Flying False Teeth at Panorama?

Written by Panorama resident, Mary Jo Shaw. May 2018

“My children are adults now, and yet they still ask me, ‘Remember when your teeth flew?’” Those are Kathy Lee’s words.

I first met Kathy at Panorama’s Walk the Loop Group and again at Panorama’s July 4th picnic in 2012 when she and her hubby were taking a tour of Panorama. Kathy opened her large bag/purse and pulled out a copy of My Air Force Mom for our 4-year-old granddaughter, Hope, at the picnic. Kathy fanned the pages of her own book to Hope and read it to her. Hope eyed the colorful, cute pictures.

Wow! This lady has published her own book. In my Panorama writing class, Bryan Willis, his substitutes and class members keep encouraging me to print my stories of my 13 years in a religious convent, leaving, and immediately training in high fashion modeling. We need to talk shop.

I questioned Kathy about her writing/publishing experience, “When Grandma’s False Teeth Fly is my second published children’s book. It won the Silver Medal Award from the Military Writers Society of America.”

My mind went flying as I examined the silver sticker on the cover. She laughed. “It’s a fictional story that grew from factual events.”

I leaned forward to hear over the park picnic excitement. “Whoa! I gotta hear your story.”

She sipped her Dr. Pepper and pulled her folding chair closer. “As a child, I had a chipped tooth like Katie in my book. Now, I’m a grandma. I have worn false teeth for many years. On two separate occasions, my false teeth have taken flight.”

“The first time was at a party, at a club with the band playing ‘Twist and Shout’. My date and I were on a hot, crowded dance floor talking over the music. Unbeknownst to me, my mouth dried out. I took in a gulp of air and my upper plate flew from my mouth to the floor. Fortunately, the club was dimly lit. I twisted down to the floor, picked up my teeth, slid them into my pocket, twisted up to a standing position and scurried off the dance floor toward the restroom.”

I slapped my knee with laughter. Competition from the live band now playing presented a challenge, but we focused our conversation on writing.

Years later, she married and had a family. “In a heated argument with one of my sons, it happened again,” she continued. “Same thing. Dry mouth, gulp of air, and out they flew. After a second or two of shock, my son and I laughed so hard, the argument was completely forgotten. I have had first-hand experience with flying (actually falling) false teeth. Hence the title.”

“Kathy, with your creativity, you’d love our writing classes here at Panorama.”

“Oh, I didn’t know they offered them. Now I’m really getting excited about signing up. I have to tell you how this book evolved. My husband always made two cherry cream pies for our monthly church potluck lunch. This planted a seed idea that the fictional flight of grandma’s false teeth should happen at the church potluck. I wanted them to fly into banana pudding (my favorite), but the publisher changed it to chocolate pudding.”

As we both stood to fluff up our pillows aching from the park-chairs, my mind wandered. Wow! I don’t think I want to have a publisher…I’ve heard they want to change things. I’m writing my memoir Convent to Catwalk and I want every bit of it to be true.

I wanted to hear more, so Kathy offered, “I had rewritten this story six or seven times. In fact, I began writing it even before I wrote my first published children’s book, My Air Force Mom, and it took years to get it just right. After entering the story in contests and receiving valuable feedback, it eventually evolved into a book that shows children may choose to use humor to diffuse a situation with bullies.”

Kathy’s husband is fond of saying her book was a “ten-year overnight success.” Two of her five children’s books have colorful pictures with A to Z prompts, and lines and spaces where future little authors may write. Another is a poem, The Whisperwood Books & Bakery, where children enjoy snacks as they enjoy reading.

Shortly after moving to Panorama, Kathy joined Bryan’s screen-writing class.

Her darling books are spread out next to my Convent to Catwalk memoir in Panorama’s Gift’s Etc. Hundreds of resident hand-made items are for sale there: wood working, crochet, wool felting, greeting cards for every occasion, paintings, pottery, machine and hand sewn aprons, etc. Residents receive 80% in a monthly check.

