Category Archives: Instructors

Fairies

GV FAiries

 If I believed in fairies, which I don’t, I wouldn’t have looked for them around the trees in my neighbor’s yard.  But that is where I found them early this morning on my walk. It’s before eight a.m. and I am startled by a view that stops me in my tracks: hundreds of sparkles of light around the trees; rays of dancing, frolicking pinpoints that could only be described as fairy lights.

GV Fairies 3

They are tumbling down shafts of water droplets between leaves and branches between and around the trees, cascading onto the ground in discreet balls of brilliance.

Geraldine V Fairies Nov 2018

It could only be fairies as nothing matches the sheer awe and joy the sight gives me. Laughing, I take out my cell phone and snap picture after picture. A gift has been bestowed upon me, touching some fundamental childhood self that always wanted to find a fairy. And now I have, hundreds and hundreds of them displayed before me in living proof that dreams can come true.

Geraldine Velasquez (OLLI Member, OLLI Instructor, OLLI Writers Group)

 

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Dave Milidonis Honored by NC State’s Association of Retired Faculty

Milidonis Award

OLLI’s military history instructor par excellence, Dave Milidonis, was awarded the William C. Friday Award for Distinguished Service in Retirement by the Association of Retired Faculty at their Awards Luncheon on May 15th.  This award was initiated in 2010 by ARF to recognize annually a retiree who exemplifies dedication to higher education, and in the land grant tradition of NC State, who models what it means to be a servant of society.  Retired President of the Consolidated UNC System and NC State alumnus Dr. William C. Friday was the first recipient of the award that is named in his honor.

In the award presentation remarks, Dave was cited for his teaching excellence, for volunteering to teach five OLLI courses each academic year, and for being such a sought-after instructor that his courses routinely fill during the first day of registration!  He was also recognized for his work as founding Director of the National Veterans History Archival Institute, which records the stories of veterans for their families and for posterity, with videoed interviews being submitted to the Library of Congress as well as to the veterans and their loved ones.  In his acceptance remarks, Dave humbly gave those present one of his amazing history lessons in which he talked about the importance of our country’s history being taught and its veterans’ contributions never being forgotten by present and future generations of Americans.

In receiving this year’s award, Dave became the first honoree who is not a retired NCSU faculty member, and joined three previous Friday Award recipients who regularly teach for OLLI—Jim Clark (2012), Clay Stalnaker (2015) and Ben O’Neal (2017).

Dave was joined at the Awards Luncheon by OLLI members and devotees John Cudd, Harriet Grand, Carol Rahmani, Nancy Huber, and Marcia and Ed Thomas.

 

Carol Rahmani – OLLI member, former Advisory Council and Program Committee chair, currently serving on Program Committee.

James W. Clark, Jr.

Weymouth final

Consider this contrast:  Jimmy Clark, age 9, is one of seven children. He works in his family’s country store and service station on U.S.158 in Vaughan, N.C. He also delivers the daily newspaper and helps to harvest tobacco. As time permits, he does his homework and reads Agricultural Extension bulletins — “Insects 101” — about keeping pests out of those tobacco plants. He also collects bugs that are drawn to the store’s lights at night.

tobacco plant

Flash forward to 2018 and the Weymouth Center for the Arts and Humanities in Southern Pines, where five distinguished Tar Heels are inducted into the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame. One of them is James W. Clark, Jr., PhD. professor emeritus of English at NC State. OLLI members know him as Jim, a popular OLLI instructor. But they may not know that he’s the only one who’s taught a course every single year since the program began as Encore! So why does this erudite professor prefer OLLI to university teaching? “I don’t have to grade papers,” he quipped during an interview.

The Literary Hall of Fame celebrates and promotes the state’s rich literary heritage by saluting its leading authors and encouraging great literature. Jim has degrees from UNC — with a scholarship as a national 4-H winner for a project in entomology — and from Duke. Today he focuses most of his scholarship on North Carolina’s “cultural geography” and literary history. He’s had a leadership role in those areas as president of the Thomas Wolfe Society and the North Carolina Literary and Historical Association. He still serves as president of the North Caroliniana Society, which supports the North Carolina Collection at Chapel Hill and preserves and celebrates the state’s culture and history.

