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OLLI’s Annual Holiday Party, December 2; more photos available at

December 16, 2016

Editor of the Week: Sheri Siesseger

Table of Contents

Alerts & Notices

Attention talented OLLI members: If you’d like to be part of the show at the Hawaiian Luau and Ice Cream Social, please email a description of your act to Manny Pablo at The event is planned for Friday, February 10, from 1:00–3:00 in TA-1.

The Tallwood office will be closed beginning Monday, December 19 and will reopen Monday, January 9.

The next issue of E-News will be published Friday, December 30. All submissions must be received no later than 6:00 Tuesday, December 27.

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A Year-End Message from Our Executive Director

By Jennifer Disano, Executive Director

Warm wishes to all this holiday season!

And congratulations to OLLI for 25 years of lifelong learning and service to seniors in Northern Virginia! Since its beginnings in 1991, OLLI has positively affected thousands of lives, providing stimulating intellectual and social experiences to all who participate. The benefits extend to all levels: members, who enjoy every aspect of OLLI life, and teachers, who enjoy practicing their craft in front of grateful and engaged OLLI audiences.

We give thanks this season for the foresight of our founders, particularly Kathryn Brooks, Lilyan Spero, Shirley Fox and Ken Plum, who had the grit and inspiration to bring lectures and social events to seniors and to make lifelong learning in Northern Virginia a reality. OLLI today serves some 1200 members, providing over 500 programs at venues across three convenient campuses.

We also give thanks to the volunteers who make OLLI a success, including officers and directors, program planners, myriad committee members, teachers, office assistants, AV techs and so many more. The OLLI volunteer gives so much time and energy to make our Institute vibrant, relevant and welcoming. Through the volunteer efforts of invested community members like YOU, OLLI continues to thrive.

And thanks to the excellent support provided by our professional staff, work-study student assistants, and the generosity of OLLI donors, George Mason University, and the Bernard Osher Foundation.

Happy New Year!

Asking About your Favorite Things!
By Beth Davis, Lead Program AssociateNo, not raindrops on roses, or whiskers on kittens, but OLLI class offerings! For over eight years, I’ve had the pleasure of working with the OLLI program planning groups to bring you a diverse curriculum of classes, lectures and special events. Each year, these volunteers put in countless hours to develop four terms of fabulous course offerings for you to enjoy. When I get a chance to talk with members, my favorite question to ask is “What has been your favorite class this term, and why?” This question always elicits a smile and people begin talking about how wonderful an instructor was, what they learned in a class, and the friendships that developed from shared interests. Of course, at times I hear about things that didn’t go well, but this is the exception to the rule.Next year, I’ll continue to work with these volunteers but because of the burgeoning OLLI curriculum, I will be joined by Alice Slayton Clark. I will continue to lead on support for the multi-session courses, while Alice will lead on one-time presentations, trips, and events that are added after the catalog goes to press. As we think about setting goals for the next year at OLLI, we would love to know what you enjoyed most about the classes or events at OLLI this year. Please take a minute to send an email to to share. We will share your feedback with our program planning volunteers as well.

I’m looking forward to sharing another year of learning adventures with you!

LLT Program Planning Group to Meet January 12

The OLLI Language, Literature and Theater Program Planning Group will meet at 10:00 on Thursday, January 12 at Tallwood in TA-1. We will be reviewing past programs and planned courses for the summer and fall 2017 terms.

Please come and share your feedback and ideas for future courses. Your input is much needed and appreciated. If you have ideas but cannot attend the meeting, please contact Nancy Scheeler, Bill Taylor, Katie Mitchell, Jackie Gropman or Rala Stone. We would love to hear from you.

Leigh Knox: Running the Show at LoudounBy Sheri Siesseger, Editor, E-NewsLeigh Knox is the OLLI site assistant at the Loudoun campus, and on page iv of every OLLI course catalog, she is identified as “formatter,” a term that does not come close to describing her importance to the production of our catalogs.

As site assistant, and the only OLLI staff presence at Loudoun, Leigh is responsible for everything from audiovisual equipment to coffee and cookies. Although she admits to sometimes being stumped by the A/V equipment, Mason has an information technology expert at the Loudoun location who is always willing to help. She periodically meets with Mason staff to determine which classrooms are available for OLLI use. She also sometimes meets with new instructors so they will be familiar with the room and equipment set up and to assure them that things will run smoothly during their presentations.

