We’re back to a taste of spring today with lots of sun and temperatures expected to reach 50. Time to open a window or two.

In today’s newsletter:

🚨 Following: Russian troops have advanced into Ukraine’s second-largest city, Kharkiv, where they were met with street fighting, while the capital, Kyiv, remained eerily quiet after morning explosions.

🎨 Going: We’re headed just out of town to any one of these 19 essential museums.

🧩 Playtime: Find our weekly pop quiz question and a word scramble at the end of this newsletter.

📥 Asking: What’s your favorite work of art of all time? Let us know.

— Ashley Hoffman (@_AshleyHoffman, morningnewsletter@inquirer.com)

What you should know today

  • After invading Ukraine’s second-largest city of Kharkiv, Russia sent a delegation to Belarus for peace talks, according to the Kremlin. Ukraine President Volodymyr is unwilling to meet there, the staging ground for the invasion.

  • Thinking of boycotting Russian vodka? Here’s why you might not have many options.

  • We’ve got more on the murder-for-hire plot that shook New Jersey.

  • A West Philly woman’s tenacity resulted Saturday in the posthumous awarding of the Congressional Gold Medal to her two uncles for their groundbreaking role as Montford Point Marines, the first African Americans allowed in that branch of the service.

  • Johnny Doc, the labor leader convicted in one trial and awaiting two more, will get a big retirement party, and yes, there will be a celebration commemorative book.

  • A Black-owned South Philly deli was vandalized with white supremacist graffiti.

  • St. Joe’s will become one of the first traditional colleges to open a residence hall solely for students with autism.

  • Brandywine and Jennersville Hospitals took a major hit that’s gonna cost them.

  • We should reflect on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy so that “future generations might ring a bell of liberty that is free of cracks,” the president and CEO of Independence Blue Cross writes.

  • Local Coronavirus Numbers: Here’s your daily look at the latest COVID-19 data.

Let’s go to an essential museum

Skip Philly’s museums and escape to an airy, inspirational oasis or a sculptural park in a nearby town. Here are some from our list of 19 particularly worth-it places.

🏰 The one that’s a castle: Spend an afternoon with a collection of 50,000 tools and machines like stagecoaches, weaving wheels, and a nautical compass that people used to shape America at Mercer Museum & Fonthill Castle.

🎖️ The one with historic reenactments: Catch a show with British soldiers, Continental soldiers, and Quaker farmers at Brandywine Battlefield Park.

🌳 The one with the sculpture garden: Stroll around the verdant outdoor garden full of massive sculptures in Montco at Berman Museum of Art at Ursinus College.

🖼️ The one that’s riverside with a view: Everywhere you look, soak in Brandywine Valley, including the works of art depicting your lush surroundings at Brandywine River Museum of Art.

Here’s the full list of must-visit museums in nearby towns.

Utility prices have soared. So has Philly’s dissatisfaction with those responsible

🎤 And now I‘m turning the mic over to Kerith to talk about these prices.🎤

At first, I blamed my kids. But then I realized scolding them for leaving their bedroom lights on had very little to do with the rising cost of my Peco bill.

Energy prices across the region have grown as much as 38% for electricity and nearly 20% for gas, according to data from the Public Utilities Commission.

What that looks like:

⚡ A typical Peco customer charged $171.25 in January for using 150 hundred cubic feet (Ccf) of gas saw a $46.90 increase in their monthly bill from January 2021.

🔥 A Philadelphia Gas Works customer who used the same amount of gas was billed $261.71 in January, a $37.91 increase from a year ago.

If there is solace, it’s that this increase isn’t happening just here but across the country at gas pumps and for people who use heating oil or propane. And with the war in Ukraine, experts believe an even tighter pinch on supply chains from world oil markets is inevitable.

Our reporter Andrew Maykuth has more on how soaring oil prices and a topsy-turvy winter have Philadelphians digging a little deeper into our wallets.

🧩 Unscramble the Anagram 🧩

A lovely sight, especially at night.

Aube short woo

Take a guess and send your answer our way at morningnewsletter@inquirer.com. We’ll give a shout-out to the first person in our inbox who nailed it. Hint: ⛵+ 🏠+ 🚣‍♀️

🎉 Congratulations to Carol for being the first Inquirer Morning Newsletter reader to win Friday’s scramble!

Last week’s answer: Point Breeze

🥔🥔🥔🥔🥔🥔🥔🥔🥔🥔🥔🥔🥔🥔🥔🥔🥔🥔

❓ Pop Quiz ❓

Besides potatoes, what is also NOT an ingredient in the Irish potatoes recipe that we talked about in one of the newsletters this week?

A) “desiccated” coconut 🥥

B) a house-made marshmallow-like fluff made from corn syrup 🌽

C) peanuts 🥜

D) salt 🧂

Find out the answer.

Our Philly

We asked you how you felt about the transition away from masks, and here’s what you had to say:

“It’s not that hard to use a simple tool besides vaccinations to keep yourself and others safer when you are inside.” — Joseph and Trudy

“We know masking is not 100% protection, it is imperfect, but it is certainly better than no masking. And dealing with fogged up eyeglasses is better than a hospital bed.” — Lee

“Objecting to wearing a mask is misplaced nonsense. They are still needed according to the data. Although they are not the most comfortable things in the world to wear, that should be the worst thing that should ever happen to the objectors!” — Irving

“It is way too early to remove the indoors vaccination and masking mandates.” — Joseph

Moving past masks.” — Mike

“Overjoyed to take off my mask!!!!!!!!!!! However, as a healthcare provider, I’ll still be wearing PPE for an indefinite amount of time.” — Nancy

And for today’s Sunday track, we’re listening to 🎶“ Here we stand or here we fall. History won’t care at all. Make the bed. Light the light. Lady mercy won’t be home tonight.”🎶

👋🏽 My wish for you is to spend time with excellent company this weekend. As always, you and Kerith will meet again right here on Monday.