Holiday Gift Guide 39
Make your holidays fabulous with unique gifts from local shops
Where the Girls Are 46
Austin Girls' Choir finds its voice, its community, and seeks its place in Austin's performing arts scene
by Bonnie Neel
Growing Leaders From the Ground Up 51
Urban Roots teaches teens life skills, community action and to eat their vegetables, all through sustainable, organic farming
by Melissa LaMunyon
Arts Feature 7
A deeper connection: Conspirare takes choral music global
by Bonnie Neel
Arts Buzz 8
Holiday spirit off the beaten path
by Bonnie Neel
Arts & Entertainment 9
Art, music, theatre, books and more
Compiled by Laura Blewitt
Out & About 14
The lowdown on what's going on
Compiled by Laura Blewitt
Far apart for the holidays, military couples try to cope
by Karen Kreps
Seeking Spirit 19
Why I want my daughter to go to a women's college
by Becca Hensley
Free Thought 20
Where do our values lie?
by Tom Palaima
In the Garden 31
A blooming good holiday with a flowery friend
by Cecilia Nasti
December in the Garden 33
December Garden Events 33
Downsizing in the sky: Couple's loft life is in place with smaller space
by Amy E. Lemen
Austin Original 50
Calvin's Fine Jewelry
by Shelley Seale
How to unwind this holiday season
by Michelle Moon Reinhardt
Releasing the Pain 57
Rolfing manipulates connective tissue to rebalance the body
by Karen Branz Leach
Om for the holidays
by Carla Birnberg
Daily adult recess may have life-saving benefits
by Karen Branz Leach
The Buzz 62
Health, wellness & fitness activities abound
Compiled by Laura Blewitt
Holiday Gift Guide 39
Make your holidays fabulous with unique gifts from local shops
Where the Girls Are 46
Austin Girls' Choir finds its voice, its community, and seeks its place in Austin's performing arts scene
by Bonnie Neel
Growing Leaders From the Ground Up 51
Urban Roots teaches teens life skills, community action and to eat their vegetables, all through sustainable, organic farming
by Melissa LaMunyon
Arts Feature 7
A deeper connection: Conspirare takes choral music global
by Bonnie Neel
Arts Buzz 8
Holiday spirit off the beaten path
by Bonnie Neel
Arts & Entertainment 9
Art, music, theatre, books and more
Compiled by Laura Blewitt
Out & About 14
The lowdown on what's going on
Compiled by Laura Blewitt
Far apart for the holidays, military couples try to cope
by Karen Kreps
Seeking Spirit 19
Why I want my daughter to go to a women's college
by Becca Hensley
Free Thought 20
Where do our values lie?
by Tom Palaima
In the Garden 31
A blooming good holiday with a flowery friend
by Cecilia Nasti
December in the Garden 33
December Garden Events 33
Downsizing in the sky: Couple's loft life is in place with smaller space
by Amy E. Lemen
Austin Original 50
Calvin's Fine Jewelry
by Shelley Seale
How to unwind this holiday season
by Michelle Moon Reinhardt
Releasing the Pain 57
Rolfing manipulates connective tissue to rebalance the body
by Karen Branz Leach
Om for the holidays
by Carla Birnberg
Daily adult recess may have life-saving benefits
by Karen Branz Leach
The Buzz 62
Health, wellness & fitness activities abound
Compiled by Laura Blewitt
A Deeper Connection
Conspirare Takes Choral Music Global
by Bonnie Neel
“It’s about the transformative power of music, really, and it’s also about people.”
With these simple words, Craig Hella Johnson, artistic director and founder of Conspirare, sums up the unique mission and experience of Austin’s professional award-winning choral ensemble. The name itself, “conspirare,” is Latin for “to breathe together,” and inclusiveness and connection are hallmarks of Conspirare’s style.
“We are just trying to find that land between secular and sacred. One that is between art music and popular music,” says Johnson. Formed in 1991 as the New Texas Festival, Conspirare made the leap from an annual spring festival to a year-around concert organization in 1999. Johnson is the driving creative force, both writing and arranging music as well as conducting this choir of professional singers, an anomaly in the world of choral music.
“Last time we checked we were one of thirteen cities in the nation that had a professional choral ensemble,” says Johnson. “To professionalize (choral ensemble singers) is to place value on the skill sets and artistry that these singers bring. They are all solo singers in their own right, but each one is really also committed to ensemble artistry. It requires a certain kind of temperament and takes an extraordinary person with extraordinary gifts of listening.”
In addition to the professional choral ensemble, Conspirare is also comprised of a symphonic choir made up of both professional and volunteer singers who perform annually, and the Conspirare Youth Choir, made up of singers ages nine to sixteen.
“Philadelphia likes to use the term ‘singing city’ and I would very much like to claim that for Austin,” says Johnson. “We are all about singing, literally. So whether you are a kid in the Conspirare youth choir, the professional core or the symphonic choir, there are lots of opportunities (for Austin) to become symbolically, a singing city.”
Well on its way, Conspirare will present its popular Christmas at the Carillon series this month with performances at the Carillon Chapel and the Long Center. These performances aren’t very “Christmassy” in the traditional sense but they blend secular and sacred music in a way that connects with everyone in the audience.
“If this was really the season of love and of giving, then I didn’t think that something we did musically could in any way be exclusive of anybody,” says Johnson. “(The Christmas concert began as) an experiment along these lines where what if we just put some different styles side by side, and let the music symbolically represent us. This guy loves Palestrina (an Italian Renaissance composer), this guy loves Johnny Cash, and this guy loves jazz.”
Conspirare brings all these musical tastes together. Last year’s concert featured Gregorian chants, songs by Sam Cooke and Leonard Cohen, and even a new arrangement of the My Fair Lady tune, “I Could Have Danced All Night.” This year’s concert will feature guest artist Eliza Gilkyson. While the choir will sing some of her songs, she’ll sing some of its, and together they will sing a new arrangement of a song called “The “Day of Jubilo” by Gilkyson’s father, songwriter Terry Gilkyson, best known for his Academy Award-nominated song “The Bare Necessities” from the movie The Jungle Book.
“I just want to force ourselves not to be in a place where we are limited by labels. I don’t really think of it as crossover,” says Johnson. “I think we are just forcing these styles to live side by side and try to create something else.”
And it’s working as Conspirare continues to collect accolades globally. In 2006, it was awarded a seventy-five thousand dollar grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to hold a national symposium called “Crossing the Divide: Exploring Influence and Finding Our Voice,” which highlighted the American choral tradition. More than six hundred singers visited Austin to learn about American music. In 2007, Conspirare’s second album, Requiem, was nominated for two Grammy awards, including Best Choral Performance.
This past summer Conspirare was the only choir from the United States invited to the prestigious Eighth World Symposium on Choral Music in Copenhagen, Denmark. “It was a real honor to be invited,” says Johnson. The choir performed an arrangement of Gilkyson’s song “Requiem,” which she had written in response to the 2006 tsunami. Backstage was a young girls choir from Indonesia with some members who were orphaned by the tsunami.
“When (the girls choir) came up and sang, they just blew us away with their artistry. But then at the end they had told us how much it meant to them to hear Conspirare,” says Johnson. “They gave me this beautiful shawl and wrapped it around me and they were all singing and dancing around us. It was just this incredible feast of connection.”
Conspirare excels at connecting people with the music, from Johnson’s passionate conducting style to the eclectic musical arrangements to fund-raising mantras. “When I am conducting, the music from the singers is coming through me. I feel a deep connection with the audience behind me knowing that so many of them have just simply made it possible,” says Johnson. “These songs would not occur in our world were it not for these people who had a vision to say, ‘I want this sound in the world and I am going to put my money toward that.’ It’s really incredible, and we are kind of co-creators.”
A company of voices is something greater than the sum of its parts. Conspirare with Johnson at the helm has created a sound and a voice that seeks to connect us all. And I, for one, am excited to be a part of it.
Bonnie was a little star-struck upon meeting Craig Hella Johnson. Don’t tell anyone. Contact her at email@example.com.
Holiday spirit off the beaten path
by Bonnie Neel
The holiday season is upon us and with it come the staples of the arts scene with Austin Symphony Orchestra’s production of Handel’s Messiah (December 9 at the Riverbend Center) and Ballet Austin’s Nutcracker (December 6-23 at The Long Center). Both are guaranteed to be spectacular. But let me suggest a few other offerings that might make your holiday season a little spicier and a little brighter.
For the best dose of wacky, look no further than the Rude Mechanicals’ work-in-progress, I’ve Never Been So Happy, a wild western musical about how your parents can mess you up. Having just received a twenty thousand dollar grant from National Endowment for the Arts as one of the inaugural selections in the NEA New Play Development Program, the Rude Mechs invite you to come see some selected scenes December 4-13 at The Off Center. For another interesting show about parents and progeny, the edgy and ever-interesting vestige group presents Gorilla Man, (December 4-20) at the Creekside Lounge. Billed as a darkly comic coming-of-age rock ’n’ roll musical, a boy searches for his father, the legendary Gorilla Man. For more genial Christmas fare, check out Christmas Belles (December 4-21) at The City Theatre, a tale of southern holiday shenanigans by three new playwrights.
If you are looking for an unusual gift for loved ones, why not check out the art on display in the Wally Workman Gallery’s new exhibit Twelve (December 6-23)? Exhibited artist Erin Cone’s work reminds me of intimate portraits by Edward Hopper. A few blocks away, Art on Fifth is hosting its Holiday Show (through December 30) featuring some two hundred paintings by more than twenty artists, most priced under a thousand dollars.
If that is a bit out of your price range, for ten dollars you can watch the local comedy group Improv for Evil stage Cochise!, a completely improvised homage to the seventies TV cop shows, running Saturday nights (December 6-20) at the Hideout Theatre. Austin Shakespeare is getting into the holiday musical spirit with Celebrate! A Musical Revue (December 16-21) at Austin Ventures Studio Theatre with a selection of bright and merry tunes from some of your favorite musicals. If you are feeling adventurous—and I promise you won’t regret it—check out the Invincible Czars’ Holiday Show featuring its Electric Nutcracker Suite (a genre-hopping, ear-bending, orchestral rock interpretation of Tchaikovsky’s original) at the Mohawk December 19. Joining in will be The Golden Arm Trio headed by Graham Reynolds. Christmas has never sounded this fresh, alive and out of this world.
For the movie buff, Alamo Drafthouse Downtown is paying homage to the prettiest blue eyes that ever graced the screen by showing Paul Newman’s Cool Hand Luke (December 14-16) as part of its Big Screen Classics series. On December 21, Alamo Drafthouse South hosts A Christmas Story: Roast Duck N’ More, with a screening of the goofy classic holiday film that inspired the Alamo’s menu of mashed potatoes and Chinese roasted duck.
Finally, after all the holiday zaniness has passed and you are looking for a nice, quiet New Year’s outing, prepare yourself for The Flying Karamazov Brothers with the Austin Symphony Orchestra (December 30-31) at the Palmer Events Center. Yes, our very own ASO will round out the Sarah and Ernest Butler Holiday Pops season with the legendary vaudevillians, jugglers and variety entertainers. It’s things like this that make me love this town.
Have the happiest of holidays, Austin. See you next year.
Fully committed to the holiday spirit, Bonnie vows to not take her tree down until March. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How to get your arts event listed: We prefer that calendar listing information be submitted by using the form on our web site at www.goodlifemag.com. Second choice is to e-mail the essential details to email@example.com. Or fax it to 512-474-5725. Or mail to PO Box 4400, Austin, Texas 78765. To be considered for inclusion, items must be received by the 15th of the month for the following month’s events. Listings are free & are published on a space-available basis.
Dec. 1-5 The Austin ISD Art Faculty: New Work: We mold creative minds during the day & by night create works of our
own. Mark your calendar & join us in celebrating a smashing exhibit of new works. The Hideout, 617 N. Congress Ave.
Dec. 1-13 Tu-Sa 11am-6pm free Sydney Yeager: Moving Parts: Ms. Yeager says of her new work, “I am influenced by what I see as well as by what I think & read. I gravitate toward things in the world that are composed of equal, minute parts. Italian mosaics are an influence on this work, but not any more than the natural limestone outcroppings I see along the shores of Lake Travis, or the flocks of blackbirds that form shapes against the Texas sky.” d berman gallery, 1701 Guadalupe St. Details: 477-8877 www.dbermangallery.com.
Dec. 1-14 free An Exhibition of Sculpture at The Crossings: The Crossings, in association with The Texas Society of Sculptors, is excited to present a juried exhibition of sculpture. Juried by Bill Keese, president of the Austin Visual Arts Association, this exhibition is open to the public & features a variety of media. The Crossings, 13500 FM 2769. Details: 225-1075 www.thecrossingsaustin.com
Dec. 1-14 free Linda Calvert Jacobson: Texas native Jacobson has combined a love of nature, wildflowers & art to create a series of paintings to celebrate spring year-round. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, 4801 La Crosse Ave. Details: 232-0100 www.wildflower.org.
Dec. 1-30 M-Sa 10am-6pm Art on 5th Holiday Show: Looking for the perfect present? ART on 5th features over 20 artists with over 200 paintings, most priced under $1,000. Our gallery artists have painted a special group of smaller works just for the holidays. Local artists, Texas artists & national artists will be featured with new originals painted just for this show. ART on 5th, 1501 W. 5th St. Details: 481-1111 www.arton5th.com.
• Dec. 4 Tu 6:30-8pm Christmas Party & Artist Reception
Dec. 1-31 M-Su free Fab’rik + Rebecca Bennett: Original Oil Paintings: fab’rik, 12801 Hill Country Blvd. Bee Cave. Details: 923-0158 www.fabrikaustin.com.
Dec. 1-31 T-F noon-6pm String Theory: The fiber art of Lauren Bristol. New East Gallery, 1601 E. 5th St. Ste. 106. Details: 477-9438 www.diversearts.org.
Dec. 1-Jan. 4 Ben Woitena: A Retrospective: A look back at 45 years of work by noted Houston sculptor Ben Woitena, ranging from the figurative to the abstract, from hydrastone to steel. In Austin, Woitena is best known for replicating the Goddess of Liberty that’s on the top of the Texas State Capitol. The Umlauf Sculpture Garden & Museum, 605 Robert E. Lee Road. Details: 445-5582 www.umlaufsculpture.org.
• Dec. 6 Sa 6-8pm Meet the Artist
Dec. 1-Jan. 5 free 2009 People’s Gallery Artwork Applications Accepted: Austin-area artists, galleries, museums & arts organizations are encouraged to apply. Applications are being accepted for 2- and 3-dimensional artworks in any medium thru Jan. 5. Application procedures & complete call for artworks are available on the Art in Public Places web site. All applications must be submitted on-line with up to 5 digital images of the artists’ available artwork. Details: Jean Graham 974-9313 <firstname.lastname@example.org> www.cityofaustin.org/aipp.
• Dec. 3 W Artist Information Meeting, City Hall, 301 W. 2nd St., Rm. 1029.
• Jan. 5 M Deadline to Apply
• Feb. 20 F Exhibit Opening Reception
Dec. 1-Jan. 11 free Rapture in Rupture: Lauren Kelley, Shiri Mordechay, Mindy Shapero & Nicolau Vergueiro: Rapture in Rupture reveals aspects of our conflicted culture thru the lens of four young artists. The “ruptures” in their respective works express (sometimes gleefully) chaos, irresolution & discomfort, perhaps alluding to the imploding rapture that has come to define our specific time & place in the world. Jones Center, 700 N. Congress Ave. Details: 453-5312 www.arthousetexas.org.
Dec. 1-Jan. 18 The New York Graphic Workshop: Showcasing over 100 prints, drawings & mixed media works, the exhibition will explore contributions made to the Conceptualist movement of the ’60s & ’70s thru the printmaking of The New York Graphic Workshop. Blanton Museum of Art, 200 E. MLK. Details: 471-7324 www.blantonmuseum.org.
Dec.1-Jan. 18 Reimagining Space: The Park Place Gallery Group in 1960s New York: An exhibition that opens a new window on the 1960s art world. In doing so, it reveals the decade to have been a period of much richer artistic possibility & complexity than standard art historical narratives suggest. Blanton Museum of Art, 200 E. MLK. Details: 471-7324 www.blantonmuseum.org.
Dec. 1-Jan. 31 weekdays 8am-6pm Fourth Annual People’s Gallery Exhibition: You can vote to choose a new piece of art to be added to the City Hall permanent collection. Stop by City Hall during weekdays to browse this year’s exhibit of local Austin artists. A free booklet is available at the information desk with all the artists’ names, titles of their artwork & maps showing where each piece is located. Austin City Hall, 301 W. 2nd St. Details: 974-9314 www.ci.aust.tx.us/cityhall/gallery.htm.
Dec. 1-Jan. 31 Sculpture by Barry George: Birds & other creatures welded out of garden tools, bicycle forks & other found objects. There are 11 of these fun & fanciful kinetic sculptures on the grounds & you can hear the artist on our cell phone audio tour. Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, 4801 La Crosse Ave. Details: 232-0100 www.wildflower.org.
Dec. 1-Feb. 8 Damian Priour’s Texas Chair Project: Priour created 100 miniature chairs made of glass & fossil-imbedded limestone. He then mailed the chairs to 100 Texas artists, asking for them to send him back one chair of their own making in return. Both celebrating the artistic impulse & investigating the chair as a rich & open-ended opportunity for exploration, the project hopes to push creative boundaries. Austin Museum of Art, 823 N. Congress Ave. Details: 495-9224 www.amoa.org.
Dec. 1-Feb. 8 Workers: Photographs by Sebastião Salgado: More than those of any other living photographer, Salgado’s images of the world’s poor stand in tribute to the human condition. The winner of numerous international photography awards, Salgado has renewed the “concerned photographer” genre. Austin Museum of Art, 823 Congress Ave. Details: 495-9224 www.amoa.org.
Dec. 1-Feb. 8 The Serie Project: Quinceañera: This exhibition features the 15th annual series of prints, including Coming of Age, a mixed-media installation dress created by Austin artist Sandra Fernández. Mexic-Arte Museum, 419 N. Congress Ave. Details: 480-9373 <email@example.com> www.mexic-artemuseum.org.
Dec. 1-Feb. 22 WorkSpace 10: Marcelo Pombo: 3 new large-scale paintings together construct a single narrative while maintaining a distinct autonomy. Blanton Museum of Art, 200 E. MLK. Details: 471-7324 www.blantonmuseum.org.
Dec. 1-March 1 Creando Fuerza: Cambio y Permanencia (Creating Strength: Change & Permanence): An exhibition of artwork & a collective portfolio of members of Consejo Gráfico, an independent network of Latino printmaking centers. The exhibiiton explores the centers’ diverse origins & dimensions, as well as their cultural resonance within the context of a broader national community of printmaking. Mexic-Arte Museum, 419 N. Congress Ave. Details: 480-9373 <firstname.lastname@example.org> www.mexic-artemuseum.org.
Dec. 1-March 8 Alternate Worlds: The Visionary Artist in Texas: A small but stirring exhibition celebrating the work of regional visionary artists. Drawn from the Blanton’s holdings, the exhibit highlights paintings & works on paper by Reverend Johnny Swearingen, one of Texas’ most inspired outsider artists & fellow Texas artists. Folk, or “visionary” art, has often been perceived as an inferior or secondary art form, but in recent years it has been recognized as both an important & equal artistic tradition. Blanton Museum of Art, 1 University Station D1303. Details: 475-6784 or www.blantonmuseum.org.
Dec. 3-4 Su-F Little Jewels: The Capitol Art Society, a group of professional artists, presents an art show of “Little Jewels” just right for Christmas giving. North Hills Gallery, 7050 Village Center Dr. Details: www.nwhillsumc.org/northhillsgallery.html.
• Dec. 9 Tu 12:15-1:30pm Reception
Dec. 6 Sa 6pm David Ohlerking Paintings & Going Away Bash: New art space featuring furniture created by Kerry Seiffert, who has exquisite taste in music & excellent furniture skills. Ohlerking is headed out East to New Jersey, so this will be his send-off bash. Blue Ocean Gallery, 411 E. St. Elmo St. Details: www.davidohlerking.com
Dec. 16-Feb. 14 free National Arts Program Exhibit: 120 City of Austin employees, retired employees & family members of employees have entered 240 works of art into the 6th annual National Arts Program in Austin. Mexican-American Cultural Center,
• Jan. 15 Th 6-8pm Opening Reception
Austin Art Space Gallery: A cooperative space for established & emerging artists to create, collaborate & present their work. There are 9 artists-in-residence at the studios. The gallery is available for rental for public & private exhibits & receptions. Details: 512-771-2868 www.austinartspace.com.
The Artist Assistance Project: The nonprofit center provides financial management, legal & management services to arts organizations & individual artists. Services offered on a sliding-fee-scale basis affordable for area artists & arts organizations. Details: Lois Jebo 451-5315.
VSA Arts of Texas, a nonprofit organization helping disabled artists have access the arts. 3710 Cedar St. Details: 440-1156 www.vsatx.org.
Dec. 1-28 free BookPeople Author Signings, Events
603 N. Lamar Blvd. unless otherwise noted. Details: 472-5050 www.bookpeople.com.
Dec. 1 M 7% Solution Book Club: discussing Sweet Silver Blues by Glen Cook
Dec. 2 T Utter Reading Series
Dec. 2 T Clive & Dirk Cussler: Arctic Drift
Dec. 3 W Rewritten History Book Club: discussing Tale Out of Luck by Willie Nelson
Dec. 4 Th Random House Pick of the Lists
Dec. 5 F Mark Winne: Closing the Food Gap
Dec. 6 Sa
Dec. 7 Su Kay McConaughey: I Amaze Myself
Dec. 7 Su Rachael Ray: Rachael Ray’s Big Orange Book
Dec. 8 M AAIM Book Club: discussing The Shack by William Young
Dec. 10 W Special Storytime with Philip Yates: Pirates Night Before Christmas
Dec. 12 F Laurence Parent: Portrait of
Dec. 13 Sa Special storytime with Laura Numeroff: If You Give a Cat a Cupcake
Dec. 15 M Ludicrous Speed Book Club: discussing Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
Dec. 25 Th BookPeople open noon-6pm
Dec. 28 Su The Voyage Out Book Club: discussing All My Friends Are Going to Be Strangers by Larry McMurtry
I’m Still Here by John Zeisel, PhD, president and cofounder of Hearthstone Alzheimer Care Ltd., explores the Alzheimer’s mind and how those who care for it can understand its intricacies. For 15 years he has spearheaded a movement that pushes a radical new Alzheimer’s treatment by embracing it. 272 pgs, hardcover, Penguin Group (USA). $24.95. Details: www.us.penguingroup.com.
Daily $5-$12 IMAX Theatre: Presents an ongoing array of feature films.
• Grand Canyon Adventure 3-D: River at Risk: Set against the immense backdrop of a natural treasure, the film takes audiences on an exhilarating adventure down the Colorado River in the company of a team of explorers who are committed to bringing awareness to global water issues.
• The Light Before Christmas: After losing their way on a cold, blustery Christmas eve, two children, Katie & Makean, are rescued by their friend, The Candleman, an old sage who imparts wisdom, hot chocolate & stories.
• Sea Monsters 3D: A Prehistoric Adventure: Thru stunning photo-realistic computer-generated 3-D animation, National Geographic transports audiences back to the Late Cretaceous period more than 65 million years ago, when a great inland sea divided North America in two & covered most of Texas. Follow a family of Dolichorhynchops as they traverse ancient waters populated with saber-toothed fish, prehistoric sharks & giant squid.
• U2 3D: The first ever live-action 3D concert film, it immerses the audience in an all-enveloping & thrilling cinematic experience.
