What are you good at? No, I don’t necessarily mean showy or big money-making things. Those are essential, but they’re not what really keeps the world spinning.

Can you answer a telephone and get the message right? The Red Cross could certainly use you. Answering a phone can save someone’s life.  Can you carry a trash bag or swing a hammer? What do you think the inside of a house looks like after a flood? Can you drive? Can you drive a truck? If I’m elderly and have no car, or need a meal during an emergency, who will take me to the doctor, or transport donated food to a pantry or meal site?

You get my point.

When I worked for the Red Cross, someone described disaster response as building a city. When a town has been flattened by a tornado, or trashed by a hurricane, you need nurses and neighbors; bookkeepers and electricians; counselors and cooks; and drivers and damage assessment.  You need people who can prioritize and make lists, and keep track of who needs what and where. You need people to keep careful and accurate tallies of money spent, because most of it is donated. You need folks who can sit and listen while another person talks about how they’re feeling, or what they’ve lost.

All this applies even when there isn’t a disaster. Imagine you’re 85 or 90, and you can’t drive any more because your eyesight isn’t what it used to be. Your husband or wife died 11 years ago, and you’ve missed them ever since. The kids have moved away. You have a television and an elderly dog. The house needs repairs, but you can’t afford to hire a contractor, and climbing up a ladder wouldn’t be a very good idea even if you could. What is life like if nobody comes to visit? You don’t want to bother anyone, or ask for help; you’ll get by. Like it or not, any of us could end up in a situation like that.

So, could you go over to a neighbor’s house once in a while and see how they’re doing? Maybe take some extra cookies, or your toolbox because you noticed that some of the shingles are loose?  Nobody can do everything, but everyone can do something, and everything you do makes a difference, whether you know it or not.

Getting off our rumps is good exercise. There is a national organization called Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster that includes churches, other faith-based groups, the Humane Society, Habitat for Humanity, and numerous others who respond to disasters. If you’re interested, send an e-mail to   . Tell them your name, phone number, E-mail and skills, and put "Volunteer" in the subject line. Most local congregations know about VOAD.  Locally, you can call the Red Cross at (518) 458-8111; they have blood drives, respond to local fires, teach classes, and lots more.  Community Caregivers provides rides, meals, visits, and other services to individuals and their caregivers; call 456-2898, or email:   .

To honor our veterans, don’t forget the Memorial Day parades. Voorheesville is on Saturday, May 27. Berne and Knox parades will be Monday, May 29.

The Wednesday shopping bus (to Walmart, Whole Foods at Colonie Center, and who knows where else) will be May 31 and June 14. Call CDTA at 437-5161 two days in advance to schedule your ride.

The free Tuesday exercise class will be on May 30 at 11:30 a.m. at the Berne Senior Center. The class lasts about 20 minutes, and is conducted by Mary Jo McKeon. The exercises are  easy and low-impact, and help to improve balance and reduce stress.

A number of  post-lunch activities are upcoming at the Senior Center. Tuesday, May 30th is a class on decorating vases and making flowers. June 5th we will be making a woven box, and on June 6th there will be a nutritional presentation by Cooperative Extension of Albany County.

The Hilltown Seniors Anniversary Dinner will be held on June 4 at the Briar Creek Golf Course in Duanesburg. Choices are sirloin steak $12, chicken parmigiana $9, or baked haddock $8. Salad, sides, and dessert are included. Call Shirley Slingerland at  797-3467 to make a reservation.

Hilltown Seniors and others are invited to join a Schoharie trip to the Cornell Botanic Gardens on Wednesday, June 7. The bus will leave the Schoharie Park & Ride at 7 a.m. A stop for lunch on your own will be made at the Moosewood Restaurant. Cost is $50; call Betty Karlau at 295-7781 for reservations.

The Hilltowners next excursion will be a Lake George Lunch Cruise on July 11. Cost is $50 for members, and $60 for non-members. Shirley Slingerland is handling reservations; call her at 797-3467.

