Art Guild Class – Pine Needle Basketry

Written by Panorama resident, Mary Jo Shaw. November 2019

As I played my weekly Monday background piano music a few weeks ago in Assisted Living, I learned about my friend Harriet Hunter. She has lived 20 years (since 1999) at Panorama and won third prize at the Thurston County Fair not long ago for her piece of ceramic sculpture. Panorama has an updated, beautiful ceramic studio where Harriet returns to “work” regularly. And this is at age 95! This reminded me of the Art Guild classes here at Panorama.

In “My Experience in Arts Walk 2019” blog, you read how excited I was about learning to weave a small coaster as an introduction for Pine Cone Basketry. Well, I showed up to the Quinault Lower Level Art Room with seven more residents who were as eager as I was. I’d been wanting to take the class of 12 hours spread out during several weeks, it didn’t work on my calendar. However, six hours on a Friday followed by another six on Saturday worked! All we had to bring was sharp, pointed scissors, needle nosed pliers, lunch and a minimal fee for materials! 

My unfinished pine needle coaster

We wove around a predrilled wooden center, learning the basic spiral stitch, a unique method of weaving, and created a very attractive-on-both-sides coaster. One woman will hang hers on the wall. I haven’t finished mine yet, but will display the unusual unique in-progress version for fun.

We were fortunate to have learned under resident Jim Shanower. Jim had coiled a pine needle basket he calls “Baleen Fantasy”, and won the Grand Champion Award in the Professional/Master Basket Maker Division at the 2019 Washington State Fair!

Jim Shanower’s Grand Champion Award in the Professional/Master Basket Maker Division at the 2019 Washington State Fair.

That’s the Arts Guild for you at Panorama. It sponsors classes and events throughout the year. They actually invite us to suggest what we are interested in each year. Ideas such as starting an ongoing still-life drawing group. Or more classes in drawing, watercolor or acrylic, fabric arts like wet felting and quilting, or woodworking, encaustic (using pigments mixed with hot wax that are burned in as an inlay), jewelry making, glass slumping, etc.

In addition to the huge Arts Walk,the Arts Guild offers much more. Some samplings:

  • The Arts Guild professionally displays residents’ 3D Art in Panorama Hall’s large, shelved, clear case with the artist’s name and title of the piece for several weeks. I love to see the varying media.
  • Besides making and displaying our art, we are welcomed to the Art Happy Hour in our Seventeen51 Bistro. About 30 artists and supporters attend.
  • Every few months, volunteer Arts Guild members display different residents’ works that relate to an assigned theme in Seventeen51 Restaurant’s Gallery. The current theme is PUZZLES (see my blog “Lunch in the Gallery” from 11/12/16)
  • Not enough? Then there is the monthly Arts Guild Alternate Monthly Luncheon with enthusiastic speakers to inspire, present appropriate opportunities to attend, offer ways to exhibit, etc.
Gallery display fabric collage

Thanks to Panorama and the many artists who share their resources and offer us opportunities to continue, extend or discover our artistic talents. Just another addition to our list of THANKSGIVINGS here at Panorama!

Staring Down a Pumpkin

Written by Panorama resident, Mary Jo Shaw. November 2019

Up early . . . wearing wiggly skeleton earrings a piano student gave me 30 years ago, orange-flowered pullover shirt with black long sleeves, black leggings, pointy-hatted witch socks with my walker chair . . . I was off to Panorama Hall!

Russ Leno was the center of attention as he knelt on a 2-inch black sponge beginning to carve a huge pumpkin with various Halloween designs. Panorama had chairs arranged in a large semicircle. Josh had sent down from our Seventeen51 Restaurant long oblong platters of round brownies and generous-sized chocolate chip cookies ready for munching. I strolled over to the familiar large coffee machine stocked with packets of teas and hot chocolate. I greeted and sat next to Mary P. in her warm, beautiful teal pull-over, embroidered with shiny orange pumpkins and green-vined leaves.

After a sip of hot chocolate, Mary P. questioned, “Mary Jo, what do you suppose Russ is starting to carve?”

“Looks like maybe the tip of a witch hat.”

In the next few minutes, Russ jabbed, slit, shaved, flipped, dug, and changed knives often. Before long, a witch hat had long, fat strands of wavy “hair” emerging on the left side of a face, eventually repeated on the face’s right side.

Soon, two scary eyeballs bulged out below the hat. A large, long hunk of pumpkin remained in place. An appropriate, well-formed witch NOSE separated the two eyeballs and stretched down her face reaching the center of her mouth!

Little families of residents strolled in. We enjoyed their entertainment, especially Mary B’s little grandboys, about 3 and 7 in age. Their excited jumping, twisting, and skipping back-and-forth from the pumpkin’s new developing figurines put smiles on our faces.

The children paused with outstretched necks to study the almost gargoyle-looking little “trick-or-treater” Russ was whittling. The curved, thin knife, sculpted a mouth of two lined-up-in-perfect-rows of clenched teeth that extended from ear to ear. We chuckled. Maybe the three-year-old was expecting that the figure, now gripping a jack-o-lantern, would jump out and start chasing him!

