observed by Diane » photo journal for those who enjoy vignettes of an ordinary life

  • Welcome to my photo journal

    Living on Vancouver Island in B.C. Canada Diane loves the scent of forests and rain, the rhythms of the sea, and holds discoveries and stories in high regard.

    "If you are a dreamer, come in. If you are dreamer, a wisher, a liar, a hoper, a prayer, a magic-bean-buyer. If you're a pretender, come sit by my fire, for we have some flax-golden tales to spin. Come in! Come in!" ~ Shel Silverstein

    This online photo journal is ad-free; commercial-free; linky & link party-free; Facebook-free; ... it's pure and simple an online journal of an ordinary life. Come on in to enjoy a breath of West Coast air.

    Lately . . .

    Lately …

    . . . We have been entertaining by having couples over for brunch — what a great way to entertain! Nearly everything can be made in advance so that the morning-of all that’s needed is toss things in the oven, pull the fruit/berry plate out of the fridge, brown the sausages, and wait for guests to arrive. Since everything is ready at once, it’s a matter of setting things out, sit, eat, and enjoy some friendly conversation. We’ve had three rounds of serving brunch so far and plan on doing another one very soon.

    . . . At our last supper club (we do it potluck style with 6 other people) the theme was Thai food — what a great meal! And doing it potluck means it’s easy peasy since each of us only needs to prepare one dish to serve for dinner. Another great way to get together with friends.

    hand written thank you notes ||  www.dianeschuller.com

    Don’t you love receiving hand written notes and thank you notes?

    . . . Book club. Well, I love my book club but I must admit there have been a few books that I’ve had to read in recent months that I truly do not recommend. So I’ll pass on those and move on to share my thoughts about the two most recent books I read (one was for book club and the other for pure pleasure) and give you my thoughts.

    The Gift of Rain: A NovelI don’t have a photo because I read it on my Kindle. Before I mention the story itself I have to mention how much I enjoyed the author’s use of imagery and story telling. The story takes place during the invasion of Malay by the Japanese during World War II. This one is very unique compared to all other novels using WWII as it’s background or its main historical component.  I found the characters well fleshed out. It’s a quiet sort of story despite what is going on but because I really enjoy an intelligent literary novel, this definitely rates high with me. Recommended.

    A quote from the novel, “Like the rain, I had brought tragedy into many people’s lives but, more often than not, rain also brings relief, clarity, and renewal. It washes away our pain and prepares us for another day, and even another life. Now that I am old I find comfort, like the spirits of all the people I have ever known and loved.” ~ Phillip Hutton, protagonist in The Gift of Rain.

    Gone Girl: A NovelWritten from the perspective of each protagonist. The chapters alternate between each of them with the story unfolding from each perspective. It has a real interesting twist part way through that you won’t see coming. If you enjoy a page turner with plot twists, you will enjoy this one.

    Gone Girl recommendation

    . . . Knitting. As busy as summer is around here, I’ve been craving getting back to knitting. But before that, remember that pretty Saroyan leafy scarf I finished several months ago? It desperately needed to be blocked but I still haven’t been to the city to try and find a blocking board and pins or else those spongy interlocking things that people use in kids rooms (yes, they seem to make an ideal surface for blocking hand knits). I was browsing around YouTube looking for a useful how-to for blocking and one of the titles grabbed my attention. You can steam block if you don’t want to (or in my case don’t have the materials for) wet blocking. The video was brilliant so I got my steam iron out, ‘flattened’ out my Saroyan and began steaming and shaping. It turned out AMAZING! Brilliant. So now I can begin a new project without the guilt of not having blocked my last project.

    Saroyan scarf ©Diane Schuller

    Saroyan hand knit scarf now blocked

    Saroyan scarf in black & white ©Diane M Schuller

    And new on the needles:

    I bought two beautiful skeins of hand dyed sock yarn from Yarn Indulgences in the colour “Water and Sprouts” a while ago. I gifted one to a lovely neighbour who knits beautiful socks. The other skein I am turning into a shawl — my very first shawl. I attempted another pattern before this one but had nothing but grief so turned to a real simple pattern and it’s so addictive that it’s really moving along. Mind you I haven’t yet reached the lace ‘feather and fan’ section though I’m sure I can tackle it. So here’s a peek at my Multnomah shawl in progress.

    Multnomah shawl by www.dianeschuller.com

    I know, it’s all garter in this section but I like that the garter will make it squishy and stretchy.

    knitted shawl in progress ©Diane M Schuller

    NOW YOU!  What’s on your needles (for those who knit) … or … What book have you read lately that you recommend? … or … What’s your favourite way to nosh with friends (dinner, appies, brunch, backyard BBQ, or ?).

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    Jessie - August 21, 2014 - 10:02 pm

    Every time I read your posts I find myself wishing I lived closer… you know something less than two time zones away… Because your food sounds amazing! We’d reciprocate though, I promise! You invite us for brunch and we’d be happy to have you over for dinner. Johns specialty is grilling (he’s got some excellent pulled pork recipes) and I’ll make sure there is something tasty for dessert…

    I also enjoyed Gone Girl, that was a book club book for me, good discussion on that one! I just finished Fool’s Assassin by Robin Hobb. Loving the whole epic fantasy (good epic fantasy) I was super excited to have her bring back my favorite of her characters in the start of a new trilogy. So much so that I went back and re-read some old ones. Good stuff (Starts with Assassins Apprentice and even a few of my non-fantasy loving friends though it was great!)

