Tradition. It’s a good, solid word.

Tradition is turkey at Thanksgiving and Christmas, unless tradition calls for ham, or roast beef, or lasagna. Tradition is what we’ve always done. Is it tradition because we’ve always done it, or have we always done it because it’s tradition?

Like Tevye in “Fiddler on the Roof,” we don’t always know why some things are traditions, but they’re important to us nonetheless. Some say”God bless you” when someone sneezes. It’s a tradition, but most of us don’t know that we say it because centuries ago, it was believed that the soul left the body during a sneeze, so you had to bless it to keep the devil from snatching it in that brief moment.

A lot of things used to be traditional, but aren’t anymore, like slavery, and women being property, and human sacrifice. Those were all traditions, until we decided for one reason or another not to keep them. Tradition probably means quite different things to a Norwegian and a Pacific islander.

Christmas trees were a German tradition until Prince Albert brought them to Britain. Freedom and independence are traditions in the United States, but only since the Revolutionary War. So traditions can be changed. Traditions vary from family to family, and country to country. So what counts as tradition?

There are things that we might call negative traditions, but those are usually associated with a culture different from ours, or something from the past that we no longer do. Swaddling babies or treating diseases with poisonous mercury were once traditions. Bigotry can be a tradition as much as Fourth of July fireworks, but being traditional doesn’t make it automatically good.

I guess what’s traditional depends on your age,  your culture, your section of the world, and how much of the past you choose to hang on to. Traditions are living things that grow, diminish, and change with the times. Ultimately, each of us has the right to select our own traditions, as long as we don’t judge someone else’s choice.

Coming up

April is a busy month! It’s ASPCA Month , Celebrate Diversity Month, Child Abuse Prevention Month, Confederate History Month, Global Astronomy Month, National Card and Letter Writing Month, and National Licorice Month.

Next week is Golden Rule Week, National Crime Victims Rights Week, Bat Appreciation Week,  Ocean week, and American Indian Awareness Week.  April 1st is April Fools Day. April 2nd is International Children's Book Day, and National Ferret Day. Fan Dance Day is the 3rd.  Vitamin C Day and World Rat Day are the 4th, and the 5th is National Deep Dish Pizza Day and National Walking Day. The 6th is Army Day and Hostess Twinkie Day, followed by National Beer Day on the 7th, and Buddha’s Birthday on the 8th.

The Westerlo Reformed Church’s last two lunches until Fall will be Thursday, April 13, and Thursday, April 27. Lunch is at noon, and there is no fixed cost; only your free-will offering. The meal is followed by an hour of Bingo. The Reformed Church is at 566 Route 143 in downtown Westerlo; call Pastor Chris Allen at 797-3742 for more info. They also have a food pantry on site; donate or take what you need.

The first and third Thursdays lunches continue year-round, and are put on by the South Westerlo Congregational Christian Church at 282 County Route 405. First Thursday (April 6th) is most likely pizza; third Thursday (April 20th) will be a hot dinner. 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 is still tentative, as the County hasn’t given final approval, but as far as we know, it will be:

— Monday, April 3, barbecue chicken, green beans, mashed sweet potatoes, wheat bread, chocolate pudding, and milk;

— Tuesday, April 4, roast prok with gravy, carots, mashed potatoes, stuffing, milk, and birthday cake; and

— Friday, April 7, lemon garlic baked fish, spinach, baked sweet potato, wheat bread, rice pudding, and milk.

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

Does your Wombat Walkers club, Sunflower Girls gathering, or Red Hat Society 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.

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Our March meeting showed 69 members in attendance. I imagine it was because of the corned beef and cabbage that we were going to have for lunch at the Berne Reformed Church in Berne.

We thank Alan and Millie Zuk and the kitchen crew for a delicious meal.

Birthdays this month are celebrated by Fran Brezenski, Bob Porter, Scott Wright, Shirley Willsey,  Elsie Wilms, Ed Wood, Sue Miner, and Don McDermott.

Anniversaries are celebrated by Peg and Ernie Crawford and Elsie and Fred Wilms.

Cards were sent to Bernice Bunzey and Madeline Bradt.

