Author Archives: Chris Armstrong


The perennial columbine (genus Aquilegia) blooms from mid-spring to early summer and is easy to grow. It is also known as crowfoot or Granny’s Bonnet because of the bell-shaped, spurred flowers. It is native to the northeast regions of the United States and Canada. The name of the genus is derived from the Latin word for eagle, Aquila. The long spurs that extended behind the flower petals resemble the claws of an eagle. They are a favorite of hummingbirds, bees, moths and butterflies. The columbine is also well suited for cut-flower arrangements.

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Alliums are members of the onion family and most are perennials. Did you know that Alliums are edible? At least some of them are. Alliums are bulbs or are plants in the onion family.  Edible alliums include onions, shallots, leeks, garlic, and chives.  Ornamental alliums include Giant Allium, Drumstick Allium and many more that you see in gardens in late spring or early summer. They fill in the gap between spring-flowering bulbs and summer perennials.  The ornamental ones are the ones I will be talking about.


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The Crocus is a perennial flower that is planted in the fall for an early spring delight. It is one of the first flowers to bloom in the spring.  They come in a variety of colors:  purple, lavender, blue, orange, yellow, cream and white and have narrow, grass-like foliage. Crocus plants will multiply and come back year after year, bringing more blooms with them each time. As a bonus, deer, squirrels, and rabbits rarely bother eating little crocus corms (the bulbs).  Birds sometimes pick off the flower and mice and voles may feed on the corms.  Crocuses don’t require any pruning.  Simply let the foliage die back after blooming and then remove it.  It is important to let them die back naturally, as they are storing food and energy for next season. If you have crocuses growing in your lawn in mid-Spring, don’t mow until their leaves have died down.   Continue reading

Skittles Game

While on vacation in the Spring 0f 2019,  visiting the Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill, Kentucky I came across a game called Skittles. I had never heard of it before but my husband and I read the directions and it was quite easy to learn.

According to Games of the World, Skittles was known as “quilles” in early France, then became popular in England during the 14th Century.  The English gradually changed the name – to “kayles” to “kettle” to “kittles” to skittles” – and the game was a favorite for tavern betting.

The early skittles game was man-sized: a tall pole with a ball swung from a rope to knock down the pin.  In the Netherlands and Germany, the same game was played by rolling a ball with fingerholes towards the pins.  Dutch colonists brought their game to America where it developed into the modern sport of bowling.

The example we saw at Pleasant Hill and one we subsequently purchased for home were produced at Berea College in Kentucky.  Berea’s version of the popular skittle board was brought to their Woodcraft program by a professor who wanted a game made like those he had used as a child in England.  That was in 1929.  Since then, Berea student woodworkers have built thousands of the popular games.  The size, design and construction methods have changed over the years.

Skittles is popular in camps, resorts and anywhere people gather for fun.  A game in the lobby of Berea College’s Boon Tavern Hotel has introduced hundreds of travelers to Skittles.

Instructions: Each player takes a spinner and string. Wrap the string around the middle of the spinner shank, insert into the gate with the string out, hold the top of the spinner lightly with one finder and pull the string straight back with the other hand.  The spinner will move around the board and knock down pins.  It does take some skill to wind up the spinner shank and get it launched to try and hit the skittle pins at the other end.

Using the scoring card, circle the pins that are knocked down with each spin.  Scoring is based on total points uncovered when pins are knocked down.  Add/subtract the numbers in the circle.  The score for one spin can range from -20 to 275.

Here is what the Skittles game looks like.








Click on the picture below to see the game in action.

Christmas Cactus


The Christmas Cactus is not actually a cactus at all; although in fact it requires care that is very similar to a succulent.  They do not require a lot of special care, but they do need to be properly maintained in order for blooms to appear. Continue reading

Tiger Lily (Lilium lancifolium)

Tiger Lily (Lilium lancifolium)


Tiger lilies can be described as prolific and impressive with their bright orange-colored flowers covered with black or deep crimson spots on backward curving petals, giving the appearance of a tiger, hence its common name. They are native to China and Japan.

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Strength and Conditioning Journal Review

Strength and Conditioning Journal is not a journal for the average reader. It is the NSCA’s (National Strength and Conditioning Association) evidence-based practical journal for strength coaches, personal trainers, physical therapists, and other health professionals working in the strength and conditioning field. The mission is to publish articles that report the practical applications of current strength and conditioning research.

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Health Aging Month – September 2020

Healthy Aging month was first introduced when baby boomers were about to turn 50 but is geared to adults ages 45-plus. Carol Worthington is the creator of September is Healthy Aging Month and is the editor-in-chief of Healthy Aging Magazine. Health Aging Month encourages you to act how you feel instead of acting your age! It is all about the positive aspects of growing old.  Seniors should take charge of their well-being, by aging with a healthy body (physical health) and a healthy mind (mental health). Healthy aging affects different body parts such as eyes, skin, organs, etc.


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Loonshots, Book Review


Read stories of how ideas that were considered loonshoots struggled to survive.  A loonshot in this book is defined as a neglected project, widely dismissed, its champion written off as unhinged. There are two types of loonshots: P-Type and the S-Type. P-Type loonshoot is a new product or technology that no one thinks will work and the S-Type loonshoot is a new strategy or business model that no one thinks will work.


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