The South Westerlo Congregational Christian Church makes lunch on the first and third Thursdays every month. The church is located at 282 County Route 405. First Thursday is most likely pizza; third Thursday is usually a hot meal. Call Pastor Will Balta at 966-5094 for more information.

Need some legal advice? Appointments with attorneys from the Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York can be scheduled at the Knox town hall by calling Pat Lightbody at 872-9400.

Next week’s menu for Helderberg Senior Services will be:

Monday, May 29, Memorial Day no lunch;

Tuesday, May 30, macaroni and cheese, stewed tomatoes, California blend veggies, wheat bread, mandarin oranges, and milk; and

Friday, June 2, meatloaf with mushroom gravy, mashed potatoes, broccoli, wheat bread, applesauce, and milk

Doors open at 11 a.m. and lunch is served promptly at Noon.  We also have transportation to and from lunch! Just ask Linda Hodges when you call with your reservation.

Does your trail trekkers group, military memorabilia collectors club, or ‘Nam Vets organization need an easy place to meet? Why not meet at the Senior Center? Come have lunch, and then get together with your friends! There’s plenty of space, and the center is open for all of us. We already have games, dominoes, and cards after lunch on Mondays and Tuesdays, so join us.  

Please call Linda Hodges 24 hours in advance to 872-0940 to reserve lunch, or email her at: , or sign up when you come in. Tell us how many are coming, your name, and your telephone number. If you’d just like to come and help out, call Linda or send an email to , and put “volunteer” in the subject line. Lunches are provided by Helderberg Senior Services, the Albany County Department of Aging, and Senior Services of Albany. The Town of Berne Community and Senior Services Center is located at 1360 Helderberg Trail (Route 443) in Berne.

 

How far will we go to avoid work? Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the (patented) Egg Stractor.

This little beauty stands about eight inches tall, and consists of a sort of concertina on top of a genuine plastic platform with a hole in the middle. You take a cold hard-boiled egg, then tap the small end several times on the “piercer” attached to the base.

Check to be sure that you have pierced through the interior “skin” of the egg. (If all I’ve done is pierce a tiny hole in the small end, how on earth will I be able to tell whether an interior membrane has been punctured?)

Next, you crack the large end of the egg (not the small end) on the table a couple of times (the instructions say, “Don’t be timid!”). Now place the egg, small end upward, in the Egg Stractor.

Put the concertina on top of the platform. Cross both hands over the top of the device. Push down quickly and firmly, and voila! the egg pops out the bottom of the device. If it doesn’t, repeat the action, being sure to re-align the egg in the upright position.

I’m all in favor of innovation and time-saving, but wouldn’t it be easier to just roll the egg on a counter top and peel it?

This is not the only shortcut on the market. How about the automatic dog-washer? This is a coin-op compartment into which you insert your dog, and a process resembling a car wash begins. Wait just a little while, and Bowser is all fresh and sparkly.

They don’t say whether you can get wax or blow-drying as extras. Honest, this was invented in France, and costs about $20 to $45 per wash, depending on the size of your dog. There is a window in the front so you can watch the process, although I’m not sure I could stand to.

The Chill-O-Matic ad says it will cool your can of soda in 60 seconds. It probably will, but you have to add ice, use two AA batteries, and a special chiller box. So, to cool my drink I’ll still need ice, and I guess I’m just not in that much of a hurry.

The (new!) “Salad-O-Matic” consists of a bowl and a half-moon cutter like your grandmother used for pie crust. The “Samurai Knife” has a circular-saw type blade with a hand guard, but they never tell you how to get the tomato skins out of the handle part after you use it.

The extremely popular “Swiffer” series of mops may really be great, but I still don’t see how they beat my old dust and sponge mop, other than needing to buy and replace all those little pads.

In the transportation department, you can now get an electric skateboard with posture control to keep you from falling off, and nightlights for safety. One of the four models has brakes. (Maybe I am getting older...)

The ultimate, however, is in the O’Reilly Auto Parts online catalog. They have a Flux Capacitor that will take you back in time. This is evidently the same device used in the movie “Back to the Future.”

