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.

    How to get started sorting through years of digital photos

    mini photo books as gifts

    “In order to remember, we have to access and interact with the photos, rather than just amass them.” —Linda Henkel, Point-and-Shoot Memories, Psychological Science (2013)

    We’re taking photos.  Obviously they’re important to us.  But then what?

    In my previous post, I urged you to get your photos printed — at least your favourites. You don’t need to get every single image printed.

    In this digital age, I can fully understand that many people have images they’ve taken and they’re all over the place: on a smart phone or tablet, Instagram, Flickr, Facebook, and so on. So I thought I’d try to ease your anxiety about how and where to begin. The key thing is simply to take baby steps — one thing at a time.

    “little black book” photo book by ZNO

    Baby steps. Please don’t think it’s necessary (or even possible) to organize your entire photo collection in one fell swoop. This step is to identify where you have all those digital photos: Facebook, Instagram, your phone/tablet, maybe some on memory cards, flash drives, or on CDs.

    The second baby step. Next step is to gather all your photos together from the various sources, then simply put them in one tidy folder on your computer/tablet. After you’ve sorted through some of the photos you may wish to create extra folders to better organize your photos say, by year. But initially, simply worry about getting started with that one folder.

    And now how to start. Set aside say 15 minutes each day, or whatever amount of time is reasonable for you (or give up one TV show each day — or on Tuesdays and Thursdays for example — and use that time for this step.) Now go through those photos and save only your favourites or those with special meaning. Say you have half a dozen or a dozen shots of the same moment, you don’t need all of those — Pick the one (or two) you want to save from that group and dump the rest. Yes, really.

    Create two backup files and … I got this idea on the Internet. Put your archived photos on an external hard drive plus a flash drive. Then store the backup files in separate places. Give one copy to a friend/family member or put it in a safety deposit box. Having the two separate back ups is a safety net in the event of technology failure, power failure, fire, robbery or natural disaster. It may be necessary to create updated backup files frequently if you’re working through an enormous amount of photos. I have a great photo program, Lightroom, which saves all my photos in a very organized manner so that is my organizational tool. But all you need, as I mentioned above, is simply a folder(s) on your computer/tablet.

    Maintain your digital archives. Even if you finally get through those photos and have all the important ones printed (whether as photographs or in photo books), this step is still a good idea. Continue to keep your digital archives backed up. These, of course, are simply precautions if you’re wanting to preserve your digital copies should you wish to create a digital project such as a photo book, greeting cards, canvas photos, enlargements, etc in the future. It’s the physical photographs and/or photo books that are the treasure.

    A tip.  If wondering where to begin selecting images for printing (or photo books), I recommend starting with this year.  Begin with the current year and then go back and slowly catch up.  If you try to go back through all the years you haven’t printed, you’ll feel like you’re continually playing catch up and may likely give up.  Start current, then work your way back.

    “little black book” by ZNO

    All along I seem to be talking about printing everything — you don’t need to do a whole years worth of photos right off the bat. Pick one thing and print that: whether you decide to begin by printing off this year’s vacation, or maybe times spent with the kids/grandkids, or maybe the photos you took at the family reunion. After those are printed, pick the next thing, and the next. You don’t have to print them all at once. If you tackle them this way, you’ll get the most meaningful ones done or all the ones that give you joy.

    Once you’ve printed a bunch of photos (even if they go in a photo box) or created photo books, it’s much easier to keep on top of it, especially if you have a plan. Even if you fall off that plan, don’t worry. Simply get back at it again. Heck I’m still on a roller coaster of select-and-print; nothing, nothing, nothing; select-and-print; nothing, nothing; and back again. There’s no photo-organizing police. Every photo you get printed, is a memory preserved for generations. Feel great about what you have accomplished.

    There is an online article I’m going to direct you to if you are serious about getting your photos sorted and printed. The article by Dawn Oosterhoff also has more detailed information for sorting through photos, but I want to direct you to her point 4. Cull the Photos where she refers to a system of culling photos developed by Cathi Nelson, the founder of the Association of Personal Photo Organizers (APPO). You may find her method works for you or gives you inspiration to begin.

