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







The consequences of prolonged precipitation

Closeup of spring beauty bloom

Had the higher power not sent the sprinkle while I was shooting the spring beauties in my front yard, I would not have the water drops to capture. Keep in mind that this bloom is in the neighborhood of a quarter inch across at the widest point.

Finally, this afternoon (Sunday, March 13), we got a break in a tad over six days of belt-fed liquid sunshine here in LA – close to making Noah’s flood look like a morning dew. As I glanced out the kitchen window I noticed that our camellia and the wild spring beauties in the front yard had gone berserk in bloom production. Though we took a glimpse of these flowers a couple of weeks back, the rain has changed the game, so here we go again.

Large growth of spring beauties

Our recent spate of rainy days kicked these spring beauties into the turbo mode in my front yard as shown in this turtle’s eye view.

I grabbed tripod, Kodak, macro lens, tripod and ground cloth and made haste to the front yard. As I got the rig ready to shoot the camellia, the rain began again, just a trickle, but promising to increase in intensity and frequency of drops.

Spring beauties after a shower

A group of just sprinkled spring beauties stepping out of the shower are true to their name.

Red camelia bloon

Click the poesy and our favorite camellia in all it’s glory on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot-com.

As I concluded shooting the camellia and spread the ground cloth the assume the uncomfortable but necessary supine position to shoot the spring beauties at ground level, the sprinkles intensified.

I managed to grab a few but not all of the shots I wanted, folded my tent and went back inside, tripping over the ground cloth and colliding with mother earth in the process.

Fortunately, my person and my camera and lens are unscathed as a result of the untimely collision. By the way, be sure and see our red camellia on its best behavior on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot-com.

Group of spring beauties

Here’s another family portrait of some spring beauty cousins adjacent to the bunch above. In a week or so, the lawn mower will convert them to smithereens, but they will faithfully return next year for their welcome annual performances.

Minutes after that, the rain subsided, so I repaired to the yard and began the process one more time. As I concluded the second session, the almighty started to deliver some more serious rain drops, reminding me who is in charge, and don’t you forget it.

Joe Dempsey
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind


Recalling the winter birds

White egret at Saracen Lake in Pine Bluff, Arkansas

I shot this egret at Saracen Lake late 2015, a good year for water birds at Saracen Lake here In Pine Bluff, Arkansas – the last good year for birds. Click here or on the egret above and see our December 7 post with lots of pelicans, grebes and egrets.

During the winter of 2014-2015, here in Pine Bluff, Arkansas at our in-city impoundment, Saracen Lake, we enjoyed a substantial in-migration of water fowl including pelicans, grebes, some unusual ducks and other species which made for good shooting for those of us who find enjoyment photographing wildlife.

By comparison, the nicest thing we can say about our 2015-2016 winter in-migration is: “lousy.”

My duck hunting buds tell me that lack of sustained cold weather up north and too much water down here are the contributing factors. Wild critters are smart, if they don’t have to travel to survive, they don’t. With all the water, the ones that did make the trip are scattered. All that said, since we have no new winter bird shots, we’re taking a look our December 7, 2014 post which shows the last successful batch of winter water birds.

Pelicans on Saracen Lake

Click on the pelicans and see a bunch more at Corndancer dot-com.

We captured a lot of American White Pelican photos at the lake during that period. There was a substantial winter population of these big birds (they have a six-foot plus wing span), and they hung out at a location ideal for long-lens photography.

See those photos at our Corndancer Photo of the Week . The pictures are a collection of the picks of the litter from several visit to the lake, including in flight shots and a frenetic feeding frenzy.

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



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