Tuesday, October 26, 2021



Last week I experienced the Queen Mother of the “I should have stayed in bed” weeks.

But then, I guess a lot of my weeks are like that. 

It all began when I decided I probably should have my furnace cleaned before the really cold weather settles in. 

So Wednesday morning the technician showed up bright and early. I’d previously been told the cleaning was an October special for $95, so I made sure to set aside that amount in my budget.

After the guy finished vacuuming, hosing and banging things down in the basement, he came upstairs to crank up the thermostat. The temperature wouldn’t budge…neither up nor down.

He took the thermostat apart, inserted new batteries, cleaned it, and tried again. Still, it did nothing.

“You need a new thermostat,” he finally said. “How long have you had this one?”

“Twelve years.”

“I’ve got one out in the truck that I can put in while I’m here.”

“Nothing fancy, I hope,” I said. I didn’t want to have to enroll in classes just to learn how to program the darned thing.

So he installed a new thermostat – a very basic one that does nothing but turn the heat and A/C on, off, up or down. That was fine with me. When I asked how much extra it was going to cost me, he just shrugged and said I’d find out when the office sent me the invoice.

I didn’t particularly like that answer.

The next morning it was about 40 degrees out, so I thought I’d pop on the furnace for a short while just to take out the chill. I pressed the buttons on the new thermostat. Nothing happened. I tried again. Still nothing. So I went downstairs and manually flipped the switch on the furnace. It immediately lit and kicked on. Upset, I stomped back upstairs, called the fuel company and told them the new thermostat they’d installed apparently wasn’t sending a signal to the furnace.

Another technician, this one much older, arrived. His monotone voice and frown told me he’d probably lost a round of “rock, paper, scissors,” and ended up being the lucky one who had to come to my rescue. His expression resembled that of someone who was just about to undergo a colonoscopy. 

He ignored the thermostat and headed straight down to the basement to check out the furnace first. I followed him and kept telling him the furnace had been running just fine before the new thermostat was installed, so it had to be the cause of the problem. Basically, I didn’t want him messing around with my furnace and maybe ruining something in it. 

He finally turned to look at me, narrowed his eyes and said through gritted teeth, “It’s NOT the thermostat, so stop talking about it!”

I went back upstairs, muttering to myself, “Sure, it’s not the thermostat because that would mean you guys sold me a faulty one or installed it wrong and that would be a free service call! So you’re going to search for something else to blame it on so I’ll have to pay you for your precious time!”

Sure enough, he said I needed something called a draft pressure-switch. I asked how much it was – he didn’t know.

I started to suspect there was a reason why everyone from this company seemed completely oblivious when it came to prices…they hadn't been trained how to administer CPR.

Two hours later, after he'd finished installing the pressure switch, he turned on the furnace, using the new thermostat. Everything worked perfectly. He cast me a smug “I told you so!” look.

And I cast him my best “no one likes a know-it-all” look in return.

“Before I leave,” he said, “I just want to check the regulator outside.”

I watched him head out the door and in the wrong direction, so I stepped outside and pointed to the location of the regulator, near the garage at the opposite end of the yard.

He rolled his eyes. “It’s right here,” he said, pointing at a regulator near where he was standing. "It's at the end of the house exactly where the furnace is, just as it should be!”

I smirked at him. “That’s for the automatic generator. The one for the furnace is way down by the garage.”

I could tell he didn’t believe me, mainly because he chuckled and shook his head…and didn’t move.

So I added, “Oh, by the way, while you’re at that regulator, I thought I smelled a faint whiff of gas when I walked by it the other day.”

His eyebrows shot up. “And you’re telling me this only now?!”

I shrugged. “It was really faint and then it disappeared.”

He said he was going to get some soap and check it for leaks.  I went back into the house.

A few minutes later he came to the door and said, “Well, the good news is you don’t have Covid. The bad news is there’s a leak.”

Before I could respond, he added, “I can repair it right now for you. Oh, and you’re right. That regulator is for the generator, not the furnace." He took off his hat and scratched his head. "That’s really weird.”

“Believe me," I said, "this whole house is really weird.”

He repaired the leak and left. By then, I was getting worried about my bill. I had the gut feeling the $95 I’d set aside rapidly was turning into the proverbial “drop in the bucket.” But on the bright side, I didn’t blow up the neighborhood.

The next day, I went out for my morning walk and noticed that the generator’s red light was on, which meant it needed checking because something was wrong. At that point, I’d pretty much had my fill of the chain reaction that had started with a basic furnace cleaning.

