Nov. 15, Monday -- Polish president, Lech Walesa, addressed Congress, 1989.

Nov. 16, Tuesday -- First Quarter Moon. Oklahoma statehood, 1907.Nov. 17, Wednesday -- Tornado hit Washington, D.C., 1927. St. Hugh of Lincoln.

Nov. 18, Thursday -- Female charitable society organization, Wiscassset, Maine, 1805.

Nov. 19, Friday -- Moon on Equator. Pele scored 1,000th goal, 1967.

Nov. 20, Saturday -- Indian Summer ends. Robert F. Kennedy born, 1925.

Nov. 21, Sunday -- Prune grapevines now. Cigar lighter patented 1871. President Truman rode in a captured German submarine, 1946.

Ask the Old Farmer's Almanac: I'm still searching for the perfect apple crisp recipe. Any solutions? -- H.P. St. Louis, Mo.

Answer:Some chefs say it's in the topping, some say it's in the apples.

And what may be your perfect crisp might be another person's disappointment. It's a matter of personal taste. Even the name of these fruit desserts comes into question. Are you looking for a true Apple Crisp, or could it be an Apple Pan Dowdy, a Grunt or Cobbler, a Buckle or Slump?

Some are more like puddings, some use biscuits instead of crumb topping, others are served with pouring cream, whipped cream or ice cream.

In any case, start with a good cooking apple. Some modern recipes specify Granny Smith apples, because they are nice and firm, tart but not sour, and hold their shape well after baking. Paula Reds and McIntosh apples, common apples (especially earlier in the season), tend to get mushy before the crisp topping is done. McCouns, Cortlands, Braeburn, and Fuji apples are all good candidates to consider for baking.

Crisp toppings are often too sweet, as a result of combining too much sugar with an already sweet apple. Common recipes call for a cup of sugar (usually white, although brown is sometimes called for) with a cup of flour, a tablespoon or so of cinnamon, a teaspoon of salt, and a stick of butter. That works well with a Granny Smith or similarly tart apple, but if you've substituted the common Paula Red or McIntosh, you're apt to have too much sweetness for the average palate. One after-the-fact remedy is to serve the dessert with a lemon sorbet instead of vanilla ice cream, but purists will disagree. To be safe, taste your apples first, and if they're not tart, try cutting the sugar to 1/2 or 2/3 cup.

The other big variable in crisp toppings is whether or not to add oatmeal or granola, for added crunch. The above proportions can be used in addition to 2/3 cups of rolled oats, or with the same amount of almost any health food store granola that you like. Don't try using the grocery store, boxed granolas, because they're much too sweet and you'll go overboard with the sugar, again. Good luck, and if you get the perfect recipe, let us know what it is!

Ask the Old Farmer's Almanac: I'm told it was a woman who invented panty hose. I find it unbelievable that one of my own kind could devise such torturous stuff. Why? -- L.W., Dresden, Tenn.

Answer:You must consider the context -- and the alternative. It's true that a woman was behind the design, although it was the Glen Raven Mills company of Altamahaw, N.C., that first came out with the product. That company's president, Allen Gant, had listened to his wife complain about the complications and inconvenience of nylon stockings, girdles, garters, garter belts, etc., especially during pregnancy. If you've ever tried to hook a garter that you can't see because your unborn baby hinders your view, you can understand the dilemma. And you must first assume that women want some sort of stocking clinging to their legs. When it's 100 degrees in Tennessee, that may not be the case for you, but in colder, winter months, many women appreciate the extra layer of protection.

Gant devised the new "Panti-Legs" in 1959, by first stitching a pair of seamed stockings to a pair of nylon panties. Opaque stockings were just becoming popular then. Later improvements made the pantyhose more elastic and available in a wider variety of sizes, colors, and textures. Within a decade, in 1969, panty hose sales had skyrocketed to 624 million pair, up from 200 million just the year before. The advent of the mini skirt in 1965 made pantyhose even more popular.

Just as Gant's pantyhose was intended to make stockings less torturous for women, so too did Elizabeth Adams devise corsets for pregnant women, in 1841. You have to take corsets as the preconceived notion in order for this to make sense. Similarly, Caresse Crosby patented a brassiere in 1914, intending to loosen up on the corsets theme. The same year, a debutante had tied two handkerchiefs together with some ribbon to achieve the same results. Mary Phelps "Polly" Jacon, 21 at the time, sold her design to Warner Bros. Corsets for $1,500. Elasticized bras soon followed, while corsets (and later girdles, too) were on their way out.

Ask the Old Farmer's Almanac: This year, for the first time, we had wild iris growing in a swampy area near our house. We're miles from the nearest neighbor and I haven't seen the irises growing anywhere else nearby. How did they get there? -- J.R., Warren, Maine

Answer: Unlike the garden variety of irises (family Iridaceae), wild irises, also called wild flag, like moist, swampy places and can withstand having their feet wet for some period of time. Chances are your "swampy area" is part of a watershed area or run-off zone, and the rhizomes (those bulby root stocks) or the seeds of the irises may have made their way downstream until they reached your property and dug in. Irises are self-seeding, so once a single plant got a foot-hold, others would soon follow.

Seeds travel in all sorts of mysterious ways. Since irises can be propagated from either the seeds or the rhizomes, it's also possible that some seeds were transported with a little help from a feathered friend or even through the excrement of an animal (moose? deer?) that may have eaten the relished iris tubers for dinner, then traveled to your backyard before depositing his droppings. Many seeds have protective coatings that make them resistant to the digestive juices of the birds and animals that may eat them. It is told that Charles Darwin once planted an entire acre in seeds that he scavenged from the feet of migratory birds. Just as squirrels and chipmunks inadvertently plant many oak trees by forgetting where they buried their nuts, so too do other species help distribute nature's bounty.

Send your questions to: Ask the Almanac, The Old Farmer's Almanac, Main St., Dublin, NH 03444. Every day the editors of The Old Farmer's Almanac answer a question on the Internet. All questions are archived there as well. On the World Wide Web, the address is www.almanac.comYankee Publishing, Inc. Dist. by United Feature Syndicate Inc.