Friday, June 30, 2023


This year, my three favorite movie theaters went out of business. Two of them recently had renovated their interiors and added stadium seating and recliners that not only rocked, they also had headrests and footrests with cushioning so thick and comfortable, people were dozing off halfway through the movie.

And that's the reason why the sound systems in modern theaters are loud enough to shake the building. They have to drown out all of the snoring.

But even the fancy renovations weren't able to save those theaters. That's because those renovations were expensive, which meant the patrons had to pay for them. As a result, the price for a family to see a movie, especially if everyone wanted popcorn and a drink, ended up costing the equivalent of a new car.

The demise of these theaters, however, has been attributed to streaming. I'm not familiar with this modern miracle of technology because where I live, I can get better phone reception using two cans and a string than I can while using a phone. And every time it rains, I lose my Internet. But from what I've been told, streaming is something that allows people to watch first-run movies in their homes while wearing only their underwear.

Times sure have changed. Back when I was a kid, our parents could get rid of us for an entire Saturday afternoon for only 75 cents, just by dropping us off at any movie theater. This included two full-length movies, a newsreel, cartoon, previews of coming attractions, a box of popcorn and a giant candy bar or large box of candy. We were gone for about five hours, so to our parents, a movie theater was the equivalent of a cheap babysitter.

But there were discomforts to deal with.

For one thing, in those days the seats didn’t move, other than the bottom part that lifted up if you had to stand to allow someone to squeeze by. But most of the time we tried to avoid touching underneath any of the seats when lifting them because they usually had about 150 wads of old chewing gum stuck to them. The stickiness on the undersides of the seats, however, was tame in comparison to the gunky floors. More times than I could count, my sneakers stuck to the floor, to the point where I feared I would have to shout for help for someone to pry them free or I'd have to leave them behind and walk out barefooted.

Also, there was no stadium-type seating back then, so if someone with a big Charlie-Brown-sized head sat in front of you, you pretty much couldn’t see a thing. And my luck, it seemed as if no matter where I sat, even if there were plenty of empty seats all around me, someone who was 6’6” or had a beehive hairstyle inevitably would decide to sit directly in front of me.

The movies back then were on film reels run by projectors, and too often, especially during a critical part of a movie, the film would snap and break, causing the screen to go blank. Right before it did, the image on the screen would look like squares of film melting – so we pretty much knew what was coming.  Then we’d have to sit and wait for the projectionist to repair the problem and get everything running again. Most of the time, the waiting involved being bombarded with candy and popcorn by the kids in the front row of the balcony who’d get bored and decide to play a game of “let’s see how many people’s heads below we can conk with Raisinets.”  

Chocolate, I learned, actually makes a pretty decent hair-conditioner.

And then there were the ushers, who always were an unintentional source of entertainment. They wore uniforms, carried flashlights and made frequent checks on the audience to make certain no one was misbehaving. If you had your feet up on the seat in front of you, for example, the ushers would tell you to put them back on the floor.

I remember one time when an usher lectured me for being too loud when I laughed. That, of course, made me laugh even louder.

The balconies in movie theaters years ago often were more entertaining than the movies being shown…mainly because all of the movies in those days were G-rated. The back rows in the balconies, better known as the “make-out rows,” were unofficially reserved for lovers and usually were a lot steamier than what was being shown on the screen. It was a known fact that if you went on a movie date and the guy suggested you sit in the back section of the balcony, he had no intention whatsoever of watching the movie. The ushers were pretty diligent about separating the more passionate couples and ruining their fun by shining flashlights in their faces and snapping, “Break it up!”

But nowadays, I can't even remember the last time I saw an employee come in and check on the audience during a movie. Never mind my feet, I could drape my entire body over the seat in front of me and no one would care…except, that is, maybe the person who's sitting in that seat.

And I’m aware that food prices over the years have skyrocketed, so theaters no longer sell family-sized boxes of candy or large soft-drinks for only 15 cents. But I honestly can say I was shocked the last time I asked for a bottle of water and the the theater employee said, “That will be $5.”

