Hollywood Plantation


For Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, I traveled to Tillar, Ark., with my aunt to visit the Dr. John Martin Taylor House (also known as the Hollywood Plantation). The Arkansas Archeological Survey – University of Arkansas Monticello (UAM) Research Station was hosting a cemetery clean up of the Taylor family cemetery and Valley Farm cemetery, the nearby African American cemetery.

The two-story, dog-trot log house was built in 1846 alongside Bayou Bartholomew (which by the way is the world’s longest bayou). The 11,000-acre plantation was inhabited until the 1940s, and is on the National Registry of Historic Places. It has since been donated to UAM and is being restored as an education site for people to visit to learn the history of one of Arkansas’ earliest major cotton plantations.

The Taylors were from Kentucky. According to the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program (AHPP), the Hollywood Plantation got its name from all the native holly trees on the property. The family brought over slaves from its Kentucky plantation — there were 83 slaves according to the 1850 Census and 101 slaves by 1860. After the Emancipation Proclamation was issued in 1863, those slaves were given the option to stay on as tenant labor or travel back to the Kentucky plantation with the owner’s wife. That trip in fall 1863 was documented, according to AHPP.

We did get to tour the old Taylor house before work began. The house was built with slave labor, and our tour guide showed us a handprint that remains in the wall of a second-floor bedroom. I just want to know the story behind it — the upper story is the most original to the 1840s.

Our work for the day was primarily cleaning up the land in the Valley Farm cemetery. This is also believed to be the site of the plantation’s original slave burying grounds. According to staff, there are about 18 known graves (ranging from 1906 to 1926) there, and not all of the headstones for those graves could be found. See below for more pictures from the day:


A foxy sparrow

Fox Sparrow.120017.CBC Craighead

Today, I participated in my first Christmas Bird Count in years. I was even able to bring along my Aunt Cindy and Gigi for the ride. We had the northwest section of Craighead County. My favorite find was this Fox Sparrow, which was in a tree near Bono Lake.

Fall tradition


It has become a fall tradition to travel about 30 minute south of Jonesboro to White Hall (a tiny town six miles south of Harrisburg) to visit Parker Homestead with my niece and Mom. This year, my sister, Dad and the latest addition to the family, my fourth-month-old niece, joined us.

Parker Homestead is a recreated 19th century town with buildings and artifacts from White Hall’s past. The neat part is my Dad’s mother grew up in White Hall (her sister still lives there in their family home) and Parker Homestead actually displays homework of their older brother in a school house on the property. My family searches for my uncle’s work each time we visit.

I may be drawn to the school house but my 3-year-old niece is drawn to the church where an old piano is located. If given the chance, I think she would remain on that piano bench all day.

Here’s some pictures from Parker Homestead:

Tears, prayers then hope.


Keeping those injured or killed in today’s bombing at the Boston Marathon in my thoughts and in my prayers.

And asking all those struggling to make sense of today’s tragedy to remember:

“Look for the helpers. You’ll always find people who are helping.” — Fred Rogers, on what to do when scary things are on the news


Not a comforting sight.

In late July, there was a horrific accident on Hwy. 165 when a vehicle crossed the center line, striking another vehicle head-on. Both vehicles caught fire with the occupants trapped inside.

This stretch of road has been the location of more than a few fatal accidents. So, naturally, my imagination got a little carried away the day I had to stare at the below sight the entire time I was on Hwy. 165. Wouldn’t you be a little jumpy?

It’s carrying a classic metal vault.

Photo of day: Early Stuttgart

Hotel Price and the Riceland Hotel

The Arkansas Historic Preservation Program brought its “Walks through History” program to Stuttgart Saturday to highlight the community’s commercial historic district. The nearly 3-hour walk took us from the intersection of Third and Maple Streets to Sixth Street. From Sixth Street, we walked up and down Main Street learning about nearly every building.

The history included this undated picture, which shows the former Hotel Price (left) and Riceland Hotel in Stuttgart. Hotel Price was originally the Metropolitan Hotel and its northern half was demolished in 1921 to make room for the Riceland Hotel. Riceland Hotel is infamous in Stuttgart for its bad luck as well as its hayday when it was the place to see and be seen.

To the far right is the oldest brick building on Main Street (now Wilkerson’s), which was built just after an 1889 fire nearly destroyed the entire commercial district.


Appreciating Memorial Day

“Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal.” — unknown

Luckily, I have never had a loved one die while serving our country.

I have had loved ones injured and changed forever because of their experience overseas in Afghanistan and Iraq. However, the heartache and fear I have experienced for these family members and friends cannot compare to actually losing a loved one, and I can’t imagine the loss. I’ve been fortunate to lose very few loved ones even off the battle field.

Growing up, I loved Memorial Day. We grilled out with family and friends while taking the day to relax and have a good time. It’s hard to comprehend the real meaning of Memorial Day when you have never been affected personally by death and war.

