Going for the green


Water tower at Lake Dick Arkansas with approaching storm

July is a good time to look for afternoon thunderstorms. This one cropped up near Lake Dick, Arkansas in July of 2009. It was a perfect set of lighting conditions, strong late afternoon light and turbulent clouds in the background. The image is a study in Mother Nature’s complementary color distribution: Green, gold and blue talking to us.

Our world, on November 24, 2013, here in LA (lower Arkansas), is bitter cold (for us), blustery, and brown. I am not casting aspersions on these conditions, but am merely observing their presence. There is a bit of sticker shock however, as these are the coldest temperatures we have experienced thus far this year. To top that, as winters go, last winter was puny at best, so our systems are far removed from the last bone-chilling experiences in LA.

Hollow cypress tree near Grider Field Pine Bluff AR

Click on the tree to see the start of the story.

Though my duck hunting friends will likely disagree, I believe this is a really good time to be inside watching a football game (or working on a blog).

For those who bemoan these present conditions, I am offering archival selections of warmer and greener circumstances. You can see where this idea germinated on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot-com where you will see, among other things, a hollow cypress tree surrounded by, you guessed it, green.

Storm clouds in sunset at Lake Dick Arkansas

A day earlier from the water tower shot above, across the road from the water tower, with the camera pointing away from the tower, the setting sun is painting the clouds in vibrant pinks and pseudo-oranges supported by grayish blues. Corn is silhouetted in the foreground. Just being there was a privilege from on high.

Water tower in rice field

A year later, in July of 2010, the field was planted with rice. This is about the same time of day as the storm pictures above, less the disturbances, but nevertheless, cool.

remote abandoned stairs hear lake dick arkansas

Not far from the water tower, earlier the same day, I found a stairway to nowhere. It was likely the front yard approach to a family farm which succumbed to economics. The land around the stairs was not cultivated at the time of the shot.

lady bug on winter wheat near Pine Bluff Arkansas

Just a few miles from the water tower, in April of 2011, we found a nearly ripe field of winter wheat. Turns out ladybugs think winter wheat as a home site is cool. I am told they are beneficial to the wheat crop, since nasty aphids are their favorite treat.

Since we are just days from the time to be grateful for what we have and the opportunities afforded by our blessings, please know, dear readers, that you are a blessing to me. Stay warm and well.

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe Dempsey
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind

http://www.joedempseyphoto.com/
http://www.joedempseycommunications.com/
http://www.corndancer.com/joephoto/photohome.html

Two barns and a wreck


Old vine covered Delta barn

This old barn harkens back to the Delta days when mules were the power behind the plow and farm hands hand-hoed and hand-picked cotton. Hmh. Guess that’s why they called ‘em “hands.” The barn’s tall entrance door and large loft door are the giveaways. One admits a man on a horse and the other is for convenient hay storage.

This old barn has a lot of eye appeal for barn aficionados. The only problem, few if any of these barn enthusiasts ever see the old structure. It lives just off a well traveled road, but is put in defilade by a thick line of trees between the barn and the road.

tow boat and new orleans bridge

Check  our French Quarter story and pictures at Corndancer dot com

Even when the trees are bare, one has to look hard to catch a glimpse. I decided on this winter shot so viewers can see the structure which is covered with foliage from the vines in warmer weather.

If a more urban environment is to your liking, see some scenes from the French Quarter in New Orleans in our weekly article on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot-com.

Across a river and further south, a smaller and younger barn, and/or agricultural storage building sits unused. This one is easy to spot from the nearby road. Local readers who see it will probably recognize it immediately. Though it is showing a slight list to port, the old structure will probably last long enough to entertain at least one more barn-loving generation.

old barn south of Pine Bluff Arkansas

Not exactly a barn in the true sense of the word, this old agricultural storage building still has the period schmaltz to raise old barn-lovers pulse a count or two.

The future for bold barn lovers is bleak. The objects of their affections are crumbling on a daily basis. And the last time I looked, “they” ain’t building any new old-barns. As I make my rounds, I take note of old barns I previously photographed which are now piles of broken lumber and debris.  Those numbers are climbing. Look now before it is too late.

Collapsed barn

Here’s where our old barns are headed. Gravity and Mother Nature’s nasty side will eventually win out. When it is Mother Nature versus good maintenance, the playing ground is somewhat leveled – but – fat chance on most old barns.

Parting shot

The picture below is from a commercial shoot several years ago. Analyzing the image from an artsy-craftsy standpoint, it has a lot to offer: interesting composition, nice range of tones and plenty of well-placed complimentary colors plus some interesting textures and lines. Most viewers agree on these observations. Then I confess to the subject matter.

