Friday, December 25, 2015

I'VE BEEN A STAR WARS FANATIC FOR NEARLY 40 YEARS


With all of the hoopla lately about the new Star Wars movie, the seventh in the series, I can’t help but think back to when the first movie came out, way back in 1977.

My husband and I really had been looking forward to seeing it, mainly because of its enticing description: “A technologically advanced science-fiction movie with never-before-seen special effects!”  So on a Tuesday night during the first week it was playing in Concord, we headed to the theater…and found a line of people stretched all the way across the parking lot.

“I hate waiting in lines,” my husband groaned, ready to turn the car around and head back home. “I had enough of it when I was in the military.”

“Well, we’re here now,” I said. “We might as well go see the movie.”

So we joined the line. When we finally got to the point where only five people were ahead of us, an employee informed us that all of the tickets had been sold out and the next showing would be in three hours. 

The look on my husband’s face told me the only movie we’d be seeing in three hours would be at home and on TV.

Unfortunately, back then, no one had home computers or fancy phones, so tickets couldn’t be purchased in advance. We had to keep returning to the theater and waiting in line. And every time we did, we failed to get a ticket. My husband became less and less enthusiastic about seeing the movie.

“Want to go see Star Wars tonight?” I asked him one Thursday night, a few days after attempt number three had been yet another dismal failure.

His expression told me he’d probably prefer to have an appendectomy… performed with a potato peeler.

“I promise this will be the last time,” I said. “If we don’t get in tonight, we won’t try again until at least a month from now, when we’ll be sure to get a seat.”

He rolled his eyes. Finally, he said, “OK, but this is it. I’m not standing in any more lines. I don’t care if the cast promises to show up in person and reenact the entire movie live, onstage. This is the last time I’m going to waste a night standing in the movie theater’s parking lot. I think I’ve memorized every bump, crack and pot hole in it.”

So back to the theater we went, and took our places at the end of yet another very long line.

“Time to spend another hour looking at the backs of people’s heads,” my husband muttered.

When the line dwindled until there was only one person left in front of us, we started to get nervous.

“Do you think we’ll actually make it this time?”  I whispered to my husband, reaching for his hand and clasping it in a death grip.

“Don’t be silly,” he answered. “You know what kind of luck we have. Prepare to have the ticket window slammed shut in our faces.”

But to our shock, we finally got our tickets. I didn’t know whether to use them to get into the theater…or have them bronzed.

After the movie, my husband and I, wide-eyed with awe, both agreed it had been worth all of the time and trouble we’d gone through to see it.

And on that night, two Star Wars fanatics were born.

The next day, we went shopping for Star Wars toys and collectibles. We bought small action figures and large ones. We bought plastic lightsabers and a huge model of the Millennium Falcon, Han Solo’s ship. We even bought Star Wars sheets for the bed.

And over the next few years, our Star Wars buying frenzy continued.  We accumulated so much stuff, we had to rent a storage unit to keep it in. And much too often, we’d spend so much money shopping for additions to our Star Wars collection, we’d end up having to eat peanut-butter sandwiches for a week.

Finally, my mother sat me down one day and said, “Look, this Star Wars habit of yours has got to stop. You’re throwing your money away on this junk!  Be smart and put it into a CD or a money-market account instead of wasting it on dumb toys.”

But my husband and I were too hooked on collecting to stop. Our Saturday nights no longer were spent going to dinner and a movie. Instead they were spent roaming through the aisles in Toys R Us and tossing Star Wars items into our cart, and then heading over to Bradlees or K-Mart to do the same thing.

By the time we finally decided to take a breather from our collecting addiction, we’d spent over $2,000. Considering the fact that the average price of a new car back then was about $4,000, our Star Wars spending spree was no small matter.

And once again, my mother was more than eager to remind us of that.

“You’re both supposed to be adults!” she said when she came to visit and noticed bags of Star Wars toys on the kitchen table, before we’d had the chance to take them to the storage unit and hide them. “Mark my words, the day will come when you’ll regret not depositing your money in the bank and having a nice nest egg instead of just a bunch of worthless Dark Vader dolls!”

“It’s Darth Vader, not Dark Vader, Mom” I said, impressed she even knew that much about the movie.

“I don’t care what his name is!” she said. “I just hope he’ll pay for your rent when you end up broke and homeless!”

Years later, in 1998, I bought a collectors’ price guide to Star Wars toys and painstakingly looked up the value of each item in our collection. Many of the little 3.5-inch action figures, which we’d paid $1.99 each for, were listed as worth between $100 and $300 each. The 12-inch action figures, which we’d paid  $11.95 each for at K-Mart, were worth up to $500 each, depending on the character.  The grand total for our original $2,000 collection, according the guide, was about $70,000.

With a smug sense of victory, I couldn’t wait to show the guide and my calculations to my mother. Her expression couldn’t have looked more shocked if I had shown her a photo of a naked man.

“Are you serious?” she asked. “All of that junk you bought is actually worth good money?”

I nodded. “Much more than any money-market account would have been.”

So after that, whenever our birthdays or Christmas rolled around, my mom would gift us with Star War toys. We were happy we finally had won her over from the Dark Side.

When I was wandering through Wal-Mart the other day, I happened to see an entire aisle of new Star Wars toys.  I felt myself being drawn to it, just like back in 1977, and I had to resist the sudden urge to run down the aisle and wildly fling action figures into my cart.

But what stopped me was the realization that for $2,000 nowadays, I’d probably be able to buy only about 20 toys.

OK, so maybe I did give in and buy just a couple action figures – Captain Phasma and Kylo Ren – even though I have no clue yet who they are.


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Friday, December 18, 2015

I WAS THE ONE WHO NEEDED TRAINING, NOT MY DOG

  

I think it’s finally safe to say my newest addition to the family, Eden, a two-year-old boxer and Rhodesian ridgeback mix, just might work out after all.

Her antics after I adopted her forced me to put her on probation for a while. But as it turned out, I discovered she wasn’t the one who needed training…I was. I had to learn to think like a dog. And believe me, it wasn’t easy.  I have enough trouble trying to think like a human.

I adopted Eden from a shelter after I fell in love with her photo online. Her history in the description also drew me to her. It said that in the course of only a few weeks, she had been taken from her previous home to a high-kill shelter in Tennessee, was rescued and brought to a shelter up here in New Hampshire, and then was placed in a foster home.

