At my age, I really do not need any more plastic chickens. Or calico ducks, or hiney-waving Santas, or fake-lotus candles.  I have a sufficiency of china shepherdesses, and I don’t want to tell you what size I now wear in clothing.  Enough, already!

I had occasion to go into one of our nation’s “bargain big-box” stores recently, and experienced something close to culture shock. There was just so much stuff! Layers and layers and tiers and tiers of shiny, bright-colored, tacky, and unnecessary things, all screaming for attention and trying to convince me that they were just what I, or someone near and dear, had to have this holiday season.

Stand down, I say!

Am I immune? Heck, no! I come from a long line of pack rats, and can justify any purchase in three seconds flat. I watch “Hoarders” and “Doomsday Preppers” on TV just to assure myself that I’m not as out of control as they are.  But seriously, folks, we need to stop for a minute and look at ourselves.

There are voices of reason amid the insanity, albeit they are in the minority. I just heard about “Giving Tuesday” as a sequel to Black Friday, Small-business Saturday, and Cyber Monday.  It encourages us to make a donation to the Red Cross, the SPCA, or some other charity, instead of another beribboned tchotchke.

At the risk of overkill, I’d like to add another to the list: How about “Ten-Mile Thursday”? On that day, any gift you buy has to be purchased within 10 miles of your home. If you want to really be local, limit it to things that were actually made within the 10-mile radius.

For those of us out in the country, it would probably mean simpler gifts, more things made by hand, and perhaps more edibles. There are numerous craft shows coming up; take a short trip, avoid the malls, and see what delights are on display by the hometown folks.

“Artisan” and “homemade” are synonyms; it’s just the fashion that changes. Homemade gifts were given because it was all the pioneers had; they were cash-poor. Only the rich could afford “store-bought,” so that became the ultimate.

Now, we have access to so much cheap merchandise that “artisan” is in, because it costs more in time and skill to produce. Full circle.  You don’t have to drive 30 miles and pay outrageous prices in a gourmet shop to have wonderful, quality presents.

It has always been this way, I suspect. We are all so insecure that we need to impress others with our largesse, and have people think better of us because of our show. Royals forbid commoners the use of purple, and ermine; robber barons built multiple lavish houses and summer places, dot-com millionaires have high-tech hideaways, and we spend too much on junk just so we can feel better about ourselves. No one ever died wishing they had bought more stuff.

Holiday doings

And speaking of buying local, the Hilltown Seniors will be having a holiday party at Maple on the Lake on Dec. 12th at 11:30 a.m.  Dinner choices are roast beef, stuffed haddock, or turkey. The cost is $10 for members, and $20 for others. Call me at 872-9370 to make a reservation.

The Altamont Seniors party will be at the Elks Club on Carman Road on Tuesday, Dec. 8. Lunch is being provided by the Christmas Angels from the Altamont Senior Center. Festivities begin at 11:30 a.m.

The Rensselaerville Seniors treated themselves to a holiday meal at the Quarry Restaurant on Dec. 1; reports are that a delicious time was had by all.

Lunch

A new nutrition newsletter is available at the Hilltown Senior Center. It includes tips and a recipe every month, and is put together by Denise Kolankowski, the nutritionist at the Albany County Department for the Aging. Denise has been to the lunch program several times already, and has joined us for some tasty meals.  The new meal provider is Albany Senior Services, so come check out its culinary expertise.

The lunchtime menu for next week at the Hilltown Senior Center is here.  Swap tales with friends, and enjoy a lunch that you don’t have to cook.  Doors open at 11 a.m., and lunch is served promptly at noon.  As usual, we have games and cards on Monday and Tuesday, and music by Nancy Frueh on Friday.

— Monday, Dec. 7:  Baked ziti, tossed salad with romaine, whole-wheat bread, milk, and applesauce;

— Tuesday, Dec. 8: Open-faced turkey sandwich, mashed potatoes, butternut squash, whole-wheat stuffing, milk, and vanilla pudding; and

— Friday, Dec. 11: Chicken Florentine, brown rice, California blend vegetables, pineapple juice, whole-wheat bread, milk, and an oatmeal cookie. 

Please call 24 hours in advance to 872-9400 to reserve lunch.  Email plightbody@nycap.rr.com, 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, give Mary Moller a call at 861-6253, or email her at helderbergseniormeals@aol.com, 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 Hilltown Senior Center is located at 1360 Helderberg Trail (Route 443) in Berne.

