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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: About a year ago, when I was five months pregnant, I found hidden pictures of my husband and his former girlfriend. These weren't just ordinary pictures -- they were very graphic sex pictures. I was devastated. I thought maybe he had forgotten about them, but when I confronted him, he admitted going down to the basement on occasion to look at them.

I know that he has not even spoken to her for years, so why would he take a chance to keep such pictures hidden in our house?

He is a wonderful husband and a great father to our two children. I really do trust him, but I am still upset a year later.

He has told me over and over that he is sorry, and I have forgiven him, but I just can't get this out of my head. I think about it all the time and have become very insecure.

Please print your reply as opposed to a personal reply, as he may get the mail first and think I am crazy for still having this hang-up. Sign me ... INSECURE

DEAR INSECURE: The timing of your discovery could not have been more unfortunate. But since he hasn't spoken to this woman in years and is a wonderful, trustworthy husband and a great father, you would be wise to quit torturing yourself over the incident. If you feel the need to dwell on something, count your blessings and dwell on them.

DEAR ABBY: I remodel houses for the Veterans Administration. I happen to be female, but I can lay flooring, hang Sheetrock, paint, wallpaper -- anything except electrical wiring.

I make frequent trips to hardware stores and lumberyards. Because I am small, my husband accompanies me to do the lifting and loading. Clerks in these stores frequently ignore me, but offer to help my husband. If I ask a question, the clerks invariably direct their answer to my husband.

Sometimes my husband will tell the clerk to talk to me, and sometimes I step between my husband and the clerk, smile and say, "I am the carpenter and the buying customer." The older male salesclerks are more set in their notions about women doing this kind of work, so I prefer female or young male clerks who are accepting of a female carpenter.

Forgive my bragging, but I also do crossword puzzles in ink. -- LADY CARPENTER IN LOUISIANA

DEAR LADY CARPENTER: Gloria Allred would love you. You have broken the gender barrier, making it easier for other women to go where females formerly feared to tread. More power to you!

DEAR READERS: About 20 years ago, a man named Howard Singer came to my office to repair a television set. Observing all the mail that was being handled by my small staff of secretaries, he said, "My wife would be perfect for such a job; she was a top-notch secretary for many years."

"Have her stop by the office for an interview," I suggested. Well, to make a long story short, Sylvia stopped by. I interviewed her, and gave her about a dozen letters to answer -- and the sample was ample!

Sylvia Singer had uncommon common sense and wit, and she was a marvelous addition to the Dear Abby staff until she retired four years ago.

She passed away on Feb. 8 -- leaving a brokenhearted husband and a small army of friends and admirers, including me.

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