It's been my habit to devote columns to reader comments twice a year, in January and July. I call it The Followup Files.

I like to think of it as a chance for loyal readers to debate me and berate me for the stands HouseWorks Central has taken during the previous six months, the opinions expressed here, the tips and hints offered in hopes of paving the road ahead for the brave souls fighting the homeownering wars.

This would have been one such column.

But it's not.

Apparently, HouseWorks hasn't been ticking off enough people to warrant calls in on the carpet.

I'm a little surprised. Amazed, actually.

As a matter of fact, the sole gripe I can recall since January was when HouseWorks pointed out that leftover lawn fertilizer could be used as a substitute for salt by those trying to make icy sidewalks less perilous to passersby.

The complaint was such liquified fertilizer might make its way through storm sewers and to nearby waterways, promoting the growth of algae that could endanger native wildlife.

To which I say: Just how much leftover fertilizer do you have?

The supply at the HouseWorks Project House amounts to perhaps a quart a year. And once it's done its job of of slushifying (it doesn't really "melt") the ice, it seeps into the surrounding lawn where, if it contributes to any floral growth at all, it's of the spurge and dandelion variety.

Even so, it's better for the yard than salt, which leaves brown edges along the walks the next spring.

And, of course, taking advantage of leftovers of any sort always appeals to my frugal (some would say cheap) nature.

Perhaps during the coming months, there will be fewer trips down memory lane. Perhaps there will be fewer flights of fancy columns about what it takes to be a quality neighbor, what techniques remain for me to master, what to do about the bunnies. Perhaps, instead, I'll write something to tick you off.

Meanwhile, here's an unrelated tidbit I've been saving to pass along.

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The time was when I got office mail every day — most of it news releases. Now all that comes through the ether, daily darkening my email box.

Most of it, frankly, I ignore, deleting it as quickly as it appears on my screen. But every now and then, something catches my eye. Late last summer was one such time.

"It is a product that could start some trash talk throughout the neighborhoods and in homes nationally," the release read. "Until now, garbage cans … were seen as useful, of course, but very ugly and utilitarian."

That changes now with (drum roll) Garbage Pantz.

Honest, gang, now you can buy stretchy garments for your trash cans, coveralls with seasonal and holiday themes, party designs, sports logos, camouflage (for the stealth dumper, I assume) and even recycling symbols.

But my favorite Garbage Pantz by far were the blue jeans trash can cover — complete with the company logo on its faux belt buckle.

Check it out at www.garbagepantz.com.

(Send your questions to HouseWorks, P.O. Box 81609, Lincoln, Neb. 68501 or email houseworks@journalstar.com.)

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