Bachelor Buttons Matted Within a Sky Blue Frame

January calls for lovely images of summer. This second hand store find features one of my favorite flowers, bordered with pale blue resembling a fair summer sky.

Before I know it, I will be on my back in the grass, gazing at eye level blossoms like these. Something to focus upon, to quell anxious moments when weather forecasts include snow and ice.

Here’s how to grow these flowers next summer if you’re interested. Here’s one version of how to paint them – but I created prettier ones, if I do say so myself, a few years ago when I copied a printed design from a vintage plate.

This post includes some interesting theories regarding how bachelor’s buttons, also known as cornflowers, got their name(s).

Weekly Wisdom – The Penny Mason Post

When we look at the ocean all we see is the surface. But what is actually down there is a whole other world that’s not only mysterious but also generates fear. And I was drawn to that.

Greg Skomal, World’s leading authority on white sharks in the Atlantic

Movie Review of A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Tom Hanks is at his best as Fred Rogers in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, a touching movie based upon the true story of an Esquire reporter whose life was altered after interviewing Fred for an article.

Fred, the creator of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, was a prosperous TV star whose focus was the well-being of children and everyone, no matter what their life’s station. Though I’m certain a great deal of artistic license was employed in the development of the film script, the real life reporter’s comments in Maxwell King’s biography of Fred Rogers, The Good Neighbor echoes the spirit of the character in the movie who portrays him.

I was delighted to learn that “Old Rabbit” a toy of which the character shares memories, was a part of the real life reporter’s childhood. (In both reality and the fictional story, Fred prompted the journalist to recall a stuffed friend from childhood, a type of memory common to most of us.)

Interviews included in the special features section of the DVD detail the positive experiences of those involved in the making of the movie. Fred’s wife believes the real life Mister Rogers would have approved of this film in his honor.

Not many of us can remain authentic to our natural personas through all of our business dealings, but Fred managed to do so. This feel good film continues his mission. It inspires us to do our best, to make amends with others, to focus upon their feelings, figure out what makes them tick, help them if we can do so, something both Mister Rogers and the real life person who portrayed him consistently did.

This review is sounding more like my personal impression of Fred Rogers, but that’s what the movie intended, it seems. To trigger an appreciation of the spirit of this versatile, authentic gentleman, talented pianist, skilled swimmer, open-minded Presbyterian minister who respected all faiths, a humanitarian whose mission in life was to improve society by helping children identify their talents and deal with difficulties so they can grow into helpful, thoughtful citizens.       

I didn’t watch the show when I was young, but this movie makes me realize I missed out on something special. I highly recommend a viewing to everyone in need of inspiration; a bright spot in these trying times. 

Weekly Wisdom – The Penny Mason Post

If what I do can make a difference, can improve someone else’s life, if only for a moment, then it is worth doing.

-From the book Wintering Well by Lea Wait

Confidence Building: The Solution to Your Dog’s Separation Anxiety

The love we share with our canines is a wondrous thing. But creating an overwhelming need for attention is a recipe for misbehavior when we must leave our pets at home alone. Seeking a simple solution that may help with your pet’s separation anxiety? Read on.

I haven’t featured a pet based post recently, but in view of a friend’s recent experience, I decided it was my duty, as an experienced pet owner, long-time obedience trial competitor, certified dog groomer, to impart a bit of advice concerning a problem which causes property damage and emotional distress for owners, threats of eviction for pets in rental homes and apartments.

Symptoms of Separation Anxiety

Some symptoms listed by a FETCH by WebMD post, exhibited by dogs suffering separation anxiety include, but are not limited to:

  • Obsessive pacing
  • Drooling
  • Excessive howling, barking or whining
  • Having accidents when owners are away for a short time, although housebroken
  • Chewing, digging, scratching
  • Panting for no apparent reason
  • Frantically trying to escape via windows or doors

Contributing Factors Resulting in Separation Anxiety Symptoms

Does your dog freak out when you leave? – asks this Humane Society of the United States Post. The article goes on to list some of the potential reasons pets become anxious when their people are away from the house.

Generally, theses “canine panic attacks” can be caused by one or more of a few general issues.

