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.

    Summertime … and the living is easy

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

    Clematis ©Diane M Schuller, Parksville BC

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

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

    artisan bread made by www.dianeschuller.com

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

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

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

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

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


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    lisa - July 6, 2014 - 3:39 pm

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

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

    Wishing you a wonderful evening! xo.

    Gabriele - July 7, 2014 - 7:11 am

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

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

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

    Jessie - July 7, 2014 - 8:01 pm

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

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

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

    kate - July 14, 2014 - 3:19 pm

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

    Candace - July 15, 2014 - 11:43 pm

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

    Bursting …

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

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

    clematis in Parksville, BC

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

    Salvia poolside in Parksville BC

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


    What is your favourite summer food?

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

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

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    Gabriele - May 31, 2014 - 5:29 am

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

    Sheila - May 31, 2014 - 11:31 am

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

    dinahmow - May 31, 2014 - 6:49 pm

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

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

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

    lisa - June 1, 2014 - 9:31 am

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

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

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

    Have a wonderful week ahead, my friend. xo.

    katie - June 2, 2014 - 5:48 am

    lovely images diane & what a sweet hubs you have 🙂

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

    wishing you a wonderful week~



    Candace - June 6, 2014 - 11:14 am

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

    Andi - June 25, 2014 - 6:33 pm

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

    Post-stroke reality

    Parksville sand dollars ©Diane Schuller

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

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

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

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

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

    And now you. What is energizing you lately?

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    dinahmow - May 23, 2014 - 8:09 pm

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

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

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

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

    Gabriele - May 24, 2014 - 6:21 am

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

    Sheila - May 24, 2014 - 1:44 pm



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


    lisa - May 24, 2014 - 5:45 pm

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

    Wishing you a wonderful weekend, my friend. xo.


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

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

    power horses ©Diane Schuller

    Norwegian Fjord ©Diane Schuller

    Equine ©Diane Schuller www.dianeschuller.com

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

    Wow. Very powerful images, Diane!

    lisa - May 9, 2014 - 4:18 pm

    How very beautiful these are, Diane.

    I wish you a wonderful weekend. xo.

    Jessie - May 9, 2014 - 4:57 pm

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

    Susan - May 9, 2014 - 6:26 pm

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

    katie - May 10, 2014 - 6:25 am

    hello diane~

    such beautiful pictures!



    Candace - May 10, 2014 - 3:04 pm

    Those are beautiful, Diane!

    May mornings

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

    an excerpt from May Mornings by Denise Levertov

    “May mornings wear
    light cashmere shawls of quietness, “

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

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

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

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

    lisa - May 5, 2014 - 4:09 pm

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

    Have a wonderful evening, my friend. xo.

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

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

    Shawna - May 7, 2014 - 10:36 am

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

    Such a beautiful image!

    katie - May 9, 2014 - 5:29 am

    hi diane~

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



    Candace - May 10, 2014 - 3:07 pm

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

    Mary - May 21, 2014 - 9:07 pm


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

    Best wishes and thank you for the lovely words.



    black & white orchid by ©Diane M Schuller

    Saroyan scarf being knit at www.dianeschuller.com

    sticky toffee date cake at www.dianeschuller.com

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

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

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

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


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    lisa - April 26, 2014 - 6:30 pm

    That yummy looking cake is for me, right?????
    Thought so! 🙂

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

    Have a beautiful weekend, my friend.

    Jessie - April 27, 2014 - 6:13 am

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

    Shawna - April 27, 2014 - 5:54 pm

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

    Andi - April 28, 2014 - 6:56 am

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

    Susan - April 29, 2014 - 8:37 am

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

    Candace - May 3, 2014 - 2:00 pm

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

    Don - May 4, 2014 - 7:26 am

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

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

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