There is only one model, and it’s for a stainless-steel DeLorean car (there’s a nice one in Hemmings Motor News for $78,900). You know, looking back over my past, that might actually be worth it.

Coming up

May is Clean Car Month, Food Allergy Action Month, National Egg Month, and National Salad Month. Next week is National New Friends, Old Friends Week. Memorial Day weekend is also National Polka Weekend, Mudbug Madness Days, and Old-Time Player Piano Weekend. May 21st is American Red Cross Founder's Day. Canadian Immigrants Day and Harvey Milk Day are the 22nd

National Taffy Day and World Turtle Day are the 23rd.  The 24th is EMSC (Emergency Medical Services) Day, and International Tiara Day. The Cookie Monster's Birthday is the 25th.  The 26th is National Paper Airplane Day, and World Lindy Hop Day. Saturday the 27th is Cellophane Tape Day, International Heritage Breeds Day, and the beginning of Ramadan.

The Wednesday shopping bus (to Walmart, Whole Foods at Colonie Center, and who knows where else) will be May 31 and June 14. Call CDTA at 437-5161 two days in advance to schedule your ride.

The Hilltown Seniors had a great meeting last Saturday. Katherine Loetterle was our chosen Tulip Queen, and Madeline Bradt our Mothers’ Day honoree.

The free exercise class is every Tuesday at 11:30 a.m. at the Berne Senior Center. Each class lasts about 20 minutes, and is conducted by Mary Jo McKeon. The exercises are  easy and low-impact, and help to improve balance and reduce stress. The next classes are scheduled for May 23 and May 30.

A number of  post-lunch activities are scheduled at the senior center for May. On Tuesday, May 16, we will be painting ladybug rocks. Tuesday, May 30 is a class on decorating vases and making flowers.

The Hilltown Seniors Anniversary Dinner will be held on June 4 at the Briar Creek Golf Course in Duanesburg. Choices are sirloin steak $12, chicken parmigiana $9, or baked haddock $8. salad, sides, and dessert are included. Call Shirley Slingerland at 797-3467 to make a reservation.

Hilltown Seniors and others are invited to join a Schoharie trip to the Cornell Botanic Gardens on Wednesday, June 7. The bus will leave the Schoharie Park & Ride at 7a.m. A stop for lunch on your own will be made at the Moosewood Restaurant. Cost is $50; call Betty Karlau at 295-7781 for reservations.

The next excursion will be a Lake George Lunch Cruise on July 11. Cost is $50 for members, and $60 for non-members. Shirley Slingerland is handling reservations; call her at 797-3467.

The South Westerlo Congregational Christian Church makes lunch on the first and third Thursdays every month. The church is located at 282 County Route 405. First Thursday is most likely pizza; third Thursday is usually a hot meal. Call Pastor Will Balta at 966-5094 for more information.

Need some legal advice? Appointments with attorneys from the Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York can be scheduled at the Knox Town Hall by calling Pat Lightbody at 872-9400.

Menu

Next week’s menu for Helderberg Senior Services will be:

— Monday, May 22, American goulash, romaine salad with tomato, cucumber, carrots, and dressing, wheat bread, applesauce cake and milk;

— Tuesday, May 23, chicken cacciatore (tomatoes and peppers), broccoli, rice, wheat bread, pears, and milk; and

— Friday, May 26, potato crunch fish, peas, mashed sweet potatoes, rye bread, ambrosia, and milk.

Remember, there will be no lunch on Monday, Memorial Day, May 29.

Doors open at 11 a.m. and lunch is served promptly at noon. We also have transportation to and from lunch! Just ask Linda Hodges when you call with your reservation.

Does your Inventors group, Jane Austen fan club, or Zebu breeders consortium need an easy place to meet? Why not meet at the Senior Center? Come have lunch, and then get together with your friends! There’s plenty of space, and the center is open for all of us. We already have games, dominoes, and cards after lunch on Mondays and Tuesdays, so join us.

