Dear Heloise: When I moved three years ago, I discovered that many of my PHOTOGRAPHS were all smashed together and inseparable. I tried to "tear" a couple apart and unfortunately completely ruined them. Do you have the solution? -- Nancy A. in Houston
Nancy, I don't know if I have the "solution," but I have a few hints to try. First, you can try freezing them. Just place the photographs in a plastic bag and put it in the freezer for a few days. This might dry them enough to allow you to gently peel them apart.
Second, depending on the photos, you may be able to get them apart by soaking them in warm (not hot) water. Try with only a few first to be sure that this doesn't harm them. Let them "swim" for a minute or two, then see if you can gently separate them (be careful not to damage). If you can't, let them soak for a few more minutes and repeat. When they are apart, lay them on paper towels faceup to dry.
Another suggestion is to trim down the photos, if possible, to remove the areas that are stuck together.
However, if they are very old or really meaningful to you, you should take them to a photo shop or call a museum in your area for some suggestions. -- Heloise
Dear Heloise: I save the little salt packages that come in the plastic silverware packets from restaurants. When we travel, we take them with us to use when we cook. -- A Reader, via email
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Dear Heloise: I never discard the cardboard tubes left from paper towels. I stuff boots with them to stand them upright in my closet. If the boots are especially flimsy, I'll use a pair of full rolls of paper towels.
The best tip is that I roll up scarves around the tubes, so that they are displayed in a drawer or on a shelf without wrinkles or creases. I can compact literally dozens of scarves that way, yet they're handy to pick which one I want on the run. -- Margaret in North Little Rock, Ark.
Phone call waiting
Dear Heloise: In response to the person who answers the phone for an agency, it is correct that you should be prepared to give information to speed up the process. On the other side, after you receive the message "All operators are busy. Your call is important to us. Please hold," push your speaker button. You can hear when an operator comes back on the line, and the advantage is that you don't get a cramp in your arm and hand from holding the phone. You can use paper and pen to do something else rather than sit and listen to the music or commercial. -- A Reader, via email
This is my trick, too! I never get on the phone without something to read or notes to make. -- Heloise