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On 3:14 PM by Unknown in
"WATCH OUT! Wind's up! There's an inflatable boat flying behind you!" 
This past Saturday I had a chance to face one of my greatest fears and turn it around...
I went kayaking.

Which sounds kindof ridiculous , when I type it here.
But, to the little part of me that was terrified of being on a kayak again, it was YUUUGGGE.

You see, about 12 years ago, right about this time of year, I was kayaking with some friends who were WAY better than me on a whitewater day trip in Colorado. It had been an easy enough day... I was always behind, but I was keeping up okay. I had a long slow river/lake kayak rather than a sport type, so I was always slower than the badass guys I hung out with. But it was a REAL kayak and I felt cool taking it all over the state to play.

Right after a lunch stop, we came up to the confluence of the river we were riding and another. One river was warm and one was cold, and it was always fun to ride the confluence to feel the water warm on one side of the boat and cold on the other. One of the sporty kayakers decided to make it more fun and do some tricks. When I tried to move around him... the thing I dreaded most happened... I went over. And because the water was only about 1.5 feet deep there, I stayed over, because I could not eject from my 'yak. I floated upside down, wondering if I had enough air to breathe, trying and failing to not drag my helmented head along the bottom of the river which ebbed and flowed with rocks below me.  I started to run out of air. I DID run out of air. But I still couldn't do anything. I started to feel lightheaded from the struggling. Then, just as suddenly as I went over, the bottom of the river fell away from me, and I pulled one last time, and ejected from my kayak. As I came up for air, everyone was screaming and freaking out. They thought for sure I'd drowned. Evidently I had been over for nearly 40 seconds. I was delirious. I vaguely remember my lover pulling up and letting me hold on to his boat as he got me towards the edge of the river. I pulled myself onto the bank and laid down on the ground. It took me a solid 20 minutes to "come back." Someone went after my kayak, which I had no capacity to catch as I was trying to save myself. We were only about an hour from the pull out, and I had to get it together to get to where we could get off the river at all. That hour was the longest kayak of my life. I wanted nothing more of kayaking, having been thoroughly beat down by the experience, and I immediately went home and sold my kayak to someone else. I said I'd never get on the river again. And I haven't.

As fate would have it, though, life dealt me a series of blows that included making me partially blind and also breaking my hip in a way that cannot be corrected. My friends have been trying to get me to go to New Mexico's Adaptive Sports Program for a couple of years, in hopes that it would quell my broken spirit and get me active again, knowing that I had been happiest when I was "Sporty Spice Rachel." And this past Saturday, I decided to FINALLY face my fear and join ASP in their kayaking and paddleboarding class at Cochiti Lake.

The morning was perfect. The lake, being no-wake, is very still and beautiful. And, bonus, the program is outstanding. Within minutes of arriving, I was getting on a sit-on-top kayak and trying my hand at it again. And my hands remembered how to do their thing! I must have played on the 5 kayaks I tried for three hours straight! It was AMAZING! I forgot how much I loved being on the water! I forgot that the REAL reason I'd gotten my old kayak was so I could do lake kayaking with my friend Sue, who is old enough to be my grandmother. I'd forgotten that I'd always wanted a sit-on-top and a) couldn't find one at first and b) was afraid my 'cool" friends wouldn't let me play with them if I had one. I remembered everything then. I remembered how it feels to feel truly alive and like my broken isn't my defining feature. It was awesome. My husband seemed kindof shocked that I was as into it as I was. It was just so freeing!!! I felt like I'd finally "come home." I'm still in awe of how great it was. And how great I feel. And that my hubs has started looking for more places to go do that so we can play more on the water together.

Something very important has shifted in me! And I am grateful.

On 10:44 AM by Unknown in ,
So, a few weeks ago, USAToday posted a list of the 25 essential buildings to see in New Mexico that they got from the AIA. I personally think there are some missing, and some that shouldn't be there (Pearl Hall? Really? Over Hussan Fahty's Dar al Islam in Abiquiu?) But this is a fine starting place. The thing they did NOT do was add a map so you could actually find your way to any of the sites when you come to visit. So I put one together really quickly so you can print it out and get there! ♥
Right click on the image to open and print it full size on standard letter size paper.

On 2:54 PM by Unknown in , ,
So I recently was made aware that there is a 10 year old little girl who is coming to Santa Fe and loves architecture. Her dad reached out to Friends of Architecture Santa Fe and asked them if they knew anyone who could give her a 2-4 hour architecture tour. Now I'm not sure if anyone does have one and since this will be an evolving post, check back from time to time because I'll update the post if I find anyone! But I used to give tours of Taos and I know what I like, and I was able to build tours that I got great responses to, so hey, why not! Here's my stab at my "best of Santa Fe" architecture tour, with supplements from some of my amazeballs architect and creative friends.  This list will evolve as I have only really been here a year and a half, so I haven't seen everything, and I'm sure I'll remember more faves in the coming days!
First off: Here's a list of common Santa Fe Architectural Terms and their meanings!

Puebloan (1200-400 years or so ago)

There's just not any in town. There are several pueblos nearby but they aren't really open, unless you catch them on a feast or crafts show day. 
  • Bandalier and Tsankawi (Almost always open, unless there's a fire, like now. Check ahead to be sure.  A one hour drive from Santa Fe thru Los Alamos and SO worth it.
    See cliff houses and a D-shaped early pueblo in one place. Tsankawi has a really magical quality if you are up for a short hike.

Spanish/Mexican (150-400 years or so ago)

  • Pretty much anywhere you can walk. Look for: small+high windows, courtyard plazas.
  • San Miguel Chapel
  • Palace of the Governors (for context, more than anything, heavily modified)
  • Museum of Spanish Colonial Arts (for context, also great American period architecture) and their outlier house
  • Loretto Chapel
  • Our Lady of Guadalupe Shrine
    Thanks for the reminder Nicole Kleibert from Cornerstones Community Partnership!   
  • Canyon Road, and El Zaguan at The Historic Santa Fe Foundation (also great American period architecture) 
  • Sena Plaza is a late period/early American period building. It is wonderful to meander around. Thanks for the reminder from architect pal Eric Haskins.   
  • Alto St. (especially between Defouri and Closson), "It’s part of a historic district – the road narrows to one lane with narrow sidewalks and the houses are on the road – if you wander that whole neighborhood you’ll find some pretty cool doors too!" - Nicole Kleibert from Cornerstones Community Partnership

American Period (Past 130 years or so ago)

Outliers worth the trip

  • Los Golondrinas has architecture from all over the state and every period and it's only a half- hour from town.
  • Acoma Pueblo and the Sky City Cultural Center (1.5-2 hours drive. call to verify they are open.)
  • Santo Domingo Trading Post (half hour drive)
  • Tent Rocks (It's not architecture but sometimes I pretend it is! and the hike is awesome!)
  • 10,000 Waves. Amazeballs Japanese baths - an oasis in the desert.

Hope this helps~!
♥ Rachel

On 5:23 PM by Unknown in
A friend in film suggested that I watch The Art of Storytelling sessions from Pixar in a Box at the Khan Academy. I have only watched the first three videos in the series thus far, but there are several great suggestions in there! Here's a link to the free class! https://www.khanacademy.org/partner-content/pixar/storytelling

Wall-E character from Pixar

Here are my favorite takeaways:
  • We already ARE storytellers. 
  • A story is really a sequence of events (narrative) that unfolds through time. It begins, something happens, and it ends.
  • To get good at storytelling, we should practice anywhere and everywhere: telling stories in front of the campfire, writing plays and novels and short stories, making movies, taking photos, and even tweeting each other. 
  • To make a story really come alive, put something into the story that talks about your own life and how you FEEL. 
  • It may take 30 iterations to make a story sparkle. Editing is essential!
And my favorite exercises:
  • Q: How did you start telling stories?
  • Q: Where do you get your ideas from?
  • If you are looking for ideas, write about the last time you... (did anything).

On 5:12 PM by Unknown in

there was a icy chill to the morning
hoarfrost on the mirror of my RAV
my first excursion out in days
everything was still because of the holiday and the dusting of snow
i drove purposely slow
i didn't know why
til she ambled out from behind a tree and across the road in front of me
resplendent from an easy winter
she kept walking and never dropped her gaze
we passed each other as if we were in a slow motion movie
her eyes looking straight into mine
I opened the window and called
hey sugar baby, you sure are a pretty little thing
I hope you're havin a good winter
I love you
and I smiled
and I swear to god she quite nearly walked right up to me

not this time, the first time.

On 12:09 PM by Unknown in ,
Some still shots from the sites we hope to shoot and themes we will be exploring for a program we are producing for our non-profit Architecture for EveryBody

(Photo from Navaho Country Magazine, not mine.)