Thursday, August 24, 2023




It’s nearly September, and already I’m thinking about October and my birthday...and how there always is one thing that’s guaranteed to ruin it every year.

I’m talking about the state's mandatory annual motor-vehicle inspection, which is required to be done during the month you were born.

Those inspections usually involve venturing to an automotive shop or dealership and sitting in a drafty waiting room (about the size of a closet) that features an assortment of stimulating reading material like “Torque Wrenches of Tomorrow” and “Auto Parts Monthly,” while my car is undergoing a grueling physical exam to determine whether or not it should be given its last rites.

Then, after what seems like the longest hour in the history of mankind, the mechanic finally enters the room and, in my case, usually announces something like...“Well, your car’s going to need a new exhaust system, brakes, rotors, four new tires, and a pacemaker implanted to keep it running. Also, when I had it up on the lift and got a good look underneath it, I noticed the only thing still holding it together was rust. Other than that, everything looks fine. Would you like to speak to our on-site loan officer about a second mortgage?”


But this year, my birthday month is going to be even worse because just the other day I received a reminder in the mail informing me it's time for me to head to the DMV to renew my driver’s license…in person.

I’ve been getting away with simply renewing it online for years now. In fact, it's been so many years, if I ever got pulled over by the police, they’d probably arrest me for identity theft because they'd wonder why such an old lady was using a license with a photo of a college student on it.

So, that means I finally have to have a new photo taken, and I also have to pass the DMV's eye exam.

I’m not worried about the eye exam any more, though, now that I've had my cataract surgery and my current vision is 20/20 rather than 20/70. And I'm eager to have the "corrective lenses” restriction finally removed from the back of my license.

But just the thought of having a new photo taken is already giving me a bad case of hives.

I believe I’ve finally figured out why every license photo looks as if the person in it attended a Halloween zombie party beforehand. The DMV employees purposely snap horrible photos - like when someone yawns or is just about to sneeze or blink - because they want us to be so embarrassed and humiliated by those photos, we'll be extra careful when we drive just so we’ll never have to reveal their hideousness to a police officer.

On the bright side, I also think license photos are responsible for people cutting back on their drinking. Now that stores require everyone, even if you're older than Methuselah, to show a photo ID when you purchase any alcoholic beverage, many people are switching to juice boxes.

This year, however, renewing my driver’s license will be worse than ever. That’s because I have to get a new type of license called the "Real ID," otherwise I won't be allowed to fly anywhere or enter any government buildings – unless I have a valid passport I can use instead.

The last time I had a valid passport, I was wearing a mini-skirt and listening to the Beatles’ latest LP on vinyl.

This new type of driver’s license is not easy to obtain, however. For one thing, I have to make an appointment in advance and provide a variety of items that prove I’m really Sally Breslin. The list includes a birth certificate, proof of my Social Security number, proof of residency and a DNA sample to prove I’m human and not a robotic replicant (okay, so maybe I made up that last one).

The list also said that if my current name doesn’t match the name on my birth certificate, I have to provide a marriage certificate and proof of divorce for every time my name has changed from birth until now. I can just imagine people who have been married five or six times having a real “fun” time complying with that one (I was going to say that if Elizabeth Taylor were still alive, she’d probably need about three years to get all of her marriage and divorce paperwork organized and copied, but I don’t remember her ever legally changing her name during any of her eight marriages).

I was married only once, yet I’m still having problems. That's because my marriage certificate is missing in action, thanks to the USPS Office of Personnel Management never returning it to me after I had to send it to them when my husband died. I mean, I even enclosed a self-addressed, postage-paid envelope for its return, along with a sticky note that said, PLEASE RETURN, and still they didn’t return it.

That was 11 years ago. So I’m pretty sure the envelope doesn't have nearly enough postage on it now.

This means I have to get a new copy of my marriage certificate...for a fee of $17.95. And the way things are going, I might not receive it in time. Twice now, I’ve filled out the request form online, only to have City Hall’s system crash when I tried to submit it. The second time, I got as far as entering my debit-card number and seeing “processing payment” on the screen, but then nothing happened – the screen just stayed that way. 

