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.

    a piece of string …

    Japanese maple in autumn, Qualicum Beach BC

    I like making a piece of string into something I can wear.

    lace scarf by ©Diane M Schuller

    Yes, after a spring and summer knitting hiatus, I’ve cast on and the needles are clacking. I began by using up some yarn that really called out to be put to use — notice the autumnal colour. It’s a golden yellow shade and is the result of frogging a shawl I knit last year. Truth be told I’m sick of the colour and wasn’t keen on knitting anything with that particular yarn [again] so I trudged on through and made a lacey tube scarf with it.

    Australian Shepherd modelling lace scarf

    As soon as that scarf was off the needles, I knew exactly what would be next: socks! I have a Wildflower pattern that I really want to make but, wisely, I decided to first do a plain vanilla pair with some swanky yarn. That way, I can get the wrinkles ironed out in terms of fit and technique. So, in progress at this moment are a simple and basic pair of socks using some amazing self striping yarn called “Trenchcoat” by a talented Canadian yarn dyer, Turtlepurl.

    two at a time socks, Trenchcoat yarn by Turtlepurl

    two at a time socks | www.dianeschuller.com

    As you can see, I knit my socks two-at-a-time on one set of needles and I also don’t do them on double pointed needles, unlike most sock knitters. I much prefer to knit using magic loop rather than the DPNs — I’ve tried the DPNs and really, really do not like using them. The reason I do two-at-a-time (TAAT) is because I know myself well enough to realize if I knit only one sock, it would be a struggle (if ever) to begin knitting a second sock. The other reason I do TAAT is because that way, my socks will be a perfect match both in size, length, and gauge.

    detail, tip of Japanese Maple, www.dianeschuller.com

    After all that warm and cozy knitting, I’m going to close with something much more serious. This has deep meaning for me which is why I’m sharing this. As some of you may know, Gord Downie of the band Tragically Hip did a farewell tour this year because he’s dying of cancer. But for the past two years he’s been doing a much more important project known as the Secret Path. CBC summarizes it best, “The album and its graphic novel companion, Secret Path, tell the story of Chanie (Charlie) Wenjack, a 12-year-old boy who escaped from a residential school in 1966 only to die while trying to find his way home. Secret Pathpublished on October 18 by Simon & Schuster Canada, is a haunting imagining in pen and watercolour of the final days of Wenjack’s short life.”


    And, as it turns out, the very talented author Joseph Boyden has also written a compact, palm-size novel about Chanie, called Wenjac; read about it here.

    Everybody has a story. We are so fortunate. So, my lovelies, until next Monday let’s have an amazing week!

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    DIANE J PATMORE - October 24, 2016 - 10:34 am

    Aha! I see you knit your socks toe-up. I did knit some on double points (and think I still have a pair in the cupboard!), but long ago I found a pattern for toe-up and tried it.
    These days I can’t be bothered with knitting and am barefoot most of the time.Though yesterday, I borrowed a pair of Peter’s heavy work socks, it was so cold!
    Like Heidi’s fashion statement! :-))

    Dianne - October 25, 2016 - 6:43 am

    It’s a good thing there are multiple ways to knit a sock. I like to make them top-down and on DPNs. I’ve tried magic loop and can do it, but find it fiddly. I’m making Christmas socks right now. One at a time.

    Lisa Gordon - October 25, 2016 - 12:20 pm

    Never has a scarf looked so perfect on “someone!”
    I really like this color, Diane.
    And I love the idea of knitting 2 socks at a time.
    I need to try this.
    Then maybe I would not have so many single mittens!! 🙂

    You have a wonderful week, my friend.


    An Image in Hand

    I recently read a post on Facebook that had such an urgency to it. Her computer had crashed and she couldn’t access or find any of her photographs. They included images of their children (eight years of memories and firsts), their horses and dogs, and other important images and documents. I could imagine the gnawing feeling she must have in the pit of her gut. I know I too would have that feeling of dread in that circumstance. If the images had been printed she would still have them.

