Sunday, January 31, 2010

Normandy, 1991-2010

Normandy was part of our family for almost 19 years—more time than we had a right to expect, less than we hoped for.

Her favorite place was always somewhere high above—I have to think she's feeling right at home in cat heaven. And we know she's in good company.

Brittany and D'Artagnan, take good care of our girl.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Ladies' Comfort Breast Cushion

I had a much-needed deep-tissue massage this evening at a great local day spa called dtox.

I got a small holiday bonus this year and decided to spend it on massages. Between the car accident a year ago and all the scar tissue from my various surgeries, my back and neck seem to be perennially in knots. My left side is unquestionably worse, but my right side is pretty bad, too—from compensating, I imagine.

Deep-tissue massage definitely brings me some relief, although it takes a lot of deep breathing for me to get through it. One masseuse likened my back to concrete because of all the hard, rubble-like stuff that needed to be broken up.

The thing is—deep breathing aside—getting a massage is always a bit of a challenge for me.

First, I can't really lie flat on my stomach because I have what could pass for a small inflatable beach ball on one side and a regular old (emphasis on old) breast on the other. So I look like a car that's been jacked up to have a flat fixed. (Hmm . . . that metaphor is a bit too apt.)

Second, having someone press down hard on my back is not particularly comfortable for the beach ball. (Nor is it relaxing, because I'm convinced that too much pressure will cause the ball to burst, and I just lie there stressing about it.)

Every time I've been to this spa, whichever masseuse or masseur I get brings in a pillow or a couple of towels, and I spend a few minutes trying to fashion some kind of bolster that will make me comfortable.

Today's masseuse asked if I needed to use a breast pillow (she got points for reading the notes in my file), and I said I did. Then she went outside for a moment and came back something like this:

Who knew there was such a thing as a ladies' comfort breast cushion?

It took a minute to get used to it (and it reminded me a bit of the contraption they use for a breast MRI), but I have to say that it did the trick. The masseuse bore down hard, using everything from her elbows to hot stones, and although I had to breathe very deeply while all of that concrete was being jackhammered, I was as comfortable as could be for a full 50 minutes of really intense massage.

Oh, and I'm absolutely counting the massage as my exercise for today because I know how sore I'll be tomorrow. . . .

January 29, 2006: Gut check

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Just Another Day in La La Land

Here's the memo I received at work today:

Date: January 28, 2010

To: [My Office Building] Tenants

From: Building Management

Re: “24” Filming with Helicopter Activity Thursday, January 28, 2010

Please be aware that the theatrical production “24” will be filming in our area this morning, Thursday, January 28, 2010 throughout the entire morning.

The production area will include helicopter activity, including flying under 500ft and helicopter landing & taking-off from or near [nearby hotel] and occasional traffic and pedestrian control. Additionally, there may be simulated police activity including actors brandishing weapons, chases scenes and drive ups and drive aways.

Please advise your employees and guests of this filming, and to plan for accordingly for possible traffic delays in our area. Thank you for your cooperation.

* * * * * * * * * * *

January 28, 2006: Early to Bed

January 28, 2008: Hi, I'm Jody, and I've Had Cancer

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


Zach's mom left this morning after a very nice visit, which included multiple trips to Pazzo Gelato and various other diet-unfriendly outings (mainly involving French fries), and I resolved to get back to healthy eating ASAP.

Then I walked into a meeting at work today and saw a huge chocolate cake with white icing that read "HAPPY BIRTHDAY JODY."

I had forgotten that they have a birthday cake once a month and didn't realize that I was the only January birthday in the group.

There was no possible way I could decline a slice, especially since I was the one cutting the cake. Déjà vu, anyone?

As Scarlett said, tomorrow is another day. . . .

January 27, 2006: Oh brave new world . . .

January 27, 2007: Essences

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


Seems like a good time to report on how I'm doing with some of my key New Year's resolutions:
  1. Exercising: Haven't missed a day, although mostly I've been doing sit-ups. But when I can work it in, I'm really enjoying the spin/yoga classes I've been taking with Zach. I'd like to do more of the yoga-only classes, too. In any event, I think I'm going to have to up the sit-up count to 60 for February. . . .

