Saturday, December 26, 2020

Make A New Plan by Liz Flaherty

It's Christmas morning as I write this. The TV's on, although I'm not sure why. My little battery candle is flickering against the darkness of the window. I'm the only one up, which is what happens when a morning person shares life with a night owl. I've loved seeing the Christmas messages on Facebook this morning, just as I've enjoyed opening each day's deposit of Christmas cards. 

Earlier, someone politicized It's A Wonderful Life in a comment. I did my usual thing--I wrote a reply to the comment, then deleted my reply and scrolled on. It was her page she commented on, after all, and her right to do so. 

But I wonder why she wanted to, on this morning of all mornings when we celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace. It's two hours since I first saw it, and I still wonder why she wanted to.

A few months ago, when I was forcing Duane into a conversation that involved...yes, I'll say it...feelings, I asked him what he would change about me. Just one thing, because I wasn't going to start dusting AND remembering to lock the door. What he said, though, and I'm paraphrasing here, was that he wished I was able to let things go. He didn't say, "Holy s***, Liz, you dwell on everything," although the truth is that he would be entitled to say that after nearly 50 years of me...dwelling. (And not dusting in a timely manner or locking doors ever, but we're not going there today.)

I've written about dwelling on things before. Let's be real, I'm old--I've written about everything before, including most of my shortcomings. I have accepted that I'm a dweller.

The day has deepened, a different kind of Christmas but decorated and defined with laughter and good food and "just what I wanted" gifts. I'm once again sitting in front of a computer, and I'm thinking about it again. About the Facebook post I found unnecessarily divisive and rude. I'm not upset about it now, although it disappoints me. But how much time have I given to it by this time? 

Way too much, and what a waste. Maybe I'm wrong about accepting me as I am. As I've always been. Maybe I shouldn't. Maybe I...

December 26. Candle flickering again. The Keurig is producing my morning sustenance. I read over what I wrote yesterday and shake my head.

I need to be a grownup, I acknowledge. I was right the second time yesterday--accepting myself as I am means I'm more limited than I care to be. So I need to make a plan. I need to work on changing the things about myself that I don't like or that might be hurtful to someone else. (Picking on one's son-in-law isn't always funny, but I love you, Jim.)

But I can't change others. I can't control how they think or communicate. I can only accept. Which is much harder than it sounds. I will work on it. If only I can get to that point, maybe giving up dwelling on what I can't change as a way of life will be possible. 

I don't do New Year's resolutions and I always forget the word of the year by sometime in March. I'm almost certain I'll blow this New Year's plan, too, but I'm going to give letting things go my best shot in 2021. 

I hope you and yours had a splendid Christmas. Happy New Year. Make a plan. 

Have a great week. Be nice to somebody.


Thanks to everyone for their response to Window Over the Sink, the book. As soon as I know how long it will take me to get the books, I will offer them for sale as my friend Joe DeRozier does Heck, I Don't Know...I Just Make Donuts. Signed copies for $8 (if you pick them up) plus an extra $4 if you want them mailed to you. 

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Special Gifts by Liz Flaherty

I asked to hear about special gifts this week, and I admit to being surprised not to have heard about many. There is the possibility that people might think I need to write my own column instead of expecting them to do it 😃, or maybe I just didn't make it clear what I was looking for. Either way, I loved hearing about these gifts and a few more I'll add onto the end. - Liz

6th Street Coffee Company
WE HAVE THE BEST CUSTOMERS EVER! Yesterday I had a customer come in and order a drink and said she would like to buy my customers' drinks. The smiles on my customers' faces when I told them that another customer had taken care of their drinks was awesome. Your kind act touched a lot of people yesterday, a young girl surprising grandma with coffee and a visit, a married couple enjoy afternoon coffee together, a daughter going to spend the afternoon with her mother, just to name a few. All of my customers wanted to thank you for your kind offer and I would like to thank you for spreading Christmas Cheer at 6th Street Coffee Company, Merry Christmas. - Kreig Adkins

