Monday through Sunday, July 12-18 —All Quiet on the Homefront

The second pulled hamstring has really put a damper on activities, though Kay continues to stay busy with social obligations, golf, and pickleball.

We reserve Monday evenings for trip planning, and there are a couple in the works for August and September, mainly to escape the oppressive heat and humidity in Arkansas—more to come in the weeks ahead. Tuesday 13 was an errand day for Kay, and I remained around the house, making a few photos in the back. Still hobbling around like Chester on Gunsmoke, I attended a HSV Camera Club workshop, Low Light and Long Exposure, which was quite good. We still do not socialize much, and are cautious when we do, as a result in the exponential uptick of the Delta variation of COVID in Arkansas; don’t you just love Arkansas!

Wednesday 14 was Kay’s sports day with golf in the morning and pickleball. For someone who has never participated in sports, she is adapting very well and becoming credible in both golf and pickleball. As with yesterday, I made a few photos in the back yard, still hoping for the arrival of a few butterflies.

Thursday 15 was a really quiet day for us. Kay dropped off some stuff for her PEO group yard sale, and once again, I searched for the missing butterflies. We are blessed to have an abundance of dragonflies, though they are the same species day in day out.

The Spa City Classic pickleball tournament was held Friday, Saturday, and Sunday in the Hot Springs Convention Center. Events included Men’s and Women’s Singles, Men’s and Women’s Doubles, Mixed Doubles with Adult and Senior Divisions for each as well as featuring  JUNIOR DIVISIONS. With over 400 participants on 36 courts, it was pickleball madness. I worked the tournament on Friday and Saturday, and Kay worked Saturday. Most of the participants were under age 50, and a large number were aged below 40—it’s not just an old people’s game! 

We stayed home on Sunday, 18 and after church, relaxed. About 4 PM I ventured out with the camera and was rewarded with four species of butterflies and a number of dragonflies. Despite the sports injury, it was a good week.

Thursday through Sunday, July 1-11—Recovering, Then It Happened Again

We were glad to usher in a new month, hoping for cooler weather. Kay and Pam met a new Village resident at the Diamante pool, Brenda, and offered to show her the ropes on Thursday. They “visited” all the gates, drove around Hot Springs, and had a girly lunch in town. I continued the slow recovery from the pulled hamstring. On Friday, Kay and I drove National Forest roads near Hollister and then drove to Forked Mountain to enjoy the picturesque mountain vista. We chilled Saturday.

July 4, Sunday, was celebrated at Jim and Jackie’s with a hot dog cookout and luscious desserts. Along with Jim and Jackie were Pam, Don, Martha, Bobby, and Kay and me. After the cookout, Kay and Pam enjoyed the annual Hot Springs Village fireworks. Monday continued the Independence Day holiday, but for us it was a quiet day, mostly spent at home. The hamstring pull has very much limited my activities.

Kay resumed her social activities on Tuesday, attending a PEO meeting, etc. I used the day—another “free” day— to edit old photos and delete duplicates and photos not meeting the quality standard. Kay played golf Wednesday morning. While butterflies have been largely absent from out place, dragonflies zoom all over the place. Some even posed long enough for photos.

Anxious to get back in the swing of things, I opted to play pickleball on Thursday morning—a huge mistake! Despite stretching and warming up, I pulled the same hamstring before the first point was ever recorded. This is going to mean a long, drawn-out recovery. While I remained home with ice packs on the hamstring, Kay played golf on Friday, followed by pool time in the afternoon. Saturday and Sunday were “quiet” days as I continued the slow recovery. This injury seems worse than the previous one—more time to work on photos.

Monday through Wednesday, June 28-30, 2021—Another Sports Injury

Typically, the first of each week is when I play golf, with some pickleball mixed in, whereas Kay plays golf towards the end of the week. During a fun pickleball match Monday morning, a move left and an immediate side step right resulted in a painful pulled left hamstring, and I stretched before the game. Thus, no golf nor pickleball for me for the foreseeable future.

Kay and I had our first official checkup with our new doctor, Dr. Seth Barnes, late Tuesday afternoon. We are both doing great, and our bloodwork was within the margins.

Kay had an early golf day Wednesday, I got a haircut, and the house got cleaned—a pretty full morning. I did manage to hobble out to the back for a couple of photographs. It’s been so hot and humid that making photos has been pushed to the back burner. June 2021 is a wrap!

Thursday through Sunday, June 24-27, 2021—Early Summer Doldrums, Volume 2

Challenging pickleball matches on Thursday morning provided a lot of exercise and laughter—pickleball is so addictive.