City Hall sent me a note of apology and assured me their system was back up and running, but now I’m afraid to try again because maybe the "processing payment" one finally went through and I don’t want to be charged twice for the certificate. Heck, I don’t even want to be charged once for it. I think $17.95 for a single piece of paper is a little pricy. I probably could buy at least a ream of it for that price. 

So, time will tell if I make it through October with an inspected 2004 car that's still deemed road-worthy, and a shiny new “Real ID” driver’s license with an up-to-date photo on it (that should be captioned: "Zombified ancient hag escapes from the crypt").

In the meantime, I’ll be checking out some bicycles with sturdy, all-weather tires, just in case.


#   #   # 

Sally Breslin is a native New Englander and 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, August 16, 2023



Those of you who are regular readers of this blog already know that whenever I go shopping, something weird usually happens to me. It’s as if I have a shopping curse that follows me the minute I set foot in a store (the thought has crossed my mind that maybe my deceased husband has something to do with it in a beyond-the-grave effort to convince me to shop less).

Yesterday, I ventured out shopping for the first time in two weeks.

And at Ocean State Job Lot, I nearly caused an unexpected evacuation.

I was walking past a display of those long foam things kids use when swimming – I think they are called pool noodles – up near the store's front windows, when out of the corner of my eye, I saw two yellow jackets (the wasps, not the items of apparel) perched on top of them. Curious, I moved closer to get a better look…which was made possible only because of my recent cataract surgery. If it had been prior to the surgery, I wouldn’t even have been able to see the wasps...or the pool noodles...or the windows.

Behind the display, on the lower sill at the bottom of the window, was a whole gang of yellow jackets happily building a nest. I slowly backed away.

If there is one thing in life you never want to do, it’s disturb yellow jackets, even if you are smiling at them and telling them how pretty they are and what hard workers they are. They will try to kill you.  It is their mission in life. They know their stingers are smooth, not barbed, so they won’t lose them and die like some other bees and wasps do when they sting. No, yellow jackets can sting you all day if they are in particularly grouchy or vengeful moods – which is just about always.

I browsed through the store and selected a few items, then brought them to one of the registers where the cashier, two employees and someone who looked like a manager-type were discussing business. I set my items on the counter.

When the cashier began to scan my items, I casually said, “Oh, I thought you might want to know there’s a nest of yellow jackets behind the display of pool noodles in the front window.”

Immediately, four sets of eyes that suddenly looked as big as owls’ eyes stared at me. One of the employees then broke the silence by gasping, “I’m allergic!” and rapidly disappeared out through the front door, where she stood on the sidewalk and kept brushing at her head with her hand.

The manager-type guy sighed and said to me, “Well, that explains a lot,” leading me to believe a yellow jacket or two might have introduced themselves to him in another area of the store and he’d wondered where they’d come from. He then went outside to investigate, wisely looking through the window at the little winged assassins rather than approaching them from the pool-noodle side, as I’d done. I saw him slowly shaking his head and frowning, as if to say, “So what the heck do I do now?”                              

I felt sorry for him. I mean, having a team of exterminators descend upon the store couldn’t be good for business. But then, neither was risking the life of some innocent customer selecting a pretty blue pool noodle for her grandson and getting attacked by a swarm of angry yellow jackets that already had claimed the noodle for themselves. 

Either way, the manager was faced with a lose-lose situation. 

When I left the store, I saw the allergic employee sitting in her car, which was parked next to mine. She was on her cell phone and still was swatting at her hair.

I had the feeling she was done working for the day…maybe even for the week.

From there, I headed over to Walmart’s optical department to pick up my new reading glasses.

They were ready, they fit perfectly and I could read the smallest print in the brochure on the counter. Simple. No problems there.

Or so I thought...

As I was leaving the store, I happened to glance down at my wrist, the one that’s still on the mend from being fractured. When I go shopping, I usually wear a wrist brace in case my shopping cart gets too heavy and my arm needs some extra support to push it.

There, dangling from one of the Velcro strips on my brace, was a beaded necklace type of chain to hang glasses from, still attached to its display card. I had no idea where it had come from or how it had attached itself to my wrist brace, but I knew I had to take it back to the optical department before I was arrested for shoplifting.

Luckily, the employee had a good sense of humor. It turned out the neck chain had been hanging on a rack near the register, and when I’d reached for the brochure to read to test my new glasses, the Velcro caught it and it hitched a ride with me, nearly making it to freedom.