Time flew by quickly as residents stayed long or short times for the socializing, refreshments, and gazing back at the pumpkin. They remarked on the speed and accuracy of the talented sculptor, the added entertainment of excited little ones, and the sharing of memories of our own childhood experiences -sometimes tricking whether we received treats or not!

Thank you Panorama for giving us more of the many events and displays across our campus, indoors and outdoors, in Panorama Hall, Seventeen51 Restaurant, Convalescent & Rehabilitation Center, Assisted Living, etc. We have something to look forward to and to wonder what would be on the plate for us again each year. You, executives, managers, workers, employees, and volunteers, thanks again.

Fall is Ablaze

Written by Panorama resident, Sandy Bush. October 2019

I am always amazed at the color palette that screams out at us from any viewpoint on campus. When we climb the stairs to the 5th Floor of Quinault building, looking for Mt. Rainier and doing exercise for the heart, the overview of campus is breathtaking. The dog walkers who are out more than twice a day surely take advantage of the wonder.

Each neighborhood has its own special array of different trees and bushes that go nuts in the Fall. A quiet walk in different neighborhoods after the grounds crew leave for the day will reward you with splendor.

While some of us take exception to the noise of leaf blowers, it is lovely to get our patios and walkways blown free of dead leaves. This time of year, Grounds folks must get crazy trying to keep up with the long pollen-encrusted pods that fall off some firs and litter the walkways. Our neighborhood has three remodels going full force, so the leaf blowers are lost in the construction noise of saws and hammers and tile cutters. The juxtaposition of back hoes and porta-potties aren’t enough to dull the delight of blazing trees.

The days are getting so short now and around the corner, daylight savings time will have us all reorganizing our minds and the feeding schedules of our family animals. They know stomachs and light, but not clock issues. We are getting more fog now and that also is a blanket that keeps sound muffled. It also seems to intensify some colors.

Too soon, the winter with its cold mornings will be here. That keeps most folks tucked into their homes, but NOT the energetic and committed work-out/gym folks who walk by on the way to the Aquatic and Fitness Center! Winds and rains will remove the deadening colors soon enough. So, we should really enjoy this amazing time of year.

Also coming will be the great pumpkin sculptor, plying his trade in the Panorama Hall lounge. This is always a fun activity. Gathering for a warm cider and watching the pumpkin chips fly as some magical creation pops out of the large pumpkin is always a treat.

So, let us move into the Fall time and get out and enjoy the sights and smells of Autumn on campus. Take time from your volunteer activities and meetings and entertainment activities to savor what our special community has to offer. I hope to see you out there!!!

Panorama Plays Hailey Ukulele

Written by Panorama resident, Mary Jo Shaw. October 2019

While I was alternating my crafting, visiting, and writing on my tablet at a table in Panorama Hall, a special couple was passing through and glanced my way. My arms beckoned, “You must come over.”

With teeth-showing smiles, Susan and René Hailey raced over to me.

I exclaimed, “We really enjoyed you entertaining us during the Panorama Birthday Dinner a few months ago. You played many familiar favorites. I also remember when you played here the first time, about two years ago.”

They were as eager for some information as I was about the ukulele classes they were teaching to the residents.

“Mary Jo, you live in the Quinault. What time do the doors to the building get locked from the outside?” They explained about their ukulele class, and how they’d like to have another class in the evening.

After we figured that seven in the evening might be a good time, I wanted to know more about their classes. I’d majored in music while in the convent 13 years, had a guitar, played and sang with a group of seven other nuns for fun and gigs. We were talking the same language.

“Tell me about your classes. I see residents coming to the Quinault with their instruments. Where do you assemble? How much do you charge?”

Susan responded, “Mary Jo, we have 25 residents interested currently. There’s no fee. We also give them fluorocarbon strings and a strap button.”

My eyebrows arched. “No fee? And what is fluorocarbon?”

“Fluorocarbon strings are made of top-grade quality.”

Oh, then everyone’s sound has the same quality, I would think.”

“Yes, and we installed the strings for them before the classes began. We meet in the newly renovated Seattle Room on the lower level of the Quinault every Thursday at one o’clock. The course lasts three months.”

 “So, how does the Seattle Room work out?”

They were both enthused and talked almost in unison. “We can teach lessons with new technology via laptop, through HDMI connectivity to about a 70” TV. At the first lesson, we have simple chords to learn and alternate slowly on a few simple chords with icons shown on the screen. The words have the chord names written exactly when to change chords.”

I laughed, “Just like we two nuns who played the guitar chords did for our group, but we had no such help. I balanced the piece of paper on my knee or on a chair in front of me. Tell me more.”

René explained, “The screen shows exactly what we are to play. We use the pointer if needed. Students can go home to get a print-out from our web of the songs and chords.”  

I recalled, “I know if you want to start a class, club, game group, things like that, Panorama will back you with the room. You’re a perfect example.”

Susan offered to use my tablet to show me. “All songs are available on our website for anyone. No fee/no sign-in.”

