Down on the corner

Yellow flower and seed pod

Flower siblings: This yellow flower and its sibling are thriving on an entrance ramp at the junction of I-530 and South Hazel Street in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. The bloom is advertising for pollination. The seed pod in the lower right, formerly adorned as its colorful sibling, has completed that mission. The next trick is to allow Mother Nature to distribute the seeds to precipitate a repeat performance. Neighbors to these posies include a colony of American Lotus plants in an adjacent pond.

American Lotus bloom

Click on the lotus for a bigger picture and the start of this story

At the southeast corner of the junction of I-530 and South Hazel Street in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, there’s a neighborhood uninhabited with homo sapiens. People are a little further south. The neighborhood I reference includes a perennial colony of American Lotus (AKA water lily) plants. I have watched the colony for a few years. I decided last year to photograph it.

When I did, I discovered that in that small macro environment, there were a number of small blooming plants growing in the hard pan of the interstate entrance ramp. See more about this corner including a picture of the big lotus on the Photo of the Week Page at Corndancer dot-com. We’ll wait here while you look.

I’ll have to hand it to the plants that seem to thrive on the interstate entrance ramp. The ground is hard pan and sloped, conditions not good for retaining moisture. What water they do get is fouled by runoff from the on-ramp which falls way short on the purity index. Here’s a glance at two more of these hardy specimens.

Burred plant

My love of going barefooted began as far back as I can remember. In fact, my feet are bare as I write this missive. One of the hazards of going barefooted was stepping on a cockleburr (our mispronunciation of the pest was “cucklebur”). This resident of the on-ramp is not a “cuckleburr,” but it looked enough like one to make my foot twinge. It is in all likelihood a clover head.

Small daisies

A kind reader once informed me as to the correct identification of these micro-daisies. Unfortunately, that information escapes me, so they are once again “little bitty daisies.” The real thing is about a half-inch across the beam. The top one is at full glory. The rest are going into the “gone to seed” mode.

Crepe myrtle blooms

My friend Dick Warriner advised me earlier this week that his crepe myrtle was resplendent following a rain and a good time to shoot. Unfortunately, the alligators at my ankles prevented the wet shoot. Even dry, they still look good.

crepe myrtle close up

Here are more blooms from the same tree up close and personal.

Suspicions confirmed:

Given the name of this post, one would expect this video to be included. The picture quality is lacking, but it is the original guys. Bring your nickel, tap your feet.

I believe I can say without reservation, there are millions of these special little communities similar to the one we explored today. Perhaps I’ll discover a few more. Better yet, perhaps you will.

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe Dempsey
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind

An urge of unknown origin

caddywhompus sign

We believe there are sign alignment issues with this caddywhompus arrangement. As best we can tell, the towns of Marvel and St. Charles have not been moved. This is for real, not cut and paste.

A spontaneous trip to St. Charles

An urge of unknown origin sent me to tiny St. Charles, Arkansas seeking fodder for this venue. Once the urge was codified to action, I decided on separate going and coming routes. In days past, this practice was defensive in nature. Currently, it is a practice to afford more visual opportunities. My going route took me through Stuttgart, Arkansas to Crocketts Bluff, Arkansas and then to St. Charles. That selection put me in front of the hilarious sign above.

Click the store to see pictures and story of how this adventure started

In St. Charles I found a historic store with some  east-coast connections one would not expect to find in the depths of LA (lower Arkansas). I also discovered a few tidbits of history about the area.

It was a “days gone by” trip, looking at what worked years ago but does not work now, a valuable exercise if one intends to survive the whirlwind economic and social idiosyncrasies that steer the world in which we live.

See the Photo of the Week Page at Corndancer dot-com for pictures and observations.

The following pix are targets of photographic opportunity to and from our destination

Road sign with gunshot strikes

East of Stuttgart, we confirmed the presence of armed and frisky “good-ol-boys” in the local population mix. A shotgun smacked this sign along with what appear to be .22 shots.