The pen pals of the Berne-Knox-Westerlo Connections Program met and had a good time trying to figure out who went with whom.

Pizza and chocolate cookies were served and Dennis and Mary White entertained us with their guitars and songs.

Zenie Gladieux, of the Kiwanis Club stopped in to invite us to the Memorial Day Parade. This year’s theme is, “Home of the Free because of the Brave.”

They are looking for all veterans to join the parade. Any veteran who would like to participate please call her cell phone at (518) 894-8589.

We would like to thank Sean Lyons for giving us a box of seed packets. We will make good use of them.  We are looking for a place to have a garden and plan to share the produce. Is there anyone who can help us?

The program that Randy Bashwinger started, Neighbors helping Neighbors, was put to the test this past week and it passed with flying colors.

We haven't seen snow like that in a long time. Thank you to the highway departments and people who lent a helping hand.

Trips ahead

So, now to brighter and happier times, our trips. In April, we travel to the Culinary Institute and Roosevelt home. That trip is filled.

May 9, we are going to Lincoln's house in Manchester, Vermont, which costs $30 for members and $55 for non-members.

June 14, we are going to the Mac-Haydn Theatre to see “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” and we’ll eat lunch. The price is $50 for members and $70 for non-members.

Shirley reminds us that a passport or enhanced license is required for our Canada trip.

So, with that all said, I will return to watch the third basketball game of the night.

Oh by the way. Does anybody understand the difference between area code 838 and 518? Things were never this confusing in the “pitchfork people” times.

All we had to do was tell Ethel what number we wanted.

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I remember, when I was quite small, sitting at the old mahogany-veneered dining room table for dinner. The menu that night was shrimp.

“I don’t like it,” I said.

It was very clear to me; the shrimp was there in front of me and I didn’t like it.

My mother said to me, “But you love shrimp!”

Her remark made no sense at all. I knew what I liked, and it was not this shrimp.

“I don’t like it,” I repeated.

“But the last time we had shrimp you couldn’t get enough!”

I vaguely remembered that other time, and yes, I had liked the shrimp then, but this was now. What did then have to do with now? There was obviously some sort of erroneous assumption that these two separate events were connected; that having loved something, or done something at some past time made them assume that once done, it became permanent.

What a ridiculous idea! Now was where I was, not then, and now I didn’t like those shrimp.

I felt a bit angry, and a little bit guilty; obviously I had disappointed her somehow, or failed to meet her expectations. But the liking or not liking of shrimp was only one example; my approach to life and time was oriented almost exclusively in the now. The past had no connection to the present; history was irrelevant.

This worldview has become muddled over the intervening years. What keeps us safe is usually our belief that, if something happened in the past, it will happen again.

Our beloved “scientific method” is based on it. We develop elaborate explanations for the times when this belief is challenged. We talk of “miracles” and “exceptions to the rule,” but there is always a rule, never randomness.

This perception seems to develop as we age; we make safer choices, which hopefully allow us to live longer, and we assume that longer is better.

Is longer presumed to be better because we have developed an awareness of our own mortality? It seems that at some age, we begin to connect our actions to the possible cessation of life, and fear kicks in. At what age do we begin to believe that death could happen to me, and to fear that outcome?

My mother saw a continuum, a chain of cause-and-effect. I didn’t. It seems that it is only as we get older that we impose those connections.

How about you? Does the future scare you, or present itself as an adventure waiting to begin? Fear, or excitement?

I work at holding onto my faith in possibilities, but it’s a tough line to walk. I have no desire to be dead in the near (or distant) future, but I can choose to be, or feel, anything I want to right now. This time has never happened before; its potential is infinite. Time is infinite, and all time is now. I think I’d like some shrimp.

Coming up

Speaking of hope, March is Spiritual Wellness Month, National Nutrition Month, and Sing With Your Child Month. The upcoming week is Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Week and American Crossword Puzzles Week. March 26th is Make Up Your Own Holiday Day, Purple Day, and Spinach Day. Quirky Country Music Song Titles Day is the 27th, and Barnum & Bailey Day is the 28th.  National Mom & Pop Business Owner's Day is the 29th. March 30th is Grass Is Always Browner On The Other Side Of The Fence Day, I Am In Control Day, and World Bi-polar Day. We end the month with Bunsen Burner Day and Cesar Chavez Day on the 31st.