• Wild Ocean 3D: Filmed off the Wild Coast of South Africa & set to the rhythm of the local people, this film reveals the economic & cultural impact of the ocean while celebrating the communal efforts to protect our invaluable marine resources.
Tuesdays Dec. 2-23 $0-$4 More Than Buenos Aires: Film Renaissance in Argentina: In the 1940s and ’50s,
• Dec. 2 Historias Minimas (Intimate Stories)
• Dec. 9 Hermanas (Sisters)
• Dec. 16 La Cienaga (The Swamp)
• Dec. 23 Cama Adentro (Live-in Maid)
Monday thru Friday 7:30-10pm Dance Across
• M & Th $4
• Tu $4
• W & F, $3.50 W, $4 F South Austin Senior Activity Center, 3911 Manchaca Rd. Bring a snack to share.
Mondays & Wednesdays Authentic Bellydance Classes: Zein Al-Jundi, native of
• M & W 7:45-8:45pm; F noon-1pm; Sa -6pm Beginner Bellydance
• M 6:30-7:30pm Beginner Intermediate Bellydance
• W 6:30-7:30pm Intermediate Bellydance
• M & W 6:30-6:45pm; Sa 10:45-11am free Conditioning Classes
Mondays, Wednesdays & Saturdays $13 ($66 for 6 classes) Belly Dance Classes: Texas Traditional & Classical Egyptian techniques & choreographies taught in a fast-paced fun format. Details: Drakon 750-7037 <email@example.com> www.desertpassion.com.
• M 7-8:30pm Platinum Gymnastics Academy,
• W 6:30-7:30pm Kidsport Gymnastic & Dance Studio,
• Sa 10-11:30am Dance Unlimited Studio,
Tuesdays, Wednesdays & Fridays Free Classes 1st Week Each Month: Dance Institute is offering free adult classes for new students, no strings attached, at 6612 Sitio
• Ballroom Basics Tu 6-7pm
• Salsa W 6:30-7:30pm, F 6-7pm
Wednesdays $15 Belly Dance Classes: Learn the basics of belly dance technique from 1 of Austin’s best teachers & performers. Classes focus on the foundation moves, muscle isolation & footwork that can be taken into any style. NiaSpace, 3212 S. Congress. Details: 443-3013 www.niaspace.com.
Thursdays 6:30-7:30pm $60 Austin Clickety Cloggers: Beginning lessons. The Appalachian-style dancing requires no partner. 1807 Slaughter Ln. Details: www.clicketycloggers.com.
Dec. 6 Sa $0-$10 Desert Passion Middle Eastern Dance Theater: 1st Sa each month continuing a longstanding tradition of providing stage-style belly dance shows with some of the top belly dancers in the state. Each show has 10-20 dancers in gorgeous costumes dancing to exciting Middle Eastern music! Eternal Way, 1022 S. Lamar. Details: 750-7037 www.desertpassion.com
Dec. 6-23 $15-$71 Ballet
Dec. 7 Su noon-4pm Blue Lapis Light Dancer Auditions: Blue Lapis Light,
Dec. 7 Su $5-$12 Sembrando Herencia 2008 : The Journey Back: Puerto Rican Folkloric Dance proudly debuts The Journey Back, our newest bilingual musical with an original story by PRFDance Director Ana Maria Tekina-eirú Maynard in collaboration with Rupert Reyes, director of Teatro Vivo. Don’t miss this spectacular action-adventure-comedy that will showcase 30 of our own dancers, musicians & performing arts students. Reagan High School Theater, 7104 Berkman Dr. Details: 251-8122 www.prfdance.com.
Dec. 13 Sa & $5-$7 Sahara Nights: Sabaya Bellydance Performance: Sabaya Bellydance Collective performs 2nd Sa each month. DJ & dancing after. Special guest dancers: members of Ajna Project. Tips encouraged & greatly appreciated. Copa Bar & Grill, 217 Congress Ave. Details: 974-7257 www.sabayabellydance.com.
Movin’ Easy’s Danceline: Information on dance events, performances, workshops, new classes & job opportunities. Details: 416-5700 ext. 3262. A recording lists events updated weekly for all ages & dance styles. Or visit www.movineasy.com.
Tapestry’s Fall Classes at New Location:
Mondays 7-9pm Tapestry Singers, aka Austin Women’s Chorus, wants you to sing. It’s a non-auditioned chorus; all levels of ability are welcome. Ongoing, chapel at
Wednesdays 8-11pm free Campfire Songs Open Mic: The vibe is great & it’s a great place to try new songs, get in front of new people, network with other musicians or just hear some great music. Irie Bean Coffee Bar, 2310 S. Lamar,
Thursdays Dec. 4-18 free Downtown Noonday Concert Series: Held at Central Presbyterian Church,
• Dec. 4
• Dec. 11
• Dec. 18 Pinnacle Brass: Music of the Season
Thursdays, Fridays or Saturdays 3-5pm $75 Austin Vocal Lab: The Vocal Exploration (Singing & Speaking): Shatter myths about the voice & express your fierceness. Anyone can sing & speak extremely well, barring a birth defect, complete deafness or a physical injury. Find your beautiful singing & speaking voice. Ongoing. Enroll on-line. Details: 445-6970 www.austinvocallab.com.
Dec. 4-20 Th-Sa $15-25 Gorilla Man: Gorilla Man is a darkly comic coming-of-age rock ’n’ roll musical that explores issues of violence, identity & free will against the backdrop of a warped American landscape. It’s filled with jarring political references, societal prejudices & a lot of fur. Creekside Lounge, 606 E. 7th St. Details: 739-7720 www.vestigegroup.org.
Dec. 5 & 12 F noon-1pm free Live from the Plaza Music Showcase: Live From the Plaza’s 2008 fall season features free weekly lunchtime performances by a dozen of Austin’s finest bands. A local vendor will offer an optional $6.50 lunch special each week. Free parking in the garage during the performances. The outdoor plaza of
• Dec. 5 Chicken Strut
• Dec. 12 Nakia & His Southern Cousins
Dec. 6 Sa $30-$60 Manuel Barrueco: This Grammy-nominated master of the classical guitar has been one of the most influential artists on the instrument for 30 years. A regular guest of the world’s greatest symphonies, Barrueco is not to be missed.
Dec. 7 Su & $25-$65 José Feliciano: Latin pop master Feliciano is an international icon & is now on tour for his 2007 release, Soundtrack of My Life. One World Theatre,
Dec. 7-10 Su-W $16-$65 Christmas at the Carillon Concert Series: Noted for its collage technique & improvisational style, the “Christmas at the Carillon” concerts first took shape in 1996 & have been quick sell-outs for the company ever since. Conspirare will be joined by special guest, Grammy-nominated
• Dec. 7 Su & Carillon chapel at
• Dec. 8 M
• Dec. 9 & 10 Tu-W Carillon chapel at
Dec. 9 Tu & $20-$60 Michael Martin Murphey: This “singing cowboy poet” is not only the best-selling singer-songwriter of American cowboy music, he’s one of the world’s most respected singer-songwriters in the pop & country-western fields. One World Theatre,
Dec. 10 W A Child’s Christmas in Wales: Alex Coke, Rich Harney, Suzi Stern & friends perform their original jazz adaptation of Dylan Thomas’ “A Child’s Christmas in Wales.” A gift for creative music fans & the whole family.
Dec. 11 Th & $35-$75 Ricky Skaggs: Regarded as one of the finest singers, mandolinists & band leaders in country-bluegrass history, Skaggs has won 12 Grammys & 8 Country Music Awards. One World Theatre,
Dec. 12 F 7-10pm
Dec. 12 & 13 F-Sa $5 donation Amahl & The Night Visitors: The American one-act opera based on the Adoration of the Magi is a tender, heartwarming story about a poor crippled shepherd boy, his devoted mother & a life-changing knock on the door. St. Theresa Catholic Church, 4311 Small Dr. Details: 275-7249 www.sttaustin.org.
Dec. 13 Sa $3-$10 Austin Civic Orchestra Holiday Concert: This year’s Holiday Concert features classics such as Tchaikovsky’s beloved Nutcracker Suite No.1 & Vince Guaraldi’s A Charlie Brown Christmas.
Dec. 15 M 6:30-9:30pm $3
Dec. 16 Tu free Austin Symphony’s Annual Christmas Sing-Along Concert: Families gather each year to get into the spirit of the season by joyfully singing along with the Austin Symphony Orchestra & chorus. Scheduled guests also include Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch, Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer & the big man himself, Santa Claus. It’s an evening of fun for everyone in the family. Come one, come all for this merry holiday occasion. Riverbend Centre, 4214 Capital of Texas Hwy. Details: 476-6064 www.austinsymphony.org.
Dec. 20 Sa & $20-$40 Bobby Whitlock & CoCo
Dec. 30-31 T-W $30 & $45 The Flying Karamazov Brothers with the Austin Symphony: The exciting world of live musical variety theater comes to Palmer Events Center when the Austin Symphony presents legendary new vaudevillians for the Sarah & Ernest Butler Holiday Pops. Known for their juggling expertise, The Flying Karamazov Brothers have juggled their way thru a career spanning more than 30 years becoming stars of stage, screen & television.
Music of a Grateful Nation: This double-CD presents 34 songs for veterans recorded by a virtual who’s who of
Trail of Lights Festival Talent Call: Seeking performers for 2 stages at the 2008 Trail of Lights Festival, Dec. 14-24. There will be a main stage for dance groups & musicians & a post office stage for singers. Details: Lisa Cortez Walden 974-4002 www.ci.austin.tx.us/parks/cultural.htm.
Tuesdays Dec. 2-30 7-10pm free Tuesday Improv Jam: Forget your worries & come out for an evening of improv comedy starring you in low-pressure warmups, games & scenes. Surprise yourself this week. The Hideout Theatre, 617 N. Congress Ave. Details: 443-3688 www.austinimprov.com.
Thursdays Dec. 4-18 Some Like It Improvised: Completely Improvised Screwball Comedies: Parallelogramophonograph presents a fully improvised theatre in the style of classic screwball comedies from the ’30s & ’40s. ColdTowne Theatre, 4803-B Airport Blvd. Details: Details: 968-6486 www.pgraph.com.
Dec. 1-20 $7 Holiday Heroes: The ever-popular Holiday Heroes explores different holiday traditions like Hanukah,
• Dec. 1-19 weekdays &
• Dec. 20 Sa
Saturdays Dec.1-27 $7-$10 Maestro Improv: Elimination-Style Improv Comedy: The Heroes of Comedy present
Dec. 1-Jan. 31 $150 Improv Classes at the Merlin Works Institute for Improvisation: Improv classes can help people think faster on their feet, be more spontaneous & in the moment, reconnect with their creativity, be more confident speaking in public & just have fun! The class’s interactive exercises build listening & communication skills, heighten awareness & teach you how to be more playful, spontaneous & flexible. Salvage Vanguard Theater, 2803 Manor Rd. Details: 657-3005 www.merlin-works.com
Dec. 4 Th -10pm Scottish Rite Children’s Theatre 2009 Season Auditions: Scottish Rite Children’s Theatre seeks professional, adult actors (18 & older) who enjoy performing for children. All roles available. Shows are generally 40-50 minutes in length, physically demanding & a lot of fun! Our interactive, family-friendly scripts use 3-4 actors per show & all positions are paid. Auditions are by appointment only. Scottish Rite Theatre, 207 W. 18th St. Details: Gwen Kelso, 786-9458.
Dec. 4-13 Th-Sa $10 I’ve Never Been So Happy: A transmedia performance party & work-in-progress presentation of a new performance experiment that purposely defies definition. We invite you to experience a sort of western carnival that may include a short documentary film about the Rude Mechs’ parents, our patented “Ask the West” booth featuring a real rancher & a mountain lion ready with answers, a Margarita and/or salsa competition, a Rube Goldberg-style art-making installation centered on how the West has affected gender identity, the environment & culture. The Off Center, 2211
Dec. 4-21 $15-$20 Christmas Belles: The City Theatre’s Company kicks off its holiday season with a soon to be classic southern comedy authored by Texas residents Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope & Jamie Wooten. CTC welcomes the Futrelle sisters & its Christmastime in
• Th thru Sa
Dec. 5-7 & 12-14 F-Su $22-$48 I’ll Be Seeing You: A 1940s Christmas Musical Revue: The revue will delight audiences by intertwining actual letters to & from the home front during WWII with popular holiday & other tunes of the era, sparkly dance numbers & classic songs. TexARTS Keller Williams Studios, 2300 Lohman’s Spur. Details: 852-9079x101 www.Tex-ARTS.org.
• Sa &
• Su &
Dec. 19-21 F-Su $29.95 A Christmas Cruise Ship Crime: The setting for this festive comedy whodunit with dinner by the Capital City Mystery Players is the restaurant in the largest luxury ship afloat, the fabulous Titanium, under the flag of Carnivore Cruise Lines. During the course of the evening a valuable piece of jewelry disappears, followed by a mysterious murder. Whodunit? Spaghetti Warehouse, 117 W. 4th St. Details: 799-5872.
Dec. 31 W & $119 per couple The Linguini Code: Competing pasta makers are engaged in a hilarious tale of industrial espionage & a race for the secret of the “holy grain” of Italian cuisine. This audience interactive comedy whodunit is presented by the Capital City Mystery Players. Spaghetti Warehouse, 117 W. 4th St. Details: 404-9123.
Dec. 4 Th free ZZ Packer: Packer burst onto the national literary scene when her short fiction debuted in The New Yorker in 2000. Her first collection, Drinking Coffee Elsewhere, was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner award, named a New York Times Notable Book of the Year & chosen by John Updike for the Today Show Book Club. Her work has been recognized with fellowships from the Guggenheim, the Rona Jaffe Foundation & a Whiting Award, and has twice been included in Best American Short Stories. Avaya Auditorium, ACES 2.302, southeast corner of 24th &
Dec. 10 W 12:30-2pm Freelance Austin Monthly Meeting: Freelance Austin holds regular monthly meetings to help freelance writers, designers, PR specialists & other communication professionals meet, mingle with & learn from some of Austin’s best in the business. Usually meets the 2nd W each month, with special events scheduled periodically. Free to members & first-time guests. Spicewood Springs Branch Library, 8637 Spicewood Springs Rd. Details: <firstname.lastname@example.org> www.freelance-austin.org.
How to get your event listed: We prefer that calendar listing information be submitted by using the form on our web site at www.goodlifemag.com. Second choice is to e-mail the essential details to email@example.com. Or fax it to 512-474-5725. Or mail to
Dec.1-Jan. 1 daily free The 19th Annual Lights Spectacular, Hill Country Style: The Blanco County Courthouse, located in Johnson City, glows with more than 100,000 lights & a million-light forest is displayed at the Pedernales Electric Cooperative Headquarters on Ave. F. Blanco County Courthouse, 200 N. Ave G. Pedernales Electric Cooperative Headquarters, 302 S. Avenue F. Details: 830-868-7684 www.johnsoncitytexaschamber.com.
A Hill Country Heritage -5pm daily free The Land & People that Inspired a President & First Lady: A permanent exhibit. Tram tour $3. Lyndon B. Johnson State Park & Historic Site, 2 miles east of Stonewall on US Hwy. 290. Details: 830-644-2252 www.tpwd.state.tx.us/park/lbj.
Dec.1-Jan. 4 Cowboys & Presidents: From Theodore Roosevelt to George W. Bush,
Dec. 1-July 20 -5pm free To the Moon: The American Space Program in the 1960s: Highlights include a Russian Vostok capsule that flew in space, rare artifacts, simulators & a multimedia laser show. In addition, the LBJ Library hosts an art show of Apollo 12 astronaut Alan Bean’s paintings, Alan Bean: First Artist to Visit Another World. LBJ Library & Museum, 2313
Dec. 12 F Underage Drinking Prevention Task Force Meeting This task force aims to create a community consensus that underage drinking is illegal, unhealthy & unacceptable. Howson Branch Library, 2500 Exposition Blvd. Details: 854-4229 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Resource Guide for Veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom & Enduring Freedom: Veterans for Common Sense, an organization formed in 2002 by war veterans & claiming 12,000 members throughout the
Texas Veterans Land Board Produces PSAs to Inform Veterans of the Benefits it Provides: Mail Call’s Gunnery Sgt. R. Lee Ermey wants Texas Veterans to know the benefits they’ve earned thru their service. The Texas Veterans Land Board provides low-interest land & home loans, home improvement loans & skilled care at 7 Texas State Veterans Homes. Ermey also encourages
Saturdays Dec. 6-Feb. 28 –noon free Walk on the Wild Side! Enjoy an interpretive hike as a park naturalist brings together a unique blend of human & natural history to tell the story of the
Dec. 13 Sa 9-11am $0-$4
Dec. 13-14 Sa-Su Bright Leaf Preserve Guided Hikes: These monthly hikes are usually 4 miles & last about 2 hours. Wear sturdy shoes & bring water. There’s only 1 hike per day so arrive on time. Takes place 2nd Sa & 2nd Su each month. Other hikes for any type or size of group can be arranged. Meet at the parking lot off 2222 & Creek Mountain Rd. Details: 459-7269 www.brightleaf.org.
Dec. 15 M Geography of Place Lunchtime Lectures: The Lifeworld of Hornsby Bend: Nature & Placemaking in the Wasteland: 3rd M each month, use your lunchtime to learn about ongoing ecological research & environmental education from the Austin Water Utility Center for Environmental Research. In a series of talks about his geographical research, Kevin Anderson will introduce some central concepts of geography: space, place, cultural landscape & environmental perception, while focusing on some particular places that he has studied.
Envision Central Texas maintains a web site & welcomes feedback. The mission is to address the growth of
Free Databases On-line The Austin Public Library makes fee-based databases available free. You need a library card (free to all residents under the age of 18 regardless of residency) & PIN number & then you can access full-text articles from home. (If you do not live in
Quail Hollow Neighborhood Assn. Formed: If you live in the area of Quail Hollow—north of
Weekdays -5:30pm sliding scale Elderhaven Adult Day Care: Elderhaven Adult Day Care is accepting new clients. Safe, therapeutic, licensed adult day care for seniors & adults with disabilities. Nurse & activity director on staff. Hot lunch & two snacks. Drop-Ins welcome.
$50,000 Grant for In-Home Mental Services to Elderly: A Glimmer of Hope Foundation has made a grant of $50,000 to The Samaritan Center for Counseling & Pastoral Care as seed money to implement a new program providing professional counseling to elderly shut-ins. This is an outreach program to increase access to mental healthcare for homebound older adults. Details: Linda Thompson 451-7337 ext. 116 <Linda@samaritan-center.org>.
Meals on Wheels & More Partners with
Prescription Savings Program: Together Rx helps Medicare recipients without prescription drug coverage & with incomes of less than $28,000 for singles & $38,000 for couples. Cardholders can save 20-40 percent on more than 170 branded & some generic medications. The program is free. Details: 1-800-444-4106 www.togetherrxaccess.com/Tx/jsp/home.jsp.
• Th -7pm: Laurence Parent signs his new book of photographs, Portrait of Austin, 4-6pm.
• F -5pm
• Sa -5pm
• Su 1-5pm
Dec. 12-23 -11pm $5, free on M Keep Austin Bizarre Christmas Bazaar: With an atmosphere true to Austin, the holiday shopping event will feature over 100 local artists & small businesses selling unique gifts & fine, hand crafted items at affordable prices. In addition, the bazaar is supporting the non-profit Africa Bound Corporation. Food & drink, including a full bar, will be available.
Dec. 12-24 -11pm $3 weekdays until $6 evenings & weekends Armadillo Christmas Bazaar: The Armadillo is Austin’s legendary Christmas Bazaar that’s long been a favorite scene for holiday shopping while shimmying down the aisles in search of one-of-a-kind gifts. It’s where art & music intersect for a honky-tonk shopping experience that’s been described “as
• Dec. 12 F
• Dec. 13 Sa Resentments, Terri Hendrix & Eliza Gilkyson
• Dec. 14 Su Austin Lounge Lizards, Toni Price &
• Dec. 15 M Suzanna Choffel, W.C. Clark
• Dec. 16 Tu Matt The Electrician, Marcia Ball’s Pianorama
• Dec. 17 W Band of Heathens, The Gourds
• Dec. 18 Th Sunny Sweeney, Ray Wylie Hubbard
• Dec. 19 F Dan Dyer, Jimmy LaFave
• Dec. 20 Sa Shelley Kind, Carolyn Wonderland, Van Wilks
• Dec. 21 Su Rick Trevino, Asleep at the Wheel Quartet, Butch Hancock
• Dec. 22 M Biscuit Brothers, Sara Hickman, Mary Hattersley’s Blazing Bows
• Dec. 23 Tu Sarah Elizabeth Campbell, Ponty Bone, Albert & Gage
• Dec. 24 W Slim Richey & Friends, Warren Hood & The Hoodlums, Tejana Dames
Dec. 13-14 Sa-Su free Cherrywood Art Fair: Not Your Grandma’s Christmas Bazaar: Cherrywood Urban Landscape & Arts League’s (CHULA) 7th annual Cherrywood Art Fair offers original art from regional artists, children’s art activities & live music by local musicians. More than 60 artists offer accessories for guys & gals, art glass, handmade jewelry, kids’ clothing, metal work, paintings, pottery, photography & soaps. Maplewood Elementary School, 3808 Maplewood Ave. Details: 481-1448 www.cherrywoodartfair.org.
• Sa 10am-6pm
• Su noon-6pm
Goodwill’s Computer Works E-commerce Web Site: Customers can purchase computer parts for the same low prices on-line—more convenient & much easier. Check the web site for showcased items. Details: 637-7124 www.shop.austincomputerworks.org.
Order Your 2009 Hill Country Alliance Calendar: These calendars are full of gorgeous photography, concise descriptions of the issues facing our region & helpful contact information. To place an order, e-mail <email@example.com>. Please include the number of calendars you’d like to order, your name, shipping address & phone number. One calendar costs $13.99, 10-50 cost $10 each, 50-99 cost $9 each & more than 100 cost $8 each.
Personalized Bricks at Lady Bird Lake for Trail Enthusiasts: Supporters of the Trail Foundation (formerly the Town Lake Trail Foundation) can purchase commemorative bricks & become a lasting part of Trail history. Approximately 2,500 bricks are available, in 3 sizes. Bricks priced in $100, $500 & $1,000 increments & can be inscribed with a name or names to leave a family legacy or honor a special person. Buyers who purchase bricks for someone else can print a gift notice after they place an order. Details: 733-3989 www.thetrailfoundation.org.
Fridays: 1-2pm free Conversational French Class with SEED: Informal French instruction & conversation for all levels. Free with a purchase at the café during class time. Ruta Maya, 3601-D S. Congress Ave. Details: 707-9637 www.rutamaya.net.
Saturdays 10-11:30am $10 Conversational French: Great group for advanced beginner thru advanced French speakers. Dominican Joe Coffee Shop at Riverside & South Congress Ave. Details: Amy 466-1168 www.dominicanjoe.com.
Sundays Dec. 7-28 11am free Riverbend Singles Class: A Church Affiliated Singles Association. Program normally followed by optional off-campus lunch for members & guests. Lunch details & location posted before & after main program presentation. Room 4-A of the Quadrangle, Riverbend Church Campus, 4214 N. Capital of Texas Hwy. Details: 289-3712 www.riverbendsingles.com.
Sundays: 8pm $5 Deep Eddy Pool Tournament: Double-elimination 8-ball at one of Austin’s favorite family-owned beer & wine joints. 1st place gets 75 percent of pot. 2nd place wins the other 25 percent. Beginners welcome. Deep Eddy Cabaret, 2315 Lake Austin Blvd. Details: 472-0961.
