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DEAR ABBY: I've had it up to here with my crabby next-door neighbor. She grows vegetables in her garden -- squash and pumpkins at this time of year. Our properties are separated by a wire fence.

A few days before Halloween last year, a friend brought her two grandsons, who are 4 and 6, for a visit. They were excited to find a pumpkin in my yard that weighed about 10 pounds and managed to get it into my house because they wanted to make a jack-o'-lantern. No sooner did I reach for the phone to tell my neighbor what they had done than she came banging at my door accusing the boys of theft! To make peace, I handed the pumpkin to her with my apologies.

This morning I noticed two pumpkins have tendrils that have crept through the fence and are now growing on my property. More than one person has told me, "They're on your property, so they belong to you." Another has said that if my tree grows over her property, she has the right to trim the branches. Ergo: I get to keep the pumpkins. I think a fair solution is to keep one pumpkin and give her the other. But "Crabby Cathy" might have other ideas. Before this gets ugly again, what do you say? -- PUMPKIN PILFERER IN PETALUMA, CALIF.

DEAR P.P.: Your "crabby" neighbor was correct. Your friend's grandsons did help themselves to her pumpkin, and it was wrong. You and your friend should both have apologized to the woman when you realized they had purloined the pumpkin, returned it and taken the kids to the store to buy one they could cut up. If you pull the trick you're planning, it won't necessarily be a treat. You may escalate an already unpleasant situation beyond pumpkin season, and I don't recommend it.


DEAR ABBY: I volunteer for a group that supports a cause close to my heart. Our group supports the local chapter in any way we can, and we're currently preparing for a fundraiser.

In an effort to get donations I have contacted some large national businesses and some small local ones. I try to send an email if I can, so I won't interrupt the owner during business hours and get an answer either when business is slow or after hours.

Many of the small businesses have not responded, and it has been well over a month since I contacted them. Would it be rude to contact them again to ensure they received my original message, or would it be better if I went in person to talk to someone? I understand not every business can afford to donate, but having a definite answer would be helpful. -- WELCOMING DONATIONS

DEAR WELCOMING DONATIONS: I have always believed the personal touch is the best, particularly when you're putting a "touch" on someone for money. Businesses are often solicited for donations by mail and email, and the requests usually go straight to the trash. By paying a call on these businesses, if only to schedule an appointment so you can talk, you may have better luck.

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