David McCallum, spy in ‘The Man from U.N.C.L.E.’ dies at 90.

David McCallum, the British-born actor who broke hearts in 1960s cult show “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” has died at age 90, US media reported Monday.

McCallum, born in Glasgow, Scotland, on Sept. 19, 1933 was known to modern-day audiences for his role as a medical examiner in “NCIS,” was surrounded by family at a New York hospital, CBS said.

“He was the kindest, coolest, most patient and loving father. He always put family before self,” son Peter McCallum said, according to the network.

“He was a true renaissance man — he was fascinated by science and culture and would turn those passions into knowledge. 

McCallum portrayed Chief Medical Examiner Donald “Ducky” Mallard on the police procedural drama “NCIS.”  His character was known for being somewhat eccentric but also for being a highly skilled investigator and close confidante to Mark Harmon’s Jethro Gibbs.

“For over twenty years, David McCallum endeared himself to audiences around the world playing the wise, quirky, and sometimes enigmatic, Dr. Donald ‘Ducky’ Mallard,” said “NCIS” executive producers Steven D. Binder and David North in a statement.

“But as much as his fans may have loved him, those who worked side by side with David loved him that much more. He was a scholar and a gentleman, always gracious, a consummate professional, and never one to pass up a joke. From day one, it was an honor to work with him and he never let us down. He was, quite simply, a legend. He was also family and will be deeply missed.”

A previously announced 20th anniversary “NCIS” marathon will now include an “In memoriam” card in remembrance of McCallum, according to the network.

David is survived by his wife of 56 years, Katherine McCallum, his sons, Paul McCallum, Valentine McCallum and Peter McCallum, his daughter, Sophie McCallum, and his eight grandchildren.


Meghan Markle And Prince Harry Release Statement Following Netflix Documentary Criticism

Volume I and II of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s Netflix documentary has been released. As with many of their projects, there is quite a bit of controversy and discourse happening online. Apparently, one thing many people are saying has disturbed the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.

© Mike Coppola – Getty Images

In a statement to ET, their Global Press Secretary addressed criticism they have received for being so public about their lives on Netflix after withdrawing from the royal family for reasons of “privacy.” In fact, they never said anything about privacy.

“The Duke and Duchess have never cited privacy as the reason for stepping back,” the statement reads. “This distorted narrative was intended to trap the couple into silence. In fact, their statement announcing their decision to step back mentions nothing of privacy and reiterates their desire to continue their roles and public duties. Any suggestion otherwise speaks to a key point of this series.”

The couple announced their decision to step back from being working members of the royal family in January of 2020. They said that they hoped “to make a transition this year in starting to carve out a progressive new role within this institution” in their statement at the time.

They also stated that they would “work to become financially independent,” and a deal with Netflix would certainly help with that objective. The couple also said that they were planning to split their time between the U.K. and North America, meaning both Canada and the U.S. They eventually landed in Montecito, California, for their primary residence.

In the rest of the statement on Harry & Meghan, the Global Press Secretary said, “They are choosing to share their story, on their terms. The tabloid media has created an entirely untrue narrative that permeates press coverage and public opinion… The facts are right in front of them.”

Source: http://www.countryliving.com

Lisa Marie Presley, singer and daughter of Elvis, dies at 54

Lisa Marie Presley, a singer-songwriter, Elvis’ only daughter and a dedicated keeper of her father’s legacy, died Thursday after being hospitalized for a medical emergency. She was 54.

© Provided by The Associated Press

Her death in a Los Angeles hospital was confirmed by her mother, Priscilla, a few hours after her daughter was rushed to the hospital after having a medical emergency at home.

“It is with a heavy heart that I must share the devastating news that my beautiful daughter Lisa Marie has left us,” Priscilla Presley said in a statement. “She was the most passionate, strong and loving woman I have ever known.”

Presley, the only child of Elvis and Priscilla Presley, shared her father’s brooding charisma — the hooded eyes, the insolent smile, the low, sultry voice — and followed him professionally, releasing her own rock albums in the 2000s, and appearing on stage with Pat Benatar and Richard Hawley among others.

