Originally Published: September 5, 2017 6 a.m.
Dear Annie: We have some new neighbors, and our backyards are adjoining. We enjoy sitting out on our deck on nice evenings and enjoying the weather with a drink and snack.
Sometimes friends stop by. We are quiet and aren’t out late. Our neighbors have several young children, and they are outdoors all the time. We’re not thrilled with the constant noise, but we put up with it.
We’ve tried to remain friendly and polite. Recently, there’s a new issue: Our neighbors informed us that it’s “creepy and inappropriate” when we sit outside when the kids are out playing and that we shouldn’t be doing so because it makes them uncomfortable.
We’re sitting in our lounge chairs and not even facing their direction. We can’t put up a taller privacy fence or plant bushes because of a city ordinance, so if we can’t use our deck when the kids are outdoors, we won’t be able to use it at all.
We’re not sure what to do. We feel that we’re being bullied and that we’re doing nothing wrong, but if the family were to become angry and accuse us of something, our lives would be ruined.
We love this house but feel that our only option at this point is to move. However, that would leave the next owners in the same predicament.
I took some muffins over and tried to explain to the mother that we mean no harm to the children — that we’re just enjoying our deck on our property — and she asked me to leave, saying, “The kids will be home from school soon.”
I did visit our local police department to talk about the accusation, and an officer said we’d better just stay inside to prevent escalation.
But who’s to say these neighbors won’t decide (falsely) that we’re watching their kids through the windows? This whole situation makes us very uncomfortable, and we’re not sure what to do. — Housebound Through No Fault of Our Own in Iowa
Dear Housebound: Relaxing on the deck at dusk after a good dinner — that’s one of life’s simple pleasures. Don’t let the oddballs next door deprive you of that. You’ve done nothing wrong. If you want some privacy for your own peace of mind, try lining the side of your deck that faces them with large potted plants, or consider installing a canopy from which you could drape some curtains.
If they continue to harangue you, tell them you’ll stop sitting in your backyard when they show you the penal code that says you can’t.
Dear Annie: This is in response to “Louise A.,” who is having difficulty accepting the fact that she is old. I am also in my early 80s, and I can identify with her.
My husband and I were very active in our former community. My husband had a wonderful career in the medical field. We had a lovely home, and life was so exciting, but we were facing some health issues that demanded we, especially my husband, slow down. We made the decision to move to a wonderful senior independent living community, and we have never regretted it one minute.
There are many people living here who have the same issues we have. Every day brings blessings our way and also gives us many opportunities to bless others. Activities are planned for us. Meals are planned for us. And transportation is available for us if needed. There are all kinds of groups — bridge, mahjong, dominoes, exercising and more. There are painting classes. We have a well-stocked library, parties galore and church on Sundays. All of this is shared with people our age, and we are growing old beautifully together. My answer for “Louise” is to find that community near her and move in! Life is beautiful even in our last days on earth. — Marjorie in Tyler, Texas
Dear Marjorie: Thank you for sharing the great experiences your new community has offered you. It sounds as if you and your husband are living fun and full lives. Your positivity is contagious.
Send your questions for Annie Lane to firstname.lastname@example.org. To find out more about Annie Lane and read features by other Creators Syndicate columnists and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.