In a mad frenzy this spring, along with the rest of you, I hoarded cards and puzzles, found the old chess and backgammon games, compiled the best-of-all-time comedy movie lists, and heaped it all in the living room like a sanctuary of silly sanity in preparation for quarantine.

  • Comments

They answer to Nana and Grammy; Pop-Pop and Grandpa. Sometimes they’re called Oma or Babcia; Abuelo or Pawpaw. In the end, though, grandparents are pretty much all the same: Reliable sources of hugs and cookies. Endlessly patient listeners, story-tellers and game-players. Or, as one unknown pundit put it, “People reaping the reward they’ve earned for not strangling their own teenagers.”

  • Updated
  • Comments

Now that the kids are back in school, whether in person or remote, you might be looking for some motivation to get back on track after a carefree summer filled with indulgences when it comes to food choices and physical activity with less structure.

  • Comments

BLUE BELL -- The Scandinavian concept of hygge – essentially, contentment and well-being – is a familiar one in Danish culture, and Lynn Hoffmann hopes the sculptures she creates in her Hand and Wheel Pottery studio foster that sense of tranquility. The Blue Bell artist is currently guest exhibitor at Art in the Storefront, 14 E. Butler Pike, Ambler, and her work will be on display through Sept. 15.

  • Comments

My father was a born storyteller. He could weave the most delightful tales from his imagination, regaling my younger sister and me at bedtime, night after night. A favorite story was “Bells in the Night,” one of the ones that he was able to get published.

  • Updated
  • Comments

I’ve been trying to pick a good melon most of my adult life. I’ve asked farmers, watched videos, consulted perky produce people to learn how to make sure this thing you can’t see into at all, like a mystery waiting to be unfurled, somehow delivers oohs and aahs when you whack it like a festive piñata.

  • Comments

Earlier this summer, I proposed an informal garden contest, inviting readers to write and tell me how their property or gardens could be part of a “Homegrown National Park.” (Homegrown National Park — HNP — is the brainchild of Doug Tallamy, presented in his recent book, “Nature’s Best Hope.”) The idea is that if homeowners across the country, gave up a portion of their lawns to native trees, shrubs, and flowers, it would create the largest national park in America. With most of us spending more time at home during the pandemic, I wanted to know how people were planting, tending, and enjoying their own “parks,” without the hassle of reservations, entrance fees, travel costs, and standing in line. I also asked people to consider if their landscape reminded them of a particular national park.

  • Updated
  • Comments

People are spending more time at home because of the COVID-19 pandemic and some adults are using the extra free time to go back to school virtually. Colleges and universities are offering classes on a variety of interesting subjects such as the science of happiness, but now is also a great time to learn about health and nutrition.

  • Updated
  • Comments

For 116 years in Norristown, we have celebrated the magnificent feast of La Madonna del Soccorso di Sciacca, Our Lady of Perpetual Help of Sciacca, a fishing village in Sicily. That special day, which is the Sunday nearest to the 15th of August, the feast day of the Assumption of Mary, begins with a Mass by Monsignor John Marine, a native of Norristown, that fills Holy Saviour Church and then a procession that follows winding through the streets of the town and with the air filled with the traditional sounds of the Verdi Band. The procession ends with benediction at the church.

  • Updated
  • Comments

CONSHOHOCKEN — In 2020, the conversation has evolved from whether women should be permitted to vote to the legitimacy of voting by mail. But the years have done nothing to diminish the magnitude of the Suffragettes’ achievement a century ago when they endured ongoing physical, emotional and verbal abuse to secure voting rights for women.

  • Comments

“Patch” Adams – the social activist-physician-clown famously depicted by the late Robin Williams in the film of the same name – once reasoned “People crave laughter as though it were an essential amino acid."

  • Comments

This summer, like those in the past at Crow’s Nest Preserve, campers have had the chance to play in the mud, swim in the stream and build swings in the woods. The difference this year, however, is that these activities aren’t intended just for kids. Instead, the approach they took was to create a family camp experience to enable parents to also have the chance to partake in the bounty of fun nature has to offer.

  • Updated
  • Comments

COLLEGEVILLE — If you've been loyally rocking to the classic, charitable sounds of You, Me & Reenie at Davinci's Restaurant & Pub these many years you may have feared that the coronavirus would be lowering the curtain on the fun this year.

  • Updated
  • Comments

Of late, pandemic-inspired drive-in movie “theaters” and open-air church services have popped up throughout this area and well beyond. That said, longtime Conshohocken-Plymouth-Whitemarsh residents might recall the summer one local drive-in did double duty as both.

  • Updated
  • Comments

AMBLER – Nestled under a cheerful green roof, and a pink-and-white-striped awning, is an establishment that suits the quaint charm of downtown Ambler: Sweet Annie’s Candy Shoppe.