Please call Linda Hodges 24 hours in advance to 872-0940 to reserve lunch, or email her at: , or sign up when you come in. Tell us how many are coming, your name, and your telephone number.  If you’d just like to come and help out, call Linda or send an email to , and put “volunteer” in the subject line. Lunches are provided by Helderberg Senior Services, the Albany County Department of Aging, and Senior Services of Albany. The town of Berne Community and Senior Services Center is located at 1360 Helderberg Trail (Route 443) in Berne.

Our 60-plus members jammed the senior center eager to be entertained and to have a good lunch. They were not disappointed.

We began with birthday wishes for Marilyn Nardillo and anniversary celebrations to Scott and Shirley Wright and Linda and Don McDermott and to our new members Sue and Chuck Conklin who are enjoying 40 years. Unfortunately, they are both under the weather and were unable to be with us.

We discussed our anniversary dinner to be held June 4 at Briar Creek. A choice of strip steak, chicken parm and baked haddock are available. Call Shirley Slingerland for reservations. Also Memorial Day plans were finalized. Remember all members involved, meet at 9 a.m. at Tabor Road.

We are still looking for all veterans to either ride or walk. There is room for 60 veterans to ride. Let us make this year's parade one of the best.

Shirley reported on our trips. The trip to the Lincoln summer home was well received except of course for the weather. I was amazed to find the furnishings were  original and the condition of the home and grounds so well kept. In June is the Mac Hayden Theater outing.

In July we are going on a lunch cruise to Lake George. For further information call Shirley Slingerland. (She is a busy girl!).

We were honored to have Sean and Jennifer Lyons come and share their experiences volunteering with the Veterans Miracle Center. Sean told us that there are over 6,000 Veterans in Albany County and half of them are homeless.The veterans are eligible to come to the center and get clothes, hygiene products, furniture, food and etc. All the items are new. They collected over 200 boxes of Christmas cards that were sent to the troops. Then he told us about the Patriot Flight. Each veteran has a guardian that makes sure he or she has no problems during the flight and during the day in Washington, D.C. This organization is not affiliated with any government department. If you would like to help with a donation, work in the store,, or be a guardian on a flight.. please call Sean at 872-0812. Thank you Sean and Jen for all you do for our veterans.

Mother's Day was celebrated with the crowning of the Hilltown Senior Mother, Madeline Bradt. Hope all the mothers enjoyed their day. On the same day Albany was having the crowning of their Tulip Queen.  This year’s winner was Katherine Loetterle.

Also, Alyce Gibbs was presented a scrapbook of our Washington. D.C. trip for all she does in helping the seniors of our community.

It truly was a very emotional day.

Dates to remember

On  May 31, a lasagna dinner from 3 to 6 p.m, at the Berne Reformed Church;  May 20, breakfast at the Helderberg Church, and a roast beef dinner at the Thompson Lake Church.

Also, don't forget the meal site every Monday, Tuesday and Friday. Some of us were there this past Tuesday to work on our quilt and the meal was very good

Sooo, I hope life isn't a joke, because I don't get it.

 

Location:

It’s not my fault. There really is a national grocery store conspiracy.

They call it “marketing”; I call it psychological warfare. Every aspect of your shopping experience has been carefully analyzed and constructed to maximize your suggestibility and their profits.

Case in point: The other day, I stopped at the store to buy celery and milk. Simple, right?

I went through the entire produce department and finally found trimmed celery hearts, amongst a display of pre-sliced, chopped, and gourmet veggies. I don’t want celery hearts, I just want celery.

So, I go back through the produce department (which takes more time) until I find a store employee. He leads me to the regular celery, way on the other side of the produce section, cleverly tucked away by the kale.

Do you think this is an accident? Oh, no! Every step you take is orchestrated. Literally. Did you know that slower background music slows down your shopping, so you pay more attention to the displays?

There’s a reason why flowers, roasted chickens, and bright-colored vegetables and fruits are some of the first things you see. They get your salivary glands flowing, and make you feel hungry.

Where are you likely to linger and buy more? Surrounded by the warm smell of baking bread and the sight of crisp produce, or in an atmosphere of cardboard packaging?