During my first meeting with Eden, her foster mother told me Eden wasn’t housebroken, was shy and was just learning to walk on a leash. Still, I decided I wanted her.  The first thing I did after making that decision was stock up on Nature’s Miracle, the best stuff on earth, in my opinion, for cleaning up anything and everything that might come out of a dog.

When Eden first entered my house, everything seemed fine. She and Willow, my rottweiler, instantly began to play together. I kept my eyes glued on her though, mainly because I expected her to run around the house and mark her territory. But she was fine.

In fact, everything continued to be fine for the first couple of days. Eden smoothly adapted to her new environment and even better, contrary to what I’d been told, she turned out to be fully housebroken.

“This is working out perfectly!” I thought. “Eden is fitting right in, no problems whatseover. We’re a match made in heaven!”

How naïve I was.

The first negative thing I noticed about her was she was a little too possessive and clingy.  She didn’t like it when I paid attention to Willow, and she constantly clung to me – so much so, I contemplated changing her name to Saran Wrap.

About four days after I first adopted Eden, I got up one morning to find my hallway runner in shreds. This was a rug that had taken me six months to get by special order because I’d wanted it to exactly match the pattern on my living-room rug. So it broke my heart to see the entire border unraveled and lying in a heap that resembled rug spaghetti. My $19 accent rug from Wal-Mart, however, was untouched. Although I didn’t have any concrete proof which dog had done the damage, I was positive it had to be Eden. And later, when I discovered a piece of yarn stuck between her teeth, my suspicions were confirmed.  

The next rug to become the victim of  “The Shredder” was the one under the dining table. She chewed off all four of its corners – which at least made it symmetrical. That’s when I really began to grow concerned about what her next victim would be. I prayed it wouldn’t be the living room rug, beige with a brown and burgundy Native-American pattern on it. Not only was it what I had based all of the décor in my living room on – it was irreplaceable. I tried not to envision it being turned into a 5’x7’ jigsaw puzzle.

Several of my friends suggested I crate Eden at bedtime or whenever I was going to be out of the house for a while. But a visit to the vet for Eden’s wellness check pretty much nixed that idea. She was fine at the vet’s…until they took her out back to weigh her. The minute she saw the cages back there, she freaked out, and there was no calming her down. The vet said the cages probably reminded her of the ones in the shelters, and she was terrified of being abandoned again. The vet also said crating her probably wouldn’t be a good idea, seeing she already had anxiety issues, because she might end up injuring herself.

A few days later, I went to a concert. When I returned home, I immediately noticed that my biggest fear had been realized – the living-room rug was rolled back, and the separate non-skid liner I’d put underneath it had been turned into confetti. I flew over to the rug to check it out. The very tip of one corner had been chewed off, but the rest of the rug still was intact, to my relief. I was grateful the concert hadn’t lasted 20 minutes longer.

But chewing rugs wasn’t Eden’s only problem. Whenever I went to pet Willow, Eden would rush over and either nip at my hand or whack it with her paw, so I would stop. I’d scold her and tell her to go lie down, but the jealousy continued. She seemed determined to prevent me from touching Willow.

The shelter contacted me a few weeks after the adoption and asked me how everything was going with Eden.

“To be honest, I don’t think this is going to work out,” I told the woman. “I’m beginning to think I’m just too old to deal with all of her issues.”

The woman asked me to elaborate, so I did – in great detail. She then suggested I work with an animal behaviorist, and even offered to send one over, free of charge. Eden, she told me, needed a “forever” home and deserved happiness. She asked me to please not give up on her yet.

I remember thinking there wouldn’t be a “forever” home left for Eden to live in if she continued to destroy it.

So I ended up talking to a behaviorist on the phone. The first thing she asked me was, “When you’re about to leave the house, describe exactly what you do.”

“Well,” I said, “I grab my purse, my car keys, and usually the packages I have to mail at the post office. I sell a lot of stuff on eBay, so I always seem to have packages to mail.”

“Ahhhh,” she said. “That’s part of the problem!  Eden knows when you are leaving, and it makes her anxious. When she sees you pick up your purse and your car keys, you’re giving her a signal. From now on, just before you’re going to leave, let her out into the yard. Then while she’s out, bring all of your things out to the car. Then let her back inside, give her a treat, and while she’s busy eating the treat, sneak out. And, if you have time, come back after a few minutes, and then leave again. It will confuse her. And whatever you do, don’t say goodbye or anything else to her. Just casually leave.”

So I took her advice and tried everything she said – including a few of my own ideas, just for extra insurance. I scattered dog toys and long-lasting chew treats all over the floor to keep Eden distracted. I even went out to the woods and found four heavy flat rocks – and put one on each corner of the living-room rug, so she couldn’t roll it back again…or chew off the corners.

The strategy worked. I came home to find my house intact and the dogs asleep.

I then told the behaviorist about Eden’s jealousy and how she always tried to get my hand away from Willow whenever I petted her.

“And how do you react when Eden does that?” she asked.

“I scold her and tell her to go lie down.”

“Noooo!  That’s wrong!” she said. “Eden wants to distract you, to take your attention away from Willow. She doesn’t care if you’re being nice to her or you’re scolding her. All she cares about is you’re paying attention to her instead of Willow. You have to ignore her, to let her know she can’t distract you.”

So once again, I followed her advice.  By the end of the day, Eden no longer bothered me when I petted Willow.

Now, I’m relieved to say I actually can leave the house for a few hours at a time and not have to constantly worry about coming home to a house that looks like an explosion in a yarn mill.

But just to be safe, I haven’t removed the heavy rocks from the corners of the living-room rug. You might say they’ve become my newest fashion statement.

Now all I have to do is buy some steel-toed slippers…because stubbing my toes on those darned rocks is becoming pretty painful.
 
 
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Friday, December 11, 2015

MY CHRISTMAS TREE HAS BEEN DOWNSIZED


I finally put up my Christmas tree the other night. It’s artificial, only two feet tall and sits on top of my curio cabinet. Times certainly have changed.

Just a few years ago, I was adamant about having a real tree. For one thing, I wanted the house to smell like Christmas, like evergreen. An artificial tree doesn’t smell like much of anything – except, in my case, maybe a little like mildew.

When I was a kid, the only artificial trees in existence looked nothing like real trees. They were made out of shiny silver aluminum, with an even shinier silver trunk. And I guess because putting electrical lights on metal branches probably would have caused something other than the tree to light up, the tree was illuminated with an electric wheel of rotating colors, which were projected onto it. My mother always thought those trees were an insult to both nature and Christmas. Every time she spotted one, she would cast it a look of such intense dislike, you would think a skunk had just sprayed it.

