OLLI Members: So many stories to tell!

Often I pause for a minute or two in the dining room, the place where I fold clothes and we entertain at Christmas, to walk other paintingalong the stones in this painting.
 It’s a quiet fall afternoon, crisp and freshly cleansed by rain, awash with the sweet embrace of flowers crowding the walkway.
That’s the feeling that swooshes over me every time I fold a towel or pass a dish to my kin.
There’s another painting:  It’s a picture of noisy intersections of bright ideas and opinions and points of view, some as succinct as a bouquet of perfectly petaled daisies, others as scattered as wild grass, all framed by respect for one another.
This is our OLLI Discussion Forum, a gathering of some fifteen to twenty souls twice a month, first and third Mondays, all filled with life experiences and hard knocks as varied as wine notes.  They are the bouquets in the painting, large and colorful.   Most had it relatively easy, growing up pretty. A few were jerked up from the ground hard with little money, but with love and never a bitter tear.  And others in between.
This is a smart bunch.  They have stories that curl your hair.  They tell tales that break your heart.  They’re proud of their kids and grandkids, or not, and had parents who loved them, ignored them, indulged them, taught them, shaped them.  Some had careers that centered them, encouraged them to grow.  But all have lived to tell their stories and do so eloquently.  And I love to listen to them.  And I relish telling them mine.
And express and chat and argue and push we do, we colorful bouquets who impress each other with our colors and shapes and brainy bounty.  Twice a month.  First and third Mondays .  All year long.
OLLI Member Tim Hoyt
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“Screw Your Courage to the Sticking-Place……..”

Well of course Shakespeare’s Lady Macbeth was talking about bloody murder but her words could easily apply to taking part in adventure sports! In the past nine months I have engaged in four daring physical activities that were definitely not top of my must-do list, in fact not even on it.

The first was spelunking in Belize in November 2014 – except I thought I was just going to explore an ancient cave used by the Mayans, Actun Tunichil Muknal. Some say for human sacrifice but maybe the skeletal remains are from people who died a more natural death. I knew I was going to have to wade across two fast-flowing rivers and then swim into the mouth of the cave but then I thought I would be on dry land. No so! I was up to my neck in water, fully clothed and shoed for over three hours, squeezing through small spaces with only a headlamp for light. I had to trust completely in my guide and follow his instructions faithfully. The prize at the end of the Indiana Jones style trial was a look at the crystalized skeleton known as the Crystal Maiden, although scholars disagree about the gender.


Three days later I found myself dropping over the side of a boat in the middle of the Caribbean Sea off the Belize Cayes on a snorkeling expedition. Again, risky business for a landlubber like me. What? Really? You mean I have to just get out here, with no land in site?! I had naively thought there might be a dock close by. Another occasion to follow Lady Macbeth’s advice and go for it – and trust in my guide.
I must admit to waking up several times in the night after those experiences thinking lots of “What if” scenarios.

Fast forward to Costa Rica in March 2015 accompanied by a group of OLLI members. We strapped on our life jackets, grabbed a paddle and got into our raft for a white water rafting adventure on the foaming Sarapiqui River. We were expertly maneuvered around obstacles by our young and fearless guide as we jammed our feet under the seats, hung on for our lives and paddled furiously! It was an exhilarating ride. During the few quieter stretches of river we were able to admire the wildlife including white faced and howler monkeys and exotic birds.

As if that was not enough excitement nine of us donned protective helmets and gloves a few days later to brave the zip-line canopy tour. There were eight cables including the chicken run where you could test your courage on a very short section of zip line and duck out if it all proved to be too much for you. We all decided to risk it. I was very impressed to learn that eight of the nine people in our group were zip-lining for the first time – all retired (except me) and still game for new experiences that are a test for mind and body. This course was not for the faint-hearted with speeds of up to 50 miles per hour and one line at a height of 656 feet above the forest canopy. I found that gazing across at Lake Arenal helped me to cope with my surging adrenaline levels! At those speeds there was no chance of spotting any of the wildlife that was certainly present in the trees. Well we all survived the experience and purchased the photo to prove it.

JHC Ziplining
Our activities were more leisurely after that. Hot springs, a sunset jungle crocodile safari,and a lovely beach resort where we could relax and swap stories of our daring adventures. We’re glad we followed Lady Macbeth’s advice!

Joan Hardman-Cobb (OLLI Special Programs Coordinator)

Sunset on Crocodile watch Bill Hube

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OLLI Makes a Difference!

I recently finished reviewing the course evaluations for our second spring term. I love reading what members thought of the courses and how the program impacts their lives. Here are some of my favorite comments from the spring courses:

  • “Makes me think and enhances my life experiences. It’s encouraging to see others interested in learning and appreciating.”
  • “It’s nice to have a schedule to ‘get out of the house.’”
  • “OLLI has become more and more important to me. It is my ‘refuge’ day. I really look forward to it!”
  • “OLLI has impacted my life in a positive way. I live in a senior independent facility. It gets me out of the compound and into the larger world.”
  • “OLLI has kept me stimulated mentally and opened doors to knowledge of geography and some cultures that do not receive great world attention.”
  • “I’m new to OLLI, and I have found myself having more energy and enthusiasm since taking a number of courses this term.”
  • “I’m not a morning person, but I look forward to getting up and going to OLLI courses!”
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Costa Rica Slide Show!

A great slide show from OLLI member Julia Daniels, who went on our study trip to Costa Rica in March! http://www.photoshow.com/watch/Cn7qe5SX?source=em_ps_show_recipient

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OLLI Members Learn about “the real CSI”

On April 13th, OLLI members had the chance to learn about Forensic Science: Real World CSI vs. Hollywood.  Our guide was Dr. Nelson Vinueza, Assistant Professor of Chemistry at NC State. Before coming to NC State, Dr. Vinueza helped organize Ecuador’s forensic science labs and trained the scientists.  We got to learn how flawed the science is on television as they primarily want to move the plot along.  No surprise, right? Among the “food for thought” that Dr. Vinueza shared:

On TV, they are always pulling gloves out of their pockets: instant contamination!

