Monday through Sunday, August 1-7, 2022—Pickleball and a Photography Exposition

Yet another hot and humid week! We venture out early mornings and stay in the rest of the day. It’s getting a little tiresome being housebound. Consequently, there is little to report.

Kay continued her sports this week, playing pickleball Monday and Tuesday, golf on Wednesday, and pickleball again on Thursday. There is marked improvement in her games, both pickleball and golf; she’s amazing.

I played pickleball only on Monday and Wednesday, and came home drenched with perspiration both mornings. Bedford Camera and Video hosted Photo Expo 2022 in Little Rock Friday and Saturday, with enough speakers and vendors to whet any photographer’s appetite. Taking advantage of trade-in offers, sales, and a sales tax free weekend, I completed the transition from Canon to Sony. So it’s been an Argus C3 in the early 1960s, Minolta SR101 in the 1970s, Nikons in the 1980s, then various digital point and shoot cameras in the 1990s and early 2000s, Canon in the mid 2000s through 2019, and now Sony—quite a journey.

After church on Sunday, we had brunch at the Desoto Club in Hot Springs Village. Not only was it prohibitively expensive, it was also the worst buffet I’ve experienced. After two meals, dinner and Sunday brunch, I do not recommend it, and likely won’t return.

Towards the end of the week, I did make it out to the back “yard” for a few photos.

Fiery Skipper butterfly
Slaty Skimmer dragonfly
Female Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Sunday through Sunday, July 24-31, 2022—Dog Days of Summer, Part 3

Near record breaking heat and high humidity continue in central Arkansas, making doing chores and playing outdoors uncomfortable most of the day. Consequently, our lives are pretty quiet. Sunday was church, after which I shot a few photos in the back yard; only a lone Robber Fly was observed. We played bridge Sunday evening with the Morrises.

Robber Fly

I played pickleball on Monday, shot photos on Tuesday, and played pickleball again on Wednesday, and Thursday mornings; but didn’t play golf this week because of the extreme heat.

Kay played pickleball twice on Tuesday, golf on Wednesday, and pickleball again on Thursday.

Dan and I went to Middle Fork Barrens Natural Area on Friday, as he was kind enough to share locations of the not oft seen Dragonhunter dragonfly and American Rubyspot damselfly.

A few butterflies were photographed.

Another dragonfly and damselfly offered shots.

Even a few flowers appeared.

After Middle Fork Barrens, we migrated to what we call Magellan Pond, the body of water on Ponce de Leon at the entrance of Magellan Golf Course. As we arrived a Great Blue Heron was actively feeding, but quickly departed.

There we shot photos primarily of the Halloween Pennant dragonfly, our target species.

A Fiery Skipper and bee were photographed sharing a spent bloom.

From Magellan Pond, Dan drove us to an area adjacent to Balearic Road, and an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail provided a topside view.

Friday evening, we had dinner at the Desoto Club, under new management (isn’t it always,) with the Morrises and Pam. I thought it was only so so, and grossly overpriced.

Karyn and Aker came Saturday about lunch, and with Kay enjoyed the Mid-America Science Museum in Hot Springs. They left Sunday morning. And, that was pretty much our week. In looking back, this July must have been the hottest on record!

Sunday through Saturday, July 17-23, 2022—Dog Days of Summer, Part 2

Heat and humidity continue to envelop a good portion of the nation, and we seem to be at the epicenter. Consequently, we continue to stay indoors, except for outside chores, and morning pickleball and golf. Kay kept to her active social life with various meetings, lunches, and the monthly The Book Club meeting. I spend most days working on an ancestry book, preparing a couple of blogs, and photography, namely matting and framing a number of images. I ventured out in the “back yard” to photograph butterflies, dragonflies, and damselflies, though numbers of these species are down significantly, at least where we live. Here are photographs from Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday. These are presented as a slide show, so just click on the arrow to advance the photo.

Sunday through Saturday, July 10-17, 2022—Dog Days of Summer

With an abrupt end to spring in early June, temperatures in the central US have been hot—record setting hot! Consequently, Kay and I have stayed indoors except to venture out for the occasional golf and pickleball games. There is not much to report in this particular blog entry. It’s almost too hot to take pictures of butterflies and dragonflies, though our back yard offered a quick photography fix on Thursday and Saturday. Thursday’s butterflies included Southern Cloudywings, Delaware Skippers, and Fiery Skippers as shown below.

Thursday’s dragonflies included Common Green Darners, Eastern Amberwings, Blue Dashers, Slaty Skippers, Widow Skimmers, and Eastern Pondhawks.

Saturday’s quick jaunt in the backyard revealed only one butterfly, a Southern Cloudywing.

Southern Cloudywing

A few dragonflies were observed, but appeared as if they had seen better times; thus, no photos. However, one damselfly made it in the mix, a Variable Dancer (this one is less than an inch long.

