Ask Ann Cannon: Here’s what’s in my mailbag

Ann Cannon

Well, well, well. I opened my mailbag and what did I spy with my little eye?

E-mails from readers with contrasting points of view about how to deal with issues ranging from rogue tree limbs to intrusive mothers-in-law to friends who make fun of friends for social distancing. My takeaway? Turns out there’s usually more than one solution to a problem — some of which may be even better than what I originally offered. (Seriously, you guys. I don’t try to give bad advice on purpose.) (But whatever.)

At any rate, I thought the following e-mails from readers were useful.

On tree limbs and so forth …

For the first time I am about to disagree with your advice. You expressed sympathy to the writer who complained about neighbors who trimmed “branches with lilacs and limbs with lovely leaves” that overhang their property.

Under historic property rights laws that go back to British common law, landowners have the rights to airspace over their property. People who plant trees and bushes that intrude on those rights should be ashamed of themselves. Trees and bushes can shed leaves, branches, pine needles, pine cones, sap, etc. onto property of others that require cleaning up. The property owner is thus stuck with a burden that he/she did not cause. Damage can also occur to an automobile left on a driveway overhung by trees.

Some property owners (like me) plant vegetable and flower gardens. When a neighbor plants a tree right along the property line, that reduces the amount of sunshine available for gardens. I prune overhang on an annual basis, having explained to my neighbors that it is my legal right to do so. One neighbor has a maple tree that is many decades old (it is at least three stories high). Every few years I request their permission to have an arborist enter their property to trim hangover. They always agree — perhaps because they are among the neighbors to whom I give fresh vegetables from my garden.

My message to people who wish to plant “lilacs and limbs with lovely leaves,” please plant alongside your residence, and not on property line.

On mothers tracking their adult children

I was dumbfounded by the letter writer asking how to go about turning off location sharing with his/her mother-in-law. Your suggestion is far too kind. They defined the tracking “agreement” in their letter when noting it was intended for the duration of the joint vacation. Any tracking beyond that is a gross violation of personal privacy.

The solution: Turn off your mother-in-law’s tracking capability. Period. Nothing need be said. Should have been done years ago. If the mother-in-law asks, point out that it had been intended as a tool for the vacation and nothing more. End of conversation. No other explanation is necessary.

And this —

Poor “Privacy Wanted”! I’d be creeped out too. Maybe PW could first discuss changing her location settings with her husband. Then, turn off all sharing except with him. I’d probably just do it and wait for mother-in-law to bring it up. When she does, I’d say that hubby and I decided to update our privacy and security settings. Reassure mother-in-law that she may call or text any time, and if she really needs to know where PW is, she can ask her son. This might make her realize how nosy she is.

On Social Distance Shaming

I love your advice almost all the time, but this time I’m stunned by your response to people whose friends ridicule and condemn them for social distancing. If your friends ridicule and condemn you for taking care of yourself, for trying to lose weight, exercising more, drinking less, getting help for your mental illness, going to rehab, wearing your seat belt, or social distancing during a pandemic — they aren’t just being unintentional or feeling guilty, they are NOT YOUR FRIENDS. Would you encourage your children to continue friendships with “friends” like that?

Ann Cannon is The Tribune’s advice columnist. Got a question for Ann? Email her at askann@sltrib.com or visit the Ask Ann Cannon page on Facebook.

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