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.

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

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.

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! 

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.   

Panorama Mothers

Written by Panorama resident, Mary Jo Shaw. May 2019

If you are a mother in need of attention, Panorama treats you right.

 Even those who don’t have family members here can’t help but feel part of our big family spirit around Mother’s Day.

Chris honored me with our favorite dinner in Panorama’s Seventeen51 Restaurant the night before Mother’s Day. As we relaxed into our chairs, a waitress welcomed us with the included small plate of virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar and a basket of French bread.

I knew Chris’ preference before he ordered it: Reuben of grilled pastrami, swiss cheese, and sauerkraut on marble rye, a big bowl of house-made cabbage soup, and a large salad with vegetables & French dressing

Me? I selected my choice eight-ounce New York steak, rubbed with ground coffee bean, chipotle, garlic, brown sugar and olive oil, along with a real baked (not microwaved like at home!) baked potato and a double portion of steamed asparagus. After an overindulgence of elegant sufficiency, I accepted only a bite of Chris’ large slice of caramel pecan pie.

While enjoying our meal, we were introduced to several little grandchildren and we were welcomed to chat a while at the tables of other families. We remarked how we mothers always get to celebrate more than one day!

Had we not spent a lovely day with our daughter and family here in Lacey, we would have been able to enjoy a delicious brunch buffet at the Seventeen51 Restaurant & Bistro with our friends. Or we could have had our family attend with us, enjoying live piano music playing throughout the day there.

Personally, my day started off on the Panorama-provided bus trip to church, as I exchanged “Happy Mothers’ Day” with each woman on our bus. We chatted about our grands and greats children on the short 10-minute ride. 

During our church sermon, we had a special, inspiring prayer and blessing in thanksgiving for all the patience, guidance, hard work through illnesses, schooling, disciplining, loving, caring, cooking, driving, attending…you know, all those things that a mother lovingly endures to properly raise children from birth through teen years.

Our Panorama bus conversation continued during our ride home as we shared how we were going to celebrate the remainder of the day. One rider explained, “Mary, Ruth, and Carol aren’t on the bus today. They’re spending the weekend with their kinfolk out of town.” Other bus seats were empty because their adult children picked them up to attend Sunday services as a family.

As we passed others in hallways, outside, or events all week, we bragged about how many children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren or great-great-grandchildren each other had! We mothers felt honored all week. Thank you once again, Panorama!

Blasting Burst-outs!

Written by Panorama resident, Mary Jo Shaw. March 2019

How many times have we heard a real burst out? We heard some of them as children.

HEAR (pardon the on-purpose pun!) are a few echoes from the past:

GOOD for you…BIG GIRL…YOUR FIRST STEP. GIVE Mommy a BIG HUG!

You’re PREGNANT!? We’re going to be GRANDPARENTS!

Get out of bed and CLEAN UP this room!   

Ru-n-n, Tommy. Run!!

Do your homework, and I mean N-OW-W!

Go-o-o!….GO-O-O-O!  YEAH! …TOUCHDOWN!!

DAD!…I made all A’s!

Readers, do I see eyeball rolls and head nods?

Surely we’ve experienced the church organ with all STOPS bursting out Lohengrin’s Bridal March as our fancy hankies dotted smiling cheeks. Or maybe we recall when the orchestra played tutti (all, or almost all, the instruments playing at the same time) “How Great Thou Art” or John Phillip Sousa’s “Washington Post”. Then there are the unusual Washington State days: It’s going UP to 90 degrees today! Or what Chris and I seriously teased while living in the Las Vegas desert 25 years: At last, it’s going DOWN to a 100 tomorrow…A COLD FRONT!

We watch as a TV camera zeros in on an announcer holding a microphone as he rings a doorbell. The door opens and the entire family is already assembled and peering from behind the jackpot winner. You hear the squeals of excitement and the announcement, “This could be you, if you just… I have to admit I’d be a little loud too. However, I’m tired of those years. Waiting until the last minute to make the decision to return the entry or not, then caving in and nervously spending an hour sorting what to enclose in the thick, large envelope and being sure all the correct stickers were pasted in their proper places. My heart’s exhausted from pounding as I parted with those precious “15” cent stamps. At 80 years old, I’m blessed I don’t have to make those kinds of important decisions anymore.

