Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is about insensitive neighbors:

“Dear Heloise: Our neighbor recently acquired a dog. Our houses are close together. This large dog is left outside in a pen to bark and bark and bark all day. It’s awful. Why do dog owners think that this is okay? All our neighbors are retired and home all day.”

C.J., Garrettsville, Ohio

C.J.: It’s not okay, and in many cities it’s against the law. Have you spoken to your neighbor about this problem? If nothing is done about it, you’ll have no choice other than to call the police and complain that your neighbor has a dog that continually barks. Dogs need interaction with people and crave attention, so your neighbor really needs to bring the dog inside rather than leaving it in the backyard and letting it bark all day. To get a pet and then ignore it is actually a form of abuse.

Dear Readers: Things NOT to put in a compost pile:

● Diseased plants — fungus or bacteria may grow in the compost.

● Sawdust — the wood may have been treated.

● Bread products, meat or bones, cooking oil, rice or milk products.

● Heavily coated or printed paper.

Dear Heloise: I have several recipes that list a box of cake mix as an ingredient. However, they specify 18¼ ounces, while all I can find are 15¼ ounces. I have thought of keeping an extra box so I can add what I am missing, but I need to know how much dry measure of cake mix would equal an ounce.

Gayle in Monroe, La.

Gayle in Monroe: Roughly 2 teaspoons equal 1 dry ounce. It’s a good idea to keep an extra box of the specific cake mix around to make up the difference. And if you bake a lot, keep a box of white cake mix on hand. Be sure to store the leftover cake mix in an airtight container.

Dear Heloise: My mother-in-law keeps telling me to use banana peels in my garden to help my plants grow. Does this really work?

Briana in Winslow, Ind.

Brianna inWinslow: Your mother-in-law is right! One way is to simply boil the peelings from two or more bananas in about a gallon of water for five minutes. Put the entire mixture in the refrigerator in a covered container for two days, then water your plants with this nutrient-rich tea.

Another method is to cut up the peelings and add them to the root system of the plant as it’s being planted. The banana peel decays and feeds the plant in the process.

A third method is to dry out the peelings, then grind them up (maybe in a blender) and add this to the soil as a fertilizer.

Dear Readers: Sometimes it’s easy to forget, but your pet should NEVER be left in a hot car during these warm summer days and nights. In many states it’s against the law.

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

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