I was amazed with their website. Have a look: http://Haileyukulele.com

Partnerships Made in Heaven

Written by Panorama resident, Deborah Ross. October 2019

I am often asked what surprised me the most when I moved to Panorama. As the Resident Council’s Archivist, my answer recently has been that much of the residential amenities we take for granted have been shaped by partnerships between Panorama management and residents. 

A recent example is one that I’ve been intimately involved with. Fellow resident and friend Peggy Jamerson came to me with the idea of developing an interpretive panel that would commemorate the location of the David and Elizabeth Chambers pioneer homestead, currently the site of the Chalet apartment building. I thought it a great idea, and added that the Chalet building itself is an important example of mid-Century modern architecture. Peggy and I brought the idea to Panorama president, Matt Murry, who immediately offered Panorama’s financial and staffing support. We asked for and obtained a generous grant from the Lacey Historical Society and technical assistance from the City of Lacey. For the next two years, Peggy and I have worked with a wonderful team of designers, Panorama Operations staff, and local historians to bring the project to fruition. 

On October 3, Peggy and I had the great pleasure and honor of unveiling the “From Chambers to Chalet” interpretive panel. The panel’s text and images paint a rich portrait of our campus’s history, and I encourage you to visit it more than once as there is much to explore. But to Peggy and me, the project has also been a gratifying example of how Panorama’s management and residents work together to create something truly special. 

My Favorite “Parking Spot”

Written by Panorama resident, Mary Jo Shaw. October 2019

Sometimes I enjoy giving my tablet, craft scissors, and a book I’m currently reading a change of scenery, so I load up my walker, grab an elevator from 5th floor to 1st, and choose my “favorite parking spot” in our Panorama Hall. With the activity sign-up desk to my left, the lovely Chihuly glass fixtures above the huge fireplace looking out at the assortment of large couches, smaller couches, chairs, and magazines neatly lined up yelling, “Pick me, pick me!” I find the perfect round table with large windows of light to my back.

The armchairs to my left and to my right turn slightly to offer a seat to anyone wishing to visit.

While I “work” I have the perfect view of the “traffic” . . . residents and non-residents passing as a single or in groups. Today several dressed anticipating the Luau Dinner tonight. Others hesitated to study maps while they explored the campus on their own as new residents. I smiled as I recalled wearing out our own Panorama map in 2011. “Need some help?” “Oh, yes, the gift shop?”

The half-circular hallway makes a cozy, homey walk, but newbies don’t realize the banks, Gifts Etc., elevator & stairs to Seventeen51 Restaurant, the hallway leading to the Convalescent & Rehabilitation Building, and pharmacy are “just around the corner”.

After tapping out a full page on my tablet, I sensed an increase in volume of excited voices. I returned a nod and big smile back to a couple’s hearty wave. They strolled a few more steps, then jerked a quick U-turn and rushed over to me.

“You’re the lady who writes the blogs for Panorama’s web site! We always look forward to reading about Panorama, your decision to come, how you checked things out elsewhere before coming, and how your husband really didn’t want to come up from your home in Las Vegas to see retirement places in Washington.”

I offered a handshake. “So, you read that when I finally got Chris to come up and look, he whispered, ‘Maybe we’d better sign up!’”

After the laughter calmed down, the lady visitor exclaimed, “We just attended a get-together for other boomers on the ‘list’. We really don’t HAVE to move, but we want to come before we end up like our parents . . . poor darlings . . . they waited so long. Wish we had known about Panorama. They were in wheelchairs, not knowing anyone, unable to get to places on their own, and asking, ‘When can I go home?’ We want to get involved in the tons of activities here. Panorama has everyone getting around so easily. They all seem so happy. We can hardly wait to come.”

He added, “Yeah, and we have two cars. We aren’t ready to give them up, but maybe after we move here, we’ll think about getting along with only one. Do you have one or two cars, Mary Jo?”

“Oh, we haven’t had a car since 2012. We used it only one year. Figured we could be going places in a limo with the money we saved each year . . . insurance, tires, tune-ups, repairs, car washes . . .”

The couple looked at each other with raised eyebrows. “Don’t you miss a car?”

“Are you kidding? On weekdays, Panorama buses take us to grocery stores twice a day . . . and several different stores and shopping centers, no fee.”

“How do you get to church?”

“The Panorama bus takes residents to several churches . . . no fee. We pay only $3 for the trip to our Sacred Heart Catholic Church about three Sundays a month, but we’re praying we’ll be able to ride every Sunday before long, and no fee.”

They asked about other places the Panorama buses take us. Where would I start? I just dove in.

“They take us to Seattle and many other cities to events, operas, musicals, plays, lectures, sport games, shows . . . you name it. We do pay a reasonable fee for those trips. Panorama is always asking where we’d like to go. If enough people are interested, and we ask far enough in advance to get it organized, it’s written in the monthly Panorama News activity calendar.”

We chatted about 15 minutes, having answered many other questions. Finally, “Well, we’ve got to drive back home before it gets dark. So glad to meet you. Keep writing those blogs for us.”

Well, here you are!!