  2. Cooking: I've been keeping pace with this one, too, although I definitely took the easy way out this past week. The new Bon Appétit just arrived today, and I'm looking forward to mining it for this weekend's recipe.

  3. Reading (especially books): This is one of my favorite things to do, and something that I truly missed in 2009. I've read two very different books so far this year and have started a third. I'd love to read one a week, but even two a month would make me happy. (My current strategy is to alternate fiction and nonfiction.) Still haven't figured out how to stay current with The New York Times, The New Yorker, and all the stuff I read online—I'm trying to be more selective about what I'm reading (and what I watch on TV, to free up time to read), but it remains a struggle. I know I'm not alone here, although that doesn't make it any easier. . . .

  4. Flossing: Check! Flossing is now a fixture in my evening routine. Haven't missed a night so far this year.

  5. Posting: I have been working hard to get back in the blogging groove. This is post number 23 out of 26 days in the year—a vast improvement over last January, when I had just four posts. I'm not expecting to be able to maintain the current pace (and I bet you're not expecting it, either), but I'm happy to be on a roll again. It's hard to believe, but this blog is now in its fifth year.

    Breach is undoubtedly in a period of transition, but I think I know where it's headed.
    I hope you decide to stick around and take the scenic route with me. In the meantime, here's a look back to this date two, three, and four years ago:

    January 26, 2008: What's Yellow and Square and Kind of Sticky?

    January 26, 2007: Feeling It

    January 26, 2006: On the Down Low

Monday, January 25, 2010

Cultural Commentary on Life in LA

On a T-shirt at Vroman's Bookstore in Pasadena:

Don't judge a book by its movie.

Love it.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Not My Best Work

We've had a jam-packed weekend seeing the sights with Zach's mom, but I didn't want to drop the ball on my try-a-new-recipe-every-week resolution, so I picked an easy one for tonight: Spaghetti with Tomato Sauce with Butter and Onions.

Here's how easy the sauce is: you throw (good) canned tomatoes in with butter and two halves of an onion, reduce the tomatoes down, and then toss the onion.

I made the mistake of undersalting it (better than oversalting, but still), which we rectified at the table.

Unfortunately, we were already about 80% of the way through the dish by the time we did it.

Oh, well.

Now I'll know for next time. . . .

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Another Reason to Cook

A couple of months ago, Zach and I hosted a dinner party, and one of our guests that night—a friend of a friend we were meeting for the first time—was a lovely man who happens to be an art conservator at the Getty Museum.

If you haven't been to the Getty—and you should go, even before you go to Pazzo Gelato—you may not know that it has one of the finest art-conservation operations in the world.

We had a wonderful time that evening—great company and great food is always a form of alchemy, elevating the whole experience to something rare and memorable—and in the course of our conversations, our new friend offered to give us a private tour of the Getty Villa, which houses the museum's antiquities collection and is where he mainly works.

Naturally, we accepted on the spot.

Zach's mom's visit seemed to be the perfect opportunity, and this afternoon—the first clear day all week—we headed up to Malibu for what turned out to be a jaw-dropping experience.

Our host first gave us a talk on one of the current exhibits, Reconstructing Identity: A Statue of a God from Dresden, which tells the fascinating story of the re-restoration of an ancient statue that arrived at the Getty in hundreds of pieces.

The statue had at least two different heads (male and female) and two different right arms over the course of its existence. Its identity was a riddle. Was it Alexander the Great? Emperor Hadrian's lover? Bacchus, god of wine? All three?

Part mystery, part science (think "CSI"-style technology), part history, part philosophy—it was a tale that would put many page-turner novels to shame.

And our new friend was one of the key players in this art-history thriller!

As if that wasn't enough, he took us back to the cluster of labs and workshops where he plies his craft and showed us some of his current (top secret!) projects.

