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Dear Readers: Today's Sound Off is about waiting even though you have an appointment:

"Dear Heloise: Since when is it OK to have an appointment at 10 a.m. and not get in until 11:30 a.m.? There are no emergencies for these people; they just seem to be overbooking. How do your readers feel about this?" -- Liz V. in San Antonio

Liz, I understand your frustrations. I have friends who'll wait no more than 15 minutes at an appointment, then leave. Readers, what do you do? -- Heloise

Fast facts

Dear Heloise: Got an old baby bathtub? There are still some great uses for it:

  • It makes a wonderful pet bathtub for small animals.
  • I take mine camping so I can wash dishes in it.
  • My husband fills it with warm, soapy water and soaks his feet in it.
  • My sister, a clothing designer, uses hers to dye fabric. -- Helen K., Alpena, Michigan

Cellphone ID

Dear Heloise: After reading Rita's idea about a reward message for returning a lost cellphone, I thought of another idea: I downloaded a free doodle app to my phone and wrote on my screen photo: "If found call (I put in my husband's phone number). Reward for return of phone." This way, if someone finds my phone, he or she will have my information without unlocking my phone. -- An Avid Reader, The Villages, Florida

Pretty pebbles

Dear Heloise: Living out in the country, I often take long walks, and I notice stones along the road. Some have interesting markings; others are a pretty color. I started to collect these stones and found uses for them. I put them in the bottom of vases, about 3 inches deep, fill with water and put cut flowers in the vase. This not only keeps the vase from tipping over, but helps to hold the flowers in place. I also fill attractive glass containers with these stones and display them on a long buffet table in my dining room. -- Kelly W., Santa Fe, New Mexico

Houseguest helper

Dear Heloise: I read in your column about the exhausted folks who dread the arrival of houseguests at their vacation home. Here are a few ideas from someone who has experience with this:

  • Always ask your guests to bring their own sheets and towels (and take those items home with them).
  • Plan easy meals where everyone cooks (even the kids).
  • Ask your guests to plan something special as entertainment, either at home or by taking you out.

You can welcome them without dread! -- Susan G., Forestburgh, New York

'Deliver-ring'!

Dear Heloise: In your column, ask the people who deliver packages to please ring the doorbell when they leave the packages on the porch.

There has been much publicity about packages being stolen from porches, so one would think the deliverer would ring the bell in case someone is at home to pick up the package right away. It is quicker to knock (which we don't hear unless we're near the door) or just leave the package.

To help stem package theft, package delivery people should ring the doorbell. -- Sally H., Salem, Oregon

Good safety hint; thank you for writing in! -- Heloise

Easy TV

Dear Heloise: My husband and I were moving a TV from one room to another, and he was concerned about how to hook up the television after removing all of the cords.

I suggested that he take a picture with his phone of the proper placement of cords, and it helped him hook the television back up in the new room. This strategy also would work for computer cords. -- Cyndi R., Colorado Springs, Colorado

Press 1 for argh!

Dear Heloise: My pet peeve is telephoning businesses. Whenever I call any business these days, starting with "Press 1 for English," I'm forced to listen to numerous automated prompts as to why I am calling.

I must go through this routine before I can eventually access a real person, who then will ask you all of the previously requested questions again! -- Jean M., Torrington, Connecticut

Fill the gap

Dear Heloise: My washing machine sits in a drain pan, and my dryer sits beside it. There is a space of an inch and a half between the two appliances.

To prevent things from falling between the two, I put a strip of duct tape over the space. Voila! No more mess on the floor. -- Judy C., Paragould, Arkansas

Sign here

Dear Heloise: How often do you have to ask others in the house if they have read the paper or a magazine? My husband came up with this system: When he has read something, he just initials it.

If he wants it back because there is an article he wants to save, he prints "save" on it. That way, I know to give it back to him. Otherwise, when I see his initials, I know I can toss it after I read it. I do the same if I read the paper or magazine first. Saves a lot of time and questions. -- C.L., The Villages, Florida

Schedule this!

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Dear Heloise: I put my housework on a weekly schedule. Basic tasks -- vacuuming, mopping, dusting and cleaning bathrooms -- are done every week.

Other jobs (dusting fans, blinds, baseboards and windowsills, and washing kitchen cabinets) are done once a month. It works for me!

The house is always ready for unexpected guests, even for overnight. I just freshen up the guest bathroom, and we are ready! -- Tammi in Big Lake, Texas

A sticky situation

Hi, Heloise: I purchased a set of four 18-ounce plastic drinking glasses that were nestled inside each other.

When I tried to separate them, they were stuck together, and I can't get them apart. What do you suggest to get them separated? -- Barbara, via email

Barbara, this should be an easy fix. Fill the top glass with ice cubes, then circle a bit of vegetable oil around the lip of the second glass. The ice will cause the top glass to contract slightly. Give it a few minutes, and then they should be unstuck! -- Heloise

Great questions

Dear Heloise: As a widow, I've had to manage on one income with two kids. To keep from derailing my budget when I'm tempted to splurge on something frivolous, I always ask myself: First, do I really need this or just want it? Second, how is this going to benefit my children or myself? Lastly, if I buy this, what do I have to give up to afford it? This has saved me from some very foolish expenditures. -- Pat J., Springfield, Oregon

Elder isolation

Dear Heloise: So many elderly people are isolated and need interaction with someone -- a family member, neighbor or friend to talk to or visit with. The effects of isolation and loneliness have a negative influence on a person's mental and physical well-being, and are often the cause of depression. If you don't know how to get started or need a list of places that help the elderly, go to: Connect2affect.org. -- Irene D., Gainesville, Florida

Hotel tipping

Dear Heloise: When we stay at a hotel for more than three nights, we always leave a tip for the maids. We put the money in an envelope with "For housekeeping" written on it, and leave it in the room on a desk. -- Penny N., Fort Wayne, Indiana

In a jam

Dear Heloise: The retractable handle on my wheeled suitcase was jamming. Before replacing it, I decided to lubricate the handle with a commercial lubricating oil. It worked like a charm. -- Linda W., via email

Freeze!

Dear Heloise: When I know that a weather-related power outage is possible, I turn the temperature of my refrigerator and its freezer compartment to the coldest setting until the threat has passed. -- Mary H., Arlington, Virginia

Send a great hint to: Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio TX 78279-5000; fax: 1-210-HELOISE; email: heloise@heloise.com.

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