4H

The leap from what Jim calls “bugs to books” wasn’t as broad as it sounds, he said, “because 4-H has a broad curriculum that stresses reading, writing and figuring as well as speaking and teaching.” His faculty mentor at State was Richard Walser, another member of the NC Literary Hall of Fame. “He was a great teacher and something of a rascal,” Jim said, “beloved and feared for his critical voice and bawdy sense of humor.”

Jim followed Walser in his roles at State and became director of the nation’s first Humanities Extension program, with a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, focusing on North Carolina writers in public TV programs and public school textbooks. He also developed “Talk About Writing” videos about North Carolina writers for classroom use. Proceeds from sales supported outreach to public school teachers. That outreach involved sending faculty members in the humanities — including Jim — to lead seminars around the state on literature and culture. And some faculty conducted summer writing seminars for 4-H youth at the county level. Jim has written a social history of this program, “Clover All Over: North Carolina’s First 4-H Century.”

The Lost Boy

But he may be best known as a champion of two literary figures: Thomas Wolfe and Paul Green. He’s been president of the Thomas Wolfe Society and is still on the editorial board of The Thomas Wolfe Review. Like Walser, he’s devoted many hours to teaching and writing about Wolfe, who had been Walser’s primary focus. Jim discovered Wolfe’s novella, “The Lost Boy,” at Harvard, and the UNC Press published the edition he’d edited in 1992. German and French editions followed.

Jim will teach a course on “The Amazing Genius of Paul Green,” whom he calls a Tar Heel polymath, in OLLI’s next semester. Jim considers him “this state’s most productive and well known playwright.” Green studied and later taught at UNC. Jim said he’s known best for such outdoor dramas as “The Lost Colony,” but won a Pulitzer in 1927 for “In Abraham’s Bosom,” a play about racism and education. A foundation in his name supports playwriting and progressive causes, chiefly racial justice. Jim served as the foundation’s president for a decade.

In addition to other major awards, in 2012 Jim received the William C. Friday Award for Distinguished Service in Retirement. He says Friday “was like God for public education,” and that he worked with Paul Green on progressive issues. The award recognized Jim’s OLLI participation, leading writing workshops at senior living communities, and serving as historian of the state’s 4-H youth development program, based largely at State. Jim’s latest work, a social and political history of his family’s part of Warren County entitled “Finding and Keeping Vaughan: Our Hometown,” was published in November.

Dr Jim Coffee Cup

~ Barbara Haddad Ryan

Ageless

NJ

She was sitting on a bench looking at the water. In fact, she was in my favorite spot at the Center Street Beach in Beach Haven, New Jersey where we had a beach house when our children were young.

It was early morning, around 7:15, and my ritual during the week while my husband was back home in Middletown was to ride my bike to the beach and sip an orange juice while gazing at the water, taking in the light and color changes on the waves. Between the wonderful light and the calm horizon I found the name of the beach to be completely suited to my mood. I centered myself at Center Street Beach.

This day, however, my solo excursion was interrupted by another person. I nodded in her direction and placed myself at the remaining edge of the only bench. In my brief glance at her face, I was surprised to see a woman older than I supposed from her posture. My first guess would have placed her in her forties; now I found it hard to assess her age.

woman on bench

I was distracted by her presence, though she sat motionless and took up only her own space. My eyes wandered away from the horizon and focused on her hands. Yes, she was definitely older. They were lined and leathery and strong; older hands. As I watched, her fingers seemed to move, keeping time to some inner tune; a slow, drumming tempo that started to have an affect on me. Without realizing it my breathing and heartbeat fell into the rhythm of her beating fingers.

While I watched her fingers, she slowly moved her top hand away and turned her bottom hand palm upwards. Inside her hand I saw a shell. It seemed extraordinary and different from New Jersey shells, which I had memorized from living by the beach for many years.

When had she extended the shell to me? And when had I taken it into my own palm? I couldn’t say, but there it was inside my hand.

shell in hand

In a mellifluous voice of a born story-teller, she recounted the life of that shell. She told of the formation of the sea creatures, then the first deposit of the hard white calcium that would organically develop, over ages, into that family of shell. She described the light and dark periods; ice and floods, animals and plants, and finally man and woman. She said the shell was living history to the creation of her and myself; both sitting on this bench.

