A Resident’s Perspective – Berry Picking Bliss

Written by Panorama resident, Carolyn Treadway. June 2016

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The raspberries are ripe! How excitedly we anticipate the time every summer when the raspberries ripen. When the berries are bright red, luscious, juicy, and ripe enough to fall from a slightly moved branch. Then it’s time for immediate picking, feasting, and preserving, for sure.

Even before we moved to Panorama two years ago, we had placed our name on the waiting list for a plot in the Pea Patch—Panorama’s community garden–but had not expected a plot to be available until the following summer. Imagine our surprise when we received word a month later that a plot was now available. Other residents, traveling a lot, had decided to relinquish their plot. When we first visited it, it was overflowing with already mature produce—and with weeds. Immediately we said a resounding yes to renting this plot, and set about harvesting and weeding. All summer, we had a bumper crop of the wonderful vegetables and flowers that the previous plot renters had planted. What a gift! We saw a long row of berry plants, but thought they were blackberries. Not until the next spring did we realize they were our favorite berries—red raspberries. Again, what a gift!

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Imagine the beauty and joy of being in the garden on a cool, bright June day, picking berries! Gorgeous, delicious berries by the handfuls. Birds flitting around, singing to us. A gentle breeze blowing. Friendly chatter from nearby gardeners working in their plots. The light changing, shifting into late afternoon. One could easily call it “berry picking BLISS!” What’s not to love about a time like this?”

Sage Bush

However, there is a shadow upon the day, and upon the garden. Even amidst my “bliss” and my profound gratitude for our beautiful berries, I am keenly aware of the fragility of their presence. The existence of these berries (and all others) is completely dependent upon the bees, butterflies, and insects that pollinate them. In another part of our garden we have allowed a sage plant to grow large and bloom into seed. The bees love this plant. Almost every time I look at it, at least one ever-busy bee is buzzing within it. We keep our sage to provide for the bees.

Across our nation, pollinators are in big trouble, especially bees. Even here at Panorama, many beehives in our community garden died out in several consecutive recent years. Were they lost from Colony Collapse Disorder, pesticide use, or other factors? At this point, we do not know. I long for the day when every gardener of the 100 Pea Patch plots would find it unthinkable to use probably-carcinogenic glyphosate weed killers like Roundup and neonicotinoid pesticides that are lethal to bees and pollinators. I long for the day when big box stores will no longer sell us such products, nor plants pre-treated with neonics. I long for the day when all of us realize the importance of our own choices and our individual actions to protect and preserve not only our personal gardens but also our Earth, our only home.

Carolyn Bio copy

 

Dog Training – One Resident’s Perspective

Molly Van Nuys

Written for The Pet Gazette (Summer 2016) by Panorama resident, Becky Johnson.

I was asked to write an article about dog training. . . . Everyone I’ve run into at Panorama who has a dog or two has engaged in dog training to one degree or another. So I’m simply offering some thoughts for approaches I’ve found helpful over my close to fifty years of training and competing with my own dogs, as well as teaching obedience to others over many of those years.

To start, dogs don’t speak English! What a surprise! But they can learn many words and your expected behavior for those words, as long as the words are used CONSISTENTLY in a given situation. If “Down” means to not jump up on someone, then “Get Off”, “Quit it” or “Off” are not alternatives. Multiple commands for the same action create confusion and the dog’s response will be as inconsistent as the command.

Responses to commands taught to the dog can be reinforced by rewarding the correct response. The simplest reward (and often the most effective) is your praise. It could also be food goodies or a special toy. Initially, rewards should immediately follow the correct response since dogs aren’t too good at connecting reward to action if there is a time lapse involved. As the dog’s response becomes more consistent, making the reward less consistent will strengthen the behavior as the dog anticipates the reward.

It is also worth noting that once your dog understands the command and is consistently performing it, give it once, expect the response and reward it when it occurs. If you repeat the same command over and over while waiting for the proper action, you have just taught the dog to count. Don’t reward the correct response to the fifteenth command. Instead, go back to basics and reward when the proper response occurs on the first command.

Your voice is one of the best tools you have in training. Praise is important, but your tone of voice should be light and happy and not your usual every-day tone. Ladies are lots better at “happy voice” than fellows (who often have to work at it). Use praise whenever you get the response you are after and be sure the dog knows he’s done what you wanted. Actually teaching the word “Good” or “Yes” can help clarify that you’re very happy with him. By the same token, when correcting negative behavior, teach “No” or “Leave it”, and cultivate your “bad dog” voice. This is much easier for fellows than for the ladies, but it’s important to differentiate from a normal voice or a praising voice.

One owner behavior frequently observed is inadvertently praising and thus reinforcing a negative behavior. For example, the dog who lunges at another dog while on leash, or who displays shy or anxious behavior, and is then soothed, petted, and told “it’s OK” in a nice soft voice by the owner, has now received reinforcement for that negative behavior. The lunging dog should receive a sharp “No” or “Leave it”. The dog hiding behind Mom’s legs should be spoken to in a matter-of-fact voice so that the situation is more apt to be interpreted as a normal one rather than a scary one. In both situations, the soft “it’s OK” response will certainly reinforce the unwanted behavior, not resolve it.

All of us here at Panorama who have dogs also walk dogs. Having a dog who walks nicely on a leash is a real plus to all concerned. The dog needs to learn to walk within a space you define for him close to you, and you need to be able to reinforce that space, correcting the dog if it moves outside of it, unless you allow it (with a release word like “OK”). That is why I always walk my dogs on a collar rather than a halter. I can make a leash correction if the dogs move outside their space. Most halters don’t allow effective correction, so it is harder to explain your expectations to the dog with a halter than to a dog with a collar. (The neck muscles of a dog are very strong – he has to hold up his head for his entire life – so collars properly used very seldom cause injury.)

There is much discussion about Flexi-Lead retractable leashes. Many folks like to use them because the dog has “more freedom”. There are major downsides to them, though. From my perspective, the greatest disadvantage is that the handler has only poor control of the dog. If the dog is out on the extended leash and lunges at a squirrel or goes visiting another dog, getting him/her stopped and back to you can’t be done quickly. Your extended arm has much less strength or control than if your elbow is bent and you’re working closer to your body. Flexis can also cause injury to the dog, the handler, or another dog if the thin cord becomes wrapped around a dog’s or person’s leg. For these reasons, I’m a strong proponent of a four- to six-foot leash. And with more than one dog, you have even less control with a Flexi, since you must hold a handle in each hand, thus minimizing your ability to easily maneuver one dog or the other with any degree of dexterity.

That said, Flexi-Leads can be great training aids. Most basic commands – “Sit”, “Stay”, “Down”, “Come” – should initially be taught in close on a short leash, with time, then distance, being added as the dog becomes dependable. But when training at a distance, using a Flexi can halt the dog which gets up, leaves, or doesn’t come when called. Calling the dog to you with dependability should definitely be taught (or reinforced) while you can control the response, ie, the dog is on leash. Use a Flexi, call the dog (giving a little pop if needed to get him started), and then bring him in. Reward him with lots of praise and goodies (if you wish) when he has come to you. Hopefully, that will help to develop a consistent and dependable recall from the dog.

Perhaps the most important outcome of training your dog – to whatever level you wish – is that the more you successfully communicate to your dog and he understands and responds to that communication, the more you and your dog will enjoy one another. And as a secondary result, you and your dog will be more enjoyed and appreciated by the other dogs and people you encounter together.

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Becky Johnson, an owner of Standard Schnauzers for about 40 years, joined the Panorama community with Gunner and Daisy May in 2015. Following in the footsteps (or “paw prints”) of all of her predecessors, Daisy is pursuing a Utility title in obedience, the highest level of obedience competition recognized by AKC

Daisy

Becky’s dog, Daisy May

Gunner - AKC Obedience Trial copy

Becky’s dog, Gunner

 

 

 

A Resident’s Perspective – What Do You Love?

Written by Panorama Resident, Carolyn Treadway.

Think of your very favorite place on Earth–a specific place that you love profoundly. Close your eyes and take yourself there. See it, hear it, smell it, feel it. Immerse yourself in it mentally and viscerally. Take time to do this right now. Allow your memories and feelings to arise; hold them in your heart. Then think of this precious place disappearing forever! How dreadful that would be! What would you be willing to do to preserve it?

It is important to connect with the love you have for your special place, because what we love, we preserve and protect–sometimes fiercely. Now expand your perspective to include all of your favorite places, and then the larger Earth. Allow your memories and feelings to arise. Fall in love again with the Earth. With gratitude and reverence, remember the beauty of our Earth and the sacredness of all creation. What would you be willing to do to preserve it? 

Our Earth, our matrix of life, is in trouble. Big trouble, if we keep living as unsustainably as we now live. We humans are the only species to have “fouled our nest” so badly that our very life support systems are under threat. How long will we have clean water, breathable air, fecund soil, and containable fire? We have already exceeded the carrying capacity of our planet, and are rapidly depleting sources of oxygen, biodiversity, and materials needed for future civilizations.

While “debate” about climate change rages on and on, vast changes are already occurring across the planet, including right here in Washington. Trying to feel more secure in the face of oncoming threats, people and companies continue with “business as usual”, stockpiling and draining what resources we have, as if the Earth were made simply for our use. Yikes! It’s all too vast to comprehend, let alone to do anything about.

 

So what difference can any of us make in the face of accelerating change? Plenty! What does this have to do with Panorama’s residents? Plenty! Because these are critical times, every action each one of us takes is important. It may not seem important whether I turn off the water while brushing my teeth, take shorter showers, recycle, drive less, share organic food from my Pea Patch, sign petitions, take political action, and so on. But collectively, it truly is. By making mindful choices, each of us can contribute to the sustainability of our Earth each day in myriad small ways.

What else can we do? Not everything, but your own thing. What are you willing to do to restore our Earth, in your small part of it? What calls to you, because you care fiercely enough to give some time and energy to it? The “call” is different for each of us.  My call is speaking out about the dangers of nuclear power, which I’ve been doing for years. Now that I have grandchildren, I care even more passionately about preserving a viable environment for them and for all our descendants (as I’m sure you do too). So I “speak for Earth” whenever I can.

We are the Earth. We are a part of the living ecosystem of Earth, not separate from it, nor stewards of it. I believe that we all long for an Earth restored. As we focus on what we deeply long for and then take determined steps toward that direction, we have hope–active hope (as described by Joanna Macy in her book Active Hope.) We focus on our intention, which guides us to become active participants in bringing about what we hope for. Even without a guaranteed outcome, our intention generates our continued hope. Please join me in active hope toward the healing of our precious Earth, our only home.

Carolyn Bio copy

A Resident’s Perspective – Love & Community in the Aftermath of the Orlando Shooting

Written by Panorama resident, Mike Turner. June 2016

Flag Flies at Half Staff for Orlando_June  2016Like everyone else around the world I was shocked, angry and numbed by the violent events at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando. It is hard at times like this to know what to do, what to say…

Though everyone is touched by such events it hits a little harder and closer to home when the group that is being targeted is one you belong to.

Once again I have to congratulate and thank the residents and executives of Panorama for again doing the right things. My husband Jay and I received numerous emails and personal comments of comfort from friends and neighbors who wanted to express their concern and sorrow.  They were much appreciated.

President Obama ordered that all federal buildings and embassies around the world  lower the American flag in honor and respect for those who died or were injured in Orlando. I was so glad to see that the American flags here at Panorama were also lowered.  They didn’t have to be, the order was for government buildings only.  Mr. Di Santo made the decision to lower the Panorama flags as well.  I went to his office and thanked him for the heartfelt and deeply appreciated gesture.  His response was a simple “of course we did”.  A simple, noble and appreciated response.

I have said it and written it over and over again about how special and caring everyone here at Panorama is. This was another on my list of why we enjoy our life here.  People care and are not afraid to show it.

Though terrible situations like this happen and are difficult to stop, it is always nice to know that when/if they do, you have an entire community that comes to your aid in words and deeds. And sometimes that is all you need to get through your sorrow and pain.

Thank you Panorama!

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A Resident’s Perspective – New Life in Spring

Written by Panorama resident, Bob Bowers. June 2016

Recently I exited the front door of our residence on 26th Court on my way to the mailbox.  As I came through the door a little junco flitted out of one of our hanging geranium baskets into a nearby bush.

I knew it was a junco because it flashed its white tail feathers at me as it left the nest. When I came back from mailing my letter I took the opportunity to peek into the vacant nest.  There before me was a little pale cream egg waiting for Mama to comeback.  Since that time Julia and I have been watching the nest to see that all is alright with the world there.  Mama still comes and goes and once in a while Papa seems to be around though we’ve not seen him doing any nest sitting.  One day as I came through the door and eyed the nest I saw a little beak open up in front of an obviously hungry throat.  My daily check today revealed not one, not two, but three little beaks waiting to be fed.  I got my camera and took some shots.  Bowes_June2016

We don’t have a mother bird to feed us whatever we need to keep us healthy, but we are well cared for. This has been an astonishing spring.  The greens have been greener.  The reds, purples, honey golds, pinks, and mauves have been spectacular.  It seems like people around the campus have been livelier as well.  The warm weather this afternoon tells me that summer is just around the corner.  Have fun folks, as you do what your fancy dictates in the next three months.  See you at the Fourth of July Picnic in McGandy Park.

Bob Bowers Bio

The Panorama “Tribe”

Written by Panorama resident, Deb Ross. June 2016

In a previous blog, I learned about dealing with transitions: the decision to move to Panorama, then on to the Quinault or Assisted Living when that’s appropriate. Recently I’ve been pondering another kind of transition: how do we respond to the loss of our neighbors and friends through death or dementia? As a baby boomer living in an “advanced” society, I’ve been sheltered from regularly experiencing the death of friends and neighbors. And I have found few on-line resources that address the question.

I started thinking about this topic a while ago, when my close friend moved out of her retirement community because she could not handle becoming friends with someone, only to have them “die on her.” Another person was reported to have said, “Why bother making friends here? We’re only going to lose them.” I decided to interview some folks who see loss on a regular basis. Two are hospice volunteers and the third is a pastor. They all agreed that each person deals with the loss of a friend in a different way: there’s no “right” way or magic wand. Suggestions included attending the person’s memorial service, writing a letter to them (perhaps when they are facing the end) telling them what they mean to you and how they will be remembered. My pastor emphasized that it’s OK to grieve for the loss of a friend: only by allowing yourself to grieve can you move on and be able to continue to love.

Today, I heard a radio interview with Sebastian Junger, who has written a book called Tribe. Junger notes that in the past, we all belonged to small groups, or tribes, who relied on each other for food, warmth, shelter, and protection. As our society became more isolated, we lost that sense of tribe. But remnants exist, including military service, summer camp, and communal response to disasters. In these situations, our need to support one another makes us feel more fully human and alive (Junger noted that after 9/11, suicide rates went down in New York City).

It occurred to me that we here at Panorama are, or can choose to be, a kind of tribe as well. Through the Benevolent Fund and the Foundation, we support each other financially and physically. The intimate size of our districts allow us to get to know each other and make sure we are looked after – a notable example is the Map Your Neighborhood program.

As voluntary members of the Panorama tribe, we can grieve the loss of one of us, knowing that we fully embraced and appreciated their contributions while they were alive. Thus grief, which can be experienced as isolating, instead becomes a shared experience. We often refer to this as “community.” I think the term tribe, though, adds that sense of inter-reliance that allows us to support each other while recognizing the gifts we all bring and will continue to contribute as our legacy survives.

Deb Bio_Edit