Dec. 3 & 14 Austin Childfree: Formerly Austin No Kidding!, this social group for adults who are not parents & enjoy being childfree offers a variety of fun monthly activities. Newcomers welcome. Regular activities include movies, restaurants & book club. Details: 922-0866 www.austinchildfree.org.
• Dec. 3 W 7-9pm Games Night meets 1st W each month at Central Market, 4001 N. Lamar.
• Dec. 14 Su 6-8:30pm Monthly Supper meets 2nd Su each month at Threadgill’s World Headquarters, 301 W. Riverside Dr.
Dec. 5 F 6-11pm $5-$10 B scene: The Blanton Museum of Art rocks on the 1st F each month. Featuring live music, gallery tours, art-making activities, light snacks & cash bar (with Blantinis of course). MLK at N. Congress Ave. Tickets at texasboxoffice.com. Details: 471-7324 www.blantonmuseum.org.
Dec. 7 Su 2-5pm $85 Amazing Lover Training for Men: Men, cultivate confidence & intimacy skills with two Professional Tantric educators, a PhD sexologist & author. Practice sophisticated, sensual communication skills & how to initiate successful sensual play, kissing & touch. The Tantrikas demonstrate erotic touch techniques that invite trust, safety & surrender. BodyJoy Intimacy School. Details: 626-5037 www.bodyjoy.org
Dec. 7 Su 5-8pm $25 Travis Audubon’s Holiday Fiesta: Beto & the Fairlanes bring their original & irresistible Texas Salsa music to our Holiday Fiesta. We will feast on Chilaquiles & imbibe Margaritas, beer, wine, sodas & bird-friendly coffee. Dress is casual so leave
those binoculars at home. Support TAS & its conservation efforts by participating in the silent auction. First Unitarian Universalist Church of Austin, 4700 Grover Ave. Details: 300-2473 www.travisaudubon.org.
Dec. 13 Sa 7:30-midnight $20 Riverbend Singles Class Christmas Dance: The Riverbend Singles Class will hold a formal & semi-formal dance for singles & couples age 50 & older. Dance to the country-western music of The Night Shift Band with a few ballroom classics tossed in for swing & variety. Saengerrunde Hall, 1607 San Jacinto. Details: 289-3712 www.riverbendsingles.com.
Dec. 16 Tu 7pm Introduction to Nudism & Naturism: Information meeting held by the Hill Country Nudists 3rd Tu each month. Come find out about Naturism & get your questions answered. Mr. Natural, 2414 S. Lamar. Details: <firstname.lastname@example.org> www.hillcountrynudists.com.
Jan. 17 Sa 6-12pm Bush Retirement Party: Live bands, entertainment & a huge feeling of relief will be the theme of this party organized by Obama Worldwide, 1,000,000 Americans for Obama, Austin For Obama, Students for Barack Obama, Texas for Obama. This is a fund-raiser for the Travis County Democratic Party. Austin Music Hall, 208 Neches at 3rd St. Details: www.bushretires.com.
Dec. 2 Tu 7pm free World Travel 101: Safe, inexpensive world travel is possible. Let Hostelling International show you how. Learn how to prepare for a budget trip overseas. Topics include: planning, transportation, money, packing, accommodations & safety. Depart from the familiar & begin your adventure! REI Downtown, 601 N. Lamar Blvd. Details: 444-2294 www.hiaustin.org.
Dec. 5 F 11:30am-1:30pm $10 advance, $15 door PeopleTalk Speaker Series: Leslie Parrish: PeopleFund is happy to welcome Leslie Parrish, Senior Researcher for the Center for Responsible Lending in Washington, D.C. The Center is a pioneer in creating innovative policies to combat predatory lending in its many forms. Alamo Drafthouse South, 1120 S. Lamar. Details: 472-8087.
Dec. 9 Tu 7-8:45pm free Lonestar Mensa Meeting: Usually meets 2nd Tu each month. Austin Public Library, North Village Branch Library, 2139 W. Anderson Ln. at Burnet Rd. Details: 491-9881 www.lsm.us.mensa.org.
Dec. 4, 13 & 16 Texas Longhorns Men’s Basketball Games: The following home games will be played at the Frank C. Erwin Special Events Center. Details: www.texassports.com.
• Dec. 4 Th 8pm UCLA
• Dec. 13 Sa noon Texas State
• Dec. 16 Tu 7pm Texas Southern
Dec. 14 & Dec. 18 Texas Longhorns Women’s Basketball Games: The following home games will be played at the Frank C. Erwin Special Events Center. Details: www.texassports.com.
• Dec. 14 Su 1pm Tennessee
• Dec. 18 Th 7pm Arizona State
Dec. 1-27 Austin Toros: Austin’s NBA development league team is kicking off its new season. The following home games will be played at the Austin Convention Center, 500 E. Cesar Chavez. Details: 236-8333 www.austintoros.com.
• Dec. 1 M Erie Bayhawks
• Dec. 3 W Dakota Wizards
• Dec. 5 F Idaho Stampede
• Dec. 9 Tu Sioux Falls Skyforce
• Dec. 12 F Colorado 14ers
• Dec. 13 Sa Albuquerque Thunderbirds
• Dec. 21 Su Rio Grande Valley Vipers
• Dec. 26 F Tulsa 66ers
• Dec. 27 Sa Los Angeles D-Fenders
Austin Wranglers are in the Southern Division of the Arena Football League. The team played its last home game of the season July 26. Home games are played at the Frank Erwin Center, 1701 Red River St. Details: 471-7744 www.austinwranglers.com.
Round Rock Express: A minor league baseball team playing in the Pacific Coast League as the Class AAA affiliate of the Houston Astros. The team played its last home game of the season Sept. 1 at Dell Diamond Stadium, 3400 E. Palm Valley Blvd. Round Rock. Details: 255-2255 www.roundrockexpress.com.
Texas Rollergirls: Rock ’n’ Rollerderby 1st Su each month, but the 2008 season is over. Details: www.txrollergirls.com.
SPIRIT & SOUL
Dec. 16 Tu 7pm Global Evolution Series: Come join us for a set of 36 different workshops designed by Global Relationship Centers Inc. Meets 3rd Tu each month. These workshops will help you acquire a fresh outlook on life using proven effective tools to create a more balanced & harmonious existence. Details: 694-3850.
Dec. 28 Su 7-9pm Sufi Dancing (Dances of Universal Peace): Usually meets 4th Su each month from 7:15-9:15pm at Live Oak Unitarian Universalist Church, 3315 El Salido Parkway, Cedar Park. Free. Details: Xvarnah D’Obrenovic 280-0584 <email@example.com> www.sufidance.org.
Dec. 31 W 8pm $60 DreamDance: New Year, New You: Using Dream Play, Trance Dance & the intention of entering sacred space, connect with healing & manifesting at the deepest levels & launch yourself into new insights for 2009. $50 if registered by Dec. 22. NiaSpace, 3212 S. Congress Ave. Details: 451-2963 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Dec. 5-6 F-Sa $25 Cancer Connection Volunteer Training: Volunteers are needed to participate in 1-on-1 matching & treatment center visitation programs with newly diagnosed cancer patients & caregivers to provide practical & emotional support. Details: 342-0233 www.thecancerconnection.org
• F 6-9pm
• Sa 9am-4pm
American Cancer Society needs volunteers to help with patient transportation. Volunteers must be over the age of 21, have a valid Texas driver’s license, a dependable car with insurance coverage & a safe driving record. Drivers are provided training & can volunteer as little or as often as they like. Details: 919-1800 www.cancer.org.
Arc of the Capital Area needs usable clothing & household items, furniture, toys & small appliances. ARC provides opportunities for people with mental retardation & other developmental disabilities. Free donation pickup. Details: 707-0008 www.arcofthecapitalarea.org.
AseraCare Hospice serves Central Texas by providing medical, emotional & spiritual support to terminally ill patients & their families. Volunteers are needed to offer friendship to patients & families for the last 6 months of life. A once a week contact is preferred. TB & drug tests, background check, training & placement provided. Details: Deborah, volunteer coordinator 218-9890 www.aseracare.com.
Austin Lupus Support Group: Nonprofit group needs volunteers to help distribute fliers & lupus literature. The group also needs help with organizing & running fund-raising events, health fairs & awareness & educational events. All proceeds raised from events are used to educate lupus patients, their families & general public, provide support services to local lupus patients & their families, increase public awareness of the disease & encourage, promote & support lupus research so that ultimately a cure for lupus is found. The Austin Lupus Support Group needs & would love to have your time, talent, resources & energy. Details: Patti 217-6826, Gail 388-1018 www.freewebs.com/austinlupus.
Auto Donation: This year-round fund-raiser for the American Cancer Society is an easy way to get rid of an unwanted vehicle. Your car is picked up & sent to auction at no cost to you. You can claim your donation as an itemized tax deduction. The vehicle must have four inflated tires & all vital parts. The program accepts donations of used cars, trucks, motorcycles, boats & recreational vehicles. Details: 877-999-CARS www.cancer.org.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Texas seeks adult volunteers to create big magic by sharing moments with children in Travis & Williamson counties. Share a little of your time each month by becoming a friend to a child. Details: 472-KIDS (5437) www.bbbscentraltx.org.
Call for Board Members for the YWCA of Greater Austin: The YWCA of Greater Austin is looking for a few good women! If you are a woman who is interested in making a difference in our community by eliminating racism & empowering women & girls, call for more information about joining the YWCA board of directors. You can make a difference. Details: 326-1222 www.YWCAaustin.org.
Family Eldercare: You can make a difference with just 4-6 hours a month as a volunteer advocate or volunteer bill payer. Scores of elderly & disabled people are on a waiting list for volunteers. Matches by Zip code. Details: 483-3569 <email@example.com> www.familyeldercare.org/how-you-can-help.
Give the Gift of Life: Donate Milk! Healthy, breastfeeding moms are needed to donate excess breast milk for premature & ill infants. The Mothers’ Milk Bank at Austin accepts, pasteurizes & dispenses by prescription donated human milk to the smallest & most fragile lives. Details: 494-0800 www.milkbank.org.
Goodwill’s Computer Recycling Program: Goodwill is looking for volunteers to participate in the demanufacturing of donated computers that will be resold or recycled. Details: Christine Chute 748-1684 <firstname.lastname@example.org> www.austingoodwill.org.
Handy Helpers Program Needs Volunteers: The Glimmer of Hope Foundation has granted AAIM’s Hands on Housing program the funds needed to begin Handy Helpers. The rest is up to you. The program is especially looking for retired trades professionals, skilled home repair people, handy men & women, apprentices, carpenters, electricians & plumbers. Ideally, we are looking for folks with their own tools who can volunteer on a consistent basis (weekly, biweekly, or monthly) or several times a year when available. Details: Kathy Weiner 386-9145 <email@example.com> www.aaimaustin.org.
Health’s Angels: You can make a difference in the life of an elderly person in Austin by volunteering for one of the nonprofit organizations that assist older adults & their caregivers. Perfect for teenagers looking for community service hours or new retirees. Health’s Angels works with local aging-services providers to pinpoint volunteer opportunities for its members, then match members with those agencies. Members may volunteer as much as they are able. There is no minimum service requirement & members are encouraged to involve their families in their service hours. Details: 879-6600 www.healthsangels.org.
Help Austin Cancer Survivors: Lance Armstrong Foundation, CanCare Austin & St. David’s Community Health Foundation are cooperating to train & connect volunteers with opportunities to help others facing the disease. Together, the LAF, CCA & SDCHF will identify volunteer opportunities for & train survivors of all diagnoses (including their caregivers, family members & friends) to support people affected by cancer in the Austin community. Details: Karen Greif 342-0233 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Help the Homeless Front Steps a program of the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless (ARCH), serves food from a kitchen & dining room at 500 E. 7th St. Volunteers needed to help prepare & serve food & for other ARCH programs. ARCH operates on the belief that all people deserve the dignity of a safe place to call home. ARCH seeks to end homelessness by providing shelter, affordable housing, community education & a day resource center. Details: Susan Morris 305-4133 www.frontsteps.org.
Join Austin Area Interreligious Ministries to Help Austin’s Refugees: Austin is becoming a major destination for political & religious refugees from around the globe, people who were forced to flee their homes & often endure long years in refugee camps. AAIM is the region’s sole provider of English as Second Language classes for refugees settled in Austin. We teach the adults basic English skills, help orient them to American culture & provide enriched learning experiences for their children. AAIM does not proselytize or attempt to convert the refugees; we simply give them the skills they need to survive so that, some day, they will be able to call Austin home. AAIM needs your seed money & support, whether you are rooted in a faith tradition, consider yourself to be spiritual but not religious, or simply share the values of our mission, you can make a difference in the life of our community by supporting AAIM. Details: 386-9145 www.aaimaustin.org/donation_new.html.
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center: The Gift Store at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center needs your help. We are interviewing people who would enjoy working a 3 hours shift during the week or on weekends either every week or every other week. We provide technical & product training. We are open Tu-Sa 9am-5:30pm & Su noon-4pm. Details: 232-0102 or <email@example.com>
Meals on Wheels & More Needs Volunteers: Meals on Wheels & More serves hot, nutritious meals to over 2,100 homebound disabled & elderly in the metro-Austin area & relies on a corps of over 3,000 volunteers to make that happen. Training sessions for volunteers every Thursday 12:15-1:15pm. All that’s needed is a valid driver’s license & proof of auto insurance. The program requires a commitment of 1 hour per week. Training sessions 3227 E. 5th St. Details: 476-6325 www.mealsonwheelsandmore.org.
North Austin Medical Center: Needs volunteers for various departments, such as Main Information Desk, ER, ER Registration, Medical Records. 12221 N. MoPac. Details: 901-2545 www.stdavids.com.
Project Transitions needs beds, household items & furniture. Donations are needed for clean or gently used dressers, sofas, chairs or tables, plus bed sheets, blankets, towels & money for buying mattresses. Details: 454-8646 www.projecttransitions.org.
Redbud Center with the Colorado River Foundation: This fall, the Colorado River Foundation will launch student & public programs at the new Redbud Center, an interactive public park facility located in West Austin. Volunteer docents & support are needed twice a month from 10am-2pm M thru F. We provide extensive training. Redbud Center, 3601 Lake Austin Blvd. Details: 498-1587 www.coloradoriver.org.
RSVP Opportunities: The Travis County Retired & Senior Volunteer Program needs volunteers to serve in a broad array of areas, such as the Austin Humane Society, Austin Gray Panthers, Circle of Friends Alzheimer’s Caregivers Respite Care Program, Hispanic Contractors Assn., LBJ Library & Museum, Meals on Wheels & More, Odyssey Healthcare, Senior Games-Austin & in other capacities. Details: 854-7787 www.seniorservice.org/travis_county_rsvp.
Seton Medical Center Volunteers are looking for compassionate & caring persons to volunteer in patient & nonpatient care areas of Seton Medical Center. Volunteers are needed to provide support to families in need, assist hospital staff in the ER & in the Surgery Center & help in the gift shop, the cafe & at the information desks. Details: Volunteer office 324-1590 <firstname.lastname@example.org> www.setonmedicalcenter.org.
Swing Into Action as a Volunteer with The First Tee Of Greater Austin! Today’s youth need to experience support, care & love. They need to feel valued. They need to understand boundaries & expectations. And they need constructive, enriching opportunities to grow. As a volunteer for The First Tee of Greater Austin, you can help meet these needs & many more. Possessing golf experience is not necessary. Possessing a passion for helping kids is. We have a job for you whether you’re in high school, retired, or in between; whether you’re able to dedicate 1 hour each week or 40. Volunteer opportunities include: mentors, event & committee volunteers, program coordinators & instructors. Details: 732-0380 www.firstteeaustin.org.
United Way Capital Area Launches Appeal & Survey to the Austin Hispanic Community: Aimed at increasing community engagement & volunteerism, United Way Capital Area wants to target Hispanics to improve relationships & encourage community engagement. The survey is aimed at collecting baseline & demographic profile data about Hispanics living in the Austin area in an effort to develop future strategies that will lead to improved opportunities for community involvement. Community members wishing to participate in the survey are encouraged to visit the web site or call the survey hotline. Details: 498-4900 www.adelantesolutions.com/unitedwaysurvey/survey.html.
Wright House Wellness Center, formerly the HIV Wellness Center, has volunteer opportunities available. Work directly with clients, represent the Wright House in the community, or work with staff behind the scenes. 4301-B N. I-35. Details: Leah Graham 467-0088 <email@example.com> www.thewrighthouse.org.
Dec. 13 Sa 8am $45 What Women Need to Know About Divorce: Workshops meet 2nd Sa each month to deal with the legal, family, financial & personal issues of divorce in a logical & compassionate way. Workshop topics vary. DeVry University Stratum Executive Center, 11044 Research Blvd. Details: Melanie Johnson 732-1244 www.austindivorceworkshop.com.
Women of Visionary Influence Austin Chapter: WOVI, incorporated thru outreach, collaboration & expansion, provides for the individual development of women globally. Meets monthly at Balcones Country Club, 11210 Spicewood Club Dr. Details: 638-6563 www.womenofvisioninternational.org/Austin.htm.
Far apart for the holidays, military couples try to cope
by Karen Kreps
Our hearts go out to the members of the military who are far away from family and loved ones during the holidays. How does one manage a long-distance marriage over the long months and years of tours of duty in a time of war?
“The public is oblivious to what happens during military separation, clueless about the strains,” stated Major George Davis, currently serving his third tour of duty with the U.S. Army in Iraq. I had met his wife of fourteen years, Tara Davis, in Austin, and he agreed to answer some questions via e-mail.
The couple talks a few times a week. They e-mail each other when they get up and before they go to bed. “I check my e-mail before I do anything else! We e-mail and send photos back and forth so we can see each other. I send her little gifts when I can pick things up,” Davis said. “I send notes and postcards to my kids so they know that I think of them.” His Internet connection runs at dial-up speed, so patience is needed. It won’t support instant messaging, voice or video. Thankfully, Iraq has cell phone service, and he also uses the military calling centers when he can get to a forward operating base.
Out in a war zone, the concerns of home seem distant but when it comes to the latest drama of a small child, he says, “Listening from afar is just as important as listening to them when you are there.”
Davis must be vague about where he is going, but within minutes of returning to his post after his convoy had suffered casualties when hit by an improvised explosive device, he called Tara to let her know what he could and that he was not wounded. “We both trust I make it back with all my parts and pieces and that my head is still straight.”
“We have songs that we share. Certain music puts me in a place with her. If I can look at pictures of Tara and our boys and play a song on the MP3, it helps.”
Absence does make the heart grow fonder.
“When I have time I reflect,” he writes, “I look inward and assess my time spent as a father, husband and friend. It makes you want to be a better person and maximize the time spent with your family.”
The separations make military spouses strong and independent. Tara Davis learned to cope as a single parent. George Davis learned to fit in again when on leave. It takes guts to say good-bye to a spouse while comforting children who understand that their parent could be killed in combat. They must maintain a sense of normalcy at home.
“The ones that are left at home are heroes as well,” he writes. “I tell people, ‘Don’t thank just me for my service, thank my family for what they endure while I am away!’”
Tara Davis is accustomed to it. Her father was in the Air Force. Davis enlisted right out of high school, served in the First Gulf War and then, while training to be an officer, they married. They have moved every two years and lived on post and off.
Troops deploy all the time, even when not in combat. They’ll be gone eight weeks at a time for training in various states. They are gone more often than not.
Given the long periods of separation, it’s important to both Tara and George, when they talk to one another, that they have fun and enjoy the experiences. So they schedule dates for phone sex.
Tara Davis had a phone sex date planned with her husband. She recalls visiting a girlfriend, complaining how she would not be in the mood for phone sex after battling traffic on her drive home and having her three boys and their friends also at home. Her friend insisted she borrow erotic audiotapes and listen as she drove. By the time Tara got home, she was excited.
She told the kids she had an important call with dad and that she’d lock door for privacy.
She got through by phone and told her husband she was going to do all the talking. “‘Close your eyes, be in the same space with me and imagine what I’m saying.”
“It was as good for me as it was for him. A few days later, he said it was very healing and he felt it connected us as never before.”
There is an excitement different from actually being in bed together. Knowing you can’t be together, you yearn for one another. You are aware that your lover is thinking of you simultaneously. There is a shared consciousness, and knowing that is so arousing it creates synergy that may not exist with physical contact. Your imagination is even more powerful than your physical prowess.
Tara Davis says, “Because we are not in physical form with each other, we have to be in spiritual form. So we’re not even in our bodies when we’re with each other. It’s opened a whole new realm for us.”
She’s so inspired by the experience, she’s creating a web site at PSMissYou.com to help educate and coach military spouses so they can keep connected intimately. (Only the home page is available now. The full site goes live in January.)
She says, “We need to stop the divorce rate on post. The spouse who is deployed needs just as much support as the spouse who is here. If those two partners can focus on each other and be connected in ways they haven’t been before, when they get back together, even if it’s just for a visit, they will have a new connection. When they look into each other’s eyes, they won’t be in a void, thinking, ‘Oh there you are, you’ve been gone for eight months. I’m not sure who you are.’ A new bond between them will have formed.”
Karen Kreps sends warm wishes for the holiday to lovers near and far. You can write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org and learn about her book, a collection of these columns titled Intimacies: Secrets of Love, Sex & Romance, at www.TrueIntimacies.com.
Why I want my daughter to go to a women’s college
by Becca Hensley
It’s time to share a story. Sometimes we don’t realize what we repress to get through life until we have a moment. Mine came last night when my seventeen-year-old daughter, who has been on her own personal odyssey of a college search since she was about ten, came to tell me that contrary to her previous statements she now did not desire to attend a women’s college.
She had narrowed her college search to academic, small liberal arts colleges in the northeast, interviewed at most already, and was just in the throes of writing her college essays. She is our child who we joke has “raised herself” because she marches forward with a full agenda, intense ambitions, an open mind, an individualistic approach to life and extreme academic enthusiasm. Usually the decisions she makes are the right ones and the paths she chooses are the smart ones. Not by nature an advice giver, I only step up to the plate to answer her questions when she pitches them my way.
“Why not?” I asked. She shrugged her shoulders, indicating she had lost interest, and began to walk away. Suddenly I, who thought I had no opinion about where she enrolled, was in a panic. I don’t foresee the future. I don’t know what path she or any of us should take, but suddenly I felt charged by the simultaneous throbbing and stinging of old wounds. I was moved to speak up. I reminded her I was raised in a home with feminist, wildly liberal parents. One of the first conversations I remember having with my father was when I told him that I wanted to be a nurse, and he said, “Don’t be a nurse, be a doctor. For that matter, be a fireman, be the president, be anything you want.” He said the same thing to my brother and we all operated in a sort of gender-free world of mutually shared tasks. This was easy to do in Boulder, Colorado, in the sixties and seventies where people were pretty open-minded, though even there everyone thought our family was somewhat eccentric.
But feminism is a complicated thing. Like all ideologies, it’s neither black, nor white, nor purple and it manifests various versions of itself at all times. A feminist family is one thing, but society pervades. Even as far back as junior high, male teachers felt like it was okay to touch us inappropriately and, frankly worse, to say humiliating and demeaning things to me and my fellow classmates. Even though we thought it abhorrent, we rarely told on them as we assumed nobody really cared or knew what to do. This continued through high school and at the same time, I began to notice that boys who weren’t as bright as the girls got more kudos. Maybe Bill Freeman’s essay on Alexander Graham Bell truly was better than mine, but I will never believe it.
