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

  • Welcome to my photo journal

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

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

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

    invoke winter … stand by the sea

    Rachel Carson: “Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature—the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.

    from poet William Stafford:

    be a person here. stand by the river, invoke the owls. invoke winter, then spring. let any season that wants to come here make its own call. after that sound goes away, wait. how you stand here is important. how you listen for the next things to happen. how you breathe.

    We don’t see things as they are; we see them as we are.” — Anais Nin



    Where we live here on the West Coast it rarely snows. In recent days, not only has it snowed but it continues as I write this. The air remains salty, the flakes are wet and generous, the beauty is astounding.

    May you experience a softly contemplative week where nature opens her heart to you.

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    Sherry - February 6, 2017 - 2:34 pm

    What beautiful, evocative photos. Thank you sharing this rare glimpse into sea and snow.

    DIANE J PATMORE - February 6, 2017 - 2:42 pm

    Isn’t it lovely! I’ve just read a post from up at Campbell River and one over in Sooke. All so beautiful and unusually snowy.I love snow! Probably in the same way some people love my tropcal clim – a little goes a long way!!:-)

    K&B by the Sea - February 6, 2017 - 4:44 pm

    Diane, it’s been far too long since I last visited your blog! I’ve missed your wonderful photos and lovely thoughts 🙂 It’s far less snowy here on the east coast – some flakes fell today, but so far we’ve had a fairly easy winter. Hope you’re doing well, and I’ll be sure to drop by regularly 🙂


    susan - February 8, 2017 - 7:03 am

    Such quiet winter beauty. I get the chills just looking at your gorgeous images. Very warm here in New England today but a snowstorm is forecast for tomorrow. It will be a while before we see signs of spring.

    Lisa Gordon - February 8, 2017 - 10:57 am

    My goodness, these photographs are beautiful, Diane, and I love the quotes that you chose to go with them. I am glad that you have some snow to enjoy, my friend!

    Jennifer Connell - February 10, 2017 - 3:04 pm

    Your writing is always though provoking. Does nature open her heart to us or is it a case that we must open our hearts to nature? Either way, there is a need to be observant and open to experiences nature sends our way. Here in Ontario, we tend to take snow for granted. What is that saying? Familiarity breeds contempt? Thank you for the reminder that winter can be beautiful.

    Andi - February 12, 2017 - 4:52 am

    Be still my heart. I can almost smell and feel the snow via your beautiful pictures. So happy that you got snow after being without for so long.
    In true Diane-form… your photos captures the snow in all it’s glory beautifully.

    Alina - July 31, 2017 - 2:57 pm

    Those images are breathtaking! I am especially in love with the last one – so perfectly peaceful…

    A Previous Northern Experience

    After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.” — Philip Pullman

    Living north, beyond the 56th parallel, going for walks takes on different meaning. The sky rich azure blue as it is when the winter sun bathes the dormant, snow-covered fields. The air crisp as it is when the temperature is below 20 degrees Celsius. The dogs and I trudge to the end of our field entering the boreal forest through well worn game trails. Trails kept firmly padded by an ecosystem of small and large mammals: deer, moose, elk as well as coyotes, hare, and their prey. Ravens scold us, or perhaps they warn us, as we encroach upon their territory. And then, one day, in the silence of the forest a cow moose and her calf appear to my right. She knew we were coming but chose not to flee; instead to stand her ground to protect her calf. Too late, one of the dogs went in for the chase, barking with the approach, coming to a halt as the cow harumphed and stomped her deadly front hooves. No calling would bring the dog back. I slunk in, knowing the danger, in an attempt to collar the dog and pull her away. Fearing she was being attacked, the cow turned sideways, split her hind legs gushing her putrid urine — a final sign of marking her territory and impending charge. With a guttural huff and a leap into a bluff charge, she made her final warning, striking violently ahead of her. Enough time for me to collar the dog and back our way from the immense creature and her offspring. Feeling relieved to be safe,  yet in awe at what we just experienced, we made our way silently back out of the forest toward home.

    The brave one

    = = =

    As if worlds away, this recollection could never be repeated here on the West Coast of Vancouver Island.

    I finished my socks. Had a few struggles along the way but I love the end result. I’m wearing them as I type. For the knitters, check out my notes on Ravelry. There’s nothing quite as cozy as handmade socks (unless it’s handmade sweaters).

    So tell me a story. Any story. I can hardly wait to read about it.

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    Lisa Gordon - January 30, 2017 - 4:18 pm

    Oh, Diane, how scary for you. I probably would have just froze.

    I have a wildlife tale from this past weekend.
    We have a “critter cam” out in the yard. It’s lots of fun to see “who” stops by to visit and to empty the bird feeders. We are used to seeing deer (many), and we have a couple of resident turkeys, a skunk or two, an occasional fox, and now I can add to that list…a very large black bear. Definitely not your usual visitor, and a bit unnerving since he was only about 25 yards from the house when the camera captured him.

    I love your socks. They have a lace-like pattern that is just beautiful.

    Have a wonderful week, my friend!

    Juliann - January 31, 2017 - 5:27 am

    We have quite a bit of yard that is not landscaped and manicured (a bit unusual in my neighborhood). One evening last summer, I went to clean up the kitchen and looked out the back window to see 5 deer in the yard. Three were quite young so I’m guessing it was a family. They stayed to nibble with huckleberries for quite awhile and I just stood there and watched. It was quite a gift.

    Carol - February 1, 2017 - 10:03 am

    Love your writing Diane and always look forward to my next email from you!!

    Jessie - February 2, 2017 - 11:40 am


    The last time I saw I moose I was also feeling too close for comfort. I was bird hunting with my mom and brother in Montana. Fields of wheat stubble all around us lined with occasional hedgerows one of which we were hunting down. The wind was crazy insane that day where we had to shout to one another to be heard. I was slightly in front of my brother when far closer than I’d like a moose stood, up, up, up (dang they have long legs!) and looked at me while I did a lot of yelling MOOSE and back pedaling to stand beside my brother. It was only a moment or so that he looked at us before bolting out the other side of the hedgerow where my mom was. Not having heard our calls of “moose” over the noise of the wind she was startled and let out her own string of “MOOSE MOOSE MOOSE!!!” Fortunately the dogs had bird scent in their nose and weren’t at all interested in chasing a moose when there were pheasants all around. And, if memory serves I’m pretty sure we got the last birds to fill our limits for the day right as we got to the end of the hedgerow. Windy days in the field are exciting!!! 🙂

    susan - February 8, 2017 - 7:08 am

    Woah!!! Your description had me holding my breath until the end! So glad there was a happy ending to your story. I’ve been reading about snowmobilers chasing the poor moose and it makes me very angry. This poor moose was just being a good mama. Beautiful wintry images and your knitting always gives me a cozy warm feeling. You choose the most delicious color yarn!

    Jennifer Connell - February 17, 2017 - 10:12 am

    The last time I visited I was short of time and I didn’t get to leave a story behind. Today I will add one.
    I had a very similar experience– although with a much more benign creature. A few winters ago, I was out shovelling the driveway with the dogs. Suddenly I saw a creature running toward me. In the seconds before I began to corral my dogs, I decided it must be a really big dog on the attack. At the same moment, the dogs saw the creature too and they went crazy. Barking furiously they flew at the animal, and I saw for the first time, it was a deer. On seeing the dogs, the terrified deer screeched to a halt and that’s when I saw for the doe was wounded. No doubt it had been hit by a car on the adjacent highway. The poor thing had run from one horror to another!
    The deer turned and ran into my neighbours yard. Good, I thought. My neighbour’s yard is fenced. Maybe the doe will be trapped and I can get it some help.
    Sadly it was not to be. Even with the leg wound, the doe hopped the 6 foot fence and disappeared into a wooded area. There she would be easy pray for the coyotes we often hear at night.
    What haunts me about this story is the fact that the deer, who could have run in any number of directions, ran right to me. How I wish I could have helped her better.

    The roaming begins

    “Like small gods, children formed their miniature worlds out of clay, or even just words. To them, the truth was never simple.”

    “In childhood, Lib remembered, family seemed as necessary and inescapable as a ring of mountains. One never imagined that as the decades went by, one might drift into an unbounded country. It struck Lib now how alone in the world she was.”

    Both quotes above are from my most recent book club selection and are an appetizer into what you will find between the pages. I just finished reading Emma Donoghue’s The Wonder. It’s a novel that was on my to-read list so I’m pleased someone in our group chose it. I found it extremely well written in terms of vocabulary and time period but it was a bit of a disappointment (though it’s still an interesting storyline so I do recommend it). To read more detailed remarks, slip on over to read my comments on Goodreads.

    Did I mention I finally finished that beautiful, comfy, and easy-to-knit sweater by Canadian designer Jane Richmond? Not only did I finally finish it, but it fits perfectly! I only wish I had begun earlier because it would have come in handy with the three weeks of below zero weather we had.

    With the pullover behind me, I am currently knitting another pair of socks pour moi. These are the first socks I’m making that have a lace design. It’s not the kind of thing a person, at least not THIS person, can knit while watching TV. Complete attention is required. It’s also been quite the adjustment knitting a sweater with bulky weight yarn and large needles to knitting with fingering weight yarn on teeny tiny needles. Talk about vast contrasts.

    Oh dear, I nearly forgot. I want to thank each of you who have responded to my recent questions at the end of my blog posts, but especially for those of you who shared your spontaneous thoughts on what home is to you. Reading your comments is so enjoyable. Even though I’ve said it before, those comments or reflections you leave are always the best part for me.

    Heidi and I have now attended the first two lessons on learning the basics for Rally O. Heidi is a bit more advanced in terms of behaviour and basic learning from the work I’ve been doing with her but it’s certainly good for me to find out what sort of core techniques are necessary at the beginner level. She’s doing incredibly well being in a room with other dogs, and is showing me full attention most of the time. One of these days I’ll try to remember to get hubby to take a short video for you.

    Roam new roads. And now my first report of sorts regarding my focus in 2017 on roaming new roads. To give me a shot in the arm, I attended and have committed to a local photography group. We had to submit our favourite 10 images we each took in 2016. One of the leaders put them all on a slideshow so it was interesting and inspiring to see everyone’s favourite images. The group gets together at least once a month to go on a photographic outing. These images are shared later in a gathering where technical aspects are shared by some of the more advanced photographers. My inspiration is already amped right up simply by attending this first meeting. Our next assignment is long exposures which I have done very little of — in fact, I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve actually done long exposures. I’ve read up and look forward to doing some experimentation both at night and in daylight. I’ve finally begun to roam a road I’ve always wanted to travel. More roads yet to come and in many different directions.

    In the spirit of roaming new roads I’d like to offer you these for consideration, whether to explore, capture, live, or watch:

    7 Cozy Canadian Cabins

    Logpiles turned into awesome art

    Watch others who roamed new roads in 2016 RNR Bucketlist: A toast to 2016

    5 Canadian cities that come alive in Winter


    Until next Monday my dear lovelies, may you gather with friends, laugh at life, and be amazed at new discoveries.

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    Lisa Gordon - January 23, 2017 - 8:08 am

    Diane, I am so glad that your sweater turned out so well! I remember when you first started knitting. You are truly an inspiration.

    Your photography group sounds wonderful. I think it is great when a group with common interests comes together like that. I think it is an atmosphere where one can learn so much, and have fun while doing so.

    You have a wonderful week, my friend.

    Sherry - January 23, 2017 - 5:17 pm

    Oh, I do love the colour of the socks—violet is my absolute favourite! I look forward to seeing some of results of your new photography adventures. 🙂

    Ine - January 26, 2017 - 10:38 pm

    Those are beautiful quotes. Your pullover looks so comfy and the color is so vibrant! I’m curious about your socks, hope you’ll finish them soon, hvae fun knitting them!

    Candace - January 29, 2017 - 9:02 pm

    Diane, I’m so impressed at the number of interests you have and you’re so good at all of them. The photo group sounds great and I look forward to seeing what you come up with. Your knitting is beautiful.

    Maryse Turcotte - February 5, 2017 - 11:39 am

    Your sweater looks awesome and so cozy!

    Linda Nicolichuk - February 5, 2017 - 8:38 pm

    This is the first time I have read your blog. You have a gift in putting down on paper your thoughts so eloquently.I must comment on your phrase ‘shot in the arm”. My Dad would use that phrase when he would ask a visitor if they wished drink. My boyfriend (husband now) was taken aback when asked “Would you like a shot in the arm?”He had no idea what Dad meant.Your use of the words brought back a funny memory. Thanks Diane.


    Jane Austen wrote, “There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort.”

    piano room www.dianeschuller.com

    Some people write so eloquently about home, the sense of home, or home as something missed or longed for. I’m not going to put thoughts in your mind because to me home is a feeling. Home means varying things to me — the people who are home to me; the sense of contentment or even the moments of laughter; memories; and much more. We each have different life experiences, different feelings, and our perspectives on home will vary. Today’s post is yours — you decide what home is for you.

    Let’s be grateful for whatever home is to each of us. And, if you care to share, tell me what you feel is home for you. These two photographs, wildly altered in post processing, are of my favourite room in my home.

    my favourite room || www.dianeschuller.com

    PS: I finally finished that sweater I’ve been knitting away at and absolutely adore it. It turned out so cozy and the fit is perfect. Will have to get hubby to take a couple photos of me wearing it because I’m terrible at selfies. Actually, I’m one of those who really dislikes selfies anyway. Have a beautiful week ahead everyone — revel in your thoughts of home.

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    Gabriele - January 16, 2017 - 2:21 pm

    Home is my refuge as I am sick today. I am so grateful to have a home where life can slow down enough for me to heal. And I will. Love your pictures of the music room! Really truly!

    Susan Clark - January 16, 2017 - 4:15 pm

    I am most at home in my garden although an armchair by a wood fire comes a close second. Love the pictures.

    Sherry - January 16, 2017 - 9:01 pm

    Love these photo prints of your home. Very lively!

    To respond to your question, home is with those I love surrounded by the things that reflect our spirits and bring us pleasure.

    Have a great week!

    Lisa Gordon - January 17, 2017 - 1:49 pm

    I LOVE what you did with these images, Diane!
    Home to me is really anywhere my family is, whether it be in our actual home, or elsewhere. Just whenever we’re together, to me, that is home. 🙂

    Juliann - January 18, 2017 - 5:38 am

    I have been thinking about home a lot lately. Dad’s declining health might mean a new home for him. My daughter and son in law are purchasing their first home and are talking a lot about that new space. My own home feels so big these days. I like this topic.

    Sherry G. - January 18, 2017 - 5:53 am

    The treatment you gave these photos make them feel so full of life and that seems to fit so well with your approach to life and home. I have had many homes and I can adapt quite easily I think, but I do like to be able to surround myself with the colours, textures, scents etc. that spark joy in my immediate environment. This question is a big topic and I need to think more about it.

    andi - January 21, 2017 - 5:46 am

    Love this post. Home to me is a place where I feel safe. When I feel happy, unwell, at peace, pensive,…the one place I want to feel all those things is in my home.
    Home is what I made it and is very me. I love being in my own “space”.
    While it may not sound “home-like” to say that home is where I like to be alone, it is for me.
    It still affords me the opportunity to go visit family and enjoy their home.

    Candace - January 29, 2017 - 9:07 pm

    I sometimes think I could be happy never going anywhere. I love to be at home (including my yard). I feel safe and cozy with several kitties around (and my husband, of course). I’m never bored, there is plenty to do and enjoy. What seems most ideal to me is to go out for a few short hours and then have home to come back to and it’s always a relief to kick off shoes and just settle in. Now that I am retired, though, I often spend whole days at home and am perfectly happy doing so.

    Roam New Roads

    French Creek jetty, Parksville, BC

    Whether you are an avid photographer or simply someone who embraces life, Roam New Roads is all about exploring, capturing, and living. It’s a great theme for life, period, but it’s a also a simple concept to embrace as a theme in our lives whether for 2017 or for life!


    travel ©Diane M Schuller, Do NOT Copy

    My photos have taken the “roam new roads” literally, but the theme need not mean travel or exploring geographically. It can mean exploring new experiences, whether it’s events in the community; gathering with friends; trying something on your bucket list; taking up a hobby or learning a new language, for instance. Or maybe you’ve always wanted to take a cooking class, or learning to play an instrument, or join a book club, or perhaps do monthly lunch dates with friends. Maybe you want to sort through your photos to print your favourites and put them in albums for your kids or grandkids — now’s the time to take that road. Roaming new roads can be as simple or as exhilarating as you want it to be. It can be close to home or far afield.

    cobblestone road in Greece ©Diane M Schuller

    Dunvegan hill, Alberta

    Road in Rome near Coliseum, ©Diane M Schuller

    Road in Greece

    Bridge in Spain

    For those who love to take photographs, here are 8 tips for shooting outdoors in winter.

    So now you’re wondering what new roads I plan to roam. Well, to be honest, they’re likely going to be serendipitous. I do plan to discover more of our beautiful island this year, to take more photographs, and to learn how to teach Heidi some new skills. Because I’m not setting goals, this may seem rather generic. But I want to wander, like wandering along a wooded path. I hope to glance something out of the corner of my eye and follow it, or to hear something down the road and be guided towards whatever it may be. I’ll share my discoveries as they become unearthed. Will you roam new roads?

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    Lisa Gordon - January 9, 2017 - 7:18 am

    If this is generic, it sure sounds good to me, Diane!!
    I think serendipitous is the best. At least for me anyway.
    Interestingly, I just finished a post about happy accidents. Kind of along the same line of thought.
    Enjoy every moment of your wanderings, and I do hope that you will share them here.

    Happy day to you, my friend.

    Juliann - January 9, 2017 - 8:59 am

    I have plans to do a bit of roaming this year. There have been a few things that have happened in the last two years that are pushing me to get going and not leave those dreams to chance.

    Susan Clark - January 9, 2017 - 12:07 pm

    I have a trip to England this year but that is an old road, however I plan to volunteer for a week in a beautiful castle garden which will be a little adventure. Plans can easily overwhelm me so serendipity sounds perfect.

    Sherry - January 9, 2017 - 4:22 pm

    Lovely images, Diane. 🙂
    I know I will be roaming out your way again—I’m already dreaming of the green! I tried my hand at painting in 2016 and look forward to roaming those creative roads a little further this year. Enjoy wherever you roaming takes you!

    Rachel - January 11, 2017 - 3:53 pm

    Beautiful images Diane. I particularly love the first one of the post. As is often the case, your words struck a cord with me. In both photography and art, I have plans to do just this… Looking forward to seeing how you roam the roads in 2017.

    Jennifer - January 12, 2017 - 3:27 pm

    You’ve got me thinking. There are a couple of trips in my plans, but I prefer to answer your question in a less literal way. What roads do I want to roam in the coming year?
    I am guilty of relegating my dreams to the distant future. It’s always “someday” I’d like to do something adventurous or accomplish a goal. The problem is I am not getting any younger and my “somedays” might run out before I do. LOL
    Someday, I’d love to live in each of the provinces for a full month. I’d love to see some of the gardens in England I always read about. I’d love to photograph something other than gardens!!! And I’d love to learn to read a novel in the French original. The challenge for me is to stop seeing all my dreams in the distant future.

    wishing you …

    As this year fades to an end allowing the New to bloom and blossom, I thank each and every one of you for your visits here, my online living room. 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.

    Qualicum Beach, BC ©Diane M Schuller

    This year I have two main wishes for you. First,

    “My wish for you is that you continue. Continue to be who and how you are, to astonish a mean world with your acts of kindness. Continue to allow humor to lighten the burden of your tender heart.” — Maya Angelou

    And, as always, the other wish I have 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

    on the ferry ©Diane M Schuller

    And, since it wouldn’t be me to ask for a story or engage in some manner of conversation, here is my final question to you to close out 2016 …

    Without revealing your actual age, what is something you remember that if you told a younger person, they wouldn’t understand? (I’ll share a couple in the comments below with the rest of you!)

    Qualicum Beach ©Diane M Schuller

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    Diane - January 1, 2017 - 11:07 am

    How about:
    where did I put my go-go boots?

    waiting for the teacher to bring the mimeographs.

    Diane - January 1, 2017 - 11:09 am

    Unwind the camera and change the film, get the negatives and print it on glossy paper.

    We need to adjust the rabbit ears to get better reception.

    Cathy Hubmann - January 1, 2017 - 6:23 pm

    We used to be on a party line!

    Sherry - January 2, 2017 - 11:04 am

    Writing down important phone numbers in the front lined page of the telephone book.

    Susan - January 2, 2017 - 3:07 pm

    Mangle-it was my job to turn the handle and squeeze the water out of the laundry before it was hung on the line. Then we got a spin dryer which seemed the last word in labour saving technology.

    Lisa Gordon - January 3, 2017 - 11:44 am

    What a beautiful post, Diane.
    Thank you.
    I wish you all of the most wonderful things for the New Year, my friend.

    Jean Marie - January 3, 2017 - 12:48 pm

    How about:

    rolling down the windows in the car (which I’ve had to explain to both my 12 year old son and my 23 year old son)

    changing the channel and tv volume with knobs…on the actual tv set

    I still remember the appearance of the first fast food restaurant in the county I grew up in (in Virginia), it was a Hardee’s.

    I could probably add more – but I don’t want to take up all of them 😉

    Gabriele - January 7, 2017 - 8:35 pm

    I remember a rotary telephone. No answering machine, no messages.