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Few express regrets for year past

If Hernando resident Joyce Ritter could live 2004 over again, she would have stuck to her New Year's resolution and watched her weight.

"I wouldn't eat so much, for one thing. I got a scale for Christmas, and boy, oh, boy," said Ritter, 62, whose eyes widened Thursday as she pushed a shopping cart down an aisle at the Wal-Mart Supercenter west of Inverness. "But my resolution for next year is to get that (weight) off of there."

The Citrus Times asked residents to look back and determine what they would have done differently during 2004.

"I would have definitely eaten better. In fact, that's one of the things I hope to do better in 2005," said Hallie Teitelman, 34.

Many people interviewed said they would have eaten better, spent more time with family and spent their money more wisely. But in hindsight, residents said 2004 was largely defined by the hurricanes and the tight presidential election _ things that were beyond their control.

All things considered, they cited few complaints. Now that the year is over, there's no time to look back with regret.

"If next year is as good as this past year, I'll be happy," said Teitelman, a graphic artist. Teitelman only wished that she kept up with her weekly chores, which suffered while she spent more time with her children. She's going to work on balancing both duties in 2005.

Some people said they wish they had spent more time with family. Bettie Schnee, 57, of Inverness traveled to New York, Tennessee and North Carolina to attend family functions, but wishes she would have done more.

Steve Makell, an Orange County, Calif. resident who spent the holidays with family and friends in Inverness, expressed similar concerns, but also wished he had done more in the presidential election. He plans to become more politically active this year.

"I would have done more to defeat Bush," Makell said. "It's making me more active now for protecting the environment, getting off our dependency on foreign oil and making polluters more accountable."

Makell said he realized an individual cannot control an election. He has resigned himself to four more years with President Bush. But in looking back, he also regrets not taking advantage of simpler things.

While playing with his 20-month-old son Thursday afternoon at a park in Inverness, Makell said he wished he had spent more time enjoying the environment.

Makell wasn't in Florida during the turbulent summer of howling winds and heavy rains, when residents kept their windows boarded and their pantries stuffed. But Ritter was, and she said she should have left her home, although she did overcome her fear of heights when she climbed a ladder to paint over her home's exterior storm damage.

Ritter said she becomes scared when she hears about an impending storm, remembering that it was just a few months ago that she was confined to her shaky mobile home with her two pets and husband, listening to the winds whistle and watching the combination of wind and rain destroy her lawn.

The hurricanes didn't affect Inverness resident Trish Beckwith, but they did allow her the time to make a quick trip to New York City rather than stay home from work with no electricity. Beckwith is co-owner of Wicks Are Us in Inverness.

"My regret was that we had to come back early," said Beckwith, 35, who shopped on Canal Street and visited Times Square, the Empire State Building and ground zero during her five-day trip. "When we were out of danger, we had to come back early and go back to work."