Does It Really Work?

Written by Mary Jo Shaw, Panorama resident. June 2018

A fictional story explaining how the Panorama Benevolent Fund Social Assistance Program works. All characters appearing in this story are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons living or deceased is purely coincidental.  

 

“I can’t help it that I have all these things wrong with my legs! Why do you keep yelling at me?” Mary’s tears made Jim even more upset. He stormed out of their once happy little apartment in one of the Panorama buildings. The slam of the door matched their volume.

Heading toward Panorama Hall for a cup of coffee, Jim’s frown and fuming red face caught the eye of one of the on-campus Independent Living Services social workers arriving for work. “Are you all right, Jim? How is Mary?”

“Oh, I don’t know how I can take this much longer, especially with all the bills we have lately. I’m running out of steam trying to care for her, cook, do laundry, and take care of the house. I’m so wound up at night, I can’t even sleep. This is the first time I’ve been out of the house in days. I’m frustrated and not myself. I know our garden plot needs upkeep. I love Mary very much and want to care for her, but I just can’t keep going on and on and on.” Jamming his waving arms into his wrinkled pockets, he traced his old shoe on the parking stripe on the asphalt. Jim needed to vent; the social worker simply nodded her concern.

“We’ve been almost frugal with our spending, but I’m getting nervous with our finances…my set of dentures, her hearing aids…it all came so sudden.” After more details, the social worker offered to refer them to the Benevolent Fund Social Assistance Program to see whether they qualified for temporary help until Mary was able to be back on her feet again.

He hesitated, but a glimmer of hope helped him take a deep breath. “Maybe. But I don’t know if Mary would approve. She always worked so hard. But it sure would help.” Jim was reminded that only two people knew the names of the independent residents asking for assistance in qualifying for funds.

A Benevolent Fund worker arrived the next day to talk with the couple and gathered information about financial resources to take to the office. After several phone calls to health care agencies, and final arrangements, the Benevolent Fund office assured Jim and Mary they would be able to have a caretaker.

Olivia was well trained in her work of home care. She prepared meals, freezing some for her off-days, changed sheets, did laundry and some vacuuming. Mary enjoyed Olivia’s pleasant visits during the three days of weekly appointments. Jim joined the other guys in the Pea Patch, bringing home veggies and flowers to a happy home once again.

After a few months when Mary was ready to be on her own, she and Jim hugged Olivia. “You’ve been a God-send. Panorama is so good to us. The Benevolent Fund really does work!”

A Resident’s Perspective – Walk Events

Written by Panorama resident, Sandy Bush. June 2018

Over the five years we have been in residence at Panorama, I am always amazed at the outpouring of support and inclusion of our community, by both residents and staff when activities happen. Three events are prime examples: the 5K walkabout on campus, Walk the Loop Tuesdays, and the Arts Walk.

May found many of us signed up for and completing the 5K walk around campus. Much energy was put in designing the path and then marking it in orange rain-soluble chalk.  Then there were the water stations at many points. It was also designed so that benches were along the way for resting awhile, if needed. It seemed every department was represented in the effort. Security, Emergency Response, Marketing, Bus Transportation drivers, Aquatic & Fitness Center, Lifestyle Enrichment, Seventeen51 Restaurant & Bistro, and Independent Living Services were all manning some aspect of keeping us safe and connected. And then there was the start-finish boom box with fun music at the Aquatic & Fitness Center!

5K or 3 miles onward!

Walk, ride, or whatever!

Besides “Shanks Mare” (walking), there were bicycles, upright segues, scooters, three-wheelers, canes, and walkers used. The overcast day kept the temperatures bearable for those of us who abhor walking in the heat!!!!  This time of year, with the unbelievable array of color in the Rhododendrons, it was an additional treat to walk the neighborhoods that the route took us.

Vibrant Rhododendrons

Grace, from Lifestyle Enrichment, in her cheerleader hat!

Medals at the end were a nice touch!

And now it is Walk the Loop time for summer Tuesday evenings from 6:30 PM on. These are gentle walks, allowing you to do what length you want and enjoy the learning stations along the way. Riddles, quizzes and informational postings add to memories or learning or just plain fun. The Panorama campus is flat and is such a treat for those who are mobility-impaired and using various aids, such as canes or walkers or scooters, to enjoy the fresh air of an evening. Also, it is a gab-fest for folks you don’t see day to day. The opportunities to connect and stay moving here at Panorama are such a bonus.

The Arts Walk involved so many artists and supporters of artists in amazing displays in many venues about campus! These were concentrated in a few buildings and environs, so the “walk” part was not excessive. Buses ran on a schedule to get folks to all the venues. The creativity of residents is wonderful to see. Music was heard all over the venues by various groups with different instruments and vocals in the Auditorium. Actors and readers were reprising the “Dixie Swim Club” play from earlier this year and it was just as funny with good attendance in the Auditorium. The afternoon found our Seventeen51 Restaurant & Bistro dispensing ice cream products under the portico of the Auditorium.

I always think no wonder there are 400+ folks on the wait lists to get in here! We are so very fortunate. Do get out and enjoy campus as we roll into summer, in a few weeks. The grounds crew has made this such a vibrant-hued community in ALL seasons.

Flying False Teeth at Panorama?

Written by Panorama resident, Mary Jo Shaw. May 2018

“My children are adults now, and yet they still ask me, ‘Remember when your teeth flew?’” Those are Kathy Lee’s words.