Location:

Our Oct. 10 meeting was held at the Berne Senior Center. The tables were beautifully decorated with fall colors.

There was no report from the sunshine committee, which is a wonderful thing. Let’s keep it that way and remember to get your flu shots.

This month, we celebrated birthdays for Connie Skinner, Fred Shimmer, Margie Wright, and Millie Rossman. We also had an anniversary, Fran and Henry Brezenski.  Best wishes to all.

It was also announced that Scott Wright turned in his firemen's uniform after serving 40 years — 40 years of answering that call and serving your community. We thank you for your service.

Coming events

Our November meeting will be at the Knox Reformed Church for our Thanksgiving dinner. The cost is $6 for members and $12 for non-members. Call Shirley Slingerland at 797-3467 for reservations.

The Christmas party will be held at the Maple on the Lake. More information will follow.

We are asked to bring a pen and new Christmas card. These will be delivered to the homeless veterans.

Also, please bring donations for the food pantry.

On Oct. 24, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the Albany Law School, there will be people there to answer all senior concerns regarding legal questions.

Soggy fun in Philly

Shirley Slingerland reported on the Philadelphia trip. The rain did not dampen their spirits as they made their way to the Liberty Bell and Freedom Hall

It was reported that some girls had to use blow dryers to dry out their shoes. Now that is a first.

They did see some interesting sights on their tour. I’m sorry I missed it!

The next trip and final one for the year is to the Hilton Christmas Show on Nov. 23. The price is $48 for members and $58 for non-members. We need nine more people to make this trip a go.

I am having a trip to Turning Stone on Oct. 22; call me at 872-2448.

October fare

The Westerlo Reformed Church will have a pork dinner with homemade cream puffs on Oct. 17.

The Berne Fire Department will be have its roast-beef dinner on Oct. 18.

The NEAT (Not Eating Alone Tonight) dinner will be Oct. 19.

The Lutheran Church in Berne will have its breakfast on Oct. 24.

So, if you are hungry in the month of October, it’s your own fault. The meals are delicious and the price is right.

Enjoy autumn

Remember to go for a ride around the Hilltowns this week. The leaves are outstanding as I am looking out my

window. I have to get my camera and send pictures to relatives in Virginia and Florida.

Quote for the week

A woman's mind is cleaner than a man's. She changes it more often!

Last Friday, we had our six-month anniversary for the lunch program, and I am rather proud of our success. We have served nearly 1,000 meals, and, thanks to surveys from all of us, the food keeps getting better. 

Over 170 of us have chowed down since the program began, and neighbors from Altamont and New Scotland now join us on a regular basis. We have put in more than 760 hours of volunteer work, plus all the help with table-clearing and cleanup that has been taken on by our attendees (Thanks, Vern, and others!). 

Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara joined us for the celebration, as did Knox Deputy Supervisor Nick Viscio. They are both strong supporters of senior services, and Nick is especially interested in our issues with Internet access, cable, and transportation out here in the hills. He also worked very hard to bring much-needed rental assistance money to support our low-income residents, many of whom are seniors. 

There will be a public forum on Rural Broadband Expansion (TV and Internet) at the Knox Town Hall on Oct. 8 at 6:30 p.m. All are encouraged to attend, and representatives from Time-Warner, the Regional Chamber of Commerce, Santabarbara,  Hilltowns supervisors Mike Hammond and Kevin Crosier,  and several others will be there to hear our needs and concerns.

Senior meeting

The Hilltown Seniors had their monthly meeting on Saturday, Sept. 12 and were treated to Swedish meatballs, scalloped potatoes, gelatin salads, and a truly superb zucchini cake (who made that, and can we have the recipe?), among many other dishes.

Lunch is always potluck, and coordinated by a revolving crew of members, so nobody gets burned out doing all the work. The next meeting will be Saturday, Oct. 10.

Pat Lightbody’s basket-making class is Tuesday, Sept.  22, and I can hardly wait to see what we’ll be creating. A cat or dog basket would be super, but I think I’m being a little too ambitious for a beginner (sorry, Toto and Fluffy!).

Whatever we do, it will be a great sense of accomplishment to leave with something that I made myself. As you all know, I’m a big fan of low-tech self-sufficiency.

