Posted in Light-hearted Thank You, Saying Thank You

Light-hearted Thank You–Gratitude-7-Smores

I am relieved and ecstatic and grateful to know…


that those delightful campfire treats called S’mores can be made up of more ingredients than we can imagine!

S’mores creations don’t have to be confined to graham cracker, chocolate, and marshmallow concoctions. Graham crackers can be those thin pretzel crackers, instead. The graham crackers can be chocolate ones, instead of plain; or cinnamon graham crackers, I assume! If you don’t like the crackers, or pretzel, choices, you can use some of those instantly toastable waffle squares. How about — yum! — rice cakes as top and bottom holders?

Additionally, I’m thankful to know this: S’mores don’t have to be limited to campfire goodies. You can sear marshmallows and other ingredients in your oven, or a non-stick pan. (Beware, though, that the non-stick variety of pan is important!)

There’s a S’more called “The Grasshopper” that involves mint leaves and mint chocolate as ingredients. How about that “La Mexicana”? It’s got red chili peppers in the center.

You could make “The Elvis”: use a large Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, or two small ones, even, for your chocolate ingredient, and top it with a sliced banana and more peanut butter in the middle.

Hey, throw in some bacon on one of your S’more experiments! Maybe, sweeten things with a melon slice!

What a treat — use a natural ingredient from the national park you’re visiting to create a specific park S’more!

I never made S’mores indoors, to tell you the truth, so my imagination always has been stuck on a traditional campfire S’more of graham crackers, burnt marshmallow — yeah, always burnt! — and slabs of Hersey chocolate bars.

I’m so grateful today to know I can create my own kind of S’more, as long as I don’t completely stray away from the base ingredients — top/bottom choice, marshmallow, and chocolate.

(BONUS Trivia: Which national park holds more species of trees than can be found in Europe?
ANSWER: Great Smoky Mountains National Park!)

Photos courtesy of

Posted in USA National Parks

Colorado’s Ancestral Puebloan Culture

Ancient Pueblo cliff dwelling in Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado

Hovenweep National Monument, Canyon of the Ancients National Monument, and Ute Mountain Tribal Park are all sites tourists may visit when they travel Southwestern Colorado’s Mesa Verde National Park to explore Ancestral Puebloan culture.

Guides take expectant visitors deep into cliff dwelling sites at Eagle Nest House, Casa Blanca, and Casa Colorado in half-day, whole-day, or once-a-year tours.

(BONUS TRIVIA: Mesa Verde National Park is home to close to 5,000 ancient vistas. TRUE or FALSE?
ANSWER: True!)

Photo courtesy of


Posted in USA National Parks

Three States Share Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park houses 67 species of mammals. From the hamster-like Pika to the Moose and Mountain Lion, Yellowstone has an impressive array of animals to enjoy.

Raise your own style of thanks for the acres of Yellowstone that cover the corners of the states of Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana.


Yellowstone ranks No. 1 among the 60 national parks in the United States for wildlife viewing!


(BONUS Trivia: What two desert parks does photographer QT Luong describe as both on his list of the quietest areas he’s visited?
ANSWER: Capitol Reed National Park and Canyonlands National Park, both located in Utah!)

Photos of Yellowstone National Park courtesy of







Posted in Gratitude, Thank You

Thank You — Gratitude – 20 — Vets

It’s no secret that American Veterans saved the world in playing the most major part to end World War II.


But our gratitude toward them seems to hide in the closet for most of the year; then it’s brought forth profusely on military holidays, and at other celebrations with our own families.

Let’s go more public for our Vets — Yes, capital “V” !

Did you thank a Vet yet this year on any day other than today — Memorial Day, 2018?


Thank you, Veterans of America, for carrying our flag into battle and securing my life as it exists today! I was six months old when my own (late) father returned from a world of war to a life of peace.

(BONUS Trivia: How long did it take Gutzon Borglum and, eventually, his son to sculpt the four Presidential facial figures that became the famous work at Mount Rushmore?
ANSWER: 16 years!)

Photo from the personal and copyrighted collection of Barbara Anne Helberg

Posted in Being Grateful

Thank You — Gratitude – 19 — July 4th American Style

Black and White Flags!

I’m grateful for July 4th in America! We are a free, united states of America!

I’m a Buckeye (Ohioan) born and raised, but I’m an American, first!

I’m white, but I’m a non-racist, first!

I’m a Lutheran, but I’m a religious free thinker, first!

I’m growing older, but I’m still the child who was loved by her parents and taught to respect others and do right, rather than wrong, because the difference impacts all those around me — first!

I’m a farmer’s daughter, a believer in conservation, because this Earth is all we have in the universe — first!

I’m grateful for my life in the United States of America, first and last!

What can you write about freedom in America and American traditions?