I tried to hand the shell back to her, but she gently pushed my hand away. “It’s yours,” she said.

I walked my bike back home; feeling too weak to ride it. I held that shell tightly in my hand. At home I considered adding it to the pile of sea treasures I had gathered from beaches all over the world from years of travel. But this shell was different. It spoke in a different tongue. And it was a gift.

I placed the shell on the kitchen windowsill where the last rays of the setting sun would touch and caress it with the final glow of the day. Each time I glanced at it with grateful eyes, knowing that it was ageless in the continuum of time.

Geraldine Velasquez , OLLI Member, Writers Group, OLLI Instructor

 

Ruminations at 35,000 Feet

Grand Canyon

 My eye takes in the landscape as we fly over the Grand Canyon at thirty-five thousand feet. It is the second time this year that I have viewed it. The first time was from the perspective of standing on the rim, this time from high above. I notice patterns that form, repeat, shift and change as we glide through the scenery. Everything curves, swirls and leads the eye around and away and back again, like the oxbow rivers. I laugh out loud at a detail on the bottom of mountains that remind me of the pleated skirts on my grandmother’s slipcovers. The only straight lines are occasional highways in this vast canvas of nature’s painting.

An insight comes to me; I have never been fond of fixed point geometric perspective in Renaissance painting. As an artist, professor of design and a student of Art History, that is my least favorite period.  Now I know why. It is not the way most people view the world: through an absolutely static lens as the viewer is fixed to one point in space. In reality, we move our eyes, we shift our view, we see the sides and fronts and sides of things again.

We modern people move through life. Every place I have travelled to has its own rhythm. Italy during the Renaissance did too and I don’t think the art we see reflects that. Renaissance art has more permanence; it’s closer to Egyptian sculpture. It never lets you get ahead of yourself. You must walk a straight line until you reach the horizon, or take a sharp angle to turn left or right.

Impressionism freed us from the tyranny of fixed shapes. We had to collaborate with the artist to find the cathedral in the landscape. Expressionism brought us to the moment of conception of a painting, when the paint hit the canvas and left a contrail.

marbel class and science objects-11 GV

As an art student, creating designs came naturally to me. Applied art has a purpose and the decoration of surface was an extension of the principles of art I learned in undergraduate and graduate programs. My own artwork used dyes to create marbling on paper or fabric and resulted in textile designs for the apparel industry. Seeing them now I am aware how closely they resemble the aerial landscape of the Grand Canyon. It would be hard to find a rigid straight line in any of my drawings or paintings. Adding a digital element to more recent work I scan portions of my hand-made fabrics and then manipulate them using artist software programs to break and bend and twirl the shapes even further. I am surprised to see the patterns mirroring the view from thirty-five thousand feet above Arizona and Colorado.

JV Gallery

Dr. Geraldine  Khaner Velasquez is a member of the Ollie Writers Group. She is Professor Emerita of Art and Design and will be teaching the fall 2018 lecture “Vincent Van Gogh: His Loves, His Letters, His Art.”

 

 

My Love Affair with Tennis

We’re keeping that tennis theme going since I don’t have a piece about football!

Doubles

My Love Affair with Tennis……..

It’s all right, my wife knows and tolerates this addiction.  You might think that someone who spends hours on court almost every day would be a terrific player.  In my case, you would be wrong.  My fellow players agree that I’m slow, but I’m also clumsy.  My main strengths come from my size.  I’m 6’3” and my wide wingspan of nearly 7 feet helps me cover the net. Serving in tennis involves leverage on the ball, and tall players have more leverage.  My role model, John Isner, is the classic example of a tall man with a killer serve. In addition to being a famous tennis star, John is from Greensboro and graduated from my alma mater, UGA!

Exercise

So, what do I get from tennis? Sunshine, a mixed blessing – vitamin D is good, skin cancer isn’t.  Wear sunscreen and a hat, and remember to avoid the heat of the day (11:00 am – 3:00 pm).  Night play is a cooler option, especially during Raleigh’s extended summer.  Another benefit of being outside is fresher air – indoor air may be filtered but, usually, it’s more polluted than the great outdoors. Exercise – any time spent on your feet is good for your heart and other muscles.  Much of the time between points involves walking from side to side, bending over to pick up balls, and those steps can add up – I walk at least 2 miles for each hour on court. During points, we run and whack balls (great stress relievers), yell and laugh at ourselves.

