A great gravel road


The road running west from Rockbridge Missouri is a virtual honey hole of neat stuff and good folks. First you see the Mackey Place barn, which you’ll find on the photo of the week page at Corndancer dot com. Click here to see the photo of the week page. Back on the road, ford a couple of low-water bridges, curl around some steep hills and the barn below pops up.

Russell's barn

Gary Russell's barn was built in 1923 with lumber made from trees felled while clearing the land.

Gary Russell and his wife welcomed me to their property to shoot the barn. They explained that the builder and original owner cleared the land with a team of oxen and a couple of Jacks. He made lumber from the trees he felled and built the barn and the house where the Russells now live.  I  found out a short way down the road that this is in the Souder, Missouri community.

Souder Store

Souder Store, a fine country establishment. They stock RC Colas and Moon Pies.

Liz Macmillan, proprietress of Souder Store, Souder, Missouri is every bit as gracious as Gary Russell. Liz and her daughters Katy and Chelsea comprise the entire population of Souder. The population was temporarily at five while I was there, including a friendly neighbor, the driver of the four wheeler out front, Glenn Plaster. Well, six counting Glenn’s dog. Liz allowed as how she was the mayor, city council, and  the chamber of commerce for Souder. I asked if she was also the parade marshall and all agreed. That too. She’s operated the store two years now and appears to enjoy a decent business. She has her merchandising act together, stocking both RC Colas and Moon Pies. Katy and Chelsea attend school in Gainsville, Missouri, a daily hour-and-a-half ride both ways on dirt roads. They take it in stride. The flag out front is the “Don’t tread on me” flag. I like her style.

Souder MO Church of Christ

Souder Church of Christ. The original building (the right side) was built in 1909.

Not far from the Souder Store, is the Souder Church of Christ. As I was shooting, I wondered when the church was built. While pondering this question, Glen Plaster rolled up on his four wheeler (with dog) and gave me the particulars, 1909. Turns out, there are some Indian graves in the cemetery. Speaks well of early settlers.

Old barn

Unexplained barn.

Within sight of Souder Church of Christ is this old barn. It shows signs of age but is hanging in there well. Not a soul was in sight so I have no explanation or information for the barn other than this: Since the days of it’s highest and best use are long gone, its new job is to sit there and look cool. It is doing a great job.

Souder School

Souder School. Home of the three Rs for many, I'm certain, well educated and well-informed students.

The last stop on this odyssey was the Souder School. It stands there replete with an outside hand water pump in the front and off to the rear, an outhouse. Neither of which degraded the three R’s I strongly suspect. The odd looking arrangement to the left of the porch is a shower installed when the now completely abandoned school was used for a while as a hunting camp and/or club.

Many would have been entertained as I contorted my somewhat aged 6′-3″ frame between a fence and a tree to get the proper angle for the shot. You had to be there. But if you were within a mile or two, probably heard the joints creaking and snapping.

The parting shot

mud encrusted tractor

Oh #!**#??%$##!!

On our return trip from the rolling hills of southern MIssouri back to the flat lands of the Delta, we came across this tractor between Hoxie and Tuckerman, Arkansas. This condition clearly demonstrates the propensity of gumbo soil, AKA “buckshot,” to stick to anything. The goo has a particular affinity for high dollar tractors.

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

You belong in a Zoo


Otters

One American River Otter seems to be whispering "sweet nothings" to his or her mate. The otters, residents of the Little Rock Zoo, put on a good show, swimming and cavorting as otters do.

Most of us, yours truly for certain, have had that mild curse tossed in our directions. However pointed, the encouragement could not be more appropriate in this day and time. While the world around us seems to reinvent itself on a daily basis, the critters at the zoo are still tigers, they are still giraffes, and they are still otters and antelopes, you get the drift. Before we venture further, this zoo adventure started on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot com. Click here to see a fine tiger and a 15-pound antelope with a suspicious name and get in on the start of the story.

Affectionate giraffes

Two giraffes at the Little Rock Zoo seem to enjoy each others company. While observing the gentle giants glide-walk around their compound, one thinks of ballet on steroids.

If for no other reason than to put ourselves in the company of creatures unconcerned about memory upgrades, car payments, tanning beds, liposuction, dripping faucets, expired car tags, and pizza coupons, there is great value to a zoo visit. You get an instant reminder that Mother Nature’s forces are running in the background, 24/7/365. And, your visit helps keep the zoo in business, so others and succeeding generations may receive the same gentle reminder.

