The question on the barn; and a favorite waterfall


Old barn with cross on roof

The roof of this old barn at St. Vincent, Arkansas has a question superimposed on the image of a Cross. “R U Ready?”

As you cruise into the outskirts of St. Vincent, Arkansas, you notice an aged reminder of Redemption, or the lack thereof, on the roof of this old barn. Back in the day, barn roofs were convenient substitutes for billboards, most of which were painted by itinerant sign painters. This roof was not painted by one of the traveling practitioners. It shows all the vestiges of creation by a non-professional painter with a passion to  deliver a message .

Whomsoever did the deed had a better eye than most amateurs for proportion and layout. The message is on both sides of the barn and clearly shows in the Google satellite view of the location.

LBJ's beer and grocery

Click here for the LBJ’s story and pictures

Not far up the road from the barn is St. Vincent’s business district, consisting of one store, LBJ’s Beer and Grocery. In Arkansas, some might consider the two a culture clash. Unlike the old barn, there were people present at LBJ’s which seemed ripe for a good story.

That presumption of a good story was correct. See the story of LBJ’s Beer and Grocery — and its proprietress on the Photo of  the Week page at Corndancer dot-com. We’ll wait here for your return.

store with old lion oil sign

Later that afternoon, we found this store proudly displaying an old Lion Oil sign. Lion Oil is an Arkansas company which has changed hands over the years. The Lion Oil refinery in El Dorado, Arkansas, you can be assured, is refining crude even as you eyeball this image.

The next day, liquid sunshine

A day later, we headed back in the same direction.The fine sunlight of the preceding day had transmogrified to overcast and liquid sunshine. I decided that these conditions did not create gloom and doom, but offered different challenges.

Mountain in the mist

As we were ascending to the hills, cold rain hit warmer earth and foliage creating a misty mountain mystique. It didn’t last long.

Murky falls

Once the mental re-orientation was done, I headed nearby to one of my favorite waterfalls, Falling Water Falls, (on Falling Water Creek) northeast of Ben Hur, Arkansas. The normally pristine falls were a bit murky due to the extreme drought in this Arkansas neck of the woods. The creek drains a lot of downhill territory which contains a lot of dust resulting in the coffee look of the falls. The dusty grunge however does not diminish the siren sound of falling water, which is mesmerizing to a lot of folks, Me included.

falling water falls, falling water creek, arkansas

It is not necessary to leave your vehicle to take in this view of Falling Water Falls on Falling Water Creek, northeast of Ben Hur, Arkansas. The murky appearance is an anomaly. The creek normally runs clear and clean, however, the accumulation of dust due to the current drought in the runoff area that feeds the creek creates the temporary appearance.

Falling water falls falling water creek arkansas

It is necessary to leave your vehicle to get this view. A few non-hazardous steps will do the trick.

I identified Falling Water as one of my favorites. Here are links to my previously documented visits to the falls, the first of which goes way, way, back to the film days: Falling Water 1; Falling Water 2;  and Falling Water 3.

Mouldy monument

On “Old Highway 27,” I found this old monument, the inscription of which reads.” Arkansas Federation of Women’s Clubs Memorial Forest.” Then there appears to be a blank space where a plaque was removed, followed by further emblazonry reading, “Ozark National Forest, United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service.”

Apparently someone decided that the memorial, which stands taller than my 6-3″ frame was no longer necessary. Perhaps there is some irony in the fact that the memorial bears a striking resemblance to the map of Texas, our former Southwest Conference arch-rival.

Arkansas Federation of Womens Clubs Memorial forest monument

Perhaps the monument was abandoned because it looks too much like Texas, our former arch- rival in the now defunct Southwest Conference.

Grunt and groan fence

Further north on “Old 27″ I found this old rock fence. Folks, there is no easy way to build one of these. Here are the instructions: Find rock, lift, tote, lower in place. Repeat if necessary. Multiply that by the number of rocks you see, keeping in mind that this is a fraction of the fence.

old rock fence in the ozarks

Imagine the labor to build in this old rock fence. Apparently our fore-bearers believed there was great value to these structures. Back in the boondocks, one frequently encounters fences that strongly resemble this one.