I first met Kathy at Panorama’s Walk the Loop Group and again at Panorama’s July 4th picnic in 2012 when she and her hubby were taking a tour of Panorama. Kathy opened her large bag/purse and pulled out a copy of My Air Force Mom for our 4-year-old granddaughter, Hope, at the picnic. Kathy fanned the pages of her own book to Hope and read it to her. Hope eyed the colorful, cute pictures.

Wow! This lady has published her own book. In my Panorama writing class, Bryan Willis, his substitutes and class members keep encouraging me to print my stories of my 13 years in a religious convent, leaving, and immediately training in high fashion modeling. We need to talk shop.

I questioned Kathy about her writing/publishing experience, “When Grandma’s False Teeth Fly is my second published children’s book. It won the Silver Medal Award from the Military Writers Society of America.”

My mind went flying as I examined the silver sticker on the cover. She laughed. “It’s a fictional story that grew from factual events.”

I leaned forward to hear over the park picnic excitement. “Whoa! I gotta hear your story.”

She sipped her Dr. Pepper and pulled her folding chair closer. “As a child, I had a chipped tooth like Katie in my book. Now, I’m a grandma. I have worn false teeth for many years. On two separate occasions, my false teeth have taken flight.”

“The first time was at a party, at a club with the band playing ‘Twist and Shout’. My date and I were on a hot, crowded dance floor talking over the music. Unbeknownst to me, my mouth dried out. I took in a gulp of air and my upper plate flew from my mouth to the floor. Fortunately, the club was dimly lit. I twisted down to the floor, picked up my teeth, slid them into my pocket, twisted up to a standing position and scurried off the dance floor toward the restroom.”

I slapped my knee with laughter. Competition from the live band now playing presented a challenge, but we focused our conversation on writing.

Years later, she married and had a family. “In a heated argument with one of my sons, it happened again,” she continued. “Same thing. Dry mouth, gulp of air, and out they flew. After a second or two of shock, my son and I laughed so hard, the argument was completely forgotten. I have had first-hand experience with flying (actually falling) false teeth. Hence the title.”

“Kathy, with your creativity, you’d love our writing classes here at Panorama.”

“Oh, I didn’t know they offered them. Now I’m really getting excited about signing up. I have to tell you how this book evolved. My husband always made two cherry cream pies for our monthly church potluck lunch. This planted a seed idea that the fictional flight of grandma’s false teeth should happen at the church potluck. I wanted them to fly into banana pudding (my favorite), but the publisher changed it to chocolate pudding.”

As we both stood to fluff up our pillows aching from the park-chairs, my mind wandered. Wow! I don’t think I want to have a publisher…I’ve heard they want to change things. I’m writing my memoir Convent to Catwalk and I want every bit of it to be true.

I wanted to hear more, so Kathy offered, “I had rewritten this story six or seven times. In fact, I began writing it even before I wrote my first published children’s book, My Air Force Mom, and it took years to get it just right. After entering the story in contests and receiving valuable feedback, it eventually evolved into a book that shows children may choose to use humor to diffuse a situation with bullies.”

Kathy’s husband is fond of saying her book was a “ten-year overnight success.” Two of her five children’s books have colorful pictures with A to Z prompts, and lines and spaces where future little authors may write. Another is a poem, The Whisperwood Books & Bakery, where children enjoy snacks as they enjoy reading.

Shortly after moving to Panorama, Kathy joined Bryan’s screen-writing class.

Her darling books are spread out next to my Convent to Catwalk memoir in Panorama’s Gift’s Etc. Hundreds of resident hand-made items are for sale there: wood working, crochet, wool felting, greeting cards for every occasion, paintings, pottery, machine and hand sewn aprons, etc. Residents receive 80% in a monthly check.

Thanks, Kathy, for encouraging me to finish my self-published, successful book after writing faithfully for 5 ½ years.

Do false teeth fly at Panorama? At least Kathy Lee (author name: Mary Lee) made it a great story!

Panorama Rescues My Twin Sister

Written by Panorama resident, Mary Jo Shaw. May 2018

Emergency! My twin sister, mentioned in my April 2018 blog, ended up staying eight days at our Panorama apartment. Jerri had planned to stay with our daughter Melody and her hubby John, but their daughter, Hope, took ill. I prayed a queen size air mattress would fit into my tiny craft room. I removed my folding tray tables and my two small black benches.

All four walls had craft stackable drawers and cabinets. My laptop was on a board on top of one set of the many drawers.

“Well, the mattress fits,” Chris called to the kitchen. “But it’s bumper to bumper with all that stuff lining the walls.”

“Oh, Jerri won’t mind. We’ll have fun.” My jaw dropped and eyeballs bulged—only eight inches of “walkway” between the mattress and the sewing machine and tall plastic drawer bin.

Yes…Jerri was a sport. We laughed at the situation, and began with first things first: what were we going to wear to dress as twins for fun? She loves to shop. I detest it. I’d rather be playing piano somewhere on campus, practicing new compositions, writing books, blogging and marketing opportunities, or doing my tons of crafts. But I looked forward to going to the small shopping center a mile away to purchase matching tops to go with the black pants and tights we already owned.

