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Dear Abby: I was surprised when it was announced in my church newsletter recently that an event was to conclude with the release of hundreds of balloons into the sky. It took some doing to explain that what goes into the sky eventually comes back down to earth.

I'm not an active environmentalist, but I have been involved with my daughters' Girl Scout troops for 10 years. We teach the girls to recycle, conserve and take care of Mother Earth.Balloons released into the air often travel many miles before returning to earth, and their effect on wildlife can be deadly. Animals eat the balloons, which cause intestinal blockage and eventual starvation. They also get tangled up in the strings and, unable to free themselves, die a slow and painful death because they can't reach food or water. Also, balloons are not biodegradable. Those colored bits of shriveled plastic you see littering the beaches are going to be there for a long time, if they don't get caught in some fish's throat first.

I read in my local newspaper that some states - New York, Connecticut, Florida, Louisiana, Tennessee, New Jersey Kentucky, Virginia and California - have enacted laws specifically to curb or eliminate the release of balloons.

Abby, if you print my letter, you will be educating many readers who do not realize the potential harm they are causing when they release those pretty balloons. It would be so much better to keep them and deliver them to a nursing home instead.

- Friend of the Environment,

Burnsville, Minn.

Dear Friend: I'm delighted to help you spread the word to my many readers who are committed to preserving our environment. We all should be.

Dear Abby: I am a semiprofessional photographer. I charge for some of my work, but most of it is done for fun.

Recently I attended the wedding reception of some close friends, and I shot four rolls of film (about 100 photos) at the event. I had the film processed and printed, and I printed labels for the backs of the pictures giving the date and names of those in the photos. I put them in a wedding album and gave it to the bride and groom as a wedding gift.

A friend of theirs invited me to her wedding reception. It was unspoken, but understood, that I would take pictures there. I paid for four rolls of film. However, since the bride works for a photo lab, I thought she could get the film processed and printed free (or at a discount), so I simply gave her the rolls of film.

She had assumed that I would pay for processing the film, and now she's upset with me. I think she was expecting too much for nothing and should have been happy to pay for her own developing costs. Am I wrong?

- Ohio Photographer

Dear Ohio Photographer: Unspoken messages are frequently misunderstood. Without words to clarify the details, how could either of you know what the other expected or assumed? In the future, reach an agreement (in writing) before committing to any photography assignments - even with friends.

For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order "How to Have a Lovely Wedding." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is in-cluded.)

1996 Universal Press Syndicate



All of the Dear Abby columns since 1988 are available online. Search for "DEAR ABBY" in the Lifestyle section and the Deseret News archives.