Across from the rock fence is an old residence which appears to now be a deer camp. The old dug well looks good in the front yard. Since there are no ropes attached, one can presume its primary function is now decorative.

old dug well in the ozarks

The old dug well structure across from the fence is well preserved, but non-functional.

The cool stuff to see does not go away during inclement weather, it just looks different and may be a tad more difficult to reach. But, if you don’t go you’ll never know.

Thanks,

Joe Dempsey
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind
http://www.joedempseycommunications.com/
http://www.joedempseyphoto.com/
http://www.corndancer.com/joephoto/photohome.html

Brighten the corner


red lilies in empty lot

These brilliant lilies are brightening their little corner of the world which happens to be in a former location of a family home, now an empty lot. The neighborhood, so far, has seen and gone past its best years. Someone forgot to tell the lilies.

Few of us can  find fault with urban beautification projects and organizations. In this day and time there is an abundant amount of urban acreage which can benefit from the noble efforts these people put forth. Since the prospective areas to benefit far outweigh available resources, we are grateful to our Maker for any help we can get.

I was reminded of that when I spotted these lilies in an empty lot in what I suppose one would call a “transitional” neighborhood. You know the type: a few homes, a few empty businesses, a few operating businesses, a partially filled strip shopping center, a couple of churches, and a Sears store turned public building — the neighbor hood can’t decide what it is.

ground spider in tunnel

Click on the picture and see more of Ms. Spider

Normally at this point in our Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind epistles, we invite you to take a look at a related subject on the current Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot com.

This week, the invitation stands, but the subject is totally unrelated. Well maybe a little, these are Spider Lilies. Go to the Photo of the Week page and check out my visit with a ground spider in her home. She was reluctant about the whole thing but finally acquiesced to an up close and personal shoot on her premises.

Back to the lilies

red lilies in abandoned lot

Take a gander at the lilies up close. These are complex boogers that bear close examination. Each flower is akin to a free standing arts and sciences gallery.

Mother Nature has her own program of beautification, manifested in surviving plants, which for whatever fortunate reasons, are not molested by surviving humans. These lilies are propagating and bursting forth with beauty where we need it most. The tour buses will miss ’em but us serfs who ply the less-traveled public streets can benefit if we will take the time to notice. And further, to alert your friends.

Brighten the corner where you are

As I looked at the lilies, I harkened back to my “up-brangin’.” Giving the flowers a good once-or-twice-over, I found myself humming the old hymn, “Brighten the corner where you are.” Being one to share, I looked around and found a video with old church scenes and Burl Ives singing the hymn in his fine Southern Gospel mode, chased by Willie Nelson singing the “Unclouded day.” You will tap your feet.

 

red lilies in an old home place

Here are the lilies with a bit more of their environment. Mother Nature’s perfect balance of complimentary colors (remember what those are?)

The lilies and I appreciate you dropping by. Now brothers and sisters, let us go forth and brighten the respective corners where we are.

Thanks,

Joe Dempsey
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind
http://www.joedempseycommunications.com/
http://www.joedempseyphoto.com/
http://www.corndancer.com/joephoto/photohome.html

Back to the Cossatot


Tommy Wingard in rapids on the Cossatot River

World-class kayaker Tommy Wingard negotiates Class-V rapids on the Cossatot River in western Arkansas after hurricane Gustav dumped a plethora of water on the river in September. 2008. Click on the picture to see our original 2008 post and pictures.

After our epistle on Isaac last week,  I recalled another encounter with the tailings of a gulf hurricane, to wit: Gustav in mid-September, 2008. After watching Gustav plod into Arkansas, I watched his progress on radar and noticed that he would dump a deluge on west central Arkansas. That portends well for the Cossatot River’s reputation for it’s Class-V stretch of rapids in periods of high water.

Jason Mellor in rapids in Cossatot River

Click the pic for the original Corndancer story.