    Remember going through photo albums or shoe boxes full of family photos? When I was young I loved doing that — love it still. I loved the magnetism of the photographs, the history, the nostalgia.

    vintage prints

    old photographs

    Do you have your photos printed for easy access? Do you have some framed sitting on end tables or hanging on walls in your home? Have you shared real, physical photographs with other people (grandparents, siblings)?

    photographs on mantle

    When we have our photographs printed or gathered in a photo book, we appreciate those tangible prints more, likely because we can touch and hold them in our hands. It’s not simply vanishing images on the screen but ones we can linger over and come back to, cherish. In this digital age, sure it’s easy to leave them on our smart phone, computer, hard drive, or in the mysterious cloud, believing them to be safe or always there for us. But they are never as safe as when we actually have those images printed.

    “Our dreams are made of real things, like a shoebox full of photographs.” — Jack Johnson

    photo book, photo albumdsc_4059

    We have numerous choices for getting physical prints whether it’s lovely & easy books by iPhoto (Mac);  or Blurb also for photo books; or Posterjack for quality canvas, posters, and more. Don’t forget, your local pharmacy or box store can also produce as many photographic prints as you like, ready for you to place in an album, shoebox, or in a bowl on your coffee table for everyone to browse through.

    If you’ve been following me a long time you know I’ve written on this topic numerous times, Printed Photographs are Gifts, What Can I Do With All My Snapshots?, Photographs are Meant to be Printed, and a few others. You can tell, I have a passion for the physical photograph.

    Go ahead, do it. Get your favourites printed. Hold them. Shuffle them. Admire them. Now. You won’t regret it.

    An image in hand can touch your heart more deeply than an image on a computer screen. Printed photographs are gifts.” ~Meredith Wynn

    Until next Monday, may you enjoy the most fulfilling moments whether it’s poring over old photographs, walking in the silent woods, reading a fine book, making a special gift with your own hands, or simply daydreaming over a cup of hot tea. — Diane


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    Lionel Daneault - October 17, 2016 - 9:32 am

    It reminds me of Ringo Starr’s recording “Photograph”. I too love the printed picture although I must decide what to do with all my slides from that phase of my memory making.

    Susan Clark - October 17, 2016 - 12:52 pm

    At Christmas I get a lovely photo book of pictures taken of their preceeding summer visit. As they come for about a month there are plenty of memories to record. Not only do I get to relive happy summer days but it is also an excellent record of each passing year.

    Lisa Gordon - October 17, 2016 - 12:57 pm

    This is such a timely post, Diane.
    As I am writing this, I am also working on some sort of structured backup for all of the photographs on my computer. Figuring out the best way (for me) to do it, is surely much more difficult than actually doing it. With few exceptions, I did not print any of my photos, until this year. I’ve printed just a few for hanging this year. I definitely need to think about printing more.

    Thank you, my friend, and have a wonderful week ahead. xo.

    Roberta - October 20, 2016 - 9:47 pm

    My sister’s best furry friend of almost seventeen years passed away a few days ago. She has been sharing some of Andy’s photos with me…

    Happy Thanksgiving

    Today is the Canadian Thanksgiving. Wishing all my friends, family and you a Thanksgiving full of warmth and love in the spirit of gratitude and thanksgiving for what we all have.

    Field of Pumpkins Vancouver Island

    heart in pumpkin, Vancouver Island ©Diane M Schuller

    Thanksgiving is a time for thinking about and giving thanks for all that we have. It’s the day set aside to be grateful and humble for our abundances. May you enjoy a special Thanksgiving with loved ones and friends. Have you invited a neighbour or acquaintance for Thanksgiving dinner, who might otherwise be spending it alone?

    dinner setting www.dianeschuller.com

    apple pie made by www.dianeschuller.com

    “Love what you have.” — Diane Schuller


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    Lisa Gordon - October 10, 2016 - 8:58 am

    A bit belated, but a very, very Happy Thanksgiving, my friend. xo.