Brick Walk - Sarah Luginbill
I am overwhelmed. For two years, I have hung this painting in the gallery off and on as I change out my artwork. Many have admired it, but one lady in particular, Denise, has loved it! On more than one occasion, she said, “Someday I’m going to buy this painting!” 
Saturday, I pulled the painting out of storage again to place it in an empty space in the gallery. I thought of Denise as I hung up the painting. Two hours later—ten minutes before closing time, Denise, whom I had not seen for almost a year, walked in. She had been out walking and “randomly” stopped in the gallery to look at artwork. “I thought about you today,” I told her. We had a wonderful visit, exchanging stories of our daughters and artwork. As she left exchanging contact information, she promised to be back to buy her favorite painting! “Brick Walk” was destined to hang in her home. She walked on that walk when she attended South Peru Elementary. 
But...someone beat her to it! Early Sunday morning, I received a text from her husband. He'd listened to her story when she came home from her walk. “Denise is never going to buy that painting for herself. She is much too frugal," he said with a smile. when he met me at the Gallery. "I have been struggling with what to buy her for Christmas. May I take it with me?” 
He took "Brick Walk" to its rightful home. It’s stories like this that make me love what I do! Thank you Bob and Denise! - Sarah Luginbill

Doud's Orchard

On December 14, from Doud's Orchard: We know that there are many FAMILIES struggling this time of year, especially with the world events. One of our WONDERFUL CUSTOMERS bought a Christmas trees to donate to a family in need. So to contribute to this beautiful gesture, Our family has decided to donate the rest of our Christmas trees to FAMILIES IN NEED of one this holiday season!!! Please contact me here and we will arrange pickup!! We have probably 6-7 left!! Merry Christmas!!! - Judi Behny shared this.

I love Christmas cookies and everything to do with them. One of my favorite holiday parties was a Christmas Cookie Exchange Linda Turner had one year. Jim Reinhardt and his grandson Cam have their own party each year. Grandkids, some of you know, are among the greatest gifts. And cookies aren't bad, either. - Liz 

Special thanks to the person who sent me this one. I'm withholding the writer's name by request.

I saw your request for stories, and it brought to mind a brief incident that continues to make me smile Perhaps 10 years ago, I was standing at the entrance of a now-vacant grocery store on South Broadway ringing the bell for the Salvation Army. It was a bitterly cold Saturday morning with heavy snow coming down and, at least six inches on the ground blown by a persistent wind. I was appropriately dressed for the weather, and except for chilly fingers, I was enjoying the snowy holiday scenery. There was not much foot traffic coming into the store, and I had to entertain myself by playing the bell to the beat of various Christmas songs in my head, and occasionally taking off my gloves and breathing warm(er) air on my fingers. I noticed a solitary person braving the weather and riding a bicycle with a banana seat and high handle bars through the snow north on Broadway with effort. I smiled and rang the person a bell-coded “Good Effort” in my mind. About 15 minutes later, I saw the same person chugging south and wrestling the bike into the store parking lot. The rider peddled through the drifted lot with great effort up to my exposed position under the awning. The biker abruptly stopped in front of me, dressed from head to toe for the weather. There was an opening in the sock hat exposing eyed that were covered by thick glasses. I could not tell if the biker was young or old, male or female, thick or thin. Wordlessly, the right hand shot toward me, holding a covered Styrofoam cup with a couple of drops of hot chocolate on the lid. The silent biker nodded the cup to me. I took it gently into my hands, and immediately the biker peddled away. My muffled “Thank you, Merry Christmas” never made it to the biker’s ears, I’m sure. But my gratitude and wonderment at the unspoken gift brought warmth to my heart and a tear to my eye. Thank you. Merry Christmas. Whoever you are. - Anonymous

I have to admit, without making it a commercial, that a special gift for me this year was the publication of the Window Over the Sink book. It's available at Amazon in both ebook and print and other online bookstores in ebook only. I can honestly say that I couldn't have done it without you, so thank you for the help with columns, for reading the ones that maybe weren't the greatest, and for being friends.

The greatest and most special gift of Christmas is that it celebrates the birth of Christ. I am grateful. Merry Christmas to you all--thanks for giving the Window another year. Have a great week. Stay safe. Be nice to somebody.

Saturday, December 12, 2020

Mossy from Swayzee by Joe DeRozier

Mossy Rogers

I have a story.

It was the early 1990s and I had just begun to do wholesale accounts.

If you're unfamiliar with my business, a wholesale account is a business that gets my donuts delivered to them at a reduced cost, then sells them to their customers. It's good for me because, while it's a reduced charge, it's a guaranteed sale. The convenience store absorbs all the risk of anything not sold. 

I was delivering, at the time, to Logansport, then to Rochester. I'd swing back down to Denver then take that road from Denver to Mexico. (When that sign states 10 mph, it isn't kidding! I've found myself in a field more often than I care to remember.)

This man, Mossy Rogers, called the bakery and asked if I delivered to Swayzee. 

Swayzee? Where the heck is Swayzee? 

He responded as is I had lived in a box my whole life. “Swayzee,” he explained, “is a wonderful city on Highway 13, south of Wabash.”

He was obviously very proud to be there. I liked that. He asked when I could bring him samples. 

I told him that I didn't deliver in that area and that he would have to find someone else. 

He paused for a bit, then asked what time I would be there.

There was something...I don't know what, but I knew I had no real choice. I met him at Swayzee Speedking. He tried my donuts and liked them very much. He told me that I would start delivering on Monday.

“Mr. Rogers, I really can't,” I tried to tell him. “I'm not in this area and I work alone!”

Mossy Rogers was not a man with whom you disagreed. He reminded me of an old cowboy that would jump off his horse and stand right in your face with a cigarette carelessly dangling from his mouth. He would peer into your soul and figure you soul was accosted.

I can't tell you if he was 40 or 70 years old. Seriously. He had a rough life he told me about later once we became friends, and fought for everything he had. He was successful but sure didn't rest on his laurels. He's the kind of man that you never once wondered where you stood in his eyes. My respect for him is still immense.

He informed me that Monday was the day and gave me his order and a key. At this point, I was delivering to Swayzee. No choice.

“Mossy,” I asked, “is there any way I could get more orders to make this trip worth it?”

He told me to get in his car. I just did—he told me to. We drove to Sweetser and talked to John Hueston. “John,” Moss told him, “this is Joe DeRozier and he's delivering donuts to you starting on Monday. Give him your order and a key.”

Apparently, the respect/fear of Mossy wasn't just limited to young bakers. I got his order and we left. Moss did this in Marion, then Gas City. We talked to another young business owner, Mike Hicks.

After we got enough accounts to make it worth hiring more people and starting another delivery route, he took me back to Swayzee. 

Moss has long since retired, as several of my account owners have. The bad thing about starting so young is seeing all of the people who made you what you are, move on. Some have passed away...they can't be replaced.

These "old school" guys were made from a different mold than the rest of us.

Young Mike Hicks now owns Speedking. He and I talk at times about these guys and do our best to be like them. We will fail—the world is different. I still deliver to many of those same stores.

I miss those guys.


The Window is happy to welcome Joe DeRozier back for a visit. If you don't have his book yet, be sure and get it. Here's the Amazon link, or just stop in the back of Aroma. I think you get a free donut with a book! 

Saturday, December 5, 2020

We Gather in Darkness by Liz Flaherty

We gather in darkness...

No, that's not a quote, or at least it's not one I looked up and found by accident, which is my usual M. O. But it is dark as I sit here, and being a morning person, I'm counting the days until they start lengthening again. I remember years ago when I had an erratic work schedule that required going to work in the dark and coming home in the dark.

I get so tired of it. I'm not afraid of it, and I think it's extraordinarily beautiful--especially on clear nights. But sometimes I long for brightness and clarity...yeah, of knowing what's directly ahead. 

Mental illness has become a many-headed monster during this time, hasn't it? Do people use it as an excuse for saying and doing unforgivable things? Yes, they do, but that's not new--it's something that's always been there. But it's louder now, isn't it? Mental illness in all its many personas is coming out of the darkness swinging its fist and spitting in the face of reason. 

Hatred is a by-product of this peculiar darkness, too, isn't it? It comes through the obsidian night on unmarked roads and attacks. It's there in the light of day, too, but people aren't quite so open about their loathing of different colors, genders, ethnicities, political beliefs, religions, and social statuses. Everyone I know calls their friends and acquaintances by name in the light of day, but in the dark anonymity of social media, names and friendships are forgotten and people are judged freely and openly and often inaccurately.

Pam at Hairtique in Peru has a sign on her building that says, paraphrasing..."We're  in this together." Joe DeRozier gathers us all in with his bridge across the alley. The lights on the courthouse lawn are wonderful. 

All of those things light not just the actual physical darkness of night, but the darkness in our souls and hearts, too. The other day when I was talking to Joe, he said, "Why do people have to be so mean?"

I'd love to know the answer to that, wouldn't you? 

While the quote at the top of this isn't really a quote, the following lyrics are, from "We're All in This Together," by Matthew R. T. Gerrard and Robert S. Nevil. 

"Everyone is special in their own way
We make each other strong...
Were not the same
Were different in a good way
Together's where we belong..."

We do gather in darkness, don't we? Maybe, instead of throwing stones while we're there, we should try helping each other out. Have a great week. Be nice to somebody.