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Wild animal encounter (and why I am terrified of alligators)

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

Every Thursday, I try to participate in Travelers’ Night In (TNI) on Twitter.  It’s in the middle of my workday so sometimes it’s difficult.  TNI basically is a global discussion about, well, travel (read more about it here), with different topics each week.  This week’s topic is “animal encounters” and that got me thinking…..

I’ve had a few animal encounters in my life, most of them occurring in or around Yellowstone.  But my most infamous animal encounter story goes a little something like this:  I was 10 and with my family on our annual Florida vacation.  The five of us were bike riding on then-undeveloped Sanibel Island.  We were biking for hours on narrow trails that bisected swamps and cut through heavily wooded areas.  Dad led the pack, followed by Mom, then me and Felicia, and Frankie was taking up the rear.  When it was time to start heading back to the bike rental place, we left the scary trails in the woods and rode out onto a residential street.  We were happily biking along, admiring the big, new houses on that particular street, when all five of us came to a screeching halt.  I swear, it was like something out of a cartoon.  A whole line of Folinazzos on bikes braking and skidding because of the massive, greenish/blackish reptilian figure that appeared a little ways down the road.  My breath was lost somewhere between my diaphragm and my mouth; all I could muster was a breathless, “Is that….. an alligator?!”  By golly, it sure was an alligator.  At the time, in my 10-year-old mind, that enormous alligator turned its head, looked at my family, and said to itself, “Oooh, lunch.”  At the same time, a disturbing thought penetrated my paralyzing fear:  a few days prior, in a one-day-when-you’re-on-Jeopardy!-moment, my father informed us that alligators are capable of running up to thirty-five miles per hour.  All I could think of was my then-four-year-old brother at the back of the line being unable to pedal his little legs fast enough to outride that alligator.  I was snapped to by my father’s voice instructing all of us to slowly and calmly turn our bikes around and begin pedaling in the opposite direction.  I thought I was going to pass out.  That alligator almost ate my whole family!

True story.  Well, almost.  The reality is that the alligator was crossing the street about thirty yards down.  Now, in my thirty-six-year-old mind, I’m pretty sure it didn’t even turn its head and see us.  But that doesn’t make for a very fun story now, does it?

Posted by Francesca

Highlight of the Blackhawks Convention

Sunday, August 1st, 2010

Cherish forever, originally uploaded by Francesca….

The 3rd Annual Blackhawks Convention just wrapped up. I attended for the second, and probably my last, time – but more on that later. The highlight of the entire event, for me, was getting to once again meet my childhood hockey hero, Denis Savard.

I had to first wait in line to get a wristband for the scheduled Savard autograph signing, and then later on, I had to wait in line again for the actual autograph. Kind of annoying but it was better than having to deal with people pushing and fighting to get ahead of me in line (again, more on that later). Others in line had photos or hockey cards of Savard that they wanted him to sign; I had my very first Blackhawks jersey, which is a good 20-25 years old. My parents bought it for me when I was about 10 years old because Savard was my idol. I wore that jersey constantly; I probably would have slept in it if my parents had let me. I’ve long outgrown the jersey but held on to it for sentimental reasons. When Lucia was born, I decided I’d save it for her – it could be HER first Blackhawks jersey, too.

After waiting for over two hours, it finally was my turn to go up on the little stage to the signing table. I unfurled the jersey and placed it on the table. Savard and his security buddy seated next to him had the same reaction when they saw it: “Wowwwwww!” I said to Savard, “This is my very first Blackhawks jersey. My parents got it for me when I was like 10. Now I want to pass it on to my daughter.” He asked me, “What’s your daughter’s name? I’ll sign it to her.” So I told him “Lucia”, and of course I had to spell it for him. He signed with a silver Sharpie on the 8 (of 18) on the back of the jersey, “To Lucia / Good luck / Denis Savard 18 / HOF 2000”. As he was signing he said, “Now when Lucia has kids, if I’m still alive, I’ll sign it for them over here [motioning to the 1 on the back of the jersey].” When he was all finished signing he said to me, “Good thinking to keep that jersey. Keep the tradition going. You’re a good mom.” I wanted to cry when he said that to me. That is the ultimate compliment for this new, hockey-crazed mom, even more so coming from my all-time favorite player and childhood idol! Savard stuck out his hand to shake mine and then I just about floated off that stage. Denis Savard still is my hockey hero.

ATA Airlines discontinues all operations

Thursday, April 3rd, 2008
Official statement from ATA website I can't say I am surprised. This airline should have ceased operations years ago. I never had a positive experience with ATA and the last time I flew this airline, back in 2002, ... [Continue reading this entry]

Nun Story

Thursday, August 10th, 2006
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me & Santa (see below for nun story), originally uploaded by [Continue reading this entry]

St. Josephs Tables make March a month to feast

Sunday, March 13th, 2005
Here's my latest story for the Gazette, our neighborhood paper that, over the years, has grown to include surrounding areas in its distrbution area, including West Loop Gate, South Loop, West Haven, Bridgeport, Chinatown, West Town, and Heart of ... [Continue reading this entry]

The Wonderful World of Oz

Friday, January 7th, 2005
Today is the ten year anniversary of the day that changed my life forever. No, I did not undergo a major, emergency surgery, nor did an image of the Blessed Mother appear on my grilled cheese. This particular ... [Continue reading this entry]

Canberra memories

Monday, July 19th, 2004
I was wasting some time (read = procrastinating) reading some of my old posts on BootsnAll's Members Forum message boards. I came across one I'd written a few months back about my 21st birthday. The post was included ... [Continue reading this entry]

I was bored at work today so I wrote this…

Friday, March 19th, 2004
I love sports. Anyone who knows me knows that. I have been in love with sports since a very young age. But within the last few years, it seems that my life has revolved completely around sports. My ... [Continue reading this entry]

2003 Cubs Season

Thursday, March 4th, 2004
Below is a story/essay I wrote for our weekly publication at work (The Friday Flash). I was once the publisher of the Flash but that responsibility was passed down to another when I received my promotion last summer. ... [Continue reading this entry]