Dear Heloise: During the coronavirus pandemic, I've seen lots of people touting the merits of parrots! Parrots are marvelous, intelligent animals, but they are not good pets for everyone, for many reasons.

Chief among the reasons is that these guys can live for 50 years or more! You must make a contingency plan for the bird in the event of your death. They require specialized and potentially expensive veterinary care, they must be cleaned up after constantly, they can be loud and destructive (by chewing), they are social animals (they need interaction with people), they need exposure to sunlight, and the list goes on. I'd advise your readers to think before adopting a parrot.

— Tara E. in New York

Tara E. in New York: I concur! Readers, do your homework before bringing home a bird.

Dear Heloise: I always reserve some pasta water after boiling pasta. It helps to thicken sauces without adding extra calories and fat.

— Merrit K. in Ohio

Dear Readers: Meet Dodge. He is Leigh B.’s (of Ohio) lab mix, and he looks like he’s ready to “get out of Dodge,” as it were — the cold and snow of January!

To see our other Pet Pals, visit Heloise.com and click on “Pet of the Week.”

Do you have a furry and funny friend to share? Email a picture and description to Heloise@Heloise.com.

Dear Heloise: We always had trouble getting the rinse aid into our dishwasher. Much of it would run out of the receptacle because it was hard to aim the bottle.

My wife had the brilliant idea to use a plastic squeeze bottle with a tapered, conical tip. She had an old hair tint bottle. It had a very narrow tip, so I snipped it off a little with wire snips.

We put the rinse aid into it, and it works beautifully — no more wasted fluid!

— Arthur M., via email

Dear Readers: When washing your hands, don’t forget to wash the backs of your hands, in between your fingers and under your fingernails as much as possible. Turn the water off when washing, and rinse thoroughly.

Dear Heloise: Disposed masks can get in the oceans and strangle wildlife. Cut the elastic bands before disposal.

— Kevin G. in California

Dear Heloise: I enjoy your articles every day in my Little Rock, Arkansas, newspaper. Regarding your article that appeared in our paper on Dec. 15 about parking lot safety, you mentioned to get in the car, fasten your seat belt and leave.

That reminded me of something I always say to people.

I used to hold cooking classes for a group of ladies some years ago, and during one of our conversations I asked the class, "What is the first thing you should do when you get in your car?" Of course they all answered, "Fasten your seat belt."

I said, "NO; lock your door."

— Nick, Little Rock

Dear Heloise: About the most fun we ever had at Christmas was to make grab bags and everyone picked one at random. We filled each bag with silly (and not so silly) things from a dollar store.

Then the fun started as people took the gifts out of their bags and tried to trade them for someone else's gifts. I still smile when I remember that.

— Connie, North Port, Fla.

Heloise’s column appears six days a week at washingtonpost.com/advice. Send a hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5000, or email it to Heloise@Heloise.com.

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