The true test of character is not how much we know how to do, but how we behave when we don't know what to do.
THE ARTSY SITE OF THE MONTH:
The Theatre Organ Home Page
Nostalgic for some, novel for others, fun for all.
PERSONAL HOME PAGE OF THE MONTH:
My Organized Mess
Curmudgeon-style humor contrasts the fluffy clouds background.
WEB PAGE DESIGN SITE OF THE MONTH:
Paint Shop Pro Papers
Helps and tutorials for one of my favorite graphics programs
SEASONAL SITE OF THE MONTH:
The Unofficial Macy's Parade Page
Paul Karlin did a nice job here.
JUST FUN SITE OF THE MONTH:
SkiMaps--Trail Map Archives
For you shushing and slaloming types.
DOWNRIGHT SERIOUS SITE OF THE MONTH:
Executive Summary: Impact of Juvenile Curfew Laws in California
You and I could have told them that restricting civil rights of law-abiding
citizens (of any age) does nothing to reduce crime rates.
HISTORICAL SITE OF THE MONTH:
A Giant Leap For Mankind--John Glenn's account of his flight in Friendship 7
As I created this page, we waited to hear whether or not a hurricane would
prevent Glenn's return to space. The last time he waited to go into space he
was faced with another of nature's perils.
He'd just been exposed to mumps.
For November Travelers
November 7-8, 1998
Fort De Soto Centennial Events
Fort De Soto Park, Tierra Verde, Florida.
The fort was built because of the Spanish-American War, and to commemorate the 100th
anniversary, there will be a Spanish-American war encampment, reenactments, 1890's fashion
show, 1890's vintage baseball game, and candlelight tours of the area.
More information: Call 727-866-2484
November 13-15, 1998
New England Craft and Specialty Food Fair
Rockingham Park Indoor Pavilion, Salem, New Hampshire.
Music, crafts for display and purchase, gourmet foods.
Details: Call 755-2166.
November 14-15, 1998
California Indian Storytelling Festival
Ohlone Community College, Fremont, California.
Storytellers, workshops, both indoor and outdoor presentations (rain or shine). Food
is available, and there are restaurants nearby.
Further information: Call 510-651-6414 or 510-794-7253.
November 14-15, 1998
Rubber Stamp Convention
Queen Mary Seaport, 1126 Queen's Highway, Long Beach, California.
61 exhibiting companies, mini-lectures and classes, fellowship with other rubber stamp
If you are still asking what all the fuss is about, you should go to at least one rubber stamp
event in your life. This form of art is no longer some black-inked seal they slap on your
paperwork at the county tax office. The stamps are used in clothing, gifts, home decor,
greeting cards, books, and more. Heat guns turn colored powder into shiny embossing.
Metallic strips, flocking, puff paints, glue and glitter combine with ink to make one-of-a-kind
Details: Call 310-329-8555.
November 21-22, 1998
Selvig Park, Harmony, Minnesota.
Craft show, holiday decorating ideas, ethnic foods, lighting of the city Christmas tree.
More information: Call 800-247-MINN.
Note: While in the area, visit Niagara Cave (November would be off-season, so you'll need to
arrange for a tour. Call 800-837-6606). The underground waterfall drops almost 60 feet,
and the cave includes fossils as part of its charm.
November 28-29, 1998
Harrison Chehalis Bald Eagle Festival
Several sites, including Goldstream Provincial Park, 19 km from Victoria, British Columbia.
Opportunities to view wintering eagles (who come to feed on spawning salmon), with boat trips
for a fee. Souvenir passports and stamps,
prizes. Food and beverages available.
Details: Call 604-582-5200.
It's The Most Wonderful (Hectic, Stressful, Chaotic, Busy)
Time Of The Year
Have you seen that silly Martha Stewart's Holiday Calendar? It's really funny, but it also strikes home for a lot of people that this is the time of year when each day is filled with more stress than the last. Not only are there holidays coming, but there is an end-of-the-year push for many businesses. College freshman come home (and bring you the laundry and plenty of angst to go with it, and while they are home they need you to fit in time to take them to have their teeth cleaned), visitors are more frequent (time to get carpets shampooed, curtains cleaned, and redecorate the guest room), churches plan more musical programs to attract newcomers (rehearse, rehearse, rehearse!), plus there is just that nagging feeling that we've come to the end of another year and may not have accomplished all we had set out to do.