Amazingly, in college things looked up. Although the anthropology professor kept putting his hand on my knee and the science lab guy locked the door and talked to me about pubic hair, I felt well respected for my intellect. This is not to say that I did not want to look pretty or date boys. But I also wanted to be wildly smart, publish poetry and fiction (which I did) and be respected as much for my brains as my body parts. (Who does not want this?) But then my senior year, the very last month of school, a terrible thing occurred: my favorite professor, a wonderfully nerdy man I deified, chose my male study partner (who I know made worse grades than I did and was wholly less creative) to receive a prestigious, all university academic award, rather than me. When incredulity showed on my face, he was chagrined and admitted that he thought it would look better if he gave it to a guy.
And then I came to the University of Texas to graduate school in the storied Department of History. Having grown up in a family where my dad was a lobbyist for public education, a professor and a psychologist, and my mother was a teacher, I had been around a lot of fascinating, intellectual people. Always believing in the inherent good—and proper intelligence—of these folks, I tended to assume that anyone at all educated thought as I did. I chose UT because it pretended to offer the sort of creative programs I pursued.
Immediately, it became apparent that something was wrong. While I enjoyed my seminars, ebulliently digested information and participated in class discussions, I noticed I wasn’t particularly well liked. I seemed to be too effervescent and not nearly cynical enough. One professor told my office mate that he didn’t know why the others disrespected me as my enthusiasm for learning was just the sort of thing he hoped for in a student. Another professor, a gay man, called me to his office to counsel me. He said, empathetically, “You remind me of myself when I went up north to school. I was a gay southerner and everyone thought I was inferior—I had to learn to fit in.” (I know he was trying to help). Another professor told me, “The problem is, you are blonde, beautiful and from Colorado—how can we take you seriously?” All the while, incidents, such as an advisor staring at my legs, were the order of the day. They even suggested I could not write.
So, in the very forum where I expected to be counted as a colleague, I was not. This almost all male department nearly stripped me of my self-esteem. I joked and labeled them all psycho sexually maladjusted, but that’s the only way I fought back. Sometimes I see these now wizened men walking the streets of Austin and I cringe.
I don’t want my daughter to have to do that.
Becca Hensley believes women have the right to be enthusiastic about learning. You may e-mail Becca at email@example.com.
Where do our values lie?
by Tom Palaima
“Well I was born in a small town
And I can breathe in a small town
Gonna die in this small town
And that’s prob’ly where they’ll bury me.”
—John Cougar Mellencamp
“Small Town” (1985)
People facing economic depressions, natural catastrophes, epidemics or wars may question what civilization means, where true values are to be located, who defines them and how secure they are. We have been doing this ourselves after being battered by Katrina, Rita, our financial meltdown, Iraq and Afghanistan.
Virtually all the Great-Depression-generation sources in the late Studs Terkel’s award-winning oral history of World War II, The Good War, question our cultural values. British socialist thinkers like George Orwell and Cyril Connolly did, too, after seeing what was done to their world in the nineteen-thirties and -forties.
Orwell’s bleak vision in Nineteen Eighty-Four is now standard high school, or even middle school, reading, as I know from the books our eighth-grade son has brought home this year. But strong criticisms in major cultural works like Orwell’s novel have less impact on us if we meet them when our minds and hearts are too inexperienced to grasp their full implications.
Only when we have come to know the limits of our own courage and have measured our own capacity to love, can we understand the full horror of Winston Smith’s torture-induced words, “Do it to Julia! Do it to Julia! Not me! Julia!” Only when Nineteen Eighty-Four is an assortment of faintly remembered mythical archetypes does the whole concept of Osama bin Laden begin to make us uneasy. Is he alive? Is he dead? Does it matter? Our unending war on terror needs an undying bogeyman. Bin Laden is our Goldstein.
Connolly’s collection of reflections and quotations The Unquiet Grave: A Word Cycle by Palinurus (1944) is now all but forgotten, but it is worth reading, as I did on recent plane flights to and from London while thinking about this column. Connolly claims that “civilization is maintained by a very few people in a small number of places and we need only some bombs and a few prisons to blot it out altogether.” “Few” and “small” are relative terms, but his observation is well worth considering given the attention paid in our recent election campaign to questions about who is American and who is un-American and where our true American values lie. The Daily Show and Colbert Report made fun of the answer that they are found in small-town America, but this is a very strong myth that most of us, including me, want to believe. Why else would political strategists make so much of it?
Sarah Palin stressed the small town values that John Cougar Mellencamp enshrined in his pop hymn “Small Town.” The flip side of the McCain-Palin message was to brand as negative and “elitist” big-city intellectual thoughts and ideas, the Sodom-and-Gomorra morality of New York City, Los Angeles and San Francisco, the political corruption of Washington, DC.
Who among us does not respond to such preaching somewhere deep inside? Hearing it made me reread the unexpurgated edition of Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle. Sinclair made Chicago at the turn of the twentieth-century the archetypical corrupt metropolis where entire families of innocent immigrants are exploited and ruined. It has added poignancy for me because the central family in The Jungle is Lithuanian, like my own immigrant grandparents who worked in Cleveland’s steel mills at that same time. Sinclair describes sickening abuses in the food and medicine industries and dehumanizing working conditions for men, women and underage children. President Theodore Roosevelt followed up on Sinclair’s exposé. Our federal government instituted regulations that led to the Food and Drug Administration. The lesson here is that big cities are places where innocents cannot survive, ironically for the McCain-Palin message, without big government protections.
But the Little House on the Prairie notion that small towns are places of goodness and peace and frontiers, like Alaska, are places of straightforward honesty that reward manly courage, doesn’t hold up. We don’t have to look outside the state of Texas. Just read the extracts from local histories and county courthouse documents in John Graves’ Goodbye to a River. The people who settled in small towns along the Brazos were a “yeomanry…driven from older states by poor-white desperation and a hot resolve not to take no crap from nobody nowheres no more.” They were “cattle kings and horse thieves and half-breeds and whole sons of bitches and preachers in droves and sinners in swarms….Law and order in other words were fairly faint ideals.”
Larry McMurtry tells us in In a Narrow Grave: Essays on Texas that most Texans out in the country “live and die in woeful ignorance.” McMurtry’s son James imagined wanting to escape this fate in his 1995 song “Levelland,” about the kind of small town nothingness that made his father say, “I would have traded a lot of sunsets for a few good books.”
I’ll trade one sunset for Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears A Who. “A person’s a person, no matter how small” his town or how big his city. And last time I looked, we were all Americans.
Tom Palaima encourages free thought about the good life. You may e-mail Tom at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Perhaps the Tipping Point is a Child
by Lindsey Lane
I love surprising moments. Do you know the kind I mean? Like little gifts you didn’t expect to get.
About a month ago, I was sitting outside Zilker Elementary School with fellow mother and writer Bernadette Noll. I had met her there to hand off a notebook for a volunteer job she was taking over. Mostly, though, it was a great excuse to visit. As we sat there catching up, a woman walked up to Noll and introduced herself. She was a new parent at Zilker and, like Noll, a mother of four children.
Noll embraced her like a dear sister, saying, “Ahh, good. Another woman with a life as crazy as mine.” They laughed together for minute and then Noll said, “When I told my older sister, that Dean, our fourth child had been born, she said, ‘Aha, here is our tipping point.’ It seemed like a great way to think about my child. I choose to believe her.”
I remember sitting there for a minute, stunned by the beauty of what Noll and her sister had said. A child as the tipping point. It was one of those thoughts that was so simple but made so much sense that you can’t believe you hadn’t thought of it before or lived your life without it being there. Why of course, the tipping point will be a child. Why wouldn’t it be?
The term tipping point describes a point at which a slow gradual change becomes irreversible and then proceeds with gathering pace. In physics, the tipping point occurs when a small amount of weight is added to a balanced object causing it to topple completely. Political scientist Morton Grodzins began using the phrase to describe the event of a previously rare phenomenon becoming rapidly and dramatically more common.
Grodzins studied the integration of American neighborhoods in the early nineteen-sixties and the phenomenon called white flight. Grodzins discovered that Anglo families stayed in their neighborhoods as long as the number of African-American families remained small. But, at a certain point, when one too many African-American families arrived, the remaining white families would move out. Grodzins called that moment of one too many the tipping point.
This idea has been expanded on over the decades and popularized most recently by Malcolm Gladwell in his 2000 book The Tipping Point: How little Things Can Make a Big Difference. Gladwell goes further than Grodzins and seeks to explain the enormous and “mysterious” sociological changes that mark everyday life. He observes that ideas, products and messages spread like viruses, or what Gladwell calls epidemics. From this premise, he creates the three rules that cause ideas, messages and products to catch fire and spread:
The Law of the Few—Certain people have the unique ability to make connections between unique ideas or trends and the rest of the population.
The Stickiness Factor—Certain ideas or content is particularly memorable and catches on.
The Power of Context—If ideas or movements start at the right place and right time, they will grow.
Each of these rules contributes in a very particular way to the spread of a trend, and at a certain time a tipping point is reached and the trend becomes irreversible.
What catches my attention about Gladwell’s premise is how the littlest thing can change the direction of much bigger masses. It makes sense, of course. We see it all the time: from geological formations to traffic jams. Why can’t one child
I asked Noll what her sister’s words meant to her.
“Frankly,” says Noll, “there is some funny guilt to having four children, as if we’re possibly taking up more room than we deserve. So to think that my fourth and last child was the tipping point in our world, needing to make a comeback from so much mess and waste and excess, was a very freeing feeling.”
Like Noll, I think we are at a critical time in our human civilization. We are facing many inconvenient truths, not just global warming. Perhaps foremost are greed (big business cannot regulate itself) unhealthy food (factory farming is but one of the many disgusting by-products of greed and big business) gluttony and sloth (the increase in obesity and diabetes among children and adults). We have reached a time when we can no longer close our eyes to these truths. And guess what? As hard as some people want to discredit the notion that these inconvenient truths are reaching critical mass, word is out, the stickiness factor is in play and I think we are becoming smarter, more aware and more willing to change.
Noll says that ripeness for change is true in her family. “We have made many changes. We were forced to shrink our bubble and slow things down as a family. We have changed schools and we have ‘decelerated’ in many ways.” In fact, deceleration and sustainability have led Noll to create the Slow Family Movement with therapist Carrie Contey (See Noll’s feature story, “Slow Down, You Move Too Fast,” in The Good Life archives for June 2008), and the Future Craft Collective with designer Kathie Sever. “Both are a response to this world which is in dire need of a little shifting,” says Noll.
So who knows? Maybe on November 25, 2006, when one little fellow was born, maybe our awareness had reached some critical mass and now our world is shifting bit by bit, toward awareness, healing and compassion. Maybe we are becoming more aware and thoughtful and starting to turn our energy and intelligence to using renewable resources for our energy needs, to conserving and building smarter, to eating locally grown, whole food instead of factory farmed food, to using less instead of consuming more. If more and more of us are adjusting our lives just a little bit, then yes it’s quite possible, that this child born in 2006 might well have been the tipping point.
Why not envision a child growing up on a planet with animals we’ve saved from extinction, with rivers and oceans that are clean and full of fish, with food that is nutritious and grown by people we know, with a concept of wealth that is not solely guided by money. Why not?
If we are alive to the crisis at hand and work to change the trends that have been so long going in one direction, who is to say that by the time this child is eighteen, we might have righted the course of our world. I mean, we might look back and say, hmm, the nation’s consciousness started to tip in 2006 and ever since then, we’ve been gathering momentum toward a future where we hand our children a better, healthier and more sustainable planet than the one they started out on.
If we can elect an African-American president one hundred and forty-five years after Lincoln freed the slaves then, given enough time, anything is possible. You may reach Lindsey Lane at email@example.com. You may reach Noll at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How to get your family event listed: We prefer that calendar listing information be submitted by using the form on our web site at www.goodlifemag.com. Second choice is to e-mail the essential details to email@example.com. Or fax it to 512-474-5725. Or mail to PO Box 4400, Austin, Texas 78765. To be considered for inclusion, items must be received by the 15th of the month for the following month’s events. Listings are free & are published on a space-available basis.
Daily: Kids Series on KLRU-TV: Austin’s PBS affiliate station hosts a children’s series that incorporate literacy & behavioral & academic skills. Check the web site for complete schedule. Details: www.KLRU.org.
• M-F Word World A literacy-based, animated series where WordFriends spell their way thru “word play” adventures.
• M-F Super Why! Tells the story of Wyatt Beanstalk & his friend Super Why, a tiny superhero who lives behind the books in a children’s library. Each episode brings a new twist to a classic fairytale, while showing emerging readers how reading & seeking answers in books can help solve problems.
• M-F WordGirl: An animated weekly series about the everyday life & superhero adventures of WordGirl as she fights crime & enhances vocabulary usage. Each episode introduces up to four new vocabulary words in an engaging way.
• Sa Mama Mirabelle’s Home Movies: Is set in the African savanna, chronicles the adventures of sassy elephant Mama Mirabelle & the young animal characters she cares for. Each episode aims to illuminate the real world for pre-schoolers by providing insight into animal customs & behaviors.
Mondays 9am-noon $4-$8 Baby Bloomers: Weekly program for children ages 3 & younger & their caregivers. Discover the exhibits & play in a relaxed atmosphere with other families with small children when the museum is open exclusively for this age group. Stroller parking included. Storytimes 9:30am; sing-along 10:30am; The Little Explorers Lab 11am. Austin Children’s Museum, 201 Colorado St. Details: 472-2499 www.austinkids.org.
Monday-Friday 10am $6 per class Tot Signs: Classes incorporating sign language to help toddlers communicate more effectively. Free trial class. Locations around Austin. Details: Elisabeth McCoy 771-9449 <firstname.lastname@example.org> www.totsigns.com.
Wednesdays 5-8pm $1 Community Nights: Come out & play & enjoy the exhibit galleries, storytime & a variety of hands-on activities. Austin Children’s Museum, 201 Colorado St. Details: 472-2499 www.austinkids.org.
Wednesdays & Thursdays 5:30-7pm Austin Derby Brats: Program for girls ages 5-17 with the primary focus to develop character, confidence, leadership & social interaction thru sports. Austin Derby Brats believe performance is secondary to these ideals & intends to nurture & develop both skilled athletes & those who have not yet realized the champion inside of them. Millennium Youth Center, 1156 Hargrave St. Details: Major Problem 472-6932 <email@example.com> www.txrd.com.
Thursdays 12:30pm $3 Garden Yoga: Mia Pem takes children ages 3-5 on a spiritual journey thru yoga in the organic garden at Ronda’s Montessori Garden. Pioneer Garden School, 4300 Mt Vernon Dr. Details: 707-8635 <firstname.lastname@example.org> www.rondasgarden.net.
Saturdays 10-11am Kids Yoga: With Cindy. Free with a purchase at the café. Bring a mat; some provided. Ruta Maya Café 3601-D S. Congress. Details: 707-9637 www.rutamaya.net.
Sundays 10:30am free Sunday Morning Kids Shows: Ruta Maya showcases Austin’s community of great children’s performers & entertainment. Tips for performers appreciated. Check web site for the schedule of performances. Ruta Maya International Headquarters, 3601 S. Congress Ave. Details: 707-9637 www.rutamaya.net.
Dec. 1-May 30 Sa-Tu $0-$6.50 All Systems Go: Going places. Getting there. This feature exhibit, sponsored by Capital Metro & developed by Austin Children’s Museum, is all about transportation. Austin Children’s Museum, 201 Colorado St. Details: 472-2499 www.austinkids.org.
Dec. 5-6 & 12-13 F-Sa 6pm-10pm $10 Candlelight Christmas Tours: Join us for evening celebrations of Christmas during the 19th Century. There will be hayrides, caroling, storytelling around the fire, crafts for kids & more. Pioneer Farms, 10621 Pioneer Farms Dr. Details: 837-1215 www.pioneerfarms.org.
Dec. 6 Sa 11am & 1pm $9-$12 Pinocchio: Thru the magic of live musical theatre, the all-time favorite Pinocchio comes to life in a delightful production from American Family Theatre. Outrageous escapades are in store for Pinocchio as he travels from carnival to Candyland in the belly of a whale. Join in merriment as this classic tale comes to life with exuberance & song. One World Theatre, 7701 Bee Caves Rd. Details: 329-6753 www.oneworldtheatre.org.
Dec. 6 Sa 1:30-3pm $12 Sculptor To Be! Sculpture Workshop for Kids: Puppet Making In The Garden! Ages 6-12. Bring your 3-D creation to life! Please join us for this special workshop with puppet designer Connor Hopkins. Puppetry is an art form that has been around for thousands of years & still remains a popular form of entertainment & art-making today. Participants will create a functional puppet for use as a marionette, table top (Bunraku) or rod puppet. Umlauf Sculpture Garden, 605 Robert E. Lee Rd. Details: 445-5582 x101 www.umlaufsculpture.org.
Dec. 6-7 Sa-Su $10 Just As You Are: Austin Children’s Theater (ACT) is proud to present the world premiere of an Original Works Program production of the Original Musical Project, Just As You Are, a musical comedy written by Susan Busa & George Ayres, with music by Nathan Dunton. This project is directed by Talena Martinez & choreographed by Sarah Brooks, starring the students of ACT’s Original Works Program. Hyde Park United Methodist Church, 4001 Speedway. Details: 927-6633 www.austinchildrenstheater.org.
• Sa 7pm
• Su 3:30pm
Dec. 12 F 6:30pm Austin Discovery School Labyrinth Festival: This wonderful community event celebrates the shortest day of the year with song & dance led by the school’s students. Activity booths, community potluck & scholastic book fair. Candlelight ceremony begins 6:30pm. 8509 FM 969, Suite 200. Details: Kate Holton 565-7714 <email@example.com> austindiscoveryschool.org.
Dec. 12-21 F-Su $10-$15 Alice in Wonderland & ’Dentity Crisis: Zach Theatre’s Junior Troupe presents two plays: The first, Alice in Wonderland, is a rollicking, literal adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s classic. When young Alice dives into the rabbit hole, her adventures include playing croquet with the Queen of Hearts, dancing with the Mock Turtle, attending the Mad Hatter’s crazy tea party & chatting with Humpty Dumpty. It’s full of music & wit for the whole family. ‘Dentity Crisis by Christopher Durang is an outrageous 1-act comedy featuring Jane (recovering from a nervous breakdown) battling her mother (who claims to have invented cheese). Confused by her siblings (who keep changing into her father, grandfather & a French count), Jane struggles to keep her sanity amid the chaos. The Hideout Theatre, 617 N. Congress Ave. Admission is based on a sliding scale. Details: 476-0541 ext. 1 www.zachtheatre.org.
• Dec. 12, 13, 19 & 20 F-Sa 8pm
• Dec. 14 & 21 Su 2:30pm
Dec. 13 Sa 10 am–noon $10 Acorn Eaters Nature Club: 2nd Sa each month thru Feb. 14. Ages 3 & 4. Budding nature lovers will delve into the outdoors using all 5 senses. Share nature with your child while learning about the animals & habitats of McKinney Roughs thru outdoor art activities, nature hunts & games. Children need an adult partner present to participate. Preregistration required. McKinney Roughs Nature Park, 1884 SH 71 West. Details: 303-5073 <firstname.lastname@example.org> www.lcra.org/parks/developed_parks/mckinney_roughs.html.
Dec. 13 Sa 10 am–noon $10 Junior Naturalists Nature Club: 2nd Sa each month thru Feb. 14. Ages 5-10. School-age children will look deeply into the natural world to learn the skills of a true naturalist. Children will practice the naturalist skills of journaling, tracking, research & keen observation thru outdoor art, games & activities that hone their senses. Preregistration required. McKinney Roughs Nature Park, 1884 SH 71 West. Details: 303-5073 <email@example.com> www.lcra.org/parks/developed_parks/mckinney_roughs.html.
Dec. 13-14 2pm & 6pm Sa-Su $14 TexARTS Youth Ballet Theater’s Nutcracker: The ballet features the classic Tchaikovsky score danced by youth in the new TexARTS ballet program under the direction of Lisl Vaillant-McDonald. Waldorf School Auditorium, 8700 S. View Rd. Details: 852-9079x1 www.Tex-ARTS.org.
Dec. 14 & 27 Single Parent Resource Network: Unique support & resources for single & unattached parents, including babysitting cooperatives. You can also tune in 1:30-2pm each Wednesday for the Radical Mother’s Voice radio program on KOOP-FM 91.7. Details: 694-5272 www.sprn.org.
• Dec. 14 11:30am 2nd Su each month, Ruta Maya International Headquarters, 3601 S. Congress at Alpine, for discussion & planning.
• Dec. 27 3pm last Sa each month, Central Market, 4001 N. Lamar Blvd., for potluck, playgroup & clothing swap.
Sunday Dec. 14 Su 3-5pm $0-$6.50 Science Sunday: Happy Polydays! Limited seating available. Recommended for child & guardian pairs aged 5+. Austin Children’s Museum, 201 Colorado St. Details: 472-2499 austinkids.org.
Dec. 15 M Toys For Tots Drive: The Natural Health Center of Austin will be hosting a toy drive benefiting Toys for Tots. For every donation of a new & unwrapped toy, participants will receive a chance to win 1 of 3 prizes: a wellness evaluation, a free natural healthcare workshop for themselves & up to 9 guests, or a corporate wellness program for their office. There will also be a raffle for a grand prize worth $200 at an area store. Natural Health Center of Austin, 4701 Westgate Blvd. Ste. B-202. Details: 892-3366.
Dec. 16-17 Tu-W 10:15am, 11:15 am, 3:15pm & 4:15pm free Music Together Sample Classes presented by Heartsong Music:
Have you ever wondered what you can do to nurture the musical growth of your child, regardless of your own musical ability? Experience Music Together, the award-winning early childhood music program to learn how important & how much fun your role can be. For children newborn thru age 5 & their parents or caregivers. 2700 W. Anderson Ln., Ste. 320. Details: 371-9506 www.heartsongmusictogether.com.
Austin Jewish Academy Transitional Kindergarten Program: In response to community needs, AJA has created a transitional kindergarten program known as Gesher (“bridge”). Gesher is designed for students who are in a transitional year between preschool & kindergarten. 7300 Hart Ln. Details: 735-8350 <Sharon.firstname.lastname@example.org> www.austinjewishacademy.org.
BookSpring: Created from the recent merger of Reading Is Fundamental of Austin & Capital Area Reach Out & Read, BookSpring instills children with a love of reading & promotes books as a means to success. The merger enables BookSpring to create a continuum of opportunities to develop children’s language & literacy during the critical early months & years of brain development thru grade 5, resulting in stronger families & increased life-long opportunities for every child. BookSpring has pledged to distribute 1 million children’s books to families in the Austin area over the next five years & encouraged everyone to view themselves as major stakeholders & participants in children’s literacy. Details: www.bookspring.org.
FamilyLab free w/museum admission. This ongoing activity in a new interactive space is designed to provide families the opportunity to experiment, observe & respond to the art on view. Thru activities such as make & take art projects, collaborative creations & interdisciplinary approaches to art, visitors of all ages are invited to learn, play & nurture their curiosity. AMOA-Downtown 823 N. Congress. Details: 495-9224 www.amoa.org.
Mariposas Spanish School has children’s Spanish classes in several Austin locations. Experienced, fun & creative teachers share the language & culture with kids. Details: 653-7369 <email@example.com> www.mariposasspanish.com.
McKenna Children’s Museum provides a learning environment for children & families that stimulates thought, inspires imagination & prompts understanding thru hands-on educational exhibits & programs that focus on fine arts, culture, history, science, technology & health. Check out the interactive web site at mckennakids.org. 801 W. San Antonio St., New Braunfels. Details: 830-620-0939 <firstname.lastname@example.org> www.nbchildren.org/default_flash.aspx.