    Good luck and have fun!

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    sherri - November 28, 2017 - 7:07 am

    good advice

    love the format of how you’ve done yours

    Lisa Gordon - November 28, 2017 - 1:24 pm

    Thank you SO much, Diane.
    You have made what seem like a monumental task, doable.
    Such really helpful information here.

    Dianne - December 4, 2017 - 7:22 pm

    I needed to nudge (or maybe a kick in the pants) to get me started. This post and the previous one are full of good practical information. Thank you.

    Why You Need to Print Your Photos … today

    Why you need to print your photos … today:

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

    • Computers fail. Hard drives crash. USB sticks and DVDs can and do corrupt. Even back-up discs can die or fail.
    • Technology changes. Most new computers don’t even have a CD drive — mine certainly doesn’t and it’s not new. Do you really want to leave your precious images in a “cloud” somewhere? Your photos could well become obsolete if left on a computer, tablet, or smart phone.
    • People don’t display their images in their home. Even those digital frames never caught on for long. And how many people have their photos as a slideshow on their TV? Exactly.
    • I’ve learned that research indicates children’s confidence grows by seeing family photos displayed prominently around them. If you have children at home, print those photos and put them in frames or a nice photo album or photo book and leave them out for everyone to view.
    • Tangible photographs, as well as photos in a photo book, preserve precious memories and induce the warm emotions produced by reliving those memories. I can attest to this as I always pored through photo albums as a child and even enjoyed going through all those loose photos in a box or bag — still do.

    I have a short story for you too. When my mom died, I had to pack up her home and the most important items I wanted and still have in my possession are the photographs. My mom also had photographs from when she was a child, from my cousins and aunts & uncles, including family gatherings and summer vacations. So recently, when purging paperwork, I came across some of the stray images my mom had. A few were wedding photos of an aunt and uncle and a few of my cousins as kids. Since they were professional studio photos I felt they belonged to the most immediate family members. Long story short, I tracked down a few family members to send them to. It sparked some incredible conversations among us and they learned many things about those family members they had never known. It’s been an emotional awakening for them. None of these precious bits of knowledge would ever have been passed on were it not for those photographs and me passing them on.

    I hope some of this motivates you to even consider getting your favourite photos printed. Whether you have them printed at a local photo shop or create a beautiful photo book, you and your family members will forever cherish those tangible images. And at this time of year, I can’t think of a better gift whether it’s for immediate family, grandparents, or siblings for instance. I’ve already made three as gifts for this Christmas and will be making one for myself next.

    I’ve written numerous blog posts about this topic, some of which I’ll provide links below for you to browse through. If you’ve never made a photo book before, there are multiple places that offer you those services both online and locally. I like to use some of the online software companies and will provide links below to those I still recommend.

    For Photo books try these:

    Photo Books Canada (they have numerous options) and for those who live in the USA there is also a Photobook America.

    For those using an Apple computer, Apple has some nice template options for making your photo books and is very easy to use. I’ve made several using this service — all have been very high quality both in photo colour and the quality of the books.

    ZNO is a newer company and I just finished using them to make two really nice photo books they call “Little Black Book” that only cost $10 each! But they have other options of course. I found it super easy to use and quick service. I’ll be using them again and look forward to trying one of their flush mount books.

    Milk Books make a very high end, top quality product and are also used by professional photographers. As you may suspect from this description they are also quite high in price.

    Shutterfly has been very popular for ease of use but I keep hearing there are some technical issues occurring lately so proceed with caution until they have things rectified.

    For Related Blog Posts:

    Photo books are easier than organizing loose photos (but I still think loose photos are a big and wonderful deal!)

    Printed Photographs are Gifts

    What Can I Do with all my Snapshots?

