The Good Life in Austin Texas

head_left_image

Austin Luxury Homes - 5919 Bold Ruler Way

The annual "Million Dollar Homes" issue of the West Austin News is out this week and as part of the event, I have featured a premier listing in one the Eanes School District's finest neighborhoods, Davenport Ranch. Located at the intersection of Westlake Drive and Capital of Texas Highway (the Loop 360), Davenport Ranch lies at the east end of the Westlake peninsula and is convenient to downtown (20 minute drive) and the business corridor along loop 360. Davenport boasts some of Austin's finest homes in a community that offers the discriminating buyer every amenity imaginable. Austin Country Club and golf course are within the area and overlook Lake Austin. Nearby dining and shopping is available along Loop 360 and at The Village at Westlake Shopping Center, 701 South Capital of Texas Highway. As is readily apparent, this home has numerous amenities and construction details that really have to be seen to be appreciated. For more information or a private showing of this exceptional home or to see any other homes located in the Eanes School District, please contact me by email or my mobile number listed below.

5919 Bold Ruler Way

If you or anyone you know is anticipating purchasing or selling real estate in Central, West or Southwest Austin or the Westlake/Eanes School District area, I would be happy to be of assistance. Let me put my nineteen years success helping upscale buyers and sellers in Austin's finest neighborhoods to work for you. Call or email for a private consultation at your convenience!

 

Russell M. LewisPage copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape 

If you enjoyed this post, why not connect with me in these other communities?

Follow Me on Twitter   Become My Friend on Facebook   Time to get LinkedIn!   Subscribe to The Good Life in Austin Texas      

37 commentsRussell Lewis, Broker,CLHMS,GRI • February 17 2009 02:04PM

Amy's Chocolate Covered Strawberries-An Austin Valentine's Tradition

ChocoberriesValentine's day in Austin is like any other place except we are the lucky recipients of some of the best chocolate dipped strawberries on the planet (along with outposts in San Antonio and Houston)! These delicious morsels are locally produced by our own Amy's Ice Creams to celebrate the most romantic holiday of the year. Chocolate is a Valentine's Day essential and it would be hard to find anyone who does not enjoy strawberries. Chocolate strawberries are beautiful to look at and wonderful to eat! Anyone who has ever visited Austin's own, Amy's Ice Creams for their luscious, out of this world ice cream knows that they are first and foremost about quality!  Joe Morris, head of production described to me how they select the finest berries in season available. Perfect strawberriesThe trick is that Mother Nature has to cooperate so they have several resources available at this time of year. Amy's also uses a superior quality of dipping chocolate. And let me tell you there IS a difference. There are some vendors who use cheaper ingredients and I have seen a substance known as "candy coating" that does not even qualify as real chocolate. chocolate also contains Phenylethylamine which is the technical name for a substance often described as the "love chemical." When dealing with something that has to do with my love life and my taste buds on Valentine's Day, I don't want fake or cheap substitutes! Amy's uses a premium dipping chocolate from the heart of Belgium created by Callebaut. Excellent quality White Chocolate is also incorporated into the process creating a beautiful and mouth watering indulgence that is extraordinary to behold and consume.Melting Chocolate

As something of a fan of all things culinary, I had the chance to work a shift at the production facility and get hands on experience making some of the treats myself. In the interest of full disclosure, our son, Morgan, was an employee at the Amy's Mira Vista location until he left for college (I am a regular customer at the store and a fan of the manager, Melissa Hanson). Melissa's goal is to make the world's tallest ice cream cone and I would love to volunteer when that happens!! As an employee, Morgan worked a "strawberry" shift and invited me (along with several members of his Westlake football team) to make extra money while learning something new and having fun. We all arrived for the 4PM to Midnight shift and looked at the various tasks available at the different stages of production. Mark & TeresaOperations Managers, Mark Banks and Teresa Noll walked us through the different stations describing the tasks at hand and I have to say you will not find any two individuals as efficient and also cool as these two! They watch over the operation like shepherds over a flock, paying attention to every production detail regarding quality and efficiency including the well being of each of the employees!

