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Today’s war-sparked refugee crises were decades away when philosopher Marshall McLuhan famously declared “The medium is the message.” But the medium behind the vivid orange crucifix at Flourtown’s St. Miriam Parish and Friary -- life jackets discarded by Syrian war victims who’d fled across the Mediterranean Sea to the Greek island of Lesvos -- is clearly the message.

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Biodiversity. Is this something you think about in planning your gardens and landscape, and deciding what to put in the pots on your patio or balcony? Typically, gardeners and landscapers have been interested in colors, textures, and seasonal interest – how beautiful a property can be. Lately, however, biodiversity is becoming the watch-word, as we gardeners learn more about the increasing loss of species and look for ways that we, as individuals, can make a positive difference. Our challenge is how to create the beauty we want while supporting our intricate ecosystems.

If you haven’t gotten your Real ID drivers license which some of us need and some of us don’t and good luck figuring that out -- prepare to enter your cavernous DMV building to find aimless souls twitching their legs and checking their phones and wondering which bleary rep will input the vital info that proves you are who you say you are and who you are is maybe A-OK.

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Imagine: the sun sparkling on the Mediterranean, the scent of lavender filling the air, a chic bistro serving bouillabaisse. Relish a “Riviera Holiday” at this year’s Philadelphia Flower Show.

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CONSHOHOCKEN — Organizers of the prom scheduled for Conshohocken Great American Pub’s ballroom on Feb. 22 say this 7-11 p.m. social will be a lot different from the time-honored rite-of-passage hosted by most high schools.

Lighbox Film Center, Philadelphia’s longest-running arthouse cinema resumes programming in February with a roster of films, now at its new home at the University of the Arts (401 S. Broad St.). Lightbox will continue to enchant audiences with a wide array of screenings and events.

Every year, Gwynedd Mercy University’s President, Deanne H. D’Emilio, makes a special appearance at the Valie Genuardi Hobbit House to celebrate “P” Day. GMercyU's littlest students, lovingly referred to as “hobbits,” invited President D’Emilio to celebrate in their annual tradition of honoring one of their favorite letters. Over the course of the year, the Hobbits hold celebrations for each letter of the alphabet, and “P” Day is always one of their favorites! The students, teachers, and even President D'Emilio gathered in their pajamas to eat pancakes and party! The hobbits even performed a fun little song and dance for President D'Emilio while she visited.

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There are some things we tend to do without thinking, like automatically responding with the words “God bless you” when someone in our company sneezes. It doesn’t seem to matter whether we know the person or not -- common practice and politeness dictate this familiar response, but why?

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Looking for something special to do this Valentine’s Day? If you’re a bird-lover, you don’t have to look any farther than this year’s annual Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC), which starts on Feb. 14. The four-day Count, now in its 23rd year, is a joint project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society, and engages participants around the world.

The Philadelphia Young Artists Orchestra continues their 2019-2020 season on Sunday, Feb. 16, at 3 p.m. from the Perelman Theater at The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, located at Broad and Spruce Streets, Philadelphia.

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The competition. The commercials. The soup. Yes, soup. Got a game plan for “Souper” Bowl Sunday? Area chefs offered a peek inside their playbooks, sharing three fumble-free recipes even a rookie can tackle.

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Ditched alcohol for Dry January (or altogether)? Take heart, teetotalers! Going sans spirits doesn’t have to be boring as area restaurants zero in on zero-proof cocktails.

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The Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act was signed into law on December 20, 2019 by President Trump. It was part of spending legislation passed by the U.S. Congress. The law can be a game changer for those who have saved, or are saving, or intend to save for retirement.

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–For me, as a vegetable grower, this is a heady time of year. It’s full of possibilities, laid out in the seed catalogues that have started cropping up in my mailbox. But mail-order isn’t the only game in town. You can save your own seeds from year to year, or you can search out local seed-swapping events. There’s even a National Seed Swap Day, observed annually on the last Saturday in January to help promote the practice.

PHILADELPHIA — Quintessence Theatre Group, Philadelphia's professional classic repertory theatre, continues its 10th season of progressive classics with the Philadelphia premiere of Angelina Weld Grimké’s 1916 masterpiece, "Rachel."

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AMBLER — Ambler Restaurant Week is in full swing, attracting thousands of foodies and visitors to local eateries. The event began Monday, Jan. 6 , and continues until Monday, Jan. 13.