My big decisions at Panorama hover over which of the many great activities to select. Will it be a lecture, stage play, concert, luncheon, a visit in our Pan Hall, party, class, or movie? Perhaps I’ll play the piano somewhere to cheer people up, or write, or do my crafts. I hope God has good ears to capture my bursts out of thanks in my heart (and even aloud) every day.

I remember when my friend burst out: I’M FREE OF CANCER! NOW PRAY FOR ME TO REMEMBER TO KEEP GIVING THANKS TO GOD.

And when I waved both hands impatiently…HAND ME MY CAMERA…GOTTA CATCH THIS SUNSET.

Walking around our campus on the first day the temperature went up to 50 degrees after our snowstorm, I dropped my jaw at the rhododendrons waiting to burst with their huge blooms, along with the daffodils. Spring is ready to burst out all over our gorgeous campus. So many plants have their buds’ color peeking out of their little casings. How can our hearts not burst out – HOW GREAT THOU ART?             

So…what’s my last bud almost ready to burst out? My next book, CROSSROADS TO CONVENT memoir is ready for the printer….ALLELUIA! ALLELUIA!

The Eyes Have It

Written by Panorama resident, Mary Jo Shaw. February 2019

The eyes have it…what my eyes didn’t and did see when it snowed.

While our eyes relaxed in deep sleep, those eyes did not see the deep snow falling on our quiet Panorama campus. It must have been mesmerizing to see the fluffing of such breathtaking scenes in a short span of time.

From our Quinault 5th floor balcony, my eyes spanned thick, white beautiful blankets lying dormant, the size and shape of every rooftop, yet hiding the shingles of those roofs from my eyes. The portrait was in black and white.

Trees taller than our balcony strained to hold tight to the whipped-cream snow mounds on their branches. I saw no green.

Lawns lay in layers of white, except for occasional foot or paw prints.

Autos, small vans, large SUVs, sedans, coupes, sports cars, station wagons…no color or variety…my eyes unable to distinguish my friends’ personal vehicles.

I had intended to use my eyes to finish my new book Crossroads to Convent that week, but the scene from the screen on our door got more attention than the screen on my laptop. I savored sitting, smiling, and meditating.

My eyes did not see–-in the many photos and videos I intended to send home—the real justice due to the Master Craftsman’s unusual sculpting for us that day.

What I did see:

Our loving, faithful maintenance in heavy coats, boots, gloves, hats and ear muffs, during their long day of clearing sidewalks and streets for us residents. Workers played games with Mother Nature…scoop…snow…scoop…snow.

Dedicated staff and employees bundled up, leaving deep footprints from the large parking lot across Sleater Kenny Road to the entrances to Panorama.

We are blessed.

I did eye many other dancing eyes from smiling residents, perked up from the expectedweather-report:  “Weather Man got it right for a change!”

What I did see…the work of the Master Artist painting a self-portrait of His own Beauty for us to behold with our human eyes. What must His Heaven be!

In the Bible, St. Paul says, “Eye has not seen, ear has not heard what God has ready for those who love Him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9, NKJV.

If you’d like, search for “Eye Has Not Seen – Marty Haugen” and listen and let your eyes see to the very end. To me, it’s a magnum opus.

I could go on and on, but eyes got to stop for now!

What is YOUR Life Story?

Written by Panorama resident, Mary Jo Shaw. November 2018

Think about it. Your story is only yours. It’s unique. No one else has the same life story as you. No two are alike!

I’d like to share this month’s unusual event.

The Lacey Senior Center invited me to be the presenter at their monthly Speakers Series. The manager asked me to discuss the 23 years of my life in my journey of when I was a nun and what happened when I left the convent and immediately trained to be a high fashion model.

In her phone call, Ms. Manager explained that my talk was to be “informative vs a primary sales pitch” for my Convent to Catwalk book. “You can have the book here and sell IF people request it after your talk. No problem.” She encouraged me saying that the seniors would love to hear excerpts of my stories.

Wow! How fun that would be! I was used to giving book reads & signings, but this would be different.

