But first:

A little inspiration for those who want to be ripped and healthy at 72, like Grateful Dead co-founder Bob Weir.  (Or you could just walk more.  But it’s a great read.)

And second:

You can see Parts 1 and 2 all in one day, or over two nights — or just see Part 1 — but take a minute to see what they’re saying about The Inheritance.

And third:

Melinda Fishman: “Speaking of vegan — have you seen Forks Over Knives, on Netflix? Powerful. I’m vegan for 4 days so far 🙂 Feel different, lighter, happier, lost weight.”

Karen Geronymo (Dietitian):  “Please let Sally know that (only) 1 tablespoon of her vegan butter (contains coconut oil) provides 40% of the recommended allowance of saturated (cholesterol raising!) fat for the day.  Better to eat (a little) real butter.  Or a nut butter (peanut, almond, cashew, etc.).  Most important, read the nutrition information and ingredient list so you know.”

And now:

My friend Peter Kinzler was a warrior in our (failed) battle for auto insurance reform.  (One more thing we have to thank Ralph Nader for, as readers of my September 23, 1996, post may recall.)  But he is also a charming writer.  So — despite my heart-stopping fear of snakes — I opened the blast email he sent his list this summer (subject line: Of Snakes and Antiques) and asked if I could share it here someday when I was too lazy to offer anything of my own.  (I’m on vacation this week!)

And thus . . .

Of Snakes and Antiques

My wife Ginny and I have lived in Hollin Hills for 37 years.  One of the reasons we love the neighborhood so much is our ability to experience nature through the window walls.

Over the years, we have enjoyed watching the wider variety of wildlife, including deer and foxes.  Our one condition has always been that we each remain in our own space.  We did once have a bird fly down the heat exhaust pipe and join us, briefly, inside.  After that, we put a cover on the exhaust and established a strict “no birds in the house” policy.  That policy has been respected by all birds for over a quarter of a century.  Unfortunately, we did not establish a formal policy for other animals.  As a result, over the years, we have been visited inside by the occasional lizard or mouse.  As they have chosen to do so outside of official visiting hours (which are never), they have been welcomed with a few screams. brooms and dust pans.  I can truthfully report that they have all left the house unharmed.

These occasional wildlife visits have been a small price to pay for the pleasure of living in the woods.  That was until May 28th.

That day, Ginny was pouring herself a cup of coffee when she noticed a long black object moving from the kitchen to the living room.  I could say she responded calmly by finishing her breakfast and then calling animal control to remove the black snake – but that would be a lie.  Instead, she screamed for me to come quickly.  As I was two rooms and several walls removed, and well past my best hearing years, I could not hear what she was saying.  I yelled to her that she knew I couldn’t hear so please come closer.  Ginny yelled louder.

When I arrived in the living room, I saw a 2’ long black snake stretched out along the wall.  Ginny said, “Get it out of here.”  My inner pioneer said, “Of course, my beloved.”  My 76 year old suburban self said, “Are you crazy?”  Nevertheless, I set out with a broom and dustpan to do my manly duty and convince the snake that it would be far happier outside.  It responded by coiling up and I abandoned my hopeless quest to remove it from the house.

Ginny, shaken but still thinking, called Fairfax County animal control and they said to watch the snake to make sure it didn’t go hiding elsewhere in the house while they dispatched someone to remove it.  An hour later, a policeman came with a 6’ long grabber and removed the snake.  We thanked him profusely and started to breathe again.

The next day, our blood pressures moving back into the 3-digits, we set off to DC for a relaxing (comparatively speaking) outing at the dentist’s.  As we were already in town, we went to Samuelson’s Buyers to sell some antique silver and gold pieces we hadn’t used in years. While we got less than anticipated because of millennials’ changing tastes, we were glad to get enough to offset some of the never-ending maintenance bills that come with owning a Hollin Hills house.

After a quiet day on Thursday, albeit with the predictable snake dreams, we watched as workmen finished repairing the 70 year old patio – until we heard a loud crash.  Ginny raced into the kitchen to find broken pottery from off our kitchen shelves – and another black snake.  This time, we abandoned half measures and called Home Paramount.  An hour later, two men showed up and explained to us that the snakes were probably coming down our heater exhaust pipe in search of mice.  We explained to them, in voices two octaves above normal, that we didn’t have any mice in the house.  They responded, “Now you know why.”

By this time, we were prepared to pay Home Paramount any sum of money to remove the snake and make sure none ever returned.  And we agreed to do so.  Alas, Home Paramount either has ESP or access to our bank account, as the sum they charged was nearly identical to what we had received from Samuelson’s. We had learned the value of the family jewels.  We just hope the snakes have also learned their lesson.




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