DEAR ABBY: My future son-in-law recently moved in with us for financial reasons. He's 27 and a nice guy, but he's a habitual knuckle-cracker. He cracks every finger of each hand twice (back and forth) every half-hour or so. He also cracks his neck and wrists, but less frequently. As an added bonus, my daughter is also beginning to crack her knuckles now.
I am sensitive to noise (loud chewing, gum cracking), but I don't want to cause him more stress (he's also a nail-biter), so I keep my mouth shut. It's driving me crazy! What do you suggest? -- PATTY IN PENNSYLVANIA
DEAR PATTY: Knuckle-cracking, like nail-biting, is a nervous habit that has been known to defuse anxiety. While it may be crazy-making to listen to, unless it's a symptom of an underlying nervous disorder, the practice is relatively harmless. (In some people, it has caused swelling of the joints or swelling of the hands, so mention that to your daughter.)
Because you are sensitive to noises -- which your daughter should already know -- talk to her and her fiance and ask that when the impulse strikes, they walk out of earshot. Because they are living under your roof, they should respect your request.
DEAR ABBY: I married my husband more than a year ago, and I want a child more than anything in the world. We have been trying since our wedding, but every month I get depressed when I find out I'm not pregnant.
Everyone says I shouldn't think about it, and I try not to. But I am becoming more and more depressed with each month that passes. Do you have any advice for dealing with these feelings? Or something I can occupy my time with rather than obsessing? (It sure isn't helping the situation!) -- ANXIOUS IN FLORIDA
DEAR ANXIOUS: What everyone is telling you is far less important than what your OB/GYN has to say about your situation. Because you have been married for a year without being able to conceive, both you and your husband should be talking to doctors. You may have a correctable condition that prevents you from becoming pregnant, or he may have a low sperm count. Distraction isn't what you need right now; what you need are answers.
DEAR ABBY: I have a small home-based business making baking extracts that I sell at our local farmers' market. Occasionally, a patron will look over my stock and ask me how I make them. I am unsure how to answer the question in a way that won't have a negative impact on future sales.
Baking extracts are not difficult to make, but the process is time-consuming and the ingredients are expensive. I don't want to give away the details of my production process, yet I don't know how to say so without seeming rude. Any ideas? -- PERPLEXED IN THE EAST
DEAR PERPLEXED: Smile at the questioner and reply, "That would be giving away trade secrets -- but I can share one of them: I make them all with love."
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