Daily Reflections From My Window

July 30, 2021 Friday Community and Fiber

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“A rising tide lifts all boats.”

Often attributed to John F. Kennedy

*This just in:

Believe me, they wouldn’t close unless they had to. I love these two and this business. We appreciate everyone’s support!

Looks like a nice day ahead. Just like it was supposed to be yesterday, where there was no rain in the forecast. After doing my barn chores, headed out to my hair appointment-with no raincoat. I always keep an umbrella in the car, but I love my navy polka dotted raincoat that I got at the Zebra Stand. I know. I’m not supposed to love THINGS, but this coat comes in so handy and has a great hood. But, I left it at home because it was supposed to be dry. All day, according to my weather app. I’ve gotten out of the habit of watching the local weather because every day there seems to be a “severe weather warning” to cover all the bases. I just want the facts, Ma’am, like Joe Friday. No drama. Off I went to get beautified by Ivana. Her skills for color and cut keep me feeling human. I walk in looking like a disaster and an hour later, feel like a movie star! Did I take a picture? No! I should have! She’s so talented.

As soon as I walked out of her salon, I saw little drops of rain on my car. I got in and yes, the rain started to pick up. My next stop was supposed to be to Tara at Visionworks to get my glasses adjusted. I had a dinner date with Jay last night so I decided to head home and protect the do at all costs. Silly, I know, for those of you who have great hair. I didn’t get that gene. Once I got home and in the house, the skies opened up and it rained hard for the next hour. I made us lunch, did a few little things and then the rain stopped. No rainbow, but it stopped. I waited a while and decided that the weather app said it was all clear snd got my glasses done. I’m glad I did. I love to see my friend Tara. She’s so good at what she does. Need glasses? She’ll find the perfect pair for you. Between my hair and glasses, I was feeling like a rock star!

Off we went to the Ligonier Chamber dinner at the Foggy Mountain Lodge and Restaurant in Stahlstown. What a neat place! I could see attending a retreat here. There’s a banquet hall, restaurant, cottages and it’s in such a peaceful setting in the woods. Last night we were there as community supporters. We live halfway between Jtown and Ligonier so support both communities. It was great to meet all of the members and hear the stories of how they survived throughout the pandemic. We didn’t really know anyone, so we asked to join a table of what appeared to be nice people and ended up making new friends. It was delightful. I’ve told you that I lost my memory due to hyponatremia and so, when a very distinguished man introduced himself, “Hi, I’m Bill Brown, nice to meet you”, a lightbulb went off and I realized he was WJAC’s former news anchor. Our Walter Cronkite. Many years ago, we had a contractor who bilked so many people out of money and did part of the contracting job then left us all with half done projects. They did a story about it and asked if they could come to our house for news. Jack was about 6 months old, and in the news report, they had Jay spin the level on the floor of the bathroom as I looked on holding Jack. Bill Brown was in our bathroom doing the story! HE was the young news reporter. So I told him that story and he was so nice and so polite, but was having a hard time remembering the story. He remembered the contractor story but didn’t remember being in our torn up bathroom which was about 4 feet by 4 feet not including the bathtub. Then we all sat down and Jay said to me, “It wasn’t Bill Brown! It was Gary Gunter”. Oh geez. I went back with my tail between my legs and apologized for confusing him. Ever graceful, he said, “Thank goodness! I usually remember my stories, but could not for the life of me remember that one. Thanks for clearing that up. I know that I can’t remember everything, but should have remembered that.” That led to a lot of great laughs and on we went. His wife is a very good friend of one of our friends, we discovered and another man was a former editor of the Tribune Review. Since I’ve been in media with MacKid and my tv segments for WTAJ, it really was the media table. They just won’t rely on my reporting skills for having a good memory. I’m so glad that Jay came with me.

After our beautiful dinner, we watched as awards were presented to Matt Faccenda for “Outstanding Pandemic Informant”, to Ligonier Valley Historical Society (2019 Nonprofit of the Year), to Carol & Dave’s Roadhouse (2019 Business of the Year) and to Jim Faccenda, owner of Ligonier Giant Eagle for Person of the Year.

Here’s Jim Faccenda accepting his award. It was presented by his son Matt, who also works at G.E. I want to back up to Matt. He got the (hopefully one time only, they said) award for informing his customers about product availability via social media during the pandemic. See the official title above .

