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.

    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.

    stains your mouth with morning

    espresso at home on the Silvia
    Strong Coffee by Anne Higgins

    Strong coffee
    smells like a current
    of warm southerly air
    in the climate of dawn.
    Strong coffee
    gets stronger
    when poured back
    through the grounds.
    thick, hot, bitter
    for waking up,
    the caffeine
    pumps through your center,
    stains your mouth with morning,
    with going to work,
    surprises you
    with your own

    “Strong Coffee” by Anne Higgins from At the Year’s Elbow. © Mellen Poetry Press, 2000.

     cappuccino and golden bokeh www.dianeschuller.commorning espresso at home || www.dianeschuller.comI love this poem. Besides how it perfectly describes my morning ritual, I’m entirely smitten with the line, “stains your mouth with morning.”

    ice on pond in Qualicum Beachdsc_5363

    Yes, that’s ice on our pond. We’ve had some unusually chilly weather for this area

    After that chilly image, warming things up by knitting a bulky yet lightweight and cozy sweater. Sure wish it was already done to pair with these chilly days.

    Even though I am way behind on Christmas decorating, baking, card-writing, Christmas gatherings, et al, we’ve been so very fortunate to have begun attending some wonderful Christmas events in our community as well as a few dinner parties with friends. I love gathering with friends or family.

    Christmas baking has begun in our household. This year I pulled out some of my mom’s favourite cookbooks and have made a few of her Christmas standbys, which I’ve been craving the past few Christmas seasons. Do you have any special Christmas traditions or special foods you associate with this season? I look forward to reading about your traditions.

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    DIANE J PATMORE - December 12, 2016 - 11:13 am

    Well, those mince pies I used to make for colleagues (and bus travellers!).
    And when I was very young we hung small “favours” on our Christmas tree. The idea was that visitors to the house could choose one (they were wrapped in red for female, green for male)
    Just silly little things, but something that we did.In consideration of limited pocket money and tree strength the rule was that they had to be small and light enough to hang.

    Jennifer Connell - December 14, 2016 - 7:02 pm

    I love to purchase odd things at Christmas that I wouldn’t usually buy like an unusual cheese or fancy crackers studded with nuts and fruit. I also like to splurge on oranges for fresh squeezed juice on Christmas morning. Along with the juice, there is little bacon wrapped sausages and pancakes or eggs. We are a small family, so it is a chicken for dinner not a turkey. Our day is always quiet, but I have come to like it that way.

    Juliann - December 15, 2016 - 5:29 am

    I am hoping to get my girls over for some cookie making this weekend. December has been wild so far, taking it one day at a time.

    Lisa Gordon - December 16, 2016 - 4:26 pm

    I love this poem, Diane!
    We have so many traditions here, at Christmas, but probably the one that everyone enjoys the most, is my cookie baking. I’ve done it for years, and before that, it was my mom and grandmother.

    Candace - December 18, 2016 - 4:01 pm

    Nothing like hot coffee especially on a cold morning. I love that poem, too. We’re having a quiet Christmas, having a couple people over on Christmas Eve and then a quiet Christmas Day. Now that I’m retired there are less things I have to do including work events and gifts for co-workers. It makes it less stressful, for sure. I have a couple of holiday happy hours coming up and that will be all the events this year.

    Toffeeapple - December 19, 2016 - 1:11 pm

    I really like your ice pictures.

    Coffee and I do not agree with each other so we leave each other alone.

    I no longer have Christmas traditions other than to not decorate or celebrate; this is my choice, so don’t feel sad for me!

    gratitude and observances

    winter shadows

    I love morning light, stormy skies, damp fog, wandering shadows, the scent of forests and rain, the rhythms of the sea, squishy yarn, simple things in life, time shared with friends, the dog on my feet, handmade gifts, and spending time with my son and granddaughters.

    piano and shadows ©Diane Schuller www.dianeschuller.com

    If you’re a fan of Mary Oliver, you may have already read this lovely poem of hers, if not many times over. Even if you are well acquainted with her words, this is worthy of a few moments:

    The Sun by  Mary Oliver

    Have you ever seen
    in your life
    more wonderful

    than the way the sun,
    every evening,
    relaxed and easy,
    floats toward the horizon

    and into the clouds or the hills,
    or the rumpled sea,
    and is gone –
    and how it slides again

    out of the blackness,
    every morning,
    on the other side of the world,
    like a red flower

    streaming upward on its heavenly oils,
    say, on a morning in early summer,
    at its perfect imperial distance –
    and have you ever felt for anything

    such wild love –
    do you think there is anywhere, in any language,
    a world billowing enough
    for the pleasure

    that fills you,
    as the sun
    reaches out,
    as it warms you

    as you stand there,
    empty-handed –
    or have you too
    turned from this world-

    or have you too
    gone crazy
    for power,
    for things?

    – – –
    When I mentioned above that one of the things I love are shadows, it reminds me of different things: how the shadow from the wood shutters peels across my piano each day; how the shadow of trees curve and undulate over a gently rolling landscape; or how, on moonlit nights, everything in its path — homes, trees, animals — stretch their shadows across the night-blue of snow covered fields.

    winter shadows www.dianeschuller.com

    SOS socks www.dianeschuller.com

    Finished! and I love them!

    One of you left a lovely note on my last post containing a quote that had me hopping off to Google to find out who put it into the world. Author Melody Beattie is said to have coined the following quote, “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more.” See, someone else also thinks it’s the right thing to love what we have (in reference to what I wrote in my previous blog post).

    Sorry this post has stretched out like fresh taffy! I realize it’s a faux pas to write long blog posts.

    We received two December dinner invitations the other day and another yesterday. Yikes. I better start looking at dates to have some people over too. How does the Christmas season sneak up like that? What’s your favourite way of having people over during the Christmas season (open house, dinners, drinks & appies, or …)?

    Until next Monday may you adopt the pace of nature and the gentleness of freshly fallen snow.

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    Gabriele - December 6, 2016 - 8:40 am

    Love that quote. And may I say that your pictures of pianos are wonderful. You have let me use several for my piano blog. I wondered if I may have a copy of the above? You would certainly receive credit.

    Toffeeapple - December 6, 2016 - 9:22 am

    Your socks are ace!

    Andi - December 6, 2016 - 1:14 pm

    Not a faux pas at all to write a long post. I enjoy every word and image.
    It is rather brilliant to be able to view life through your lens and words.
    I enjoy having friends over for drinks and appetizers.

    Lisa Gordon - December 6, 2016 - 3:25 pm

    What a beautiful post this is, Diane, and I just LOVE those socks.
    They look so warm and cozy.
    Over the holiday season, we always do open house-type things.
    Drinks and appetizers (and LOTS of Christmas cookies!).
    No specific time constraints. I just pick a day, and they can come over whenever they want, and leave whenever they want.
    I have done this for years, and it seems to work really well for everyone.
    Have a wonderful week ahead, my friend.

    Juliann - December 7, 2016 - 5:30 am

    The sun on snow does make some beautiful shadows and light. I had not read that poem but I am going to write it into my notebook – beautiful words.

    Jennifer Connell - December 14, 2016 - 7:09 pm

    I like the poem and especially the quote. I try to find a moment just before I drift to sleep to pause and think about all I am grateful for. It is my form of bedtime prayer. Great socks by the way!

    Keeping it simple

    “Stay low, stay quiet, keep it simple, don’t expect too much, enjoy what you have.” — This statement by Dean Koontz sums up my philosophy of living a simple life. I’m continually saying, “Enjoy what you have.” I think we all have some kind of mantra that we either live by or are known by.

    “The whistling dawn, the sussurration of the leaves, a honking goose, and then a sentimental confab at the Solid Rock Gospel Church with a wounded soul who poured his heart out …” — Edward Hoagland, In the Country of the Blind. I can imagine it!

    Australian Shepherd Heidi www.dianeschuller.com

    Heidi says, “hi” even with her mouth full

    After finishing the Trenchcoat socks the sock fairy somehow cast on another pair. This time for her amazing son.



    I loved knitting these husky socks. In fact, as I was knitting them I kept thinking how cozy they would be as house socks for me to pad around in this winter. I have lots of yarn leftover.

    “Knitting is clothing made in spare moments, or round the fire, whenever women gathered together… It’s something to celebrate — clothes made in love and service, something women have always done.” — Anne Bartlett, Knitting

    A dear neighbour and friend gave me a luscious skein of yarn last year which I made into a shawl but the shawl was a tad small. Not wanting the gorgeous yarn to go to waste I frogged the shawl (unraveled the whole thing), rewound it into a nice ball and decided it was meant to be socks. Although I much prefer knitting socks toe-up, I’m trying out a new pattern so have to be open minded with this cuff-down version.

    knitting with Sweet Fiber Yarns Super Sweet Sock

    Yarn: Sweet Fiber Yarns Super Sweet Sock in the colour way, Seastorm.

    socks, two at a time

    Of course, as you’ll see, I had to jazz them up a bit too.

    socks two-at-a-time ©Diane M Schuller

    If you’re thinking that in my spare time I must be doing nothing but knitting, I actually have written a few letters too.

    hand written letters || www.dianeschuller.com

    I’ve been enjoying picking up unique and quality gifts at the local Christmas fairs (I even bought myself a pair of hand knit socks made by another knitter). Last year I didn’t buy a single gift outside of our area, Qualicum Beach / Parksville. I’m trying to do the same this year.

    I love that by buying handmade instead of from a large corporation, an actual person benefits. It also contributes directly to our local economy.

    This weekend when I attended the local Christmas fair, with an abundance of handmade local goods, I received a bonus: I won a door prize (and it’s handmade too!) so buying handmade had a wee karma surprise come back to me.

    Until next Monday may you embrace simple pleasures with family and friends.

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    Lisa Gordon - November 28, 2016 - 2:11 pm

    Diane, these socks are BEAUTIFUL!!!
    I especially love the blue ones. That yarn is truly gorgeous.
    I wish you a wonderful week ahead, my friend.

    DIANE J PATMORE - November 28, 2016 - 11:43 pm

    Oh! You opened with a quote using one of my favourite words. (And now I’m going to throw a curve ball and make you guess!)

    Let me know how you fare with the cuffs-first socks.Here, it seems the most common way, but as I no longer knit I’m out of touch.

    I am easing back into artwork.Baby steps!Scribbly sketches (one on the blog)and ideas to try as lino cuts. And the never-ending garden work …

    Susan Clark - November 29, 2016 - 3:02 pm

    This year, for the first, and possibly the last, time everyone I love will be at our house for Christmas. Time will be the greatest gift-for walks, sitting by the fire, telling stories and reconnecting.

    Juliann - December 3, 2016 - 5:38 am

    Orange is one of my favorite colors so that heel pop is wonderful! Yes to keeping it simple and loving what we have. I have a card on the wall that says, Gratitude tipurns what we have into enough.

    Sherry G. - December 3, 2016 - 8:20 am

    Another homy post with gorgeous images and comments I just nod away at! Your knitting is superb and beautifully presented. And I am on the same wavelength about buying local. I bow to your success.

    She raised me up

    I tend to view this blog like my virtual living room, and am so grateful when it appears that’s how you think of it too. Get comfy, I’ll burn a candle and light the fireplace.

    My mother has been in my thoughts more than usual so I thought I’d talk about her here. She had a beautiful name, Ramona. Most of her friends called her Mona. Her life was a difficult one and held more diversity than one person should ever endure.

    She was kind to the core and no truer friend could a person be so fortunate to have in their life. Loyal beyond reason. She was known for bringing home strays that needed a helping hand. The four-footed strays were always grateful; the two-legged strays unfortunately not so. Sure, she had a vice or two, but who could blame her? She loved animals of all kinds especially cats and dogs. Gardening and preserving were her hallmarks. She had the best giggle. Music moved her. She was proud and self sufficient, never asking for help or handouts, even when that’s what she needed the most. She worked very hard, was incredibly conscientious, and taught me the value of being the same.

    An intelligent woman with a kindness as tender as the petals of her favourite flowers.

    I miss: the Sunday drives we took decades ago; hearing her laughter; sitting and talking; sharing books; sending her letters; her blousy peonies; how she sang at a moment’s notice; how she’d sit and pet her cat until her arm got too tired to continue; how she so lovingly nursed me to wellness when I was sick or injured; her understanding and non-judgemental way; her excitement; her touch; her.

    my dear Mom, Ramona Althouse

    I dedicate this song to my mother’s memory. You raised me up so I can stand on mountains, I am strong when I am on your shoulders, you raised me up to be more than I can be.


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    Lisa Gordon - November 21, 2016 - 7:16 am

    What a beautiful tribute to a beautiful lady, Diane.
    I do so love this song too.

    Juliann - November 21, 2016 - 7:46 am

    What a beautiful post. I have been thinking about my mom a lot lately as our daughter is getting ready to deliver our first grandchild. Mom and my daughter were good chums and she would have loved to have a baby around.

    Lionel Daneault - November 21, 2016 - 9:56 am

    Hi Diane!
    Fourteen years ago this month I lost both my wife and my mom in an eight day space. Novembers are always difficult for me. I found your blog quite soothing.

    Toffeeapple - November 22, 2016 - 9:12 am

    They never leave us, do they? My Mother died 51 years ago and I still have dreams about her.

    Sherry - December 9, 2016 - 9:45 am

    What a lovely woman! I’m sure that in your actions every day you honour her memory.