The Good Life in Austin Texas


If MeMe's were Guitars...

Red Guitar







This! it's a long cersion and really takes off at 2:25, enjoy!

or this...

and one of my life long favorites

Don't let my taste for this type of music fool you, I am not about any particular style or type of music (My ipod is the most confusing shuffle you will ever hear) and it is the same with the rest of MeMe too...

I am - a serious person who does not take a whole lot of things too seriously.

I think - thousands of different thoughts every day and sometimes it is like a committee discussion but fortunately I do not act on every single thought that "pops' into my head!

I can - do just about anything I put my mind to as long as it's a good blend of dreaming and a nod to realistic expectations. Yeah, yeah I know but there are some things we gotta remember like gravity, the laws of nature, thermodynamics etc. etc.

I want - to make a difference in my family, my community and the world, no matter how small. I learned from my father to help others from a young age and that we have to make an individual effort. There is no such thing as the "compassionate conservative".

I have- a tendency to talk way too much so I make a continuous effort to try and slow down and listen and think before I begin speaking.

I wish- I could spend all my time traveling, playing, exploring, learning, reading, watching movies, listening to music, cooking, eating, volunteering, hiking, camping, hunting, running, relaxing and sharing it with my family. I am not one of those people who will waste away when I retire!

I hate - liars and bullies and always have a soft spot for the underdog, the underprivileged and the abused. Having said that, I have made a conscious effort to remove the word from my vocabulary because hate in any form is always destructive!

I miss - my Father in more ways than you can imagine but I have learned to let him go and cherish his love and everything he taught me.

I fear- the forces of power and politics are Balkanizing us as a people and that there is actually very little difference between us and and our neighbors. Unfortunately the 20% making up the extremes continue to try and convinced us that everything is black and white.

I feel - that my sometime cynical nature will keep me from seeing the best in other people, situations or circumstances. And I have learned that it can take more than prayer and meditation to solve a dilemma.

I hear- the sounds of the cicada's buzzing in the Texas heat outside in the valley behind my house. The birds at feeder and the the other everyday sounds of my life that are so familiar and comforting to me. Come back next month and the sounds will be different.

I smell- something good in the kitchen, her scent when we hold on to each other, the aroma of rich coffee when we wake up each day and the cool air during a morning run!

I search - for ways to be a better person, Husband and Father and have learned that when we search for wisdom, knowledge or any other attribute it is not just given to us, NOPE, we are given "opportunities" to learn the things we seek and it can be a real pain at times!

I regret - nothing anymore...It is an emotion that robs me of the time I could otherwise spend being happy and  enjoying the present.

I love - being alive; the first thought when I wake up every day is "Thank you for this day" followed by "Thank you for my beautiful wife and children".

I care- about others and value loyalty and honesty more than any other attribute in friends and family and anyone who I meet.

I always - thought God watched you until he got bored and then he killed you! What an incredible surprise to learn that I was wrong and that my life is filled with Grace.

I am not - a person who backs down from a confrontation, ignores problems or hides from the truth and I almost always speak up!

I believe - that my Ego is NOT my Amigo and that resentment is like taking poison and hoping the other person will suffer.

I dance - when no one is looking and sometimes "bust a move" in public without thinking. My wife and I will dance around the house for no particular reason and I guess it's just the music sometimes...

I sing- out loud, completely absent minded along with my iPod when I am running and do not realize it until I see the amused looks on the faces of other people on the trail.

I don't always - get started right away because I  sometimes procrastinate and it is something I continue to work on in a constructive way.

I write - but not that well. If I could write like I talk it would be a breeze but putting it down does not flow as easily from my brain to my fingers as it does when verbalized. Then again I talk too much at times!

I win- every time I slow down and really listen, take my time and make a conscious effort to understand rather than be understood.

I lose - my peace, joy and bliss, when I allow some person, place or thing in my life to keep me from being happy and productive.

I never - want to lose my enthusiasm for living, my ability to enjoy the world and the great sense of imagination and humor that seems to be part of my genetic makeup!

