The Good Life in Austin Texas

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A Pictorial Run at Austin's Lady Bird Lake

Lady Bird Lake was known as Town lake for many years and recently was renamed in memory of the late Lady Bird Johnson. The trails around the lake are flooded with runners , bikers, walkers and folks who just want to get outside and enjoy some of  our "mostly" great Austin weather. On any weekend beginning late summer, you will see herds of people training for various runs in the fall and leading up to the 3M half marathon and finally the Austin Marathon in Feburary. I have trained for six marathons and one ultra marathon running on these trails and I can think of no better place to train, run, walk or just plain people watch than the loop around Lady Bird Lake! This post originally began as a Wordless Wednesday entry but since it does not fit all the parameters it is now just a post of pictures around my favorite place to run here in Austin, Texas. Enjoy and maybe I will see you on the running trail!

Austin Texas Lady Bird Lake

Austin Texas Lady Bird Lake

Austin Texas Lady Bird Lake

Austin Texas Lady Bird Lake

Austin Texas Lady Bird Lake

Austin Texas Lady Bird Lake

Austin Texas Lady Bird Lake

Austin Texas Lady Bird Lake

Austin Texas Lady Bird Lake

Austin Texas Lady Bird Lake

 Austin Texas Lady Bird Lake

Austin Texas Lady Bird Lake

Austin Texas Lady Bird Lake

Austin Texas Lady Bird Lake

Austin Texas Lady Bird Lake

Austin Texas Lady Bird Lake

All photos taken by Russell Lewis, all rights reserved and may not be reproduced without express written permission of Russell Lewis, AvenueOne Properties, Inc. Austin, Texas.  Please check if Creative Commons License has been granted for this or other photography provided by Russell Lewis.  Permission usually granted if credit is given with a link back.  Thank you for your understanding. 

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69 commentsRussell Lewis, Broker,CLHMS,GRI • December 10 2008 08:39AM

SMITTY"S - A Texas BBQ Legend (LOCALISM FEATURED)

Smitty's back doorOn the first Thursday of nearly every month, I meet a small group of people and make a short drive to the town of Lockhart, "The Barbecue Capital of Texas". The crowd varies in size month to month depending on who can make it. Today's group includes the founding members; Dave Bieser, who is kind of a "Big Shot" with Time Warner and Randy Merritt, a successful commercial real estate broker with whom I do business and share referrals along with me and our friend Kelly. When I say "Capital", it is no exaggeration as the town of 5,000 boasts four of the top BBQ establishments in the State of Texas. An estimated 5,000 people visit each week or around 250,000 people a year eat BBQ in Lockhart. Of course when you mention BBQ in Texas, you will always spark a debate on the merits of who serves the best.Smitty's Pit RoomOur destination is Smitty's which is home to our favorite BBQ in the town. Smitty's originally started as Kreuz Market in 1900 by Charles Kreuz as a meat market and grocery store. Many years ago to prevent wasting meat, the proprietors would cook cuts of beef and pork along with sausage in barbecue pits. Customers would buy their barbecue and sausage then purchase some items from the grocery store to go along the BBQ. The origins of one stop shopping! Charles passed the business along to his sons and son-in-law who ran it until 1948, when Edgar Schmidt, who had worked there since 1936, bought the market from the Kreuz's. In 1984, Edgar sold the business to his sons, Rick and Don Schmidt, and they ran the popular restaurant until Don's retirement in 1997.

Now I do not know the actual circumstances but in 1999, there was some sort of dust-up in the family business and one of the brothers decided to move Kruez's a quarter mile away from of the old location. There was even a ceremonial moving of a tub of glowing embers from the pits to the new location to preserve the fiery/smoky heritage. However the original location stayed open with only the name change to Smitty's marking the transfer. Honestly, I never realized that there was a change and continued to patronize the place I had first discovered in the mid 1970's.Smitty's Cutting Block

Arriving at the back of the building and parking in a large dusty parking lot, we enter through the back door and the first thing you see is a huge L-shaped pit fed by an open fire on each end. In the middle of the room is a large cutting block table and a counter with two scales. Standing in line you order and the items are weighed and then placed on red butcher paper (fine china or even plates are not available) with either crackers or white bread. Paying for your items, you enter the main store and order pickles, onions, cheese, avocados along with potato salad or beans and you are ready to eat! In the old day you were given butcher paper for and the knives were actually chained to the long tables and there was NO BBQ SAUCE. Now days BBQ sauce is served for those who care to indulge. I like mine mixed with some hot sauce.

