Carpe-ing Every Diem

By Annie Lane

November 20, 2019 4 min read

Dear Annie: My wife and I are both 86 years old and retired from meaningful careers. We have a very happy marriage, wonderful children and grandchildren and are blessed with good health and mobility.

We live in our own home, subscribe to two theatres and the symphony, attend our grandchildren's school performances and athletic events, take part in an exercise class, enjoy traveling and are active in our church. I am the volunteer director of a community choir of 25 men and women in our own age bracket, and I serve on two boards. We also enjoy reading and other hobbies.

These specific activities may not be for everyone, but for us, these activities — plus our social connections and religious faith — stave off morbid thoughts of the future and are largely responsible for our continuing health, happiness and sense of fulfillment. — Grateful Octogenarians

Dear Grateful Octogenarians: Congratulations on working to have a rich and fulfilling life. It's not always easy for people to build such a life.

Social connections, however you find them — hobbies, church, temple, children or school — are a key to happiness. We are social beings; having social connections is part of how we thrive as humans. In Johann Hari's book "Lost Connections," he talks about helping his depression by finding more social connections. Studies show that they promote happiness and longevity.

Dear Annie: I read your column this morning and wondered if my neighbor had written to you. While I have a magnolia tree in the middle of my yard, it only drops leaves. These leaves blow into my neighbor's yard. Rather than cut them with the lawnmower, they rake the leaves into piles back in my yard. I guess they forgot the damage that their tree did when it fell during Hurricane Katrina and its roots ripped up my fence. I'd appreciate your thoughts on the leaves. — Neighbor

Dear Neighbor: The law is pretty clear. If leaves fall onto your property, even if they're from a tree on your neighbor's property, they've become your problem. The law generally considers leaves a "natural product." Even if your neighbor's leaves clog your home's gutters or smother your grass, you can't make a legal claim. But that doesn't mean you can't make a judgment about your neighbor's inconsiderateness. Changing approaches, you could reach out a neighborly hand to try to be friendly — if not friends — and find a solution together.

Dear Annie: I just read the letter about the 90-year-old farm-working sister whose brother is concerned about her safety. Please let your know your readers about emergency alert necklaces. I got one for my mom, and it greatly increased everyone's peace of mind. With the push of a button, she's able to contact emergency responders, who can communicate with her and send help immediately.

People often don't like carrying a heavy cellphone with them, but these devices are hands-free. They can even detect when a person falls — without the person pushing the button! Just choose an alert device carefully. They're wonderful! — Faithful Reader

Dear Faithful Reader: An emergency alert necklace sounds like a great idea. Thank you for your suggestion!

"Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie" is out now! Annie Lane's debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to [email protected]

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