I’d just purchased a 32-pack of Poland Spring bottled water on sale at the supermarket for only $3.98. That same 32-pack at the theater’s prices would have cost me about $160. So even if I had been so thirsty my tongue was sticking to the roof of my mouth, I still would have refused to pay $5 for only one bottle. I told the employee (after he’d already entered the sale into the register) I’d changed my mind. The look on his face told me he was struggling to control the urge to open the bottle and dump the water on me.

Back when I was a kid, we could bring snacks from home to eat at the movies. Not any more. Try to carry a bag of chips into a theater and they treat you like someone who’s smuggling illegal drugs. I remember going to a movie theater in the Bedford Mall many years ago and there was a woman in front of me in line who was holding a paper bag along with her handbag.

“What’s in the bag?” an employee asked her.

“Oh, I just did a little shopping here in the mall before heading over here,” she said.

The employee didn’t look convinced. For one thing, mall stores weren't in the habit of using plain brown paper-bags. He continued to suspiciously stare at her.

“I’m going to have to ask you to show me what’s in the bag,” he finally said, sounding very much like a TV detective.

“No!” she said, clutching the bag to her chest.

The employee narrowed his eyes at her. “I see grease stains on the bottom of the bag. You’re trying to sneak food into the theater, aren’t you!”

You would think he’d just discovered she was holding a bag of poisonous snakes she intended to let loose in the theater.

He finally gave her the option to either hand over the bag and stay, or keep it and leave. Reluctantly, she allowed him to confiscate it. After he walked off with the bag, the woman turned around and muttered to me, “He’s probably going out back now to eat my popcorn! It's a lot better than that artificially buttered junk they sell here!”

Movies that would have been classified as X-rated back in the 1960s, now are rated only PG. In the last movie I saw, for example, one of the male stars, who portrayed a hot-tempered spy, used the “F” word about a dozen times in only one sentence, and it got only worse as the movie progressed. I began to suspect he was attempting to break a Guinness world record for the greatest number of F-bombs ever uttered in a single movie.

Nevertheless, I have to admit some things really have changed for the better about movie theaters over the years. I do prefer the comfortable seats, the extra legroom, the undisturbed view, the cup holders, and screens so big, you feel as if you’re actually a part of the movie instead of only a spectator.

The trouble is, now that all of the theaters in my area are out of business, it will cost me about $25 in gas just to drive to one. Add that to the price of a ticket and a snack, and I'm reduced to eating Ramen noodles for the next two weeks

Maybe it's time to dig out and dust off my old VCR.

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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, June 23, 2023


Hi everyone!

I'm currently recovering from my June 22nd cataract surgery (this one was a bit rougher than the first one) and my eye is still fully dilated, which means everything is a blur, so I thought I'd just re-post one of my columns from 2010. Now that I look back at it, I think it probably explains at least one of the reasons why this veterinarian worked for only a short time at the animal hospital before mysteriously vanishing, never to be seen in these parts again...

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Our newly adopted dog, Raven, has been undergoing heartworm treatment, a long and painful process that is similar to chemotherapy. Luckily, she has seemed to breeze through it with no ill effects, remaining cheerful and energetic through it all.

Two weeks ago, however, things changed. Raven started to growl…a lot.

It seemed as if everything bothered her. She growled at our other dog. She growled at the wind. She growled at my husband when he entered the room. She beat up her teddy bear and then growled at that, too. And when she saw her own reflection in the curio cabinet, she attacked it. For some reason, I was spared. Whenever I came near her, the growling stopped.

“I think she might be in pain,” I said to my husband. “She’s really grouchy. I’m going to take her to the vet’s, just to be safe. I mean, she could have a heartworm carcass lodged in her brain or something.”

Raven’s regular vet wasn’t available that day, so another vet, a new one at the clinic, examined her.

“Raven’s been really grouchy,” I told her. “She’s suddenly growling and lunging at everything that moves.”

She asked me several questions about Raven's history. I told her I had no idea because the place where I'd adopted her had told me she'd been a stray, roaming the streets for quite a while. 

The vet’s eyes widened. “She was a stray, you say?” The minute I nodded, she backed up a few inches. “You know, it’s possible she might have rabies!”