We rode the scheduled, beautiful Panorama bus and stepped off right in front of the store. We tore through the departments for 1.5 solid hours, more out of high adrenaline rush than of time crunch. She only wears black and white, sometimes tans/browns, but NEVER pastels. I mainly wear black and white year round, but don anything that fits, or that is handed up or down to me.

I hadn’t been shopping in over a year, so I was like a kid at the candy counter readying for a double feature. Our challenge was to find items that fit each of us, but matched…and only in black and white. We found mounds of clothing and shared the dressing room, as we did as kids years ago. Eliminations went fast, mainly because what fit one of us didn’t fit the other, and it HAD to be on a good sale!

She insisted we take items home on hangers. As most stores in Washington, no plastic bags are available. Our fingers gripped long receipts with our seven coat-hangered items. Other residents on the bus teased us about the matching clothing we’d purchased. Visiting on the Panorama bus is the fun part of the trip to and from our destinations.

After laughing and reminiscing until 2:30 a.m., we arose in 8 hours, dressed identically in our thinly-striped, black and white tops, black tights, and gold loop earrings. We took the elevator from our apartment on the 5th floor down to the 2nd to Panorama’s Seveenteen51 Restaurant. As we stood deciding where to sit, residents turned to smile. I waved as I always do.

“Wow, people really are friendly here at Panorama,” Jerri commented. We sashayed back to the Bistro for a table for two by a window. She kept remarking, “The view here is beautiful.” She awed at spring’s huge red rhododendrons and numerous other blooms, and well-manicured lawns.

“Jerri, most Panorama people are very friendly, but remember: today their eyes are following us because we are dressed alike.” We laughed like kids. I added, “We’re getting the attention we dressed to get, right? Lots of residents know me, and most have just read my Panorama blog and quarterly VOICE OF PANORAMA. Both publications have been out three days and contain the story of our being twins each year, dressing alike, getting Mom to take us shopping so people would say, ‘Oh, look at the twins! How old are you? and…’”

Jerri broke in to finish my story, “Yeah! And we’d say we were both seven or whatever. We never said we were twins…they did!”

I jogged her memory, “Remember when we dressed alike as adults when we both lived in Las Vegas and we treated each other to lunch?”

During our lunch, I learned Jerri had not brought her swim suit, but swims daily at her home to aid her bad back. She jumped at the idea to go shopping tomorrow for a swim suit.

We did ride the city bus, since Panorama’s bus was not scheduled to go where we wanted to shop. She said, “I haven’t been on a city bus since I was in high school. This is wonderful. The bus is so clean.”

Our five minute ride dropped us off about a half-block from the store. We found even more bargains and a great swim outfit for her. Again, people stared and grinned. We were wearing our new broad-stripped black and white tops and black tights. This time we called out, “We’re twins!” We were surprised at how many teased back, “Oh, we thought you were escapees still in uniforms!” What constant fun!

As we checked out to pay, I asked a resident couple, Ann and Rocky, behind us, “My sister and I came on the city bus. May we hop a ride home to Panorama with you?”

What a delight. The lovely couple treated us to a 20 minute tour of Panorama grounds. We have had no car for 6 years and don’t miss it. Jerri didn’t know about our beautiful Chambers Lake with ducks. Rocky and Ann pointed out the various blossoms, trees, bushes and stopped for our picture-taking from the back seat, since it had started to drizzle.

Jerri questioned, “Who takes care of all these manicured lawns and bushes? It must take hours…who has the energy to do it when they get older? I hire a gardener at home and it’s not cheap.”

“Oh, the Grounds maintenance does it for us, Jerri. We don’t have to do any of it.”

“But how much do you pay to have it done?”

The three of us said in unison, “That’s included, as well as utilities, water…” She was experiencing the too good to be true amenities I’d shared with her since we arrived in 2011. We don’t take the paradise-looking grounds for granted, but I was renewed once again of God’s amazing work of art on our campus.

After a few days, our granddaughter was well. We had a great brunch and a full day of fun at their home. Later we invited them to Panorama’s Seventeen51 Restaurant. How convenient. I didn’t have to cook!

Jerri is highly allergic to dairy and tolerates only a little gluten. Well-trained waiters and cooks made her dining experience comfortable, relaxed and healthy. Jerri never owned a recipe book, and is blessed with gourmet-cooking talent. “My large, beautiful platter of pear salad topped with grilled chicken was tasty and filling,” she remarked. That was a real compliment.

As I’d introduce Jerri to my friends, many asked if she was the one of the main characters in my memoir. What fun when they learned they had met her “in person”. Several asked if she wanted to hit me over the head for being extremely late for the big fashion show in Mexico City when Jerri was coordinator. “I wanted to do lots more than just ‘hit her over the head’…I wanted to kill her,” she teased with her hand soaring up high.

By the way, the book I wrote in class at Panorama in 2017, Convent to Catwalk, involves Jerri too. After I had been a religious nun for 13 years, I started training to model for many of the world’s renowned fashion designers. Jerri and one of my other sisters, Patti, were responsible for that part of my life. I don’t take them for granted either.

We are encouraged to have family and friends stay with us up to two weeks at a time. I enjoyed my “twin” sister in a special way and thank my Panorama family who welcomed her with me. We are blessed again here at Panorama.

