Down on the corner

Yellow flower and seed pod

Flower siblings: This yellow flower and its sibling are thriving on an entrance ramp at the junction of I-530 and South Hazel Street in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. The bloom is advertising for pollination. The seed pod in the lower right, formerly adorned as its colorful sibling, has completed that mission. The next trick is to allow Mother Nature to distribute the seeds to precipitate a repeat performance. Neighbors to these posies include a colony of American Lotus plants in an adjacent pond.

American Lotus bloom

Click on the lotus for a bigger picture and the start of this story

At the southeast corner of the junction of I-530 and South Hazel Street in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, there’s a neighborhood uninhabited with homo sapiens. People are a little further south. The neighborhood I reference includes a perennial colony of American Lotus (AKA water lily) plants. I have watched the colony for a few years. I decided last year to photograph it.

When I did, I discovered that in that small macro environment, there were a number of small blooming plants growing in the hard pan of the interstate entrance ramp. See more about this corner including a picture of the big lotus on the Photo of the Week Page at Corndancer dot-com. We’ll wait here while you look.

I’ll have to hand it to the plants that seem to thrive on the interstate entrance ramp. The ground is hard pan and sloped, conditions not good for retaining moisture. What water they do get is fouled by runoff from the on-ramp which falls way short on the purity index. Here’s a glance at two more of these hardy specimens.

Burred plant

My love of going barefooted began as far back as I can remember. In fact, my feet are bare as I write this missive. One of the hazards of going barefooted was stepping on a cockleburr (our mispronunciation of the pest was “cucklebur”). This resident of the on-ramp is not a “cuckleburr,” but it looked enough like one to make my foot twinge. It is in all likelihood a clover head.

Small daisies

A kind reader once informed me as to the correct identification of these micro-daisies. Unfortunately, that information escapes me, so they are once again “little bitty daisies.” The real thing is about a half-inch across the beam. The top one is at full glory. The rest are going into the “gone to seed” mode.

Crepe myrtle blooms

My friend Dick Warriner advised me earlier this week that his crepe myrtle was resplendent following a rain and a good time to shoot. Unfortunately, the alligators at my ankles prevented the wet shoot. Even dry, they still look good.

crepe myrtle close up

Here are more blooms from the same tree up close and personal.

Suspicions confirmed:

Given the name of this post, one would expect this video to be included. The picture quality is lacking, but it is the original guys. Bring your nickel, tap your feet.

I believe I can say without reservation, there are millions of these special little communities similar to the one we explored today. Perhaps I’ll discover a few more. Better yet, perhaps you will.

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe Dempsey
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind


Wings and Wheels

Restored Ryan PT-19 Trainer

The Razorback Chapter of the Experimental Aircraft Association at Grider Field in Pine Bluff, Arkansas restored this Fairchild PT-19 World War II training aircraft to flying condition. There was a method in their madness. Grider Field was a pilot training facility in World War II.  The PT-19 was the plane used for pilot training. By their actions, the members created historical value for the community and added one more plane to the national inventory of restored WWII aircraft. The plane here is on display during the organization’s annual Wings and Wheels Fly-in and Car Show, September 20, 2013.

If you are into airplanes, old and new, and cars of the same breeds, Grider Field, the Pine Bluff, Arkansas municipal airport was the place to be September 2013. The Razorback Chapter of the Experimental Aircraft Association, headquartered at Grider Field rolled out their impressive collection of experimental and World War II aircraft for all the world to see up close and personal for their Annual Wings and Wheels Fly-in and Car Show. They invited a local car club to bring their custom vehicles which were equally impressive.

Formation flying

Click on the formation to see the original picture, story and more pix.

One of the cool parts of any air show is seeing pilots show off. They love it and you love it. In this case, a local group, The MID SOUTH RV-ATORS, all builder-pilots of their own RV performance aircraft put on a fine show of formation flying. The show was complete with trailing smoke and the hair-raising throb of reciprocal aircraft engines whizzing buy at altitudes low enough to get the decibels you love to hear. You can see one of the formations and other pictures from the event on the Photo of the Week page  at Corndancer dot-com, where this story started. We’ll wait here while you look.