Thanks, Kathy, for encouraging me to finish my self-published, successful book after writing faithfully for 5 ½ years.

Do false teeth fly at Panorama? At least Kathy Lee (author name: Mary Lee) made it a great story!

Resident Spotlight – Harold Rorden

Written by Panorama resident, Gail Madden. Photos by April Works. May 2018

As Panorama renews and renovates, you can hear the sounds of construction and renewal across the campus.  But that’s not the only construction happening here and not the only place homes are being built.  When Portland native Harold Rorden retired from his career in air traffic control, he originally moved to Lake Cushman and built a home with a big garage and workshop.  When he sold that home and relocated to Panorama in 2005, he was looking for a hobby – and activity – to fill his time.  He discovered the woodshop and found a great spirit of camaraderie among the team working there.  He also caught sight of a half-finished doll-house and he says, “That got me hooked.”

Most mornings you can find Harold down in the woodshop on the lower level of the Quinault putting together some very precious and special homes.  Long before plastic Barbie and her cardboard world became popular, little girls were entertained for hours on end with their doll houses and the furniture and imaginary families they installed in them.  These miniature houses originated about 400 years ago in Germany where their purpose was to entertain the children of the wealthy and privileged. Even today, girls feel very special when they’re presented with handmade dollhouses they can furnish and decorate.  And now boys can enjoy these miniature structures too.  There are horse stables and general stores as well as the traditional homes.

Harold takes great care in the construction of his dollhouses and as he says, “They start as kits, but I like to improve on the recipe.”  Each house takes two to three months to complete and has custom touches for both the exterior and interior.  Some are free-standing and others can be made to be wall-mounted in a child’s bedroom or playroom.  They usually have a porch and sometimes a porch swing so the doll family can enjoy a restful afternoon outside their home.  Other custom touches include the wallpaper, tile floors and, of course, the color scheme.  His construction projects are a labor of love and while they are for sale, the cost is only for materials, not for the labor that goes into making these wonderful playthings.

Harold donates a number of his completed dollhouses to the Stiles-Beach Barn where they are on display and available for purchase with the proceeds going to the Panorama Benevolent Fund.  If you have a moment, check out the houses currently on display at the Barn. Perhaps you have a grand or a great-grand who would be thrilled to find a custom dollhouse under the tree this Christmas.

Because they take time to construct, it is never too early for a parent or grandparent to think about that special Christmas or birthday gift of a custom constructed dollhouse.  Contacting Harold Rorden, the architect of these fantastical structures, allows you to pre-order your custom touches to personalize the gift.  He’d love to help you make that special little girl or boy a present that will be treasured for years to come.

Featured Panwriter – A “Through the Looking Glass” Essay


You Don’t See That Every Day

Written by Panorama resident, Verl Rogers. January 2016

After Alice went through the looking glass, she met Humpty Dumpty, and asked him kindly to tell her the meaning of the poem Jabberwocky.

Let’s hear it,” said Humpty Dumpty.  “I can explain all the poems that ever were invented – and a good many that haven’t been invented just yet.”


Alice repeated the first verse. 


‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves

Did gyre and gimble in the wabe ;

All mimsy were the borogroves.

And the mome raths outgrabe


Humpty Dumpty then told Alice that Brillig meant four o’clock in the afternoon,

Slithy  means lithe and slimy, that Toves are something like badgers, something like lizards, and they’re something like corkscrews.  Humpty added, Toves make their nests under sundials – also they live on cheese.


To Gyre, Humpty went on, is to go round and round like a gyroscope, to Gimble is to make holes like a gimlet, The Wabe is the grass plot around a sundial, because it goes a long way be-fore it,  and a long way be-hind it, and a long way be-yond it on each side. He continued, Mimsy  is flimsy and miserable.  A Borogrove  is a thin shabby-looking bird with its feathers sticking out around like a mop.