The Westerlo Reformed Church’s next lunches will be Thursday, March 30, and Thursday, April 13. Lunch is at noon, and there is no fixed cost; only your free-will offering. The meal is followed by an hour of Bingo. The Reformed Church is at 566 Route 143 in downtown Westerlo; call Pastor Chris Allen at 797-3742 for more info. They also have a food pantry on site; donate or take what you need.

The first and third Thursdays lunches are put on by the South Westerlo Congregational Christian Church at 282 County Route 405. First Thursday is most likely pizza; third Thursday is a hot dinner. 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.

Cooperative Extension has free water test kits available. No outside labs or special fussing; you can do the test at home. The main number at Co-op is 765-3500.

The Hilltown Seniors are sponsoring a trip to the Culinary Institute of America and the Vanderbilt Mansion on April 5. Cost is $50 for members, and $70 for non-members. The trip includes a lunch of antipasto, Italian Roasted Chicken (Petto di Pollo Alla Salvia), Glazed Carrots, Chocolate Lava Cake (Tortino di Cioccolato), and coffee or tea at the renowned Caterina de' Medici restaurant. Shirley Slingerland is taking reservations at 797-3467.

Menu

The Helderberg menu for next week is:

— Monday, March 27, chicken with peach sauce, broccoli, brown rice, wheat bread, tapioca pudding, and milk;

— Tuesday, March 28, chili con carne with tomatoes and beans, spinach, corn bread, apple crisp, and milk; and

— Friday, March 31, grilled Muenster cheese sandwich on wheat bread, tomato soup, coleslaw, apple juice, brownie and milk.

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

Does your Highland Heritage group, heirloom seed-collecting consortium, or Hot Wheels collectors club 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.

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Yay! It’s finally snowing! Now I ask you, what kind of idiot reacts with glee to a potential disaster? I guess, in part, the remnants of that little kid huddled by the radio listening to the school closings, and hoping.

Yes, I know that the poor guys on the snowplows won’t get any sleep for the next 24 to 36 hours. I know that, if you’re on oxygen, and the power goes out, you’d better have a backup or live near the ambulance barn.

It’s probably not much fun having to pack up and go somewhere else to get warm and fed if necessary, but I just can’t help being excited.There’s something about the raw power of weather, the ragged beauty of the aftermath, that stirs something deep inside.

I also view it as a personal challenge, a contest between me and Mother Nature, to see who comes out on top. She does, of course.

I’m not going up against a tornado, or a tidal wave, but here in the Northeast, where “extreme weather” usually means rain, or ice, or snow, I like seeing if I can continue to live as I wish in spite of her best efforts. I am a preparedness nut of sorts, which also means I’m a pretty typical country-dweller. I have oil lamps, batteries, Coleman lanterns, flashlights, bottled water, and even a few of those military Meals-Ready-to-Eat on hand.

When I moved into my house, I made sure that there was a woodstove with a cooktop. Blankets? Check. Snowmobile suit? Got it. Shovel? Yes, but couldn’t I just stay inside until it all melts?

So here I am, snug in my little lair. There’s a pot of beans and smoked turkey on the stove, plenty of books to read, and that rug I’ve been working on to occupy my time. I’m almost gleeful.

When I was very little, I had a yellow 45-rpm record of “Little Orley and the Happy Bird,” The Happy Bird was a manic character that insisted you sing whenever anything went wrong, right up until the Happy Bird got run over by a nanny goat.

When reminded of his happy song, he was less than gracious. The moral was that it’s easy to be happy when the trouble is someone else’s, but not so easy when it’s your own.

I am a “cautiously optimistic” Happy Bird watching the snow, and wish all of you the same.

Coming up

March is Adopt A Rescued Guinea Pig Month, International Mirth Month, National Craft Month, and National Noodle Month.  The week is American Chocolate Week, World Folktales & Fables Week, and Wellderly Week. On the 19th, the Swallows Return to San Juan Capistrano. The 20th was Bed-in For Peace Day for Beatle John Lennon and wife Yoko, and the International Day of Happiness. Spring arrives on the 20th at 6:29 am EDT.  National Renewable Energy Dayis the 21st, and As Young As You Feel Day is the 22nd. Thursday the 23rd is National Puppy Day and National Chia Day: 23. We end the week with National Chocolate Covered Raisins Day on the 24th, and National Medal of Honor Day on the 25th.