Randy - Kelly - Dave (Tres Hombres)I have been thinking about this meal since I my morning run and have ordered all of my favorites; brisket,3 ribs and a hot link along with some onions and pickles and an avocado. I think my eyes were bigger than my stomach! I offer some avocado slices to Randy but he is a purist and says he does not want any "vegetables" today. I will say this is NOT a spot for vegetarians or as Anthony Bourdain describes them, "their Hezbollah like allies, the vegans!" Smitty's Best BBQ - The Russell "Plate"This is always a good time with plenty of conversation from my "First Thursday" friends and more than enough of some of the best BBQ you can find in the state. Oh...and that white bread? It is the best thing ever to sop up the grease that is in ALL good BBQ. I keep meaning to try one of the other places in town, which I know must be good but it's never "convenient" to do so. Smitty's is only a short drive from Austin and you can make it out, eat lunch and back in about an hour and forty five minutes so if you do have some time, make the trip. You will be glad you did and take a friend too!

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70 commentsRussell Lewis, Broker,CLHMS,GRI • December 08 2008 08:36PM

The Christmas MeMe - Where can Santa be?

My friend Paula Swayne tagged me in the newest MeMe, the Christmas MeMe. Here are the rules:

You have to name one gift you would like to have on Christmas. It has to be an object. We all want happiness for Christmas. If you could pick one single gift out for yourself-what would it be? Remember-it has to be something you can touch and hold.... Once you have done this, name five people or more and send this to them for them to name the one special gift they would like to have.

Frankly, I am one of those people who pretty much has everything I could possibly want. I have a wonderful wife and two great kids, a semi-crazed brother who I love, some incredible friends and for the most part, a good level of the intangible things in life like health, happiness, peace of mind, and a good outlook no matter what the day brings! Financial security would be nice but it's never guaranteed is it? My wife and I want to remodel our house (especially the kitchen) and would like to travel a lot more.

People always laugh when I tell them that if I won the lottery, I would do two things; Quit work to play (no, I am not one of those nuts who would go to work the next day) though I enjoy my job but simply have too many things I really enjoy outside of work. And the second thing would be to have someone drive me around in some kind of big safe extremely comfortable car with all the bells and whistles. I would also like my "chauffeur" to go through my magazines and take out all of those pesky "inserts" and advertising cards that fall out as you read, so I can avoid the irritation they cause. I believe this is called "magazine grooming". Like I said...I already have pretty much everything I need and I'm alive!

Jump off in this RIDE! CLS550Okay, I seemed to have veered off track here. Paula also told me that it must be a "material" item so here goes and I have to tell you it's something of a "guilty" pleasure. Because I DO drive quite a bit and don't care for it that much (I blogged about this awhile back: Two Words...that could save your life! ) I like to be as comfortable as possible while behind the wheel. When I work with buyers I drive our Lexus which is nice but lately I have been eyeballing something different. I thoroughly  researched this, drove several and finally came to a decision. Granted, the back seat is probably crowded but maybe it would encourage buyer's to make a faster decision. OOPS, did I actually say that? I was planning on making a purchase sometime next year until the downturn and our son starting college and well, you know how it goes...So as long as we are wishing for something from Santa, I want one of these fine rides...I know, I can already hear some of you but I am built for comfort and it's truly a guilty pleasure!

Okay, now to pass this on and please forgive me if your not one who likes doing meme's like me!

