Resident Spotlight – Ruth Kirk: Writer, Naturalist, Anthropology Enthusiast

Ruth KirkA Panorama resident for more than 15 years, Ruth Kirk is an esteemed author of 38 books. She’s led a life of exploration and has a passion for writing about natural history and human history. Her latest book, to be released this spring, reveals her first-hand account of the 11-year archaeological dig at Ozette, an ancient Makah whaling village near Neah Bay, WA.

This latest publication will be joining an impressive portfolio of Ruth’s previous work, including Archaeology in Washington and Exploring Death Valley. A more comprehensive list of Ruth’s written work accompanied by reader reviews can be found here.

Ruth will present Ozette: Excavating a Makah Whaling Village

on Monday, April 6th at 12:00 noon in The State Capitol Museum.

She will also be signing books following the presentation.


To read more about her remarkable career, visit the following links.

Ruth Kirk, Paper Ranger – by Judy Bentley


Kirk Brings Ozette Dig Back to Life – by John Dodge


Publisher’s Description of Ozette: Excavating a Makah Whaling Village

A Resident’s Perspective – My Talent Show Experience

Written by Panorama resident, Mary Jo Shaw. March 2015

Announcer Melissa walked into the spotlight in our auditorium with a 10-foot no-longer-used pole from our Aquatic Center.  It had a large half-circle-hook at the top.  She knocked the other end on the stage floor, for attention from the standing-room-only crowd.  After welcoming everyone to the annual talent show, she warned, “If any performance goes beyond 10 minutes, I’m coming out.”  She waved the pole back and forth horizontally, mimicking pulling someone backstage.

Panorama's Got Talent 2015 _1Laughter bounced off the walls!  Then she announced that Helen W. and I were going to play duets of Verdi’s “March Militaire” from Aida and Handel’s “Largo” from Xerxes.  Overwhelmed with applause, we were pleased with our performance.  It was heartwarming during our final bow to see smiles from our encouraging neighbors of Woodland Court who sat together in row four to cheer us on.  To our right, I spied our daughter, Melody, her hubby John and seven-year-old Hope in the row with my hubby, Chris.

Panorama's Got Talent 2015_2A few acts later, I returned with Jane B. to perform what Melissa announced was “a very serious, classical duet called C. S. Theme and Variations, Opus 6, by Compton.”  We bowed. I sat on the primo (right) side of the bench, Jane to my left.  After playing eight bars of the classic Hungarian Rhapsody exchange of ta-dah, ta-ta-ta-dah…we directly exploded into a big sounding, fast Chopsticks. (Even kids and adults who don’t play piano seem to learn to play this in simple style!)  Surprised, hilarious laughter and clapping kept us motivated!  In our 15 pages we played very fast, very difficult, all-over-the-piano, 13 variations of Chopsticks.

Panorama's Got Talent 2015_3BUT half-way through our routine, Jane plays fast, three octaves, of alternating hands of 16th note octaves progressing up the piano, edging me from my positon and off the piano bench.  While I choreograph standing behind her to the audience, what am I supposed to do?…look at her just playing away, forgetting that I’m part of the performance, she continues with her inserted version of twinkling-lightly, “Mary Had a Little Lamb.”  I pretend to tap her shoulder to say, I’m here, too, remember?  She turns to recognize me and cues me to join playing with her again.  She’s now occupying my right side of the bench. I quickly climb over the left end of the bench, and we take off playing.  The music progresses louder and faster.  Jane ends with a glissando (a swish on the keys to the right, with one finger) up the keyboard as she’s standing up to bow while I’m still at the piano.  I stand to exit the right side of the bench swishing another loud glissando.

She’s already bobbing up and down when I finally join her to begin my bow.  We carry on like the lady on the stage in The Sound of Music.  We bow constantly, even encouraging more from the roaring audience until…you guessed it…announcer Melissa marches out onto the stage with her 10’ pole!  We exit, waving with big smiles to a roaring audience for intermission.

Panorama's Got Talent 2015_5

P.S. The C. S. Variations stands for Chopsticks, written and dedicated to Victor Borge.

Footnotes:  When we burst out playing Chopsticks, little Hope whispered slowly with puckered lips, “Mommie, why is everybody laughing at Granny?”

After the excited intermission with cookies and visiting, Hope told Daddy John, “I like seeing all the Grannies!”

Mary Jo Bio

A Resident’s Perspective – Surprising Bonus on the Tour of the Capitol

Written by Panorama resident, Sandy Bush. March 2015

This month there was a wonderful outing/tour arranged by our Lifestyle Enrichment department here at Panorama. Now that we are approaching our second year in residence here, we decided to take advantage of the tour of the State Capitol in Olympia, which is just down the road from us here in Lacey. Panorama offers this tour a couple of times a year, and especially at Christmas when the Capitol is all decked out.

We had never toured our Wisconsin State Capitol in Madison, where I got my degree, nor had we toured California State Capitol in Sacramento, CA, when we did our working years near there. We’ve not been overly political over these later years of our lives, but as it was so close and there was an outing bus going, we signed on.

The bus arrived to the Capitol grounds covered in blossoming trees. Pinks and whites festooned the landscape on a foggy day. Our guide told us that they had only a day or two earlier started to bloom!