Naturalist Workshop & Trade Counter at Austin Nature & Science Center is a perfect place to explore the natural world. Use microscopes & magnifying glasses to get a closeup view, a balance to check the weight, plus field guides & touchable specimens for identification of your finds. If you collect natural objects, you can bring a favorite rock, fossil, seedpod, sea shell or other cool natural object to the Trade Counter, which brims with treasures that are available for trade & can be taken home by visitors thru a trading point system. W-F: 10am-1pm; S: 10am-4pm. Austin Nature & Science Center in Zilker Park. Details: 327-8181 www.ci.austin.tx.us/ansc.
PJ Library Offers Free Books & Music to Nurture Jewish Families: The PJ Library is available to help enrich Jewish family relationships by offering free children’s books & CDs. Children ages 6 months thru 6 years are eligible. It’s free the first year, $18 per child in subsequent years. The PJ Library mails brand new, age-appropriate Jewish children’s books & music CDs each month to participating families, along with parent guides. In many of The PJ Library family homes, only 1 parent is Jewish, or 1 is a Jew by choice, lacking Jewish childhood memories to pass on. Designed as an outreach to build Jewish identity in young, intermarried & unaffiliated Jewish families, The PJ Library is also available to Jewishly involved families, exposing them to Jewish culture & enhancing creative Jewish parenting. Details: Lisa Apfelberg, Jewish Community Assn. of Austin 735-8076 <email@example.com> www.shalomaustin.org/pjlibrary.
Special Seats Offer Children Safety Boost: Because children often leapfrog from child safety seats to seat belts they miss an important transitional safety support, a special vehicle booster seat designed just for their size, according to safety experts. Children shorter than 4-feet, 9-inches need a booster seat. Learn more about the seats at The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration web site: www.boosterseat.gov.
Wonders & Worries offers developmentally appropriate support groups & individual counseling for children & youth who have a parent with cancer or other serious illness. Support groups & counseling available for children, adolescents & young adults with cancer, cystic fibrosis, juvenile arthritis & other chronic illnesses. All services are free of charge & are offered in Spanish & English. 923 Westbank Dr., Ste C. Details: Meredith Cooper 329-5757 www.wondersandworries.org.
Minty Breath and Civic Virtue
Holiday Hot Chocolate
by Clane Hayward
Another holiday season is upon us and I’m exhausted just thinking about it. The frenzy of shopping, traveling and party-going is just so…frenzied. There are so many plates of cookies and baskets of candy and tin of treats at work, it’s like I never get the chance to get hungry. There are picky relatives to find perfect gifts for, and endless opportunities to annoy one’s spouse by getting them just the worst possible choice of whatever it was you chose.
The fact that the global economy is in a tailspin and Americans are facing a recession seems like the only bright spots on the horizon.
Huh? Wait! How can I say that? What am I talking about? How can a recession be good?
Welcome to another one of Clane’s preachable moments. Put the magazine down now if you’re just looking for a good recipe for eggnog or baked ham. Sorry, folks: December is the time when I always find myself thinking more about others’ misfortune than my own good fortune. It gets harder and harder to put on a holiday face while fellow Americans suffer. This month’s recipe is civic rather than gastronomic, though of course, it will not be complete without some attention to food.
I might not have broached such a topic just a few months ago, but with the election of our forty-fourth president, I want to reaffirm something Barack Obama said during one of the election debates: yes, I am my brother’s keeper, I am my sister’s keeper. In the spirit of the season I have to honor my inner hippie. I don’t want to see anyone cold, or hungry, or lonely, or desperate, whether they brought it on themselves or not. The impulse to worry about our neighbors isn’t socialism. It’s a Christian value. It’s civic virtue.
Who has proof that it is greed, self-interest and indifference that defines the human condition? The paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould said, “The center of human nature is rooted in ten thousand ordinary acts of kindness that define our days.”
It is my hope that with hard times upon us, we’ll be forced to use less and make do with what we have, until we find—o gift of the Magi—that we didn’t need so much to begin with, and that what we do have is all the more precious for having less. When did conspicuous consumption become the American way? Didn’t there used to be this thing about good old American thriftiness? Who was that dude with the round glasses who said, “A penny saved is a penny earned”? As if that weren’t enough, in chorus with my inner hippie and Ben Franklin there’s the dry rasp of the grey-suited economists, the old-fashioned ones from way back in the seventies, who told us it was middle-class savings that determine the economic strength of a nation. So would it
Because I’m proud to be an American again, I want to share and express that pride publicly by giving back, as well. This year I plan to do most of my giving as charitable donations in my loved ones’ names. The added benefit to that is that they daren’t complain.
Another great way to give is to contribute to food banks throughout the city: admission to Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center’s Holiday Luminations (512-230-0100) held December 12-14, is free with two nonperishable food items. If you’re not sure where to give or to whom, contact Capital Area Food Bank’s Food and Fund Drive Information Center (512-684-2145).
Oh, I almost forgot: we need a recipe here. This is my very favorite holiday concoction: peppermint hot chocolate. It sounds weird but it’s dreamy, creamy and delicious. I like to sit in the park with a big thermos and share it with a friend and watch the gorgeous lights at Zilker Park’s Trail Of Lights (512-974-6700). Each year Austin’s Parks and Recreation Department celebrates the holiday tradition with “a wonderland of light painted on the canvas of nature.” Trail of Lights is held at Zilker Park December 14-23. Trail of Lights sponsors several giving events, including Operation Blue Santa (512-220-2583), which was started in 1972 by officers in the Austin Police Department who wanted to help and share with the community of Austin. Operation Blue Santa accepts donated toys to give to children aged fourteen and younger.
To make that yummy hot chocolate, use very low heat to gently warm a cup of milk, hazelnut milk, almond milk, oat milk or soy milk per person, or more of you’re a hog (that would be me). Whisk several tablespoons of prepared chocolate drink mix into the milk, such as Ghirardelli Sweet Ground Chocolate and Cocoa. Do not let the milk boil, as it will easily burn and scald (and make a mess of your pan). Throw a handful of candy cane pieces into a heated mug before serving, or throw the pieces into your thermos. Stir and sip. If I don’t plan on driving, I find that a tot of peppermint schnapps makes this drink even better, if that’s possible. You can get all crazy and add whipped cream or marshmallows or grated chocolate or a fresh mint leaf on top, but it tastes just as good plain-style. Drink deep, and breathe mintily, and share your blessings.
Clane Hayward apologizes for preaching. She’s worried about the recession too. You may e-mail Clane at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How to get your food event listed: We prefer that calendar listing information be submitted by using the form on our web site at www.goodlifemag.com. Second choice is to e-mail the essential details to email@example.com. Or fax it to 512-474-5725. Or mail to PO Box 4400, Austin, Texas 78765. To be considered for inclusion, items must be received by the 15th of the month for the following month’s events. Listings are free & are published on a space-available basis.
Wednesdays & Saturdays 9am-2pm year-round Market at Boggy Creek Farm in East Austin: TDS certified organic produce. 3414 Lyons Rd. Details: Carol Ann Sayle & Larry Butler, farm owners 926-4650 <firstname.lastname@example.org> www.boggycreekfarm.com (map on web site).
Wednesdays 3-7pm Austin Farmers’ Market at The Triangle: This weekly year-round market is part of the Sustainable Food Center’s system of markets. Fresh produce from the farm, cheeses, eggs & more are available each week to eat or to take home. Triangle Park, 46th St. between Lamar & Guadalupe. Details: Suzanne Santos, Sustainable Food Center 236-0074 www.AustinFarmersMarket.org.
Fridays Dec. 5-26 4-7pm Citywide In-Store Wine Tastings: Twin Liquors presents wine samples at 13 area locations. Shop & visit with the wine experts to locate a particular bottle of wine, get wine-food pairing suggestions & answers to any & all wine-related questions. Details: Paula Biehler 328-3935 www.TwinLiquors.com.
Fridays & Saturdays F noon-2pm & 4-7pm, Sa 10am-2pm Farmstand at Green Gate Farm: Kid-friendly venue hosts spontaneous events like the Red Potato Pull & Rattlesnake Bean Run. Certified naturally grown produce. WIC vouchers accepted. 8604 FM 969 (East MLK at Decker Ln), 8 miles east of downtown. Details: Farm owners Erin Flynn & Skip Connett 926-2436 or 404-625-4967 <email@example.com> www.greengatefarms.net.
Saturdays 8am-1pm year-round South Austin Farmers’ Market on Congress: El Gallo Restaurant parking lot, 2910 S. Congress Ave. (across from St. Edwards University). Details: Tony Piccola & Suzanne Bartoo market managers. 830-914-3756 www.austinfarm.org/safm.
Saturdays 9am-1pm year-round Austin Farmers’ Market: Now with an ATM available on-site, bike valets & a booth for Yellow Bike Project to help folks with bike racks, homemade panniers & basket options. The market features fresh & local vegetables, herbs, cheeses, eggs, meats, breads, honey, flowers, prepared foods, drinks & artisan crafts. Free admission & free parking on the street & in the state garage at 3rd & San Antonio. Kids Patch activities, garden info, live music & chefs’ demos. 4th & Guadalupe. Music 10-11:30am. Details: Suzanne Santos, Sustainable Food Center 236-0074 www.AustinFarmersMarket.org.
• Austin Farmers’ Market Accepts Food Stamps: In keeping with its mission to improve access to fresh & healthy local foods for all people, Sustainable Food Center operates the Farmers’ Market Food Stamp Initiative at the Austin Farmers’ Market downtown. Thru this initiative, recipients of food stamp benefits can use their Lone Star cards to purchase locally grown fruits & vegetables directly from the farmers who grow them & buy other fresh, healthy, locally produced foods.
Saturdays 9am-1pm year-round Sunset Valley Farmers Market: Toney Burger Activity Center parking lot, US Hwy 290 West in Sunset Valley, between Brodie Lane & Westgate Blvd exits. Details: Salila Travers, market director 443-0143 or 280-1976 <firstname.lastname@example.org> www.sunsetvalleyfarmersmarket.org.
Saturdays 9am-5pm Market at Arnosky Family Farms: Come to the Big Blue Barn where you’ll find vegetables, fresh-cut flowers, cheeses made of goat & cow’s milk, eggs & plants for your garden. The farm is open all other days for self-service. Come spend as much time as you’d like & walk the fields. This is a real working family farm, so be careful & enjoy yourself. 12550 RR 2325 at the junction of RR 165, between Blanco & Wimberley. Details: 830-833-5428 www.texascolor.com.
Saturdays 10am-1pm Dec. 6, 13 & 20: Fun Cooking Classes: The Culinary Academy of Austin offers a variety of cooking classes at 6020-B Dillard Circle. Details: 451-5743 www.culinaryacademyofaustin.com.
• Dec. 6 $125 Cooking Techniques: Chef Stephen Rafferty will lead a class in not only the terminology of the professional kitchen, but the techniques that professional chefs use. Master braising, steaming, poaching, sautéing, frying, baking & roasting.
• Dec. 13 $125 Rack of Lamb with Winter Pesto: Join Chef Natalie to create an amazing rack of lamb with winter pesto. This hearty dish, coupled with a delectable ratatouille, is just right for those cold winter nights.
• Dec. 20 $75 Decorated Designer Cookies: ‘Tis the season…for cookies. Bring your favorite cutters & learn the art of royal-iced designed cookies from Chef Heather Malkani using the flood & fill method, just in time for your holiday baked-gifts. Cookies go home with you at the end of the class.
Saturdays noon-6pm free Open Tasting: Sample a variety of wines & spirits at Grapevine Market, 7938 Great Northern Blvd. Details: 323-5900 www.grapevinemarket.com.
Saturdays & Sundays 11am-4pm World Flavors on the Grill: Look for exciting seasonal selections on the grill in Market Hall. Taste them & then walk away with an easy recipe you can try at home. Prices vary depending on selections. Whole Foods Market, 525 N. Lamar. Details: 476-1206 www.wholefoodsmarket.com.
Dec. 6 Sa $25 solo, $40 family (2 or more) Eat Local Week Urban Farm Bicycle Tour: Discover Austin’s local food-producing gems on a family-friendly bicycle tour. Stops at urban farms, school & community gardens, the Edible Austin Tea Party & more. Farm & henhouse tours. Sample local beverages. Win prizes including a fully outfitted cruiser bike. Details: 441-3971 www.edibleaustin.com.
• 9am 14 Mile Option Departs Bicycle Sport Shop, 517 S. Lamar.
• 9am 24 Mile Option Departs Sunset Valley Farmers’ Market, Toney Burger Center, US Hwy 290 West.
• 10am 10 Mile Option Departs downtown Farmers’ Market, 4th & Guadalupe.
Dec. 6-13 Eat Local Week: This is a fund-raiser & local food celebration event sponsored by Edible Austin with all proceeds going to support Urban Roots. During the week of December 6-13, Austin residents are encouraged eat local & are invited to attend events celebrating local food such as the Urban Farm Bicycle Tour, the Austin Tea Party & Small Bites of Austin. Eat Local Week culminates December 13 at the downtown Austin Farmers’ Market. Details: 441-3971 <email@example.com> www.edibleaustin.com.
Austin Community Gardens: Want to grow some of your own food but have no land? Check out the plots available at these neighborhood garden locations listed by the Sustainable Food Center. Details: Emily Neiman 236-0074 ext. 5 <firstname.lastname@example.org> www.sustainablefoodcenter.org.
• Alamo Community Garden 2101 Alamo St.
• Blackland Community Garden 1600 block of Pennsylvania Avenue, across from Kealing Middle School.
• Deep Eddy Community Garden 3001 Atlanta St.
• El Jardin Alegre Community Garden 1801 E. 2nd St.
• Good Soil Community Garden 12th & Chicon streets.
• Peter Tucker Community Garden 1705 Waterston Ave.
• Project Imagine 3421 E. Cesar Chavez St.
• Quilombo Garden Collective 5606 Harold Court.
• South Austin Community Gardens South 5th Street at Cumberland Road.
• Sunshine Community Garden 4814 Sunshine Drive at 49th Street.
• Travis County Southwest Metro Park Community Garden US Hwy 71 at Ross Road.
• Windsor Park Community Garden 5801 Westminster Drive.
Central Market Cooking School: Call the school for up-to-date schedules & class availability. N. Lamar at 40th St. Details: 458-3068 www.centralmarket.com/cm/cmClasses.jsp.
Community Supported Agriculture Subscription Delivery Programs. The following farms provide food to clients who subscribe. Contact the farms for details:
• Finca Pura Vida 944 Lakeview Rd. Fayetteville. Details: e-mail preferred <email@example.com> 979-249-3866.
• Green Gate Farms 8604 FM 969 (E. MLK at Decker Ln) 8 miles east of downtown Austin. Certified naturally grown produce. 512-926-2436, 404-625-4967 www.greengatefarms.net.
• Hairston Creek Farm Rt. 3, Box 69 Burnet. Details: 512-756-8380 <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
• Hands of the Earth Farm (formerly Oasis Gardens Farms): Offering 2 pick-up locations to get a weekly bushel basket of fresh, seasonal veggies. Details: 389-3835 <email@example.com> www.handsoftheearth.com.
• Millberg Farms (Kyle area only) 737 Opal Lane, Kyle. Details: Tim Miller 512-268-1433.
• Tecolote Farm 16301 Decker Lake Rd., Manor Details: David Pitre & Katie Kraemer <firstname.lastname@example.org> e-mail preferred. 512-276-7008.
One-Pot Meals Brochure Lays Out Meal Model: 18 recipes revamp old favorites in healthy ways in this free brochure, based on steadily mounting research on diet & cancer. Experts at the American Institute for Cancer Research are urging Americans to adopt a simple but innovative meal model for better health & lower weight. The brochure can be read, downloaded or ordered at www.aicr.org/onepot. Or a single copy can be ordered at no charge by calling 1-800-843-8114, ext. 459.
Slow Food Austin: Recognizing that the enjoyment of wholesome food is essential to the pursuit of happiness, Slow Food USA is an educational organization dedicated to stewardship of the land & ecologically sound food production; to the revival of the kitchen & the table as centers of pleasure, culture & community; to the invigoration & proliferation of regional, seasonal culinary traditions; to the creation of a collaborative, ecologically-oriented & virtuous globalization; & to living a slower & more harmonious rhythm of life. Want to learn more or join? Details: <email@example.com> www.slowfoodaustin.org.
Two Turtle Doves, Three French Hens,
Several Dogs and Cats
”My dog is worried about the economy because Alpo is up to ninety-nine cents a can. That’s almost seven dollars in dog money.”
by Laura Koffler
Let me start with a little holiday honesty here and break it to you, ever so gently: unless your dog has already been influenced by the materialistic, conspicuously consumptive society that dominates this planet’s “civilized” inhabitants, it will always prefer your tender love and affection over a peanut-butter filled Kong. Or, let me rephrase that, it would rather you rub it’s belly than put a Longhorns Football T-shirt on it, unless you have a golden retriever that knows how fabulously orange suits him. Your pet likely desires the simple things, namely, spending more time with you, rather than getting a cat massage or a pawicure. Still, cats and dogs love presents just as much as we humans do. Sure, your dog loves you, but a little token of your appreciation could not possibly hurt.
Yes, the holiday season has arrived. Even in times of financial crisis, most of us will soon find ourselves amidst the masses of shoppers buying thoughtful presents for our families and friends, special gifts that they will later carefully
place unwrapped in a drawer forever. So, while we’re at it, why not add our animals to the list?
Luckily I already know what my dogs want. Don Guatone asked for a novelty hat with reindeer horns; Rhonda requested a big, fuzzy bed because her favorite winter project is to redesign the kitchen and living room with pieces of fabric and filler. So, do you know what your pet wants? If not, allow me to help you assemble a list of pet present possibilities.
Fortunately, Austin is awash in high-quality, original and affordable local choices for everything animal, but before I go into how best to spoil your pet, let’s remember the true holiday spirit: it’s better to give than to receive, and it’s a civic duty to share our good blessings with other less-than-fortunate animals.
There is no doubt in my mind that your good-doing doggy or philanthropic kitty will feel proud when, in their name, you donate cash to any of the local or national animal shelters. For example, at the Austin Humane Society, www.austinhumanesociety.org, a little money goes a long way. Fifty dollars will provide one animal with food and shelter for four months, while a hundred will afford vaccinations for twenty animals. In addition to cold cash, there is nothing more valuable than your time and talent spent at the Central Texas SPCA, www.centraltexasspca.org, which could use your design or event-planning skills.
Having arrived at a clear conscience, let’s go shopping! It will be pretty hard to beat Second Street’s Lofty Dog, www.austinloftydog.com, for yummy stocking stuffers. It carries Cain and Able shea butter paw rub, www.cainandablecollection.com, for a warm paw massage, and yummy organic vegan treats from Bark For Peace!, www.barkforpeace.com.
Take pet fashion to the next level with Waggy Baggy, www.waggybaggy.homestead.com, as you and your dog stylishly walk around with matching accessories. Envision your loving pooch sporting a polychromatic bandana as you follow a few steps behind with a fabric-matching doggie-droppings bag!
Round Rock’s own Paw Bakery has mind-altering cakes and treats www.pawbakery.com. Yes, I know you well-mannered dogs and cats out there are watching your figures, but surely we can wait until January to start the diet.
Pet Edibles 4 Life has a selection of delicious peanut butter cookies (and I should know) in snowman, candy cane, Christmas tree and other holiday designs. All you have to do is order them here: www.petedibles4life.com, and they will send them to your house.
With three different ultra-modern, luxurious lines, Wetnoz. www.wetnoz.com, integrates function and modern design. The stainless steel bowls and high grade ABS plastic non-skid bases from the Metro collection come in three sizes (one, four and six cups) and in several colors. Prices range from twenty to forty dollars, so while not cheap, it’s still affordable and the quality of this product guarantees a long life.
On-line shop Tiny Pampered Pets, www.tinypamperedpets.com, offers a dog parka that features a “heated belly panel” that is battery powered. It’s so cozy! I saw a poodle wearing one of these during the 2007 freeze. I was so jealous of that little bitch!
At Hula Hound, www.hulahounddesigns.com, you can create a custom collar for your cat or dog. And I refuse to be quoted on this but am pretty certain that I saw Scooby wearing one of their hemp and beads designs at Eeyore’s birthday party.
And surely you will have a holiday party. Wouldn’t it be way more fun to have your dogs in attendance? For four dollars per person and six bucks per dog (with a maximum of twelve dogs) The Furr Factor, www.thefurrfactor.com, can help you. Whatever you do, make sure to be a good wing man and don’t let your friend drink too much. Don Guatone is still pretending that he never made out with that bulldog at last year’s Christmas party. Typical guy.
Education is the gift that’s second to none. And I hate to break it to you but your dog is not the self-taught genius that it has made you believe, so why don’t you let the ladies at Austin Canine Central, www.austincaninecentral.com, help your dog reach its full potential and fulfill its academic expectations? While you are there, you too can learn a thing or two about manners.
Just for Pets, www.justforpetsaustin.com, offers a special Neem flea shampoo that will relieve your dog’s itching, scratching and skin irritations. It is also helpful in the pursuit of a luscious winter coat. They also carry twenty-five, fifty and one hundred dollar gift certificates, which are undoubtedly a great idea to save your pet from the embarrassment of having to return a present that it did not like.
There is nothing I can tell you about Bark ’n Purr, www.barknpurr.com, that you don’t yet know, but bear with me: they have clothes, collars and leashes, crates and kennels, car seats, and life jackets for dogs. And among many other reasons, they are famous for excellent quality organic food. Basically anything that you buy there will give your pet a reason to enjoy the season.
In the end know that there’s nothing you can buy for your dear pet that would be better than the gift its company has brought to your life. And you know what? It feels the same way about you.
Laura Koffler wishes all creatures great and small a ridiculously beautiful 2009. You may e-mail Laura at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How to get your pet event listed: We prefer that calendar listing information be submitted by using the form on our web site at www.goodlifemag.com. Second choice is to e-mail the essential details to email@example.com. Or fax it to 512-474-5725. Or mail to PO Box 4400, Austin, Texas 78765. To be considered for inclusion, items must be received by the 15th of the month for the following month’s events. Listings are free & are published on a space-available basis.
Dec. 1-11 What’s In My Dog? Friends of Town Lake Animal Center is selling raffle tickets to win a Canine Heritage XL Breed DNA Test Kit valued at $120. A simple, inside-the-cheek swab determines the mix of your mutt. Two test kits will be raffled. Tickets are $5 each, 5 for $20 & are available at Fetch, a pet boutique at 3636 Bee Caves Rd. & from any Friends of TLAC member. E-mail <info@friendsofTLAC.com> to find out where tickets will be sold in person. Or mail your check to Friends of TLAC, PO Box 297, Austin 78767 & your stubs will be mailed to you. Winners will be drawn at the group’s holiday party Dec. 11. All proceeds benefit TLAC. Details: www.friendsoftlac.com/relatedlinks/whatsinmydog.html.
Dec. 6 & 20 Sa 11am-2pm Austin Boxer Rescue Adoption Days: These dogs have been rescued from bad situations & are rehabilitated medically, socialized & taught basic manners before being offered for adoption. Adoption fee $75-$300 with approved application. Brown Elementary School, 505 W. Anderson Ln. Details: 968-1343 www.austinboxerrescue.com.
Saturdays Dec. 6, 13, 20 Greyhound Meet & Greet: Greyhound Pets of America-Central Texas seeks responsible loving homes for adoptable greyhounds that failed to qualify for the race track or no longer race. $195 adoption fee with approved application. Details: 267-7603 <firstname.lastname@example.org> www.gpacentraltexas.org.
