Saturday through Monday, October 22-31, 2022—The Groundhog Days of Fall

Nothing unusual has happened this “reporting” period, and that’s generally a good thing. We continue with everyday life, playing pickleball and golf. Fall this year has been really nice, weather wise, and reminds us of the falls of our childhood when everything was near perfect. Kay did travel to Kansas to reconnect with a couple of ladies with whom she worked, and they had a really good time; friends are priceless.

Corliss, Phyllis, and Kay

The next couple of months will be busy with some more short trips, decorating for the Christmas holidays (yes, it’s near that time again), gift shopping and wrapping, food preparation, and coping with the rushed and frenzied life that accompanies the holidays—and the depression and coping that many people experience.

A few butterflies are still flitting about, and these were photographed in our back yard on October 23.

Sachem Skipper
Gulf Fritillary
Clouded Skipper
Gulf Fritillary, profile view
Clouded SKipper
Gulf Fritillary
Sachem Skipper

Saturday through Friday, October 15-21, 2022—Shivering Cold

It proved to be another ho hum week, but busy nevertheless. Kay attended the Pickleball Sisters tournament in Hot Springs Village on Saturday while I continued helping friend, Dan, consolidate and organize his thousands of photos. The afternoon proved to be a great day for photographing butterflies in the backyard.

It began to lightly rain on Sunday, and continued raining after church until late afternoon, proving to be a great day for enjoying being inside. Kay had choir practice early Monday morning and dental hygiene work later. I attended a church council meeting, followed by golf. It was the first time in several months that we had “cart path only” on several holes. While our day doesn’t sound like much, it proved to be a full day for us. And, by the way, we still had a couple of hummingbirds nectaring at the feeder on their way south.

Last of our 2022 hummingbirds
Another migrating bird?

Tuesday was pickleball day for Kay while I played golf with the church guys’ scramble. Our team, with Okie and Ben, won, but more importantly had a really good time. A chilling cold front arrived Tuesday evening, bringing frigid temperatures and a light frost, the earliest in recent memory. On Wednesday morning, Kay had “table starter” duties for the Duffers Ladies’ Golf, but because of the cold temperatures, there were so many cancellations and no shows that no golf was played—a wasted morning for her. I continued helping Dan with his photo organization, and we both made airline reservations for an upcoming international photography trip. And fortunately, it began warming on Wednesday afternoon. We both played pickleball Thursday morning at Diamante, and it was another of those days when all the games were close and enjoyable.

Kay had some personal care appointments Friday morning, and went to a Christmas bazaar Friday afternoon. Dan and I made a quick trip to the William Kirsch Preserve in west Little Rock, and hit the motherlode with the best butterfly photography day of the year, and just inside the gate. It was so good that I was giddy. What a way to begin the weekend!

Pearl Crescent
Pearl Crescent
Common Checkered-skipper
Common Buckeye
Orange Sulphur
Orange Sulphur
Checkered White
Eastern Tailed-blue
Variegated Fritillary

Saturday through Friday, October 8-14, 2022—Family Time

Photographing a wedding is a nerve racking job; the resulting photos will be precious to the bride and groom for the rest of their lives. Consequently, there is little room for error. Diana Ramirez, a beautiful young Columbian lady asked me to photograph her wedding; she married our (Kay’s) grandson tonight, Saturday. It has been over 40 years since I last photographed a wedding! And this one was late afternoon and early evening, necessitating a flash. Consequently, I spent the days leading up to the wedding watching YouTube videos on flash and wedding photography. Because the bride had enlisted in the US Air Force and was to begin basic training on Tuesday, I quickly post processed the 400+ photos after church on Sunday, and forwarded some 150+ pictures to the bride. The “shoot” turned out well.

Kay and the groom
The groom and bride

We resumed our “normal” activities Sunday afternoon, playing pickleball with the Diamante group, and bridge with the Morrises Sunday evening. We both were busy with social commitments and golf on Monday, pickleball and golf on Tuesday, and pickleball and golf again on Wednesday. I did manage to photograph a few yard subjects Monday morning, including a few butterflies.

Cloudless Sulphur
Fiery Skipper
Clouded Skipper

A wildflower was still blooming, and the persimmons are almost ripe.

Arrowhead Plant
Persimmons

I took advantage of the warm weather Thursday morning to photograph a Sachem Skipper butterfly in the back yard.

Female Sachem Skipper

Kay attended The Book Club monthly meeting in North Little Rock on Thursday after which we drove to Memphis to celebrate Jenny’s birthday (and of course love on the grandkids).

