My Drawing Ticket – A Grand Piano

Written by Panorama resident, Mary Jo Shaw. September 2020

In the treasured years of formation in a convent for 13 years, I looked forward to our group wheeling the retired nuns to our postulate study room to play cards or games. It was a win-win, although very elderly Sister Helen left happy, only if she had won! I loved volunteering to play with her and escorting her back to her room to hear . . . through her loose dentures, “I have a 100% track-record of winning . . . every time I come!”

I’d smile. “O-h-h, ye-s-s, Sister Helen!”

Getting along well with the aged, I loved hearing stories of before and after they were nuns. I have visited the convent many times after leaving and still communicate and receive their quarterly newsletters.

My fondest dream has always been to share my music with residents in retirement homes. After I was married, I had many talented students of all ages coming to our home before and/or after school, even on Saturday mornings.

Was it permissible to call the retirement homes asking to allow my students to entertain? Would the parents be available and willing to take the children at the appropriate day and time? You’ve probably heard that we are to work as if it all depended on us, but to pray as if it all depended on God. I stormed heaven for an answer.

About ten minutes later, Wendy showed up for her daughter Elise’s piano lesson. Wendy asked, “Mary Jo, we just moved my mother into that nice new retirement center about a mile away from you. The activity director is looking for entertainers of all kinds. We love your recitals . . . your students always play well, and selections are fun with lots of variety. Would you consider having your students perform about a half hour?”

My jaw dropped. I shared how I had just finished my prayer.

“Sounds like an answer to your prayer.” Wendy and Elise said in unison. “I won’t say anything to the director, Mary Jo. I’ll just let you take it from here.”  What memories!

That was then. This is now:

In 2011, hubby Chris and I toured and retired at Panorama. During our initial tour, I was drawn to the shiny black grand piano in the newly opened Convalescent & Rehabilitation Center (C&R). WOW! I wonder if I will be able to play that piano if we move here.

Many residents are drawn to Panorama because of their interests and hobbies, such as their green thumbs aching to exercise planting and harvesting in the large Pea Patch area. Woodworker and metalworker ears eager to hear the buzz of their own saws and machines in our organized, well-kept woodshop & metal shop. The well-equipped art and weaving studios for classes given by professional residents! A dedicated BLOG of our two auditoriums would necessitate shorting if describing all that residents experience: choirs, recitals, talent shows, Readers’ Theater, resident-written plays, professional concerts, movies, lectures . . . you get the basic idea!

Then there is the Aquatic & Fitness Center! And our own many announcements and campus-videoed events to view or review on Panorama TV Channel 370. Oh, yes, and our library?  An extensive remodeling invited residents who didn’t read much to check out and enjoy books. The selections, varieties of books and reviews on their own website make it easy to use and reserve, if desired. Residents and former librarians train helpers, and on, and on . . . how did I digress onto that bunny trail?

Back to tickling my piano keys . . .

Would you believe? I never realized my major volunteer service here could be entertaining my background piano music for resident activities! These include monthly birthday dinners and other events held in our Seventeen51 Restaurant.

It was the first time I played in our Convalescent & Rehabilitation Center recreation/lunchroom, when a resident wheeled in his chair (almost touching the piano) to listen. At the end of 45 minutes, I tapped OFF on the electronic piano. He leaned forward, “Oh, won’t you please play that Nocturne again?”

I responded, “If they let me come play again, I certainly will!” And I did, many times. On Mondays I look forward to playing my favorite inspiring hymns and compositions shared during our Catholic communion service in our chapel.

My repertoire varies for 45 minutes to make sure to include something for each resident in Assisted Living: jazz, old-time favs from several eras, boogie, classics, rags, waltzes, tangos, inspiring, etc. A bit disappointing, since there is never enough time to play all I have selected!

Most often, residents come to the piano and whisper, “Mary Jo, we just love your variety of pieces . . . and the way you play. Thank you so much!”

The more I simply make others happy by sharing the gift of music, the more joy I receive. I pray to be able to bear all of my godsends from my convent days until to the present, especially for my 55 years of teaching music.