My Experience at Arts Walk

Written by Panorama resident, Mary Jo Shaw. September 2019

Our long-awaited day arrived: Arts Walk at Panorama on Thursday, September 5, 2019. 

The 5th floor elevator let us off on the first floor. After about 45 minutes, our table displayed my sets of autobiographies, Convent to Catwalk and the newly printed, Crossroads to Convent, and many all-occasion cards of tangles, paintings and sketches, including an 8” x 10” framed sketch by Chris. We glanced across our assigned area in the newly renovated Convalescent and Rehabilitation Center to the other tables. Judy Murphy fingered lovely background music on the shiny black grand piano.

From 10:00 am to 3:00 pm, current and perspective residents enjoyed the opportunity to share the amazing talent of our Panorama family. Most clutched a 12-page, easy-to-follow brochure providing maps, schedules, details, and locations throughout the campus.

Displays of 80 artists included painting, drawing, fabric art, basketry, woodworking, metalwork, quilting, weaving, clay arts, photography, jewelry and much more. Many sold their work.

Attendees could hear musicians at several locations on the campus on many different instruments after signing up for the optional on-the-hour campus shuttle from their home to all of the desired sites.

Back in our area where we were all day, chairs were set up for an afternoon group, South Sound Recorder Ensemble of nine residents. Also, the long performance of piano duets and violin works, which slowed down sales at our tables, was incredibly beautiful. At noon, two residents appeared with a mobile table. “Here are your bags of lunch!” My tummy growled a loud thank you for the pre-ordered, free for participants and volunteers,box lunch option.

“Whoa, Chris, look!!” I picked up one item at a time. “This huge tortilla wrap has turkey, lettuce, tomato, cheese and dressing. A bottle of cold water and a big bag of jalapeno chips. My favorites!” Chris removed the lid from a container of melons, pineapple and grapes. “This makes a great dessert.” By that time, our Seventeen51 Restaurant and Bistro was already serving a buffet lunch at a reasonable price.

Jim Shanower, along with a couple of advanced students, demonstrated basketry made of long pine needles! For several years, I’ve wanted to learn it, but was too busy writing my books. When Jim said two openings were left for the next class, I was determined to be at the Panorama Activity Desk the next day. GREAT NEWS! I was the last of the eight student limit! The class would be four hours each on two days. I’ll let you know if I “passed” in a later blog!

The day went by fast. I was pleased with my book sales. The staff and volunteers cleared out the display tables, chairs, stand-up directional signs, etc. and ended the day with Happy Hour in Seventeen51 Restaurant and Bistro from 3:30 pm to 5:00 pm.

Thank you Panorama staff, employees, resident volunteers, and all others involved for your generous help with supporting us residents who were able to share our music, performances, and writing skills. Blessed over and over once again.

Yoga & Summer Solstice

Written by Panorama resident, Charles Kasler. September 2019

Who are those crazy people still in the Pea Patch at 9:30 pm? We weren’t gardening; we’re yoga students celebrating the summer solstice on the longest day of the year. We enjoyed pleasant company in the beautiful gardens at twilight. We also did a little chair yoga and silent meditation. A good time was had by all!

We also had a summer workshop on self care with yoga. Our next event will be high tea on the Fall Equinox & then the Fall Meditation Retreat in October.

Yoga works on many levels. Foremost it is a spiritual practice, whatever your religious beliefs, because it quiets the agitation of the mind. We experience moments of inner peace and contentment through practice. Yoga trains the mind in concentration, which is a precursor to meditation – those transcendent moments of quiet mind and open heart. Compassion is an essential part of yoga as we realize the world is all one family.

And movement is what most people associate with yoga – twisting into pretzels. Of course, our practice is designed for seniors in a way that is accessible to all. In a recent survey the question was – how do you know your class is effective? I responded – because I see people moving like someone 20 years younger. It’s true!

Breath training is also an essential part of yoga. We all have dysfunctional breathing. Yoga helps release chronic constriction around the breath. Breath is the bridge between mind and body. It has a direct impact on emotions as well. Conscious breathing can quiet the mind as well as calm the emotions.

Students sometimes say I didn’t feel like coming this morning but I’m glad I did. I’ve heard that often over the years. Yoga becomes more effective and enjoyable the longer we practice. And, of course, we continually modify and adapt out practice to accommodate any limitations.

Come take a trial class and join the fun. You’ll be glad you did.

Wildlife

Written by Panorama resident, Sandy Bush. September 2019

It has been a fast-moving month here at Panorama. We are heading lickety-split into September. Some trees seem to be turning color early, especially in some of our hiking trips away from home.

The month has been full of animal happenings. We witnessed an eagle taking a bunny out on Golf Club Road on our eastern boundary. Meanwhile, I have been attending the summer lecture series at Nisqually Refuge every Wednesday evening and one night we had an overview of wolves in Washington.