My mother was a perfectionist when it came to buying and decorating our Christmas tree each year. Going to a sales lot to pick out a tree always was a lengthy process. Back then, unlike now, there weren’t many perfectly shaped trees to choose from. And they were a lot scrawnier than the nice, full ones of today. So my mother would have the tree-lot attendant show her one tree after another. One was too short. Another was too tall. Another had too many bare spots. What she’d finally end up doing was asking the guy to drill holes into the trunk and stick branches into it to make the tree fuller. This, of course, resulted in those branches getting dry and turning brown much faster than the tree’s original branches. But at least Mom was happy.

 I always enjoyed decorating the tree – with one exception. My mother loved using something called angel hair around the lights. Believe me, the stuff was like a lethal weapon. It kind of resembled cotton, but was made from actual glass fibers, so when I touched it, it felt like a million little pins sticking into me – and then it made my skin all itchy. Every time my mom asked if I wanted to help her put the angel hair on the tree, I’d make up some excuse not to – like I was going to go lie down because I thought my appendix might be on the verge of bursting.

The angel hair wasn’t the only pain-inducing decoration, however. There also were the tree lights. They got hot back then…really hot. There were no such things as “cool touch” or “energy saver” lights.  No, if you touched a Christmas bulb that had been lit for a while, it could blister your skin. But those lights were much better, according to my mom, than the lights that were popular when she was a kid. Back then, they consisted of candleholders that clipped onto the branches and held lit candles!  I can’t imagine people being brave (or foolish) enough to put live flames on tree branches.  I’ll bet a lot of houses became piles of ashes during the holiday season in those days.

My mother also was a big fan of silver tinsel. She would hang the strands one by one, strategically placing them so they all would be the exact length on each branch.  I enjoyed hanging tinsel my own way, which involved putting it into my mouth and then blowing it onto the tree. Wherever it landed was fine with me. My mother, however, nearly needed CPR every time I used my method, because the tinsel would land helter-skelter in clumps everywhere.

After I got married, my husband and I decided it might be fun to go to a place where we could chop our own Christmas tree. We trudged through knee-deep snow in sub-freezing weather and looked at so many trees, they all began to blur together after a while. Still, we couldn’t find one we both liked – not even the one that still had a bird’s nest in the branches.  My husband thought it would be cool to fill the nest with Christmas bulbs. I didn’t share his enthusiasm.

When we finally were so cold we couldn’t feel our faces any more, we decided to just chop down the next tree we saw. It wasn’t until it was lying on the ground that we noticed it didn’t have any branches on the backside. So we brought it home and stood it in a corner of the living room.

While my husband was at work, I decided to surprise him and decorate the tree before he came home.  As I was stringing the lights on it, something flew out of the tree. I didn’t see what it was, but I spotted its shadow in the sunlight on the wall, and I could have sworn it was a bat. I rushed to the phone to call my husband.

“There’s a bat in the Christmas tree!” I cried, the minute he answered. “I’m scared!”

He rushed right home…to find me hiding in the bathroom. I told him I wasn’t coming out until the bat was gone.

I could hear my husband going from room to room, and finally, I heard a loud “smack!” He then shouted that it was safe for me to come out of the bathroom.

I did, and he was standing there, smiling and shaking his head. In his hand was a rolled-up magazine.

“Here’s your bat,” he said, showing me the carcass of some squished flying insect.  I figured it must have been frozen in the tree and then thawed out in the warm room and was resurrected. It looked like a big horsefly.

“But it made a huge shadow on the wall!” I quickly explained, embarrassed I’d made him leave work to come kill a bug. “I could have sworn it was a bat!”

My husband grabbed a marking pen and wrote “bat killer” on the cover of the magazine…and then teased me about it for years. We never chopped down our own tree again.

But now, I have a small artificial tree – not by choice, but out of necessity.

You see, my new dog, Eden, believes that everything on the floor is her property.  In the past two months, she has completely unraveled two area rugs and eaten the corners off another one. And then I bought her a thick, fleecy dog bed to curl up in. I came home one afternoon to find only the zipper left. The rest of the bed was scattered throughout three different rooms. I’m still finding the stuffing in unusual places, like in the furnace grates.

I can only imagine what would happen if I set up a full-sized live tree and put gifts underneath it. I’m pretty sure I would come home to a pile of shredded wrapping paper and chewed-up branches – and probably a dog that would look as if she’d been hog-tied with strings of lights.

So I’ll stick with my small Christmas tree, safely perched on top of my curio cabinet. But I have to warn everyone I buy gifts for…don’t expect anything this year that won’t fit into a box smaller than the size of a deck of cards.

Otherwise, it won’t fit underneath my tree.
 
 
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Friday, December 4, 2015

DRESSES DON'T SEEM TO BE AS POPULAR AS THEY ONCE WERE


It occurred to me the other day that the last time I wore a dress, Ronald Reagan was president.

I’m not sure exactly when or why I lost my interest in skirts and dresses. Back when I was in my 20s, I wore dresses all the time – if you could call them dresses. The ones I wore looked more like long blouses because the style back then was the mini-dress. And believe me, I embraced that style whole-heartedly, even though I never had what one might call shapely legs.  In fact, they’ve always kind of resembled two tree trunks with varicose veins.

Still, I owned a closet full of mini-dresses…the minier the better. I still wonder how I ever managed to sit down in them without unintentionally flashing everyone in the room. And forget about bending over or squatting. If I dropped something on the floor, it stayed there. If I saw a coin on the sidewalk, I walked right over it. There was no easy way to pick up something on the ground or floor while wearing a mini-dress, not without getting arrested for indecent exposure.

The other day, when I was looking through the clothes in my closet, I happened to notice the last four outfits I’d bought to wear to major events – a wedding, two anniversary parties and a Christmas cocktail party – and all four were pants outfits. It made me realize that over the years, I’d somehow gone from being chic and hip, to looking like a fashion clone of Hillary Clinton.

But I’m not the only non-dress wearer around. From what I’ve seen, the majority of women don’t bother to get all dressed up nowadays the way they used to. I can remember when going to church involved wearing a dress, high heels, a hat, white gloves and a purse. Now, a lot of women go to church looking as if the minute the service is over, they’re going surfing.