“Pretty Boy” Linc
Smiling, but shy Sutton

Friday was Grandparents’ Day at Harper’s school, First Assembly Christian School, and we immensely enjoyed their program honoring veterans.

Harper opened the program
Honoring veterans
Kay, Harper, and Donald

We returned home Friday afternoon, a bit exhausted by all the comings and goings, but elated over having seen Jenny and her family.

Saturday through Friday, October 1-7, 2022—Life is Good, but Busy

October issued in cooler temperatures, and the days and nights feel heavenly. Kay and I have enjoyed keeping busy (though sometimes it’s a bit too much) with pickleball, golf, grandkids’ soccer, and social activities with a few medical appointments thrown in for good measure. Consequently, there’s not much to report from the Dunns.

We did host a potluck for past and present Arizona snowbirds from Hot Springs Village on Sunday, October 2. With a couple dozen folks attending, we really enjoyed the food and fellowship. I smoked a couple Boston Butts for Memphis-style pulled pork, and everyone seemingly enjoyed it.

And, I finally matted and framed a photograph of an American Anoe to accompany the Tree Frog photograph in the master bathroom.

Perhaps it was the cooler temperatures, but we have had an abundance of butterflies and birds, though still significantly below past years’ numbers. One big surprise was the presence of a relatively rare Ocola Skipper. Still, they made for good photo subjects.

These were made Thursday, October 1. Note the relatively rare Ocola Skipper.

Northern Brokendash
Mexican Primrose-yellow wildflower
Clouded Skipper

Ocola Skipper

While looking for subjects to photograph out in the back yard, it became obvious that we had more butterflies, both in number of species and in shear numbers, pollinating than any other time this year—near heaven for a butterfly chaser.

Clouded Skipper
Sleepy Orange
Fiery Skipper
Variegated Fritillary
Sachem Skipper (female)
Southern Dogface (?)

And then on Tuesday, October 4, birds flew in to enjoy the cooler temperatures.

Eastern Bluebird
Pine Warbler
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Carolina Chickadee

We still have a few hummingbirds fighting over the homemade nectar.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Monday through Friday, September 26-30, 2022—All about Pickleball

This entry is all about pickleball, or mostly all about pickleball. The first annual Diamante CC pickleball championship occurred on Monday and Wednesday. Monday was for preliminary matches to determine seeds for the championship matches on Wednesday. Both Kay and I played. There was a good crowd and some really good pickleball played.

On Monday, Kay first played doubles with tournament co-organizer Paula Hibbs; they were a bit outgunned. In her mixed doubles match, she was paired with tennis great Chuck Hirsch, and  while they competed well, could not overcome the excellent play of their competitors. I played mixed doubles paired with Bev Graham, and we managed to win all of our matches, gaining a No. 1 seed! Bev was, as usual, outstanding. Paired with Randy Bergfield in mens’ doubles, we could not match the near errorless games played by the competitors. Nevertheless, it was a grand time.

Kay , a glutton for punishment, played pickleball again on Tuesday with her women’s group, and I played golf with the church men’s group. Interestingly, our 4-person golf scramble team won with a 90-year old and a golfer who had never played before.

Wednesday was pickleball championship day at Diamante. Neither Kay nor I did well enough to win in our division.

Here is a list of the winners:

Champions:

Women’s Division:  Bev Graham and Cindy Secora

Mixed Division: Clint Atchley and Jeannie Brandeberry

Men’s Division: Peter Julian and Johnny Hibbs

Runners Up:

Women’s Division: Renee Robinson and Stephanie Noblett

Mixed Division: Bev Graham and Donald Dunn

Men’s Division: Chuck Hirsch and Ron Graham

Overall Points Winners:

Women:

Bev Graham 167

Renee Robinson 115

Jen Stout 113

Men:

Peter Julian 130

Ron Graham 129

Donald Dunn 128

Kay played pickleball again on Thursday, and I played golf with our “Arizona” group.

We were without any scheduled events on Friday! With great weather, we played golf together, and had a great time. Both of us tired quickly, though.

Wednesday through Sunday, September 21-25, 2022—Welcome to Autumn

The seasonal changes these days don’t represent the images with which we grew up, or at least the timing of seasonal changes. For example, Wednesday’s high temperature was 96°. There was some moderation on Thursday and Friday, but temps are expected to return to the mid-90s Saturday and Sunday.

Kay played golf on Wednesday morning while I played pickleball; we were both soaked from perspiration as a result of high temps and humidity.

