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Amidst all the terrible news - all the deaths, the worsening economic situation, the worsening environmental situation, the disappointments on the domestic and international political scene - it's nice to get some good news for a change.

Victory: European Governments Backing Out of Ilisu Dam Project in Turkey | International Rivers
 I have a question for you all - what are your favorite poems?

Here are twenty of my favorites, not in any especial order, which I put together in an anthology I had to make for my poetry class a few semesters ago. But I don't read poetry without encouragement - so perhaps you guys can share your favorites with me, so I can be encouraged to find some new favorites?

1. Hazel Tells Laverne, Katharyn Machan
2. Pro Snake, Virginia Hamilton Adair
3. The Indifferent, John Donne
4. Unholy Sonnet, Mark Jarman
5. Darkness, George Gordon Byron
6. The Gathering Evening, Alberto Rios
7. The Haunted Palace, Edgar Allan Poe
8. The Tyger, William Blake
9. Kubla Khan, Samuel Taylor Coleridge
10. Prometheus, George Gordon Byron
11. Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came, Robert Browning
12. Prospice, Robert Browning
13. What I Said, Norman Stock
14. Ode to Melancholy, John Keats 
15. Rhapsody on a Windy Night, T.S. Eliot
14. The Death of Saint Narcissus, T.S. Eliot
15. Holy Sonnets XIV, John Donne 
16. Tithonius, Alfred Lord Tennyson
17. Tempora Mutantur, H.C. Brooke
18. The World is Too Much With Us, William Wordsworth
19. The Secret Rose, W.B. Yeats
20. The Harp That Once Through Tara’s Halls, Thomas Moore

"The Waste Land" should probably be there somwhere as well. Anyway, here's the first one - I love poems based on fairy tales.

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Recipes

 So I've been really bad about getting people the recipes that they've asked for, so I've decided to post them here, because they're really good, and it is probably just easier for people to print them if they want - I'll try to share really good ones I come across in the future as well.

Apple Cake with Caramel Sauce - a show stopper every time and my Dad's favorite, and best of all really easy to whip up in minutes

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Butter and flour ten inch bundt pan.
Blend one and a half cups Wesson oil and two cups sugar with electric mixer.
Add three eggs one at a time, beating after each addition.
Sift three cups all-purpose flour, one teaspoon baking soda, a half teaspoon salt, a half teaspoon nutmeg and two teaspoons cinnamon into egg mixture, beating thoroughly.
Fold in three cups coarsely chopped Granny Smith apples unpeeled, and one cup chopped walnuts.
Stir in two teaspoons of vanilla extract.
Spoon into prepared pan.
Bake for one hour and fifteen minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool for an hour.
To unmold cake run knife around edges of the pan and gently turn out onto plate.

Caramel Sauce - make while cake is cooling.
Melt a cup of butter cut into pieces in a heavy-bottomed saucepan set over medium heat.
Stir in two cups light brown sugar.
When sugar dissolves add one cup heavy cream whisking to form an emulsion.
Pour half warm sauce over cake to form glaze. When serving spoon some remaining sauce over each slice.
Sauce keeps well in refrigerator, but should be reheated before serving. Whisk before spooning over cake.

Serves 12

Lowfat Banana Nut Bread - an easy way to get rid of old bananas without wasting them. Mostly I like that this recipe is lowfat, but it's good too.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Lightly spray 9 by 5 inch loaf pan with cooking spray.
Pulse one and a third cups all-purpose flour, one fourth cup walnut halves, three fourths teaspoon baking powder, three fourths baking soda and one fourth teaspoon salt in food processor five times. Set aside.
Process one and a half or eight ounces bananas cut into on inch pieces until pureed (30 seconds).
Scrape down sides of bowl of processor and process an additional then seconds.
Add large egg, large egg white, two thirds cup sugar, one third cup plain nonfat yogurt, two and a half tablespoons unsalted butter in one inch pieces and one and a fourth teaspoons vanilla extract and process for ten to fifteen seconds.
Add dry ingredients and pulse until flour is just mixed in - five to six times.
Pour into prepared pan, bake until golden brown and toothpick comes out clean - about fifty minutes. Cool for twenty minutes. Remove from pan and cool for some additional time.

