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HOLIDAY FACTS by Kathy Wolfe
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The holiday season is upon us, and this issue Tidbits looks at some facts you might not know about songs, food, trees, and traditions. • “Oh, bring us some figgy pudding” goes the old Christmas song. This traditional English dessert that dates back to the 16th century is actually more like a cake than a pudding. Its base is similar to that of a carrot cake, then blended with a custard, figs, and spices, then steamed for three or four hours. Occasionally, dates and other fruits are added. • A sugar plum is a little sugary treat, with a candied cherry, plum, or dried apricot surrounded by fondant and coated with sugar. Visions of these danced in the children’s heads in Clement Clarke Moore’s poem The Night Before Christmas, penned in 1822. Moore was more accustomed to writing more serious works, such as A Compendious Lexicon of the Hebrew Language, related to his occupation as professor of Oriental and Greek Literature at the General Theological Seminary in New York City. It wasn’t even his intention to publish his most well-known work — he had written it as a Christmas gift for his two daughters. • In 1857, James Lord Pierpont was the music director at a Savannah, Georgia church when he composed a happy little winter tune he entitled “One-Horse Open Sleigh,” later known as “Jingle Bells.” Just a few years later, he was composing “We Conquer or Die” and “Strike for the South,” Civil War marching songs. Pierpont wasn’t a native Southerner, and was in fact the son of a staunch abolitionist from Boston. • “Jingle Bells” was used as a part of a practical joke played by Gemini 6 astronauts Wally Schirra and Tom Stafford during their December, 1965 spaceflight. They radioed back to Mission Control that they had sighted some type of flying object that looked “like a satellite…a command module and eight smaller modules in front” with a pilot “wearing a red suit.” This was followed up by their rendition of “Jingle Bells,” accompanied by a harmonica and sleigh bells they had smuggled aboard the craft. That Hohner’s harmonica and those bells can be seen at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, displayed as the first musical instruments played in space. • A 34-year-old copyrighter working for the department store chain Montgomery Ward in 1939 was the creator of
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New Year’s Resolutions Senior the Easy Way News Line by Matilda Charles
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A New Year’s resolution is a promise you make to yourself. Keeping that promise isn’t easy, though. Sometimes we choose resolutions that are impossible to keep because they’re too broad or beyond our capabilities. Or the plan falls apart the first time the going gets tough. Still, there can be benefits to making resolutions, even if we only keep them for a short time. Here are a few to consider. The specifics are up to you. • Volunteer. •E xercise. If it’s not fun, try something else to get the same result. • Make a difference in someone else’s life. • Sign up for a month of gym classes. •D on’t talk about health or weather when the kids or grandkids call. • Cross things off your to-do list. • Read every day. • Take up a sport. Get a few lessons so you get a good start. • Buy a few extra cans of food each week at the grocery store
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z Keep those special chains and necklaces untangled. Slip them through a drinking straw and then fasten the clasp. The chain will stay straight, and you can store many together this way. z “Have you forgotten what you gave your friends or relatives on birthdays/Christmas/ holidays? Simply use your calendar on the appropriate day, making a note of what and to whom you gave a gift. Where Easter/Christmas has a long list, there is usually space at the top or bottom of the page of the month.” — P.B. in British Colombia, Canada z M.S. in Missouri writes:“If you are short a serving tray, use a large enough piece of cardboard and wrap it up in aluminum foil. You also can use holiday boxes lined with a coordinatingcolor tea towel to serve breads.” z If you have an indentation in your carpet from furniture legs, try placing an ice cube in the indentation and letting it melt. Moisture is slowly introduced into the fibers as the ice cube melts, and this can sometimes plump them up! z Use a damp paper towel to rub the silk from ears of corn after removing the husks. Send your tips to Now Here’s a Tip, c/o King Features Weekly Service, P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475 or e-mail JoAnn at email@example.com. © 2009 King Features Synd., Inc.
