Dear Amy: We have just moved into a new semi-detached home and have not yet met the neighbor in the adjoining house.
We’ve noticed that there is a trio of plump and happy squirrels who spend most of their time on a small tree just outside of our window. Our yard and flower beds are constantly littered with hundreds of store-bought peanut shells. It is s a disgusting mess.
Amy, there is not a single moment that I’ve looked out the window and not seen a squirrel on our roof, tree, or lawn, and they almost always have a peanut in their mouth. They are also digging our lawn to bits.
It seems that our wall-sharing neighbor is buying peanuts to feed the squirrels, and by the looks of it, she buys in bulk!
Not only is this making a mess of our lawn, but I am worried about our children picking these up (we have two toddlers).
We were also looking forward to having a large garden in the summer, and although any garden can have its fair share of pests, this is over the top.
I think the neighbor should have to clean up the atrocious mess on our lawn and stop feeding these pests, but having that be our first-ever communication doesn’t make for a friendly start.
Should we make a show of if by going out with gloves and garbage bags, trying to cover the tree, and leave squirrel repellent bottles outside? Or do we knock on the door and ask them to stop?! The squirrels are living and feasting exclusively on our side of the lawn! — Going Nuts in Niagara Falls
Dear Going Nuts: You should introduce yourselves to your neighbors. Ask them about the neighborhood, about trash and recycling pickup, etc.
In the course of your conversation, you should also ask them what they are doing about the squirrel infestation. Ask if these rodents have been scampering across their roof, gnawing on the woodwork, and chewing through their wiring (squirrels love the rubber coating on wiring, by the way).
Depending on how your neighbors respond, you can simply make it very clear that you are going to do everything you can to eradicate or relocate this trio. Say, “If you are feeding them, we hope you will stop.” Then, you can take all of the steps you mention. You should also consider trapping these pals (the squirrels, not the neighbors) and relocating them (again, the squirrels, not the neighbors) to a far-off habitat.
Even though they are contributing to it, I don’t agree that the neighbors should have to clean up the mess these squirrels leave on your lawn.
Dear Amy: I have three adult children. I raised them to thank people for gifts. Their friends, however, do not.
I have given generously to these young people, for wedding registries, baby showers, etc. A few have thanked me, verbally or in a written note, but from the rest, nothing. This includes gifts that were on a registry, which the recipient clearly indicated they wanted.
A very sweet, kind, well-educated young man told me once that he just didn’t acknowledge gifts, even if he likes it. He didn’t give me a reason.
My question is: Why?
Email/texting is easy, free, and instantaneous, unlike writing a note and having to pay postage and put it in a mailbox. It seems to be beneath them.
Any ideas? — The Giver
Dear Giver: I agree with you that thanking people is easier than ever. Simply taking a picture of the item and sending the picture with a texted message of “Thank you!” to the giver is sufficient, in my book.
If someone declares to you that he never thanks people for anything, then I think you should interpret this as a statement that he no longer wants to receive gifts.
I’m not sure if this is a trend; I can assert that this is a perennial frustration for many.
Dear Amy: I appreciate your annual column devoted to charities, but yet again you failed to suggest any charities benefitting animals! I find this lack of awareness and concern very upsetting. — Disappointed AGAIN
Dear Disappointed: As stewards to our animals, we have a duty to do everything we can to protect them. Throughout the year, I advocate for the needs of our animal friends and companions.
I don’t have a lack of awareness (and personally donate to my local shelter), but my “giving” column each year focuses on nonprofits that help humans.