The senior shopping bus will make its next trips to Walmart and Whole Foods on March 22 and April 5,. Call CDTA at 437-5161 two days in advance to arrange for pickup.

The Hilltowns Community Resource Center’s next lunch will be Thursday the 23rd. Lunch is at Noon, and there will be a German dinner of sausage and sauerkraut. There is no charge; only your free-will offering. Lunch is followed by an hour of Bingo. The resource center is located at the Reformed Church at 566 Route 143 in downtown Westerlo. Call Mary Beth at 797-5256 for more info. They also have a food pantry on site; donate or take what you need.

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.

Cooperative Extension has free water test kits available. No outside labs or special fussing; you can do the test at home. The main number at Co-op is 765-3500.

The Hilltown Seniors are sponsoring a trip to the Culinary Institute of America and the Vanderbilt Mansion on April 5. Cost is $50 for members, and $70 for non-members. The trip includes a lunch of antipasto, Italian roasted chicken (Petto di Pollo Alla Salvia), glazed carrots, chocolate lava cake (Tortino di Cioccolato), and coffee or tea at the renowned Caterina de' Medici restaurant. Shirley Slingerland is taking reservations at 797-3467.

Menu

Speaking of food, the Helderberg menu for next week is:

— Monday, March 20, lasagna roll-ups, marinara sauce, romaine lettuce, tomato, carrots with Italian dressing, wheat Italian bread, pears, and milk;

— Tuesday, March 21, meatloaf with tomato gravy, seasoned oven roasted potatoes, cauliflower, wheat bread,  pound cake with strawberries and whipped topping, and milk; and

— Friday, March 24, mac and cheese, stewed tomatoes, wheat bread, baked apples, and  milk.

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

Does your bobsled-building club, ancient Gaelic history group, or sunflower horticulture club 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.

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“I believe for every drop of rain that falls, a flower grows...” I love that old song, but do I believe it? I know that I believe in the law of gravity, but that’s not the same kind of belief, or is it? Gravity is based on science, and I believe that science is truth. Of course, there are also quite a few things that science hasn’t been able to untangle yet.

Studies have repeatedly shown that we tend to believe facts and studies that confirm what we already believed before we read the studies. We look for, and find, the evidence we need to prove our position, or justify our prejudices.

People who believe in the medicine they take usually get better, even if the “medicine” was a sugar pill. Voodoo curses can kill, especially if you believe they can.

Prayer is said to be able to bring about changes, but so are magic and spells, for those who believe in them. Any number of social movements have succeeded because people believed they could change the world, and acted accordingly.

Mahatma Gandhi’s desire to free India from British rule became a reality because enough people believed in it, and put their lives on the line for that belief. In a sense, wars are as much a test of beliefs as of fire power. That’s why it’s so hard to fight against true believers, regardless of what philosophy they espouse.

I was told recently that the internal competition within a group I belong to would never be resolved. It has been going on for years, and has become entrenched. The two sides do seem sometimes to be shooting at one another from trenches, just like in World War I. I believe that this condition can be changed. If I can get enough other people to believe it, I believe it will change.

Beliefs can work the opposite way as well. The Holocaust and the Inquisition are ample proof. People sincerely believed that they were making the world better through their actions. I believe they were wrong, but even today, not everybody agrees with me.

The song “I Believe” was commissioned by television star Jane Froman in 1952, to counteract the hopelessness she felt about the Korean War, occurring so soon after World War II. I believe its sentiments are true even if they aren’t.

As a result of this infirmity, “impossible” is not a word in my usual vocabulary. To me, “impossible” just denotes something that hasn’t been done yet. I am backed up by Lewis Carroll’s White Queen, whose reply to Alice’s “I can’t believe that!” was “‘Can’t you?’ the Queen said in a pitying tone. ‘Try again: draw a long breath, and shut your eyes.’