Lemurs

Ring tailed lemurs at the zoo seem to be turning the tables on zoo visitors. At the Little Rock Zoo, lemurs have their own private island which is viewable from two sides and one end, a good thing, since these little critters like to stay on the move, Or at least that's been my observation.

The value of the reminder, is that it helps us, at least temporarily until mental contamination mutates again, to put things in proper perspective. To see the immensity of an elephant, the elegance of a giraffe, the frightening beauty of a big cat, should, if we allow it to sink in,  give some relief to creeping feelings of self importance and the dreaded woe is me syndrome. Then when the wind shifts, and we get a olfactory reminder that these are fully functioning creatures with which we have a systemic similarity. The zoo educates us in all sensory areas, no senses left behind.

african spotted otters

On the cute scale, these African Spotted Neck Otters are stiff competitors. They are smaller than sea or river otters. This pair seemed to enjoy having an audience. Short legged like Basset Hounds, on land, their gracefulness as swimmers quickly goes to the nether regions in a hand basket. On terra firma, they are hopeless waddlers.

On the other hand, some critters are well, cute, despite my railings on cuteness. Since they are, you might as well enjoy this dessert of genetic appearance. On the flip side of that, remind yourself that they are predators and consume other living things. For those of us who savor raw oysters, or just about anything else that won’t eat us first, that is no big deal.

siamang

This Malaysian Siamang is displaying some very human like emotions. Perhaps news of the old 401k tanking just arrived. In reality, not. But the look is surely there.

Bottom line, a trip to the zoo can be therapeutic. For this therapy to work, there are two requirements. First, go to the zoo. Second, let the therapy work. That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.

This is the 57th edition of Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind which means that five weeks ago, our first anniversary passed sans fanfare and hoopla. Fortunately, we survived this self-imposed ignominy to shoot and write again.

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

PS: The Little Rock Zoo, of which we are obviously fans, uses “You belong in a Zoo” as one of their slogans. We could not agree more.
JPD

The “Wow!” stuff: seek and ye shall find


These falls at Lake Catherine State Park, near Hot Springs, Arkansas are about midway in a relatively easy hiking trail that loops from a camping area along the lake shore. A healthy rain the day before this shot gave the falls a bit more oomph, a plus for the "WOW!" factor.

These falls at Lake Catherine State Park, near Hot Springs, Arkansas are about midway in a relatively easy hiking trail that loops from a camping area along the lake shore. A healthy rain the day before this shot gave the falls a bit more oomph, a plus for the "WOW!" factor.

The “WOW!” stuff we encounter in our lives is analogous to life’s desserts. Sure we can live without ‘em, but why? As a dessert, these experiences are non-fattening, low cholesterol and may, as in the case of the waterfall above, offer an opportunity for a tad of exercise. We actually started this “WOW!” exploration on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot Com. To see some more pictures from “WOW!” experiences and get in on the start of the story, click here, a very cool thing to do.

Water rushes over a low water bridge on an abandoned road off Arkansas Highway 171 west of Lake Catherine State Park. When the water is not up, you would probably miss it.

Water rushes over a low water bridge on an abandoned road off Arkansas Highway 171 west of Lake Catherine State Park. When the water is not up, you would probably miss it.

Granted, you do not have to take a trip to a waterfall or other special location to experience a “WOW!”, but for the most part, you exponentially increase the odds of being WOWED, if you put yourself in position to be WOWED. This means that occasionally one must cut the umbilical to daily or even weekend routines and nose about for something new. You may not know where you are going. A discovery is even more delicious if it is uncovered due to a random act of deciding which way to turn. Sally forth in a new direction and see what can be discovered. You never know what you will see. As an example, take a gander at the road sign below:

Lick Skillet Road

Lick Skillet Road off Arkansas Highway 80 east of Waldron, Arkansas.

When I saw the sign, I, in the words of W. C. Fields, ” … was compelled … ” to turn and drive down the road. This was not the first Lick Skillet Road sign I saw, but was the most skewed, so it made the cut to be published. I encountered a friendly young man in a pickup and asked if he knew how the road got its name. He allowed as how he understood that around the turn of the 20th century, a woman operated an eatery on the road. The good ol’ boys of the time observed that the food there was so good, you wanted to lick the skillet. And thus the name.