We were amazed at the marble from five different countries used in the construction. Major amounts came from Alaska. Wonderful drapery and window treatments were the only place gold was used and it was in the thread. No gold was used in decorative things around the capitol, it was all bronze. We saw the special wood flooring in the State Reception Room, under the wonderful single run carpeting from an East Coast mill when our knowledgeable tour guide rolled back the corner of the carpet. The room is used for Inaugural Balls and other fancy happenings. The Tiffany designed and made chandeliers are more than can be explained without seeing them all. The ones in the State Room had 10,000 plus individual beads hanging in swag loops.

Congress is sitting now, so the tour took us to the Gallery for the House of Representatives which was “at ease” on a morning break. We learned about how the electronic voting for the 90+ representatives from each County worked and was displayed on the board.

What was very special and totally unexpected was our visit down the hall to the Senate Gallery. They were discussing and voting on a bill before them. We filed in quietly and sat in the seats overlooking the floor. These are roll call votes, not electronic for the 49 State Senators. After the vote was taken, the president of the Senate looked up at the Gallery and announced that residents from Panorama Continuing Care Retirement community were visiting. We got an ovation from the floor and were urged by our guide to stand up and be acknowledged. How very special and totally surprising.


This was topped by going to the Governor’s Office reception room for more historical facts and viewing portraits of past Governors. Minutes after arriving there, Governor Inslee came out of his office and greeted us, even as he was on his way to a meeting. It was very cordial and much appreciated by our group.

Capitol Tour_Governor Inslee

We loved anecdotes from the tour guide and she especially urged us to keep aware of things in February. That is the month that many potato farmers come to the Capitol (Washington is larger grower of potatoes than Idaho) and provide free, baked potatoes in the Rotunda with all the fixin’s!!!! There is never a set date, but you know we will be mindful of information when that is happening and you will find us with a piled high baker in the Rotunda. In fact, I am planning on spending a day soon at the Capitol with lunch in the cafeteria. It will be interesting to watch sessions of both bodies. The best thing is that on our Channel 23 cable, they have the entire proceedings of the sessions running real time and then repeated after hours. This is wonderful transparency of government.

There are so many outings offered by our Lifestyle Enrichment department, if you’ve not traveled with them or gone to things offered in the monthly activities in the “Panorama News,” do try some of them. It is a wonderful introduction to our area. You never really know what kind of extra you will be afforded and you always learn a lot.

Sandy Bio



Our Smartest Decision in Retirement – Tax Day, Not Taxing

Written by Panorama resident, Mary Jo Shaw. February 2015

If you’re like hubby, Chris, and me, you’ve dreaded tax time for more years than you want (or hate) to admit.

“Chris!” I called.  I dropped my book bag by the front door and headed to the bedroom after BIBLE session on Thursday.  “You gotta hear what David announced before he began class.  He flew his hands up and said, ‘Jean and I are so relaxed today.  We decided to try the AARP Foundation Tax-Aide service right here on campus.’  He said there was no stress.  It was done, over, and they left.  It’s for anyone. Then he said it was FREE!”

Chris put his book down and raised his eyebrows. “So, what are you thinking–that maybe we should check it out, too?”

“Heck, yeah,” I said “first thing next week.  Monday’s Presidents’ Day, so they’re probably not working.  We’ll go on Wednesday. They volunteer on Mondays and Wednesdays.”

“Fine,” he said. “I’ll have the taxable interests from savings and accounts ready.”  By evening he had lined the papers in neat little stacks on our long dresser.

I gathered last year’s forms, plus income /receipt figures for the crafts I’d consigned in the campus gift shop.

Monday’s holiday came quickly.  Tuesday was going to be very busy, and I’d forgotten the volunteers’ hours for Wednesday.  The Panorama reception desk—they’ll tell me!  I dialed to ask.  Carol said, “Mary Jo, they work from one till five, and they’re working today, even though it’s a holiday.  You don’t need an appointment.”

“Wow, thanks, Carol!!”  I slammed the phone down.

“Chris, we’re going now! They’re working today–perfect timing!  Wednesday’s already busy with the Lenten Service in chapel, Dot’s travel talk in the auditorium, and the neighborhood birthday party at five.  We grabbed our papers.  Chris hopped on his bike, and I enjoyed the walk to the Chalet, visiting with a new resident taking her first stroll admiring the campus and flowers popping out already.

On lower level Chalet, we entered the great activity room.  We passed the computer learning center, then greeted friends bent over pool tables with queue sticks.  I smiled at the piano I love to play.  Little vases showed off flowers of all colors in the center of several dozen round tables with chairs.  There were two rows of long tables with twelve volunteers tapping laptops.  A friendly AARP volunteer gave us a yes/no questionnaire to complete, saving time at the computer later.

Someone checked our completed questionnaire and took us to Bob who filled in the tax form at his laptop.  When he finished, Frank sat at Bob’s computer to double-check the entries.  We signed. Got a copy.  Bob tapped SEND.  We were done, and it was FREE!  We couldn’t thank ‘em enough.

Chris checked his watch, “I’m just in time to go to Don’s apartment to watch the DVD of the BIBLE study we missed last Wednesday at church.” Outside again, we kissed good-bye.  He sailed off on his bike.

My heart beat with excitement as I spanned the lovely path home, eager to sit down to write this blog.  I just had to share our tax day—one that was not taxing.  Another Panorama perk!

Mary Jo Bio