“Alice laughed. ‘There’s no use trying,’ she said: ‘one can’t believe impossible things.’

“‘I daresay you haven’t had much practice,’ said the Queen. ‘When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.’”

Maybe if we all take that half-hour, we can change the world.

Coming up

March is American Red Cross Month, International Expect Success Month , National Ethics Awareness Month, and Optimism Month. The coming week is National Sleep Awareness Week, National Words Matter Week, and Return The Borrowed Books Week.  National Absinthe Day is the 5th; Fun Facts About Names Dayis the 6th. Cereal Day and Peace Corps Day are both on the 7th, and the 8th is Discover What Your Name Means Day.

The 8th is also National Peanut Cluster Day and Registered Dietitian Day; do you think that was intentional? The 9th is Panic Day, and Get Over It Day. International Bagpipe Day and the International Day of Awesomeness on the 10th is followed by Johnny Appleseed Day and Genealogy Day on the 11th.

The senior shopping bus will make its next trips to Walmart and Whole Foods on March 8 and March 22, 2017.  Call CDTA at 437-5161 two days in advance to arrange for pickup.

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.

Cooperative Extension has free water test kits available. No outside labs or special fussing; you can do the test at home. The main number at Co-op is 765-3500.

The Hilltown Seniors are sponsoring a trip to the Culinary Institute of America and the Vanderbilt Mansion on April 5th. Cost is $50 for members, and $70 for non-members. The trip includes a lunch of antipasto, Italian Roasted Chicken (Petto di Pollo Alla Salvia), Glazed Carrots, Chocolate Lava Cake (Tortino di Cioccolato), and coffee or tea at the renowned Caterina de' Medici restaurant. Shirley Slingerland is taking reservations at 797-3467.

The Hilltown Seniors next meeting will be March 11th at the Berne Reformed Church on Helderberg Trail. Lunch will be Corned Beef and Cabbage, at a subsidized cost of $5 per person. Call Shirley at 797-3467 to register.

On March 9th, Helderberg Senior Services lunchers will be taking off for the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. The only charge is admission to the museum, for $13.50 per person. We will stop for lunch, which you can purchase on you own if you choose, or brown bag it from home.

Last week I went to the Hilltowns Community Resource Center’s marvelous Thursday lunch. What a feast! Pastor Chris Allen and her dedicated helpers put on a buffet worthy of many excellent restaurants.

Lunches are served at Noon on the second and fourth Thursdays in March (the 9th and 23rd).  March 9th will be sandwiches, salad, cream of broccoli or split pea soup, and dessert.  On the 23rd, there will be a German dinner of Sausage & Sauerkraut.

There is no charge; only your free-will offering. Lunch is followed by an hour of Bingo.  The Resource Center is located at the Reformed Church at 566 Route 143 in downtown Westerlo. Call Mary Beth at 797-5256 for more info. They also have a food pantry on site; donate or take what you need.

I am told that the first and third Thursdays’ lunch is covered by the South Westerlo Congregational Christian Church at 282 Albany County Route 405, and that pizza if regularly on the menu. Call Pastor Will Balta at 966-5094 to be sure, or email to:

The Crafty Crafters will be making etched flower vases, and flowers to go with them, on Monday, March 13th, at the Knox Town Hall. Class starts at 1 PM; call Pat Lightbody at 872-9400 for reservations.

The Rensselaerville Senior Citizens’ Club is scheduled to meet on March 14th at  noon for lunch at the Medusa firehouse (28 Route 351, Medusa). Bring a dish to share, and eating utensils; coffee and tea are provided. The cost is one dollar.

Menu

The Helderberg menu for next week is:

— Monday: Sweet and sour chicken, Asian vegetables, rice, wheat bread, pineapple chunks, milk;

— Tuesday: Beef Stroganoff with egg noodles, Brussels sprouts, wheat bread, milk, and birthday cake for all the March birthdays!; and

— Friday: Potato crunch fish, baked sweet potatoes and apples, pineapple juice, rice pilaf, wheat bread, lemon cake, milk.

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

Does your cat fanciers club, doorknob collectors, or Clark Gable fan club 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.

Location:

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