    As for knitting, the last dishcloth I was knitting is still on my needles, sad thing has been there since shortly after my oldest daughter was born… maybe one day…

    Sherry - August 22, 2014 - 8:17 am

    I love your posts, Diane, and all the goodness contained therein! Your knitting projects simply amaze me and since I have two left needles, I cannot contribute anything interesting there. I’ve been rereading Elizabeth Lesser’s A Seeker’s Guide lately, not a novel but her life story. Just bought a couple of new books I’m dying to read: The Motion of the Ocean… and The Monks and Me. Can’t decide whether to save them for the boat or not…As for eating with friends, we recently participated in a tapas evening with 5 others. Each contributed a small plate course, including dessert. A different wine was paired with each, except dessert. It lasted about 5 hours and was just wonderful! We smoked some salmon and trout and I baked blueberry cheesecakes in mason jars for the first time. Yummy, easy and perfect to transport. I didn’t get any pics though so it will have to live on in my memory ;-)…

    lisa - August 22, 2014 - 1:04 pm

    Diane, it sounds like you are having a wonderful summer, and your brunches sound like the perfect way to stay in touch with friends, and eat lots of yummy things too!! Cannot go wrong there!

    Your scarf is gorgeous. I love the delicate edge on it.

    Around here, it’s still a matter of working on the downsizing. Hopefully excavation begins next week (it’s been held up by the very rainy weather).

    I wish you a wonderful weekend, my friend! xo.

    Candace - August 22, 2014 - 8:37 pm

    You sure are a social creature, Diane! The knitting is beautiful. I keep meaning to download Gone Girl on my Kindle and keep forgetting. Hopefully, you have jogged me. The other book also sounds good but I like to read light in the summer (don’t know why because I’m not on vacation or anything)so I’ll keep that in mind for later reading.

    Susan - August 22, 2014 - 8:51 pm

    I’m about to decorate my kitchen/eating spot/sitting area in the very same colours as your shawl. Once gardening season begins I have little time or energy for reading. I save it all up for the grey days of winter. Soon it will be time to make my book list, a highly enjoyable activity. The two you mention sound good candidates.

    Andi - August 26, 2014 - 3:11 pm

    Ah, those lucky people that have the pleasure of dining and sharing meals with you! What absolutely brilliant idea to have a supper club potluck.
    Your Saroyan turned out so pretty, Diane.

    Where did she go?

    Qualicum Beach Farmer

    Qualicum Beach Farmer

    (Both photos taken on my iPhone)

    It’s about time I do an update, don’t you think? Even if only to demonstrate that I really am still kicking. Next post I’ll share a basket full of updates/tidbits. It will include some knitting, a couple novel suggestions, oh and who knows what else may spring up.

    In the meantime, I’m still in shock and saddened by the sudden death of Robin Williams. My favourite movie of his is still Dead Poets Society, though  it was the man more than the actor that I admired. He was an adventurer, he cared about Mother Nature and all her creatures, and showed great humanity towards each.

    “No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world.” ~Robin Williams

    As promised my good friends, a proper update ‘showing soon’ at an Internet screen near you!:)

     

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    dinahmow - August 12, 2014 - 4:00 pm

    I think similar feelings are coagulating, world-wide, Diane.I am grateful for all that he did and gave to us.
    Glad you’re still “on the up.” :-)

    Susan - August 13, 2014 - 10:54 am

    Looking forward to your next post. I wish you lived nearer then you could teach me to knit! We have just lost a co-worker to depression. I know how he struggled and the pain he endured from this awful disease. We need better treatment options.

    Sherry at Still and All - August 18, 2014 - 12:00 pm

    Love these cornucopia images, Diane. And I so agree with you about Robin Williams.A highly sensitive and talented soul he was, and so giving. Can’t wait to see your latest projects and hear about your reading…

    Neighbourly

    zen back patio, Parksville www.dianeschuller.com

    neighbourly: adjective.

    characteristic of a good neighbor, especially helpful, friendly, or kind.

    strawberries from Qualicum Beach garden

    See what my dear neighbour is again sharing with us. Last year you saw the baskets full of lettuce, raspberries, and other garden delights. This year we are again the fortunate recipients of strawberries, lettuce of all kinds (eating lots of Chinese lettuce wraps!!), snap peas, and beets. And on the other side of our fence, the other neighbour has been sharing rhubarb, dill, basil, and strawberries.

    And the other neighbour shares her great sense of humour, conversation over the fence, sending me little quips and delightful points of interest. Not to mention that they treat our dogs like royalty. Aren’t we lucky?!

    “There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up.” ~John Holmes

    wind chime zen, Parksville

    I don’t have garden space except what I grow in pots so I share other things . . . homemade bread tends to top the list most of the time.

    “If you are a dreamer, come in. If you are dreamer, a wisher, a liar, a hoper, a prayer, a magic-bean-buyer. If you’re a pretender, come sit by my fire, for we have some flax-golden tales to spin. Come in! Come in!” ~ Shel Silverstein

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    lisa - July 16, 2014 - 8:07 am

    You are indeed so very fortunate to have such wonderful neighbors, Diane! We have great neighbors too, and it is such a blessing since we live in the city, and are very close to one another.

    Those strawberries looks so yummy, but you know, I think I’d rather have your bread!! :-)

    Happy day to you, my friend!

    Leanne@CottageTails - July 16, 2014 - 11:04 am

    mm summer strawberries – I can hardly wait. It is wonderful when you have good neighbours aye.