I knew from past experience that Generac allowed only certain companies, certified by them, to touch their generators. So I called the certified one in my area. Fortunately, it just so happened to be time for my annual generator maintenance, so they said they would do that while they were here and save me the cost of another service call.

The guy arrived and checked out the generator, then shook his head. “Whoever fixed your regulator leak shut off everything he could find in the generator. There definitely were some things he shouldn’t have touched. But no problem, I’ll just switch them back on and reset them.”

He did, and then tested the generator. It didn’t start.

By then, I was ready to tie a pound of ground beef around my throat and go offer myself to the coyotes that hang around in the woods behind my house.

“How old is the battery?” he asked me.

“Eight years.”

“Hate to say it, but you’re overdue for a new one. You’re lucky – they usually last only about five years.”

“Yeah, really lucky,” I mumbled.

So, now I also have a new generator battery. I half-expected my central air-conditioning unit, which is next to the generator, to also do something weird, like self-combust or just surrender to the inevitable and keel over.

The invoices have been arriving ever since. So far, they total $1,126.

Next year, I think I’m going to skip the furnace cleaning. I’m pretty sure I’ll be living out back in a tent by then anyway…if the coyotes will let me share their space.

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Sally Breslin is an award-winning syndicated humor columnist who has written regularly for newspapers and magazines all of her adult life. She is the author of several novels in a variety of genres, from humor and romance to science-fiction. Contact her at: sillysally@att.net


Tuesday, October 19, 2021



I hate to admit it, but one of my guilty pleasures lately has been reading book reviews on Amazon because a lot of the comments make me laugh. For example, the ones I read the other night included such gems as, “As I read this book, I felt my brain cells leaping out of my ears and committing suicide!” and “Watching my elderly neighbor’s towels drying out on her clothesline was more exciting than this book.”


But a couple days ago I discovered something new…websites where people submit photos of books they feel might be well-written but have terrible or off-putting covers. So I’ve decided to share a few of these covers with you, along with some of the humorous comments each one received. Hopefully, at least one will give you a few chuckles!



  1. He might be a chess champ, but he’s definitely not a spelling champ!
  2. Didn’t anyone notice the missing “S” before the cover was printed? The word is big enough to see from across the room!




  1. Is that a flying cheeseburger with a harpoon on it behind her head?
  2. No, I think it’s a flying smoke-detector…with three lizards on it!
  3. She’s holding a potato peeler?
  4. God, even SHE looks irritated to be on this cover!
  5. Photoshop at its worst!





  1. Her face looks like one of those police-suspect sketches.
  2. Is that Nicholas Cage behind the mask?
  3. Why are the arm and hand real, but the faces are drawn on?
  4. Because the people whose arm and hand they used were smart enough to hide their real faces!




  1. That giant head in the background is pretty terrifying!
  2. Maybe it’s the guy’s future mother-in-law?
  3. Gee, I think they need to mention the word “chaos” one more time on the cover. Twice isn’t enough – it needs to be even more chaotic.




1. Is this guy her mother’s keeper? Why is he laughing and eating pudding?

2. Maybe the pudding’s for the mother – like she’s 90 with no teeth?

3. The poor guy who posed for this stock photo for an innocent pudding ad must be horrified it ended up like this!



  1. What the hell is that on the cover?
  2. Looks like something they’d force a contestant to eat on “Fear Factor.”
  3. Why, out of all the delicious foods to choose from, would they pick this? My dog throws up stuff that looks better.
  4. It looks like a Swiss Roll that’s contracted a contagious disease.
  5. Are those coffee grounds inside?
  6. Well, there’s gravy next to it, so it’s not a dessert – then those mustn’t be cherries on the plate, like I first thought. Must be those little tomatoes?



  1. Looks like she’s getting a chiropractic adjustment.
  2. His expression looks constipated!
  3. What is the guy wearing, yoga pants?
  4. I know what this pose is!  She is wearing a chastity belt and he has a magnet in his pants, so now they are trying, but can’t break apart!
  5. No, someone is poking her in the back with an invisible stick!
  6. I think he might be trying to choke her! He’s wearing broken handcuffs, so maybe he’s an escaped criminal related to the Boston Strangler!
  7. Is that a man-bun on his head? No, now that I look again, I think it’s a shadow.
  8. At first glance, I thought he was one of those half-man, half-goat creatures!


