Jacklyn Rider said the most interesting thing about Pennsylvania's Friendship Hill was its link to her grandfather, who was standing just a few feet away from her.

There is one flower that crops up in vintage photos of early American homesteads. Each year, the hollyhocks shed prodigious seed that was often carried westward with the pioneers. It's easy to spot them in vintage sepia tone photos because the bloom stalks can reach 10 feet tall, towering over the picket fences and porches of farm houses everywhere. They also were planted to screen off the outhouse so prim ladies of the 19th century could announce they were "going to see the hollyhocks" rather than stating their actual intention. Perhaps that well-fertilized ground around the outhouse ensured the plants lived on to screen this necessary building for generations.

Pick the number one fear factor of many homeowners and it is often the dreaded five-letter word c-o-l-o-r. Many people are simply terrified to stir the brush in that good old can of paint and actually put color on the walls. Here are some ways to add color to a room without a single brushstroke.

Remember your first garden, when it was all new to you? Or a new bed you carved out of the yard that was a fresh start? I was reminded of that sensation this weekend when talking to a veteran gardening friend who moved into a different house this spring and put in four generously sized flower and vegetable beds. She remarked how easy it is to maintain and how quickly you forget how hard it is later once the beds - and your weeds - become more mature.

Dear Helaine and Joe:

Q: Dear Ed, I am a retired master plumber and enjoy your Q-and-A plumbing column. Sometimes I agree with you and sometimes I have my own opinions. But, this time I would like to hear your opinion on buying a new toilet in today's modern plumbing market. What up-to-date features should I look for when my wife and I buy our new toilet?

Q: I read somewhere that the window in the bathroom is supposed to be safety glass. Is this true? We are replacing our windows this fall and I'm doing as much research as I can.

Dear Angie: Why does my bathroom sink drain so slowly? I removed the piping below and it was clear. Meanwhile, the tub and toilet drain normally. Also, how much could it cost to repair the sink drain problem?

Bruce Willis has sold his walled and gated mansion in Beverly Hills for $16.5 million.

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