She would later make headlines of her own. Struggles with drugs and some very public marriages. Her four husbands included Michael Jackson and Nicolas Cage.

Cause of death is yet to be determined.

Source: https://apnews.com/

Tens of thousands pay respects to Benedict XVI at St. Peter’s Basilica

Vatican City – Thousands of people queued at St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City on Monday to pay their last respects to the late pope emeritus Benedict XVI.

The body of former Pope Benedict XVI lies in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican on January 2, 2023. REUTERS© 

Shortly after 9:00 AM, the Vatican opened the doors of the basilica. People then moved forward along the central aisle and past the body.

Among the first mourners was Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni. President Sergio Mattarella entered the basilica shortly before 9:00 AM, Agnello Stoia, the parish priest of St. Peter’s Basilica. Benedict’s long-time private secretary Georg Gänswein was also in the cathedral.

People had been lining up since the early hours of the morning, with a lengthy queue forming around St. Peter’s Square.

“I want to say goodbye to him,” said one person from Germany who had started queuing during the night.

The funeral service is set to take place in St. Peter’s Square on Thursday at 9:30 AM, followed by the burial in the basilica.

Pope Francis himself is set to say the funeral Mass. One pope burying another is a historic event, made possible by Benedict’s resignation in 2013.

According to official figures, up to 60,000 people are expected to attend the requiem, which Benedict had requested be kept simple.

The former pontiff, whose birth name was Joseph Ratzinger, died on Saturday morning in the Vatican at the age of 95. It emerged on Wednesday that his health had deteriorated.

German-born Benedict XVI was the head of the Catholic Church from 2005 to 2013, when, after just under eight years as pope, he voluntarily resigned, becoming the first pope to do so in hundreds of years.

He cited his frailty, saying he lacked the strength for such a demanding job. His resignation may ultimately pave the way for future pontiffs to resign due to poor health.

Source: © REUTERS

The Kindness of an Amtrak Conductor

I’m closing out 2022 with a few photos of a kindness that I viewed several nights ago. The venue is the Amtrak station in La Plata, Missouri on a snowy, wintry night. The famed Southwest Chief had just pulled into the station, and I spotted the conductor doing something I hadn’t seen before. He was rolling 2 pieces of luggage down the platform. Note the two people at the far end of the platform.

Ok, I thought it was time for a crew change and he was leaving the train. But no. This is what he was really doing!

Look closely and you will see the two passengers holding white canes being assisted by the conductor.

He has their hands leading them to safety as they are visually disabled.

As he escorts them to a waiting relative.

That you, sir, for your graciousness on that cold night in La Plata.

Vertical Farming: Is it Agriculture’s Future?

The world’s population is projected to reach 9.7 billion people in 2050, causing food shortages worldwide. Every day, we lose arable land to industrialization and urbanization. We don’t know how much more we’ll lose in the next 30 years. Increasing food consumption due to population growth and shrinking arable lands would be a major cause of concern as our survival is dependent on it. And although there are no quick-fix solutions, many believe vertical farming could be a viable option in the foreseeable future.


What is Vertical Farming?

As opposed to a field or a greenhouse, vertical farming involves growing food in vertical layers typically integrated into other structures like a skyscraper, cargo container, or a converted warehouse. This current concept incorporates Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) technology. Climate control allows for indoor food and medicinal production. Vertical farming is similar to greenhouse farming, except that metal reflectors and artificial lighting are used to augment natural light. Vertical farming maximizes crop productivity in a compact space.

How it Works

Understanding vertical farming involves four key components: Layout, Lighting, Growing Medium, and Sustainability. First, vertical farming aims to produce more food per square meter. To do this, crops are grown in layers in a tower life structure. Second, a proper balance of natural and artificial light is used to keep the room well lit. Lighting efficiency is improved by rotating beds. Third, growth media other than soil are used. Vertical gardening often uses non-soil materials like peat moss or coconut husks. Finally, vertical farming incorporates sustainability characteristics to offset energy costs.


