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FWIW Official New Words

 Just ICYMI and FWIW, the Merriam-Webster Dictionary recently added 370 words last week and the acronyms in this sentence are two new words.  ICYMI abbreviates in case you missed it; FWIW is for what it’s worth.  How are words added to a dictionary that’s been around since 1828? 

According to https://www.merriam-webster.com, words that people use in the same way over a long period of time are included.  Lexicographers keep track of all types of words: slang, professional, educational, technical and words used in everyday conversations.  Those everyday conversations include texts where people have coined abbreviations.

            The categories of new words range from banking to fun to health to the natural world to out of this world.  Those who love fall will be glad to know that pumpkin spice is now an official word: a mixture of usually cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, and often allspice that is commonly used in pumpkin pie.  The dictionary definition doesn’t include other foods and drinks, but pumpkin is a fall flavor for everything from pasta to coffee.

         When you read mojo in a recipe or on a menu, it’s a sauce, marinade, or seasoning made from olive oil, garlic, citrus juice, black pepper, and possibly cumin.  Haven’t we used mojo to refer to a sense of being?  When someone loses his mojo, he’s lost his charm, his positive vibes, his confidence.

         Three new words are pandemic words:  booster dose, false negative, and false positive.  ICYMI, false positive is a person or test result that is incorrectly classified as positive (as for the presence of a health condition) because of imperfect testing methods or procedures.  I wonder if these words will be used ten years from now.

         Somehow, I missed Galentine’s Day, a holiday observed on February 13th to celebrate friendships, especially among women.  It’s on my 2023 calendar.  Next spring when the ground is muddy, soaked with rain, I’ll know the official word to describe that time of year is mud-season.

         Many of us have held a second job to supplement the income of a primary job.  The word to describe that work is side hustle, a synonym of moonlighting.

         We’ve used the word smartphone since 1996 and now dumbphone, a cell phone that’s used only to make phone calls, is officially a word.

            Have you ever enjoyed a dawn chorus?  It’s the singing of wild birds before and following sunrise.

            My favorite new words are slang.  Macgyver means to make or repair something with whatever you have.  Husband can Macgyver almost anything.  Janky is a word to describe something of poor quality.  So, something that falls apart isn’t just a piece of junk, it’s janky.

Lewk is a fashion look distinctive to the wearer that is noticed and remembered by others.  Last week when I did some people watching at airports, I saw lewks that made me stare, even though I was taught that staring is rude.

Check out the dictionary website to learn other new words, such as greenwash and terraform.  You might fritter away the morning, just as I’ve done.

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Safe, in Timeout

“You’re all in timeout!  Please listen when I tell you to do something! That’s all I can say right now.” Jolie, our mild-mannered tour guide, was upset with the other thirty-five tourists and me who were on a six-day bus tour.  She sat down on her bus seat.

We’d bought lunches at a grocery store that morning, and Jolie directed the bus driver to a Yellowstone National Park roadside picnic area.  After eating, some people walked to the concrete bathrooms, some toward the bus, some toward the road, and with a few others, I walked toward the woods. Eddie pointed to the ground and said, “Well, a big animal’s been here.  Maybe a bear?”

Moist scat was only six feet from my lunch table. Because it looked similar to the cow patties I’d avoided in farm pastures when I was a kid, I guessed a bison had been there recently.  Everyone around me laughed when I put my foot beside the scat and snapped a photo.  How else could I show my young Grands how big bison scat is?

I noticed one of our group standing near the road and motioning ‘come.’  Two bison, about thirty yards away, were walking on the road toward the parking area and we tourists held our phone cameras.  Jolie screamed, “You got your pictures.  Get on the coach now!” 

I looked behind me and saw Husband walking near the bus.  I waved and hollered, “Just look. No pictures. We have to get on the bus.”  Jolie yelled something about how fast bison can move and again told us get on the coach.

A white pick-up truck turned into the parking area. A park ranger stuck his head out the truck window and yelled, “You’re in danger! Get on your bus!”  I saw Husband near the road taking a photo.  I screamed at him to hurry, and stupidly, ran to the picnic table to get my jacket, then ran the few yards toward the bus.

The bison ventured off the road and onto the roadway toward the bus. People bunched at the bus door. The bison walked nearer the bus and I saw Husband in the bunched group. 

