At the risk of considerable embarassment since this blog is indisputably a public forum, I'm ready to admit on the record that my cozy and usually quite clean house in Los Angeles has suffered both an infestation of fleas and an attack of termites this winter. And now, a pest control inspector has found--horror of horrors!--an actual rat that's living in my attic and tearing up the insulation that covers the heating-ventilation-and-air-conditioning system ducts. I've disposed of the fleas in a massive housecleaning that featured multiple vaccuum runs, eight loans of laundry in one day and a trip to the drycleaners. Now I await the exterminators to deal with the termites and the--ahem--other unmentionable intruder. But I have to wonder: What's next? Frogs? Lice? Boils? Locusts? Writer's block?