Oh Tom… Rats!

You know how I’ve been recovering, right? And if you’ve been listening to my bitching and moaning you know it’s been a shitty few months, right?

So two weeks after my surgery I happened to be in my kitchen, on crutches, when I saw, God Save the Queen… rats. As in rats, as in a lemming migration of rats flying over my back fence.

You see, there is our yard. There is our fence. There is the six-foot utility easement. There is another fence. There is another yard. And last but not least, there is a house in which lived quite possibly the most awful people on the face of the earth.

When they were at last evicted, after ten long years of misery and visits from the police and the fire department, the house sat empty for six months.

And then… and then… Two weeks after my surgery the landlord/owner decided to begin the gutting. And as I watched, generation upon generation of rats that lived in that house came flying over my fence.

I don’t have any cats anymore. And my daughter gave away her two snakes.

I screamed for Oscar who said, “Oh. They’ll go away.” He pointed. “That one’s kinda cute.”

(I hate him so. Not the rat, Oscar.)

Thus began my close relationship with my pest control guy. (I love him so.) He’s seen me at my worst. Wearing my pajamas. My hair sticking out all over. On crutches. Using a cane. And over the weeks he’s watched my progress.

He’s kind of a hottie, so…


That first week he killed eight rats.

The second week, six.

The third week, two.

Then one got in the house. Oscar’s ‘cute one‘.

Yes. That was real cute. Jake spent hours trying to dig it out from under the stove.

So my guy, yeah, I have a guy, set traps all over the house and under the house and like a million traps under the deck, plus poison bait stations because you see, the rats got smarter.

Like, they became the Rats of Nimh. They learned to avoid the traps and the poison.


I once dated this guy from South Africa and he told me that when they wanted to go out into the front yard, first they’d throw out all the deck chairs to chase off the cobras. That’s what I had to do before going downstairs in the middle of the night to get an ice bag. I’d have to throw down a shoe or a book or bounce an empty plastic water bottle down the steps.

The rats were enjoying a rave in my kitchen all night long.

And all the while, Oscar was like… It’s not so bad. They are just rats.

Just. Rats. Are you friggin’ kidding me?

Divorce is way better than living with rats. And I’d have done it if I hadn’t been recovering, in fact, I may still do it. I mean, you have no idea what I’ve been living with, or with whom.

So the pest guy kept coming. He’s the owner of the pest control agency and he said all his employees were making fun of him because he couldn’t solve our rat problem. I’m telling you, these aren’t normal rats. These rats were developed in some secret government lab…


Hawkin’s Lab, Stranger Things.

So one morning, 6 a.m., Jake and I were upstairs sound asleep, when we heard a little girl shrieking at the top of her lungs. The two of us got downstairs as fast as we could, and there was Oscar standing on the kitchen table. It seems that when Oscar entered the kitchen, that cute rat darted out of the pantry and ran right into his bare foot.

“I want poison! I want Sarin gas! I’m going to tent this house and gas it!”

“But I thought you said the rat was cute…”

“I want to kill it.”

And then a rat ate my dishwasher.

Yes, that night my dishwasher stopped working and I knew immediately it had been eaten by a rat. So I called my other guy – my dishwasher guy.

My dishwasher guy came by five friggin’ days later at 9:30 p.m. Sure enough, the rat had eaten an essential part. He replaced it and vacuumed out all the rat stuff- like a nest and shit.

The very next morning I came downstairs and saw that the rat had ripped a huge pile of insulation out of my dishwasher. And piled it neatly on my kitchen floor.

And I’m like… Goddamn it.

I called the pest control company. My guy answered. He said, “I’ll be right there.” He brought out the big guns, the sticky traps. If a rat steps in them it gets stuck in superglue. Basically. He put out maybe 20. And we had to keep the dog out of them.

Anyway, Joe (yeah, my guy and I are on a first name basis) told me to call him, even if it was late, if a rat got stuck in one of the traps. Sure ‘nuf, at 11 p.m., a rat got stuck on one of the traps under the stove and it was making an awful racket.

Oscar said, “I’m taking the dog for a walk. Bye.” And he was out the door in a flash.

So I called Joe. He came right over. Told me to sit in the living room while he took my stove apart so he could get to the rat.

And then I heard him exclaim, “Son of a bitch!”

He stomped past me.

“What?” I asked.

“You don’t want to know,” he said. He went out to his truck. Came back in. Said, “Stick your fingers in your ears.”

I did. I really did. And I closed my eyes.

When I opened them he had everything cleaned up. He said it was a huge rat. (I knew it. It was probably pregnant.) And it was stuck over the gas line to the stove. He’s right. I don’t want to know how he got it out.

As of today, we have a dozen traps under the deck. Another half dozen in the house. At least 8 sticky traps and four poison stations. We think there may be one rat left. The cute one. It’s under the deck. It seems to have nibbled some of the poison at last.

I have a plan. As soon as we remove all the traps I’m getting a big-ass king snake, one that’s been raised on live rats and mice and I’m letting it live under the deck. King snakes are native to California. I like snakes. And I’ll take a snake over rats any day of the week.