Previous Experiences

A traumatic background – like being sent to a shelter after having a home – one or more times.

A change in routine of a loving family member – as when a pet was adopted by someone working from home who then returned to a conventional position requiring long hours away each day.

Altered family structure following an event like a death, divorce, a child leaving for college or marrying and moving out.

Owner Over-attachment

Dogs are very intuitive regarding their owners feelings, though sometimes feelings can be misinterpreted. An owner who lavishes constant affection on a pet when at home, and is overly demonstrative when leaving the house is setting up a typical scenario which can result in separation anxiety.

Genetic Predisposition

Some pets are simply more prone to separation anxiety due to inherited temperament.

Creating an Independent and Confident Pet

Various specific techniques and actions can be employed for each individual situation, but generally speaking confidence and a stable environment are most important in preventing and correcting separation anxiety issues:

Inspiring confidence in your pet

Enroll your dog in an ethical training class. Learn how to work your canine; the best ways to offer correction and praise.

Pets who must follow guidelines, who know what is expected of them, who experience consistent praise and support for proper behavior feel more confident and secure, they are better able to spend time alone without worrying when their humans will come home.

(Of course setting up the proper environment when you leave is important too. Pet proof an area and leave a few safe toys for mental stimulation.)

Minimize Emotional Highs and Lows

Don’t make a big deal of greeting your pet when you leave and arrive. Be positive, but treat the times as a normal part of every day. You are not leaving forever, just a few hours. Don’t make your pet feel you are upset. Don’t act like you’ve been gone for years when you enter the house after work.

Being aware of how our own behavior appears to our pets is a major factor for preventing separation anxiety and other behavior problems. Need more help in solving your dog’s behavior issues? Contact a certified trainer or canine behavior specialist who utilizes positive reinforcement methods.

A Hope for Peace and a Unique Arrangement

This thrift shop find is whimsically inspirational. A reminder we can make great artistry from inexpensive found objects. Such fun to browse secondhand shops and view the unique ways merchandise can be displayed.

Just remember to wear a mask and keep your distance as you seek cheer and support local businesses these winter days – so stores can stay open safely.

The dove and the upward reaching display behind it seems symbolic of our hope for a more peaceful and positive 2021.

Book Review of The Good Neighbor – The Life and Work of Fred Rogers By Maxwell King

The Good Neighbor, a biography of Fred Rogers, the man in the cardigan who entertained and comforted us as children, reveals the fascinating background and history of this children’s TV pioneer who struggled a bit as a child himself.

An only child who was a bit chubby and absorbed in his own unique interests, it took Fred a while to learn how to fit in, but he eventually became one of the highest achieving citizens of his home town of Latrobe, a suburb of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  

 As an adult, this man who valued authenticity above all else was a perfectionist regarding his own behavior and performance; sincerely focused upon improving the lives of young persons by viewing the world from their perspective and creating ways of assisting them in processing the challenging events we all face.

The life of this open minded Presbyterian minister and talented pianist who changed his direction to pursue a career in television is thoroughly and touchingly documented by Mr. King in this biography.

The narrative covers formative events from Fred’s childhood, the development of his career following college, his marriage and family, the creation and evolution of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.

My takeaway from the story is how closely the real life persona of Fred Rogers comes to my ideal of a truly caring, thoughtful, non-judgmental person.

Perhaps that sounds trite, but Fred Rogers, though his wife stresses, and it seems he would have agreed, had a temper and was not a perfect person, seems one of a rare few of us who truly strived to be understanding and supportive of others from all walks of life.               

Maxwell King, prominent Pittsburgh citizen, former journalist, CEO of the Pittsburgh Foundation, seems the perfect person to pen this fitting tribute to a gentleman who made his home town proud by being the best possible neighbor, to those in the Pittsburgh area, near his New York City residence and in the TV neighborhood he created where everyone was welcome.   

Celebrate the New Year’s Debut but Do So Safely

Many of us are anxious to turn over the last calendar page of 2020 in the hope that 2021 will be more peaceful and safe for everyone. Let’s not let our enthusiasm create a hazard. Celebrate at a distance and don’t overindulge.

Love this vintage display of glasses, a reminder of mid-twentieth-century hospitality.