    Photographs never forget — Diane Schuller

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    Jennifer Connell - November 20, 2017 - 10:24 am

    My Mom has a priceless album of photos from her childhood. As a kid, I loved looking through those photos. As an adult I value them even more.
    The images from my father’s side of the family aren’t as well organized, but they are precious to me as well. One problem with these pictures is that many of the family members are unidentified. Who are these great aunts and uncles? My great grandfather had 6 or 7 kids. My grandmother family (on my father’s side) was even bigger. Even my Dad doesn’t know who some of the people in the pictures are. Moral of the story: find some way to make a note as to the date and the people pictured. The IDs might seem obvious now, but will be way less so down the line.
    I absolutely love the idea of making a photo book. Right now my brother has greedily appointed himself as the keeper of the historic family photos. My two sisters and I would love copies of those images as well. It would take awhile to organize, but I am sure my sisters would love to have photo books with printed copies.

    DIANE J PATMORE - November 20, 2017 - 12:05 pm

    Yes, it is a good idea to keep records.I think my brother still has whatever has survived of my father’s old photos.But after 90+ years, I wonder how usable those negatives are!

    Lisa Gordon - November 26, 2017 - 1:46 pm

    Wonderful post and reminder, Diane.
    Until a few years ago, I printed nothing.
    Now I don’t print a lot, but I do print individual photographs that I feel will be significant to my children. I do however make quite a few photo books.
    I have many photographs that my parents and grandparents had, and I feel so fortunate to have them.

    Have a wonderful week ahead, my friend!

    autumn leaves must fall

    “The shed of leaves became a cascade of red and gold and after a time the trees stood skeletal against a sky of weathered tin. The land lay bled of its colors. The nights lengthened, went darker, brightened in their clustered stars. The chilled air smelled of woodsmoke, of distances and passing time. Frost glimmered on the morning fields. Crows called across the pewter afternoons.” —JC Blake.

    Psithurism (n) the sound of rustling leaves. Origin: Greek

    “If a year was tucked inside of a clock, then Autumn would be the magic hour.” –Victoria Erickson

    Autumn shows us how beautiful it is to let things go.

    Song for Autumn by Mary Oliver
    In the deep fall
    don’t you imagine the leaves think how
    comfortable it will be to touch
    the earth instead of the
    nothingness of air and the endless
    freshets of wind? And don’t you think
    the trees themselves, especially those with mossy,
    warm caves, begin to think
    of the birds that will come — six, a dozen — to sleep
    inside their bodies? And don’t you hear
    the goldenrod whispering goodbye,
    the everlasting being crowned with the first
    tuffets of snow? The pond
    vanishes, and the white field over which
    the fox runs so quickly brings out
    its blue shadows. And the wind pumps its
    bellows. And at evening especially,
    the piled firewood shifts a little,
    longing to be on its way.
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    Toff - October 30, 2017 - 11:32 am

    Beautiful images Diane. Thank you for putting them on your blog.

    Lisa Gordon - October 30, 2017 - 12:45 pm

    Beautiful photographs, Diane, and such beautiful words to go with them.
    I think the second one here is just gorgeous!
    Have a wonderful week ahead, my friend.

    Jean shock - October 30, 2017 - 7:17 pm

    I love your leafy pictures!

    The colors here in SW Virginia are not nearly as vibrant this year – usually we get more of the reds and oranges, but this year many of the leaves have simply turned brown and dropped (drier than normal, and warmer than normal). We’ve got some bright yellow, a few bits of orange, and a very few random bits of red – sometimes just one branch on a single tree.

    stephanie o young - October 31, 2017 - 6:12 pm

    beautiful!!!!….our autumn isn’t as pretty this year as it’s been in years past, so i loved seeing yours. thanks for sharing

    Jennifer Connell - November 1, 2017 - 4:27 am

    My husband is off this week, so we have been working together to empty my big ceramic flowerpots. A ceramic birdbath has been tucked away in a warm corner of the covered back porch along with all the empty pots.
    Fall has been uncharacteristically mild here, so the trees have been holding on to their bright colors. The black walnut that towers over the back garden has however been pelting the ground with walnuts for weeks. The walnuts, which are lime-green and lemon-scented when they first fall, hit the ground with a loud “thunk, thunk. thunk…”. On the ground the rock-hard walnuts quickly turn into a soft, papery, oily-black mess. We have been collecting buckets and buckets of them.
    Yesterday, I tucked away some of the garden tools in the shed and brought out the snow shovels. I stacked the shovels against the front fence ready for use, but I really, really hope that we are over prepared for what November weather will bring.