I also remember how “gussied up” (I’m showing my age here) everyone would get for the annual Christmas parties where I used to work. Every year, the company always held a huge bash at the Chateau restaurant in Manchester. This, of course, meant I would have to spend weeks of shopping in advance, searching for just the right dress to wear.

Linda, a co-worker of mine back then, and I usually went shopping together. Our favorite store for party attire was Pariseau’s on Elm Street in Manchester. One year, the hottest new style was something called a pant gown. It resembled an evening gown, but the skirt portion consisted of these voluminous pants, kind of like culottes on steroids. Linda and I were eager to be the first to wear them and make a grand entrance at the annual party.

I’ll never forget the first pant gown Linda tried on. It was made of sparkly copper, gold and silver brocade, with a bodice heavily decorated with crystals, pearls, shiny gold balls and glass beads. She looked like a walking Christmas tree. All she needed was a light-up star on top of her head.

“Hmmm,” was all she said as she admired the gown in the store’s 3-way mirror. One thing about Linda was she had a perfect 36-24-36 figure, so she could have tried on a burlap sack with armholes cut out of it and still looked stunning.

“Well, do you like it?” I finally asked her.

She shook her head. “It’s not fancy enough” She turned to the sales clerk. “Do you have anything flashier?”

The pant gown she ended up buying was so bright, it could have qualified as its own float in the Disney World electrical parade.  I settled for a pant gown that had a white lace bodice with silver threads through it, a pink satin waistband, and a black pants-gown skirt made up of dozens of tiny accordion pleats.

I can’t help but wonder what everyone would wear to those same parties at the Chateau nowadays. I’m guessing yoga pants and T-shirts.

I think one of the reasons why dresses aren’t as popular as they once were is because there just aren’t as many of them around. I can remember going into just about any department store years ago and seeing racks of dresses everywhere. Now, if stores have even one rack, it’s surprising. And the dresses on those racks usually aren’t very party worthy. They’re more like dresses you’d wear while running barefooted along a beach – or cleaning out the lint trap in your clothes dryer.

It seems as if the older I get and the more varicose veins and sagging skin I acquire, the less enthused I am about wearing dresses. But if I ever do decide to wear one again, it definitely will have to be during the winter. That way, I can wear black opaque stockings or, even better, knee-high boots, to conceal my legs. I don’t know what I would do during the hot summer months, though. Somehow, I don’t think a cotton sundress and knee-high boots would make a very cohesive fashion statement. I mean, it would look as if my body couldn’t decide whether it wanted to go to the beach…or a ski lodge.

And speaking of leg attire, I’m a little disturbed that the bare-leg look currently is all the rage.  Woman are opting not to wear any stockings at all, rather than suffer with the discomfort of pantyhose that either stop the circulation from the waist to the knees, or end up sliding down until the crotch is somewhere at mid-thigh. But I’ve always considered pantyhose to be my dear friends, despite the discomfort and chafing they cause. What I like about them is they hide flaws, suck in fat, and they add some color to my legs, which normally are about the same shade as milk.

So now, with Christmas parties looming in the near future, I’m wondering what kind of stylish new holiday outfit I should buy. Maybe a classy black dress and some high-heeled boots?

Nah. I’m leaning more toward sweatpants and a hoodie.

 

 

MY BOOK SALES TO BENEFIT ANIMAL SHELTER

 
A short time still remains to order copies of my humor book, “There’s a Tick in my Underwear!” or my suspense novel, “Heed the Predictor” and its sequel, “Conceal the Predictor,” directly from me for $10 each, which includes shipping. Also, I will personally autograph each book to anyone you’d like – just make certain to print the name or names clearly when ordering. Autographed copies of my books also will be available at Bobby Dee’s Records and Audio Repair at 132 Main St. in Pembroke Village. A portion of all proceeds will be donated to the Manchester Animal Shelter, to help the animals have a merrier Christmas. Send orders to: Sally Breslin, PO Box 585, Suncook, NH 03275-0585.

NOTE: For those of you with electronic reading devices, my book, “There’s a Tick in my Underwear!” currently can be downloaded free of charge at Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com or Smashwords.com.

 

 

 

 

 

Friday, November 27, 2015

CHRISTMAS SHOPPING IS SO MUCH EASIER NOWADAYS

 
I did some early Christmas shopping the other night. I browsed through nearly every department in Macy’s, Target, Sears, Barnes and Noble, JC Penney and Home Depot.

And I never set foot out of my house.

I have to admit that online shopping has made buying Christmas gifts a whole lot easier.  Years ago, I never would have believed the day would come when I’d be able to wear my pajamas, hair curlers and slippers while shopping.

I clearly remember how Christmas shopping used to be, long before there were home computers or fancy phones – long before there even were any malls around. Shopping when I was young meant having to bundle up and go downtown, where all of the stores were separate and outside, not linked together in cozy, heated malls.

On a cold winter’s day, when my mother and I would take the bus downtown, she’d make me wear a warm coat, hat, mittens, a scarf and even long underwear. Then we’d go into one of the stores, where the temperature was hotter than the surface of the sun, and after only about five minutes, I’d whine that I was going to faint. 

My favorite part of Christmas shopping when I was a kid was the hot-chocolate break we always took at Woolworth’s lunch counter.  Not only was the hot chocolate thick and rich, it was topped off with a big dollop of real whipped cream. And it was served in heavy ceramic mugs, nothing Styrofoam.

Woolworth’s was my favorite store when I was young. Just about all of my allowances were spent there. I used to enjoy buying costume jewelry and then having it engraved. It fascinated me to watch the clerk use the hand-operated engraving machine, where a metal stencil of each letter was used and had to be traced over and over again, which seemed to take forever. 

I also was magnetically drawn to the pet department upstairs. I think just about every kid I knew back then bought, at some point, one of the store’s live turtles that came in a little plastic bowl with a fake palm tree in the center.  I hate to say it, but once those turtles left the store, their days were numbered. None of us kids knew the first thing about taking care of a turtle. I remember one of my friends put so much turtle food into the bowl, it absorbed all of the water and turned into something that resembled wet sawdust.

Woolworth’s also sold baby alligators, which I thought would be a fun pet to own. But when I asked my mother if I could have one, she said (quote), “Over my cold, dead body!”  To this day, whenever I hear those urban legends about live, full-grown alligators roaming through the sewers of New York because they survived being flushed down the toilet by angry parents, I always wonder if they were purchased at Woolworth’s.

