DEAR ABBY: My husband and I returned to our hometown and bought a bungalow in a cute older neighborhood. The homes are close together, separated by a single driveway.
Our neighbors on both sides of us are smokers. They smoke on their front porches and flick their smoldering butts onto the driveway and yard. The ground is littered with them, which my two toddlers want to put into their mouths every time they go outside. Often I'll go out with a bag and collect the butts, but it's annoying having to pick up someone's easily discarded trash -- particularly trash that has been in someone's mouth.
My neighbors are pretty rough, and I'm afraid a confrontation could result in an escalation of the problem. Should I continue gathering up the butts and keep my mouth shut? Or should I just "butt out"? -- BOTHERED IN MISSOURI
DEAR BOTHERED: If you are concerned about a hostile reaction from your neighbors, do not approach them -- particularly if you're afraid that doing so could become confrontational. Instead, plant hedges or bushes between your property and theirs, and have your children play -- under your supervision -- in the backyard.
DEAR ABBY: My mom has three sisters, two of whom I am very close to and love dearly. The problem is the third sister, "Aunt Sandy." She had a falling out with Mom a few years ago and is now considered the black sheep of the family.
At my grandmother's funeral, I had the chance to sit and talk with her, and I didn't feel I was doing anything wrong. However, my mom told me later she was "hurt" because I had talked to Aunt Sandy knowing the family is upset with her. Mom said she'd appreciate it if I didn't do it again. I tried to explain that the way she feels about her sister shouldn't have anything to do with our relationship, but Mom refuses to understand. I want a connection with my Aunt Sandy without hurting my mom. Please help. -- WE'RE STILL RELATED
DEAR STILL RELATED: I wish you had told me in more detail why your mother is angry with Sandy, and why the rest of the family is cooperating in isolating her. However, you are an adult. Whom you choose to befriend is your business, not your mother's. If you wish to pursue a relationship with Aunt Sandy, you are free to do so. And if you don't want your mother to be "hurt," don't discuss it with her.
DEAR ABBY: I was walking to lunch a few days ago and approached the entrance of a restaurant a couple of seconds after a man approaching from the opposite direction. He was a gentleman and held the door for me. I said thank you and walked inside.
Even though he was there first, I wound up in front of him in a long line. Are there rules of etiquette for this? I felt a little awkward essentially cutting in line after he was so chivalrous. -- NICOLE IN DENVER
DEAR NICOLE: There is no rule of etiquette that dictates it, but you could have offered the gentleman a chance to be in line in front of you. However, if you did, he might have extended his chivalry further and refused.
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