friday fictioneers: “lions and tigers and bears…oh my!”

Copyright -Sandra Crook

Busing from the airport in Calgary to Banff in the Canadian Rockies, I kept watching for wild animals…like a moose or a grizzly. 

After riding for miles, I spotted something. It was some distance away so I couldn’t quite make it out. It moved, or so I thought. Squinting my eyes as though they were a pair of binoculars, I was sure the animal had lowered its head. 

My imagination was running away with me,while my common sense struggled to get a foothold.

“It’s a lion!” 

As a truck with bales of hay drove by, the light bulb went “click.”

(Note: I rewrote the last two lines to stay within the 100 words AND to lessen the confusion of readers who thought I was drifting outside the parameters of the photo.)  

no brainers…

Don’t you sometimes listen to the news and shake your head in frustration?

I’ve grown a thick skin as a result of the last two presidential elections. Most news stories now just roll off my back, or barely make a dent in my grey matter. It’s either because I’ve no interest in the topic of discussion, like the recent Miley Cyrus uproar, or it’s because the news pundits seem to sensationalize every tidbit of information, relevant or not.

However there are some stories which cause me to cluck my tongue and shake my head.

From source: Two mammal-eating "transient...

From source: Two mammal-eating “transient” killer whales photographed off the south side of Unimak Island, eastern Aleutian Islands, Alaska. Magyar: Kardszárnyú delfin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yesterday, for example, CNN kept advertising a film it aired last night…”Blackfish.” It documented the killing, a year or so ago, of a female Sea World trainer by an orca, also known as a killer whale.

A predator in the wild, it makes total sense that at any time the orca could revert back to what it does instinctively…kill. While humans like to think we can anticipate every situation, especially after investing heavily into a project, we can’t possibly know with absolute certainty that a killer whale will never behave contrary to our expectations.

Rather than admit to failure, humans resort to positive spin…”It’s rare that orcas in captivity kill humans.” Evidently once is not enough to realize that we should let these magnificent creatures live out their lives with their own kind. They are not goldfish in a bowl.

Why do we insist on having all earth’s species cater to our whims?Pope Francis met with media

Then there was the eye-popping news about a German bishop who got a smack down from Pope Francis. “Why was that?” you might ask.

It seems the cleric’s customized, new home cost tens of millions of dollar. Meanwhile, His Holiness has opted for simpler living in one of the Vatican’s guest quarters, rather than the grander papal apartment.

Why the “bishop of bling” felt he needed grandiose digs built with the generous donations of his parishioners is mind-boggling. As a Catholic, it made me want to slap the man upside the head and say “Duh??? What were you thinking?”

Why do we insist on having everything we might want…just because we can?

Finally, former NFL quarterback Brett Favre claims he is suffering memory loss.

“I think after 20 years God only knows the toll,” said Favre, who was sacked 525 times, more than any other NFL quarterback. “This was a little shocking to me, that I couldn’t remember my daughter playing youth soccer.”

Recent research has shown 

Of the 34 former NFL players who have died and donated their brains to research, the percentage of them who have pathologically confirmed chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disease, is over 90 percent, according to a 2009 University of Michigan report.

 Evidently the NFL has taken the matter seriously enough to pay $765 million to players and their families who filed suit claiming the athletes suffered head injuries while playing football. 

I don’t even need the experts weighing in to acknowledge that if a guy gets knocked to the ground by 300 pound gorillas, his helmet isn’t going to protect his brain from being tossed around like jello inside his craggy skull. Duh???

“There is still a pervasive belief that only a concussion serious enough to knock the athlete out will do damage, but that’s not the case,” Harvard neurologist, Dr. Marie Pasinski. “Any blow to the head that leaves a person slightly dazed or not quite right may cause harm to the brain.”

Favre has wisely chosen not to seriously entertain the Rams’ invitation for him to quarterback their team going forward.  ‘ “I want to live a long time, I want to live healthy, as close to normal life as I can,” said Favre.’

English: Brett Favre (#4) as quarterback for t...

English: Brett Favre (#4) as quarterback for the New York Jets. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Why do we continue to sacrifice our bodies, minds, and souls to money and fame? And if we do, why are we shocked when our lives take a turn for the worse?

I sometimes wonder about human behavior and what makes us do what we do, when it seems we should know better. Perhaps it’s in our nature to rationalize whatever path we choose. Some decisions are pretty straightforward; others can lead us on a merry chase. More times than not we end up facing the same dead end. We probably know in our gut what the likely outcome will be. Being human however, we prefer to play the odds. We’re risk takers…

…what have we got to lose?…a lot, it would seem…


then there’s the time i…

My husband, daughter and I had a good chuckle reminiscing about those times when I was…well…a little less pulled together than I would have liked. In fact my daughter offered up her memory of another time when I nearly burned the house down. Different house…a decade or so after my first fiasco with the stove in my Long Island home.

IMG_1482Seems I had begun prepping for dinner. I’d lit the burner under a frying pan in which I’d poured some oil. My daughter, in elementary school at the time, called from the nearby dining room. She had a question about her homework. Attentive mother that I was, I went to see how I could help.