    Susan - July 16, 2014 - 7:20 pm

    I miss chatting over the fence now that we live on an acreage. I’m glad you have such lovely neighbours and I bet they feel the same way about you! We planted strawberries this year but have to wait until next year for our first harvest, however I have just picked some ripe, sun kissed raspberries, ate them straight from the bush while standing in the sun dappled meadow-close to perfect.

    Kelly @ JAX does design - July 18, 2014 - 8:27 pm

    You’re lucky to have such lovely neighbours :-) Ours are nice enough, but they don’t keep us so well fed! ;-) Nothing better than fresh local strawberries in the summertime…

    Michele - July 22, 2014 - 11:16 am

    Good Morning, I must tell your readers that we too love our kind generous neighbours! We are blessed to live next door to Diane and her hubby and our favourite furry friends!!

    Sherry at Still and All - July 27, 2014 - 11:28 am

    I love how your images evoke neighbourliness and summer-time sharing, Diane. Isn’t it a wonderful time of year? We have wonderful neighbours in our community too and there’s lots of reciprocity going on all the time.

    Shawna - July 28, 2014 - 4:33 pm

    What a beautiful spot. Makes me happy to think of you sitting there. Good neighbours are the best.

    Summertime … and the living is easy

    I can’t help but hum that little ditty as I begin this post. It seems hard to believe I haven’t had time to write a post in ages. Don’t look at the date of the last one.

    Clematis ©Diane M Schuller, Parksville BC

    It’s been a combination of being busy plus summer relaxation, though far more busy than anything else. We’ve had our huge annual garden party, been invited out to several dinner parties, appy nights, and have been reciprocating as much as possible. Oh and did I mention we’ve joined some friends in a ‘supper’ club that gets together once a month, rotating between homes, for a themed dinner. Good fun.

    I’m still making my home baked artisan bread. I can’t tell you what a hit that is when company comes over — or when I bake one as part of a hostess gift. It’s so simple yet so incredibly full of flavour.

    artisan bread made by www.dianeschuller.com

    I’ve also been playing piano daily — actually multiple times a day. Now that I’m able to actually make something sound nice, I spend a great deal of time at the piano. I’ve also got into the habit of sitting to play before going to bed, in addition to all my daily practice. What a wonderful way to end a day.

    It’s a good thing this post is purely for letting you know I’m still here and doing well, otherwise I could write a tome about all that we’ve been up to since the last time.

    I should possibly write another of my “currently” posts for you — let’s see if I can actually find another day in the very near future to share with you some of my soul-stirring moments here in our retirement.

    Since this post is purely a basic update, I’m leaving you with a few of my new favourite finds/try outs:

    • After making a few versions of baked brie, I’ve created my own that is really terrific — and simple for last minute: score an “x” in the top of a brie; smear a good quality fig jam over top; generously cover with coarsely chopped pecans; and heat in a 375 F oven for 10-15 minutes until cheese melts to your liking. Now do a ‘barely there’ drizzle of liquid honey and serve with good quality crackers or baguette. Yum.
    • I made this perfect Stromboli recently and it is a keeper! Try it. I used different meat — I used capicolla and sopracetta instead of the ham and salami, but otherwise used her method and recipe. Boy did our company ever go crazy for it. I could have made two it was so popular!
    • While I’m still on the topic of food, here is my new favourite cookbook for entertaining: Entertaining: Recipes and Inspirations for Gathering with Family and Friends . I love how it provides excellent planning information, useful tips, and some surefire recipes too.
    • Now something for my local friends . . .  1. One of my favourite lunch spots: Riso in Lantzville (try their “Mushrooms on Toast” or “Crispy Battered Cauliflower”). 2. My favourite place for local art, giftware, even specialty gourmet condiments (everything is made within 200 km of the Salish Sea) is Salish Sea Market. This is how they describe their store: Artistic expression in all mediums from the shores of the Salish Sea. We specialize in “Where did you find THAT?”
    • This lovely quote by Claude Monet, shared by Shawna Lemay on her Pinterest board: ““I would like to paint the way a bird sings.”

     

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    lisa - July 6, 2014 - 3:39 pm

    Oh my goodness, you sound so wonderful, my friend, and that makes me smile!
    I am so glad to hear that you are still playing your piano. :-)

    The baked brie sounds so delicious, and given it’s so simple, it is the perfect summertime entertaining treat. Thank you so much for sharing here.

    Wishing you a wonderful evening! xo.

    Gabriele - July 7, 2014 - 7:11 am

    I just made some artisan bread last night. I adore your rectangular baking crock. I’m glad to know you are out there.

    Leanne@CottageTails - July 7, 2014 - 10:16 am

    ahhh summer days and good for you to play the piano before you go to bed what a wonderful joy for you! Love Leanne – Maybe a you tube of you playing will not be that far away xx

    Jessie - July 7, 2014 - 8:01 pm

    Sounds like it’s a lovely summer up your way. Wish I was half a continent closer so I could get int on some of that delicious food though! :)

    Sherry G. - July 8, 2014 - 6:50 am

    So good to see you back here Diane. I love your folksy catch up posts and hearing how you’re doing and how much you’re enjoying life. Wunderbar! And I always find something I want to try here…like the brie…Years ago I went through a period of going crazy with the artisan bread recipe. It may be time for another go at it. I remember how easy and great it was. Keep enjoying the summer, my friend. It’s a good life.

    kate - July 14, 2014 - 3:19 pm

    always good to see a post from you~ lovely pictures! you’re bread looks delish~
    hope you’re having a good summer~

    Candace - July 15, 2014 - 11:43 pm

    If I had a view like that in the first photo, I would never be online! Gorgeous! Glad you’re having such a special summer.