Sewer lagoon

What you see is the secondary impoundment of a system of sewage treatment lagoons. The system consistently receives EPA recognition as the best of its kind in the nation. The effluent from this system is cleaner than the river into which it dumps.

It ain’t always what you think.

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe Dempsey

Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind.

http://www.joedempseyphoto.com/
http://www.joedempseycommunications.com/
http://www.corndancer.com/joephoto/photohome.html

Still surviving


Thomas Grocery, Tarry, Arkansas

I first saw Thomas Grocery and bought a Baby Ruth and a root-beer there shortly after I arrived in this neck of the woods in the early sixties. To tell the truth, it doesn’t look much different now.

Tarry, Arkansas is tiny. Size in this case h0wever has nothing to to with treasure. And tiny Tarry has a treasure manifested in Thomas Grocery, which has survived nicely and is still standing tall after a lot of  years. Regrettably.  I have not done my research on Thomas Grocery past admiring it for a number of  years.

Old building

Click on the old building to see some that are now gone.

Unfortunately, a lot of older structures have met their demise while Thomas Grocery has survived. We took a look at a downtown building and an old barn that are now history on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot com where this story started. And soon.

I did the Thomas Grocery shots in 2009, with the intentions of following up to get more information on the store. Unfortunately, we are all familiar with where the road paved with good intentions heads. That said, now that I have finally published the winter shots which show the front of the store, I will make it a point to go back and get the summer shots and this time get information.

Thomas Grocery, Tarry Arkansas

Looking at Thomas Grocery head-on, an inviting look from days gone by. The bench on the front porch tells us that social pursuits shared importance with merchandise.

Further to the north and east, in the Delta at Hughes, an old store, Zuckerman’s, sits empty along with its neighbors. Hughes, like many small Delta towns at one time was a vibrant community with thriving businesses. Mechanization of agriculture and a whirlwind of cultural and economic changes swept through the Delta like Moses’ plagues on the Pharaoh and when the dust settled, the towns were a shell of their former selves.

Zuckerman's store Hughes ARkansas

The appearance of Zuckerman’s was impressive to me because the lettering and layout of the sign fit well on the structure as if a real designer had a hand in it.

Swinging back closer to home in Cleveland County, Arkansas I happened across this old barn. Turns out the barn is only about 40 years old despite the fact that it looks much older. The owner explained that he built the barn from materials salvaged from an old family home on his property which was built around 1905. About 10 years after he built the barn, he removed himself from raising cattle and the barn was no longer used.

Old barn in Cleveland County, Arkansas

This old barn fooled me. I surmised that it was substantially older than its 40th year. It is however, built with lumber which is about 107 years old.

Though the Arch at St. Louis is alive, well, and non-threatened in the foreseeable future, I was able to grab a good shot of it last week while in St. Louis to watch the Cardinals get creamed by the Chicago White Sox — and since I write the rules here, I’m including the picture. Got the  shot while stalled in traffic, a blessing from a curse.

The St. Louis Arch

Lovers stroll hand-in-hand with the mighty St. Louis Arch in the background. Got lucky. I shot this with a phone camera from through a bus window. Will miracles ever cease?

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe Dempsey,
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind
http://www.joedempseycommunications.com/
http://www.joedempseyphoto.com/
http://www.corndancer.com/joephoto/photohome.html

Back to the zoo


Tiger at Memphis Zoo

Click on the tiger to see our original Memphis Zoo story and pictures

Back in June 2010, I made a trip to Overton Park, AKA The Memphis Zoo. The zoo was featuring a couple of pandas whose presence created a temptation I could no longer resist. Though I went for the pandas, I got more than I  had bargained for including the climate.

I have sweltered in my time, but that weekend pegged the needle for a combination of heat and humidity the likes of which I had not experienced since the early sixties when I was traipsing about in the jungles  of northeast Thailand. At the end of the day, I decided that the price of seeing some fine critters do their best to act up was some sweaty discomfort which I survived. Looking back, I would do it again in a heartbeat.

panda at memphis zoo

Click on the Panda for more pix and a story.

The trip afforded energetic performances by bears, big cats, gorillas, monkeys, and the people who were watching the critters. You can see the start of the story with some panda, polar bear,  and tiger pictures pictures on the original Corndancer Photo of the Week page.

See the rest of the story on our original Weekly Grist post. I also created an album with 42 critter pictures including tigers, pandas, monkies,  gorillas, and more from the trip in our Weekly Grist gallery.

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe Dempsey,
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind
http://www.joedempseycommunications.com/
http://www.joedempseyphoto.com/
http://www.corndancer.com/joephoto/photohome.html

The canines of Christmas


Santa with German Shepherd

"Good dog," we all said as this fine German Shepherd was on his best behavior for his portrait with the Jolly Olde Elf. This calm demeanor came after a requisite round of investigatory sniffing to become familiar with his temporary surroundings.