So you get the idea!  There are many more covers I could have added, but I thought they were too over the top – like a sex-god, robotic President Obama; a woman sitting on the toilet, or Jesus shooting laser beams from his eyes. All I can say is I’ve always thought the covers on my own books could stand to look more professional, but my (very) limited budget pretty much dictates how they turn out.

Actually, now that I’ve seen some of the other covers out there, a few of mine are beginning to look like works of art in comparison! (Still, I’m hoping I don’t see one of them pop up on a “terrible covers” website any time soon!).


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Sally Breslin is an award-winning syndicated humor columnist who has written regularly for newspapers and magazines all of her adult life. She is the author of several novels in a variety of genres, from humor and romance to science-fiction. Contact her at: sillysally@att.net


Monday, October 11, 2021


The 16th of this month, Joe and I would have celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary – the big “golden” one. Sometimes it seems as if we recited our vows 100 years ago, and sometimes it feels like only last week.

Back then, our 200-guest wedding seemed big and lavish, but I’ve been watching quite a few TV reality shows about weddings lately, and all I can say is weddings certainly have changed since back when I got married. They now are like Hollywood productions and cost many thousands of dollars. If I were to hold my same wedding today, people probably would think, “Oh…how sad. Maybe we should take up a collection for the poor couple because they obviously are in urgent need of money.”

Anyway, what I’ve learned from watching these bridal TV shows is first of all, most of the brides-to-be hire professional wedding planners to handle their weddings. These planners basically take care of everything from scouting venues for the wedding to picking out the color of the bridesmaids’ underwear, to make certain it matches the bride’s selected color scheme.  In other words, the planners do just about all of the legwork and make wedding planning a whole lot easier for the bride and groom.

I sure wish planners had been in vogue back when I got married. My mother and I were the only people planning my wedding, while my dad provided the checkbook. Joe, who knew absolutely nothing about weddings, didn't care if the bridesmaids’ bouquets contained white roses…or poison ivy. His favorite answer to my questions during the entire wedding-planning process was, “Anything you choose is fine with me, sweetheart,” which basically translated into, “If I had it my way, we’d elope to Las Vegas and be married by an Elvis impersonator.”

The main problem my mother and I encountered was we were clueless about how to go about planning a wedding. We became intimately acquainted with the yellow pages of the phone book as we looked up everything from rental halls to caterers.  Basically, we used the “eenie meenie” method.

On TV, most weddings nowadays have themes. One wedding was called, “Christmas in July.” Another was, “The Fairyland Forest.” And then there was the really strange “Nuptials of the Living Dead,” where the happy couple dressed as zombies, served punch that looked like blood, and had a tattoo artist set up a booth to tattoo guests, free of charge.

The theme for my wedding was…A Wedding.  I mean, back then, that’s all weddings were…just weddings. And the decorations usually didn’t involve bringing in hundreds of live trees to make a fairy forest, or using fake coffins for tables. No, decorating for a wedding in those days usually meant heading over to the popular Art Novelty store in Manchester and stocking up on paper streamers, paper bells, and wedding favors that consisted of white netting filled with those pastel-colored candy-covered almonds that were guaranteed to increase dentists’ business, because they were hard enough to crack diamonds.

Nowadays, the decorations involve Swarovski crystal, exotic flowers that have to be drop-shipped from Hawaii, and “unique” wedding favors like bottles of aged wine made by the bride’s grandfather, who personally stomped on the grapes himself, 20 years before the bride was born.

The tables at my wedding were long, school-cafeteria style tables covered with white paper tablecloths that resembled something butchers used when wrapping rib roasts. Today’s tables have marble tops, gold claw-foot legs, and are draped with so many different shades of silky material, they look like the clearance counter at a fabric store. And even the chairs have to be draped in fabric. They kind of remind me of those chairs covered with sheets in the old haunted houses in horror movies.

Also, according to the TV weddings, the bride and groom have to meet with a professional “mixologist” (a.k.a. “bartender” back in my day) to come up with a special drink for their wedding. This involves sampling and tasting such weird combinations as blackberry brandy and tequila, or pomegranate juice and peppermint vodka until they finally select their signature drink…or they get so drunk, they don’t care any more.

At my wedding, our signature drink was cheap champagne, which, if you closed your eyes while drinking it, tasted very similar to fizzy vinegar. 

Nothing like plain paneling, paper tablecloth and a paper wedding bell to enhance a lopsided cake!