Schwabs Grocery Crocketts Bluff Arkansas

You are looking at the entire central business district, as in “down-town,” in Crocketts Bluff, Arkansas. What the town lacks in size it more than makes up with its cleanliness. It is also a destination for serious anglers and waterfowl hunters.

University of Arkansas Agri Research

I’m not sure what these doo-dads are or what they do, but they looked like an interesting picture. They are part and parcel of the huge University of Arkansas Agricultural Research facility east of Stuttgart, Arkansas.

Tree and barn

Farmers on the Grand Prairie are generally a neat lot. Their premises, for the most part, are well manicured like this one. The old barn is providing shelter to aluminum irrigation pipe sections which have fallen from grace in favor of collapsible plastic pipe.

wild flowers on highway 153 in arkansas

I always call these wild flowers Holly Hocks, with full realization that they are not. They grow by the gazillions on LA roadsides this time of year. These are on Highway 153 south of Crocketts Bluff.

Smiling dog at St. Charles Arkansas

Being a dog person, it is always nice to find a furry friend who is as glad to see you as you are to see him. This dude wandered up to visit as I was leaving St. Charles.

Smiling dog at St. Charles Arkansas

We have established an additional population of armed good ol’ boys in the DeWitt, Arkansas area. Unlike ducks, geese and deer, signs never seem to be out of season.

I first shot this residence in June 2009 when it was occupied with a tricked out blue chopper ensconced on the front veranda. Take a look at the first shot here.

I first shot this residence South of DeWitt, Arkansas in June 2009 when it was occupied. There was a tricked out blue chopper ensconced on the front veranda. Click here to take a look at the 2009 picture. You will need to scroll down to see the picture when you arrive at the linked page.

After this shot, we lit a shuck for home. I hope you have as much fun looking at these pictures as I did shooting them.


There are 20 pictures in this trip collection, you see nine of them here. You can see these anbd th rest of the pix, in a larger format in our Weekly Grist Gallery.  Enjoy looking!

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe Dempsey
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind





A picture of heritage redux

A cool country barn on a sweltering day

Old barn

Click on the old barn to see our original July 4, 2010 post.

It was as hot as blazes July 2010 when I was fortunate enough to stumble across this old barn.

I was even luckier when I discovered the owners lived across the road — and were more than willing to talk about the history of the barn — and gave me the run of the place.

Turns out it has been in the same family since it was built in the late in the 19th century. Click here to check out our original July 4, 2010 post on the old barn. Be sure and check out the gallery links at the bottom of the page to see more pix of the barn.

Old ramshackle barn

Click on the barn to see more pix and information

The owners  of the barn were very congenial. They invited me into their living room to give me the skinny on the when it was built by their fore-bearers. I had not expected this generous hospitality to be extended to a total stranger standing at the door on their front porch.

Our conversation required turning up the volume a bit to keep up with the noise from the “window-shaker” air conditioner operating at full blast to stave off the 100º temperature.

We actually started the discourse on this barn, it’s owners, and it’s contents on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot com, we’ll wait here while you take a look there. Though the story was first published in 2010, it will still interest you.

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe Dempsey
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind


Miscellaneous fodder

Andrew Jackson Statue in Jackson Square

This is one of the quintessential bits of New Orleans imagery. You stand by the cannon on the south side of Decatur Street across from Jackson Square and point the Kodak directly at St. Louis Cathedral. If you do this properly, one Andrew Jackson astride his steed in Jackson Square will fill your view finder. Depress shutter button. Repeat if necessary. If camera clicks could harm that statue, it would be bug-dust by now. In my defense, it was a glorious day with perfect light, so why not?

This picture of Andy Jackson in Jackson Square started my day on January 23, 2002 in New Orleans. Though the image is so common, it has almost become visual triteness, it still portrays and brings to mind an important event in American history. Beside that, it looks cool. 

Carriage mule in New Orleans

Click on the mule for more mule pix

I was in New Orleans with friends during our annual pilgrimage to (at the time) watch the Saints lose a football game, eat good food and soak up local color to the best of our meager abilities along those lines.

