Dear Sun Spots: Can you please tell me if red maple trees are tapped for sap? Also, I need the address for Boston Mutual Life Insurance Co. in Massachusetts. All I have is Boston Mutual. There’s no street address given on my papers.

Also, I’m hoping that someone will have plastic canvas books that they would be willing to swap for four brand-new books. I am retired and buy books because I have to send away for them. I don’t drive, so it’s hard to get to stores out of town. Thanks for any help. Please call me at 782-6953. Call before 10:30 a.m. or after 3:30 p.m. – Muriel Sawyer, No Town.

Answer:
Sun Spots spoke with Joe Suga, a director of the Maine Maple Producers Association, who was happy to share his syrup knowledge with column readers. Suga says red maples can be tapped. He says it’s cooked the same way but has a smaller sugar content and must be boiled longer than the sugar maples. Sun Spots wondered about the difference in taste?

“You ask 10 people, you’ll get 10 answers,” he says. However, Suga doesn’t notice any difference.

According to http://biology.clc.uc.edu, the trees suitable for tapping include all of the maple family: sugar, silver and red maples as well as box elder. In addition, other species of trees which reportedly may be tapped, include walnut, hickories, sycamore and sweet birch. Trees to be tapped should be at least 1½ feet in diameter, have large healthy crowns and be well exposed to the sun.

Regarding your second question, you can write to Boston Mutual Life Insurance Co. at 120 Royall St., Canton, MA 02021, or talk to them via phone at 800-669-2668. You can also locate them online at www.bostonmutual.com.

Dear Sun Spots: Please tell me how to get an awful smell out of books that have been packed away for years. They not only have a musty smell, but a small mouse decided to die in the box they were in, so you can imagine the odor. You do such a great job helping people, we thought of you right away. Thanks for always being there. – M. M, Lisbon Falls.

Answer:
Sun Spots is not sure what will get the smell of a dead mouse out. You may be out of luck in this particular case. Among the tips previously offered are:

Spraying each volume with Fabreeze, which is available at supermarkets and department stores. One particular reader wrapped each volume in a plastic bag for 48 hours – no smell. Sun Spots located a recipe which may also assist you:

Fabreeze – homemade recipe from www.recipetzaar.com: Ingredients: 2 cups fabric softener, 2 cups baking soda, 4 cups warm water, or 1 cup water and 1 cup vodka. Method: Mix and spray. The fabric softener solution smells great, but you have to put up with the baking soda clogging. The vodka solution gets rid of odors wonderfully.

In addition, according to www.thriftyfun.com, you might want to consider taking a large paper bag and putting a layer of activated charcoal (not quick light for your grill, but the granules you can purchase for use in fish tanks) on the bottom. Then lay two sheets of typing paper, followed by the book, fold over the top of the bag and wait five days before opening. Another tip offered is to put the offending book in a sealed plastic bag of dry cat litter. Depending on how bad the book smells, the results are reported to be good as new without any chemical smells. Try a couple of days for medium smell, maybe as long as three weeks for a really bad smell. Perhaps there are some readers out there willing to share their tips with you.

This column is for you, our readers. It is for your questions and comments. There are only two rules: You must write to the column and sign your name (we won’t use it if you ask us not to). Letters will not be returned or answered by mail, and telephone calls will not be accepted. Your letters will appear as quickly as space allows. Address them to Sun Spots, P.O. Box 4400, Lewiston, ME 04243-4400. Inquiries can also be posted at www.sunjournal.com in the Advice section under Opinion on the left-hand corner of your computer screen. Or you can e-mail your inquiries to [email protected]


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.