Girl and dog in Santa's lap

Click on the pic to see more dogs

Shortly before I left to set up and photograph a number of dogs and to some extent, their two-legged companions, I advised my friends on Facebook that I was headed to Margland Bed and Breakfast to “shoot dogs.” About a half-dozen of my smart-aleck friends took me to task for my choice of verbiage.

Being a smart-aleck myself (I am eschewing another, more descriptive and colorful phrase, to preserve my G-Rating), I would have not let the opportunity slide either. Nevertheless, as a photographer I was indeed shooting dogs, several of who seemed to enjoy the process.

The event was the annual get-your-dog-photographed-with-Santa-benefit sponsored by the Humane Society of Jefferson County (Arkansas). The procedure was simple, I shoot the dogs, Humane Society volunteers print the pictures and collect ten bucks from the dog’s two-legged escort. The 501 c3 non-profit organization is completely dependent on donations and operates with a 100% volunteer staff. Before we go much further, we invite you to visit the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot-com where this story started. We’ll wait here.

Santa and Patagonian Water Dog

Dogs of all sizes and stripes came to the event. I guess you could call this girl a medium. She shows definitive evidence of one or more fence-jumping Labrador Retrievers in her ancestral history.

 See more dog pictures in our Weekly Grist Gallery

Santa, woman, and dogs

No family is complete without one or more dogs. I should know. We have four. And two cats.

While this event is fun and smiles abound, the job at hand for the Humane Society of Jefferson County is serious. For every happy dog you see on these pages, dozens are confined to shelters from which there is no good ending unless they are adopted. The money raised from events like this and from generous donors keeps the work going on for local Humane Society organizations. The need never stops or takes a break.

Santa and Yorkies

Click on the pic for more dog pictures

SEE MORE DOG PICTURES

In our Weekly Grist gallery. You’ll see 21 high-resolution pictures from the get-your-dog-photographed-with-Santa-benefit. The cute factor in a couple of cases is off the chart.

The gallery includes the Corndancer and pictures on this page plus 15 others in a larger, high-resolution format. Nuther-words, they’re “clearer.” Click here.

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe Dempsey
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind

http://www.joedempseyphoto.com/
http://www.joedempseycommunications.com/
http://www.corndancer.com/joephoto/photohome.html

The joy of hindsight


Petit Jean Mountain sunset

Looking west from a Petit Jean Mountain overlook late in the afternoon in October of 2008. A few minutes before the view was too bright, a few minutes later, it was too dark. The picture was squirreled away in my archives. A question from my wife stirred up a photo search and this is one of my unintended discoveries as I looked. Shot October 2008.

lightning strike

Click on the lightning to see how the story started.

A question from my wife regarding the identity of a tree in our neighbor’s yard sent me on a trip through the archives. After identifying the tree as one of the “hicker nut,” (hickory to the uninitiated), persuasion, I began a search of my archives to find a particular picture of the tree. I found the picture I wanted: the tree in its bright yellow fall plumage. As a bonus, I also found a picture of a lightning strike with the tree in the foreground — and a number of other shots I previously overlooked — some of which I decided were ready to be shown.

So this week, we are wandering through the archives. See the first three pictures in the search on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot com. You will see the yellow tree, the lightning strike and a companion picture to the one above — and below.

Looking north from Petit Jean state part overlook

Looking north from the lodge observation area at Petit Jean State Park, near Morrilton, Arkansas. The sun is beginning to set. I shot the picture you see at the top of the page from an observation area near the bluffs you see above. I shot both pictures in October of 2008.

Around 30 minutes or so northeast of Petit Jean Mountain is Scotland, Arkansas. There is an old home place there, right on the main drag, sporting an old barn and a house with a dug well in a well shed. When I was in that neighborhood in 2008, I found a unique home place in the boondocks nearby and featured it that week, to the expense of the place in town. Now I am righting that wrong. The well shed is below. See the house in our Weekly Grist Gallery.

Dug well shed and, Scotland Arkansas

This dug well and shed are part of an old home place right on Arkansas Highway 95 in Scotland, Arkansas. It is not necessary to leave your vehicle to see it. The family barn is in the background. Shot October 2008.

 A bit closer to home, just south of Scott, Arkansas on Arkansas Highway 161 is a favorite target of area photographers: A pecan tree tunnel. I like the fall shots best when most of the leaves have dropped and you see the character of the trees. But then, that’s just me.

Pecan tunnel south of Scott Arkansas

Pecan tree tunnel south of Scott, Arkansas on Arkansas Highway 161. November 2009.

