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.


Avian academy award due

Mother Killdeer on nest

Rarely do I feature the same picture on Weekly Grist that I feature on Corndancer dot-com. Here’s why for this occasion: This picture sets the stage for Mom and Pop Killdeer as they go into their wounded bird routine. The next picture after this one was immediately after she popped off the nest and started the drama.

rain soaked killdeer

Click on Momma Killdeer to see more Killdeer pictures and a story.

Immediately after I shot the picture above, Ms. Killdeer exited the nest premises in a public flowerbed near a sidewalk and driveway, and went into her “wounded bird, broken wing, come get me if you can routine.” A lot of birds do the same, but I’m told that Killdeer have just about perfected the perfidy.

Like this one, many Killdeer nests are on the ground, so these thespian skills are a necessary instinct for survival. Speaking of instincts, see Momma Killdeer on her nest under extreme circumstances on the Photo of the Week page on Corndancer dot-com where this story started. We’ll wait here while you peruse the images and soak up the story.

Sometimes we tell stories with words and sometime with pictures. This time the pictures tell the tale as the two Killdeer put on a show to protect their unhatched offspring.

Killdeer doing wounded wing act

Ms. Killdeer was probably not much more than four feet away when she started to direct my attention away from her nest.

Killdeer watching

She immediately started to turn and see if I was following

Killdeer in wounded routine on sidewalk

“OK, now do I have your attention,” she says after making eye contact.

Killdeer on sidewalk

Apparently she wanted me to chase her. When I didn’t, she went to plan “B.”

Killdeer eggs in ground nest

While she was cogitating, I swung around and got a shot of the eggs. “Hi kiddies, look at the birdie” (heh-heh)

Killdeer in grass

In the seconds my attention turned to the eggs, Sistah Killdeer moved to a grassy area near her flowerbed nest and checks me out to make sure I noticed.

Killdeer on his back

Meanwhile, about 15 yards or so away. Daddy Killdeer joined the circus, wallowing around on his back. Great fakery.

Killdeer doing broken wing act

Not to be outdone, Mom cranks up her act again.

Killdeer doing wounded act

She checks me out to make sure I’m paying attention (Boy am I!)

KIlldeer crawling

OK, you are not chasing me. I’m gonna change directions fool!

Killdeer crawling to flower bed

OK that’s not working, how ’bout if you chase me into this flower bed?

Killdeer faking broken wing

OK look at my wing now Clyde, it is really, actually broken. Come get me!

Male Killdeer drawing attention away from the nest.

Meanwhile, Pop is getting back into the act a few yards away.

Killdeer giving nasty stare

#@!*%!! Enough is enough! Would you PUH_LEEZE leave, split, vamoose and/or disappear?

I grabbed these images late in the afternoon. I returned an hour or so later and Mrs. Killdeer was back on the job. Some time in the last week or so, the hatch occurred and the nest is empty. A bird enthusiast told me that baby Killdeer pretty well hit the deck running. Which, I suppose is why there are still plenty of Killdeer around for us to enjoy. I wish I had been there for the blessed event, but am happy that I was able to see and record what I did. All of which continues to remind us that it is always better to be lucky than good any day of the week.

Joe Dempsey

Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind.

Pretty nice. Pretty nasty.

American Lotus bloom

The American Lotus, AKA, “water lily,” sports the largest blossom on the North American continent, its parts are edible and it looks beautiful. If a plant can be an American hero, this one is it. This particular plant is in the wild and wooly part of an otherwise reasonably civilized cypress pond.

I am a firm believer in “beauty-breaks,” those moments when you stop and observe something animal, vegetable, mineral, visual, and/or audible that exudes beauty in some recognizable form or fashion and provides relief from whatsoever might be bugging you at the time.

Flowers fill the bill for needed relief in almost every such instance. This time of year, for this curmudgeon, the American Lotus, AKA “water lily,” is close to the top of the pecking order to be that Balm of Gilead.

Black Eyed Susan flowers

Click the pic to see another American Lotus, a neat Black Eyed Susan picture – and more.

I get a daily dose of American Lotus insight from a colony in a pond I routinely pass. I always look. And it is always cool. The American Lotus has kept many an American belly full when other resources were skimpy. The roots, seeds, stems — and leaves at their tenderest stage are edible. Historians tell us that some Indian tribes depended on the roots as a major source of nourishment.

See another picture of the American Lotus and get in on how this story started on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot-com. We’ll wait here while you peruse the pearls of information on that page.

On the other hand

As one tools southeast on U.S. Highway 65 from Pine Bluff AR, my home stomping grounds, one will eventually pass an impoundment known as Noble Lake. Noble Lake is an ancient oxbow lake, a remnant of the days when it was a river channel. It has been a favorite resource for bank and boat anglers for years.

water hyacinths on noble lake

As you look at the lake you immediately see that the majority of it is covered with beautiful white flowers with purple markings. The beauty is a nasty deception.

While the flowers are visually pleasing, they are a disaster for the lake. These are Water Hyacinths, an invasive and aggressive species introduced to American waters in the late 1800s. They can quickly cover an entire impoundment. At Noble Lake, these nasty critters are not far from doing just that.