My opening remark usually explains that a catwalk is a modeling ramp for showing off fashions. I love the question-and-answer part during my presentations and always encourage the questions. “There’s no right or wrong question. Here’s your chance to find out what you’ve forever wanted to know about the nuns or high fashion modeling. If I don’t want to answer, I don’t want to answer.”

Naturally, I explain I don’t want to spoil the climax to the many stories, so I may give a soft hint of an answer. Invariably someone says, “I don’t want to hear the answer! It’s like knowing in advance ‘who done it’ when reading a mystery story.”

At Lacey Center, a woman posed, “Why did you write Convent to Catwalk?” Immediately, other attendees nodded wide-eyed.

My response? Actually, I answered with another question to everyone present to start a discussion. “That’s such a good question. Let’s list why you all think it was a good idea to write my story. I’ll give the first reason.”

I answered, “Why not? It’s my story, different from anyone else’s. I wouldn’t be here talking today if I hadn’t had the extreme contrast of the two life styles to write about.”

Toward the end of our hour, I summed up the reasons they offered which were true and my own added reasons:

  1. Years from now, some twig on our family tree will remark, “Oh, yeah! I heard we have an ancestor who was a nun, left the convent and was a model. Wonder what that was all about?”
  2. Even now my grandchildren (ages 11, 12 and 15) don’t know the mysterious, hilarious, traumatic, painful, emotional, near-death experiences I endured, how I handled them and how God helped me pull myself out of them.
  3. I don’t have expensive things to leave to my children and grandchildren. What I have they don’t want, except for my baby grand piano, and that will wear out and be forgotten that it was even mine.
  4. Without being preachy, I can leave them inspirational & positive ways to endure the ever-growing small and huge challenges they will experience in their lives.
  5. Most people won’t write a book as a legacy, but if we have a pencil and some three-holed paper or a simple computer, that’s all it takes…no fancy words, just writing as if we were telling our story to a friend…one story at a time.

The hour discussion with Lacey Center citizens was lively and fun, and too short!

So…what did you do that you tell your friends about when you reminisce about the 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s…? What do they laugh or cry about with you?

Here at Panorama, I’ve heard loads of life stories and learn more every day. Those accounts should stay alive for their families and for history.

I thank our 100 year-old Charlotte W., who has held free Panorama Writing Your Life classes for about 14 years twice a month. With no constructive critiques, our goal was simply to write a 10-minute story at home and read in it class. We were eager to hear the next episode in each resident’s life! Charlotte also started a program of tape-recording life stories of residents in our Convalescent & Rehabilitation Center. The activity director sees that the stories are typed and put into a folder. What a gift for the family!

After about a year, I was encouraged to attend PanWriters weekly classes, for a small fee, with international playwright Bryan Willis. He has taught at Panorama since 1998. I’d leave the class with swollen encouragement to publish my stores for others. Because of Panorama, I self-printed in 2018. Convent to Catwalk is in its fifth printing in one year. I look forward to the many opportunities to book read & sign, where I am able to donate a portion of the proceeds to the church, organization, or club; thus, giving back to my community and to my God.

I’m thankful that Panorama offers the opportunity, encouragement, the time (freedom from house maintenance and repairs, yard, etc.) and even sells our books and crafts for us in our Gifts Etc. shop!

So, what is your story? Write it right!

Panorama Welcomes My Unknown Cousin

Written by Panorama resident, Mary Jo Shaw. October 2018

In a few days, I’d be meeting a 2nd cousin who I didn’t know even existed. Our maiden names are both Italian: Barbera, which is not a common surname here in the USA.

There are many options of where we can meet on Panorama campus, but some are regularly used on Monday afternoons. I wanted a place other than our Quinault apartment. I wanted her to observe the friendly residents and their goings on, and yet not be in an isolated room where we might feel claustrophobic.

I prayed. Lord, You’ve never let me down. I know this mercenary, but You know the perfect spot for us to meet my cousin Nicole and her husband, Bruce, when they come tomorrow. I place this situation into your hands and I thank You in advance.

That evening, I observed a crowd leaving our restaurant. That’s it! The Panorama Seventeen51 Restaurant & Bistro! However, would they accommodate, understand, and allow us to occupy a large table for the four of us with room for our memorabilia and photos? We’d have access to meals, snacks, drinks—whatever—with no need to prepare them and clean up.