Matilda Charles regrets that she cannot personally answer reader questions, but will incorporate them into her column whenever possible. Write to her in care of King Features Weekly Service, P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475, or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thought of the week
z Go Green Tip: Even I am guilty of loving the big box stores, but for a nice gift alternative, check out your local farmers’ market. Stalls are popping up with locally made treasures and handcrafts. Avoid the long lines and pick up something special while supporting your local craftspeople.
© 2009 King Features Synd., Inc.
and deliver to the food bank at the end of the month. • Work the newspaper puzzles daily. • Acquire a new skill. • Break an unhealthy habit and acquire a healthy one. •L earn to meditate, and do it every day, or try yoga or Tai Chi. • Listen twice as often as you speak. • Sign up for a class. When it’s over, sign up for another one. • Borrow travel videos from the library. •S ubscribe to a new monthly magazine, or read it at the library. It’s OK if you break a resolution. It really is. Just try again and adjust your goals, or pick another one. Perhaps one of your resolutions will become a pleasurable habit. After all, it’s all about creating a new beginning.
z It was French author, philosopher and journalist Albert Camus who made the following sage observation: “Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal.” z According to records kept by the Social Security Administration, the name “Barack” was ranked 2,409th in 2008, up more than 10,000 spots from 12,535th in 2007. z Large cities often use high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes in order to encourage carpooling and help reduce traffic congestion. As soon as the lanes appear, however, people start getting creative about ways to get around the restriction. Pregnant women have claimed to be carrying an extra passenger even when all the other seats are empty, and more than one person has placed a mannequin or inflatable doll in the front seat in an effort to fool authorities. Recently, an undertaker
“Happiness is an imaginary condition, formerly attributed by the living to the dead, now usually attributed by adults to children, and by children to adults.” — Thomas Szasz
in Los Angeles went to court to appeal a judgment against him, claiming that the body in a coffin in the back should count as a passenger. z Are you a hypergelast? If you are, it’s nothing to be ashamed of; in fact, it might mean you’re the life of the party. A hypergelast is someone who laughs a lot. z Moore’s Law is not good news to those of us who might be a bit technologically challenged; it states that computer technology doubles in complexity every 18 to 24 months. z Those who study such things claim that, when it comes to accidents involving household appliances, you’re more likely to be injured by a washing machine, but if you are injured by a clothes dryer, it’s more likely to be fatal. © 2009 King Features Synd., Inc.
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Well, it is always the season for bringing gifts to the shelters. Here are many shelters “MOST WANTED” wish lists. Please help your favorite animal shelter this year: 1. VOLUNTEERS for shelter thrift shops 2. Clay Cat Litter 3. Dry Kitten Food 4. Pedigree Canned Dog Food 5. Pedigree Canned Puppy Food 6. Paper Towels 7. Bleach 8. Antibacterial Dish soap 9. Fabuloso Cleaning Liquid 10. Large Lawn & Leaf Trash Bags 11. Tall Kitchen Bags 12. Blankets and towels If you can donate any of these items just bring them to your favorite shelter today or call to find out what they need most.
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Is New Kitten’s Behavior Normal? By Sam Mazzotta easier for Buster by placing his food and DEAR PAW’S CORNER: We recently water, his litter box and his favorite toys and adopted a 6-month-old kitten from the local blanket away from heavily trafficked areas shelter. “Buster” behaves very well around of the house. A quiet room that he can access the kids and me, and he’s playful and loves easily is ideal. If you want to introduce him to climbing into my lap. But when company friends, go and pick him up and cradle him in comes over, he runs and hides. Is this your arms so that he feels safe, and bring him normal? to your friends so they can pet him briefly and — Sarah G., via e-mail say hello. Then, let him go. He will probably DEAR SARAH: This is very common run away again, which is fine. behavior from cats, particularly those Unless Buster is acting very strangely — that have recently experienced a stressful hissing at familiar people, hiding for hours situation such as being placed in a shelter. or not eating — I would not worry too much But even cats that haven’t been exposed to about his behavior. He may never be friendly to a lot of stress can do this when unfamiliar everyone who walks in the door, but over time people visit. he may adjust more quickly to new faces and Buster appears to have adapted well to his unfamiliar scents and make an appearance. new home and is comfortable with you and Send your tips, questions and comments to Paw’s the children, which is great. He’s happy and Corner, c/o King Features Weekly Service, P.O. Box healthy. But it may take him longer to adjust 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475, or e-mail them to strange new people in the house. to email@example.com. During the holiday season, make things © 2009 King Features Synd., Inc.