Rabies! Stephen King’s frothing killer dog, “Cujo,” whose hobby was dismembering people, immediately came to mind. I was afraid to move. “But she’s fine with me,” I said. “She doesn’t growl at me.”

“Not yet!” the vet said, comforting soul that she was. “When she was a stray, she could have come in contact with a rabid animal, and even though you’ve had her vaccinated, it may have been too late. She’ll keep getting worse and then be dead within 10 days. Then, you and your husband will have to undergo a series of really painful rabies shots.”

Before I could even open my mouth, which actually was already hanging open, she added, “If she gets worse, we’ll want to test her for rabies.”

“Can’t you do it now?” I asked.

“We have to remove her brain to do it,” she answered.

And I’d thought human tests were bad? I promised myself I’d never complain about a colonoscopy again.

“But she has no signs of hydrophobia,” I said, remembering that hydrophobia was another name for rabies because dogs with rabies get swollen throats that make them shy away from drinking water.

“Hydrophobia?” the vet repeated. “I don’t know – I’ll have to look that up.”

She decided to draw some blood to test Raven for anything other than rabies. Trying to jab an already grouchy dog, however, proved to be a big mistake. Cujo suddenly seemed like a pet hamster compared to Raven. Within seconds, the vet and the technician were backing out the door.

The next thing I knew, a muzzle was being tossed at me. “Please put this on her,” the technician said.

I held up the muzzle, took one look at the growling dog and wondered how many fingers I’d lose in process. Not only that, I wasn’t sure I even wanted to get near any mouth that contained potentially infectious rabies saliva. But I finally gathered the courage to give it a try. To my relief, Raven didn’t protest when I muzzled her.

After the blood was drawn, the vet gave her a shot of rimadyl and an antibiotic, just in case she was having pain or inflammation somewhere, then told me to take her home, watch her every move, and wash my hands frequently. She also told me that if Raven did have rabies, death would come pretty rapidly.

“To her or to us?” I had to ask.    


As I drove home with Raven in the back seat, I kept wondering if at any minute she was going to latch onto the back of my neck and tear off a chunk. The 10-minute drive seemed to take an hour.

The minute I got home, I put Raven in the laundry room and used a baby gate to block the doorway. Then I told my husband what the vet had said. He cast me a look of sheer disbelief.

“And they sent you home with her?” he asked. “Aren’t they supposed to quarantine her or hold her for observation or something? What if she gets loose? She could go on a killing spree and wipe out the whole neighborhood!”

“I don’t know, I’m new at this rabies thing!” I said. “We’ll just have to make sure she doesn’t get loose!”

Later that day, I knew I had to take Raven out of the laundry room and bring her outside to do her duty. When I told my husband I was going out to the yard with her, he gasped, “You’re actually going to release the Kraken?”

I couldn’t help it, I laughed. He was referring to a movie we’d recently seen, “Clash of the Titans,” where Hades, the ruler of the Underworld, had created a hideous, drooling, vicious beast called the Kraken. Whenever someone in the movie ticked off 
the gods, they’d shout, “Release the Kraken!” and it would tear off someone’s head.

For the rest of the week, my husband and I walked around on tiptoes. We also studied every move Raven made. If she yawned, we thought it was because her mouth was swelling. If she drooled, we thought she was foaming at the mouth. We were so paranoid, whenever she slept, we kept checking her breathing to make sure she still was among the living. We also washed our hands about 950,000 times.

But Raven didn’t get worse, she got better. In fact, by the end of 10 days, she was romping and playing with her ball and not growling any more. And when the regular vet came back, she contacted me and said she thought Raven’s problem might be that she was hormonal, mainly because she’d been in heat twice in the past three months, which wasn’t normal. So Raven is now scheduled to be spayed on Sept. 16. I would have had the surgery done back in May when we first adopted her, but the heartworm treatment had to be completed first.

So basically, Raven just had a really bad case of PMS.

My husband said he completely understood how that could be confused with rabies.

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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, June 16, 2023




As I write this, it has been exactly two weeks since I had cataract surgery on my right eye…and exactly one week until I have surgery on my left.