On TV, the detectives solve the case together. In real life, usually one is assigned to the subjective matters (motive, etc.) and another is assigned to objective matters (forensic evidence).

Our photo shows Dr. Vinueza chatting with OLLI members after his presentation. Vinueza

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Dispatches from the OLLI Costa Rica Trip – March 11

Wednesday March 11
Today our  merry band of OLLI travelers headed to Del Bosque, an eco tourism farm. The road was unpaved, rutted and tortuous but our excellent driver Roger did a wonderful job!
We were greeted by Don Antonio, the owner. He comes from a long line of farmers, starting with his Great Grandfather, Don Carmelino but only recently decided to enter the eco-farm business. Only one product is sold commercially- pigs.

Luis led us on a tour of the farm, which has an area of approximately 2,471 acres. Only 49,200 sq feet are being used for trails, gardens, cultivated areas, reforestation etc.
We were introduced to a number of endangered species, one of which was white tailed deer! We told Luis we would be happy to export some from North Carolina.

Later we saw two oxen walking in circles to power the sugar cane mill. Then Reggie and Don took the place of the oxen with Phyllis ably I cracking the whip. Vamanos! Of course we sampled the liquid products of their labor – or at least some made earlier.
We toured the medicinal plant garden where Luis was very informative about the uses of the various plants. We saw the pig operation with one boar, 20 sows and multiple piglets
A delicious lunch rounded off our tour – beans, rice, pork, salad, enchilada and lemonade.
From the road,
OLLI Members Don & Jo Adams

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Greetings from Costa Rica: Action-Packed!

More news from the OLLI study trip to Costa Rica!

Costa Rica crossing bridgeToday was a real action day. Our morning activity was a demonstration but not until we had negotiated a long suspension bridge over a foaming river. Not for the faint-hearted!

During our coffee demonstration we learned about the process from cacao pod to drinking and solid chocolate – all produced in a forest setting with no automation. We sampled at each stage –  so good. We will be very fussy about our chocolate purchases from now on!Costa Rica coffee demo

After lunch we suited up for our rafting adventure on the Sarapiqui River. Our excellent guides pointed out wildlife on the river even as we negotiated treacherous rapids!

We rounded off our day with a cooking demonstration with OLLI members dicing and  chopping vegetables for the dish which included freshly made corn tortillas.

Costa Rica cooking

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Dispatches from the OLLI Trip to Costa Rica!

March 6
Early start bumpy road through Braulio Carrillo National Park en route to the Caribbean low lands crossing the continental divide on the way.Costa Rica croc

At our breakfast stop for mixed beans & rice we saw sloths and a poisonous blue footed frog.
Cruised down the river and across a lagoon to Evergreen Lodge in the Tortuguero region.
From our boat we saw a crocodile basking on the bank and several snowy egrets with their bright yellow fish lure feet! Also some blue herons. As North Carolinians we felt quite at home – except for the croc of course!

Welcome drink of local fruit juice on the dock. Found our cabins. Lunch in the aptly named Monkey Restaurant. White Faced monkeys cavorted and  posed for us outside in the trees  just outside.Costa Rica monkey

After lunch we took to the water again as that is the only way to get around in Tortuguero and visited the Green Turtle Research Station and explored the lively little town of Tortuguero.

March 7 Tortuguero national park
It’s raining in the rain forest but still beautiful! our early morning wake up call was the howler monkeys! More of a bellow than a howl. I was expecting a high pitched scream. Coffee from the monkey restaurant followed by buffet breakfast with made-to- 
order tropical fruit smoothies- delicious!
Costa Rica group
On our morning boat cruise along the local rivers and canals we saw howler monkeys, bats, green backed heron, great blue herons, small blue herons, toucans, green iguana, a caiman and a Jesus Christ lizard, so-called because of its propensity to walk on water!

Costa Rica Lizard

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The OLLI @ Raleigh Paddling Group Adventures


Seven OLLI paddle group members answered the call “let’s paddle”, and we spent last week on a Road Scholar trip in Puerto Rico where we kayaked on the ocean and through the mangrove trees, and we snorkeled, hiked, toured, and had a wonderful time.  We plan to get started again paddling locally in April or May, and we invite you to join us.  Just send an email to the organizer, Fay Krapf at faykrapf@gmail.com


Fay Krapf




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Another Perk of OLLI Membership: Trailblazers

The heron  at Falls Lake (1)


Picture a lovely blue sky on a warm spring day, a greenway trail winding through the trees with the hint of flowers beginning to bloom, and a group of OLLI members enjoying the walk and each other’s company. Then again, picture the same group bundled up against the cold with long underwear, winter coats, and scarves keeping each of them warm, walking along the Neuse River on a cold day in January, watching the flow of the water with herons perched proudly on rocks in the river. This is Trailblazers, our walking group on the greenways in Wake County.  All of it is an opportunity to get fresh air and exercise, meet new friends or enjoy the company of those you already know, and maybe walk a new greenway or visit a new part of town. The group was formed several years ago and walks on Friday mornings unless it is a holiday or the Wake County schools are delayed or closed due to inclement weather.

No sign up needed, no fees involved, just come when you can. All OLLI members are welcome. You can get your name added to the email list through the OLLI office to receive information about where we are walking this week. Get out your walking shoes and come join Trailblazers. We would love to see you!

Submitted by Janet Hiser, Member of Trailblazers Coordinating Committee

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