A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood

Mister Rogers would be proud of the people in the little village I now call home. We’ve spent the last week fairly well snowed in and the care and concern I’ve witnessed among my neighbors has been lovely to see. I’ve never lived in a place where I knew so many people. In a village of 500, it is easy to learn not only the names of the people who live here, but often a bit of their history as well. Today I want to share a little with you about a few of my neighbors who help make this such a special place to live. If you are unsure as to who I am referring to when I mentioned  Mister Rogers earlier, this little video will help explain, but be forewarned it might make you cry.

Fred Rogers always began his children’s program with a special song about being neighbors and I’ve mixed in the lyrics which I’ve highlighted in blue with a few pictures of my neighborhood and neighbors.

It’s a beautiful day in this neighborhood,
A beautiful day for a neighbor,
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?

It’s a neighborly day in this beautywood,
A neighborly day for a beauty,
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?

This is the way to my neighbor Janey’s house. Yesterday when I couldn’t get to Port Isaac to have my stitches removed from a small procedure done the week before, Janey volunteered to take them out for me. Now a clinical psychologist, she trained as a nurse in her first career and offered to help when she heard me saying that I might have to do it myself.

I have always wanted to have a neighbor just like you,

In the three pictures below, you can see Gary and Margaret who own the village pub. Margaret is also the post mistress and while I’ve seen them involved in fundraising for charity events more times than I can remember, they have been such good neighbors during this week of snow that it’s really been something to see. Our village shop which houses the post office among other things became a sort of command central staying open and supplying necessary items to keep the people in our community from doing without. Watching Margaret directing and coordinating the restocking efforts while continuing with her regular responsibilities was impressive. Her husband Gary was able after the first 24 hours to make trips in and out of our village maneuvering through the icy lanes in his 4 wheel drive vehicle picking up supplies for the village shop and giving people rides on some of his trips.

Gary cooking at a fundraiser for cancer research.

Gary behind the bar in the pub.

I had trouble finding a picture of Margaret in my files, but managed to find this one of her in the pub. Margaret is rarely seen behind the bar which explains why it looks as it does. I was shooting on the fly and not very well I’m afraid.

The flowers and cottage above belong to Jeff, a 77 year old man who I kept seeing with Gary when I would happen to run into them at the village shop as they were moving about the village giving some people rides in between their frequent trips to get supplies. I usually bump into Jeff three or four times a week and I was surprised to see that I did not have any pictures of him to post.

I’ve always wanted to live in a neighborhood with you.

Len and Mary are the couple you see here with their dog. I caught them just after they had returned our neighbor Betty’s dog after taking it up on the moor for walk for her. Having watched Len and Mary pick up deliveries from the village store all week to take around to some of the older people who could not walk to the shop, I can almost guarantee that what ever is in the bags they’re carrying, it is almost certainly a delivery for someone who can’t manage the snow. All of the good neighbors I mentioned have been tireless during this time making sure everyone who needed something was able to get it. I wanted to acknowledge these folks who did so much for the neighborhood and managed to look as if they were having a good time doing it.

So let’s make the most of this beautiful day,
Since we’re together, we might as well say,
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?
Won’t you be my neighbor?

Won’t you please,
Won’t you please,
Please won’t you be my neighbor?


I’ll Say It Again – Deep And Simple


Fred Rogers & Benjamin Wagner (Photo Courtesy Of Benjamin Wagner)

Fred Rogers & Benjamin Wagner (Photo Courtesy Of Benjamin Wagner)

About a year ago I posted Deep And Simple on my first Gifts Of The Journey website. A few things have changed since then, one being that I can no longer find the direct link to the essay published in the original “2DO Before I Die” book, but you can read about how he met Mister Rogers by going to Benjamin Wagner’s blog. After funding the making of this documentary out of their own pockets with an investment of $30,000 dollars so far, Benjamin and his brother Chris Wagner need a little help to finish this worthy project and get it out to a wider audience. I know everyone is hanging on to their money a good bit tighter in this economy, but if you’ll read his story I think you may decide this film has a message we can all benefit from…especially now. Please consider making a donation to get this film completed.

If you’re a blogger reading this, you might include the ” Please Help Mister Rogers & Me “ link or forward this post on to friends to increase awareness. Thanks for taking time to read this and I’ll leave you with a Mister Rogers quote from, ” The World According to Mister Rogers ”

” I hope you’re proud of yourself for all the times you’ve said ” yes,” when all it meant was extra work for you and was seemingly helpful only to someone else.”


Deep And Simple – July 26, 2008

In bookstores everywhere it only takes about half a minute to glance around and see book titles referencing lists of things to do or see before you die. These types of books have been around for quite some time, but a few of us actually had a list long before Oprah and every one else began promoting them. My list dates back to my college days and at 47, I’m only about a third of the way through it. While I’ve crossed off and enjoyed a goodly few of the important ones, at the pace I’m going I may be the oldest person Running with the Bulls in Pamplona in 2041. Maybe number fifty should be something like walking to the mailbox unassisted instead of dodging livestock when I’m old and wrinkly.

Lists can be important though and while I won’t share the complete contents of mine, I’m glad I had an opportunity to read about just one of the things that Benjamin Wagner accomplished on his list. It has made a tremendous difference in my life and I hope you’ll be as positively affected as I was when I read about it a couple of years ago. Reading about Benjamin’s meeting with Mr. Rogers, the gentle creator of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood made me cry then and it still does each time I read it. It’s sweet in the telling, because Benjamin Wagner knows how to reach into your heart and pull out an emotional memory you thought you’d locked away for safekeeping. Deeply feeling, he is able to convey his own fears and vulnerability in a way that makes it feel safe to share your own. Benjamin is an unusual mix of singer songwriter, MTV Executive, and documentary filmmaker. And while I love his newest CD release, it is his work on the documentary, “ Mr Rogers & Me “ that I want you to know about today.

Take a minute to read ‘Meet Mr. Rogers’ and then see if you can shake the message from your thoughts. If you’re like me, you’ll find yourself talking with perfect strangers about it and hearing the words, deep and simple cross your lips over and over until it sounds as natural as telling someone your own name.

Benjamin Wagner and his brother Chris have been working on “Mr. Rogers & Me” on their own time and with their own money for the last four years. Both of them lead mega busy lives already without all that goes into creating this film. Take a look at this site and see some of the people they’ve interviewed for it like this great woman and this good man and then start spreading the word. I believe so strongly in this message, that the best things in our lives really are the ones that are deep and simple. And if I may quote Benjamin Wagner regarding the goal of the documentary, “ to afford the viewer the opportunity to reflect not just on a great man, but also on the values he espoused and embodied every day: compassion, kindness, and reflection.”

Just remember there are five words to put you right when life becomes too shallow and complex.

Five words to bring you back to your best self… compassion, kindness, reflection, and say them with me now….deep and simple.