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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.

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FORT WASHINGTON -- The Fort Washington Lightbridge Academy, an early education and child care center, in partnership with the brand’s non-profit, the Lightbridge Foundation, has recently donated $500 to a local, deserving charity. Lightbridge Academy owner Randi Weiss and center director Jane Bucknam chose to donate these funds to the Kelly Anne Dolan Memorial Fund, a local charity that lightens burdens and lifts spirits of families caring for children with serious illnesses, disabilities, and injuries since 1976.

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Can’t be with your whole extended family for Thanksgiving? Is your Friendsgiving cancelled? Here’s something to be thankful for - places that are making Thanksgiving “to go.” So even if you don’t have the company, you can still have a celebration with all the trimmings and without the cooking. Here are some good options for Thanksgiving 2020-style:

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PLYMOUTH — First Friday dinners at Plymouth Meeting’s Church on the Mall usually take place at communal tables in the congregation’s tranquil sanctuary. The free monthly meals are cooked from scratch by church members, open to anyone – congregants, area residents or workers, folks passing through on SEPTA – and seen as “a way to provide a place where everyone belongs, everyone is fed and no one is a stranger.”

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The Delta Kappa Gamma Society International promotes professional and personal growth of women educators and “Excellence in Education” worldwide. Each year, the Beta Pi Chapter of the Society awards scholarships to area students pursuing a degree in Education. This year the Beta Pi Chapter, based in Montgomery County, recognizes and congratulates three $1,000 scholarship recipients for 2020. High school senior recipients include Alyssa Galban, of Upper Merion, and Nya Cherry of Methacton, both of whom are currently attending Penn State University. The college scholarship winner, Margaret Ostrich, is a senior at West Chester University.

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While thoughts of Thanksgiving often conjure up images of food that is synonymous with the holiday, for some it’s also a day to put in some miles before feasting. Two annual turkey-themed wellness events coming up this month are designed to be fun for the whole family and take some of the guilt out of going for a second helping.

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I stopped by a roadside stand in Kimberton about two weeks ago to buy some flowers. I was so wowed by the big, beautiful dahlias in the mixed-fall-flowers bouquet that I didn’t even notice the large, hairy, pale green, balloon-y things tucked into the middle. Running from one thing to the next on a busy morning, I just plunked the whole rubber-banded batch into water when I got home and didn’t notice the spherical oddities until I refilled the vase a few days later. It was a big bouquet, but still . . . I honestly don’t know how I missed something so large — each about three inches in diameter — and so strange.

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Trusts can be useful tools to protect your assets, save on estate taxes, or set aside money for a family member. However, whether you need to add a trust to your estate plan depends on your unique family situation, financial position, and estate planning goals. In Pennsylvania, the benefits of creating a revocable living trust for the sole purpose of avoiding probate is debatable. Pennsylvania, unlike other states has a straightforward probate process and the costs are typically less than the cost to set up a trust. Additionally, in Pennsylvania the personal representative of the estate (Executor named in the Will or the Administrator appointed by the Register of Wills in the last county of residence), is granted authority to manage the estate with little to no court involvement.

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Last spring, when vegetable seeds were hard to come by and I was feeling a little desperate to get my garden started, I looked to my refrigerator for things that I could plant. That included several potatoes that had already started to form “eyes” in the back of the vegetable bin. I also turned to more unlikely things, like trying to grow my own sweet potato slips. I watched several how-to videos, and got started.

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CONSHOHOCKEN -- Mental health pros agree that human connection is more important than ever during the pandemic. Enter BAM Talk at Conshohocken United Methodist Church. The new discussion group focuses on books, articles and movies – ergo, the BAM acronym. But the get-togethers are designed to be free-ranging, and so far, participants say, “they’ve been lots of fun.” Best of all, spokesmen Pat Patterson and Randi Pizzico quip, “there are no pop quizzes…just an enjoyable night of energetic conversation.”

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Every year when October rolls around and pumpkins start appearing in lawn decorations and on doorsteps everywhere, I recall a visit I made in 2005 to see Ron Takacs’ backyard pumpkin patch in West Whiteland Township. Takacs was well-known locally for growing giant versions of this familiar, orange squash, with each weighing in at 200-plus pounds. In fact, he freely gave them away to neighbors — they just had to able to lug them home! Surprisingly, those 200-pounders that Takacs was growing weren’t even close to being the biggest pumpkins possible. Not by a long shot. Champions weigh in at over 1,000 pounds.

