Friday, May 21, 2010


I’ve had some pretty wacky days in my life, but last Saturday ranked right up there as one of the wackiest. In fact, there were moments when I thought I’d never be heard from again.

It all began a few days earlier when a friend told me about a woman in Franklin who’d rescued some dogs from a shelter in Virginia and now wanted to find good homes for them. Two of them were young female rottweilers, my favorite breed.

Sabre, my older rottweiler, who’d just turned 10, passed away last month, and my younger rottie, Willow, age two, had been moping around ever since. Actually, so had my husband and I. Still, I had to think long and hard about getting another dog so soon. Finally, I called the woman for information. She invited me to come see the two dogs on Saturday at 1:30. I figured there was no harm in just looking at them.

I had an appointment to have my eyes checked at 9:30 that morning and I knew my pupils would have to be dilated, but I thought I’d have plenty of time to get them un-dilated by the time I had to head to Franklin.

I don’t have any fancy GPS or direction-guiding gizmos in my car, so I went to Mapquest on my computer and got step-by-step directions leading from my door to the dogs’ door. Mapquest said the distance was 29 miles and my travel time would be about 35 minutes.

I headed to Franklin at 12:30, allowing myself some extra time, just to be safe. Everything went well time-wise…until I took a left off Exit 17. I was supposed to take a right.

“Go 3.7 miles,” my Mapquest directions said, “then take a slight left onto High Street.”

A slight left? To me, something is either left or right. “Slight” isn’t in my direction-following vocabulary.

I drove 5 miles and never saw High Street. Of course, that’s because I was heading in the wrong direction. That’s when I realized that my vision still wasn’t 100 percent. I could see the road and oncoming cars just fine (thank goodness), but the letters on the street signs looked pretty fuzzy.

When I came to a school building that had “Loudon” in the name, it finally dawned on me that I wasn’t in Franklin. I grabbed my cell phone, called the dog woman and begged for help.

“Oh, we just moved here two weeks ago,” she said. “I’m afraid I don’t know any of the routes or roads around here yet. I wish I could help you, but sorry, I can’t.”

I was in big trouble…I, with only my Mapquest directions, was on my own.

I figured I’d stop and ask someone for directions, but every time I spotted an actual human, he was pushing a power mower. The only way I’d have been able to get anyone’s attention would be to walk up and grab him. Finally, I spotted a man changing a flat tire along the side of the road. I pulled up behind him.

With the directions he gave me, I was able to backtrack 12 miles to Exit 17 and go right instead of left.

After that, I managed to spot all of the routes and roads listed on my Mapquest sheet…until it came to Route 127. For some reason, it eluded me. I spotted a gas station/convenience store up ahead and went in there to buy a map. The minute I set foot inside, however, it dawned on me that I’d never be able to read a map with my pupils still foggy, so I asked the man behind the counter how to find Route 127.

“Gee, I really don’t know,” he said. “But I’m sure that one of our customers will, if you just hang around for a minute or two.”

“Do you have a restroom?” I asked. All of that riding over endless bumps and hills had bounced my bladder around like a basketball.

He looked as if I’d just asked him to lend me $100. “Well…um, we don’t have a public restroom…but…oh, wait…I’ll go check it out and let you use it.”

He disappeared out back. I figured he’d seen the pained expression on my face and was worried I’d have an accident on his floor. When I finally entered the restroom, it looked as if the seat and sink had been freshly wiped down.

Shortly thereafter, an elderly customer kindly gave me directions to Route 127. I set off with renewed determination. By then, it was after 2:30.

Five minutes later, I was pulling into another filling station, lost again. Just as I was stepping out of the car to go inside and ask for directions, a car pulled up next to mine. Inside was the elderly customer from the previous gas station.

“Follow me,” he said, rolling his eyes.

I eagerly did, and he led me right to Route 127. All I had to do after that was find the house number of the dog woman.

The trouble was, she didn’t have a number on her mailbox. Neither did the guy next door. Luckily, I caught a glimpse of a bunch of dogs out in a field behind a big house. One of them clearly was a rottweiler. I prayed that I’d finally found the house. It turned out that I had…and it had taken me only three hours to cover the 29-mile trip.

