A break in the soaking and a compendum of critters

This "free-range" rooster gave me a wary look. I stayed in the truck and grabbed him with a long lens. Back in the day, we would have called him a "yardbird," in lieu of the yuppified "free range chicken" designation.

This “free-range” rooster gave me a wary look reserved for interlopers who threaten his hens. I stayed in the truck and grabbed him with a long lens. Back in the day, we would have called him a “yard-bird,” in lieu of the yuppified “free range chicken” designation.

rain soaked camellia

Click the soaked camellia for  more pix and comments.

The drought conditions we groused about several months ago are now reversed here in LA (lower Arkansas). My friend Michael Stubblefield, a transmogrified Arky residing in Seattle would feel right at home. That is, once he made the adjustment to the fact that here one sees a plethora of service stations peddling fried chicken versus the plethora of Starbucks one observes in Seattle.

All that said, this last Saturday was generally a Seattle soaker. Even so, I found some lurking visual opportunities here on the Dempsey premises between cloud bursts. You can see these and peruse the attendant commentary on the Photo of The Week page at Corndancer dot-com.

A break in the soaker came in the afternoon, so bitten with a bad case of cabin fever, I ventured out to see what I could see. Turns out, a few critters had the same idea. One round trip down a short stretch of country road at the outskirts of my fair city yielded unexpected and welcome results manifested as chickens, cows, and horses.

Free range rooster

This rooster was in the same location as the rooster above. He gave me the same suspicious look. I stayed in the truck.

Just across the road from the chickens, cattle were chowing down on a convenient hay smorgasbord in the middle of their pasture. The diners included a Texas longhorn, but unfortunately he was on the far side of the feeding station so we only got a glimpse of his impressive horns.

Cows at hay feeding station.

Across the road from the chickens, cattle munch out on hay. The calf probably probably still visits his mother’s milk supply. Notice the horn on the Texas longhorn on the far side of the feeding station.

Not long after I left the cattle, I was beginning to think I was going to run out of critters when I noticed a some horses grazing in a pasture a couple of hundred yards off the road. I kept going and noticed that the batteries in one camera were running low so I stopped to make the change. While I was fiddle-faddling with the batteries, unbeknown to me, the horses began to demonstrate a tendency shared by most pampered horses. They came to a stopped pickup. As a result, I would up with a close shot of a friendly pony.

I think this horse would have stuck his or her head in the truck had not the gate been closed between us. The horse came a long way to make the visit while I was changing batteries in one of my cameras.

I think this horse would have stuck his or her head in the truck had not the gate been closed between us. The horse came a long way to make the visit while I was changing batteries in one of my cameras.

Some days, you just get lucky. The idea is to let those days outnumber the others. I’m still working on that. I suspect you are doing the same.

Joe Dempsey

Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind.



The camellia returneth

Closeup of camellia bloom

Up close and personal with a camellia bloom on the bush outside our kitchen window. While most flowers are internally governed to bloom on time, this one has scrambled instructions. It has bloomed as early as December and as late as March. We never know for sure until we see the red tips on the buds.

I’d like to claim credit for the blooms on this magnificent plant, but such claims would trip the breakers and sound an alarm as the truth and veracity test notifies all that I prevaricate. The truth is — the former and first owner of our residence was a dedicated gardener and saw fit to plant the camellia outside the kitchen window.

Click on on the bloom for the original story

Click on the bloom for the original pix and story

The plant is apparently as tough as an anvil, because other than water in the summer and an occasional pruning, it does not get much attention. Despite this shabby treatment, it continues to hold forth with its dazzling display.

We originally extolled the virtues and aggravations of this budding flower factory on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot-com with a story and more pictures. We’ll wait here while you look.

Camellia blooms against the sky

On the way to this condition, the plant has been parched, covered with ice, pelted with hail and generally left to its own devices. This sucker has has to have Divine Intervention on its side. These blooms are at the top of the bush. Big bare oak limbs are blurred in the background.

See more camellia blooms in our Weekly Grist Gallery

That the plant survives at all is a miracle given the lack of attention it suffers. Not only does it survive, it is prolific. We make it known in our neighborhood that when this thing is blooming, help yourself. The same goes for the mail man and UPS lady. There will be plenty to take the place of those you pick.

The cantankerous plant tends to hide its best blooms behind foliage, making it difficult to get good shots without a little outside interference to its nefarious design. Big plastic background clamps to the rescue. To photographers, background clamps are right up there with duct tape and baling wire.

Camera and clamps on bush to hold foliage out of the way

Big ol' plastic background clamps hold foliage out of the way and do no harm to the plant. Once the clamps are removed, the twigs snap back in to place. One clamp is also holding a white balance card to the left of the bloom. The camera was much closer to the plant during the actual shots.

 Mind you, no plants were harmed in producing this story — other than well-documented callous neglect. Since it does so well on it’s own, I am not going to mess with it. That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.

Close up of camellia

Click on the pretty poesy for more pix

See more of the camellia

In our Weekly Grist Gallery. You’ll find six larger, high resolution pictures of the flowers and their redness. Guaranteed all natural, double your money back if not completely satisfied, no coupons needed.

Shoes and shirt not required for viewing.  Click and look.

