Designer for Hire

Something Vintage

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Gloves. They don’t just draw attention (thank you, Amal Clooney), they have a rich history. Vintage fashion expert Claudine Villardito explains. 



Photo courtesy of Black Cat Vintage

Amal Clooney’s wearing of white opera gloves to the Golden Globes incited a curious backlash by some fashion critics, who felt their use was pretentious. So controversial was her choice, in fact, that the gloves rated their own Twitter account (@msclooneygloves), recalling a similar sartorial debate surrounding Angelina Jolie’s bared leg at the 2012 Academy Awards (@angelinajoliesleg).

lame gloves

Photo courtesy of Black Cat Vintage

The Oscars ceremony on February 22nd will undoubtedly reveal the influence of Mrs. Clooney’s choice on modern tastes (how many gloves will appear on the red carpet, we wonder?) Pop culture aside, history proves that gloves have been charged with emotional, social and cultural significance since about 1000 AD, when they were presented to new monarchs, bishops and church officials as tangible symbols of heightened status.

In the Middle Ages, noblemen received a glove when knighted, and incited duels by throwing down a gauntlet —literally “taking the gloves off” —to reveal a bare hand, a symbol of enmity. Later, court and government subordinates were known to gift their superiors with gloves of dog skin since canines were associated with extreme fidelity.


Photo courtesy of Black Cat Vintage

In the 1800s, propriety dictated that women of high social class should keep their hands covered at all times (including in bed) to denote purity. A century later, as illustrated in Season 4 of Downton Abbey, an ungloved woman risked more than her reputation if she was seen alone with a man who was not her spouse.

In a recent PBS behind-the-scenes documentary about the show, actress Laura Carmichael revealed the significance of a scene where her character, Lady Edith, dines alone with a beau. Notably, Edith is gloveless. She’s “practically naked,” says Laura, whose character gets pregnant that evening. “She should have worn gloves,” she laughs.

Who knew so much could be said by simply covering or uncovering one’s hands? Now you do. And in the meantime, I’m keeping a very close eye on that Oscars red carpet. Who knows what accessories it may bring?

• Claudine Villardito’s store, Black Cat Vintage, has enough gloves to send a different message every day of the year. Open Saturdays 11 am – 4 pm through April 11, and by appointment. Or shop online at

Click here for more vintage articles and to sign up for our free vintage newsletter.

* (Editor’s note: Ordinarily we would tell you to tune in to your local PBS station for the current series of Downton Abbey, but since the PR peeps for the series won’t allow us to publish even one image from the show, we’re reluctant to. Oh but look…. I just did tell you to watch it. What a nice, generous person I am!)


Photo courtesy of Black Cat Vintage

Something vintage

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It may be on wheels, but Tucson’s latest vintage store will have you riveted. By Gillian Drummond


If you made it along to the Mercado Holiday Bazaar in Tucson, you’re bound to have seen Riveted, a tiny travel trailer packed with vintage goodies.


Jenni Pagano. Photo by Gillian Drummond

Owner Jenni Pagano is an interior designer and do-it-yourselfer with a design degree from UCLA and experience in commercial and residential design and retail. She has wanted her own store since she was 11. “I dreamed of selling macrame plant hangers,” she laughs. But she was put off by the rent levels in Tucson and the instability of a brick-and-mortar store. “It’s so dang expensive and really risky.”

With college-age kids, it was time for her to put her plan into action – and, as it happens, onto wheels. Limited to something her Honda Element could tow, she bought a 1972 Shasta trailer on Craigslist last August. It measures 60 sq ft inside. She had just two months to spruce it up for her first gig, Tucson Modernism Week’s Vintage Trailer Show. She packed it full of second-hand and handmade goods and named it Riveted. “I like industrial stuff and the name has an industrial quality to it. I also like [the idea of people] being transfixed by something,” she says.

Riveted has appeared at several shows since then, and will  be at Nuevo Bazaar Downtown Flea Market on February 7th. But “finding the right one is a challenge,” says Jenni. “Tucson tends to have one kind of thing, like an antique fair or a flea market, or a farmer’s market that’s only food-related. And craft fairs don’t always want vintage stuff.” Expect to see her at more Mercado and other Tucson events this year. (Keep watching her Facebook page, listed below.)


