This Cat

L’l Gray (BELOW) was a victim of relocation gone wrong this Spring, and she is greatly missed.

(LEFT & RIGHT) Multi-colored beauties were a sample of the many healthy and hued variety L’l Gray produced over her tenure as a devoted mother. Over a period of five years, her numerous families of kittens were a gift to residents who enjoyed the backyard venue.

The first two photos of kittens were one of L’l Gray’s first broods, four little lovelies from an orange mate. The photo (ABOVE) of the strong-shouldered, protective mother is her family from the Fall of 2020. Only three kittens are visible. A fourth is huddled farther under the board pile.

LITTLE GRAY (ABOVE), aka L’L GRAY, a mother superior.

(ABOVE) The last two. Solo (RIGHT) and Specks, or Elsa (LEFT) were the last two kittens L’l Gray gave us. They were born in the Spring of 2021.

L’l Gray’s Spring of 2020 kittens (ABOVE) demonstrated the familiar colorful offspring she nearly always produced. The gray on the far right is long-haired, also a feature that occurred now and then in L’l Gray’s babies. These tykes were fathered by a long-haired gray mate.

No matter where L’l Gray actually birthed her families, she habitually brought them to this board pile beside a utility shed for show and tell and protection.

All of L’l Gray’s kittens pictured here were happily adopted. For that, we remain grateful.

We’ll always affectionately remember you, L’l Gray.

Photos from the personal and copyrighted collection of Barbara Anne Helberg

We the Twins



Peek-a-boo… I have a twin. We’re Chip (white chips on my face – right side in the photo BELOW) and Chap (my twin pal ABOVE).


We like playing hide-and-seek around this fence post! Then we nap in the sunshine.


This is our cousin Tig-Tig, with the Linx cat tufts on her ears. Isn’t she a beauty?

Tig-Tig looks a bit sad because we snatched her lunch away from her, but we really have to learn how to stuff down that yummy bread and milk from one of our human benefactors, simply because Mama can’t feed us with breast milk forever.


Sometimes Mama lets me catch a nap on her back (ABOVE) because she is so devoted to me and my twin, Chap.


This is Breezi, our canine friend who gets to live indoors, but who comes outside often to visit with us. That’s what friends are for !


Good-bye! (We have to track down a mouse — Mama said !)

Thanks for listening!

Photos from the personal and copyrighted collection of Barbara Anne Helberg

And Now There Is This


Henry County Courthouse, Napoleon, Ohio

New ordinance readings would change the way stray cats and dogs live in the small city.


Lucky birds; they can fly!

It is proposed that feeding and watering stray cats and dogs should be against the law. When this ordinance passes its required three readings in public city council session, or is unscrupulously passed in one “emergency” legislative reading, citizens will no longer be allowed to feed, or water, a stray cat, or dog, no matter where the stray cat, or dog, is located within city limits. A first offense of same will result in the person being charged with a minor misdemeanor. Fourth degree misdemeanor charges would follow after further offenses by the same individual.

A former humane society director claims this new policy will force stray cats and dogs who previously have partially lived off handouts to hunt through more and more garbage locations in order to survive.

While the city would enforce this new legislation, it also would seek government grant funding to finance a trap, spay/neuter, release program at the price of $150 per animal surgically altered. That would mean citizens still would be held to non-feeding/watering legislation after treated animals are released with no capability to reproduce.

What is the point of the cost of alteration, altogether, if these animals can’t be fed even after reproductive capability is lost? And, would the surgical program really be handled with care?


The numbers versus the need, alone, say the alteration program wouldn’t be very effective because trapping would become a massive undertaking manned by… who? That part of the problem takes precedence over even the troublesome cost of the program for one small city — $150 per animal. Realistically, how much continuing funding is available in grant form from the government for this kind of operation?

What are we really trying to control? Is it animals, or citizens?

Photos from the personal and copyrighted collection of Barbara Anne Helberg

The Hooded One

021 Hooded one

The Hooded Guard: Male Northern Cardinal

“Grand, I am !”

009 Who you lookin at

“Who you lookin’ at?”

013 I got my own six

“Ah, I love my back view. How about you?”

011 All right, bug, out

“Okay, bug, out !”

010 Ah, I love my back look

“Yeah, I got my own six. Eat your camera heart out !”

Photos from the personal and copyrighted collection of Barbara Anne Helberg

Heaven and Earth


“We don’t know where we are. Buddy thinks we may have landed in Kitten Heaven because there are a lot of other kittens here who don’t seem to remember too much of a life.

“We know we were separated from our Mother and run into a small, hot container. Then we took a ride…

“Now we’re somewhere strange. We hear our Mother’s cries, but we can’t find her, and she can’t find us. We miss her warm body and her cuddling and her milk.

“It all happened so quickly. We barely had learned to climb on our board pile home and to play with one another.

“Everything now is different and frightening. We wonder how long it will last. How long will it be before we see Mother again?”



Tiger Mom. Bursting with milk and waiting on Earth to find her babies.

“The thing most wrong with the animal kingdom is the human animal that controls it.” – BA Helberg

Photos from the personal and copyrighted collection of Barbara Anne Helberg

Spring Nesting


House Sparrows will create a house just about anywhere, even on the side of a house ! Some of them cleverly use sticks and straws to wedge open a vent cap so they may slide inside.


