Another swing through the Ozarks

1941 Dodge panel truck

In 2016, a 1941 Dodge panel truck, regardless of condition, is an attention grabber. It got mine. It appears to be what it is – something to grab others attention. It’s on Arkansas Highway 23 south of Huntsville.

Old barn at KIngston Arkansas

Click on the barn thumbnail to see the real thing and more Corndancer dot-com.

Though I have learned that the unexpected is expected when motoring through the Ozarks of north Arkansas, I must say that when I laid eyes on the rusty 1941 Dodge panel truck parked in front of a cabin on Arkansas Highway 23 south of Huntsville, I did a double-take.  The cabin is of modern construction using the “log house” technique. It appears to have been unoccupied for long enough to be nearly choked by aggressive weeds (as if they needed any encouragement).

The old truck appears to have been parked as an attention-grabbing piece of yard decor. If that is so, it worked on me. Turns out, the old car was a harbinger of things to come. There was a decaying old barn less than a quarter mile from the old truck. See it and more barns, cows other stuff on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot-com (It’s the grayish looking one with part of the left sided missing).

Well preserved old barn

This well-preserved old barn is off Arkansas Highway 74 southwest of Huntsville. I had limited time on the trip and got a good angle without leaving the truck so I have no further information. Maybe next trip.

I proceeded from there to Huntsville and grabbed a Sonic No. 1 cheeseburger with a large sugary drink and fries then backtracked to where Arkansas Highway 74 peels off of highway 23. The stretch from there to Kingston, Arkansas was a honey-hole of photo ops including barns, what appeared to be and old church (mind you some of the old school houses looked like some of the old churches).

Old building at Wharton Arkansas

Although this appears to be an old church, it could be an old school. No one was around on Saturday afternoon to confirm or deny in tiny Wharton, Arkansas. Though it has been recently preserved with siding, the native stone, aka rock, foundation gives it away. It is old. What ‘UPPER WHARTON’ means is beyond me. Just before I got to this old building at Wharton, I shot a great red barn, see it at Corndancer dot-com.

Collapsing house at Wharton Arkansas

Next door to the old preserved building, I found this not preserved and crumbling residence. It’s hard to guess the age, I’m thinking ‘old,’ as my best guess. There is a driveway ending a few feet from the front steps of the house, if that is a clue. Your guess is as good as mine.

Large rock on gatepost

To photograph the collapsing house, I had to butt the tripod up to a gate barring entrance to the premises, the left post of which was topped with a large rock. I have no explanation, but it must be a common practice in Wharton because a half-mile or so away, the fence around a fine looking barn was equally equipped.

Fencepost with a large rockk on top of it

Not far away from the gatepost with a rocky-top was a fence post with a rocky-top.

A Saturday afternoon swing through the Ozarks is a good way to pass the time of day. At least this weekend it was. If it is in the dead of winter with a few inches of ice and snow, wide-eyed fear and trepidation will replace wide-eyed enjoyment. But that’s another story.

Thanks for looking,

Joe Dempsey,
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind




Rythmic recognition

Woman drummer

This woman, surrounded by blue lights, not only is the drummer in her blues band, she is also a spirited vocalist. At the Blues Music Awards we do not see many women drummers – she was the only one in 2016 – and did a rockin’ good job.

I’m partial to drummers since my brother Hank is a drummer and a fine one. When photographing bands, the lead out-front instrumentalists and vocalists seem to be the photographic targets of choice and the drummers, relegated to the back of the bus so to speak, get the short photographic shrift. Not so this time. The drummers are the stars of this show.


Click on drummer to see more drummer pix at Corndancer dot-com.

The pictures for this post come from the 2016 Blues Music Awards in Memphis. Unfortunately for this one, I was unable to match names with the fine drummers in the pictures, so you can either make up names or ask around. If you get lucky, let me know.

Be sure and see additional Blues Music Awards drummers on the Photo of the Week Page at Corndancer dot-com. There’s cool lighting and good looks at the Blues Music Awards drummers which, to the best of my knowledge are available no where else – just like the ones on this page.


This drummer taps out the rhythmic base paying close attention to the other performers.

Smiling drummer

To get these shots, it is necessary to snake your way through an obstacle course of speakers and cords and place one’s self at the one of the back edges of the stage. For that reason, most drummers are not aware of the camera since they focus on what is in front of them. This dude was an exception and put on his best smile. See another shot of him on the Corndancer Photo of Week page.

side view of drummer

These drummers have to be some of the best, because they rotate in and out of the same set of drums for each band versus their own personal arrangements to which they are accustomed – and they still rock!

head on view of drummer

This is a get lucky long lens shot from way back in the audience. There is so much visual interference from camera to subject when attempting these shots that they are rarely successful. This is the exception.