The park ranger beside me yelled, “You’re too slow. Get on the other side of the bus! Now!”  About twelve of us plastered ourselves against the bus, opposite the door side.  The ranger said, “They’ll probably go in the woods. Stay quiet. Don’t move. No pictures.”

The two bison walked along the door side of the bus, turned at the end of the bus and toward the woods. When I saw them, just twenty feet away, I held my breath. “Don’t move or talk,” whispered the ranger.

After the bison walked deep into the woods, the ranger guided us to the coach door.  Just as I sat down beside Husband, who had gotten onto the bus before the bison walked beside it, Jolie put us in timeout.  Safe and in timeout never felt so good.  

This photo made by someone on the bus.

It’s About Good Grammar

The textbook representative and I had talked for about ten minutes when he leaned back in his chair, crossed his arms, cocked his head, and said, “Well, I see you are a grammarian.”  

We sat at a table in my 4th grade classroom.  I was a member of the county school committee to adopt, or choose,  new English textbooks for the next seven years.  Publisher representatives had made presentations to the committee and given each of us teacher manuals and student textbooks for our grade level.  Weeks later, most requested one-on-one meetings.

Although I had ninety-nine other things I could’ve been doing instead of talking with him, I was determined to be congenial while standing my ground.   I knew he wasn’t happy that I thought students should be taught grammar and practice rules in speech and writing.   

His textbooks took the whole language approach, where students were encouraged to express themselves and not be concerned with sentence structure, spelling, or grammar.  Supposedly, students learned by reading good literature, but did not need practice grammar usagd.  Thankfully, these textbooks weren’t adopted. 

  This experience from thirty years ago came to mind when I read an article about a book entitled Rebel With a Clause in the August 14th Parade magazine in this newspaper.   The book’s author, Ellen Jovin, calls herself the roving grammarian.  She travels across the country and sets up a Grammar Table to answer questions from passersby.  Oh, that I could sit beside her!  

In the days when I was a student, we diagrammed sentences, conjugated verbs and memorized prepositions.  I had many good teachers and lived with the best.  Dad taught high school English, and thru the years he corrected my grammar errors, even days before he took his last breath. 

Dad and I talked about grammar usage and especially about three words: I, me, and myself.  Probably we teachers made students scared of using the word me, and that came from breaking the habit of using me at the beginning of a sentence.  “Me and Granny ate all the apple pie.”  

No.  “Granny and I ate all the apple pie.”   But what happens if someone gave us the apple pie?

“Jane gave Granny and me an apple pie.”   I encouraged my 4th and 6th grade students to remember this by taking out the other person’s name.  No one would say, “Jane gave I an apple pie.”   

Oftentimes, oral practice taught students that generally I is at a sentence beginning and me in the middle or near the end.   

One of Dad’s pet peeves was the incorrect use of myself, a word used for emphasis or when the person who acts is the same as the one who receives the action.  “I myself think people want to use correct grammar.”  “I cut myself with a sharp knife.”  Myself doesn’t replace I or me. 

I know I don’t always use good grammar, but I must be a grammarian, as accused by the textbook salesman. Who else would be eager to read a book about the rules of language?

Cucumbers Aren’t Just for Eating

     For the last step to make sweet pickles, Husband and I layered cucumber slices and sugar in a four-gallon crock. By the next day, syrup formed and now a week later we have sweet pickles.  There’s nothing better than a cheese sandwich – grilled, toasted or plain – with Miracle Whip and sweet pickles made using my mom’s recipe. The only way Husband eats cucumbers is pickled, and I’m pretty sure if he could get the same flavor and crunch using something besides cucumbers, he would. I’ve eaten raw cukes since I was a kid when I sat in the middle of my family’s garden, picked them from the vine and ate them like an apple. A garden salad isn’t complete without cucumbers and cucumber sticks is a better sandwich side than chips. 

During the summer I buy cukes at Farmer’s Market, and after I learned they are nutritious – providing vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6 and C, zinc, potassium, iron, and calcium – and a natural anti-inflammatory for arthritis, I gave myself permission to buy them at the grocery store when growing season ends.

Cucumbers aren’t just for eating. Gardeningchannel.com lists twenty-seven weird ways to use cucumbers, including placing slices on your eyes to reduce puffiness.  Cukes have ascorbic acid which is an antioxidant that relieves water retention, the swelling around the eyes.   Those antioxidants also relieve sunburned and itchy skin; use thin cucumber slices or make a puree to spread over the affected area.