Variable Dancer

And And, it seems like this is the period known as the Dog Days of Summer. From the FARMER’S ALMANAC. “The “Dog Days” of summer are from July 3 to August 11 each year. They’re usually the hottest and most unbearable days of the season. We often hear about the “Dog Days” of summer, but few know where the expression originated. Some think it’s a reference to the hot, sultry days that are “not fit for a dog.” Others suggest it’s the time of year when the extreme heat drives dogs mad. But where does the term come from? And what does it have to do with dogs? You may be surprised to see is has to do with the stars!

The phrase is a reference to Sirius, the Dog Star. During the “Dog Days” period, the Sun occupies the same region of the sky as Sirius, the brightest star visible from any part of Earth. Sirius is a part of the constellation Canis Major, the Greater Dog.

In the summer, Sirius rises and sets with the Sun. On July 23rd, specifically, it is in conjunction with the Sun, and because the star is so bright, the ancient Romans believed it actually gave off heat and added to the Sun’s warmth, accounting for the long stretch of sultry weather. They referred to this time as diēs caniculārēs, or “dog days.”

Thus, the term Dog Days of Summer came to mean the 20 days before and 20 days after this alignment of Sirius with the Sun—July 3 to August 11 each year.

While this period usually is the hottest stretch of summer, the heat is not due to any added radiation from Sirius, regardless of its brightness. The heat of summer is simply a direct result of the Earth’s tilt.

During summer in the Northern Hemisphere, the tilt of the Earth causes the Sun’s rays to hit at a more direct angle, and for a longer period of time throughout the day. This means longer, hotter days.”

Wednesday through Saturday, July 6-9, 2022—Another Set of Grandkids

The next few days were special ones—time with another set of grandkids. We met Karyn, Ridge and Aker, and Ron and Cheryl for pizza Wednesday evening in Benton. After dinner, Ridge and Aker were handed off to us for their summer visit. Because it was late, the kids played with their tablets for an hour or so before heading to bed.

The kids woke up in a pleasant mood Thursday morning, and remained quiet and inactive for an hour or so. A quick breakfast was followed by a full day of activities. Kay and Ridge went to Diamante for pickleball while Aker and I remained at the house to water the plants and “play” outside. Ridge is becoming a formidable pickleball player, and got to play with and against the US Senior Olympic champion and Diamante Tennis pro, Geoff Hodsdon. Geoff used the opportunity to teach Ridge about the game. Aker enjoys watering the plants and admires the beautiful colors. After an active morning, the kiddos had lunch, and then were off to the pool with Kay where they had a great time. Evening came quickly, and after quieting down it was bedtime for all of us.

The grands and I traveled to Mid-America Science Museum in Hot Springs Friday morning after breakfast. With over 100 hands-on exhibits, there were enough activities to keep Ridge and Aker busy for a couple of hours.

The indoor cave was far and away their favorite exhibit, and they “explored” it many times during the visit. It was too hot to spend any significant time outside, but there was plenty to do otherwise. After a quick lunch, Kay and Pam took the kids to see Minions: The Rise of Gru. Upon their return, Kay and I offered to take them to the pool at Diamante, but they politely stated a preference for the beach at Lake Balboa. The beach was near empty, and as the sun faded, the breeze off of Lake Balboa provided relief from the hot conditions. The kids had a ball, and played in the lake until we drug them out well after sunset. A late dinner and bedtime followed.

Time with Ridge and Aker passed entirely too quickly, and Kay returned them to their mom about mid-morning Saturday. I ventured outside in the afternoon to discover a few butterflies, mostly Fiery Skippers) nectaring on the Lantana, and a rare visitor to our yard, a Gray Hairstreak, was also spotted among the many blooms.

A few dragonflies were zooming about looking for their next conquest.

The house sure was quiet the rest of the day.

Friday through Tuesday, July 1-5, 2022—Too Darn Hot

After a brief respite from the heat, another heat dome has settled over mid-America. A heat dome occurs when high-pressure circulation in the atmosphere acts like a dome or cap, trapping heat at the surface and preventing cool air from entering the area. Many scientists say this may be the coolest summer for the rest of our lives!

I don’t like real cold or real hot weather, and am forced to stay inside during these temperature extremes anathema for someone who not only enjoys, but thrives on outdoor activities. Consequently, Friday and Saturday were stay-at-home inside days for the both of us. While watering potted plants on the deck and patio, a few photos were made—mostly dragonflies, but also a butterfly and a flower. I occupied “inside time” by sorting through old photographs, and identifying each by key words. Fortunately, this is a several days’ job, and provides relief from the heat, and rekindles many memories.

Delta Arrowhead

On Sunday, we joined Ron, Kaden, and Diana at Lake Ouachita for a couple of hours of lake time, but the heavy boating traffic made “hanging in the water” difficult. Nevertheless, it was great seeing and spending time with them.