(BONUS Trivia: Manish Mamtani, who grew up in central India, was inspired to photograph American national parks at night when he came to the United States to live and found that most Americans can’t get a view of the Milky Way. TRUE, or FALSE?
ANSWER: True!)

Photo from the personal and copyrighted collection of Barbara Anne Helberg

(Also check today’s July 4th-oriented post at my blog: )

Posted in Being Grateful, Thank You

Thank You — Gratitude-18 — Passionate Letter Writers


Letters to the Editor may seem of no real importance at first mention, but when one stops to consider the subject matter many times centered in these efforts is about patriotism, or citizenship, reevaluation may be necessary.

My gratitude today is for letter-writers like Willie P., of Paulding, Ohio, and Jackie S., of Archbold, Ohio.

This month, Willie P. wrote of the need to continue to protect our American Constitution. By helping draft and support documents like the Articles of Confederation, the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, and the American Constitution, our Founding Fathers also created risks to their own lives, as their efforts meant supporting a complete break from the British government, Willie P. pointed out. Without the continuation of knowledge on, and support for, these documents of freedom, American freedom cannot stand.



Jackie S. reminded us of her relationship with, and appreciation for, Bob Heft, former mayor of Napoleon, Ohio, who drafted the design for the 50-State American flag. Bob didn’t stop there, Jackie S. rightfully declared. He dedicated his life to serve and promote the flag and the American way of life it represents.

These are passionate reminders that freedom is not free. Freedom is a continuous work in progress. It must be nurtured throughout every generation of Americans to ensure its success.

Much can be written about these individuals, or ones you know who have made similar contributions. Why wait to do so?

(BONUS Trivia: Who said the National Park System “is one of the first great American inventions”?
ANSWER: QT Luong, who has photographed all 60 national parks over 25 years!)

Photos from the personal and copyrighted collection of Barbara Anne Helberg

Posted in Saying Thank You

Thank You — Gratitude-17 — My Computer

Steady computer operator companions

I’m so grateful for my computer when I haven’t slept a wink, or three, and, of course, for my computer companions — coffee, tea, or an instruction book!

Thank you wee-hour companions, for being there steady as a rock! Without you, I couldn’t get through those last five hours of the morning! Oh, yes, and I’m thankful for eye drops!

Well, okay, I intensely dislike the computer era, being the type of soul (no pun intended) that still enjoys a pen/pencil and paper but who is forced to join the computer-type age for fear of being completely left behind in world events.

Give me a maple tree to sit under any time, but, of course, practically speaking, I will continue to embrace the possibilities of the computer-type age!

(BONUS Trivia: Becky Lomax, who wrote Moon USA National Parks set for release in October of 2018, said of which national park, “…I knew it had wildlife, but it has lots of wildlife.”
ANSWER: Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota!)

Photo from the personal and copyrighted collection of Barbara Anne Helberg

Posted in Being Grateful

Thank You — Gratitude-16 — Ned Garver and Others

Who needs help today? What can you contribute?

Ned Garver, a Major League Baseball pitcher from the tiny town of Ney, Ohio, which is nestled between the Northwest Ohio farm cities of Bryan and Defiance, passed away Sunday, February 26, 2017.

Ned gave back to his community. And that’s what I’m grateful for today. I’m grateful for the successful who rededicate their lives to their home towns. After his baseball retirement, Ned served his little berg as mayor, council member, and park board associate. For 14 years, he held a job at a local company.

One may jump on the Internet on any given day and read extraordinarily hateful remarks about athletes, celebrities, and others who are fodder for mainstream gossip. And that’s disgusting, coming from people who know nothing about which they speak, for the most part. This, while the facts are that many of these blessed individuals find numerous ways to return the wealth they’ve been given to steward.

Actor Matthew Broderick gave back during last Winter’s basketball season. He helped sponsor the “Never Forget Tribute Classic”, a roundball event that raised funds to benefit children victimized by the loss of their parents on 9/11, when terrorists struck New York City and killed thousands of innocent persons.

Former NFL great Fred Biletnikoff lost his daughter in a drug-related killing, after she had recovered herself and was trying to help another. What was Biletnikoff’s response? He helped found Tracey’s Place, dedicated to his daughter’s memory, and to offering a hands-on facility where persons with drug problems can recover.

These three examples speak of the specially blessed giving back monumentally to their communities, and to the people left behind by tragedy.

Acts of kindness and giving go on year round in our country, not loudly and with fanfare, but with sincerity for distributing helping hands and with dignity in serving humbly.

These are the attributes and the acts that make it worthwhile for humankind to know one another. And I’m grateful for that.

Celebrities and sports figures are an integral part of the American landscape, begging your pen for factual and fictional action!

(BONUS Trivia: Which two states have the most national parks within their borders?
ANSWER: Alaska and California both have eight different parks!)

Photo courtesy of