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

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

    everyone has a story



    Sitting blankly, pondering what to write in this postcard. Nothing worthwhile comes at first. Like a plant remaining dormant until the warm water and fertilizer make their way through all the capillaries and begin to settle in each cell, the bud of a thought begins to form. I shall share part of my story in his postcard.

    postcard by ©Diane M Schuller

    Do you remember that brief story I shared a few years ago about Roy? Just as Roy had a story, we all have a story. Stories belong to everyone, the person who feels they are ‘ordinary’ or ‘don’t matter’;  the homeless person on the street; or the most reviled of politicians. As David Isay says, “ … every single life matters equally and infinitely.” I’m sure we could all surprise one another with snippets of our backstory. So in the postcard I’m about to write to Arthur Black (a Canadian humourist, radio personality, and writer) I’ll share a postcard-size snippet of my backstory — the good stuff.

    “We navigate by our stories and are steered by them. They counsel us, caution us, can break yet also make us. They hearten us, humble us, heal us. They are in our blood, our bones and our beliefs. They are the fires we light against the dark.”Annie Cholewa.


    The week has not been as productive in some ways as it could have been. The grief over losing the dogs still hangs over me like a wet blanket refusing to dry and remove itself. Oh I flap my arms at it, tug and shove it away, but it keeps returning wet, clingy, and heavy. Perhaps that’s why my knitting has come to a standstill this week. And why I’m glad we aren’t doing any entertaining this week or next. So that’s a peek in the window of my story this week. Feeling weighed down but constantly pushing to stand tall and free.

    spring crocus in black & white ||© Diane M Schuller

    “After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.” –Phillip Pullman

    The rest of this week’s story: The spring birds have been arriving, including the famous Brandt Geese. Flowering in our yard this week are the white crocus, snowdrops, hellebores, heathers, and a few of the primulas. That’s what I love about life — we’re surround by a vitality of life and growth. We simply have to stop, look, and be grateful. For what are you grateful this week?

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    dinahmow - February 8, 2016 - 11:14 am

    Yes, I’ve always thought of stories as a torch. On nights when the electricity was out and we couldn’t read,ah! that’s when the story-magic came into its own…

    steph - February 9, 2016 - 4:50 am

    spent some time catching up in your space…..love the mitts!!! and love the idea of turning photographs into postcards…not sure why notecards have happened and never postcards. You certainly have a knack of telling stories through your photographs—-for me, the element of a truly wonderful photographer. Love Annie’s quote….hoping she comes back to blogland soon!!!

    Lisa Gordon - February 9, 2016 - 4:04 pm

    I am so sorry that it’s not been a good week for you, Diane, and I do so understand how your heart feels, losing your furry friends. All I can say is, it takes time, and you have to give yourself that time.

    Sending you hugs, my friend. xo.

    Sherry - February 10, 2016 - 7:16 pm

    I’m so happy I now get email notifications for your blog updates. I love visiting here. :). We have our annual spring break visit to Vancouver Island booked. I cannot wait–your beautiful writing and photography always reminds me of everything I love about the island.

    postcards from here …

    kayaker, Qualicum Beach, ©Diane M Schuller

    Kayaker – Qualicum Beach, BC

    cats on the fence, downtown Qualicum Beach, BC --©Diane M Schuller

    cats on the fence, ‘downtown’ Qualicum Beach, BC

    Samoyeds, Qualicum Beach ©Diane M Schuller

    a man and his dogs, Qualicum Beach, BC

    Qualicum Beach ©Diane M Schuller

    clock tower and carillon bells – – salmon fountain, town centre Qualicum Beach

    seagulls ©Diane M Schuller

    the lookout boys

    mooring rope ©Diane M Schuller

    “all wrapped up”

    the sign says "not in use" || www.dianeschuller.com

    the sign reads, “do not use”

    Dutch Angle ©Diane M Schuller

    While at the marina, the sky beckoned

    “I walk

    I look

    I see 

    I stop

    I photograph.”  –Leon Levinstein

    I finished one pair of fingerless gloves and have started another (photo of the second pair next week). It’s been an interesting week, particularly now that I’m working on the 365 [photos] project. I’ve been working on some post production work too, specifically by learning how to turn a photo into a pencil sketch in Photoshop. There’s a lot more to it than simply clicking a button. I also attended an utterly amazing photographic exhibit at the Royal BC Museum, the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibit. Every single photograph was spectacular and inspiring. I was blown away by the photographs taken by the youth, especially the one boy from Alberta in the under 10 category. Now I’m inspired to get some more of my images made into postcards.

    Speaking of postcards, I sent out two more postcards this month. Do you get postcards made from your own photographs or artwork? Have you mailed any postcards lately?

    Wishing you all invigorating walks, surprising sights, and a postcard in your mail.

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    Sherry G. - February 1, 2016 - 6:48 am

    Your postcards here are just wonderful. Your 365 project is really bearing fruit, isn’t it? I love those beautiful dogs and the fun cat pic and the textured monochromes. Good for you for getting those real postcards out too! I have to replenish my stock….

    Susan Clark - February 1, 2016 - 9:45 am

    I had never thought of postcards-thanks for the idea. I’m always trying to find ways of promoting my little piece of heaven. Qualicum is another little gem.

    dinahmow - February 1, 2016 - 10:59 am

    I am rubbish at doing “group” things!A somewhat disorganised life, you see.Though I did manage 7 days of “nature shots” on Facebook.I’m too easily side-tracked, but I admire your dedication and love your eye for presentation.

    Lisa Gordon - February 1, 2016 - 5:27 pm

    These are wonderful, Diane.
    I especially love “All Wrapped Up.”
    I think it is such a beautiful composition.

    I’ve never had post cards printed, but I have printed those little notecards, and I was really pleased with them/

    Ypou have a wonderful week, my friend.

    Gabriele - February 2, 2016 - 5:41 am

    You have beautiful photography here.

    Toffeeapple - February 3, 2016 - 9:48 am

    Lovely images Diane, I would love to be able to walk on the sea front there.

    Bridie - February 4, 2016 - 2:24 pm

    I’ve committed to sending letters this year; something I always think about doing, but never actually act on. Postcards are such a wonderful idea, too.

    Kathy - February 11, 2016 - 6:48 am

    Jessie is right, you take absolutely beautiful pictures!

    that one experience

    “For most of a day we walked through alkali flats, the white crust like a frosted layer of salt that rose in a powder when your boots punched through. We wore the chalk on us everywhere—up to our knees, in the creases of our fingers clenching the rifle strap, down in the cavity between my breasts, and in my mouth, too. I couldn’t keep it out and stopped trying. I couldn’t keep anything out, I realized, and that was something I loved about Africa. The way it got at you from the outside in and never let up, and never let you go.” — Paula McLain, Circling the Sun  (I absolutely adored this story and her writing.)

    “The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” — Eleanor Roosevelt

    spring trio

    Magnolia budding — hibiscus seadhead — camelia buds

    hand knit fingerless gloves || www.dianeschuller.com

    Now that my Antler shawl is complete, next on my needles are (two-at-a-time) fingerless gloves in an absolutely gorgeous hand dyed fingering wool. The colours remind me of jewels. … Since I wrote these two sentences early in the week, here now are the finished fingerless gloves — ta da.

    "Align" fingerless gloves || www.dianeschuller.com

    oyster shell

    “May you always have a shell in your pocket and sand in your shoes.” — Anonymous

    This oyster shell was discarded a few feet from the beach on the surface of the cement picnic table that is intended for the use of the public to enjoy the view and the beach.

    ©Diane M Schuller

    Now that I’ve embarked on the 365 project, I’m once again experimenting with my camera (above). This was a wee experiment taken in our back yard. Although I took oodles with these settings, this was among my favourites.

    piano playing in reflection || www/dianeschuller.com

    Reflections of C chord.

    The poet John Keats said, “Nothing ever becomes real till it is experienced.” There are many quotes with that theme or reasoning. It’s something that has been re-awakened within me with some of the new experiences I’ve been venturing into and embracing. Something as simple as doing the 365 photo project, for instance. But it could just as easily be something big: climb a mountain, learn to parachute, build a home with your own hands, learn a new language, write a book. Even when an anticipated experience is relatively simple, the effect it has on us can be monumental and unforgettable … have you ever seen the northern lights, watched a whale breach the surface of the ocean, witnessed a being giving birth, or experienced a live performance that brought you to tears?

    Matt Cutts has an upbeat, and very short, inspirational TED talk all about giving a new experience a try. I offer you the link and suggest it’s a great way to spend 3 1/2 minutes.

    What is one experience you’d like to have before you die?


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    dinahmow - January 25, 2016 - 11:46 am

    Oh, I have more than one on the list! They are shuffled froom time to time, but something is insisting on staying top o’ the list http://www.messynessychic.com/2016/01/21/travel-like-wes-anderson-on-the-real-darjeeling-limited-railway/

    Lisa Gordon - January 25, 2016 - 4:34 pm

    Diane, these gloves are gorgeous. I just love the colors.
    Hmmmm, I could probably never limit it to just one experience. There are always so mand!!

    You have a wonderful week!

    Gabriele - January 27, 2016 - 5:38 am

    I love your fingerless gloves! One of the reasons I follow your blog is because you are so open to learning new things. I have been trying something new this month. I used the app Periscope each week to share piano teaching ideas. Have you heard of it? It broadcasts a live video and people all over the world can access it and join in by typing greetings and questions. So, I got really brave yesterday and I played my recital piece. But, the distraction of seeing words from Turkey, Russia, and India threw me off completely, I did not know what they were saying but I played BADLY. The video stays up for 24 hours. I erased it! Ha Ha Ha!
    I can’t remember if I let you know that the pictures you let me use of yours are on my piano website.

    Jennifer - January 28, 2016 - 5:14 am

    I have been thinking about an answer to your question a lot of late. I feel restless and in need of change- not just a small change, but a significant one. Most people would answer your question with an adventure of some kind. Travel perhaps. I do like adventure, but a change of scenery alone will not satisfy my need for a profound change. What it is I am truly seeking I am still puzzling out…
    I like your camera experiment. And I have put an audio copy of Circling the Sun on hold at the library.Your quote sold me on the novel and I look forward to hearing it read aloud.

    Sherry G. - January 28, 2016 - 10:38 am

    Hmmm, so many thoughts are provoked by your post. First off I adore your fingerless gloves — they are stunning. I think it’s fabulous that you are doing a 365 project and experimenting with photography — creating some wonderful work and lovely abstracts. I’ve been fortunate to have many amazing experiences so far in life — I’ve seen the northern lights, watched a being give birth and watched a being die, been moved by so many performances but have not yet seen a whale breach, but many dolphins. Still many places I would like to experience, many of them sacred, but the one experience I would love to have is to create a photograph that thrills me –and keeps me wanting to look at it forever…I’m working on it!

    and then

    Arms stretching, reaching as if grasping for that smear of sky the colour of someone’s baby blues. Inhaling the salty air clothed with sweet wet cedar. Juncos, chickadees, and their avian relatives flit, flutter, chirp and call. One more deep breath to capture the restorative Salish Sea air before slipping inside to the routine of morning coffee. This, the beginning of my day.

    French Creek marina jetty, ©Diane M Schuller

    “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

    Though I’ve been living here on the West Coast for 4 years already, I still stop in my tracks when I see a large fishing boat cruise by. They seem almost prehistoric yet move across the water more gracefully than a prima donna ballerina. The men who work on those oceangoing vessels work in harsh conditions with remarkably primitive amenities while on the water. That too is such a paradox considering those of us watching from shore, living in real comfort; the romance versus the reality.

    French Creek marina ©Diane M Schuller


    a raft of sea lions on the Salish Sea

    Woke up one morning this week hearing these guys barking (see those tiny dark things just under the horizon) :-). After coffee, morning ablutions, and getting dressed I went down to see if they were still close in. Sea lions are highly social animals so groups can be seen resting by floating together, closely packed, flippers up, on the ocean’s surface in “rafts.”

    I found this delightful poem and had to share it. “AND THEN”

    I always thought the words, and then, were a prelude to something wonderful. Like seeing a ship come in or finding a note in your letterbox, when you weren’t expecting one. The swift, surprising transition from nothing to everything.

    And then.

    Two little words that hold a world of promise.

    And then the light pierced through the dark, forbidding sky, and the rain stopped falling.

    And then I met you.

    — Lang Leav

    great novel I recommend ... www.dianeschuller.com

    And then, I read the  most amazing book and finished it this week. Circling the Sun. Her writing is exceptional, the story fascinating, and I highly recommend it.

    And then I finished my pretty, squishable “Wapiti” wool shawl. It’s likely going to take residence in our guest room to keep guests cozy warm. After I finish knitting a garment, I’m spellbound to stroking/squishing it, admiring it, and feeling a real sense of pride that I created a practical and beautiful fabric out of two strands of yarn simply worked into each other over and over. The emotion throbbing within me is like the comfort it gives wrapped around the recipient’s shoulders, arms, feet, head (depending on what I’ve made). My hope is always that the recipient will love it as much as I’ve enjoyed the process. I think my next project shall be learning fair isle knitting. Stay tuned.

    "Wapiti" shawl by www.dianeschuller.com

    I have written, cooked, cleaned, knit, played, made music, photographed, walked, talked, grieved, daydreamed, remembered — all this week.

    Oh and a nod of acknowledgement to Shawna Lemay for mentioning me and linking to one of my book reviews near the end of last week’s blog post. Thanks Shawna!

    And then, to become reacquainted with my love of photography I’ve embarked upon a 365 project. All that means for you is that you may end up seeing many more images with my posts, though I certainly won’t inundate you with the entire series. Have you ever done any kind of 365 project whether it was photography, writing, crafting, or any other creative pursuit?

    Until next Monday my dear readers/friends/neighbours I wish for you a refreshing winter walk, hours poring over seed catalogues, a pleasant surprise or two, and a prelude to something you view as wonderful.

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    Lisa Gordon - January 18, 2016 - 9:17 am

    What a great week for you, Diane, and that shawl is just gorgeous!

    I am looking forward to seeing some of your 365 images too!


    Jessie - January 18, 2016 - 10:18 am

    That first picture had me letting out a breath I didn’t even know I was holding. Beautiful!

    Toffeeapple - January 18, 2016 - 10:40 am

    I love your pictures. How marvellous to live near a fishing port, I would be able to have fresh fish everyday.

    Your shawl looks lovely too.

    Andi - January 24, 2016 - 7:53 am

    What a wonderful way to begin a day!
    Thank you for the sweet poem and the book recommendation. The book will be added to my “to read” list.
    Your Wapiti turned out spectacular! Such a treat for guests. Heck, I may visit just so that I can wrap myself up in it.
    Happy to hear that you are joining the 365 photo project. I am in constant admiration of your beautiful photos and now we can all enjoy 365 of them!

    Bridie - January 24, 2016 - 2:47 pm

    Ahhh, the fishing boats! I have a similar feeling of awe when it comes to the wee tugs pulling great barges, which I see daily off the coast of our beach here in Gibsons. Isn’t life just off the shore wonderful? It’s always changing. We get sea lions here, too. And seal, sea otters, whales, not to mention the every changing array of sea birds. It’s marvellous.

    Thanks for the book recommendation! I read The Paris Wife a few years ago and liked it quite well. I’ll check this out, too.

    Your Wapti looks scrumptious. I think it’s such a nice idea to keep a cosy hand knit available for guests. For sure, one of my next projects will be something for our guest room.

    […] and started taking piano lessons once she retired. Check out her latest knitting project, favorite book of the moment and look at a few dozen beautiful […]

    Pleasure is good

    The sun leaned on me like a dog against its master’s leg. I’d been practicing for over an hour yet it seemed like only minutes. Like a kid who’s being called home for dinner, I knew I had to leave the piano. But I could have played on until the sun slunk away. And so, the day took over.

    piano keyboard © www.dianeschuller.com

    Hello my lovelies.

    I’m learning to play Giacomo Puccini’s Musetta’s Waltz, from La Boheme, and it stirs my soul. What pleasure to be able to play something so elegant and moving. Soon I hope to fill my piano room with this beautiful music without a single flaw.

    Guess who is sporting a new ‘do’? Yup, I totally changed my hairstyle plus switched hair stylists at the salon I have been using. It was a good move (although awkward) and the confidence I feel with the new ‘do’ moves me resolutely yet calmly through the days.

    Knitting is going along well, finally. During December I had a bit of a knitting slump in that I frogged 3 projects in a row. What’s frogging you ask? That’s when you knit something, or partially knit something, and then completely unravel it. Then project 4 is exactly at the half way mark but I broke one of my ‘rules’: I put it on snooze and started yet another project. Good news, because my knitting mojo has re-emerged. I’m moving right along with the shawl that is on my needles — a pretty little number the designer calls Wapiti. I bought the pattern a year ago and am loving it so far.

    knitting a Wapiti shawl

    So, did I entice anyone to take on the letter (or postcard) writing challenge? Let me know if you did! I wrote one letter and a postcard so far.

    Today I’m thinking about how pleasure is good.

    Until next Monday, I wish for you dear reader/friend/neighbour: the ring of laughter, the exotic aroma of tea, the squish of a favourite sweater or blanket, an adventure through a well written book, or whatever pleasure suits you most.

    mini waterfall ©Diane M Schuller

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    Ms S - January 11, 2016 - 6:18 pm

    Lovely pleasures indeed! My husband is learning piano now as well, and between him and our son practicing, I feel a little spoiled for music in the house.
    Btw, I love your writing.


    Toffeeapple - January 12, 2016 - 9:51 am

    Your knitting always makes me want to knit, which I have been doing but only tiny baby clothes; I want to continue with the cardigan I started last year, wish me luck!

    Candace - January 13, 2016 - 1:29 pm

    I wrote notes in all my Christmas cards :) and I try to send postcards to a few people every year with something written on them…I did used to write letters all the time, too, when I was young and they are fun to receive.

    Jennifer - January 16, 2016 - 7:24 pm

    It is too easy to rush headlong through our days. It’s so much better for the body and the mind to take a moment to pause and appreciate all the little moments of pleasure in a day.

    Annie - January 17, 2016 - 1:08 pm

    How wonderful to be able to play the piano. Making music, connecting through words and knitting … they all sound like soul work :)

    Susan Clark - January 18, 2016 - 9:25 am

    Music is such a gift-for creator and listener. I sent a substantial and newsy letter to the daughter of our previous next door neighbour. We watched her grow from childhood into womanhood and now young wife. She is a creative person and tucked some charming handmade gift tags into her Christmas card to us. I think she might appreciate an old fashioned, hand written letter.

    Gabriele - January 27, 2016 - 8:11 am

    I can hear you play Musetta’s waltz. It is sublime. All the longing and even suffering that Musetta feels is expressed in those notes moving ever upward.

    Kindness in an Envelope

    letter writing © Diane M Schuller

    The world can always use a little more kindness. A smile, a thoughtful word, or a simple gesture spreads good cheer.

    “A good handwritten letter is a creative act, and not just because it is a visual and tactile pleasure. It is a deliberate act of exposure, a form of vulnerability, because handwriting opens a window on the soul in a way that cyber communication can never do. You savor their arrival and later take care to place them in a box for safe keeping.” — written by Catherine Field in the New York Times.

    Nothing beats a handwritten note or letter. Email and texting are great for quick responses but an old fashioned letter shows someone cares plus has taken the time to think about you and care enough to sit and write a letter.

    I love to get mail but the mailbox only holds bills and junk mail so when a letter — a real handwritten letter — shows up in my mailbox, I can barely contain my excitement to open it up and read what’s inside.

    pen and envelope .. www.dianeschuller.com

    I have been a letter writer all my life and a note writer too — trouble is, I don’t write letters nearly as often as I once did. As a youngster I had pen pals and wrote letters to Aunts and one of my cousins.

    I used to write to my mom a lot; in fact after she died and I was packing up her house, I found all the letters from me she had kept in one of her bedroom drawers! I treasure them because she treasured them.

    “What a lot we lost when we stopped writing letters.  You can’t reread a phone call.”  ~Liz Carpenter

    The beauty of a letter is that it shows you care. You took the time to put your thoughts and feelings onto paper and send it to that special someone. It’s not unlike making a gift with your own hands because it truly is a gift. The only difference is that instead of being wrapped up in a box and wrapping paper, your gift is being sent in an envelope.

    And, if the thought of a letter as a gift doesn’t quite do it for you, how about this article in New York Times that sets out the science of what else is gained by writing by hand and the thought process of writing a letter, “What’s Lost as Handwriting Fades.” But I’m all for the fun aspect.

    postcard to Canadian Forces

    Are you up for a challenge?

    For anyone who wants to tackle a wee challenge … Why not challenge yourself to write three letters from the heart and send them before the weekend? Whether you use fine stationery or regular notebook paper, it does not matter. All that matters is that you actually sit down and take time to write.

    Need suggestions for who you can write to?

    • A relative who lives far away: tell that person about your day, what’s been going on in your world, wish them well. Maybe add a favourite memory involving that relative/friend. Don’t forget to pop in a photo or clipping out of a newspaper or magazine. These sorts of things add more interest for the person receiving your letter.
    • A friend who you haven’t been in touch with for a long time: as above.
    • Your child: Share with him/her how proud you are of him/her. Perhaps use some specific examples of praiseworthy choices they made.
    • Write an American Soldier or to a Canadian Soldier overseas (scroll down on the linked page to see how): tell him how proud you are of him; share your day with him.
    • Or maybe there’s someone you are thinking about as you read these possibilities — go for it.
    • Or, perhaps you might want to start small: go get some postcards and mail a brief message to friends / family.

    We all like to know others think well of us, whether it’s family or friends. You’d be surprised how much impact a small note or handwritten letter can make to someone. You may even receive a hand written note in return! Now wouldn’t that be exciting?

    Send your letters as quickly as possible, while you’re still motivated. It may well become a habit.

    You’ll feel so good. Heck, you can even write me.

    If I haven’t convinced you, Lakshmi Pratury makes a convincing case in her short TED talk.

    “To send a letter is a good way to move somewhere without moving anything but your heart.” — Phyllis Theroux


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    Lisa Gordon - January 5, 2016 - 7:37 am

    I am so with you all the way here, Diane.
    I actually saw the article in the NY Times too.
    As of a few years ago here, in the U.S., children are no longer taught cursive/script handwriting. Completely wiped out of the program. Thought of as being not important enough, but I have to ask, what could be more personal than one’s signature??
    So very strange to me.
    Like you, I love handwritten letters, and I actually write quite a few of them.

    I wish you a bright and beautiful New Year, my friend.

    Susan Clark - January 5, 2016 - 11:21 am

    My young executive, cyber savvy daughter in law continues to exchange handwritten letters with a friend. They met in their early teens at an international exchange programme. The letters have followed them through graduation, university, jobs, marriage and the birth of children. They both say how important this hand written communication is to them.
    I shall send a letter off somewhere and see what happens.

    steph - January 6, 2016 - 4:33 pm

    this truly IS becoming a lost art. I have persuaded my 13 yo granddaughter to be my pen-pal with the promise that as long as SHE writes, I will always respond. She has been soooo loyal to this and it thrills me. She has 4 siblings—all of whom have had the same offer made, and so far, no one has taken me up on it. I occasionally get a picture sent from one of them….they will in turn get a picture back from me. Want MAIL??? Gotta send me some!!!

    I also have a bunch of people who are my ‘postcard’ people….they send me pcs when they travel and I return the favor. My mailbox isn’t full of lovely mail, but I do get the occasional nice surprise—and it always makes my day!!!!

    Hope you mailbox spills over with happiness!!!

    Lionel Daneault - January 8, 2016 - 4:16 pm

    A very nice piece, Diane. I’m going to fill my faithful Parker fountain pen and get busy.

    Andi - January 10, 2016 - 6:29 am

    I am a huge fan of receiving handwritten notes and would like to be better about sending them out. Thank you for this beautiful reminder!

    Sherry G. - January 10, 2016 - 6:45 am

    This is such a beautifully written post Diane, and so artfully illustrated with your quietly gorgeous images. I was just thinking about a handwritten note I would like to send to someone far away — and you have encouraged me to just DO it and stop thinking about it!

    Tina - January 10, 2016 - 2:44 pm

    Such a lovely post! I miss handwritten letters, notes, postcards and just cards in general. I am quite saddened the the art of lettering writing seems to be a thing of the past and that todays communication is so cold. There’s nothing better than sending and receiving a hand written letter!

    those ubiquitous lists and a note on resolutions

    [Since this is the second post in which I focus on wishes and other thoughts about the New Year, let’s just say, “It’s allowed!]

    This is the time of year when lists seem to be everywhere. There are the ubiquitous “The 10 best …” “The 10 worst …” “The 20 most …” and so on. Never mind — I might surprise you with my own List … just wait.:-) I wasn’t surprised then when, as a Goodreads member, they sent me a link to my “Year in Books”. In that link Goodreads was good enough to let me know the shortest book I read in 2015 was Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Nameat 240 pages and the longest book I read during the year was Shantaram(excellent) at a whopping 936 pages. Interestingly, one of my top favourite novels of the year, All the Light We Cannot See, was also the most popular among Goodreads members. And one of my non-favourites, Home to Woefield, was also not exactly popular with other Goodreads members. If you are even a tiny bit interested in my Dislikes or top Favourites follow the appropriate link and then when you see a book you’re wondering why I included it in that category, click on that book’s cover to read my comments (which appear immediately below the publisher’s synopsis).  Does all this mean anything worthwhile? No, I wouldn’t say so.

    Crayola pencil crayons by ©Diane M Schuller

    Do you enjoy reading the end-of-year lists? Are there any favourite lists you especially like to read or watch for? Being a bit of a news hound I enjoy the end-of-year look-back list of top news stories.

    One type of list that I still keep and follow is my to-do timeline when I’m planning a dinner party. This kind of list keeps me well organized and stress free. Do you have a list that always works for you?

    handwritten letters ©Diane M Schuller

    As many of you know, I don’t make resolutions. I think they are destined to fail. In order to succeed, I have always needed to set goals — realistic and measurable — and a plan to follow through. I did this for years when I was working. That always worked best for me both at work and in my personal life. So since you won’t see resolutions here, you may see the occasional goal. My last post talked about plans I have for the coming year and in that list, one might be considered a goal: to knit a garment utilizing stranded knitting. Oh and I also plan to write more letters this year. I’m so used to decades of goal setting that planning to do something pretty much gets me there. What about you? Do you make resolutions? Do they work for you? Do you prefer to set goals?

    “I love lists. Always have. when I was 14, I wrote down every dirty word I knew on file cards and placed them in alphabetical order. I have a thing about about collections, and a list is a collection with purchase. (Wired Magazine, “Step One: Make a List”, October 2012)” — Adam Savage.

    thank you note from www.dianeschuller.com
    Wishing you the best of days today.

    PS: I’m considering changing my posting irregularity to weekly! This experiment could be unofficially dubbed, “Mail Mondays”. Therefore, I have a post already lined up for tomorrow to begin the Monday sequence.

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    Andi - January 3, 2016 - 12:21 pm

    I don’t care too much for resolutions either. Only because I hate disappointing myself. :)
    I like hearing about your reading accomplishments. That is inspiring.
    Looking forward to watching your journey into a stranded knitting. That is a great goal!

    Toffeeapple - January 5, 2016 - 10:07 am

    I never make resolutions either, nor lists. Nor do I have any goals really; perhaps I should have?

    from time to time

    In loving memory of our 3 beloved ‘kids’, Pearl, Maggie, and Austin. Miss you like crazy.
    ©Diane M Schuller


    by May Sarton

    In the middle of the night,
    My bedroom washed in moonlight
    And outside
    The faint hush-hushing
    Of an ebbing tide,
    I see Venus
    Close to
    The waning moon.
    I hear the bubbling hoot
    Of a playful owl.
    Pierrot’s purrs
    Ripple under my hand,
    And all this is bathed
    In the scent of roses
    By my bed
    Where there are always
    Books and flowers.
    In the middle of the night
    The bliss of being alive!

    I can so relate to nearly every line of her poem. For me, the cat is missing, though there have been decades in my lifetime when there was a cat. And perhaps the scent of roses, in my case, would most likely be lilies.
    poetry book My mother loved reading poetry. She had a thick volume of The Best Loved Poems of the American People, gifted to her as a young woman, that she cherished and would read from time to time. It was important to her to give it to me before she died. She didn’t say why, but it was vitally important to her, this gifting to me.

    So, in turn, I cherish the tattered book. And I too read from it from time to time.

    As this year fades to an end allowing the New to bloom and blossom, I wish to thank each and every one of you for your visits here. Most of all I’ve appreciated when you take time to leave me a note and times when you’ve touched my heart by sharing some intimate or meaningful moment from your life, present or past. Thank you.

    In the coming year, I plan to continue to read some fine books, to tell you some stories (brief as they may be), to knit (going to try some stranded knitting), to keep my body moving, to make my piano sing, and to pay very close attention to Mother Nature and what she has to offer. Here now, is my wish for you:

    “May your coming year be filled with

    magic and dreams and good madness.

    I hope you read some fine books and

    kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful,

    and don’t forget to make some art –

    write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can.

    And I hope, somewhere in the next year,

    you surprise yourself.” – Neil Gaiman

    ©Diane M Schuller

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    Toffeeapple - December 28, 2015 - 10:31 am

    What a lovely poem Diane, thank you for posting it.

    I hope that the next year will give you peace and happiness.

    dinahmow - December 28, 2015 - 5:18 pm

    I couldn’t have thought of a better wish than Neil Gaiman’s. So I flip it, like a coin, and blow it back to you, my friend. May 2016 see many new wonders, new challenges and new directions should we wish.
    Oh, and a glass never empty!

    steph - December 30, 2015 - 2:53 pm

    I LOVE that quote!!!! magic, dreams, art, surprises and books!!! what a year that could be!!!

    Susan - January 1, 2016 - 10:18 am

    Beautiful images of your sweet loved ones and such perfect words to accompany them. The poetry book is a wonderful gift, my mom left me hers too and I cherish it. You have some wonderful goals for the new year and no doubt you will accomplish them all. May you continue to bloom in 2016…A very Happy New Year to you and yours!

    Sherry G. - January 10, 2016 - 6:52 am

    I love your blog, Diane, and it warms my heart every time I read it. I am so moved by the photos of your beautiful dogs — and can totally identify with how much you miss them. I am really missing my two Westies this New Year and find myself looking at their pics more than ever. I am so glad I have those images! I also love the May Sarton poem and the Neil Gaiman wish. Thank you!

    Candace - January 13, 2016 - 1:26 pm

    They’re such beautiful animals. Have a wonderful 2016, Diane.

    Currently …

    Currently . . .

    — Enjoying some in-home dinners with friends.


    — Getting some Christmas baking done (and I refuse to say “Holiday” or “Seasons” when I mean Christmas).


    — Listening to non-stop Christmas music.

    — Learning how to play more Christmas music on the piano (Silent Night, Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree, Deck the Halls, Angels We Have Heard on High).

    — Buying local and attending local artists and craft fairs (wow Denman Island).

    — Still really really missing our dogs — the grief caught me off guard the other day while walking and it wasn’t pretty.

    — Dog-sitting for the next few weeks. Meet Tim.


    — Taking a wee break in knitting since I can’t get much knit before now and Christmas — that sweater took too long. Finished two hats and may begin more socks.

    hats at www.dianeschuller.com
    — Finished watching a really eye-opening little video. I recommend taking the few minutes to watch it. It’s called, “The Lab: Decoy. A portrait session with a twist.” A photograph is shaped more by the person behind the camera than by what’s in front of it. To prove this Canon invited six photographers to a portrait session with a twist. ‘Decoy’ is an experiment from The Lab, designed to shift creative thinking behind the lens.

    — And, if you feel you’d rather not, then this really short video of a woman (over 100 years old) taken by her son is certain to put a smile on your face and make you feel warm inside and out.

    — Currently grateful for: the feeling of the Christmas season; being surrounded by music; time with friends; the patter of rain; memories of Christmases past.

    Wishing you a week ahead of all things ‘warm’;

    conversations with friends;

    long walks taking in the scents along the way;

    and finding peace in the spirit of Christmas.


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    Toffeeapple - December 14, 2015 - 9:40 am

    Thank you for the links Diane, I shall see them again later.

    I hope you have a happy and peaceful Christmastide and a lovely New Year.

    Roberta - December 15, 2015 - 12:01 pm

    I look forward to your posts.. Lovely photos and thoughts~Merry Christmas!

    Gabriele - December 16, 2015 - 5:13 pm

    You are right, Diane. That video of the lovely 101 year young woman was delightful. Thank-you, and I wish you the very happiest Christmas ever!!

    Candace - December 20, 2015 - 9:58 am

    Tim looks like a nice guy to have around for awhile. Merry Christmas, Diane! I’m going to go check that photo video out now.

    Steve - December 22, 2015 - 11:05 am

    Your cookies look as delicious as your photos. Tim is a handsome guy. Merry Christmas to you and yours.

    Jennifer - December 24, 2015 - 9:32 am

    Recently, I struggled to take some photos of my son. Though I have been long interested in portrait photography, I am really uncertain of myself when there is a living, breathing human being at the other end of the lens. How to capture that personality in a natural and expressive way? It’s a challenge! My son kept asking me, “How do you want me to pose?” How indeed! So, I enjoyed the video The Lab: Decoy.
    I also watched the other video with the one hundred year old woman in the snow. She reminded me a lot of my 91 year old Mum. Such joy over something so simple as snow!
    Merry Christmas to you Diane. The cookies look yummy! Enjoy your holiday and all the best for the new year.

    Ms S - January 7, 2016 - 1:12 pm

    Hello Diane,

    It looks like you had a lovely holiday. Wishing you all the best in 2016. We go to the island every spring for a week. Last year we worked in a short visit to Tofino. Now I’m hooked. :)


    Where words fail, music speaks

    sheet music and shadows

    “Where words fail, music speaks.” — Hans Christian Anderson

    I love my time with the piano.

    Yamaha grand piano

    “The piano keys are black and white but they sound like a million colors in your mind” — Maria Cristina Mena

    Most of you are aware that I’ve been learning to play piano in my golden years. It’s number one on my personal ‘bucket list’. I began this musical journey nearly two years ago. Couldn’t even read notes up until then. Now I can play tunes and they’re recognizable, even to me. I’ll never be fluent I don’t imagine, but that really doesn’t matter. What matters is how it makes me feel.

    We were too poor when I was growing up to afford lessons, let alone to buy a piano or keyboard. My mother also loved the piano. She too would love to have been able to play. I remember talks about that. She would be so very proud of me now. She’d beam with pride but also with a contented form of envy. If she could have afforded it, I know for certain she’d have made it possible in those years. I don’t regret it though. That’s simply how it was and we did what we could do; she did more than she could. I realized as I got older just how much she sacrificed in order that I might have things that we really couldn’t afford.

    Back to the piano. There is something about making music with your own hands that elevates an appreciation for music. Sure we can listen to top classical artists and famous musicians with the most advanced sound systems or even live performances. When a person can make music with their own hands, as simple or as layered as it may be, there is a soul-stirring arousal like no other. The piano keys unlock an inner beauty.

    If you play a musical instrument, next time why not close your eyes and turn out all other distractions. Listen to it, feel it, and feast on that special talent for all its worth. Go ahead, do it.

    “The piano ain’t got no wrong notes.” — Thelonious Monk

    Yamaha baby grand, www.dianeschuller.com

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    Gabriele - November 29, 2015 - 4:38 pm

    What an inspiring bit of writing! You make me want to go and play that new version of It Came Upon a Midnight Clear I have. I am so happy for you. What a blessing this is.

    Candace - November 29, 2015 - 6:12 pm

    Lovely. My husband is a musician and has been since childhood. I can see how making music with your own hands would be very rewarding. You make many things with your talented hands.

    susan - December 4, 2015 - 5:45 pm

    Love this post and couldn’t agree more with your sentiment. My son is a violinist and music is a big part of our lives. Besides photography, music has helped me get through some pretty dark days…and continues to do so.

    Andi - December 6, 2015 - 7:26 am

    I am in constant awe whenever you chat with us about your piano playing. I am sure your mom would be beaming with pride. Well done you for fulfilling a lifelong dream, Diane.

    Jennifer - December 9, 2015 - 11:24 am

    My Dad learned to play the trumpet in “his golden years”. Like you, he had a poor childhood that never forwarded him the opportunity to play an instrument. As an adult, he bought a few instruments, but he never learned to play any of them until he retired. He and my Mom joined a senior’s band (she played the sax) and they played together in that group for years.
    I can play the clarinet, or should I say more accurately, I used to play the clarinet. I am not sure it is a skill as easily regained as riding a bike. Sadly, I think I have lost my abilities to a career and raising a son. I was never really good at it, but as you say, I am not sure talent is a critical thing to finding music soul stirring.

    as promised, knitting

    knitting in progress

    Charlotte Eriksson was quoted saying, “… so this is for us. This is for us who sing, write, dance, act, study, run and love and this is for doing it even if no one will ever know because the beauty is in the act of doing it.”

    That can apply to anything we do or create, including knitting. My Antler pullover, shown above while in progress, is finally complete and I’ve been wearing it. It turned out a tad too large at the bottom but that was my fault and not that of the pattern. You see, because I’m fat, I thought I’d ignore the waist decreases which in turn also keep the balance of the bottom a tad more form fitting. Bad idea. I won’t do that again. Anyway, I’m really quite delighted with the sweater even though it took me two months to complete!

    I especially appreciate the unique construction (it’s entirely seamless although it has clever faux seams); the garter sections are a nice design feature, and I love the extra long sleeves with the garter cuffs.

    details of Antler pullover

    Antler pullover

    Since I will only knit one item at a time, I’m now way behind on Christmas knitting. I may have to reserve some planned gift knits for birthdays rather than Christmas. As soon as I finished my Antler I dug out some  leftover yarn from the work socks I made for hubby and made myself a nice squishy headband to wear for those cool morning walks. The headband turned out so nice even though it’s easy-peasy garter stitch that I immediately drove to my local yarn store to buy something pretty for making a squishy hat for myself. Details about yarn used will be at the end of the post for any knitters who may be interested or simply head to my project pages at Ravelry.

    Rikki headband next to Madeline Tosh DK in "wilted rose" colour way

    “So go create. Take photographs in the wood, run alone in the rain and sing your heart out high up on a mountain where no one will ever hear and your very existence will be the most hypnotising scar.
    Make your life be your art and you will never be forgotten.” — Charlotte Eriksson

    Yarns Shown:

    • Antler. Main Colour: Yarn Indulgences BFL Silk fingering in colourway Banana (Canadian made);
    • Contrast Colour: Zen Yarn Garden Serenity 20 in colourway Hibiscus (also Canadian made).
    • Headband: Cascade 220 Superwash in Light Brown.
    • Yarn for W.i.P (squishy hat). Madeline Tosh Merino DK in colourway Wilted Rose (isn’t it a gorgeous colour?!)

    As you can see, I’ve been on a roll posting oodles of blog posts lately. Must be a phase I’m in!:-)Don’t hold it against me; I’m sure it’s a temporary condition.


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    dinahmow - November 23, 2015 - 1:38 pm

    I wonder why it’s called “antler”? I guess I was expecting reindeer fair isle!
    Yes, your Wilted Rose is a gorgeous colour;I think I still have a hat I knitted in a similar colour…

    You’re far more blog-prolific than moi! Things here have been hectic, but I may manage an apologia later today.After I’ve finished the hibiscus reduction and glared at the tangled wisteria.But it’s flowering! Pruning can wait!

    Gabriele - November 24, 2015 - 5:26 am

    Beautiful knitting work Diane. And, your quotations were very inspiring.

    Andi - November 24, 2015 - 9:01 am

    Gorgeous knitting! You may think that your Antler looks off at the bottom, but I don’t. You knit beautifully and you are far from fat my friend.
    It takes me months to finish garment knits as well, thank goodness they are always worth the wait.

    Toffeeapple - November 25, 2015 - 6:31 am

    Now why do you call yourself fat? To me, you have a female form and are not underweight like the youngsters aspire to be, be content in your skin dear thing.

    I too was expecting a reindeer sweater! That is far nicer, it looks lovely and your tension seems to be perfect. I like the contrast on the sleeves.

    being touched deeply

    white gerber aI’ve been thinking about light, and love, and grief, and hope. I’ve been thinking about happiness, about silence, about music.

    autumn spider web

    “To love. To be loved. To never forget your own insignificance. To never get used to the unspeakable violence and the vulgar disparity of life around you. To seek joy in the saddest places. To pursue beauty to its lair. To never simplify what is complicated or complicate what is simple. To respect strength, never power. Above all, to watch. To try and understand. To never look away. And never, never to forget.” —Arundhati Roy from The Cost of Living

    I came across Arundhati Roy’s quote when visiting Shawna LeMay’s Calm Things. I had written the opening sentences above, had included a video (below), and dropped in a few photos but was still at a loss of words. When I read this quote she had included in a recent post, it fit perfectly with where my thoughts lie lately. I know some of you are well acquainted with Shawna’s lovely blog but for those who aren’t, it truly is a breath of fresh air. It’s always calm over there, always something to contemplate, filled with literary goodness, and abounding with beautiful photography. Oh, and her most recent novel is turning out to be a best seller – check it out.

    flying kite in Parksville, BC ©Diane M Schuller

    Richard Wagamese, Winner of the Matt Cohen Award: In Celebration of a Writing Life, Nov 3 2015, Toronto. I realize not everyone will be inclined to watch the video of his short speech but if you do, I hope you wait until the 3:00 minute mark to witness his deep and caring soul as he comes towards the end of it.

    I haven’t read his recent book, Medicine Walkbut I plan to as soon as possible. … The update to this statement is that I went to our local indie book store and bought their last copy. It’s now waiting for me to finish the 400+ page novel that rests at my bedside.

    sunset water ©Diane M Schuller

    So those are some of the things that have touched me deeply in the past week. In recent times, what has touched you deeply?

    [Coming up next: I finished knitting my Antler pullover. You get a peek next post plus what’s now on my  needles.]

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    Gabriele - November 21, 2015 - 4:54 pm

    The Cost Of Living quote is extremely beautiful. I have difficulty with the continuing looking. I want to look away and not see the ugliness but I suppose that makes me half blind and it is likely that I will miss the joy. Beautiful pictures.

    Andi - November 23, 2015 - 4:37 pm

    Beautiful images as usual. I draw great peace from them. That is no secret, as I seem to tell you that all the time.
    Thank you for sharing that wonderful speech. I will now make sure to add this author to my list of reads.
    What touches me deeply lately is humankind. The resilience of the spirit and the heart of our brothers and sisters despite the sad times we sometimes endure. xo

    susan - December 4, 2015 - 5:48 pm

    oh yes, these things touch me deeply too. whenever I have a hard time putting my feelings into words, I look to Shawna’s blog…she never fails me.