During COVID, I practice piano and patience, but feel empty not getting to play and distribute my joy to others. Those gifts are what kept me eager to get up in the mornings. Truly I’ve been blessed over and above. Thank you, Panorama!

The Longest Summer

Written by Panorama resident, Sandy Bush. September 2020

This 2020 summer may be the longest one we have ever experienced, to say nothing of the spring! When the Coronavirus shutdown began, it seemed an inconvenience and the thought that things would even out and return to normal would be just a matter of a few months.

Now we are in September. 6 months of the shutdown of our favorite activities here at Panorama are behind us. Many of us have cleared out many old closet issues and drawers that needed trimming up or down. Well, some of that took a long week. Then the reality set in.

Long unread books from our shelves found themselves in the “to read” stack as we worked down them. Then we got to reading already read books that we loved. Now that libraries are opening in truncated fashion, we may get some new ones to read!

It turns out that we are grateful for living in a community with a caring administration. Enough to really put strict plans in place for day to day living. The restaurant, being closed, ramped up for meal delivery for lunch and dinner. Shopping for those who can’t drive began in earnest. Where the Lifestyle Enrichment department was arranging fun outings in the old days, they have stepped up to provide grocery shopping and delivery.

Our wonderful bus drivers were repurposed to deliver mail and packages to keep outside traffic down to a minimum. Then they were occupied with screening at locations for use of the pharmacy and bank and for outside workers who check in every day. We all miss the outings with this great bunch, but it is so good to see that they are still employed!!!

Now some of us have worked our way through puzzles that accumulated over time and that has been fun. Those of us who are sport nuts have had a long dry spell, and I just couldn’t watch the national corn hole competitions that some TV channels were running.

So, as we creep into fall, we will see how football manages this pandemic. It will be a fine adjunct to my day, at least, to watch empty stadiums and actual football. Yes, I am a pro football nut and the colleges are trying to decide if they will have a season this year or move it to spring.

We are also grateful for the boost from the return of Kia, our welcoming totem, who is back on her plinth in McGandy Park. She was gone so long for refurbishment. It makes me smile to walk past her on a daily walk. Getting out in the air with a mask and walking has saved many of us from losing what little minds we have left!!!

It was good to see the Walk the Loop activity back for July in a truncated fashion. It has been full-blown in August and September, but with 7 AM to 7 PM times, distancing and masks, and the delightful trivia stations on the bollard lights! A weak excuse for the rousing Trivia nights in the restaurant bistro, but a nod to simpler times.

Another plus of more outside walking is meeting new folks who have joined our merry band in these trying times. They are probably tired of stories we old hands tell of trips out, and lunches and dinners and hikes taken when driven in our buses! We just all hope there will come a time when these activities return and the auditorium can again show movies and have entertainment come in from outside!!!

The Panorama campus is sprouting more bikes, three-wheelers and other devices as folks try to get back to exercise. With the gyms closed at present, home exercises always seem harder to do. Then the pool opened under a strict usage formula and it is wonderful to do 45 minutes of laps again. I’m so grateful, as it is a real boost to re-habbing my fractured/repaired elbow.

This summer has brought us periods of warm to hot weather and as I wrote this, we are due for another 8 straight days of 80s to maybe a 90-degree day or two! With the heat has brought many wild fires in our state and then south of us in OR and CA . . . and we count ourselves so very thankful that we are tucked into a protected environment.

No one I have talked with enjoys this shut-down time, especially as we look at the dark winter hours approaching. But we find that we are an island of safety here by way of procedures put in place to protect us. We are all trying to connect with shut-ins among us as this is a harder time for them.

So the longest summer on record, in my book, is coming to a close. I look forward to the gray and rainy days. Time to get the old flu shot and wait patiently for the new one, if they can make one work. We live in interesting times. Let’s all keep our spirits up as best we can . . . and this too shall pass.

Meditation

Written by Panorama resident, Charles Kasler. August 2020

Classes are suspended until the COVID situation resolves. I have been recording audio practices for students to follow at home. My annual summer workshop was recorded as well & posted for students to listen. If need be, we will do a virtual session for the Fall Meditation Retreat.

