The Letter N

I’ve been having a few quirky issues with WordPress.

I’ll comment on someone’s post and I can’t type the letter n. All the other letters work, but not n. It’s beyond frustrating.

My work around is to quit WordPress. Quit my browser and start over.

Another quirk is people I follow no longer show up in my “reader.” It may be weeks or days before I notice. It’s “out of sight, out of mind.” Then I’ll think to myself, whatever happened to that lovely blog I used to read? I type in the name and up it pops. I’m still following it, but it doesn’t always show up.

One day my stats disappeared. I don’t spend much time on stats, but from time to time I like to know if my engagement is up or my readership is growing. I reached out to WordPress and they were able to reload them for me. I will say that WordPress has a good support team.

Is anyone else having trouble with the letter “N?” What other quirky issues have you had? How often do you check your stats and insights?

Saguaros in bloom

This year is fascinating with all the blooming cacti and plants. This is my third spring in Arizona and it’s truly amazing. I’m sure it was the rainy winter we had that is encouraging all the plant life to come alive with flowers. Right now the saguaros are blooming, something I didn’t see much of the past two years.

We have a nature’s preserve across the street and it’s gorgeous to see saguaros topped with white flower crowns. They remind me of the floral crowns we swim moms ordered for my senior day for my daughter’s college swim team.

Saguaros topped with white crowns of flowers at the McDowell Sonoran Preserve.

A saguaro in bloom at a neighbor’s house.

In our back yard.

What unusual plants, flowers or wildlife have you seen this spring? Did you have more rain or snow than in the past few years?

Why not call 911?

I had to share these lovely blooms in a planter in our backyard.

If you watch news, you probably heard about two employees at Lululemon who were fired for calling 911 when a robbery occurred. They also recorded the thieves in action on their phones.

Jennifer Ferguson and Rachel Rogers told local outlets they reached out to authorities after a group of robbers came to their store in Peachtree Corners, despite company policy that says employees should not intervene in robberies. 

“We didn’t really feel very protected or know what else to do,” Rogers told local TV station 11Alive.

“We are not supposed to get in the way,” Ferguson told the outlet. “You kind of clear path for whatever they’re going to do. And then, after it’s over, you scan a QR code. And that’s that. We’ve been told not to put it in any notes, because that might scare other people. We’re not supposed to call the police, not really supposed to talk about it.” 

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/crime/former-lululemon-employees-say-they-were-fired-for-breaking-store-policy-after-calling-police-to-report-a-robbery/ar-AA1bMqry

I learned that this was the fourth or fifth robbery at that store by the same men.

Both my son and daughter have worked retail, my daughter at Lululemon in Scottsdale during a Christmas season. My son worked for the now defunct American Apparel while a student at UC Santa Barbara. When he moved to the Bay Area he transferred to the store outside Chinatown.

The manager who approved my son’s transfer was gone when he showed up. Nobody knew that he was supposed to be employed there. A massive robbery occurred one night after the store was closed and they lost $50,000 in denim. The alarm never went off and the manager, who hired my son, was fired.

Then my son was robbed while he worked there. The policy was not to interfere with the criminals for employees’ safety. I heard about this much later because it was one of those “Don’t tell Mom” events.

Yes, I was terrified when I found out about it. I’m thankful my kids have moved on from retail in their careers.

It is said that theft in stores is a victimless crime.

What are your thoughts? Is shoplifting a victimless crime? Do you think employees should be allowed to call the police? What can be done about the current crime wave?

Birds are good for mental health

A young cardinal stopped by again.

I have seen several articles the past few days about how listening to bird songs or watching birds is good for mental health. There’s been a number of studies from the US to Finland that back this up.

Maybe that’s why I’ve been in a good mood lately? It certainly doesn’t hurt to enjoy my Bird Buddy feeder with a camera or sit in the backyard and listen to birds.

My phone alerted me to a story about studies connecting better mental health to birds in the Washington Post. It’s behind a paywall so I didn’t read it. But I did read one by Desert News called “Being around birds can boost mental health, studies say” by Britney Heimuli.

Here’s an excerpt:

Two studies, published last year in Scientific Reports, named something that may improve mental well-being and reduce feelings of depression, anxiety and paranoia: being around birds.

The Washington Post said, “In one study, researchers asked about 1,300 participants to collect information about their environment and well-being three times a day using a smartphone app called Urban Mind.”

The Post said the data collected, which included other variants like sleep and air quality, showed seeing or hearing birds had a positive association with improved mental well-being in participants.

“Everyday encounters with birdlife were associated with time-lasting improvements in mental well-being. These improvements were evident not only in healthy people but also in those with a diagnosis of depression,” according to that report.

Another study the Post reported showed that, out of 295 online participants who were asked to self-assess their emotional state, those who were randomly assigned to listen to different kinds of bird songs reported reduced depressive symptoms and a decrease in feelings like anxiety and paranoia.

https://www.msn.com/en-us/health/medical/being-around-birds-can-boost-mental-health-studies-say/ar-AA1bxaCw

A house sparrow.

Not the most attractive bird but a frequent visitor — a curve-bill thrasher. I wonder how he got his name? /s

It does make sense that connecting with birds helps our mental health. I think being outside in nature does that with or without birds.

In an article from Time Magazine called “Birdwatching Has Big Mental-Health Benefits” by Angela Haupt said:

Researchers have long sought to understand the perks of observing birds. A study published in October in Scientific Reports found that seeing or hearing birds improved people’s mental wellbeing for up to eight hours. Nearly 1,300 people used a smartphone app to log their mood several times a day, noting whether they could see or hear birds. People with depression, as well as those without a mental-health condition, experienced significant improvements in wellbeing when they had these encounters. The benefits weren’t explained by other environmental factors, like seeing trees, plants, or water, all of which the study controlled for.

https://time.com/6231886/birdwatching-mental-health/

My question is why? Why do birds help our mental health? Is it being outside? Is it some connection we have to birds? What are your thoughts?

