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An advance directive includes both a living will and a health care power of attorney. The living will specifies your wishes regarding end of life care and the health care power of attorney appoints a health care agent to make decisions on your behalf regarding your health care if you are unable to understand or communicate your own wishes. But what happens if you do not have an advance directive and you are not competent to make decisions regarding your health care?

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Last week a Facebook friend shared with me a lovely little poem by Sudie Stuart Hager. Born in 1895, Hager was Poet Laureate of Idaho from 1949 to her death in 1982.

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WHITEMARSH -- Late last year, “The Queen’s Gambit” triggered widespread interest in the game of chess. The moody Netflix mini-series, adapted from Walter Tevis’ eponymous novel, sent chess-related sales skyrocketing. Participation in online chess games and audiences for tournaments boomed. The show’s impact reportedly surpassed the interest triggered by Bobby Fischer’s world chess championship win in 1972 and propelled actress Anya Taylor-Joy – who played protagonist Beth Harmon – to international fame.

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If you head out to some of the ski resorts in the region this season you’ll find that there are many things you can expect to see and experience that you’re used to. However, there will also be many aspects that are very different this year to ensure your safety on and off the slopes.

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For many, their home is their legacy and an asset they have planned to pass on to their children. When faced with the fear of the skyrocketing costs of long-term care in the United States, many ask the question: “how do I protect my house so the nursing home doesn’t take it?” and “should I gift my house to my children?” Usually gifting your house to your children is not the best way to protect it. In fact, a common misconception is that you must sell your house to qualify for Medicaid or that the nursing home will take your house. Although you generally do not need to sell your house to qualify for Medicaid, and the nursing home will not literally take your house, the fear of losing your house to the cost of long-term care is warranted.

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Every year, I look forward to the month of March, with both the Philadelphia Flower Show and my birthday falling in the same week. What better present than to be able to spend a day or two at the Philadelphia Convention Center, soaking up the sight of beautiful plants and intriguing landscape ideas, and learning new growing tips? This year, though, due to the pandemic, both the time and the location of the Show have been moved. The 2021 Show will be held in June. And, for the first time in the Show’s 192-year history, it will be held outdoors.

My friend Elayne is doing yoga dance on Zoom. My friend Noelle calls me, dances on Facetime, we laugh, we hang up. My niece Barrie -- who I once snuck into a disco when she was only 15 -- is always good for a bump and grind hello. Her parents did forgive me, eventually.

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The “quarantine 15” or “COVID-15” are both terms referring to the common weight gain many people have experienced throughout the pandemic. The number on the scale may have been a surprise for many as they committed to making healthier life changes in the New Year. The year 2020 and even the beginning of 2021 has been very challenging.

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One way to safely skate through the winter, and perhaps the last few pre-vaccination months (hopefully) is by ice skating. Here’s what you can expect at local outdoor ice rinks.

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Estate planning is an essential step in the divorce process that is often overlooked. Careful attention must be afforded to the complex issues that may arise when dealing with an estate plan where a divorce action is pending or has been finalized. Your estate plan should be reviewed and updated after separation and before the initial filing of the divorce complaint as well as after the final decree of divorce has been entered.

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PLYMOUTH — Following the reading of Amanda Gorman’s powerful "The Hill We Climb" at President Joseph Biden’s Jan. 20 inauguration, poetry became an unlikely headline-maker. At 22, Gorman – this country’s first-ever youth poet laureate – touched hearts and minds and propelled the genre into the national consciousness with her dramatic recitation.

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At the beginning of December, to bring some living color into the house, I bought a single red poinsettia plant. Perfect! That’s all I wanted. And then, for a holiday gift, one of our in-laws sent us a large basket of plants. As a gesture, it was lovely. And it did provide more color. But for me, it was as if someone had left a box of Easter chicks on the front step. Here was something alive, that we — meaning I — would have to take care of.

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With common names like Snake Plant and Mother-in-law’s Tongue, Sansevieria trifasciata doesn’t sound like a very appealing botanical specimen to keep around. Yet this tropical plant, native to western Africa, has long been an indoor houseplant staple. In fact, this particular Sansevieria tops the list of easiest houseplants to grow.

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We rounded out 2020 with COVID-19 putting another kink in gym workouts given the most recent round of closures. This happened just when you finally got back into your workout groove, which means you might have been in a position where you had to scramble to rethink, yet again, the best way to get in your physical activity.

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I loved my plant taxonomy course in college — learning how botanists determine which plants are related to each other and placing them in “families.” I was fascinated, specifically, by how taxonomists trace the evolution of plants from the oldest (those with the simplest of reproductive parts) to the most recent and highly-evolved. In the section of study on angiosperms (flowering plants), this took us from the Buttercup Family, with its relatively rudimentary reproductive parts, to the Composite Family, with all the bells and whistles.

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As the temperature goes down, it’s time to turn the heat up on our beverages. Here are some of the best places in the area to get Hot Chocolate. Includes spiked Hot Chocolate for adults only, and some tamer versions for children.