This was a girls’ weekend. Kay played golf Friday afternoon and got home, just before Sue, Kay’s friend from early childhood, arrived for a weekend visit. While they caught up on news and happenings, a butterfly and a few dragonflies posed in our back “yard” for photographs.

Saturday night was girls’ night out at the casino, and included Pam; no one bragged about winning lots of money. I saved a bunch of money by not going— the camera equipment doesn’t count—and instead making photos of a couple of dragonflies.

We all went to church on Sunday and heard Sieg, our pastor, preach one of his finest sermons (at least it spoke to me) on “Reconciliation”. After church and blueberry pancake breakfast, a couple species of butterflies and a couple species of dragonflies allowed their portrait to be made in the back of our property. 

Sunday through Wednesday, June 20-23—Early Summer Doldrums, Volume 1

Heat and humidity has dominated the weather this week; soaking wet clothes are common place when performing any outside activity.

I played golf on Monday; Tuesday was a “free” day except for some glamour appointments by our resident beauty, Kay. 

She golfed early Wednesday morning, and I watered deck and patio plants. While watering, a few dragonflies were hunting prey while dodging their own predators, hungry birds, in our back “yard”. Also, a Least Skipper made its presence known on nearby aquatic vegetation at lake’s edge. Here a a couple of photos.

Afterward, Jane Dunn (no relation), a Facebook friend and retired professor of biology at Henderson State University (her husband was president of HSU), communicated a desire to see and photograph Diana Fritillaries and off we went to a nearby natural area. Our first stop was to see the very rare Pelton’s Rose Gentia wildflower, and on the walk photographing a couple of dragonflies, including a possible rare Ouachita Spiketail.

Regrettably, there were few butterflies nectaring, but she did get a few photos. Dragonflies were abundant and we both got several great photos, including a spectacular Calico Pennant.

We also saw a Jewelweed bloom and a lizard.

Kay and I wrapped up the day playing pickleball with the Hot Spring Village Paddle Wheelers.

Wednesday through Saturday, June 16-19—Chronic Back and Leg Pain

With an early start, Kay had a full day on Wednesday. She left the house shortly after 6AM to be the “deck” starter for the Lady Duffers Golf League. And then, she played golf to wrap up the morning, followed by a board meeting in the early afternoon. With only a haircut on my schedule, I enjoyed the day at home working on photos, etc., and taking a few photos in the back near the lake. 

Shortly after lunch, I drove the short distance to Middle Fork Barrens Natural Area to photograph Diana Fritillary butterflies.

A few other species of butterflies were nectaring.

Even a dragonfly, a few other bugs, and a flower or two were there.

We both played pickleball with the Hot Springs Village Paddle Wheelers Wednesday evening, followed by dinner at the local Mexican restaurant—definitely a full day. And, my back and legs were really hurting (lumbar spinal stenosis rates it ugly head about once a week).

We swapped busy days on Thursday as I played pickleball followed by 18 holes of golf. I had a good front nine, but the heat and humidity took over on hole #8, and I couldn’t keep hands and golf gloves dry from #8 through #16—decent score on the front, high score on the back! The cramp-like pain residing in my butt, thighs, and calves continue to hurt, with no relief in sight. Kay enjoyed a great The Book Club meeting in central Arkansas, their second meeting in 15 months.

She and I left the house relatively early Friday morning for medical lab work prior to seeing our new doctor next week. She then attended a memorial service for a PEO sister. Three friends of ours have died this past week; one of the negatives of growing older is the frequency of friends and relatives dying. The highlight of the week was dinner with Karyn and her family at Lone Star Steak House in Bryant, a father’s day gift, and one of my favorites. Both grands presented handmade cards, the beer was cold, the food good, and the company extraordinary. Thank you, Karyn, Matt, Ridge, and Aker; I am EXTRA blessed. And, the Alleve began working on the back and leg pain.

Having had a busy week, we took it easy on Saturday, though Kay did go to the Farmers’ Market in Hot Springs. We joined Ron and Bev Graham at Village Bible Church for a gospel concert by the Guardians. A trio of men from the church opened for them, the worship pastor, associate pastor, and a member who had sung for the Melody Boys. They were awesome!

Saturday through Tuesday, June 12-15—Kay’s Been Exposed to COVID19

Summer has arrived in Arkansas, albeit earlier than the official date for the start of the summer season. Daytime temperatures have been in the mid-90s, and humidity has been stifling—several changes of clothes a day when we participate in outdoor activities!

