Wednesday, September 28, 2022



I receive a lot telemarketing calls, most of which I don't answer. But I've noticed the tactics are getting sneakier. For example, instead of the caller ID saying "unknown caller" or "wireless caller," purposely being vague to trap me into answering, it now says, "call from Keene, NH," or "call from Salem, NH," which I fell first. Then I started looking at the actual phone numbers and the area codes weren't anywhere near New Hampshire.

It seems as if lately there has been an increase in survey calls...about, what else? The upcoming election. No surprise there.  

But the calls have made me think back to a few years ago when one particular survey-call turned into an interesting conversation (that probably ended up getting the caller fired afterwards).

It all began about 10 days before, when I received what looked like a piece of junk mail. I was going to toss it, but for some reason, I decided to open the envelope. Inside was a note and a crisp one-dollar bill. It was from a radio survey service and the note said someone would be calling me to take the survey.

The first thing I wondered was whether of not the dollar bill was real. Then I wondered how many people had tossed out their envelopes and the dollar bills along with them. I had visions of hundreds of envelopes with dollars in them, all lying unopened in the town landfill.

As promised, the survey service called me. When I saw it on the caller ID, I ignored it. But the calls continued – twice a day, every day, even on weekends. I figured they really were determined to get their dollar’s worth out of me.

Finally, I got so sick of the phone calls, I caved in and answered.  Let’s just say that when I did, my voice sounded about as friendly as a bear’s just after hibernation.

The woman on the phone introduced herself as Mandy. She sounded pleasant and seemed unfazed by my growl. She asked me which radio station I listened to the most often, and where I usually was when I did. At home? At work? In the car? Jogging? I grunted an answer to each question. Then she said she wanted to send me a survey in the mail, and for filling it out, I would be paid enough to buy a cup of coffee.

I wondered if she meant a 7-11 coffee or a Starbuck’s coffee.

Then she asked, “Are you affiliated with the media or radio in any way?”

“Yes. I write for several newspapers and I interpret people’s dreams, often on the radio.”

“Ohhh,” she groaned. “That disqualifies you from taking the survey.”

I wasn’t exactly heartbroken. I was just about to ask her if she wanted her dollar back when she said, “So, you interpret dreams?”

“Yep. For the past 30-plus years.”

“Well, let me tell you about one I had the other night!  It was about my ex-husband. I want to poison him.”

“In your dream, or in real life?” I asked.

“In real life!” she said, laughing.

She then described her dream and I interpreted it. After that, she told me about a new man she’d recently met who was so wonderful, he seemed too good to be true

“Be careful then,” I said. “He just might be.”

She began to explain how she’d had to kiss a lot of toads before she finally found her prince. I told her I wouldn’t know how to date nowadays – nor would I be brave enough even to attempt it.

She said, “Well, safety is the most important thing in this day and age. Let me give you some pointers…from experience!”

She told me that first of all, never tell a man you live alone.

“Invent a roommate,” she said. “And make sure the roommate is a male – your brother or a cousin who just got out of the military...maybe a Navy SEAL.  Buy some men’s shoes and clothes at Goodwill – in big sizes – and leave them strategically placed around the house.”

“Then,” she said, “Make sure to get a couple surveillance cameras, so you can see who’s approaching your place. Put them inside your house, too, in case someone tries to break in.”

“And,” she added, “If you try online dating, make sure the first time you meet the guy, it’s in a public place in the daytime. Take your own car, but park it a few blocks away, and then take a cab the rest of the way. When the date is over, have a cab take you back to your car. Otherwise, the guy will want to walk you to your car, and you don’t want him, especially if he’s a creep, to get your license-plate number. He can trace it online and find out where you live.”

She made preparing for a date sound like basic training for armed combat.

“I don’t even have a cab company anywhere near my town,” I said. “If I called a cab, it would take a half-hour to get here.”

She asked where I lived. I said New Hampshire.

“I’ve never been there,” she said. “I’m in Baltimore. You need a roommate?”

I had no idea if she was serious or joking.

She then said, “People tell me I have great intuition, and my intuition is telling me good things are going to happen to you very soon. I can feel it!”

“I hope so,” I said. “And I hope your relationship with your new guy works out.”

“Well, I’ve been divorced twice,” she said, “So I’m hoping the third time's the charm!”

“Sounds as if your 'great intuition' hasn’t applied to most of the men in your life,” I couldn't resist saying.

“No, but it’s been right about everything else!”

Let's just say she wasn't right about good things happening to me - not even close.

