Dear Heloise: There are a lot of fliers who miss their connecting flight due to a number of reasons. If this should happen, use your cellphone to call customer service of the airline you are using to book the next flight available. You stand a better chance of getting a seat, and it's faster than standing in line.

Carlos in Seattle.

Readers, check out the next two hints for more about flying.

Dear Heloise: Take all of your "in-flight necessities" and place them in a gallon-size plastic bag. Leave it on your seat as you are storing your overhead gear. This way, you won't block the aisle or hold up the boarding process looking for these items before you settle in.

Joanna F., Norman, Okla.

Dear Heloise: When traveling with a baby, make sure your diaper bag fits under the seat in front of you. Do not store it in the overhead bin. This makes it easier to retrieve, if necessary.

Susan in Long Beach, Calif.

Dear Heloise: We enjoy your column in the Gaston (N.C.) Gazette. I'm writing to ask you how I can clean off my family's tombstones in the cemetery. They are so dark, I can't read them anymore.

May D.A., Mount Holly, N.C.

May D.A.: You didn’t mention the material used for the grave markers, but here are some suggestions:

Gather these supplies together:

● A bucket of distilled water.

● A gentle cleaner or soap (non-ionic is best, but there are others you can use).

● A nylon-bristled brush, sponges, old kitchen towels or T-shirts.

For granite, wipe down the headstone with water and a mild soap. Then wet a nylon-bristled brush and gently scrub the surface. Wipe with clean water and dry with old dish towels.

For marble, wet the stone first with water. If there is any growth on the stone, remove it using a plastic or wooden scraper. (A plastic spatula works well.) Use a gentle soap (non-ionic) to wash down the headstone. If there is a significant buildup, you may have to use a nylon brush.

For limestone, use the same methods as you would for marble.

Dear Heloise: Hate the smell of wet paint? Just put 1 ounce of vanilla in 1/2 gallon of paint, and that will help kill the odor.

Janice D., Anchorage

Dear Heloise: Please tell your readers to get their heating and cooling units cleaned and inspected once a year. We didn't bother with that step for six years, and now we're faced with replacing our unit, which will cost us thousands of dollars. We won't neglect this in the future!

Jon and Andrea L. in Pittsburgh

Dear Heloise: I used to have a habit of "pumping" my mascara wand until my sister told me this just pumps air into the container, thus drying out my mascara.

Ashley M., Roswell, N.M.

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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