Looking ahead

Friday, December 29, 2006

Another year is closing, but I'm not going to dwell on the past.

Could things have been done differently in 2006? Should better choices have been made? Will we be living with regrets?

Yes, yes and yes.

Has 2006 been a good year? Were there good reasons to laugh? Did we get enough to eat?

Yes, yes and yes.

But let's move on. The new year is a time for hope and anticipation. And the hours that remain before the big hand reaches midnight Sunday are the perfect time to do a bit of planning. Call it dreaming if you want.

My wife has been talking about remodeling the two upstairs bathrooms in our house. Individually, they are functional but limited on space. And she would like to move the washer and dryer from the basement laundry room to the main level.

We survived remodeling the kitchen a few years ago, but just barely. We have often compared our remodeling experience and building a house, which we did 20 years ago in another city. We both loved the house-building experience. We are fearful of another remodeling.

I have suggested that we sign up a contractor, make him commit to a short window of plaster-shattering havoc and give him the keys to the house while we go on a leisurely vacation somewhere on a coast. That may or may not be possible.

Meanwhile, the roof is beginning to show its age. Water has found its way inside along the fireplace chimney. That's my best guess. The thought of having to replace the roof is no brighter than remodeling bathrooms.

What I really want, though, is a porthole in the kitchen window. We have those snazzy windows that fold down for easy cleaning. And there is a screen that goes over the entire window. What I need is a small opening through the double-paned glass and the screen big enough for a gun barrel.

OK. Don't go crazy. I'm not planning to mow down the neighbors.

The kitchen window is our best view of the bird feeders (all three of them) in the back yard. And it is the best view of the pesky squirrels that continue to try to outsmart whatever anti-squirrel device I have purchased most recently.

If I could just stick the BB gun, with its laser scope (I am not kidding) through such an opening, I'd have a straight-on shot at the varmints without endangering life or property of the human type.

On Christmas Day I heard the story of an elderly Altenburg man who sits in a lawn chair in his back yard and shoots squirrels that raid his pecan tree. His count is over 100 this year. Way to go!

I now have a role model, someone I only know secondhand, and he's my hero.

A week or so before Christmas, my wife purchased a gizmo she knew I would like. It's a laser level, a device that uses a laser beam to show you when the pictures you are hanging are crooked. It sure beats a dirty thumbprint and half a dozen misplaced nail holes.

The gizmo was short on instructions, but in GREAT BIG LETTERS all over the package were various warnings that the device's laser beam causes permanent eye damage. SO BE CAREFUL, BUSTER! Hmmm.

Squirrels have beady little eyes that probably can tolerate a lot less than human eyes. And blind squirrels don't raid bird feeders, do they?

Best of all, the laser beam goes through the kitchen window and the screen just fine.

So far, however, the squirrels I've used as test subjects don't seem to mind the red beam one little bit. Back to the porthole.

Lest you think I am a heartless practitioner of animal cruelty, I must hasten to tell you that blinding squirrels -- or killing or maiming them -- is not all I want to accomplish in 2007.

I would like to learn to speak a foreign language. I mean really speak the language, slang and all.

I'd like to be able to swear at the squirrels in my yard and not have the neighbors think I'm foul-mouthed as well as cruel.

Happy new year.

R. Joe Sullivan is the editor of the Southeast Missourian.

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