• Dec. 6 9am Town Lake Stroll, meet on north side of Zachary Scott Theatre, 1510 Toomey Rd.
• Dec. 13 noon-3pm Tomlinson’s West Lake Hills, 3300 Bee Caves Rd.
• Dec. 20 11am-3pm Petco, 9828 Great Hills Trail, Austin.
Dec. 6-27 Meet the Cockers! Cocker Spaniel Rescue of Austin-San Antonio Meet & Greet: $150 adoption fee with approved application. Details: Noira Boilin 527-9923 <email@example.com> www.austincockerrescue.org.
• Dec. 6 1st Sa each month 11am-2pm Petco, 5601 Brodie Ln., Austin.
• Dec. 13 2nd Sa each month noon-3pm PetSmart, 2601 S. I-35, Round Rock.
• Dec. 14 2nd Su noon-3pm PetSmart, 12812 Shops Pkwy, Bee Cave.
• Dec. 20 3rd Sa noon-3pm PetSmart, 11150 Research Blvd., Austin.
Dec. 6 & 27 Sa noon-4pm Meet & Greet Shadow Cats Adoption Days: Adoptable cats & kittens. $100-$125 adoption fee. 1st & 4th Sa each month. PetSmart, 2601 S. I-35, Round Rock. Details: 512-388-3909 <firstname.lastname@example.org> www.shadowcats.net.
Dec. 13 Sa 11am free Austin Chihuahua Meetup Group: A great place to socialize your Chihuahua & meet other owners. We love Chi’s & realize the importance of socializing with other small dogs. We also promote adoptions & eliminating unnecessary breeding. Meets 2nd Sa every month. Private home, 2 Kern Ramble St., Austin. Details: 779-4023 <email@example.com> www.chihuahua.meetup.com/29.
Dec. 13 & 14 Sa-Su Central Texas SPCA Adoption Days: Come meet adoptable shelter dogs & cats. $95 adoption fee. Details: 260-7722 <firstname.lastname@example.org> www.centraltexasspca.com.
• Dec. 13 1-4pm 2nd Sa each month, PetSmart, Hwy 29 @ I-35, Georgetown.
• Dec. 14 1-4pm 2nd Su each month PetSmart, 1890 Ranch, Cedar Park.
Dec. 13 & 20 Low Cost Pet Vaccination Program: Pet Medical Services provides low-cost mobile vaccination clinics to the Austin area. Details: 413-0989 www.austinpetms.com.
• Dec. 13 2nd Sa each month 9:30-11am Tomlinson’s, 202 Walton Way, Cedar Park.
• Dec. 20 3rd Sa each month, as follows:
• 9-10:30am Tomlinson’s Ben White, Lakehills Shopping Center at S. Lamar & Ben White, Austin.
• 11am-12:30pm Tomlinson’s West Lake Hills, 3300 Bee Caves Rd.
• 1:30-3pm Tomlinson’s Airport, 908 E. 49-1/2 St. Austin.
Dec. 14 & 21 Su 1-4pm Thundering Paws Adoption Days: This nonprofit program of the no-kill central Texas animal sanctuary, located in Dripping Springs, has pets for adoption on the 2nd & 3rd Su each month. Adoption fee $100 with approved application. PetSmart, 5207 Brodie Ln. Details: Anne Zabolio 402-9725 <email@example.com> www.thunderingpaws.org.
Dec. 29 M 7-8:30pm free Pet Loss Support Group: Meets last M each month to offer care, compassion & understanding to those who have lost or anticipate the loss of a pet. Facilitated by dedicated staff & volunteers. Austin Humane Society. 124 W. Anderson Ln. Details: Lisa Starr 646-7387 ext. 226 www.austinhumanesociety.org.
Animal Trustees of Austin Best Friends Campaign: Low-income & homeless citizens of Austin lack financial resources & many are faxed with making unbearable decisions of life or death for their beloved companions. For Animal Trustees to continue offering vital & much-needed services to animals in the greatest need, your support is needed. Help Animal Trustees, which has helped more than 175,000 animals since it opened in 1997, to reach its goal of raising $125,000. Make checks payable to Animal Trustees of Austin & mail to PO Box 14542, Austin 78761-4542. Or donate on-line by clicking on the link at www.animaltrustees.org/donate.asp. Details: 371-1965 www.animaltrustees.org.
Animal Trustees of Austin Needs More Than Your Money: Donations are desperately needed year round, but especially towels. Towels are used as bedding, but mostly during surgical procedures, probably hundreds a day. If you can donate clean, used towels, please drop them off at The Natural Gardener, 8648 Old Bee Caves Rd. Details: Missy 450-1504 www.animaltrustees.org.
Austin Humane Society: Are the dog days of summer getting you down? Adopt a cat. Join us in celebrating our shelter cats & kittens all summer long with reduced adoption fees & special cat promotions. AHS, along with the city shelter, is on our way to saving at least 1,500 feline lives this year. So now is the best time ever to adopt a cat or kitten 124 W. Anderson Ln. Details: Lisa Starr at 512-646-PETS ext. 110 <firstname.lastname@example.org> www.austinhumanesociety.org.
Austin Humane Society Free, Public Feral Cat Spay-Neuter Program. Bring in a feral or stray cat & we will spay-neuter it, free of charge. Our goal is to fix 5,000 by 2009. Donations are needed to continue this essential program & can be made safely on-line. Other donations such as canned kitten food, kitty litter, towels & blankets can be brought to the shelter at 124 W. Anderson Lane in Austin. All donations are tax deductible. Details: Lisa Starr 646-7387 x110 <LStarr@austinhumanesociety.org> www.AustinHumaneSociety.org.
Austin Vet Care Offers Lost & Found & Adoption Service: Austin Vet Care, a veterinary practice with locations in Central (Central Park) & North Austin (Metric), provides an automated Lost & Found & Adoption service thru its web site. The service allows people to upload information, including photographs, directly to the veterinary practice server. Details: 459-4336 <email@example.com> www.austinvetcare.com.
Central Texas Animal Alliance: Formerly the SPCA of Greater Austin, the CTAA’s mission is to build a broad-based alliance across Central Texas that includes all organizations, individuals & businesses dedicated to ending the killing of homeless animals in our public animal facilities. The alliance hopes to establish performance & accountability standards for our public shelter directors. CTAA remains committed to ending the killing of homeless animals & is looking for new members. Details: 965-0777 <firstname.lastname@example.org> www.CentralTexasAnimalAlliance.org.
Emancipet is a nonprofit organization providing low-cost or free spay-neuter services. The mobile spay-neuter clinic visits areas around Central Texas daily. Free days are Thursdays & Fridays with check-in beginning at 8am on 1st come, 1st served basis. Appointment-only most other days. Check web site for dates & locations. Stationary clinic at 601 Airport Blvd, #605. Details: 587-7729 <email@example.com> www.emancipet.org.
German Shepherd Rescue Central Texas needs foster homes for wonderful dogs—puppies, youngsters & adults, male & female—who are waiting for their forever homes. All are friendly; some even like cats. Fostering a homeless dog makes room for another to be saved, often from certain death. We also need help with fund-raising, transportation, repairs, minor construction & adoptive home background checks. Just coming to walk & play with the dogs, who are so grateful for the one-on-one attention, is a huge help. Details: Bev Gainer 264-2478 www.gsdrescuetx.com.
Guide Dogs of Texas seeks volunteers to raise & socialize guide dog puppies. Each puppy must be raised indoors & be with the volunteer thruout the entire day. Service includes daily training walks for exposure to a variety of city settings & monthly supervisor visits. No experience necessary but volunteers must be at least 18 years of age. A minimum 1-year commitment is required. Call to schedule an interview. Details: 210-366-4081 www.guidedogsoftexas.org.
Humane Society of Williamson County is a no-kill, nonprofit shelter located on 22 acres in Leander. It is the largest no-kill animal adoption center in Williamson County. It provides animal services such as low-cost spay & neuter surgery & low-cost vaccinations. These services are available to everyone in the community. The Humane Society is always in need of committed volunteers & donations. Your donations will go directly to animals to help prepare them for adoption. Shelter located at 10930 E. Crystal Falls Pkwy, Leander. The web site provides information & a list of adoptable animals, including photographs. Details: www.hswc.net or call 512-260-3602.
Lifelong Friends Pet Adoptions desperately needs volunteers. The organization provides a safe haven for local area cats & dogs while they wait for loving, forever homes. Minors must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Cat Caregivers must be at least 13 years old & Dog Caregivers must be at least 16. If you have time, energy & love to give to homeless animals, contact Lago Vista PAWS. Details: 512-267-6876 www.lvpaws.org.
Love-A-Bull, a new Texas nonprofit organization, wants to educate & advocate on behalf of the American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, the Staffordshire Terrier & Bull Terrier, all breeds commonly referred to as “pit bulls” and pit-bull mixes. Love-A-Bull encourages members to serve as role models of responsible ownership & engage in activism, including support of rescue & promotion of spay-neuter programs, and in opposition to breed-specific legislation. Details: www.love-a-bull.org.
PALS-Prevent A Litter of Central Texas, a nonprofit organization providing educational & income-based pet spay-neuter services to the needy, seeks volunteers & donations. Details: Sharri Boyett 512-878-2226 <PAL@preventalitter.com> www.preventalitter.com.
Safe Kids-Safe Dogs: Tail Town Training presents dog safety classes to schools & other organizations in which owner Joycelyn Schedler teaches children & families about dog body language, safety around loose dogs, how to approach a dog & other valuable skills. Schedler is a certified canine training specialist who trained her own dogs, Woodstock & Gunner, to be therapy dogs, to visit hospitals, nursing homes, schools & any place they can provide emotional support. To schedule a therapy dog visit or a Safe Kids-Safe Dogs class for your organization, call Schedler. Details: <firstname.lastname@example.org> 303-0063.
Southern Animal Rescue Association (SARA) Sanctuary, a no-kill, nonprofit animal sanctuary, located on 580 acres in Seguin, is home to more than 700 dogs & cats, two 800-pound pigs & other farm animals, all of whom would love some extra attention & care. We need fund-raisers, groomers, feeders, shelter builders, foster homes, vet techs & all-around animal lovers to help out. SARA seeks adoptive homes for all the animals, but when adoption is not possible, the animals have a permanent quality home at the sanctuary for the duration of their natural lives. The sanctuary is full & we are struggling to provide care, build shelters & raise funds for our 700-plus residents. We would love your volunteer help, in any capacity. Details: 210-669-8399 <email@example.com> www.sarasanctuary.org.
Southpaws University: Higher Learning for You & Your Dog! Southpaws University will offer a variety of pet-related classes taught by instructors with a vast array of experience & expertise in the pet industry. The list of classes currently scheduled include beginner & intermediate clicker training, pet first aid & CPR, obedience training, pet photography, how to choose a dog, making toys for dogs, homeopathy for dogs & more. Southpaws Playschool, 2324-B S. Lamar. Details: Sonya Wilson 440-7529 <firstname.lastname@example.org> www.southpawsplayschool.com.
Thundering Paws: This nonprofit program of the no-kill Central Texas Animal Sanctuary, located in Dripping Springs, needs volunteers to help care for animals, raise awareness & do other chores necessary for the well-being of animals. Adopters, foster-care providers & donations are also needed. Details: Anne Zabolio 402-9725 <email@example.com> www.thunderingpaws.org.
Town Lake Animal Center Needs Toys for Orphaned Animals: Toys & chews are needed to keep the orphaned animals occupied & help alleviate stress. A list of what they need includes tennis balls, Kong toys & other sturdy, washable dog toys, interactive cat toys, washable, plastic, ball-type cat toys & natural rawhide chews. Please bring items to The Natural Gardener, 8648 Old Bee Caves Rd. or drop it off at the shelter. Town Lake Animal Center, 1156 W. Cesar Chavez. Details: 3-1-1 www.ci.austin.tx.us/tlac/default.htm.
A Blooming Good Holiday
With a Flowery Friend
by Cecilia Nasti
“Once again, we come to the Holiday Season, a deeply religious time that each of us observes, in his own way, by going to the mall of his choice.” —Dave Barry
When I moved to Central Texas from the Fox Valley of Illinois, one of my first concerns was whether the Christmas holidays would feel the same, and if I could generate the proper spirit of the season in a place that didn’t get cold enough to freeze my lips to my teeth.
While not a fan of frigid temperatures and mountains of snow, both signaled the festive season ahead, and knowing that made it worth the inconvenience of having to get up at the crack of ridiculous to scrape frost off the car windows and shovel the driveway, the slipping on ice and the occasional tongue stuck to the frozen frame of our aluminum screen door. (I don’t know why, but I always had to see if just this time I could beat the odds.)
Without that, and since my family remained in Illinois, and my lifelong holiday traditions with them—particularly the Italian Feast of the Seven Fishes on Christmas Eve, attending Midnight Mass a little tipsy and sitting in the balcony singing loudly and off-key and swaying in the pew during the carols—I wasn’t sure I’d be able to get into the right frame of mind for a season I had so loved.
Then, I experienced my first unseasonably warm (even by local standards) Christmas in Central Texas. Being able to wear a T-shirt, Capri pants and sandals, and drive with the windows rolled down, helped me to get over my earlier trepidation before the New Year arrived.
Another thing that helped me to make the transition included a familiar face that I had been delighted to see at grocery stores, holiday markets and in office buildings: Amaryllis. With this flowery friend available in my new home on the range, it was beginning to look a lot like Christmas.
Amaryllis (Hippeastrum) is a gorgeous, showy, tropical bulb that originated in South America, and is named after a beautiful young maiden of the same name from Greek mythology; the name is said to mean “sparkling.”
According to the story, Amaryllis falls for a narcissistic shepherd with the looks of Adonis, but he rebuffs her advances unless she can produce a truly unique and beautiful flower; a bloom that will hold its own against his handsome visage, one would assume. While she eventually succeeds, the act of doing so (which involved a thirty day blood-letting from one of her boobs) leaves the maiden on death’s door; sheep-boy, meanwhile, ends up with a beautiful bloom which he probably handed over to some equally vacuous nymph. Maybe this is where the admonition from mothers to daughters to “not give your flower to just any man” comes from.
In the real world, we can thank German botanist, zoologist and explorer Eduard Frederich Poeppig for discovering and recording amaryllis in 1828 while on a plant hunting expedition in Chile. According to some of the information I found on Poeppig, the young man was so ecstatic about his find that he would break out into extended shouts of joy, and his traveling companion—a dog—howled right along with him. The first time you lay eyes on an amaryllis bloom, and you feel like howling, don’t hold back.
Amaryllis come in many sizes and colors, and are available most places this time of year in several forms: potted and blooming; as kits that include a bulb, potting medium and a container; or as individual bulbs. If you want immediate gratification, go for the potted and blooming option. But if you think you might enjoy the process of watching the dramatic growth of this stunning plant, you know what to do—or will in a moment.
If you get a kit, just follow the instructions and you’ll end up with great results. At this writing, two amaryllis bulbs I planted from kits in mid-October (Star of Holland and Apple Blossom from www.hollandbulbfarms.com) are already starting to push out leaves. Generally, but not always, the bloom stalk precedes the long strappy leaves; expect from one to three stalks per plant with multiple blooms on each stalk, giving you weeks of enjoyment. I have to wonder if these bulbs will bloom
this year because although they are big and healthy, they arrived with wizened roots. Fat, fleshy roots are usually a good indicator that you will get blooms your first year. Fingers crossed.
If you plan to buy an Amaryllis bulb, look for the biggest you can find, with those fleshy roots, and expect to pay ten dollars or more for it. Choose a container with a drainage hole that’s only an inch or so bigger in diameter than your bulb, as amaryllis like being hugged. Moisten the potting mix, and put half of it into the container. Place the bulb in next, and fill in around it, with the top third above the soil.
Put your potted bulb in a warm place where it will get a lot of sunlight. Until it blooms, only water the soil when it feels dry to about an inch below the surface. Once it starts blooming, you’ll need to water more frequently, and give it a shot of fertilizer every month or so. Once it’s put up a stalk, remember to give your amaryllis half turns each day to keep it from leaning toward the light source, looking to the world like a drunken sailor (no offense to drunken sailors). When the flowers finally fade, cut back the stalks and continue to care for the foliage; once the weather warms up outside, you can plant it in a sunny location with good drainage. It will bloom again for you, but may not that first year after planting. It can be a crap shoot sometimes.
Amaryllis will also grow and bloom in water only, with dramatic effects. If I were going to grow an amaryllis in this manner, I would use a tall, clear, cylindrical container filled with smooth river rocks or colored glass. Depending on the height of your container and the type of amaryllis you have, one third to one half of the stalk will probably grow above the rim.
You can place all the aggregate you plan to use into the container and spread the roots over it or you can hold the bulb in place inside the container, and gently add the aggregate so that it anchors the roots, and the bulb rests atop the mound. It’s very cool when you start seeing the roots take over and encircle the rocks or glass. Next, add water until it is just tickling the bottom of the bulb—submerging it will promote rot and stink. Add horticultural charcoal to the container to help keep things fresh, and change the water from time to time lest you end up with a healthy crop of pond scum.
The amaryllis is beautiful and easy to grow. So, whether you’re a native Texan or new to the area, inviting this plant into your home for the holidays will bring you comfort and joy.
Want more of Cecilia Nasti’s gardening know-how, wit and wisdom? Tune-in at 11:55am every Saturday during “Folkways” for her “Growing Concerns” segments aired exclusively on KUT-FM 90.5, public radio for Austin. Or log onto www.kut.org. You may e-mail Cecilia at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Things to plant in December
Flower plants—Alyssum, Butterfly Weed, Calendula, Candytuft, Cornflower, Dianthus, Daisy (African, Michaelmas and Painted), Liatris, Nasturtium, Ornamental Cabbage and Kale, Phlox paniculata, Snapdragon, Stock.
Flower seeds—Bluebonnet, Calendula, Candytuft, Cornflower, Feverfew, Gaillardia, Gayfeather, Larkspur, Nasturtium, Poppy and Sweet Pea.
Bulbs—Agapanthus, Allium, Alstroemeria, Amarcrinum, Amaryllis (in container), Crinum, Hyacinth, Liriope, Monkey Grass, Muscari, Star of Bethlehem (Orthinogalum), Rain Lily, Society Garlic, Spraxis, Aztec Lily (Sprekelia), Watsonia.
Vegetables—Lettuce, Radish, and Spinach. Protect cool-season vegetables from hard freezes with row covers.
Fruit—Bare root or container-grown pecans, fruit trees, grapes and berry bushes.
Fertilize—Bulbs with bone meal in the planting hole. Feed winter bloomers such as Alyssum, Dianthus and especially Pansies every four to six weeks.
Water—Everything well before a freeze to protect against cold injury, but avoid overwatering.
Transplant—Bare root and container grown roses, shrubs, trees, groundcovers and vines so they get established before warm weather arrives next summer.
Prepare soil—Prepare dormant beds for spring planting by cleaning out dead and spent plants, and composting to enrich the organic content of the soil. Send in soil samples; forms for this purpose are available at the Extension Service Office (512-854-9600). Check winter mulch and replenish if needed. Stockpile leaves for mulching and composting throughout the spring and summer.
Lawn care—Run mower and trimmer engines dry of gasoline, then drain and change the oil. Take these machines to the repair shop now to avoid the spring rush. Clean and oil all tools before storing for winter.
Diseases and pests—Watch for scale, mealy bugs and spider mites on houseplants. Root rot fungus thrives on over-watered houseplants.
It’s time to get the garden ready for the new growing season. Create a garden plan to help organize your chores and planting schedules. Order spring vegetable seeds now. Remember the gardeners you know with gifts of tools, apparel, yard art or books—perhaps a copy of the Garden Guide for Austin & Vicinity published by the Travis County Master Gardeners Association, available at www.tcmastergardeners.org/what/gardenguide.html.
Pick the freshest possible tree, with a minimum amount of needle drop. Cut one to two inches off the bottom of the trunk and soak the tree in a bucket of cool water until you’re ready to put it in a tree stand. Check water level daily.
Or as an alternative to the traditional Christmas tree, try a container tree or shrub (conically shaped) to be planted in your landscape later.
Recycle your Christmas tree. Contact the Extension Service Office for more information on Christmas tree recycling.
Inspect all electrical equipment such as lights before placing it on the Christmas tree and outside. Have a safe and Merry Holiday Season.
—Travis County Master
December Garden Events
How to get your garden event listed: We prefer that calendar listing information be submitted by using the form on our web site at www.goodlifemag.com. Second choice is to e-mail the essential details to email@example.com. Or fax it to 512-474-5725. Or mail to PO Box 4400, Austin, Texas 78765. To be considered for inclusion, items must be received by the 15th of the month for the following month’s events. Listings are free & are published on a space-available basis.
Fridays 9-11am The Nursery’s Seasonal Herbs: Potted strawberry plants & vegetable transplants will be on sale to children who are beginning a garden of their own. The greenhouse & organic gardens are located in Ronda’s Montessori Garden, 4300 Mt. Vernon Dr. Details: 707-8635 www.rondasgarden.net.
Saturdays & Sundays: Sa 9-11am & Su 8-10am free Gardening Naturally airs on KLBJ-AM 590. John Dromgoole of The Natural Gardener has been waiting for your call for 26 years. This is your chance to ask him your gardening questions on the air. Call 836-0590.
Dec. 4 Th 6:30 Austin Butterfly Forum’s Christmas Potluck Dinner: Group usually meets 4th M each month. Zilker Botanical Garden, 2220 Barton Springs Rd. Details: 477-8672 www.austinbutterflies.org.
Dec. 6-7 Sa-Su free KLRU-TV’s Central Texas Gardener: Fall in love with your garden with plant driven design that encourages passion for botanical exploration. On tour, visit designers & authors Scott & Lauren Ogden in their plant-driven garden. Details: www.klru.org/ctg.
• Sa noon & 4pm
• Su 8am
Dec. 8 M 7-9pm free Austin Organic Gardener’s Club: Meets 2nd M each month. Steve Deever of Betsy Ross’ grass-fed beef farm will discuss soil biology to promote healthy crop growth & animal health. Zilker Botanical Garden, 2220 Barton Springs Rd. Details: 443-7187 www.austinorganicgardeners.org.
Dec. 9 Tu 9:30-11:30am Austin Herb Society Gardening Day at Zilker Herb Gardens: 2nd Tu each month. Members, guests & newcomers welcome. Zilker Garden Center, 2220 Barton Springs Rd. Details: 944-2787 www.austinherbsociety.org.
Dec. 13-14 free KLRU-TV’s Central Texas Gardener: See how to create structure, screens & defined harbors with plants, tall & small. Visit a Waco gardener who designed intimate adventures to break up his wide-open spaces. Details: www.klru.org/ctg.
• Sa noon & 4pm
• Su 8am
Dec. 15 M 7-9pm Austin Pond Society Meets 3rd M each month. This month, Bog Gardens & Filtration. Zilker Botanical Gardens, 2220 Barton Springs Rd. Details: 477-8672 www.austinpondsociety.org.
Dec. 16 Tu 9:30am Heart of the Hills Garden Club: Meets 3rd Tu each month September thru May. Zilker Botanical Garden, 2220 Barton Springs Rd. Details: 266-7439 www.zilkergarden.org/aagc/clubs.html.
Dec. 16 Tu 7-9pm Native Plant Society of Texas, Austin Chapter: Meets 3rd Tu each month. Members conduct plant surveys, rescue plants from development areas, collect & exchange seeds, maintain demonstration gardens, sell native plants & propagate hard to find species. Wild Basin Preserve, 805 N. Capital of Texas Hwy. Visitors welcome. Details: <firstname.lastname@example.org> www.npsot.org/austin.
Dec. 18 Th 7:30pm free Austin Cactus & Succulent Society Monthly Meeting: Meets 3rd Th each month. Zilker Botanical Garden, 2220 Barton Springs Rd. Details: 347-8615 www.austincss.com.
Dec. 20-21 free KLRU-TV’s Central Texas Gardener: Garden Conservancy Tour: Learn how a transplanted British gardener sprinkles in winter color for a hardy Texas cottage garden look. On tour, a family pitched in together to create a garden & long-lasting memories. Details: www.klru.org/ctg.
• Sa noon & 4pm
• Su 8am
Dec. 27-28 Sa-Su free KLRU-TV’s Central Texas Gardener: Find out how to keep wildlife coming in winter for entertainment on chilly days. On tour, see how the Green Corn Project connects several generations & the community to the earth & good food. Details: www.klru.org/ctg.
• Sa noon & 4pm
• Su 8am
Dec. 28 Su 2pm Austin Area Begonia Society: Meets 4th Su each month. Zilker Botanical Garden, 2220 Barton Springs Rd. Details: 477-8672 www.zilkergarden.org/aagc/clubs.html.
Austin Grow Green: The City of Austin’s Grow Green program provides Austin area homeowners with earth-wise solutions to yard care problems & offers more than 20 fact sheets on general landscaping tips, native & adapted plants & pest & disease problems. Details: www.cityofaustin.org/growgreen.
Earth-Wise Guide to Weeds: The Grow Green program of the City of Austin’s Watershed Protection Department & the Texas Cooperative Extension have produced a free guide on weeds that’s available to anyone with an interest in gardening. It’s a full-color, quick-reference publication that helps home gardeners identify & choose the least toxic options for weed control. It contains a 3-page foldout chart on annual, perennial & cool & warm season weeds. The guide is available at more than 40 locations in the Austin area, including retail nurseries & home improvement centers. See growgreen.org/nurseries for locations. Or get it on-line at www.ci.austin.tx.us/growgreen/downloads/weeds.pdf.
Garden for Wildlife! Help get the City of Austin certified as a Community Wildlife Habitat. Join National Wildlife Federation’s nationwide team of volunteers who serve our communities as Habitat Stewards. The National Wildlife Federation’s web site will teach you how to create & restore wildlife habitat in yards, schoolyards & other private & public areas. No prior experience is necessary. Details: Rebecca <email@example.com> or Jane 794-0058 www.nwf.org/gardenforwildlife.
Downsizing in the Sky
Couple’s Loft Life is In Place With Smaller Space
by Amy E. Lemen
Thirty years of raising children and pets, growing a business, nurturing careers and dealing with the upkeep of a fish pond and garden is a lot of work.
So when Austin architect Heather McKinney, founding principal and partner in McKinney Architects, and husband John Pomeroy, a professor of ancient art at St. Andrews Episcopal School, decided to downsize three years ago, they were very clear about their expectations.
“When we left the family house where we’d raised three kids and had the dogs, cats, fish pond and garden, we decided that we just didn’t have the focus to design another house,” says McKinney, president-elect of the Texas Society of Architects. “We had the attention span for about a three-month project, and that was it.”
That desire encouraged the couple to try loft living and see how they liked it, and it was a good time to downsize since their children were already out on their own and living outside of Austin.
They first saw the possibilities when they walked into architect Lawrence Speck’s space at Austin City Lofts at 800 W. Fifth St. Architectural firm Page Southerland Page had designed the building, and Speck acted as design architect for each loft. His was a “double-decker” space—one of twenty in the building—where the apartment occupies two floors.
“The top four floors of the building, which was completed in July 2004, have stop-gap elevators, so when you stop on the eleventh floor, the apartment has that floor and the one above it with an internal staircase to get from one to the next,” says McKinney. “There isn’t a public corridor on the upper floor, and the top floors have views in two different directions.”
Excited about the potential, the couple talked with Speck about the design intricacies and details before they decided to buy a unit in the Austin City Lofts building.
“We picked his brain about what he liked and didn’t like about it, and that helped convince us that this would be a good match for us, too,” says McKinney.
Once the decision was made, the construction—and the de-cluttering—began in earnest.
“Once we decided to downsize, we focused only on the things that we loved, that we really wanted to live with,” says McKinney.
They winnowed it down to three collections: paintings, African masks and books, lots and lots of books. Between McKinney and Pomeroy, the couple had literally thousands of books between them—volumes upon volumes of art and architecture tomes with which neither was willing to part.
“In our old house, there were books under the bed and books on every surface,” McKinney says. “You could never find any one book and, when we consolidated, we realized that we had two or three copies of the same book.”
The solution was to take advantage of the loft’s open configuration and focus on the interior architecture to help define the space. They gutted the kitchen and bath, rebuilt closets and added new lighting, floor-to-ceiling bookshelves that span two stories—and stairs and a catwalk to get to them.
The catwalk gives access to the upper shelves and comes off a combination loft and sitting area that’s open to the floor below. With twenty-one vertical feet of bookshelves and an eleven-foot-wide catwalk to get to them, finding just the right book is now an easy proposition.
A partner’s desk—where two workspaces sit opposite each other—is also housed in the upper loft, right near the books.
“It’s a nice way to share a desk in a smaller space,” says McKinney. “And being able to find the books was important.”
Paintings hang throughout the space of nearly twenty-four hundred square feet, and upper and lower galleries house an extensive
The kitchen, living area and public spaces are downstairs, and the master bedroom and a guest room are upstairs. They’re the only bedrooms in the house, just the way the couple wanted it.
“It’s crazy to keep a house full of bedrooms for the rare family gathering,” says McKinney. “We wanted to use every space all the time—the not-so-big-house concept where we had a smaller footprint and a greener lifestyle.”
Indeed, the couple’s utility bills are less than seventy dollars per month, in large part because they’re sharing walls with their loft neighbors in a space with a north-south orientation, so the brutal east-west sun isn’t a problem.
But perhaps the best part of “living la vida loft” is the ability to walk to whatever services McKinney and Pomeroy need, and the freedom that comes with getting up and going without worrying about, well, much of anything.
“Just about everything we do—from shopping at Whole Foods to going to the farmers’ market or the gym or running errands—is within walking distance,” says McKinney. “It’s really changed the way we live.”
McKinney recently moved her office space; it’s now about ten blocks from home and, with the recent purchase of a heavy-duty “city bike” to run errands, she plans to bike to work when she can.
“It’s nice to just shut the door and go—and not worry about the sprinklers or the yard,” she says. “There are no anxieties of homeownership.”
The home also epitomizes McKinney’s architectural philosophy: creating responsible, beautiful spaces that are much more than a specific, stylistic architectural statement.
“I think every architect wants to customize a space for themselves and experiment,” she says. “We’re always learning and hopefully getting better as we learn. And it’s safest to experiment on your own stuff.”
Amy Lemen writes about shelter for local and national publications. The kitchen backsplash is far from done, but when it is—and when the six year old heads off to college, her next home will be a loft. Got a cool house? Know of a cool house? You may e-mail Amy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Enough to Give You Electoral Whiplash
Time to Start Thinking About the Mayor’s Race
by Robert Singleton
Like the president-elect, I’m having trouble believing that Barack Obama is going to be president of the United States. It’s been a long time since I woke up the morning after Election Day and felt as good as I did November 5. I’d actually forgotten that winning feels much better than losing.
Then, ten days later, I woke up to the news that Carole Keeton McClellan Rylander Strayhorn has taken the first steps to launching her campaign for mayor. Strayhorn has filed paperwork with the City Clerk’s office naming a treasurer for her campaign: former Council Member Louise Epstein.
For those of you who are newcomers to Austin, have been in a coma for a three decades, or have been hitting yourself in the head with a brick daily to attempt to forget the McClellan years, Strayhorn (then just Carole McClellan) served as Austin’s mayor from 1977 to 1983.
Disclaimer: I moved to Austin in 1984, so I missed her tenure. It’s sort of like arriving at a bad car wreck while the police are still directing traffic and the fire department is hosing oil off the street.
Carole McClellan was instrumental in getting Austin involved in the South Texas Nuclear Project. She was mayor in April 1979 when Austinites voted on a measure to spend an additional two hundred fifteen million dollars on the project, with a projected total tab of about a billion dollars. Cost overruns put the final cost at six billion dollars. (That figure sounds incredibly small by today’s standard, when two new units for the plant may cost sixteen billion dollars. And remember to compare apples to apples, you need to compare the sixteen billion to the initial half-billion projected cost.)
The quickest way to bring you up to speed on Strayhorn and the Nuke is the following from a March 5, 1989, article by Bill McCann in the Austin American Statesman:
“Most of the credit for the victory by nuclear proponents in that election (the bond election of April 1979) went to then-Mayor Carole McClellan (now Carole Keeton Rylander). McClellan went on television to make a last-minute personal plea for voter support of the project.” The April 1979 election not only resulted in a narrow victory for these bonds but also a razor-thin defeat of a proposition that would have authorized the Austin City Council to sell the city’s sixteen percent share in STNP.
In 1989, when the city sued Houston Lighting & Power, then operators of the STNP, for cost overruns and mismanagement, a Dallas jury took the City Council to task for its approval process. As the Statesman reported on July 7, 1989:
“The Dallas jury…blamed the City Council at the time for not asking enough questions about the project. The council was headed by then-Mayor Carole McClellan….”
The lawsuit dragged on until 1995, when the City of Austin quietly accepted a twenty-million-dollar settlement from HL&P.
That Strayhorn would think that Austin’s memory is short enough for her to run again for mayor is insulting. That she could make the situation any worse by her first campaign decision, to appoint Epstein her treasurer, is unbelievable.
As a council member from 1990 to 1993, Epstein was part of the RULE Council bloc (Ronney Reynolds, Charles Urdy, and Bob Larson were the other three letters) that blocked attempts to protect Barton Creek from Freeport-McMoRan spin-off Barton Creek Properties.
Epstein (and the rest of the RULErs) even managed to delay the Save Our Springs initiative by three months by refusing to act promptly to put the matter on the ballot. During the three month period between when the SOS initiative should have gone to a vote and the time that it finally was scheduled, dozens of development applications were filed for property in the watershed. Those applications were grandfathered from the new water quality rules contained in the SOS Ordinance.
Epstein’s votes on development were so extreme that she, along with Bob Larson, was the subject of a recall petition by a coalition of Austin environmentalists, myself included. In the end, we couldn’t gather enough signatures to force a recall election, but Epstein chose not to run for re-election in 1993 and Larson was defeated by Brigid Shea that year, so we kind of won.
We had a slogan: “Recall them, then forget them.” It should be noted that the slogan was conditional. Since we didn’t recall Louise Epstein, we should remember what kind of city council member she was. And hold it against Strayhorn.
Alternatives to Strayhorn, you ask? I wish there were good ones. Council Members Brewster McCracken and Lee Leffingwell are both running, although they haven’t filed anything yet. As far as I can tell from comments on Burnt Orange Report and the Austin Neighborhoods Council discussion list, there’s not a lot of progressive support for either one of them. Texas Monthly publisher Mike Levy is running, and might make it tougher for Strayhorn to win, as they share some of the same constituency.
Former Council Member Jackie Goodman, according to the latest reports, is not planning to run. Bill Spelman, another former council member who had been rumored to be in the race, is now apparently intent on running for Place 5, the same seat he used to hold. McCracken currently occupies that space.
I hate to start and then scotch rumors in the same paragraph, but in the last couple of weeks, I’ve heard from political insiders that Brigid Shea, Mary Arnold and Daryl Slusher would rather be strangled with their own entrails than run for office again. I haven’t heard anyone else suggesting it, but I will not be running either.
Perennial candidate Jennifer Gale has once again thrown her head into the ring, filing a treasurer designation. Many otherwise sensible people are threatening to vote for Gale if something doesn’t change soon.
February 7, 2009, is the first day that a candidate may file for a place on the ballot. The deadline for filing is 5pm March 9. For hardcore council watchers, however, the important date is March 11, when candidates will draw for the order in which their names will appear on the ballot. I view this with the same anticipation some feel for the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona.
Robert Singleton will soon be selling buttons saying: “She’s not my grandma.” Pre-orders can be placed by e-mailing to email@example.com.
How to get your environmental event listed: We prefer that calendar listing information be submitted by using the form on our web site at www.goodlifemag.com. Second choice is to e-mail the essential details to firstname.lastname@example.org. Or fax it to 512-474-5725. Or mail to PO Box 4400, Austin, Texas 78765. To be considered for inclusion, items must be received by the 15th of the month for the following month’s events. Listings are free & are published on a space-available basis.
Mondays 7-9pm free Save Barton Creek Assn. meets weekly to discuss important environmental issues of the day. The public is invited. Vinny’s Café, 1003 Barton Springs Rd. Or e-mail to learn how to get involved. Details: 480-0055 <email@example.com> www.savebartoncreek.org.
Dec. 2 Tu 7pm free Austin Sierra Club Meeting: The Pros and Cons of Wind Energy: Presenters include Cyrus Reed, conservation director of the Sierra Club’s Lone Star Chapter, & Ed Arnett, conservation scientist, Bat Conservation International. Wind-generated electricity is renewable & generally considered environmentally clean. However, widespread reports of fatalities among birds & bats caused by wind facilities are raising concerns. Open to members & nonmembers. TSTA Building, 316 W. 12th St. Details: 444-1326 www.texas.sierraclub.org/austin.
Dec. 2-4 Tu-Th $400 The Clean Energy Venture Summit: How Can Texas Win in the New Energy Economy? Austin Energy & the Clean Energy Incubator are hosting this event to bring together leading voices from the energy, business & policy worlds to address the low-carbon world’s economic impact on Texas. A carbon cap is coming and, as America’s energy capital & leading emitter of CO2 Texas will be greatly impacted by whatever carbon system is enacted. But there is also significant economic opportunity in addressing this inevitable challenge head-on. AT&T Executive Education & Conference Center on the UT campus. Details: Melissa Rabeaux 695-6377 <firstname.lastname@example.org> www.cleanenergyventuresummit.com.
Jan. 6 Tu 7pm free Austin Sierra Club Meeting: Priorities of the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club in the 81st Texas Legislature: Presenters include Lone Star Chapter Director Ken Kramer & Cyrus Reed, conservation director. The 81st session will convene Jan. 13. Find out what the priorities are & how you can help the chapter achieve them. TSTA Building, 316 W. 12th St. Details: 444-1326 www.texas.sierraclub.org/austin.
Jan. 10 Sa 9am Northcross Drive Tree Planting: Volunteers are needed to help the City of Austin Forestry Department plant 50 trees in the medians of Northcross Drive, between Anderson Ln. & Burnet Rd. It will just take a few hours. Please sign up now to help. Details: 452-6623 <email@example.com>
Alliance to Save Energy Consumer Web Site: Billed as everything you always wanted to know about reducing your energy bills but couldn’t easily find in one place, this web site provides homeowners with another version of the educational 3 Rs: refinancing, remodeling & reducing energy bills. Details: www.ase.org.
Austin CarShare: Carsharing is a service that provides members with 24-hour access to a fleet of cars & a truck on a per-hour & per-mile basis. The service is available to new members after orientation. Gas, insurance, parking, maintenance & roadside assistance are all included in price of usage. It reduces traffic, improves air quality, promotes sustainable economic development, increases the number of transportation options & improves the quality of life in Austin by providing access to carshare vehicles. Vehicles are available at 2nd & Colorado; 4th & Congress; 23rd & San Antonio adjacent to the UT campus; & Fresh Plus at 43rd & Avenue H. Details: www.austincarshare.org.
AustinEcoNetwork: Subscribe to this free, moderated listserve for info about Austin & the environment, including events, political actions, jobs & networking. Send message with subject “subscribe” to <AEN@AustinEcoNetwork.org>. Details: Brandi Clark 477-3311 www.austineconetwork.org.
Austin Electric Vehicle Buyers Group: An organization whose objective is to enable members to purchase practical, affordable all-electric vehicles by aggregating a market in Austin of at least 100 buyers. Approximately a dozen companies already produce EVs with a 100-mile range, excellent acceleration & all the safety features & amenities of a conventional car. We believe that an order of 100 EVs (of a common design) could bring the selling price down to under $30,000. Register on-line. Details: <firstname.lastname@example.org> www.austinevbuyers.org.
Austin Freecycle Network: Where one person’s trash is another person’s treasure. The goal is to reduce waste by connecting people who are throwing away unwanted items with others seeking these items (& have a little fun in the process). No item too big or too small, but all items must be 100% freely offered. No money, no trading, no barter & no strings attached. Details: www.freecycle.org or www.groups.yahoo.com/group/AustinFreecycle.
Austin Green Neighbor Program: The program previously geared to water quality protection has been expanded to provide a comprehensive guide to environmental protection. The new booklet is a compilation of action items that include tips on saving energy & water, reducing air pollution, reducing gardening chemicals & cutting waste. Details: 974-2446 www.cityofaustin.org/watershed/greenneighbor.
Austin Home Energy Survey Invites Participation: UT-Austin graduate students are conducting a study to explore Austinites’ current energy consumption & preferences for future energy policy & vehicle technology. The survey takes about 20 minutes. It will ask questions about you, your travel & household energy use. No names or identifying identification will be used in preparing data for analysis. You can stop at any time, but your input is important. Details: Kara Kockelman, PhD, associate professor of Transportation Engineering 471-0210. Take the survey at www.surveygizmo.com/s/68524/energysurvey.
Be a Park Sustainer: For only $10 a month, help the Austin Parks Foundation hold more volunteer events, support more volunteer groups, offer more Neighborhood Park Grants & be your voice for parks. Benefits include: 10 percent Amy’s Ice Cream discount; 15 percent RunTex discount; 10 percent Bicycle Sport Shop discount & invitation to special members-only park tours & events. Details: 477-1566 www.austinparks.org/member.html.
Central Texas Sustainable Indicators Project Community Survey: This nonprofit, nonpartisan organization provides hard facts on sustainability of the economy, environment & social equity, allowing us to make regional tactical & strategic decisions to move us in the right direction. A community survey is underway & your participation is requested. Also, please forward any indicators we should be aware of. Participate in the survey by visiting www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=JAO_2f1ckAqWURXTSGwk2_2fqw_3d_3d. Details: Jim Walker 499-0526 <email@example.com> www.centex-indicators.org.
Check Voting Records for Texas House & Senate Members 1993-2007: The Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club does not score the various house & senate positions members but you can see whether or not the lawmakers agreed with the Sierra Club when voting on specific legislation. Details: www.texas.sierraclub.org/press/votingrecord.asp.
City of Austin Environmental Links: The Austin City Connection’s home page has a link that takes you to a list of all the city’s environmental programs & services, speakers bureaus, rebates, loans, giveaways, gardening, conservation, endangered species & much more. Use it to learn more about earth-wise issues & find tips on how to become an environmental steward in your home or business. Details: www.ci.austin.tx.us & click on Environment.
Currents: Lower Colorado River Authority publishes a free bimonthly e-mail newsletter on water topics as well as useful land-conservation information for both large & small landowners. Details: www.lcra.org/newsletter/currents.
Design~Build~Live: Formerly the Sustainable Building Coalition, the group incorporated as a nonprofit organization expanded its mission to reflect a goal to facilitate the incorporation of sustainability into every aspect of people’s lives. While sustainable building will remain of central importance in our educational efforts, all aspects of a more sustainable lifestyle will be part of the mission. DBL offers periodic site visits to view sustainable buildings. Sign up for the group’s newsletter at the web site. Details: Gayle Borst 478-9033 www.designbuildlive.org.
Ecology Action of Texas needs volunteers to help sort materials & assist customers at the downtown center. Also needed are a commercial electrician, a web designer, a mechanic to help maintain vehicles, a designer to produce eye-catching materials for outreach events, tabling help & help at special recycling events. Details: 322-0000 <firstname.lastname@example.org> www.ecology-action.org.
Free Toilets Available! The Free Toilet Program is back! If you’re an Austin Water Utility customer whose toilets were installed before 1996, Austin Water Utility Conservation will give you new, high-performance toilets for free. New flapperless technology means these toilets get the job done in just one flush with even less water than some modern toilets. Plus, you’ll never have to change a leaky toilet flapper again. Customers can apply to replace up to three toilets per house. Standard white, round bowl toilets are free. Taller, handicapped toilets with an elongated bowl are available for a fee of $21.10 plus tax, payable at pickup. Rebates of up to $60 per toilet for installation by a licensed plumber. Details: 974-2199 www.WaterWiseAustin.org.
Friends of Barton Springs is dedicated to protecting & improving Austin’s favorite natural swimming hole. It has grown into an active organization hosting volunteer pool cleaning sessions with a growing complement of volunteers that numbers in the dozens at each cleaning. Volunteers are invited to participate in cleaning & in organized committees. Details: <email@example.com> www.friendsofbartonspringspool.com.
Friends of McKinney Falls State Park promotes 1 of Austin’s most valuable natural treasures, a state park on your doorstep. This beautiful attraction offers a fascinating array of natural, geological, historical & prehistoric treasures, including Old Baldy, a bald cypress over 500 years old & 60 feet tall; the oldest living resident of Travis County. And don’t forget it’s got a great swimming hole too! Support McKinney Falls by volunteering, making a donation or becoming a member. Details: <McKinneyFalls@yahoo.com> www.mckinneyfalls.org.
GreenerChoices.org offers Products for a Better Planet on this free web site hosted by Consumer Reports magazine. At www.GreenerChoices.org, consumers can quickly access information about everything from fuel-efficient cars to energy saving appliances to sustainable food production. Also check out www.eco-labels.org, where Consumer Reports offers free information about product-label terms such as “organic” & “recycled” & includes green shopping tips, articles about environmental issues & more.
Longhorn Environmental Alumni Association supports environmental & sustainability initiatives at the University of Texas at Austin & connects UT alumni interested in the environment. The group publishes a quarterly newsletter about the campus environment, provides input on key campus sustainability issues & organizes a variety of networking events. It is also in the process of establishing a Green Fund to support sustainability projects at UT. All UT alumni are invited to join; membership is free. Details: www.enviroexes.org.
NeighborWoods Tree Deliveries: Help TreeFolks deliver NeighborWoods trees. Imagine riding in an open truck delivering free trees to happy people. Sound like fun? Details: 443-5323 <firstname.lastname@example.org> www.treefolks.org.
Online Store Offers Affordable Energy Efficiency Solutions for Congregations & Their Members: Texas Interfaith Power & Light (TXIPL) operates ShopIPL.org, an online store designed to help faith communities & their members reduce global warming & air pollution thru energy efficiency. On ShopIPL, congregations can buy proven energy efficiency products for their house of worship including an array of compact fluorescent light bulbs, rechargeable batteries, water heater timers & weatherization products & more at substantially discounted prices. Members can order products for their own homes & businesses thru the congregation & youth groups or other congregational ministries can use the site to conduct fund-raisers. Details: 800-379-4121 www.shopipl.org.
PODER, People Organized in the Defense of Earth & her Resources, is a grass-roots effort redefining environmental, economic & social justice issues. PODER aims to increase the participation of communities of color in corporate & government decision-making related to toxic pollution, economic development & their impact on neighborhoods. Details: 472-9921 <email@example.com> www.poder-texas.org.