A video of a house sparrow at our Bird Buddy.

Three things to tell you daughter on grad night

katwide

I wrote this post when my daughter graduated high school. With graduation season here, I decided to repost my thoughts from not quite ten years ago:

 
Today my little girl graduates high school. What a joy she has been to raise, teach and hang out with. I remember her kindergarten interview when she had to be tested for one of the coveted spots at St. Theresa’s. She had fun buns on her head and ankle high “Britney Boots,” marketed for little girls dreaming of becoming Britney Spears. She boldly entered the kindergarten class and announced to the world that she was “Robert’s little sister.”

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Today, I have a tall, wise-cracking young lady with a big smile and sparkle in her eye. If I could tell my daughter three things she needs to know for her next adventure called college, what would it be? 

katpromharry

First…

“To thine own self be true.” Don’t worry about what other people think. Do what you know is right. This famous quote is from Polonius to his son Laertes, before Laertes boards a boat to Paris in Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Even though it’s pretty old, it still resonates today.

katsurf

Second…

Happiness is not having a boyfriend or being thin. My mom would tell me the worst things when I was my daughter’s age — mainly focused on the need to “have a man” — or that “a man would make me happy.” This must be a throwback to my mother’s generation, where a woman’s identity and self-worth were wrapped up in a spouse. Instead, I will tell my daughter that happiness is found within yourself — by doing something that you love. Once you find happiness in yourself, only then can you share it with others.

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Last…

katandrobert

Don’t worry about what your career or major will be. You will figure it out. Don’t feel pressure about it. Most people going into college that have a major, change their minds anyway. Get your basic requirements out of the way and then after taking different classes, you will discover what you don’t like and what you do like.

And most importantly, not even on the list — I love you.

Utah Swimming and Dive  Kat Wickham

What three things would you tell your son or daughter on graduation night?

Letting go

Our yellow lab Angus (RIP) on our chaise-and-a-half lounge.

I finally let go of our chaise lounges. We moved them from Palm Springs at my insistence. My husband wanted to leave them behind.

I recently wrote about my mom’s unnatural attachment to her flute and her reluctance to let it go HERE. Then I realized I was doing the exact same thing with two chaise lounges we’ve owned since the kids were little. For sentimental reasons, or for what those chaises represented, I couldn’t let go.

The chaise lounges in our Palm Springs backyard.

For the two-and-a-half years we’ve lived in Arizona, we’ve never once sat on our chaise lounges. They’ve been sitting under waterproof covers. Their fabric was deteriorating. But someday I was going to do something about that.

I watched as a chipmunk made trips across our patio, back and forth, with something white and fluffy in its mouth. I finally figured it out. I lifted the cover to a chaise lounge and there was a one-foot hole in the cushion. The chipmunk was using our chaise lounge to “feather his nest.”

Because of harsh desert weather, I’ve had the chaises recovered several times through the years. One of my best friends has an upholstery and sewing business. She recovered them for me at her cost. We used to live close enough to drive them to her.

I shopped online and the chaise-and-a-half cushion is not a standard size. I’d have to have them made to order and now it’s no longer the fabric, but the stuffing is ruined too. For a little more than the cost of new custom cushions, I ordered two standard-size chaises from Costco. We’ll even be able to lounge on them!

What did the chaises represent to me? Why couldn’t I let go? We got the oversized lounges so our young children, dripping wet from the pool, could snuggle in next to us. Angus our lab would spend evenings laying by my side as we watched the sunset. That was one of his favorite things to do. Mine too.

Those years are gone and nothing will bring them back. Not even holding onto chaise lounges that hold my dear memories.

It is bulk trash pickup week. I finally let go and my husband took the chaises to the curb.

The chaises were picked up from our curb — before the bulk pick up truck made it to our neighborhood! I hope they found a nice home and the new family enjoys them as much as we did!

Have you ever been attached to a physical object for sentimental reasons? Was it clothing, art, chaise lounges or something else?

That Darn Cat!

Olive who is also known as “The Pretty Kitty.”

I was talking to my dear friend on the phone in my backyard. I heard the door to the casita smash shut with a gust of wind. When I came back inside the house, I walked past the front door on the way to our bedroom.

I noticed that not only the front door was open, the screen door was open too. My heart stopped.

I’ve been told by neighbors when we moved here to keep my cat inside. That’s because of coyotes, bobcats, javelina, owls, snakes and huge hawks. My cat would last an hour, they said.

Shaking, I yelled at my husband. “You left the front door open!”

He insisted he was innocent. But I immediately jumped to blame him, because I knew I didn’t.

I got Olive’s favorite treat out, Lil’ Soup by Friskies.

“Kitty soup!” I yelled and repeated. She always comes running and answers “Meow oop.”

Nothing.

We checked under beds. Then went outside to call “Here kitty, kitty, kitty!”

I was crying. I haven’t been so worried since I lost my last cat who got outside at age 17 at our old house. The neighbor’s dog jumped their wall and killed my cat Sherman who was lounging in the driveway of the empty house next door to them.

Calling and callling, getting more and more frantic, I realized Olive went out our front courtyard and would turn right towards the wash, rather than head to the street. At the side of the house, with both of us calling, she appeared.

She nonchalantly sniffed the gravel, looked at me, then my husband — and ran for her dear life into our courtyard and waited for us to open the front door.

I don’t think she’s going out again soon. She spent the next 12 hours hiding under our bed. She must have smelled something that was threatening to her.

If you have pets, what close calls have you had with them?

This is Olive when I found her trapped inside our SUV. I wrote about her car misadventures HERE.