Lemon Bars -  makes thirty-six

Preheat oven 325 degrees. greese 13 by 9 inch baking pan.
Sift one half cup confectioners' sugar, one and a half cup flour and one half teaspoon salt into bowl.
With pastry blender cut in three fourths cup butter (one and a half sticks) cut into little pieces until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
Press mixture into bottom prepared pan. Bake until golden brown - about twenty minutes.
Whisk four eggs and one and a half cups granulated sugar until blended.
Add grated rind of one lemon, half a cup of fresh lemon juice and three fourths cup of water and mix well.
Pour over warm crust and return to oven, baking until set (about forty minutes).
Cool completely before cutting into bars.
Dust with confectioners' sugar.

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The tragic Tennessee coal ash disaster that flooded hundreds of acres with toxic coal ash late last year brought the need for enforceable regulation to television screens in living rooms across America. As efforts to truly safeguard our communities get underway, the coal industry is already putting pressure on the EPA to prevent progress. I just sent a message my Senators asking them to stand strong to clean up coal, and to oppose these efforts to preserve the dangerous status quo - and you should too!  Check it out:

http://action.sierraclub.org/bigpicture_coalash  
 So, I just heard that David Eddings died - sighs - first Robert Jordan, now Eddings.

I finished that deep cleaning of my room that has been dragging on for weeks - that dusty smell is gone! yay! Though I promptly threw up, I think from being constantly immersed in the dust and dirt that had settled in the corners and on every surface, and maybe a little from the fact that my hands also had been submerged in various cleaning solutions for two days in a row too.
I'm a little pissed off at the San Mateo courts, because I got jury duty but had to ask for a differral until my class was over. They asked me when my next break was and I told them July 2, and they took me literally, asking me to come in 8:30 am on July 2, but that is really my last day, and my final.

I had my first midterm in Physics yesterday, and the professor got our tests back to us by the end of break. He marked two wrong, but I know I got them right. Now I have to talk to him about it today, and I am really nervous, because I like the guy and I have to get through four more weeks with him. I hate confrontations, and I cannot think of a way to go about pointing out that the answers are right without sounding confrontational or making him defensive. I could just let it go, because it's only four points off, but I know I know the answers, and it kills me to think that I could put a right answers and be marked off for it, and that the final result should not represent my real knowledge and capacities.

I had sold some books to Great Overland Books, a used book shop near ninth avenue, for the English Honors Society over winter break and had seen a book I wanted, but that was expensive and hard to find, so I finally got back there this past weekend - that place must have one of the best used book selections ever, in all my favorite genres, and of course all in practically perfect condition, all really well and clearly organized (I know the hunt, which can lead to the discovery of treasures is supposed to be part of the allure of the used book shop, but I am no hunter - I want to get what I want and get out). And before heading home we stopped at a new coffee shop - Freshly Ground, I think. They serve all organic, fair trade coffee, which was really good. And the ambiance was nice, clean, with dark, library-esque colors and classical music playing, and a fan keeping air circulating, to prevent the small space from becoming too oppressively cramped-feeling otherwise. I'm always on the lookout for local coffee shops as alternatives to Starbucks. The only problem was the people smoking in the doorway - I think it might have been marijuana, from the smell. The smoke came inside, and, at the risk of repeating myself, it did not smell good.

Finally, who saw the Tonies? Good stuff! Or it would have been if the sound was not so crappy - it was doing all kinds of weird things. The poor soloist in the scene performed from Guys and Dolls ended up with a body mike that wasn't working, so even as he starts to sing a crew member comes running on with a hand mike, and he had to go through the whole number, performing all the choreography with a hand mike he hadn't practiced with - which he pulled off beautifully. Then there was the rocker -  I forget his name - who was performing with the Rock of Ages cast in the opening number, and had the scenery land on him because, he says, he was in the wrong spot on the stage - apparently he got beat up. Good old Liza was back, winning for the special engagement Liza at the Palace, and one of the leads in the scene from Rock of Ages was cute, addressing Liza directly. Angela Landsbury won her fifth Tony. Finally, Billy Elliot stole the show, sweeping the awards. I remember that the movie was very good, and I really want to see it now. So far, however, the Billy Elliot music has not impressed me. I had been impressed by what I heard of the music of Next to Normal on On Broadway on Sirius Satellite Radio. It is the best musical theater music I have heard in a very long time, even if the story is a little too close to home for me to be comfortable with it. I do not think the number they chose to perform at the Tonies was the best though, out of all the songs they could have picked from that show.