TOP TEN DVD as of December 5, 2009 Top 10 DVD Sales 1. Up (PG) (Buena Vista) 2. The Ugly Truth (R) (Sony) 3. G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (PG-13) (Paramount) 4. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (PG-13) (Paramount) 5. Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs (PG) (20th Century Fox) 6. The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 (R) (Sony) 7. Monsters, Inc. (G) (Buena Vista) 8. Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure (G) (Buena Vista) 9. The Proposal (PG-13) (Buena Vista) 10. Monsters vs. Aliens (PG) (DreamWorks) © 2009 King Features Synd., Inc.
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HOLIDAY FACTS (continued):
one of the seasonâ€™s most beloved characters, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Robert May was given the assignment of coming up with a story for a holiday promotional booklet for distribution to customers to replace the coloring books they had circulated in previous years. May, who had been teased as a child for his shyness and short stature, used the same theme for his red-nosed reindeer, who was made fun of for being different. Montgomery Ward sold nearly 2.5 million copies that year. When they reissued it in 1946, sales were 3.5 million copies. Unfortunately, because May was an employee of the store, they owned the copyright, and it was several years before May convinced them to allow him the rights. In 1949, Mayâ€™s brother-in-law Johnny Marks penned one of the most loved holiday tunes of all time, based on the story. Cowboy singer Gene Autry recorded the song and sold over two million copies the first year. â€˘ There are about 21,000 Christmas tree growers in the U.S. Every year, about 35 million trees are sold. More Christmas trees are harvested in Oregon than in any other state. â€˘ The singerâ€™s true love in the song â€œThe Twelve Days of Christmasâ€? gave her 22 turtledoves over the course of those days. What she received was a member of the pigeon family, native to northern Europe. The bird is about 11 inches long with a reddish-brown body, bluegray head, and white-tipped tail. It spends its winters in northern Africa. â€˘ The word â€œHanukkahâ€? comes from the Hebrew, meaning â€œto dedicate.â€? This eight-day festival commemorates the Jewsâ€™ securing and rededication of their Holy Temple during the second centuryâ€™s Maccabean Revolt. â€˘ Although President Franklin Pierce was responsible for the first decorated Christmas tree in the White House in 1856, it didnâ€™t become a continuing tradition until 1889 under the leadership of Benjamin Harrison. The Pierce
Family gathered around the candlelit tree in what is now known as the Blue Room. Electric lights on the White House tree made their debut in 1895, hung by Grover Clevelandâ€™s wife Frances. In 1961, Jacqueline Kennedy selected a theme for the White House tree, a ritual that has continued to this day. Jackie chose The Nutcracker for her motif, but the themes have been as different as the First Ladies themselves. Nancy Reagan opted for Mother Goose one year, while Rosalind Carter selected eggshell ornaments and painted milkweed pods handcrafted by disabled Americans. Hillary Clinton used decorations related to Santaâ€™s workshop, and Laura Bush decided on a red, white, and blue theme for her final Christmas in the executive mansion. â€˘ Although we might think of mistletoe as a romantic item, it is actually a parasitic plant that attaches itself to a tree and literally sucks the life out of it. It takes all its nourishment from the host tree, reducing the treeâ€™s growth and frequently killing it. Itâ€™s not all bad news, as some herbalists swear by its ability to treat circulatory and respiratory ailments. According to Scandinavian legend, the mistletoe is a plant of peace. In ancient times, enemies meeting by chance beneath the plant were obligated to lay down their arms and pledge a truce until the following day. Itâ€™s believed that this custom led to the current one of kissing under the mistletoe. â€˘ A leafy tree grown in Arabia and Somaliland, the Boswellia Thurifera, is the source for frankincense, one of the gifts brought to the Christ child. These unusual trees grow out of polished marble rocks. The juice from inside the trees hardens into a gum resin, which is used for incense and medicinal purposes. In ancient times frankincense was used in the ceremonial incense of the Jews, used on every Sabbath, and stored in a sacred chamber in Jerusalemâ€™s House of God. The ancients used it to treat tumors, ulcers, vomiting, dysentery, fever, and leprosy. Today, itâ€™s said that it can relieve bronchitis and laryngitis when steamed in a vaporizer.