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe Dempsey,
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind


Winter is wearing out

Tulip magnolias

These tulip magnolia blooms grace a tree in the back yard of my across the street neighbors. While I was shooting some jonquils in her front yard, she informed me that she had a tulip magnolia tree in her backyard. Being the horticultural deprived and misinformed citizen that I am, I nodded in agreement. Later I discovered that it was what I have always incorrectly called a tulip tree.

red camellia

See more pictures at Corndancer dot com

Some harbingers of our early spring are fading fast. The jonquils, called daffodils by some, have reached their peak and are beginning to wind down. My camellia is already dropping petals. And there were a few floppy flowers on the tulip magnolia tree you see above. These posies were fooled by a few unseasonably warm days in January and February.

Before we delve further into this epistle, I should advise you that it had its beginnings on the Photo of the Week Page at Corndancer dot Com. Go there to see more flower pictures and learn about attendant seasonal grumbles. We’ll patiently wait here for your return.

Spring beauties

No spring is complete without 'em: Spring Beauties. These blooms are no more than 3/8" inch in diameter.Thousands of these tiny flowers populate most southern yards.

One of the sure signs of spring, are Spring Beauties, a tiny white flower with gossamer purple variegation. No self-respecting yard is complete without a few. Some are blessed with many. My neighbor to the west has one of those yards.

My dogs who favor his turf for their business may contribute to this healthy growth of spring beauties. It is hard to argue with the results. Other dogs in the neighborhood, sometimes even his,  exact proper revenge with similar deposits on my premises. But his flowers are still better.

jonquils from ground level

Jonquils from ground level, a cat-level view. My cats like this flower bed.

Our bare deciduous trees are clearly visible behind these jonquils shot from ground level. They are building up a head of steam to inundate us with pollen, our annual reminder that the shade trees we love in the summer come at a price. Sometimes the pollen is so thick you have to turn on wipers to knock it off your windshield. How quickly we forget while sitting in the shade of a half-dozen towering oak trees that we endured a bit of prior inconvenience. That forgetting mechanism also works well for other temporary hiccups.


red camellia

See more flowers in our Weekly Grist gallery

This week we are featuring 18 posy pictures in our Weekly Grist Gallery. We usually shoot more than we can use so we put ’em in a handy gallery for you to ogle.

See more jonquils, some pansies, another camellia, more spring beauties, forsythia, tulip magnolias, and more. And, this is an on-line gallery that you can show your Momma. Click here if you missed the other links. Lo-carb and stress relieving.

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe Dempsey
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind


Frozen opportunities

For it is written,

“ … when languishing in front of a roaring fire place in the aftermath of an ice storm, remove thyself from thy duff and go forth to shoot stuff covered with ice.”

The revelation made sense to me. As I departed with this mandate directing me, listening to Little Richard holding forth with Slippin’ and a-slidin’ would have been good background music. Thank goodness for anti-lock brakes and FWD!

Switch engine locomotives parked

Awaiting further orders, these ice crusted switch engines appear unfazed by the light coating of ice they are wearing. I saw them as I was crossing the viaduct barely visible in the right center background. They were saying "shoot us, shoot us .... ." Who could say no? Not I.

bell with ice

Click on the bell and see the big bell picture

Had I not obeyed the aforementioned Divine guidance, I would not have seen my friend Jon Phillipi and he would not have joined me as we toured the frozen underbelly of our environs. The first thing we encountered was not the line of locomotives above, but an icicle encrusted bell. See it where this story started on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot com. Click here to go there, a very cool thing to do. We’ll wait while you click.

Open door policy?

Close up of locomotive cab

A closer look reveals an open door (and windows). Perhaps this is a defensive move. After all, miscreants generally will not break an open door. And the temptation is removed. You can also detect the rows of icicles. When you look at the door which will admit a grown man, you begin to get an idea of the size of the locomotive. Ain't a small thing.

One may safely presume the railroad had other things in mind for these switch engines when they placed the order and signed the check. Our good wishes to the railroad that the intended use of these locomotives be fulfilled. It will bode well for us all. When these engines are running, so is our economy. It can’t happen soon enough.

head on photo of locomotive

Under normal circumstances, this is not a healthy place to be. It's not often one of these monsters holds a pose for you.

In the meantime, cameras love trains and people like pictures of trains so there is at least one good outcome.

Those of us who remember the steam whistles silenced long ago by the air horns of today, can also remember the huffing and puffing and magnificent displays of steam and smoke. Several years ago, just a few miles from this forlorn machine, I had the opportunity to shoot Union Pacific’s magnificently restored engine 3985 under a full head of steam.

The big iron horse sped by with little noise and clanking, much quieter than its modern counterparts. An amazing machine. Thanks UP! Send her back again.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch

Ice had covered one of my front yard camellias. A couple of years ago, about this time, I posted a story on Corndancer dot com, the subject of which was the cussed toughness of a camellia bush. One simply does not normally think of flower plants and the word tough in the same breath. Check it out here, if you missed it on Corndancer.

Camellia with ice

The coating of ice does not deter the hardy camellia from its destiny to bloom and survive.

The shoot was  yesterday and today the ice is melting from the trees. It’s like another storm, except this one is in winter sunshine. The water stored in trees and shrubs as ice is now filling drains, puddles, and ditches. Mother Nature’s seven-fold amen to an ice storm. Or perhaps an encore.

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe Dempsey
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind

If you’d like to see a gallery high-resolution versions of our Corndancer and blog photos for this week, click here.

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