North American AT-6 at Grider Field Arkansas

You are eyeball to eyeball with a finely restored North American AT-6, World War II era advanced trainer, one of the restored aircraft owned and maintained by Razorback EAA Chapter members. This plane was the last trainer fledgling pilots would fly before taking the controls of combat aircraft.

North American AT-6

Side view of North American AT-6. Unlike many trainers of the WW II era, this aircraft was sturdily built and saw service in many foreign air services as a fully-armed combat aircraft.

Aeronca L3B

This is the business end of a World War II Aeronca L3B. The light plane was used for observation and we presume, occasional VIP transportation. We are fortunate that the engine cowling was removed for this display. The four-cylinder engine required 73-octane gas, high-performance juice in those days.

Aeronca L3B

Aeronca L3B side view. Lots of visibility and precious little bullet-proofing material. This little bird was a legendary performer. The recommended cargo limit was ten pounds. It has a 12-gallon gas tank.

Pilot's compartment of the L3B

This is the pilot’s compartment in the L3B. The basics are there and the gas tank is just above your knees. This is aircraft 101a. While some bodily contortion was required to capture this image, no photographers were injured.

Metallic Wasp

Pratt and Whitney radial engines are legendary for their quality, sturdiness, and longevity. The engine you see below is a nine-cylinder Pratt and Whitney Wasp attached to a Vultee BT-13 undergoing maintenance. The engine is OK, the gas tanks on the plane are getting the fix. I have been flown for an aerial photography session in this aircraft. See a view from the cockpit and a view in the cockpit from that trip.

Pratt and Whitney engine

You see two of the nine cylinders which make this 450 horsepower Pratt and Whitney wasp twirl. When this big boy cranks up, the neighbors know it.

Formation flying

The MIDSOUSTH RV-ATORS led by a restored 1943 Howard DGA-15 do one of many formation flyovers during the show.

Men looking at custom cars

A couple of guys are inspecting a thirties era “hot-rod” Ford truck. The vehicle was for sale, but apparently the yellow beauty was not tempting enough to bring out any checkbooks.

Patriotic decor on Corvette

A fine piece of patriotic art adorns the engine compartment of a late model Corvette at the show. Sa-lute!

See more pictures of this event in our Wings and Wheels gallery. Forty-five pix in all from this event.

The annual Wings and Wheels Fly-in is a shining example the good that comes from people who don’t mind volunteering sweat and putting their money where their mouth is. Our congratulations to the Razorback Chapter of the Experimental Aircraft Association for a fine community event. Great job!

Joe Dempsey

Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind.

Hooker Road redux

Old house on Hooker Road

Click on the old home for our original March. ’09 post. See more angles and details.

By March 2009, I had driven past this old home on Hooker Road off US Highway 425, south of Pine Bluff, Arkansas, but it was not until then I stopped for more than a quick snapshot.

After the first day, shooting in the afternoon, I returned the next morning for a 180 on the light from the previous day. Click to see our original Hooker Home post.

Once on the premises, my best guess was,  that in a few years (it has now been a few years), the old structure would have fallen to a pile of kindling. To our good fortune, I could not have been more incorrect in my conjecture. The old structure, as of a few weeks ago,  is still standing, perhaps a little worse for wear given the climatic beating it takes, but still upright.

Old house on hooker road

Click on the house for another picture and more information.

The old home follows the typical rural southern home. It started smaller than it was before final abandonment. The inhabitants added rooms, nooks, and crannies to suit their life style.

Evidence of livestock enclosures and out buildings hint that there was prosperity at some time. You can lay your eyes on another picture of the house and soak up more information and observations on the March 22, 2009 edition of the Photo of  Week page at Corndancer dot-com.

Joe Dempsey

Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind.


Dogs, cats, kids, folks

Black kitten with Santa at the Humane Society photo session

This wide-eyed little fur ball’s patience was growing thin as we fired away. This was the lucky shot. His objections prevented further exposures.