What prompted this writing about wildlife was the fact that as I was driving friends home from our outing to Nisqually, a large coyote walked down the street I was turning onto. It was also where I had to walk after parking our vehicle. I took my hiking pole with the protective rubber cup off the bottom and headed for home. I figured that if it was lurking and watching me, I’d be ready to at least pound it across the snout, if not just jab it. I know, me the animal lover…..well….It was helpful to learn from the wolf evening lecture that wolves are really best suited to a woodsy habitat away from humans. Coyotes have become adapted to living within city limits and do very well in the urban interface. First People have always looked at coyotes as tricksters and very wily. Suffice it to say, I got home without another sighting.

What amazed me was the good condition of this animal. The one I had seen a month earlier in a friend’s backyard a few blocks away was leaner, smaller and obviously in the middle of a molt, looking very scraggly. The one in our neighborhood looked wonderfully fit.

Now someone on foot as tall as I am would never be approached, I assume. But a friend with a small dog on a leash (and we have so many wonderful little dogs as family members here in Panorama) has been followed by one or two coyotes on occasion. The “dog people” have been alerted about carrying rattling cans to scare a coyote off with the noise. I refer to these people affectionately as I consider myself a “cat person.”

This may alarm some folks, but I think it is a privilege to be able to live among the wild things. A doe and some fawns have been seen in our backyard and perhaps just moving away from a predator. The Chehalis Trail is our western boundary here at Panorama, and there is a fair amount of wildlife traffic over by Chambers Lake at our southern boundary.

It is one thing to enjoy wildlife on the outings and hiking trips offered to us, but it is totally another to experience some wildness right here in our neighborhoods. The seasons are changing and the coyotes and deer are finding it time to disperse to other regions. I am hoping we can give them the space they need to flourish, but not on our little family members!!!  Be alert and enjoy!  

80th Birthday Bundle

Written by Panorama resident, Mary Jo Shaw. August 2019

A huge bundle of birthday gifts and surprises arrived for me for my 80th birthday. It also included offerings for my hubby Chris’ 87th birthday too!

I had the table set. Pancakes, eggs, bacon, and syrup were just about finished when DING. DING. DING. DING!! Our son CW, his wife Teresa, and our granddaughters, Sarah and Emily, flew into my opened arms when I swung the door opened. After two years, the girls had grown almost as tall as me. They drove straight here from SeaTac Airport after traveling all night.

I ran to the stove about 20 feet from the door, “Oh, the last pancakes are ready. Wash your hands.”

After cozily gathering around our small table (expanded with our card table), we bowed our heads as CW voluntarily offered up a prayer.

“Granny it’s so hot and humid in Austin. We’ll get used to this nice cool air, but this hot chocolate is just perfect.” Emily sipped slowly.

Sarah asked, “Last time we were here, you had just moved into this neat place in the Quinault. I forgot how updated the fixtures are and all the storage for such a small place. I like how the cabinets and drawers close automatically after a little nudge.”

We chatted about school, camp, and their exciting attendance at Steubenville Catholic Youth Conference. After breakfast, exhaustion set in. The parents’ eyelids drooped, despite the noticeable efforts to keep it secret. Hearing I had prepared our bedroom for a nap, they needed no mother-hen wings to push them down the hallway.

We matched the teens’ adrenalin-high and looked forward to Granny-Pawpaw bonding for a couple of hours. The girls were not little ones anymore. They were attentive, caring, helpful and considerate of my needing a walker on this visit. After two years, they had overcome shyness, as they were friendly and personable to the elder residents, smiling, asking, and answering questions.

Another present in our bundle of birthday blessings: our daughter Melody, her husband John and their daughter Hope, who live in Lacey, all enjoyed our Aquatic & Fitness Center’s large pool, warm pool, and the spa several of the 10 days they were here. What a perk to have built-in, indoor pool entertainment that is refreshing, beneficial, and fun with all the extras: fins, sponge balls, rods, spin machine to dry swim suits, and dressing rooms for men, women and family.

One of my most memorable and highlighted gifts was on Monday when my little Shaw family attended our Panorama Chapel for Mass with pastor Fr. Tim from Sacred Heart Church. Afterward, we had a delightful walk through our McGandy Park, recalling hide and seek behind the large trunks of the tall trees when they were younger. We packed a picnic in baskets and strolled over to the Panorama Auditorium porch where lovely tables with umbrellas kept us shaded. The cool breezes inhaled smells of our juicy ham, lettuce, bacon, cheese sandwiches, bugle chips, cookies, and watermelon.

They tried out the new electronic piano in the Assisted Living dining room where I entertain during lunch on Mondays. We peeked into Panorama’s closed-circuit TV studio that films “Meet Your Neighbor” interviews, announcements, residents’ picture stories, and loads of other interesting things for our closed-circuit Channel 370. Most of the main events on our campus that are held in our large Panorama Auditorium Theater, the Quinault Auditorium and McGandy Park are filmed for future showing on our television channel. Run by volunteer residents who have learned a new skill, it’s under the daily supervision of a professional.

The men in the Wood Shop had kept in touch with our son CW by phone, photos and emails for two years. So he spent a couple hours on two different days with them, exchanging knowledge and skills, especially on the CNC machine. “How old are you, Chris?” they asked.