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Over the years that I’ve been growing vegetables, I’ve discovered that seed catalogues — arriving in mailboxes this month in advance of spring planting — often contain much more than photos of the various varieties offered and how to grow them. With plant histories, stunning photos, and recipes from around the world, some seed catalogs have also become part travelogue, part history, and part cookbook.

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I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to realize this, but over the past twenty-five years or so, while busy planting vegetables and perennials, I’ve forgot to plant trees. And now it’s starting to show.

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There is no pandemic or crisis that could ever dim the lights of Christmas. In our homes and in our churches we have already set up Christmas trees, hanged wreaths and even constructed the Nativity Scene. These wonderful symbols of Christmas bring hope and joy to all — not just the young, but also to the young at heart. These symbols of Christmas provide us with comfort and hope; however, we should move beyond these symbols to the real meaning of Christmas, “Jesus Christ, Our Savior, was born.”

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During the Middle Ages, the carillon bells in Old World towns played a key role in daily life, signaling everything from meal times to civic emergencies. Centuries later, the bells in the carillon at St. Thomas’ Church, Whitemarsh are largely celebratory. But during this time of COVID-19, the melodic rhythms of the local bells have also been known to help soothe jangled nerves and temporarily calm the confusion of life interrupted.

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The Year 2020 is almost over, and many people are counting down the minutes until a fresh, and hopefully better, start in 2021. The worldwide COVID-19 pandemic and other events of 2020 have significantly impacted several aspects of life. In addition to affecting how people work, go to school, and exercise, COVID has also resulted in greater mental health challenges.

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PLYMOUTH -- Attention, Colonial School District residents, students, teachers and alumni. Student Council members at Colonial Middle School are putting together a fundraising cookbook, and they need your recipes to make that happen. The deadline for submissions is Dec. 31, and everyone in Conshohocken, Plymouth and Whitemarsh is invited to contribute.

The Connelly Foundation has announced its 2021 Neumann Scholars, awarding 40 academically talented eighth grade students from 30 regional parochial schools with four-year, full scholarships to attend any Philadelphia Archdiocesan high school of their choosing.

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There comes a time in life when the unthinkable suddenly makes sense. Even if you never were a badass. Never sat on your Harley smoking cigarettes behind a dive bar, never wore studded boots with mini shorts, never got sick drunk at a party.

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Holiday gift-giving season is officially upon us and there has never been a better time to center some of them on the theme of wellness. Since the pandemic is an experience that is impacting everyone in one way or another, there is no question that gifts aiming to remind people to take care of themselves are likely to be appreciated by the recipient.

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Because of their almost magical life cycle from “lowly” caterpillar to inert chrysalis to stunningly beautiful adult, butterflies have long been a symbol of transformation. But as New York Times bestselling author Wendy Williams details in her new book, “The Language of Butterflies,” these ephemeral, winged creatures are much more than that. In telling the story, Williams touches on so many different areas, including fossil hunting, why we experience jet-lag, the contributions of women and even children to the advancement of science, how the human eye sees, our addiction to color, and so much more. Woven through all of that, of course, is the story of how butterflies actually work.

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In addition to being a season focused on holiday decorations and lights, December is also a time of year that celebrates the act of giving. Giving can mean a variety of different things for different people, but usually involves some type of activity that benefits others.

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Have gardeners on your gift list? Lucky you! It’s so easy to find great gifts for gardeners — there’s no end to books, tools, gifts, and gadgets created just for them. This year, the editors of HomeGardenandHomestead.com have checked out websites and flipped through catalogs to find some thoughtful gifts for everyone on your shopping list. All can be purchased online.

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With more and more schools switching to remote learning as of late due to the recent resurgence of COVID-19 cases across the nation, it has equated to kids being cooped up at home and getting less physical activity. Combine that with cold temperatures and a parent who might need to focus on getting their own professional work done from home, and you have a situation where a solution is needed to help a child stay active.

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What do you do with an exorbitant quantity of rocks that no one quite knows what to do with? I mean, a LOT of rocks? If you’re Dan Lindley, you turn them into an enormous rock garden. I’ve seen the ongoing project several times, and it’s amazing. However, Lindley, who lives and lugs rocks at the Tel-Hai Retirement Community in Honey Brook, PA, has resisted any publicity or praise for his efforts. Earlier this year, though, when pressed by fellow Tel-Hai resident and gardener Shirley Walton, Lindley agreed to let Walton enter him in my informal “Homegrown National Park” contest.

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In today’s world, so much of our day-to-day lives involve technology and the internet. Most have switched to online banking, online bill paying, and utilize various apps and data storage plans. While technology and the internet are convenient, it has taken the laws sounding estate planning time to catch up.

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Probate is a topic that is greatly misunderstood. The word “probate” tends to invoke negative feelings. It is almost as if probate is a big conspiracy to get individuals to pay money to an attorney when it appears unnecessary. I can assure you that probate is not as big, bad, and scary as many think. And, as much as I enjoy a good conspiracy theory, “probate” is not part of a conspiracy to take your money. That being said, there are definitely tricks and tips that can help simplify your estate and cut down on estate administration expenses upon your passing. Planning ahead by making sure your estate plan is in order is the best way to save money for your heirs.