Positioning doesn’t stop there, however. “Sale” items are placed on those convenient end caps to make them easy to pick up; they may also have the best markup for the store, and aren’t necessarily the best buy.

Other brand-name products are right at arm level on the shelves, and the really expensive specialties are at eye level. Of course, sugary cereals are positioned at child’s eye level, so they can be quickly grabbed by greedy little hands.

Have you noticed how much weaving in and out you have to do to get to the milk and eggs? Did you think those piles of cookies were in your way by accident? Or that you have to traverse the entire store to get to the foods that you most often need? They’re in the far back on purpose.

No one, not even left-brainers like me, are willing to do the math to figure out if using a coupon for a brand item is actually cheaper than the store-brand at regular price. (Let’s see, $4.79 minus 99 cents, divided by 21 ounces, compared to $3.49 for 22 ounces is...)

Really smart retailers also use combination positioning to increase sales. Spaghetti cheese in the pasta aisle, and potato and tortilla chips across from the soda. It’s no surprise that we usually spend more than we intended.

How did my trip come out? I needed $4.38 worth of groceries. I spent $27.75, even though, all the way through, I kept repeating to myself, “Never shop when you’re hungry, never shop when you’re hungry...”

Coming up

April is Fresh Florida Tomatoes Month, National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Month, and National Pecan Month. April 30th is Adopt A Shelter Pet Day, Beltane, Kiss of Hope Day, and National Honesty Day. May begins with Global Health and Fitness Month, Go Fetch! Food Drive for Homeless Animals Month, and International Mediterranean Diet Month. Next week is Children's Book Week, Choose Privacy Week, and National Wildflower Week.

May 1st is Batman Day, May Day, and National Library Legislative Day. National Teacher Day is the 2nd. The 3rd is the Great American Grump Out, Paranormal Day, and Public Radio Day. International Firefighters Day is the 4th. Cinco de Mayo is the 5th, along with Tuba Day. The 6th is World Naked Gardening Day.

The next trips for the Wednesday shopping bus (to Walmart and Whole Foods at Colonie Center) will be May 3 and May 17. Call CDTA at 437-5161 two days in advance to schedule your ride.

The Hilltown Seniors May meeting will be the second Saturday, May 13 at 10:30 a.m. at the Berne Senior Center. Please bring your table service and a dish to share. A charge of $1 is asked for supplies (coffee, tea, paper, etc.). Annual dues of $5 will be collected during April and May; please be sure yours are up to date.

A free Tai Chi exercise class has started on Tuesdays at 11:30 a.m. at the Berne Senior Center. Each class will run about 20 minutes, and will be conducted by Mary Jo McKeon. Tai Chi is  easy and low-impact, and helps to improve balance and reduce stress. The next classes are scheduled for May 2,  16, 23, and 30.

A number of  post-lunch activities are on the books at the senior center for May and June. We will have a fire drill on May 1. May 2nd is the monthly birthday party for May celebrants. May 15th will be a discussion on emergency preparedness, and we will be painting lady bug rocks on May 16th. There will be a nutrition talk on June 6th followed by crafts (weaving a fabric box). “Painting with Fran” will be on June 13.

The Hilltown Seniors anniversary dinner will be held on June 4 at 1 p.m. at the Briar Creek Golf Course in Duanesburg. Choices are sirloin steak for $12, chicken parmigiana for $7, or baked haddock for $8. Salad, rolls, potato, vegetable, pasta, and dessert are included. Call Shirley Slingerland at 797-3467 for more information.

The Westerlo Reformed Church’s Thursday lunch program is on vacation until fall. The first and third Thursdays’ lunches continue year-round, at the South Westerlo Congregational Christian Church at 282 County Route 405. First Thursday is most likely pizza; third Thursday is usually a hot meal. Call Pastor Will Balta for information at 966-5094.

Need some legal advice? Appointments with attorneys from the Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York can be scheduled at the Knox town hall by calling Pat Lightbody at 872-9400.