            A cucumber face mask, puree or juice, can rejuvenate and brighten the skin and some commercial skin care products use cucumbers’ natural oils for toning and hydrating. 

            To make metal shine, use cucumbers.  The stains on my stainless-steel sink are gone after I gave it a good scrubbing.  Even tarnish was removed from my sterling silver sugar spoon. Slice a cucumber and leave the skin on.  Rub the metal to coat with cucumber juice, then rub with the skin to clean. 

            I read that cucumbers are great for removing pen and crayon markings on a wall.  On heavy paper, it simply got the paper wet and smeared the markings.  It might work on a wall, but I didn’t try it.

Another suggestion was a way to reduce the appearance of cellulite.  A paste made of cucumber juice, honey, and ground coffee tightens the skin; I can’t imagine sitting still for 30 minutes with that concoction under a tightly wrapped cloth on my thighs.   

Eating cucumbers are supposed to cure headaches and hangovers.  Maybe caused by one too many cucumber martinis? The weirdest use of cucumbers is keeping slugs away.  Would a metal pan really make chemicals in cukes create a reaction to discourage a slug infestation?

If anyone looks up and tries some of these weird ways to use cukes, let me know.  I’m not wasting any more summertime cucumbers on experiments.  At my house, cucumbers are for eating straight off the vine or pickled. The pickle recipe is available at https://susanrray.com/recipes/

Putnam County Library Honors the Book Lovers Club

           Sometimes we have to look at where we’ve been to appreciate where we are. We readers know the Putnam County Library well and that there are four branches.  Cookeville is my home branch and one of my ‘happy places.’ The calm and quiet.  The welcome by those who stand behind the check-out counter.  The chairs that invite me to sit and stay.  The many books that I can bring home.

            I remind myself that the library’s books, audio recordings, videos, and outreach programs began with a small home library and a few women who were brought together by their passions for reading.  In 1922, twelve women formed The Book Lovers Club, a literary club, and they met monthly in each other’s homes to talk about the books they had read. 

In 1923, Clara Cox Epperson, club president, suggested that each member contribute $1.15 to purchase books to begin a circulating library and place them in Miss Laura Copeland’s home, known as the Rose Cottage.  Adults who borrowed books paid one dollar a year.

            To buy books for the library, Book Lovers Club members raised money by sponsoring talent shows, lectures, and movies.  They hosted fund-raising teas and bridge parties and asked for donations.  Club members volunteered weekly at the Rose Cottage to check out books, and the Book Lovers Club paid Miss Copeland’s light and water bill to use her home.

 By 1929, the library had a thousand books.  In 1938 when the collection reached more than 3,000 volumes, James Cox provided a room in the Herald building on the courthouse square, and the Book Lovers Club named the library the Clara Cox Epperson Library. In 1939, the club library consolidated with the Putnam County Board of Education’s library to create the first public financed library in our county. Currently, the library is financially supported by county and city governments.

Through the years the Clara Cox Epperson Library, the Cookeville branch, has moved to several locations and branches in Algood, Baxter, and Monterey have opened.  The Putnam County Library annual fiscal report ending June, 2022, shows the circulation of 240,109 print and digital materials, and there are 54,581 books on the library shelves.  

All because 12 women saw the need for a lending library and worked to make books available for others.  The Book Lovers Club expanded to thirty members, a number that members’ homes could accommodate, and continues to donate to the Putnam County Library.

On Saturday, August 27th, at 6:30 p.m., the Cookeville library will present a Reader’s Theatre event to honor the 100th anniversary of Book Lovers Club. Refreshments will be served and local community members will read aloud to bring books to life.  Registration is required: email events@PCLibrary.org

The object of Book Lovers Club remains as written in 1922:  mutual improvement, culture, and helpfulness.  I appreciate the twelve women who came together to share books and carried their love of books to everyone in our community. 

And I’m thankful for our public library.

Come On Out to the Fair!

            You have only three more days, well four, counting today, to take in the very best county fair in Tennessee.  The Putnam County Agricultural and Industrial Fair was awarded the Champion of Champions trophy by the Tennessee Association of Fairs on January 20, 2022, and board members have worked diligently to make this year’s fair even better. 

