Autumn in the North Cemetery.

Sixty miles west of Boston, Massachusetts there is the small New England town of Sturbridge. Located at the junction of I-90 (The Mass Pike), and I-84 it has become known as the "Crossroads of New England". The town was first settled over 300 years ago, and like other small New England towns it has grown just enough over the years to be in a difficult place today. How do we embrace the future without forgetting how we got to our present? How do we attract the right kind of growth, and maintain who we are? And, what about our culture out here in Central Massachusetts?

These pages will cause one to think about how to protect what we have, our future direction, and how to move on in the very best way.

Those thoughts, and other ramblings, will hopefully inspire more thought, conversation, action, and occasionally a smile...

...seems to be working so far

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

To Be Sure

Closed up the cottage over this past weekend.  Now, I can address all those things I have neglected around the house here in Sturbridge since May 1st.  I haven't fed the cats since the spring.

There is no getting around what lies ahead.  Mary has a handful of paint chips, a head full of ideas, and I'm out of reasons, and ways of whining , "But, why?".

The living room, and dining room are now on her short list.

I don't really mind painting, in fact, I enjoy it.  It's a chance to concentrate on something so exclusively, that I can block everything else around me really well.  When I'm not painting, I've been told that this attribute is called, "not-paying-attention", or daydreaming.  I've heard that all my life.  I like putting something I obviously do quite well, and regularly, to a productive use.

So, this fall, hopefully "before the Holidays are here", and I am hoping Mary was referring to Memorial, and Flag Day, I will join the ranks of millions of other homeowners performing DIY projects around the house.

With this project, the biggest hurdle we had to overcome was choosing the right color.  This is the most frightening step.  Husbands have actually gone missing during this phase, yet the rooms still get painted.  Zombies on October 31st are bad enough, but they are nothing against a spouse with a color theme banging about between their ears (shudder).

Together, "we" thought, something rather neutral, but not in the browns, tans, and beige's, maybe the greys, but not too green grey, or too blue grey, and, of course, not too, grey grey.

That narrows our choices down, he said with a happy face.  (sigh)  Like as if it did.

So out came the Sherwin Williams, and Benjamin Moore smart phone apps, and all the millions of colors in their respective pallets.  With each new color texted, or shown in person, came the words, "What about this one?", or "This?", or "This is nice.", "Ooo, I like this.", and those were just from me.  Mary was more to the point.  "No.", "Too green.", "Too blue.", "Are you serious?", "You are kidding, right?"

A trip the paint store in Maine resulted in our relieving them of 30, or so, paint chips.  Three, or four hours later, during halftime in Sturbridge, Mary had them taped, and staggered around the living room , and dining room. With a serious, no nonsense look, she asked me, "Can I see you for a minute?"

Cripes.  This did not sound good.

Stonington Grey is third from the top left.
I followed her into the dining room to see the little paint chip cards leaning on the chair rail against the current wall color.  While looking at all those greys, I was able to rule out 98% in seconds, but that still left a couple, and thank God, they were the same ones Mary was leaning towards. (insert fist pump, and whispered, "Yes!" here)

Hallelujah.  Almost done.  Right, Mary? Huh?  Almost done now?  My nachos were getting soggier, and the game was going to start, and...  "Stop it", she said as she pointed at the paint chip confetti leaning against the wall, "pick one".

And, I did.  I picked the very best ones, huh, Mare?  Didn't I?

The finalists were then taken into the living room, and taped to the wall beside a few test blotches from sample cans of grey paint.  After we stared at them in the late afternoon light, in the darkest area of the room.  Mary paused, stared without blinking, and said, "I found it.  I like the Stonington Grey."  To which I found myself responding, "So do I.", and I meant it, that color looked great.  Weeks, countless conversations, paint chips, text messages later we had finally decided on the very best, like, most excellent color evaahh.

A lot of work, thought, and effort were expended way beyond seeing that first color sample on the phone.  A friend of Mary's even had a sample of that first color, and, of course, it had to be applied to the wall just to be sure.

Yep, and that first color that sparked the process?  That color was Stonington Grey the actual color we had chosen in the end.  So what was all that stuff in the middle then?  That process is called, "Just To Be Sure".  We all do it.  Try a recipe one way, then another way just to be sure, buy a shirt with a neck size of 18 inches instead of 17 1/2, just to be sure, take home two gallons of ice cream for the party, instead of one, just to be sure.  Adding a 1/16th of an inch to the measurement before picking up the saw.  It's a great process, and saves a whole bunch of mistakes, and do-overs.

I think there needs to be wider use of this "Just-To-Be-Sure" thing, and used for everything from selecting a shirt, and paint color, to choosing a partner.  Think about it, if more of us had put as much effort into selecting a partner for life as we did in selecting a paint color for the living room, the divorce rate would be reduced greatly, and we would be happy for a lot longer.

Yep.  I know that for a fact.

Vacuuming the rug a minute longer, tightening that lug nut one more quarter turn, topping off the gas tank, putting aside a little extra for those rainy days, going on that blind date you have been told about for months just to be sure.  They are all worth the effort, and will not only give you peace of mind, but the satisfaction knowing you could not have done any better.

No, I could not have done any better at all.

Take another sip of coffee, and look around you. What do you see that you could do, or have done the best you could do, just to be sure?  If you don't see anything, then that is your assignment for the day:  find something, and then find something tomorrow, and the following day.

Think of it as "lather, rinse, repeat" mantra for peace of mind, and personal happiness. When you go that extra bit, and are trully happy, completely satisfied, and very much at ease, with your accomplishments, then those around you will be as well.  Unless you feel that changing your socks every few days, sitting around in your underwear on your days off, not shaving, seldom taking the trash out, and saying things like, "Whatever color you like, honey" will make those around you happy, then think again, just to be sure.

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