Horrifying facts about February in Phoenix

Sonoran sunset
Sunset in the Sonoran Desert.

What’s going on in Phoenix this February?

Yesterday I went to a luncheon to learn about and raise money for victims of human trafficking.

The stats are truly horrifying. The presentation was by The Dream Center, a facility that rescues and rehabilitates young women and men who have been trafficked.

The speakers were Shauna Sexton, Human Trafficking Programs Director, and JoAnna Shipe, Corporate Initiatives Director. They gave us a powerful and gut wrenching presentation.

Did you know?

• That in Phoenix there is the Super Bowl and a major golf tournament going on in February? That five percent of the men attending will be buying sex? That equals more than 30,000 men looking for trafficked girls and boys.

• The number one prospects are boys from eight to 12 years old. 

• Human trafficking is the number two enterprise worldwide.

• In 2020, there was a 98% increase in online attempts by human traffickers. Why? Because of the COVID shutdowns, kids spent more time on their computers at home. Computers were no longer placed in the kitchen, but in their bedrooms. That was because parents were working from home and kids taking online classes.

• There was a 40% increase in human trafficking after COVID.

• Most kids are groomed into human trafficking over a six-month to two-year period. Often it’s online, on social media, by someone who is a friend of a friend.

• Traffickers hire good looking guys to befriend quiet, shy or vulnerable girls. They are usually 19 to 20 years old but look 14 or 15. 

• Less than 1% of trafficked kids are rescued.

• Girls and boys are trafficked an average of 10 to 12 times per day.

• The Dream Center in Phoenix has a 92% success rate of rehabilitating these kids and they transition into school or careers. They have 5,400 survivors since its inception in 2002. It’s the largest facility serving this community in the nation and the second largest in the world.

From the Dream Center website:

Our nonprofit (City Help Inc of Phoenix dba Phoenix Dream Center) was founded in 2002 as a Christ Centered Outreach Ministry.

We’re on a mission to stop human trafficking, end childhood hunger and educate tomorrows leaders. We do this through residential life recovery programs and community engagement outreach services. 

https://phoenixdreamcenter.org/story/

I wrote a story after my first meeting with this organization HERE.

Do these stats change how you view human trafficking? What organizations in your area provide services for human trafficking?

One year ago

Desert clouds and views
A view of the desert last January from the Sears-Kay Ruins.

What was I up to in the New Year of 2022? One of the things I like about blogging is being able to look back on what I was doing, thinking and feeling.

A year ago to the date, I was returning home from Berkeley after taking care of my son post surgery.

Imagine that!

AND my husband wasn’t answering the phone. I was worried about him. It turned out he was sick in bed with COVID. As sick as I have ever known him to be.

I took a Lyft home from the airport in Phoenix. The Lyft driver was not happy when he learned how far away I lived. I didn’t mean to be an inconvenience, you’d think drivers would want to pick up a long ride. But I think we are so far out, there’s not much of a chance for the driver to pick up any rides on the way back to Phoenix. Plus, he was going to be late picking his wife up after her work. I wondered why he accepted my ride in the first place?

In any case, I moved into our Casita and kept my husband isolated in our Master bedroom. (I heard master isn’t PC to use, but I really don’t care.)

I cooked him homemade chicken soup with onions, garlic and carrots. I carted it to the front porch and then called him to let him know food was waiting for him. This went on for several days.

When he was finally better, we went exploring and hiked the Sears-Kay Ruins. Then we went to hang out with friends who invited us over to watch football.

What were you up to a year ago? Do you find yourself doing many of the same things year after year?

This was last night in our backyard. We call them “Mulies” short for Mule Deer.

This was Olive, checking out the Mulies from the bar in our living room.

Intention for today: gratitude

Outside my window.

I was focused on my laptop at the small round table next to the window in the casita. I glanced up and to my surprise I saw three bobcats!

First was the mother, who has been a visitor for the two years we’ve lived here. Following her were two kittens (one is above.) They looked healthy yet somewhat gangly like preteens. Their coats were practically white while momma had a deeper tan with darker spots.

I finally reached for my phone and captured this one shot. The momma and other kitten had walked through our yard out of view from the casita.

“Bill! Bill! Bobcats!” I yelled for my husband as I ran down the hallway to our living room. He had left the kitchen door open with only the screen door closed. The bobcats scurried away when they heard my frantic voice.

It was such a sight! I wish I’d captured them on camera or that my husband could have seen them. Instead of yelling I should have been stealthy and quiet — we might have had them in our yard for an hour or two.

The word that came to mind this morning as I woke up was gratitude. I’m grateful for these wild creatures in my world.

What are you grateful for today?

What’s annoying…

hiking in the preserve
McDowell Sonoran Preserve

I like living in Arizona. I really do. I like being across the street from 130 miles of hiking trails that will never be developed. I also like the wildlife — bobcats, mule deer, coyotes, hawks, owls and coyotes.

But what annoys me are the grocery stores. It’s 30 minutes to drive to Trader Joe’s or Costco, which we make a special trip to do. There are four grocery stores much closer. But I have to stop at two to three of them to get my shopping done.

The one that is closest is very small. It’s not a national chain, but a family-owned local store.They never carry what I need. But they do have the only kitty litter Olive the cat will use — Johnny Cat. It’s the only one of the four stores near us that carries it. They also are the only store that carries Brown Cow yogurt. (If you haven’t tried Brown Cow, please give it a try. It’s amazing.)