I also remember the Salvation Army bell ringers on the street corners downtown at Christmastime. But they didn’t just ring bells. They actually had musical instruments and played Christmas carols. My mom used to say that sometimes their lips would stick to their trombones or trumpets because it was so cold outside. So every time I passed by them after that, I’d stare at their lips, wondering if they had any skin left on them.

When I got older, Christmas shopping always seemed to involve driving to 10 different towns and spending so much money on gas, I no longer could afford to buy Christmas gifts. This was due to countless elusive searches for impossible-to-find items on people’s Christmas wish-lists.

Both my mother and my mother-in-law seemed to have a knack for sending me on the proverbial wild-goose chase.  I began to suspect they did it on purpose, solely to test both my patience and persistence…or maybe just to drive me crazy.

“Oh, I’d like a nice pink robe,” my mother-in-law answered matter-of-factly one year when I asked her what she wanted for Christmas.

A pink robe sounded simple enough to me – a quick and easy gift.

“But it has to be soft flannel, snap up the front, have three-quarter length sleeves, and be mid-calf length,” she then added. “Oh, and nothing belted, and I want it to have pockets to keep my tissues in.”

I can remember spending an entire day driving from store to store in search of that robe. I found ankle-length pink ones, knee-length pink ones, zip-up ones, button-up ones, long-sleeved ones and belted ones, none of which had pockets. And then, after 30 stores and 150 gallons of gas later, I finally found the perfect robe…but it was yellow.   By then, I was so desperate, I was ready to hire a seamstress to make the darned robe…or have her dye the yellow one pink.

Believe me, nowadays, finding that robe would be simple. I’d just grab my laptop and enter all of the specifics into “search,” and the computer would do all of the searching for me while I sat comfortably on the sofa and sipped hot tea.

Sure, Christmas shopping might be a whole lot simpler nowadays. But to be honest, I don’t think it’s nearly as much fun.
 

And I really do miss the hot chocolate at Woolworth’s.


                                                                      








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Friday, November 20, 2015

THE ANCIENT SPIRITS ARE OUT TO GET ME


 
Ever since I moved into my house six years ago, weird things have been happening on a regular basis. In fact, I’m convinced the house was built on top of some ancient burial ground. The deceased obviously aren’t happy I’m here, so they’re deviously plotting ways in which to slowly drive me crazy so I’ll eventually run screaming from the house and never return

The latest strange occurrence began a few months ago. There are two ceiling lights in the laundry room. Suddenly, one of them didn’t light when I flipped on the switch. I groaned out loud, because if there’s one thing I hate doing, it’s changing bulbs in ceiling lights.

I grabbed a new bulb and a kitchen chair, and then climbed onto the chair. The difficult part was unscrewing the glass dome over the light and removing it without dropping it and sending shards of glass flying like miniature missiles and impaling one of the dogs.

I managed to change the bulb and screw the dome back on, then I got down off the chair and flipped on the light switch. The far light lit, but the one I’d just put the new bulb into didn’t.  At that point, I figured I’d be needing an electrician – and probably a second mortgage to pay for him.

The electrician, who charged $55 just to show up, arrived a week later. He walked into the laundry room and flipped on the light switch. Both lights brightly glowed.  I glared at the one that hadn’t lit, not even once, since I’d changed the bulb.

“Flip it again,” I said to the guy. “Believe me, that light right above your head hasn’t turned on in over a week.”

He flipped the switch several more times. Both lights continued to pop on, sinisterly mocking me. He checked a few things, probably just to pacify me, then said he couldn’t find anything wrong. He said that if, as I’d told him, only one light had gone out, it probably was a problem with the light itself rather than the electrical work, otherwise both lights wouldn’t have worked.

So I paid him his $105 and he left.

That night, to my relief, the problem light immediately popped on when I flipped the switch.

The other light, however, didn’t.

I actually burst out laughing because I couldn’t believe it. It was as if my ceiling lights were playing a game of musical chairs. But I wasn’t about to call the electrician again. I decided I could get along for a while with just one light.

And for a while I did. One day the far light would light. The next day the closer one would. And sometimes they both would pop on. But then only one would light again. I never knew what to expect. I found myself making mental bets every time I hit the switch.

Two weeks ago, the worst-case scenario happened. I flipped on the switch, saw a bright flash of light and then everything went dark. Neither light lit. The laundry room was thrust into complete darkness.

I was pretty certain at least one light eventually would pop back on, but total darkness remained.  I tried flipping the circuit breaker. It didn’t help. So I had to do my laundry by flashlight…and by touch.  And when I finally carried the clothes out to a room that actually had lights, I discovered I’d accidentally washed a couple pairs of white panties in the same load as my new green sweatshirt and turned them the color of pea soup.

That did it. The next morning I called an electrician – a different one, because I was too embarrassed to the call the first one again.

“I’m sorry,” the woman who answered said. “But our electrician is booked for the next two months.”

My first thought was, “You’re one of the biggest companies in the state, and you have only one electrician?” My second thought was, “I’d better get used to wearing a lot of pea-soup colored underwear.”

She asked me to describe the problem, probably because if it turned out to be an emergency, like bolts of lightning shooting out of the ceiling, she might have decided to send the electrician over in two weeks rather than two months.

“Sounds like a problem with the switch,” she said, in a tone that told me she wasn’t about to disrupt the electrician’s schedule for something so trivial.

“But there’s a switch for the kitchen lights on the other half of it,” I explained, “And that half works fine.”

She remained unfazed. In retrospect, maybe I should have fibbed and told her that something was smoking, shooting sparks or crackling. Instead, I just thanked her and said I’d try to find someone else. 

As it turned out, everyone else I called also was booked up until next year. I began to wonder if a solar flare or something had caused a massive power problem, making everyone desperate for an electrician at the same time.

A couple nights later, my friend Nancy and her husband Paul came over. I previously (like every week for the past four months) had been complaining to them about my lighting situation, so Paul asked me about it.

“The lights won’t come on at all now,” I muttered. “I have to hold a flashlight with my teeth when I do the laundry.”

He walked over to the laundry room, flipped on the switch, and both lights immediately came on. My mouth fell open.

“They look fine to me,” he said, shrugging. He flipped the switch a few more times and the lights behaved perfectly. “Are you sure you haven’t been hallucinating?”