I guess I truly became aware of the holiday’s meaning, which honors men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military, once I graduated from high school. I come from a large family and, upon graduation, I had five male cousins about my age enlist in the military and serve overseas. Later, I became good friends with others who enlisted.

I’m now thankful that I can spend each Memorial Day with these family members and friends instead of putting flowers or flags on their graves like so many other families have to. Instead, we have different wounds and scars to attend to.

The other factor that has changed the meaning of Memorial Day came from an unlikely source: My work email. In August 2010, I began working at my present job and began receiving a slew of Department of Defense news releases — many of which were death announcements for soldiers killed while supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

I now receive at least one or two of these emails daily and the majority of the deaths are of soldiers who are my age or younger. It strikes home the meaning of these soldiers’ sacrifice even more and what they will never get to experience. Each time I receive an email announcing the death of a soldier younger than me, I automatically think of where I was, what I was doing and what all I have experienced and learned since then. It’s humbling to think of their sacrifice.

I now fully appreciate what Memorial Day — and what every day really — means: These fallen soldiers were willing to lay down their lives for our nation and it’s citizens.

So, I’ll strive to do my part in remembering them and their sacrifice. As President Barack Obama said today, “… we can strive to be a nation worthy of your sacrifice. A nation that is fair and equal, peaceful and free. A nation that weighs the cost of every human life. A nation where all of us meet our obligations to one another, and to this country that we love. That’s what we can do.”

We might not agree, or like, the reason of the war, the politicians involved or the acts of war. However, we should respect the lives of those willing to fight for us. I, for one, will always strive to make the best of mine — it’s just one way to show that they didn’t sacrifice their life in vain.


The Mississippi RiverKings defeating the Huntsville Havoc on Feb. 14.
The Mississippi RiverKings defeating the Huntsville Havoc on Feb. 14.

On Valentine’s Day, I attended my very first professional hockey game with friends. It was awesome, although I was slightly disappointed that there was only one fight.

I can now see how the game can become addicting to watch. My only regret is that I attended my first game so late in the season. I’m working to remedy the situation. Tonight, I’m headed back to Southhaven, Miss., to watch another match-up between the two teams.

The Mississippi RiverKings and the Huntsville Havoc will face off once again tonight. Thankfully, it will be in my presence.

Play ball!

Growing up, I thought the ball players who could hit baseballs out of the ballpark were the coolest people ever. I’m still fascinated today.

On Sunday, I came across this old, falling apart baseball while hiking near my house. The city ball park is near my house but I am more inclined to believe a dog brought this ball to its final resting place.

It helped remind me that baseball (and softball) season is finally approaching. Hopefully, I’ll be able to attend my first-ever St. Louis Cardinals game this year.

High winds, sunsets and destruction.

Sun pierces through morning fog.

It’s been gorgeous weather for the most part this week. The temperatures are in the 60s, the sun is shining and the first flowers are blooming. What’s not to love — well, excluding the mosquitoes now biting me?

Here’s 5 reasons this week was so interesting:

1. There’s storm chasers, then there’s us — damage chasers.

A rainbow appears after the storm.

A severe thunderstorm passed through Arkansas County on Wednesday causing power outages to more than 1,000 people. There was not a lot of damage but there were a few accidents including a tractor trailer blown off the road. My co-worker and I teamed up (she drove since I hate to and I took pictures) to get damage pictures.

We first headed to take pictures of the tractor trailer and fallen power lines on a nearby busy highway. However, we got stuck in traffic.
We eventually snapped a picture with our long lens and tried to take a short cut. However, we barely made it through one flooded section of the gravel road before we saw the above. We turned around.


This skunk apparently didn't like the flooded gravel road either. We saw him scurrying away as well.
We snapped a picture of this busy Entergy worker.
Finally, we had this amazing view to our right as we headed back to the office with the rainbow on our left. Not a bad way to end our storm damage trip.

2. Salvaging airplanes

A former Southwest commercial airplane is dismantled.

For work, I visited a local business on Tuesday to snap pictures of the last stage in their work. The company is a parts distribution company that dismantles commercial aircrafts at the end of their life cycle before repairing and reselling the parts. The stripped plane is then sold for recycling. On Tuesday, the recycling company was in town to tear the stripped plane into smaller pieces. Why is destruction so fascinating?

In this photo, Southwest pilots land a commercial plane in 2011. The plane was one of the three taken apart on Tuesday.
One plane nearly complete with two left to go.

3. Watching the sun set.

Ducks rest near Stuttgart as the sun sets in late January.
A red-tailed hawk flies high in the sky.

 4. Blooming flowers.

One of my favorite times in the year is when the flowers begin blooming.

5. Photographing new birds.

Belted Kingfisher
Common Grackle
OK, I've already crossed Snow Geese off my bird list but these coupling birds were too cute.