Independence Day was a hot one as well. Typically, we enjoy a picnic-type meal with Jim and Jackie and friends, but I canceled out due to heat. Kay was a brave soul and suffered through the super heated still air. She and Pam canceled their viewing of the Hot Springs Village July 4th fireworks because of the heat.

Tuesday brought more of the same as I played in a sweaty golf scramble with our church group, and thankfully it was at Coronado, a short, executive golf course. Despite having a great team, we came in dead last!

Saturday through Thursday, June 18-30, 2022—Celebrating Summer

Saturday and Sunday were quiet days; we took advantage and rested, catching up on social media and blog writing. On Monday, we welcomed daughter Jenny and her family for several days. For the rest of the week—Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday—we spent time at the beach, in the swimming pool, and on the patio playing in the water.

The visit with Jenny, Harper, Linc, and Sutton was terrific, but I must confess that hiking with Harper and watching her take photos was extra special; she is a talented young lady. I can’t wait until the other two are old enough to “play” with me. Here are some of her photos.

Jenny was great help in washing clothes, making meals, and cleaning up during their visit. Kay and I spent Saturday and Sunday recovering from our hosting duties as grandparents. And then, we began playing golf and pickleball in earnest on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. In fact, after playing golf and pickleball Monday, golf on Tuesday, and pickleball some 4+ hours on Wednesday, I was about done for, and had to quit Thursday golf on the 14th hole. Kay was out playing both sports as well, but had enough sense to know when enough was enough. Fortunately, the hot tub was repaired early in the week and provided soothing relief for our aging and aching muscles and joints. Kay’s friend since before first grade, Sue, came to visit Thursday. I did make it out to the back to do some photography Thursday, getting a few decent shots of butterflies, mostly Sachems and/or Fiery Skippers, and one Pipevine Swallowtail.

Dragonflies were zooming everywhere.

Even a Tree Frog could not escape being “shot.”

Tree Frog

Thursday through Thursiday, June 9-16—Heat and Humidity

It appears that we’ve entered a period of high heat and humidity, combined to yield a heat index of over a 100° most days. That makes it near impossible to enjoy any outdoor activities, even those involving just a minimum of movement. Oh well, I vowed to remain home most of this summer for the first time in many years despite the temperatures.

On Thursday, June 9, Kay and the girls traveled to North Little Rock for “The Book Club” monthly meeting. Dan Olson and I tripped to Middle Fork Barrens Natural Area just east of Hot Springs Village in an attempt to photograph female Diane Fritillaries, Arkansas’ state butterfly. The males appeared a week or so ago, so we knew the females would soon follow. The sun and heat brought our a number of butterflies, including several species of skippers. Photographs were made of a Horace’s Duskywing, Common Buckeye, Crossline Skipper, Fiery Skipper, and Clouded Skipper.

I was lucky to capture a couple shots of an Eastern Tailed-blue with its wings open—such a little beauty. 

And, a Pipevine Swallowtail sat still long enough to photograph. 

Pipevine Swallowtail

There were a number of male Diane Fritillaries; the few females were difficult to photograph. 

Towards the end of the day’s walk, a couple of females settled long enough for pictures, before a male would pester them away; love was in the air.

A few dragonflies were also moving about.

And finally, a “last of the season” Indian Pink was found in an area of dense vegetation. 

Indian Pink

Friday’s heat kept me in the house most of the day while Kay gave blood for lab work prior to her mid-year medical review.

We both stayed in Saturday morning before leaving shortly after lunch to attend Ridge’s soccer games. He is becoming a very good player, and it’s always fun to watch him play. Photos were taken by Kay.

I awoke Sunday with the beginning of a back ache and is the result of Lumbar Spinal Stenosis. Surgery in April 2015 significantly helped in relieving the constant, debilitating pain, but about every four to six weeks a back ache arises and lasts a few days. We attended church, and then went to Pam’s to assist with assembly of patio furniture. It was another hot, humid day. A couple of hours at the Diamante pool sure helped for cooling off. Bridge with Jim and Jackie Sunday evening was a hoot; it’s much fun the you win!

The back ache worsened on Monday, forcing cancelation of an afternoon golf game. Just to get out of the house, I drove to the Diamante Pickleball courts, and because there was a shortage of players, agreed to play. Surprisingly it helps the ache. But, a couple of hours after pickleball, the ache returned! Kay opted out of her pickleball games, and watched the “sedition” hearings, followed by a long visit to the manicurist.

As expected, the back ache continued Tuesday, but I participated in the church group golf scramble anyway. Of course our team came in dead last, but we had a good time. Kay had her semi-annual medical visit, only to find out she’s in great health!