Our fair isn’t a Johnny-come-lately event.  Chickens & Cows & Pigs, Oh My!, the theme of this year’s fair, is the 96th Putnam County Fair.  All these years, it’s been presented, ‘put on’ as my granny would say, by volunteers – 539 volunteers this year, according to John Allen, Fair Board President. 

            When I heard that ‘exhibit fair watchers’ were needed, I signed up.  As I write this column, I’m sitting under the South grandstand where the produce and crops and photographs are displayed and I’m taken back to being a kid.  I’ve pulled suckers from knee-high corn plants and driven a tractor that pulled a wagon in a hayfield and dug potatoes and picked enough green beans to fill quart jar for Mom to can.

             My job tonight is to remind people not to touch the items that have been entered for competition.  A little tyke ducked under the single-chain barrier and rubbed both hands over a long-shaped watermelon, but before I even stood, his mother had corralled him.  Maybe it was the big blue “Best of Show” ribbon on the watermelon that was enticing.

            I’m impressed by the baskets of vegetables that are works of art entered as Garden Displays.  Professional and amateur photographers entered pictures in many categories and I applauded with a child’s family when he announced, “I got a blue ribbon!”   He’ll also be happy when he picks up his first-place prize money on Sunday.

            My watcher seat looks out to the Master Gardeners’ exhibit, a unique and beautiful presentation of plants, both flowering and non-flowering. And I’m close to the food booths and cotton candy and the midway where the Ferris wheel stops only long enough to unload and load.

If I’d been assigned to the Cultural Arts Building, I’d be surrounded by flower arrangements, potted plants, hand and machine-stitched clothing, needlework, quilts of all sizes, knitted items, paintings, and crafts made of wood and leather.  And food: canned fruit, jelly, pickles, cakes, cookies, candy, and pies.  (Granted, all probably looked more appetizing on entry day.)

Maybe you think the fair isn’t something you’d like – think again.  It’s the best $5 you’ll spend to appreciate life here in Putnam County, according to the man I met tonight who moved here from San Diego, California, six months ago. 

The fair gates open at 4:00.  Take in the exhibits, eat supper at a food booth, and shop at the country store.  For an additional cost, you can ride the Ferris wheel. Go on the night of your favorite event: a horse show, tractor pull, or demolition derby.  The fair comes only once a year!

Get more information at https://putnamcountyfair.org

Marvel at All Living Creatures

            Their noses were inches apart.  What was my Grand thinking as he looked into the eyes of a penguin at the Tennessee Aquarium?  Harrison, a juvenile Macroni penguin, seemed as mesmerized as Micah, age 8.  Where they were playing a game of Blink through the Penguin Rock exhibit’s thick glass. Who would blink first and move?

Finally, Harrison swam away.  My Grand turned toward me and said, “He liked me.”  

            Micah’s body touched the glass of the tank that holds the largest aquarium animals.  A Sand Tiger Shark swam toward Micah and he backed up.  After the shark’s nose skimmed across the glass, Micah stepped forward to meet a Whiptail Stingray.  It’s underside white body was wider than Micah’s outstretched arms and it flapped its fins to swim away.  Micah stood at attention waiting for the next animal to come close.  

            During a two-mile hike with five Grands, Daughter, and Daughter2 along a Colorado park trail, we stopped often.  “Look, Gran,” said Charlotte, age 7.  “It’s a lady bug.”  Charlotte had squatted low and she placed her hand on the ground.  The beetle crawled into her palm and we all marveled at its beauty, its brilliant red back with black spots. 

            As we walked, some of us ducked to avoid black and yellow swallowtails and all eight of us stopped to count how many small yellow butterflies flew above a stream.

Lucy and Annabel, ages 11 and 13 respectively, were in no rush at the Nashville Zoo at Grassmere.  The meercats scampered on the ground and some into holes; one stood at attention, as if posing.  These were the animals both girls wanted to watch first.

At the cougar exhibit, we saw these large cats stretched out perfectly still on rocks.  Husband, Lucy, and I were ready to move on so I said, “Annabel, I think they’re sleeping.” 

            “I know,” my Grand answered and didn’t move. When we finally walked away, I wondered how long Annabel would’ve watched these big cats sleep. 