I’ve noticed that nowadays, many of the brides and grooms go all out for their first dance at the reception. No longer do they slowly waltz, gazing up lovingly into each other’s eyes. No, now they are doing everything from synchronized cartwheels to tap dancing. One groom on TV even lifted his wife over his head while he twirled all around the dance floor. If my husband and I ever had dared to try something like that at our wedding reception, we’d have spent our wedding night in separate beds – in the emergency room.

Many brides also are choosing to buy two wedding gowns now – one somewhat modest style for the church ceremony, and a “va-va-voom” style for the reception. A bride on TV the other night spent over $12,000 on her two gowns. 

My wedding gown cost $300, and afterwards, two of my friends borrowed it for their weddings.

The wedding menus also have changed over the years. Now, there are hot hors d’oeuvres, followed by appetizers, prior to the meal.  Then for dinner, guests have a choice of meat, fish or poultry. After dinner, there is a dessert bar with enough cookies, cupcakes and fancy pastries to supply a bakery. Many weddings even feature an area where you can select and bag your own candy to take home.

At my wedding, the only appetizer was fruit cocktail out of a can. The only dinner choice was roast beef - well-done. And the dessert was the wedding cake. The only candy was the aforementioned tooth-destroying candied almonds.

Now that I look back at how simple my wedding was, I fully can understand why professional planners are needed for today’s modern nuptials. I mean if my mother and I were so overwhelmed planning a wedding as basic as mine, I can only imagine how stressful it would be to plan one of the fancy, multi-faceted ones like I’ve seen on TV.

But my husband was lucky. Not once throughout the entire planning of our wedding was he even the slightest bit stressed. Nope, he just continued to shrug and say that anything I wanted was just fine with him…even when I asked him what he wanted to wear for his going-away outfit. Back then, the bride and groom would change out of their formal attire and into something “chic” to wear as they drove away, off to their honeymoon. The going-away outfits were nearly as important as the bridal attire.

So I bought him a bright orange shirt to wear with his going-away gray suit. After all, it was fall… pumpkin season. I didn’t care if it looked as if he’d tossed a suit jacket on over a prison uniform.

That was the first time during any of the wedding planning that he actually did something to contribute to the planning.

He bought himself another shirt.

Happy 50th anniversary in heaven, Joe...until we meet again. 💟

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Sally Breslin is an award-winning syndicated humor columnist who has written regularly for newspapers and magazines all of her adult life. She is the author of several novels in a variety of genres, from humor and romance to science-fiction. Contact her at: sillysally@att.net


Tuesday, October 5, 2021



If you’re looking for a career that pays less than minimum wage, has more ups and downs than Cedar Point has roller coasters, and makes you constantly ask yourself, “Why the heck am I doing this?” – then become a writer.

Ever since I was old enough to hold a pencil I had dreams of growing up to be a famous author. I can remember how excited I was back in the third grade when my teacher announced that anyone who wanted extra credit could earn it by reading books and then turning in book reports on them. 

It was the perfect way for me to test my creativity.

See, back then, households didn’t have computers, which meant my teacher couldn’t verify that a book actually existed unless she made a trip to the city library and searched through about 10-million Dewey-Decimal files. So I wrote my own books and then reviewed them. I came up with titles like “The Little Lost Pig” and “Candy for Dinner” by fake authors such as Linda Moon and David Ducky.

And I received an “A” on every one of them.

My writing career had begun.

I wrote my eighth-grade class ode. I joined the staff of two different newspapers in high-school, was on the yearbook staff and was selected as the school’s reporter, which involved submitting school-related news articles to the NH Union Leader newspaper.

But my greatest writing achievement during my high-school years was becoming a stringer for Datebook magazine, a popular teen magazine located in New York. My job was to interview rock stars and musicians when they held concerts in my area. Then I'd mail the interviews to the magazine…and actually get paid for them. Talk about a 16-year-old’s dream come true! 

But throughout my life, my ultimate goal never changed. I wanted to write the proverbial Great American Novel.

The problem was, writing a novel back in the late 1960s, when I first became determined to make my dream come true, was nothing short of torture. 

For one thing, I had to use a manual typewriter, which was good for nothing other than typing. So if after I completed typing 250 pages I then noticed I’d omitted an important paragraph on page four, the only way to insert the paragraph was to retype the entire page and add it. This, unfortunately, then made every page following it out of sync...so I’d be forced to retype all of them. 

