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    Suburban diary

    Knowing the right time to call in ‘outside talent’

    When we bought the house in Burlington, we immediately dubbed it “The Pinesteins.”

    All the 60- to 80-foot-high pine trees that gave our new home shade and natural beauty seemed to make up for the fact that we missed the last bus tour of the sequoias on our last day in San Francisco and ended up taking the ferry to Sausalito, where we got sick from some seafood dish.

    “Thou Shalt Not Be Tardy” became our 11th commandment.


    But we also have maple trees and others. And therein lie the flies in the ointment.

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    The first fall, we gamely went out on a sunny day with rakes and shovels and large plastic bags.

    Four hours later, we had 3½ bags full of leaves and searing pain in our backs.

    Since we were both working full-time jobs and I was pursuing photographic work some nights and weekends, we, as they referred to it in the Mafia flick, “Prizzi’s Honor,” brought in “outside talent.”

    Two young brothers who did snow removal for the house’s prior owner completed the leaf collection.


    We paid them with cash and sincere thanks and tried to keep our tears of joy from spilling out of our eyes until the young men left.

    But as surely as night follows day, the fall came again the very next fall. And fall those thousands of leaves did.

    We were rescued once again by the brothers.

    Now they had also become our snow removal go-to guys.

    We have a pair of relatively long driveways. If we have a winter like last year’s, then we applaud. But if we have heavy wet snowfalls, who do we call?


    Orthopedic surgeons? No, we call in, literally, the outside talent.

    George Weinstein can be reached at