 Humpty Dumpty told Alice that a he was not sure about Mome Raths.   The Rath were green pigs,  but Humpty Dumpty offered a shaky opinion that Mome meant that they’d lost their way from home.


His last opinion, or maybe it was a fact – Humpty Dumpty was always certain – uttered the truth that Outgribing is something between bellowing and whistling,  with a kind of sneeze in the middle.  “When you hear it down in the wood yonder, you’ll be quite content.”


 Something  Alice never interpreted was how she got through the looking glass, into the house of mirror images.  She said to her kitty, “Let’s pretend the glass has got all soft like gauze, so that we can get through.”  The book goes on to  say she went through the mirror, but hardly knew how  she got there.


I conclude that Humpty Dumpty is a  unique person; a talking egg, one wearing a shirt collar and cravat, sitting on a wall, in danger of falling. 


Because Alice found him in the House of the Looking-Glass, his left hand is his right and everything else about him is also a mirror image.   You have to take the distortion into your mind when you deal with the little fellow.


More, you would have to follow Alice’s lead; you must go through the looking-glass to find him!  You don’t see Humpty Dumpty every day!

– Verl Rogers

Verl Rogers has recently published some of his essays in an e-book, which you can purchase for $2 here or here.


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

Resident Spotlight – Dr. Nels Hanson

Dr. Nels Hanson Way

Dr. Nels Hanson Way – photo attributed to South Puget Sound Community College

Panorama is not alone this year in celebrating 50 years. South Puget Sound Community College (SPSCC) in Olympia has also reached the golden year. To commemorate this momentous occasion, the Winter 2013 edition of Soundings, the college magazine, featured reflections from  past college presidents who have shaped SPSCC into the respected institution it is today. One of these past presidents is none other than Panorama resident, Dr. Nels Hanson. A man of great leadership and virtue, Hanson is considered a pioneer of the college as we know it today.

Dr. Hanson graduated from Washington State University and later earned his doctorate at Stanford. He began his career in education as a high school teacher in Randle, WA, where he taught for two years before joining the Army to serve in World War II. After the war, Hanson returned to teach at Randle, where he met a fellow teacher who would soon become his wife. Hanson’s knack for leadership was put to use during his time in Lewis County as manager of the Morton Loggers’ Jubilee.

In 1957, he took a teaching job at Olympia High School and, two years later, became the Director of Science and Math for the State Superintendent’s office. By 1966, Hanson was wearing two hats, as the president of Centralia College and the Director of Science and Math at the Superintendent’s Office. It was during this time that new legislation opened a door of opportunity for Olympia that Dr. Hanson would see through to a successful future.

Although Olympia had Evergreen State College, there was an academic gap to be filled. Once the Community College Act of 1967 passed, the ability to fill this gap became apparent. The act created Community College District 12 for the area and Dr. Hanson was named as the first district president. Centralia College was alone in the district and the gap remained in Olympia.

“I knew we needed a community college in Olympia but the legislature would never allow it.”

The solution came from an already thriving Olympia Vocational Technical Institute (OVTI) that was operating downtown. Under the Community College Act, OVTI could be transferred from the Olympia School District to the newly formed District 12 and thus be transformed into a community college with an academic focus.  However, this idea was met by substantial resistance from OVTI faculty members and Citizen Advisory Committee.  There was also concern that a community college in Olympia would take away from the college in Centralia, causing enrollment decline. On the other hand, Dr. Hanson knew a community college status for OVTI would provide access to funds that could create a better future for the school.

The transfer of OVTI from Olympia School District to Community College District 12 first went to a school board vote in December 1968, resulting in a 3-1 majority against the transfer. After another year of discussion and a second round of voting, the transfer was approved by the school board.

Conditions that accompanied the transfer were intended to prevent a negative impact on Centralia College and to ensure a continued commitment to vocational education. Thus, academic classes were prohibited for the first year of operation but the college would eventually grow to become fully comprehensive.