For me, it was an opportunity to wander around and shoot with reckless abandon in one of the most pregnant- with-opportunities urban environments anywhere. I went on that day to photograph mules, Pirate Alley, and a late evening River Walk image which was not too shabby. To see these pictures, move your person to the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot-com and take a gander. We will wait here for your eventual return.

No mention of Jackson and New Orleans should be made without harkening back to Johnny Horton’s 1959-60 smash hit, The Battle of New Orleans. This tune impressively climbed the charts and continuously crackled through AM radio speakers to fans singing along. I was one of them.

After the trip to New Orleans, it was back to business as usual, wandering through LA (lower Arkansas). My wanderings took me through Stephens, Arkansas, a small town near the epicenter of the early 20th century oil boom in south Arkansas. The town still bears vestiges of its former glory. Among the remaining landmarks is an old service station, which is another favorite photographic target. I took my turn.

Old service station at Stephens Arkansas

The old station in Stephens, over the years, has been inhabited by hopeful entrepreneurs. The last time I saw it, the doors were closed. At the height of its useful life, an attendant would pump your gas, check your oil, and wipe your windshield. For your convenience I’m betting they offered nearly cold Ko-Kolers (LA for Coca Cola) and the little round thingies of peanuts one poured down the neck of the pop bottle. Both were a nickel to you.

Back in the Delta, at Cornerstone, Arkansas, a lone tree stands in a field with a nice uncultivated patch of ground around it to help maintain its lofty integrity. There’s bound to be a story there, I have yet to uncover it. In this picture, the field is planted with corn. I have also seen it planted with beans, and years ago, with cotton.

Tree in corn field.

In the Delta, every square centimeter of arable land has opportunity value. That said, it is notable when planters respect and plant around a tree occupying otherwise productive dirt. Usually, the tree is a “home-place” tree which provided summer shade and aesthetic benefits to a rural residence. Though the residence has long since succumbed to Mother Nature and economic realities, family memories trump and the tree survives. I’m betting this is what happened, but in all honesty, I must admit that my opinion is pure conjecture.

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe Dempsey
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind



One never knows do one?

Sunflower with flying bee

Doing a hasty map recon of Arkansas Highway 293 north of the junction of Arkansas 277, I found a county road which led to Pickens, Arkansas. Rolling the dice, I turned on to the road and before long ran into a small roadside colony of sunflowers. I suspect they are the remnants of a commercial crop from years back. I did not see the airborne bee until I opened the picture in my computer. Some days you just get lucky.

You never know what you’ll find down a country road

The immortal Fats Waller (1904-1943), among other quotes and tunes, once said “One never knows do one?,” a quip which has become one of my favorite fallback choices with which to ruminate upon an unexpected materialization or thought. The quip also describes to a tee what the results will be on a random shooting trip through LA. Such was the case on June 28, 2014.

Click on the old house to see pictures and a story

Click on the old house to see pictures and a story

I re-shot an old friend, the now-closed store at the junction of Arkansas Highways 293 and 277 then proceeded north on 293 where I found a winding county road which connected eastward to Pickens, Arkansas. I figured I would find ample publication fodder on the road.

I was right. I found an old farm house in a cotton patch. See our discovery of the old farm house on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot-com. What could be more Delta? We’ll wait here while you look.

Before happening across the house, I found sunflowers and noticed that each plant was like its own little community, with the residents twisting and turning to have better access to the sun. There were flowers on both sides of the road so some were front lit and some were back lit.

Sunflower plant with bees

This is a wider view of the plant which is home to the large flower above. It is front lit (the sun over my back) which gives it a yellowish tint. It looks like the bee that was entering the picture above had made a bee-line to the other side, but don’t you believe it. I shot the pictures several minutes apart.

Sunflower plant back lit

This is the family across the road. It has strong back lighting (light source facing the camera) which yields the light green look.


Corn stalk growing in a bean field

Proceeding eastward to Pickens, I drove through a nice bean field which showed an interloper in the otherwise exclusive neighborhood, to wit: corn. The corn was no doubt the leave-behind of a previous corn crop on the same field.