“It’s a curse, I tell you!” I cried. “The spirits in the ancient burial ground under here are out to get me!”

He laughed and shook his head.

Twenty minutes after Paul and Nancy left, I went into the laundry room, which also is where keep the dogs’ food, and hit the switch. Only one light popped on. I flipped it again. Total darkness.

To heck with calling an electrician.  I’m going to call an exorcist.


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Friday, November 13, 2015

THE OLDER I GET, THE LESS I ENJOY HORROR MOVIES



I discovered something disturbing the week before Halloween: I no longer like horror movies.

Back when I was a kid, I was a horror-movie fanatic. It didn’t matter to me that they’d often give me nightmares or I’d end up crawling into bed with my parents because I was certain Dracula was hiding in my bedroom closet and waiting to sink his fangs into my neck. No, I loved horror movies.

I still can remember my favorites from back in the 1950s and early ‘60s.  There was, “The Crawling Eye,” about a giant eyeball with tentacles that crawled around near a mountain resort and killed people. And then there was “From Hell it Came,” which featured a killer tree called The Tabanga, with a hideous scowling face on its trunk. After I saw that movie, I was glad I lived in the middle of the city and not out in the country near a bunch of trees.

My father, however, thought The Tabanga was the most hilarious thing he’d ever seen.

“That’s a guy wearing a rubber suit!” he’d laughed. “Look at his limbs bouncing when he walks! And I could swear I saw a zipper going up the back of the tree!”

Another thing about the movie that my dad thought was hysterical was the tree walked at a really slow pace, shuffling its feet as it inched along – probably because the guy’s rubber suit was too tight.  Yet the people in the movie were trampling each other in their effort to avoid being “limbed” to death.

“A 90-year-old guy using a walker could outrun that tree!” my dad said between guffaws.

He sure knew how to ruin a good horror movie.

And I clearly remember going to the Rex Theater in Manchester to see, “Mr. Sardonicus,” about a grave robber whose face froze into the exact replica of the corpse he was robbing. His facial rigor-mortis prevented him from chewing, so he had to liquefy all of his meals and slurp them. This made him really irritable, so he ended up doing mean things like stringing up women and attaching leeches to their bodies.

But I think my favorite horror movie from my childhood years had to be Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds.”  Never in my life would I have believed a flock of birds could be so terrifying. Even to this day, whenever I see a bunch of birds flying overhead, I wonder if they are going to swoop down and peck out my eyeballs.

After I got married, I still enjoyed horror movies, even though my husband and I spent most of our time laughing at them and their bad special effects. One of our favorite hangouts was the Bedford Grove Drive-in, which showed really corny horror movies that were advertised as being so nauseating, the staff actually handed out barf bags with the admission tickets.

I remember one particularly bad “barf bag” movie we saw (its name currently escapes me, which probably is a good thing) about a restaurant that was using human body parts in its meals. Conveniently, all of the people the chef murdered had last names like Lamb and Partridge, so when the menu advertised, “leg of Lamb” or “roasted breast of Partridge,” it actually was the truth.

But there was one horror movie my husband and I didn’t laugh at. In fact, it actually gave both of us nightmares for the first time in our adult lives. That movie was “The Exorcist.”  We went to see it at a special late-night showing at the Bedford Mall, and there wasn’t an empty seat in the place. During a particularly gory scene in the movie, one of the theater-goers stood up, began to walk up the aisle, and then passed out, flat on his face. I was pretty sure if I’d have stood up at that moment, I probably would have joined him face-down on the floor.

And I’ll never forget when we took Richard, the kid next door, with us to see “Jaws.” I don’t think I’ve ever jumped so many times during a movie. Richard ended up being so scared, he refused to go swimming in his backyard pool after that, even though everyone assured him that a great white shark couldn’t possibly fit into it – or survive in anything but ocean water.

I think the movie that finally made me realize I didn’t enjoy horror movies any more was, “Jeepers Creepers 2,” which came out in 2003. In the beginning of the movie, a boy is in this cornfield where there’s a really creepy-looking scarecrow. As the boy passes by the scarecrow, its eyes follow him. In a flash, the scarecrow leaps off its post and attacks the boy.

No kidding, on that day, I fully understood the meaning of “scare” in the word scarecrow. It affected me so dramatically, I haven’t been able to eat corn, not even a can of Niblets, ever since.

I’ve come to the conclusion that the problem with the horror movies of today is they are just too graphic and realistic. They leave nothing to the imagination, like back when I was a kid. No, everything is right there in living color, leaping out of the screen at you – from blood and guts to projectile vomiting. Gone are the days of dismembered hands made of rubber with ketchup on them. All of this new technology is just too much for my aging brain to handle.

So from now on, I think I’ll be better off if I stick with safe, family-oriented movies like “The Sound of Music.”

Although, that fabric Maria used when she made new outifts for all of the kids was pretty scary.

 

 

BOOKS NOW AVAILABLE FOR CHRISTMAS

I’ve had a number of inquiries about my books and whether or not I will be offering autographed copies again this year, particularly for Christmas gift-giving.  The answer is yes!  You can order copies of my humor book, “There’s a Tick in my Underwear!” or my suspense novel, “Heed the Predictor” and its sequel, “Conceal the Predictor,” directly from me for $10 each, which includes shipping. Also, I will personally autograph each book to anyone you’d like – just make certain to print the name or names clearly when ordering. Autographed copies of my books also will be available at Bobby Dee’s Records and Audio Repair at 132 Main St. in Pembroke Village. A portion of all proceeds will be donated to the Manchester Animal Shelter. Send orders to: Sally Breslin, PO Box 585, Suncook, NH 03275-0585, or you can send payment through Paypal to my account: sillysally@att.net.

NOTE: For those of you with electronic reading devices, my book, “There’s a Tick in my Underwear!” currently can be downloaded free of charge at Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com or Smashwords.com.

 
 


 

Friday, November 6, 2015

YOU NEVER CAN HAVE TOO MANY PHOTOS OF NORTH CONWAY



Everyone has been saying that this year’s autumn foliage was the most brilliant and ooh-inspiring in years.  I was pleased it was, because I had friends coming from Nebraska to visit, and they were eager to see some breathtaking colors.

“Nebraska is basically all cornfields,” they said. “So seeing trees, any trees at all, will be exciting.”

They arrived with two other couples, rented a van and decided to take day trips. I recommended they visit North Conway, mainly because of the spectacular views of Mount Washington there.

