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.

    Cupcake & Spring

    Flirt’s “Fantasy Island”: with light lemon icing & smothered in coconut

    I promised more cupcakes from Flirt plus I thought I’d also share a few thoughts on spring north of 55.

    In the blog world and on Flickr photos, everyone has been posting scads of photos indicative of their individual signs of spring — and for quite a while. They include bare streets!! (I wish), grass, budding leaves (what!), and flowers (you have got to be kidding, right!). As you can tell from my comments (hoping my humour is coming through!), we aren’t anywhere close to any of those so I thought it was high time I share the reality of living north of 55. You see, even though we had plenty of snow on the ground already, a huge blizzard raged in last week that added to the snowfall but it was the winds that caused drifts as high as 5 and 6 feet — that is NO April Fool’s joke.

    We still have a few feet of snow on the ground, not a single tree is anywhere close to opening buds, let alone the perennials that are still buried beneath the snow and frozen in the solid earth. Yes, the first crows returned a few days ago and the Canada Geese are apt to arrive in the next week or two. But nesting — not a chance for quite some time yet. We’re beginning to get forecasts of days that will be above zero (single digits) but that doesn’t mean warm overnight temperatures. In fact, it’s uncommon to plant our gardens prior to the third week in May. Even at that we still get overnight frosts and need to protect our young seedlings or tender bedding plants after planting in May. There are a few exceptions to this but that’s primarily people who live in the city. It’s always warmer in the city because of the heat from the buildings and paved streets, not to mention that they don’t get the same effects from the blowing snow in winter (so snow melts sooner in the cities and towns).

    Hansa shrub in my backyard before last week

    Hansa shrub in my backyard before last week's storm -- now it's barely visible

    Thanks to our neighbour, we no longer have to trudge through the deep snow or don our snowshoes to take our dogs for a walk down our driveway (our driveway to the back is approximately the length of two city blocks). On Sunday he nearly got his huge 8-wheel tractor stuck when he attempted to go through some of the deeper drifts but what a relief to be able to go outside and actually walk upright like normal people. You have no idea what a relief that is rather than slogging through deep snow trying to make new tracks each day. Needless to say we are incredibly grateful when he comes by!

    getting plowed out -- but earlier in the winter before the heavy snowfalls!

    getting plowed out -- but earlier in the winter before the heavy snowfalls!

    All that said, there truly is hope for spring! It appears we are right at an important turning point. Hopefully from now on, the days will be warm enough to melt the snow and eventually thaw the ground. Spring is in sight even if it’s not actually here! I soon hope to begin reporting on the true signs of spring up here, north of 55.

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    Wapiti in Alberta


    young elk fleeing to safety

    young elk fleeing to safety

    This small group of young elk (wapiti) are in a field near our home. The cows (female adult elk) are kicking out their last year’s offspring and the youngsters are forming their own small herds. I captured this group of young gals just over a week ago as I was leaving home, heading to Edmonton. It was a very overcast morning and I shot from inside my car because they were already beginning to flee at the sight of my vehicle.

    Wapiti is a Shawnee word meaning white rump. Although these photos aren’t the most vivid, if you look closely you’ll see that distinctive white rump. (The photo I linked to below shows the white rump much more clearly.)

    The elk are a large member of the deer family and are extremely dangerous in the wild. The adult cows are highly aggressive all year long and the bull elk (males) are dangerous during their rut (breeding season in the autumn). They do a lot of damage to farmer’s land, trees, and are dangerous for those with horses. We have so many elk in our area and they have no predators so their herds are growing by leaps and bounds (pun intended). Wolves are natural predators but we don’t have wolves in our area. I posted another image of these elk at Flickr if you’d like to see that image as well, especially if you want to more clearly see that white rump.

    (I haven’t forgotten about the second cupcake post but wanted to share this with you before I forget.)

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    Hey There Cupcake!


    I told you in the last post this would be much more delightful! How’s a cupcake in natural light grab you? I found this amazing place on my recent trip to Edmonton, Alberta: “Flirt Cupcakes”. It’s a darling little spot on Whyte Avenue (a great place for people watching, nifty boutiques & stores, coffee houses, and a variety of places to find yummy food). I’ve sampled some of their little darlings and you must go there if you’re ever in Edmonton. The beauty of their product is that it’s home made on the premises daily, and the icings are so yummy and not all sugary-sweet. Instead the icings are made with fresh and unique things like strawberry or peanut butter (like my favourite in the picture above) … and other delicious offerings. Rick and Michelle are so welcoming and great hosts when you visit.

    I took scads of photos but here is a gallery showing a few (for best viewing use the “Carousel” or “Slideshow” buttons located at the bottom of the thumbnail page). In my next post I’ll include photos of a couple more of my favourite cupcakes from Flirt. Oh maybe I should explain: Rick let me have a taster of one while I was there plus I purchased a box of minis to take to my son and his family. That’s where I got to have a bite of a couple more (Granddaughters are great for offering taste tests to Grandmas).

    Flirt Cupcakes: 10158 – 82 (Whyte) Avenue, Edmonton, Alberta

    Do you have a favourite sweet shop in your neighbourhood?

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    Birthday Love

    {This blog entry has been edited from the previous version.}



    This is an image I took at a previous photo shoot — a child’s birthday party. This was a pair who were guests of the birthday boy. I only got two shots off but am delighted I turned at just that moment!

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    Dog Gone Weekend …

    It’s been some time since I’ve shared photos of my dogs. Rather than inundate you with multiple photos, I did a pair of mosaics. Since I did these at BigHugeLabs, I can not control the positioning of their body/head in the thin strips. Here is the first mosaic:


    Far Left: Austin, our male Australian Shepherd resting after lots of exercise (ol’ blue eyes)

    Second from Left: a sepia of Pearl, also an Australian Shepherd — she is leaping against the tree to ‘try’ and get to an annoying squirrel

    Third from Left: Austin again — intent on a squirrel (nice clean teeth)

    Far Right: Austin doing one of his favourite activities: leaping in the air to catch snow when my husband is shoveling.

    Below: the second mosaic that includes all three …


    Maggie, Pearl & Austin

    Maggie, Pearl & Austin

    I also have a ‘dog blog’ for anyone who may be interested. It’s mostly about natural canine health and wellness plus a few other things tossed in now and again. Visit Dogs Naturally to see what it’s about. Have a fun filled weekend — head outside, soak up the fresh air, and have fun with your family and dog (if you have one). Dog gone it’s bound to be good!

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    “One’s home is like a delicious piece of pie you order in a restaurant on a country road one cozy evening – the best piece of pie you have ever eaten in your life – and can never find again.  After you leave home, you may find yourself feeling homesick, even if you have a new home that has nicer wallpaper and a more efficient dishwasher than the home in which you grew up.”  ~Lemony Snicket


    Where I live now

    Where I live now

    Like Lemony Snicket, even though I’m in that home that “has nicer wallpaper” metaphorically, I still find myself homesick for the home in which I grew up. Not the physical house, but the place. I miss the city, I miss having people around, I miss the conveniences & the culture, I miss the diversity, I miss the people all around (yes, I know I said that but you get the idea). On my recent trip to Edmonton I felt alive again, vibrant, motivated — I had a taste of that excellent metaphorical piece of pie so aptly described by Lemony Snicket.

    Upon my return, I was armed with some of the real estate papers for my husband to pore over. To my delight, he actually has been poring over them. We’re still a couple years away from retirement but we’re planning. One day, one of these years I will be able to pack up and return home.

    Where do you call home — the place where you’ve had that taste of the best (metaphorical) pie ever?


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