            On that hot day last week we talked about how hot we were, how hot the zoo animals must be, and we understood why most hid underground or in the shade. “Except him and he might be dead,” I said and pointed to an earthworm on the stone path. Lucy carefully picked him up; he wiggled slowly in her hand.  She carried him to the grass covered ground and gently turned her hand so that he fell off.

            “You saved a life today, Lucy!” Annabel said.

            Just a few days before Annabel and I had read poems from Great Poems for Grandchildren.   “Like the poem we read last week.” I said.  “Hurt no living thing.”  I wish I could’ve quoted the next six lines, especially the last: ‘Nor harmless worms that creep.’

            “Nothing, Gran?” Lucy said with a smile.  She knows I swat flies and mosquitoes.

            One of my grandparent joys is watching my Grands marvel at all living creatures.  I do it every chance I get.

Happy to Celebrate!

Most times when I put my fingers on my keyboard to write the first draft of a column I have the topic and most of the 500 words, in somewhat logical order, in mind.  Today only the topic is firm: this week I’ll celebrate a milestone birthday.  But the words are like shooting stars – fast and random.

             I think of my grandmothers and Mom and of my other significant birthdays and my life at age 25 and how the next fifty years unfolded.  If given a second chance, what would I have done differently?  I count blessings.  I reflect on how I got to be this age and what’s next.

            Granny and Grandma Gladys looked old when they were 75. Both had short wavy gray hair and wore dresses – I never saw either in a pair of pants.  Neither ever drove a car.  Granny worked in her garden and hand stitched quilts and watched soap operas and wrestling on TV.  Grandma cooked three meals a day for herself and Papa and welcomed their three daughters’ visits.

            In her seventies, Mom played golf and Scrabble, preserved vegetables and fruits that she and Dad raised, sewed clothes for herself, machine stitched quilts, grew flowers, watched baseball and basketball games.   These memories make me wonder how my children and Grands will describe me at 75?

            At 25, I hoped for children and five years later, Husband and I had two toddlers, Daughter and Son. And many years later, they blessed us with grandchildren.  At 25, or even 50, I never expected eight Grands!

            Oh, the things I would have done differently.  Fewer chores and more play with my children.  Laughed at spilled milk. Rocked until babies slept and then kept rocking. Allowed desserts even if all the vegetables weren’t eaten.

I wish I’d listened more carefully and made notes when Mom and Dad told stories of their childhoods and when they dated as young adults and their early marriage.  Why didn’t I ask my grandparents about their lives?  Why didn’t I write their memories?

As an elementary school teacher, I’d be less strict and structured.  I would learn more about my students’ home lives and send home more positive notes. 

            At this point in life, counting blessings comes easy.  Several years ago, I began listing people, things, and events for which I’m thankful.  This morning as I drank coffee on my front porch at 6:30 a.m., I wrote number 5983A hummingbird chattered and drank from our feeder. 

            If someone asked “Who are you?”, I’d start with relationships.  Christian. Wife. Mother. Grandmother. Cousin. Friend.  I’m most thankful for God and people.             

I’m thankful to live when we grandmothers color our hair and wear shorts and drive grandchildren to practices and play in swimming pools with them.  I’m thankful to sleep under Granny’s quilts and make Mom’s sweet pickles. And I appreciate a computer that lets me cut and copy and delete.

I’m really happy to celebrate this birthday.  I’ll eat cake first.

Remember that time when…

I sat in the back seat between Granny and my big brother Roger.  Dad drove our family’s 1956 hardtop Dodge, and Mom held a road map as we travelled from Tennessee to Oklahoma the summer I was ten years old. Granny and I sometimes swapped places and I could feel the breeze from the front seat window, rolled down just a few inches, and I’d crack my window enough to blow my ponytail.The reason for this trip was Granny wanted to visit her nephew’s family; it was my family’s only long-distance driving trip with her.  She wore a shirtwaist cotton dress, heavy black shoes and white anklets, and her white hair was cut short – all common for a 71-year-old-woman.  I thought she was old, really old. 

            As we traveled the two-lane highways, Granny and I played the alphabet game and searched for letters printed on billboards and road signs.  We could claim only one letter per sign from A to Z.  It took a long time to spot the end of the alphabet:  V, X, and Z.  Then we spelled words – our full names and random words.  

            Mom gave updates of how many miles to the next town, which might be just a gas station, grocery store and post office. We stopped at roadside parks to eat the picnic lunch Mom had packed.  Sandwiches, chips, cookies, and Cokes, in thick glass bottles. 

