Showing posts from 2013

The Six Blessings Challenge

I'm a fan of Jason Wright, New York Times Bestselling Author of the book Christmas Jars. I read his posts on Facebook, his blog, and his columns in the Deseret News. I get good ideas from Jason, ones that inspire me to think outside my bubble and do more than I might do otherwise. Today he encouraged me to look back on 2013 and identify six blessings. Truth be told, I had such an amazing year I could easily come up with more than six blessings, but I'll constrain myself. In no particular order, here's my list.

Music: I've loved beautiful, mostly sacred and classical music all my life. I played the cello growing up, went to the symphony, and listened to the Metropolitan Opera on the radio on Saturday afternoons. I was born with the singing gene (thanks, Daddy) and love singing in a good choir. All the years I was sick I had no energy to attend the opera or symphony, no energy to sing in the choir. I pretty much lost my voice. Two years ago I started my way back, singing …

A Good Samaritan Opportunity

I am blessed to live in the shadows of the Great Smoky Mountains and work as a National Park Volunteer at Clingmans Dome. I spend as much time as I can in the Smokies enjoying my love for nature and photography. I love the time I spend in the park and the opportunity I have to interact with park visitors. One thing I have learned as a volunteer is to watch out for visitors who might be in difficulty. It is not uncommon to find distressed visitors at Clingmans Dome, due in large part to the effects of high altitude. Looking for someone who might be having an issue has become almost second nature to me.

It was a chilly and rainy day at the Dome yesterday, though it was not too terribly cold. We were in the clouds all day so we didn't have nearly the volume of visitors we might have on a clear day. Frankly, there wasn't enough activity to require the service of three volunteers and two GSMA employees. I felt prompted to go ahead and leave before the scheduled end of my shift at …

Observing Trees

I drove to Newfound Gap in the Great Smoky Mountains National Parka few days ago to see how the fall colors were coming on. The gap is one of the few accessible locations in the Smokies during the current shut-down of non-essential federal operations, including National Parks. For a few months I've been monitoring a plot of 20 trees at Newfound Gap as a "citizen scientist" for a phenology project. October is a critical month for tree phenology and I felt terrible missing the opportunity to do observations because the park is closed. Who knew I could miss a handful of yellow birch, yellow buckeye, and sugar maples so much? Once access to Newfound Gap was restored, I couldn't wait to go see my trees!

The leaves in the Smokies were at about 75% of peak above 4,500 ft, last Wednesday, including a favorite sugar maple (Acer saccharum) near the sidewalk at Newfound Gap. In years past, this tree had vibrant yellow-orange foliage, but not this year. This year it was yellow-b…

Sunny Sunrise

One of the things I have learned on my journey as a photographer is the importance of being in the right place at the right time to capture the best possible image. In nature photography that timing has everything to do with light. The best light happens in the hour surrounding sunrise in the morning and again in the evening at sunset. My inner body clock is set to be a night-owl, so sunrise photography is a real challenge. I have to get out of bed and out of the house ridiculously early in the morning, a time I now refer to simply as "0 Dark Thirty." The amazing thing is I have come to love the pre-dawn light so much that I happily roll out just to experience it. Trust me, this is revolutionary!

My most recent pre-dawn roll out led me to Seven Islands Wildlife Refuge, a beautiful location in the rolling farmland along the French Broad River east of Knoxville, Tennessee. The riverfront location and wooded hills make this prime habitat for all kinds of birds and waterfowl. I…

It's Official

I guess it had to happen some day, but now it is official -- I am a photographer. For many months my dear friends and family members have been encouraging me to take the big step and move beyond the ranks of casual amateur to a serious photographer. To say I was reluctant would be an understatement, but I have heard your cheerleading and am taking the plunge. From now on this blog will be the home of Plaasabilities Photography, where I will share my images and my adventures.

I will post my best images on my newly developed artist page on Facebook:

I'm also in the process of setting up a gallery and retail page at Fine Art America. You'll be able to browse my images, vote for my work in periodic contests, and customize purchases to meet your specific desires. it will be a few days before I have my FAA page up and running, but you'll be able to find it here:

Words cannot begin to e…

Happy New Year

I started the New Year by sleeping in, then I turned on the TV to watch the news. On the Today Show they were discussing New Year's traditions. Here in the Southeastern USA, everyone talks about eating black-eyed peas and collard greens for good luck during the year. I can't stand either so I guess I've lived with bad luck all my life. Not really, I seem to be just fine. But when  Kathie Lee and Hoda said the Dutch eat doughnuts on New Year's my ears perked up. I'm part Dutch and I've never heard anything about doughnuts. I confess I had visions of Krispy Kremes dancing in my head, but I went tothe source to get the real answer - mother.

I asked mother about the Dutch and doughnuts and she started laughing. "Not doughnuts," she said, "oliebollen!" Yes, a long story ensued. Mother is Dutch and lived in Holland for part of her early life, especially after WWII. Both mother and daddy served LDS church missions to the Netherlands, though not at …