Actually, now that I think about it, I guess something good did happen…I stopped getting phone calls about the radio survey.

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Sally Breslin is an award-winning syndicated 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:



Wednesday, September 21, 2022



You would think a five-foot tall chain-link fence would keep out most wildlife, other than birds, that is, and tiny critters like mice and chipmunks that can squeeze through the links.

But last week, I found out the hard way that porcupines can and will climb chain-link fences.

The question is why?

My fenced-in yard has only two things – crabgrass and about 50 holes my dogs have dug. There are no plants, bushes, flowers, gardens…nothing but crappy-looking grass and holes. In fact, the ground looks exactly like a giant slice of moldy Swiss cheese.

Anyway, it was about 3:00 AM when my dogs went to the door and whined to go out. Foolishly, I thought they wanted to go out because they had to “go,” but it turned out they knew something was lurking out there in the wee hours.

I opened the door, and the dogs bolted outside. Almost immediately, I heard a ruckus in the yard – in the form of growling and barking followed by yelps of pain. The barking and growling were pretty normal, but the yelps of pain weren’t. I rushed to the door and both dogs came racing into the house as if they were being chased by Satan himself.

That’s when I saw the quills – everywhere – up the dogs’ noses, sticking out of their eyes, all over their faces and even in their mouths. 

Well, I’m scheduled for cataract surgery, which means I can’t see much of anything at night, because cataracts are like wearing sunglasses 24/7.  So I knew I wouldn’t be able to drive the poor dogs to the emergency animal-hospital until the sun came up. 

Not knowing what else to do at that hour, I called 911 and explained the situation, asking if anyone could help me get them medical attention. By then, my rottweiler, Wynter, was gasping for breath because the quills in her throat were causing it to swell.

The 911 dispatcher asked me if any humans were injured by the porcupine. When I said no, she connected me to someone who said he was with the sheriff’s department. I explained the situation to him and again asked if anyone could help me. He connected me to a female police officer. By then, I was panicking, thinking Wynter was going to die.

Yet again, I explained what had happened. Her response, sounding a bit snippy, was, “Don’t you have any friends?”

Not at 3:00 in the morning I don’t.

When I said the porcupine still was out in my yard, she gave me the number of a wildlife officer she said was on emergency call. I called the number and received a recording that said there was no one available until 8:00 AM, and if this was an emergency, to call 911.

So after all that, I was right back at square one. 

I did the only thing I could do, without endangering the lives of innocent people, including my own – I sat there and waited for the sun to come up so I could see well enough to drive my dogs to the hospital. Believe me, it was the longest night of my life. Wynter’s breathing didn’t get any worse, to my relief, but both dogs, frightened and whining, kept clinging to me. I ended up with more holes in my legs than a colander. 

Finally, I managed to get them into the car and head to the vet’s. Wynter insisted upon looking over the front seat during the entire ride and stabbing me in the back of the head. And every time she stabbed me, the quills pushed deeper into her and she yelped. I never was so happy to see an animal hospital in my life. 


The vet’s first words were, “Oh, my God! You two certainly have gotten yourselves into trouble!”

Yeah, but it was the nosy, trespassing porcupine that started it all.

Both dogs underwent four hours of surgery. Wynter was much worse off than Eden because she had so many quills in her throat, and not all of them could be removed. That’s the trouble with rotties – you tick one off and it’s ready for battle, even with an animal that has thousands of darning needles sticking out of its body. War is war.

The dogs returned home looking like the walking wounded. They were woozy, limping and whining. But my wallet received the biggest wound of all. I had to pay for the surgery with the money I’d saved up for this upcoming winter’s fuel bills. So it’s going to be a very cold winter…all because of some big rodent.

Speaking of which, the offender still was somewhere out in my yard. I took a broom and went out there, intending to open the gate and shoo the offender back into the woods where it belonged. As it turned out, no shooing was necessary. The porcupine was lying motionless in the middle of my yard. I figured Wynter had ripped out its jugular, but there wasn’t a spot of blood anywhere – only a mass of quills all over the ground.


So I traded the broom for a shovel, lifted the body and took it out into the woods. I’d read that fishers are one of the few animals that love gourmet porcupine meat, and there are plenty of fishers around, so I left the body in the woods to appease the fisher gods.

Since that night, my neighbors have reported seeing as many as five porcupines in their yards at one time. One neighbor said four of them even had managed to climb into his dogs’ outdoor pen.

So the War of the Porcupines officially has begun. Now, before I let my dogs outside, I go out there first and stomp around and make loud growling and squealing sounds to scare away anything that might be in the area…including a few neighbors who probably think I’m performing some kind of satanic-ritual dance.

