Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Snakes and Coffee

Several hours after detailing the trials and tribulations of my stop at In-N-Out Burger on the way home from the Bay Area, we pulled into Moncenito, near Santa Barbara after a driving tour of UCSB. After around 5 hours on the road, our faithful, unerring driver was in dire need of a caffeine fix, so we strode in a restaurant and inquired as to where the nearest coffee shop maybe.
Low and behold, Trattoria Mollie, the pride and joy of Ethopian-born owner Mollie Ahlstrand has been cooking up quite a storm. The clientele includes Catherine Zeta-Jones, Oprah Winfrey and Mikhail Gorbachev. After some well-placed chit-chat from my grandmother, we all got to talking and Mollie graciously took care of our bill (3 triple espressos). She inquired in Italian-accented English what we doing in town After explaining that we were looking at colleges in the Bay Area and were on our way back south (with us, the “English Grandsons” in tow), Mollie seemed to be under the impression that I had been accepted to Stanford, which is my personal hypothesis as to why she fathered the bill.
However, like all good scientific debates, there was an alternative hypothesis. My grandmother argued that Ahlstrand’s kindness was due to Gran recognizing her Ethiopian, which would probably be a rare occurrence in a sleepy California town. Whatever the reason, Mollie’s generosity is greatly appreciated. Maybe, next time, the coffee could be a little stronger.
Anyhow, we got back to the Palisades several hours later and sat down for dinner, our fifth consecutive night at a restaurant. So, in preparation to break the streak, we went to the Farmer’s Market the following morning and stocked up on everything from Hummus to Salsa.
We arrived back home in the late morning to shrieks from Maria “Mother” Theresa and barks from the golden retriever, Louie. Then it struck us. The commotion was thanks to a large rattlesnake coiled up near the back door. Keeping my distance, I attempted to reconnoiter the situation but shortly the mustached local firemen arrived on the scene, clad in thick boots and armed with what appeared to be shovels and hoes.
Several brazen minutes later and the snake was captured, a drawstring pole (???) around its neck and a rattle shaking violently. To think it took me 16 years to catch a glimpse of a snake in an area known for them seems weird, but shortly you can share that experience, or rather just as soon as I find the camera transfer cable.

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