A Work of Art Brought Back to Life

Written by Panorama resident, Deb Ross. May 2018

My father’s career as a biblical scholar and archaeologist often took him to Israel and Jerusalem. While he was on digs, teaching and researching, my mother, an inveterate shopper and extrovert, studied, visited and came to appreciate Arabic and Palestinian crafts and the Palestinian people. In 1970, she approached John Tabash, a renowned craftsman both in mother-of-pearl and olive wood. She wanted him to create an olive wood Advent Calendar modeled on the Gothic cathedral in Limbourg, Germany. Reluctant at first, he eventually embraced the idea and the two of them worked together for many months. The result was a stunning creation, over two feet high. Each of the 24 doors contains a nativity figure, and there is a large “rose window” in the center made of intricately carved mother-of-pearl. 

When I inherited the Advent Calendar a few years ago, it needed TLC. Several doors had fallen off, it had lost some of the original olive wood luster, and the wiring for the interior lights was not safe. I took it to several wood workers and none were able or willing to take on the project of restoring it. Then, after we moved to Panorama, I took it down to the wood shop. One of the regulars had assured me that someone would certainly be willing to take on this project. And sure enough, Maurie Laufer agreed, provided I wasn’t in a hurry. No, Christmas was almost a year away.     

Over the next few weeks and months, Maurie updated me on his progress. A missing door had to be replaced with a new piece of wood, stained to match the original exactly and complete with a tiny doorknob. Doors had to be glued back on. Lights had to be found and placed in exactly the right place. A major dusting and oiling was needed. 

Finally, in May, the great day arrived when Maurie called to say it was ready! We stopped by the wood shop, buzzing with activity, which stopped when we approached the work bench. What a thrill when he took off the protective covering! The olive wood almost glows in rich, deep, variegated hues. The LED lights (donated by the metal shop and originally acquired in Iceland) emit a soft glow. And the Nativity figures, all 27 of them, hidden behind their doors for now, serenely await their turn on the stage during the month of December. Thank you so much Maurie for taking on this project and bringing a family treasure back to life. 

Resident Spotlight – Harold Rorden

Written by Panorama resident, Gail Madden. Photos by April Works. May 2018

As Panorama renews and renovates, you can hear the sounds of construction and renewal across the campus.  But that’s not the only construction happening here and not the only place homes are being built.  When Portland native Harold Rorden retired from his career in air traffic control, he originally moved to Lake Cushman and built a home with a big garage and workshop.  When he sold that home and relocated to Panorama in 2005, he was looking for a hobby – and activity – to fill his time.  He discovered the woodshop and found a great spirit of camaraderie among the team working there.  He also caught sight of a half-finished doll-house and he says, “That got me hooked.”

Most mornings you can find Harold down in the woodshop on the lower level of the Quinault putting together some very precious and special homes.  Long before plastic Barbie and her cardboard world became popular, little girls were entertained for hours on end with their doll houses and the furniture and imaginary families they installed in them.  These miniature houses originated about 400 years ago in Germany where their purpose was to entertain the children of the wealthy and privileged. Even today, girls feel very special when they’re presented with handmade dollhouses they can furnish and decorate.  And now boys can enjoy these miniature structures too.  There are horse stables and general stores as well as the traditional homes.

Harold takes great care in the construction of his dollhouses and as he says, “They start as kits, but I like to improve on the recipe.”  Each house takes two to three months to complete and has custom touches for both the exterior and interior.  Some are free-standing and others can be made to be wall-mounted in a child’s bedroom or playroom.  They usually have a porch and sometimes a porch swing so the doll family can enjoy a restful afternoon outside their home.  Other custom touches include the wallpaper, tile floors and, of course, the color scheme.  His construction projects are a labor of love and while they are for sale, the cost is only for materials, not for the labor that goes into making these wonderful playthings.

Harold donates a number of his completed dollhouses to the Stiles-Beach Barn where they are on display and available for purchase with the proceeds going to the Panorama Benevolent Fund.  If you have a moment, check out the houses currently on display at the Barn. Perhaps you have a grand or a great-grand who would be thrilled to find a custom dollhouse under the tree this Christmas.

Because they take time to construct, it is never too early for a parent or grandparent to think about that special Christmas or birthday gift of a custom constructed dollhouse.  Contacting Harold Rorden, the architect of these fantastical structures, allows you to pre-order your custom touches to personalize the gift.  He’d love to help you make that special little girl or boy a present that will be treasured for years to come.

A Resident’s Perspective – Walking and Hiking Season Begins Apace!

Written by Panorama resident, Sandy Bush. May 2018

The celebration of May Day saw the opening, in earnest, of the Panorama outings into the environment! The day was wonderful with overcast and NO RAIN! Nine of us spent a lovely leg stretcher, after so much winter rain, by hiking up to Mima Falls.

There was a second trip planned the next day to accommodate an increasing interest in joining these hikes. The gathering at the Falls was a snack break and gab session. A new resident of three weeks (!) joined this trip.  She managed to put aside her unpacking to investigate these wonderful outings.

Spring brings with it so much bird song & flowering of wild flowers. There were also the croaking frogs along with the splash of the falls. A quiet day in the woods is always rejuvenating. I’ve only included a few pictures of things abloom, but there were so many. So many shades and hues of the trilliums were a treat. Also pictured was the flowering Oregon Grape.

This trail accommodated dogs on leash, as well as horses. We were treated to seeing two lovely horses ridden up the trail and back down past us. A further fun thing was a group of eight from Jubilee retirement facility who were working their way up as we were coming down to go to lunch. It was a “hail fellow, well met” happening. A particularly interesting discovery along the trail was the VERY RARE pretzel tree, quite festooned in honor of spring!

The trip was shortened by two miles, due to the worst up and down of the second section of the trail. For a first time out, this was such a great decision. For hikers and walkers interested, our leader, Steve Pogge, always has options on lengths and portions of trail that give us a walk or hike that meets our abilities. Steve is always available to answer questions regarding any planned hikes, and you can call him or email him with questions. The Activities and Events section of the Newsletter where hikes are described has his contact information for questions.

The trailhead did not provide comfortable lunch seating, so we drove around the corner to Mima Mounds recreational prairie reserve. There have been many spring wildflower walks out at this lovely destination and we ate our packed lunches looking out over the mounds. Many things were blooming, but the blue camas were in great profusion.

Watch the Activities and Events section of the Newsletter to find these gems of outings. It is such a luxury to have someone drive you out and back. We are so very spoiled!!!

Enjoy the spring! Panorama will help you do that!!!!!

A Resident’s Perspective – Activities at Panorama

Written by Panorama resident, Sandy Bush. April 2018

I thought I’d take just a few minutes to share what impresses me about our planned activities here at Panorama. Everyone gets the monthly “Panorama News” bulletin, either by electronic media or on paper through our mail boxes. Along with the “Resident Handbook and Directory,” these provide us with all the happenings around Panorama.

We are informed about the current state of Panorama affairs by various departments, such as Maintenance or Grounds. Special interest groups can outline upcoming events that they are providing and other opportunities available are spelled out.

What has become almost a “bible” for us in our household is the long section of activities organized by the Lifestyle Enrichment department. On-campus offerings often provide bus transport to movies at the auditorium or Resident Council transport can be arranged for other things. Speaking for myself, I always make a copy of the often 8 pages (!!) of happenings and descriptions outlined to keep next to our paper (yes, paper) calendar. Movies, either foreign or first run recent films, are listed along with classics, which often run on special times or holidays, like Christmas.

The hiking, walking and outing offerings have always been uppermost in our interest as we are pretty mobile at this time. Being from out of state, the meal outings, such as Brunch at Its Best and Dinner at Its Best, have introduced us to places that locals already know about. This has been a wonderful learning service provided for getting to know Olympia and environs. Hidden parks you would never find on your own have been a delight to discover.

Many of the offerings include bus transportation to Seattle (and who wants to drive there??) and night performances at many theaters where parking and night vision make driving, in our circumstance, a bit of a crapshoot, if not, downright dangerous. Get to know the activity desk folks (9:30 AM to 12:00 PM weekdays) in Pan Hall to sign up for these outings. Also, get your suggestions about things you’d like to see & do to the Lifestyle Enrichment department, as well.

The listed activities coupled with special lectures for Learning in Retirement have been so very helpful as we maneuver through our aging years! The Office of Philanthropy underwrites performances and Lifestyle Enrichment department supports and covers so many other opportunities. The Panorama Board of Directors also supports administrative decisions for many activities.

We have met some wonderful folks on these outings and have had a good time. And we always look forward to the next month’s issue with listings of doings/outings to sign up for. This brings to mind the query I get from people from our old community on “what on earth do you do there?” This always makes me laugh. We are finding our calendar as full as it was ten years ago!!! Granted, the activities have changed. The opportunities to learn are different. But for anyone wondering what there is to do, these activities are a gold mine. Those who volunteer for many of our functions and interest groups find time at a premium, but still manage to go to a movie now and again.

I am hoping you will acquaint yourselves with this bulletin and what it offers. I know, many of you are still in boxes and moving in can be a bear. But remember that Panorama is rich in what they are providing us and we are rich in being the recipients of such energy and planning.  Enjoy Panorama!!!

(P.S. The magnolia finally bloomed as well!!!!!!!”)

Clarifying My Twin Sister

Written by Panorama resident, Mary Jo Shaw. April 2018

“Look at the twins! You look so cute. How old are you?”

We chimed in unison, “We’re twelve years old.” Or whatever age we were at the time.

My sister and I loved to hear those questions. We were the same height and size. Year after year, we dressed exactly alike from the bow or hair clip, to the dress and jewelry, down to our shoes and socks. We gave each other the same birthday present at our shared birthday party, which Mom let us have every other year.

Unfortunately, we don’t get recognized anymore for being twins or get to answer questions like how old we are. Maybe it’s because we don’t look alike anymore, or we’re too old to be asked our age. But if we’re together, we still go out and dress alike.

When we were married and both lived in Las Vegas, we decided to have lunch at the Texas Steak House to celebrate our 70th birthday. We’d grown up in San Antonio, Texas, and it would be our treat to each other.

RRRING. RRRING. I ran to the phone in my undies, jeans over my arm and various fashions spread out on my bed.

“Wear your white pants and your nice, black T-top,” my sister laughed. “I’m wearing mine!”

“Oh, of course! Why not? Sounds fun. Wear your long, red scarf like mine.” I dashed into the closet.

“I’ll pick you up in fifteen minutes.” She slammed her phone down.

Only fifteen minutes? I scurried around, but lost precious time during her next three calls. After a disheveled closet and bedroom, we matched black earrings, shoes, and shoulder-strap purses. I held tight to my seat belt in her shiny red Jaguar racing down Sahara Avenue. She accelerated more to beat the stale-green light at Decatur.

We were grinning Cheshire cats strolling into the steak house. She was much shorter than I. My hair was turning gray; hers was thin and colored dark brown.

The hostess swiped a look at our matching outfits, raised her eyebrows, and hinted a side smile, “Welcome, ladies.”

I relieved her curiosity, “Oh, we’re dressed alike because we’re both seventy years old today.”

Relaxed, she alerted the waitresses. “We have special twins today celebrating seventy years young.” She royally escorted us to the highly polished, but western, hammered-to-look-old table-for-two. We were at the center of many crowded tables. Clients dressed in business attire to cut-off western shorts, bandanas and straw hats.

Booths around the walls were raised, looking down onto our table. We waded through empty peanut shells, strewn across the wooden floor. It was allowed in those days. Customers tossed them after nibbling the contents.

“Happy birthday, ladies!” Waitress spoke with enthusiastic volume. “It must be fun to be a twin. Thanks for celebrating with us.” We delighted in the attention of smiles and nods over menus, huge deep-fried blooming onions, and platters overflowing with Texas-sized steaks.

AAAHH! The aroma from peppered, mesquite-grilled steak snuggled close to steaming, baked yams dripping with butter and brown sugar, and heavy hunks of homemade cornbread: carriage back to our Texas home. All was washed down with cold ice tea for her and Lone Star Beer overflowing from a frozen mug for me.

We were queens-for-a-day. A parade of servers ushered one large dessert bowl of double-chocolate brownie fudge cake, topped with two extra-large helpings of vanilla ice cream slobbered in hot, chocolate syrup. This heap of luscious lust was crowned with fluffy whipped cream, crushed Texas pecans and two shiny red cherries. Two 12-inch spooned-straws shot out diagonally from the base of the fudge cake. The entire restaurant belted, “Happy Birthday, dear Twi–ns, Happy Birthday, to you-u-u.” Then a loud finale of cheers and clapping. We each blew at our never-go-out candle, while we entertained the crowd of spectators who eventually left us to ourselves.

My sister and I fidgeted with pursed lips and bug-eyes. She was diabetic! Worse, she was severely allergic to dairy: anaphylactic. If a spoon had stirred anything with milk, and it hadn’t been washed thoroughly with hot, soapy water, her tongue would swell within seconds. She had warned the waiters about her condition, but obviously in their energetic enthusiasm, they’d forgotten. We didn’t want to disappoint a generous heap of loving kitchen kindness.

We stared at its majesty ruling our table and swallowed hard. With two fingers, Sister gracefully removed a long spoon and began carving a portion of the heap. “Mary Jo, you eat fast on it, and I’ll just stir so it looks like I’ve dined on it too.”

We bent over the mound and energetically worked on our plan. I held my head, “OOOH!  I’m getting brain freeze.”

Squirming and straining laughter, Sister admitted, “I have to go to the restroom. You eat lots while I’m gone, you hear?” She sprinted to the back, ahead of her shoulder-strap purse. Sister took her time in the ladies’ room to give me time to gulp ice cream, hot syrup, and brownie fudge cake while waiters were occupied elsewhere. My brain was a solid glacier.

Sister returned. “Mary Jo! You didn’t!! You finished the entire dessert?”

I loosened my belt. But why did I feel I had to finish it? Was it because I didn’t want to hurt the employees’ feelings, or was it because I couldn’t resist the indulgent luxury? Was it because I knew we couldn’t take it in a doggie bag? Maybe it was all of those. It was the last day we’d be the same age that year. Jerri was born before I was a year old, making us the same age for a week. We never said we were twins. When asked how old we were, we simply answered their question and enjoyed the consequences.

A Resident’s Perspective – Waiting for the Bloom

Written by Panorama resident, Sandy Bush. April 2018

Here we all are into spring!!!! Perhaps the frozen nights are behind us, perhaps not. We had snows this winter and some freezing. Most thought March and First day of Spring would never get here.

Well, now that we get patchy rains and such, many of the on-campus things are flowering. We are waiting with trepidation that the Magnolia tree that is verrrry old in our back yard, over-shadowing our patio, will indeed burst forth in those frothy, pink to white blossoms. It seems like the buds have been threatening to open from week to week.

The tulip tree in McGandy Park usually beats our opening blooms by about a week….and it isn’t open yet, either, as of last night. We get to Panorama Hall through the park and it is always a treat to walk through there everyday and see what is next to open.

The birds have been singing their little lungs out, pairing up, so it can’t be long now. The first mowers have ventured out on the wet lawns and that may hold off for a bit as the ground is pretty soggy. Not being a Pea Patch grower, I’ve no idea how the plots are faring….

Meanwhile, try to get out and about to enjoy the budding and flowering of spring! It is such a special time at Panorama.

A Resident’s Perspective – Art Inside An Old Envelope?

Written by Panorama resident, Mary Jo Shaw. March 2018

After the unusual display of many Panorama residents’ recycled art projects, I found out that we were going to have another recycled display using only recycled envelopes. We had to fill out a form in order to participate in the first event’s display.

I started gathering old envelopes with and without security linings. I spent two solid weeks in my limited free time working, designing, doing and undoing. I was planning a wall hanging. I stayed up at night and rose early the next day to work in my extremely disheveled craft room, wading in sorted-by-design and sorted-by size envelopes. I needed at least 35 exactly 4” by 4” perfectly cut squares to make 7 paper flowers and other items on the wall hanging. Most security envelopes I had only provided enough paper for one 4-inch square.