dipping strawberriesThe process starts with the freshly washed and scrubbed berries being sorted with the green stems sliced off and placed in trays. These trays are sent to the "Dipping" tables where each berry is individually dipped in a bowl of melted chocolate. This is not as easy as it might seem because the strawberries must be COMPLETELY enveloped in chocolate to prevent leaking from the freshly cut strawberries. As a tray of berries is completed, it must pass inspection by one of the full time pros (I think this must be the most difficult task because each berry has to be scrutinized individually!) Any berries not passing must be returned to the dipping bowls and any tiny holes filled! Upon passing this element of the procedure, the chocolate covered berries are move to a station where the are splattered and drizzled with white chocolate "Jackson Pollock"  style which adds a visually pleasing finish as well as another tasty element to the creation! The berries are then sent to a station where excess chocolate is trimmed and the berries are placed in egg cartons. At this point the cartons are packed in crates and refrigerated before being shipped to the different Amy's locations!

Dipping into chocolateAs we began our shift, we were chosen to work at the task of dipping the strawberries and jumped right in donning our hair nets, gloves and name tags (I chose the name Tyler Durden and it gets a laugh from everyone who notices.) The entire place is filled with the intoxicating smells of melted chocolate and the sweet tangy scent of fragrant strawberries. The sound system is cranking some great music and everyone  is enjoying the work. Dripping white chocolateI don't have to say this but we are all competitive (especially with a group of football players) As we worked we all began to try and outdo one another at the production. It took awhile to master covering the strawberries completely (I am not kidding about this) but I eventually developed a style and rhythm and begin to make some progress. After each tray of my dipped berries was accepted, I would return to our station, raise my hands in triumph and exclaim,"I Rule!". At first, Morgan was somewhat embarrassed and his friends would laugh. I continued to outpace them and each time I returned, they would all laugh and say, "yes, we know..." YOU RULE and eventually my son joined in as we all worked together enjoying some silly and funny banter. I have to tell you that after an eight hour shift I was tired but when we got our paychecks (my first in 18 years) shortly after midnight I was pleased that I had been invited along. It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience I will never forget! trimming and packing! 

Do yourself a favor this Valentine's day and treat yourself and your loved one to something sweet, delicious and romantic from Amy's. I have already purchased a dozen for my two best girls and a dozen for my office. They are available at all locations through Valentine's Day, Saturday the 14th! You may want to place an order at your nearest location to ensure there are some available when you arrive! One other noteworthy fact: they usually make extra Chocoberries to mix with into a heavenly concoction called Chocoberry Ice cream and well...just try some, straight up or with hot fudge or...do it yourself with a carton of the most luxurious chocolate dipped strawberries around! 

 

  

 

Russell M. LewisPage copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape 

If you enjoyed this post, why not connect with me in these other communities?

Follow Me on Twitter   Become My Friend on Facebook   Time to get LinkedIn!   Subscribe to The Good Life in Austin Texas      

54 commentsRussell Lewis, Broker,CLHMS,GRI • February 13 2009 11:05AM

4405 Balcones Drive-Open House-Sunday, February 8, 2-4PM

February 8th2009, 2-4PM - I will be holding open 4405 Balcones Drive in the Balcones area; one of Austin's finest neighborhoods.This home is a Classic mid-century contemporary with beautifully updated kitchen and baths. High vaulted ceiling, lots of glass in the huge main living room with a floor-to-ceiling stone fireplace. The beautifully appointed granite/stainless kitchen with a big island and custom cabinetry, opens to the dining and family room. Split level plan. Roomy study down could be 4th bedroom. Master suite opens to the open landscaped yard with decks, privacy and room for pool. Also included; security system & sprinkler systems, Zoned HVAC, Blue ribbon elementary. This open house is part of our AvenueOne Company event and includestwenty three (23) additional homes on Sunday!

Check website for details Wednesday afternoon: http://www.aveone.com/

AGENTS, this is an excellent time to preview!