Santa holding Schnauzer

Click on Santa and pooch to see more pix and how this story started.

Every year about this time I shoot dogs. Now before you go apoplectic and dial 911, calm down. No firearms are involved and it is all for a good cause.

In fact, cats, kids, parents, grandparents, and perhaps neighbors and friends may also willingly become targets during the annual Humane Society of Jefferson County (Arkansas) Photo Shoot at Margland Bed and Breakfast in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. It gets even better. Said participants pay for prints, the proceeds of which go to support the noble work of the Humane Society volunteers.

This being a two-part story, you can see how it all started on the Corndancer Photo of the Page. We’ll wait here while you look.

Santa with rescue dog

This boy is educated. He is a graduate of the Paws in Prison program of the Arkansas Department of Correction. Next week he is headed to his forever home in New Hampshire courtesy of the Humane Society of Jefferson County,

Think local

The Humane Society of Jefferson County, like similar local Humane Societies across the nation, is dependent on local support to do the good work they  do. These volunteer heroes do the grunt work. They take care of dogs and cats who have been summarily rejected, tossed away, and abandoned. They are often the recipients of litters resulting from the inaction of irresponsible owners. They hunt homes for pets. They take them to their homes as foster pets. They relentlessly seek out “forever” homes for their charges. They feed ’em. They walk ’em. The genuinely care for them.

Given the depth of service provided by these local Humane Societies, dropping some currency in their coffers is a good idea this time of year.

Grandmother and cat in Santa's lap

It’s never too late to experience one of life’s simple pleasures. sitting in Santa’s lap. Mamma seems to savor the experience, while the cat is ready to cease and desist with the least dispatch.

This family proudly displays their pet pack of two. One home boy and one rescue, both of whom seem to be grateful for the arrangements.

This family proudly displays their pet pack of two. One home boy and one rescue, both of whom seem to be grateful for the arrangements. One of the attending volunteers proudly announced that the “lump” is her grandchild.

Santa with dog

Santa is into the moment and the dog appears to believe he is sitting for an executive portrait. It takes all kinds.

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe Dempsey
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind

Click on Santa and the dog for more pictures

Click on Santa and the dog for more pictures

PS: See more in our Weekly Grist Gallery

 There are more pictures available in our Weekly Grist Gallery if you are inclined to see more dogs and happy people. Click here to see what you have missed.


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

“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

Critters and climate

Remember film? The stuff in the little round cans?

tiger at little rock zoom

Click on the tiger for the original post

Continuing our recent pattern of taking second looks, this week we are looking at some images shot in the early nineties on transparency film (slides).

We first posted these images in August, 2010. On our original post, we eschewed our normal location focus in favor of a media focus, to wit: stuff shot on film.

Click here to see the original Weekly Grist post, Two tigers-two sunsets. You’ll see a couple of tiger shots — and a pair of sunset shots which will never be duplicated since there is now a building in the middle of the former scene.

jaguar at little rock zoo

Click on the jaguar for the original Corndancer Photo of the Week story and pictures.

I shot the sunsets at Saracen Lake, nee Lake Pine Bluff, around the same time. The sky is big there. Late spring and summer thunder storms love to develop in the west close to sundown, making for unique opportunities

Saracen Lake Sunset

Lake Pine Bluff, now Saracen Lake.

The original story on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancerdot-com featured a fine jaguar at the Little Rock Zoo. Since they are more than wary, even in captivity, it was a fortuitous, one-time opportunity. You had to be there right then.

I’m wondering now, given the warp-speed advances in digital technology, if the format of the digital images I’m shooting now can be easily accessed in the future. Already, I have grabbed some archive DVDs and gotten the dreaded “cannot read media” message. I suppose it is the electronic weevil version of mould and mildew which love old film so much.

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe Dempsey,
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind

I never promised you a rose garden, but you got one anyway

Old chevy truck and roses

The former gas island at Joe Webb's Auto Repair is now an unlikely rose garden, proving that beauty can blunt the edge of ugly and look cool when properly applied. We've shown you this before, but somehow, it just seemed right to feature it again.