We were Charlies to his Willie Wonka—wide-eyed, fascinated, enthralled, at times uncomprehending. It was an incredible privilege, and an afternoon we won't soon forget.

We took lots of not-for-publication photos, but I can share this one of the three of us at the end of our visit—taken by our friend Gary, who was able to join us for this magical experience:

Friday, January 22, 2010

Small Batches of Demented Joy

Zach's mom is visiting, and we introduced her to one of the very best things about the neighborhood where we live: Pazzo Gelato.

They have an incredible array of flavors—about 20 different ones on any given day, so we never know what we'll find.

Tonight I had Mint Chip and Venezuelan Chocolate (pedestrian, I know). Zach had Tiramisu and Buttered Brown Sugar with Cinnamon. Zach's mom had Avocado (really!) and Almond Rum. (Two nights ago she had Avocado and Limoncello, which might sound strange but made her toes curl.)

The scooper tonight knew how much she grooved on the Avocado, which was running low. After we paid and were standing around kibitzing and enjoying our gelato, he surreptitiously scooped the rest into a takeout container and gave it to her as a gift.

Honestly, if you visit LA, you really must go.

And if you visit us in LA, we'll be sure to take you!

Thursday, January 21, 2010


A dear friend lost her dad this morning. It was not a surprise—he was in hospice—although of course it was a shock to her when it finally happened.

He had as good a death as one could have under the circumstances, and I was grateful for that.

My dad was not so lucky.

I've been in close touch with my friend these past few weeks, and she called to tell me the news within hours.

She also told me that I'd been a particular comfort to her during this terrible time, that I'd known what to say and how frequently to reach out. We were both very close to our dads, and I think I just had a sixth sense about what she needed—the legacy of my father's death, I imagine.

This friend never met my dad, but I know that he would have loved her, and vice versa.

I never met her dad, either, but I can tell that I would have adored him.

And I have no doubt that our two dads would have been fast friends, had they ever met. They were contemporaries and had a lot in common—both from Brooklyn, both Navy men, both devoted to the loves of their lives.

So I'm hoping that they are meeting now, comparing notes about their wives and kids, talking about Brooklyn back in the day, trading old jokes, and remembering happier times.

And I'm hoping that my friend is being sustained by warm memories and the love not only of her family and friends but of all those who knew and loved her dad.

"Welcome to Mudslide Season"

So read a text message from a friend, a Southern California native with a dark sense of humor.

The big story here right now is the rain and the havoc it could wreak—floods, mudslides, even tornadoes.

Yesterday we actually had thunder, which sounds prosaic except that thunder doesn't really exist out here. (I don't know why, but it doesn't.)

The thunderclap I heard on the 42nd floor of my office building sounded like it was right outside my window and had people commenting on it all afternoon. Zach said he heard one that seemed to be right over our house—so loud he thought it might cause the roof to collapse.

We are safe, for which I'm grateful, but people not that far away are sandbagging and evacuating.

It is a strange, strange place to be.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Making the Most of It

If I've counted right, today is the fifth work holiday I've had in about seven weeks (including Thanksgiving, the day after Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day), and also the last one I'll have for 19 weeks (I don't get Presidents' Day off for some inexplicable reason even though it's a national holiday).

So I'm staying up a bit late to enjoy every minute of it.

I crammed a lot of stuff in today: did a load of laundry, changed the sheets, cleaned the bathroom, took another yoga/spin class with Zach and Annette, read 300 pages of my book-group book, made it through the requisite rain-induced power failure in our infrastructure-challenged neighborhood, had an intense deep-tissue massage, enjoyed Zach's home cooking (glazed pork chops, couscous, and wilted spinach, if you're wondering), and relaxed in our comfy living room with two sleeping cats and one sleeping husband.

Not bad for a day's rest.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

How to Floss

I've been asked to spread the gospel of flossing a bit more effectively, with some info on how to do it right.