“Oh, I’m only 47, so it’s going to be a while yet before I can be a Panorama resident. I can’t believe all the activities and opportunities Mom and Dad have here. I hear even some staff members are on the wait list.”

Our package of birthday gifts included being able to share our annual Panorama Patio Sale, an event our Texan family had only heard us try to explain. They stood in amazement and wonder. “The organization is mesmerizing. How long did it take to set all of this up? Where do we begin to shop? What happens if it rains? Oh, my! I’ve always wanted this kind of waffle iron. Whoa, Granny, didn’t your grandmother have one of these nutcrackers? Good thing we flew here, otherwise, we would have stuffed our car with so many of these treasures. The prices are sooo reasonable. We don’t even have to look at the price tags.”

I remarked that the proceeds of the event come back to us residents. The remarks went on and on.

I was busy finding items I “needed” at the sale, when over the crowd I heard, “Granny, hurry, it’s almost one o’clock and we’re supposed to meet in the Seventeen51 Restaurant at one. Pawpaw just called. He’s already there and he’s waiting for us.”

“Oh, okay, I’ll hurry and pay for my things!”

Chris is there already?!? He’s late for EVERYTHING!!!

CW walked from the Patio Sale with me and my walker. He carried my treasures the short distance to the restaurant, but the rest of the family hurried ahead.

When we entered the Gallery room at the restaurant, my eyes bulged, my jaw dropped, and my palms hit my cheeks.

SURPRISE, GRANNY! HAPPY 80TH BIRTHDAY!”

Sitting around 4 tables formed into one, Melody’s family had decorated with balloons and curled shiny streamers. Emily and Hope each held a 4-foot, shiny, gold, inflated balloon: one was shaped as the number “8” and the other as the number “0”. Appetizers, entrees, desserts…all gourmet from our Panorama kitchen! What convenience it was! No calling to restaurants to reserve a room, no time limitation to sit and visit, waiters and waitresses with familiar TLC smiles. Familiar residents were in the room looking on, sharing in the fun, taking pictures and videos to send later, and chiming in the singing for me.

Other items at the bottom of that bundled box of birthday-package-stuffers included:

  • Seeing the film/photos of Granny Jo (me) winning the July 4th pie eating contest in our park.
  • Visiting in Panorama Hall and Quinault Coffee Room with complementary coffee, hot chocolate, and even some cookies at times. Where else but Panorama!

At one point, Sarah’s jesting eyes danced, “Granny, are you still happy about your move to Panorama and to the Quinault?”

Ha! What do you think?

A 3-inch Short, Polite Story

Written by Panorama resident, Mary Jo Shaw. August 2019

I ran into a neighborhood resident. The resident glances at my name tag. “Oh Mary Jo, I want you to meet my family.” The next week, the neighbor very graciously thanks me for wearing my name tag.

For several days that simple, polite gesture tagged my thoughts.

When my many Panorama friends politely don their little tags, I don’t have to ask them to “refresh” my memory. I’m glad I can comfortably greet them and, also, introduce them to my family or to other residents.

I’m sure our many faithful Security officers are grateful to “recognize” those familiar 3-inch name tags that identify us as residents.

When I lost my tag, I figured it would be returned—my name was on it! Besides, it was of no use to anyone else. After a few weeks of searching, I received another one.

Sure enough, a few months later, I found it in a coat pocket. I had removed it when off campus visiting with our family. Again, no use to turn it in. Now I have one for my heavy jacket.

Recently in the grocery store, a gray-haired couple spied my little name tag. “So…you’re from Panorama? Do you like it there?” he asked.

Transferring tuna fish cans into my basket, I smiled and looked up at the couple, “Oh, don’t get me started! Hubby Chris didn’t want to move from our home. But eventually, we flew up here from Nevada with our daughter and family who planned to move to Lacey. After comparing many retirement places, Chris himself whispered, ‘Maybe we’d better sign up!’”

“Wow, that’s impressive! How long have you been there?”

“Since July 3, 2011! We wish we could have come sooner…. so many activities, even the staff are like family. We are blessed.” From the side of my purse, I grabbed a Panorama Marketing retirement advisor’s business card with my own sticker on the back. “Here, give Panorama a call and take a free tour sometime.”

With raised eyebrows, they smiled and nodded to each other.

“Hey, I gotta get checked out. Our Panorama bus will be here shortly.”

I pointed to my tag. “You know my name…Mary Jo Shaw.”

That little 3-inch magnetized name tag has stretched a lo-o-ong way, has many more stories to share, and has earned a lot of attention!

Tooth of the Tale

Written by Panorama resident, Mary Jo Shaw. July 2019

Although Chris and I look forward to the Seventeen51 Restaurant soup and salad bar offered two Saturdays each month, one particular supper was a challenge! After serving ourselves and thanking God, I pierced a nice, cold red tomato and piece of crisp Romaine. Oh no! It crunched back at me with a do-not-eat warning!

“Chris, did you hear that?”

“Yes, it sounded like you bit on a piece of glass! Don’t swallow it. Here, put it in this soup spoon.”

