Avian academy award redux

Mother Killdeer and eggs

See the picture story of Mom and Dad Killdeer as they protect their progeny. Click on the picture.

During mid-July in 2013, I had an encounter with a Killdeer couple who were determined to lead me away from their nest which happened to be in a flower bed near a well-traveled sidewalk and driveway.

The ground was close to ideal for a Killdeer nest, I’m not too sure about the environment. After a few days of observation, I began shooting the nest and mother.

Dad did not show up until later, but I do believe I was always in his cross-

Killdeer closeup

Click on the bird to see more Killdeer pix and information.

hairs. As the story unfolded, the birds went into their best “draw-the-bad-guy-away-from-the-eggs routine. They had several strategies in case their favored acts did not work.

I bugged ‘em enough that they could have gone through their entire litany of charades, but I doubt it. Click here to see our original July 2013 post where you’ll see a good collection of their thespian deeds. Be sure to see some up close and personal pix of the mamma bird and her eggs on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot-com.

Joe Dempsey

Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind.


Purple hulled fun

Roto Tiller Racer

Click the picture and and go to our original 2013 World Championship Roto Tiller race story

Every year on the last weekend in June, the purple hull pea faithful descend on Emerson, Arkansas to enjoy the Annual Purple Hull Pea Festival.

If you are from the south, chances are the thought of a choice piece of smoked pork seasoning a pot of purple hull peas sends your olfactory sensors into system overload.

If you have not consumed this delicacy, take the necessary steps to obviate this sin of omission at your earliest opportunity.

I have attended two Purple Hull Pea Festivals and have had more fun than a litter of lab pups with a can of tennis balls.  See the 2o13 trip also on our Corndancer Photo of the Week Page. Also see our 2010 Corndancer article and pictures.  Also see our 2010 Weekly Grist article and pix.

The World Champion Rotary Tiller Races are a highlight. What you see there is unique in the world of motor sports. You must see it to believe it, so we are giving you a glimpse We are taking you back to the 2013 festival visit. If care to peruse our observations on our initial visit in 2010, click here. You can also check out these galleries of PHPF pictures:

Thanks for looking at this short history lesson of fun on the ground in LA (lower Arkansas). As the song says: “Let it all hang out!”

Thanks for looking.

Joe Dempsey,
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind


Valhalla for Mustangs redux

Restored 68 Mustang

Click on the Mustang to see our original post with a bunch of pictures of Mustang and the “yard.”

Back in November, 2012, I stumbled across what may well be the best and best-kept collection of wrecked Mustangs on the planet. James Matthews, the proprietor thereof was good enough to grant me the privilege of photographing his yard collection.

Then he took me inside his premises to show me his crown jewel, a pristine restored ’66 Mustang which had also been converted to a pick-up configuration. It’s a big-time head-turner where ever it goes.

He did a lot of the work himself. The John Deere green and yellow trim sets everything off just right. Click here and see or our original 2012 post. Get a look at the engine, the interior, the famous “Bullitt” car chase video, and a vintage ’68 Mustang TV Commercial. Also a link to a panorama shot of the yard.

And absolutely, positively see the Corndancer dot-com Photo of the Week page for pix of the cars in the yard plus some more of the Mustang.

Thanks for looking.

Joe Dempsey,
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind


It’s snowing in L.A.

Lower Arkansas gets big snow job

Donkeys in a snow storm

Two of these donkeys paid attention. The others mooned me.

While others prefer a recliner in front of a big screen TV with the crackling comfort of a nearby fireplace during a snow storm, I take the opposite tack. For me, it is time to get off one’s duff, grab the “kodak” and head out since L.A. (lower Arkansas) does not often get a snow like the one we had the last week of February 2015. There was about a six to seven inch accumulation. While I realize this is puny compared to what has been experienced in northern climes, around here, “it’s a biggun.” As a result, most folks hunker down after they have participated in the desperate run that empties most store shelves of bread and milk.

Pasture fence posts in a snowstorm

Click on the fence posts for more snow pix and stories.

That leaves the streets and most photographic snow covered target areas more or less abandoned, a desirable set of conditions for my purposes. It appeared that the storm would last around four hours or so which afforded plenty of time to run the best visual traps.

Our pictures are in two on-line locations. You can see the other pictures from this trip on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot-com. Take a look and we’ll still be here when you return.

Long horn cattle

These Texas Longnorn cattle live in the same pasture as the donkeys. I shot this later after the snow stopped.

Long horn at hay station

Here’s big-daddy Longhorn giving us his opinion of this invasion of privacy.

