Dear Readers: Here is this week’s SOUND OFF, about checkout lanes at grocery stores:

“Why is it that grocery stores build 30 checkout lanes, and they open only four or five of them? I constantly have to wait in line at one of two open lanes, while 25 others sit there unused. Even when it is a busy time of year, like around the holidays, they may open a few more, but never all of them. So why do they even have them, if they are not going to be used? -- A Reader in Texas”

-- Heloise


Dear Readers: Other uses for upright, cylindrical potato-chip cans:

* Keep uncooked spaghetti in one.

* Ship cookies in one.

* Use to hold straws.

* Make into a piggy bank.

* Store crochet or knitting needles.

-- Heloise


Dear Heloise: I know that you have published how-to articles that have included removing water spots from finished furniture. Would you please share that with me again? -- Ed, via e-mail

Happy to help! Mix a little baking soda and nongel white toothpaste together and rub on the spot. Make sure to use a nongel toothpaste without whitening ingredients. It takes some time for the spots to disappear; just be patient. When they are gone, polish or wax the wood. Be sure to test in an unseen area before trying this. Baking soda is one of my all-time favorite household products. I have compiled a pamphlet with all of my favorite uses. To order, send $5 and a long, self-addressed, stamped (66 cents) envelope to: Heloise/Baking Soda, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001. Did a young artist mark on your washable walls with crayons? Put a little baking soda on a damp sponge and rub the area. -- Heloise


Dear Heloise: I get those monthly mailers filled with coupons. I don’t use most of them, but they often have coupons for discounts at restaurants or for things like carwashes or oil changes. For coupons like these, I keep them in a plastic zippered bag in my glove box. I never know when I am going to have the time to stop for a carwash or oil change, or when we will eat at a particular restaurant. Now they are always available, and I don’t lose out on saving some money. -- A Reader, via e-mail


Dear Heloise: I read in my paper today the hint about carrying pins (Heloise here: A reader wrote in about keeping extra safety pins on the hem of her skirt). I like what I do better. I carry extra safety pins on my key rings. -- Josie in West Virginia


Dear Heloise: Before I place big trash bags out for pickup, I find that tearing open one of the small daily bags of dirty cat litter also deters scavengers, like buzzards and raccoons. -- Jeff, via e-mail

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