First, let me share a few key pointers:
  1. The main purpose of flossing is to remove plaque from your teeth—the floss should be making contact with your teeth, not your gums. (This was the heart of my mistake—I was flossing the gums between my teeth rather than the teeth themselves.)
  2. Floss before you brush.
  3. Floss once a day, at night.
  4. It's best to do it every day, but it's not all or nothing—some flossing is better than no flossing.
  5. Use a long piece of floss (18 inches seems to be the magic length), and use a clean segment for each tooth.
  6. You're mainly cleaning the sides of your teeth. When you insert the floss between two teeth, floss up and down the side of each tooth, one at a time. Remember to keep the pressure against the tooth, not the gum.
  7. You need to go below the gum line for each tooth. This sounds weird (and painful), but the floss should slip easily (and painlessly) below the gumline.
  8. Keep a firm grip on the floss, but be gentle. Don't traumatize your gums.
  9. It takes a while to get the hang of it—don't get discouraged if you feel uncoordinated and awkward at first.
  10. Once you do get the hang of it, it actually takes very little time. My hygienist flossed my whole mouth in under a minute. And you can spare a minute every night, right?
I looked around and tried to find a great video to share with you, but the pickings are somewhat slim. This one isn't bad (comparatively speaking).
Here's a very brief guide from the American Dental Hygienists' Association.

And here's a more detailed guide (with animation!) from something called

I admit that I floss out of fear: fear of gum surgery, fear of my teeth falling out (a real risk if you have seriously receding gums), and fear of what it would cost (not only in dollars but in pain, time, and inconvenience) if I had to have gum surgery—or get new teeth.

If you floss for other reasons, more power to you (and your gums)!

But if you're not flossing at all, fear isn't a bad motivator for getting started—and sticking with it.

Floss on!

Saturday, January 16, 2010


It's only been two weeks, but I'm feeling good about sticking with my New Year's resolutions.

Zach and I took another spinning/yoga class this morning and felt (although perhaps didn't smell) great afterward.

Later in the day, I shopped around for something to cook for my weekly meal and settled on Lamb Köfte with Yogurt Sauce and Muhammara, a Mediterranean dish from the current issue of Bon Appétit.

I don't think I've ever made a Mediterranean meal before, and it was fun to play around with those flavors. One of the highlights was the muhammara—something I'd never heard of, let alone tasted. It was one of two sauces for the lamb meatballs, and the recipe called for pomegranate molasses, something else I'd never heard of, let alone tasted.

The molasses gave the sauce a distinctive and delicious flavor, and I bet it would be great in lots of other dishes—definitely worth checking out if you're feeling adventuresome!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Haiti Earthquake Response

We chose to give to Doctors Without Borders.

If you wish to do the same, just click here.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Small Victories

More than a year ago, my dentist in NY told me that my gums were receding and that I needed to have surgery to keep things from getting worse—where "getting worse" meant "possibly losing some of my teeth."

I was already living in LA and hadn't found a dentist out here yet, so I started looking in a hurry.

After a false start, I finally ended up seeing a periodontist this past fall. I had a thorough cleaning, got fitted for a night guard (sexy!), and learned how to floss the right way. (I had been flossing regularly, but apparently my technique sucked.) I also learned how to massage my gums (not as enjoyable as it sounds).

As for gum surgery, the periodontist said he thought I might need it, but he wanted to get to know me and my gums better before making the call. We decided to wait and see how things looked after three months of the new dental-hygiene regime.

I've been diligent about flossing (correctly) and wearing the night guard (although I confess that I haven't earned my gum-masseuse stripes).

Happily, my gums and I were rewarded with a good report at today's follow-up visit: no reason for surgery, at least for now. HUGE relief!

And a bonus: my cleaning went much more quickly and easily this time around.

I go back in three months for another cleaning and check-up.

I'll stay on that schedule for the foreseeable future, and I'll try to stave off the gum surgery as long as I can. . . .

Excuse me while I go floss!

(Shouldn't you do the same?)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


I got my H1N1 vaccine today as a follow-up to the seasonal-flu vaccine I got a few months ago.

The shot hurt for a few seconds, and I'm sure my arm will be sore for a couple of days, but the trade-off is well worth it to me—two of my friends have had H1N1, and it can be really nasty.