In the process, the thick growth of hyacinths block sunlight from native plants, and significantly diminish the supply of oxygen to fish and other aquatic creatures. These nasty plant varmints can throw Mother Nature’s balance out-of-whack in a heartbeat.

invasive water hyacinths

A bit of lake manages to squeeze in-between the massive growth of hyacinths. Call it a natural disaster. Individuals can help curb the spread of this species by making certain boats and motor cooling systems are purged of plant fragments before putting in at another location.

invasive water hyacinth plants

Here the rouge plants go to the banks of the lake and box in a cypress tree.

The Water Hyacinth is a prime example of how an invasive species can upset ecological balance — and while some bad circumstances at a relatively small lake may not peg many concern meters, a little here and a little there can begin to modify and environment. Look at like this, if you like the environment the way it is where you live, it is in your best interest to see than nothing tips the balance in the wrong way.

The environment has a lot of moving parts. Who is to decide what’s important and what’s not?

Dragon fly at Noble Lake

Unlike most wild critters, bugs are pretty cooperative and patient with photographers. Dragonflies are among the most cooperative. This bad boy at Noble Lake stayed put while I changed lenses to get a little closer. A good dragonfly will do that.

Thanks for dropping by and reading through my soapbox diatribe. While I have a great deal of respect for the environment and its denizens, I can tell you this much for sure: I have yet to fathom a reason for skeeters and ticks to exist. And chiggers ain’t far behind.

Joe Dempsey

Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind.

Blues for a Cause

Redd Velvet sings at Blues for a Cause

Memphis blues singer Redd Velvet belts out the blues with the Jack Rowell, Jr. Band. Accompanying Velvet (from left) are: Jack Rowell, Jr., guitar; Leo Goff, bass, and Bob Horn, guitar. The event is the Blues for a Cause 2013 July 4th Concert and Benefit at the Pine Bluff/Jefferson County Regional Park in Pine Bluff, Arkansas.

Blues for a Cause, a non-profit organization here in my hometown of Pine Bluff, Arkansas is developing a good habit of presenting a day-long blues festival and concert here on Independence Day. City commissions, associations, and local merchants throw their support behind the event which raises money to benefit families with little or no insurance who are facing huge bills due to catastrophic illnesses.

Anthony Gomes

Click on headliner Anthony Gomes for more concert pics and info

The event which started at 12:45 p.m. on July 4, featured five bands performing like a house on fire until 9:00 p.m. when the Pine Bluff Parks and Recreation Department ignited a fireworks spectacular to cap the night off in correct form.

The park fronts on our slack-water harbor created by the Arkansas River so folks can take in a few rays and a dip while they listen to the blues. See more of the headliner act, Anthony Gomes on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot-com. We’ll wait here.

Anthony Gomes, concert headliner

The headliner for the concert was the energetic, and entertaining Anthony Gomes. I was sitting on a bucket shooting his performance from the corner of the stage when he wandered over and good naturedly put his guitar in my face. We were both grinning from ear-to-ear. The drummer got a good laugh out of it as well. Fun au go-go.

The performing bands were:

  • The Brian Austin Band
  • The Saints of Yesterday
  • The Joe Pitts Band
  • The Jack Rowell, Jr. Band
  • Anthony Gomes
Members of Jack Rowell Jr. Band

My guess is that you are looking at more than a century of blues performing experience here. These dudes have been there and done that. From left: Robert “Nighthawk” Tooms, harp; Leo Goff, bass; Bob Horn, guitar, and  band leader and guitarist, Jack Rowell, Jr.

Members of the Saints of Yesterday band

Guitarist Bennett South hits a final lick, while bassist Rusty Rhodes gives a lively kick and drummer Mike Parrish just finishes a big boom with a flourish as the Saints of Yesterday complete a tune. Guitarist John Hugen and vocalist/harpist Adam Varnell are off camera.

Brian Austin plays the harp

Multi-tasking vocalist, and guitarist Brian Austin of the band of the same name adds “harpist” to his job description.

Joe Pitts

World-class band leader, guitarist, and vocalist Joe Pitts smiles as plays to an appreciative audience in his home town.

Bass player with Brian Austin band

The veteran bass player with the Brian Austin Band seems pleased to be framed by Old Glory.

Drummer in Jack Rowell, Jr. Band

The drummer with the Jack Rowell, Jr. band looks through a jungle-gym of cymbals and drums and he provides the rhythmic foundation for everyone else.

French harp colleciton

While I was shooting, a guy approached me and said he had something cool for me to shoot. Turns out it was his fine collection of French Harps. Yep, it is cool.

We’ve uploaded pictures of the concert in galleries highlighting each band’s performances. We’ve attempted to show all band members in these pictures. There is also a gallery of a few folks who attended the event and were in a good place to shoot,

Blues for a Cause is the brain child of Joe Powell and Sandra Sallings. They put the organization together to present first-class blues concerts to raise money for families with little or no health insurance who are facing the expenses of treating a catastrophic illness. Powell and his wife, Tracey Dempsey Powell do most of the grunt work to keep the organization percolating. They are ably assisted and/or distracted by my grandchildren, Peyton Madison Dempsey and James Joseph Dempsey.

Folks, in the good ol’ USA, it is hard to beat a good hometown July 4th celebration and this was a “goodun.”

Thanks for dropping by,
Joe Dempsey

Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind.

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