    Owning less is better than organizing more

    Autumn shows us how beautiful it is to let things go.

    In this world and times of up-sizing and up-selling I’m delighted to be part of the downsizing community. As you know, our recent move was specifically for the purpose of downsizing both in yard space and home size. It has been a breath of fresh air! Okay, so living without furniture (except a card table, folding chairs, and a mattress on the floor) has not been fun. But the whole concept of selling practically everything has far more upsides than a person might imagine.

    “Owning less is better than organizing more.” –Joshua Becker

    Simply because there is nowhere to store things, we continue to be ruthless in what we keep or acquire. You know what is surprising? I don’t miss a single item that we shed in our estate sale. No, not even the lovely things that had belonged to my mom or John’s mom. Remember, I had taken photos of all those meaningful items and plan to have a photo book made from those images.

    Over the years, I’ve progressively become more and more minimalist, and it feels so good. Don’t get me wrong, I still like my place to feel homey, welcoming, and comfortable but with less stuff, everything we do have has far more meaning and there’s even more appreciation for those things. I’m not so minimalist that our home looks like an empty vault (oh well, without furniture I suppose it does! … temporarily — furniture finally arrives in 2 weeks) but I’m also not an extremist.

    A few years ago, I came across Joshua Becker’s website, Becoming Minimalist. He’s the author of Simplify. Even though it’s something he makes a living at, I don’t find his views or suggestions extreme. They make good sense.

    I respect Becker’s explanation of minimalism, “Minimalism is the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of everything that distracts us from it.” That makes sense to me because I don’t see that minimalism is living in a home where your voice echoes and you feel like you’re living in a cell. It’s simply choosing to live without clutter so we can feel at ease and comfortable — a place where our minds are free to think and be creative, or to be inspired and contemplate. It’s much like the difference between trying to live in the middle of a noisy, downtown New York/Toronto/Hong Kong street or in a cozy home in a quiet residential community.

    Simplicity also allows for more time gathering with friends or sharing meals

    Rather than bore you with all the details of why I’m enjoying living with less, Joshua Becker outlines 21 Benefits of Owning Less, that perfectly sums up how I feel about this whole process. Invest your heart (and money) into meaningful things. What about you? Or, do any of these benefits inspire you?

    As I did a couple months ago, I have a similar wish for you to bathe in the golden forest light, breathe in the waning autumn air, and exhale with a contented heart.

    “I’m glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” — Anne of Green Gables

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    DIANE J PATMORE - October 26, 2017 - 2:39 pm

    I am coming around to the same thinking.But, man oh! man!!!!It is not easy. Two clutterbugs in a house with insufficient storage room…
    But clutter is like white noise, I think.It’s everywhere in background and in sharp focus, distracting us.
    Yes, white noise.Thats just what it’s like.
    Off to dump some more junk in the bin…

    Lyd - October 27, 2017 - 1:37 pm

    Yes I agree Diane. We became minimalists when we retired in June 2009 and don’t miss the “stuff” at all 🙂 Always have been a gypsy at heart 🙂 Travelling is the best for us!

    stephanie o young - October 28, 2017 - 6:07 am

    we downsized in 1997….shed half of our possessions and moved into a one bedroom cottage. best thing we ever did. but…….!!!! (eep) over the years, ‘things’ have crept back in to our space. it’s time to do some serious shedding….because i’m doing exactly what Joshua (don’t your LOVE him??) says….spending time organizing rather than simply owning and enjoying. Thanks again….for the beautiful photographs…and the incentive to buckle down and purge!!!

    Lisa Gordon - October 28, 2017 - 12:08 pm

    I definitely agree, Diane!
    I learned this as you did when we moved to a smaller house.
    I think I still have a bit too much, but I’m working on it!
    Have a wonderful weekend.

