Wednesday, May 31, 2023



I was looking through some of the old boxes in my basement the other day and found a 10-page guide to the historic Pioneer Trail in Bear Brook State Park in Allenstown.

Instantly, I was transported back in time to the 1970s, when I'd first followed the trail. Back then, the naturalist at the park, Mrs. Melack, led guided tours and nature hikes on the different trails daily. In her official state-park uniform and hat, she reminded me of Miss Jane Hathaway on The Beverly Hillbillies whenever she donned her bird-watcher’s uniform.

The trail was located at the very end of the road where the nature center, a building that housed a variety of live and preserved plant and animal species native to the area stood, and where the visitors usually gathered for the tours.

As a small group and I followed Mrs. Melack to the entrance of the Pioneer Trail, which was marked with a carved wooden sign, she told us to turn around and look at the flat expanse of land we’d just crossed.

“This is an outwash plain formed by streams flowing from the edge of a glacier that covered the area 10,000 years ago,” she said. “The glacial waters sorted and spread the debris, leaving filtered sand to the depth of 60 feet here!”

We stared in awe at the sand, as if it were made of flakes of gold. After all, it wasn’t every day we were able to set foot on 60 feet of 10,000-year-old sand…unless maybe we were on a big sand dune at Cape Cod. And a giant glacier? Images of a prehistoric version of the Titanic sailing through my town immediately popped into my mind.

A neatly manicured trail wound its way through the forest. To guide us, so we wouldn't wander off the trail and end up impaled on a thorn bush or surrounded by knee-deep poison ivy, the trees along the trail were clearly marked with painted yellow squares.

Unfortunately, they inspired the guy behind me to keep humming "Follow the Yellow Brick Road" the entire time we walked.

Mrs. Melack described the variety of plants and trees along the trail, which we observed with only mild interest. But when she pointed out a big patch of plump, wild blueberries, she had our undivided attention. We were ready to dive in.

“You may each pick ONE blueberry,” she said, her tone authoritative. “We do not want to disturb the balance of nature now, do we?”

I didn’t know about the other tourists on the hike, but I was more than willing to disturb the balance of nature at that moment. In fact, I wanted to take off my hat and fill it with enough blueberries to make a pie…and maybe a couple dozen blueberry muffins.

Instead, I obeyed the rules and picked and ate only one berry…well, okay…maybe three...or four.  

I think Mrs. Melack knew I was guilty of sneaking a couple extras, just from the suspicious look she gave me when I was the last one to emerge from the blueberry patch. I thought for sure she was going to demand that I open my mouth so she could check my teeth for evidence of multiple blueberry stains.

We soon came to a cemetery in the middle of nowhere. Immediately I noticed that one of the old grave markers said simply “Sally” on it. I prayed it wasn’t a bad omen - a sign from above that I shouldn’t have eaten more than my one allotted blueberry.

“This is a pre-Civil War cemetery,” Mrs. Melack said. “You will see the last names Johnson and Clark on several of the stones. They were involved in the construction of the Old Allenstown Meeting House out on Deerfield Road.”

We moved on to an area that had been used as a campsite for the Girl Scouts from 1949 until the 1960s. We then passed an overgrown cellar hole, the only remainder of an old farmhouse where a family named Cate had lived back in the 19th century.

My favorite part of the trail, however, was the steep hill that sloped down to Bear Brook in an area where the brook formed a waterfall that emptied into a deep, wide pool. It was a picture-perfect area surrounded by shady trees. I could have lingered on that shore forever, especially since it was so cool there, even on such a scorching summer day.

Over the years, I walked the Pioneer Trail many times on my own and enjoyed the peacefulness of the brook area, where I’d sit and watch the waterfall while dangling my feet in the icy water. Sometimes I’d take a book and stretch out on the wide banking and read.

You're probably wondering...did I sneak a few blueberries while I was there?

No – mainly because I'd heard that since the property was owned by the state, taking anything from it could land a person in state prison. Also, a few times I thought I'd actually seen Mrs. Melack lurking behind a tree and secretly peeking out at me...even years after she'd passed away.

And I didn't want to risk being arrested for "grand-theft blueberry."


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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:




Thursday, May 25, 2023



Barring some natural disaster like a typhoon or an earthquake, I finally will have cataract-removal surgery on my right eye on June 1st.

This will make the third time the surgery has been rescheduled, so it’s now or never as far as I’m concerned. If it gets canceled again, I’m going to assume it’s an omen, throw in the towel and train my Rottweiler to be a guide dog.

I’ve had all kinds of surgery in my life, but this one is making me really apprehensive, to the point where I’ve honestly thought about chickening out...especially when the surgeon told me she prefers to cut the eye and not use laser surgery. The thought of having my eyeball dissected while I’m awake and still attached to it reminds me of a torture scene in a horror movie I once saw.

But my driver’s license is important to me and I’ll lose it without the surgery, so I feel as if I have no choice other than to try to be brave and go through with it.

Coincidentally, just about everyone I know has had cataract surgery. It seems to be the "surgery du jour” nowadays. So every time I mention my upcoming surgery, I hear the same thing, as if everyone has been programmed with a pre-recorded message:

“Don’t worry about it! It's easy peasy! I had my cataracts removed last (year, month, week) and I was out driving the day after my surgery.”

I swear, if I have to hear that even one more time, I’ll scream.

For one thing, I can’t stand the expression “easy peasy.” And if they add the “lemon squeezy” part at the end of it, as many people do, I can’t be held responsible for what I might do.

And I truly believe no jury would convict me afterwards. 

Secondly, my visit with the ophthalmologist last week pretty much dashed all of my hopes that my particular surgery will be as “easy peasy" as everyone seems to think.

“Your astigmatism has increased from 2.4 diopters to 4,” she informed me. "So the cataract surgery probably won’t help your vision much.”

I knew what was coming next because she’d said the same thing to me back in March when I’d been scheduled to have the surgery but had been forced to cancel.

“Unless…” she said, right on cue, “you allow me to implant the special toric lenses to correct the astigmatism during the cataract surgery. You’ll be able to see clearly immediately afterwards…without any glasses."

I’d already looked into the toric lenses, and both my insurance company and Medicare said they were considered cosmetic so they wouldn’t pay for them.

The ophthalmologist assured me the out-of-pocket expense wasn’t much and would save me money in the long run because I wouldn’t need to buy eyeglasses any more, so the investment would be well worth it.

All I can say is the ophthalmologist and I definitely hail from different worlds because to me, "not much" translates to around $50…not the $3,000 the toric lenses actually cost. So that, as far as I was concerned, ended that conversation.

However, it didn’t end it for the doctor, who obviously doesn’t understand the meaning of the words "fixed income.” She persisted, showing me two photos of the same mountain scene. One photo was crystal clear with vivid color, while the other one looked as if someone who’d just downed 10 shots of whiskey had taken it…while bull-riding at a rodeo.

“The clear photo shows how sharp your vision will be if you get the toric-lens implants," she said. "The other photo shows how blurry and distorted everything will look without them.”

Before I could respond, she added, “Yes, regular eyeglasses can correct your vision after the surgery, but they will be really thick and take a long time to get used to. And you won’t even be able to get them for at least two months – until both eyes are completely healed. In the meantime, your vision will be a blur, so you won't be able to drive."

I gasped, not believing my ears. I’d just recently been given the okay from my orthopedic surgeon to drive again after not being allowed to do so since I broke my wrist and arm back in March. And now, after only a brief taste of freedom, I was going to have to suffer through the “Driving Miss Sally” phase all over again for two long months?

Talk about torture. 

So now I’m wondering if my vision will be so blurry, I not only won’t be able to drive, I also won’t be able to watch TV, read or write.

I guess only time will tell.

In the meantime, I dare someone else to say "easy peasy" to me.

Like I once read on a tee-shirt..."The older I get, the less ‘life in prison’ is a deterrent any more.”


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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:





Wednesday, May 17, 2023



When I was a kid, bicycles were simple – upright handlebars, a foot-braking system, a thickly cushioned seat, and two wheels with big, balloon tires. You also could add touches like a basket to carry stuff in, or a bell and a light on the handlebars.


I rode my bike everywhere when I was a kid and really enjoyed it, so when I got married and moved out to the country, I (because I hadn’t yet learned how to drive a car) decided to buy another bike...a modern one. The nearest food store was three miles from our house, so I thought it would be great exercise for me to hop on a bike and pedal it over there whenever I needed something.

The bike I bought was considered state-of-the-art for its time. It had five speeds, a streamlined seat, and handlebars that resembled rams’ horns. The best part was it weighed only about half of what my old bike weighed.

Unfortunately, my first ride on it left me feeling so terrified, I nearly had to undergo counseling before I dared to ride it again

Back then, we lived on a street that steeply sloped down to a busy highway. The day my bike was delivered, I was so eager to try it, I climbed right on it and took off, zooming down the hill. As the highway grew closer, I pushed my feet backwards on the pedals in an attempt to slow down the bike before stopping it, the way I’d always done on my old bike with the foot brakes. 

Nothing happened.

I could see the cars zipping by at 60 mph on the highway below as I rapidly approached them. I continued to push back on the pedals, trying to stop the bike, but they just kept moving until I looked as if I were pedaling backwards.

Visions of my body becoming a permanent decoration on the side of an 18-wheeler began to pop into my mind, when I suddenly remembered the bike had handbrakes. Panicking, I squeezed them both at once, as hard as I could. The bike came to such an abrupt halt, I nearly had to dig my teeth out of the asphalt.

But if I thought getting used to handbrakes was a challenge, trying to learn when and how to change the bike’s speeds was even worse. Even though there were only five speeds, I didn’t have the slightest clue at which point I was supposed to use which one. Every time I tried, the bike made a grinding sound and nothing happened. I finally gave up and just left it on the lowest speed for everything.

The problem with using only one bike speed, however, was trying to climb steep hills. It was about as easy as strapping cannonballs to my ankles and attempting to hike up Mount Washington. I did so much grunting, it’s a wonder I didn’t attract a wild boar in search of a  mate.

And I quickly developed a strong dislike for the ram’s-horns handlebars – not only because of their strange shape, but also because they forced me to ride in a really unflattering position – with my butt up in the air. Every time I had to stop at a traffic light, I would cringe, imagining the view the people in the cars behind me were being subjected to.

I also disliked the poor excuse for a seat on the bicycle. Gone was the wide, thickly padded seat of bygone days. In its place was something about the same size and shape of a Dorito...made of granite. When I sat on the bike, the seat completely disappeared, so I looked as if I were sitting on just a metal post.

The old bikes used to have protective fenders over the tires to prevent mud and water from kicking up onto the rider. But my new bike had exposed tires. The first time I rode it in my hunched-over position during a rainstorm, so much mud and dirt ended up on my back, it made a big black stripe down the entire length of my white sweatshirt.

 I looked like a mutant skunk.

My husband soon grew tired of listening to me complain about my bike, so he decided he’d also buy one and go riding with me to show me just how much fun and how enjoyable modern bicycles could be.  

So we went bike shopping and after hours of deliberation, he finally selected a 15-speed Huffy - not because he actually knew anything about 15-speeds. He just wanted to look really macho.

Most of our first ride together was spent with him fiddling with all of the speeds on his bike and trying to figure them out. In fact, they distracted him to such a degree, more than once he and his bike nearly became intimately acquainted with a pine tree.

And the road he picked had so many hills and bumps on it, it could have been used as a training course for Olympic mogul skiers. I began to feel as if I were riding on a bucking bronco because my body was off the seat more than on it. After about the 150th bump, I was ready to just ditch my bike in some bushes and hitchhike back home. 