My dogs are healing slowly but steadily and I’d like things to continue that way. So, desperate to prevent another disaster, I Googled, “how to keep porcupines off your property.”  

The results said to put up a non-wooden fence, spray the area with fox urine, or get a dog because porcupines fear dogs and will avoid yards that smell like them.

Once I stop laughing, I think I’ll send my dogs’ vet bill to the expert who wrote that article.


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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:




Friday, September 16, 2022



I actually forgot to write my blog until this very moment because life lately has become well…a bit overwhelming. I’ve never been one to have a week where everything went smoothly, but this past one has been unusually crazy, even for me!

First of all, I’ve feverishly been working on a novel for a very prestigious publisher, but was given only three months to pen 85,000 words according to their editors’ specific guidelines. It’s challenging enough to write a novel using all of my own ideas, but when I have to follow someone else’s, well, that’s a real brain-buster. And believe me, I have very little brain left to bust.

Anyway, I managed to write the 85,000 words, but after reading back what I wrote, I’d have to classify the genre under, “Quick Cures for Insomnia,” so I’ve been editing and rewriting endlessly, trying to make the October 1st deadline. That means my fingers and toes and everything else I can cross currently are crossed that I will finish it in time. I do realize I could have spent 12 hours a day for the past three months typing my already arthritic fingers to the bone only to end up being rejected…and dejected...but that's the risk we dreamers have to take.

Anyway, there have been disruptions during my penning of the Great American Novel. The first was the back deck, which has been in a rapid stage of deterioration ever since the day it was built. I paid the contractor for Trex – an expensive alternative to wood that looks and feels like wood but isn’t, and can withstand a party of elephants dancing on it.

But the contractor, like most of the contractors I’ve hired in my life, turned out to be less than trustworthy, and built the deck out of regular lumber – raw, untreated lumber, and then left town with the rest of my money.

I had the deck stained and sealed twice – or should I say, I paid to have it stained and sealed twice. The first guy I hired took a $250 deposit and I never saw him again (so much for trusting the great reviews on Angie’s List). The second did a nice job, but it didn’t last long, and the deck then proceeded to strive to beat the Guinness Book’s current record for the world’s fastest case of total wood rot.

So last week, as I was working on my novel, my thought process was disturbed when I heard a crash out back. I rushed to the door and discovered one of my dogs, the rottweiler, had fallen through the deck. She limped away from it, and long story short, had a knee-ligament injury.

And as I was rushing to her rescue, I tripped, fell, and banged up my knee and elbow. So let’s just say it wasn’t a great day for knees.

Anyway, I knew I had to repair the deck ASAP before my other dog also injured herself, so I called a few contractors for estimates. Had I asked them to spray the deck with real diamond dust, it would have been cheaper. So I got mad, and determined not to get gypped ever again, I measured the deck, calculated the lumber I’d need, and headed to Home Depot. For roughly $20, I not only bought the pressure-treated lumber my repair-project required, I also asked an employee to cut it into the appropriate lengths for me, which he gladly did. I was relieved because the only saw I own is an old-fashioned saw-toothed one, and my weak, flabby arms weren’t made for all that sawing.

I set to work that very afternoon. The first thing I had to do was remove the broken wood from the old deck. Unfortunately, the broken wood was screwed on with about 500 (or so it seemed) long, totally rusted screws, so owning not even one power tool presented a challenge. I, using my trusty Phillips-head screwdriver, and the aforementioned arthritic fingers, then spent the next two hours unscrewing. For that reason, when I added the new wood, I decided to use long nails instead of long screws.

Hammering nails, however, never has been my forte, mainly because for every aim of the hammer, I’m lucky if I actually hit the nail one out of five tries. And when I do hit it, it inevitably bends in half. So about 3,500 aims later, I actually managed to attach the new lumber to the deck. Then I gave it a light coating of stain and stood back and admired my work.

To my surprise, it didn’t look half-bad. And even better, it was sturdy. For my first attempt at deck-building, I deemed it a success. Here are the before and after photos of my handiwork.

Anyway, a few nights later, as I still was working endlessly on editing my novel, the dogs went to the door because they wanted to go out. It actually was about 3:00 AM, so it was technically morning by then, but pitch dark out. My yard is fenced in with five-foot chain-link fencing, so I opened the door and let them out, as usual.