One poor little rottweiler was in terrible condition – emaciated, runny nose and eyes, covered in fleas. She greeted me by leaping on me and covering me with sloppy kisses. It was love at first sight. I had to have her.

“Don’t go back the way you came,” the woman said, once the dog was comfortably stretched out in my car and I was more than ready to head home. I wanted to tell her that even if I tried, I couldn’t go back home the way I’d come, mainly because I had absolutely no clue how I’d gotten there.

“Just go straight out this way,” she said, pointing. “Follow it to the end and you’ll run right into Route 93.”

Sounded simple enough. So Raven, which I named my new rottie, and I headed off.

Not only did I not run into Route 93, I found myself passing through the town of Webster and then past the Hopkinton Fairgrounds. The roads were some of the bumpiest I’d ever been on – and experience had taught me that bumpy roads and dogs in back seats weren’t a good combination. I expected to hear a volcano erupting behind me at any moment.

Concord Hospital suddenly came into view. I’d never been so happy to see a familiar place. I looked at my odometer. I’d gone 103 miles.

When I finally turned into our driveway, I felt like kissing the ground, I was so relieved. That’s when I heard it…the sound of Mount St. Helens erupting in the back seat.

Welcome to the Breslin family, Raven.

Sunday, May 16, 2010


I was getting out of the car at Rite Aid the other day when I suddenly saw out of the corner of my left eye what looked like the paparazzi taking flash pictures of me.

The only problem was no one was there.

When I went into the pharmacy, the flashing got worse. Lightning bolts seemed to shoot across my eye in rapid succession. I even had trouble concentrating on the greeting cards I’d come to buy. Every time I tried to read the sentiment on the inside of a card, the disco-like strobe lights in my eyeball flashed right over the words.

“Birthday wishes straight from the heart. How does it feel to be such an old…(flash!).”

I decided that unless I wanted several of my family members to disown me, it might be a good idea to wait until I actually could read the cards before buying them.

The minute I got home, I rushed over to my computer and looked up the causes of light flashes in eyes. The information said it could be just a harmless nuisance caused by aging…or a detached retina that could cause blindness within three days.

Needless to say, the information did little to ease my mind.

Perhaps it was just a coincidence, but the night before the flashes of light began, I had used this new face-firming gadget I’d ordered online. It featured infrared lights and two conductors that produced little electrical shocks that stimulated the muscles to contract and tighten. The directions said the device could be used around the eye area.

Well, I don’t know what happened, but when I used it around my left eye, it gave me a jolt that was the equivalent of licking my finger and shoving it into a light socket. My face stung all night after that.

Could I, I wondered, possibly have electrocuted my retina while trying to lift my droopy face?

Tired of trying to figure things out on my own, I finally got brave and called my optometrist. She said to come in for an exam the first thing in the morning.

All that night I worried.

“You’re worrying over nothing,” my husband said. “It’ll turn out to be that your eyes are just drying out from old age. Maybe they’re like hot flashes…but only in the eyes.”

The thought of having shriveled-up, menopausal old eyeballs didn’t make me feel any better.

The first thing the optometrist did was dilate my pupils. She then set to work examining every nook and cranny of my eyes.

I strained to hear any sounds she might make, such as “hmmm” or “uh-oh!” but she remained silent throughout the exam.

“You have blond eyes,” she finally said.

I had no clue what that meant…especially since I’m not a blonde.

“Does that mean my eyes have black roots?” I joked.

“It means they’re really pale, so it’s hard to see anything that’s light-colored,” she said, “like a hairline tear.”

She did, however, say that as far as she could tell, everything looked fine and healthy…at least as far as my eyeballs went.

That’s when I told her about the torture device I’d used on my face and eye area. Her eyebrows rose.

“Hmm, that’s very interesting,” she said, scribbling something on my chart. I wondered if she might be writing, “This dimwit electrocuted her eyeball and now is wondering why she’s seeing lightning bolts.”

She told me to come back in a week for a follow-up, and in the meantime, if the lightning bolts got worse or were constant with no rest in between, or if I could still see them while I was relaxing and being a couch potato, to call her immediately.

I’m hoping that the flashes are going to stop just as suddenly as they began…that is, unless I decide to give myself another face-firming treatment. And to be honest, I’ve seriously been considering it. I think I might be able to put up with a few lightning bolts streaking across my eyes if I can get rid of my turkey neck.