Of course you know how the rest of the story goes…

Minutes later, I returned to find a fire had started in the frying pan. Its flames were reaching upwards toward the 9 foot ceiling. What was it they taught me in Girl Scouts? Whatever it was, I couldn’t get my befuddled brain to think straight.  My eyeballs, however, were working overtime…bulging out of their sockets. And my mouth, according to my daughter, could only say one thing…”Oh shoot! Oh shoot! Oh shoot!” She remembers that because when I recounted this story to Carol, a close friend, she was amazed that I only said “Oh shoot!” and not something more colorful. But as I told my daughter, I held myself in check when she was young. Now that she’s 27…well…let’s just say I’m a lot more liberal-mouthed. My vocabulary has increased by leaps and bounds.

Not knowing what else to do, I did what I wasn’t suppose to…I took the frying pan to the sink. I don’t think I turned on the water, although I can’t be sure. The one thing my daughter and I both remember is that the curtains above the sink caught fire. Again, I don’t remember what I did about that. Except that whatever I did, the fire eventually petered out.

A residential smoke detector is the most famil...


What didn’t subside, however, was the confounded smoke alarm. It blared and blared and blared. The ringing drove me nuts! No matter what I did to the thing it wouldn’t shut off. Between trying to stop its incessant noise and running around throwing open windows to let out the smoke which was rapidly accumulating throughout the house, I was a crazed woman.


At my wits ends, and worried that passersby would wonder at the commotion, I ripped the smoke alarm off the ceiling and flung it out the front screen door onto the lawn.

Imported Photos 00332I have no idea what my poor child was doing while I ran around like a chicken with its head cut off. All I can say is thank goodness she has a funny bone like her dad, and can laugh at my antics. I think it’s safe to say she doesn’t intend to trade me in for another, saner mom anytime soon.

I guess you’re wondering if I called my husband at his office in NYC? No. I didn’t. Things were happening too fast and I was 10 years older, though not necessarily wiser. Perhaps the fact that I had someone else to think of, my daughter, made me depend upon my own resources, limited as they were. And after all, we were then living in Connecticut. Then again, being in another state, or country for that matter, hasn’t precluded my calling my husband for help. But those are other stories.

When my husband arrived home later that evening, he was surprised to find the smoke alarm laying on the grass…in pieces. My daughter was only too eager to relate the sordid details of the day to her dad, whose eyes grew as large as saucers as he listened. After a full accounting of the ugly event, my husband knew better than to chide me about my foolishness. The gleam in my eye warned him not to go there. Instead, he gave me a hug, and from the twinkling glint in his eyes I knew…

…he’d amassed another one of his…”tales of my nutty wife”…IMG_1998


birds of a feather…flock together

A post written by Candice at had me laughing…and thinking I’d found a soul sister.

Could it be that there’s another woman out there who lacks common sense? I thought for sure I was the only one. I’ve never admitted it before, but reading about Candace’s behavior in the face of a crisis empowered me to speak up. Until now, only those nearest and dearest to me knew the truth. At least…I hope so.

“Common sense” according to Webster’s is “sound practical judgement; normal native intelligence.”Well, I’ve never been practical and at times I’ve jokingly told my daughter that I was “aby-normal.”

Cover of "Young Frankenstein [Blu-ray]"

If you’ve never seen “Young Frankenstein,” you should. When Gene Wilder asks his hunchback sidekick, Marty Feldman, whose brain he got for Frankenstein, Feldman replies “Aby someone.” Wilder asks “Aby who?” To which Felman says “Aby Normal.” I loved that line and have since borrowed it. 

Now where was I? Oh, yes. I was talking about Candice and I being…birds of a feather…or chickens with their heads cut off…or Chicken Little running around crying “The earth is falling! The earth is falling!”

Like Candice, I had a run-in with my oven.

When I was in my late 20s living on Long Island with my hubby, I decided to take a sick day from work to bake up a Christmas gift for some friends. At the time I was heavily into making, and eating, chex mix snacks. Still in my flannel nightgown, I put my first batch into the oven and wandered off. Not long after, the smoke alarm started going off. Hurrying back to my teeny-tiny kitchen I was alarmed at the sight of a fire in the oven. In a state of panic I reached for the phone and dialed my husband at his office…in NYC.  I stood out in the small, enclosed foyer talking to him as the fire continued to burn. Ever the practical one he told me to call 911 and get out of the house. I did as I was told, feeling slightly foolish standing in my snow-covered front yard with the phone cord stretched to the max as I dialed for help.

In no time the fire engines arrived…two, I think…with firefighters hanging off the sides and backs of the trucks. Of course the neighborhood was alerted by the sirens blasting, as if calling one and all to bear witness to my stupidity. I’m sure I wanted to find the closest mole hole and crawl inside with my heretofore sworn enemy…Mr. Mole himself.

The firemen stormed into the house, hatchets and fire hose in hand.  Soon one of them emerged flinging my baking pan onto the lawn. All that remained of the chex mix was a charred blob. Meanwhile, the windows and doors of the house were thrown open to allow the billowing smoke to escape. I don’t recall if any water was used. I don’t think so. But with the passing of time I can only recall what I did…and didn’t do.

While I know this wasn’t the first time I pulled a humdinger of a boo-boo, it was the first of many, many stories my husband has loved retelling. Thank goodness he has a funny bone that runs the length of his body. If not, my marriage might not have lasted as long as it has…42 years.

English: A chicken running Français : Un poule...

Have you a “Chicken Little” story of your own to tell? Or are you…

…the one with the common sense?…