After my previous surgery, my follow-up exam was scheduled for 2:00 that same afternoon at a clinic in Manchester, so my friend Dot (who’d been kind enough to drive me everywhere that day) and I had a couple hours to kill until that appointment. We rode around the "big city" for a while, checking out the places we remembered from years ago…many years ago.

The first thing I noticed was how bright the colors were. My cataracts had made everything look a brownish, yucky color, so with one of them removed, one eye was seeing white as a bright, gleaming white, while the other still was seeing it as tan. It was a weird feeling.

The second thing I noticed was how many potholes and bumps had cropped up in the streets and alleys in the city over the years. One bump was so bad, if I hadn’t been wearing my seatbelt, I probably would have hit the top of my head – which I had been instructed to keep as still as possible until the implanted lens in my eye had sufficient time to settle in place. After that bump, however, I was pretty sure my lens was somewhere up in my sinus cavity.

By 12:45 we’d had our fill of sightseeing (cruisin'?), so Dot and I headed to the clinic for my follow-up, figuring we’d just relax in the air-conditioned waiting room for the next hour or so. But shortly after we arrived, I was called in.

I was asked to read the eye chart…which had been my nemesis for years. I always felt fortunate when I even was able to read the giant “E" at the top, because everything usually went downhill after that and most of the letters pretty much were guesswork on my part. 

But there I was, suddenly reading line after line and calling out letters I’d never even seen on that chart before.

“Great!” The woman who gave me the exam said. “You're nearly at 20/20 in that eye now, and it will continue to get even better as it heals.”

“What was my vision before the surgery?" I asked.  I’d never really known because all my optometrist would say to me after each exam was, "Get those cataracts removed or you won't pass your eye exam when you have to renew your driver's license.”

The woman looked at my information on the computer screen and said, “Before this, your vision was 20/70, but that was with glasses.”

I hadn’t expected it to be that bad. I mean, when I went out for my walks every day, I never bothered to wear my glasses. But now I'm wondering how I ever managed to find my way back home.

The surgeon dilated my eye and examined it.

“Good news!” she said. “Everything looks just fine. The lens is perfectly positioned, there’s no inflammation or redness, and your eye pressure is normal. All you have to do now is go home, relax and make sure you follow the rules.”


No bending at the waist – use your knees and squat down instead.

No heavy lifting.

No face makeup, especially on the eyes.

No getting water in the eye while showering or washing your face or hair.

No swimming.

No exercising other than a slow walk or stroll.

No rubbing the eye.

Wear a plastic eye-guard to bed every night for at least the first week.

Put the prescribed drops into your eyes daily at breakfast, lunch, dinner and bedtime.

Don’t do anything that might increase the pressure in your eye.

Don’t do any housework - especially dusting or vacuuming.

Wear sunglasses outside to protect the eye from sunlight, wind, dust and pollen.

Call the office if you experience severe pain or any redness, swelling or discharge.


When I finally got home, I rushed to the big mirror in the bathroom to see what I looked like...and gasped. What I saw in the reflection horrified me!

Oh, the eye looked and felt great, perfectly normal, as if no one even had touched it. But who, I wondered, was that old hag with the winkled face covered with old-age spots looking back at me?  Being able to see so clearly made me age about 20 years in just one day. All of my flaws were so defined without the cataract to blur them, they practically leapt out at me, taunting me. I even was able to spot a big cobweb on the bathroom ceiling above the mirror, which was embarrassing. It could have been hanging there for months, even years, for all I knew.

I have to admit that trying to follow the rules hasn’t been easy for me. The day of my surgery, my dogs knocked over their water bowl, shed enough fur to stuff a pillow, and went outside and rolled in the dirt, then came inside and shook it off. The “no bending” and “no housework” rules made me wonder how I was supposed to clean up the mess. I had visions of my house looking like the town’s landfill by the end of the first week.

Then, let’s face it, at my age, trying to do squats instead of bending over to pick up something is a recipe for disaster. Once I squat down, I can’t stand up straight again unless I have a death grip on something (or someone) to help pull myself up.

Not wearing makeup is difficult, too, because without it, I look as if I’ve been embalmed (or I should be!).

Also, trying to administer the eye drops on a regular schedule has been a real challenge because I’m nocturnal and I never eat breakfast or lunch. Bedtime for me is about 9:00 in the morning and I sleep until 4:00 in the afternoon. 