Just about every October, my husband and I used to take a drive through North Conway, where I would snap photos of Mount Washington. Then the moment we got home, I’d rush down to the local pharmacy to get the film developed with their one-hour processing.

“Aren’t these shots of Mount Washington just gorgeous?” I’d fairly gush, showing them to my husband.
Mount Washington, NH

He didn’t even attempt to feign enthusiasm.  “They look exactly like the other 547 photos you have of Mount Washington,” he said. 

I vigorously shook my head. “No, some have a little more snow on the peak than others. And a couple have no snow at all.”

“I really think you need a change of scenery,” he muttered.

In retrospect, he probably ended up regretting his words because he made me start thinking he might be right and I really did need to branch out with my leaf peeping. So the next autumn, I asked him to take me to the Mohawk Trail in Massachusetts instead of up to North Conway.

His reaction was less than enthusiastic. “But it’s so far,” he protested. “And once we get there, it’s another 60 miles of steep, winding road.  Let’s just stick with North Conway.”

I frowned. “You’re the one who said I needed a change.  I’ve taken so many photos at the same scenic stops every year in North Conway, I swear the mountains actually strike a pose and smile when they see me coming.”

So bright and early on a Tuesday morning in October, we headed to the Mohawk Trail. We even stopped at a rest area to pick up some brochures so I wouldn’t miss anything.  Armed with two cameras and enough film to qualify me as a Kodak shareholder, I was ready for an entirely new fall foliage adventure…ready to expand my horizons, so to speak.

The minute we actually set tires on the Mohawk Trail, however, my husband complained that he had a headache and felt lousy.  “But don’t worry, I’ll still chauffeur you around,” he said. 

Unfortunately, he seemed eager to cover the trail in record time. As we zoomed past one spectacular view after another, I commented, “Gee, that would have made a nice photo.”

His response was, “Well, there’s no place to turn around now. Next time, give me some notice in advance and I’ll stop.”

I wanted to tell him I had no way of knowing how nice a view was going to be when I was still a mile away from it, but I kept silent.  I saw in one of the brochures, however, that the Longview Tower up ahead had a view of three states, so I notified him well in advance that I wanted to stop there.

He pulled the car into the tower’s parking lot. “Want to climb the tower with me?” I asked him, even though I already knew the answer.

He shook his head. “You just go ahead and have a good time. I’ll watch you from down here.”

So all alone, I climbed the four-story tower, which kind of looked like a giant lifeguard’s stand.  By the time I reached the top, I was so out of breath, I was afraid I’d need a respirator.  I grabbed my camera from around my neck and walked over to the railing. That’s when I made a big mistake…I looked down.  Somehow I had forgotten just how afraid of heights I was. My husband’s arm looked about the size of a piece of elbow macaroni as he waved at me from the car below. To make matters even worse, the tower was on the edge of cliff, which added even more height.  I suddenly felt dizzy. 


Clinging to the railing, I froze where I stood.  There was no way, I thought, I was ever going to climb back down those four flights of stairs, because that would mean I would have to look down.  And believe me, I didn’t want to look down…not ever.

It was pretty chilly and windy at the top of that tower.  My nose got so cold it started to run, but still I didn’t move. I finally convinced myself to at least look out at the view, to see if I actually could see three states, as the brochure had promised.  Well, I was so high up, when I looked east, I swear I could see Queen Elizabeth waving at me from her balcony at Buckingham Palace. I aimed my camera in a few general directions and quickly snapped some shots.

It took a while (and the beginning of frostbite) before I finally plucked up the courage to head back down the stairs. That’s when I noticed that most of the boards on the stairs had gaps between them.  A couple of the stairs even sagged and creaked a little.  I clung to the railing and inched my way down.

When I finally set foot in the parking lot about 4,567 steps later, I nearly kissed the asphalt.

I did manage to take a lot of photos that day:  the 28-foot Indian figure at the Big Indian Shop, the sign that said “Welcome to Florida” (Mass.), the Bridge of Flowers, the “Hail to Sunrise” monument, and miles of foliage. During the entire 5 hours, my husband, still complaining of a headache, never once set foot out of the car.  I think that by then, his headache probably was caused by the pressure of his bladder backing up into his brain.

The following year, when it once again came time for our annual leaf-peeping excursion, my husband was quick to suggest North Conway.

“A person can never have enough photos of Mount Washington,” he said.

I had to agree with him.

As it turned out, my friends from Nebraska never did make it up to North Conway during their visit last month.

No problem. I have about 2,000 photos I can show them.


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Friday, October 30, 2015

I LOOK AT BIRTHDAYS DIFFERENTLY NOW


As I sit here facing yet another Halloween birthday, I can’t help but think about how my attitude has changed over the years.

Back when I was a kid, birthdays were something I looked forward to with eager anticipation.  The cake and ice cream, gifts and party were only part of the excitement. The best part was getting older, so I wouldn’t have to be a kid any more.

Boy, was I ever clueless.

Now, birthdays cause me to have mixed emotions. First of all, I feel fortunate to have survived long enough to see another one. But then I feel unfortunate because it’s a grim reminder I’m officially older than dirt. I also know that another year older means my body is another year older, and like an old used car, probably will have some parts that will become outdated and need replacing, run more sluggishly or make weird noises.

When I was a kid and someone asked me my age, I’d always try to make myself sound older by saying something like, “I’m 10 and three-quarters” because it was closer to 11.  Now, when someone asks me how old I am, it takes me 20 minutes to remember. Then, when I do remember, I suffer from reality shock, because my brain still thinks I’m 30.

I was talking to one of my friends the other day about how I can’t believe that some of my former classmates not only are grandmothers, they’re also great-grandmothers.

“But times have changed,” my friend said. “Grandmothers and great-grandmothers nowadays are cool!  Do remember how our grandmothers used to look? They wore those long housedresses, thick cotton stockings and clompy lace-up shoes. Did you ever once see your grandmother wearing jeans and a T-shirt like we do?”

I tried to picture either one of my grandmothers wearing jeans and T-shirts, and I burst out laughing.  My friend had a point. This definitely is the era of non-grandmotherly-looking grandmothers.

Still, I’m not looking forward to getting another year older. First of all, there will be the usual arrival of birthday cards with old-age jokes on them. Last year, I received too many to count.

One said, “You know you’re getting old when half the stuff in your shopping cart says ‘for fast relief’ on it.” Another said, “You know you’re old when people call you at 8 p.m. and ask if they woke you.”

