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 on random Mondays ... simply an online journal of an ordinary life. Come on in to enjoy a breath of West Coast air.

    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

    BLISS

    by May Sarton

    Bliss 
    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.

    at-table

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

    blog-baking

    — 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.

    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. 🙂

    Sherry

    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.
    Enjoy!

    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.