I have just been certified for completing the free six-session Kansas Optimizing Health Program for Chronic Disease Self-management.

The program was well taught by our Center for Health Improvement leaders -- Steph Schaffer, Jenny Dreher and Kim Hattrup. I've put life back in my life by developing action plans, solving problems, communicating with other session members and planning for the future.

My only concern was that I was the only male attendee in the company of 10 delightful females. Come on, guys, you know that you have chronic health conditions. An excellent free textbook, "Living a Healthy Life With Chronic Conditions," is given to each participant.

This free KOHP workshop will be offered again 6 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday evenings, starting May 3 through June 7, in the CHI education room. Registration is required by April 29 at (785) 623-5900.

As some of you have read, I was selected by the Hays City Commission to serve on the steering committee for the development of a new comprehensive plan for the city for at least the next 10 years. As a representative of the senior community, I plan to have several meetings to help determine the needs and wants of our old and young maturing citizens -- watch for dates, times, locations, etc.

As a follow-up to my recent Evergreen Jazz Festival presentation, there still are reduced attendance rates until June 30 for one, two or three days of the 2011 festival July 29 through 31. Three days of jazz and swing by 12 groups at five Evergreen, Colo., venues. This dose of jazz will hold you for at least a year. Call me for further information at (785) 625-6277.

At 1:30 p.m. May 1, I will present a swing and jazz session for the Hays Society for the Preservation of Big Band Swing in the gallery of the Hays Public Library. After the biography and music presentation for one of our swing era bands, I hope to offer an extemporaneous jam session by area musicians, playing our traditional 1920s to '50s jazz music. Refreshments will be available and freewill donations accepted.

And here's a big bird story. In my backyard, I have four hanging bird feeders, and I'm used to seeing bigger birds such as doves, blue and blackbirds, purple martins, robins, etc. Last week, I looked out and saw the biggest bird ever in my yard, about 2 feet long, and one and one-half tall, pacing to-and-fro alongside my south fence. As it paced along the fence, it was checking the openings between my fence boards, apparently desiring to get next door. It finally jumped or flew up to the top of the fence, teetered there on my narrow board, surveyed a landing spot, and jumped down into the neighbor's yard. I don't know what kind of bird it was, but it shocked me to see such a large critter in my yard -- it was not interested in my bird feeders.

However, as I write this, my backyard has just been joined by two very active rabbits under my feeder. They're jumping up about 2 feet, either fighting for space, playing follow the leader or just entertaining me -- I'll never know.

Harry Watts, Hays, is a member of the Generations Advisory Group.