Office visit

"Oregon" Dark-eyed Junco1
This “Oregon” Dark-eyed Junco visited my work this week during a cold wave in Northeast Arkansas. The junco seemed unfazed as a gust of wind would ruffle its feathers every so often.

"Oregon" Dark-eyed Junco2

Change of pace

My home for the past three years.

I moved to Stuttgart nearly three years ago. It’s been a great home, especially with Arkansas Post National Memorial, Bayou Meto, Potlatch Conservation Education Center at Cook’s Lake and the White River National Wildlife Refuge being so close. However, it’s now time for me to leave Arkansas County and the Grand Prairie.

I have accepted a job with the same newspaper that I previously interned at for over three years. I’m nervous, yet excited to be able to call Jonesboro home once more.

The move is coming up — my last day in Stuttgart is the 10th. So … wish me luck and get ready to become reacquainted with the delta – NEA style. 🙂

150 years: Battle of Arkansas Post

1-21 Battle of AR Post15

The Yankees outnumbered the Confederates seven to one in the Battle of Arkansas. The outcome was obvious, although the Yankee casualty was still higher — by thousands. The facts of the Arkansas County battle were revisited this past weekend during a commemoration of the battle’s 150th anniversary.

I traveled down to Gillett to watch a small re-enactment (many of the expected reenactors cancelled due to the flu or bad weather) and attend a ceremony to honor those who fought in the battle. Of course, I also had to attend the Union and Confederate camps. I couldn’t believe the reenactors spent the night on site and were still so cheerful and talkative throughout the weekend.

(To learn more about the battle, visit here) Here’s some more pictures from the weekend:

1-21 Battle of AR Post1

1-21 Battle of AR Post12

1-21 Battle of AR Post13



Photo of day: Ballet!!

Last night, I attended Ballet Arkansas’ performance of American Images at the Grand Prairie Center for work. It’s the second year the company has traveled to Stuttgart.

The performance took audience members on a trip through U.S. history with six sections ranging from the American Civil War-based Times Torn to the American Dream to Nowhere/Now Here, which is based on everyday struggles.

Disney on Ice


My newspaper gave me four free tickets to Disney on Ice Friday, allowing me to take my cousin’s wife Amber and his two little girls, Brittany and Maria, on Saturday.

It was great. The girls love princesses and they couldn’t wait to see the Tangled portion of the show. Tatiana and Repunzel were the favorite princesses.


Rolling with the punches

I recently did a feature on an Arkansas County ranch. It was a fun interview with great sights.

You probably didn’t know that there were cattle being raised in Arkansas County — some its own residents often forget this fact. We’re more focused on row crops.

It’s hard to not think of the county’s cattle now since the state has experienced a horrible drought this year. Ranchers are selling out while others, like the local one I interviewed, was working hard to just make it through the year. Row crop farmers were also struggling to just keep water in their fields, although the heat helped keep a lid on disease.

A tough year is not that uncommon for Arkansas County. It’s the fifth year of natural disaster in Arkansas County — it began with a tornado, continued with record-breaking flooding and has ended (so far) with the drought.

If there’s one thing the past few years have taught me, it’s that even positive things can come out of a disaster, such as an early harvest for Grand Prairie farmers. (I absolutely love harvest season for some reason).

The heat has also kept a lid on disease in row crops and the recent rainfall from Hurricane Isaac has helped ranchers (although it did knock down three fields of rice belonging to a friend’s family).

My favorite message coming out of a disaster though is that life continues on with its beauty even more appreciated. It’s hard not to be appreciative when the sights you see are the above and below:

Red-tailed hawk

Cattle egret in a corn field being harvested.

Photo essay: summer photos

After two years, I have finally upgraded my work laptop to a desktop computer. The move has uncovered these summertime photos that brought a smile to my face. The photos are all ones I took while working on stories throughout Arkansas County.
Common Grackle
Cannon demonstration at Arkansas Post.
Youth fishing derby.
An American Robin that I found in my yard at lunch one day.
A Hairy Woodpecker at Arkansas Post National Memorial.




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.