    Bursting …

    “And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.” ~ F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby.
    shadows on fence by ©Diane Schuller

    Last night I watched an incredibly enlightening movie. I’ve been wanting to watch Amour since it won at TIFF as well as the Palme d’Or at the Cannes film festival in 2012.  It’s only available on-demand at the moment and I see it will be removed in August, to be permanently retired to an archive. Now that’s a real shame. I didn’t realize, until I began watching the movie that the female character suffered from a stroke. Boy, was I meant to watch that one. If you have elderly parents, or even if you don’t, I highly recommend it. It’s definitely not one of those Hollywood blockbusters. Nothing Hollywood about it at all. Just pure reality, slow and careful. It was more like being a fly on the wall and watching their day-to-day life. The movie is titled ever so accurately — it truly is all about genuine love. ‘Til death do us part, through sickness and health. Recommended.

    clematis in Parksville, BC

    While I’m making recommendations, how about a book suggestion especially for any young adults (or adults). My friend from up north, Karen Bass, is a talented writer of novels for Young Adults. Her books have won awards and, most recently, she just received the 2014 Canadian Library Association Award for her most recent novel, Graffiti Knight. She’s currently in Victoria BC to receive the award — sorry I couldn’t make it Karen. And, especially if you have a teenage boy looking for a good book, her first novel Run Like Jaeger would be my other recommendation.

    Salvia poolside in Parksville BC

    I continue to practice piano every single day. In fact, most days I sit down several times and play. I love the piano. I recently learned to play Greensleeves, Oh Solo Mio, and Scarborough Fair. Oh, did I forget to mention … I have a new piano. Lucky me. Hubby was feeling particularly generous.

    QUESTION:

    What is your favourite summer food?

    Mine would likely be avocado or anything made with avocado. Oh and nothing beats summertime watermelon. I also am really fond of salad rolls — love ‘em. Now you …

    “One cannot think, love, sleep well if one has not dined well.” ~ Virginia Woolf

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    Gabriele - May 31, 2014 - 5:29 am

    My favorite summer foods are salads. I look forward to Cobb salad, taco salad, and chicken salad. It always feels like summer when I finish piano lessons and tell my husband that we are having salad for supper.

    Sheila - May 31, 2014 - 11:31 am

    Avocado is a favorite of mine. But here in So. Cal. we eat them all year long. I love salads as well. Including potato salad, and pea salad. Pea salad is super easy. Peas, Buttermilk Ranch dressing(the kind you make with the packet, not the one in the bottle). Red onion, pepper jack cheese. Super yummy, and if you make it the day before, even better. You can add cauliflower or broccoli… just about anything.

    dinahmow - May 31, 2014 - 6:49 pm

    Oh! Salads. Hands down the winner here. Today, after a really dirty morning pruning and hauling trash to the green tip, I nipped in to the supermarket and bought some corn cobs, then a spinach-and-feta loaf from the baker and some pale ale from the liquor store.It’s lunch time!Later, I’ll make some pastry for a quiche and that will be finished for lunch tomorrow.
    A new piano? Lucky girl!

    Michele Matucheski (at Sweet Leaf) - May 31, 2014 - 8:31 pm

    Thanks for the movie recommendation. In my work life, I’m a health science librarian, so I really appreciate the movie recommendation. I’m sorry to hear that it’s not available as a dvd, and will soon be archived forever. It sounds like a good one for us to make available through our library … I also have a 13-yr old kid. I’ll try to nonchalantly recommend the books. I have to be careful–If I recommend too heartily, he resists. Oh–learning to be a crafty parent. Cheers!

    lisa - June 1, 2014 - 9:31 am

    Ooooo, that hubby is a keeper, Diane!
    And a sweet one too, I might add. How wonderful you have a new piano, and I am so glad to hear that you are playing. Greensleeves is one of my very favorite songs.

    Amour sounds like a wonderful movie. I have Apple TV and Netflix, so I will check both places to see if they have it. It is a movie I would definitely like to see. thank you for sharing it here.

    I am with you all the way on the avocado! I just love them. Hmmm, my favorite summer food…
    The first thing that comes to mind is salad. The second is barbecued chicken. So let’s keep it simple and say a salad with barbecued chicken and lots and lots of avocado!!

    Have a wonderful week ahead, my friend. xo.

    katie - June 2, 2014 - 5:48 am

    lovely images diane & what a sweet hubs you have :)

    favorite summer foods are anything out of our garden & off the grill.

    wishing you a wonderful week~

    hugs~

    katie

    Candace - June 6, 2014 - 11:14 am

    It sounds and looks like your summer is off to a great start, Diane! I love that F. Scott Fitzgerald quote.

    Andi - June 25, 2014 - 6:33 pm

    Thank you for reminding me I need to watch Amour, it has been on my “to-watch” list.
    What a wonderful thing to able to play the piano. I often wish I were more musically inclined.
    Summer foods for me consist of lots of fresh salads, with as many veggies that it can stand. Salads topped with a lovely light fish, it the ultimate for me.