I will be on-site between 2pm and 4pm Sunday afternoon so please drop by for a tour of this wonderful home. If you have questions or are unable to attend or to schedule a private showing, I can be reached at my mobile number listed below. Thanks, I look forward to seeing you there!

Open House 4405 Balcones Sunday Feb 8th 2-4PM

If you or anyone you know is anticipating purchasing or selling real estate in Central, West or Southwest Austin or the Westlake/Eanes School District area, I would be happy to be of assistance. Let me put my nineteen years success helping upscale buyers and sellers in Austin's finest neighborhoods to work for you. Call or email for a private consultation at your convenience!

 

Russell M. LewisPage copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape 

If you enjoyed this post, why not connect with me in these other communities?

Follow Me on Twitter   Become My Friend on Facebook   Time to get LinkedIn!   Subscribe to The Good Life in Austin Texas      

29 commentsRussell Lewis, Broker,CLHMS,GRI • February 03 2009 04:45PM

Jackson Pollock's Birthday

Relaxin' with JacksonI had to Google something this morning and saw that the ever-changing illustration on the home page was a painting by this enigmatic master. Pollock always elicits a reaction, no matter who looks at his work. Everyone has something to say and the reactions are over an enormous range of opinions from the indifferent to outraged to praise for his genius. No one seems to ignore Jackson Pollock.

I have to say that I was just a curious observer until I saw his painting, Autumn Rhythm (Number 30) at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. The painting is a very large canvas and I sat down on a small bench and just stared at the work of art. For some reason, I continued to do so for more than forty five minutes. I am not sure why but I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I would include a picture but frankly it would not do any good because the size of the painting is what draws you in on a personal level. I had previously enjoyed the work of other artists that painted in genre of Abstract Expressionism and became interested in learning more about Pollock. I read a couple of books and watched a documentary and the feature length film with Ed Harris. He was a tortured soul of sorts and not always the best example of humanity but the man's story is fascinating. I am a fan of his work and like every other artist I enjoy I do NOT like everything single thing in his portfolio.

One of my favorite works by Pollock is, Painting (Silver over Black, White, Yellow and Red) and is on display at Centre Pompidou in Paris. A couple of years ago, my wife and I had the privilege of spending a couple of weeks in Paris and I was able to see that painting and two others by Pollock. We always enjoy traveling and museums in particular and she is extremely tolerant of my curious nature. Two other paintings are also on display, Number 26A, Black and White and The Deep (one of his last). I wanted to spend time looking at two of the works that were displayed side by side but in this case there was no bench so I just laid on the floor with my hands behind my head and looked. My wife took a picture and we still call it "Hanging out with Jackson". This is in no way any disrespect and I was just enjoying myself. Next time I may have to take one of those small folding stools in our daypack. For your amusement, click on this link for the opportunity to paint your own Pollock! You are guaranteed to have a good time!

Art is a subject about which all people have an opinion. Whether your tastes are for Old Masters, Primitive, Realism, Cubism or any other ism, check out what there is to see in your community. Art appreciation and support enriches our society in countless ways and I think that local art museums and artists that are in my town and yours are worth noting and would make a great Localism Post!

 

Russell M. LewisPage copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape 

If you enjoyed this post, why not connect with me in these other communities?

Follow Me on Twitter   Become My Friend on Facebook   Time to get LinkedIn!   Subscribe to The Good Life in Austin Texas      

49 commentsRussell Lewis, Broker,CLHMS,GRI • January 28 2009 08:40AM

Balcones Neighborhood Open House - 4511 Edgemont Drive

Sunday, January 25th 2008 I will be holding open another exceptional home in the Balcones area; one of Austin's finest neighborhoods. This is a wonderful and inviting one story brick home that has been renovated and updated. The floor plan offers great separation of bedrooms with the Master and beautifully appointed Master Bath located on the opposite side of the home. The remodeled kitchen features stainless appliances and a huge granite island that opens to the family room. A wall of windows overlooks the spacious backyard and gardens. The home backs to camp Mabry offering quiet and privacy.

                                               AGENTS, this is an excellent time to preview!

I will be on-site between 2pm and 4pm Sunday afternoon so please drop by for a tour of this exceptional  property. If you have questions or are unable to attend or to schedule a private showing, I can be reached at my mobile number listed below. Thanks, I look forward to seeing you there!

4511 Edgemont Drive

If you or anyone you know is anticipating purchasing or selling real estate in the Balcones Neighborhood or anywhere in Central, West or Southwest Austin or the Westlake/Eanes School District area, I would be happy to be of assistance. Let me put my nineteen years success helping upscale buyers and sellers in Austin's finest neighborhoods to work for you. Contact me for a private consultation at your convenience!

 

 

Russell M. LewisPage copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape 

If you enjoyed this post, why not connect with me in these other communities?

Follow Me on Twitter   Become My Friend on Facebook   Time to get LinkedIn!   Subscribe to The Good Life in Austin Texas      

31 commentsRussell Lewis, Broker,CLHMS,GRI • January 25 2009 11:35AM

Giving Back to Your Community as a School Volunteer

Russell as Healthy BearIt was 1993 and my previous broker asked if I would consider helping out Patricia Howard, the nurse at Eanes Elementary School with a little of my time on a special volunteer project. We had moved our family into the district a year earlier and though my children were only one and four years of age, I said sure. Little did I know that I would be involved with a volunteer effort that would last fifteen years and entail presentations to thousands of Kindergarten and first grade students at four different elementary schools in the Eanes School District. Patricia informed me that all I had to do was dress up in a bear costume as "Healthy Bear" and assist in teaching a program about the importance and health benefits of washing your hands. Here is the most inteteresting fact: The number 1 way germs are spread in the world is people NOT washing their hands! Reluctant but always game and exacting a promise that it would never get out and become public knowledge I agreed. I did think it was a bit weird at first and did not really want it known that I was prancing about in a bear costume before a bunch of school kids. (You know, with the likes of Krusty the Klown, Michael Jackson and others who had given those who volunteer with children a bad rap!)

My performances that week went fairly well in spite of a case of stage fright before a crowd of adoring 5 & 6 year olds and the fact that the costume made me sweat like a politician in church. I don't know what was so completely daunting because in a previous life, I had performed with several rock bands and engaged in all sorts of wild antics and well, that's another story... In fact, it went so well that Patricia "volunteered" my services to the other school nurses and counselors and before I knew it I was performing at four of the five elementary schools in the Eanes School District. Every January, I would take a few mornings a week and show up at the different schools and do the program. I made it into something fun and managed to mildly harass the teachers in some mischievous ways. I guess I was enjoying my influence as Healthy Bear and could not pass up the chance to have a little fun. I also made it a point to assign "homework" asking the kids to make sure that everyone in their homes engaged in regular hand washing protocol. I have to tell you there is nothing as relentless as a six year old evangelizing about hand washing (and I hear about this from clients all the time)!

Over the years I put in performances in all sorts of situations. One time between shows, I was on the phone with another realtor who was way out of line and I was responding in a direct and somewhat discordant manner. After I hung up the phone, the Principal and the school nurse were looking at me and one of them said, "So, what do you think that agent would a have done if they had seen you in that bear costume?" My answer was "she would have run or "not even" taken me seriously" so I am glad it was on the phone and NOT in Person. Over the years, I was Healthy Bear to both of my children while they were at Forest Trail Elementary and they were thrilled to know the secret behind the bear. One time the nurse made the mistake of asking me to transport the costume to Barton Creek Elementary and I ended up wearing it to the office and to visit some of my more "open minded" clients! This week, I started my fifteenth year as Healthy Bear but these days have narrowed down the performances to helping my friends Linda Kimbrough at Forest Trail Elementary and Bonnie Bucholz at Barton Creek Elementary . I will probably continue as long as either of them requests my services. I have to say that the Eanes School District has an incredible reputation and rightly so. The teachers and curriculum are first class and another contributing factor is the level of parental involvement. Friends and neighbors who take the time to show up and help in a thousand ways that keep the standards so high are what help make tour schools so spectacular. Schools everywhere are in need of outside, it only takes a little time and a willingness to help out! Have a great day and REMEMBER TO WASH YOUR HANDS!