And the Result

Vertical farming saves 95% of water but is still a novel concept. Companies have yet to scale up agricultural production to satisfy rising food demand. The success of farms like AeroFarms will decide the future role of vertical farming in meeting rising food demand. Notably, technology created for vertical farms is also being adopted by other indoor farming segments, such as greenhouses, which can utilize natural sunlight, but require much more space and longer supply chains.

Source: https://www.daily-stuff.com/vertical-farming-is-it-agricultures-future/

Old Potting Soil: What to Do with It

I love growing veggies and herbs in containers on my sunny deck. But, when it’s time to clean and store the pots for winter, I need to find a new use for the spent potting soil.

Many gardeners simply dispose of old potting soil in their garbage or city compost bins, but there are several ways to put that old potting soil to work in your garden:

1. Use it to top existing flower and vegetable garden beds

2. Spread it thinly over the lawn

3. Dump it in newly built raised beds as a start to filling them

4. Add it to your compost bins

Source: https://www.hortmag.com/container-gardening/old-potting-soil-what-to-do-with-it

How to Plan the Perfect Herbal Tea Garden

If you’re a big tea drinker or if you’re looking for a way to supplement your medicine cabinet in the cheap, it’s time you considered growing an herbal tea garden.

Growing your own herbal and flower tea lets you control what goes into your tea, and you get a lot of product for not a lot of cost. Starting a tea garden is as easy as deciding on what herbs and flowers you want to grow, what particular benefits you’re after and what you like the taste of.

You can save a lot of money growing your own teas and at the same time, reap the beneficial health rewards. You can dry your teas or drink them freshly picked and brewed. Either way, growing your own is fun, easy, and good for you.

Starting Your Tea Garden

I like to have my tea garden completely separate from my vegetable or herb garden, but it’s purely preference. You can section off a part of an existing garden if you choose, or dedicate an entire space to your herbal tea garden. Most tea herbs can be grown in pots as well, so don’t worry if you’re an apartment dweller or short on space.


There are a few essential elements you need to have a healthy tea garden. The first is good soil. You’ll want loamy, well-draining soil with a pH between 5 and 7. Dig in well-rotted organic matter and a good quality fertilizer a week before initial planting.


Next, you need to consider where to put your plants. Most herbs appreciate full sun, but beyond that, you have some flexibility. You can grow a tea garden indoors, on your patio in containers, or in your existing garden. Plant taller things in the back and shorter things in the front for ease of harvest.

Container Growing

An herbal tea garden lends itself perfectly to container gardening. I prefer to use terracotta or stone pots because I don’t like plastic. I figure if I’m going to the effort of growing healthy herbal teas, I don’t want any chemicals near the plants.

You’ll need a good quality potting mix, a fertilizer specific for potted plants, and organic or natural water-retaining material to keep your container plants moist.

Herb Garden vs. Tea Garden

So, what’s the difference between an herb garden and an herbal tea garden? It all comes down to the plants you’re using. There are many herbs you can use for culinary purposes, but that you wouldn’t use for making tea.

One example is rosemary. It’s lovely with your leg of lamb, but not nice in a cup of tea because the taste is overpowering and acidic. Of course, some people like rosemary tea, but there’s a reason you don’t see it on grocery store shelves.

Also, in your tea garden, you can plant flowers that aren’t actually herbs, but make wonderful additions to your tea choices. These flowers also add color to tea gardens, and if you have bees, they will add a beautiful flavor to your honey.

Essential Plants for Your Tea Garden

Now comes the fun part – deciding what kind of plants you want in your herbal tea garden. Of course, this is a matter of preference, but there are several plants that I think are essential.


Lavender blossoms make the ultimate herbal tea. The delicate floral aroma and the mint-like flavor is just the thing for a before-bed treat.

Lavender helps:

  • Reduce inflammation
  • Ease you to sleep
  • Boost immunity


Sage is my all-time favorite herb for tea. I pick five or six leaves, steep them in a cup of hot water and add lemon juice and honey.