Bob Cumiskey  and  Alan May 

and let's see...oh yes, how about these three:

Mike Jones            Pippa             Betina Foreman

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50 commentsRussell Lewis, Broker,CLHMS,GRI • December 04 2008 05:42PM

The Rewards of Giving - Honored By The Austin, Texas Board Of Realtors

ABoR Press Release

Best of the Best Honored with Industry Awards

Russell LewisThe Austin Board of REALTORS® (ABoR) is pleased to announce the winners
of the 2008 industry awards. Members will be recognized in the following categories: REALTOR®of the Year; Affiliate of the Year; Rookie of the Year; Community Service; and Cultural Awareness.


Community Service: Russell Lewis, AvenueOne Properties


Russell Lewis has been an ABoR member for more than 15 years. In that time, he has donated his service to numerous volunteer organizations, including Habitat for Humanity, the Boy Scouts of America, the Blood Center of Central Texas, the Eanes School District and Mobile Loaves and Fishes.

I have to admit that this was a very gratifying surprise when I learned from the press release above that I had been honored and I was humbled by the experience. I am no saint; just ask the person I adore more than anyone in the world, my wife of 22 years or my children or my partners and associates at work. I have my "days" and often I am not the pinnacle of patience or reason and I tend to be rather intense when involved in negotiating (though I have improved immensely over the years.) People ask me, where I get the time and honestly, it does not take much One thing I have done with some regularity over the years is pitch in when asked or when I see a need. I know in advance when am going to participate in many of my endeavors and it's no more than a couple of hours at each project and maybe a couple of times a month. Since this is the Christmas season and a time of giving, I thought I would take the opportunity to show you some of the groups I enjoy helping and some of the people involved.

Jimmy Carter Work Project 2008

Habitat for Humanity - I have been actively involved with Habitat since my first project in 1996 and wrote a blog about this wonderful organization here:

 The Luxury of Actually Owning a Home - Giving back in Austin Texas and Beyond!

Troop 5 South Rim Big Bend Park

Troop 5-Boy Scouts of America - I have had the great pleasure of helping with my son's Scout Troop, as one of a number of Assistant Scout Masters since he was 11 years old until he achieved the rank of Eagle last year. This is a picture of a small group of us (the kids were 12) along with his second Scoutmaster and family friend, Tom Martinec, at the South Rim of Big Bend National Park. We were so proud that they had backpacked all of their gear on their first strenuous trek (especially at that young age). The young man in the green vest is my son! This troop has offered a lot of fun and learning and has been a great ride through the years taking him to the jungles of Costa Rica, the mountains and rivers of Canada, The Caribbean and to camps all over the USA. I even had the chance to go along on several myself!

 Who is Healthy Bear?

Eanes School District Volunteer Since 1994, I have served as a parent volunteer, parent reader, fund raiser, committee member and health education educator with many of the Eanes elementary schools, West Ridge Middle School, and Westlake high School. The picture is part of a costume that I still wear a couple of weeks every year and I will probably write a blog post about it when I can figure out a way to not appear too crazy for doing so...Stay tuned!

Feeding the homeless

Mobile Loaves & Fishes A charity group dedicated to feeding the homeless and bringing dignity to those in such poor circumstances. The group was started here in Austin Texas ten years ago by Alan Graham. Please read more about them on the blog I posted awhile back: No One Goes Hungry-Giving back - An Austin Texas Solution The picture at right is from a newspaper article a couple of years ago. A friends daughter went along to see what it's like to help out!

Donating Platelets

Central Texas Regional Blood & Tissue Center In 1994, I decided I wanted to try and get over an un-natural fear of needles that I had carried with me from childhood. It had gotten so bad that when my wife would bring home flu shots, I was beginning to frighten the children and wanted to be a better example. I can say that it took a long time for me to stop being squeamish about it all and now I am a regular "Platelet" donor. I just passed the 25 gallon mark in donations last year and I am pretty much over my fear of needles... Learn more about this excellent organization here:

http://www.bloodandtissue.org/

I was hesitant to write about this award because I did not want to "toot my own horn" but was reminded that this award would give me a means to bring these groups to the attention of others and maybe help generate more volunteers and donations.I hope it does because every time I show up to help in some way I get an huge sense of gratitude. Not only from helping out but knowing that whatever problems I may have or any resentments that I might want to harbor, it's all good. No really, trust me on this, we are all better off when we see the world from the vantage point of those in lesser circumstances. I am reminded every day how fortunate I am to be alive and doing well in spite of any self indulgent "wants disguised as needs". It's the season for giving and it's a gift you give to yourself!