Things you do not expect to see

It’s not often that you observe an old gas station pump island enclosed in a razor-wire-topped chain-link fence and converted to a rose planter. However at Webb’s Auto Service in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, seeing the unusual is well, usual. This bit of horticultural presence came about at the capable hands of Vicki, the bookkeeper, office manager, gardener, and in-house ray of sunshine at Webb’s. This is not our first visit to Webb’s Auto Service, check out our previous post here.

basset hound

Click on the dog to see another picture of her

Among other things you do not expect to see is a gate with a Basset Hound nose hole. However, at Dick Warriner’s domicile, like Joe Webb’s garage, seeing the unusual is, well, also usual.

Dick replaced his old gate which did not have the imaginative orifice you see below. In a moment of brilliance, he modified the new gate to accommodate Lillie, his Basset Hound. She is appreciative of her leader’s thoughtfulness as you can see below.

Lillie is a rescue dog, and like most rescues, has proven to be a loyal and rewarding companion. She came to the Chez Warriner suffering from the ill-effects of protracted neglect. To her credit, despite her less-than-ideal condition, her tail-wagging mechanism worked well as did her built-in Basset mournful look which will melt the heart of all but the most calloused and hopeless people. As you can see, things are going well for her now. See another picture of Lillie and get in on the start of this story on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot-com.

Bassett Hound looks out a hole in a gate

Lillie, the Basset Basset Hound peers out a hole in a gate. The hole was placed where it is so she can do exactly what she is doing.

 Sometimes, even plants can send a message. Here some vastly different plants seem to enjoy each others presence the same environment. It appears that their joint efforts have choked out the weeds.

clover and butter cups

These wild flowers seem to be sending a message.

Out-of-the-ordinary stuff provides some of the cheapest entertainment available. It’s simply a matter of allowing one’s self to stumble across it. Happy stumbling this week.

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe Dempsey,
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind

Christmas at Margland

Margland Bed and Breakfast

Margland Bed and Breakfast is decked out in its Christmas finest. The structure was finished originally in 1903. Ed Thompson and Wanda Bateman restored it in 1985 and started the bed and breakfast. The bed and breakfast now includes four additional similar structures all in the same block on West Second Avenue in Pine Bluff, Arkansas.

Doing things “half-way,” is not an option for Wanda Bateman and Ed Thompson, owners and operators of Margland Bed and Breakfast Inns of Pine Bluff, Arkansas. They started their enterprise in 1985 when they restored the old home above. Now they own the whole block and have converted four additional Victorian era structures to house bed and breakfast guests.

Margland fireplace

Click on the fireplace for more pictures

The faithfully restored exterior seems to make a promise that when you enter the premises, you will continue to see furnishings and decor reminiscent of the early 20th century. When you step inside, particularly during the Christmas Season, you immediately see that Wanda and Ed made good on their promise. The house is full of period furniture, decor and artifacts. And you are looking for Christmas decorations which stick to traditional practices, this one is it. You’ll see plenty of red and green.

Speaking of which, you can see two more pictures of the exterior and one picture of the interior on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot-com. We’ll wait here while you look.

Two room view of Margland Bed and breakfast

This is the big 'front-room." You know this was a highfalutin' house because it has two "front rooms," as opposed to the more pedestrian one "front room" arrangement. The other "front room" is out of the picture to the right. It features the fireplace and huge Christmas tree. In the south, or at least the part where I grew up, the term "living room," was not widely used. That room was commonly referred to as the "front room," which could have been a throwback to the old shotgun houses where the rooms were "house wide." This house has two "front rooms," which puts it high in the pecking order.

See more Margland and Christmas light pictures
in our Weekly Grist gallery.

Margland dining room

The dining room at Margland features a large dining table of the same era as the house. As I was shooting the room, the kitchen staff was filling the table with sweets and Hors d'oeuvres in preparation for a church Christmas party.

Sliver cabinet and side board in Margland

The sideboard and silver cabinet are part and parcel of the period furnishings. The straw-bearded Santa adds a bit of contemporary whimsy in the spirit of the season.