I listen- to every kind of music imaginable so don't be fooled by the guitars, My ipod would thoroughly confuse a future anthropologist because it has Heavy Metal  and Mozart, blues, Rock, jazz, fusion Reggae, Funk, classical, experimental and well, you get the idea...And of course..I AM from Texas!

I can usually be found- wondering around in my thoughts because sometimes my mind has a mind of it's own.

I'm scared of - very few things (I cannot stand snakes) but I know that when I am in fear, I need to look at it and figure out why, then do something about it.

I read - everything I can get my hands on, I am interested in so many things that I usually read more than one book at a time!

I forget - but I am still learning that forgiveness is the gift you give yourself.

I just - have two prejudices; vegetarians (and their Hezbollah like compatriots, vegans) and the rude people who drive small BMW's. Although this summer I have become more tolerant and understanding of the former but less so with the latter.

I am happy about - the fact I am enjoying having a GREAT LIFE and that no matter what happens everything is going to be alright. No really, it me on this one!

And something to send you along...  gently and with a simple melody...

Thanks to Jennifer for the invitation and inspiration and also Jason & Jason 

I tag: marti  and Liz and Brad (unless he has already been tagged this go around)

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44 commentsRussell Lewis, Broker,CLHMS,GRI • August 29 2008 12:44AM

Barton Springs Eternal!

It is 102 degrees, the middle of August in Austin, Texas and IT IS HOT! I feel the sweat dripping down the small of my back as I step across theBarton Creek Pool concrete to the edge of the pool. Looking back, I see my friend kicking off his sandals and realize he does not suspect anything unusual. I look out over the clear; inviting, incredibly beautiful water and pause...hesitating because I know what is coming. I turn and quickly push off before I lose my nerve, diving into the water. The crashing sound of the water and bubbles fills my ears as I slip beneath the surface. Almost immediately my body reacts in shock to the icy cold water and I struggle to the surface. It takes everything I can muster to not scream as the astonishing cold envelops my body. Actually it is such a complete jolt that I can only struggle for breath as I try to swim slowly away from the pools edge determined not to make a sound or let on what is happening.

OH @%$#!After only a few moments my friend shouts "How's does it feel?" With great effort, I try to appear nonchalant and endeavor to answer in a calm voice "Come on in...the waters fine!" I turn away and try to deal with the intense temperature change from the heat of the day to the chill of the pool and not give away the "surprise"! Slowly treading water I watch as he takes a running jump from the edge of the pool and does a can-opener into the sparkling clear water. In a split second he surfaces in a roar of splashing water and as he flails about begins to shriek and well...he's not making as much noise as you would imagine because he is also gasping for air exactly the same wayI did a few moments earlier!  I ahhhhhhh *#@# Oh sh*^%rggghhh ohh Nooooo %*$#* aiejhsgdb @$%%^@ is all he can manage to howl as he thrashes about and attempts to find the edge of the pool and relief from the semi-arctic chill freezing his astonished body! I am laughing as I swim further out to hopefully avoid any immediate retaliation from my friend. After a few moments he calls out and say. You are such a  %#*&% but this is starting to feel pretty good! I start laughing and notice that several other nearby swimmers do the same. And so another person is introduced to the icy cold joy of a swim in Barton Springs Pool!

Barton Creek Pool 

Barton Springs Pool has been a popular attraction for years since it became part of a city park in 1917. In 1929, workers enlarged the irregular-shaped pool to 1,000 feet long by building a concrete lower dam and sidewalks on both banks. In 1932, the city added an upper dam. Over the years the springs has been the site of a flour mill, a source of drinking water for many citizens and a popular location for baptisms, family picnics, social gatherings, musical performances, fishing and swimming. Swimming   



The City Of Austin Website describes the history of the pool:
"Native Americans called them the Sacred Springs and came there to heal their wounds. Spanish friars believed to be the first European settlers in the Austin area set up three temporary missions at the springs in 1730-31 before they moved to San Antonio. In 1837, William "Uncle Billy" Barton, built his rustic cabin on a tract of land which included the springs. Since he owned several adjoining tracts, the area came to be known as the "Bartons". He named the three springs after his daughters Parthenia, Eliza and Zenobia. The largest spring became known as the main spring at Barton Springs Pool. Another spring feeds the Elks Amphitheater pool that Zilker built near the present day Barton Springs Pool. A third spring bubbles up from the Sunken Garden on the east side of the park."