    Gabriele - October 10, 2016 - 9:40 am

    Happy Thanksgiving and may your gratitude hold your spirits high.

    Sherry - October 10, 2016 - 1:29 pm

    What lovely images and kind thoughts. Wishing you and yours a wonderful Thanksgiving.

    Juliann - October 10, 2016 - 6:46 pm

    What a lovely post. Happy Thanksgiving.

    Stephanie Young - October 13, 2016 - 5:29 pm

    Hope you had a wonderful thanksgiving???

    Candace - October 18, 2016 - 12:24 pm

    I hope your Thanksgiving was great, Diane. The pie looks delicious!

    Sherry G. - October 20, 2016 - 4:24 pm

    Sorry I missed the opportunity to wish you Happy Thanksgiving, my friend, but I wanted to tell you how much I love the images in this post. That apple pie looks delightful and I bet it tasted fabulous.

    noticing six things a day

    Heidi is feeling much more comfortable, as you can see. Her training continues. She’s now potty trained too. I also have her walking on leash and for the most part, it’s loose leash, and consistently well behaved. Plus she has learned to really love play, especially with her ball. She’s pretty lucky she ended up living with us.

    Australian Shepherd © Diane M Schuller

    I need to take another video to show you how well she’s doing with some of her training. But no promises how soon that may be.

    Before I carry on with this post I wish to thank all of you who left such lovely comments on my previous post — it was wonderful reading about your own thoughts on cinnamon toast or simply cinnamon. Thank you all!

    Have you ever wondered How the oceans got their names! I love learning about things like this — why on earth don’t they teach this in school? I would have been much more interested I’m sure. Remaining with the nautical theme, find out the origins of SOS and Mayday.

    Noticing Six Things A Day. I read about this some time ago and I feel badly that I don’t recall whose blog had mentioned it — if it’s you or you know who mentioned it, please let me know so I may provide the proper credit for this concept. Now on to the topic. Let me share with you my list from only one day this past week:

    • tides appear to be breathing as they ebb and flow along the shoreline, often with a whisper if you listen closely;
    • mares tails in the early morning sky;
    • Heidi’s eyes full of expression especially when trying to engage me in some play;
    • while reading before bed beside an open window, the distress call over and over from a Blue Heron, slowly painfully fading …
    • spiders building webs in multitudes;
    • looking closely at the individual leaves on trees as they’re now turning colour, many appear to have blood in their veins

    burning bush in autumn ©Diane M Schuller

    Okay, now for something utterly uplifting. You need to hear this video. A friend of mine lost her brother recently. As you can imagine, it was incredibly difficult and another friend of hers shared this song with her on Facebook — what a perfect way to add some cheer or hope to someone whose heart is broken. But it’s for those of us who are also in perfectly positive minds too. It had me dancing in my jammies.

    So my dear friends, until next Monday may your week be full of wonder and “It’s Gonna Be Okay.”

    So tell me one simple thing you observed this week.

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    Susan Clark - October 3, 2016 - 2:00 pm

    I noticed the volunteer nasturtium’s prolific orange flowers pushing through the fence when I pulled into the yard. Such a cheerful spot of colour on a cloudy day.

    Susan Clark - October 3, 2016 - 2:02 pm

    Meant to add, isn’t it is a joy to watch our puppies as they develop.

    Lisa Gordon - October 3, 2016 - 2:39 pm

    Way to go, Heidi!!!!
    She really has the most beautiful face, Diane, and her eyes…
    To me, they are the most wonderful combination of mischief and sweetness!

    Your “Noticing Six Things a Day” is a fantastic idea!! I do something similar, and have for a few years now…learning one new thing a day. Now I have to admit, that most of the time, it is something to do with photography (I really should broaden my horizons!!), but all the same, it’s something new.

    The video is great, and thank you so much for posting it here. My brother lost a very good friend last week, and I am going to send this video to him.

    You have a fantastic week, my friend. xo.

