Dear Readers: Here is this week’s SOUND OFF, about speaking right away when you call someone.

“My request is that when a person makes a telephone call, he or she be prepared to speak when someone answers.

“When I answer the phone, I say ‘Hello,’ then I pause and listen. There is nothing on the other end. I end up saying ‘Hello’ maybe three or four times before the person speaks. This is especially true of telemarketing calls. During the time I am waiting, all sorts of things run through my mind, like ‘Has something happened to a family member?’ This is not only annoying, but also stressful. -- A Reader in San Antonio”

I’m with you on this topic! You would go crazy in my office, with six incoming phone lines! If I had a penny for every wrong number or no voice, I could buy a new car! -- Heloise



P.O. Box 795000

San Antonio, TX 78279-5000

Fax: 1-210-HELOISE



Dear Readers: Other uses for small, dome-shaped, plastic tomato containers:

* As a small trash can on a craft table.

* Use to start a seedling.

* Hold pens and pencils in one.

* Make into a terrarium.

* Store cotton balls in one by the sink.

-- Heloise


Dear Heloise: I would like the directions for scrubbies made out of nylon netting. You had the directions in your column, but I threw out my paper before I cut them out. I really enjoy your column. -- Barbara P. in Statesville, N.C.

Of course I can reprint it! This is a great hint from my mother, the original Heloise. To make the quick version, you will need 1/2 yard of nylon net — the 72-inch-wide kind — dental floss or strong nylon thread and a large needle. Cut three 6-inch-by-72-inch strips of the nylon net and lay them on top of each other. Using a long basting stitch, sew them together down the middle. Once at the end, hold the thread and pull the netting so that it bunches up. Wrap the thread around the center of the bunch and tie a tight knot. Trim the thread ends. Separate the layers of netting so they make the shape of a ball. -- Heloise


Dear Heloise: I work at a day-care center, and I am constantly carrying things around for the kids in my class. Between tissues, pacifiers, hand sanitizer, etc., my pockets always are full. One of the moms brought me an art apron. It is like a smock, but it has three big pockets on the front. Plenty of room for me to carry all the little things I acquire throughout the day. -- Virginia in Wichita, Kan.


Dear Heloise: When there’s a frayed seam or a rip in delicate fabric that won’t accept the heat of iron-on tape, I paint the area with clear nail polish to strengthen the cloth. Then I carefully mend the area by hand with needle and thread. For extra strength, I paint more nail polish on the area after mending. -- Ann A., Waco, Texas

Send a hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, Tex. 78279-5000, fax it to 210-HELOISE or e-mail it to Please include your city and state.

, King Features Syndicate