    Authenticity, a choice

    “Life is maybe like deep-sea fishing. We wake up in the morning, we cast our nets into the water, and, if we are lucky, at day’s end we will have netted one– maybe two– small fish. Occasionally we will net a seahorse or sometimes a shark– or a life preserver or an iceberg, or a monster. And in our dreams at night we assess our Catch of the Day– the treasures of this long, slow process of accumulation” –Douglas Coupland

    Sure, I’ve become delinquent in posting regularly. Sure, I’m barely online even to visit and read. Sure, I could do better. Today I have been inspired by Susan at Licht Years and Shawna Lemay’s Transactions with Beauty.

    So, do you feel I post my life as it is? I do, or at least I’ve always thought I do. Although I post truths about my life and my surroundings, I consciously omit the ‘bad stuff’ or the negative things that I may encounter or stumble over. To rectify that, in some small way, today’s images include the beauty and the reality.

    “Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.” (From The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown) and “But above all, in order to be, never try to seem.” — Albert Camus.  (I thought these quotes that I read over at Shawna’s blog hit the nail on the head.)

    I’ll be honest in saying that one of the reasons I don’t post about the bad days is because when I’ve read other blogs or especially status updates on Facebook that deal with the ‘bad days’ of others, it annoys me no end. Not because they are having a bad day or experience but because it seems that’s all they focus on. Now, if someone normally focuses on the bright side of life and then inserts a sad or unfortunate occurrence they are dealing with, I’m 100% on board and fully empathize. It’s because of the negative Nellies & Normans that I have avoided mentioning the stuff in my life that may not be particularly sunny. I’m going to try to insert at least a mention of some of those things from now on, simply to balance the reality of my life though I promise to never allow the bad stuff to overshadow the beauty in this life.

    That’s all for now. Have I told you all how very much I appreciate you showing up here and how much you make my day when you take the time to leave me a note? I am genuinely grateful for each of you and for what you may also share with me.


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    Toffeeapple - October 24, 2017 - 7:59 am

    Is that your dish-washing? I find it highly contemplative and try to leave it until I have enough time to really reflect upon my day.

    Susan - October 24, 2017 - 4:44 pm

    I think it was in Sociology I learned about different roles we assume depending on the situation ie mother, friend, co-worker. Is any one less real? How often do we see the sum of the whole or show it?

    Gabriele - October 25, 2017 - 5:36 am

    It is such an interesting question, whether to reveal the hard and negative aspects of life. I’d rather, if I am going to write, look beyond the difficulties and see the miracles and feel grateful.

    Candace - October 25, 2017 - 3:48 pm

    That wasn’t very negative 🙂 On my blog, I try to be basically positive and upbeat. On Facebook, I talk about politics and things that many people probably don’t want to hear including some negative things. I guess I’m more “real” on Facebook, maybe, not sure. It’s just got a different feel to me, a different format. My blog is sort of a visual dairy, I do go back and read it now and then but I don’t normally go back and read my own Facebook posts.

    Lisa Gordon - October 26, 2017 - 2:05 pm

    Diane, I am not sure exactly why, but in reading this post, I feel that maybe you feel bad or inadequate in what you have been choosing to post (?) I guess what I just wanted to say to you, is that I rarely if ever miss a post of yours. If I do, it is simply because I am too busy to be online at the time. I truly enjoy everything you post here, whenever you post.

    I think what I’m trying to say, and I’ve been feeling this for quite some time now, is that no matter where one is on social media, there are always trends (mindfulness)/buzz words (authenticity)/techniques (flat lays) that come, stay for a length of time and then fade to be nearly forever forgotten. “Authenticity,” is one that’s been hanging around for a while now. As you look around, everyone has their own “take” on it, so much so, that I have to wonder if its true meaning has been completely diluted(?). I think that “authenticity” has simply given some “permission” to air all their issues, and in doing so, fulfill a need for self-importance. In so many ways, I believe it is this self-importance that is one of the things seriously crippling our society.

    In short (well, I tried to be brief!!!), be who you are my friend, and do what you are comfortable with. From the very first time I visited you here, it’s always been a pleasure, and I just know it will continue to be.


    stephanie o young - October 28, 2017 - 6:01 am

    that’s what i love about the expressive photography that you do….pictures really can say thousands of words; express unsaid thoughts. it’s what i’m striving for in my struggling attempt to get better in that medium.

    i love your space. you’re doing it just right.

    rainy days

    by Shel Silverstein

    I opened my eyes
    And looked up at the rain,
    And it dripped in my head
    And flowed into my brain,
    And all that I hear as I lie in my bed
    Is the slishity-slosh of the rain in my head.