    Post-stroke reality

    Parksville sand dollars ©Diane Schuller

    Just some reality to get started. After being incredibly grateful that I have been able to recover the use of my right arm and leg after suffering a stroke, I do have some reality to share. I’ve been forging ahead, and working very  hard in an attempt to get back to where I was  before this all happened. The reality is — getting back to that place isn’t going to happen. I’m not about to do a downer, nor will I ever complain about the deficiencies I have been left with. I’m so very grateful that I’ve had such a significant recovery of key faculties. The reality, however, makes it quite clear that there are certain things I really need to come to terms with and accept as being a new-normal.

    I’m gaining weight, which I never like to do. But I can’t seem to push myself like before to ‘wear off’ those pounds. Exertion is very difficult these days. I fall over when I exert myself. Other days I don’t have enough energy to even exert myself. I begin to slow down like watching a slow motion movie. At times, I can’t seem to move and when I do, it’s with a limp and weakness that I don’t seem able to push through. I realize now, the doctors and rehab professionals were correct when they told me I wouldn’t regain everything. So be it.

    Now on to more positive realities. Did I happen to mention how much I love my piano? Did I mention before how delighted I am to learn to play the piano? I finished my first Saroyan scarf (a knitting project). The scarf is named for the character on the TV show “Bones” by the name of Dr. Saroyan. We’re planning our second annual garden party and I’m feeling quite overwhelmed so I hope it goes well. I may need to hire someone to help out — I am not as energized as that pink bunny anymore.:)

    I’ve fallen so far behind that I have read a couple books and don’t seem to even have the energy to type out my feelings or comments about them. So here’s the short ‘story’: Recommended for a light, easy, and enjoyable enough summer read (no block buster but not a waste of time either) … “The Husband’s Secret”. And then there is “Tea Time for the Firefly” … well, meh. It’s a light read that I found to be more like reading someone’s journal. Both of these I’ve read for my book club (can’t seem to read fast enough yet to get more than one book read in a month — still working on that post-stroke issue).

    We’ve been out to friends for dinner a bit lately. I’ve joined two different organizing committees for our local Newcomer’s club.  Haven’t been taking many photos (as you can see) except for a few on my phone. More photos to come – promise.:)

    And now you. What is energizing you lately?

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    dinahmow - May 23, 2014 - 8:09 pm

    Well, you may be forced to deal with a lowered energy level and parts of your body that don’t want to say “how high?” when you say “jump!”
    You, m’dear, do have a very good reason.Some of us are just slack!
    I zipped across the Ditch last month to visit my brother and also catch up up with some friends. But since coming back? I seem to be starting myriad things and not finishing them!Slack, you see.
    But I did manage a short blog post.

    I love reading about your advances along Recovery Road.Go well!

    Leanne@CottageTails - May 23, 2014 - 10:32 pm

    Learning to live with a new normal can be hard at times for all members of the family. ((hugs to you))) and next time you reach for your camera I’d love to see your Saroyan scarf.

    Gabriele - May 24, 2014 - 6:21 am

    I hear you as you say the words “the new normal”. Disappointing but true. Thank-you for voicing the truth in your life.

    Sheila - May 24, 2014 - 1:44 pm

    Diane,

    Remember…

    To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
    and a time to heal…

    This is your time to heal. Cut yourself some slack, and feel peace knowing that you deserve to take it easy. Say “screw it”, to the dirty dishes and the dusty shelves. They are not more important than YOU.

    You may not get back to how you were before, but I promise you, your new normal will be better than you may think. Just hang in there. Wake each morning with a grateful heart, and give thanks each night for making it through the day.

    In 2008 I was diagnosed with Lupus, after a year of being in pain and not knowing why. That same year, I was downsized. I had earned two promotions in less than a year, and I was working 60 hours a week, all while feeling so weak and exhausted, all I could do at the end of the day was collapse in the nearest chair. Fool that I was, I thought the tired was just due to the hours I was putting in.

    2 years later, when I had finally regained some strength, I had to have my gall bladder removed. What should have been a quick in and out, turned into a two week stay in the hospital, half of that in ICU. So I was back to square one, and had to heal and regain my strength.

    My life will never be the same as before. I can’t be a workaholic. There are a lot of things I can’t do anymore. But there are a lot of things I can.

    Give yourself time. Do what you can, when you can. And when you can’t. So be it.

    Ask for help when you need it. Be kind to yourself.

    Sheila

    lisa - May 24, 2014 - 5:45 pm

    You have such a wonderful spirit, and positive outlook, Diane.
    You are truly an inspiration.
    Be easy on yourself, and I know that you will find so many ways to enjoy your new normal.

    Wishing you a wonderful weekend, my friend. xo.

    Equus

    The wind of heaven is that which blows between a horse’s ears. ~Arabian Proverb
    ©Diane Schuller draft horse

    A horse is the projection of peoples’ dreams about themselves – strong, powerful, beautiful – and it has the capability of giving us escape from our mundane existence. ~Pam Brown

    power horses ©Diane Schuller

    Norwegian Fjord ©Diane Schuller

    Equine ©Diane Schuller www.dianeschuller.com

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    Sherry at Still and All - May 9, 2014 - 11:27 am

    Wow. Very powerful images, Diane!

    lisa - May 9, 2014 - 4:18 pm

    How very beautiful these are, Diane.

    I wish you a wonderful weekend. xo.

    Jessie - May 9, 2014 - 4:57 pm

    These are so beautiful they make my heart hurt. Thanks for sharing them!

