Salute to a Job Well Done – Resident Council President

Written by Panorama resident, Bob Bowers. August 2014

Monday, September 8, the outgoing President of the Panorama Resident Council, Kathy Houston, will hand the gavel to the incoming President, Sue Ballard.  When she takes the gavel Sue will become the tenth living President on campus.  It is a heavy responsibility and a very special privilege to be elected Resident Council President. The Council President guides the work of the 17 District Representatives as they respond to concerns of the residents in their districts and help campus activities to be vital and meaningful to all who live here. There are four pages of activities listed in the resident handbook.  Each President brings to the job of Council President a set of skills, interests, and experiences that are available to assist them in their work. Each President enters the job with certain goals and expectations that he or she wants to see implemented. To get all of that done and not lose your sanity is a real challenge.

IMG_0295I want to give kudos to Kathy Houston for a job well done.  When I was President, she was Vice President during my last year.  She was such a good support and provided wisdom and insight for me when I really needed it.  She has been a good leader.  I hear that she will still be around in new capacities with the Arts Council and the TV Studio so we will have more good things to come from her direction.

One of the best perks of the Resident Council President is the seat that person occupies on the Corporate Board.  Weekly meetings with CEO, Joe DiSanto, monthly meetings of the Corporate Board, and other aspects being in center of things on the Panorama Campus enrich the President’s life and work.

Thanks Kathy for all your work as Resident Council President and good luck as you continue to be a vital part of this campus.

From your predecessor,

Bob Bowers

Bob Bowers Bio



A Resident’s Perspective – My Special Grandma

September is Grandparents Month and we’ve asked some of our resident writers to share their experiences and thoughts about grandparenthood.

Written by Panorama resident, Judy Murphy. August 2014

I have not had the privilege of playing a large role in the life of grandchildren, but I have many memories of being a grandchild because my father’s mother lived with us when I was in elementary school.

10 great grandma wolf retouchedGrandma Wolf had traveled by covered wagon from Iowa to west Texas in 1886, when she was 3.  She had an unhappy childhood and escaped into marriage at the first opportunity.  She and her husband operated a photography business in Texas and raised 4 children until his early death.  His brothers persuaded Grandma (then known as the widow Goss) to buy a farm in the Ozarks of Arkansas, and there she met her second husband—Amos Wolf, the most eligible bachelor in the area, we were told—and she went on to have two more children before he died after a wagon accident when my father was 10.

My grandmother did not reach 5 feet, but she was tough and hard working.  In family stories, she had shooed a cougar from her kitchen with a broom and had babies and gone back to work in the field the next day (more legend than fact, perhaps).  During Depression times, she sold her farm and moved to Dallas, where she lived with her two young sons and took in boarders.  After the war, she depended on her children for support, so when my parents moved from Florida to upstate New York in the 1950s she moved in with us to help with childcare when my mother went to work.

My sister and I with Grandma Wolf, ready for church

My sister and I with Grandma Wolf, ready for church

Besides her very short stature, and generous lap, she was notable for her beautiful, waist-length gray hair, which she dried in the sun in the backyard and then braided and wound around her head.  She always wore calf-length dresses, corsets, heavy stockings, big black or white shoes and, more often than not, a flowered apron.  She always donned a hat and gloves when going to church.

Because my baby sister was 5 years younger than me, and I had an older sister to play with, Grandma became 2-year-old Terry Sue’s companion.  With her soft Southern accent, Grandma called her, “Tara Soo,” and they shared a bedroom for the next 4 years.  My sister says, “I remember feeling I was such a lucky little girl because I shared my bedroom with my grandma….(somehow I am not sure she felt the same!).”

All three of us went home from school at lunchtime, and Grandma liked to fix us gravy sandwiches or fried mush (much to our mother’s consternation), and we would watch our favorite soap opera, “Guiding Light,” together before heading back to school.

As a traditional Southern cook, Grandma excelled in frying and baking.  She loved to eat fat in any form (and despite having heart disease lived to be close to 90).  Her baking powder and lard biscuits were sublime.  She introduced us to a family recipe for potato and dumpling soup, which she called potato rivules. My dad and the three of us girls loved them, but my mother thought they were tasteless and refused to eat the dish as have every husband and grandchild since.  Grandma invited us to lick the icing bowl and eat bits of pastry and apple peel when she was baking an apple pie, and the year our peach tree produced loads of peaches, she made delicious peach pies.

Grandma with her crochet

Grandma with her crochet

When she wasn’t baking, she spent much of her time doing crochet, and she was a master at her craft.  She made us winter mufflers; delicate, cotton thread tablecloths and dresser scarves; and an enormous, very heavy woolen afghan.

