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Annie’s Mailbox: Neighbors ruining quiet retirement

Dear Annie: I retired from the Navy after 30 years of service. Many of those years were spent at sea, so I was looking forward to spending some stress-free time with my wife. It hasn’t happened.

Here’s the problem: We have owned our house for 30 years, but two years ago, new neighbors moved in. The one next door has a voice so loud, we can no longer enjoy our backyard. Her laugh is a deafening cackle. I put up a privacy fence, to no avail. It has only made her louder. Her husband, too.

The new neighbors across the street live their lives on the front porch, including changing the newborn’s dirty diapers in front of everyone. Shouldn’t this be done in the privacy of their home or backyard? What should I do? – Gonzo

Dear Gonzo: First try the direct, friendly approach. Talk to your next-door neighbors. Invite them over for coffee. Get to know them. Then ask if they can please keep the noise level down. Visit your neighbor across the street, and suggest they change the baby’s diapers inside the house so as not to gross out passers-by.

Also, check into the possibility of a local neighborhood or homeowners association that helps mediate disputes. Beyond that, there are limits to what you can do without creating additional problems. Try to ignore the neighbor with the diapers, and consider fans or other white noise devices when you are using your yard.

Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to anniesmailbox@, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 5777 W. Century Blvd., Ste. 700, Los Angeles, CA 90045.

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