We stared at each other, then over to the big portable table of about two dozen fresh compartments containing ice cold, bright colors of bite-sized veggies, meats, turkey, chicken, strawberries, grated cheeses, mushrooms, dried cranberries, croutons, juicy mandarin oranges, candied walnuts…

Our eyeballs bounced back and forth…salad bar, our full plates, salad bar, plates…

Was it just one piece of glass or were there more?

My tongue wiggled curiously.

CHRIS! I BROKE MY TOOTH. The upper back tooth has a vacancy!”

My thoughts raced. When would I have time to take off for the dentist? I have all these projects with deadlines since I was ill. Lord, it’s up to You. This is a long holiday weekend, too.

But Sunday, the impossible happened!

I prepared my huge made-from-scratch enchiladas and at the first bite…same sounding crunch, only this time, a shiny pea-sized souvenir appeared on my favorite enchilada-eating round spoon.

“Chris, what are the odds? Another tooth!! I can’t call the dentist till Tuesday, and they’ll be soo busy.”

Early Monday, I called the dentist to leave a message and get first whack at an appointment for Tuesday. But—I tell you the tooth—the office was open for business and yes, “We are swamped today, but let me see what we can do.” 

Oh, Lord, thanks for your help. You always come through for me.

“Mary Jo, can you come in at 11:40 today?”

“Are you kidding? Yes, that will be perfect!!”

It was drizzling and windy outside (otherwise I would have walked), but I dialed 7725 to reserve a Resident Transit ride for the two blocks.

“You’re our first caller, Mary Jo! The driver can pick you up at 11:30.”

I arrived five minutes early.

The assistant took a picture of  my upper right and the lower left teeth. “Doctor will be with you shortly.”

I asked the assistant, “Can you tell me how serious it is? And how long you think it might take?”

“Well, the caps are both cracked…maybe two…or two-and-a-half hours.”

I tried to catch up with my racing thoughts…another appointment? Maybe two? I’ve lost time already today.

In the reclining chair, I stared at the ceiling trying to review the next several week’s activities and possible lengthy “free” times to return for another appointment. I want to be sure I play piano in Assisted Living, in the Convalescent & Rehabilitation Center for Happy Hour, Gentle Care, and Monday chapel service. Oh, and that lecture, and the two great movies in Panorama Auditorium. I’m thinking about signing up for the Panorama bus to that performance in Seattle. I’d like to walk that campus tree tour. And Chris and I never miss the live resident plays! There’s one coming up soon, and…

At that last thought, Doctor E greeted me. “Mary Jo, let’s check you out.”

She took a few minutes look and immediately flipped off the light!

Thoughts overlapped thoughts. Oh dear! Must be bad news. No hope. Extractions? No dental insurance. How much will this cost?

“Mary Jo, you have parts of two aged porcelain caps that have been broken off. The fillings are still great. If we just file off the rough edges, you will be fine. If you’re happy with that?”

She took a total of about 6 minutes to do the job. Thrilled with the fee, and another Resident Transit ride, I was home within the hour, thanks to our on-campus dentist office! More Panorama blessings! This is not a tale…I tell you the TOOTH! 

Finding Wild

Written by Panorama resident, Sandy Bush. June 2019

What an amazing sight we had on our walk home one night recently. Visiting with friends out on Chambers Lake, we decided to take Golf Club Road home instead of usual Beta Street or Marina route. We had been watching water fowl on the lake. We also enjoyed the bunnies hopping by and munching as they went by. I have always wondered why we see fewer bunnies in the late summer.

We had a direct answer to that question as we watched a raptor circling very high over Golf Club and then a murder of crows banding together, yelling, diving, and harrying the raptor. Finally he/she lowered its circle and then at about 70 feet high, we could see the white head of a bald eagle. Graceful in the face of harassment by the crows, it circled and circled. As we just turned to resume our walk home, it folded its wings and fell out of the sky with talons leading the way.

Quicker than we could comment, it took off from the grass verge with a bunny in its talons, and up it went. This was accompanied by the raucous bombardment of the crow contingent as the eagle disappeared into a tall fir. Then we saw it fly again and thought it was gone However, when we looked up in the high branches, we saw either it or another eagle munching and tearing away at the prey between its talons. A mate? The same eagle? The crows were perching near it and screaming and giving it the business.

I know raptors and probably eagles will raid other nests for eggs and that was my first thought about the mobbing behavior. But crows and birds will mob anything that gets near a nest or just mob for the fun and excitement of it. Predators mostly come from the sky, after all.

We have traveled some and enjoyed Alaskan wilds where eagles foraged along with brown bears for salmon. Being bold, they would often take prey from the big mammals in the streams and rivers.  I know prey is prey and that rodents and smaller mammals will suffice if that is what is available, but I’ve never seen a catch in such a dramatic fashion. Strong legs and stronger talons make deadly weapons. 