Quote of the Day: "It's hard to know how much of your life you ought to try and save so you can enjoy remembering it. Sometimes all you can remember are the things you'd rather forget." Andy Rooney

Bruno and Eminem, MTV Movie Awards


Bruno and Eminem, MTV Movie Awards - OMG this is even funnier than naming Twilight Best Picture.

Deviant Art Find


Reader's Meme
by ~Akari-neko on deviantART

Likes my favorite novel and hates what I hate - I love this person and I have know idea who she is!

I am alive - sort of

 Last time a skunk, yesterday it was a coyote crossing the road by Golden Gate Park.
                It was an awful, awful semester, from the moment I had to beg a campus police officer to let me in a teacher’s office to drop off a concert report that was technically supposed to be in within a weak from the moment we saw the concert, because it was after six the first day of Easter vacation. From then on I was getting everything done at the last second, and I don’t know how it happened, since I feel like I was working every second I wasn’t eating, sleeping, in a class or in a meeting. I had to pull two all-nighters, for two final papers this semester. I could not concentrate and my thoughts were all over the place. I worked as hard as I ever have in spite of only being registered for three four unit classes and voice lessons, but my papers came out incomprehensible, and I had to settle for more Bs than I am used to. I have never been more frustrated in my life. On the one hand I chose stupidly difficult topics, especially for my final paper for history of western music. I chose to right on Spanish musical theater, called zarzuela, when I should have stuck with what I know, namely American musical theater, and then I would not have had to learn about an entirely new and different musical language. For the first time in my life I didn't finish on time, in spite of staying up forty-eight hours, waking up at eight in the morning Tuesday, staying up working until it was time for my Shakespeare final, an in-class essay for which I forgot my book, and so had nothing to look up quotes in, so that after running to the book store and finding they had no copies of The Winter's Tale, I had to share with two others. After that final I got one more hour to work. I stupidly got the times messed up and arrived for the presentations of our final papers, which would stand in the stead of a final for music history, thirty minute late. Not only had I not finished the paper, I had only the barest bones of anything resembling a presentation, and was so tired I even forgot to mention zarzuela was Spanish.
                I also may have been trying to do too much. I was trying to tutor a group of very uncooperative Latin students (a far more emotionally stressful situation than one would suppose), as well as acting as budget manager (spring semester is budget season for funded accounts) and working on the production team (on one Sunday we worked for four hours straight) for the Ignatian. But I was a lead in the musical last semester, while taking four unit classes. This semester was supposed to be easier. True taking voice lessons and signing in USF voices might can kind of be counted as a fourth four unit class. Plus all my classes seemed to want us to do out of class stuff – I hate it when the teachers try to get you to do out of class stuff.
          Thankfully my Shakespeare teacher, at least, allowed us to go to two productions of Shakespeare plays OR watch two movie productions. She did have us memorize a monologue and get together as a class on a Saturday evening to perform them for each other. I ended up doing 4.3 in Othello, mostly because I got to make up a song, since Desdemona is supposed to be singing to herself the song her mother’s maid Barbary sang when she was forsaken by her lover and died of a broken heart. If I am singing I don’t have to concentrate on my acting so much, and the increased rhyme makes it a lot easier to remember my lines. I was one of the few that did not struggle delivering them. It might also have to do with the fact that I am one of the few in this class of shy bookwormish English literature majors who has experience on stage. I memorized my monologue (which did not have to be longer than five minutes, and with dramatic license very little can be turned into five minutes) in about ten minutes and spent the rest of the time working on dramatizing it and giving it dramatic emphasis, whereas everyone else spent weeks just memorizing. I don’t really understand what was so difficult, but I am glad for the easy A, given my performance in the rest of the class. I did pick a really good scene, since it is not your straightforward heroine drops dead for no apparant reason which Professor Amati-Camperi says is the most common cause of death for leading ladies in opera. But there are lots of lines which make questionable both Barbary’s and Desdemona’s love for and fidelity toward their respective lovers. Then there is the whole question of whether Desdemona and Othello have consummated their marriage, and Desdemona’s naivete, having lived a sheltered isolated life before now, combined with Desdemona’s strength of character as an active woman apparently determined to shape her own destiny, and the frustration she must feel when her plans and dreams are crumbling all around her. One can see how this scene could have inspired Verdi to write my favorite aria. I also had to give an oral presentation on Othello to the class, and I had to show a clip of this aria, using the excuse that you can see how it is necessary to totally re-write Shakespeare in order to portray Desdemona as passive – she is not at all.
www.youtube.com/watch
           For my concert report, I reported on the Harmony Sweepstakes A Capella Festival, at the Palace of Fine Arts. The line up consisted of After Five, Akabella, the Rat Trio, the Love Notes, Musaic, Plumbers of Rome, His Juliet, House Blend and Tonic Effect.  There were also performances of Where's Gesualdo, the host group who had won last year's competition, before and after the competing groups performed. In addition to first, second and third place, the nine groups were competing for audience favorite, best arrangement and best original composition. Where’s Gesualdo did a great job with the introductions, especially those of the judges. One judge, responding to a question about the chocolate ice cream he was eating on the way to a performance, apparently had stated that if you can hit the notes you can hit the notes, and if you can't avoiding dairy won't make a difference – I don’t know how I feel about that. 