Monster

Tennis is a great way to meet fun people and enjoy their company – this is especially true of the senior tennis group at the Raleigh Tennis Center (Millbrook Exchange Park) and other facilities throughout the Triangle.  Tennis is a lifetime sport – just ask the kindergartners and their great grandmothers and grandfathers

 

Dad and Son

Most tennis centers have coaches who will help you learn to play and improve your game.  I found that coaching helped my game, as long as I listened to the coach and practiced doing what they told me.  A key part of coaching is found in the phrase: “keep your eye on the ball.” The US Tennis Association (USTA) has a “Try Tennis” program to give beginners of any age a chance to see if tennis fits their lifestyle. Students receive a Wilson racket, six weeks of professional instruction and a “Try Tennis” T-shirt for $40.

Coaching K

Lessons learned on the court often apply to life, for example: 1) don’t think too much; 2) you may lose today, but tomorrow brings another chance for redemption; 3) there are always players better and worse than you, so do your best and enjoy the game; 4) doubles is easier on senior bodies than singles; and finally, 5) the Hopman Rule: stick your racket out and something good might happen.   See you on court!

 

Mark Long (OLLI Member and Volunteer Instructor)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Different Kind of Culture: a Spring Garden!

Birdbox

“Pleasure, talk, a garden, and the spring time. That is all I need.”

14th century Persian poet Hafez.

   For some of us, this is the most exciting time of year when every morning, gray or shine, we head into the outdoors to see what has bloomed last night, what has grown, what has re-appeared we had forgotten about.

Those few minutes spent in the quiet, revering in total awe of what Mother Nature is showing for our appreciative pleasure. For a brief moment, forget about the world’s woes and commune with our amniotic environment.

According to a number of holy books, the garden (of Eden, of God) was the original paradise (from the Persian word for a walled in garden/small orchard) one that, unfortunately, was lost but not for all of us!

To this day, a garden connotes shared produce with our friends and neighbors, plants and cuttings from far away, signs of friendship that now blossom forever, the smell of fresh dirt just dug up or recently blessed by a morning rain. In my case, this is the place where neighborhood kids would play hide and seek among bamboos and banana plants they would nickname “the jungle”. While all have grown but left behind great memories, more recently our neighbors’ grandchildren fill up their cheeks, chipmunk-like, with sun warmed cherry tomatoes and smile knowing this is a very special in their young life, a freedom unequalled anywhere else.

What better place to appreciate the change of seasons?

Right now, the first days of spring, every morning is a discovery of bulbs buried last fall showing (if they have survived the squirrels) their fantastic colors: wild tulips from far away Turkey, daffodils hated by deer but loved by poets “When all at once I saw a crowd, -A host, of golden daffodils;-Beside the lake, beneath the trees,-Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.” (WILLIAM WORDSWORTH). Soon they’ll be followed by self-seeded larkspurs, poppies, corn flowers and perennials lilies, daisies, cone flowers.

Flower with bees

For most, summer is the best time to appreciate because of harvest such as strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, fresh corn, beans, crunchy cucumbers and, above all, that still warm from the sun tomato that does not make it to the house, savored right there where it grew. Sunflowers are among my favorites for their wild colors, shapes and sizes (no longer your grandma’s monochromatic yellow) followed by tens of gold finches eager to snack on those seeds. It is also a time for butterflies but, to my chagrin, their numbers have shrunk even in a garden like mine geared for their survival.

Butterfly

Fall is the time for all small fruit like figs and grapes, the time when you call on your jam-making friends to give you a hand before the garden slowly goes to sleep under the first frost while the gardener starts dreaming about next year’s growth, with new varieties to grow and some favorites to repeat. We gardeners are dreamers, always living six months or more ahead of our own time, always planning for what is to come.

For those who do not have their own piece of land to appreciate, you can always do like my friend Anne and paint someone else’s:

Watercolor

Roland Menestres (OLLI Member and Instructor)

For those who would like to see more pictures: https://thisweekinthegarden-roland.blogspot.com