    Jessie Stevens - October 3, 2016 - 2:55 pm

    That song is great! I love The Piano Guys but I hadn’t heard that one yet, thanks so much for sharing, I don’t think a person could watch that and not be smiling by the end of it! 🙂

    andi - October 3, 2016 - 6:03 pm

    Heidi melts my heart! Every time I look at that sweet face it melts me into a puddle.

    Really enjoyed reading your list of the 6 things you noticed. I have noticed the spider webs as well. Aren’t they amazing. They are like the world’s original knitters.

    Those blood red leaves…swoon!

    Gabriele - October 4, 2016 - 5:09 am

    Loved your pictures and thanks so much for including the piano guys video. I downloaded that song on my phone. It is simplistic but I fall for it every time.

    Roberta Gould - October 7, 2016 - 10:24 pm

    Such sweet photos of Heidi..She is a lucky girl. The music is fun and uplifting. I have been watching the finches as they feed on the sunflowers and the hummingbirds really like a Salvia that has red flowers..The rain doesn’t seem to bother them. Love the red leaves. It looks like I will be a regular here… (:

    Toffeeapple - October 8, 2016 - 10:20 am

    Interesting that you weren’t taught those meanings at school – we most definitely were, way back in the early 50s.

    Rachel - October 8, 2016 - 1:58 pm

    Your pup is so adorable! I like your list (and wow, that photo!). What I noticed this week? I noticed that the snow is no longer melting from the ground up. 😉 I really enjoy the Piano Guys so thanks for the share.

    Candace - October 18, 2016 - 12:28 pm

    That is sure a happy video and Heidi is beautiful!

    The rich fragrance of …

    What has more personality than black pepper and is sweeter than a rose? Why cinnamon of course. The warm, somewhat spicy, yet woody aroma that some also describe as smoky is unique to all other spices in our cupboards. The sense of smell and how it evokes memories is stronger than an ox on steroids or Popeye full of spinach! Well, those may not be the best analogies but they’ll have to do for now.

    “Cinnamon: This spice was once rare and valuable — the main reason for the Portuguese occupation of Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) in 1505 was for its superior and extensive cinnamon crop. The dried bark of a tree, cinnamon comes from two sources. The commonly available cassia cinnamon is a dark red-brown and has a strong, sweet taste. Pale tan, delicate-tasting Ceylon cinnamon is grown only in Sri Lanka and is considered by many to be true cinnamon.” — Chuck Williams

    I’ve been craving cinnamon toast lately, like my mom used to make for me as a kid and like I made for my son when he was little. It begins with the yeasty aroma of hot toast, with enough butter (yes, real butter) to lightly moisten one side of the toast. Then a generous sprinkling over that piece of buttered toast, topping it off with a light dusting of white sugar. Smear it all together with a butter knife. Now take that first tantalizing bite. Oh yes, memories.

    toast, ready to be topped

    cinnamon toast n

    cinnamon toast

    It looked like the world was covered in a cobbler crust of brown sugar and cinnamon.” — Sarah Addison Allen, First Frost.

    I wanted to share a poem about or including cinnamon and found a particularly lovely one by Michael Ondatje. Unfortunately, his and all the others I found were all of a very strong sexual nature. I leave it to you to seek them out if you choose 😉  I did locate one lovely poem by Mary Oliver from her New and Selected Poems, Volume Onethat has a few perfect lines but I’ll share it in its entirety:

    Autumn poplars ©Diane Schuller

    In Blackwater Woods

    Look, the trees
    are turning
    their own bodies
    into pillars

    of light,
    are giving off the rich
    fragrance of cinnamon
    and fulfillment,

    the long tapers
    of cattails
    are bursting and floating away over
    the blue shoulders

    of the ponds,
    and every pond,
    no matter what its
    name is, is

    nameless now.
    Every year
    I have ever learned

    in my lifetime
    leads back to this: the fires
    and the black river of loss
    whose other side

    is salvation,
    whose meaning
    none of us will ever know.
    To live in this world

    you must be able
    to do three things:
    to love what is mortal;
    to hold it

    against your bones knowing
    your own life depends on it;
    and, when the time comes to let it go,
    to let it go.”


    Some of my favourite foods with cinnamon, besides cinnamon toast, are cinnamon buns, apple pie, pumpkin pie, and in many recipes of Middle Eastern and Chinese origin. Now you — what are some of your favourite foods with cinnamon? What is one of your strongest food aroma memories?

    homemade cinnamon buns by ©Diane M Schuller

    homemade cinnamon buns by ©Diane M Schuller

    Until next Monday, may you luxuriate in memories of your favourite food aromas.

    “Anyone who gives you a cinnamon roll fresh out of the oven is a friend for life.” — Lemony Snicket, “When Did You See Her Last?”

    apple fell to the ground ©Diane M Schuller

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    Toffeeapple - September 26, 2016 - 10:26 am

    I used to make cinnamon toat for my daughter when she was younger, though other than that, it is not a spice much in use in my kitchen.

    Roberta - September 26, 2016 - 10:33 am

    Oh yes, cinnamon is a must especially this time of the year. You can try cinnamon sugar on a buttered tortilla. It’s best if the tortilla is a bit crispy.. I heat it with cast iron…

    Lisa Gordon - September 26, 2016 - 5:08 pm

    I love anything with cinnamon in it, Diane, and seeing the cinnamon toast here, brings back so many wonderful childhood memories. We always had cinnamon toast for breakfast as the weather got chillier, and like you, I made it for my kids, so many, many times. Even now, they still love it.

    Thank you for the memories, my friend.

    Jennifer Connell - September 27, 2016 - 6:14 am

    My mouth is watering thinking about buttered toast now! Cinnamon is one of those spices that you reach for it in the fall, isn’t it? It especially suits the baking one does at this time of year. I have fond childhood memories of cinnamon toast although we always made ours with brown sugar. Brown sugar has a slightly different flavour than white and compliments cinnamon perfectly. Try it next time you make cinnamon toast.

    jessie - September 27, 2016 - 1:58 pm

    I love almost everything with cinnamon and when you described the toast with cinnamon and sugar I could almost feel it melt in my mouth, that used to be what I’d have for breakfast with my Granny. Yum!

    susan - September 28, 2016 - 6:12 pm

    oh my, I can almost smell it! I love all things cinnamon. My mom used to make the best cinnamon bread every Christmas…I have her recipe but have yet to make it myself as it’s an all day activity. Maybe this year I’ll try to find the time.

    And you have paired this with another favorite – birch trees! How beautiful!

    Candace - September 29, 2016 - 1:56 pm

    How fortuitous! Just yesterday I met a friend for lunch and I ordered sweet potato fries as my side dish. They were dusted with cinnamon and were delicious! I had never experienced that before.

    I love Mary Oliver and your photos are dreamy and hunger-inducing.

    Rachel - September 29, 2016 - 3:49 pm

    Beautiful photos in this post! Funny that I haven’t eaten a cinnamon roll in a couple years and just 2 days ago, my technician brought me one from some popular shop near Muncho Lake (maybe you know of the place? I grew up on cinnamon toast as well although we ate it so much that we kept a bowl of cinnamon/sugar on hand in the kitchen at all times (instead of laying it down separately). And yes, real butter is a must! My other favorite childhood memory of cinnamon is when my mom baked pies. The leftover pie crust was rolled flat, covered with butter and cinnamon sugar and baked for about 10 minutes. I still do this every time I bake a pie. I can almost smell it…

    Gabriele - October 1, 2016 - 6:41 pm

    You are so right about the person who gives you a warm cinnamon roll.

    Sherry G. - October 2, 2016 - 2:53 pm

    I love this post for so many reasons, Diane! First your gorgeous birch shots. You also remind me of my youth with cinnamon toast. I loved it. Such comfort food. I haven’t had it for ages and ages…cinnamon I use all the time though — good for lowering blood sugar too. And your amazing cinnamon bun shot — I will just eat this with my eyes instead of my mouth. And lastly, that is one of my favourite Mary Oliver poems. The ending is one to take in and remember for ever. Have a great week my friend!

