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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: Two years ago, my mother-in-law and father-in-law sold their home and moved next door to us. My husband gave her a set of keys to our house in case she has to get in for an emergency.

Since she received the keys, my mother-in-law walks right in without being invited. She even comes into our bedroom or bathroom to find me. I have no privacy anymore. I can't even take a shower without her walking in on me.

I have talked to my husband about this, and he makes excuses for her.

We can't plan to do anything without having to change or cancel our plans because of them.

I have told them both I would like some privacy, but it does no good. My mother-in-law calls at least six to 10 times a day just to see what I'm doing.

Abby, I need some advice on how to deal with this. I just want my life back with a little privacy. -- FED UP IN WEATHERFORD, TEXAS

DEAR FED UP: Install deadbolt locks on your front and back doors, and get an answering machine or the phone company message center to handle your calls. It may not resolve your problem completely, but it's a good beginning.

DEAR ABBY: I couldn't pass up the chance to respond to "Unappreciated in Long Beach," the lady whose husband never remarked on her delicious meals. Cooking is apparently in my genes, and for 25 years I prepared three meals a day for my husband. His packed lunches were the envy of his co-workers, and a dinner was never finished without his raving about the meal. It was an everyday occurrence.

All that good food apparently ruined his brain, because he decided to up and leave. He left me the house, the car, the bills and no money. He planned to leave on Thursday. He asked if I would consider fixing his dinner, letting him sleep at home and then send him off with a good breakfast, all for $100. I told him to stuff his money and made him leave on Wednesday. The clincher came when he said, "Well, dear, one thing I can say about you is that you're a damn good cook."

Say what? How about sticking by him after a job injury that he turned into a two-year "vacation"? What about staying with him through his job terminations, the bankruptcy, his drinking, and the 14 years of child care I did to help pay the bills that he couldn't? And all he can say is that I was a good cook? Had I been smart, I would have fixed him a last supper that would have had him pulling over at every rest stop between here and wherever he decided to go -- and kept his $100, too.

Tell "Unappreciated" to keep on cooking, and if he eats it, be satisfied. Being told you're a great cook doesn't amount to a hill of beans if your other qualities go unrecognized. These days I cook for my son when and if I want to. I no longer prepare meals the way my husband liked them. I don't have meat at every sitting, I use less salt, haven't had an egg in weeks and can't remember what a package of bacon looks like.

My financial picture is becoming brighter now that I'm not paying for his keep. I will soon look better and be healthier. He, in the meantime, will be in an early grave because of his 3-pack-a-day habit and his alcoholism. Am I happy? You can call me ... ECSTATIC IN GRESHAM, ORE.

DEAR ECSTATIC IN GRESHAM, ORE: Your letter gave me food for thought.

Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

4520 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64111; (816) 932-6600