The following is a description of the event – it can get kind of long, but if your interested . . .
          Akabella, introduced as sisters in their descent from the Mother Goddess, and as ethnomusicologists who had taken upon themselves to become ambassadors of a capella, was one of my favorite groups. In their third piece they engaged in a remarkable clapping, adding more claps as the chant was repeated, starting together but as they went on bouncing claps off of each other to create increasingly complex rhythms, yet ending all at once with a stomp and clap above their heads. Their first song, in English had fun with word painting, injecting a swinging rhythm when describing "the sway of my hips," going into triplets on "triplet kisses from honey driplets" and descending to the lowest notes of the piece on "deepest well." They joined in homophonic harmony, swelling, on "hear her song" and "stop and sing along.”
          However, most of their songs were Zimbabwean, separating them from the audience, whereas a prominent theme of the night was to music more familiar to the audience. One member of our group voted for TonicEffect because of their final piece, a medley they titled “Jumper on the Wonderwall of Broken Dreams,” including three of his favorite songs. After Five's last song was the theme song from Pokeman, which had those closest to me laughing long before they got to the refrain. However, their third song, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” may have been too recognizable. It was done twice that evening. After Five did it with more of a beat than was typical, but Musaic's more traditional rendition may have been too overdone. Another Voices member voted for the Love Notes, who ended up winning first place, because, he claimed, he had a soft spot for Bohemian Rhapsody. “Bohemian Rhapsody” ended up winning best arrangement. Once it was recognized the audience was laughing, all the more so because it contrasted with the previous persona Love Notes had portrayed. Coming on as the light turned red in identical slinky red strapless dresses, their high heels abandoned in the background, they sang flirty songs, described as from their grandmother's generation, close together in the center of the stage, bent low as if confiding in the audience. They syncronized a sexy dip and a foot pop in “Bill Bailey.” What's more, they maintained this persona backstage. One of our members ran into them and complimented them. They gave their thanks in unison, all popping their foot at the same time. For “Bohemian Rhapsody,” however, they put on black leather jackets, half way through the song breaking into a loud beat box and head banging, and ending with the sound of an opening soda.
          Thus more than familiarity of the music, the host group, in their welcome speech, made clear that judges would be choosing based on entertainment as well as technique, use of hands and feet as well as voice - it was not just to win audience favorite that it was necessary to pay attention to elements of staging and engaging with the audience. Thus His Juliet, coming on to a plainly illuminated stage, dressed casually in street clothes, singing, and walking off, did not do as well, though they were one of the most impressive groups vocally. Unlike the Love Notes they sounded good alone as well as together, and their original composition, which ended up winning, especially entailed complex harmonies and vocal interactions, with shifts between legato and staccato moments and sudden stops. Musaic also, a more traditional choral group, in their uniform of blue sweaters, ties and khakis, singing gospel while standing still in a semi-circle, did not do as well. House Blend, on the other hand, also starting with a gospel piece, though moving on to 1950s and 1960s popular music, and similarly traditional in appearance, dressed in black with identical red sport coats, won third place. “Preacher Man” was enlivened with choreography, but they had the most fun with “The Zombie Jamborie.” On the one hand, a song perhaps not as well known to younger generations was made relatable through reference to San Francisco monuments. One zombie, for instance, was described as smoking on Haight though stone dead already. They took their jackets off, and all but the soloist turned their back to the audience, standing in a line and shaking their butts as the song began. When they turned around they wore skull masks. On back to back they bumped butts, but on belly to belly they decided not to bump bellies, and one poked another in the stomach instead. At the mention of a female zombie the soloist was crowned with a long black wig.