They work tirelessly to get things looking like a home.


Father’s asking: “How do you like our house so far?”

Notice how the Sparrows use their tail feathers to help balance themselves on the side of this brick building. They easily can spike their claws into the rough surface of the bricks, then they spread their rear feathers to enable them to hold fast.


In the beginning of the nest building, pairs may take turns hauling up material and opening the hatch by pecking under its edge with their sturdy beaks.



 Father’s about to deliver a bunch of bedding,


while Mother waits her turn to do the same.


Mother (left) tells Father: “No lunch breaks, dear. Open the cap and then go for more grass. We need lots of soft bedding material.”


 Father replies: “Yes, dear. Got it !!”


Mother brings branches to hold the bedding together.

Sometimes it gets crowded (BELOW) as the work is nearly completed and Father’s lunch is long anticipated and overdue!


But in the end, the nest is finished, and Mother is pleased when she checks inside, then peeks out to see all is safe (BELOW):

The nest is ready for offspring.

Nature’s wondrous cycles continue every Spring, free for humankind to observe… and, perhaps, learn a trick, or two !

Photos from the personal and copyrighted collection of Barbara Anne Helberg

Oh Daddy Clarence…


Group fishing in and on icy waters.


Young Hooded Merganser: “Hey, where did everyone go?”



“Dad! Oh, Daddy! Where are you? These Canada Geese are getting obnoxious!”


Young Hooded Merganser still calling: “Dad! Now it’s a Greater Scaup invasion! Where are you, Daddy?”

Young Hooded Merganser, in panicky voice: “Dad! The Goldeneyes are here! They’re catching everything in sight ! Daaa-dd! Help! Where are you!?!”


“Dad! There’s an Eagle in the sky! Help!”


“Mallards on the ice, Daddy! Hello !?!”


Daddy Clarence: “Coming, son. I have you in sight. Not to worry.”




“All right, now, son. All’s safe and sound.”


Young Hooded Merganser after being rescued by Dad: “Daddy, I really wish you wouldn’t stop to fish just now. Let’s just get out of here!”


Daddy Clarence: “It’s okay, son. We’re back to group. Just think of the experience as A Day in the Life on the water.”

Photos from the personal and copyrighted collection of Barbara Anne Helberg


Just for Fun — Firefly


This is where we have fun, some of which is poignant, with talking animals. Also, this particular story represents a time when I was experimenting with pseudonyms. Thus — Grace Strange. My given middle name is Anne, which interprets to “grace”, and my first name, Barbara, means “strange”. Have fun with that! I did!

The short story Firefly came about as an experiment, too. For a writing project in the Writer’s Digest School’s “Writing and Selling Short Stories”, 2002, we were asked to play with POV. I created three different viewpoint characters to relate this horse racing drama.

The version presented here from the racehorse’s POV, I created as a fantasy. For extra fun, I’ve scanned the copy of the story as it was edited by my WDS instructor!  Enjoy!













The original short story, Racing Dilemma, from which this fantasy was taken, may be read at
My Writing Life Xposed 
my Primary Blog here, at WordPress. Excerpts of this story, and other versions of it may also appear at some of my other numerous WordPress blogs.

Short Stories and Story Art

Story and Roughcraft Artwork from the personal and copyrighted collection of Barbara Anne Helberg

Meet Breezi


Breezi makes herself at home in my office chair meant for comfy thoughts.


A new rescue and a new beginning — Breezi and me

We don’t forget our pets when they pass. (Cee-Cee died October 19, 2017.)

We must be aware when we take on the pets we choose that we will likely outlive them, and that losing them is part of loving them and establishing a family-like relationship with them.

And we must never forget that losing a pet doesn’t mean we shouldn’t adopt again.

Seeking a new relationship, not trying to return to an old one, is the point of rescue. We never forget the lost; they are part of our makeup, our memories, our lives.

But to rescue again means our hearts are rescued again, also, by a new personality and a new experience, which, in the end, we will cherish just as much as those we’ve previously lost.

Photos from the personal and copyrighted collection of Barbara Anne Helberg

Kitten of the Mountain

Playful kittens attempt the game “King of the Mountain” on a pile of siding boards:

Golden (left) and Cale begin the warfare.


Golden goes on offense, then quickly deserts Cale to begin his climb.


GOLDEN: “Oh, Cale. What’s holding you back?”


CALE: “Golden, c’mon. Give your li’l sis another chance… C’mon… That was too fast.”


GOLDEN: “Hmm… Well, it is kinda lonely up here…”

Back down Golden goes, and Cale dances around him.


Then, Cale deftly gives Golden her best move: fake flop and cry;


fierce and startling spit; and


the over-your-head leap upward;


and to the top!


CALE: “Haha! Now who is ‘Kitten of the Mountain’?”


GOLDEN: “Okay, Cale. That was clever. Draw?”


CALE: “Sure, Golden. You’re my bestie!”

Story and Photos from the personal and copyrighted collection of Barbara Anne Helberg
(View more of Golden and Cale at: )

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