That’s why writing a book back then took an average of about 127 years – or so it seemed. Now, thanks to all of the new-fangled computer programs, authors can crank out a War and Peace-length novel every month.

There also was the torture of packing up my precious, hand-typed manuscript and mailing it off to a publisher…and then rushing out to mailbox every day to see if there was a response. It usually arrived in the form a pre-printed letter that began with: “Thank you for your submission, but unfortunately it does not meet our current needs.”  If anything handwritten, good or bad, appeared somewhere on the letter, it was considered a bonus because editors rarely bothered to personally comment on anything short of a contender for the Nobel Prize in literature.

I figured that while I was waiting to become the next Jane Austen or Emily Bronte, I would try to get a job that involved writing. I was hired as a newspaper correspondent for the Suncook-Hooksett Banner back in 1973 and progressed to a columnist in 1994. Around that time, the prestigious NH Union Leader bought the small-town newspaper and suddenly I was writing for the “big guys.” Meanwhile, I continued to work on my novels…for which I actually began to receive handwritten responses.

“I thoroughly enjoyed your novel,” one editor wrote, “and I think it has the potential become a bestseller if you make a few small changes. For example, I’d like to see the Native American warrior as a British naval officer, and his love interest be a woman of nobility rather than a seamstress. And instead of the novel taking place in New England, set it in 18th-century England, preferably in a quaint village not far from London.  Make these changes and submit the manuscript to me again, and I’ll reconsider it.” 

I tore up the letter.

Fast forward to the present, nearly 50 years later.

Five years ago, my 43-year newspaper career came to an abrupt halt in the form of a one-line email from the Union Leader telling me I’d been “discontinued.”  Not only was I blindsided, I also was completely crushed.

Immediately, however, I began to receive offers to write a column for other papers. The problem was, every time I responded and asked, “How much do you pay?” I received the same response…”Pay? We don’t pay.”

So why, I wondered, would I write columns for newspapers and not get compensated for my time and efforts?

“Exposure,” they told me. “You will get plenty of exposure.”

After writing columns for over 40 years, I'd already had more exposure than a convention of nudists. I didn’t need any more. I needed to feed my dogs…and myself.

I finally got upset with one of the “we don’t pay” editors and responded with, “When you take your car to a mechanic, do you expect him to give you free service?”

She answered, “No, of course not – I mean, that’s his job.”

So I guess it’s official…writing isn’t considered a job.

Finally, in 2017 I found a NH newspaper that offered to pay me for my column. And only two months later, the editor gave me a raise, which was a record for me. I mean, I’d had to wait 20 years for a raise at the previous newspaper.

Also in 2017, I  began writing for a newspaper syndicate that sells articles to over 60 publications – and each time they sell one, my share is supposed to be $15.  I guess my articles have been doing well getting published because people constantly write to tell me they enjoyed reading my stuff in publications I’m not familiar with in places like Houston and Denver. The problem is, the syndicate has been very slow in paying me...like only when there’s a lunar eclipse.

Last week, I once again received the dreaded, unexpected “Dear John” email from the aforementioned NH newspaper that gave me the raise after only two months, informing me the paper’s last edition would be this week. So once again, I am without a regular column.

But that’s okay because over the years I’ve succeeded in writing and publishing 11 novels. What’s important when it comes to a novel's bestseller potential, I’m learning, is getting as many four-star and five-star reviews as possible on sites like Amazon and Goodreads. This, however, is about as easy as pushing a Greyhound bus up Mount Washington.

The thing about reviews is when and if someone actually does decide to leave one (one book I wrote has been downloaded over 11,000 times and has received only 10 reviews) the opinions can be as different as root beer and champagne. For every 5-star “This was great!  I couldn’t put it down, it was so exciting! It kept me constantly guessing with all of its twists and turns!” there’s a 2-star “Totally predictable – I could see the ending coming a mile away.” 

Go figure.

And then there’s the average royalty I receive for each book – which is about 40 cents. If I sell a book overseas, however, after the exchange rate, the royalty drops to only four cents. So I figure if I can sell about 200,000 copies of my novels per year, I just might earn enough to treat myself and my dogs to a steak dinner.

Still, as the old saying goes: “When you give up on your dreams, you die.”

If that's true, then I guess I’m going to live to be about 250.

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Sally Breslin is an award-winning syndicated humor columnist who has written regularly for newspapers and magazines all of her adult life. She is the author of several novels in a variety of genres, from humor and romance to science-fiction. Contact her at sillysally@att.net