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




Dear Tom, this morning’s harvest~


Garlic. Purple potatoes. A couple leftover spring onions.

Yesterday I harvested asparagus, three bunches of celery, and a big bunch of broccoli. Now that the garlic is out of the ground I’ve got to get the clover-stuff out of the bed. Last year I purchased plants from a new nursery and unfortunately contaminated one entire bed with this yellow clover-ish weed. You can see some with the garlic.

My four baby robins fledged! Now a pair of mockingbirds have moved into the robin’s nest. They spend all their spare time begging for worms (making sounds like a puppy) and attacking Jake. Unlike the great horned owl, he can safely ignore them.

Yesterday we went to a beautiful beach. Jake had a wonderful time. He ran around like a maniac, then he and Oscar took a three mile hike. Unfortunately my climbing days are over until I’ve had surgery and rehabbed, so I walked along the shore and collected semi-precious stones. Then we drove over the Golden Gate into San Francisco to meet our youngest and her boyfriend for coffee. He lives at the very top of one of those hellacious hills and yes, I drove. Driving up the hills scares me to death. I always feel as if my car is going to flip upside down. Down doesn’t bother me. But believe me, I’d rather be driving than sitting in the passenger seat. I remember the first time I rode in the passenger seat up one of those hills – I was nineteen years old. I insisted the driver stop and let me out. I walked up the hill.

Last night we got lost in the mountains outside of Lafayette, looking for a retirement dinner. One of my husband’s managers is retiring after 40 years. The event was held in the middle of the wilderness (not kidding) at the end of a single-track road after we’d wound our way through a maze of country roads. Reminded me of the roads in Scotland but without the necessary turnouts. We had a hill on one side and a cliff on the other. We somehow managed to make it there without encountering another car (3 miles). The way home was another matter. All I can say is at least we were on the hill side, not the cliff side.

I only mention this retirement dinner because it made me sad. This woman has dedicated her life to her job. She’s married but has no children and only one sister. Her co-workers are both her family and her closest friends and now she’s leaving them.

There was a photo retrospective running on a loop on a big screen television.

Oscar’s co-worker is a happy healthy 70 year old woman. She radiates warmth and intelligence. But I experienced this weird disconnect as I watched the slide show. I’ve only known her for a couple years and I know little of her history. I was, to be frank, stunned. She was a glamorous young thing. She had model looks, kind of a combination of Bridgette Bardot and Twiggy. I had this completely inappropriate thought – If anyone ever makes one of these retrospectives of me I’ll come back from the grave and kill them. I think it’s kind of the same reason movie stars don’t watch their old movies. We’re young and then one day we get old. It ain’t always pretty.

Time does fly, doesn’t it?

XOXO! Julia


Dear Tom, opening old doors on Memorial Day.

Two of my uncles fought in WWII. One was a bombardier. He and his crew mates were shot down over Occupied France– it was their second plane, The Beast. Their first plane, I believe it was the Moonbeam Mcswine, got all shot up but managed to limp back to England where it crash landed. The original navigator was killed. In the second crash, all but the pilot survived. The pilot resisted. He was shot in the head by the Germans. The remaining crew members were transported to a POW camp in Germany. My uncle spent two years there. He weighed 90 pounds when the camp was liberated by the Russians. He said the first thing the men did when liberated was run wild over the countryside. Someone shot a cow. The men grilled it over an open fire. They’d starved for two years, surviving off the maggots on rotting potato skins. He wrote in his diary that the cow tasted like heaven.

Another uncle was a tail gunner. He was shot in the face, yet still managed to fly the plane back to England after the pilot and co-pilot were killed. He always wore a beard to cover his scars. (Had what he called a steel jaw.)

Takes big cojones.

My dad was just a youngster at the start of WWII. But he enlisted as soon as he could – 1945, a month before the war in the Pacific came to an end. He was grateful for Truman because, as he says, he and every man in his boot camp knew if they had to invade Japan they would all die. But my father wouldn’t have been part of the invasion anyway. He was so dang smart and scored so high on tests he was sent to the CIC- the Counter Intelligence Corps. Besides, he spoke German.

To this day I don’t know what he learned there. His standard line is, “If I tell you I’ll have to kill you.”

But he didn’t want to go overseas. He missed his mother’s cooking. (Which is pretty funny since he hated her cooking.) When his two years were up, he came home.

My two uncles are dead. My dad is, happily, alive, healthy and happy. And so busy he barely has time to talk.

My gratitude to that generation knows no bounds. These were just regular guys who morphed into hero guys. They had no choice. We are free (even to be idiots) because of them.

Because it’s Memorial Day, and because I had acupuncture this morning and my knee isn’t all that bad today, I started removing the old lead paint from an antique door.

That door will be my canvas. I have big plans…

door 1

Door Number One.

XOXO! Julia