Why are we so tough on ourselves? We can't possibly do in three or four weeks what we could not accomplish in twelve months. These suggestions may help.
Begin very early and pace yourself. Don't wait until Thanksgiving week to buy candles, address holiday invitations, make up with grumpy Uncle Roy, have that bunionectomy, and untangle the Christmas lights.
Make a list. Don't begin with some grandiose plan that is too much to be realistic. Keep it simple, and be flexible to allow for emergencies, delays, and schedule changes.
Delegate when possible. This is the toughest one of all for some people. You may think it's easier and faster to do it all yourself. Even if you live alone, get friends and family to help you bake, decorate, and entertain.
Take time to examine the bigger picture and ask why you're doing the things you're doing, and how important they really are in the scheme of things.
Take time every day to keep in touch with the One who made you (and knows you best) and who is your source of strength and comfort. Don't allow the busy times to interfere with you and your inner room of calm where you can get in touch with that Highest Power and reflect on what the season means to you. Guard this jealously and don't allow anyone or anything to take it from you, no matter how much they whine, threaten, or push your (usually false) guilt buttons.
I used to try to bake many different kinds of cookies each holiday season, and ended up with new recipes that failed at the last minute. I've learned to try new ones earlier in the year, and stick with a few tried and true favorites when it's time to do the actual holiday baking. If you make only chocolate chip cookies, who will care? Find unusual containers, or do a cookie swap with someone who makes only peanut butter cookies.
Here are a couple of places to get great cookie recipes in case you do still have some time to experiment.
Cookie Recipe .com
SOAR Cookie Recipes
You can cheat, too, and still look like a great baker. One of the cookies I got the most compliments on was one this simple: take round chocolate sandwich cookies and dip them in melted dipping chocolate or chocolate chips (with 1/2 teaspoon oil added). Before they set, top them with graham cookie bears or animal crackers.
You can dip almost any bought cookie, even fig bars. Add sprinkles, coconut, grated chocolate, or colored sugar.
Or, don't bake cookies. Just order them, to serve at gatherings or give away.
Mrs. Fields Original Cookies.
Brent and Sam's Cookies.
And who says you have to do cookies?
Fresh fruit accompanied by cheese (or not) makes a tasty dessert to serve or give as a gift. You don't need a dozen varieties. Pick two or three, but make them special ones.
(This is also a nice option to have on hand for those who cannot indulge in too many sweets.)
Some fruits are not in season at holiday time. And some areas have limited varieties of certain fruits.
Check these online sources.
Chrisman Orchards - Certified Organic Pears
You can also serve dried fruits, plain or dipped in white, milk, or dark chocolate.
This Search List of Cheeses may seem overwhelming, but the site is a good place to discover new treats to share.
If you have trouble finding special cheeses in your area, here are a couple of places online where you can browse.
iGourmet's Cheese Shoppe
The British Shoppe - British Cheeses
Take a break from all the holiday demands and bundle up around November 17-18 to go out and watch for the show from
The 1998 Leonid Meteor Shower.
Call some friends you haven't seen for awhile and talk them into dropping all their duties and going on a hunt for holiday trees or other greens. If you live in the United States, and have no idea where to look for a tree, try Real Christmas Tree Farms.
If you live in the United Kingdom, try The British Christmas Tree Growers Association.
If you live in one of these newer energy-efficient homes, you may actually be asking for trouble this time of year. The cold air outside coaxes us to stay inside with the windows and doors closed, breathing stale air over and over. If possible, keep some live plants in your home to help filter the air. Keep furnace filters changed, use ventilation fans in bathrooms to minimize dampness that can allow molds to grow. My own suggestion is tough for those of you whose windows are sealed (or frozen) shut in winter. I always open the house a little every day, even in winter, and let fresh air circulate. If you can't do it in any other room, try to get air into the bedroom. If you can't stand to leave the windows or doors open for long, open them just while making the bed and straightening the room in the morning. Dress in layers at home, and lower the thermostat a degree or two, to keep the air inside from becoming so dry.