Pickleball at Diamante CC

Our church offered flu shots and COVID boosters, and Kay and I took advantage of the service. Sure to form, a reaction to one or both injections began occurring just a few hours later..

Thursday was pretty much a bed/sleep day while experiencing the reaction to yesterday’s injections—fever, slight headache, and joint aches and pains. Fortunately, this time it was only a 24-hour reaction compared to the 48-hour reactions for the previous COVID shots. Kay played pickleball at Diamante; she is improving each day and now banging at the net against her opponents.

Friday, Kay celebrated a milestone birthday. She and Karyn spent most of the day together, shopping and having lunch with Ron and Cheryl. Afterward, we had dinner with Karyn, Matt, Ridge, and Aker at Texas Roadhouse in Benton. To celebrate her birthday, the server brought out a full size saddle, and Kay rode for the entire eight seconds! Yee Haw. (No photos of this milestone event were made!) I did manage to get a few shots in the yard.

Eastern Pondhawk dragonfly
Mexican Primrose-yellow
Arrowhead Plant
Red-banded Hairstreak
Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Saturday, we worked on the sprinkler system, changing sprinkler heads and clearing debris from the lines. I also took a few photographs in the back yard. Interestingly, birds flocked to the sprinkler as we tried it out.

American Goldfinch “Singing in the Rain”
American Goldfinch
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Carolina Chickadee

Most of Saturday afternoon was spent in Maumelle, attending Ridge’s soccer game. Because of lightning, it was called at halftime, to be continued in the future.

We both took it easy on Sunday. We did play pickleball in preparation for the upcoming Diamante CC championship. The seriousness of the game increased, and some good pickleball was played. We resumed Sunday night social bridge with Jim and Jackie, and of course, Kay came in first and I came in third, out of four!

Monday through Tuesday, September 5-20, 2022—SO, SO

We settled into a rhythm the last couple of weeks, not doing nor experiencing anything out of the ordinary, but continuing a busy Hot Springs Village lifestyle—same old, same old (SO, SO).

Our weekly schedule included church and pickleball on Sunday, pickleball and golf (for me) on Monday, pickleball and golf (again, for me) on Tuesday, pickleball (sometimes twice) and golf (for Kay) on Wednesday, pickleball and golf (for me) on Thursday, “gardening” on Friday, and grandkids’ soccer on Saturday. And of course, church and social board meetings occur nearly every week. Kay’s pickleball game is steadily improving, whereas my golf game is steadily declining!

Tuesday golf with COHUMC men

We are really enjoying pickleball at Diamante, despite the “awkward” courts; they have a bit of tilt, but play just fine. And, we have met the nicest folks there—a real blessing—though most are some 10+ years our junior. A special thanks goes to Jen Stout for organizing our Diamante pickleball play.

Wednesday morning pickleball at Diamante
Wednesday morning pickleball at Diamante
Wednesday morning pickleball at Diamante

I did get out to make a few photos in the back “yard” here in Hot Springs Village during a few walk arounds. Butterflies were in short supply, and have been all summer; it has been disappointing to say the least.

Least Skipper (about the size of a little finger fingernail)

There are still a few dragonflies around, though it’s the same few species; they seem to be smaller as the season comes to an end.

Eastern Amberwing laying eggs
Blue Dasher
Eastern Pondhawk
Slaty Skimmer
Slaty Skimmer
Slaty Skimmer

Some wildflower blooms are appearing in wet areas adjacent to our place in Hot Springs Village. Arrowhead plant tubers were made into a decoction for treating indigestion, rheumatism, or as a diuretic for urinary and kidney ailments. The tubers were also used as a poultice for treating wounds and sores. Headaches, Alzheimer’s, tuberculosis, and blood sugar control are other reported uses.

Arrowhead plant
Mexican Primrose
Mistflower

Even a few hummingbirds are nectaring at the feeders, though they are really skittish.

Immature male Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Immature male Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Male Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Friday through Sunday, September 2-4, 2022—Almost Back to Normal

Unpacking has almost been completed, clothes washed and put away, and streaming channels on TV signed into—we’re almost back to normal.

We both enjoyed some time “catching up” with friends. On Friday, I did manage to get out and shoot a few butterflies and dragonflies.

Viceroy butterfly
Viceroy butterfly
Clouded Skipper
Eastern Pondhawk dragonfly
Slaty Skimmer dragonfly
Eastern Pondhawk

Kay and I celebrated our 22nd anniversary with drinks and dinner at the Diamante Country Club. It’s been a great run with lots of travel, fun, and a few heartaches during our 22 years; we “lost” all three of our remaining parents, “lost” one brother and sister, saw three kids’ marriages and two divorces, and had five grandkids born during this time. Yes, we are blessed.