Russell M. LewisPage copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape 

If you enjoyed this post, why not connect with me in these other communities?

Follow Me on Twitter   Become My Friend on Facebook   Time to get LinkedIn!   Subscribe to The Good Life in Austin Texas      

70 commentsRussell Lewis, Broker,CLHMS,GRI • January 21 2009 02:19PM

Westlake Open House-912 Calithea Road

This Sunday, January 18th, 2009 I will be holding open an exceptional home in Westlake Hills; one of Austin's finest areas and in the heart of the Eanes School District. Located in the hills of Westlake the home offers privacy, seclusion and exquisite views. Incredible quality materials and workmanship are featured throughout this beautiful home! I will be on-site between 2pm and 4pm this Sunday so please drop by for a tour of this beautiful property and to learn more about the area. If you have questions before next Sunday or to schedule a private showing, I can be reached at my mobile number listed below. Please stop by at your convenience, I look forward to seeing you there!

912 Calithea Road Austin, Texas

If you or anyone you know is anticipating purchasing or selling real estate in Central, West or Southwest Austin or the Westlake/Eanes School District area, I would be happy to be of assistance. Let me put my nineteen years success helping upscale buyers and sellers in Austin's finest neighborhoods to work for you. Call or email for a private consultation at your convenience!

Russell M. LewisPage copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape 

If you enjoyed this post, why not connect with me in these other communities?

Follow Me on Twitter   Become My Friend on Facebook   Time to get LinkedIn!   Subscribe to The Good Life in Austin Texas      

38 commentsRussell Lewis, Broker,CLHMS,GRI • January 14 2009 12:36PM

The 7 Mysteries of Me, MeMe...who Me?

I have been tagged with the 7 mysteries of my life by my friends??!?!?!?!?

Paula SwaynePaula Swayne and new pal Sherry Scales Sherry Scales

Check out their blogs; Paula writes great Localism posts and Sherry is incredibly funny!

Seven things you may not know about me: The Crystal Ball Reveals

•1)  3m Half Marathon & RelayI have a love/hate relationship with running. I hate getting started but after the first mile or so my body realizes we are out for a run and I start enjoying the challenge and scenery etc.I have run 6 marathons and 1 ultra-marathon and I am currently training for the Austin 3M ½ marathon in February. I am not a health nut but enjoy the benefits of feeling better mentally and physically as well as eating pretty much anything I want without swelling up like Jaba the Hut! Something I find ridiculous are people who use a picture of themselves running in their profile or bio with tag-lines like "Going the extra mile" or "the marathon salesman". Please...it's just plain is GOOFY! Runners don't care and you run the risk of alienating 95% of the population who thinks on a daily basis that they need more exercise!

•2)  I abhor liars, bullies and any person, group or entity that abuses a position of power to further their own self interests or abuse the rights and privileges of others. This has carried over into my business over time however, in the last few years I have become the "Voice of Reason" in many circumstances. I still do not respond well to threats, intimidation or coercion and sometimes feel compelled to take the Samuel Jackson approach for those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers... Okay, admittedly that's way over the top but as my previous broker used to say, "Russell is either the easiest person with whom to do a transaction or the most difficult and it's all in how you act at first".

•3)  Okay, now for something on the bright side. I love music, ALL KINDS of music and if you listened to my iPod you would certainly be baffled.As of today, I have 2764 songs to date with tunes from the 60's,70's,80's,90's and 2000's including Rock, Hard Rock, Heavy Metal, Blues, Jazz, Soul, Funk, World beat, Rap, Reggae and surprisingly about 20% of the play lists are Gospel and Classical. Right now I am listening to an interesting jam with John Lee hooker and Miles Davis. My musical tastes swing wildly back and forth and today my favorite songs are the loudly obnoxious I don't wanna stop... by Ozzy Osborne to the semi-maudlin Say what you need to say by John Mayer. Ask me tomorrow and my choice of favorites will be completely different!

•4)  For a brief time I studied Film Making in College and developed a lifelong love of all kinds of movies.If you ask about my favorites, I would have to give you my top ten in a bunch of categories like Weirdest, Comedies, Dramas, War Movies, Blockbuster, Independent, Foreign (this would have to be divided into lists covering Italian, French, German, and oriental although only Akira Kurosawa for Japan and with the exception of Ang Lee, a couple of lesser known Chinese directors). I can say without a doubt that Eraserhead (1977) trailer which I saw in Film School is still the all time most bizarre film ever. The best part about my film hobby is that my wife is a willing participant and accompanies me to anything that I get a hankering to see!

•5)  I am a passionate reader and my whole family is in on this too. We've read to our children since birth and I can tell you that the day you walk by your child's room and see them reading for the first time, something they want to read, you get the most incredible sense of accomplishment. The really cool thing is that now that they are older we often trade ideas for books. We spend too much money on books but our local Westbank Community Library has just about anything you could want and they also have a lend program with the Downtown library for books not readily on hand. An interesting thing about the library is that each time you check out a book you are given a receipt that lists what it would cost at a local bookstore. Towards the end of the year the tally can get very high. My daughter was there the other day and the Lewis Family has racked up over $4,800 in savings on books this year!

•6)  I love traveling as much as just about anything in the world and again, my wife is a willing partner in our wanderlust.We have traveled all over the United States, been to Europe twice and have spent time in several places in the Caribbean. My favorite parts of the world (besides Austin) are New York, Paris (I would like to live there for 3 or 4 months at a time) the countryside of Emilia Romagna in Northern Italy. I think more than anything I could be happy in a small place on the white sands of a Caribbean island, cooking, reading, listening to music, watching movies, eating, running, (chasing my wife!?!) following the lives of our children and well...you know, anything but WORK!

Us!•7)  My birthday, May 24th is the day before my anniversary, May 25th and for years I used to complain that it in some way detracted from my birthday. You know, sort of like a person whose birthday is in December so that Christmas overshadowed the occasion. However about 9 years ago, I came to realize that my wife was the best gift I had ever received in my entire life. I know, it may seem corny but it's the truth and for that I am eternally grateful!

Alrighty now, I finally got that out of the way and I procrastinated so long that all of the people I was going to tag have a been tagged by others and even written their respective posts so... Everyone gets a free ride today! Happy New Year!

Russell M. LewisPage copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape 

If you enjoyed this post, why not connect with me in these other communities?

Follow Me on Twitter   Become My Friend on Facebook   Time to get LinkedIn!   Subscribe to The Good Life in Austin Texas      

65 commentsRussell Lewis, Broker,CLHMS,GRI • December 30 2008 03:20PM

Tale of the Zilker Park Christmas Tree and the “almost” Bad Santa

Zilker Park Christmas TreeMany years ago, during the Holiday Season, my brother along with some others would rent a bus to tour Austin and look at all of the various holiday lights and decorations. A theme party of sorts and an annual affair, the bus was filled with all types of people in the party mode and stocked with snacks, a couple of kegs of beer and other assorted party favors. I think Wild Turkey may also have been involved. For several years I had the duty of taking the role of Santa Claus and dressing the part. It may seem silly to some of you but I was single and more mischievous back then and you have no idea how many girls want to get to know Santa...But I digress. After touring various decorated areas in town the last stop of the party bus tour was always the celebrated Zilker Park Christmas Tree .

The Zilker Park Christmas Tree is not real but man-made and constructed of strands of Christmas lights. The lights are strung from one of Austin's Moon Towers, which were built in the early 1900s to illuminate the city at night. Most are gone but originally were laid out in the city, miles apart and if you were to fly over you would have seen that they were in the shape of an enormous Texas Star. The tower stands 155 feet tall and has 39 strands of lights with 3,309 bulbs that are attached to 19 utility poles, each 14 feet tall, arranged in a circle around the Moon Tower. The diameter is said to be 120 feet and the circumference the tree measures 380 feet. At the top of the tree, a double Texas Star measures 10 feet from point to point and has 150 white frosted bulbs.

Round & Round under the Zilker park TreeApart from the obvious fun of visiting the tree there is a surprising phenomenon that all first time visitors experience. The strands of lights each hold 81 multicolored, 25 watt bulbs, however, City of Austin electricians created a unique spiral pattern of yellow lights that cause the naked eye to flicker when you look up from beneath the tree. First timers are always surprised and of course nearly everyone stands near the center of the tree and begins to turn slowly at first and then like some whirling dervish while staring straight up. It's a remarkable experience and the funniest thing is watching people of all ages having a ball! Children, old folks, teenagers, the stoic and silly, all laughing and carrying on while many collapse dizzy from the experience. I always succumb to the urge everytime we visit!

It was on my very first occasion as the "Party Bus Santa" that we pulled up in one of the nearby parking areas and begin to unload for the short walk to Zilker Park Christmas Tree . It was a chilly evening and everyone was feeling frisky and "in the spirit" and Santa was having a field day hearing from the girls about who was naughty what they wanted for Christmas etc. One of them told me that the reason Santa was always so jolly was because he knew where all the naughty girls lived! The back of the bus operated as our refreshment stand and we all refilled our cups with beverage and I lit up a cigarette. (Yes...I used to smoke many years ago but quit in 1986). Then with a young lady on each arm, I began to lead the lively crowd to the tree and I have to tell you I was thoroughly enjoying myself. When suddenly, (it's always "suddenly" in these stories) I noticed some sort of commotion across the distance between us and the tree. It appeared to be a group of elves shouting and waving madly and they seemed to be heading for our group. Confused at first, I was suddenly struck by the shocking realization that they were not elves but...CHILDREN! In a blinding flash I forgot about the party, the girls, the revelry and panicked. I was having fun but I KNEW I did not want to ruin a child's innocent view of SANTA CLAUSE!

Party SantaOkay, I may have been a frisky Santa out partying during the holidays but I am still a decent person! I quickly stomped my cigarette  and shoved the beverage into the open coat of one of my companions who screamed when the cup spilled its frigid contents. The stampede of kids was nearing as I frantically rubbed the lipstick from my face on the front of the blouse of my other new friend who could not stop giggling. Just in the nick of time, I managed to get it together and shout HO HO HO to the children who were excitedly gathering at my feet. I was so nervous and sweating like a politician in church as I patiently listened to all of the three dozen or so kids while nervously eyeing their parents to see if I was doing alright. Eventually everyone went back to the tree and several of the parents said thanks for being such a good sport. You cannot imagine the relief I felt when we got back on that bus and I have to say, "Mischevious Santa" also scored "good guy" points with my companions and that's always a good thing!

If you live in Austin and have never been to the Zilker Park Christmas Tree or will be visiting during the holidays, you need to do yourself a favor and visit. It is truly an icon of the holiday season in Austin Texas. It's a lot of fun, silly and refreshingly simple. Just enjoy it and maybe even some hot caramel corn, funnel cakes or hot chocolate that are sold in nearby booths. These days you will want to leave the eggnog and other adult beverages at home as the park has rules and for good reason. I would not want to take the chance of meeting a rogue Santa who might not have the same ‘crisis of conscience" and if you saw the movie, you know how these things can turn out...

                         Season's greetings to all and I wish you the best in the New Year!

 

Russell M. LewisPage copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape 

If you enjoyed this post, why not connect with me in these other communities?

Follow Me on Twitter   Become My Friend on Facebook   Time to get LinkedIn!   Subscribe to The Good Life in Austin Texas      

76 commentsRussell Lewis, Broker,CLHMS,GRI • December 22 2008 02:00PM

Home For The Holidays!

Arriving Gate 12 ABIAHurrying through the ABIA airport terminal, I think I have timed this perfectly. Arriving about 5 minutes before the flight and allowing for baggage pickup we should be out and at the parking toll booth in under 30 minutes so it will be free! Glancing at the monitor, I see that the Southwest flight from Dallas is delayed and will not arrive for another hour. #%!*@! in my haste and excitement, I left the house without looking on line to check the status and also left my phone at home...What to do? I make my way to the coffee shop and look for something to read but no luck, it's the end of the day, all of the papers are gone, there are no magazines of interest and I don't want to start a new book. So I return to baggage claim area, take a seat to people watch until our sons flight from school touches down.

Our son was home a few weeks ago for Thanksgiving and it was an interesting and fun visit. We all enjoyed ourselves and when we put him on the plane back to Tulsa were relieved that he seemed to be doing so well while away at school at Tulsa University in Oklahoma. My wife remarked that she was so proud of him and how he was doing just fine on his own and did not really need us all that much anymore. We agreed and then the tears came; yes we seemed to have done a good job so far but with the realization that he is NOT our baby boy anymore. My wife's parents and my Father have always been an incredible inspiration and I know that we BOTH hope that we have in some way raised our children to be better people and to help them both keep their heads when all about are losing theirs.

My thoughts are interrupted by Willie Nelson's version of "Silent Night" over the speakers (yes this IS Austin, Texas) and the shuffle and clamor of people arriving to pick up baggage and meet their friends and relatives.I watch as people shout, laugh out loud, hug, kiss and exclaim how they have missed one another. Little children,  squealing with delight rushing to grandparents and parents, friends and lovers, husbands and wives embracing with joy. I see soldiers reuniting with families draped over them laughing and shouting. And tears...I see so many tears of greeting, happiness, welcome and relief. I read once that tears are the inability of a person to express themselves in words and for all of these people it is true! The airport is one of those places where there are many reunions on many different levels and never more so than during the Holidays.

The terminal quiets as people clear out and I am left listening to more Austin artists performing different versions of holiday classics. Checking the monitor, I smile as I see that our son's plane has ARRIVED. After a few minutes it changes to LANDED and finally, AT GATE 12.I start to get excited and move to the stairs and station myself behind a group of people so I can spot him first before he sees me! People begin arriving and taking the escalators and stairs down and I anxiously wait until I see him strolling down the stairs and looking for me or his Mom. I wait, just enjoying the sight of the young man as he continues down the stairs and when he finally spots me, he breaks into that huge infectious smile. As he reaches me we hug one another and while I am embracing him I feel the tears begin to well up in my eyes and I brush them away as we head for the carousel. I really cannot explain the way his mother and I truly feel about him (and his younger sister) so I guess the theory about tears is true for me too! We move to pick up his baggage and he says "I am starving and have not eaten since noon" so it's apparent he is healthy and normal. The funny part about all of this is that we will probably have some normal parent/child arguments over the next few days however, in the grand scheme of things, my wife and I are blessed beyond measure to have two healthy, intelligent, happy, fairly normal children and a family that that functions on a "normal" basis! (Whatever that is?)

We are in a time of great strife, problems and uncertainty. There is a lot of fear, loss and suffering in our country and throughout the world. I hope that each person who reads this will make the effort at finding some small connection to a person, place, idea, event or memory that will somehow help to magnify the glimmer of hope that this season is supposed bring to us all. I say this not to be unthinkingly optimistic but to remind myself as much as anything to be grateful. At times, I also get discouraged and have a tendency to allow a darker side to obscure my view and dwell on the negative. Our family, like many others is faced with challenges but we have it very good with so many blessings that our gratitude list overwhelms our troubles, doubts and so called problems. My wish for each of you this season is the gift of Joy, Gratitude, Hope and Peace. Peace be with you and yours (no exceptions)!

I am glad I had the time to wait and quietly observe and reflect. It did however cost me $8.00 in parking fees and...Oh, the parent/child squabbles that I mentioned might occur earlier? Yep, they started during the ride home from the airport when he began to criticize my driving! HAH! As, George Bailey would say, "It's a wonderful life!

Russell M. LewisPage copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape 

If you enjoyed this post, why not connect with me in these other communities?

Follow Me on Twitter   Become My Friend on Facebook   Time to get LinkedIn!   Subscribe to The Good Life in Austin Texas      

73 commentsRussell Lewis, Broker,CLHMS,GRI • December 18 2008 11:43AM