Dear Amy: My neighbor picks flowers off of our trees/plants in the front yard.
The first time we caught her doing this, she told us she uses them for prayer and asked if it was OK.
This is becoming a daily routine. We hardly have any flowers left.
Today, I came out to find a whole branch missing off my plumeria tree. When asked about it she replied, “I picked a flower, and the branch broke off.” Those branches are very sturdy, the flowers need no force when picked, which makes me believe she did it on purpose.
I’m getting fed up but feel uncomfortable saying something since she uses the flowers for prayer.
What do you think I should do?
Keeper of Flowers
Dear Keeper: This may seem like a benign activity to the person doing it, but taking flowers from private property is theft. Your neighbor asked permission only after she was caught. You gave her permission, and now you are going to have to withdraw it.
Perhaps only an avid gardener would understand how truly disturbing this could be. (Gardening is my primary hobby, and, yes, it would bother me a great deal.)
Because you grow plumeria (a tropical plant), I infer that you live in a warm climate. You have invested in, tend, water, prune, and protect your plantings. Taking blossoms deprives you of the right to enjoy them. Breaking off a branch will wound the tree (and the gardener’s pride).
Many religions use flowers as part of prayer ceremonies, but maybe you also want to use these blooms for your own kind of worship. My point is that your neighbor’s use of these blooms is not more noble than yours.
Perhaps you could take her a potted geranium (their blooms tend to regrow quickly when plucked). Tell her, “Here is a plant for you as a gift from us. Do not take any more blooms from our yard. You do not have permission to do this anymore. Do you understand?”
There is no need to explain further.
Post a small sign near the edge of your yard saying “Private Property” as a little visual reminder that every time she wanders in, she is trespassing.
Dear Amy: My husband of two years has recently become interested in exploring Christianity.
He went to church as a child, but stopped going when he was a teen. He is now very concerned about what will happen after he dies. He says he wants to find “peace.”
Amy, I have no interest in going with him. I was baptized, but I never went to church as a child. I am not a believer and, to be honest, I don’t feel comfortable participating in organized religion.
I don’t think there is anything wrong with him going to church by himself or with another family member (we have one who keeps inviting us to their church).
Do I need to be a part of this? I feel like I will hate every minute of it and become resentful. But if I don’t go, will it ruin our marriage?
Dear Concerned: Your marriage should not be contingent on you forcing yourself to worship alongside your husband. I do suggest that you remain open to hearing about his experience. Ask him how the service went and what the topic of the sermon was, and perhaps attend special holiday services if he seems eager to share them with you.
The churchgoing experience will bring your husband into a belief system, as well as a new social system. Any time anyone forms new relationships, it could place a strain on the marriage, but the alternative (shadowing him out of fear that the marriage will be threatened) is a non-starter.
If he dives in and starts attending Bible study and joins church-centered social groups, you will discover that church activities are very time consuming. This might negatively affect your relationship, but his faith practice could also lead him to a more loving, compassionate and, yes, peaceful place.
Dear Amy: I was highly offended by your comment in a recent answer: “I love a good insurrection.” I gather you thought you were being cute, but since when is a violent uprising a good thing?
Dear Disgusted: I happened to compose that answer on the Fourth of July. There are any number of insurrections I would consider justified, including the one that helped to form this country. Other readers also reported being offended, and I apologize to those that were.
You can email Amy Dickinson at email@example.com or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.