    Susan - May 9, 2014 - 6:26 pm

    We went to see a feed from London’s National Theatre of War Horse. Man is not the best creature to have such power over other animals. Thanks for capturing and sharing their intrinsic beauty.

    katie - May 10, 2014 - 6:25 am

    hello diane~

    such beautiful pictures!

    xo

    katie

    Candace - May 10, 2014 - 3:04 pm

    Those are beautiful, Diane!

    May mornings

    rhodo bud by ©Diane Schuller
    I was responding to the lovely comments left for me on the last post (I know they are few and far between lately) and felt I should take time to pay a visit to some of you. Good thing I took time to do a little browsing because the delightful poem below was found on my Internet-trip. While visiting Shawna Lemay’s blog, Calm Things, I came across the poem by Denise Levertov and was completely smitten with those first two lines. So I couldn’t help but share them with you.

    an excerpt from May Mornings by Denise Levertov

    “May mornings wear
    light cashmere shawls of quietness, “

    I’m spending vast amounts of time outdoors, in the garden but also trying to rebuild my stamina (on walks & bike rides). Still practicing piano a few times a day (no kidding), knitting (mostly in the evenings), trying to read books for book club, and of course spending time with friends. It seems I’m always on-the-go but it’s a great form of being busy. If it sounds like I’m completely “healed” and back to “normal”, that wouldn’t quite be accurate. Physically, I’m doing extremely well for having had a stroke. But I still have issues with balance and have taken a few falls. The other issue that I’m working on involves reading, comprehension, and dealing with more than one concept at a time — still a work in progress. So I forge on like that ant carrying a rubber tree plant (you know from the song by Frank Sinatra).

    I received a lovely postcard in the mail. Don’t you love receiving mail? I sure do so I’m going to make a point of sending out some real honest-to-goodness mail this week. When was the last time you sent some real mail (letter, notecard, postcard, or ?) or received a personal note/letter in the mail? Please tell me about it.

    I have a surprise to share but I’ll have to get busy taking a few photos and carve some ‘indoor’ time. So let’s see if I can put together a more interesting post next time.
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    Gabriele - May 5, 2014 - 5:11 am

    I was so happy to read your post. Truly, the word cashmere in the May poem was evocative. Your lovely pictures are a delight to look at.

    lisa - May 5, 2014 - 4:09 pm

    You sound fantastic, Diane, and I am so happy for you!
    And by the way, I look forward to EVERY post of yours. :-)

    Have a wonderful evening, my friend. xo.

    Sherry at Still and All - May 6, 2014 - 8:26 pm

    I am back from the warmer climes of Florida and the Bahamas on our boat and I had to check in and see how you were doing. I had such difficulty accessing blogs over the last five weeks in the Bahamas! And I really missed yours. So I’m glad to hear that you are progressing so well. I’m sure it must be frustrating sometimes but your life is so full of beauty and art and passion, and you are full of determination. Now that I’m back home, I will be sending more cards and postcards since it is such a pleasure and I want to make some new Moo cards with new images of mine. Hugs to you my friend…

    Shawna - May 7, 2014 - 10:36 am

    Sounds like you’re making progress – so glad to hear!

    Such a beautiful image!

    katie - May 9, 2014 - 5:29 am

    hi diane~

    i’m always happy to see a update from you~ lovely picture!

    hugs~

    katie

    Candace - May 10, 2014 - 3:07 pm

    I always love reading “catch-up” posts from my favorite bloggers. Glad to hear that you are progressing so well. Your schedule is enviable…both in quantity and quality.

    Mary - May 21, 2014 - 9:07 pm

    Hi,

    I have just read some of your blog. I really like the poems and your pictures. I just bought Colorku a game like Sudoku. It uses colored balls instead of numbers and might help you with your mental training after your stroke. It is fun besides! You probably have heard of it–but maybe not.

    Best wishes and thank you for the lovely words.

    Mary

    Tending

    black & white orchid by ©Diane M Schuller

    Saroyan scarf being knit at www.dianeschuller.com

    sticky toffee date cake at www.dianeschuller.com

     tending: caring for or looking after; giving one’s attention to

    So I’ve been tending. Tending to: time with friends; weeding, transplanting, and daydreaming in my yard; bike rides; practicing with my beloved piano; knitting (really enjoying making this Saroyan scarf — did you know it’s named for the character Dr Saroyan on Bones?); finding a special gift for my piano teacher; and freshening up the house and yard for spring.

    A friend noticed and particularly was taken with what I currently use as the automated signature in my emails. I’m sharing it with all of you in case you haven’t yet seen it:

    May the Sun bring you new energy by day. 
    May the Moon softly restore you by night. 
    May the Rain wash away your worries. 
    May the Breeze blow new strength into your being. 
    May you walk gently through the world and know its beauty all the days of your life. 
    ~ Apache Blessing

     

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    lisa - April 26, 2014 - 6:30 pm

    That yummy looking cake is for me, right?????
    Thought so! :-)

    It sounds like you are doing so many enjoyable things. I love the color of the scarf you are making, and this quote is one of my favorites.

    Have a beautiful weekend, my friend.

    Jessie - April 27, 2014 - 6:13 am

    I see a cake and a cookbook and while I can’t make out the recipe name I can spot that picture of Makers Mark no problem and now I’m dying to know more! Was it as delicious as it looks? Is there bourbon in it? And, if all those answers are yes, where do I find the recipe!?!