Pine trees covered with snow

Not far from the donkeys and longhorns, these Pine trees hang slightly over the road. The snow was falling hard when I shot this.

snow covered trees

These snow covered trees on the road to the donkeys are shall we say “bleak beauty?”

UP locomotive in snow
This locomotive pulls its load through the city during the snow. It takes more than a few snowflakes to stop a train.

Preferred squirrel

In the next five pictures a fox squirrel with whom we share residential space descends from his tree, retrieves an acorn and munches out. He repeated the munch-out procedure on a number of acorns.  My spousal unit provides our squirrels and birds with seed on a regular basis and this particular squirrel has become friendly in the process. He has achieved “preferred squirrel” status.

Squirrel descending tree

OK, the coast is clear

Squirrel in snow

He’s on the trail of an acorn.

Squirrel with acorn

The boy finds his acorn.

Squirrel looking for food

“Dear Lord please let me find another acorn.”

Squirrel looking for food

“My prayers are answered.”

There you have it. You have ventured forth into the bowels of a snowstorm without leaving the comfort of your home or office. It’s a cold, wet job that I will gladly do for you again when afforded the opportunity.

See all 30 pictures from our Snow Day in LA shoot in our Snow in LA Gallery.

Thanks for looking.

Joe Dempsey,
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind





Snowbirds munching out (again)

female cardinal at birdfeeder

Mrs. Cardinal flares as she is about to land and join Mr. Cardinal and friends for a bite of lunch during a 2011 February snowstorm. Click on the picture to see our original post with a bunch of cardinal pictures and our normally scintillating prose. You’ll know you are there when you see this picture.

Back to the birds

This week we are sending you back to a post we originally showed to the known world in February of 2011. We had a non-typical covering snow storm in LA (lower Arkansas) which made food sparse for foraging critters. We loaded up the bird feeder and immediately became very popular with the neighborhood feathered residents. I used our house as a blind and shot out the bedroom window. That meant the window was open, and the bedroom door was closed since the cats would immediately hurl themselves through the window and scatter the birds, given the tiniest of chances.

Male cardinal in snow

Click on the bird to see our Corndancer story and pix on these birds.

That also meant that our normally cozy bedroom had a temperature level like a meat locker on steroids and/or the bottom of a Klondike sinkhole, whichever came first. Fortunately I could take a break occasionally and thaw out only to return for another session. It was downright addictive. Click here to see our original February 2011 post. Also be sure and see our new, improved Corndancer Photo of the Week article with three new pix from this shoot. Annnnnd, see our gallery with all of the bird pix, most of which are a hoot, from the February 2011 bird extravaganza.

Thanks for looking.

Joe Dempsey,
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind


Blues for Joe

Blues singer Reba Russell

Legendary Blues maven Reba Russell belts out the Blues in a February 8, 2015 benefit for Joe Powell at Neil’s Music Room in Memphis TN. Russell batted cleanup after six other great bands did their part in the concert.

Great blues for one of the “good guys”

Late in 2010, blues enthusiast Joe Powell of Pine Bluff, Arkansas, hatched up an idea to sponsor a blues concert to benefit a friend who was stricken with cancer. The idea germinated a bit further to become a recurring series of concerts, each one of which would benefit a victim of cancer or another catastrophic illness. Powell and a crew of friends and sponsors, organized “Blues for a Cause, A Helping Hand,” put feet on the idea and held their first concert in March of 2011. The concerts continued and each one benefited another deserving person.

All the while, Powell is the consummate volunteer in the Blues community. He is a member of the Blues Foundation, and participates in volunteer capacities in the Blues Music Awards, The International Blues Challenge and the legendary King Biscuit Blues Festival at Helena, Arkansas.

free range chickens

Click the chicks for the cool pictures and story at Corndancer dot-com.

At this point in Weekly Grist articles, we normally send you to the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot-com for a related story. This week will be no different with one exception: the story ain’t related. However we believe you will like what you see and read about a one-legged seagull and an up close and personal visit with some free-range chickens.

Back to the Blues

Fast forward to late 2014. Powell was diagnosed with cancer. He started chemo treatments which are no walk in the park. The shoe was now on the other foot. A group of Blues musicians in Memphis took notice and organized a benefit Blues event for Joe Powell, February 8, 2015 at Neil’s Music Room in Memphis. The event lasted from 2:00 p.m. through 8:00 p.m. In that time, seven great bands held forth with their finest. It was a great event with great music and an appreciative and generous crowd.