I think I’m beginning to understand why so many people do all of their shopping online.

#   #   #


Sally Breslin is a native New Englander and 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, August 9, 2023



There was someone banging on my front door at 7:30 the other morning. Usually, if I’m not expecting guests (or a repairman), I won’t answer. But when the banging continued, I opened the door just a crack and peeked out.

Immediately, two short, stocky bodies lunged at me. I slammed the door just in time.

It was the neighbors’ two dogs – bulldog/beagle mixes – the same two dogs that seem determined to turn my leg into a food item…like maybe shredded wheat.

When they continued to head-butt my door, I opened it just a crack again and shouted, "Go home!" in what I hoped sounded mean and authoritative.

To my relief, they dashed off my porch…and then proceeded to stand in my driveway and bark at my house for 10 more minutes.

By then, my own two dogs were in their full, “Let us at ‘em! We'll protect you!" mode. It took me an hour to calm them down.

So when I went for my walk later that day and saw the neighbor out on his lawn, I stopped to have a little chat with him about his dogs. He apologized and said his young daughters kept letting them loose, so he'd just invested in an invisible fence to keep the dogs in his yard. I guess he figured that if his daughters can’t see the fence, then they won’t be able to tamper with it. He also mentioned he’d discovered a deer trail loaded with deer poop that leads directly from behind his house to my driveway, and that's why the dogs keep ending up on my lawn.

Oh, great.

As I left to continue my walk, he promised me his dogs never would set foot/paws on my property again.

During the remainder of my walk, I passed a house at the top of the hill that reminded me of how reliable invisible fences are. 

There used to be a beagle named Newman that lived there. Every time someone walked (rode a  bike, jogged, breathed) by his house, Newman would come charging out, barking as if he were a Rottweiler. But when he reached the edge of the property, he’d come to a screeching halt. I could tell by his bulky collar that his yard had an invisible fence surrounding it. One paw across that fence-line and the collar would deliver a not-so-pleasant zap to the dog.

So I wasn’t nervous about walking past Newman because I knew the invisible fence would protect me. And it did...until one fateful summer day.

I was walking my Doberman, Molly, at the time. She and Newman previously had never met, so when he came charging toward us, the fur stood up on the back of Molly's neck and she assumed her best "ready for battle" pose. I wasn’t concerned because I knew when Newman reached the invisible fence, he'd stop dead in his tracks. But just to be safe, I steered Molly over to the other side of the road. 


Newman came at us at full speed, barking and growling all the way. As Molly and I continued walking, I could hear Newman.

“BARK! BARK! BARK!" Then “YEOWWWL!" and “BARK! BARK! BARK!” again.

But those last three barks were close, like directly behind us. Newman had thrown all caution to the wind and actually crossed the invisible fence-line.

Getting zapped didn’t exactly sweeten his disposition. He sounded more like a rabid bear than a beagle when he caught up with us. Even Molly backed away from him when he lunged at us (great protector she turned out to be).

Then, just in the nick of time, a teenage girl came running out of the yard and yelled at Newman to come to her.

When he ignored her and continued his tirade, she ran out onto the road and picked him up. Then, holding him in her arms and tightly against her chest, she dashed back toward the house. 

I wanted to warn her that maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to be holding him so close to her body while he still was wearing a collar that was going to zap him when they crossed over the fence-line again. But before I even could open my mouth, I heard her scream and saw her drop Newman.

Would he, I wondered, cross that line again and get zapped for the third time?

The answer was a resounding yes. 

After that, there was no keeping Newman in his yard. He obviously had figured out that briefly getting shocked was worth the pain if it meant he could run free throughout the neighborhood and wreak havoc the rest of the day.

Which he did…until the police received so many complaints they finally did something about it. Rumor has it they handcuffed one of the owners and hauled him or her down to the station and issued a hefty fine.

But that’s just hearsay.

Still, I never saw Newman again.

So do I have faith that my neighbors’ invisible fence will succeed in keeping his dogs off my property?

Let’s just say I probably should have a chat with the deer and ask them to re-route their trail…to Canada.


#   #  #


Sally Breslin is a native New Englander and 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: