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.

    Where mornings begin with a drum roll! --Diane M Schuller

    Updated each Monday ... simply an online journal of an ordinary life. Come on in to enjoy a breath of West Coast air.

    The Story of the Piano Men

    Last time I promised to share the story about moving the piano. Before I forget — the story and to share it with you — imagine this:

    The Piano movers who delivered my new piano have since retired so I asked the good people where I had purchased the piano, who they might recommend. There’s only one company up your way, they told me. Feeling only half confident about their recommendation, I made the call to book them. The gentleman on the phone seemed to either not be writing down the information or he couldn’t read his writing because he asked me to repeat it all to him again. Before hanging up I had confirmed the day of the piano move and the time, now it was simply waiting for the big day.

    The day I had booked for the piano happened to be the day after the main move out of our house. I hadn’t wanted the house movers and the piano movers there on the same day, squeezed into the skinny driveway but also in one another’s way. The day before our house movers were to arrive, I receive a call from the piano mover. “Mrs what day did we have booked for your piano?” … okay, this is not sounding good. Turns out he needs to change the day for some reason to house-moving day. So I acquiesce and hope-like-heck he can have the piano loaded before the house movers arrive later the next morning. I get another call later that same evening from the piano mover. He sounds as though he could have been into the juice. He’s wondering if I can change moving day. What?! Seems he forgot he talked to me earlier. Alarm bells are going off like crazy and I tell my husband, “If that guy shows up tomorrow and I can smell even a whiff of booze on his breath, I’m running him off!” Needless to say I worried for hours after, losing much needed sleep.

    Morning arrives, and to my surprise the piano moving truck is rolling in the driveway on time! One good sign. Oh but wait. After trying about three different times to back in with his trailer, a guy gets out and helps guide him back. Once someone got out of the truck I quit watching from the window and went about getting some last minute things done before they came to the door. Door bell rings. I open the door and there, all smiles, are three guys ready to move my precious grand piano. Not – one – of – them – was – under – 70 – years – old. That is not at all an exaggeration. 70 if they were a day!

    I was so shocked I honestly didn’t know what to say or do. I made a point of getting close to the guy who I’d talked to on the phone. No telltale whiff of booze on his breath, thank goodness. But it was now woefully obvious the reason for those memory lapses when we talked on the phone — age. Pure and simple. And I’m no spring chicken either but I still have a way to go.

    Anyway, I watched like a hawk as they struggled and struggled and struggled some more. I was simply glad no one had a heart attack. They eventually maneuvered my piano out of the house and loaded on the trailer, but there was damage. Somehow the piano was unscathed but there were gouges in the walls and deep scrapes in the stone and hardwood flooring. I felt so sorry for those old farts I didn’t have the heart to make them pay for damages — they must all be desperate if they have to move pianos at their age! So I fixed all the damage myself the following week.

    Anyway, the piano was much more easily settled into the new house than it was removed from the old one. It was an experience and a good little story to share with friends.

    “When you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.” — Franklin D. Roosevelt

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    Gabriele - August 11, 2017 - 8:57 pm

    I loved your story. More so because my husband moved pianos with our boys for 10 years.

    Lisa Gordon - August 12, 2017 - 10:51 am

    Oh my goodness, Diane, what a tense situation for you (and probably for them too!)
    I am glad that things weren’t worse, and that the piano is safe and sound in your new home.
    Have a wonderful weekend, my friend.

    Lyd - August 13, 2017 - 7:47 am

    Great story Diane 🙂 Happy that your piano made it safely to its new home ? Even though from the damage left behind I’m surprised your piano wasnt damaged!! Enjoy playing again in your new home ?

    Lionel Daneault - August 14, 2017 - 10:15 am

    Hi Diane!
    You’ve got to admire the Geriatric Trio’s work ethic. It’s a shame there are no younger people available for this type of work.

    On a clear day …

    “On a clear day the Oregon coast is the most beautiful place on earth—clear and crisp and clean, a rich green in the land and a bright blue in the sky, the air fat and salty and bracing, the ocean spreading like a grin. Brown pelicans rise and fall in their chorus lines in the wells of the waves, cormorants arrow, an eagle kingly queenly floats south high above the water line.”Brian Doyle

    He sure knows how to paint a vivid image in our minds.