The grocery bus to Walmart and Whole Foods Market at Colonie Center is scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 30, followed by Oct. 14 and Oct. 28. If you call CDTA at 437-5161, they will even pick you up at home. Hang onto this number; our transportation maven wasn’t available, and it took four phone transfers at CDTA to get to the right person. However, once you connect, they are vey helpful.

Proctors Theater in Schenectady will be hosting a free concert on Oct. 20, featuring the Empire State Youth Orchestra. Come hear some really good music, and provide some applause for the next generation’s Bernsteins and Tchaikovskys. Call Charlotte Fuss at 861-8960 to reserve a seat on the bus.

The Xmas show (yes, it’s creeping toward that season) at the Troy Music Hall will be on Nov. 23. Contact Shirley Slingerland for more information at 797-3467.

Senior Summit

I said I’d update you on some more of the programs that we saw at the Senior Summit, so here goes.

Healthy Capital District Initiative exists to help seniors and others with insurance needs. They have information, assistance, and applications for all of the Medicaid insurances, including Medicaid Savings, Spend-down, Buy-in, and Nursing Homes.

They can also advise you about Medicare Savings programs, and Qualified Health Plans. Originally, their free services were targeted to low-income persons, but with passage of the Affordable Care Act, they now help anyone of any income level or age. 

As I have been occasionally heard to say, “Asking is for free, as long as you can handle the answer.”  Information is power: power to control our own lives, and make the best decisions for ourselves. If you live in Albany, Schoharie, Schenectady, or Saratoga counties, and have any health insurance questions, call Nichole Church or Kathleen Clarke at 462-1459.

Are you registered to vote? We have forms at the senior center! Nuff said!

Lunch

Oh yes, we do have the menu for next week, which was the original purpose of this column, and good food is never to be neglected. Swap tales with friends, and enjoy a lunch that you don’t have to cook. Doors open at 11 a.m., and lunch is served promptly at noon. We have games and cards, and wonderful live music on Fridays from Nancy Frueh and Ken Hallenbeck.

Monday, Sept. 21: Chicken with mushroom sauce, mashed potatoes, peas, whole-wheat roll, milk, and fruit cocktail;

Tuesday, Sept. 22 Hungarian goulash, noodles, broccoli, rye bread, milk, and sugar cookie;

Friday, Sept. 25: Chicken cacciatore, peppers, tomato sauce, penne pasta, baked tomato, whole-wheat roll, milk and lemon pudding.

Please call 24 hours in advance to 872-9400 to reserve lunch. E-mail plightbody@nycap.rr.com, 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, give Mary Moller a call at 861-6253, or e-mail her at helderbergseniormeals@aol.com, and put “volunteer” in the subject line.

Lunches are provided by Helderberg Senior Services, the Albany County Office for the Aging, and the Peter Young Housing Industries Program. The Hilltown Senior Center is located at 1360 Helderberg Trail (Route 443) in Berne.

Location:

The Senior Summit in Albany was definitely worth the trip. I learned a lot, and we will be scheduling some of the presenters to come to lunch and give us some assistance and information.

For instance, we can have someone come with applications for the Home energy Assistance Program, and weatherization applications. There is a home-repair program through the Rural Housing Alliance, and numerous services through Veterans Affairs and the Albany County Veterans Bureau.

One of the ones that was new to me, and that I really like, is Senior Hope. It is a counseling and addictions program targeted exclusively to seniors. How nice to be able to talk to someone who knows that Glenn Miller is not the name of a new bakery, and understands the particular issues that we face as seniors.

The addictions counseling is also a necessary answer to a problem that we don’t often talk about. With all the medications that some of us take, and the falls and ailments we can get, it’s far too easy to get used to grabbing a pill or a little glass of something every time we get stressed, or hurt, or lonely.

The trap is that all those things work just fine — at first. Then the servant can ever so gradually become the master.

Who can you turn to when you begin to suspect that there might be a problem? Some of us are too proud, or too scared, to admit that things have gotten out of control.

It is a literal lifesaver to have a safe, confidential place where we can talk to someone who knows what we are facing, and understands, and can help.  Their office is in Albany, and the telephone number is 489-7777.

In the health area, please be sure your calendar is marked for the flu shots at the Knox Town Hall on Sept. 15 from 1 to 3 p.m.

Coming events

Hilltown Seniors will be meeting and lunching on Saturday, Sept. 12, at the Senior Center. Bring a dish to share, or just show up. President Madeline Bradt is sure to have something interesting planned, and there are several trips coming up in the near future.

Primary Day is Sept. 10, and we have voter registration forms at the senior center. Don’t come whining to me about the government if you don’t vote!

Yes, you are only one person, but you are still one person, and many “one persons” are what make changes in our style of government. A lot of guys (and gals) died so you could keep that privilege; don’t dishonor them by not using your vote.

OK, I’m through yelling at you. Now on to the fun!

Pat Lightbody will be teaching a basket-making class after lunch on Tuesday, Sept. 22.  I’m already signed up, and so are a bunch of your friends. It’s free, thanks to the Albany Department of Aging picking up the tab, so come and learn something new and useful!

Lunch

The lunchtime menu for the next quarter has finally arrived, thanks to an e-mail from Chef Mashama.  Come and swap tales with friends, and enjoy a lunch that you don’t have to cook.  Last week’s chicken teriyaki was really scrumptious, so check it out.  Doors open at 11 a.m., and lunch is served promptly at noon.  Don’t forget games the on Tuesdays, and live music on Friday.

 Monday, Sept. 7: Labor Day, the cook’s day off, no lunch;

Tuesday, Sept. 8: Hot turkey sandwich,, gravy, broccoli, whole-wheat bread, milk, and peaches;

Friday, Sept. 11: Baked ziti, romaine salad with Italian dressing, apple juice, whole-wheat Italian bread, milk, and grapes.

Please call 24 hours in advance to 872-9400 to reserve lunch. E-mail plightbody@nycap.rr.com, 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, give Mary Moller a call at 861-6253, or e-mail her at helderbergseniormeals@aol.com, and put “volunteer” in the subject line.

Lunches are provided by Helderberg Senior Services, the Albany County Office for the Aging, and the Peter Young Housing Industries Program. The Hilltown Senior Center is located at 1360 Helderberg Trail (Route 443) in Berne.

Helderberg

By Phyllis Johnson

Hey! Summer people! Did you know that there is a bus in the Hilltowns that will pick you up at the senior center in Berne (or maybe even at home) and take you to the store every two weeks?

There is, and it goes to Wal-Mart, and then to Whole Foods at Colonie Center. All you have to do is call CDTA in advance at 437-5161, and sign up. The next trip is scheduled for Wednesday, July 29, so you have plenty of time to get on board. Why bother with driving and parking when you can be chauffeured?

Charlotte Fuss, our intrepid Senior Services advocate from Knox, will have farmers’ market vouchers for eligible seniors at our lunch on Monday, July 20. These vouchers are good at all registered farmers markets in Albany County.

I know there’s one in Altamont, and you can get a list of others when you pick up your voucher. Fresh local farm veggies are the best.

The lunchtime menu for next week at the Hilltown Senior Center is here. Don’t forget to invite your snowbird friends and visiting RVers. Come and enjoy a lunch that you don’t have to cook. Doors open at 11 a.m., and lunch is served promptly at noon.

We still have games and cards on Monday and Tuesday, and Nancy Freuh brings us live music every Friday.  Upcoming events include chair yoga, gardening classes, and computer skills (as soon as we get our Internet connection for the center).

I’ll send pictures of our bluebird house construction project to “The Enterprise” as soon as they are available. We had fun.

Monday, July 20: Potato crusted baked fish, Mediterranean salad, fettuccini Alfredo, whole-wheat bread milk, and Lorna Doones ; 

Tuesday, July 21: Turkey with gravy, mashed sweet potatoes, cauliflower, corn bread stuffing, whole-wheat bread, milk, and tropical fruit;

Friday, July 24: Beef burgundy with brown gravy, noodles, Brussels sprouts, parsley carrots, whole-wheat brad, milk, and peaches.

Please call 24 hours in advance to 872-9400 to reserve lunch.  E-mail plightbody@nycap.rr.com, 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, give Mary Moller a call at 861-6253, or email her at helderbergseniormeals@aol.com, and put “volunteer” in the subject line.

Lunches are provided by Helderberg Senior Services, the Albany County Office for the Aging, and the Peter Young Housing Industries and Treatment Program. The Hilltown Senior Center is located at 1360 Helderberg Trail (Route 443) in Berne.

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