But the surgeon gave me a chart where I have to fill in the times I insert the drops. My chart looks something like this:


LUNCH – 10:00 PM

DINNER – 3:55 AM


Anyone who reads it will think I don’t know the difference between AM and PM.

I hate to say it, but every time I read the rule about not doing anything to cause pressure in the eye, the only thing I can think of is suffering from a severe case of constipation and straining until my eyes pop. It makes me want to rush out and stock up on Metamucil, just to be safe. 

But unfortunately, I can’t rush out anywhere because having one crystal-clear eye now and one foggy brownish one has messed up my depth perception. I didn’t really notice it, however, until I took a trial run in my car a week after the surgery to test my new vision while behind the wheel. As a precaution, I just drove up and down my long driveway, not out on an actual road.

I did pretty well...until I had to drive the car back into the garage.

As I approached, the doorway began to resemble something from one of those abstract Picasso paintings. It looked lopsided, seemed much too small for my car to fit through, and one side of the door frame appeared much closer to me than the other side. 

I’d driven my car through that garage doorway so many times without any problems over the years, I figured I could do it with my eyes closed. But the loud crunching and scraping noises that followed my attempt told me I was wrong. The victim of my failed attempt was the mirror on the passenger's side, which was scraped and dangling. I managed to snap it back into place, but when I tried to adjust it to its regular position, it fell off again. So I shoved it back in and decided not to touch it again any time soon.  


The surgeon assured me I won’t have the garage-door problem any more, once I have the surgery on my left eye.

So I’m eager to get it over and done with…although I’ll probably avoid looking into mirrors for a long time afterwards.

With clear vision in both eyes, I’m guessing I’ll see a reflection that looks about 104 years old…and embalmed.

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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, June 8, 2023



Maybe it’s because I have a weird sense of humor, but several things struck me funny during my recent right-eye cataract surgery.

First of all, the surgery was done at an outpatient clinic three towns away. I was instructed to check in on the second floor and to bring my “ride person,” a.k.a. my friend Dot, with me.

We arrived at the desk and my information was taken. Then I was handed a rose-colored T-shirt with the clinic’s name on it as a welcome gift, along with a large laminated card with only a smiley face on it.

“Go downstairs and knock on the wooden door,” the woman instructed me. “Then show them the smiley face and they will let you in to have your surgery.” 

She then looked at Dot and said, “You have to leave. We’ll call you about 15 minutes before Sally's ready to go home, and then you can wait outside in front of the main doors and we’ll bring her out. It should be around 10 o’clock.”

Dot and I cast looks at each other as if to say, “Is this kind of weird, or what?”

But we did as we were told, even though I felt as if I were about to take part in some sort of initiation into a secret club instead of undergoing cataract surgery.

I found the wooden door and contemplated how I should knock on it – with a specific beat? Lightly? Pound on it? Finally, I just used my regular, everyday knock. 

The door immediately opened and I held up the smiley face, as instructed, all the while wondering if I also should have put on the T-shirt as added proof. A smiling nurse greeted me and led me inside to a curtained cubicle, where she offered me a seat in a big recliner.

After asking me a list of health-related questions, she looked up at me and said, smiling, “You’re boring.”

That was the first time I’d ever heard that one. I’ve been called wacky, crazy, a chatterbox – and a few other choice things – but never boring. 

“You’re boring because you don’t have any health issues and you don’t take any meds,” she explained.

"I'm recovering from a broken arm," I said, pointing at my brace. "That should count for something."

She then said, “On a scale of one to ten. How nervous are you feeling right now?”

Well, I wasn’t about to look like a coward, even though the thought of having my natural eye-lens sucked out through an incision was the stuff nightmares were made of. So I told her “two” on a scale of one to ten.

I thought I detected a sinister smirk as she whipped out the blood-pressure cuff and wrapped it around my arm.

“Uncross your legs,” she said.

I did. 

Then without even realizing it, I immediately crossed them again.

“Uncross your legs,” she repeated.

I did again – but for only about two seconds. Then, as if my legs had magnets attached to them, they went right back to crossing.