A How many times did outfielder Barry Bonds hit 40-plus homers in a season? B Which major-league player got the first $1 million contract awarded through the arbitration process? C Texas Tech quarterback Graham Harrell set a record in 2008 for most career touchdown passes (134) in major college football. Who had held the mark? D Which NBA team originally drafted Dallas Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki in 1998? E In what year did the NHLâ€™s Quebec Nordiques move to Colorado and become the Avalanche? F Name the last owner-driver to win a Cup championship in NASCAR. G Before Andy Murray in 2009, who was the last person to hold the No. 2 spot in the menâ€™s ATP tennis rankings other than Rafael Nadal or Roger Federer? ÂŠ 2009 King Features Synd., Inc.
All Hail Hendrick Motorsports Hendrick Motorsports:
Gordon took the top three spots in the Sprint Cup standings. Thatâ€™s never happened before.
Among the historically significant achievements of Jimmie Johnson, crew chief Chad Knaus and
â€˘ Hendrick has won nine championships since its inception in 1984, amassing a winning percentage of .346. Thatâ€™s the best in American sports history, ahead of the Celtics (.266) and the Yankees (.255).
â€˘ Johnsonâ€™s fourth straight championship was the record-tying ninth by Hendrick Motorsports. Owner Rick Hendrick has won nine of the past 15, tying him with Petty Enterprises. â€˘ In all-time championships in major American sports leagues, the rankings are: 1) New York Yankees, 27; 2) Montreal Canadiens, 24; 3) Boston Celtics, 17; 4) Los Angeles Lakers, 15; 5) Toronto Maple Leafs, 13; 6) Green Bay Packers, 12; 7) Detroit Red Wings, 11; and 8) St. Louis Cardinals, 10. Tied with nine are Hendrick, Petty Enterprises, the Chicago Bears and Oakland Athletics. â€˘ Knaus is the only crew chief ever to win more than two consecutive (now) Sprint Cup titles, and his overall championship total (4) ties him with Kirk Shelmerdine for second place all-time. Dale Inman won eight championships. â€˘ Hendrick Motorsports has won four straight titles once before. In the 1990s, drivers Jeff
2009 Sprint Cup series champion Jimmie Johnson (center) with crew chief Chad Knaus (left) and team owner Rick Hendrick. (Getty Images for NASCAR photo)
Gordon (1995, â€˜97-98) and Terry Labonte (1996) won four straight titles for Hendrick. No other team has ever won more than three straight.
â€˘ Since 1984, no other American professional sports team has earned as many championships as Hendrickâ€™s nine. The Chicago Bulls won six championships during that span, followed by the Yankees and Edmonton Oilers (NHL) with five each. â€˘ Hendrick has won at least one Cup race in 24 straight seasons (1986-2009). The streak began on Feb. 16, 1986, with Geoff Bodineâ€™s Daytona 500 victory.
â€˘ Hendrick, the Yankees and the Canadiens are the only teams in any of the major American professional-sports leagues to win four or more consecutive championships more than once.
Monte Dutton has covered motorsports for The Gaston (N.C.) Gazette since 1993. He was named writer of the year by the National Motorsports Press Association in 2008. His blog NASCAR This Week (http://nascar.rbma.com) features all of his reporting on racing, roots music and life on the road. E-mail Monte at firstname.lastname@example.org.