Saturday was a down day, i.e. a day of rest. We did very little. There were no butterflies, only a few dragonflies, and the hummingbirds would not cooperate, thus no photos.

After church on Sunday, we met the Hartmans for brunch at Diamante, and the club has definitely upped their game food wise. The brunch was quite good. Kay and I had looked forward to pickleball Sunday afternoon, but most of the regulars participated in a golf tournament at Diamante. An afternoon nap and more rest was the order of the afternoon for me while Kay and Pam visited the casino until mid-evening.

Wednesday and Thursday, August 31-September 1, 2022—South, and then East

Creede, Colorado, was in our rearview mirror by 8 o’clock on Wednesday morning. A brief stop was made in Alamosa for a quick car wash to remove the dust and dried mud from the Creede roads. Another stop was made further east for gasoline, and after a 4-hour drive we arrived at Capulin National Monument.

Capulin Volcano National Monument is an extinct volcano in northeastern New Mexico about 25 miles southeast of Raton. It was established in 1916 as Capulin Mountain National Monument, its boundary changed in 1962, and it was renamed in 1987. The monument contains the cinder cone of Capulin Mountain. The volcano became active about 62,000 years ago and last erupted some 56,000 years ago. The symmetrical cinder cone reaches an elevation of 8,182 feet and rises more than 1,300 feet above the surrounding grass-covered plains; its base is surrounded by lava flows. The volcano’s rim is accessible by a spiral road, and there are hiking trails inside the rim.

Capulin Volcano Cinder Cone
Looking into the Capulin Volcano caldera

From there we drove generally east to Shawnee, Oklahoma, where we overnighted. We were both tired and slept well.

On Thursday, we finished the drive home, arriving near noon. The car was unloaded, we unpacked, and I washed and semi “detailed” the car while Kay rearranged outside plants. All’s well, and we’re glad to be home.

Tuesday, August 30, 2022—A Clay Mine and Alpine Lakes

Our last day in the Creede, Colorado, area was used to complete our list of “things to do.” 

After partially filling up with gasoline, our first stop was at “The Clay Mine” just west of Creede. The Marshall Mine is a bentonite mine and has a brief but interesting history as a gold and silver mine during the Creede Gold Rush. From 1890 to roughly 1920, the bentonite clay in the mine was thought of to be nothing but a hinderance in punching into the hard rock. There were no significant reports of gold and silver from the mine at the time, but it was worked until it was abandoned in the early 1920s, leaving behind buildings and the current ore bin. In 1928, the mine was purchased and reopened as a clay mine. There is one entrance to the mine that has collapsed and the total workings of the mine are relatively unknown. The value in this claim lies in the established value of the bentonite ore, which can be mined commercially at a great profit. Additionally, the claim owner could re-open the old workings to discover what minerals were actually being mined and what the potential value of those minerals might be.

The Clay Mine

After a few photographs of “The Clay Mine,” the drive took us west to the Rio Grande Reservoir Road, also known as Forest Service Road 520. The road leads from the Silver Thread Byway (Colorado State Highway 149) toward Stony Pass.

Along Rio Grande Reservoir Road
Rio Grande River

The first 19 miles are accessible by 2-wheel-drive vehicles. Beyond that first 22 miles, a four-wheel drive vehicle is needed to take the rest of the road through Timber Hill, over Stony Pass, and down into Silverton.

Rio Grande Reservoir Road

After many potholes, rutted lanes, and more than a few washboarded areas, we passed Road Canyon Reservoir (actually two reservoirs, one upstream of the other0. The Road Canyon Reservoir was built at 9,725 feet in elevation, damming the Rio Grande River. It is part of a three-lake system (along with the Rio Grande Reservoir) that was constructed to provide the San Luis Valley with water for irrigation.

Road Canyon Reservoir
Road Canyon Reservoir

The drive continued on the Rio Grande Reservoir Road to the Rio Grande Reservoir. The road was gnarly, with steep drop-offs several hundred feet above the reservoir and no guard rails. Built between 1910 and 1914 by the San Luis Valley Irrigation District Rio Grande Dam is an earth and rock fill dam 111 feet high and 550 feet long. Long and narrow, the Rio Grande Reservoir is the third-highest major reservoir in Colorado at an elevation of 9,400 feet and contains 51,110 acre-feet of water.