These views for the most part are not available to most viewers and require a photo pass to access the points to shoot, so hopefully you saw some imagery not seen elsewhere. And you joined in our salute to the not-s0-often-photographed drummers.

And as a side note, my multi-tasking brother has other talents than his musical skills. He is also a pilot and flight instructor with permits to fly dadgumnear anything.

Thanks for looking,

Joe Dempsey,
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind

Back to the levee

Donkey with head in pickup truck window

A curious donkey extends a welcome to her territory on the levee. Fortunately, her deep curiosity was matched with outgoing friendliness, a good thing when she has big teeth and outweighs me by 800 pounds or so. Click on the picture to see our original November 2014 post, Miss Donkey Congeniality.

A redirected trip finds new donkey friends

View of harvested rice field from levee

Click the rice field above to see pictures from the ‘Balcony of the Levee’ on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot-com.

In November 2014 we planned a trip to Elaine, Arkansas  to shoot the jillions of birdhouses residents have seen to put up in the small Delta town, but a a split in the road leading to a nice stretch of levee with a good gravel road was too much to resist, so we headed down the levee to see what we could see. We did not expect to have a curious and friendly donkey stick her head in the cab of the truck but she had different ideas.

It was a delightful experience and an exercise in one-handed wide angle shooting since the camera to subject distance was minimal at best. Click here to see our original post, Miss Donkey Congeniality.

And be sure and see the first part of the trip on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot-com. It’s a trip down the “Balcony of the Delta.” You’ll see blue skies against golden harvested rice fields, cypress trees and a lot of levee cattle.

Thanks for looking,

Joe Dempsey,
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind

It’s gonna rain t’mar

Large tractor pulling a scratcher through a dry field

Agri-activity on a recent Sunday was fast and furious in anticipation of a heavy rain the next day here in LA. This tractor is pulling a ‘scratcher’ through this filed. The ‘scratcher’ aerates the soil and turns dead vegetation under. It is a preparatory step, but not the last one before planting. If the field is left untended before the rain, planting will be delayed.

Tractor in dust

Click on the  dusty tractor to see more ‘before-the-rain’ pictures

There’s nothing like a prediction of a heavy rain to stir up agri-activity here in the Delta. If you haven’t planted and the fields are ready, you get in high gear and get seed in the ground.You can see planting pictures on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot-com. We’ll wait here for you.

If your fields are not ready for planting, you get as much preparatory work as possible done before the rain because after the rain, you are effectively shut down until the fields are dry enough to work.

Tractor pulling field cultivator

This tractor is pulling a ‘field cultivator’ which breaks up clods, turns dead vegetation under and aerates the soil. In this field, this rig is part of a field preparation tag-team.

Tractor pulling roller-hipper

The second part of the field preparation tag-team is a ‘roller-hipper’ which makes makes rows and prepares the seed beds in the rows for planting soy beans, corn, or milo.

Details of roller-hipper on a tractor

Here’s the business end of the ‘roller-hipper.’ It is a complex piece of machinery which requires a lot of horsepower from the tractor to operate it’s sophisticated hydraulic system.

Roller hipper making rows

Here’s what the ‘roller-hipper’ does. It leaves behind rows with a seed bed ready for planting.

Tractor behind a small hill

Since our beloved Delta is as flat as a pool-table and/or a pancake, it is unusual to see a tractor that appears to be on the backside of a hill. Actually, the long lens exaggerated a slight rise in the land.

Tractor pulling a roller hipper

The tractor turned around and lo-and-behold it is dragging a roller-hipper with an additional aerating device that looks like an old fashioned lawn mower.

Rows of young corn

Here’s where all this activity is headed – young corn a week or so out of the ground. A glimpse of the right center of the picture reveals an oops. The planter driver got a cell-phone call, slapped a skeeter, was trying to tear the wrapper off a Snickers or something else that caused temporary ‘distracted planting.’

The big rain came the next day right on schedule. The forecasters got it right. The next day it was warm and sunny. Just exactly what freshly planted corn needs. Most of this corn will go to animal feed. Critters gotta eat.

Thanks for looking,
Joe Dempsey
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind







Azaelas up close and personal

Closeup picture of azalea in Pine Bluff Arkansas

At long last, the azaleas have exploded in our azalea rich neighborhood. Their appearance was agonizingly slow – like molasses running uphill in January. Now all of a sudden the fickle plants make their presence known in a big way.

 Our azaleas have joined blooming neighborhood Dogwoods and camellias in their decoration of the macro environment. It is not often that all three are a blooming simultaneously. Perhaps it is a harbinger of a good rest-of-the-year.

Three pink azalea blooms

Click on the blooms to see more azaleas at Corndancer dot-com.