Corn stalks in bean field

The corn was rampant in the bean field which substantiates our suspicion that mother nature’s forces are far fiercer than ours. The seeds from which these cornstalks emanated were cut, bludgeoned to smithereens, slung asunder, smashed by a monstrous machine, and plowed under. But guess what, to a determined seed, no sweat!

Sunflowers in wind storm

Remember the backlit sunflower? Here it is in the windy aftermath of a big thunderstorm. Once I arrived at Pickens, I headed to Dumas to grab a big ol’ Coke float at Sonic. During the process, a humongous thunderstorm ripped through the area. As I backtracked to Highway 293 to pick up where I left off, I passed the back lit sunflower in a stiff breeze under stormy skies. The bug on the big flower was still there. I guess it has the same tenaciousness as the corn seed.

The day before, Friday June 27, Year-of-our-Lord 2014, back in town, in the courtyard of Grace Episcopal Church, Pine Bluff, Arkansas; Anyone who happened along about 6:00 p.m., and just happened to have a camera in his or her grubby little hands could have snapped this cool back lit bed of flowers.

Back lit flower bed

Back lit is always cool. Well, almost always.

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe Dempsey
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind



They (still) had to put it somewhere

The Louisiana Purchase initial survey point monument

The Louisiana Purchase Survery Initial Point Monument

Click on the monument to see our original June 2010 post.

The monument you see sits atop the initial survey point for the Louisiana Purchase made by President Thomas Jefferfson in 1803. The initial survey to establish that point was commissioned by President James Madison and completed in 1815.

The surveyors marked the point by carving slashes on a couple of trees. The story goes dead after that, to crank up again in 1921, when two surveyors discovered the marks after they were hired by a couple of Arkansas County Judges to settle a boundary dispute.

See the entire story on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot-com, and see our original Weekly Grist post of June 20, 2010 for “the rest of the story.”

Louisiana Purchase monument in Arkansas

Here’s a wider view of the Louisiana Purchase monument. Click on the picture to see the full picture and read the story on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer and find out how the initial point was forgotten and re-discovered — to settle a  border dispute.

Just goes to show you, a little controversy never hurts anyone.

Thanks for dropping by,

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe Dempsey
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind


The tomato return trip

Collapsing old rural home

This old domicile in Cleveland County, Arkansas is not far from biting the dust. Seeing these old homes always makes me wonder what went on the last day it was occupied.

Daughter on father's shoulders

Click on the father and daughter to see our pictures and story on The Bradley County Pink Tomato Festival.

Returning home from a photo-trip to the Bradley County Pink Tomato Festival in Warren, Arkansas, I took some heretofore-unexplored-by-me back roads in Cleveland County, one of my best honey-holes for photo-discoveries. I found this old residence above, engaged in a losing battle with the inevitable forces of Mother Nature.

Even though the structure is close to the collapse stage, the owner probably views demolition like one would consider execution versus dying a peaceful, natural death at an undetermined time. That aside, the Pink Tomato Festival, which precipitated this trip, was a hoot. See what I found there on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot-com. We’ll wait here while you look.

Collapsing old house

Here’s another angle which clearly demonstrates that Mother Nature now has the upper hand.

Blooming red Cannas

Not far from the old house, I found this bed of Cannas illuminated by brilliant afternoon sunlight — with just a tad of back lighting for effect. My childhood yard was ensconced with these suckas.

Close up of red cannas

Here’s a longer lens look at the plant. The purple shoots are blooms on the way. This is a healthy bed.

Lone fireplace and chimney

When I was nearly back to the “main road,” I ran across this, an all-too-familiar scene in rural areas. All that remains is that which was not combustible. From the looks of this fireplace and chimney, it is very old — from back in the bucket brigade days. Volunteer rural fire departments now dot the landscape and offer help when it is needed most in remote areas.

Keep your eyes peeled for stuff most others don’t see. So will I — and I will report back next week.

Be sure and see our 2014 Bradley County Pink Tomato Festival gallery with 47 pictures from the event.

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe Dempsey
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind









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