Almost immediately, I heard a ruckus in the yard – in the form of growling and barking followed by yelps of pain. The barking and growling were pretty normal, but the yelps of pain weren’t. I rushed to the door and the two dogs came racing into the house as if they were being chased by Satan himself…and looking like this:

Well, I’m scheduled to have cataract surgery soon, but until then, I can’t drive in the dark, mainly because I can’t see a darned thing. So at 3:00 AM, I found myself wondering how I was going to get my two dogs to the emergency animal hospital, mainly because I could see a quill sticking out of Eden’s eye, and Wynter, whose mouth was stuffed with quills, was having trouble breathing. Meanwhile, the porcupine, wounded by the dogs, was staggering around out in the fenced-in yard.

If I’m still here and in one piece, I’ll tell you the rest of the story in my next blog-post. Meanwhile, I have to get back to editing my novel…if I still can concentrate long enough to remember what it’s about.

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Sally Breslin is an award-winning syndicated 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:

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Wednesday, September 7, 2022



The other night, I was sitting on the sofa and both dogs were stretched out on the living-room floor, when suddenly my dog Wynter jumped up and started chasing after something.

I couldn’t see what she was trying to catch, and I was pretty sure I didn’t want to see it, but whatever it was, it was moving faster than a roadrunner. I resigned myself to the fact it probably was a mouse, which wasn’t a pleasant thought. I mean, I remember a clerk in a hardware store once telling me, when I asked him about humane traps because I’d seen a mouse... “There’s no such thing as ‘a’ mouse.”

“If you see one mouse,” he said, “you can be sure there are more where that one came from.”

Anyway, my dog finally stopped running and I could tell she had something in her mouth. I grabbed a flashlight so I could investigate, even though every cell in my brain was screaming “Nooo!” at me.

Wynter then yelped and spit out whatever it was. I moved closer, one cautious step at a time, and aimed the flashlight at the body on the floor. It wasn’t a mouse. It was something much worse, much scarier, much uglier.

It was a big black spider.

My first thought was “thank goodness it’s dead and won’t be sharing my bed with me tonight.”  My second thought was, “I had no idea spiders could move that fast!” I mean, this guy was the Mario Andretti of the spider world. And my third thought was, “I wonder if it has brothers and sisters here in the house somewhere…and they currently are plotting their revenge.”

To be honest, ever since someone from here in New Hampshire posted a photo on Facebook of a spider he found in his house, I have had nightmares. That spider had to be on steroids, it was so big, and until I saw that photo, I’d been blissfully unaware New Hampshire spiders could grow to be the size of  horseshoe crabs.  

So I haven’t dared to enter the Kingdom of the Spiders (a.k.a. my basement and/or garage) since. The mere thought of a spider like the one in the photo dropping down on me from the ceiling makes me hyperventilate and break out in hives. And I’m assuming it could build a web about the size of a regulation volleyball net.

I also recently heard that brown recluse spiders are living and breeding in the state. I’d never worried about them before because they were pretty rare in these parts, but a lot of weird bugs seem to be heading farther north all the time, probably in search or some fresh, juicy New England bodies to attack.

Brown recluse spiders, according to their bio, like to hide, which, I assume, is why they are called brown “recluse” spiders and not brown “extrovert” spiders. And if you disturb them with “Tag! You’re it!” during their game of hide and seek, and one of them bites you, your skin can turn black and die, along with maybe a body part or two. 

When I read that one of the brown recluse’s favorite places to hide is in garages, well, that killed any inspiration I might have had to clean my garage…forever. Aside from dashing out to my car and driving off, I refuse to go anywhere in my garage now, for fear of what might be lurking in there behind some stacked-up lumber or old sheets of drywall and boxes of books. Everything can stay right where it is until it becomes fossilized, for all I care.

Even worse, on the news the other night, they were talking about yet another delightful-sounding spider making its way north. This one is another huge species known as the Joro  (translation from Japanese: “demon spider,” which isn’t very reassuring) or the parachute spider because it can float hundreds of miles through the air on wind currents and then land…wherever.

With my luck, it will be down the back of my neck. 


Most of my friends have retired to Florida, but if those parachute spiders ever do make it up to New Hampshire, I’m buying a parka and some mukluks and heading to Antarctica, which, according to Google, has no spiders.

It also has no permanent human residents...but that's beside the point.

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Sally Breslin is an award-winning syndicated 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:

Thursday, September 1, 2022



Lately, every time I go into the laundry room I hear a faint buzzing sound. The problem is I haven’t been able to pinpoint exactly where it’s coming from. I’ve narrowed it down to everything from construction noises from the house being built down the road from me, to my tinnitus, which, depending on the day of the week, can sound like crickets, bells, fire-engine sirens, or a swarm of killer bees.

