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.

    Around my campfire

    I’m back! But only temporarily for the time being.

    Initially I was absent because I had been quite ill — for five weeks. As I began to recover, life began to take on some major changes ‘around my campfire’. To keep this brief and skipping a few unimportant details, we are planning a move.

    With an impending move we are frequently displaced from our home while realtors show our home to prospective buyers. It’s more disruptive than you may realize — certainly more than I had realized!

    The good thing is that I’m well and all is well around my campfire. We’re downsizing and have found a fabulous new place in a much smaller package. I’ll share with you some of the new digs as we get there.

    For now, I’ve barely been online, but I do promise to resume my little blog in due course. Thank you for your concern, your kind notes, and especially for being patient. I look forward to sharing lots with you once again.

    May you enjoy the beauties of nature, experience the calm and the exciting, and above all cherish joy in the ordinary. I’ll be doing the same — see you soon.

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    Sherry - May 10, 2017 - 10:22 am

    Hi Diane,

    I’m happy to hear all is going well. I’m sure your new place will be stunning and suit you perfectly. Embrace the madness of change!


    DIANE J PATMORE - May 10, 2017 - 12:11 pm

    Oh dear. I didn’t know you’d been ill. But pleased to hear you’re on the mend.And moving house!
    Best of luck with all of this.

    Lisa Gordon - May 10, 2017 - 3:01 pm

    I am so glad to see you here, Diane, and what wonderful news!
    We downsized a couple of years ago, and although the actual sorting/packing, etc., was really quite stressful, and took well over 9 months to complete, it was indeed a very good decision.

    I am glad to hear that you are well now, and I look forward to seeing you, whenever you come back here. Until then, I wish you all the very, very best.

    Lionel Daneault - May 15, 2017 - 8:37 am

    Hi Diane!
    Hope you are not moving too far away.
    Lionel and Kathy

    Jessie - May 15, 2017 - 8:44 am

    I’m glad to hear you are well again. Wishing you the smooothest of moves! 🙂

    Juliann - May 20, 2017 - 6:57 am

    I am happy to find this update. Take care. Hope the transitions go well.

    Candace - May 21, 2017 - 2:25 pm

    Hi, Diane. I look forward to your blogging return when you are ready and seeing your new digs.

    Toffeeapple - May 26, 2017 - 7:51 am

    I am sorry to hear that you have been ill but very pleased to know that you have recovered. I don’t envy you the move and hope that it goes smoothly.

    The power of a soft touch

    “Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” –Leo Buscaglia.

    That same power of a soft touch pertains to dogs as well.

    I thought it was about time to do an update on Heidi. As many of you know, when we first brought 11 month old Heidi home, we had our hands full dealing with some baggage and helping her with the adjustment. She’s barely the same girl who first arrived. Heidi now loves toys and playing, delights in training sessions, and has learned the benefits of routines, exercise, and self control. The biggest difference? Confidence. She’s not only become confident, she’s a bit of a rascal too.

    The next photo is not mine. It was taken after ‘graduating’ from Rally O class on Saturday. The photo was taken with a phone by instructor Bev Maahs. Despite the quality of the photo, sometimes they are worthy purely to record a moment.

    Although Heidi already had the loose leash heeling mastered before class (thanks to us participating in and learning from Susan Garrett’s Recallers program), she did learn a few new skills: sidestepping, figure 8, and working in a room with other dogs/owners training at the same time.

    Here is a VERY short clip of Heidi doing a recall out in the bush (yes, I know, this amount of snow is very unusual for here). This recall didn’t come ‘naturally’; we’ve been working on it:

    I’m so thrilled with the results of using the Recallers program I’m sharing some ways for you to find out more (besides clicking on the direct link in the paragraph above). If you have a Twitter account, simply search the hashtags #SusanGarrettRecallers or #DogTrainingGames. Better yet, head over to YouTube and use the search terms, “recallers games” or “dog training with recallers.”

    You’ll see great videos by everyday people who have, like me, joined in and participated in this great way of training and moulding our dogs into well behaved, trusting, confident, and loyal bundles of fun. And it’s all done WITHOUT force: no choke chain collars, no prong collars, no jerking, no militaristic commanding, no physical force whatsoever. This video demonstrates the before-and-after of one dog:

    “The world would be a nicer place if everyone had the ability to love as unconditionally as a dog.” — M.K. Clinton

    This too — enrolling in these two training classes — is another of my “roam new roads” for 2017 and beyond.

    Wishing you a week ahead crammed full of love, laughter, fun, soft touches, and innumerable kindnesses.

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    Sherry G. - February 20, 2017 - 6:55 am

    First of all, I am a dog lover currently without any dogs…and I hope to have some again — Westies are my breed of choice. So I love posts about dogs and this is a great one. The images of Heidi are extraordinarily beautiful and the story of how she has developed under your loving tutelage is heartwarming and hopeful. Our second dog was a rescue with baggage too and we went through a lot with him and he came a long way. I didn’t know about Recallers so I was very interested to find out more about this. It has sure worked well for you. The picture of Heidi looking at you says it all. So proud, happy and loving. It’s just wonderful to hear how this story has turned out. xo

    Gabriele - February 20, 2017 - 9:12 am

    Heidi looks adorable and now she feels her own worth. Wonderful!

    Lisa Gordon - February 20, 2017 - 2:29 pm

    This post makes me smile, Diane!
    She is such a beauty, and to hear that he is doing so well, just melts my heart.
    She is so fortunate to have such a wonderful forever home, and I know that you feel fortunate to have her as well.
    WAY TO GO, HEIDI!!!!!!!!
    You are a love, for sure.

    Sherry - February 20, 2017 - 4:41 pm

    What a sweetie! You can see the happiness in her eyes. You both look very happy in the last photo—well done!

    DIANE J PATMORE - February 20, 2017 - 4:47 pm

    You and Heidi are both doing so well! But can she knit socks yet? 🙂

    stephanie young - February 22, 2017 - 2:39 pm

    oh, Diane…..what a little sweetheart you have there….and so photogenic!!! (Fred is usually rolling around…maybe needs that training!!!! hard to catch him in focus!!!) and I love that last quote….the unconditional love of a dog is something we should all strive for!

    Candace - March 20, 2017 - 6:27 pm

    Heidi is a beautiful girl, Diane. so glad you are so happy together.

    Jennifer - March 25, 2017 - 3:16 pm

    Piper our youngest has this thing for wanting to dash into the road after cars. Last night I had a bad dream that he had a run in with a big truck, so it must be worrying me. You have me thinking that I should take him for classes. He’d probably love it

    K&B by the Sea - April 5, 2017 - 5:46 pm

    Well I completely missed Heidi’s arrival! She’s a very pretty girl, and your pictures of her are so beautiful. Our dogs have pretty good recall, but they can definitely be better – and if there’s a deer involved, it’s a lost cause. And Sassy could definitely do with some other ways to occupy her mind – I sometimes feel guilty that I don’t do more activities with her.

    sherri - April 18, 2017 - 2:12 pm

    wonderful collection of images

    absolutely love the last one

    Roberta - April 19, 2017 - 2:02 pm

    Hi Diane! Have not stopped by for a visit for quite awhile. I shared your link with a knitting enthusiast today. I hope she looks you up. I hope that all is well your way…

    Candace - May 9, 2017 - 8:27 pm

    Hope you are doing well, Diane, miss your posts.

    Lately … a life that sizzles and pops

    Reading: For the second time, happily so, Circling the Sun: A Novel.

    Made: another pair of socks. Experimented with techniques.

    Best home meal: On an eggs benedict kick so made two versions. First one and most delicious version was seed bread; avocado; marinated tomatoes; poached eggs; hollandaise. The second one which was very good but didn’t quite hit the pinnacle as the previous one was toast; stir fried brown mushrooms; hollandaise. Going to make both again.

    Gave me joy: A photo and text sent from my oldest granddaughter. A phone call with my son. Sunshine on the snow. Tulips on the table.


    Gathered: Had a grand time with my book club sisters one afternoon plus a stimulating evening with some very good friends over dinner at their home one evening.

    Something different: Not a tea drinker but enjoyed a hot cup of Genmatcha popcorn tea.

    Quote of the week: “I want a life that sizzles and pops and makes me laugh out loud. And I don’t want to get to the end, or to tomorrow, even, and realize that my life is a collection of meetings and pop cans and errands and receipts and dirty dishes. I want to eat cold tangerines and sing out loud in the car with the windows open and wear pink shoes and stay up all night laughing and paint my walls the exact color of the sky right now. I want to sleep hard on clean white sheets and throw parties and eat ripe tomatoes and read books so good they make me jump up and down, and I want my everyday to make God belly laugh, glad that he gave life to someone who loves the gift.”  — Shauna Niequist, Cold Tangerines: Celebrating the Extraordinary Nature of Everyday Life.

     May your coming week sizzle and pop and make you laugh out loud!

    Share with me what you have done this past week that gave you joy, made you smile, or that for which you are grateful.

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    Lisa Gordon - February 14, 2017 - 1:00 pm

    What a great week you had, Diane, and oh, how I love those socks!
    Hmmm, I have been spending SO much time shoveling for the past week (yes, every. single. day), that I have not given much of anything else, a thought.
    However, there is not one day that goes by, that I don’t have so much to smile about, and so much to be thankful for.

    Happy Valentine’s Day, my friend.

    DIANE J PATMORE - February 14, 2017 - 1:47 pm

    It was very difficult to find “the happy” through the hideous heat.But last night we had a cracking thunderstorm which sent Geiger slinking under a sofa with the throw pulled down like a tent flap!And some very welcome rain, even if it meant that I just spent half an hour picking up downed palm fronds, twigs and leaves and un-blocking a rain pit.
    So, yes, I am happy.And singing along with Flanders and Swann

    Jennifer Connell - February 17, 2017 - 9:46 am

    Simple sunshine has brought me joy for the last two mornings. We have had lots of grey weather this winter. It could be worse than a cloudy sky of course, but that greyness has a way of seeping into your soul. For the last two days the dining room, where I send my mornings, has been flooded with sunlight and warmth. What a treat it has been!

    Andi - February 25, 2017 - 7:07 am

    Your socks are beautiful! Kudos for trying out new techniques.
    Your hollandaise sounds delicious. Now I am craving some, especially with the addiction of avocado.
    Those tulips are everything!

    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.