I ran upstairs to our apartment to gather and write down my thoughts and questions. I called our restaurant. Restaurant employee Erin seemed as excited as I was. “How fun, Mary Jo. We could push two tables together in a T-shape in the Bistro. You could be away from other tables and have a good time. We’d be nearby to wait on you when you are ready. You may have all afternoon to visit.”

The set-up was perfect.

We enjoyed our lunch, dessert, and drinks while sharing photos.

Nicole had pictures of herself and her little brother as youngsters standing at the side of a large inboard motor boat with the business name on the side in bold letters: Barbera Sports.

I belted, “Hey, that’s our boat!” Dad (her cousin) had taken the picture at the sporting goods store back in the late 1970s.

In several photos of my grandfather, Barbera Sr. (her uncle), I recognized the wallpaper in rooms at his birthday party, but I couldn’t remember where I had seen it. I took a cellphone image of the page in her album, and I sent it to my sister Jerri. She was excited, “That’s my house.”

Members of Nicole’s family, including her 80-year-old mother, called from out of town saying they wanted to come to Panorama to meet us. What a privilege and compliment! I could go on and on about our several hours of fun. Our families know Panorama is available with the hospitality to handle our next family reunions. Everyone can relax and let it happen—repeatedly!

How did Nicole track me down?

She had traced my name through ThurstonTalk online, which aired March 16, 2018. It ran a story by Anne Paxton Hammond of me and my book, Convent to Catwalk. The story was titled “Mary Jo Shaw: How a Nun Became a Fashion Model and Mom.”

Seek and maybe ye shall find an unknown relative. And thanks to Panorama!

A Resident’s Perspective – Does Panorama Consider Our Requests?

Written by Panorama resident, Mary Jo Shaw. August 2018

We love eating in the Panorama Seventeen51 Restaurant. Sometimes we wished we could make our own selection for a healthy salad. Many residents suggested this on the restaurant survey we all received. It covered menu, ambiance, noise, service, etc.

 

But how seriously did the cooks, the manager, and Panorama welcome our salad proposals? Restaurant manager Tavis explained the results of the survey in statistical pie charts on our closed circuit Channel 370, as well as in our monthly Panorama News. We looked forward to seeing just how his consideration of healthy salads would be implemented.

 

Surprise!

 

“Hey, Chris! Our May Calendar of Activities just arrived. Look! It says on the first and third Saturdays of each month, the restaurant’s going to try a salad bar from 5 to 7.”

 

He put down his magazine. “Sounds great. Let’s be sure to go.”

 

At the end of the week, we entered The Gallery in the restaurant. Chris stopped to visit and tease with a table of friends enjoying their meal. I headed straight to the food line. My jaw dropped.

 

I motioned to Chris and mouthed silently, “Come over here!”

 

Together we scoped the length of cold containers. “Wow, Chris, how nice! I didn’t expect this.”

 

We observed the fresh mixed greens, baby tomatoes, red onions, carrots, and diced cucumbers.

 

Chris pointed out his favorites. “Yum! Black olives, sunflower seeds, dried cranberries, broccoli, mushrooms, and candied walnuts…wow!

 

I anticipated the ham and turkey, but the tempting layout offered bacon bits, hardboiled eggs and delicious grilled chicken breast. “Glad I don’t have to cut all of this stuff. I love salad, but it takes so much time and then I’m exhausted after supper. Look, even bleu cheese crumbles and shredded cheddar.”

 

After filling our plates, we had to make a decision. Poppy seed, ranch, raspberry vinaigrette, honey mustard, or oil and vinegar?

 

“What’s this? A huge pot of soup? I didn’t envision that! How great…and rolls, breadsticks and crackers!”

 

As we turned to find a table, a couple who had just moved into the Quinault building down our hallway invited us over. “Join us for supper. I worked hard chopping up this big variety of items,” she joked.

 

Chris kidded back, “We’re providing the dessert. We’ll treat you to the fresh berries and mandarin oranges on the food line. You can have all you want!”

 

Does Panorama listen to our suggestions? I’ll let you decide ­­— all you want!