A deluge of rain, a smattering of snow, wind, and chill, and just when I think I can’t take it any more, that the evidence is in, and I should just find some cozy corner of my house to dwell in forever because winter is obviously never going to end…
A single little hummingbird flitters up to me as I stand with Ari in the backyard. Yes, it’s quite chilly, and the sky is gray, but this little guy is still buzzing through his day, with lively delight. And that little spark of hope catches me in the throat, and I can’t help but smile.
I’m still smiling as the doorbell rings. The warm kitchen tingles with the scent of fresh-brewed lemon ginger tea, and combined with the choclatey citrus aroma of cookies and orange slices I have just added to the table, my kitchen exudes the kind of cozy feeling I most appreciate, but seldom manage to achieve.
The door swings wide, and Ari does his best to usher in my guest, entrepreneur, Ed Cohen .
Me: Welcome, Ed, how nice of you to drop by!
Ed: So nice of you to invite me over.
Me: Come in, come in. As we chat, would you like a cup of tea? Or perhaps you’d rather have coffee?
Ed: Tea sounds nice, thank you.
Me: And I have a few tidbits to nibble. How about a cookie or maybe a piece of fruit?
Ed: The cookie sounds good. It will go perfectly with the tea. I’m smiling, can you tell? Because my grandmother used to welcome me to her house with the same, “Would you like a piece of fruit ?”
Me: That’s sweet. Well, I am a grandma myself, you know. Now, where would you feel most comfortable sitting as we talk? Here at my kitchen table?
Or would you like a comfy chair in the living room?
Ed: You have a lovely kitchen. I like how much natural light it has. Let’s stay here.
Me: Ah, now that we’re settled, tell me a little about yourself.
Ed: Of course, where should we begin?
Me: What part of the country do you live in?
Ed: I now live in southeast Minnesota, in the small, yet growing, city of Rochester. My wife and I only moved there in 2010. Prior to that, we lived in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Me: What do you like best and least about living there?
Ed: It is one tenth the size of what we’re used to. This, of course, means that some things are more limited. But the longer we live there, we’ve learned that it offers more than we originally thought.
A positive thing is, we find Rochester far easier to get around. We can walk, bike or drive to nearly everything we need n 15 minutes or less.
One thing that has stood out is, as my wife and I have become active in the community, we now frequently run into someone we know and who knows one or both of us. Besides just friends and family, this might include local elected officials, plus business and organization leaders. I leave it up to you if you think this is a good thing or not.
Me: And has your business been influenced in any way by where you live?
Ed: That’s an interesting question. I don’t think it was influenced, but I do think it may have been assisted. You see, as I was beginning my business, I was also serving on the city’s Energy Commission. At one point, I shared with someone I met through that work that I was starting a small business. He introduced me to an entrepreneur network in town. And I have been attending their meetings ever since. Through that group, I found many of the resources that helped me build and promote my business. I’m not sure if I still lived in
Indianapolis, if I’d have stumbled into such resources or even would have successfully started my business.
Me: Interesting. Tell me about your work, what kind of business or service do you offer?
Ed: I manufacture and sell an 8.5 x 11 weekly planner/calendar with features designed especially for people like me who are dealing with vision loss. I was born with a degenerative retinal disease called RP. And while I still have some useable sight, I no longer see normally printed text. I continue to stay active and I don’t want to depend on my wife to keep track of my schedule, so I need a way to do it by myself. For years, I bought what were called, “large-print” calendars. They really weren’t that helpful. I still had to use a marker to write over the numbers to enlarge them so I could read them. Plus, they never had much writing room. And while I have a smart phone, I don’t find using it that easy. I looked high and low for a weekly calendar that met my needs. Eventually, I gave up searching and started to think my only option was to make my own. Fortunately, my life education and experience allowed me to give it a try. At that time, I had no thought of starting a business.
Me: How do you sell them and do you sell them just in Rochester? Ed: I do sell some locally and in my state; but the last time I checked, I have customers in 31 states. I have two types of customers.
I sell them to other businesses. Some just sell them in their community like eye doctors and not-for-profits who work with blind and low-vision people. Others sell nationwide, like on Amazon. My other customers are individuals who buy them in two ways. One way is off my website. But the way I find most heart-warming is people who tear out the Order Form from the calendar they bought last year, fill it out and send a check. I’m touched that they do that.
Me: Well, Ed I have certainly enjoyed learning about you and your work. I know you need to get back to your busy life, is there anything else you’d like to share?
Ed: Yes, there are two things. May I give my company web address?
Me: Of course.
Ed: Ok, Since I’m going to speak it, I’ll give it to you
phonetically. I’m giving you the shorter version that will redirect you to the even longer one. I’ll spell it out, since it is one of those tricky sounding ones. It is, E as in Edward, Z as in Zebra, the number 2, C as in cat, all followed by the word Products dot com. So that’s EZ2CProducts.com.
Me: I assume people can reach you through your web site?
Ed: Yes, they can. On my website, look for the Contact Me link.
Me: Well, Ed, thank you so much for visiting with me today. I hope you’ll visit again.
Ed: Thank you Joan for the invitation. It has been a real pleasure.
The rain has started again, and Ed pulls his coat collar higher up around his ears as he ducks under his opened umbrella, and into the windy downpour. I close the door quietly behind him, and breathe a sigh, grateful to be cozy and warm inside.
It is nearly Shabbot, the most important day on the Jewish calendar, the expanded, 25-hour long reminder that Creation does not belong to human beings, but to Divinity, that we are merely one element of Creation.
I click the candlelighter, bring the flame to the wick of the first candle. It catches, happily. And as I bring it to the second, it does likewise. Eagerly, I draw the glow toward myself, circle it around my thoughts of family and friends, spiral it to include all the world’s inhabitants, all my fellow creatures.
I whisper: Blessed are you, Beloved One, Holy Creator Who enables us to co-create, to reflect Your Love Divine in the world, to partner with You six days a week in repairing the woes of the world, Who has given us Shabbot, one sixtieth of Paradise, to rest and renew ourselves, to remember our place among Your beloved creatures.
And let us say: Amen.