             Recently, I rode with Daughter’s family of seven in their ten-passenger van from Winter Park, Colorado to Cookeville, Tennessee.  During the first hour of travel, all eight of us took in the scenery.  Snow on the mountains above the tree line, arrow straight evergreens below, and deep slopes to valleys.  Switchbacks and steep inclines led to Bethoud Pass at 11,307 feet above sea level, then more curves down the mountain toward Denver.

            Son 2 and 17-year-old Grand sat in the front captains’ seats, taking turns as driver and navigator.  Four other Grands sat in their ‘regular’ seats: two-person bench seats, a three-person bench seat, and a jump seat.  During the two days travels, Daughter and I sat beside each Grand.  They had over-the-seat hanging bags filled with craft and drawing items, small toys, and snacks. And each had a device, a ‘screen.’

            Leaving the mountains, I sat beside Lucy, age 11, who stretched her legs across my lap, leaned against her pillow, covered herself with a quilt and listened to a book downloaded on an iPod.  Another Grand listened to music and solved Rubix Cubes.  Two watched a favorite movie for the umpteenth time.  Daughter took in a downloaded podcast.  All had earbuds or headphones.

            Enjoying the quiet, I read a book downloaded on my iPad.  But we weren’t quiet for the entire twenty-one hours trip, when I sat with my Grands we talked, played pencil and paper games, rubbed backs, and cuddled. 

            Maybe my Grands will have happy memories as I do when Granny and I rode side-by-side to Oklahoma.  They might say, “Remember that time Gran rode home with us from Colorado?” 

Vacation Wildlife Sightings

I looked forward to seeing wildlife while vacationing with Daughter’s and Son’s families in Fraser and Winter Park, Colorado.

            As soon as I sat on our condo balcony, a hummingbird swooped a little too close.  A robin perched atop a blue spruce and looked like a topper on a Christmas tree.  An iridescent black bird that looked like a crow, marked white on its wings and body, squawked as it flew past. 

            He’s the cousin of a crow and raven: a black-billed magpie.  Magpies were everywhere I was for five days.  On hiking trails in the middle of the forest.  At a concrete skate park in downtown Winter Park.  Among the natural undergrowth and trees surrounding the condo complex.  Magpies were easy to identify, and I sometimes heard their loud, harsh cries before I saw them. 

            Early one morning while I sipped my first cup of coffee, two female mule deer grazed nearby.  Their long ears turned toward me when I stepped outside, but obviously not feeling threatened, they lowered their heads to pick the wild grasses.  I sat quietly watching these animals that have broader chests and are more stocky than the white-tailed deer here in Tennessee. 

            Another morning, deer wandered from a cluster of trees and sauntered near the condos for their morning feed. Then they turned, walked toward the trees, stopped, kneeled to the ground under a large bush, and tucked their heads. Was this their daily routine?  Their feeding lot? Their place for daytime naps?

            The only moose and elk I saw stood perfectly still on the sidewalks of Winter Park.  Huge metal statues.  The moose was dressed in a red and white coat and blue pants to celebrate Independence Day.  Maybe, I thought, I’ll see wildlife while riding home with Daughter’s family for two days across Kansas and parts of Missouria and Kentucky. 

            After a nine-hour ride we checked into a hotel in Topeka, Kansas, and I put on my tennis shoes to walk outside and stretch my stiff body.  A few steps from the hotel’s front doors, I saw wildlife that marks this trip. 

            A doe and four kits waddled from under tall shrubs and trees about five parking places from where I stood.  I froze in place.  I never expected to see a stench of skunks!  (Yes, a group of skunks is called a stench or surfeit.)  Momma Skunk led her babies from their protected hide-away onto mowed grass, toward the paved parking lot.  The kits, following Momma, tumbled over each other.

            At the concrete curb, Momma stopped, sniffed, raised her nose, sniffed the concrete again.  She turned around facing her kits, then stepped through them and ambled toward the bushes.  The kits followed.

            I hate the stink of a skunk’s spray, and never want to be near one, but seeing the doe leading her kits and watching them play, I hoped no one would find their hiding place.  Skunks eat rodents, beetles, and larvae, and scavenger animal carcasses so that busy intersection in Topeka should be varmint-free, unless skunks are considered varmints.