Mark Hunter (ozma914) wrote,
Mark Hunter

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Weekly Column: Animal, Vegetable, or Flaming Mineral?


A few short thoughts for this week because -- frankly -- I didn’t have time to form one long, coherent thought.

I have an aloe plant in my kitchen that is prospering nicely, and appears to be in perfect health.

I don’t know what to do with it.

I’ve never had a healthy, growing plant before. It’s getting so big, it needs to be transplanted into a larger pot -- something I never thought I’d have to deal with. Not that I don’t have a larger pot: I’ve got a whole graveyard full, piled in a corner of the garage. A plant transplant has never been an issue for me, because there’s no point in transplanting something dead.

So I should be happy, but frankly, it’s freaking me out. I’ve been having nightmares of the aloe plant taking over the house: sending roots all over, turning lights on and off, running up the phone bill. I keep waking up screaming, “It’s alive! IT’S ALIVE!” Usually the only thing that prospers in my house is the mouse population.

Speaking of mice, they haven’t been prospering so well lately. When my daughter’s hamster briefly escaped, it got into a catfight (pardon the expression) with a mouse, clueing me in to the fact that I still had some live housemates. Since then, with the help of a one dollar trap and a dollop of peanut butter, I’ve become a one man population implosion expert.

Then I caught a little kid mouse.

I don’t consider myself a rabid animal lover (at least, I don’t love rabid animals). I eat cheeseburgers. I love chicken -- it tastes like chicken. And I know the mice have to go. They can spread disease, leave behind little droppings, chew through wiring, and have even been known to start fires. But still, seeing a little mouse that hadn’t even gotten his drivers license, or had his first little mouse kiss, upset me.

Not that I didn’t reset the trap.

Still, it’s too bad we couldn’t have come to some agreement. Maybe they could have stayed off the kitchen counter and avoided the wiring in exchange for a few crackers and immunity from persecution. Or maybe I could have built them a little building out behind the garage, and run them some plumbing and cable.

Speaking of little buildings, I was a bit taken aback at the debate over the future of the old police booth on Albion’s courthouse square. I’ve heard more about that than any other local issue that’s come before the Town Council since I was elected -- and that includes a lot of issues that were way more important.

It’s big enough -- barely -- to be used as a small headquarters during town events; it could be used to shelter people during fund raisers, such as the Lion’s Club’s citrus sale, although there would be an issue of getting a key to them. (Anything to keep those oranges coming!) It’s too small to be used as a homeless shelter, backup courthouse, or satellite headquarters for Homeland Security.

Beauty is, of course, in the eye of the beholder -- witness my hatred of Cubist paintings and rap music. Some people think it’s a neat little structure, some think it’s ugly. Given that this is conservative Indiana, if it lasts another 50 years it’s likely to become a beloved part of the community, like an old mongrel dog that isn’t really useful for anything, but that everyone still feeds anyway.

Of the people I’ve talked to or heard from, opinions are running 10-1 in favor of keeping it. I’ve always contended that an elected official owes the people his best educated judgment, even if it goes against public opinion, but that’s for important stuff. I’ve got to tell you, people -- this is just not that important. If most people think, like me, that it adds to the atmosphere of our downtown, leave it. If most people think it’s an eyesore, tear it down. And now I’ll wait for the other shoe to drop.

Speaking of shoes, for all of you who inquired, Fred is doing just fine, and still perched majestically at the crest of the hill in my front yard. He’s looking a little lonely, having failed to be reunited with his twin, and as time goes by it looks less likely to happen. We may never know what happened to Fred’s twin, who I will call Barney. Possibly he’s in shoe heaven, Conversing with the all-stars. Hopefully he wouldn’t be down in shoe hell, which I picture as being full of nails and gum.

Speaking of burning, we’re once again in that season where people burn off their fence rows, hills, brush piles and trash. This usually happens without incident, owing largely to the fact that fortune favors the foolish. Then there are those other times.

Last week firefighters extinguished a field fire near Ligonier, which worried neighbors because of its size. The property owner claimed everything was under control, and he would probably start the fire again. Later those firefighters came back, telling the property owner the fire was getting awfully close to the barn, and that he should be careful. They couldn’t put it out, because it hadn’t spread from the property of the owner, who insisted it was a controlled burn.

By the end of the night his barn was gone. Apparently I wasn’t the only person who didn’t have time to produce one coherent thought last week.

Look, it’s this simple: Fire wants to eat. It wants to spread. It’s like your favorite uncle at Thanksgiving dinner. Anyone can make a mistake, but when the same people do it year after year, burning the neighbor’s property along with the occasional barn, shed, vehicle and house, you gotta ask yourself: At what point do we start stamping “moron” on some foreheads?

But that’s just my thought -- and it’s a short one.
Tags: slightly off the mark, weekly column

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