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The Way Trees Grow

Posted by on Jan 1, 2018 in Life, Travel | 3 comments


My elementary school art teacher didn’t like my trees.

Tree branches at boyce thompson arboretum

The drawing I had been working on was of a whole forest of them – with trunks that were bent and twisted all different directions.

Palo verdes at arboretum

“Trees grow straight up and down,” she criticized. “Not like that.” She made me start my drawing over.

I remembered this while I was hiking recently.

Bent palm tree

And I wanted to laugh every time I passed yet another example of nature showing that I had been correct all along.

BTA tree


Microblog Mondays: Write in your own space

Find more trees over at Happiness and Food’s Tree Love Thursdays!

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Travel Partner

Posted by on Oct 16, 2017 in Life, Travel | 8 comments

Fountain Hills

I was scanning Google Maps, planning for our Italy trip, when something piqued my interest that other people might think of as mundane. I mentioned it to Phillip.

Me: Did you know there’s a grocery store in Vatican City?

Him: We should totally go!

Me: That’s what I was gonna say!


Another day, researching tours for the Doge’s Palace in Venice, I started to tell Phillip about the options…

Me: Okay, this tour costs a little more, but you go through secret passages–

Him: Let’s do it!


I’ve traveled with a lot of people, but Phillip is definitely my favorite.



Microblog Mondays: Write in your own space

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Art, Nuance, Resistance

Posted by on Jan 26, 2017 in Life, Travel | 4 comments

It’s Thursday, and I’ve been working on other things this week besides getting today’s post finished. I’m also fighting off a big headache. So let’s just wing it today, shall we?

Mural by mataruda

I’m really saddened by the news of the president signing an order to keep refugees out of the U.S.

I believe that, just as intercultural travel enriches an individual, a diversity of cultures ultimately enriches a country. And the fact that we are turning away so many people seeking refuge breaks my heart.

Tempe art

What is it the Statue of Liberty says? “Give me…your huddled masses yearning to breathe free”? I don’t recall it ending with “LOL! j/k” but I dunno. Maybe I’m misremembering.


When my sister-in-law asked on Facebook yesterday where everyone was finding hope, all I could think of was art.

I’ve been mulling this over for awhile now. Maybe since the election results came in and I couldn’t stop thinking of Goya and of Picasso. Maybe before that.

Even now – especially now – art is vital. Stories are vital.

The best art is nuanced, has layers of meaning, expresses truth.


When I think about how we got to this point in the U.S., I believe it has a lot to do with black-and-white thinking, with ignoring nuance. Saying “this is 100% evil” or “this is 100% perfect” and refusing to recognize the layers of a situation or the mix of good and bad that lives in all of us.


Creating something that comes from your heart, that expresses a piece of your experience, that puts authenticity over agenda, is a form of resistance against oversimplification and prejudice.

Kehinde Wiley art

So let’s make things and speak truth and recognize people making art in our communities, because every person that makes/writes something that is true of themselves is also helping to paint a wider, truer picture of humanity.

Artwork in the photos:

1. Colibrí mural by Mata Ruda

2. Tempe Library art exhibition by John Randall Nelson

3. Studio and work of Judy Bruce

4 + 5. Murals in Clarion Alley

6. “Colonel Platoff on His Charger” by Kehinde Wiley

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Photos of 2016

Posted by on Jan 16, 2017 in Life, Travel | 10 comments

Best nine 2016

Near the end of 2015, I posted the collage of Instagram photos the Best Nine app considered my best nine. (I think they’re just the most liked.)

Looking at the collage, it didn’t feel very representative of my year, though.

So, with encouragement from Traci and others, I decided to choose one of my Instagram photos every month that felt significant or like it just fit, and then compare it to my Best Nine at the end of the year.

The photos at the top are my “best nine”, and here are the ones I chose for each month…

2016 photo collage

They don’t really overlap, except for that weather-beaten tree. I remember almost choosing some of the same ones the app did – some months had a couple photos that seemed like a good fit for that month.

I’m still on the fence about whether I want to do this again, but it is really cool to look back and see snapshots of the past year this way.

Locations of Best Nine photos (l-r, from top):

  1. Boyce Thompson Arboretum, Superior, AZ
  2. Seven Magic Mountains, near Las Vegas, NV
  3. Our Airbnb rental [referral discount] in Tucson, AZ 
  4. Red Rock Canyon, Las Vegas, NV
  5. Kehinde Wiley exhibition at Phoenix Art Museum, AZ
  6. Nothing, AZ
  7. Downtown Las Vegas, NV
  8. Barrick Museum at UNLV, NV
  9. Phoenix Chile Pepper Festival, Phoenix, AZ


My monthly photos from 2016: January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December.

Microblog Mondays: Write in your own space

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2017 Wishes

Posted by on Jan 2, 2017 in Life | 7 comments

Sunset in Tucson

Dear Travelcraft Journal community,

What I wish for you – this year and always – is to feel peace in the midst of life’s storms.

I wish for niches in your schedule to be creative, to explore, to experiment, to play.

I wish that whatever life brings you, you’ll be able to find something beautiful there, and that wherever you are, you can take a moment to enjoy the view.

Thanks for being here,





Microblog Mondays: Write in your own space

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November Photo: Tree

Posted by on Dec 5, 2016 in Life, Travel | 12 comments

We saw this fabulous weather-beaten tree at Red Rock Canyon Conservation Area in Nevada.

I changed my Twitter cover image to this when the yellow brittlebush flowers I had previously chosen seemed too sunny. It looked wild and windswept, and it somehow fit my mood better.

Tree at Red Rocks, Nevada

Another day, I didn’t start out thinking about the tree. I was thinking about how I tend to feel my life needs to conform to a certain pattern, like I’m not valid if I’m not checking off a set of boxes, when – in reality – we are all writing our own stories as we go.

Life is not lined up and orderly. It is organic, unpredictable, wild.

The thoughts found their way into a short poem, and one of the images in my mind as I wrote it was that tree in Nevada.



Not a fence post

but a tree,

rough and irregular,

both warped by

the elements and

strengthened by them.

Each meandering ring,

a storyteller.


Microblog Mondays: Write in your own space

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