We are giving you an up close and personal look at the azalea blooms since kneeling and squatting are not the norm for observing flowering plants. Be sure and see more of the Dempsey azaleas on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot-com.  We are not captioning these pictures, the blooms speak for themselves.

Azalea bloom closeup

Vertical closeup of pink azalea


Freckled zalea bloom closeup

Freckled zalea bloom tight closeup

Red azalea closeup

‘Nuff sed.

Thanks for looking,
Joe Dempsey
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind

The underbelly of Highway 7

Old country store on the southern section of Arkansas HIghway 7

This old establishment is the quintessential mom and pop country store, or at least gives that appearance being connected to the family residence. It was probably the social epicenter of the hamlet in which it resides. A card on the front door identifies it as a former wildlife check-in station for hunters. It also has an old tube and tire patching press attached to the front of the premises.

one lane bridge across Ouachita River

Click on the bridge to see more Highway 7 pictures.

In Arkansas Highway 7, in its northern stretches, slithers through some of the finest views of the Ozark Mountains upon which one my lay his or her peepers. Almost completely forgotten is a stretch of Highway 7 that winds its way through the cypress-lined Ouachita River bottoms from Camden to Sparkman. Today, we take a few glimpses of what we found while recently traveling the road. Along those lines, we suggest checking out the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot-com where you’ll see other pictures of the area including a one-lane bridge across the Ouachita River.

tire patching press at old country store

Here’s a close-up of the old tire and tube patching press attached to the peeled-paint store premises.

Scarecrow and roto tiller in garden

Not far from the old store/station a resident is getting ready to prep the soil and plant the family garden. The roto-tiller stands ready as does what appears to be last year’s scarecrow.

large old barn

A few miles more and we stumbled across this well-weathered old barn replete with a now roofless shed attached. Perhaps it is a piece of the former roof leaning against the front of the barn.

Town limits sign at Amy Arkansas

If your name happens to be Amy, take heart, there’s a town in Arkansas named after you.

old yellow brick building

Here is a former commercial building of some sort constructed with large yellow bricks. At some time in the past these bricks were in vogue, but apparently not for long.

Budding tree

Just outside Sparkman on the return trip I found this really cool looking tree full of tiny buds straining to burst forth with spring vigor.

In contrast to the upper stretches, this section of Highway 7 is as flat as a pancake and offers a glimpse of southern rural America, a refreshing change from lots of asphalt and obnoxious traffic.

Thanks for looking,
Joe Dempsey
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind

Bye-bye hoops, hello diamond

Basketball player going for a layup

Going for two in a recent state championship game. The game was ‘hard-fought’ and the red team (not the home team for us here in LA) took the honors from the defending state champs, our guys.

Umpire, ctcher and runner at home plate

Click on the umpire to see more hoops and baseball action shots.

‘Tis the overlap season. Amateur basketball is winding down and baseball season is getting cranked up to full speed. After next week, hoop fans will go into withdrawal symptoms until next fall while baseball fans are reveling with delight. This week we will take an up close and personal look at recent images from both sports, good, bad and ugly. Speaking of which, you can see more hoops/baseball action shots on the Photo of the Week Page at Corndancer dot com. Take a gander and we’ll wait here for your return.

Runner approaching first base

The runner won this race and was safe at first base. The pitcher is performing as expected,  giving backup to the first baseman. The white team, the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff eventually won a big victory over Prairie View A&M, the purple/gray team.

Catcher drops ball at home plate after tagging a runner out

Everything was going well for the catcher. He caught the ball and tagged the runner out at home plate. And immediately dropped the ball converting an out for him into a run for the other guys. Sometimes, it just ain’t your day.

Bundled up fans at a cold baseball game

Though baseball is traditionally considered to be a spring and summer sport, temps in the low fifties and upper forties fortified with a stiff breeze forced these fans to take cover March 20 during a game between the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff and Prairie View A&M. I was bundled up like a sore thumb while shooting the game and still felt the chill winds more than I would have liked.

Runner sliding into third base

This is a good ol’ third base slide. The runner, confidentially the third baseman for the visiting team, was safe but all to no avail. The home team won by a comfortable margin.

Basketball player making fall away shot.

The last hurrah for hoops at Weekly Grist until fall. The ball fell successfully for the shooter and he drew a foul in the process — and walked away three points to the better.

While basketball fans will soon start crying in their beer, baseball fan are rejoicing. In the fall, their roles will reverse. And life goes on. Here at the Chez Dempsey, we are looking forward to fuhbaw season, our sport of choice, and just now are recovering from post-superbowl withdrawal symptoms.

Thanks for looking,

Thanks for looking,
Joe Dempsey
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind








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