Blues musician Eric Hughes

Eric Hughes is a multifaceted performer. Here he is playing the original Blues genre. The best way I can describe this sound is that I am sitting on the front steps of an unpainted shotgun house on a gravel road in the Mississippi Delta, listening to Eric play on the porch while sitting on a cane-bottomed chair. He has the sound down to a fine art. He is equally at home with the Blues “harp.”

Amylee Pettis and Lance Pettis

Amylee Pettis has a thousand watt smile to go with her sultry, real-blues voice. She can belt it out while her husband Lance Pettis accompanies her on the guitar. Pettis, a natural musician, puts his heart and soul into every chord he strums and every note he sings. You can “hear the sweat.” The pair make Blues magic together.

Robert "Nighthawk" Tooms and the Wampus Cats

Robert “Nighthawk” Tooms pounds the ivories as part of the Wampus Cats, one of the most experienced Blues bands in Memphis. The musicians in this band have been there done that, and their Blues music speaks volumes for what they’ve done and where they’ve been.

Wampus Cats drummer

The drummer for the Wampus Cats bangs it out!

Drummer, bassist and guitarist in the Wampus Cats

The drummer eyeballs the bass player who eyeballs the guitarist and camera.

Robert "NIghthawk" Tooms

One more of “Nighthawk,” always with the hat. In the spring and summer it magically changes to “Panama.” Think Sharp Dressed Man. Nighthawk is equally at home with the Blues “Harp.”

Joe Powell and Reba Russell

Joe Powell, the honoree, and Reba Russell ham it up for a phone photographer and I steal the setup.


Jack Rowell, Jr,. leader of the Royal Blues Band sings and plays the Blues. He’s been at it a while. A glimpse of his facebook page shows Rowell in his early teens already wailing away in a band.

The Royal Blues Band

Jack Rowell, Jr., and the Royal Blues Band. Jack and this group are always involved in anything worthwhile on the music scene in Memphis. They are an experienced band. A couple of the guys were playing about the same time the Mayflower first made landfall.

Leo Goff

My friend Leo Goff, world-class bass player and blues performer. He plays with a number of bands and is always in demand for his great blues talent,  knowledge and sense of humor.

Don McMinn

Don McMinn a Memphis musical veteran. Many will remember his role as the “house band” at the famous “Rum Boogie” bar on Beale Street. He was great then and better now.

Don McMinn and Leo Goff

Two legends wail the blues. Don McMinn and Leo Goff.

Rebe Russell, Wayne Russel and Lance Pettis

Reba Russell, Wayne Russell, and Lance Pettis are “into it.” Reba’s emotional outpouring of the Blues rattles your bones and shakes your soul.

Reba Russell. Wayne Russell and Lance Pettis Playing

Reba, Wayne and Lance. Their last number and closing piece for the event was a highly respectable version of a Jimmy Thackery favorite.

Folks, this event was living proof that Blues musicians are regular people who just happen to be the genuine messengers of one our nation’s only original art forms. And unless you are a “real person,” you ain’t gonna do the “real blues.” These people got their respective acts together in more ways than one to help a friend. On top of everything else, I can personally attest to Joe Powell being one of the good guys. His children are my grandchildren.

Thanks for looking.

Joe Dempsey,
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind







Back to the old Methodist Church in Houston

Houston Methodist Church Houston Arkansas

Click on the old church to see our original 2010 post and more pictures of the old building.

Definitely not the one in Texas

Back in February of 2010, we took a swing through central Arkansas west of Conway.  After snapping some shots of the really fine St. Boniface Church in the Dixie Community, our next stop was Houston, Arkansas where we found this old Methodist Church.

Though the building was included on the National Register of Historic Places and was home to a newer congregation, it still had the appearance of a fine old building that was  suffering some serious lack of attention.

That’s the way it is with a lot of older churches. Churches lend themselves to be reused for little other than another church. Many of these are start-ups or young congregations with few resources to fix things, so the downhill clock ticks on.

On the other hand, take a gander at St. Boniface Church

St Boniface Church near Bigelow AR

Click the church to see pictures of St. Boniface

Be sure and take a look at our St. Boniface pictures. This old church is the polar opposite of Houston Methodist. It is well preserved and considered by many to be one of the premier “things-you-really-oughta-see” here in Arkansas.

See several exterior and interior pictures of the old church on the Photo of the Week Page at Corndancer dot-com.  You can also read a few pearls of information on the interesting history of the vintage 1906 church. You will definitely be glad you made the trip. Promise!

Thanks for dropping by and sharing our swing through the hinterlands. See you next week.

Thanks for looking.

Joe Dempsey,
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind



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