We had thought we would miss the wild environment we came from only to find a wonderful wild contingent here at Panorama. Sights of coyote, the odd raccoon, opossums, an osprey perched in our fir tree, and even a deer walking sedately down our street (probably from the local Chehalis Trail) are so very welcome. The variety of birds who visit isn’t very large, but we do get wonderful avian sights. The ability to catch sight of an eagle hunting in our streets is just wonderful.

The little song birds seem to be up and speaking after 4 AM now that we are post-solstice and it gets light so very early. I am awakened early by that little bunch. May they stay clear of the hunting eagle and prosper!!! 

Bird’s Eye Talks

Written by Panorama resident, Mary Jo Shaw. June 2019

True story with fictitious names

Before I make a right turn into the wing of our 5th floor apartment, I always walk a few feet farther toward the huge window to admire God’s beauty on our campus. I had just played “America the Beautiful” on piano during the Monday Catholic service on the 4th floor. A little later, residents in Assisted Living tapped their feet while I played “Battle Hymn of the Republic”, “The Marines’ Hymn”, “Caissons Go Rolling Along”, “Anchors Aweigh”, and “The U.S. Air Force”.

Today was special. It was Memorial Day. I sat on the couch by the window to let my thoughts think. What a beautiful blue sky, in contrast to the years that made today so very necessary. I actually heard real-life events of those who miraculously survived. And I realize that most reveal their stories only when I inquire.

Earlier, Joe’s eyes bulged, “Oh, I’ll tell you!” He subjected himself totally into the action from years past: “deepest pits of hell” when he and his buddies arrived at different beaches, firearms blasting from behind concrete bunkers killing most of them before they reached the sand. The foxholes… He elaborated on and on, but ended to go to lunch.

Back to my window, my thoughts get a needed pick up as I noted several women moving down below my window A woman was moving her chair-walker forward in the half-circle driveway to our Quinault building. Her head scanned the lovely greens, flowered bushes, and tall pines. I automatically waved when her eyes spanned past my window, but I knew she hadn’t noticed. Looking down over at two other womenfolk leaving our building entrance, I grinned as they paused to talk with a couple sitting on the bench on the left.

I also noted a quick, light gait from a woman heading alone toward the back entrance to Panorama Hall. Her small plate was covered with a paper napkin with its corner flapping in the wind. Mary’s probably taking home some of Susan’s fancy dessert. They’re both Gold Star widows. We can’t let the narratives tucked in the hearts of these military survivors fade away forgotten. Stories go to the grave across the nation every day. 

I had just visited with a woman who had given birth to a little girl the day after her husband was deployed. Two years later, when they met him at the airport, the little one reached out, “Daddy?” My 90-year-old friend smiled. “I showed her his photo every day, so she would recognize him.”

My bird’s eye view talks to me each day. Breathing deeply, I smiled and gazed over toward McGandy Park again, dotting a tear as I thanked God and those who died for my freedom.

The spirit of Memorial Day should be in our hearts every day as we honor the heroic men and women who gave their lives and fought to protect our nation, particularly those here at Panorama. Sincere THANKS to each of you.   

Those Stairwells….

Written by Panorama resident, Sandy Bush. June 2019

What is it about those stairwells?

We, as a couple, decided that we are just not into being confined in rooms with lots of folks in exercise or meditation mode. We do our meditation out on the trails we love in NW Washington. We additionally swim laps twice a week.

But we have found that the tall stairs on either end of the Quinault building are excellent for cardiovascular work-outs. We walk all over campus to functions, meals, the bank, the gift shop, and pharmacy, but not ever at the rate that gives your heart an extra push.

We always do one set up and down, mostly in the north stairwell. The south stairwell provides an extra flight up to where Operations folks maintain equipment on the roof. And if you start in the basement, it gives you an extra flight as well. It is enough for us at 76 and 82 to get a heart rate up and build some “wind” for our lungs. If you have heart issues, be sure to check with your MD regarding what is safe for you.

We urge you to wear your SARA pendent and it’s always best to have a buddy along, or just let someone know where you are going. Taking a cell phone with you might also be prudent.

That being said, doing one set of stairs (like those who live in the Quinault building) is always beneficial. I know some folks who save up their flights and log a large number on the recording sheet. Whatever you do, it is beneficial. Some have said it is hard on knees to go down stairs, so going up the stairs and taking the elevator down is a perfectly healthy option. Those with balance problems should hold on to handrails and going down the flights might be more of a safety issue than going up them!!!

We decided to create a form to check off as a good way to guarantee that we actually get over there to do them as we don’t live in the Quinault. I know a lot more people “do the stairs” than are shown in the log results. That is fine; however, our Aquatic & Fitness Coordinator, Erin, logs the number of flights traveled as we turn them in at the end of the month and she often reports the numbers to the Board of Directors.

There is a benefit for making the effort up the north stairwell. On a clear day, in the foyer by the 5th floor elevator, you can see a mostly unobstructed view of Mt. Rainier. Sometimes at dusk, if it is clear, you can see the “Alpine Glow” of pinks.

There are also chairs to sit and catch your breath at the top of that stairwell. I hope you enjoy the views, when they are available, but I also hope you will join us if you are able to add some exercise in your life. Perhaps we will see you there.