     The most active group, though, was the Plumbers of Rome, which not only won audience favorite, but second place as well. Introduced as sewage engineers, they came on dressed in plumber outfits, complete with work belts, and one carried around a plunger. They portrayed themselves as mechanized, opening with one ensemble member making various mechanic sound effects to suggest the winding up of a machine. Upon breaking into the song "Jaded Love," one singer ran forward on "I ran to you," and then reversed direction on "I run from you." This comic over-dramatization was echoed in the vocals as well, drawing out and exaggerating the phrase "jaded love" and the techno beats imitating the more familiar version of the song. Both came together on repetitions of "jaded love" that got quieter and quieter as the soloist got lower and lower until he was rolling on the floor. The vocal line fragmented into mere doot-doots, going on and on for what seemed like forever, the beat coming to the forefront and swelling briefly, briefly jerking the soloist back up again. All three, through a series of jerky motions, ended on the floor with their legs in the air doing patterns to the beat. Then, without further ado, they broke into “Dreidle Song,” one in the middle and the other two facing each other across him, jumping up and down and jerking around to face different directions. Suddenly they stop and begin randomly to walk around the stage, up and over the chairs that had been set out for them. Then two sat down and a third stood aside and broke into the next song. In “Mr Jones” they again picked the distinctive instrumental parts which people would know from the familiar version of the song to imitate, one making not only the sounds but the motions of playing a cello, mocking audience expectations of the music. From the more lyrical peace, the imitation of a rap beat provided a dramatic contrast. Above this they sang "We are . . . Rome! We are . . . Singing! We are . . . Finished . . . " and then walked off, one plunging the air in front of him as he went.
     My favorite group of all, however, was the Rat Trio. Their piece was completely original, but familiar in its inclusion of the theme songs from the Simpsons, X-files, Star Trek and Mission Impossible, among others. Furthermore, though they were not so active, they provided drama nevertheless. Announced from the podium as a public service announcement declaring the following program only suitable for children, the sound of white noise issued from a black stage, followed by a disembodied voice calling out that viewer discretion is advised. The song talks of putting the check in the mail for PG&E, begging them to turn the lights on, and the lights come up. Though the voice had described waking up in the dark and yawning, the audience is still surprised to see the three singers dressed like they'd just gotten out of bed in underwear and robes. But more than lights the singer wants to watch TV. We are surprised when the singer, after repeating "I've nothing to come home to but you" with the other two ensemble members, switches "you" for "the Simpsons," introducing the theme for that show, followed by more themes separated by white noise. This introduces a mockery of popular love songs that will continue throughout the piece. The next soloist, singing a different melody, describes feeling gray all day, feeling cold and lonely for years, and watching re-runs at lunch every day, joining with the other two in a new chorus in which this new voice finds comfort in Perry Mason. The soloist takes over delivering and repeating phrases describing how Mason takes care of her and never lets her down, before all three again sing the second refrain. This dies down to doot-doots which grow into wa-was which become a new television theme song. The following theme songs have words, the first "Who are you?" and the second, sung by the third soloist exclaims "I am your TV." The third soloist starts a new melody repeating a description of a 50 inch LCD screen. This is followed by the singing of the refrains of all three songs in polyphony - "how I love you Perry Mason" and "I ain't got nobody to come home to but you" joining the third soloist who is singing "you know you need to turn me on," again with romantic connotations.