This week we revisit that trip. I went in that direction hoping to encounter some canoeists or kayakers. Little did I  know that I would meet my friend, and super-photographer Chuck Haralson, who had made arrangements for three world-class kayakers to shoot the rapids for us. Few get to shoot athletes at this level, so I was very grateful.  Click here for our original post.

Talk about luck. Also be sure and check our our Corndancer Photo of the Week page for that trip.

Thanks for visiting Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind,

Joe Dempsey,
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind
http://www.joedempseycommunications.com/
http://www.joedempseyphoto.com/
http://www.corndancer.com/joephoto/photohome.html I hope I am not wearing you out on this story since I sent you there in January of this year, but still licking our wounds from Isaac, it seemed like a good recall.

Water woes again


rice irrigation in Arkansas

Thirsty rice requires a lot of water. Here in LA, most of the water for rice comes from wells. Those wells are pumping like crazy now, just like they were in June 2009 when I first shot this picture. Click on the picture to see the original “Water Woes” article and pictures.

Here in LA (lower Arkansas), in the early months of the summer of 2009, many of us were convinced that the heat and drying conditions were experiencing were world class, off-the-chart, bad. Little did we know what was lying in store for us three years later in the summer of 2012, so this week we are sending you back to our June 28, 2009 post to compare notes. You may also want to peruse the original Corndancer Photo of the Week treatise and pictures on the same subject.

Our current conditions of day after day of 100 degree plus temperatures, sparse, if any rain, and blistering sun make those days in 2009 seem like a minor inconvenience. The truth be known, many of us observe these untoward phenomena from air conditioned comfort with our fingers crossed that the faithful old a/c, however burdened, will hold on.

Despite our griping, our exposure to the elements usually consists of a sweaty traipse through a torrid parking lot to a vehicle, the interior of which could be temporarily leased to a local bakery. We open the door, mutter naughty mutterings regarding the oven-like conditions and shortly thereafter whisper a small thank you to the Almighty for letting the air conditioner blow a north wind in our grateful faces. Things could be worse.

Oh, and by the way, just in case you did not notice the new page on this site in the main menu above, see our new page on Photo Manipulation.

Thanks for dropping by,

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

Family tree redux


Bois d' arc tree

Despite what you may think, you are looking at the trunk of a healthy Bois d’ Arc tree. The tree is more than 140 years old and looking forward to more.

A bodacious Bois d’ Arc

We’re going to archives this week, returning to a fine fall day in 2009 near Greenwood, Arkansas. On that day, the paths of me and Gerald Ware crossed. The results of this fortuitous encounter were mutually beneficial.

Had either of us deviated from what we were doing that morning by more than a few minutes, we would probably have never met. Which would be a pity for me since I would have never seen his remarkable Bois d’ Arc tree. Gerald sees it every day.

See the original story and more pictures of the remarkable tree in our original October 4, 2009 post, a guaranteed good read. See the start of the story on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot-com,

Thanks for dropping by,

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

Still surviving


Thomas Grocery, Tarry, Arkansas

I first saw Thomas Grocery and bought a Baby Ruth and a root-beer there shortly after I arrived in this neck of the woods in the early sixties. To tell the truth, it doesn’t look much different now.

Tarry, Arkansas is tiny. Size in this case h0wever has nothing to to with treasure. And tiny Tarry has a treasure manifested in Thomas Grocery, which has survived nicely and is still standing tall after a lot of  years. Regrettably.  I have not done my research on Thomas Grocery past admiring it for a number of  years.

Old building

Click on the old building to see some that are now gone.

Unfortunately, a lot of older structures have met their demise while Thomas Grocery has survived. We took a look at a downtown building and an old barn that are now history on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot com where this story started. And soon.

I did the Thomas Grocery shots in 2009, with the intentions of following up to get more information on the store. Unfortunately, we are all familiar with where the road paved with good intentions heads. That said, now that I have finally published the winter shots which show the front of the store, I will make it a point to go back and get the summer shots and this time get information.

