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.   

Savoring a Good Read on a Lovely Indian Summer Afternoon

Slipping outside for a cup of coffee and a chapter or two of my latest cozy mystery selection . . .

There’s nothing better than a chair in the sun, or shade if it’s warm and a great story to enjoy. We must take advantage of every mild moment as daylight hours and temperatures wane.

A Great Workday Morning Wakeup

As I pulled into the parking lot of my workplace, not long ago, this heavenly view greeted me, as I turned to open my car door. Wish all work days would begin this way. Sorry for the smudge on my camera’s lens!

Autumn Chore or Income Source?

It’s that season of the year when objects frequently fall from the sky. Leaves drift down lazily, nuts pummel rooftops and lawns.One of the most prolific of trees that shed both leaves and nuts in bulk is the black walnut. 

The species is not a homeowner favorite, as it makes yards messy. But its nutmeats are quite a delicacy – if one can extract them from the small, thick shells. Is the labor these trees create worth the complexity of the nut’s taste, its value on the open market? Let’s consider the prospect.

I’ve always lived where there were walnut trees. One of the most tedious chores is picking the messy orbs from amid the grass each autumn. Gloves or a scoop of some sort are required, as the green of the outer coatings turns to a messy black as it decays. And it might be a good idea to don a helmet – due to the risk of being hit by the constant barrage of new nuts from above.

When I was a kid, we spread them in the drive to let the traffic tear the messy coatings away so we could collect a few nuts and crack them. There is a man with a machine available locally now, who will hull the nuts, for a low cost. But I’m not aware of a simple solution for shelling them.

Black walnuts are one of the most expensive to purchase. Their slightly bitter, complex flavor is wonderful in brownies, ice cream, and other gourmet treats.

Yet most of ours would go to waste if not for the industrious squirrels that carry them away almost immediately after the hulls have been removed or have rotted away naturally.

If only there were an easier procedure for removing the delicious nut kernels from nature’s tiny round safes, we might have a significant source of income supplementation. Or we could at least make use of them for our own culinary creations.

But most years, I must admit I pick up a pricey package of shelled black walnuts from the supermarket, to save the difficult task of processing the ones I could enjoy free of charge. Sadly, the stress of modern life often keeps us from being as frugal as our grandparents.

Cottage Garden Gems

Not a normal combination for my kitchen table decoration, but was in a mood for cool hot colors on a recent cloudy day. The orange red nasturtium and the variegated  impatien aren’t well color coordinated. Still they brightened the table and my mood.