â€˘ Hendrick drivers Johnson, Mark Martin and Jeff
ÂŠ 2009 King Features Synd., Inc.
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Last-Minute Gifts? Don’t Panic Shopping for last-minute gifts? Personalized baskets are always a hit, and it’s something you can do yourself. You can put nearly anything in a basket (add colored tissue paper and a ribbon) once you know your theme: • Crafts supplies, colored papers, scissors, and a glue gun will please a crafter or an artistic child. • Go with a cookbook, spatula, cheese grater, kitchen towel and new frying pan for the cook. • Puzzle and crossword books, a mechanical pencil and a padded lap table for a puzzle fan. • Stop at a gourmet food store and load up a basket with crackers, cheeses, ham, sausage, candies and a cheese slicer. Keep an eye out for possible allergens, like nuts. The best gifts are those that last all year. Some ideas: • For the film buff, a Netflix subscription — Besides the low cost, there are no late fees. The movie CDs come in the mail, you keep them as long as you want and then pop them into the postage-paid red envelope to send them back. Select from plans offering a single film to multiple movies at one time. The recipient needs a computer to make movie selections, and the monthly charge will show up on your credit card. • Magazine subscription — Select one with a topic of interest to your recipient. Call directly to make sure there’s no confusion over billing versus delivery address, and ask which issue will be delivered first. Buy a copy of the current edition and wrap it with a card and a note about your soon-to-arrive gift. • Gift baskets — Check Harry and David’s 12-month Light Size Club Gift for a selection of fruit baskets that are sent each month. Also available are eight-month, five-month and three-month clubs. Call 1-877-322-1200 after looking at the selections at www.harryanddavid.com. • Your time — Give the gift of yourself. A packet of handmade coupons, each good for a specific chore or event, or to be “cashed in” during a specific month, can go a long way to helping someone who might prefer your time over a new sweater. Think: raking and mowing, babysitting, errands, closet organization, lessons, etc. If all else fails, go for a gift certificate to the recipient’s favorite store. Be sure to ask about any fees for not using the card within a certain time frame. David Uffington regrets that he cannot personally answer reader questions, but will incorporate them into his column whenever possible. Write to him in care of King Features Weekly Service, P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475, or send e-mail to email@example.com. © 2009 King Features Synd., Inc.
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Looking for a way to preserve paper this holiday season? Send your holiday greetings by e-mail. If you find that impersonal and want to send a hand-written note, make your cards from recycled old ones, shop for cards printed on recycled paper, or eliminate the envelope by using postcards or fold-and-seal notes.
BIBLE TRIVIA by Wilson Casey
1. Is the book of Matthew in the Old or New Testament or neither? 2. W ho was Herod’s information source as to where the Christ Child was to be born? Joseph, Reuben, Micah, Matthew 3. F rom Luke 2:13, what term describes an army of angels praising God? Heavenly host, Covenant, Spirit multitude, Manoah 4. W hat group received the angels’ announcement of the birth of Jesus? Carpenters, Shepherds, Tentmakers, Masons 5. W here was the young child when the Magi came to visit Him to present gifts? Manger, Under the stars, House, Temple 6. F rom Matthew 2, to what country did Mary, Joseph and the Baby Jesus flee? Jordan, Syria, Oman, Egypt For more trivia, log on to www.TriviaGuy.com. © 2009 King Features Synd., Inc.
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Tidbits® of Hilton Head, Bluffton, and Beaufort
Local Happenings 12/1-12/31 South Beach Christmas Village Hundreds of thousands of twinkling lights and falling snow. 12/1-12/31 Dove Street Festival of Lights: A Celebration by the Sea On North Forest Beach Drive. The Island’s largest outdoor holiday lights display. Lights on display daily 5p.m.-1a.m.