Sage has a reputation for being antimicrobial and antifungal. It also:

  • supports oral health
  • eases the symptoms of menopause
  • helps reduce blood sugar
  • has a positive effect on bad cholesterol


Mint is popular around the world as a tea. It has a sweet, menthol flavor and can be used on its own or mixed with other teas.

The benefits of mint are that it:

  • Relieves indigestion
  • Decreases pain from breastfeeding
  • Relieves nausea
  • Reduces stress
  • Promotes healthy skin and hair

A word of warning; mint takes over once it’s planted in the ground. It will pop up everywhere. To avoid this, I dig a hole that will fit a pot, and I bury the pot in the garden and plant the mint in the pot. This way, the roots are contained.


Chamomile looks like wild daisies, adding a delicate touch to the garden. Not just a pretty face, the flowers are perfect for tea. This herb has a grassy, apple flavor that is heavenly with a bit of honey. Chamomile can grow wide and tall, so give it plenty of space. It likes full sun but needs plenty of water in the summer months.

Medicinally, it’s good for:

  • Easing stomach cramps
  • Relieving migraine pain
  • Alleviating stomach ulcer pain
  • Boosting the immune system
  • Aiding in restful sleep


Thyme can be bold, so I generally use about half a teaspoon mixed with equal parts of other herbs, rather than on its own. It’s a compact plant, so it’s perfect for containers. You can use both the leaves and the flowers for tea.

It’s good for easing sore throats, and it has antibacterial properties.


Borage is a favorite of my bees, and it’s an herb that doesn’t get the attention it deserves, in my opinion. It has pretty blue flowers and hairy leaves with a slight cucumber taste. I use both leaves and flowers in my tea.

Borage is high in omega 6, vitamins A and C. In the middle ages, it was given to knights for courage. I don’t know if it helps with that, but there is evidence that it’s good for:

  • Relief from cold symptoms
  • Reducing anxiety
  • Relieving stomach issues

Lemon Verbena

Lemon verbena is a tall perennial that can get as high as six feet. The lemony scent is accentuated when you crush the leaves. It’s a nice addition to your herbal tea if you want a lemon flavor, but don’t like adding lemon juice.

Lemon verbena is good for:

  • suppressing appetite if you’re watching your calorie intake
  • Reducing inflammation
  • Helping digestion
  • Easing sore muscles

Other Plants for Tea Gardens

For a truly diverse herbal tea garden, consider the following plants. It’s best to start with a small number of your favorite herbs and flowers and expand as you find what you use the most of.

  • Ginger
  • Jasmine
  • Stevia
  • Lemon Grass
  • St. John’s Wart
  • Calendula
  • Echinacea
  • Rose
  • Lemon balm
  • Anise Hyssop

Tending Your Tea Garden

One of the keys to success with an herbal tea garden is to group plants that have similar preferences. If you put a moisture-loving plant next to one that prefers dry, well-drained soil, you’re going to run into trouble.

Plant seeds indoors when the weather is still cold. Use good quality seed raising mix and ensure its kept moist. Transfer outside into your garden once nighttime temperatures are above 55°F, and the danger of frost is gone.

Raising herbs from seed is often a temperamental process, so plant more seeds than you’ll need. If you end up with too many successful germinations, give some away or sell them.

For quicker, more reliable results, purchase seedlings from your local plant seller.


Like all plants, herbs require a balance of not too much water and not too little. I keep the soil moist for plants in the mint family, like lemon balm and peppermint. For Mediterranean herbs, I let the top of the soil dry out a little in between waterings.

It depends on your area so if it’s dry and hot, maintain a moist garden. If the soil dries out, the herbs become woody and some bolt to seed.


If you plant your tea garden with well-rotted organic matter, all you need to do to keep your herbs and flowers producing is to use a good quality liquid fertilizer once each summer. Potted plants need a bit more nutrition.

Harvesting Your Tea

Regardless of whether you use your tea dried or fresh, harvest in the morning to avoid wilting and bitterness.


