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Appreciate the opossum

Dear Heloise: OPOSSUMS are awesome! We learned about opossums in school. They are marsupials, which means they are born underdeveloped, and then they complete their growth in their mother’s pouch. Kangaroos and koalas also are marsupials.

An opossum is the size of a house cat, is nocturnal and lives in the forest. If you see one at night, just let it be. The opossum is looking for food, including ticks, mice, other small animals and plants.

An opossum is harmless, won’t bite you, RARELY carries rabies and actually is quite beneficial to the environment, gobbling up all those insects. Opossums live about two years and grow to anywhere from 5 to 15 pounds.

“Playing possum” is not a game to the animal; an opossum’s body can physiologically shut down in response to fear.

I want to ask your readers to appreciate the opossum! — Jennifer S., age 10, in Texas

PET PAL

Dear Readers: Meet Jackson, Melinda B.’s new furry family member! She adopted him recently; he is half Lab and half Saint Bernard. He’s a real sweetie, Melinda says, and Jackson is already a certified therapy dog. Melinda and Jackson are in Whittier, California.

To see these two, visit www.Heloise.com and click on “Pet of the Week.” Do you have a furry and funny family member? Email a picture and description to Heloise@Heloise.com. — Heloise

A BIG FAN

Dear Heloise: I live in an area where summer temperatures can exceed 100 degrees for days in a row. Using the ceiling fan makes my house feel cooler.

My question is this: Should I turn off the fans for a few hours each day to let them “rest,” or is it OK to let them operate 24/7? — Sarah P., Bakersfield, Calif.

Sarah, operating a ceiling fan is incredibly cheap, even if your ceiling fan has a light on it. No light on the fan costs as little as $10 per month, to around $30 per month for one with a light.

But turn the fan off when you are not in the room, for safety’s sake.

And did you know that the blades of the ceiling fan should go counterclockwise in summertime to force the air down and cooler? — Heloise

KIWI FRUIT 411

Dear Readers: The kiwi is a delicious, beautiful green summer fruit. About the size of a pingpong ball, the kiwi is actually a fuzzy berry originally from China. It arrived here in the United States in 1904, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (www.USDA.gov).

A kiwi has about 65 calories. Try it out! — Heloise

A CUT IN TIME

Dear Heloise: I keep a pair of scissors next to my chair that I read the paper in every day. I cut out articles of interest, ads, etc., when I read them.

This saves me from going back through the paper later to find them. Just be sure everyone has read the paper before you start cutting! — Sharon in Florida

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Dear Heloise: This is in response to your published letter from Samantha H. regarding an RV TRIP TO ALASKA with her two boys.

While you gave excellent advice, here is some additional information for her: First of all, this is the trip of a lifetime. Does she plan on using the Alaska Highway (formerly called the Alcan) to go there? I highly recommend it. There are plenty of interesting places to stop along the way, like Liard Hot Springs, which is a great place to rest for a day, or the Sign Post Forest, which will take about an hour to see. The Alaska Highway is not just a road to get to Alaska; it’s an experience in itself.

However, they need to gas up whenever they see a gas station — even if they have half a tank! Gas stations are few and far between. — Judy V., Waynesboro, Va.

Judy, that’s a very good idea to make certain they aren’t stranded in a remote area. To that I would also like to add that an emergency road kit with flares and flashing lights might come in handy. Better safe than sorry. — Heloise

LIFE IN PARIS

Dear Heloise: We want to live in Paris for about six months, just to have that experience. The question is, How do we get started? — Peter and Jim, La Jolla, Calif.

Peter and Jim, first, you’ll probably have to book a place to stay before you go, but I warn you, finding an apartment in Paris is a daunting task! Go online and search every website. You might want to contact an agency to look for a place you can afford. However, do not pay before you go. Get a map of Paris and plan your days around sightseeing and meeting expats in cafes. Be sure you have travel insurance. You can find a wealth of information online, so do your research in advance, and let family know where you are and when you’ll be back. — Heloise

EASY CLEANUP

Dear Heloise: My wife complained when I trimmed my beard because I left a mess in the sink. Now I use newspaper, spread over the sink and counter (one wide, two-page sheet will do). After I trim, I just fold up the newspaper and toss it away. — M.J., Warren, Vt.

DARK ELBOWS

Dear Heloise: My elbows are clean but dark. I hate it! What can I do to lighten them? — Ruth in Minnesota

Ruth, first, use a loofah or stiff body brush with lots of soap to scrub your elbows in a circular motion while you shower or bathe, but do not break the skin. Next, cut a lemon in half and rub on the area for about five minutes per elbow, pat dry and use lotion on your elbows. Repeat if necessary. — Heloise

MEDS BY REQUEST

Dear Heloise: My husband and I keep a file of each of our medications on our cellphones. When at a doctor appointment, we can simply hand the list to the nurse. They appreciate it. — Marie, via email

EDITOR’S NOTE: Send your great money-saving or timesaving hint to to Heloise at P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, TX 78279-5000, Fax to 1-210-HELOISE, or email to Heloise@Heloise.com. She can’t answer your letter personally but will use the best hints received in her column.