Wishing you a flu-free winter, whatever you decide!

Monday, January 11, 2010

On the Subject of Resolutions

One of my others for 2010 is to cook more often—at least once a week (which I realize isn't often at all, but if I cook 52 times in 2010 it will be something like 47 times more than I did in 2009).

Last week's effort involved fried-green tomatoes (our farmers' market tomato purveyor had them, and they called out to us). I wanted to find a southern dish to go with them, and when Zach reminded me that we had chicken that needed to be cooked, it didn't take long to come up with the solution.

But since I was already frying the tomatoes, I didn't want to have another fried dish, so I went with baked "fried" chicken instead.

Definitely not the healthiest meal I've ever made, but pretty tasty! Zach contributed roasted potatoes, which were typically yummy.

I think I'm going to pick up a regular Sunday-dinner cooking shift. Recipe suggestions welcome!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

No Sit-ups This Weekend

On the recommendation of a friend (thanks, Annette!), Zach and I took our first combined spinning/yoga class yesterday (30 minutes of each). The spinning part was far more humbling than the yoga part, but both were fun.

Fun enough that we signed up for a package of classes.

So fun that I went back today for a yoga-only class.

The place is close enough to where we live that we used to go past it on our morning walks (back when that was our standard form of exercise). So, weather permitting*, I'll be able to walk to and from classes there. Huge bonus.

I have no doubt that I will be back to sit-ups tomorrow (assuming I am not too sore to do them), but I think this will be a great solution to my exercise dilemma.


*In New York, "weather permitting" would have meant "absent blizzard or deluge." Here it means "on those select occasions when the sun isn't blazing overhead and threatening to toast my skin within 15 seconds."

Saturday, January 09, 2010


Thursday, January 07, 2010


I got this Facebook message from a friend today:

"some fun is going on.... just write the color of your bra in your status. Just the color, nothing else. And send this on to ONLY women no men .... It will be neat to see if this will spread the wings of cancer awareness. It will be fun to see how long it takes before the men will wonder why all the women have a color in their status..."

I could tell that some of my friends had gotten the same message, because I saw a couple of status updates that said only "nude" or "pink."

Honestly, if I had gotten the same message without the cancer reference, I might have played along.

But I didn't.

And I didn't.

I have no idea how this was supposed to spread cancer awareness (or the wings thereof—whatever that means).

I doubt that I have a single friend who doesn't already associate me with cancer.

You're all pretty aware already, right?

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Reflections on a Road Not Quite Taken

One of my other resolutions for 2010 is to add at least one more byline (more, I hope) to the short list over there on the right (see "Elsewhere by Jody").

I have a few ideas—it's just a matter of time, focus, discipline, and determination.

Then I read stories like this and feel fortunate that my byline-seeking is for personal satisfaction—if it were my livelihood (as I had intended when I headed off to J-school), I'm not sure how I'd be faring.

Of course, journalism isn't the only field that's undergoing unprecedented upheaval. In fact, it's hard to name a profession or industry that isn't.

Certainly lawyers are discovering that job security is becoming a mythical concept—and outsourcing isn't just for blue-collar workers anymore.

And as Zach can tell you, the acting world—particularly in LA—is unrecognizable from a couple of years ago. With movie stars and foreign actors taking refuge on TV, everyone else (character actors and up-and-comers alike) is getting squeezed.

Technology, globalization, and the worldwide economic crisis have wrought so much collective havoc that it's hard to take a breath and take stock. Even the idea of stepping back is a bit scary when it feels like you have to work twice as hard for half as much—if that.

It seems like almost everything—and everyone—is being commodified these days. It's not just journalism, I know. I guess I'm glad that I went to J-school on the eve of the cataclysm, when it still seemed possible to make a difference and a living.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

From the Hip

My oncologist gave me a good once-over a few weeks ago, and he thinks I may have bursitis in my hip.