Thomas Grocery, Tarry Arkansas

Looking at Thomas Grocery head-on, an inviting look from days gone by. The bench on the front porch tells us that social pursuits shared importance with merchandise.

Further to the north and east, in the Delta at Hughes, an old store, Zuckerman’s, sits empty along with its neighbors. Hughes, like many small Delta towns at one time was a vibrant community with thriving businesses. Mechanization of agriculture and a whirlwind of cultural and economic changes swept through the Delta like Moses’ plagues on the Pharaoh and when the dust settled, the towns were a shell of their former selves.

Zuckerman's store Hughes ARkansas

The appearance of Zuckerman’s was impressive to me because the lettering and layout of the sign fit well on the structure as if a real designer had a hand in it.

Swinging back closer to home in Cleveland County, Arkansas I happened across this old barn. Turns out the barn is only about 40 years old despite the fact that it looks much older. The owner explained that he built the barn from materials salvaged from an old family home on his property which was built around 1905. About 10 years after he built the barn, he removed himself from raising cattle and the barn was no longer used.

Old barn in Cleveland County, Arkansas

This old barn fooled me. I surmised that it was substantially older than its 40th year. It is however, built with lumber which is about 107 years old.

Though the Arch at St. Louis is alive, well, and non-threatened in the foreseeable future, I was able to grab a good shot of it last week while in St. Louis to watch the Cardinals get creamed by the Chicago White Sox — and since I write the rules here, I’m including the picture. Got the  shot while stalled in traffic, a blessing from a curse.

The St. Louis Arch

Lovers stroll hand-in-hand with the mighty St. Louis Arch in the background. Got lucky. I shot this with a phone camera from through a bus window. Will miracles ever cease?

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

Back to the zoo


Tiger at Memphis Zoo

Click on the tiger to see our original Memphis Zoo story and pictures

Back in June 2010, I made a trip to Overton Park, AKA The Memphis Zoo. The zoo was featuring a couple of pandas whose presence created a temptation I could no longer resist. Though I went for the pandas, I got more than I  had bargained for including the climate.

I have sweltered in my time, but that weekend pegged the needle for a combination of heat and humidity the likes of which I had not experienced since the early sixties when I was traipsing about in the jungles  of northeast Thailand. At the end of the day, I decided that the price of seeing some fine critters do their best to act up was some sweaty discomfort which I survived. Looking back, I would do it again in a heartbeat.

panda at memphis zoo

Click on the Panda for more pix and a story.

The trip afforded energetic performances by bears, big cats, gorillas, monkeys, and the people who were watching the critters. You can see the start of the story with some panda, polar bear,  and tiger pictures pictures on the original Corndancer Photo of the Week page.

See the rest of the story on our original Weekly Grist post. I also created an album with 42 critter pictures including tigers, pandas, monkies,  gorillas, and more from the trip in our Weekly Grist gallery.

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

A bear, a monkey, and a locomotive redux


Fuzzy monkey on a limb

Click on the monkey to see the original post

Back in November of 2009, I ran shy of current subject matter and was compelled to dig into the archives to populate the Weekly Grist and Corndancer Photo of the Week pages.

Mind you, these were film archives, 35mm transparencies, no less, so we are talking late eighties and early to mid nineties. Lots of fumbling, loupe looking, page turning, and head scratching as opposed the modern alternative of “scrolling down.”

I found the ones I wanted, mostly unrelated, including a fox, some alligators, a bear swimming in deer grass, a locomotive, and one super cool monkey. I put the fox and gators on Corndancer. I put the bear, monkey, and locomotive on Weekly Grist. Click here to see the original post and marvel.

fox at new orleans zoo

Click on the fox for the Corndancer Photo of the Week

The fox and the gators bear inspection on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot-com, where we discuss the conundrum the fox versus the gators: How we consider warm and fuzzy versus low, long, toothy and perhaps slimy — while both are God’s critters. There is no good answer, but it is a pretty good read.