Monday, May 10, 2010


I honestly try not to be a nag, but I have to confess that during the past year, I’ve nagged my husband more than usual…a lot more than usual. In my defense, however, I had a perfectly good reason.

The reason actually can be summed up in three words…the storage sheds.

Neither of the two sheds on our old property had been touched in years. I couldn’t even begin to imagine what might be in them, either living or dead. And I had absolutely no intention of finding out.

So about a year ago, when we knew we’d be moving into our new house in the near future, I began to nag my husband.

“You know,” I casually mentioned to him one day, “if you start cleaning out the sheds now, little by little, you can put out some of the junk on trash pick-up day each week, and by the time we’re ready to move, the sheds will be all cleaned out!”

“Don’t worry,” he said. “I’ll have both of the sheds emptied out long before we move.”

Last month, exactly seventy-two hours before our appointment for the closing on our old house, when we’d have to hand over the keys to the new owners, he finally decided to clean out the sheds.

The first thing he did was attempt to back up his van to the door of the first shed. In the process, he ran over the bottom step on the porch and took a huge chunk out of the corner of it. When he looked as if he also might wipe out a maple tree or two, the neighbor came out and offered his assistance. He probably feared that my husband would flatten his fishing boat, which was parked just to the left of our shed.

When I went outside, I found my husband sitting on the back of the van and drinking bottled water while supervising the neighbor, who was cleaning out the bigger shed. Now and then my husband would point and tell him which items to toss out or which to keep. The neighbor then would hand him something to put into the van. I couldn’t believe my eyes.

Another thing I had nagged my husband about was to be sure to thoroughly clean out every box before bringing it to the new house. I didn’t want nests of heaven-only-knows-what being moved into our basement. The sheds were so full of mouse droppings, weird cocoons and spider webs, I shuddered to think what might be hitching a ride over to the new place. So I made my husband promise he would inspect and clean everything before loading it.

Well, considering the fact that zero hour rapidly was approaching, my husband ended up telling the neighbor to fling everything “as is” into the van. If a box contained a family of pregnant spiders, it was going into the van and heading straight to our new house.

I couldn’t believe the things my husband decided to keep. There were old girlie magazines he’d had since he was about 19, five broken portable radios, a mildewed military jacket with some kind of white webs all over it, and enough rusty old auto parts to build an entire car.

“I really don’t want all of that old junk in the new house,” I complained as his van swelled to the near-bursting point.

“Well, I don’t have time to sort through it all right now,” he said. “It will all have to go over there and stay there until I can spend more time looking through it.”

I’d been married to him long enough to know it would be another 20 years before any of that stuff would ever see his face again.

The van was loaded and unloaded three times before he finally got everything cleared out of the shed. The last load is still sitting in the van because neither of us has had the energy to unload it.

“Better check your back tires,” some guy said to us in a supermarket parking lot the other night. “They look pretty flat.”

I had the sneaking suspicion the 10,000 pounds of junk in the back of the van may have had something to do with the tires looking squished.

The other day, I was down in the basement of the new house and happened to see several big black ants running across the floor. They all seemed to be coming from the same area, so I followed their trail and it led me right to my husband’s box of old Archie comic books from the shed.

I carried the box out to the driveway, turned it upside down and emptied everything out of it. Dozens of ants scurried in all directions.

“Hey! You’re ruining my comic books!” my husband protested when he came out and saw them lying in a heap in the dirt. “They’re so old, they’d probably be worth a lot of money!”

“The comic books or the ants?” I snapped. “You know, if you’d have started cleaning out the sheds and checking over everything the way I’d told you to a year ago, we wouldn’t have any ants in the basement right now.”

“How do you know for certain that the box wasn’t ant-free when it got here?” he asked. “I mean, maybe the ants were already lurking in the basement and just crawled into the box when we put it down there.”

I shrugged. “I don’t know. I also don’t know for certain whether or not the dead mice I found in your box of old girlie magazines chewed all of those holes in the centerfolds, or if the pages just disintegrated from old age.”

“Mice? Holes in my centerfolds!” His look of sheer panic nearly made me feel guilty for having made up the story.

Still, maybe now he’ll actually look through some of those boxes before the year 2018.