 

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86 commentsRussell Lewis, Broker,CLHMS,GRI • December 01 2008 10:48AM

4304 Balcones Open House Sunday, November 23rd 2-4PM

This Sunday, November 23rd, 2008 I will be holding open an exceptional home in the Balcones area; one of Austin's finest neighborhoods. The home has undergone an exquisite renovation by the incomparable Sereno Homes, one of Austin's premier builders. Incredible quality materials and workmanship are featured throughout this beautiful home! I will be on-site between 2pm and 4pm Sunday so please drop by for a tour of this beautiful property. If you have questions before next Sunday or to schedule a private showing, I can be reached at my mobile number listed below. Thanks, I look forward to seeing you there!

4304 Balcones Austin, Texas - Open House 11/23/2008

If you or anyone you know is anticipating purchasing or selling real estate in Central, West or Southwest Austin or the Westlake/Eanes Shool District area, I would be happy to assist them. I have nineteen years  success working with upscale buyers and sellers in Austin's Finest Neighborhoods.

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35 commentsRussell Lewis, Broker,CLHMS,GRI • November 19 2008 06:18PM

MANGIA PIZZA (An Austin, Texas Original) SETS NEW GUINNESS WORLD RECORD!!!

Mangia Pizza

Rell Rice & Russell Lewis

This morning I had the pleasure of attending another fun and slightly "weird" Austin event involving local restaurant, Mangia Pizza's attempt to break the Guinness Book of Records, "Longest line of pizzas in the world". Along with my wife, Margaret and daughter Mattie we headed to Zilker Park to hopefully be a part of history. The event was held in conjunction with Meals on Wheels and More to celebrate the  20th anniversary of Mangia Pizza opening for business here in Austin, Texas. If successful, the company would break a world record and after the event, Meals on Wheels would deliver the pizzas to The Salvation Army to feed the homeless!                    

On Wednesday of this week, I received an email from one of my best pals in the world who is kind of a Big-Shot with the Mangia Pizza Organization, Rell Rice, yes, it'sRell as in well or bell.Captain B...A...Pizza Super HeroHe tells me that day is "Guinness Book of Records Day" and all over the world different groups and individuals are vying to break any number of Guinness records but Mangia is looking at in in particular. A group in Italy and another in London are planning to break the record of longest uninterrupted line of pizzas.

In typical "Texas Hold-Em Poker" style, Mangia scheduled their event three days later to take place on Saturday and possibly upset the recent winners! Later that day, word is out that Chicago Town Pizzas in Camden Lock, London, UK set the new record of 936 feet 7 inches so Mangia has a big challenge ahead!

Leslye Denton-Garcia lines up volunteers

Mangia Pizza coordinated this event with Meals on Wheels and More of Austin so that as soon as the contest was concluded, all of the surviving pizza's (those not dropped or blown away by the windy morning) were immediately re-boxed and delivered by the Meals on Wheels volunteers who are also on hand to help with the event and hopefully break the record! Everything went well in spite of all sorts of odd circumstances . Try and imagine setting up a chain of tables in the shape of a large abstract "M" covering them with over a thousand feet of paper, having all of the volunteers wash hands and put on plastic gloves for sanitation and distributing hundreds of  boxes of cheese and pepperoni pizzas down the line of tables to prepare for the start?!? Down the line of pizzas

At a signal from Rell Rice and our friend Leslye Denton-Garcia along with owners Mark Negro and Jeff Sayers, the volunteers distributed the pizzas down the row of table, opened and lined them up edge to edge and did their best to keep everything on order despite gusting winds that sent a few of the pies flying. Reserves were brought in to fill holes and the line slowly extended.

