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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: My mother and I have been reading your column for years and we value your opinion.

She and I were discussing a common courtesy. The example we used was saying "Good morning," or "How are you?" to everyone, including people you don't like.

Mother says she does this all the time -- it makes her feel good, and lets people know that she acknowledges their presence.

I say that although it makes her feel good, it is hypocritical to do so, as it gives the people she doesn't like the wrong impression and encourages continued conversation she may not want.

We would like your opinion. -- BETTY IN CARLSBAD, N.M.

DEAR BETTY: Saying "Good morning" or "Good afternoon" or "Good evening" is a gracious, friendly greeting. However, some people say, "How are you?" intending it as only a greeting, but it may be taken literally, and in return one may get a litany of symptoms. So it's safer to stick with "Good morning," "Good afternoon" and "Good evening."

DEAR ABBY: I'm 39, and have been divorced for two years after a 14-year childless marriage of misery. I live alone in a tiny trailer two doors up from my father's house. I own and manage a 200-acre farm, which is all that's left after a tedious five-year divorce settlement. My finances are horrendous, but I've managed without borrowing from my dad or any other family member.

My mother died when I was 14; I did all of the housework and helped with the younger siblings. I followed in my father's footsteps and majored in agriculture in college. We have always gotten along and I've always enjoyed spending time with Dad.

So why does my father continue to allow my ex-husband to live rent-free in his house ever since our separation and all through the long divorce? Abby, I'm within shouting distance and eating roadkill to stay financially viable. My ex went overseas for a while, but predictably, he lost his job and now he's right back at Dad's place -- even though he has family in another part of the state.

I just can't understand my father's behavior. What do you think of this, Abby? -- REALLY HURT IN SCRANTON, PA.

DEAR REALLY HURT: Under the circumstances, I think your father's behavior is weird. If you want to understand his motives, ask him.

DEAR ABBY: Our neighbors hire house sitters who slam doors, take the garbage out late at night, and party. They also use the Jacuzzi from midnight to 2 a.m., inviting guests to come sit with them and party with loud laughing and talking. (The Jacuzzi is next to our bedroom.)

We have no problems with these neighbors, but we immediately know when they leave town because that's when the partying begins.

How can we fix this problem? We'd rather hear dogs barking. At least dogs usually bark for a reason. These house sitters have absolutely no consideration for anyone but themselves, and my husband and I are fed up. Your advice would be greatly appreciated. -- HAD ENOUGH IN SEAL BEACH, CALIF.

DEAR HAD ENOUGH: Inform your neighbors about their house sitters' noisy partying in their absence. That way, your neighbors can lay down some ground rules the next time they plan a trip.

Also, ask them for a telephone number where they can be reached should their next house sitters create a disturbance.

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.)

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