During his tenure as District 12 President, Dr. Hanson saw many big changes in education for the area. Along with the successful new beginning for OVTI, Hanson oversaw the establishment of an education program for inmates of the Washington Corrections Center in Shelton.

Speaking of the program in Shelton, Hanson stressed the importance of education in providing a personal identity for inmates.

“We did as much as we could to give them an identity outside of the prison and tried to distinguish their education as equal to that of a legitimate community college. “

To that end, inmates enrolled in the program were able to obtain the degree that was most appropriate to their previous schooling. For instance, if an individual had some college background they could obtain their 2 year degree. Others obtained General Education Degrees and some even finished their 4 year degrees. Each degree received through the program was identical to any other degree from the community college in Olympia.

Dr. Hanson decided to retire from his tremendous career in 1981. He still attends certain events for both colleges, Centralia and South Puget Sound, and says he is so proud of their accomplishments and continued success.

Even throughout retirement, he has continued to work hard and exhibit his qualities as a natural leader. At the age of 94, Dr. Hanson owns and manages 600 acres of forest land that he has collected over the years. His favorite piece of land is 300 acres located near Rainier. He likes to go out and plant seedlings and “just do things in the woods.”

“I haven’t really retired yet. I don’t give it a day’s rest…always keep it going.”

It comes as no surprise that Dr. Hanson is well known in the Panorama community. He moved here in 2002 and has since been involved in resident organizations as a producer for Panorama’s closed circuit television studio and a former president of the Lacey Sons in Retirement.

“It’s easy to stay busy around here. There are plenty of opportunities to get involved.”

Nels is another legend here at Panorama that we are proud to know and call neighbor.

25 Years of Pat Thielen

This month is monumental to us for many reasons. March 2013 not only marks 50 years of Panorama, it also brings a special anniversary for one of our most beloved employees.

Patrick Thielen has been a retirement advisor at Panorama for 25 years.

Before joining us, Pat served in the United States Marine Corp, worked for Union Pacific Railroad, and the Olympia Brewery. Later, he and his wife operated their own independent insurance agency, which they stayed with until 2004.

PatAs a retirement advisor, Pat works with those who are considering life at Panorama. He takes on the task of presenting our complex community to prospective residents, a job he has mastered with enthusiasm. When you listen to Pat explain all that comes with life at Panorama, it’s easy to see he is a wealth of knowledge for a topic that he truly believes in.

So what has kept him here?

Pat says “free coffee.”  All jokes aside, “I love my job. I’m still having fun. If I wake up one morning and I’m no longer having fun, I’m outta here.”

Luckily for us, we will never really lose Pat; he and his wife became residents in 2010. Sharing the story of Panorama is something Pat loves to do, not only as part of his job but as a resident who believes in the community and lifestyle that comes with it. His favorite part about being a Panorama resident is the maintenance-free living.

“Even though we loved [working on our house and yard] before, it becomes a chore after a while. This frees up a lot of our time.”

That “free” time is well used. He hasn’t become too involved with resident organizations and activities yet but, with five grandkids, sporting events are Pat and Joy’s real passion.

“We could be at five or six sporting events a week, and we love that.”

Childhood sports opportunities are something Pat takes to heart. Knowing the expenses associated with youth sports, it is clear there are many children missing the opportunity to participate.

“Four years ago, Joy and I started a non-profit organization called All Out Sports. It’s my passion to make sure kids can get into sports.”

All Out Sports has grown from an idea to a successful 501 (c) (3) corporation that sponsors children who are financially unable to play sports in the Thurston County area. The program is designed for kids up to 18 who meet the academic performance requirements, as approved by their school principal. The organization is currently sponsoring kids in a variety of athletics including swimming, karate, basketball, baseball, cheerleading and more.

Through donations and fundraisers, such as the annual fall dinner auction and summer golf tournament, All Out Sports is able to provide the funds necessary for kids to participate in their favorite athletics. For one particular little girl, that meant purchasing a bathing suit and covering the YMCA membership fees so she can take swimming classes. That little girl has showed her appreciation for this support in letters written to the board of All Out Sports with a description of her progress, a “thank you”, and “I hope I can swim again next year.”