Danny Girton Jr., the Official Adjudicator for the Guinness Book of World Records carefully documented the measuring by an independent official using a single wheel device to measure the length of the pizza chain from beginning to end. Mr. Gurtin was the same official who was on hand to document the pizza line efforts in Italy and London earlier in the week, so you understand that although fun, Guinness World Records takes its business very seriously!

still more PizzasMargaret, Mattie, Betty and Beth Coffeepizzas traveling on!Margaret Lewis-Mattie Lewis-Ed Clements-Beth Coffee 1023 Feet -World Record!Pizzas in the wind!

As the officials slowly made their way down the tables carefully following the measurement team and confirming that each pizza was actually touching, the man would shout out, 700 feet, 750 feet, 800 feet... volunteers are hustling to fill in the gaps of pizzas blown off the line by gusting winds and steadily adding more to the line at the end. The man shouts, 800 feet, 850 feet...900 feet! A group comes running down the hill with another 30 pizzas to add to the line but will it be enough?? 950 feet, he shouts and a roar goes up from the volunteers as the record is broken but he moves on...1,000 feet and the crowd goes wild and sill he moves on until we finally hear 1,023 FEET! Everyone breaks in to applause and cheering up and down the long line of pizzas again proving that we do things big here in Texas.

Mark Negro/Mangia Pizza-Danny Girton Jr./Guinness World RecordsPizzas winding through the park

The crowd begins breaking down the tables, gathering up and re-boxing the pizzas and meets at the start for a group picture and a ceremony. More hot pizzas are delivered and slices are handed out to the crowd as we join a large group photo taken to commemorate the event! (My daughter tells us to stand near the Mangia Dinosaur so we can find ourselves in the crowd). City Councilman, Lee Leffingwell is on hand to read a proclamation from  Mayor Will Wynn of Austin, declaring that, in honor of breaking the world record and to celebrate 20 years of being a truly Austin original, November 15th will now be recognized as "Mangia Pizza Day" in Austin Texas!

Awards ceremony

By the way, I also want to give a shout out to my very good friend Rell Rice! We have had more fun together over the years than we could ever expect...and live to tell about it! Thanks Rell! And Happy 20th Anniversary Mangia Pizza! Here's to twenty more great years from an Austin Texas Original! I have to tell you that we are all truly living the good life in Austin, Texas!

UPDATE: Mangia Pizza has a great article about the Record breaking event and were kind enough to add a link to my blog on the website: Mangia Pizza Website Announcement

 

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75 commentsRussell Lewis, Broker,CLHMS,GRI • November 17 2008 08:50AM

Rob Roy Open House-6903 Pascal Court-Sunday November 16, 2008

This Sunday, November 16th, 2008 I will be holding open an exceptional home in the gated community of Rob Roy in the Westlake/Eanes School District area. The home was built by Hugh Radney, one of Austin's finest builders and his quality workmanship and attention to detail is apparent through out. Located on a cul-de-sac and backing to a lush valley, this home offers the best of everything in the Rob Roy neighborhood to discriminating buyers!  The new price  indicates a 100K Price Reduction which makes this a very good value for both the home and the neighborhood. I will be on-site between 2pm and 4pm Sunday and if for any reason, the guard at the gate is unavailable, I can be reached at my mobile number listed below to gain access. Thanks, I look forward to seeing you there!

6903 Pascal Court

If you or anyone you know is anticipating purchasing or selling real estate in Central, West or Southwest Austin or the Westlake/Eanes Shool District area, I would be happy to assist them. I have nineteen years  success working with upscale buyers and sellers in Austin's Finest Neighborhoods.

 

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29 commentsRussell Lewis, Broker,CLHMS,GRI • November 13 2008 11:42AM

The Election is over...and we are still HERE!

The Statue of LibertyWell...the election is finally over and I can say unequivocally that I am very proud to be a citizen of this incredible experiment called Democracy. I am NOT a Red American or a Blue American but an American! Once again, we have proved that we are one of the few countries that can witness the peaceful exchange of power in spite of all the rhetoric, impassioned argument and yes even the mud-slinging. I have not spoken out much and this will be my only political post but I was very impressed by what I saw last night.

Watching John McCain speak, I was impressed by his complete calm and straight forward talk about the campaign and election.His no nonsense quelling of the initial boos during his speech was an indication of his will to take his defeat with dignity and class that has rarely been seen in recent years from ANY politician on either side of political thinking. He spoke about coming together as a nation and made it clear that he wasn't undermining Obama's chances to lead. He was so articulate regarding his praise and concession but most of all his insistence that as Americans, we WORK TOGETHER to overcome the challenges that face us ALL, "Senator Obama and I have had and argued our differences, and he has prevailed. No doubt, many of those differences remain. These are difficult times for our country, and I pledge to him tonight that I will do all in my power to help him lead us through the many challenges we face,"I urge all Americans who supported me to join not only in congratulating him, but offering our next president our good will and honest effort to find the necessary compromises to bridge our differences." John McCain proved to our country and the world that he is a man of honor and self respect and that he values his love of our country and his service to our way of living above all else.

President Elect Obama's speech was more sober than I would have first imagined but as has been the case all along, his words, though eloquent, were grounded in the reality of the enormous hardships and challenges that we as a nation face together. "If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer. To those Americans whose support I have yet to earn, I may not have won your vote tonight, but I hear your voices. I need your help. And I will be your president too. "This is our time to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth, that, out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope. And where we are met with cynicism and doubts and those who tell us that we can't, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes, we can." I tend to be a skeptic at times but Obama seems to be just as much a patriot acs McCain. His statements are admirable sentiments and in the future we will learn if they can be turned into reality with the involvement of all of us as a nation.

Today is Wednesday, November 5th 2008 and it's great to be an American. I did not get everything I wanted out of this election (no one ever does) but I am proud to be a part of a political system that allows us to disagree (sometimes vehemently) and still move forward TOGETHER. It's now about 7:50am here in Texas and I am headed out for a morning run. After that, I am going to work because we have a lot to do ahead of us and it's time to get cracking. We will have to wait and see where this will take us all but again, I am still amazed at the way our great nation works and have to agree with the words of Tim Russert, "What a country!"

 

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93 commentsRussell Lewis, Broker,CLHMS,GRI • November 05 2008 10:21AM

The Luxury of Actually Owning a Home - Giving back in Austin Texas and Beyond!

AFHS LOGOI remember sitting in church in 1996 and seeing a couple walk on to the pulpit wearing tool belts. Odd, yes and then they began talking about a group called "Habitat for Humanity". Francis and Lori Fey speaking at River Bend Church http://www.riverbend.com/  introduced me to the organization. Along with a few others, I met them after church and agreed to help out with the next River Bend/Habitat Build for the Norma Avalos Family.(One of many sponsored by River Bend)

Before entering real estate in 1989, I had a construction background of over sixteen years as an Apprentice, Journeyman Carpenter, Construction Foreman and Furniture Designer/Builder but never encountered anything quite like "Habitat for Humanity". I was a fan of Jimmy Carter and say what you will about his years as President, he has gone on to prove that he is a true humanitarian and does indeed practice what he preaches! What's great about a Habitat site is that every work day begins with a prayer, no one starts a fight and you only hear a few bad words. And I will admit that they usually are uttered by me. (Old habits are hard to break but I am improving). Since working on that home in 1996, I have worked on various builds, homes and projects as a Carpenter, Crew leader and House leader for  Austin Habitat for Humanity

Gulf Port Family BuildAs a Real Estate Broker, I work with buyers and sellers of upscale homes in the luxury market in Austin Texas. I enjoy my work immensely and make a good living. I do have to say that it's incredibly gratifying seeing a family that is "in-between" (not able to qualify for a regular mortgage but making too much to receive assistance) get the chance to own a home! I remember one year at a house dedication where all of the family was there except for one of the children who had just left for college. That's cool that a poor working class family could actually get child in to a school but what was mind boggling was the circumstance. The mom barely spoke English. Both she and her husband worked multiple jobs to raise the family and make sure the kids took school seriously. In fact, the son who left for college had a PERFECT ATTENDANCE RECORD for TWELVE YEARS. I was so impressed by that dedication and perseverance and by the fact that Habitat indeed represents the concept of: "A hand up, not a hand out!" Click on this link to learn more about Austin Habitat for Humanity

Habitat Volunteer CrewThis year I had the good fortune to travel to Gulfport Mississippi and participate in the annual Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project 2008 - The Gulf Coast to help with rebuilding nearly three years after Katrina. It was an unbelievable experience and with my friend, Pat Horne, I worked with volunteers from all over the country to restore homes that were that had been severely damaged. The homes had new roofs installed, were stripped to the studs, sheet rocked and textured. Our crew painted the interior (I will never again say that painters have it easy!), installed flooring and new doors, trimmed out all windows and door frames and installed new cabinetry.

What was incredibly gratifying was working with so many young AmeriCorps volunteers. Wonderfully gifted and hard working, most of them in college or headed for graduate school and with such a great attitude. (They even helped me overcome my prejudice about vegetarians and VEGANS!) If you ever have doubts about the next generation, you can stop worrying. There were several local volunteers who also took time off from work to help out and it was truly a communal effort. No matter where you are, there is probably a Habitat For Humanity affiliate nearby. Check them out when you have a chance and you should make the effort to "make some time". I promise that after showing up you will learn something about building, meet some new friends and leave with more than you can imagine in the way of experience, new understanding and a true sense of thankfulness.

Crew Picture with the Carter's

One of the things I had hoped to accomplish this year was to actually meet Jimmy Carter and maybe get a picture. Well, I finally got my  chance. The Carter's worked on one of the new builds and also attended the different functions that ended each work day. I was amazed at the boundless energy of both of them as they put in long hours each day and hope that I also have that kind of energy and drive when I am older. On the last day before everyone departed for home, the Carters showed up to have pictures taken with the different housing crews. I was pretty excited and managed to say hello and shake their hands. The picture was taken and when I received it later this summer...there I was, with my eyes completely shut...looking like Forrest Gump! Ah well...it just gives me a reason to show up again next year and if you have the opportunity, I hope you do too! I would like to thank my friends Pat Horne (House lead on too many homes to list), Donita Haden (long time Austin volunteer coordinator), Michael Willard (Austin Director of Habitat for Humanity) and all of the other volunteers with whom I have had the honor of working side by side with over the years to improve our community! 

For more information and to volunteer with a Habitat For Humanity affiliate or Habitat re-Store near you check out the International Habitat site at: Habitat For Humanity International

Remember, it's a hand up...not a hand out!

 

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58 commentsRussell Lewis, Broker,CLHMS,GRI • November 01 2008 12:38PM

Halloween Voting Guidelines in Austin Texas!

Halloween PranksterI love living in Austin, Texas. The saying "Keep Austin Weird" is especially appropriate at Halloween and this year is no different.  With the election looming and early voters turning out in droves the local newspaper posted an article on the rules of voting in or out of costume and guidelines about campaigning near the poll sites!

Katie Humphrey of the AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN wrote that "Ghosts and witches are welcome at polling places today." However, Texas election law prohibits electioneering - advocating for a particular candidate or party - within 100 feet of the exterior door of a polling place. Usually that means election judges are looking for campaign buttons, candidate T-shirts and signs. This year, thanks to Halloween landing on the final day of early voting, candidate look-alikes will be added to that list.

What makes this even funnier is the huge number of people dressed to look like Obama, McCain and the overwhelming favorite Sarah Palin. Now...if you are a natural look alike then it's okay but no costumed "current" political characters are allowed! Don't show up dressed as ANY person on the ballot from George Bush to minor local characters or even as Elephants or Donkeys! All ghosts, goblins and any other characters will have to remove a mask before voting too!

The turnout for early voting is expected to peak today at more than 50,000 people today so the chances of trick-or-treaters showing up at  the polls are more apparent than in the past! Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir is happy that there sis so much interest in voting this year and stated ""We would just as soon they wear their costumes in and vote on the way to the Halloween party"

Good Advice...now GO VOTE and Trick or Treat from Austin Texas!

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

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32 commentsRussell Lewis, Broker,CLHMS,GRI • October 31 2008 03:30PM