     Then there was the fiasco with the humanities program curricula - the events we go to together as a program. This semester it was an ACT production of a play adapted from War Music (a book attempting to modernize the Iliad). I was panicking because my second music quiz was the next day, and I split at intermission, feeling terrible the whole time. I asked my professor and her (somewhat snide to my hearing) response was I was an adult and should do what I had to do. And I was not the only one to split, especially after they found out the play was four hours long – with no music? Seriously? This was not the worst part, though. The next week I ended up finishing a paper and emailing it seconds before a five o'clock deadline the day of the meeting of the program to discuss the event. I love these meetings. The last time it got super competitive. Or at least MY class got super competitive, rallying as a group, shouting down a kid in two humanities seminars who decided to join his other seminar instead of ours, so that many students said afterward that they wished they were in our seminar. For those of you who know Professor Claussen, you get it. He was the one, after all, who said we had to beat the other classes - that the whole thing was about competition between the professors. Anyway, I was so exhausted after panicking over that paper, and having my father forget about my voice lesson so that I had no ride and had to miss it (which turned out to be a blessing, rally, since otherwise I may not have finished my paper in time), that I completely forgot the meeting - I never forget meetings. I was not a good participant in my humanities seminar this semester.
          Then USF Voices had its tech rehearsal, where everyone moved like mules in spite of the fact that some people had better things to do with their time, and no one was paying any attention, so that when the performance came around, for which we had to show up super early, the fact that no one had shown any interest at tech was totally obvious. I had to sing a senior song with the other seniors, in spite of the fact that I still have a semester left, after only two sing-throughs.
          They also instituted midterm evaluations this year for all students taking private lessons. I agreed to sing “How Are Things in Gloca Mora?” because it is easy and I knew I'd be nervous, but then I got stuck singing it in the student showcase. Anyone used to be able to perform in the showcase. Now the evaluations are also an audition for the showcase. I suppose I was lucky to get in, but I would really rather have sung something different. On a more positive note, the only bright spot in a really depressing semester, I got to take voice lessons with Rick, who not only is the music director of USF Voices, but was also music director for the first two musicals I performed in at USF. He really likes me, and so when College Players instituted a new award this year in his name, for outstanding performance in musical theater, he was eager to give it to me. He told me ahead of time because I wasn't planning to attend the Gill Awards otherwise - that awful final paper on zarzuela was due in just a few days.
          More good stuff, Professor Olds wants me to be her research assistant next semester - I am really her only option. She needs someone who can translate Latin, and I am the only one around who has taken two semesters of Latin. That's why I am their only choice for Latin tutor too - though I want to quit so bad! Anyway, it will look really good on a resume, I will improve my Latin immensely, and I will get experience in historical research. Olds also said she would help me research grad opportunities. She is giving me all this advice and lending me books and promising to make contacts for me. It's a bad thing too, however, because I really don't want to spend my summer translating Latin. Plus whatever I don't finish this summer will carry on into the semester, when I will be tutoring again, working for the Ignatian and English Honors Society, working as an intern in a museum, taking voice lessons again (worse, with a completely new teacher - scary thought), and hopefully in the College Players musical Reefer Madness (yes, it’s based on the 1950s film). Next semester is turning into a terrifying prospect. More bright side though - I'll be taking fiction. This leaves as my only really academic classes my humanities seminar Twentieth Century Intellectual History and my last history class The Ancient Near East, with Claussen.
    I only got four days to unwind, weed the garden, clean the house, read a fun book and do some preliminary work for Olds before my summer class started. I'm taking Physics By Inquiry - a really interesting class where we start with practical problems and, from the ground up, build to abstract principles. For example being provided with a wire, battery and light bulb and being told to make it light, and from there developing all the principles we need for an in depth understanding of circuitry. Best part? when class is over there is virtually no home work! For this entire work, four brief questions to answer and a two page write up on our previous experience with science. I hope my good luck holds.
     Sorry for the long ramble - needed to vent, and reflect on a really terrible semester. And now its over for good! Yeah!

Quote of the Day: "Exit, pursued by a bear" 3.3.57, The Winters Tale, William Shakespeare

Current Book:
The Cheese and the Worms: The Cosmos of a Sixteenth-Century Miller, Carlo Ginzburg

While having coffee in the kitchen and looking out the window across the street, I saw a skunk come down the hill across from our house.