When you don’t think social media is useful, think about what Matt did for his customers. He let them know when trucks would be in and what would be on them. He took pictures of empty shelves and let them know what they had and what they didn’t. He made sure that no one in the Ligonier Valley in need went hungry. What else did that do? It saved unnecessary trips for his customers. It kept them safe. He helped maintain social distancing in a common sense way. He avoided disappointment for them and their frustration by sharing his own. THAT’S a caring business. He apparently learned those traits from his Dad, person of the year, Jim, who told the story of when he first bought the store, business wasn’t going so well. He didn’t realize just how many grocery store consultants lived in the area (jokingly referring to the grumpy customers who weren’t liking the changes with a smile). So he said that he gathered his department heads, asked who the grumpy customers were, sent them a survey and invited them to lunch to discuss what they did and didn’t like. THIS is what I loved. They listened to each other and told him why they felt the way they did and why it was important to them. He listened and shared why things were the way they were and why. He explained what he could change and what he couldn’t and most importantly why. He explained what products he could or couldn’t stock and why. That’s why he’s Person of the Year. This initial meeting took place many years ago and he shared that it was pivotal. The customers appreciated it and each told 10 people, who told 10 people. I love to see people like this be acknowledged. Not for giving free stuff away, he can do that because he’s achieved success in this location by listening to his customers and they in turn support his business, but because he is a smart business owner who knows that it’s not about him, but about giving his customers what they want and need for a fair price, by ASKING them. I want to be like him when I grow up and I think shopping at his store after church each Sunday will be our new schedule. Again, that’s the Ligonier Giant Eagle. Can you tell, I’m missing community? I loved seeing all of the people last night. I loved hearing the stories about how the local community kept the shops going in Ligonier while some towns were struggling and businesses were closing. I loved hearing how business owners adapted and delivered food or products to regular customers who may have fallen ill without being asked because they were missed! I love that whole idea of that. Of KNOWING the community. Locals stepped up and shopped local. “Hey, I saw this card a while ago, do you still have it? Can I stop by and pick it up?” one related a customer calling to ask, or, “I need a gift for my friend, what can you suggest?” This proves how much that matters. I don’t think there are any empty store fronts in Ligonier. You won’t get that from Amazon. No matter how many times Bezos launches into space.

Boy am I preachy this AM. I apologize (sorry Jay!).

I try to buy local and I do! I shop farmers markets, independently owned businesses (like h.Wonder Coffee and Records, YoungHeart Books and Toys for great gifts!) and places where my friends work (even if they work in a chain store-they provide jobs). I need to do better, but I just don’t shop a lot anymore. I make or just use what I have. I’ve gotten into the bad habit of just writing a check for gifts. I need to do better. I need to use the resources we have. It’s the Butcher, the Baker and the Candlestick Makers who built our country.

We have a local plaza nearby that is almost totally empty. SOMETHING has to be able to survive there. There used to be a grocery store. We used to have several “on this hill” as it’s referred as locally. Legend has it, please correct me if I’m wrong, that whoever owns the property won’t let another grocery store in there. Doesn’t competition make for better selection and business? What about Lowe’s and Home Depot? Seems short sighted to me, but I just like to write. I guess that the empty store fronts just mean they just need to wash the windows. Oh, they don’t even do that. They are obviously not about community.

To do better, I’m going to start by tuning into the morning news. Madi says that we have a chance of morning rain but that it will be nice this afternoon. That’ll work. It’s been a pretty dry summer. I like not having to water every day.

Then I’ll head to the Johnstown farmers market this morning and then I’ll see what’s open and shop downtown. I want our little town, which is so beautiful to find its identity and thrive. We need to pull together as a community and help. Is there a great local butcher in town? Baker? Candlestick maker? Chain stores are great, but how about our talented business owners? Let’s list every place we like to shop in the comments. How about independent contractors we can recommend? Great restaurants? Who has helped you? Community services? Nurses? Physicians? Alpaca fiber artists? Yarn shops? Independently owned fabric shops? I have an Etsy store, but LOVE to share my things in person. Email me! Julie@alpacamom.com

We can do this!

In the meantime, remember to wash your hands, don’t touch your face, get outside for some fresh air and keep the length of an alpaca cria (which is a baby alpaca and about 3 feet long) between you and the next person.

Have a blessed day!