See more Margland and Christmas light pictures
in our Weekly Grist gallery.

Nativity scene at the top of the stairs

This finely crafted nativity scene is at the first-landing in the stairs to the residence of the building, a reminder that Jesus is the reason for the season.

 As we enter the Christmas season and look to the promise of a new year, we pause to give thanks for what we have and take a look at where we’ve been, what we’ve done, or not done. For some of us, we’ll even wonder why we got a bundle of switches for Christmas.

Christmas elf

Click on the elf for more pictures


See more pictures of Margland plus some additional Christmas light pictures and a nice nativity scene in our  Weekly Grist Gallery. You see the Weekly Grist and Corndancer pictures plus more not shown any where else in larger better format. Click and go.

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe Dempsey
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind

Fall, falling down, and ferrous oxide

line of old cars

A '54 Oldsmobile 88 leads a stationary parade of old cars. The second in line appears to be a '59 Ford. The third car is anybody's guess. The cars are in a "used" car lot on Arkansas HIghway 16 west of Heber Springs, Arkansas.

old corn crib falling down

Click on the corn crib for more pictures

I started out on a fall color trip and found plenty of colors on Arkansas Highway 16 in the central Ozark Mountains — and more than I bargained for. I found rust and ruination, old barns and more.

The story of this trip actually started on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot-com where I found an old corn crib about to fall down across the highway from this old car. Take at look the corn-crib picture and a couple of others, we’ll wait here until you get back.

1954 Oldsmobile 88

The old Olds deserved a close-up portrait to properly reveal what's left of its former glory. These models could burn some serious rubber. What was once a cool ride now reminds you of the guy down the street with snaggle teeth and a dirty shirt.

The old Olds and a number of other mostly fifties vintage automobiles are stored in a lot at the corner of, get ready for this, “Toothfairy Lane” and Heber Springs Road (Arkansas Highway 16). That’s right up there with “Mad Dog Hill Lane,” about 60 miles or so to the east of this location, which I have photographed twice . (You’ll need to scroll down at both link locations).

Toothfairy Lane street sign

This is not contrived. The old cars in a lot at Toothfairy Lane and Heber Springs Road, a.k.a. Arkansas Highway 16.

See all 16 pictures from this trip in a larger format in our Weekly Grist Gallery.

Highway 16 winds through a lot of sparsely populated countryside which ain’t a bad deal if you are looking for some serenity as you travel — and you never know quite what to expect. I came across a huge pasture in the midst of which was an old Ford 9N tractor sitting on three wheels and a jack. I’m thinking the local parts house does not stock a lot of Ford 9N tractor stuff.

Old Ford tractor broken down in field

The forlorn old Ford tractor is broken down in a field right close to as big as three Wal-Mart Super Center parking lots — or there about.

 Closer to home, there is an old Chevy truck, a 41 or 42 model, (I can’t be sure, they are very similar),  which I have longed to photograph. The old klunker is in plain,unobstructed sight from the Princeton Pine (a.k.a. Arkansas Highway 190) west of Pine Bluff, our spiritual headquarters.  Only problem is I can never catch it in the right light or by itself. The owner is in the salvage business and he leans used “for sale” stuff against it, knowing that people will always look in that direction.

1941 Chevy truck

Official portrait of my favorite 1941 (or 42) Chevrolet bob truck.

Got lucky today. The good news was, the stuff was gone. The bad news: the truck was back lit — conditions less than ideal. About the time I was about to mutter under my breath The Master Weatherman sent a cloud between the truck and the sun — which evened the light. Got my shots. Life is good.

side view 1942 chevy bob truck

A three-quarter view of the old truck with a curious horse in the background.

 By the way, for the uninitiated, “ferrous oxide” is another name for “rust.” Whereas millions of individuals believe that rust and cloudy days are undesirable conditions, we have today proven them wrong and misinformed. Without rust, our old vehicles would have no aging patina. Without the clouds, we’d have no truck pictures. I rest my case.

See all 16 pictures from this trip in a larger format in our Weekly Grist Gallery.

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe Dempsey
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind

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