Dear Annie: I don't want to continue to let two of my friends steal my time. One friend is the worst when it comes to this. She calls me at least twice a week. I believe that her husband does everything in the house -- cooking, shopping and all the driving -- because she has plenty of time to talk on the phone. This friend calls several other people, one after the other. I have told her I am always busy. I have a lot of grandchildren and great-grandchildren. I love them and care how they are doing. We call each other for a few minutes. We love to spend time with each other. I live alone. I cook, shop, do volunteer work once a week, read a bunch, watch a little TV, send get-well cards to the sick, see whether they need anything, etc. I have friends where I volunteer. I have friends at church. Time is so valuable. I like my time to count each day. I want to tell her she should call her grandchildren, read a book, watch a little TV. She shouldn't just sit on the phone. I am old -- older than she is. I may not be here tomorrow. Is there something wrong with me that I want my time to count?
It seems this one lady takes a lot of people's time. Doesn't she realize people are busy? I don't want to hear from her twice a week. I just don't. If she needed help or had a problem, I would help. But she just talks aimlessly. I would like to hear from her maybe once a month. Help! -- No State, No Name
Dear No State, No Name: Our time is our most precious resource, and you're wise to guard yours. But your friend is most likely lonely, so try not to let annoyance eclipse compassion when speaking with her about this issue. In a positive tone, share with her how time-consuming your daily routine, community activities and family relationships are, and let her know you're planning to spend more energy focusing on those things. Tell her you won't be around to talk so often but you'll still be thinking of her and be around if she needs you for anything serious. If she continues to call you just to pass the time, that's all right; you don't have to answer, and you don't have to feel guilty or angry about it, either.
Dear Annie: I just read the letter from "Put-Out Neighbor," whose neighbor's cats keep spraying on her property even though she's tried just about everything to deter them. I have two more ideas for her to try. She could buy motion-activated sensors that trigger water to spray or a horn to sound. She could aim this around the problem areas. I saw this on "My Cat From Hell," and it worked well. It didn't take long for the cats to steer clear. Another idea for her inside cats is to use sight blockers so her cats cannot see the cats outside. I hope this helps. -- A Fellow Cat Person
Dear Fellow Cat Person: I hadn't heard of any of these tricks! It sounds as if "Put-Out Neighbor" is ready to try anything to solve this problem, so I imagine she will give these a go. Thank you for writing.
"Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie" is out now! Annie Lane's debut book -- featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette -- is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to firstname.lastname@example.org.