How many retirement centers hold meditation retreats? Very few I would guess, and we are one of the leaders in the field. With over 3,000 papers and research studies showing the benefits of meditation, it’s well worth it. Invariably participants comment on what a difference the group experience makes. Each person’s presence supports everyone else. Not to mention that meditation and yoga postures are two wings of the same practice, and many students do both.

One of the greatest benefits of meditation is that we realize we are not our minds. Fortunately! We can have a distinct (even if momentary) experience of pure awareness beyond the mind. We all love those moments of inner peace and quiet. But most of the time, the mind continues its job of generating thoughts. Our work is to observe those thoughts, seeing how they influence the choices we make.

It is essential for students to feel safe in yoga class, both physically and emotionally. We use walls, chairs and other props for support when needed. There is no forcing, competition or judgment around our practice. We’re all students. We’re all in this together. In addition, there is continual emphasis on concentration, presence and breath awareness as we practice. In this safe and relaxed atmosphere, students can thrive.

Connie Ruhl is retiring from leading the chair yoga class. Connie began teaching in 2009 and has since taught many classes and workshops here for our community. She will still be involved in the meditation retreats and the New Year’s workshop. Thank you Connie for a job well done!

Welcome to Lynn Erfer, the newest member of the Yoga Team. Lynn did yoga training in Sacramento and Santa Cruz, California, Maui, Hawaii and Lacey with Firefly Yoga. She taught various fitness and movement classes at Island Spirit Yoga, the Hyatt Regency and the YMCA, including gymnastics, core fitness, belly dancing, swimming and yoga. Lynn loves teaching yoga classes because of the benefits a balanced practice provides to students, such as enhanced breathing, improved focus, better balance, as well as increased flexibility and core strength. She is excited to share her passion for fitness and yoga with Panorama students so that they too can experiences these benefits.

Washing Window Watch

Written by Panorama resident, Mary Jo Shaw. August 2020

Yea! Window washing day!!

NO! Not by me! I’d rather wade in my piles of stuff filling my craft room, or play a couple of hours at my piano in our family room, or spend hours writing blogs and books tapping on my tablet. In previous years during window washing day, I’d been in one of our auditoriums attending performances or lectures, entertaining piano background music during various happenings or visiting in our park, or enjoying the free coffee (and often cookies) in Panorama Hall. I had assumed our outside apartment building windows were washed with a squeegee and left to dry.

Another big, NO!

This time, we were experiencing stay-at-home months of COVID-19. Quickly jumping out of bed, I was eager to shower, dress and welcome the washing event from our 5th floor balcony at 8 a.m. with my iPhone . . . for the first time! I was a senior kid in a candy store! I snapped at least 30 photos to share for this blog and to send some to my families and friends.

Seth started on the building side perpendicular to ours. We’d be the last row of the two building sides. He worked his way down a fifth-floor apartment to the fourth, third, second and finally, first floor. The cherry picker moved him back up to the adjoining apartments.

Without missing a beat, he washed quickly as he conversed with residents who had come out onto nearby balconies with built-in-six-foot distancing to snooper-vise! Speaking at top volume over the large hum of the rolling cherry picker machine below (on the parking lot asphalt in the otherwise quiet Saturday 8 o’clock cool morning), chats were easily overheard!

When Seth finally made it to our windows, I joked, “Hi, I’m Mary Jo! I hadn’t visualized you would be so close to OUR balcony. I’m taking photos for the Panorama BLOG. I hope it’s okay with you!”

His big smile and wave to the camera spoke louder than the machine’s roar. He posed quickly with his drying towels. But what he asked next surprised me. “Would you like to get on board?” (I certainly would have, but at 81….well?? Besides, I figured he was teasing.)

Changing the subject quickly, I asked, “You seem so efficient and do such a good job. How long have you been washing windows?”

“I’m so glad you asked,” he proudly announced. “This is my 20th year, and I really enjoy doing it, BUT…this is my 15th year at Panorama. And I sure do look forward to coming here.”

Just another perk for us. Thanks for this blessing, Panorama!