 This is not the first time I’ve shot these trees, but this is the first time for this particular picture. See the previous visit, “A tunnel of trees.” The shots are from about the same place as this one in the evening and the next morning.

sailor in tug boat crew chilling in New Orleans

This sailor is pulling crew duty as he watches the proceedings of the 2005 New Orleans French Quarter Fest to his immediate front.

 And finally, way further down south, a crew member of the St. James, a tug boat docked at a jetty on the Mississippi River in New Orleans eyeballed me just as I made this shot. I nodded to him and he nodded approval to me. Just to his front is Waldenberg Park where a big part of the 2005 French Quarter Fest activities are taking place.

Saracen Landing

Click the picture for our Weekly Grist gallery

See our Weekly Grist gallery for more archive pictures

See some flowers, the old house next to the well shed, an old structure that I can’t figure out — old school or old church — which is it? A common place sight that made an uncommon reflection, and a couple of other late evening sunset shots.

Click, go and enjoy.

Thanks for joining me in a trip through the archives.

Joe Dempsey
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind

http://www.joedempseyphoto.com/
http://www.joedempseycommunications.com/
http://www.corndancer.com/joephoto/photohome.html

A drive-thru barn and other eccentricities


Old barn and dogs

This old barn straddles Glenn Squires' driveway just off Cash Mountain Road in Hot Spring County, Arkansas. You can catch a glimpse of his house through the back of the barn. The yellow lab is Glenn's dog. The Boston Terrier relieving himself at the corner of the barn belongs to Linda Hanks, a neighbor from across the road. We think no less of the pooch. When you gotta go, you gotta go. The three of us, plus the dogs made a social event out of the barn shoot.

You  purely and simply do not see a driveway to a residence snaking through an old barn every day. In fact, unless you happen to proceed down Cash Mountain Road in Hot Spring County, Arkansas, the probability of seeing such a phenomenon is slim to none. At least that’s been my experience to date.

Barn with driveway through it

See more of the barn at Corndancer dot-com

The driveway and barn belong to Glenn Squires and his family. He was kind enough to not only allow me to photograph his barn, but accompanied me while I did the deed.

To see more pictures of the barn inside and out — and get in on the story of shoot, may I suggest that you go to the Photo of the Week Page at Corndancer dot-com where this story started. We’ll wait on you right here. We also are grateful to photographer Fred Garcia, who first shot the barn, for revealing the location.

driveway through barn

As you are driving through the barn to reach the Squires domicile, this is what you see. It is large enough to pass a full-size pickup, but it is a good idea to hold the wheel steady as you do lest you get into a scrape with history. The Boston Terrier decided the gravel was cooler inside the barn than out. Glenn Squires' yellow lab can barely be seen to the left.

I wound through the countryside toward my destination aided by maps and an iPhone with a really cool map function. Replete with my faith that I always stumble on something you don’t see every day, I took Reynolds Creek Road off U.S. Highway 67 north of Malvern as my jumping off place. Sure enough I ran up on a giant wheel in front of an old tree.

dead tree and wheel

At first blush, I could not figure out what the wheel was or why it was there. Further and cautious investigation led me to believe that this is the entrance to an unmanned country junk-yard.

 It was not until I enlarged the pictures that I finally figured out what the wheel was. The moment was one of those slap your head, stoop your shoulders instants of clarity and revelation when you feel dumb.

large wheel agains dead tree

Upon closer examination when I enlarged the picture, I discovered the wheel is part of a pole gate. The wheel rolls and lo, the gate closes. Pole gates, for the uninitiated, consist of a heavy-pipe or pipe framework on some sort of hinge mechanism designed to limit access to roads and driveways. They don't work well where there is man-portable booty behind the gate, but work fine to limit miscreant vehicular access to large, heavy stuff, or to merely deny entry to vehicles. Deer clubs and forestry companies love 'em.

barn and sky

Click on the barn for our Weekly Grist Gallery

Weekly Grist Gallery

To get to Cash Mountain Road, I had to travel up Gourd Neck Valley Road from Old Military Road. You will not be tested on this. At the junction of Old Military and Gourd Neck, I found a younger cousin to the target barn.

It was badly back lit, so I resorted to post-processing skullduggery to get an acceptable image for your review. See the “doctored” barn and more pictures of the barn with the driveway through it in our Weekly Grist Gallery.

Name that affiliation

Since political artillery is exploding all around us, it is appropriate that we take a look at how certain natural elements may reveal political proclivities. The tree below could be one of those.

right leaning tree

Can anyone venture a guess as to the political persuasion of this tree?

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe Dempsey
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind

http://www.joedempseyphoto.com/
http://www.joedempseycommunications.com/
http://www.corndancer.com/joephoto/photohome.html

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