    I step very softly,
    I walk very slow,
    I can’t do a handstand–
    I might overflow,
    So pardon the wild crazy thing I just said–
    I’m just not the same since there’s rain in my head.

    Rainy days are ideal for catching up on ironing, among other things.

    We had some desperately needed rain so you can see what I chose to do with my indoor time. There are a number of ways I’ve taken after my mother or have gained appreciation for the simple things, as she also did. Laundry, in all its stages, is something I’ve gained a heightened appreciation for thanks to my mother’s loving influence.

    I’ll admit that ironing may have been lower on the appreciation totem pole compared to the washing and especially to the hanging out on a clothesline, and that heavenly scent from fresh-air dried laundry, but ironing still has a place on that laundry totem pole.

    And so, while listening to the falling rain, catching up on ironing, and thinking of my mother and our shared simple pleasures, I was warmly satisfied in a way that daughters may be.

    “It is the sweet, simple things of life that are the real ones after all.” — Laura Ingalls Wilder

    So dear friends, what emotions or memories does a rainy day conjure up in your mind?


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    DIANE J PATMORE - September 18, 2017 - 12:27 pm

    Oh! Don’t tease me!The spring season here is harsh and dry;we’ll not see good rain for weeks yet.
    But I love to hear its many different sounds.Tympanic on the iron roof,whispery through pine needles,slopping and sploshing in puddles.
    We are, after all, from watery beginnings…

    Jean Marie - September 18, 2017 - 3:16 pm

    Weather in my area is (mostly) dry and warm at present…

    but on my afternoon walk yesterday I was serenaded

    by the sound of many, many acorns
    pinging through through the branches
    and rattling leaves on the trees
    (somewhat like rain, or hail),

    and occasionally punctuated
    by louder bumps and thumps
    marking a lone walnut’s descent
    to the ground…plonk!

    Random louder rustling of leaves, perhaps,
    marked a short sudden gust of wind…
    or a squirrel’s leap,
    tho’ I never saw one on the branch.

    It’s likely to continue warm, maybe edging into hot, and dry during the days, and cooler in the evenings for the next couple of weeks – relatively ‘normal’ for this month in Southwest Virginia.

    And, I send a belated ‘thank you!’ for your story of the piano moving.

    It reminds me to think of the old, heavy, upright piano we donated some years ago.

    DH went running out another door to help the men from the thrift store transfer it through our front door to the sidewalk, tripped over a piece of exercise equipment (also being donated), and executed a wondrous-to-behold series of giant steps at great speed – with only two or three steps in the flower bed, culminating in a tuck and roll in our postage-stamp front yard. At which point I was howling with laughter (DH wasn’t hurt! He missed the apple tree trunk!), and the men from the thrift store were aghast. I’m not sure if they were more upset by my laughter, or worried that DH was seriously hurt…


    And again, thanks for your sharing!

    Toffeeapple - September 20, 2017 - 11:26 am

    I love the rain especially when I am able to be out in it. It always looks worse through a window!

    I enjoyed your poem.

    Lisa Gordon - September 20, 2017 - 1:15 pm

    I too use rainy days to catch up on things around the house or to just have a “do nothing” (translated: do whatever I want to do!) day.

    We are having a very strange (but MUCH appreciated) end to summer, as each day has been in the low 80’s and just gorgeous. No rain or temperature change in sight until next week, so I am taking full advantage of that. It’s strange though that in spite of the warm sunny weather, the leaves are changing and falling very, very quickly this year. I do hope that some will hang around for some photos!

    Have a wonderful week, my friend!

    Candace - September 24, 2017 - 5:59 pm

    We don’t have many rainy days in Phoenix. A lot of people love it here when it rains but I don’t. I guess growing up in the midwest where it rained pretty much everyday it didn’t snow gave me my fill.

    By the way, I love your Barbara Kingsolver quote.