    Shawna - April 27, 2014 - 5:54 pm

    That cake looks so beautiful and delish! So glad you’re finding the time to do lovely things.

    Andi - April 28, 2014 - 6:56 am

    Every image is amazing! What a wonderful way to start my morning. Your knitting is beautiful and that color looks like the Caribbean waters. Add to that the seashell stitch marker-perfection.
    Of course the cake has me drooling!

    Susan - April 29, 2014 - 8:37 am

    It sounds like your life is rich and full, I’m so glad. Tending is such a good word. I love the sound of rain at night, it soothes me to sleep. Not so happy to hear it in the morning when I want to get into the garden. Wishing you another great week.

    Candace - May 3, 2014 - 2:00 pm

    That’s a beautiful blessing. And it looks like all the things you are tending to are turning out quite lovely…including your photos.

    Don - May 4, 2014 - 7:26 am

    An excellent black and white image with fine detail. I like the range of grays very much.

    Lately . . . » observed by Diane - August 21, 2014 - 8:32 pm

    […] here, I’ve been craving getting back to knitting. But before that, remember that pretty Saroyan leafy scarf I finished several months ago? It desperately needed to be blocked but I still […]

    Tip Time: What to do with Coffee Grounds

    be sustainable: how to use your coffee & tea grounds

    The TIPS:

    • Sprinkle coffee grounds around plants to deter slugs and snails.
    • Coffee grounds are an ideal and economical soil amendment.  The grounds act as a slow release fertilizer with some of the nutrients available immediately and other nutrients available over a period of time.
    • Earthworms love coffee grounds so they further condition the soil.
    • Apparently cats don’t like the smell of coffee, so sprinkle coffee grounds liberally in areas where they may be using your garden as their potty.
    • Acid loving plants (such as azaleas, rhododendrons for instance) will benefit from digging coffee grounds in the soil or adding to the mulch.
    • Add extra coffee grounds to your compost pile to be incorporated and ‘diluted’ so they end up being suitable as well for non-acid loving plants.
    • Add coffee grounds around blueberries, cane fruit such as raspberries, and fruit trees.
    • Because coffee grounds are high in nitrogen, they can also be raked into the lawn though I’d rather use it on the shrubs and garden area first.
    • For the same reason (high in nitrogen), it’s a good idea adding coffee grounds early in the season to some of the heavy feeders in the vegetable garden (think any of the squash family, tomatoes, sunflowers, etc.).

    PS: If you are still using paper coffee filters (why not use the permanent, washable filter and save money and trees?) toss the filters into your compost bin and not the garbage.

    WHERE to Get Coffee Grounds:

    Did you know your local Starbucks bags-up their grounds and they are pleased to give them away (free) — all you have to do is ask.  Don’t forget about your local coffee shops — they too are willing to save grounds (you may be asked to provide a small compost pail or counter-top bin for them to save them in).  If you have a coffee maker in your workplace or coffee room, ask your co-workers to save the grounds for you. As long as you pick up / remove the grounds regularly without having to be asked, all these sources will be happy to do this for you.

    And, of course, the other place to source coffee grounds is right at home. The only thing I will caution against is using any of the flavoured coffees. Those contain synthetics, oils, and artificial flavourings. If you only brew flavoured coffee then toss the grounds in your composter and not directly into the soil.

    Of Note:

    I understand that the concentration of coffee can be harmful or make a dog sick. So if your dog starts eating up the grounds (can’t imagine why), simply work the grounds into the soil. My dogs don’t touch the coffee grounds and I have them all over my yard and am constantly replenishing certain areas.

    How easy is that?

    how to use your coffee grounds

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    lisa - April 5, 2014 - 1:38 pm

    What a great post this is, Diane. I knew very little about this, and you can bet I am going to start saving my coffee grounds, and get them into the garden this year.

    Thank you so much!!!

    Susan - April 6, 2014 - 10:15 am

    Thanks for spreading the word. Our Tim Hortons has about a dozen large rubbermaids they fill with coffee grounds. The public pick up the bin, take it home, use the grounds and return the clean bin to TH. I love the element of trust and respect.

    Susan - April 9, 2014 - 9:46 pm

    Great ideas, thanks for sharing, Diane!

    […] Read the source article at dianeschuller.com […]

    Still

    knitting at www.dianeschuller.com

    Still knittin’ away. Still forging ahead building up my stamina on daily walks. Still grateful for: being able to walk again; continuing to improve; good friends; living in such a beautiful environment.

    My grand daughter is arriving today for her spring break. How lucky am I?

    Remember that weekly environment column I used to write for one of the local newspapers in Alberta? Last year I wrote a loosely similar type of post I had planned on sharing here in my blog. The topic is coffee grounds. Since I’m so busy lately, I may resurrect that draft and post it here. Stay tuned … when I get a chance I’ll pop in a photo or two and post that information on coffee grounds to share with you. Until I get around to doing that, here is a link to “Coffee, tea, and the environment”, one of my columns I wrote back in 2011 which is now archived online. You will likely be surprised at how decaffeinated coffee is made. And if you think tea is any better, think again. Tea growers use extensive amounts of pesticides — I refuse to drink tea anymore because of the headaches I would get from the pesticides, even though I still love the smell of it when I brew it at the request of guests.

    Would you have a difficult time giving up or simply adjusting your coffee or tea habit?

