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


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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A Walk in the Park

tim hoyt

A Fantasy park.  One should be built in every mind.  You start in the immense room where all your life’s stuff is stored.   Whenever you have time to leap into your imagination, you rush through this wondrous room, nodding at props all around you, in dusty bins, on shelves that might have been nailed together yesterday or 20 years ago.  Your props know what you’re thinking.  The park they build might have Christmas cards taped around a door frame.  Your park could have an embarrassing picture of your young self, grossly enlarged, hanging on a wall or on a light pole.  Your parents are standing in front of it, admiring, smiling, motioning you over. Family pictures and portraits change weekly, like in a gallery.  The stuff in your storage room knows of hundreds that are possible.  Your park breathes, expands into a stadium, contracts into a gift box, disappears. Colors burst, explode, float away.  Brightly colored lights self-select for each scene.  The music is old school, blasting, but just as often, playing soft as butter.  The chinaberry trees appear, catch your eye, disappear. Caught in swirls of perfect breezes are bicycles, wagons, math books, happy dead people. Passing through are brown houses, white igloos, pink dining rooms.  There are clouds low down, big white puffy ones in hot pursuit of whirling black wisps shooting at them. That scene whizzes by quickly, always the finale.

My stock room is huge.  Coliseum huge.  It’s a mess.  Stuff everywhere.  Poorly organized.  I hurry through it.  The props getting the nod race to the park ahead of me.  They’ll be there waiting.  A dozen pathways lie ahead rising, falling, twisting around one another in a most pleasant manner.  I talk with my stuff as I walk along, and I stay as long as I want.  Time is different here.

Tim Hoyt     2/2/2015

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OLLI Epicureans

For the last three and a half years participants in the Encore/OLLI program have been enjoying the benefits of the Epicureans Special Interest Group. The group was established as a result of a discussion within the Membership and Marketing Committee about how to encourage members to enjoy socializing outside of the classroom setting. The idea came forward of having a lunch or dinner on a periodic basis to try out some of the area’s restaurants and I, Mike Rakouskas, a member of the committee volunteered to give a try at coordinating such an effort. Carol Cozzolino, also a member of the committee volunteered to assist.

Since May of 2011, about every other month or so, the Epicureans gather to sample some of the available fare in various restaurants in the Raleigh area. I remember the very first event that we held. It was an al fresco dinner at the Boylan Street Brewpub. It was a beautiful evening outside overlooking the downtown skyline. As we were dining a huge, bright full moon came out over Raleigh…it was absolutely gorgeous, and everyone had a great time. I knew then that we had the right recipe for Encore/OLLI members to enjoy being together.

Since that night we have enjoyed such restaurants as Caffe Luna, the Oakwood Café, 18 Seaboard, NoFo@the Pig, Spartacus, Tuscan Blu, Lucky 32, Mia Francesca, Peking Garden, Napper Tandy’s, Humble Pie, Posta Tuscan Grille, Mura Japanese Steakhouse, Hibernian Irish Pub, Taverna Agor, La Volta Italiano, Swad Indian Cuisine, and Shuckers Oyster Bar & Grill

Typically we have either a luncheon or dinner on a Monday or Tuesday. We’ve found that it is easier for restaurants to host us on those days without being too demanding about reservations and guarantees. We ask that the restaurant provide individual checks and not require a deposit. That makes it a bit easier on me as coordinator.

We look forward to trying more of the area’s restaurants and invite any OLLI member to join us. To be placed on the email listing for future announcements of Epicurean dining events contact me at

  • Mike Rakouskas

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Did You Know?….

Did you know that by participating in OLLI at NC State you are part of a nationwide movement? There are close to 500 programs like ours located at colleges and universities across the United States. They are all different in structure, instructors, and programming, but what they all have in common is the idea that continuing education is not just for the working years. There is value in coming together in a community to learn.  Yes, you can watch fascinating shows on PBS, and there is a wealth of material online these days. But none of those equals the opportunity to be in a classroom with interesting peers, who have led interesting lives, learning with instructors who feel they also grow and learn from the experience. Special?  You bet!