But one card I’m still trying to figure out said, “Birthdays are like cats. The more you have, the more your house stinks.”

I don’t think I want to know why.

When I was young, my birthday, because it’s on Halloween, involved an entire day of partying and stuffing myself with so many sweets, I could feel the cavities popping out in my teeth. You figure, there was the Halloween party at school, followed by my birthday party after school, followed by trick-or-treating at night. By the time I went to bed on my birthday, I’d eaten the equivalent of my body weight in cake and candy.

But when I reached adulthood, my birthday usually involved going out to lunch, coming home to hand out candy to trick-or-treaters, and then going to a Halloween dance or a costume party.

Now, I usually miss most of my birthday because I don’t crawl out of bed until the middle of the afternoon.

My favorite part of Halloween always has been seeing the trick-or-treaters and their creative costumes. Where I used to live, it was common to have 75 or more kids come to my door on Halloween night. But where I live now, I’ve had only two trick-or-treaters in six years. I thought there were two more – two kids in a very realistic deer costume – but it turned out to be an actual deer walking up my driveway.

The one thing I still look forward to on my birthday is my annual mountain of gifts from my two friends in New York. They love yard sales and flea markets, and go to over 100 per year. They know I enjoy selling things on eBay, so whenever they see something collectible they think I might be able to sell for a good profit, they buy it for me. By the time my birthday arrives, they’ve usually collected so many things to send to me, my poor UPS guy nearly needs a crane to help him lift them all.

It’s always exciting, though, to see the surprises they’ve sent – everything from a Grateful Dead cookie jar and a Queen Amidala necklace from Star Wars, to a Harry Potter pop-up book and a Betty Boop doll. Opening their gifts is like discovering buried treasure.

So this year, I have no idea what to expect on my birthday, other than the fact I’ll be a year older.

I can only hope I won’t get any more birthday surprises like the one four years ago – the 2011 Halloween snowstorm that dumped about two feet of snow and knocked out power everywhere.  I thought I saw a trick-or-treater dressed as the Abominable Snowman trudging up my driveway.

I think I’m better off never knowing what it actually was.
 
 
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Friday, October 23, 2015

THE MOUSE WAR CONTINTUES...



I was watching TV the other night when suddenly, both dogs jumped up, ran out to the kitchen and started growling at the refrigerator.

I had no clue why the refrigerator was upsetting them. I started wondering if maybe the chicken I’d bought earlier in the day had come back to life and was walking around and clucking inside, or something equally as bizarre.

I went out to the kitchen and noticed the dogs’ attention was riveted on the area underneath the refrigerator. So, brave soul that I was, I pulled it away from the wall. A tiny mouse scurried out and headed straight for the basement door, then squeezed underneath it and disappeared.

Not wanting to give the mouse any opportunity to return to the kitchen, I rolled up a towel and stuffed it into the gap under the basement door.  I then made a mental note to go to the hardware store the first thing in the morning and buy a mousetrap…preferably the non-kill variety.

An hour later, my dog Eden, with the shredded remnants of the rolled-up towel hanging out of her mouth, came trotting into the living room. I sensed it was going to be a very long night.

I wasn’t thrilled with the selection of non-kill mousetraps at the hardware store the next morning. There were dozens of things that poisoned, maimed, flattened, impaled and even exploded mice, but only one that didn’t cause pain or suffering. It was an opaque-black plastic tube with a pull-out door on one end.  The door balanced on two thin legs, which, when the mouse entered the trap, were supposed to collapse and cause the door to shut, trapping the mouse inside.

I brought the trap home, shoved some peanut butter into it, then set it on the basement floor.

Later that night, I checked the trap and noticed the door was shut. Something obviously had dared to crawl inside.

The problem was, because the trap was made of opaque black plastic, I couldn’t see what I’d caught. For all I knew, it was some hideous subterranean creature that, when I freed it, would leap up at my throat and tear out my jugular (OK, so maybe I’ve been watching too many science-fiction movies lately).

I carefully picked up the trap, stuffed it into a zip-close plastic bag and zipped it shut. Then I carried it out to the car and drove about a half-mile up the road to a snowmobile trail in the woods. I walked a short distance on the trail and came to a big, flat rock. That was the perfect spot, I decided, to release whatever was in the trap.

Carefully, I removed the trap from the bag and set it down on the rock. Then I opened the door on the end of it, stepped back and waited for my captive to emerge.  Nothing happened. I gave the trap a nudge with my foot.  Still, nothing. Finally, I gathered the courage to kneel down and peer inside, all the while fearing something would jump out and sink its teeth into my nostrils.

The trap was empty.

The peanut butter I’d put inside was gone, and there were mouse droppings in the trap – but no mouse – that is, unless it had figured out the secret of invisibility.

I drove home, muttering all the way and wondering how smart mice were. I mean, would the mouse now stay away from the trap because it knew it was a trap? Or would it go into it again, because it had figured out how to escape? 

I realized I had to find the old mousetraps, the clear acrylic ones I’d brought from my old house, so I actually could see into the trap if I caught something. Unfortunately, those traps were packed away somewhere in the basement…somewhere in one of the gazillion boxes and plastic tubs down in the spider-filled catacombs.

The thought of sharing my kitchen. or even worse, my bed, with a mouse, however, gave  me the incentive to enter spider territory and search.  I found dog collars in sizes that would fit everything from a Chihuahua to a St. Bernard. I found my old ballet costumes, which looked as if they’d been in the midst of a buffalo stampede. I found a pair of Lord of the Rings bookends featuring Gandalf and Bilbo. And, after 30 minutes of searching, I found one of the clear acrylic mousetraps. I had hoped to find at least two or three, just in case the mouse had relatives, but at that moment, I was happy to find even one.

I set up both the clear trap and the opaque one, then crossed my fingers and waited for the mouse to try again.

The next morning, I checked the traps. There was nothing in the clear one, but just like the day before, the door was closed on the opaque one. I picked up the trap and gently shook it. I didn’t hear or feel anything inside.

“Well, I’m not going to drive an empty trap back to the woods like I did yesterday,” I muttered.  Still, just to be safe, I took the trap out to the driveway to check it. I opened the door on it, once again expecting to see nothing inside. To my surprise, a tiny mouse came running out…and headed straight back toward my house.

I’m beginning to get the sinking feeling I’m going to lose this war.
 
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