So I start my shopping there for cat litter and yogurt. Next I go to a major chain to get mostly everything else. Specialty items I go to the upscale store down the street from the chain store.

I don’t mind driving, but I do mind going in and out of stores for what should be one-stop shopping. I never had this problem in Palm Springs. Maybe it’s still a supply chain issue?

Are you able to do your shopping in one stop? Or do you have to go to several stores to complete your list?

On the trail again

Mcdowell Sonoran preserve hiking trail
Hiking trail in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve.

The weather has definitely changed. Last week we topped 90 degrees every day. Saturday was a huge rainstorm with wind, thunder and lightening. Then Sunday morning the temperatures were in the 60s and the high was 70. What a wonderful change.

My husband and I hit the hiking trails. It’s been months since we’ve hiked because of the heat.

It feels so good to be out in nature. It’s good for my soul.

Here’s are some of the sights:

trails signs
The trails are marked with signs so it’s nearly impossible to get lost.
mountains and saguaros
Love this view of mountains with saguaros.
Saguaros on the Stagecoach trail.
Out on Stagecoach Trail.
hiking in Utah Ute gear
Our community is close to hiking trails! See the homes in the distance? That’s where we live.
Go UTES! They won against #6 USC Saturday night.

Have a great week! What exciting fun things did you encounter over the weekend?

Treasures from my week

hedgehog with bright red blooms
Hedgehog cactus in bloom in a pot in our backyard.

I was surprised to see cacti in bloom in our yard. I didn’t think August would be the time for such beauty in the desert. Maybe it’s the rain we’ve had? I’m learning that in the Sonoran Desert, plants bloom throughout the year.

white bloom on cactus
This blossom is right outside our front door. It’s the first thing I saw on my morning walk.
white flower on cactus
hill in the sun during a rainstorm
We walked extra early because a rainstorm was headed our way. I loved how the hillside was touched with sunlight. It did rain on the way home, but it felt great.

Yesterday, one of my neighbors went with me to a framing store. She’s a watercolor artist. One day when she was at our house, she said I needed to reframe a painting.

“But that’s the original frame,” I said.

“That’s okay. A new frame will brighten up the painting. Right now the frame cuts off the painting and makes it look dark.”

I invited her to accompany me to the framing store. She obviously has better knowledge in frames than me.

Lawrence Hinkley oil painting
This is the original frame. The painting is by Lawrence Hinkley, who was married to my husband’s great aunt.
Lawrence Hinkley painting.
Here is the same painting without the frame in the framing store. I can’t wait to get it back with its new look. It’s definitely brighter, don’t you think?

We received the painting from my husband’s grandfather before he passed away. I have treasured it and thought it would be sacrilegious to reframe it.

I did a google search of the artist Lawrence Hinckley and found out lots of interesting things. He was born in 1900 in Fillmore, California. He created a studio called “The Artists Barn” that attracted internationally renowned artists and visitors. Hinkley also worked in ceramics and made an elephant piggy bank named Fundo for a women’s Republican group in Santa Barbara.

From a news article I found online from the Fillmore Gazette:

As Mildred Hinckley in her book “The Artists Barn”, “The result was a cuddly little elephant about six inches long and half as high, with a tummy fat enough to hold a lot of dimes and quarters. His name was “Fundo”…On his white back was printed in red and blue, “Peace, Prosperity, and G.O.P.” Production of Fundo had just started then President Eisenhower suffered a heart attack. The Club requested that Fundo be sent to the President in the hospital. Lawrence personally decorated on, adding the usual inscription “For Ike” and “Get Well Soon.” I wrapped Ike’s Fundo and mailed it to the hospital.

Mildred went on to write, “On the morning of November 11, Lawrence was downtown and stopped in a café for a cup of coffee….When he opened the Los Angeles Examiner and started reading the lead story under a double column headline he nearly spilled his drink. It read in part, ” …… all during his illness, it was revealed, [President Eisenhower] has been persuading visitors to his eighth-floor hospital room to put something into his personally sponsored kitty, an elephant made of crockery with a slot for the deposit of money…..”

http://www.fillmoregazette.com/front-page/meet-artist-lawrence-hinckley

My husband told me that Hinckley also worked for Disney and painted some of the backgrounds of the classic movies. During World War II, he worked for Douglas Aircraft on technical drawings and charts.

I feel like I’ve discovered treasures including the history of my husband’s artist relative and the blossoming cacti.

Have a great weekend!

What treasures or small pleasures have you enjoyed this week?

What about that weather?

Sunset after a storm in the Arizona desert
Sunset last night after a huge storm.

I got back home from running errands right before the storm hit. My phone gave that loud alarm with a flash flood warning stating to shelter in place, that it was a matter of life and death. For hours the rain poured and the thunder was constant. It was exciting but the noise level was exhausting.

Sunset views.
When the rain began, while there was still visibility.
Sunset view
The view from our driveway after the storm passed.

After the storm, we had a beautiful sunset. Today the rain should be here at 11 a.m. and last until the sun goes down again. I guess this is the Monsoon season I’ve heard so much about.

Have a great weekend everyone!

What are your plans for the weekend? Are you having any unusual weather?