Making an important difference in those children’s lives will keep Pat busy even after he retires. He plans to focus his time on his grandkids and All Out Sports.

We aren’t ready to lose Pat as an employee and we are all glad to know that when he does decide to retire, he will never be far.


Armchair Traveler: The Northwest Passage and Greenland

NW Passage and GreenlandHow many people can say they’ve traveled along the Northwest Passage and stepped foot in Greenland?

Polar BearVerl, a Panorama resident since 1992, has done just that. In fact, he’s taken that trip several times, most recently in September of 2012.

UpernavikWhat an exotic trip. That’s what Armchair Traveler is all about; the opportunity for the well-traveled to open the eyes of their fellow residents, sharing pictures and stories of their remarkable experiences.

NW Passage and GreenlandVerl’s presentation of his trip took us on a journey from Kugluktuk, Canada to Kangerlussuaq, Greenland. Along the way he saw polar bears, narwhals and ivory gulls. He explored Beechey Island, a site of significance in the history of Arctic exploration, and experienced the feeling of less than 3 degrees Fahrenheit.

Verl also saw walruses and played a game of soccer in the town of Upernavik, Greenland. He said it was the men from the cruise ship versus the local town’s men.

Leaving us with his closing thought, Verl recalled:

“The Arctic seemed vast, cold, and empty to us. Yet, when we stepped onto the land we turned our attention to the living.”

Not as dismal as some might expect.


Stay tuned for more Armchair Travel. Next month we go to Haiti with a husband and wife who have close ties with the native people.

Honoring Our Veterans







Veterans Day is just a reminder of the gratitude we  owe to those who have fought for our nation. At Panorama we are lucky to be in company with a large number of our country’s greatest patriots. One of these is World War II veteran, Jim Romero who recently received a much deserved expression of gratitude from the Honor Flight Network. The Honor Flight Network is a federal non-profit 501(c)3 organization dedicated to honoring our nation’s heroes. As a chosen honoree, Jim was given an all expenses paid trip to Washington DC. The trip included a full weekend itinerary with visits to the World War II Memorial as well as the Lincoln Monument, Korean War Memorial,  Vietnam Wall, a tour of the Capital, Arlington National Cemetery with the Changing of the Guard ceremony, and several other points of interest. What a moving experience.


About the Honor Flight Network



Introducing Panorama DART

 The Panorama Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) is an organization of resident volunteers with a mission of preparedness and assistance.

“To educate residents to be better prepared to take care of themselves, friends, neighbors, and other residents in the event of a disaster until emergency responders can arrive.”

Panorama is the only retirement community in the United States with a disaster assistance team like DART. Each of DART’s 120 members undergo training that is standardized by the federal government. The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training is a 3 day training course that includes information on emergency preparedness, emergency medical assistance, fire safety, and search and rescue. The end of the course involves a disaster simulation in which members test their knowledge and skills.

Although DART members are trained in all disaster events defined by the Thurston County Emergency Management, their primary task in the event of a disaster would be triage and treatment of injured residents immediately following an incident. In the event of emergencies on a smaller scale, Panorama management may call upon DART for additional assistance. More specifically, DART takes on the role of Storm Assistance in some cases. During severe storm conditions, members will assist employees in answering phones, informing residents (by way of phone calls or communication runners), hosting campus “warming areas”, assistance in the restaurant (when low on staff), and home visits to residents when necessary.

The DART team has members with additional qualifications and training such as doctors, psychologists, and those who have personally experienced disasters and evacuation scenarios (one member spent 3 days on an interstate overpass waiting for rescue during hurricane Katrina).

No one wants to consider the possibility of experiencing a disaster situation but it is imparative to be prepared. At Panorama, we are very fortunate to have 120 qualified volunteers ready to assist fellow residents and support staff members, should we find our community affected.