It wasn’t my fault, however. I blame it on years of intense training. The minute I hit dating age back in high school, my mother always joked every time I was leaving on a date, “Have a good time, but just remember to always keep your legs crossed.”

Anyway, the nurse finally took my blood pressure and announced it was 190 over 91. It’s usually about 110 over 70, so I was shocked. I also recalled reading somewhere that 180 was considered stroke level, so at that moment I figured I was doomed. The surgery would be canceled and I’d immediately be administered megadoses of antihypertensives before I dropped dead.

But the nurse just shrugged and said matter-of-factly, “Sitting in that chair has a way of doing that to people.”

She then added, “I’m going to give you a Valium pill to put under your tongue that will relax you and even make you feel a little groggy. It works quickly.”

“No thank you.”

Her eyes widened. “It also will help you to lie still during the surgery. You can’t move, you know.”

“That’s okay. I promise you I won’t move. I haven’t even taken as much as a Tylenol in 35 years, and I really don’t want to start now.”

She didn’t attempt to conceal her skeptical expression. “You’re sure you don’t want the pill?”


She left the cubicle to go talk to my surgeon, then returned with a waiver for me to sign, affirming that I’d refused the medication. I guess they were trying to protect themselves just in case I did end up moving and the surgeon accidentally de-nostrilized me.

At ten o’clock, I still was sitting in the cubicle…and wondering where poor, “banished” Dot was and what she was doing at that moment. My surgery had been scheduled for 8:45 AM, so I was pretty sure my blood pressure probably had hit the “call the coroner” level by then.

Finally, I was led to the operating room.

I was surprised that it looked like an actual operating room – like a place where you’d have your appendix removed. I’d pictured it to look more like an oral-surgeon’s office, where you’d have a tooth pulled.

But no, this place had an operating table, lots of lights and medical equipment, and I had to wear a cap and booties, and a big hospital gown over my clothes. And then there were the eye drops – lots and lots of eye drops. 

The surgeon finally came in and said to me, "I just want you to know I don't talk during surgery and I don't want you to talk, either...unless you're experiencing pain or discomfort."

So, about 45 seconds into the surgery, she said to the surgical nurse, "So, how was your yoga class? Did you enjoy it? Do you think you'll go back?" and the two of them had a full conversation about it!

For some reason, that struck me funny and I had to struggle not to laugh – especially after taking my vows of silence and non-movement.

I was hooked up to a monitor and could hear it beeping…beep…beep…beep…at a fairly calm rhythm, which eased my previous fears about my blood pressure.

Then the surgeon quietly said, “I’m going to make the incision now.”


But I never felt a thing – nothing at all. And I also managed to lie still and keep my mouth shut for the whole 15 minutes the surgery took.

Lying still was the easy part. Keeping my mouth shut was torture.

The surgeon told me my eye had “cooperated perfectly” and she was very pleased with the results. She then said she would see me in her office in the city that afternoon for a follow-up at 2:00.

It was only 10:45.

The nurse back in the cubicle gave me sheets of post-op instructions and said to go straight home – no stopping for errands, shopping or to eat lunch – just go home and rest.

“I can’t,” I said. “I have a follow-up appointment in three hours, and it’s too far to go all the way home and back again.”

“There’s a nice park next to the doctor’s office,” she said. “You can stretch out on a bench there and rest. Or you can sleep in the back seat of the car.”

The woman obviously hadn’t noticed all of the local newscasts warning about record-breaking heat that day, with temperatures in the mid-90s – rare for a spring day in New Hampshire. I could just imagine myself asking Dot to keep her car running with the air-conditioner on so I could nap for three hours.

Finally, wearing the sunglasses they provided straight from the Roy Orbison collection, I was led out to Dot’s car. She had been waiting there since 10 AM and announced, after asking how I felt, “I’m hungry and I have to pee.”                           

Poor Dot. I honestly think she ended up suffering a whole lot more than I did during the surgery. And I feel really guilty about that.

What happened after we left the clinic? And were there any post-op complications? I’ll tell you all about it in my next blog post. Let’s just say that sticking to the long list of  “don’ts” after the surgery has been a real challenge for me…because old habits die hard.

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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: