Dear Annie: My husband, "Ken," has been self-employed for 25 years. He owns two large trailers and has always parked them in our driveway. However, in the past two months, we've had visits from the police department nearly every night. A neighbor we have never met keeps reporting us. He complains that when my husband gets home from work, he sometimes parks his truck with one tire resting in the dirt.
A city ordinance requires us to have the section where we park either rocked or paved. We can't afford it right now. Times have been really tough. Ken tries very hard to park our trailers and truck in our driveway without touching any grass, but it's difficult to do. The police have been sympathetic, saying the neighbor is targeting us. They know him as the local troublemaker. He has a view of our driveway from his backyard and watches it all the time.
We are honest, hardworking people and wouldn't harm a soul, but this situation has become personal. Yesterday, we asked the police officer to file a neighbor nuisance report. We don't know what else to do. I can't sleep, and I'm scared for my family. I have no idea what else this man is capable of. I'm ready to have a restraining order placed against him, but as far as I know, he doesn't approach our house. He only watches it, which creeps me out even more. Can we do anything? — Illinois Neighbor
Dear Illinois: Your unkind, nosy neighbor has way too much time on his hands. He can watch your house from a distance all day long if he wishes, and as long as you keep violating a city ordinance, he will keep reporting you. First, see whether there is a neighborhood association that could help the two of you resolve this. Sometimes, such neighbors simply crave attention and need to feel important. Then start saving your pennies to enlarge the driveway area.
Dear Annie: My friend "Lonnie" smokes both tobacco and marijuana in the presence of her young child. Anytime I mention the subject and tell her I don't support her smoking, she completely ignores me. I feel terrible being associated with a person who can't see the effect tobacco and drug use will have on her child. I often wonder what will happen when her daughter realizes that her entire schedule is based around Mommy's smoke break.
I am ready to move on from this tainted friendship, but hate the thought of never spending quality time with Lonnie's little girl. She is always put on the back "burner." Any suggestions? — Burned-Out Friend
Dear Friend: Lonnie is addicted. Quitting is too difficult for her, and she doesn't want to be lectured about it. She is unlikely to admit that she values her smoking above her child's health. Is there a father in the picture? Would he do anything about this? Would you be willing to report Lonnie for possession? Regardless, please stick around in order to keep an eye on the child. Offer to baby-sit. Take her to your home or to the park as often as you can. We hope Lonnie will soon realize the damage she is doing and shape up.
Dear Annie: "Saskatoon" asked whether it was rude for someone to leave the TV on while others were visiting. There could be another reason besides rudeness.
I am the caregiver for someone who keeps the TV on all day. Unfortunately, people don't realize she has dementia and is mostly deaf. Since she cannot understand conversations going on around her and becomes more confused if asked to participate in them, the TV provides a safe and comfortable haven.
Please help your readers understand that there may be other reasons why someone keeps the TV on, and the caregivers are the ones who would appreciate a visit with conversation. — New Hampshire
Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to email@example.com, or write to: Annie's Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. To find out more about Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.