Menu

Next week’s menu for Helderberg Senior Services will be:

— Monday, May 1, chicken parmesan, romaine salad with shredded carrots and tomatoes, dressing, pasta, wheat bread, peaches, and milk;

— Tuesday, May 2, turkey with gravy, mashed potatoes, peasa and carrots, wheat stuffing,  milk, and birthday cake; and

— Friday, May 5, pepper steak with onions and peppers, summer squash, rice, wheat bread, lemon cake, and milk.

Doors open at 11 a.m. and lunch is served promptly at noon. We also have transportation to and from lunch. Just ask Linda Hodges when you call with your reservation.

Does your Loon Lovers Society, Garden Grubbers Club, or Pit Bull Posse need an easy place to meet? Why not meet at the Senior Center? Come have lunch, and then get together with your friends. There’s plenty of space, and the center is open for all of us. We already have games, dominoes, and cards after lunch on Mondays and Tuesdays, so join us.

Please call Linda Hodges 24 hours in advance to 872-0940 to reserve lunch, or email her at: , or sign up when you come in. Tell us how many are coming, your name, and your telephone number.  If you’d just like to come and help out, call Linda or send an email to , and put “volunteer” in the subject line. Lunches are provided by Helderberg Senior Services, the Albany County Department of Aging, and Senior Services of Albany. The town of Berne Community and Senior Services Center is located at 1360 Helderberg Trail (Route 443) in Berne.

Questions? Comments? Ideas? Email me at phyllis.e.johnson@aol.com.

The April 8 meeting of the Hilltown Seniors was well attended with 55 members present.

Happy Birthday was sung to Katherine Loetterle, Elsie Turon. Claudia Nedelsky and Fred Wilms

Anniversary for the month was Claudia and Dave Nedelsky.

The Memorial Day committee reported on plans for the parade.

The travel committee reported in the Culinary Institute where they said the luncheon was wonderful. They also stopped at the Franklin D. Roosevelt estate which is still under repair. All in all they had a good day.

The Mac-Haydn Theatre outing is filled. But, the trip to Vermont to see the Lincoln House is in need of some more passengers. The date is May 9 and cost is $30 for members and $55 for non-members.

We are discussing having a clambake for our July outing.Our trip to Canada in August is filled. So far so good for our adventures.

Also plans are being made to visit Washington Park in Albany, May 15 to tip toe through the tulips. With lunch on your own. I can only take 15 people. So, give Linda a call to reserve your spot.

Our anniversary dinner is going to be at the Briar Creek Golf Course. The choices are, strip steak, chicken parmigiana and baked haddock. Try to make it to the next meeting as we need your meal choices and payment.

Mary White brought her beautiful butterfly afghan that we are going to display at the Altamont Fair and then raffle it off.

We are also meeting April 28 at the senior center to start our butterfly quilt. So many hands make it go faster, so we need helpers.

We were entertained by the Hilltown Brass ensemble. I didn't know we had such a group. Thank you, Staci Wright for bringing them so we could enjoy their music. We do have some treasures on the hill, you just have to find them.

Does anyone know about cell phone etiquette? The only time I use mine is to make a call or receive one. I have over 2,000 minutes, so you can see how much I use it. I am sure some of the seniors don't even have one. But, you see others on theirs constantly. I sit on my front porch and see many cars go by with the driver talking on them. When you go out to eat,, people are constantly on them. They are taking pictures and recording meetings. Personally I feel when you are out in public, turn it off and don't make it an annoyance. Frankly, I think it is rude. Rudeness has taken over the world.

With all these provisions that give people the right to do this and that, it is getting out of control. If you say something, right away they are quoting a bill, section 42 that gives them the right. I know sometimes I am rude, but I am going to try to make myself a better person and also turn my cell phone off.

Spring has sprung and with it spring vacations. My kids are in the Carolinas this week sitting on the beach and playing in the sand. We older folks are home, sitting in front of the TV and watching baseball. All's right with the world.

Remember:The most wasted of days is a day without laughter.

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