    We are moved. Yes, we sold our Gardener’s Cottage at the hem of the Salish sea, held a full home liquidation sale, and moved into our new home. We’re living without much furniture since we’ll be ordering mostly new and more appropriate items for the drastically downsized home. So far, I haven’t pined for that amazing view we had though there was a lot of grieving before we moved so perhaps that’s what I needed to get it out of my system.

    The ‘new’ backyard’

    Gosh, there certainly are tales to tell during this whole process. The neighbourhood we’ve moved into seems a real friendly one. Neighbours have popped by and introduced themselves and one couple even invited us to a party they were hosting — the invitation came 2 days after we moved in!

    Thanks to each of you who has left messages for me on the last post. Although I definitely read them and was filled with joy to read your notes, I didn’t have time to write back to each of you. I want you to know that leaving those notes was a real boost for me so thank you!

    Six residents we inherited

    So we’re as unpacked as we can at the moment. My kitchen is now fully functional and  my (hip hip hooray) pantry is as well. It is so exciting to have a pantry and a good sized one to boot. We’re in a house half the size yet there is a pantry where the other home had none. In fact, the garage was what I had used as pantry — every single day I had to make trips to the garage for pantry items and for all my small appliances, roasters and such. Back and forth, back and forth. But no longer.

    Once the furniture we order arrives, I can complete the unpacking since I’ll have more places to put things in our small home. I’ve come to the conclusion — yet again — that North Americans on average have way too much ‘stuff’. We really do. After purging things we’ve been dragging around for decades, it feels liberating and fresh to not have the burden of all that stuff. Even after releasing all of our moms’ meaningful things (which we’ve held on to since each one died), it actually felt good letting it all go. What I did with some of the things that were important or had sentimental value was to take photographs of them. Once we’re fully settled in, I plan to get those photos developed, likely into a photo album or perhaps a photo book. That way, instead of things being in boxes or behind cupboards somewhere, they will be accessible to view should I wish to do so. The beauty of this process is that not only can I still enjoy those items by viewing the photos but now someone else owns them and can live with them and enjoy them instead of them being packed away in some dark corner, closet, or crawl space.

    I remember how lovely my mom looked wearing these items, back in the day

    a wedding gift to my mom and dad

    Sorry for the excessively long post but I thought perhaps I should emerge with some sort of “what’s up”. I have a cute story to share about the piano being moved. Maybe I’ll do that one next time.

    In the meantime, may your days be clear and filled with the warmth of sunshine, the freshness of a summer morning, and the comfort of family and friends.

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    Sherry G. - July 10, 2017 - 4:20 pm

    So good to see you back in this space, Diane, and fabulous to hear that your move went well and you are in a lovely new space! (That back yard is to die for!) I moved about five years ago and found the whole process exhausting but also invigorating as I let go of lots of stuff too and made conscious decisions about what was meaningful and needed. I did the same as you and photographed many things I just could not keep. Now, it’s probably time to go through another winnowing process, even hough I’m not moving. It sure does feel good. Enjoy your new abode!

    Lisa Gordon - July 11, 2017 - 1:23 pm

    It was SO nice to see you pop up in my reader, Diane!!
    I am glad that you are all moved in, and that your kitchen is in working order. You know, a couple of years ago when we moved into House #2, the kitchen was my main concern. It was already fully functional, but I “needed” to have everything in just the right place, and that seemed to take forever. My poor husband…he’d go to a cabinet to find something, and lo and behold, I’d moved it for the second (or fifth!!!) time. 🙂

    Your backyard is absolutely gorgeous.

    Again, it is so nice to have you back here, my friend!!

    Lyd - July 11, 2017 - 3:26 pm

    Nice to read the move went well. I know I felt great when we sold our acreage and all the “stuff” and moved into our 5th wheel. The gypsy life has really suited us for the last 8 years and will continue for sometime yet 🙂 Love it!!

    Candace - July 15, 2017 - 3:46 pm

    Your new view may be different but it’s still beautiful! I would love to purge; however, my husband is not at that point yet apparently.

    Jennifer Connell - July 26, 2017 - 9:10 am

    I am so glad you stopped by! Retirement that is something very much on my mind. It’s still 5 years away for us, but I feel restless even now. It is likely we will have to downsize. I look around my house and all the “treasures” are things I picked out 30ish years ago. I am not sure if I even like them any more!! I sometimes ask myself, if I had to choose again-china, furniture etc, what would I choose? The answer is– I have no idea. I am not sure what my taste is anymore, but I do know I probably wouldn’t pick the same “stuff” I have now.
    I like the idea getting rid of stuff and starting over as you have done. The one thing I have struggled with is guilt. My Mom has given me her treasures –sometimes things she made herself– and I have felt so guilty about parting with some of them! But recently I did just that, and to my surprise, the guilt disappeared fairly quickly. I am sure someone else who appreciates them has them now.

    Alina - July 31, 2017 - 2:56 pm

    Your new backyard looks so lush! I know how stressful the move can be – I’ve moved way too many times in my life. But on the other hand it always gives you a feeling of fresh start. I also notice that with every single move I have less and less things – I just realize I don’t need that much, except for yarn, of course 🙂

    Currently …

    Reading… not a thing.

    Playing … not at all.

    Working … on finishing up the sorting and packing.

    Eating … out this week.

    Wanting … this to be over.

    Needing … rest and my back to heal.

    Realizing, … again, that North Americans have way too much stuff.

    Grateful … for offers of help.


    Well folks, I’m in the final week before our move. Then comes the unpacking, the estate sale, followed by a new beginning in our smaller home and yard — hooray!

    Going to miss this view and those summer sunsets.

    So what are you doing currently?

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    DIANE J PATMORE - June 18, 2017 - 7:22 pm

    I am cleaning out yet another cupboard that had been colonised by ants! Of course, if we didn’t need “those boxes on the top shelf…” we’d probably never have known the little devils were there!
    So…right now? I’m dumping MORE spoilt paper in the bin and about to trundle off to the op shop.
    At least I’m getting rid of “stuff.”

    Lisa Gordon - June 19, 2017 - 1:44 pm

    I am glad that you are nearing an end, Diane.
    I know how stressful (and tiring!!!) this can be.
    Thank you for popping in here, and I hope all goes smoothly with your move.

    Sherry - June 20, 2017 - 8:06 am

    Oh, that strange limbo of being between spaces! Into week 21 of our renovation and I’m just glad I now at least have my garden to retreat to. Hang in there, you’ll be settled soon. x

    Candace - June 25, 2017 - 11:41 pm

    That is a beautiful view, Diane. Good luck with the rest of your move and looking forward to seeing where you’re landing.

    Gabriele - June 29, 2017 - 6:39 am

    I hope all goes well with your move.

    Around my campfire

    I’m back! But only temporarily for the time being.

    Initially I was absent because I had been quite ill — for five weeks. As I began to recover, life began to take on some major changes ‘around my campfire’. To keep this brief and skipping a few unimportant details, we are planning a move.

    With an impending move we are frequently displaced from our home while realtors show our home to prospective buyers. It’s more disruptive than you may realize — certainly more than I had realized!

    The good thing is that I’m well and all is well around my campfire. We’re downsizing and have found a fabulous new place in a much smaller package. I’ll share with you some of the new digs as we get there.

    For now, I’ve barely been online, but I do promise to resume my little blog in due course. Thank you for your concern, your kind notes, and especially for being patient. I look forward to sharing lots with you once again.

    May you enjoy the beauties of nature, experience the calm and the exciting, and above all cherish joy in the ordinary. I’ll be doing the same — see you soon.

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    Sherry - May 10, 2017 - 10:22 am

    Hi Diane,

    I’m happy to hear all is going well. I’m sure your new place will be stunning and suit you perfectly. Embrace the madness of change!


    DIANE J PATMORE - May 10, 2017 - 12:11 pm

    Oh dear. I didn’t know you’d been ill. But pleased to hear you’re on the mend.And moving house!
    Best of luck with all of this.

    Lisa Gordon - May 10, 2017 - 3:01 pm

    I am so glad to see you here, Diane, and what wonderful news!
    We downsized a couple of years ago, and although the actual sorting/packing, etc., was really quite stressful, and took well over 9 months to complete, it was indeed a very good decision.

    I am glad to hear that you are well now, and I look forward to seeing you, whenever you come back here. Until then, I wish you all the very, very best.

    Lionel Daneault - May 15, 2017 - 8:37 am

    Hi Diane!
    Hope you are not moving too far away.
    Lionel and Kathy

    Jessie - May 15, 2017 - 8:44 am

    I’m glad to hear you are well again. Wishing you the smooothest of moves! 🙂

    Juliann - May 20, 2017 - 6:57 am

    I am happy to find this update. Take care. Hope the transitions go well.

    Candace - May 21, 2017 - 2:25 pm

    Hi, Diane. I look forward to your blogging return when you are ready and seeing your new digs.

    Toffeeapple - May 26, 2017 - 7:51 am

    I am sorry to hear that you have been ill but very pleased to know that you have recovered. I don’t envy you the move and hope that it goes smoothly.

    The power of a soft touch

    “Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” –Leo Buscaglia.

    That same power of a soft touch pertains to dogs as well.

    I thought it was about time to do an update on Heidi. As many of you know, when we first brought 11 month old Heidi home, we had our hands full dealing with some baggage and helping her with the adjustment. She’s barely the same girl who first arrived. Heidi now loves toys and playing, delights in training sessions, and has learned the benefits of routines, exercise, and self control. The biggest difference? Confidence. She’s not only become confident, she’s a bit of a rascal too.

    The next photo is not mine. It was taken after ‘graduating’ from Rally O class on Saturday. The photo was taken with a phone by instructor Bev Maahs. Despite the quality of the photo, sometimes they are worthy purely to record a moment.

    Although Heidi already had the loose leash heeling mastered before class (thanks to us participating in and learning from Susan Garrett’s Recallers program), she did learn a few new skills: sidestepping, figure 8, and working in a room with other dogs/owners training at the same time.

    Here is a VERY short clip of Heidi doing a recall out in the bush (yes, I know, this amount of snow is very unusual for here). This recall didn’t come ‘naturally’; we’ve been working on it:

    I’m so thrilled with the results of using the Recallers program I’m sharing some ways for you to find out more (besides clicking on the direct link in the paragraph above). If you have a Twitter account, simply search the hashtags #SusanGarrettRecallers or #DogTrainingGames. Better yet, head over to YouTube and use the search terms, “recallers games” or “dog training with recallers.”

    You’ll see great videos by everyday people who have, like me, joined in and participated in this great way of training and moulding our dogs into well behaved, trusting, confident, and loyal bundles of fun. And it’s all done WITHOUT force: no choke chain collars, no prong collars, no jerking, no militaristic commanding, no physical force whatsoever. This video demonstrates the before-and-after of one dog:

    “The world would be a nicer place if everyone had the ability to love as unconditionally as a dog.” — M.K. Clinton

    This too — enrolling in these two training classes — is another of my “roam new roads” for 2017 and beyond.

    Wishing you a week ahead crammed full of love, laughter, fun, soft touches, and innumerable kindnesses.

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    Sherry G. - February 20, 2017 - 6:55 am

    First of all, I am a dog lover currently without any dogs…and I hope to have some again — Westies are my breed of choice. So I love posts about dogs and this is a great one. The images of Heidi are extraordinarily beautiful and the story of how she has developed under your loving tutelage is heartwarming and hopeful. Our second dog was a rescue with baggage too and we went through a lot with him and he came a long way. I didn’t know about Recallers so I was very interested to find out more about this. It has sure worked well for you. The picture of Heidi looking at you says it all. So proud, happy and loving. It’s just wonderful to hear how this story has turned out. xo

    Gabriele - February 20, 2017 - 9:12 am

    Heidi looks adorable and now she feels her own worth. Wonderful!

    Lisa Gordon - February 20, 2017 - 2:29 pm

    This post makes me smile, Diane!
    She is such a beauty, and to hear that he is doing so well, just melts my heart.
    She is so fortunate to have such a wonderful forever home, and I know that you feel fortunate to have her as well.
    WAY TO GO, HEIDI!!!!!!!!
    You are a love, for sure.

    Sherry - February 20, 2017 - 4:41 pm

    What a sweetie! You can see the happiness in her eyes. You both look very happy in the last photo—well done!

    DIANE J PATMORE - February 20, 2017 - 4:47 pm

    You and Heidi are both doing so well! But can she knit socks yet? 🙂

    stephanie young - February 22, 2017 - 2:39 pm

    oh, Diane…..what a little sweetheart you have there….and so photogenic!!! (Fred is usually rolling around…maybe needs that training!!!! hard to catch him in focus!!!) and I love that last quote….the unconditional love of a dog is something we should all strive for!

    Candace - March 20, 2017 - 6:27 pm

    Heidi is a beautiful girl, Diane. so glad you are so happy together.

    Jennifer - March 25, 2017 - 3:16 pm

    Piper our youngest has this thing for wanting to dash into the road after cars. Last night I had a bad dream that he had a run in with a big truck, so it must be worrying me. You have me thinking that I should take him for classes. He’d probably love it

    K&B by the Sea - April 5, 2017 - 5:46 pm

    Well I completely missed Heidi’s arrival! She’s a very pretty girl, and your pictures of her are so beautiful. Our dogs have pretty good recall, but they can definitely be better – and if there’s a deer involved, it’s a lost cause. And Sassy could definitely do with some other ways to occupy her mind – I sometimes feel guilty that I don’t do more activities with her.

    sherri - April 18, 2017 - 2:12 pm

    wonderful collection of images

    absolutely love the last one

    Roberta - April 19, 2017 - 2:02 pm

    Hi Diane! Have not stopped by for a visit for quite awhile. I shared your link with a knitting enthusiast today. I hope she looks you up. I hope that all is well your way…

    Candace - May 9, 2017 - 8:27 pm

    Hope you are doing well, Diane, miss your posts.

    Lately … a life that sizzles and pops

    Reading: For the second time, happily so, Circling the Sun: A Novel.

    Made: another pair of socks. Experimented with techniques.

    Best home meal: On an eggs benedict kick so made two versions. First one and most delicious version was seed bread; avocado; marinated tomatoes; poached eggs; hollandaise. The second one which was very good but didn’t quite hit the pinnacle as the previous one was toast; stir fried brown mushrooms; hollandaise. Going to make both again.

    Gave me joy: A photo and text sent from my oldest granddaughter. A phone call with my son. Sunshine on the snow. Tulips on the table.


    Gathered: Had a grand time with my book club sisters one afternoon plus a stimulating evening with some very good friends over dinner at their home one evening.

    Something different: Not a tea drinker but enjoyed a hot cup of Genmatcha popcorn tea.

    Quote of the week: “I want a life that sizzles and pops and makes me laugh out loud. And I don’t want to get to the end, or to tomorrow, even, and realize that my life is a collection of meetings and pop cans and errands and receipts and dirty dishes. I want to eat cold tangerines and sing out loud in the car with the windows open and wear pink shoes and stay up all night laughing and paint my walls the exact color of the sky right now. I want to sleep hard on clean white sheets and throw parties and eat ripe tomatoes and read books so good they make me jump up and down, and I want my everyday to make God belly laugh, glad that he gave life to someone who loves the gift.”  — Shauna Niequist, Cold Tangerines: Celebrating the Extraordinary Nature of Everyday Life.

     May your coming week sizzle and pop and make you laugh out loud!

    Share with me what you have done this past week that gave you joy, made you smile, or that for which you are grateful.

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    Lisa Gordon - February 14, 2017 - 1:00 pm

    What a great week you had, Diane, and oh, how I love those socks!
    Hmmm, I have been spending SO much time shoveling for the past week (yes, every. single. day), that I have not given much of anything else, a thought.
    However, there is not one day that goes by, that I don’t have so much to smile about, and so much to be thankful for.

    Happy Valentine’s Day, my friend.

    DIANE J PATMORE - February 14, 2017 - 1:47 pm

    It was very difficult to find “the happy” through the hideous heat.But last night we had a cracking thunderstorm which sent Geiger slinking under a sofa with the throw pulled down like a tent flap!And some very welcome rain, even if it meant that I just spent half an hour picking up downed palm fronds, twigs and leaves and un-blocking a rain pit.
    So, yes, I am happy.And singing along with Flanders and Swann

    Jennifer Connell - February 17, 2017 - 9:46 am

    Simple sunshine has brought me joy for the last two mornings. We have had lots of grey weather this winter. It could be worse than a cloudy sky of course, but that greyness has a way of seeping into your soul. For the last two days the dining room, where I send my mornings, has been flooded with sunlight and warmth. What a treat it has been!

    Andi - February 25, 2017 - 7:07 am

    Your socks are beautiful! Kudos for trying out new techniques.
    Your hollandaise sounds delicious. Now I am craving some, especially with the addiction of avocado.
    Those tulips are everything!