  Swimmers & Divers 

Swimmers are incredibly loyal and the website talks about one particular fan:

"Beverly Sheffield, who served as director of the Austin Parks and Recreation Department from 1946-1973, swam at Barton Springs for 73 years, longer than any of today's regular swimmers. He began when he was 10 years old and on into his 80s, Sheffield continued to go the pool three days a week, weather permitting until his death."


Barton Springs Pool

Barton Springs Pool
Is the fourth largest natural springs in the state. and the crown jewel of Austin, Texas located within the 358 acres of Zilker Park. The pool is over three acres in size and is fed by natural springs that flow nearly 27 MILLION gallons of clear, icy cold water every day. The average temperature is 68 degrees year round (ironically this same chill is perfect for winter lap swimmers in the winter because the water is so much warmer than the air temperature during the colder months.)

But you will not get me in that pool in the winter!

      Barton Springs Pool




Almost every person who has ever visited the city hears about the pool one way or the other from a native or previous visitor.While working on the post for this blog I spoke with a number of swimmers and sunbathers and most all had been coming here for years but there I did meet a  group who were experiencing the pool for the first time. All were amazed at the incomparable beauty because although these pictures are beautiful (some taken my me but the best ones by my associate Tom Coplen) you really have to see and experience it to believe it. Every time I stop by for a swim I still search for words to adequately describe the experience and usually end up falling short.      

 another cold splash!                                                                     


Oh...I almost forgot, my friend did forgive me while still threatening to maintain the option of getting even with me at a future date. Later when my friend and I are joined by our wives at the pool, he tells me in a hushed tone "Don't say anything, I want to pull the same stunt on my wife" and so it goes on and on.

Barton Springs Pool

Come on in...the water's fine!

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70 commentsRussell Lewis, Broker,CLHMS,GRI • August 25 2008 12:03PM

The sign said "OPEN HOUSE" but I felt like I was entering a Used Car Lot!

 Used car salesman                                                                           

Hello...hello??? Are you open today?    

I walk out from the kitchen to see the woman cautiously peering through the door and say "Sure...Come on in! There IS an Open House sign out front and several more planted at various nearby intersections so it should be obvious. The woman opens the door further and steps in followed by a man who quickly darts into an adjacent room before I can begin to introduce myself and start some kind of conversation.

This was how it used to be!

What changed everything was the day a close friend repeated the title of this post "The sign said "OPEN HOUSE" but I felt like I was entering a Used Car Lot!What is worse is the fact that it was his home I was holding open that day! He went on to explain that though I was different in almost every way from his previous experiences with Realtors, Open House's always made him feel pressured. So here I am talking to a close friend who knows and trusts me and I realize that if he feels uneasy then imagine what the general public must think! The general public has all kinds of misconceptions, fears and misgivings when it comes to Realtors on many levels and open house are no different. Some of the reasons the public is uncomfortable with the Open House are well founded. Often new agents are stationed in the open house to find buyers. Nice concept but a hungry, inexperienced new agent and a person "just looking" is a prescription for failure. Sometimes an agent will hold a house open for the seller and does not want to be there and is only doing it to get the seller off of his back. Again, another situation that is not positive for the agent or anyone who walks into the house, with a genuine interest in the home and the market!

I still do a couple of houses a month but I have a completely different attitude and expectations!                                                                                            Open House welcome                   

1) I do not expect to sell someone this house today! (I do not care for pushy sales persons either!)

2) I always provide a list of similar homes in the area and a description that will help the prospects when they leave and "drive by" other homes in the area. It is alsoa good way to start talking!

3) I always welcome neighbors and over the years have developed a large clientele from the folks I have met at open houses. It is an incredible referral and information base.

4) I take my work and laptop with me to stay busy in case the time goes by s l o w l y...(It's a great time to catch up on Active Rain)

5) Because of my laid back attitude I actually end up working with 2 or 3 buyers a year and at least one listing.

6) The best thing that has happened is that I now post a sign on the front door that says in big red letters "This is NOT a Used car Lot" and some verbiage to put the prospects at ease. Now, when they walk through the door they are usually laughing and the folks that want to visit are more comfortable while the "lookers" do not have to scurry around avoing any sontact with the "Realtor".

There is not a neighborhood where this will not work. My most recent open houses ranged from $970,000 to $3,875,000 so don't take anything for granted or be afraid to use some humor and always know what your talking about (don't EVER fake it).

If your searching for a different approach (or attitude) try it and send me a comment later and let me know how it works out!



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120 commentsRussell Lewis, Broker,CLHMS,GRI • August 23 2008 11:16AM

Cheap Thrills...

August 12th, 2008

Forty years ago today Cheap Thrills the seminal work by Texas artist Janis Joplin and Big Brother and the Holding company was released. This was the album that proved to be the breakout for Janis and sold over a million copies (what would have been multi-platinum by today's standards) and set her on the road to legend. There are so many great songs on this album that you will always get an argument about which is best but I like everything on the record! The cover features artwork by one of the most original and incredibly weird artists of the 60's R. Crumb (check out the documentary; Crumb). Bill Graham used to introduce the band as "Four gentlemen and one Great, Great Broad...Big Brother & the Holding Company!"


Enjoy the clip and buy the CD or download; this is both a compelling recording from the time and timeless at the same time. From one of a long line of interesting musicians from Texas!


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16 commentsRussell Lewis, Broker,CLHMS,GRI • August 12 2008 04:14PM

Guess who's turning 50 this year?

Many baby boomer celebrities will cross the big Fifty Year line this year. It's funny in a way because in our area we now call homes built in the 1950's "Mid-Century". Yes, I passed the mark several years back myself but never really thought of myself as "older". Like they say it's all in your head. After seeing a list posted in the newspaper, I feel a sort of vindication because most of these folks are still rocking along (and not in rocking chairs).

I guess this attitude runs in my family because years ago, when my Father turned 70, I asked him how it felt. He replied "Now I know what it's like to be middle aged"! Words I am living by myself today!



Michael Jackson

Ellen DeGeneres

Michelle Pfeiffer

Jamie Lee Curtis

Alan Jackson

Tanya Tucker

Viggo Mortensen

Kevin Bacon

Patricia Heaton


Grandmaster Flash

Mark Cuban

Angela Bassett

Belinda Carlisle

Tim Burton

Dr. Drew Pinsky

Jeff Foxworthy

Chris Columbus

Jennifer Tilly

Lita Ford

Marty Stuart

Simon Le Bon

Robert Patrick

Kim Delaney

Candace Bushnell

Nikki Sixx

Prince Albert

Holly Hunter

Andie McDowell

Alec Baldwin

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27 commentsRussell Lewis, Broker,CLHMS,GRI • August 07 2008 09:32AM

Do you believe in Fairy Tales? For those who INSIST on talking politics...

I think my grandmother was right when she told me that we should never discuss religion or politics in "polite company". With that said, I have noticed a larger number of posts with a political bent lately so when I came across this little illustration I thought "What the heck; when it comes to politics and the ongoing political season, every side seems to want to promise us something for everyone".

I thought this little illustration said it perfectly:

Fairy Tales

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72 commentsRussell Lewis, Broker,CLHMS,GRI • August 04 2008 09:40PM

Competing with Commission Cutters and Discount Brokers -Any other ideas?

Sale! Sale! Sale

Everyone deals with this question on a fairly regular basis. "Will you reduce your commission? I do not like people getting into my back pocket but it is a reality and of course everything is negotiable. Here are some questions I ask of potential sellers. Discount

•1)    Would reduce your salary for the job you perform? This is what you are asking a Realtor to do and they also have to pay for all of their expenses, taxes and give a portion their commission to their broker.

•2)    Selling your home is not just putting a sign in the yard, a listing in MLS and an ad in the paper. Do you realize that selling your home can be very stressful even in the best of situations? Do you know all the legal requirements in your state, the legal issues of proper disclosures and protocol?

•3)    What services and marketing are you willing to forego for a reduction in commission?

•4)    Do you understand the role of title companies, which lenders close on time, inspectors, appraisers and the many other people who will be involved in the sale of your home?

•5)     Do you know that current statistics show that homes fail to sell, sell for less and take longer to sell with MLS Entry Only or limited service brokers?

•6)    Do you have a marketing plan? What part of mine (marketing to agents, print ads, brochures, marketing to the public, online marketing, do you know about any of the online services and web sires beyond MLS and Realtor sites, and do you have your own website?

•7)    Do you know anything about Active Rain?

That is a start and it is best to NOT belabor the point and instead concentrate on all the positives and what you will provide to EARN that commission. I do understand a seller's reluctance and somewhat distrustful attitude because there are plenty of people in real estate industry who do not perform up to professional standards. On the other hand there are many full time professionals who work diligently every day to earn every dollar for their services along with many satisfied customers who are glad they employed a real estate agent to help them with what (for most) is the single most important investment of their lives.

 There was a recent program on 60 Minutes that dealt with discounting and commission cutting Realtors that sparked a huge number of emails and responses.

My favorite was from an anonymous Realtor:

"You can sell your home yourself, sell your car yourself, sell your body yourself; but will you fetch the best price?Also, are you going to want to deal with all of the associated hassles? Probably not. I've seen people attempt to sell their own homes and most of them I have converted into clients. They are gung-ho about the prospect of saving big bucks on real estate agent services, until they realize - and I know that some of you will have a hard time believing this - how hard real estate agents really work, especially in this market. They also realize how much money we pay in advertising when they attempt to list their homes for sale in the newspaper. Sure, we can make big bucks, but we also have huge expenses. And, I'm not only talking about the fancy cars we have to buy and maintain to impress you. No, it's the dues, the advertising, the desk fees, the insurance, the gas, etc., etc., etc. And, the hours, don't get me started. We take calls during movies, family birthday parties and weddings. Heck, an agent returned my call yesterday in between the funeral service and the burial! We work hard for our clients. Sure, there are some agents who are just in it for the money, but most of them are now in traditional jobs with guaranteed incomes. They went back to the "real world" after they realized that representing buyers/sellers is hard work and expensive.

Sell your own home. I don't care anymore than Nordstrom cares that you shop at Wal-Mart.

-Hard Working Realtor

In the end you may have to just let it go and move on to clientele that have a better grasp of business and a realistic attitude. It will save you a lot of time and unnecessary stress!

I look forward to other feedback and suggestions and thanks!  Russell  




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83 commentsRussell Lewis, Broker,CLHMS,GRI • August 02 2008 07:15AM

Create your own Funny Street signs!

I just saw a post about "Funny signs" and remembered a really humorous site where you can create your own funny street, building, highway and other signs with your own dialogue.

Go to:

Currently there is a Bar-Be-Que Restaurant sign but you can scroll down and see more for your posting pleasure. I have used the sight many tomes to create funny or sarcastic signs for friends and clients and then send it to them by email. At first look it appears like you have taken a picure of a real sign and it always gets a reaction.

Try it and I guarantee you will laugh (and probably waste some time creating your own signs!

Enjoy! Now I have to get back to work!


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38 commentsRussell Lewis, Broker,CLHMS,GRI • August 01 2008 10:36AM