Featured Resident Poet

Untitled Dream– by Jeanne Gordner

While I slept,
the morning broke-

broke so softly
I never woke. Light slipped
silently off the clouds
and shattered
‘neath the sweet gum tree,
surprising flickers feeding there.

The brightest pieces lost
in unmowed grass and dandelions.

But all that day
in springtime showers
I searched for shards among the shadows,
unmatched shapes
soft and pliable as flowers,
and pressed them in a book.

On worried days I bring them out
and weave them in a golden ring,
warm as the morn they rained to me
radiant and quiet.

Jeanne will be reading her original poetry Sunday, July 24th at Traditions Cafe on 5th & Water St. in Olympia. The reading will begin at 2:00 p.m. and is expected to last approximately 45 minutes. The public is welcome to attend.

2011 Civic Pride Honor Roll

Panorama resident and dedicated voter receives recognition and a certificate from Kim Wyman, Thurston County Auditor.

Longtime dedicated voters were honored by the Thurston County Auditor, Kim Wyman on Thursday. Residents who have exercised their American right to vote for 50 years or more were recognized and presented with a certificate. One resident  first voted for Franklin Roosevelt in the Presedential Election 75 years ago. Another honoree shared that she missed voting only once because she was serving in Belgium. She believes she played a part in making absentee ballots available for Americans abroad when she notified Bobby Kennedy of this issue.

Thank you to those who continue to participate in this patriotic duty!

Ruth Kirk

Written by Howard Burton

I knew of Ruth Kirk, but when I saw her recently on the PBS television series on the National Parks, I realized the impact she has had.

When Ruth Kirk moved to Panorama, it was suggested at that time that an article be written about her as an example of the interesting people that live here at Panorama.   The idea fell by the wayside, but when the television series aired, I realized it was time to share her story with everyone.

Ruth Kirk is the author of thirty-five books, including three children’s books. Ruth has also been honored with numerous awards including those of the New York Academy of Sciences, the American Library Association, the Washington Governor’s Arts Award, the prestigious John Burroughs Medal for Natural History Writing that blends personal observation with research, and nomination for the National Book Award in the science category.

Ruth was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. Her husband, Louis Kirk, was a National Parks Ranger and his assignments took the family all over, including Death Valley and the Dakotas. She never picked out a favorite place.   “Wherever I was at the time,” she said. Traveling and moving a lot, they developed the ability to say goodbye before they got to say hello.

Ruth has always been a writer. Her first book was entitled Exploring Death Valley. Ruth and her husband lived in the Valley during the early 1950’s and she felt that “the tourists needed a book on how to see what is there and how to understand what they are looking at.” Ruth called it the “Paper Ranger” and it was in print for 40 years.

It was while taking basket making lessons from the Panamint Indians in Death Valley that Ruth learned about photography. She borrowed her husband’s camera because he couldn’t take the pictures: “he would scare them.” With their Leica camera she tried her hand at photography. This experience pleased her and with the eventual success of these pictures and others, photography became a new skill which found its way into much of her work.

“We moved to Mount Rainier in the early 1950’s, transferred by the National Park Service from Death Valley and the tall cactus country of the Mexican borderlands. The van driver who brought our goods commented: ‘you’ve moved from the ridiculous to the sublime’”…  To Ruth, the Pacific Northwest was the perfect place to settle.  “To me, this is not the ‘other’ Washington mentioned in tourism ads as an oblique reference to Washington D.C.. This is the right Washington.” This statement reflects how many of us feel about our home here in Washington State.

Because of her connection with the National Park Service, Ruth was invited to participate in Ken Burns’ new National Parks TV series. She said they flew her to San Francisco where the interviews and taping were produced.

With the death of Mr. Kirk in 1992, Ruth moved to Olympia, Washington. In 1997 she married her friend of 40 years, Dr. Richard Daugherty, an archeologist, and moved to Panorama. Together, they combined their knowledge and skills in writing Archaeology in Washington.