Further investigation by Googling the term indicated that this appellation, Lick Skillet, at the time, was popular. Turns out there are a bunch of Lick Skillet places and other Lick Skillet roads promiscuously scattered around the nation. There is indeed precious little new under the sun. Sooner or later, someone will claim to be “The Original Lick Skillet.” Or perhaps that claim has already been made.

Mad Dog Road

Abandoned house on Mad Dog Hill Lane near Bluffton, Arkansas on state highway 28.

After having followed Lick Skillet Road until it terminated on Arkansas Highway 80 east of Waldron, I more or less folded the tent with the idea of beating a path back home. When what to my wondering eyes should appear, but an abandoned house with some Victorian trappings on the confluence of highway 80 and  “Mad Dog Hill Lane.”  In my time, I’ve known a few people, who will remain unidentified, the address of whom would appropriately contain such a street — you know who you are.

No one came forth with an explanation for the name, so I folded the tent again and headed south. Our imagination can fill in the blanks on Mad Dog Hill Lane until something better comes along.

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

Family tree


This a live tree, not an attack by alien mutants. The tree is a 139 year old Bois d' arc, one of Mother Natures toughest children.

The ceramic chicken is in no danger. Despite what you may think, this a live tree, not an attack by alien mutants. The tree is a 139 year old Bois d’ arc, one of Mother Nature’s toughest children.

Gerald Ware

Click on the tree’s keeper for more info

This Bois d’ arc tree, with a mind of its own and a genetic urge to survive, decided to grow horizontally instead of vertically.

You can see more pictures of the tree and a picture of its caretaker, Gerald Ware, where this story started on the Photo of the Week Page at Corndancer dot com. Click here to see the pictures and original story. It is a tale of happenstance where fate played a good hand in both our lives on a fine day in the fall of 2009.

The horizontal tree.

The giant horizontal bois d’ arc tree, a prominent fixture and point of pride in the yard of Gerald and Candi Ware of Greenwood, Arkansas was probably planted by original homesteaders who settled their place around 1870 or so. Bois d’ arc trees produce a tough and hard wood. Indians prized the wood for making the best bows.

The tree has a good place go grow. Its roots are close by the natural spring which provides water for the Ware household. Given those favorable growing conditions, the tree probably outgrew its ability to support itself and given the genetic trait of these trees to survive decided that horizontal growth would be just fine, thank you very much. At least, this is Gerald Ware’s theory. And since he is a retired biology teacher, his thoughts are probably right on target.

December 30, 2009 Update

bois d' arc in snow

Since I missed the snow on the “Ware Bois d’ arc” at Greenwood AR, I am grateful to Gerald Ware’s granddaughter for getting this shot and am equally grateful to Gerald for sending it to me. The tree is toughing out it’s 140th winter or so. A testimonial to staying power.

This barn, a 1947 model, is now 62 years old.

Cochran barn, a 1947 model, is now 62 years old.

A bit further down the road, still close enough to be in the neighborhood, Gary Cochran was chomping on a fine cigar and mowing the large yard of his ancestral home, if a 1947 birth date and construction of the home can be considered ancestral. I asked if I could photograph his old barn on the premises. He quickly and cheerfully granted this boon. Gary said the home had not been occupied in ten years. It did not have that appearance. Gary takes care of the place. “It would make my mother happy,” he said, and happily continued his labors. Gary is one of the good guys.

Cabin with a carport?

Log cabin with a carport?  Hmmmm?

Not far from Booneville, Arkansas, I came across this log cabin, which appears to be the real thing. I’m betting the metal roof was added later in its life. You can see an entrance door in the middle, and a small door to the right. One reader suggested in an earlier post that a similar small door on an older structure might have been to an interior wood shed. The cabin almost looks like it has a carport. Maybe an add on as well. It’s too low and small for horse-drawn carriages. Your guess is as good as mine. If you like log cabins, you’ll love log barns, check these out.

Thanks for dropping by,

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

PS: If you have friends whom you believe will enjoy these weekly adventures, contact me at one of the links above and I will be happy to add them to the links list. Conversely, if you want to be removed from our list, let me know and we will drop you like a hot potato.

TNX,

JPD

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