Given that these critters were adults when I shot them years ago, most have probably ascended to the big critter home in the sky, so this is a memorial to them. Well maybe except for the gators who can live up to 50 years and still may be scaring the socks off of those with weak stomachs. I guess that’s how God makes up for ugly.

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

There goes the neighborhood (again)


old house falling down

Click on the old house for our original post.

A couple of years ago about this time I wandered into Lincoln County, Arkansas and plied its gravel roads in search of a story. I found a couple of old houses barely visible from the road — infested with a cubic acre or so of mosquitoes.

Fortunately I had slathered my person liberally with Deep Woods Off, AKA “skeeter-dope” in LA (lower Arkansas), so the pesky winged miscreants got close, but did not taste my blood. I was tipped off to the old houses by a big “home place tree.” See the tree and read the start of this story on the Photo of the Week Page at Corndancer dot-com.

While I was shooting the crumbling ruins, a big storm was brewing to the west, a fact I discovered after I left the mosquitoes and piled back into the truck. The storm was close enough that I got a couple of storm shots. Then the emergency broadcast squealer sounded and announced that certain parts of Jefferson County to the north were under a tornado warning. The description of the subject real estate included my neighborhood so I lit a shuck toward home.

On the outskirts of Pine Bluff, the radio guy said the storm had veered east. I called my spousal unit and discovered that our residence was safe. Thus relieved, I decided to chase the storm. The chase was fruitless as far as seeing a tornado, but I did manage to grab a few storm shots, which you can see on our original Weekly Grist post. When you get there, be sure and click on the Weekly Grist Gallery link at the end of the story for more pictures.

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

“Been-gone” barns


Red barn

Every thing you ever wanted to see in a barn, including a community of turkeys and guineas. And close to home. Finally got around to it. The shot required a stop half-on-and-off the road. The narrow shoulders mean the truck is slightly in a ditch on the passenger side, the four-way blinkers are on, and prayers headed upstairs for avoiding being center-punched from the rear while the camera is clicking away.

round tuitGetting around to it

During a short day trip to a family affair, I finally got around to a serious shot of a barn that had lingered on my “to-shoot” list for far too long. The shortest A to B distance from our domicile to the event put us right past the deteriorating, ivy-decorated structure, sabatoging any excuse.

Ivy covered barn

Click the pic to see the Hwy. 5 barn

The shot required a stroll down the shoulder of a busy highway and a bit of weed-wading, but was well worth it. See two pictures of the old structure on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot-com where this story started. If you are from Arkansas, it’s one of the Highway 5 barns south of Benton.

Experiencing the “feel-good” feeling after doing something one has long intended to do, I decided to go after two additional barns on the “to-shoot” list once I arrived back in home territory. All three were “been-gones,” that is, “I been-gone shoot ’em for a long time.” In LA (lower Arkansas), “been-gone” translates to “something you have been going to do.” The first one of these you see above, a classic.

Small red barn

This barn, though younger than most I shoot, has the classic shape and colors that make barn lovers drool.

The next “been-gone” barn I went after is not nearly as old as most of the barns I shoot. However, it has the color and shape folks love to see in barns. With that barn panache, it made the list.

small old barn

I missed this little jewel on all previous reconnoitering trips, but played catch-up ball on this trip. Click on the Weekly Grist gallery below to see an old tractor under the shed.

old barn with tractor under shed

Click on the picture for our Weekly Grist Gallery

Not far from the not-so-old barn, my peripheral vision caught a hint of one that was old. A nearby resident told me the barn was old when the owner moved into the property 50 years ago. It has the gray barn patina relished by die-hard barn lovers and sits in a large manicured yard. Check out our Weekly Grist Gallery to see more pictures of these three barns and the barn we featured on the Corndancer Photo of the Week page. And this week, get around to something lurking on the to-do list. Feels good.

Joe Dempsey,
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind
http://www.joedempseycommunications.com/
http://www.joedempseyphoto.com/
http://www.corndancer.com/joephoto/photohome.html