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.

    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.

    a toast to this season

    jingle bells

    Susan Licht offered the most perfect excerpt on her blog from a John O’Donohue poem and I am, in turn, sharing it here with you also.

    May you take time
    to celebrate the quiet miracles
    that seek no attention. …

    May you experience each day as a sacred gift woven
    around the heart of wonder.

    excerpt by John O’Donohue, from “For Presence”

    Pearl with her stocking

    The warmth rising in my heart goes out to each one of you for taking your precious time to stop by here through the year and particularly when you linger extra moments to leave your thoughtful notes for me. Reading your notes, reflections, and stories means more than you know. Thank you.

    May you and yours enjoy the best of the Christmas season and may it be filled to overflowing with love, laughter, and the simple things in life.

    Christmas light bokeh

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    Sherry G. - December 21, 2016 - 7:50 am

    A very Merry Christmas to you and yours, Diane. Just wanted to thank you for all the beauty and inspiration you share on your blog during the year. I always feel welcomed and warmed by your hospitality, much as I expect I would in your home. so much of this is your beautiful writing and incredible images. All the best to you in 2017.

    Lisa Gordon - December 21, 2016 - 12:49 pm

    I wish you a very Merry Christmas, and a bright and beautiful New Year, sweet friend.

    Juliann - December 21, 2016 - 9:07 pm

    enjoy your friends and family, the celebrations and the light of the new year

    stephanie young - December 22, 2016 - 4:33 am

    Just popping in to wish you a very very Merry Christmas and the best New Year ever.

    andi - December 23, 2016 - 9:10 am

    Wonderful sentiment.

    Merry Christmas to you and your family during this holiday season and throughout. Sending many prayers that it is a joyful one for you all.

    Toffeeapple - December 23, 2016 - 9:47 am

    Have a joyous Christmas and an exciting new year!

    Gabriele - December 23, 2016 - 6:13 pm

    Merry Christmas, Diane

    Candace - December 23, 2016 - 8:06 pm

    Have a wonderful Christmas, Diane!

    Angela - December 24, 2016 - 10:17 am

    Merry Christmas and a wonderful year ahead!!

    Jennifer - December 26, 2016 - 3:19 pm

    Merry Christmas! All the best for the new year!

    My top 5 Favourite books, read in 2016

    Aha, you caught me straying from my once-a-week only-on-Mondays post. I thought I’d slot this in as a little extra FYI.

    books and shadows

    Although I do keep up my comments (as a sort of review) on Goodreads, I often forget to at least mention some of my favourite books here for you. Feel free to catch up with me on Goodreads, so in the meantime, here are my top five favourite books read this year, but in no particular order.

    The Nightingaleby Kristin Hannah

    Circling the Sun: A Novelby Paula McLain

    The Tie That Bindsby Kent Haruf

    The Fig Orchardby Layla Fiske

    Me Before Youby Jojo Moyes

    book by nightstand www.dianeschuller.com

    Now after devouring all the fine reading, there are some ‘crumbs’ that I’d just as soon sweep away …

    Books in 2016 I DID NOT enjoy or else abandoned:

    Reading by Lightning by Joan Thomas; The Complete Memoirs of Jacques Casanova de Seingalt (crap); My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout; and The Dollmaker by Harriette Simpson Arnow.


    Since I only read one knitting book in 2016, I only have one to recommend. First check out my thoughts about it on Goodreads. Then go ahead and read the synopsis to see if it’s one you’d also enjoy. It would also make a great gift for someone in your life who knits.

    Knitting Stories: Personal Essays and Seven Coast Salish-inspired Knitting Patternsby Canadian Sylvia Olsen.

    knitting "Fireside" pullover by Jane Richmond

    Knitting the Fireside pullover designed by Jane Richmond

    And now for one final list (I promise). I’ve been reading more poetry lately and have decided this coming year my goal is to purchase and read more poetry. I tend to enjoy Mary Oliver, mostly because of her connection to the natural world but also really enjoy John O’Donohue’s beautiful thoughts and blessings. So it will be no surprise to see them on my wish list for 2017.

    Why I Wake Early: New Poemsby Mary Oliver

    Light Light (Book Thug Tradebooks)by Julie Joosten (thanks to a recommendation from Shawna Lemay)

    To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessingsby John O’Donohue

    and, although I do own some of her poetry books and a book of essays, I still hope to obtain Dawn Light: Dancing with Cranes and Other Ways to Start the Dayby Diane Ackerman.

    open book and wool shawl

    Now you — what is the book that has had the most impact on you this year? and why or how? Or maybe you have a favourite Christmas-season book you pull out each year — do tell.

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    DIANE J PATMORE - December 17, 2016 - 11:28 am

    I am such a butterfly brain! I don’t keep track of all my readings.Well, somewhere in the attic of memory I have my personal notes, but certainly nothing this well-organised!But, if I’m nudged, I’d probably say Neil Gaiman’s “The View From the Cheap Seats;” being a collection of stories, thoughts, speeches, readings from a man whose mind I admire and who generosity of spirit is a beacon in the current darkness.
    I’ve ploughed through some slightly trashy crime novels on long, sleepless nights,re-read some oldies and even done some serious editing of my own drafts.In most cases, ditched a lot!

    Off-topic, Diane, but I must ask: have you ever seen the white ravens which live near Parksville/Qualicum?

    Mary - December 19, 2016 - 6:50 am

    Three poets that I love are: Jo Harjo, Marie Howe and Galway Kinnell.

    Here is one beautiful poem by Galway Kinnell:

    If one day it happens
    you find yourself with someone you love
    in a cafe at one end
    of the Pont Mirabeau, at the zinc bar
    where white wine stands in upward opening glasses,

    and if you commit then, as we did, the error
    of thinking
    one day this will only be memory

    as you stand
    at this end of the bridge which arcs,
    from love, you think, into enduring love
    learn to reach deeper
    into the sorrows to come–to touch
    the almost imaginary bones
    under the face, to hear under the laughter
    the wind crying across the black stones. Kiss
    the mouth which tells you, here,
    here is the world, This mouth. This laughter. These temple bones.

    The still undanced cadence of vanishing.

    Happy Holidays, Diane.

    Gabriele - December 20, 2016 - 7:42 am

    A book I really enjoyed was “Into The Magicshop” by James Doty MD. Part memoir of his life as a neurosurgeon, part mindfulness encouragement, and part a story of a poor boy from a poor family achieving amazing things.

    Jennifer - December 26, 2016 - 3:41 pm

    Right now I am reading “The Wonder” which was short listed for this year’s Giller. I picked it because it is set in Ireland ( where one of my sisters lives) and because I was intrigued by the subject matter. I am enjoying it, but feel it would have made a better short story. It drags a bit.
    I have a number of cookbooks I want to read including a new one by Donna Hay which is filled with amazing photography (Xmas gift). And there are lots of gardening books on my reading list (of course)! Your favourites might be nice to add in. More time for reading is a goal for the new year.