A lot of us are looking for foods to balance all the rich stuff that seems to show up everywhere this time of year. If you have a family member who can't handle dairy foods, you can find treats for them at Chocolate Decadence.
Another source for dairy-free foods, egg-substitutes, and non-wheat flours is Ener-G Foods, Inc.
Let's say your youngest child comes home from college and suddenly announces that he or she is now eating only vegan foods, after 17 years of roast turkey at Thanksgiving. Remind your new health guru that he or she must take responsibility to help shop for food and prepare meals, and cannot expect to simply demand new cuisine from you. (Your child is to be commended for wanting better health, and at some point in the future we'll do a sharper focus on vegetarian and vegan cooking, but for now, the idea is less stress, remember?)
Want to get your mind off the holidays? Here's a distraction. Check out the issues for your local November election. I was surprised to learn that the state in which I reside actually had Proposition 6, which would make it a felony to possess, transfer, or receive horses for slaughter for human consumption. Hhhhmmm, now the government wants to make what we eat or don't eat a felony? Your state/local government may have similarly intrusive propositions, lopsided laws, and inane issues on its ballots. Take some time to be an informed voter.
Now, don't all you horse lovers jump on my case. I love horses, and have no wish to grill and sauce anyone's favorite filly. I'm only reacting to the increasing trend of both Democrats and Republicans to push into our private lives.
Come to think of it, the stress of politics may be more stressful than the stress of holidays. You know yourself best, and I'll leave that decision up to you.
Here's a nice essay on stress management. I found glimpses of myself (and the keys to assist) all through it. Perhaps you will find some for your own holiday stress.
Play an online version of the Native American game of Hide-ball. Or, send it to someone else to play.
A dear friend says she always feels better when she sits down to holiday dinners knowing she has been able to help at least one other person enjoy a holiday meal. Our local center is Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Cruz and San Benito Counties. From their website you can link to other Food Bank sites, or perhaps you already know which organization to contact in your area. It's really easy to help. These places don't expect everyone to give a big cash donation. Something as simple as buying one or two extra items per grocery trip will help their work. If you order a holiday turkey, consider ordering two, and giving one to a Food Bank. Pick up extras of staples each time you shop in the weeks just before the holidays, and drop them off, or call someone to pick them up. If you just can't do any of those things, but you still want to help, and you have a car or truck, offer to deliver meals or food boxes for a few hours during holiday weeks, or even after the season (many people need meals provided daily, and not just on holidays).
As you think of gifts this season, remember that not all gifts are bought in a store and wrapped. A lot of people spend enormous amounts of time alone all through the year. It would be nice to give a "gift certificate" for dinner out (or a meal you cook for them in their home) and a visit. To make it even more special, do one now, and then give them another certificate good for a second get-together sometime in the New Year. So what if all you do is sit and watch a ball game on TV together and munch on pretzels? It's the companionship that counts.
Another nice gift for elderly people with a fixed income is something like a phone card, or gift certificates for long distance calls to their children or grandchildren.
Cash cleverly tucked into a small gift is also often welcomed by our seniors. You could also offer to pay for their car's next servicing or replace the tires, or have their house painted or carpets cleaned. These can be "big-ticket" items to someone who barely gets their bills paid each month.
As the New Year approaches, give yourself credit for the things you have done and experienced in this calendar year. Did you take a class, or teach yourself a new skill? Do you have new family members to enjoy, new friends you're getting to know (or old ones you're in touch with again)?
Each year of life adds memories, knowledge, the wealth of experience, and if we choose to seek it, wisdom. Enjoy all that you have become this year. We explored the idea recently that, as a child of God, this day can be your glimpse into forever. Live for today; live for eternity.
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