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    Susan - March 31, 2014 - 1:12 pm

    Oh dear, not great news about the tea. Is nothing safe? I grow my own veggies but I can’t grow tea. What do you use for a hot refreshing drink.

    dinahmow - March 31, 2014 - 2:40 pm

    Brava! I’m afraid I’ve been going on at boring lengths for years! I no longer drink tea, but always used loose leaf.Peter, when “home alone” uses tea bags.And you know how I like my coffee!

    So pleased to see you doing so much, Diane.And I wonder if you and grand daughter will play a duet?

    lisa - March 31, 2014 - 4:34 pm

    Oh, no!!! I am almost afraid to read this (but I am going to). Scary what we don’t know about some of the things we eat/drink.

    I am so glad to hear that you are doing so well, my friend, and how exciting to have your granddaughter coming to visit.

    Enjoy every moment. xo.

    Michele - April 3, 2014 - 8:10 pm

    I gave up coffee in November. I was having heart palpitations. It was difficult at first but I have adjusted. Now I just drink the occasional cup of peppermint tea.
    I miss it at times…but feel much better.
    Hope you are enjoying your granddaughter.

    Susan - April 4, 2014 - 5:21 pm

    Hope you had a wonderful week with your granddaughter, Diane. I am a bit afraid to read that article…I live for coffee! Seems everyday I read about a food or drink that’s not good for us. :(

    Currently, the Daffodils

    learning piano
    The piano lessons have resumed but they sure aren’t easy. Nevertheless, I really do love the piano and sit with it each and every day. I hope one day to make her sound as beautiful as she deserves. She’s been incredibly patient with me through these lessons.

    daffodils www.dianeschuller.com

    Symbolism of the daffodil / narcissus:
    “Symbolizing rebirth and new beginnings, the daffodil is virtually synonymous with spring. Though their botanic name is narcissus, daffodils are sometimes called jonquils, and in England, because of their long association with Lent, they’re known as the “Lent Lily.” Lore connecting the daffodil to not only a sign of winter’s end but a lucky emblem of future prosperity is found throughout the world.

    … a gift of daffodils is said to ensure happiness. But always remember to present daffodils in a bunch – the same legends that associate this cheerful flower with good fortune warn us that when given as a single bloom, a daffodil can foretell misfortune.” ~~ taken from teleflora.com.

    narcissus / daffodils © DianeMSchuller

    knitting by www.dianeschuller.com

    Currently:

    digging (as in liking): when we break bread with friends

    knitting:  currently working on a very simple rib-knit something (might be a wrap or might be a small blanket) for the guest room

    feeling: so in love with life

    weather: windy like crazy, but full of sunshine and the waves on the ocean today have been remarkably boisterous

    grateful for:  good friends who really care — and daffodils:)

    looking forward to: the next Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (dinner party with Newcomer’s Club)

    NOW YOU … what’s the best part of your past week?

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    steph - March 17, 2014 - 8:34 pm

    ooooo—are the daffs from your garden? Not a sign yet of mine!!! best part of my last week was one beautiful warm day (we’re back below freezing. grrr)

    Anita - March 18, 2014 - 4:25 am

    Diane – It is lovely to see this bloom. So glad you are getting your strength (and coordination!) back. It is still very much winter here = we had another 3″ of snow yesterday and a “drizzly mix” today, so it is bleak. And with “spring” only a few days away!
    Yes, that is Aedan, who is now 3, looking across at New Orleans from Algiers Point. He has a little brother now, age 20 months. I was just there last week for a visit. My daughter-in-law just got a 2 year position at Tulane – Yeah! So they will be living in The Big Easy for the foreseeable future.
    Take care.

    Celia - March 18, 2014 - 10:21 am

    Hi Diane, thank you for leaving a comment on my blog. Yes I see your blog popup in my Bloglovin list but I don’t always click on it so hadn’t taken in about your stroke. Knitting must be very theraputic for you, I can tell you are now hooked!
    My blog was 7 years old last Friday! And Phoebe, my oldest hen has been with me for the whole time. x

    lisa - March 18, 2014 - 3:38 pm

    Yaaaaaaaay! on those piano lessons, Diane. I am so thrilled that you are back to it.

    Without a doubt, the best part of last week for me, was my son being here while on spring break. It went by way too fast, as it always does, but it was the absolute best!

    Have a wonderful evening, my friend. xo.

    Sherry G. - March 22, 2014 - 7:18 am

    Those daffodil images are just wondrous. I think it is while yet for daffs back home. I have been missing reading your blog and the beautiful blogs of other friends since I have such intermittent and slow Internet access here in the Bahamas. Today I have a few good minutes so I decided to visit. You always show me what it is to appreciate and be grateful for life. I’m glad you are back at the piano. I’m sure it’s hard but hard things that we love are so worth it. xo Take care my friend.

    Annie @ knitsofacto - March 24, 2014 - 2:08 pm

    Have you noticed how the improving weather is perking everyone up?!

    The best bit of my past week has to have been it being light enough at the end of the day to take the dogs for their afternoon walk before the sun goes down. Such a simple thing but a splendid one.

    Susan - March 24, 2014 - 7:03 pm

    Oh so happy to see you’re back at the piano…and those daffodils are all so beautiful! Yay for new beginnings! Happy Spring, Diane!

    Shawna - March 28, 2014 - 6:07 pm

    Such an uplifting and soothing post, Diane. Such beauty. Thank you…..

    Candace - March 30, 2014 - 4:11 pm

    The daffodils are beautiful and I’m sure your piano playing is lovely, too. You have so many various talents.