Tricia Inlow-Hatcher

Director, OLLI at NC State

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Contemplating America’s Greatest Tragedy—The Civil War

I am one of OLLI’s many history buffs, and have sat spell-bound throughout Dave Milidonis’ Civil War Sesquicentennial Series of classes. He’s a retired military officer by trade, and a military historian by passion. He puts you into the heads and hearts of those who fought, especially the generals on both sides, most of whom graduated long ago from his alma mater, West Point. Like most of us who take his classes, I have long awaited the Civil War battlefields trip that he led for us on June 4—7. It exceeded my lofty expectations! Here are some of my reflections during and since the trip.

For me, a Southern girl born in the state where the war broke out, South Carolina, and living throughout my adulthood in North Carolina, my feelings about the Civil War are highly personal, and highly complicated. Three of my great-great-grandfathers fought in the Civil War—you can easily guess which side they were on! If you’re from the South, you probably know these facts about your ancestry; if you’re not a Southerner, you might not know and might not care whether an ancestor wore either gray or blue between 1861 and 1865. You see, it matters to me, and I think to most present-day Southerners, because we cannot fathom why they went along with the things they did, and we so wish we could understand. The vast majority (70 % or so) of the citizens in the Confederate states did not own slaves. Many who volunteered to go to war had wives and children back at home, and life on the Confederate home-front was one of extreme hardship, deprivation, and ultimately financial ruin and searing grief over lost loved-ones. So why?

We all know the many reasons historians give for the war and the rush to become a participant in it, and I’ll have to settle for those insights into why, though I’ll never really understand. Dave Milidonis does not do much speculating as to why the war was fought. He seeks to teach us what and how and where and when things happened. One day last week we were at Antietam, the bloodiest single day of the war during which 23,000 young Americans were lost. The next day we were at Gettysburg, a three-day battle during which 50,000 died in the bloodiest battle of the war. On our way home we explored Spotsylvania, where trench warfare and hand-to-hand combat made it another horror, another bloodbath. Dave took us across each battlefield, pointing out how they studied the lay of the land and engineered their battle plans accordingly, either to their advantage or to their ultimate peril. He pointed out ingenuity and ineptitude, courage and cowardice, hard work and sloth. He leaves it to each of us to contemplate what learning in such detail about the savagery of this war does to our hearts.

For this Southern girl who had ancestors die in this war, I didn’t return home with any more of a clue as to why they went off to it. What I gained was a much deeper understanding of the costs, and an even keener feeling of sadness over the suffering and the loss. But I also returned home with at least a hint of hopefulness. If this country could recover, come together, and even thrive, in the aftermath of all that carnage and all that hate, surely there is hope for a less divisive future than what we are experiencing now. Perhaps all of our political leaders, upon taking their oaths of office, should be required to go on a Civil War battlefields trip led by Dave Milidonis, and see and feel what the results of divisiveness, animosity, arrogance and stubbornness can be!


Carol Rahmani

June, 2014

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A Grand Affair by Amber Sawyers


On this December morning, I am sitting in my living room enjoying the sight and smell of the decorated Fraser Fir that stands in the bay window.  As beautiful as it is even in its transient nature, it is not the star attraction in the room.  The real treasure is the female presence in the corner.  I knew she was feminine from the moment I first saw her.  She is my piano.

She is an upright grand constructed of solid, quarter-sawn oak and cast iron.  She is barely moveable.  I can date the manufacture date of 1893 from the Steinway serial number inside.  Underneath the keyboard is a sign of something from her past.  I envision a “rebellious” teenager lying on the floor of the Sunday School room underneath the piano in 1973 penciling on the peace sign that remains there to this day.  I love it!  After a major investment in her repair and rebuild, she once again has the solid, sweet tone of the Steinway masterpiece for which she was crafted.

I have had a years-long love affair with her.  She comes alive under my fingers, challenges me and makes music sound better than perhaps I can play it.  I pour out my emotions through her and she always listens with clear empathy, no judgment involved, and allows me to express myself in a beautiful way.

This will be her 117th Christmas.  She has seen many piano players come and go through the years and will likely be played for many Christmases long after I am gone.  I secretly harbor a desire that she remembers my touch and likes me the best of all who have drawn music from her soul.