After two weeks, I had used nothing but glue and envelopes. For a large 9” x 12” background, I used a Panorama envelope with return logo and electronic stamping, made sturdy with other envelopes inside the large one.

For the hanger, I cut three long, thin, brown envelope strips and braided them for strength.

But…I had not yet received the entry form for the project, and I wanted to have it ready ahead of time.

When I inquired from an art guild member when the forms/rules were to be available, I glared, stunned at her answer, “Oh, the class is on April 4. Just bring lots of envelopes to learn how to use them and how to make a fun project.”

What? A class to learn how? That would have saved me lots of time. My project was already DONE! READY! Now what was I going to do with my masterpiece?

“Lord, this seems mercenary, but what will I ever do with this beautiful project? You always answer my prayers…even when I don’t know you’ve answered them and sometimes not always the way I had thought best for me.”

Instantly, I was inspired. How simple. I filled out a consignment sheet and took it the next morning to sell in our Panorama Gifts Etc. shop.

Before it was hung for display to sell…a resident bought it!

Now I am working on a duplicate…no need for planning, deciding, doing/redoing…

Only at Panorama!

A Resident’s Perspective – Keep Moving & Doing

Written by Panorama resident, Bob Bowers. March 2018

Since moving into my Quinault apartment in July of last year, I’ve changed my morning routine.  After a simple breakfast, I go to my glassed-in balcony and sit in my comfortable chair.

The first thing I do as I’m sitting there is size up what kind of day it’s going to be.  The tall Douglas fir trees across the street dwarf the houses and must be higher than the apartment house by quite a lot.  Their slender trunks stretch toward the sky.

I look at the sky and, since this is the Pacific Northwest, take notice of what is there.  Usually, it’s clouds…sometimes blowing lazily to the left pushed by warm air from California climes…other times scurrying to the right as if trying to avoid the cold air propelling them…and, sometimes hanging lazily in the sky barely moving.  I praise the creator if I see a clear sky and a slowly brightening red sunrise through the trees.

But—always there are the trees.  I reign in my gaze to focus on the trunks and the foliage.  It hangs high and droops down along the trunks and entwines itself with that of other trees, or reaches out to shake hands—as it may be.  At first glance I think to myself, “It’s a still morning—not a twig is moving.”  Then, as I watch I notice that the trees are moving.  The branches are catching the breeze and shaking and moving each other.  The whole tree is moving!  Even the tall trunk is swaying ever so slightly.

Actually, that’s the way we are on this campus.  The whole campus is moving and so are we…like the clouds in the sky and the trees across from my apartment.  There’s activity everywhere.  Panorama is an easy place to chase whatever is happening.  Most of us have more written on our “dance card” than we can possibly handle.   We take a few steps with one escort and then as the music changes to a new tune it’s time to dance with another.

I always have liked to keep moving.  Even as a little kid, I was moving all the time around the farm—seeing things.  And, that “doing” activity continued through seven decades of my life.  It’s been a great life, but lately I’ve rediscovered something that I remember knowing at one time—that it’s oftentimes fun to sit and watch others move and simply “be.”  Keep moving and doing but don’t be afraid to just “be.” Panorama has lots of time for that too!

Yoga & Breathing

Written by Panorama resident, Charles Kasler. February 2018

If there’s one thing people love about yoga, it’s the breathing! Along with all of our movement, classes are an hour-long breathing practice. It feels great! We all have dysfunctional breathing from habit, bad posture, stress, osteoporosis. Yoga helps normalize our breathing. It’s both calming and energizing, bringing us into balance.

Yoga breathing is at once a physical-health practice, a mental-health practice, and a meditation. It is not just breath training – it’s mind training using breath as a vehicle. It enhances our entire life. We tend to breathe quickly most of the time – 14 to 20 breaths per minute, which is about three times faster than the 5 or 6 breaths per minute proven to help us feel our best. Yoga slows and deepens breathing. There is a very direct relationship between breath rate, mood state, and autonomic nervous system.

Studies on meditation have demonstrated there is overall improvement in respiratory function from just meditation alone: “Vital capacity, tidal volume and breath holding were significantly higher in meditators than non-meditators.” Of course we have a weekly sitting meditation group as part of the overall yoga program at Panorama.

Aging and the Respiratory System

The respiratory system undergoes various anatomical, physiological and immunological changes as we age. The structural changes include chest wall and thoracic spine deformities (Dowager’s Hump, or kyphosis, and also scoliosis), which can impair the total respiratory system compliance, leading to increased work in breathing. The internal lung tissue loses its supporting structure, which can lead to the air spaces dilating and getting bigger than normal, resulting in “senile emphysema.” This reduces the ability of oxygen to get into the bloodstream (though not the ability of carbon dioxide to exit the blood stream and return to the lungs). Respiratory muscle strength decreases with age and can impair effective coughing, which is important for airway clearance of mucus and phlegm, and can increase the risk from respiratory infections.

Interestingly, the lung matures by age 20–25 years, and thereafter aging is associated with progressive decline in lung function, although gradual. So younger adults need to be mindful of this, as well as older adults. The airway’s nerve receptors undergo functional changes with age and are less likely to respond to drugs used in younger adults to treat the same disorders. Older adults have decreased sensation of shortness of breath and decreased breathing response to low oxygen and high carbon dioxide levels, making them more vulnerable to lung failure during high-demand situations, such as heart failure or pneumonia, that may lead to prolonged illness and even death. – Baxter Bell, M.D.