Photo courtesy of Riveted/Jenni Pagano

There is still work to be done on the trailer. Jenni would like to make repairs to the wall paneling, and to create a hatchback to enable her to hold larger pieces of furniture.

Jenni’s love for vintage goes way back (to the macramé plant hanger days). “I love things that have texture and patina,” she says. During a stint living in a new home, she added vintage pieces to add personality to the space. Today she lives in a 1960s-built home in Tucson whose interior is a mix of vintage and IKEA. “I like mixing new and old,” she says.

The downside of having a vintage store on wheels? Breakages can happen. “I’m packing everything up every time I move six inches!” she says.


Inside the Riveted store-on-wheels. Photo courtesy of Riveted/Jenni Pagano


Dear Tucson…

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Love Letters to Tucson logo Each issue we link up with Rachel Miller’s Love Letters to Tucson blog for a letter from a Tucson inhabitant about why they love this fair city. This month: Liane Hernandez, community life director of YWCA Tucson, is in love with the Tucson spirit, messed-up roads and all. Photos by Rachel Miller


I want to say thank you from the bottom, top and sides of my topsy-turvy heart. Your barrios, parks, messed-up roads and endless sunsets remind me to take a minute, breathe and go forth in confidence and joy.

Here, I discovered that this broken little orphan girl could be and was actually part of a long line of strong women. That my story has a contented and comfortable space to be fully expressed. That my sister is human and capable of more love than I ever believed possible.

Here, I became an adult and learned to take responsibility for myself and therefore I also witness that in fact I am my community’s keeper.

Here, I learned that I must use my voice.

Lianehernandez2 Here, in this beautiful land, I found riches of spirit and expression in the people who call me friend, sister, comadre.

Here, I met women and men that work hard, care passionately, express their truth, bear witness, laugh, cry and persevere.

Here, I learned the language of art.

Here, I found HOME.

Thank you, Tucson, for showing me that this life is so much more and that I have so much left to give.”

– Liane

Surrounded by art, Liane Hernandez shares the mission of the YWCA to eliminate racism, empower women and promote peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all. On the West side of Tucson, the YWCA provides a venue for art that reflects its mission. Alongside the Galleria, Your Sister’s Closet supports women in need of interview and workplace-ready clothing, shoes and accessories who do not have the financial support to take this step towards independence and leadership.

* The next exhibit in the YW Galleria is Cristina Cardenas‘ Los Ojos de Mujer Artista que Emigra starting January 9th.

Dear Tucson…

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Love-Letters-to-Tucson-logo Each issue we link up with Rachel Miller’s Love Letters to Tucson blog for a letter from a Tucson inhabitant about why they love this fair city. This month: blogger and author Adiba Nelson says Tucson is as sassy as she is (well, almost)Photos by Rachel Miller

adiba5 Dear Tucson,

So, I wanted to start off my love letter to you full of sass n’ ass because well, that’s me – sassy little smarty pants who lives for a great pun and quick wit. How-e-ver, this love letter sucked the sass right out of me, much like the Tucson heat sucks the air out of your lungs when the wind blows in July. Isn’t that fitting? Isn’t that ironic? Isn’t that Tucson? Forcing you to be the most real version of yourself, even when you thought you had already reached your own personal best. Yeah, that is SO Tucson. At least that’s who Tucson has been to me.


Here and below: Adiba hits 4th Avenue, one of her favorite Tucson spots.

Tucson has been the angel of grace that saved my mother’s life when we moved here from New York City in the fall of 1988. Had we stayed in my personal Mecca (which, coincidentally, was her personal death trap), she wouldn’t have made it to the Spring of 1989. Tucson has been the all-too-warm-hug I didn’t know I needed in July 1995 when I returned from NYC after my dad died, only to find that while I was gone, my best friend had died. Tucson allowed me to roam 4th Ave aimlessly, pondering anything and everything, sometimes barefoot, sometimes with combat boots, sometimes with china flats – without a care, without fear, without judgment.

