Dear Heloise: Is there a way to keep the birdseed in my bird feeders from making a thatch of weeds underneath them when the birds drop some? Perhaps microwaving it? I’m tired of the weeds! — Brea in California
Backyard bird feeding and watching is a billion-dollar hobby for many! It is so enjoyable to watch the little visitors busy at feeders or drinking at birdbaths. But the dropped seeds do present a problem!
Here are some suggestions to try:
• Rake the area under the feeder at least once a week to keep seeds from germinating.
• Use shelled sunflower seeds or other seeds with no hulls.
• Put heavy weighted plastic down.
And, speaking of bird feeding, here is a hint from Dottie Rose of Colorado Springs, Colo., about protecting birds from her cat, Socks.
She says: “I love my bird feeder and get hours and hours of pleasure watching all the busy activity that goes on.
“My cat is a hunter and scares my feathered friends away every chance he gets. I put a small bell on his collar as a bird warning. Now any bird he stalks hears the bell and flies away unharmed.” — Heloise
Dear Heloise: When our dog got too old and arthritic to run down to the basement to hide during a thunderstorm, he would frantically run around the main floor and couldn’t be calmed down, even with drugs.
Plus, drugs left him hung over the next day.
We solved the problem by blocking him in an interior hall with all of the doors shut and a soft light on.
We put his bed, a toy, a ticking clock and a radio quietly playing classical music in with him.
The light and closed doors lessened the contrast between the dark sky and lightning. He felt safe and immediately settled down in the hall and had peaceful nights there during storms — no drugs necessary. I hope this hint helps other people and their dogs. — Carole, Omaha, Neb.
Oh my! I know what you are talking about. We had a sweet golden retriever, J.D., who absolutely freaked out during severe storms. He would come inside and hunker down in the den just shaking. Drugs did help him sometimes. — Heloise
Dear Readers: Gerbils are a popular pet, and they love to burrow and chew. Cut a hole in a small, empty cracker or cereal box or in a paper-towel roll. Put these in the cage and watch your gerbil crawl through the holes and enjoy the new toy. Add some tissue, and they will shred it and make a nest. — Heloise
Dear Heloise: My mom has Alzheimer’s and is in a nursing facility. A lot of her clothes get “lost” and wind up in the laundry room or someone else’s closet, even though they are clearly marked with her name and room number.
I bought inexpensive, solid-colour tops with her entire name marked with a bold permanent marker across the back of the top (shoulder to shoulder), room number and, in smaller letters on the sleeve or hem, the initials of this cruel illness, “ALZ.”
This way, if someone “likes” her top and wants to adopt it, it will be clearly identifiable.
She is not aware of the labelling, and even if she notices, she does not usually remember since it’s on the back.
Out of sight, out of memory.
This makes her easily identifiable to workers in case she wanders, and hopefully alerts anyone that she has ALZ.
This is an excellent idea for people who suffer from memory impairment, are still at home and could wander.
I also put her name on a pant leg along the side or on the thigh area and decorated it with swirls and little flowers or butterflies.
Most of her pants are black or jeans, and I found a silver metallic permanent pen works very well. Also, I mark the outside of sneakers and socks, and the insides of shoes or soles. — Gloria S., via e-mail
Gloria, you’re kind to write and share your good advice with others who are in the same situation. — Heloise
Dear Heloise: My wife and I wind up with a lot of empty two-pound yogurt containers. Aside from recycling, I cut some of them up lengthwise for garden stakes and recycle the bottoms and top edges. I get 12 or so per container.
Permanent markers don’t produce legible results for long in the garden. I write the type of produce and, after the ink dries, put clear adhesive tape over the words. — Dwayne Shreve, Elkton, Md.
Dear Heloise: Anyone who goes for walks along narrow roads without shoulders should take a cue from bicyclists and wear bright, fluorescent colors.
You can purchase an inexpensive reflective vest like construction workers wear from industrial-supply stores or home-improvement warehouses. I bought one for my grandmother’s friend, and she was amazed at the difference it made.
When she was more visible, drivers slowed down and moved over for her. — Jonathan Johnson, Battle Ground, Wash.
Dear Heloise: After coming back from a smoky restaurant with my dad, we were both complaining about how our clothes and hair smelled like cigarettes.
I went to my laundry, grabbed a dryer sheet and rubbed it on my hair.
My dad asked what I was doing, and I told him I was making my hair smell like laundry instead of smoke. — Addie C., via e-mail
Dear Heloise: Recently, a writer suggested that washing-machine load order should be dark, light and then bleachable so that the last wash with bleach deodorizes the machine.
This means that a bleach wash will be followed by dark in the next cycle of washes. When I did this, some of the dark clothes were ruined with little bleached dots.
It seemed the bleach was still in the machine and came though the little holes in the basket as the clothes were spinning.
I ruined many clothes.
Now, my method is to wash bleach loads first, then whites and then lastly the darks.
This way, the bleach is cleaned out by the water in the white wash and also cannot bleach anything.
Dear Heloise: I have my original kitchen countertop, which is white laminate. Lately, I’ve been having trouble keeping it stain-free. Can you suggest something to keep it white? — Lenny Silverberg, Boynton Beach, Fla.
Sometimes older countertops, with wear and tear, become susceptible to staining.
Try sprinkling a bit of baking soda on the stain, dampen with warm water to make a paste and rub, then let it sit for a bit.
Rinse with clean, clear water. This may help. A bit of furniture polish or car wax will help restore the shine. — Heloise
Dear Heloise: When my cotton mattress pads developed wear, I replaced them with new polyester pads.
However, they tended to slip on the slick mattress, so I put the clean, old cotton ones next to the mattresses and the new ones on top.
Problem solved! — Nila Boone, Rapid City, S.D.