Yoga has many potential beneficial effects on our respiratory system. Structurally, regular practice can address changes to the chest wall bones and the thoracic spine to improve the boney alignment of these structures via postural improvement and increased movement. Specific postures can be used to target problem areas. Yoga can also address the issue of weak muscles around the lungs and strengthen the muscles around the chest wall. You can actively challenge the diaphragm via extending the length of the inhalations and exhalations.

Regular yoga practice can also reveal unusual or unhealthy breathing patterns, such as excessive tension of the abdominal muscles during breathing. You can then work with your teacher to re-establish a healthier pattern of respiration.

Recent studies have shown some yoga tools are effective in improving lung function in those with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

And because yogic breathing exercises help to regulate the autonomic nervous system’s responses to stress, such as being able to dampen the sympathetic response (Fight or Flight), practicing yoga to improve respiratory function will have the added benefit of lowering overall stress, improving your sense of well-being, and even having positive effects on mental-emotional conditions, such as depression, anxiety and concentration, all of which can be present in those with breathing challenges. – Baxter Bell, M.D.

Improve your quality of life. Take advantage of the many therapeutic yoga classes and events at Panorama. Residents enjoyed the Winter Solstice gathering and the annual New Year’s Eve meditation. March events: Spring Meditation Retreat and Spring Equinox student gathering.

 

Panorama Artfully Recycles

Written by Panorama resident, Judy Murphy. February 2018

What would happen if the Panorama Arts Guild and the Panorama Green Team got together and asked residents to create art using recyclable/trash/salvaged items?  We found out the answer at the recent Panorama Artfully Recycled Show, which featured a fabulous collection of about 40 imaginative creations viewed by some 250 residents.

From necklaces made with bicycle tire tubes to a basket woven from old maps, used books turned into folded designs, articles woven from rags, quilts sewn from ties, decorative “chandeliers” fashioned from plastic bottles, and much, much more.

In fact, the show went beyond art to provide recycling information to residents.  The Thurston County Master Recycling Coordinator came to the show to answer questions about recycling and distribute helpful materials.  Books were available for browsing for those interested in transforming recyclables into useful or decorative objects.  Facts about recycling and environmental pollution were displayed on stacked cartons from the Stiles-Beach Barn.  A slide show and video were shown picturing the Washed Ashore Project, which collects objects on Oregon beaches and turns them into huge, colorful sculptures to demonstrate how much trash is thrown into our waterways and oceans.

The focus of attention, though, was clearly on the imagination and skill demonstrated by the contributing artists.  Residents were enchanted by what their neighbors and friends had produced from “junk.”  There was a serious message behind the show, but what a beautiful way to be informed!

 

A Resident’s Perspective – Free In-Home Exercises?

Written by Panorama resident, Mary Jo Shaw. February 2018

“If it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t.” Not this time!

Every morning Jenny Leyva, Aquatic & Fitness Coordinator, and resident Reath wake Chris and me up in time for 9 o’clock exercises in our own apartment– it’s FREE!

Actually the best part: we are in our jammies or showered and ready for the day. Our own TV screen shows two videos filmed by Greg Miller, Marketing Retirement Advisor. Other residents across the campus are sharing the experience at the same time!

Jenny teamed up with Reath who demonstrates the modified version of each exercise so residents can have options.

Video #1: Exercise for Independence – about 15 minutes

*  Total body exercise

*  Simple, functional exercises designed to help keep us active and independent.

Video #2: Strength & Balance for Fall Prevention – about 20 minutes

     *  Fall prevention exercise

*  Key lower body strength exercises that have been proven to help reduce the risk of falling

Jenny reminds us to breathe deeply and gives us 10-second water-breaks.

What do I like about these exercises? I can do them on my own during the day, watching TV or waiting for our meal in the restaurant. No, not putting my hands over my head, but the simple foot bends under the table. In the elevator, I practice breathing deeply and exhaling. I’ve learned to feel the weight on my heels before getting up from my chair and to take control of myself as I sit down, instead of ploppin’ down as I usually do. When writing on my laptop, I stop a few minutes to do the arms-over-the-head exercises, or stretching forward. I don’t always remember reminders, but I look forward doing them out of habit.

The first day I started, I noticed being more invigorated walking the Quinault halls. Chris and I remind each other to sit and stand tall. What’s nice, too, is on a day we might not be home at the assigned time, we will be able to do the exercises on our own. The schedule time is good…it’s over…there’s no temptation or distraction to stop to check a do-list or email. But then I’m the only one that has that problem!

Jenny says the idea to create the videos began as a direct response to the Quality of Life survey that was given to us by Panorama. The results of the survey indicated that a large percent of residents feel afraid to fall or have experienced a fall recently. The team of Sharon Rinehart, Dr. Behre, Grace Moore, and Jenny Leyva laid out the foundation of the fall prevention video. At that time, they also decided to update the Silver Sneakers video that was currently playing on our PCTV. That was where the idea came to show two different videos.

Another great innovation and example of how Panorama constantly asks for our suggestions and needs, and implements them when feasible for many of the residents!

Thank you again, Panorama, Jenny, Reath and the other team members!