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Welcome to This Awful/Awesome Life! My name is Frances Joyce. I am the publisher and editor of this magazine. We'll be exploring different topics each month to inform, entertain and inspire you. Meet new authors, sharpen your brain and pick up a few tips on life, love, entertaining and business. Enjoy and please share!

Good Green News for July by Gail Neustadt

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July’s article is colored red, white and blue in honor of Independence Day which we just celebrated. So don’t be confused by the “Good Green News” Title, as I have taken the liberty of providing a few subtle shades of green throughout.

Please join me in wishing our country a happy and healthy birthday. Get ready to take a deep breath since this year’s cake has 242 candles — but not too deep because according to the American Lung Association … “If you live in Allegheny County, the air you breathe may put your health at risk.” Ask yourself if there is anything we can do about it and if so … what,  and if so … when?

Now for some fun — let’s travel back in time, back to when we were kids in varied hometowns, wherever that may  have been. Maybe it wasn’t even in the U.S. of A.  So, If you didn’t grow up in “the land of the free and home of the brave,” remember how your family celebrated similar holidays from your memories of national origin. And if you did grow up in the U.S. of A. recall your celebrations with fondness despite our no longer being “beautiful from sea to shining sea,” for starters let’s blame plastic. Ask if  there is anything we can do about it and if so … what,  and if so … when?

As for me, I grew up in Cleveland, better known by “yinzers” as … “The mistake on the lake!”  But according to recent  studies, Lake Erie is presently clean and clear, despite the fact that our three rivers in Allegheny County recently tested positive for lead as well as for the presence of chromium-6 in 153 out of 163 samples tested,! Ask yourself, if there is anything we can do about it and if so … what,  and if so … when? 

I have wonderful memories of family celebrations as a kid in Cleveland and as an adult in Pittsburgh with my late husband, Dave who passed away nine years ago from early onset Alzheimer’s disease. Dave and I celebrated with our two sons, Doug and Mark (still best friends) and now that he is gone, I continue the celebration with “the boys” their wives (thank heavens they are compatible); four grandkids (two of each) and my “man-friend” Jim. We all celebrated then and still do now by: flying our flags; attending parades; watching fireworks (planned and unplanned … legal and illicit); going to cookouts and neighborhood gatherings; swimming at local or private pools; watching a Pirates baseball game and hoping for a win; lighting sparklers, laughing, shouting and chasing fireflies! We had and still have burgers with Heinz catchup, hotdogs grilled on sticks, or long handled forks, marshmallows slowly toasted over an open fire or on a variety of grills; hikes in metro parks and bicycle parades with streamers attached to handlebars and playing cards attached to wheel spokes making fast or slow clickety-clack sounds depending on bike speed. And best of all, we had and still have yummy home-baked goodies catered by none other than my very own imaginary bakery … “True Confections,” with the pièce de résistance being the family favorite …checkerboard cake. Yummm!!!

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I end this article with a wish for all readers and may we, who are so fortunate to live in this best of all possible worlds, count our many blessings and enjoy a safe, healthy and happy Fourth of July! And, let us remember those who are less fortunate by Asking ourselves, if there is anything we can do about it and if so … what,  and if so … when?

Gail Neustadt retired as a Speech/Language Pathologist over ten years ago to care for her husband who had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. After Dave’s death and a series of mystical events, Gail turned to the power of the pen to express her deep concern over the destruction of our shared environment. Under the pen name Dylan Weiss she authored Skunk Tales Trilogypublished by Red Engine Press and is now an ardent environmental activist.








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