Leigh says that she enjoys working at Loudoun as there is less chaos at the smaller OLLI venue. She doesn’t feel isolated, as she has become well integrated with the Mason staff who share the space, and she can easily contact the Tallwood staff if necessary.

Hospitality comes easily to Leigh, a former Navy spouse. She says that personal interaction with OLLI members is one of the fun parts of her job. She often visits the classroom suite between classes to chat with OLLI members, many of whom treat her as a friend, not merely a staff person. Another perk is that, depending on her schedule with the course catalog, she is sometimes able to sit in on a class.

Almost one year ago Leigh took over the task of course catalog production from Beth Davis. Beth, says Leigh, has been an outstanding mentor, and Leigh is now quite comfortable shepherding numerous course descriptions through the editorial process, interfacing with instructors and coordinators on changes recommended by editors and proofreaders, and formatting the final descriptions to compile the final product sent to the printer. The catalog presents another opportunity for Leigh to use her people skills. It is fun, she says to work with different editors, either online or face-to-face. Our editors agree that it is a pleasure to work with her.

Photo taken at Tallwood Cottage by Sheri Siesseger

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Delving into the OLLI Catalog

By Doris Bloch, Program Committee Co-chair

Surprises abound in the OLLI catalog, if you know where to look! Check out the contents page—there is much more than just classes in that list.

Do you know that we offer Special Events, onetime presentations which cover a wide variety of interests? An example is “Discover What Your Libraries Can Do for You,” a lecture by a Fairfax County Public Library librarian to be held on February 8. Or on February 13, “Of all Things, Love,” suitable for pre-Valentine’s Day, a lecture on love poetry through the ages.

We also have Social Events such as the annual Ice Cream Social, this year enhanced to include a Hawaiian Luau theme. In our spring, summer, and fall terms, we also offer one-day trips to nearby locations, including historic and cultural sites and wineries.

Then we also offer Ongoing Activities, clubs and groups that meet on a regular basis throughout the year. Have you looked at that list? This is a great way to get acquainted with OLLI folks who share your special interests. Examples: Photography Club meets twice monthly and welcomes all members, novice or experienced photographers. The History Club meets once a month to discuss a variety of events related to history. The Dr. Who Club meets twice a month as well, for devotees. Investment Forum meets weekly year-round.

You are strongly encouraged to explore the catalog—you might find something new and intriguing!

Photo of the Month

The December 2016 Photo of the Month theme was food. We
selected Susan Van Hemel’s photo “Spices of Life” which may also
be viewed at this page. To view other photos by members of
the Photography Club, visit the club’s photo website.
— By Angela Talaber, Photography Club Coordinator

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Poet’s Corner

Courtesy of the Poetry Workshop

How to Fix Eyeglasses
It is very small, the screw that holds
the piece that goes over the ears
to the piece that goes over the nose,
but this is not complicated, you just
line up the tiny holes in the two
pieces and then insert the tiny screw
a little way, holding the two pieces
together firmly with the left hand, but
not too firmly, just relaxed, because
otherwise they slip, and then with
the right hand holding the tiny
screwdriver turn the tiny screw
but not too fast and do not push
whatever you do because the tiniest
slip of one piece or the other and it
all falls apart comes to a halt, over
and over again.
Caroline McNeil

Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor,Is OLLI still a bargain? Ten years have passed since I became an OLLI Mason member. The financial construct remains the same: member volunteers form the primary OLLI workforce. Mason contributes, at no charge, the use of university facilities. Members pay for everything else: staff salaries, rent for non-Mason facilities, equipment, computer software, paper, etc. The operational protocol also remains the same. OLLI offers four terms, many courses (over 500 in 2016). Members can take as many courses as they wish, for one set price.

However, OLLI membership has almost doubled, with past OLLI Boards promoting growth. OLLI has been blessed with the addition of these new members, including several who are current Board members. Along with this growth, however, costs have grown. More non-Mason facilities must be leased, which means higher costs for staff, rent and equipment. It now is rare to be wait-listed. In 2006 my yearly dues were $280. Now they are $425. So, I wondered, is our OLLI still a bargain? How do our dues compare with other OLLIs in our area?