12/3-12/30 A Main Street Christmas Main Street Youth Theatre presents its festive holiday show, “A Main Street Christmas.” Shows are Thurs.-Sat. at 7 p.m.; Sun. at 2 p.m. Thursday is Family Night with special discounted tickets. 3000 Main St. (843) 689-6246. 12/14-15 Santa’s Calling Hosted by the Island Rec. Center. Pre-registration required, $5 North Pole Connection Fee. 5-8p.m. 12/19 Breakfast with Santa Hosted by the Island Rec. Center at the S.H.A.R.E. Center, 6 Office Way. 9:30-11a.m.
12/19 18th Annual Jingle Jingle Run Family 5K Run & Health Walk HH Medical Center Campus 9a.m. 12/23 Gregg Russell Concert Family favorite performs under the Libery Oak Tree in Harbour Town 6-7:30p.m.
Laugh a bit with Q: Why was mistletoe hanging above the luggage scale at the airport check-in? A: So passengers could kiss their luggage goodbye!
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TO YOUR GOOD HEALTH By Paul G. Donohue, M.D.
Fibroids Can Cause Anemia in Women DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I am 42 and have an anemia. My doctor thinks it results from my menstrual bleeding, which is quite heavy. I have been taking iron pills, but I am still anemic. The doctor says I should have my fibroids removed, and that will stop the excessive bleeding. I have no other symptoms — no pain. Will you explain what fibroids are? They aren’t cancer, are they? — E.B. ANSWER: Fibroids are not cancer. They’re growths of the uterine muscle. The uterus is mostly muscle, with an inner lining designed to nourish a fertilized egg. Quite often, fibroids don’t cause any problems. Large ones can lead to heavy menstrual bleeding, which, in turn, gives rise to an anemia. They also can put pressure on the adjacent urinary bladder and bring on the need to urinate frequently. Sometimes they produce pelvic discomfort, and they might be involved with infertility. About two-thirds of women in their 40s have one or more fibroids. What causes them is still a matter of speculation. Female hormones make them grow. That’s why menopause, with its drop in hormone production, usually shrinks fibroids. They also run in families, so there is a gene influence. The best treatment for fibroids depends on their location in the uterus and their size. Sometimes removal is achieved with instruments introduced
into the uterus through the vagina — no skin incision. Recovery from this procedure is fast. Laparoscopic surgery — surgery done with a scope and instruments inserted through small incisions — is another technique that permits quick recuperation. At times, the entire uterus has to be removed. A newer and popular treatment is uterine artery embolization. Here a slender, pliable tube is threaded from a surface artery to the artery that supplies the fibroid with blood. When the tube arrives at that artery, the doctor releases tiny pellets that promote the formation of a clot (embolus). Without nourishment, the fibroid shrinks and is eventually shed. The booklet on fibroids gives greater details on this common condition. Readers can obtain a copy by writing: Dr. Donohue — No. 1106W, Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. Enclose a check or money order (no cash) for $4.75 U.S./$6 Canada with the recipient’s printed name and address. Please allow four weeks for delivery. i i i Dr. Donohue regrets that he is unable to answer individual letters, but he will incorporate them in his column whenever possible. Readers may write him or request an order form of available health newsletters at P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. © 2009 King Features Synd., Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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ANSWERS BIBLE TRIVIA ANSWERS Answer
1) New; 2) Micah; 3) Heavenly host; 4) Shepherds; 5) House; 6) Egypt
1 . Eight times. 2. Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Fernando Valenzuela in 1983. 3. Hawaii’s Colt Brennan, with 131 (2005-’07). 4. Milwaukee, which traded his draft rights to Dallas along with Pat Garrity for Robert “Tractor” Traylor. 5. It was 1995. 6. Alan Kulwicki in 1992. 7. Lleyton Hewitt in 2005.
HOCUS FOCUS DIFFERENCES 1. Sale sign is added. 2. Button missing from woman’s jacket. 3. Ceiling light is added. 4. Bowtie is missing. 5. Man’s tie is white. 6. Row of rings is missing.
MAGIC MAZE ANSWER WORDS THAT APPEAR WHEN VIEWED IN A MIRROR