    DIANE J PATMORE - October 3, 2016 - 2:05 pm

    Late to the party again!
    I like cinnamon, though not so much as toast or rolls.But I love some bark in a curry.And a rice pudding.mmm

    And I think the earthy poem you mentioned is “The Cinnamon Peeler.”

    What matters

    golden hour

    What matters to you? A few months ago I read a book that was chock full of great quotes and thought-provoking notions. In Brian Doyle’s novel Mink River, this sentence which goes on to include a long detailed paragraph begins, “These things matter to me, Daniel, says the man with six days to live. They are sitting on the porch in the last light. These things matter to me, son.” When I read all the heartwarming things the dying man listed, it had me thinking of my own list ever since. Again, in the spirit of September, I’ll share what matters to me in this month of September.

    The way eagles cruise on autumn’s thermals. Hot, steaming comfort food on a chilly day. Holding a warm mug with both hands. The golds, rusts, oranges, reds and everything in between on leaves and grasses. The musty aroma in the forest after a heavy frost. Salty sea air. The gabble of a flock of migrating Canada geese. The tender notes as well as the bubbling exuberance of a piano well played. The peal of ancient church bells.  Sheets and towels fresh off a windy line. Sweaters. September’s golden hour. A smooth, clean wood floor. A dog’s velvety ear. A good novel cradled in my hands. The warm feeling of contentment after an engaging dinner party. The autumn blue of the sea. High tide. Morning air after a solid night’s sleep. People who walk tall. My son’s laugh. Photographs you can hold in your hand. Memories, of all kinds.


    knitting a sweater

    breakfast sweet

    Japanese Maple in autumn ©Diane M Schuller

    Japanese Maple keys in autumn morning light ©Diane M Schuller

    clothes drying on line www.dianeschuller.com

    quiet moment, Australian Shepherd ©Diane M Schuller

    If you care to share, I’d love to know what matters to you during this lovely month of September.

    Until next Monday may you revel in what matters most to you.


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    DIANE J PATMORE - September 19, 2016 - 12:20 pm

    Ah…the glorious autumnal Septembers. For me, not having the sharp definition of the seasons will always be the hardest thing to accept in my present latitude.
    But I do have colour and have even managed a blog post!

    Lisa Gordon - September 22, 2016 - 8:59 am

    What a lovely post and a wonderful list, Diane. I so enjoyed reading this.
    As for me, I could probably go on and on with items on my list, but probably the most important, in September and all year long is, my family.

    Happy day to you, my friend! xo.

    Rachel - September 22, 2016 - 6:27 pm

    What a beautiful post. I found myself nodding my head along to almost all the things that you listed. Right in this moment, I’d add: Conversations with friends. The way the light and shadows change with the seasons. Crystal clear night skies with stars as far as the eye can see… oh, I could go on and on. Thank you for getting me started! 😉

    I have Mink River on my ‘to be read’ list. Perhaps I need to dig that out this fall?

    Sherry G. - September 25, 2016 - 8:41 am

    You write so beautifully, Dianne. I would certainly agree with these blessed things, even though I don’t have a dog right now, nor am I near the sea. But I have been lucky enough to have had and have been. I would add the joyful laughter of children at the fair and the fulfillment of helping a child write his first words. I will look up Mink River…always find something interesting here…And your images are cosy and wonderful.

    stephanie young - September 25, 2016 - 8:55 pm

    what a lovely list…..and beautiful photos. I loved Mink River for just those kind of passages. Autumn is my favorite time of the year….yet I’m still waiting for summer to end here. Anxious to start enjoying the best that fall has to offer….soon!

    Candace - September 29, 2016 - 2:01 pm

    Beautiful words and images, Diane. What matters to me most in September is what seems to matter to most of us Arizonans…the end of summer is in sight. Although still hot in the afternoons, the mornings and nights are teasing us with what the rest of the winter and spring will be like.