Though strict in her Protestant religious views, she taught us to play dominoes, Michigan rummy, and most importantly a card game with the very un-Christian name of Cutthroat, which remains a valued sisterly tradition.  Cutthroat created intense competition among us and stretched our eye-hand coordination as far as it could go, but Grandma remained the card-shark of the family.

Most of all, Grandma Wolf was a quiet, steady presence in my young sister’s often lonely life, providing her a sense of acceptance and security.  Terry recalls Grandma’s personal ‘philosophy’:

  • the ‘golden rule’ is important;
  • there is always a silver lining to things;
  • there is good in everyone and your job in life is to look for the best in people you meet and focus on that.

We were bereft when she moved back to Texas, tired of the cold and snow no doubt, and finding the stairs in our house increasingly difficult to manage.  My sisters both made their way to Texas as adults to pay a visit, but I was never able to see her again.  She remained a faithful letter writer, however, and we all looked forward to receiving those tissue envelopes with the flowery script bringing us news of our wonderful grandma.  Yes, grandmothers are important.

Murphy Bio

National Relaxation Day

Today is National Relaxation Day. So take some time to be still, listen to the sound of nature around you, our engage in a favorite hobby that never fails to help you unwind. There’s no place more perfect for relaxing than the shore of Chambers Lake, the foliage of the Panorama Pea Patch, or vibrant and peaceful lanes of Panorama neighborhoods. Lake-CompressedPeaPatch-CompressedBike-Compressed

Smartest Decision in Our Retirement? – Part 7: First Night. First Friend.

Written by Panorama resident, Mary Jo Shaw. July 2014.

We arrived in Lacey after a three-day trip, leaving 118-degree normal, summer scorcher in Las Vegas.  John, our son-in-law, unlocked the front door of our little Woodland Court garden home at Panorama.  With anticipation, I peered over John’s shoulder with hubby Chris behind me.  We stood a few feet into the family room. I surprisingly burst into incontrollable tears.

“What’s wrong, Mary Jo?” John asked.


“This place is just so much more beautiful than I expected. They did such a good job.  I had no idea.”


Chris, who had been a little apprehensive about moving anywhere to retire, was impressed.   “Yeah, it is nice…wow!


DSCN7181The transformation of the home and the view from the glass door with the lovely garden around our patio overwhelmed us.  I didn’t know the names of the little bushes, but there was a variety of shades of green and deep purple, large pointy ferns, rhododendrons whose blossoms were gone, but whose leaves impressed me, a four-foot holly three-pompom tree, and a large azalea tree shading our patio.  Fuchsia was in full bloom.  A large, umbrella-shaped magnolia tree greeted me just yards from my kitchen window…it was a stark contrast to the desert of Las Vegas where anything growing was watered three times a day or probably zapped like a microwave from the blazing heat.  Lawns here looked like they were cut and trimmed with scissors.


John called Melody, “We just entered their home.  They’re so happy and haven’t seen the rest of the house yet.  We don’t need all that stuff we have.  I’m gonna get rid of a lot before we move up here.”

After unloading our SUV, John took us to purchase a flat-screen TV, mounted it on the wall in the family room just above where my electronic piano would be set up by movers, and put up our blinds.  He left to stay with his aunt Terri.

DSCN7121That evening, the shiny black, wrought-iron bench close to the magnolia tree just yards from our kitchen window beckoned us to sit and talk of our lovely new home.

A lady with her dog walked around our garden home which is at the end of a multiplex…we met Helen and Wags.  (She’d become my duet-playing partner on her grand piano, just four doors down from us.)

The next morning, Helen (with Wags dancing around her legs) delivered large, warm, homemade-dripping-with-caramel-sauce-and-pecans cinnamon rolls.  They were carefully snuggled in aluminum foil with tent-like, folded-over top.  My mouth drooled with the aroma.  She wore the sweetest smile.  Her head was slightly bowed.  With both hands, she proudly presented them to me.   “I know you don’t have anything for breakfast, and I hope you enjoy these.”  I knew Helen would be my first forever-friend at Panorama.

Since we had no groceries, pots and pans, we were excited to try out the fourth-of-July picnic in Panorama’s McGandy Park.  What an experience!

Check back next month to hear all about it!

Mary Jo Bio

A Resident’s Perspective – Noise vs. Sound

Written by Panorama resident, Sandy Bush. July 2014

There is a phenomenon around Panorama relating to noise. So, I thought I’d explore some thoughts on noise versus sound. Our previous community was a weekend getaway type development and so the weekends were full of visitors, cars, and general hubbub. The week days were pretty quiet.

We now know what our neighbors experienced during the re-doing and remodel of our lovely home on Woodland Loop. This happens during the working week. Everyone at Panorama has had a neighbor’s duplex or home across the street essentially torn down and refurbished from the ground up including insulation! Concrete has been broken up with jack hammers, and new patios and driveways poured afterward. The thumping machine that compacts soil/earth before the concrete is laid can be amazingly loud and reverberating. Once that is all accomplished, the siding and roofing noises are much less intrusive. The results are always pleasing and welcomed by the new residents moving in, as well as neighbors in the area.