I’d get two kittens but they wouldn’t be of any help for quite a while. I’d have to get kittens because full-grown cats won’t like Jake, but kittens would get used to him.

Seriously, if I was not recovering I would be gone. I would have taken the dog and moved to Montana in a heartbeat. You do not want to live with rats. It’s horrible.

I know I’m writing to you, Tom, but this one’s for Ray.

XOXO! Julia





Dear Tom, You don’t prop a woman on Coumadin up against a cement post…

and hope she’ll stay put, not when she’s reportedly feeling weak and lightheaded and has no motor control. I’ve been a hospice nurse for over 20 years. Prior to that I was an ICCU/CCU charge nurse. I’m married to a doctor.

Hillary Clinton is a sick woman. This election is causing people who are normally clear-headed and reasonable to dismiss things that should be of major concern. The mainstream media is contorting itself, squeezing into clown cars, burying their collective heads in the sand, trying to ignore the evidence staring them in the face.

This is sexist? It’s a conspiracy? She stumbled? She tripped?

Are you effin’ blind???

As an RN and a human being, watching that video made me sick to my stomach. I was horrified! The poor woman! What is wrong with all of you???

Coumadin is a blood thinner. The biggest rule about Coumadin? No, it’s not avoid leafy greens. It’s don’t fall. If you fall on your head you can suffer, in layman’s terms, a brain bleed. If you are on Coumadin and you fall on your head, you can die.

It’s obvious to me that Mrs. Clinton’s handlers (and likely Mrs. Clinton) are way too concerned with appearances. There is too little concern for her well-being. She should have been in a wheelchair, or they should have laid her down on the ground, and above all, she should have been taken to a hospital.


For crying out loud, press people! Use your brains! You are supposed to be intelligent. You are supposed to ask questions. Ask what medications she’s taking prn- as needed. Where are today’s Woodward and Bernstein???

Mrs. Clinton and her handlers were so worried about not calling attention to the situation that they put her in danger. *Mrs. Clinton had no ability to protect herself.* She was propped against a cement pillar and had one woman holding her arm. She could easily have collapsed, broken her arm or her hip, hit her head and died.

Unbelievable. Unbelievable.

Dear Tom, et. al, An Update.

Still recovering from knee surgery. Unfortunately in addition to nerve damage my body is reacting to the metal and cement used in the knee with resulting severe inflammation and swelling. Sets my recovery back months, as in I am now, at nearly 9 weeks, where I should have been at 3-4 weeks.

On the bright side I was cleared to drive this week. Yay! No longer trapped in my house so I’m a little less stir crazy. You really don’t want to know how stir crazy I had become!

On the less bright side walking around a grocery store is about my limit for the day. So sad!

It’s a good thing I’ve had the Olympics to watch, despite NBC’s pathetic (and I do mean pathetic) coverage.

I’m also watching Fearless on Netflix. I decided to download free Netflix for 30 days so I can watch Fearless and Stranger Things. Fearless is an 8-part documentary about the PBR (bull riding) and Stranger Things is unusual horror, as in I can handle it horror- thoughtful horror- as opposed to creepy nightmarish uncanny valley horror.

So, it’s back to icing, elevating, and… oh… Jake taught himself to fetch my cane! Such a cutie pie!

XOXO! Julia

Dear Tom, Adding to the Classic Oscar-isms…

My husband talks in his sleep. He’s especially prone to this when we are on vacation or camping with the kids. Sometimes I get a medical school lecture. Sometimes it’s work-related. Sometimes I get nonsense.

Sometimes he gives us a classic.

Who can forget this one?

“Watch out. I’m sailing my ship, the Oil Compactor…”

Or this oldie but goodie?

“A thousand dollars… Mwaaaaaaaaaaaah…”

Last night was pure gold–

“Ow. My shoulder-ator hurts. But nobody cares about me. (Sigh) Nobody cares…”

Freudian slip?

XOXO! Julia



Dear Tom, I’m a changed woman postop.

Texas Woman Wakes From Surgery With A British Accent

No, she’s not me. But I woke from surgery a different person.

I’m scared, Tom.

I no longer like chocolate. Can’t stand the sight of it nor the smell of it.


This is serious.

Do you understand what this means?

This means that after a life-long love affair with chocolate, as in chocolate has been the only sweet thing I like– I. Now. Hate. Chocolate.

You know what’s even scarier???

I’m craving vanilla ice cream. I’ve despised (yes, despised) ice cream in every way, shape or form, my entire life. I’ve refused to eat it. I’ve hated the taste, the texture, the creaminess, the sweetness…I was the only child I knew who hated ice cream. I’m the only adult I know who hates ice cream.

But that’s no longer true. Just this past week I ate my first ice cream sandwich – vanilla ice cream between two oatmeal cookies – and it was amazing! I mean, it was astounding.

I woke from surgery with a vision of an oatmeal cookie ice cream sandwich, a gourmet confection I’d once glimpsed in the freezer section at the neighborhood market. An ice cream sandwich that previously held zero interest for me. As soon as I got home I begged my husband to go buy one.

Bi rite ice cream sandwich

This is it.