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PLYMOUTH — A recent Nestle Toll House TV promo called chocolate chip cookies “the original way to share love.” On the other hand, sixth grade history teachers at Colonial Middle School saw the cookie world’s most popular entries in way more practical terms when they reimagined them as archeological sites for students confined to virtual classes before Colonial School District’s hybrid sessions began.

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UPPER MERION — The pandemic certainly hasn’t been kind to restaurants this year, but at least those that participated in King of Prussia District’s annual Restaurant Week were able to salvage most of the event last March, benefiting not only their own businesses but also raising money for a good cause.

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The small, quiet neighborhood of Black Horse came to life on Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020 despite the rain and chilly weather, to celebrate the birthday of one of its oldest residents, Louise Piccirilli Basile, as she celebrated her 103rd birthday.

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At this time of year, when pine trees are shedding their old needles, my neighbors Mark and Olga are happy to have me rake up the needles that fall from their trees onto the street and their driveway, and trundle them off in my wheelbarrow to use as mulch. What the couple may not know is how much I enjoy working with this tree debris.

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Despite everything going on, many new attractions, restaurants, shops and hotels have opened in the Philadelphia region. That's one reason why National Geographic named Philadelphia to its list of best places to visit in 2019. And why Irene Levy Baker felt there was a compelling reason to update her book, 100 Thing To Do In Philadelphia, which is one of the best-selling in the national travel series published by Reedy Press.

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BLUE BELL -- Forty-five years ago, on October 5, 1975, the congregation of Grace Baptist Church Blue Bell opened its doors in Blue Bell as the Baptist Temple after 103 years at Broad and Berks Streets on the Temple University campus in north Philadelphia. Sixty-four members made the move from north Philadelphia to Blue Bell. Eleven of the current members were members at the Philadelphia location.

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The other day I saw a driver giving his middle finger a serious workout, thrusting his arm straight up outside his car window, the digit held like an ornery balloon. He even waved it at people passing by, blaring his horn for extra entertainment, scooping them up in his pop-up party. There appeared to be no hands on the wheel.

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If you’re struggling with menu ideas to cook up these days, there is no need to look any further than the farmers' markets, farms and farmstands in and around Pottstown. With fall produce at its peak, you can let things like butternut squash, cabbage and turnips guide you to recipes that speak to the season.

LANSDALE -- Over the past 5 years, Gwynedd Square Presbyterian Church has dedicated a week in the spring and a week in fall to helping those in need within the local community by organizing hands-on service activities in partnership with local organizations.

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The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically impacted individuals requiring skilled nursing care. Not only are these individuals experiencing facility lockdowns and isolation from family members but there have been noticeable disruptions to care. The Secretary of the Department of Health & Human Services declared a public health emergency (PHE) on January 31, 2020. On March 13, 2020 Secretary Azar authorized waivers and modifications under Section 1135 of the Social Security Act, retroactive to March 1, 2020. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is issuing blanket waivers consistent with those issued for past PHE declarations. These waivers prevent gaps in access to care for beneficiaries impacted by the emergency. As a result of these waivers, Medicare beneficiaries who qualified for skilled nursing facility coverage may be eligible for an additional 100 days of coverage.

BLUE BELL -- Grace Baptist Church of Blue Bell recently celebrated its 11th Year for Faith in Action. Church members participated in various activities reaching out to the community. This year the opportunities spanned a week instead of one day to make a greater impact and allow for social distance.

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The changing colors, falling leaves and cooler nights are all signs that fall is here. Fall is a great season for fitness as it’s the last chance to exercise outdoors before cold, snowy days return for the winter.

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In response to my Homegrown National Park contest invitation this past summer, Mike Foster, who lives in Reading, PA, sent me some before-and-after photos of his property. I was intrigued by all of the stonework I saw in the photos, and any garden that contains a water feature is enough to catch my interest. (Foster’s landscape has two.) But I had no idea that I was in for such a jaw-dropping experience.

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If you have kept away from the gym due to fears over safety concerns related to COVID-19, many gyms in the area are going to great lengths to make sure the environment is up to par with safety guidelines so you can work out and get back to good health safely.

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CONSHOHOCKEN -- Last December, Hispanic Heritage Association of Southeastern PA’s colorful Parrandera parade added joy to Conshohocken’s Christmas season. Six months before, HHA sponsored the appearance of Los Bomberos de La Calle drummers and dancers and Pedro Villasenor-Mariachi Group at the borough’s annual Arts Festival and Car Show.

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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.