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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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People and families throughout the region are continuing to adjust to a new normal of physical distancing guidelines, stay-at-home orders and other developments of the coronavirus pandemic. Since the global health crisis can cause added stress, some people are finding comfort in the companionship of their pets.

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On Monday, as I watched the evening weather report on TV6, I could practically hear a collective jaw-drop around the Delaware Valley, when Adam Joseph announced the possibility of overnight temperatures near 30 degrees this coming Friday and Saturday. Isn’t it spring yet?

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BLUE BELL — As the COVID-19 pandemic spread around the globe during the past few months, the stock market plummeted to new lows creating havoc for investors and financial planners. During this unprecedented time, a team of students at Montgomery County Community College competed with more than 100 college teams on an international stage in an investment competition. MCCC’s team achieved fourth place for its portfolio’s performance and third place for its risk adjustment performance.

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On March 27, 2020, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was signed into law. One-time checks in the amount of $1,200 will go to individuals ($2,400 for couples who file joint taxes) who earned less than $75,000 ($150,000 for joint filers) on their most recent tax returns, either the 2018 or 2019 return, whichever is latest. Individuals earning up to $99,000 ($198,000 for joint filers) will receive smaller checks. Additionally, families with dependent children under age 17 years are entitled to $500 per child in the household. The first wave of direct deposits went out beginning April 11th.

Pampering Plus is an Innovative Home care company that has been caring for the community since 2004. The mission of Pampering Plus Inc. is to foster and maintain the independence of our home care clients, while ensuring their safety and well-being in their homes. Our company prides itself on being proactive in handling the delicate balance between safety and independence for our home care clientele.

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NORRISTOWN — Whether you’re brandishing a fancy digital camera or last year’s iPhone, chances are you love to take pictures with it.

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While the stay-at-home mandates have many of us feeling as though we are in a standstill since we aren’t guaranteed as to what the future holds, one thing that is for certain right now is that summer is just around the corner from spring.

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There’s something I learned a few days ago that I want to share here, because I imagine it will hit close to home for a number of you. I learned that independent, family-owned, retail garden centers in Pennsylvania did not make it onto the list of essential businesses and are now closed. This, at the exact time that people are planning/starting their vegetable gardens. This, at a time when, stuck at home, so many people who’ve never grown food before are planning to give it a try. This, at a time when planting a modern-day version of a Victory Garden is being widely recommended – as both an alternative to the grocery store, and as a much-needed outdoor activity.

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WHITEMARSH -- Among the numerous casualties of the coronavirus pandemic – weddings. These days, the need for “social distancing” and all the other adjustments triggered by COVID-19 are huge concerns for prospective brides and grooms. But dealing with disrupted marriage plans during tough times is nothing new for some of us.

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With mandated shutdowns impacting some businesses, such as gyms, you might be in a bit of a tizzy figuring out the best way to keep up your workout routine since you no longer have access to the fitness equipment and accessories you’re used to.

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As we all sit at home from the effects of the pandemic coronavirus, let us turn to Jesus Christ our Savior to help us “through the desert” during this time of Lent. Do not forget that we are still wandering and confused in these times of Lent as Moses and the Jews who were in the desert for 40 years and Jesus who was praying in the desert for 40 days. It is the time to take seriously our task of “spring cleaning” as we ask God for forgiveness and read the Gospel. In fact, we were told this on Ash Wednesday when we received ashes: “Repent and believe in the Gospel!”