Another real noise comes from fly-overs of helicopters and such from sheriff/rescue or the military. This activity has not been a negative for us, as it is sporadic and doesn’t signal abalone divers in trouble like the helicopters we watched/heard at our coastal home. Having the military base near Panorama does impact traffic, but I know many of our residents are military retirees and generally the base is a plus for us in Lacey.

Some neighborhoods have had more than one of these projects in their vicinity. Most experience it once in awhile. There is an added noise environment that comes with the riding mowers and the leaf/detritus blowers. To my mind, this seems a luxury on Fridays to have our driveway and patios blown free of pine needles from our wonderful towering Doug firs and large magnolia tree. Another noise comes from our yard fellow walking on the roof to blow needles out of the eaves. This activity alerts our cats who always look up. In our previous home, you needed to remove the needles off the roof for fire safety and that was a chore! It surely is a treat to have this routinely done for us, instead of doing it ourselves!


However, our home experiences wonderful sound as well. The nights here are so very quiet and we can hear the AMTRAK trains about 4 miles to our southeast as they blow at crossings during the night. The rain also gives us a pleasing relaxing sound on the roof and the overhangs. Birds that waken at dawn (or earlier) are clearly heard going about their daily business. Another sound is when pine cones drop on the roof causing the cats to wonder if it is that big crow, squirrel or something else fun to watch. While the I-5 freeway is only a mile away, sometimes the susurration sounds almost like the ocean sound which we miss now and then. Being on a loop on campus, we don’t get a lot of through traffic, so the quiet is very much appreciated.

There is an amazing amount of sound when you get out into the forest or along our near walking paths and trails. Things rustle, chirp, and call. Wind and even slight breezes create lovely sound in trees. Perceptions of noise and sound vary widely depending on our moods and I find one person’s noise is often just perceived as sound by another.

We are finding Panorama maintenance and improvements going on all the time. This is such a plus when you consider what places look like without all the continual care and enhancement. We can ignore the noise and enjoy the sounds that we have grown to love here.

Sandy Bio

The Voice of Panorama – Summer 2014

A collection of interviews, poems and stories by Panorama Writers.

Father and His Crew

Episode Three: Mother’s Mutiny

The family’s 30 foot houseboat, the WESIX, is now located at a marina on Barnegat Bay on the Jersey Shore.

Eldest Son is now 15 years old, Eldest Daughter is 13, Little Sister is 10 and Little Brother is 5.

Mother’s initial doubts about the supposed fun of boating had their beginning at about this time. Although she didn’t want to deflate Father’s ego, Mother was also having some concerns about his boat handling abilities.

The children appeared to be enjoying the numerous adventures, however, so Mother decided to be a sport, and grin and bear it. As a precaution, she imbedded in her mind where the emergency flares were kept and made sure she knew how to use them.

It was during the family’s vacation on Chesapeake Bay that mother mutinied. Everyone but mother thought the large wakes from passing ocean-going freighters and barges were exciting. Father skillfully steered their houseboat through the man-made swells at a correct angle. He and the children commented on how small the sailors looked way high on the decks of their ships. Mother was wondering if the family looked like ants to the sailors.

She became concerned about safety when the houseboat’s engine stopped. The boat began wildly rocking from side to side at an ever increasing angle. there was no way to control it without power.

Father and Eldest Son had the hatch cover off trying to determine what was wrong with the engine.

Mother said, ” We’re out of gas”.

Father replied, “That’s impossible”.

Mother yelled, “We’re going to capsize! I’m going to shoot a flare!”

Father shouted, “Don’t you dare!”

Mother shot the flare.

A very small motorboat quickly came to their rescue and ignominiously towed them to a marina. It was determined that they had run out of gas. Father (AKA captain) was embarrassed.

Mother’s reward for not saying “I told you so,” was dinner in a restaurant on solid ground. (By the way, this was a very special treat because Mother had a tendency to feel sea sick while cooking in the boat’s gallery).

Pacified, and feeling self righteous, Mother set her doubts aside and prepared for their continuing cruise down the Inland Waterway.

…Thank you again for sharing memories with me.

Watch for Episode Four: Sand and Flies

*** Nancy Lee Methenitis


Just Wondering

It is so beautiful

I wonder why

More don’t take time

To notice the sky.

Today it is blue,

Yesterday it was gray;

Sometimes it is mixed

With clouds gone astray.

Whether inside or out

Try taking a pause;

Look up, all around you,

And enjoy – just because.

*** Nancy Lee Methenitis