At the American University OLLI, semester dues are $275, or $500 if registering for two semesters. For that, members can take three courses a semester, with the option of adding a fourth after the second week of the semester.

At the Johns Hopkins OLLI, the yearly dues are $525, or $570 if members wish to take classes in Montgomery County. Members, however, can choose to join on an associate basis, and, for $125 per semester (plus $50 for registration), can take two courses in Montgomery County.

The “Arlington OLLI” (Encore Learning) also is associated with Mason, but is not (yet) an official OLLI. It offers courses (33 during Fall 2016) at five different facilities throughout Arlington. Its annual membership is $55, plus $45 per course. So, for the cost of our OLLI membership, members could take eight courses per year. In my case, even if I were only to take four courses per eight-week session, and three during shorter terms, my cost comparison would be $425 for OLLI Mason, versus $685 for Encore.

My survey of these other area programs suggests that OLLI Mason members who appreciate the ability to select an unlimited number of courses from a wide array of offerings are still getting a good deal.

Enid Weber

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Arts & Music at George Mason

Performances, Dec 16 through Jan 2
By Shelly Gersten, OLLI E-News Staff WriterFor tickets for either Center for the Arts (CFA) or Hylton, call 1-888-945-2468, buy tickets online through the event calendar (see links below), or visit the venue’s box office. For more information, see the CFA ticket page or the Hylton ticket purchase page.

At the Fairfax Campus Venues

Alexandria Harmonizers: A Family Christmas
Fri, Dec 16 and Sat, Dec 17, 8:00
Sat, Dec 17, 2:00
Harris Theatre
Admission: Adults, $40, $30; seniors, $35, $25.

A Canadian Brass Christmas
Sat, Dec 17, 8:00
Pre-performance discussion: David Srebnik, classical music program director, SiriusXM Satellite Radio
Concert Hall
Admission: $60, $51, $36.

Vienna Boys Choir: Christmas in Vienna
Sun, Dec 18, 4:00
Pre-performance discussion: David Srebnik, classical music program director, SiriusXM Satellite Radio
Concert Hall
Admission: $55, $47, $33.
Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker
Mon, Dec 19 and Tue, Dec 20, 7:00
Concert Hall
Admission: $175, $122, $88, $68, $48, $28

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Mason Student & Faculty Performances

No performances scheduled.

At the Hylton Center

Four Seasons Active Adult Community Exhibition: Visual Expressions
Through January 29, 2017
Buchanan Partners Art Gallery
The Gallery is open to the public Tue-Sat, 10:00 – 6:00, Thu, 10:00 – 8:00 and two hours before performances.
Admission: Free.

Manassas Ballet Theatre: The Nutcracker
Sat, Dec 17 and Sun, Dec 18, 3:00
Sun, Dec 18, 7:30
Tue, Dec 20 and Wed, Dec 21, 7:30
Thu, Dec 22 and Fri, Dec 23, 3:00
Merchant Hall
Admission: $65, $55, $45, $35, $25.

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For further details on any of the above events, please see the CFA event calendar and the Hylton Center event calendar

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About OLLI E-News

OLLI E-News was created by Rod Zumbro, who served as its editor from 2005 to 2013.

Editorial Staff
Chief Editor: Paul Van Hemel
Technical Editor: Irene Osterman
Associate Editor: Sheri Siesseger
Weekly Editorial Team: Jean Boltz, John Nash, Sheri Siesseger, Leslie Vandivere,
Paul Van Hemel

Proofreaders: Rebecca Jann, Lorna Moran, Marilyn O’Brien, Susan Van Hemel
Backup Chief Editor: Alice Slayton Clark

Submissions. Members are encouraged to submit letters to the editor, letters to Ms. Ollie Ettakit (on etiquette matters), OLLI-related news items, articles and photos. Submit material to:
Deadline – 6:00 Tuesday for that week’s issue (6:00 Monday for letters to the editor); early submissions are greatly appreciated. Please limit articles to about 250 words.
Note: You can view past issues of OLLI E-News on the DocStore. To search the content of issues, use Search Our Site or put your search term in Google followed by “” without the quotes.

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