  • Updated
  • Comments

The 22nd annual Schuylkill River Sojourn is going to be an event not like any of the previous 21 sojourns. The community is invited to experience the revolutionary river through two evening video live streams on Aug. 9 and Aug. 16. The event also includes a tentative in-person guided paddling experience being offered on three separate days: Aug. 7, 8 or 9.

  • Updated
  • Comments

WHITEMARSH — Because of COVID-19 travel restrictions, St. Thomas’ Church’s 2020 summer carillon concerts won’t feature any international musicians. But there’s plenty of local talent on tap for the Whitemarsh congregation’s annual Tuesday night series, beginning July 7 with Tiffany Lin and continuing July 14 with James Brinson, July 21 with Tom and Paige Gurin and July 28 with St. Thomas’ resident carillonneur Lisa Lonie.

  • Updated
  • Comments

My friend and Master Gardener Sharon Richardson is passionate about pollinators. Her interest started around the time she began volunteering at Longwood Gardens (2008), which inspired her to begin taking their horticulture classes. In 2015, she fenced in her back yard in Malvern to protect against hungry deer, and the following spring planted her first pollinator garden. I’ve visited Sharon’s property mid-summer, and found it full of the humming and fluttering of bees and butterflies busy at their work—the most alive garden I’ve ever seen.

  • Updated
  • Comments

June is National Iced Tea Month, and while global analysts fret about COVID-19’s effect on the harvesting schedules and transport chains of top producers like China, India, Kenya and Sri Lanka, local vendors appear to be well-stocked with everything from basic black and green teas to varieties flavored with fruit and spice.

With rain predicted here but not at the Jersey shore, we thought last week was a good time to pack the masks, Lysol, paper towels, plastic gloves, hand sanitizer, all our food so we wouldn’t need to risk takeout, all our emergency meds so we wouldn’t need to raid CVS, and find a cheap motel that had not yet served any other risky human this pandemic spring.

  • Updated
  • Comments

CONSHOHOCKEN — Members of Americans for the Arts believe public art “humanizes the built environment, provides an intersection between past, present and future, and can help communities thrive.” Of course, that art – like the artists who create it – varies: From monumental, centuries-old statuary to the edgy social images by Banksy and colossal installations of Christo, who passed away in May at the age of 84.

  • Comments

For his birthday last month, all my friend Elliot wanted was an apricot tree. Yep, just a tree, nothing else. That’s not really too remarkable, for someone to ask for one single, big, lasting thing. For myself, as I get “on in years” I find that there’s little that I want in terms of tangible presents. I’m at an age where health and financial security, along with family and friends, feel like the best gifts. With those in place, I don’t feel the need for much more—though I’ll never say no to something for the yard or garden!

  • Comments

PLYMOUTH MEETING -- They might be running low on beef, but there’s no shortage of seasonal vegetables, herbs and -- starting about now -- strawberries at Maple Acres Farm. Yes, farmer Gary McKeown acknowledges, his restaurant clients have been largely missing during the COVID-19 pandemic. But, he says, area residents looking to avoid “standing in long lines at the grocery store” -- both countless regulars and newcomers -- have been turning to the farm market on Narcissa Road as an alternative.

  • Comments

Early on in the stay-at-home period, I heard that due to the pandemic, lots of people were turning to growing vegetables, many of them for the first time. “That’s great!” I thought. But there was a dark side to the good news. When I went online to buy seeds, I quickly discovered that wherever I turned, the varieties I wanted were out of stock. Even ones I DIDN’T want weren’t available. Feeling a bit like I’d been locked out of my own house, I put my name on several waiting lists, settled for a packet each of lettuce and spinach seeds I found at the grocery store, and had some tomato, pepper, and basil plants — the bare essentials — delivered from a nursery.

  • Comments

POTTSTOWN -- Growing up in Pottstown in the 1940s David Shaner spent most of his spare time shoveling coal or working with concrete in his father’s businesses. During that time it never occurred to him that he would spend the rest of his life working with his hands, setting aside the shovel and the trowel for the potter’s wheel and the kiln, and that he would become one the most highly-regarded clay artists in America.

  • Updated
  • Comments

May is National Bike Month and like many other annual events, the celebration has transitioned from in-person programs to virtual activities. The League of American Bicyclists promotes the cycling holiday which began in 1956. The month-long observance is meant to inform the public about the benefits of biking and to encourage people to try the healthy activity. This year, the league is focusing on how cycling has both physical and mental benefits. People are encouraged to enjoy the activity through solo rides or rides with other household members. Below are ways regional organizations are celebrating National Bike Month with events, challenges and contests.

Like many of you, this extra time at home is sending me on a sentimental journey down memory lane as I sift through boxes piled up in the basement, garage, high up on shelves that I’d fairly well forgotten about, hadn’t the faintest idea I still had.

  • Updated
  • Comments

Patrons walk through a previous Ambler Farmers' Market. The seasonal event will open from 9 a.m. to noon on June 8, and continue every Saturday through November.