Dear Heloise: When my mother was older and living alone, she came up with an excellent security idea. She went to the thrift store and bought a used pair of size 16 or 18 tennis shoes.

She got them a little dirty and left them on the porch outside her door. Anyone seeing them would hesitate before bothering her.

Jim B., Dana Point, Calif. Brilliant!


Dear Readers: How can we keep our pets safe around our holiday decorations? Here are a few suggestions:

Live plants such as holly and mistletoe can be ingested and cause stomach upset. Artificial plants are a better bet.

Don't hang shimmery tinsel. It catches the light, but cats like to catch it, too, and may ingest it, which can cause digestive problems.

Make sure the Christmas tree is secure and can't be knocked over and fall on your pets.

Real candles are an accident waiting to happen — look for flameless candles.

Be vigilant for loose wires and broken glass ornaments.

Holiday fun and safety for your pets can go together!


P.S. Fatty, spicy, rich, sugary foods and alcohol are not healthy and should be kept away from pets.

Dear Heloise: My wife and I enjoy going out for a date to a classy restaurant. Lately, we have been "serenaded" by the screams of at least one or more small children.

I suggested to the management that when families with children arrive, they should place them in the back area of the restaurant, away from the rest of the diners.

They tell me they can't do that. What can we do?

Robin and Diane M., Riverside, Calif.

Perhaps a call to a district manager could yield some solutions. Readers?


Dear Heloise: I have a surefire way to cut onions without tears: Before you start cutting onions, put on swim goggles. I don't mind looking a bit silly because I don't have any tears!

T.L., Omaha, Neb.

Dear Readers: In need of some holiday cheer? Perhaps a visit to these places is in order:

Garland, Texas

Santa Claus, Indiana

Eggnog, Utah

Partridge, Kansas Not feeling it? Head over to Humbug, Arizona!


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