Without music, life would be a mistake.
Friedrich Nietzsche

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My Friend Doris


My close friend Doris Day, star of stage and screen. We haven’t talked in years, but…

Long ago, when I was a young lad, I was tight with Doris.

Perhaps tight’s a stretch, but we were… this close to each other. I’m holding both of my hands as far apart as possible. In movie star terms, that’s close.

The year is 1981. I and colleagues from around the country who do similar work are attending a professional conference in Los Angeles. A long day of sessions ends, and a dozen of us youngsters change into our Hollywood clothes and drive to a restaurant known to be a favorite of the stars. By Hollywood clothes, I mean un-pleated slacks and a snazzy yellow sweater vest over a brown shirt. Back then, these duds were the height of cool.

The hostess escorts the twelve of us to a large round table. The waiter comes. We place our orders and ask if there are any movie stars in the restaurant. He points toward a booth in the shadows near a passageway and mouths the words, “D o r i s  D a y.” One by one, members of the group begin to stroll by her booth, stare at her, and continue on to the bathroom. My turn comes. I walk slowly by her booth, trying not to be as obvious as the others. And run smack into the doorway. She laughs. I cause Doris to laugh! I made her day! I’m sure of it.

Thirty-two years later, I look back at that moment fondly. Doris, now 89, does too. I’m pretty sure.

Tim Hoyt


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Being A Maple

Being A Maple

I love watching leaves change colors. The trees perform a slow striptease of their bright summer garb into ever deepening colors as the layers peel away. First the range of greens, hints of pinks in the maples, the almost imperceptible melt into orange, then red, burgundy and finally a crisp brown in the final days of wintry weather. The changing colors are reflective of the inevitable changes I see in my own body.

I may be in the pink/orange stage of my life. Plenty of self esteem and power to feel comfortable shedding the green, mixed with courage to face an uncertain future. The result is an increased beauty and carefree spirit before the darker color and brittleness become a reality. Imagine the beautiful leaf spiraling to the ground, caught in the swirl of a fall breeze. Although I fear the old leaf stage, the sound of crunchy maple leaves underfoot is proof that my life is greatly enriched by shedding of old ways.

Most trees, the gingko being an exception, lose their leaves over weeks. That is how I prefer change, slowly so I can adjust to the newness of what is to come. The unusual gingko just drops its leaves all in one day. A grand sight to behold, but what a shock it must be to the tree.

I would like to be a huge, leafy maple, watching my colors change, enthralled with each shade of transformation, physically, spiritually, and emotionally. The maple has ample time to think about change. It wears beautiful colors and always has hope of the green leaves that will provide a shady spot underneath its branches in the spring. Yes, I would enjoy being a maple. Thankfully, I am not a ginkgo.

Amber Sawyers (October 2011)

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First Day of School



With Encore’s fall term starting I couldn’t help but return in my mind to my youthful days of school. As excited as I was for the last day of school with freedom that only summer could hold, I was equally excited for the first day of school.

My siblings and I spent the days before school lining up our new school implements– paper, pencils, crayons, erasers, rulers, and lunch boxes. The crayons were my favorite new school item. I have to admit that I felt the 16-count box of crayons was no match for my world of imagination. Oh how I longed for the king-of-all-kings crayon box—the 64-count deluxe box complete with a sharpener. The intense waxy aroma sent my mind whirling. I drooled for the chance to use the blizzard blue or inchworm green or cotton candy pink crayons, but it was never to be. Being a farm family of nine, the 64-count box was too expensive and certainly too showy for us. But the waxy smell of crayons always, always reminds me of a new school year, a new beginning.

The first day of school teamed with energy and excitement. I proudly wore one of my two new outfits complete with new underwear, socks and shoes—shoes that I loved so much that I slept with them under my pillow. I stepped onto the bus with all my siblings and grinned from ear to ear, eager to see my classmates, wondered how much they’d changed over the summer, anxious to claim my desk and finally meet my teacher. It was the most perfect day.

That first-day-of-school feeling morphed into other areas—the opening nights of school plays, unexpected snowfalls with super-big flakes, watching autumn leaves flitter down from the trees, the first day of vacation and more.  I hope I never lose that first-day-of-school feeling. Ever. If I find that feeling wavering, I’ll just grab a box of crayons—the 64-count box.

Nancy Huber

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