Kay was up BEFORE the crack of dawn on Wednesday, as she was the “cart barn starter” for the Hot Springs Village Women’s Duffers golf group. That lady gives a lot more than she gets, but enjoys the action and people; she practically knows everyone in Hot Springs Village. I played pickleball with the Diamante group. There are about eight to ten regulars that play, and the competition is very strong regardless of the team makeups. Most games are decided by only a few points. It is really enjoyable to play with them. And, the back ache continues.

Plans to help with repair of the pickleball courts Thursday morning were disrupted by several problems with our sprinkler system; a leak, stopped up filters, and blown heads. One of the four areas was completely repaired while work was begun on the other three. We had dinner with Morris’s at Cajun Boilers in Hot Springs. Though the service was great, but all of us were disappointed with the food; Cajun Boilers used to be a really good restaurant. And, by the way the backache is slowly going away.

Friday through Wednesday, June 3-8, 2022—Between the Storms

“Between the Storms” sounds like a country or gospel song title, but it’s our weather reality. Those of you who live in Arkansas know I speak the truth!

On Friday, Kay and I ventured to Costco in West Little Rock, our first trip there in about a month! Buying gasoline and have my hearing aids serviced are two things we always do when shopping there. Regrettably, there are few sampling stations with food on which to nibble. I ventured out to Middle Fork Barrens Natural Area in hopes of finding Diana Fritillaries, Arkansas’ state butterfly, fluttering about. It’s always a time of the year to which I look forward. A few males were active, nectaring on the Monarda, commonly known as Bee Balm; no females were observed.

With warm temperatures and sunshine, and the absence of rain, other butterflies were nectaring.

Several dragonflies landed and remained still long enough for their photo to be made.

And surprisingly, the wildflowers were spectacular.

Saturday was relatively quiet. Pam joined Kay and me at the Diamante swimming pool for a bit of sun; the water is still too cold for immersion.

On Sunday, Kay, Pam, and a couple of other ladies flew to south Mississippi to spend a few days relaxing at Beau Rivage. Gambling, eating, and sunbathing were the main items on their agenda. With Kay absent, it sure was quiet around the house—“just sayin.”

Because of rain, I stayed in the house on Monday and Tuesday working on photo organization and edits, and beginning an online, in-depth course in Photoshop. In that last regard, it seems like I have to play each video two or three times before some of the lesson(s) soaks in. And, I’ve begun a diet as I NEED/WANT to lose weight and get healthier; it’s not easy!

Kay returned home to storms and heavy rain on Wednesday, saying that the commute from the airport to Hot Springs Village was frightening with the intensity of rain and roadway water. Our Wednesday afternoon pickleball games were cancelled once again because of the rain.

Saturday through Thursday, May 28-June 2, 2022—Social Butterflies and More

Memorial Day weekend proved to be a quiet one for the most part. Saturday, we worked in the “yard” a little bit, and then hung out at the pool at Diamante Country Club. After that, we both read, and then watched British crime dramas.

On Sunday, Karyn, Matt, and kids came to visit. Ridge immediately jumped on his kayak and paddled in the lake. Aker and I got in another kayak and joined him. The kayaking was short lived when Aker thought wasps were chasing us; it was a few Eastern Amberwing dragonflies. Convincing her that they were harmless was not in the cards. The Adams’ joined friends at Lake Balboa for afternoon boating and playing in the sand. 

Monday, Karyn, Ridge, Aker, Kay, and I played pickleball at Diamante. After practicing for about half an hour, all of us except Aker joined other pickleballers in a few competitive matches. Karyn and Ridge did great.

After pickleball, they packed up and returned home. The back of our lot near the lake provided a number of damselflies and dragonflies to photograph, with a preponderance of Blue Dasher dragonflies.

To say that Tuesday was a quiet day would be an understatement. Two significant things happened. First, we spotted an unusual moth on the deck, and second, Kay played ladies’ pickleball with her Tuesday group. I “piddled” in the yard, and read. See, I told you it was a quiet day!

Wednesday began a new month; they seem to be whizzing by. Kay play golf with the Lady Duffers as usual, and I finally made it to the Diamante pickleball court after a long absence due to weather related wet courts. We were scheduled to play pickleball with the Paddle Wheelers (winter Arizona group and friends), but it began raining just as we arrived at the Hot Springs Village Courts. The downpour continued for the next hour or so, preventing our playing. We “adjourned” to the Mexican restaurant for drinks and dinner.

Thursday, I played pickleball. Kay and I attended her PEO group party, and visited with a lot of folks from church.

Weather in Hot Springs Village has prevented much in the way of outdoor sports. It has rained frequently, the golf courses are wet, and the pickleball courts are slick and unsafe most of the time. When a break in the weather allows some photography, it is typically so humid that my clothes are soaking wet after only an hour or so. We’re sure glad that there is no climate change or global warming; what would we do then!