If I do have bursitis, my guess is that it was caused by my foray into run/walking (you run for 10-15 seconds out of every minute and walk the rest)—especially because I was doing it on joint-unfriendly pavement.

Of course the irony is that I was run/walking in the first place because I was trying to ease my way into an exercise routine. <sigh>

I had stopped run/walking many weeks before I saw the doctor (first because the air quality was so bad during LA's fire season, and then because my hip started acting up, and I didn't want to aggravate it). By the time my appointment rolled around, the pain had already begun to abate somewhat.

Nonetheless, my doctor prescribed a 10-day course of anti-inflammatories, which I finished on Sunday.

And . . .

I appear to be pain-free.


It looks like I'll be going back to walk/walking for the foreseeable future.

Oh, and to another night of sit-ups.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Working Off That NYE Meal

One of my many new year's resolutions is to exercise in some way every day, with the fall-back option of doing 50 sit-ups if I haven't done anything else by the time I want to go to bed.

So far my record is:

January 1: 50 sit-ups
January 2: tandem bicycle ride for 30 minutes
January 3: Thai massage (that counts, right?)
January 4: TBD (but given that it's 11:12PM, it's looking like 50 sit-ups)

I'm really hoping that I don't end up doing sit-ups every night, although that would have certain benefits. . . .

Sunday, January 03, 2010


Zach and I are celebrating our 17th wedding anniversary today. For dinner, we went to a newish wine bar in our neighborhood—a place we've been looking forward to trying. We sat at the bar, demonstrated our utter ignorance about wine to the bartender, and had a grand old time sharing a parade of small dishes.

We danced on our bar stools to the strains of "Mustang Sally" and realized with a start that we were the oldest folks in the place when the bartender asked the provenance of the song and then looked blankly at us as we described the 1991 film "The Commitments." Our best guess is that she was in first grade when it came out. . . .

I feel very grateful to be starting another new year with the man I love, sharing everything from small plates to big dreams. Here's to 2010 and beyond!

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Time Warp

When I saw my fantabulous surgeon for a recent check-up, I told her about the undiagnosed hip pain I'd been having, and we got into a conversation about the aches and pains that come with age. (She's got some of her own.)

She told me that the reproductive endocrinologist we used says that chemo basically ages a woman's reproductive organs by 10 years—which is why some women don't regain their fertility, even if they're treated at a relatively young age.

My surgeon thinks the same principle probably applies to the whole body—which could be why I've been experiencing some of those aches and pains sooner than you'd otherwise expect.

So what does this all mean?

Well, today's my birthday, and I've apparently just turned 53—at least in what I've taken to calling "chemo years."

On the bright side, I skipped right past any kind of anxiety about turning 50. . . .

Friday, January 01, 2010

20th Annual New Year's Eve Dinner

New Year's Eve has always been a special night for Zach and me, and each year we celebrate—and collaborate—in the same way: by hosting a dinner party for friends old and new.

Last night was our 20th such affair—a memorable milestone for reflecting on how much I love Zach, the partnership we've built, and the riches we enjoy in the wonderful people we get to call our friends.

We are looking ahead to great things in 2010. But first we gave a very stylish send-off to 2009:

Bourbon-spiced pecans
Ticklemore (pasteurized English goats’ milk cheese)
P’tit Basque (unpasteurized French sheep’s milk cheese)

miniature latke
topped with sour cream and sustainable caviar

shrimp bisque
infused with Cognac, sherry, white wine, and tarragon

baby spinach salad à la Starlite
with Yukon Gold potatoes, Cambozola, and warm bacon vinaigrette

handmade pappardelle
with wild-boar ragù, topped with parmigiano reggiano

New Zealand rack of lamb
with Mediterranean spices and orange pan sauce

root-vegetable purée
of carrots, potatoes, and sunchokes

roasted Brussels sprouts
finished with toasted pine nuts in a balsamic reduction

chocolate-covered gingerbread cake
Knower family eggnog

lemon thins
dark chocolate shortbread with fleur de sel
Viennese vanilla crescents

Wishing you all love, peace, joy, and good health every day of the year!