Tucson let me be. She has seen me at my most sobering moments, and at my drunkest. I have had my highest of highs in this solar plexus we call the Old Pueblo, and my absolute lowest of lows, and through all of it I now find myself stepping into the person I’m supposed to be. But remember – she forces your hand in realness, so this hot headed sassafrass named Tucson probably ain’t done with me. But, I am in love with this cactus filled, craft beer slingin’, trendynottrendy, we’re-weird-and-we-know-it-and-you-love it town.

adiba4 It has taken me a while to admit my love affair with this chick named Tucson. She’s like a freakin’ vacuum. You try like hell to get out but somehow her quirky adorable weirdness pulls you right back in – she’s like the Zooey Deschanel or Mindy Kaling of the southwest. You know – she’s a bit odd, and maybe all her parts are a little askew, but they all fit together so wonderfully how could you not want to just cozy up to her every damn day?

adiba3 adibapink But on the real, here’s why I truly love Tucson, and why no matter where I move to from here (Portland, I hear you calling me), I will always carry Tucson in my heart. My daughter, who has special needs, has been so insanely embraced by this spread-out town with a giant heart that I sometimes wonder if she belongs to Tucson, or to me. Wherever we go people talk to her, they high-five her, they fist bump her, they offer her candy/cookies/puppies/dowries. Tucson doesn’t see her wheelchair, or hear her sometimes unintelligible words – they simply see the kid who loves to fist bump and blow it up. The people that make up the arms, legs, and heart of my lover Tucson are what keep me here. The way Tucson rallies for what’s right, moves mountains to help those in need, cries collectively when children go missing from their homes, and on the flip side, rages collectively when rights are denied – that keeps me here.


Adiba is currently working on a sequel to her children’s book Meet ClaraBelle Blue.

When I launched my children’s book I was worried people wouldn’t be interested because it’s about a little black girl in a wheelchair. And let’s face it, there’s only, like, five black people in Tucson. But there was Tucson, patting me on the back, squeezing me tighter than ever, and whispering in my ear “Ya done good, girl. Ya done good.”

When I bared my tatas and donned lacey black panties and sparkly heels for the EXPOSE 2014 project I was damn near mortified when a board member I work with brought it up in conversation. But instead of condemning and shaming me, I got the proverbial high five. And now that I’m starting to do burlesque, I’m kind of waiting with baited breath to see if this old broad Tucson is going to slap my ass and holler “Get it Girl!” before I walk out on stage for my first performance. I kind of expect her to. I kind of feel like Tucson has known all these sides of my life before I even knew these sides of my life, and she’s just been waiting for me to catch up. I feel like now Tucson has become that proud mama who’s watching me find all the breadcrumbs she’s laid out for me one by one on the gritty, graffiti-laced, nagchampa- and-weed-scented, burlesque loving, all accepting, street fair haven yellow brick road, also known as 4th Ave.

Yeah. I love ya Tucson. I love ya.



Oh Adiba, Tucson loves you too. Adiba and Rachel hit Fourth Avenue with sass n’ ass, heels and flats and a whole lot of laughter. You can find Adiba on her blog The Full Nelson,  Twitter & Instagram @AdibaNelson. Plus, check out her book, Meet ClaraBelle Blue.



Dear Tucson…

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Love-Letters-to-Tucson-logo Each issue we link up with Rachel Miller’s Love Letters to Tucson blog for a letter from a Tucson inhabitant about why they love this fair city. This month: Artist Alexandra “Lex” Gjurasic finds a place full of surprises, from mermaids in the streets to plants that fight back. Photos by Rachel Miller


Dear Tucson,

I had never been to Tucson till the day I moved here. But I knew I would love it and I was right.

Tucson, I am enamored with you. Having lived in the southwest previously, my heart was broken when I moved from New Mexico.

Leaving the desert was devastating, like looking at the beautiful face of a woman knowing you’ll never make love to her again. A year ago, driving into the Sonoran desert I brought with me all the optimism for a new life in Tucson.

Born and raised in Seattle, I often I feel like I love the desert with a special exuberance that a person that comes from the grey foggy mossy moist Pacific Northwest can feel. I’ve come to discover there are many other NW transplants, ex-patriots of the rain, that have migrated to Tucson to “dry out”.

Lex12 For me, rock hunting in the Sonoran desert gifts me with a solitude that deeply influences my art. A soft breeze brushes the branches of an Ocotillo octopus. A quail’s ever-anxious quivering call. Saguaros stand tall like bride’s maids with their arms outstretched offering one-night-only bouquets that will ripen into sweet sticky sugary fruit. After a lifetime of searching it is here that I found a meteorite!

Tucson engages my artistic curiosity because it is a place of surprises. Here, tamales are filled with Indian flavors. The oldest barrio is inhabited by the newest Europeans. Mermaids wander the dusty streets. Motels rooms are piled high with geodes hoping to solicit sales.

In return, Tucson, I promise to accept all of you; your too damn much DeGrazia art, the co-eds that clog up my yoga class, lizards so large that I mistake them for mice, and your vicious plants that fight back.

Lex16 I get it, it’s hot here. The heat is like a hissing radio static in my mind. As I crackled my way through my first summer, I went just insane enough to paint every door in my house just to avoid the sun.

I love you so much, Tucson, that I don’t even care that your water is going to run out in the next decade. I am ready for your haboobs, monsoons and your GMO-sized beetles.

The best thing about Tucson is that you are just being Tucson. You aren’t trying to be New York or LA, Marfa or Santa Fe… Tucson is just Tucson and I love you for that.


* Alexandra “Lex” Gjurasic makes art and writes about how to be an artist on her #GjurasicFactor blog on

* Got a Love Letter? Write to Rachel Miller here.


Tucson Fashion Week!

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Another four days of fashion-forward fun is here. This year’s Tucson Fashion Week includes some big names and some super-big talents, both locally and nationally – from Project Runway stars to notable University of Arizona alums. And we’re giving away tickets for each night! Here’s the lowdown:

What: Mercedes-Benz Tucson Fashion Week

When: October 16th to 18th.

Where: Venues around Tucson.

1. Launch Party, Designer Competition and Presentation

Architect Nathan Lee Colkitt, a UA alumnus, will judge a Designer Competition. Each fashion designer will be given an architectural structure created by his company, Colkitt & Co, and will create a garment inspired by the architecture. A fashion installation and presentation by national vintage and secondhand clothing boutique Buffalo Exchange will add to the fun. Downtown restaurants Proper and Diablo Burger will provide the food.

When: Thursday, October 16, 5:30 – 9pm

Where: Connect Coworking, 33 South 5th Ave

Cost: VIP single $65; general admission: $35; student or standing room $15.  Tickets here.

2. The Garden Party at Tucson Botanical Gardens


David Zyla. Photo courtesy of Tucson Fashion Week.

Another great party! Emmy award-winning stylist and author David Zyla will host The Color Story, an interactive fashion show. Joey Rodolfo, senior VP of Tommy Bahama Men’s Design and another UA Alum, will be featured with a retrospective collection of his life’s work, and special award presentation. The Hidden Garden fashion show will feature local and regional designers and unique fashion exhibits. Food provided by Blu: A Wine & Cheese Stop, Prep & Pastry, and Kingfisher.

When: Friday, October 17, 5:30 – 9:30pm

Where: Tucson Botanical Gardens, 2150 N Alvernon Way.

Cost: VIP single $100; general admission: $35; student or standing room $15. Tickets here.

3. Project Runway Showcase and Project Arizona at the Fox Theater

Another high-energy evening that opens with a spectacular costume collection from former Chair of the University of Arizona’s School of Theatre, Al Tucci. The evening will showcase Project Arizona, inspired by the TV series Project Runway and featuring three emerging designers, including Estrella Sevilla.  A dramatic fashion presentation from Tucson Fashion Week Founder, Elizabeth Denneau and her collection CandyStrike will be staged in the lobby of the theatre (more on that in this issue). TFW closes with a Project Runway Showcase featuring collections and appearances by five Project Runway and Project Runway All Stars designers. Agustin Kitchen, Acacia Real Food & Cocktails, and Penca will provide food.

When: Saturday, October 18, 6 –9pm

Where: Fox Tucson Theatre, 17 W. Congress St.

Cost: VIP single $100; love seat $60. Tickets here.


A scene from last year’s Tucson Fashion Week Runway. Photo by Gillian Drummond.

Win tickets now!

For the second year running, 3 Story Magazine is a proud sponsor of Tucson Fashion Week – and we have a pair of tickets to give away for each night! We’ll be drawing the names from our subscriber list on Monday October 13th. Good luck! 

Dear Tucson…

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Love-Letters-to-Tucson-logo Each issue we link up with Rachel Miller’s Love Letters to Tucson blog for a letter from a Tucson inhabitant about why they love this fair city. This month: for Scott Matlick, the colors of Tucson’s mountain ranges spell home. Photos by Rachel Miller

“Dear Tucson,

Tucson is home.

One of my first jobs in Tucson required a drive north on Houghton Road, above the river, early in the morning. When I started in the short days of early January, it first presented itself as yet another dark, quiet trip on a lonely road. Serene and relaxing, but perhaps unremarkable. As the year inched forward and sunrise began to creep into my morning commute, the majestic colors of the young sunlight rebounding off the towering Santa Catalinas straight ahead silently, but definitively,  convinced me that Tucson was my home.

Scott Matlick #thisistucson Houghton Love Letter to Tucson

There is something deeply personal about the proximity of the Tucson mountain ranges. Rather than a monstrous geological feature at the outskirts of town, there is a certain detail of character that one feels climbing the ever changing flora and climate of Mt. Lemmon Highway. They are not “the” mountains, they are our mountains.

Similarly, there is an oddly juxtaposed unity between the vastness of 1,000,000 residents and the singular smile owned by one of the Contrerases at El Guero Canelo.

We all bleed red and blue, care about green on all levels, and wake up and go to sleep to infinite shades of orange and magenta. Tucson is family. Tucson is opportunity. Tucson is local. Tucson is passion. Tucson is home.”

– Scott Matlick

Santa Catalina Mountains from Houghton Road #thisistucson Scott Matlick love letters to Tucson

Scott Matlick Love Letter to Tucson #thisistucson

Scott, wife Annie and daughter. Photo courtesy of Scott Matlick.

Scott generously shared his letter (first shared on Tucson Young Professionals) with Love Letters to Tucson as part of TYP’s #thisistucson campaign. The campaign’s mission is to attract and retain young professionals here in Tucson. Earlier this year TYP launched a city-wide social media hashtag campaign in order to promote pride and positivity in our city. That’s something we can all get behind. Scott is the Development Manager for Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southern Arizona. 

Do you have a love letter for Tucson? Visit Rachel’s blog to submit one.

Dear Tucson…

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Love-Letters-to-Tucson-logo Each issue we link up with Rachel Miller’s Love Letters to Tucson blog for a letter from a Tucson inhabitant about why they love this fair city. This month: for Peter Norback, Tucson’s sunshine brought more than just physical warmth. Photos by Rachel Miller

Dear Tucson,

Buddy Hackett, the comedian, once said that when he moved out of his mother’s house and away from her cooking he suddenly thought he was dying because “the fire in his chest was going out.”

Something similar happened to me when I moved to Tucson from Princeton, NJ 19 years ago. Over an 18-month period I began not to feel things in my hands and my knees and my shoulders. I thought I was slowly losing all sensation in my body when I realized, ‘Hey, my arthritis is going away.’

peterloveletter Other things started to happen, too, like music sounded much better once my teeth stopped chattering. For 53 years I was cold for a good part of the year. I often wore coats over my coats… it was that bad for me. Then Merrill Lynch, where I worked, started to change from an investment brokerage to a bank, which they failed at in the worst possible way. I saw that coming so I left several years before the end.

onecanaweek The only thing I wanted in my life at the time was sunshine. So I just packed up and moved to Tucson. Turns out that was all I ever needed anyway. I’m healthier, which makes me happier, as does my work to help feed the hungry.

New York City was a cold reality on many levels for me. It was the best place to build my author and marketing careers. But the worst place to enjoy the outdoors for any extended period of time.

The biggest compliment I can pay Tucson is to say I am no longer cold. And that is what I love the most.



We don’t need the Movoto Real Estate folks to tell us that Tucson is among the nation’s most caring cities. We see it daily, and beautifully, in Ben’s Bells, the Diaper Bank of Southern Arizona, and in the simplicity of Peter Norback’s One Can a Week Food Donation Program, among other fine Tucson examples. 

Rachel met Peter initially at Sprouts Farmers Market on Speedway where he was soliciting donations for the program, and then joined him in the Miles neighborhood where he started the program. Contact him if your neighborhood or school or business would like to participate in or sponsor the One Can a Week program.  Peter Norback  can be contacted at (520) 248-3694  or at



Dear Tucson…

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Each issue we link up with Rachel Miller’s Love Letters to Tucson blog for a letter from a Tucson inhabitant about why they love this fair city. This month: Victoria and Raul were skeptical of moving to Arizona, but Tucson won their hearts. Photos by Rachel Miller.


Dear Tucson,

When we heard we were moving to the old pueblo we were angry. Livid. All we knew of you was that you were located in Arizona, the most dreaded of the red states, with pink underwear clad prisoners and bigoted laws towards immigrants. But we had no choice; it’s where work was sending us. So rather than wallow, we Googled you. What is there to do in Tucson, we asked. And the Internet answered: there is roller derby, a museum fashioned after a zoo, and one of the largest arrays of telescopes in the world. There is desert and mountains and 360 days of sunshine. There is climbing and hiking, go-kart racing and skydiving. There are monsoons, saguaros, and gila monsters. There is even an Air Force base, a major university, and thousands of proud local businesses. We were placated; we figured we could make it work.

And then we arrived: it was May, it was hot, and there was no one here. There were tumbleweeds blowing down Congress, stragglers on 4th avenue, and jobs were hard to find. But there was sunshine and mountains and AC. We found a small apartment in downtown Tucson and set about exploring our new home.

victoriaraul2 We found a extraordinarily cool place, filled with amazing, kind people, incredible, tasty restaurants, and weird plants. We found adventure everywhere we looked, with plenty of new things to try and new places to visit. And although we were initially skeptical, we’ve since built a home here. And we love it.

We love the sunshine, the haboobs, and the monsoons.
We love the mountains and the desert.
We love biking through town and hiking up Aspen Trail.
We love the mosaics, murals and street art.
We love the lizards, stray cats, and terrifyingly large spiders.
We love the carne asada, the cookouts, and the pools.
We love how close you are to the border, to wine country, to the Grand Canyon.
We love the star filled sky and the sunsets. Oh the sunsets!
We love “keep Tucson kind/shitty”, “Bear Down”, and “Free Baja AZ”.

Thank you Tucson — you will forever be in our hearts as our first home together, our oasis in the desert, our little slice of sunshine.

Vic & Raul

Victoria and Raul moved to Tucson two years ago when work brought them kicking and screaming to the Old Pueblo. What they found delighted them. They met Rachel down at Broadway and Stone close to Ben’s Bells on Thursday evening and exchanged thoughts on downtown restaurants, pizza and cocktails. Victoria blogs at I scream for Sunshine where she writes about travel, food and life.

* Want to contribute to Love Letters to Tucson? More info here.


Dear Tucson…

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Love Letters to Tucson logo Each issue we link up with Rachel Miller’s Love Letters to Tucson blog for a letter from a Tucson inhabitant about why they love this fair city. This month: Becca Ludlum, a New York transplant, smiles through the triple-digit heat. Photos by Rachel Miller.


Dear Tucson,

When I was young, I didn’t know you. You were just a place on a map with a picture of a cactus in my World Book Atlas. Growing up in upstate New York, I knew snow. I knew maple trees and fresh apples and farm stands. Humidity and snow banks and thunderstorms. I didn’t know you. I didn’t know mesquite trees or monsoons or roadside honey stands.

Now, I know. After living with you for 12 years, I know all those things. I also know about 110 degree days and which month is best for Eegee’s Flavor of the Month (July). I know about wearing sunscreen every day and not going outside without shoes in the summer – even just to grab the newspaper from your driveway.

becca4 I know to stay far away from jumping cacti and that flip flops can make crazy tan lines on your feet and that on game days the dress code for the entire city is red and blue.

I know about Mexican food – something I never had in New York. I know the difference between a flauta and a taquito (it’s in the tortilla) and I know how to cook (and eat) a proper fajita. These are things that I never dreamed I would know about when I was a little girl.

After 12 years, I know you. And I love you.



Becca lives in the sea of ocotillo that is Corona de Tucson, where the desert comes right up to the doorstep and throughout the neighborhood the sidewalks and bike paths get significant use, even on the weekday morning Rachel went out to see Becca. Rachel says it made her begin to rethink her city dwelling ways a little. You can find Becca online at My Crazy Good Life and at, where she works wonders for small businesses and bloggers.

* For more Love Letters to Tucson, and more photos, and info on contributing to Love Letters, click here. And check out Rachel Miller’s new summer blogging project, One Hundred Degrees of Tucson.