Saturday was a rest day for us, as we stayed around the house enjoying the AC. Kay received an email noting that one of the women participating in a board meeting last Tuesday (June 8) tested positive for COVID19; Kay also participated in that board meeting and actually sat next to the lady. Now, we’re on pins and needles despite us both having had COVID vaccinations.

With the potentially devastating news yesterday about Kay’s exposure to COVID, we isolated Sunday at home. There were a few dragonflies out and about at our place; I took the opportunity to make some photos.

On Monday, Kay bit the bullet and spent $100 for a quick, but reliable, COVID test at our local pharmacy; she tested NEGATIVE! What a relief as we both had full schedules. Kay took the “old” Honda in for a brake job, and I participated in a Board of Trustees meeting for church, followed by an afternoon of golf. Despite the heat, it was good being back to leading a normal life.

Tuesday was “manicure” day for Kay while I played golf with our church men’s scramble. It was hot.

Friday, June 11, 2021—Finally Found the Butterflies

The COHUMC UMW Garage and Bake Sale began in earnest Friday morning, and Kay worked the sale most of the day. Attendance and sales were quite heavy. 

Despite the oppressive weather, Dan and I traveled to Cherokee Prairie Natural Area near Charleston, Arkansas, in search of new butterflies. We were disappointed as the butterflies were far and few between, though we did see a few Spicebush Swallowtails, an Orange Sulphur, an American Lady or two, and a Pearl Crescent.

Dragonflies were in abundance, though all observed were the same species.

Also, a Dickscissel posed long enough for a photo. By then we were both soaking wet from perspiration.

Even a few wildflowers were blooming.

From Cherokee Prairie Natural Area, we traveled a couple of miles to Flanagan Prairie Natural Area. Again, we were disappointed with only a few butterflies spotted. In fact this tiny Gray Hairstreak is the only butterfly photo I made. As with Cherokee Prairie, a number of dragonflies were spotted.

After stopping at Subway in Paris, Arkansas, for a brief lunch, we traveled to Mount Magazine State Park in hopes of sighting butterflies, though we were not optimistic; were we ever wrong. Immediately upon entering the North Rim Trail, Silver-spotted Skippers were spotted nectaring on the blooms of the Self Heal Herb (Prunella Vulgaris).

Great Spangled Fritillaries were observed as were an occasional American Lady.

Numerous skippers were seen.

And, my first Creole Pearly-eye was recorded. By the way, the temperature at Mount Magazine state Park was 81°, 12° cooler than in the prairies! 

Thursday, June 10, 2021—Hot and Humid

Kay has been busy all week preparing food for the annual Christ of the Hills UMC (COHUMC) United Methodist Women’s (UMW) Garage and Bake Sale. This sale is a big deal—the largest garage sale in the Village—and raises a lot of money for charity. Thursday was the last day preparing the goods for the sale, which begins tomorrow.

Also on Thursday, with no rain in the forecast, Dan Olson and I went to Holla Bend National Wildlife Refuge near Dardanelle, Arkansas, in hopes of finding a few butterflies. We were very disappointed in the number of species present, but there were large numbers of Pearl Crescents, Hackberry Emperors, and American Snouts. We did see three or four Pipevine Swallowtails, one Tawny Emperor, and one Question Mark.

There were large numbers of dragonflies chasing meals, and an occasional one posed for photographs. It was hot and humid, with a heat index of 110°.

Even a damselfly showed up. It’s becoming one of my favorite items to photograph.

Monday through Wednesday, June 7-9, 2021—Continuing to Rain

The last few weeks of weather has been somewhat disheartening—mostly rain with occasional breaks. However, Monday and Tuesday weather consisted of steady rain. Consequently, most of our time was spent indoors at home, except for Kay’s weekly HSV Duffers board meeting. She did have a sleep study on Tuesday night to test for APNEA. She is a heavy snorer, but I have not noticed any breathing stoppage—we’ll see what the test shows.

I ordered a new Sony FE 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM OSS lens last week to make full use of the Sony a7riii camera. It will be used in conjunction with a Sony FE 1.4x teleconverter mostly for photographing butterflies, dragonflies, damselflies, and flowers. It arrived Monday morning after a three day delay. Modern lenses are now small computers and can be programmed extensively. Despite the threat of rain and wanting to try the lens, Dan Olson and I drove to the nearby nature area (temperature and 93% humidity combined to generate heat index of 101°) on Wednesday. Here are the first shots made with the lens (click on each photo to enlarge).