Dear Readers: Here is this week’s SOUND OFF, about courtesy while standing in line at the grocery store:

“If you are in line, please don’t leave your cart and stand next to me while I am swiping my credit card. I have resorted to leaving my cart between us to protect my privacy.

“Please don’t pile your items so close to mine on the conveyor belt. I don’t want to pay for your stuff. (Heloise here: This is what the dividers are for.)

“Please don’t pile all your items on the counter before I’m done with my transaction. -- A Reader, Sugar Land, Tex.”

This can be a little annoying, but most folks don’t mean to bug you. Comments, readers? -- Heloise


Dear Readers: Here are other uses for contact-lens cases:

* Use for small amounts of creams or lotions.

* Store earrings in one for travel.

* If it can be done safely, use as a pillbox.

* Put lip gloss in one.

* Keep extra buttons or small pins in one.

-- Heloise


Dear Heloise: I got into some plants that have made me itch terribly. Is there anything I can do to help relieve the itch? -- Jason in Texas

Jason, help is on the way! Pour about 1 / 2 cup to a cup of baking soda in a warm bath and soak for a while to help relieve that itch. If you have spots that are really irritated, mix baking soda with a little water to make a paste, apply, then cover with a damp cloth and try to relax for five to 10 minutes. Baking soda is fantastic for so many things, from health to home. Want to know some money-saving hints using baking soda? Just order my baking-soda pamphlet. Please send $5 and a long, self-addressed, stamped (66 cents) envelope to: Heloise/Baking Soda, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001. Have a minor kitchen burn? Mix 3 parts baking soda to 1 part water. Dab on the burn and cover with a cool, damp cloth. -- Heloise


Dear Heloise: For people who have everything but deserve something special for an anniversary, a birthday, as a thanks, etc., I send Give-a-Tree cards from the Arbor Day Foundation. The cards are beautiful, and in the person’s honor a tree is planted in a national forest. -- Marian R., Rapid City, S.D.

How lovely, and a great hint for Mother Earth! What a bargain, as the cards are only $5.95, so you could send several. The foundation has many to pick from, and other gifts, too. It does custom printing for free — what a deal! Visit the Web site or call 888-448-7337. -- Heloise


Dear Heloise: When I go to the doctor for tests or blood work, I ask for a copy of the results. It’s good to have a copy for your records, and it comes in handy when going to a new doctor or specialist. I bring a copy of my last tests for them. -- K.E. in Maryland

Heloise’s column appears six days a week at Send a hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, Tex. 78279-5000, or e-mail it to

, King Features Syndicate