Needless to say, "fun" and "enjoyable" were not exactly the adjectives I would have chosen to describe our ride.

When we finally made it back home, I asked my husband if he'd enjoyed his first outing on his fancy new bike.

“Well,” he said, “the ride was both good and bad. The bad was the seat. I never want to torture myself again by sitting on that rock-hard sliver of plastic some sadist thought was a good idea to design.”

“And the good?” I asked.

"I’m pretty sure the last big bump we hit cured my hemorrhoids.”


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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:







Monday, May 8, 2023



I know I probably will upset a lot of entomologists when I say this, but I really hate bugs.

The only exceptions are butterflies. I do like those. I also used to like ladybugs until one of them pinched me and left a red welt on my skin. Those cute little beetles have very strong mandibles for their size, and they won’t hesitate to use them on humans who bug them (pun intended).

They say ladybugs bring good luck, but you can’t prove it by me. A few years ago, the outside of my house was covered with so many of them, they looked like an abstract-art design. With all of those ladybugs, I should have had tons of good luck and won the lottery or something, but the only thing involving money that happened was my property tax increased by $1,500.

Now that spring has sprung, I’ve been sharing my home with a lot of uninvited guests. I’ve probably shared it with them all winter, but they’re coming out of hibernation now, so I actually can see them.

Believe me, I wish I couldn't.

For example, I reached into my bag of potatoes the other day and pulled out a potato that had dozens of tiny holes all over it – like a potato sieve. As I stared at it, wondering what had attacked it, a black spider crawled out of the bag and just sat there looking at me, as if to say, “Hey! Get your clammy paws off my potato!”

I was pretty sure the spider hadn’t made the holes. More than likely, however, it was interested in eating whatever had…like the dreaded saber-toothed potato weevil, or whatever insect enjoys turning potatoes into Swiss cheese.

Needless to say, I’m never going to blindly reach into another bag of potatoes again.

And last night, I killed seven ants on my kitchen counter. Usually my kitchen attracts these nearly microscopic reddish-colored ones, but the ants last night were big and black and had congregated on a teaspoon I’d left on the counter after I'd stirred sugar into my tea.

So I dug into my supply of ant baits and set them out on the counter.

Then the torture began.

In order for the poisonous ant-bait to work, the ants have to carry bits of it back to the colony and feed it to their queen. Once she kicks the bucket, all of the other ants, which have some kind of weird suicide-pact going on with old Queenie, also will drop dead.

Unfortunately, this now means I can’t kill any of the ants I see crawling across my counter because if I do, there won’t be any left to take the poisonous treats back to the queen...and the colony will continue to thrive.

I actually break out in a cold sweat when I'm forced to just stand there and watch the ants partying in my kitchen while every fiber of my being is shouting at me to smack them with something…like a cast-iron skillet.

But my problems aren't limited to only the inside of my house. Just the other day I noticed the Green Family constructing a nest on my front porch. I’m talking about hornets. I call them The Greens as a tribute to that infamous superhero, The Green Hornet – although I’m pretty sure he never built a nest on anyone’s porch.

And if hornets, ants and spiders aren't bad enough, this officially marks the beginning of the ticks' nymph season. Nymphs are about the size of a grain of salt and they inject you with their special formula of Novocain before they burrow into your skin, so you have no clue they’re there. They also have a fondness for dark, warm, moist places (like armpits and crotches) on the human body.

The experts keep posting reminders for everyone to do a complete body-check for ticks after every trip outdoors. Well, with my bad eyesight, acres of skin and the fact I'm not a contortionist, I'd say a tick could remain undiscovered on me for about a year and a half.

In other words, I'm as good as doomed.

Speaking of which, I’m heading out for my daily walk now, where I immediately will hear the faint sound of a dinner bell ringing somewhere overhead, and I’ll be greeted by a swarm of hungry black flies that think my blood is comparable to a fine, vintage Pinot Noir.

I guess I'll just have to keep reminding myself there are only seven more months until winter.

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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: