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.


    Remember those we lost but also remember those who returned and were forever changed.
    Poppy by www.dianeschuller.com

    Today I will let others speak for the importance of this day. I urge you to listen to this song and to watch the brief message from the singer at the end of the credits:

    Canadian Remembrance Day Song.

    And I’m purposely putting Bryan Adams in second spot after the soldier/singer above but it’s also a beautiful tribute should you have time:

    Canadian Forces. Bryan Adams – Never Let Go


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    Sherry Smyth - November 11, 2013 - 1:52 pm

    Beautiful music and a beautiful message. We often think of those who were lost during the wars…but there is no doubt those who returned were forever changed. My grandfather faced a different reception coming home to Canada in 1919..than his son, my uncle did, coming home after WWII.

    lisa - November 11, 2013 - 4:16 pm

    What a beautiful tribute to those who do so much for us, Diane.
    Thank you.

    Susan - November 12, 2013 - 11:25 am

    I was thinking the same thing. The pain of war doesn’t end when the fighting ceases.

    Kelly @ JAX does design - November 14, 2013 - 7:30 pm

    Such a shame that so many young lives were lost and forever changed. But if those brave men and women hadn’t done what they did, we may not be where we are today. We owe them all of our thanks and gratitude.

    A world where there are Octobers

    PREAMBLE: I wrote and put this post together on Thursday, the final day of October, but held it back so I could give the “before/after” post some time to be viewed first. Then serendipity took over. On Friday morning I visited Shawna Lemay’s Calm Things and her Friday post had a similar theme. In fact, I’m borrowing a poem she posted on Friday and am adding here for your enjoyment. Thank you Shawna.

    “It is not our job to remain whole.
    We came to lose our leaves
    Like the trees, and be born again,
    Drawing up from the great roots.” ~Robert Bly

    black & white coneflower
    The time disappeared like sun that melts into the horizon. I can’t tell you how long I spent in my yard taking these photographs. It may have been half an hour, perhaps an hour, likely more. Like a child discovering the forest for the first time, I too felt I was discovering the remains of these beauties. The air was calm, moist with dew, and laced with the scent of the sea. Birds chattered, the dogs tags jangled, now and then the eagles & seagulls would shriek, but nothing was severe. It was a lovely time to be in the garden.

    The leaves & petals intrigue me, catch my eye. I’m not one to cut down the spent flowers too soon — there is more to their life than the perky baby face stage. To others, these are dead and worthless but to me they are full of interest in their wrinkles, spots, and folds — like a person who has lived a long weathered life. There are stories between the spaces. And beauty too.

    withered flowers Diane Schuller dot com

    “I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” ~Lucy Maud Montgomery

    This fading coneflower reminds me of a ballerina.
    coneflower in October

    and then there are the evergreens with a life of their own

    spider web www.dianeschuller.com

    web of life at www.dianeschuller.com

    “Fall has always been my favorite season. The time when everything bursts with its last beauty, as if nature had been saving up all year for the grand finale.” ~Lauren D. Stefano

    fall foliage www.dianeschuller.com

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    Susan - November 3, 2013 - 6:18 pm

    What beautiful images here. I too have been spending time capturing the plant skeletons left in my garden and plan to post them soon. I just may have to borrow that beautiful poem you found on Shawna’s site…she always post the most amazing works there…too good not to share! Diane, it’s amazing how much we have in common, from photography to cooking, to poetry…please know that I visit you here often but I’m not always good at commenting..sometime life just gets a bit hectic and the hours just fly by…

    Shirley LeMay - November 3, 2013 - 6:36 pm

    There is that beauty in things faded that is so ethereal. Your photos capture that beauty perfectly.
    I totally understand getting lost in time while photographing those last remnants – I think I spent my extra hour today doing just that!
    Have a wonderful week!

    Jessie - November 3, 2013 - 6:45 pm

    Beautiful. Between the kids picking anything with color and the dogs (especially the visiting puppy) my gardens look… well… flat. 🙂

    Laurie @ Pride in Photos - November 4, 2013 - 5:35 am

    The quote just really spoke to me this morning…to be born again…

    Sherry Smyth - November 4, 2013 - 6:36 am

    A late October garden offers so much to explore…and if we understand the truth of beauty we see it at the beginning and the end of a cycle. I’m so glad that you shared the Bly poem. It touched me deeply this morning and it is one I will keep to remember.

    lisa - November 4, 2013 - 3:56 pm

    What a magnificent series of images this is, Diane!
    I too, love flowers that are past their prime.
    I really feel that they are just as beautiful.
    What an amazing photograph of the spider web.
    I love the way it is kind of tucked away in the tree.

    Sherry G. - November 8, 2013 - 7:38 am

    I have been up to my ying yang in New York City pics as you know, so apologies for taking so long to get back here for a visit. I love what you shared here; it slows me down and brings me back to earth — after being up in the sky for a while! I love the way you write about this time of year –yes there is more than the perky baby face stage! — and the Bly poem is a great one, as others have said. Is that a Euonymous Burning Bush in the last pic? Love that colour and pattern so much! Thanks for sharing this deeper, more profound look at the garden!

    Candace - November 9, 2013 - 2:29 pm

    Gorgeous, Diane. Fall…in your parts…really is the grand finale.

    Toad Hollow Photography - November 15, 2013 - 1:27 pm

    Absolutely terrific, Diane, I find this to be utterly poignant and profound my friend!!

    Before and After: Front Door

    When we bought our home, I loved a lot about it. As we lived in it a while, I realized the front entry was always shadowed and quite dark, not at all inviting to guests arriving up the driveway. I knew paint would make a big difference. The ironic thing is that I really loved the actual colour of the front door: a deep grey. But since the front entry is in shade and the roof overhangs a few feet, the dark entry did not draw visitors to the front door. One thing I knew for sure had to happen is to paint the frame white as the windows are but I thought long and hard about the colour for the front door. I finally settled on using the exact same colour we painted the tall feature wall in our foyer. Not only is the new colour lighter and more inviting, but it’s also a hint or introduction to what you will find as the door opens to the foyer.

    The “before” photo is not mine. It was taken by the realtor’s photographer who, as you will clearly be able to tell, has drastically lightened up the photo in post processing. The colour of the cedar shingles gives it away (in reality the shingles are a richer colour: see the after photo). I’m sure it was done to make the front entrance appear less dark than it truly was.



    This is what the front door looks like after a simple change in paint colour and by painting the frame white. The paint colour is Benjamin Moore Normandy. I also love that the beautiful door hardware stands out now that the colour has been changed. Next year, we’ll have to stain the front steps so they too look nice and fresh. It’s made such a refreshing difference because there is now no question about where the door/entrance is and it’s much more appealing at night as well.

    Oh and I also painted a couple of the interior doors too, including the reverse side of this door — the reverse side of this door was blah straight-from-the-factory-white but now is a glossy black and it looks classy and utterly amazing!



    Can you see Austin, our male Australian Shepherd, peeking out the window?

    Here are a few beautiful front doors of interest I have gathered at Pinterest (click on the highlighted area)

    What colour is your front door? Or do you have a colour you’ve had in mind to transform your front entry?

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    lisa - October 31, 2013 - 2:14 pm

    What a big difference, Diane.
    It is such a beautiful door, and really was hidden by the dark paint.
    We have a very big old Victorian house, and the doors are painted white with a mauve trim.

    lisa - October 31, 2013 - 2:14 pm

    And a very Happy Halloween to you too!!!! xo.

    Shawna - November 1, 2013 - 9:06 am

    Diane – what a beautiful blue! I would never tire of coming home to that colour. Love that you can see your pup in the window in that shot!

    andrea - November 1, 2013 - 10:37 am

    Perfect! The colour of the door perfectly complements the shingles.

    Jessie - November 1, 2013 - 9:48 pm

    Our front door is a light/bright blue. It looked great with the weathered grey stain on the house when we moved in. Then we re-stained the house and while we used the same color now the house is much more blue/grey then just grey and the front door looks a little off. Unfortunately I’m terrible at color decisions so I’ll probably procrastinate until either the stain fades back to grey or the door seriously needs repainting. But- if you are ever far from home in the area you’ll have to stop by and give me some advice (we can have tea and cake too!) because your color choice was great! I love the color and I love that you can see all the details on the door so much better. What a welcome site that must be!

    Susan - November 2, 2013 - 3:49 pm

    I love Arts and Crafts style so your door is a winner with me. The colour is perfect. I like the idea of pairing it with an internal wall. Our back door is easier to find than the front. After reading your post I am considering lavender as a colour for it. This would mimic the real lavender in the garden.

    Sherry G. - November 4, 2013 - 6:15 am

    What a stunning door and entranceway! I love arts and crafts style with a passion. Your new colour brings such life to the entry and complements the shingles perfectly. And the urns! So gorgeous. I’d love to come home to this house! Great choice of colour, Diane.

    gold in its pocket

    “Autumn carries more gold in its pocket than all the other seasons.” – Jim Bishop

    ©DianeMSchuller Australian Shepherd - "Pearl"


    ©DianeMSchuller Australian Shepherd - Austin


    I thought it was time Pearl and Austin had some ‘face time’ so here they are in golden autumn splendour — inside a pocket of gold. Both images were taken in the same spot within minutes of one another. I desaturated the image of Austin a tad, then added a texture which is why it has a different feel to the one of Pearl.

    On Friday a few of us ladies went to the movies together. The golf club a few blocks away always brings in TIFF movies for fall and winter. They call it Beach Flicks and the debut movie for the season was “The Sapphires” — if you get a chance to see it, it was fun, with great music and heartwarming all at the same time (music such as Soul Man, I Can’t Help Myself  (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch), I Heard It Through the Grapevine, and What a Man). We all be-bopped out of the movie when it was over. The Globe and Mail‘s Michael Posner summed it up quite well, “You could drive an Abrams tank through the film’s plot holes, but you’ll likely be too busy enjoying yourself to bother.” What I love is getting to see a decent movie, yet being able to walk instead of drive. It’s been quite foggy lately so the fog had rolled in as thick and heavy as eiderdown by the time the movie ended. The moisture on my face on the walk home felt so soft and I couldn’t help but inhale gallons of that comforting sea air.

    Fog Trivia. Not all fog is created equal: there’s Radiation fog, Sea fog, Ground fog, Advection fog, Steam fog (also called evaporation fog), Precipitation fog, Upslope fog, Valley fog, Ice fog, Freezing fog and Artificial fog. (source, Farmers’ Almanac).

    “In nature, everything has a job. The job of the fog is to beautify further the existing beauties!” – Mehmet Murat ildan

    What do you love about your community at this time of year?

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    lisa - October 22, 2013 - 5:07 pm

    Austin and Pearl are so beautiful, Diane.
    Those sweet little faces just melt my heart.

    The movie sounded like fun, and yes, how nice to be able to walk there. I would like that because then I would not feel so bad about eating “movie popcorn” which I just LOVE! 🙂

    I never knew this about fog. I never really thought about it, beyond how much I like the fog. Really interesting, and thank you so much for sharing!

    Sherry G. - October 22, 2013 - 7:38 pm

    Oh Diane, these images of your dogs are just exquisite. The golden background lends them such a warm, dreamy look. And Pearl and Austin are so beautiful. Curious as to where their names came from…I know you’re not always the biggest fan of textures on photos but its sure works wonderfully well on Austin. The background shimmers. That’s neat that you can see TIFF flicks close to home. I went to TIFF a few years ago and it was one of the most memorable movie experiences I ever had. I’d love to do it again! And as for fog, we’ve had a bit of it lately here and I was so intrigued to learn that there were so many different kinds. Thanks for enlightening me!

    cheryl - October 24, 2013 - 5:07 pm

    I am so glad you have your own hydrangea now…they bring such joy all summer long and into the late fall…I’m surprised you have bugs on yours…I have never had any and I bring them in the house all the time…they last so long…
    Thank you so much for visiting my blog and for your lovely comment..
    Your dogs are really so sweet and you captured them so well.

    Candace - October 24, 2013 - 8:47 pm

    Your dogs are so beautiful! And that golden background is so rich and warm. What I like about my community this time of year is that it has finally cooled down, and there are so many events outdoors, festivals, concerts, patio dining, that there is always something to do and somewhere to go or one can just enjoy the weather at home.

    Laurie @ pride in photos - October 29, 2013 - 5:48 am

    These two are SO precious!! You did such an amazing job processing these in such a fall manner.

    So Much Sunshine to the Square Inch

    “Some people are so much sunshine to the square inch.” ~Walt Whitman

    summer by ©DianeMSchuller
    ‘leftovers’ from summer

    Recently Sherry Galey of Still and All kindly graced me with a Sunshine Award. I’m flattered to have been included among those she selected. As part of the award, it’s suggested to pass the award on to others and keep it going. I’ve never been comfortable singling out some bloggers while omitting others so I’ve chosen to participate by simply responding to the questions. Every one of you who stops by to read my entries brings sunshine to my life. If any of you have a blog and would care to participate by joining in the second part I would love to see you take that on — and if you do participate, please leave a link to your post so I can head over to read responses to your questions. Here are the questions Sherry asked of us and I’m pleased to respond below (great questions Sherry!):

    1. If you could learn one skill that you’ve never had, what would it be, and why?  I’d love to be able to speak another language, particularly one of the romantic languages such as French or Italian. In school I took some French, a couple years of German but if you don’t use it, you lose it. To me, being able to fluently speak another language has many advantages: keeps the ol’ noggin sharp, but it also sounds so beautiful, is another way of better understanding other cultures, and opens doors in many ways.
    2. What do you love more than taking photographs or writing? Oh gosh, there are several things I could include. Of course, family and friends is at the top of my list; I suppose what is being asked is what sorts of activities/hobbies/creative works do I love more. I love being out in nature and observing nature. It’s something I’ve done since I was a child and have learned so much about life’s natural order and ecosystem. I never grow tired of observing and taking it all in. 
    3. Are you an extrovert or an introvert? You may think of me a bit of a chameleon: when I was young I was very much an introvert but in high school I blossomed. I wouldn’t consider myself an extrovert though I’m a much more confident and outgoing person in adulthood.
    4. Do you have a fear that you have not yet conquered? Yes, I’m afraid of heights specifically if I’m climbing something though being in an airplane doesn’t bother me. Standing on a balcony of a high rise terrifies me.
    5. Do you have a dream you’ve suppressed due to life commitments?  Learning to play the piano. Those of you who check in to my online journal know that I’m doing something about that: I began taking piano lessons and am diligently practicing every single day. A dream come true.
    6. Are you a night owl or a morning person?  I’m very definitely a morning person. That’s when I’m most creative, most energetic, and at my best.
    7. What book has made a huge impact on you? Although I’m an avid reader and many books I’ve read have has some sort of impact, I have to go back decades to a book I read as a child, Call of the Wild by Jack London. I loved animals anyway, which is why I read the book but that book made me aware of how cruel some people can be to dogs. Since then I’ve been a huge advocate for the safe and kind treatment of domestic animals.
    8. If you could travel to any place in Canada, where would it be? I don’t even have to think about that one: the Maritime provinces particularly Prince Edward Island. It’s on my bucket list so I plan to get there. I want to get to know the people, photograph the urban and seaside landscape, eat their potatoes and lobster, and drink it all in.
    9. What qualities most touch you in a person?  Sincerity, honesty, and kindness.
    10. What do you do when inspiration to create leaves you? Get outside! Go and explore. Have conversations. Get away from the computer. That’s always a sure way to rejuvenate and replenish the creative juices.

    “I cannot endure to waste anything so precious as autumnal sunshine by staying in the house.” ~Nathaniel Hawthorne

    autumn by www.dianeschuller.com

     Autumn Gold (pin cherry leaves)

    Now if you might find it fun or interesting to answer a few questions on your blog (or even if you wish to answer them in the comments below), utilizing a few from above plus adding a few of my own, here is a list of questions for you. Please link back to me so I don’t miss visiting your post to read your responses.

    1. What book have you read that has made an impact on you?
    2. Do you have a dream that you have suppressed due to life commitments?
    3. Who are the heroes or heroines in your life?
    4. Who is your favourite poet?
    5. What is your most valued accomplishment that you’ve made in your life?
    6. What qualities do you most value in a friend?
    7. What are you most grateful your parent(s) taught you?
    8. What do you fear most?
    9. What is the most important thing a parent can do when raising children?
    10. What makes a house a home?

    Okay, now you!

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    lisa - October 14, 2013 - 5:21 pm

    Oh my goodness, Diane, how much I enjoyed reading this!
    I was amazed at how I would have answered the questions in much the same way, except for the piano! You are far braver than I where that is concerned. 🙂

    Sherry Smyth - October 14, 2013 - 6:37 pm

    I so loved getting to know more about you Diane. You will LOVE the Maritimes “when” you get there (because you will!) and I too loved “The Call of the Wild” when I was a teenager. I love the photographs you shared in this post..the last of summer, but the autumn gold made me gasp — literally. So truly stunning and breath taking.

    Sandra - October 14, 2013 - 9:53 pm

    What a lovely image of golden leaves.
    I answered my Sunshine Award questions privately, I’m not usually so personal on my blog! Like you, I felt uncomfortable passing on the list of questions to other people!
    Thank you for your visit to my blog and for your kind comments. I’m not sure which tutorial of Sherry’s you referred to. The panning I did on the last entry was inspired by things I had read in one of my books on photography: “Understanding Shutter Speed”. It was fun trying out something new.
    So nice to visit you here!

    Laurie @ Pride in Photos - October 15, 2013 - 5:57 am

    Out of all your responses…the one that spoke to me is you are an avid book reader like myself…nice to meet you!! IT is always fun to meet another bookworm. have a lovely week.

    Sherry G. - October 15, 2013 - 6:13 am

    Hi Diane, Just stopping in on the way home after spending Thanksgiving in TO. Walt Whitman was definitely talking about you, my dear! I LOVED your thoughtful and fascinating answers to the questions. These kinds of questions really do provide a great insight into individuals. I’m definitely spending more time away the computer and that DOES replenish the creative juices. The downside is that I miss wonderful posts like yours sometimes! So I’m trying to balance the time on and off…;-) Gorgeous images too, as always…

    Nic - October 16, 2013 - 1:02 am

    Hi Diane,
    thank you very very much for visiting my blog and dropping your kind comment!oh, we share the love for handwriting things. I even have a pen only for journalling 🙂
    Just had the first glimpses on your blog and loved the photos and the Whitman Quote (as I love Whitman generally). It’s wonderful as well, to read how you as a fellow Sunshine Award recipient answered Sherry’s questions.
    My best wishes,

    Sherry G. - October 16, 2013 - 9:33 am

    Back again, it’s SO nice to see some of my SUNSHINE girls (LOL) getting to know each other!

    Kelly @ JAX does design - October 17, 2013 - 1:22 pm

    It’s always fun to learn more about our blogger friends 🙂 I’m with you on the height thing, and the Maritimes is definitely my favourite place in Canada. You HAVE to get to PEI one day! When the sun hits the red rocks at just the right time of day, the light is absolutely spectacular. I’ve never seen anything like it anywhere else 🙂

    shooter - October 20, 2013 - 10:54 am

    Love the narrative and the pictures

    ones that make me think

    “Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.” ~Charles William Eliot

    Most often I’m sitting in bed or in the chair bedside my bed reading. It seems I’m so busy during the day that bedtime is the quietest and most conducive to reading. I’ve tried reading while my husband watches TV but all the noise and distraction interferes with really getting into the novel.

    books, www.dianeschuller.com

    books waiting to be savoured (419 is for book club)

    As promised, I’m finally sharing a few thoughts about a couple of the books I’ve read recently. Sharing my thoughts on what I’ve read definitely does not constitute a review, though I do recommend many of the books I’ve read. Both of the books I’ve read recently would fall into the category of “recommended reading”.

    Room: A Novelby Emma Donoghue was a selection by one of the members in my book club. It definitely did not disappoint. Room is written entirely in the voice of the 5 year old protagonist who was born in and held captive with his mother, living in nothing more than a room.  At first I wasn’t sure I was going to deal with reading an entire novel from the voice and perspective of a five year old boy but, after only a few pages, I quickly got over that. We all know of so many different cases that have come to light in recent years about girls held captive for years and, in a few cases, the young women have given birth during their captivity. Surprisingly, Donoghue’s book was conceived and published before the first cases were discovered. What I will say about this novel is that it really made me think much more earnestly about what life must be like in that circumstance. Because of how well Donoghue wrote this novel to portray the methods Jack’s mother employed to survive in such conditions, was commendable and made it all very believable. Something else this book did was cause me to give deeper consideration to just how difficult life must be for those who are eventually discovered and freed. Freedom always comes at a price. Donoghue awakens the reader to that reality. Lots of interesting discussion in book club over this one.

    The other book I recommend will come as no surprise if you’ve read some of my other recommendations. Ever since reading her first novel, I have become a fan of Lisa Genova. In my view everyone who reads should read her first novel — everyone. Still Alice is utterly amazing and I recommend you read the novel synopsis and people’s reviews if you’re interested in checking it out — I highly recommend that one. That is one in-depth and powerful novel about a person with Alzheimers. Okay, so I got side-tracked talking about her first novel (her second one is also very good). In Love Anthony Genova writes another unique novel but this one involves autism. She not only helps the reader get into the head of a child with autism but through adept storytelling she helps us see how parents and others are affected when a family lives with a child who has autism. I dare you to read the final chapter without shedding a tear (tear of hope, I might add). Genova’s degrees in biopsychology and PhD in neuroscience truly influences her writing. This is why she has such a great understanding about the human brain. Although her first novel is by far my favourite of hers, each of these other two are truly worthy novels.

    “The book to read is not the one that thinks for you but the one which makes you think.” ~Harper Lee

    What book have you read recently that you wish others would read? Do you keep a reading journal? I do and yes, I record every book I read including my comments. Nerdy isn’t it?

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    Gabriele - October 10, 2013 - 7:28 pm

    I will accept your recommendation of Still Alice and the newer book by this author. Thank-you. I am reading “The Signature of All Things” by Elizabeth Gilbert. It is not like her memoir. A novel, it tells a story about a young woman who is a botanist and who truly is alive to all living things. I love it, so far.

    Susan - October 11, 2013 - 10:44 am

    I’m currently reading The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by British writer Mark Haddon. It is told from the perspective of a teenager who’s disabilities place him somewhere on the autism spectrum. Mr Haddon has worked with autistic children and I find his characterization rings true. I’d like to read Love Anthony for comparison. I highly recommend Mr Haddon’s book. I see you have Will Ferguson’s 419 in your pile. This is on my reading list.

    Sherry at Still and All - October 11, 2013 - 9:40 pm

    I’m reading The Elegance of the Hedgehog right now and loving it. I read Still Alice and I’m with you 100%. Wish more people would read it and become aware of an issue that is going to become almost epidemic in future years. It’s one of the few books I would read again. I have also read the Curious Incident…like Susan…and it was a favourite. I’m curious to hear what you think about Louise Penny’s book. I’ve heard good things…I’m curious about Elizabeth Gilbert’s new book, but will probably wait on that one. I have so many others in line before it…Happy Thanksgiving to you Diane.

    lisa - October 13, 2013 - 9:12 am

    I’m with you, Diane on reading without distraction. Just cannot do it when there is a television on or when there is lots going on around me.

    I read Still Alice, and was moved to tears throughout the entire book. Both my mom and my grandparents suffered through Alzheimer’s.

    Kelly @ JAX does design - October 20, 2013 - 7:29 pm

    I’ve been debating reading Room for over a year. It sounds like it could be a disturbing book, and I’ve read varying reviews. But seeing as you give it a thumbs up, I think I’ll finally give it a try 🙂

    One of my very favourite books is The Girl Who Came Home. And I recently read The Lighthouse Keeper, which I really enjoyed.