Wait… here’s the conversation:

“Please please please go to the market and buy me an ice cream sandwich, the gourmet kind in a single-pack, wrapped in cellophane– vanilla ice cream between two oatmeal cookies.”

Oscar, staring at me: “You don’t eat ice cream.”

Me: “I know, but I want one.”

Oscar, still staring at me: “But you hate ice cream.”

Me: “I know but I really really really want one of these ice cream sandwiches.” I showed him the picture.

Oscar, skeptical: “Where does a store keep ice cream?”

Me, trying not to laugh: “Honey, think for a minute. Where would a store keep ice cream?”

Oscar: “Uh, where it’s cold?”
Me: “Yes. Now where would it be cold in a grocery store?”

Oscar: “I don’t know.”

Oh Tom… You have no idea what I’m dealing with here.

Me: “Honey, when you get to the store, ask someone.”

Oscar made a halfhearted attempt to find the ice cream sandwich I wanted but he failed because he refused to ask for help. Instead he bought a box of It’s-It which I couldn’t eat because It’s-It is covered in chocolate.

It's it

So I sent my best friend on a mission to seek out the perfect ice cream sandwich. She found one. And it was the best thing I’ve ever tasted. I want more!!!

This is so bloody weird! Even weirder? My lactose intolerance seems to be a non-issue.

I’ve lived my entire life with lactose intolerance. Even as a baby I couldn’t tolerate dairy-based formula. My parents had to start me on solid food at three months of age because every formula that went in came back out within a minute or two. (My mom wasn’t the type to nurse a kid.)

Out of the blue I’m eating yogurt, ice cream, and drinking milk.

Holy crap, Tom! What in the world is going on???

Oh, and by the way~

Happy Independence Day! Yay America!


For the first time in my life I’m eating ice cream on the Fourth of July! XOXO! Julia


Dear Tom- Those who live in a bubble don’t understand that not everyone has it easy.


Oscar works with a physician who lives in a well-off area of Palo Alto. She and her family live in the high-tech bubble surrounded by other high-tech bubblers. Other than her once a month drive to Oakland for admin meetings, she rarely leaves her bubble.

A number of years ago, her husband, a techie engineer, worked for a startup and made millions when it was sold. Now he works for a big time high-tech company and, yes, makes tens of millions of dollars a year.

Their children attended private schools. Their son went to Stanford and now works for a startup. He’s made millions and plans to return to Standford for his PhD in something or other. Their daughter attends a very expensive college.

When they travel overseas, which they do often, they travel first class. Do you know how much it costs to travel the world first class?

Yesterday she said to my husband, “You know, young people have it great these days. They get out of college and within six months they’ve made a few million dollars.”

Oscar was flabbergasted. He said his mouth dropped open. He asked her, “Do you know what it’s like for most young people in this country?”

She looked confused. “Well, it’s like that,” she said. “They all get rich.”

Oscar said, “You live in the wealthiest neighborhood in the wealthiest part of the Bay Area. Do you know what it’s like in the Central Valley? In the North Bay? In Solano County? In Oakland? In Richmond? Do you know anyone who lives in the Midwest or the Rust Belt? Do you know what happens to those kids, to those families? Do you read about what’s happening in other parts of this country?”

Again, she seemed confused. “But they have the same opportunities…”

“No,” Oscar said. “They don’t.”

He said she’s never ridden BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) or left the freeway on her drive into Oakland – in fact she’s scared to death to leave her bubble. But apparently it’s never occurred to her that there are actual people living actual lives out there.

(Whenever I have to drive a kid to the Oakland Airport I’m all over Oakland searching for one particular burrito place- a real dive- in a real bad neighborhood. But both my daughters insist this place makes the best burritos in the world. In fact, the last time married daughter was here she made me detour so she could buy one to eat on the plane and another for her husband. It survived in her purse through two flights, a long layover, and a two-hour ride home from Billings. Still, finding the place and getting her to the airport on time was insane. And I’m not stupid enough to go there at night. Generally if I have to go to Oakland or San Francisco I first take a bus to Vallejo, then a bus to the El Cerrito BART Station, and then I take BART and walk to my destination. Or I take the ferry from Vallejo. Easier than getting lost. Truly, if you want to know how the other half lives, take BART.)

This woman has never seen patients outside of her bubble. You know, she sees the kind of people who can afford plenty of organic fruits and veggies and nuts and grass-fed meats or have the luxury of becoming raw foodies if they prefer… The people with au pairs and personal chefs and trainers or free access to a training facility and a nutritional educator at their high-tech company. They live in secure neighborhoods.

The conversation Oscar repeated to me blew my mind. It is, as we speak, blowing my mind.

Her life is good. She’s a physician. She can’t possibly be so stupid as to think the entire world lives like she does. Or is she?

I don’t know. I only know she’s surrounded by a bunch of people who see the world exactly the same way she does.

My husband and I both work in one of the most depressed areas of the Bay Area. You. Have. No. Idea. How. Bad. Things. Are.

Oh my gawd. I’d get into the politics of the entire situation but then I’d probably get hate email.

Holy shite, Tom!

XOXO! Julia