Mountain Views News, Combined Edition Saturday, January 16, 2021

MVNews this week:  Page 11


Mountain Views News Saturday, January 16, 2021 



30 Years Later and the House Demolished, Did It Matter if We Used Glossy or Flat?

[Nyerges is the author of Enter the Forest, Guide to Wild Foods, and co-author of Extreme 
Simplicity. He has led wilderness trips since 1974. He can be reached at the 
School of Self-Reliance (Box 41834, Eagle Rock, CA 90041); or on-line at www.SchoolofSelf-]

It was the summer of 1973 when my brother and I lived on my grandfather’s farm in 
Chardon, Ohio. One day, we decided to paint the kitchen a beautiful shade of light turquoise. 

We turned on the radio, and began our task. We opened the windows, and I did the trim while my 
brother rolled. We listened to the radio as we busied ourselves with our individual tasks. We worked 
the corners, the edges, the front surfaces.

There’s something about painting -- perhaps it’s the fumes, perhaps it is the long quiet times of many 
little tasks. Painting requires no moral decisions, no great choices, no necessary pontifications about the 
meaning and purpose of life. And yet...

And yet, there you are, with your self, and the task before you. For me, painting time has often been a time 
to re-enter the inner I, to think, to remember. In many ways, it is the ideal task for self-enlightenment.

When we were done, we felt we’d accomplished something, and felt we’d given something back to the 
old farmhouse. 

When the weekend came, another uncle came to visit us . He strode into the kitchen, looked around at 
the paint, and simply said “you didn’t use glossy!” 

Glossy? We were teenagers from California, visiting the home where our mother grew up. Though it 
may be second-nature to us today, back then we had no sense that a kitchen should be painted glossy. 
Glossy vs. flat were not issues that we thought much about. We didn’t think it mattered all that much?

But Uncle Joe seemed to think it was a big deal, and just one more bit of evidence that teenagers from 
“the big city” were a bunch of dimwits who wouldn’t know a cow from a goat. Uncle Joe shared it 
around to family and friends that we’d painted the kitchen in “wrong” paint, so we heard about in the 
weeks that followed. Some relatives didn’t care, but others would comment as they came in, “Oh, so 
there’s the flat paint job,” instead of, “Hey, hello, long time no see!” 

Dumb city boys who don’t know the difference between flat and glossy paint, who actually had the stupidity 
to paint a kitchen in flat paint.

Of course, our intent was to make the family happy that we’d improved the old farmhouse. We wanted 
the relatives to comment that we were industrious nephews who proved that all city boys were not idiots.

Today, while I was painting my own bathroom -- glossy paint, white -- memories of the summer of 1973 
in Chardon began to play again in my mind. Perhaps it was the paint. Perhaps it was the cool breeze 
blowing fresh oxygen through the room . I heard the chickens out back and it reminded me of my brief 
period of farm-living.

I began to think about how Uncle Joe responded, and how he could have responded. I realized then 
the great truth in the phrase that WHAT we do is of little or no importance, but HOW we do it is 

Uncle Joe died over 10 years ago, and when I visited the old farm site in 1999, the entire farm house and 
barn had been torn down and were now just a field. None of it mattered anymore in the world of physical 
reality. Joe was gone, and the entire farmhouse was simply a memory, glossy or flat.

Joe could have congratulated us on taking the initiative to paint, and could have explained why kitchens 
are always painted glossy. He could have told us that it was a great primer coat, and enthusiastically 
offered to drive us right then to the hardware store to get glossy paint, and we’d all do the final coat 
together. That would have been something. Our memory would have been profoundly different had 
Uncle Joe taken that route of inclusiveness, familyness, and helpfulness. 

 I do not fault him for what he did do -- he probably knew no other way. In fact, from what I knew about 
his father (my grandfather), his father probably would have beaten him had Joe painted the kitchen 
with flat paint. So to Joe, that was just one of millions of automatic reactions to things in his world. He 
probably forgot about in a few years, after the novelty of talking about Marie’s silly nephews wore off.

I realized then how important such “little things” can be, and I wondered how well I would do when my 
next opportunity arose. It is especially important with impressionable youth to do the very best we can 
to be a good example.

It seemed like an important insight, that the “how” is more important than the “what,” and that flat 
or glossy really doesn’t matter. Perhaps it was the paint. Perhaps it was the cool breeze blowing fresh 
oxygen through the room....


Very much 
adored cats, 
whose loving 
owner passed 
away. Bevy is 
the gorgeous, all 
black male. He’s 
shy but sweet, as you can tell by looking at his 
hopeful, trusting expression. Bella is a beautiful 
tortoiseshell, also sweet. She looks very content to 
just sit and chill, which could be why she is slightly 
overweight. Happy and fun play sessions would 
be good for both of them. They would probably 
be fine with gentle, older children, but best would 
be a quiet adult home. 

They are currently with a temporary foster, who can only keep them through January. Born 
2013. See more pictures, adoption information and application on our website at the More 
Cats page at

Pet of the Week

As you can see from his smile, three-year-old Wally is 
a friendly and relaxed dog. He’s been hanging out in the 
Pasadena Humane Adoptions office lately, where he’s been 
enjoying long naps on a pile of blankets, delicious treats, and 
full-body petting. Wally is eager to learn, and he’s already 
mastered “sit” and “paw”. He’s a total sweetie who loves 
attention – all he needs is you!

 The adoption fee for dogs is $150. All dog adoptions include 
spay or neuter, microchip, and age-appropriate vaccines.

 New adopters will receive a complimentary health-and-
wellness exam from VCA Animal Hospitals, as well as a 
goody bag filled with information about how to care for your 

 View photos of adoptable pets and schedule a virtual 
adoption appointment at Adoptions 
are by appointment only, and new adoption appointments 
are available every Sunday at 10:00 a.m. for the following week.

 Pets may not be available for adoption and cannot be held for potential adopters by phone 
calls or email.



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