I prefer to pick and make my tea fresh. I’ll grab a few leaves of various plants and place in a cup with boiling water. I add lemon and honey and let it all steep for five to ten minutes.

I like to experiment with various mixtures and strengths, or you can research the recommended portions for the herb you’re using.


You can also pick and dry your herbs so they’re ready and available when you want them. Drying increases the intensity of the flavor and makes it so that you can have home-grown tea even when your plants are dormant in the winter.

Putting It Together

Herbal teas are one of those things that you can buy, but they’re so much better – not to mention cheaper – when you grow them at home. We want to know how your herbal tea garden adventures go so be sure to share your experiences and any great tea combos you discover.

Source: https://morningchores.com/herbal-tea-garden

Pruning Principles 101

In general, the principle is, prune when the plant is asleep (dormant) and does not have buds.


The best time for pruning most trees, shrubs, and vines (if they do need pruning) is late winter and early spring unless they are early spring bloomers and already have buds.

The second-best time is summer. After flowering is the best time for spring bloomers.

Avoid fall. Pruning stimulates new growth and you don’t want this with winter on its way.

Deaddamaged, and diseased branches can be removed any time.

Trees and Shrubs

  • Deciduous trees, evergreens, and non-coniferous shrubs handle pruning best in mid-winter when the sap is not running.
    Avoid the heavy sap flow time in spring for trees like walnut and maple (and other trees you can tap for syrup).
  • The key for pruning flowering and fruiting trees and shrubs is to know when the plant fruits and whether it produces the fruit on old or new wood/growth.
    The goal when pruning is to remove the old (and no longer useful or flowering wood) while protecting whatever parts are creating new flower and fruit buds.

Other Garden Perennials

  • Many flowering perennials are best cut back (removing old, dead growth) in spring just as the new growth starts poking up.
    While you could do this in the fall, you would be removing valuable winter food and habitat for wildlife (from microbes to birds and more), so wait if you can.
  • Trimming herbaceous growth like leaves on a boxwood hedge is done during the growing season (ending weeks before first frost).

Seasonal Pruning and Deadheading Calendar

1 Winter (while plants are dormant)

Remove dead, diseased or damaged limbs, suckers, overlapping or leggy branches.

  • Deciduous, evergreen, and fruit trees.
  • Shrubs grown for foliage (barberry*, burning bush, euonymus*…).
  • Bush berries (blueberry, gooseberry, currants-oldest stems only).

*Beware of non-native invasive species.

2 Early Spring (some new growth may be starting to appear)

This is my main garden clean up time for the year.

  • Summer-flowering perennials (daisies, coneflowers, black-eyed Susan’s…) – cut down last year’s growth.
  • Shrubs that bloom on new wood (peegee and Annabelle hydrangeas- see the Hydrangea Pruning Guide here) – catch them in early spring.
  • DO NOT PRUNE shrubs that bloom on old wood (previous year’s growth) or you won’t get any flowers. If you must, trim right after flowering.
  • Ornamental grasses – remove old, dead growth.
  • Roses – remove dead, damaged, or diseased branches only. Careful not to remove any new buds.

3 Summer

Flowering perennials and annuals – deadhead (remove finished blooms) to encourage a second round of flowers.

Trim and shape greenery like boxwood hedges up until 6 weeks before average first frost.

Once-a-year blooming climbing and old garden roses – deadhead after blooming is finished.

Clematis (not all types)- look up which type you have and use this pruning guide.

4 Late Summer / Early Fall (after flowering, before new buds form)

Remove dead, damaged and diseased branches only.

Hold off on deadheading perennials: wildlife including birds depend on perennial seed pods and old growth for winter food and habitat.

TIP: Put ribbons on any branches you need to prune when trees and shrubs are dormant in the winter.

Cane Berries (raspberries and blackberries) – remove two-year-old canes soon after they finish bearing.

Source: Pruning Tips for New Gardeners (Trees, Shrubs, and Vines) | Empress of Dirt

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