I can’t help thinking “deja vu,” back to many years ago when I also heard similar buzzing noises. My husband and I were living in a mobile home at the time and the rear end of it faced 10,000 acres of woods that contained a network of trails – everything from hiking trails and snowmobile trails to old logging trails. So we never knew who or what was going to wander into our yard.

Even worse, our bedroom also was located at the back of the mobile home.

My husband, who’d always been somewhat hard of hearing (especially whenever I asked him to do something), didn’t hear any buzzing. But I complained about it daily, especially when I was lying in bed and everything else was quiet, because it seemed much louder then.

Eventually he managed to convince me my ears just probably needed a good flushing.

Back then, my husband worked nights, from three o’clock until eleven, so when I came home at five o’clock each day, the only greeting I ever received was from Brandy, our Lhasa Apso. One afternoon when I pulled into the driveway at my usual time, I happened to spot something on the ground sticking out from behind the mobile home. At first, I thought it might be yet another lost hiker, and maybe this one had passed out from exhaustion...or, heaven forbid, had dropped dead.

When I walked out back to investigate, however, my mouth fell open. The aluminum siding on the back of the mobile home had been peeled open, like the top of a sardine-can, and a big piece of the siding had been torn off and was lying on the ground.

At the very top of the mobile home, almost near the roof, which was pretty high up because the home was on cinder blocks to level it out, were long claw marks and blood!

That did it, I called the police. I was certain Bigfoot had emerged from those woods and had tried to break into my bedroom.

A bored-looking officer arrived to assess the situation. He noticed the cable I’d set up between two distant trees at the edge of the woods, so my dog  occasionally could run back and forth out there on nice days.

“You have a dog?” he asked. Before I could answer, he added, “Something must have scared the poor thing and it attacked your trailer, trying to get back inside.”

I wondered what kind of dog he thought I owned that could leave claw marks seven feet up and tear a mobile home wide open. A Tyrannosaurus terrier?

“I have a Lhasa Apso,” I said. “Unless he sprouted wings and developed super-human powers, I really doubt he could be responsible for this kind of damage. Not only that, he was inside while I was gone.”

“Well, I don’t think it was a case of attempted breaking and entering,” he said, “even though all these woods directly behind your place are a perfect access point for criminals. You really should put motion detector-floodlights back here. Anyway, I’m willing to bet an animal did this.”

Unless some guy had eight-inch-long fingernails that could tear through aluminum, like Freddy Krueger or Wolverine, I also was willing to bet an animal was the perpetrator.

“So what kind of animal do you think would suddenly attack the back of my house, and why?”

He shrugged. “I'm not sure. I think you should contact a wildlife expert.”

So I called Fish and Game, and they sent an officer over.

“Definitely a bear,” he said after studying the scene of the crime. “Those claw marks are a dead giveaway. And there also are tooth puncture-holes in the aluminum. The blood is from its mouth getting cut by the metal. I’d say it’s a decent-sized black bear.”

“And what does he have against my mobile home? Maybe it was blocking his view?”

The officer used his flashlight to look high up inside the torn wall.

“Just as I suspected,” he said. “You have a big honeycomb in there. It’s about half the size of the wall. He was after the honey and especially the bee larvae. That's a delicacy to them.”  

“Wouldn’t the bear have been savagely attacked by a bunch of really ticked-off bees?”

“Yes, definitely, on the face and tongue – the fur’s too thick elsewhere – but bears really don’t care.”

“Suddenly I realized why I’d been hearing buzzing.  It wasn’t a comforting thought to know that our bed’s headboard was against a wall that had hundreds of bees lurking directly on the other side, where they probably were formulating some sinister plan to attack us and protect their stash.

The neighbors helped us temporarily patch up the holes with plywood. Then I called both an insect-control specialist and my insurance agent.

“Is my home covered for damages caused by a bear attack?” I asked the agent.

“Not unless it was attacked by a ‘bare’ human,” he said, chuckling.

I wasn’t amused.

So between the bee specialist, who gave the bees their eviction notice, and the repairs to the wall and siding, we spent a lot of money we couldn’t afford to spend.

Which is why the buzzing I’ve been hearing lately in the laundry room has me feeling just a bit uneasy. I keep expecting a bear to come crashing through the wall while I’m standing near the dryer and folding towels.

On the other hand, if it does happen, it probably will be a good thing there’s a washer in that room…because I’ll definitely need it to wash the underwear I’m wearing at the time…like immediately. 

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Sally Breslin is an award-winning syndicated 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: