and a natural one after what happened in Paris this past Friday where 129 people, including one American, were killed by eight suicide bombers, ISIS claiming responsibility.

He kept haranguing me most of it I couldn’t hear, but that sassy part of me that lies dormant got up on her hellish hind legs and said, “FUCK YOU…DO YOU LIKE THAT BETTER?”  I waited for the challenge that didn’t come.  Unbeknownst to me, a man who had come in, was standing behind me.  An American I might add, and if I’m appearing xenophobic, so be it.

My heart opens for everyone, its first response like all those policeman and firefighters who heeded the call on 9/11.  And I know one shouldn’t assume just because of an accent, a person is an enemy, but that’s how I felt given the circumstances.  All those people dying brought me back to that scary Tuesday when 3000 Americans perished, a testy wound sadly, I’ll always possess.

The guy got up still spewing, heading to another table in the back.  I looked at the man who came to my defense.  I nodded to him, and do you know what he said?

Americans…we need to stick together.

Amen to that.

images-1  images Lafayette, we are here.


Posted in Faith, Family, Home, Love, media, New York City, Politics, travel, Women and men, words | Tagged , , , , , , | 19 Comments