Powerhouse Investigative Program: This energy education program teaches middle-school students & their families about the effects of energy use on natural resources & the environment. Utilities sponsor the program for schools within their service areas. Details: Donna McCord 800-776-5272 x3397
Program Helps Texans Refresh Local Waterways: Texas Waterway Cleanup Program stands ready to help Texas rivers & lakes get well-deserved facelifts with this statewide effort to provide free cleanup supplies, educational materials & promotional support to help Texans beautify & improve the quality of their local waterways. The program focuses on helping groups of any size host environmental education activities & cleanups of freshwater areas including lakes, rivers, creeks & wetlands across the state. Participants include schools, government agencies, youth & scout groups, neighborhoods, businesses or any group of concerned Texans. Details: Josh Spradling 478-8813 <firstname.lastname@example.org> www.ktb.org/press/twcp_spring_08.htm.
Rainwater Collection Guide: Rainwater is better to use on plants than city water. A 10-foot by 10-foot shed can collect 60 gallons of rainwater in a 1-inch rainfall. For more information on rainwater harvesting, check out the Texas Manual on Rainwater Harvesting at www.twdb.state.tx.us/publications/reports/RainwaterHarvestingManual_3rdedition.pdf.
Recycle Your Lawn Mower: Bring your old gas powered mower to be recycled at the following locations. Be sure that all oil & gas has been drained. Details: www.texas.earth911.org.
• 710 Industrial Blvd. Details: 442-2384.
• 1704 Howard Ln. Details: 251-3407.
Support Parks 3 Meals a Day! Feed your family dinner from the Soup Peddler & Austin Parks Foundation gets 5% of your purchase. You must order thru The Soup Peddler web site. Details: 373-7672 www.souppeddler.com/austinparks.
Texas Urban Forestry License Plate: Tree-loving Texans who buy the license plate will pay an additional $30 over the cost of regular plates & $22 will go to Texas Urban Forestry Council for urban forestry education, tree preservation & tree planting. Details: Specialty License Plate Branch 374-5010 http://rts.texasonline.state.tx.us/NASApp/txdotrts/SpecialPlateOrderServlet?grpid=60&pltid=119.
TreeFolks’ Local Carbon Offset Program: Carbon offsets are things that you purchase that either sequester CO2 (like planting trees) or avoid CO2 (like alternative energy development). The carbon is sold by the ton & there’s an easy to use calculator to figure out how many tons of carbon you’re responsible for. All of TreeFolks offset money goes into local, mostly urban trees in public spaces that don’t just sequester carbon, they lower power consumption (saving even more CO2), provide wildlife habitat, keep storm water runoff clean, calm traffic, increase property values & just generally make it much more livable right here in your own community. Details: 443-5323 <email@example.com> www.treefolks.org/prog_calculator.asp.
Tree Planting Days: Come help TreeFolks plant trees at various parks around town. All you need to bring is yourself (& maybe a few friends) in comfortable work clothes & closed-toe shoes. TreeFolks will provide trees, tools, planting supervisors & refreshments. RSVP. Details: 443-5323 <firstname.lastname@example.org> www.treefolks.org.
38th Street Pharmacy
Not feeling the holiday spirit? Strapped for time and cash? While Christmas carols and movies like Miracle on 34th Street weave spells of holiday magic, many people find it hard just to keep up come December. If you happen to be one of them, we’d like to suggest a little miracle on 38th Street, also known as the 38th Street Pharmacy. This local, family-owned pharmacy offers one-of-a-kind customer service, free prescription delivery to nearby neighbors, and affordable gift items ranging in price from five to ten bucks.
In business and active in the community for more than eighteen years, 38th Street Pharmacy honors most insurance plans, tracks down hard to find medicines, and caters to pediatric, AIDS and cancer patients.
Add to this already winning mix a variety of sweet gifts and handmade holiday cards and you’ve got a one-stop shop sure to get you humming “Joy to the World” again.
Callahan’s General Store has been an Austin landmark for more than twenty-five years, and for good reason. Catering to city slickers as well as diehard ranchers, Callahan’s sells “just about anything one would need to live a simple life at home on the range.” This includes fencing, Stetson cowboy hats, saddles, potbelly stoves, cleaning supplies, pet care, live animal traps, western clothing, block salt, candles, and on and on. The store is bursting with unique gift ideas suited to just about anyone on your gift list, from young squirts to old-timers, suburbanites to farmers.
For the fast growing demographic of people seeking a more self-sustaining lifestyle, Callahan’s is a dream come true. Want to raise chickens? The general store has live chicks, feed and all the tools and supplies needed to construct a chicken coop. Want to grow your own food? Callahan’s will have you planting, sowing and harvesting a bounty of fresh vegetables in no time with the help of their seeds, soil enhancers and garden tools. The list is practically endless, but fruit and pecan trees ready for spring planting might be the most unique gift you can give to the back-to-the-lander on your list. They will likely appreciate the store’s many how-to books, too. Callahan’s carries an impressive range of instructional Storey books for country living, including such titles as Favorite Pickles and Relishes, Making Homemade Wine and Gardening Answers.
The housewares department is a sure bet for winning gift ideas. Charming Christmas ornaments, string lights, tableware and Nativity scenes share space with aprons, cowboy-themed barware, enamelware, ceramic jugs, mugs and bowls, cookbooks, canning supplies, sausage-making necessities, old-fashioned ice cream makers and a truly impressive lineup of cast iron cookware.
And don’t forget the kiddos. Callahan’s carries a whole line of John Deere toys, farm animal figurines, classic board games, Radio Flyer wagons in several sizes, and Wild West action figures, among other things.
For cool gifts and a truly inspired shopping experience, Callahan’s has you covered.
Here is a sample of what Ethnic Loft customers are saying: “Your prices are great, so affordable!” — “My friend told me to come here.” — “Unique stuff.” — “This has got to be one of Austin best kept secrets!” — “You have beautiful, quality products.” — “Wonderful staff.” — “Great store.” — “I love coming here!”
Ethnic Loft is a furniture and home accessories store conveniently located at 1800 W. Koenig Lane in central Austin. Locally owned, the store is in its third year of business and strives to keep quality products at affordable prices so that everyone can leave the store with a treasure.
“I love discovering unique products like these and wanted to give other people the same opportunity. Because of Ethnic Loft, I can share a piece of a country’s culture, history and people in the form of art and home furnishings.” says Maria Alma, owner.
From African masks to Indian textiles and rustic Asian furniture, their hand-selected items convey character and originality. There are even products that allow you to think “outside of the box.” For example, imagine a Chinese pillow box used as fashionable storage. Or, imagine this: a square stool that can double as a small side table. (Add another stool, and voilà, a truly versatile coffee table.)
The storefront does not reveal the many rooms of products you can meander through. Ethnic Loft’s collection includes: tables, cabinets, chairs, stools, shelves, armoires, chests, window screens, batiks, decorative pillows, lamps, wall art, baskets, vases, candleholders, books and much more. In addition, Ethnic Loft is a proud retailer of World of Good products (committed to Fair Trade) and Acholi Beads (a socially proactive business).
If you’re looking for that special holiday gift, go to Ethnic Loft. The experience alone is worth the trip.
The Judy Paul Chocolate Gift Box from Fat Turkey Chocolate is a limited number item featuring a six-by-six-inch, hang-top box with a beautiful Judy Paul print on the lid. Each box contains four of Fat Turkey’s best selling Lavender Caramel Chocolate Truffles, a bag of Candied Dark Chocolate Orange Pecans, and a bag of Dark Chocolate Caramelized Cocoa Nib Pools.
“I love this gift because it is sustainable, local and handcrafted,” says Owner and Chef Jennifer Flood. “We hope to offer the gift boxes on our web site throughout the year featuring several different prints from Judy Paul. Her artwork is all so fantastic it will be very difficult to choose the prints.”
There are two Judy Paul prints available for pre-order on-line at fatturkeychocolate.com. The boxes will also be available in stores soon.
Also available for Christmas is a limited number of hand-painted chocolate gifts available on-line for pre-order including chocolate ornaments, bars and figurines. The figurines, a large Santa, large snowman, small tree and elf, are filled with a chocolate surprise.
For these and other great handmade chocolate gifts, including a Chocolate Truffle of the Month Gift, please visit www.fatturkeychocolate.com or call 512-637-0479
The Armadillo Christmas Bazaar is more than an event. It’s an institution. Begun way back in 1976 as a special happening at Austin’s famous Armadillo World Headquarters (legend has it that singer-songwriter Lucinda Williams came up with the idea for the holiday art and music show), the festival shares local cultural icon status with Austin City Limits and Threadgill’s. Today, thirty-three years later, artists, musicians and the people who love them have come to see the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar as a treasured holiday tradition. More than just a place to find great holiday gifts, the Bazaar, with its magical mix of art and live music, is “Austin’s original honky-tonk holiday shopping experience.”
This year’s show boasts new artists, more music, a bigger stage, more seating, and a bigger dance floor for bopping while you shop. The hundred and thirty exhibiting artists and artisans are all handpicked for quality and originality. Expect to find amazing one-of-a-kind books, paintings, leatherwork, metalwork, jewelry, ceramics, sculpture, glass, photography, woodwork and home furnishings created by longtime favorite artists as well as new and emerging talent.
Some of the coolest local bands will be on stage, with performances nightly at 8pm and every afternoon. The impressive lineup includes The Resentments, Eliza Gilkyson, Toni Price, W.C. Clark, Butch Hancock, The Gourds, Matt the Electrician, Marcia Ball’s Pianorama, and Carolyn Wonderland. On Monday December 22, Biscuit Brothers, Sara Hickman, and Mary Hattersley’s Blazing Bows will perform their respective brands of kid-friendly music for Austin’s youngest live music fans and their families.
Held at the Austin Convention Center since 2007, the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar begins December 12 and wraps up December 24. Open from 11am to 11pm daily, the show is free to children under twelve years of age, and costs a mere $3 weekdays to 7pm and $6 evenings and weekends. Whether you are going for the music or the shopping or both, the Bazaar is sure to be a memorable event for the whole family.
Where the Girls Are
Austin Girls’ Choir Finds Its Voice, Its Community, and Seeks Its Place in Austin’s Performing Arts Scene
by Bonnie Neel
Photography by Barton Wilder Custom Images
“I don’t know what it is about singing high notes that just makes us happy and gives us that warm feeling and makes us just so hyper,” says Caryn McKinney, an eighteen-year-old, first soprano in the Austin Girls’ Choir. “It’s almost like we just drank three Red Bulls.”
Within the stone walls of Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary Chapel, the young ladies of Austin Girls’ Choir, who range in age from eight to eighteen, sing sophisticated and complicated choral music written by such masters as Bach and Scarlatti. Notes written hundreds of years ago are sung with effortless aplomb. These young voices blend seamlessly into a proverbial choir of angels. However, in between ethereal notes, the girls of AGC swap gossip and grooming tips.
It’s a little disconcerting and not really for the first time that you are taken aback by the mixture of professional poise and teenage candor exhibited by AGC singers. Founded nearly eighteen years ago, AGC has been training girls to out-sing the very best of European boys choirs while searching for a steady audience in their hometown.
“From my memory, I think the first time we worked together was on (Carl Orff’s) Carmina Burana,” says Peter Bay, music director and conductor of the Austin Symphony Orchestra. “That was quite some time ago, now. The choir was not only very good, but they sang very professionally for a group of young people and they were exceptionally prepared.”
Youth choirs can be a musical gamble. There exists the understandable challenges of not only teaching young singers to read music, but also the more complicated and technically difficult concepts of pitch, rhythm and tonal quality that separate the good from the great. An AGC performance hits all the marks with remarkable success.
With a little help from Governor Richards
“It was a totally accidental occurrence,” says AGC founder and artistic director Sara Burden-McClure, of how the choir got started. “My husband, Kevin McClure, had been helping out with the now defunct Austin Boys Choir, taking the beginner boys Tuesday and Thursday evenings. In the back of the room would sit the very jealous sisters.” These sisters would shout out answers to sight-reading questions and heckle the boys when they wouldn’t hit the right pitch.
“(The girls) knew that I was a choir director because one of the boys was in my church youth choir,” says Burden-McClure. “And so they began picking on me a little bit when I would show up to pick my husband up from rehearsal, saying, ‘What about us, what about us?’” After the girls spent an afternoon surrounding Burden-McClure’s car, she finally gave in and looked into forming a small all-female choir to sing throughout the holiday season. This was fall of 1990.
Having recently left the Austin-American Statesmen where she had been a religion editor, Burden-McClure was pursuing a degree in hydrogeology (the science of underground water) in an attempt to get out of the music scene. But after the guerilla tactics in the parking lot, a few inquiries and three weeks, twenty-seven girls had signed on for the choir. Burden-McClure practiced with them for two months and scheduled their first performance at Clairmont Retirement Community in North Austin.
A friend from the Statesmen, the late lifestyles editor Carlos Vidal Greth, turned up with the head Statesmen photographer. A sweet performance, a quick interview and a few photographs later and Burden-McClure’s new choral group—which she swore would only last through the Christmas season—wound up with a thousand word article on the front page of the “Lifestyles” section.
“I picked up the paper and thought, ‘Oh, my god,’” says Burden-McClure. “My phone began ringing off the hook.” The first call was from the City of Austin wondering if, for its second public performance, the girls would be interested in singing at the Christmas tree lighting at the Capitol. “All three television stations were going to televise it! I swallowed really hard and said, ‘No problem. We can do that.’”
The next phone call was from Governor-elect Ann Richards’ office. “One of her staffers said (Richards) really wants to you sing for the inauguration,” says Burden-McClure. “I guess I wasn’t responding strongly enough for the staffer who called, so they put Ann on. She said, ‘Now I want y’all to come and sing for about seven hundred of my closest friends.’”
And they did. The inauguration party was held at Camp Mabry and the girls of AGC were escorted in through security and lined up in front of a bank of microphones and television cameras, one of which was the Armed Forces Network that broadcast their performance in over seventy countries.
“It was really kind of fun and that gave a lot of impetus to the organization,” says Burden-McClure, who by then realized that the short-term girls choir she had originally imagined was taking on a life of its own. Governor Richards was a loyal and staunch supporter of AGC and had the girls come and sing every Christmas at the Governor’s Mansion. “Ann, in some ways, is responsible for this choir’s continued life,” says Burden-McClure. “She was talking to me and said, ‘So, you realize what you have done here? You’ve given these kids something to really work for and grow with.’” When Burden-McClure would say that she was considering shutting the organization down or handing it off to someone else, the governor had a firm response.
“Ann said, ‘You can’t, you absolutely can’t. You’ve started something that is bigger than you and you’ve got to keep it going,’” says Burden-McClure. The late Governor Richards was a hard woman to turn down and AGC thrived with national and international tours. The girls sang at Carnegie Hall in 1997, whetting their appetite for travel.
Girls who sing like boys
In 1998, AGC went on its first European tour with performances in England and France. Europe, especially England, has a long and hallowed tradition of boys choirs. From medieval times to present, young boys have been taken in and educated by the churches with the expectation that they would sing at church services everyday. It was a way for young boys of modest means to get an education and better their lots in life, while singing choral music, sacred and complex, written for the towering cathedrals built all across Europe.
British cathedral style is characterized by boys singing the upper part (often called treble or boy soprano) with pure vowels and tones and with very little vibrato. Most directors want to be very careful with young voices that have not yet broken and church music was composed to make the boys to sound like little angels—exactly the sound and style perfected by AGC.
“I think Sara has been very much influenced by the English cathedral tradition,” says James Litton, the retired director of American Boychoir, from his Princeton, NJ, home. Litton worked with AGC when it toured in Connecticut, and Kevin McClure, Burden-McClure’s husband, is a former student of his. “The girls up until their late teenage years have voices that are very similar to boys’ voices. One advantage girls have is that they keep those voices longer than the boys do so they have more years to develop.”
This point was not exactly well received by the old guard at some of England’s grand cathedrals. The music director at Gloucester was quite skeptical until he heard the girls sing. As was the York Minster director (who now he directs his own girls choir). But the biggest cross-cultural skirmish occurred when the girls where warming up outside of Salisbury Cathedral and a woman with a microphone approached Burden-McClure.
“It was our second performance of the tour and we were a bunch of very grinchy little people who were still very jetlagged. England is a lot cooler than it is in Texas,” says Burden-McClure. She was trying to warm up the girls outside in the chilly temps and she brushed off the woman asking for an interview. “I said, ‘Not right now, we’re in the middle of warmup.’ The woman covers the mike and says, ‘BBC, live broadcast.’”
After a ten-minute break for the girls and a ten-minute interview of Burden-McClure, the girls entered the cathedral and sang for the audience and the BBC Radio microphone. Thirty-five minutes later, the radio broadcast was still rolling. “I walked over to the reporter gal when we were taking a bow and asked what’s up,” says Burden-McClure. “She said people were calling in from all over England. They couldn’t get over these girls that sound like boys. And the rest of this tour we had people showing up wanting to hear the girls that sang like boys.”
“I’m sure when people say that about (Sara’s choir), it is not only the sound that they are referring to but also the musicianship,” says Litton. “They have beautiful tone, are able to sing very high without any strain, and sound very, very relaxed and ethereal.” AGC was a hit and has since traveled to Germany, the Czech Republic, Italy, Disney World, New York and Washington, DC, and has hopes to go to Bavarian Austria this summer.
Christmas, sisterhood and the White House
“Touring is a blast. I would not miss tour for anything,” says Caryn McKinney, who has sung for AGC for eight years. “I went to England and France in 2005 and Italy in 2007.”
December Performances for
December 6—Dickens on the Strand,
December 13—Caroling at several
December 14—Caroling by Senior Ensemble at Papa Noel Christmas Trees at two Loop 360 locations in
December 20—Christmas Concert by AGC's Full Choir, at Rosedale Baptist Church, 4400 Maybelle Ave. in Austin. Ten dollar suggested donation.
December 21—Christmas With All The Trimmings, AGC's Senior Ensemble Christmas Concert, at Tarrytown United
To hire AGC for Christmas caroling or private parties at your business or home, contact Artistic Director Sara Burden-McClure at 512-834-3694 or visit the web site www.austin.girlschoir.com.
McKinney is also one of the three girls in AGC who sang for Governor Bush in 2000 in Austin and for President Bush this past summer at the White House. “We woke up at five in the morning because we had stayed the night in a different city, I think, Charlottesville,” says McKinney. “When we drove into DC, we got stuck in traffic.”
A few HOV-lane maneuvers and some serious needing-a-bathroom drama ensued as they arrived at the White House about five minutes late. McKinney recalled the extensive security, having to leave all electronic equipment in the car (the equivalent of stripping a teenage girl practically naked), and being escorted the back way into the diplomatic reception room. Once there, AGC waited an additional forty-five minutes.
“You hear all this commotion outside and then silence,” says McKinney. “And then he walks into the room and his presence just filled up the room. I don’t know what it was, but he was really nice and personable. He was like, ‘How are y’all?’ and he gave Miss Sara a hug.” When governor, Bush had continued Ann Richards’ tradition of having AGC sing at every Christmas throughout his two gubernatorial terms and he was excited to have Burden-McClure point out the girls who had sang for him in Austin. A few pictures were snapped, handshakes and back-clapping were liberally dispensed all around and the girls sang “The Eyes of Texas.”
“Getting to meet him was a huge deal,” says McKinney, who plans to major in international relations and anthropology. “The president shook my hand, so awesome.”
In addition to brushes with presidential fame, AGC holds local performances regularly throughout the season. But the Christmas season is its time to shine, with two choral performances, an annual trip to sing at Galveston’s Dickens on the Strand, and of course, caroling.
“Caroling is really fun,” says McKinney. “It’s one day or maybe two days where we just sing all day.” Local shops and restaurants hire the girls to show up, sing a few Christmas carols, and then they are off again. Jimmy Coan (aka Papa Noel), owner of the local Christmas tree business, is a big fan and hires the girls every year to sing at several of his locations. Coan even included a picture of AGC in some of his advertising fliers.
“We love having the Austin Girls’ Choir sing for us at Papa Noel,” says Coan. “It helps to keep us in the Christmas spirit.” Money raised from the caroling gigs (roughly one hundred and fifty dollars for about a half-hour of singing) go to operational expenses and scholarships.
Funding the future
“We’re charging less than what most people pay for piano lessons for a month,” says Burden-McClure, of the tuition for AGC. And girls who cannot afford the seven hundred and fifty dollar annual fee are eligible for scholarships. Textbook publisher Holt, Rinehart and Winston makes a generous two thousand dollar donation to the scholarship fund every year, but that barely makes a dent in these economic times.
“We have received more requests for scholarships in the past year than we ever have,” says Burden-McClure. Each girl is in charge of her own fund-raising for touring costs. Three events are held each year to help the girls raise money: the Rehearsathon in the fall, a Madrigal Dinner in February, and a Spring Tea in April.
Other than Holt, Rinehart and Winston, AGC lacks any significant and committed support from either corporate sponsors or city funding. The annual tradition of singing at the Governor’s Mansion ended early in the Perry administration, and it seems AGC has been better known outside of Austin than in it. That’s something that Burden-McClure is looking to change.
“We know that this year has to be a big growth year,” says Burden-McClure. AGC is hoping to gather enough of a nest egg to hire an executive director to spearhead larger fund-raising efforts and perhaps release a recording of the girls’ music. A Christmas CD is in the works.
Most of all, AGC wants to continue to provide a unique choral experience for all types of girls. “We have kids who are Muslim, kids who are Hindu, kids who are Jewish, various types of Christians,” Burden-McClure says. “We are there for the kids that want to sing, the kids that are moved by music and want it to be part of their lives.”
“The fact that (AGC) has gone on as long as they have certainly speaks to their quality,” says Litton. “I know that in the earlier years Sara achieved a great deal in a short amount of time. My feeling is that the choir is very, very strong and has, hopefully, some very strong support in the community.”
But perhaps the most important contribution AGC makes is in the lives of the girls themselves. Caryn McKinney’s mother refers to AGC as her daughter’s “tribe.”
“These people aren’t just my best friends, they are my sisters,” says Caryn McKinney. “We get into fights, we make up. We cry, and we know everything about each other.”
Watching rehearsals only reinforces that sentiment as twenty-two voices come together in effortless, five-part harmony. “Singing together is really kind of personal. You are all making the same sound and you are making this thing together,” says McKinney. “It’s just a community where there is a lot of trust and commitment to each other. Trust, commitment and intimacy.”
These virtues are rare at any age. But follow the song and you find them where the girls are.
As a girl herself, Bonnie Neel wishes you the happiest of holidays. Contact her at email@example.com.
Calvin’s Fine Jewelry
by Shelley Seale
Photography by Barton Wilder Custom Images
There are two general types of jewelry. There is production jewelry, in which copies of an original design are made using processes such as molding, casting, stamping and similar techniques. And then there are original, one of a kind pieces made by a jeweler. Artisans who have honed the craft of making and repairing jewelry, often through years of training, are called bench jewelers. They employ a larger set of skills than that of production jewelry-makers, including metal work, stone-setting, casting and engraving.
Calvin Smith is just such a jeweler. He started thirty years ago, learning from his father, who was also a bench jeweler. From there Smith spent several years working as an apprentice and building his skills. After two decades of crafting jewelry for other companies, Calvin’s Fine Jewelry opened in 1997 on Far West Boulevard.
Since then, he and his wife, Jackie Smith, have built up the business as well as a reputation in Austin for fine craftsmanship and service. In addition to its own Calvin-label designs, the store also carries jewelry from designers worldwide including organic styles by Rhonda Faber Green, a bold Vera Wang collection, Deakin and Francis cufflinks, and vintage style pieces by Varna. Calvin’s offers a complete service for jewelry customers, from complimentary appraisals and sales to lifetime maintenance and on-site repairs.
The staff includes sales professionals, jewelry designers and a resident gemologist, Angela Garcia, who is also the store manager. “A lot of jewelry stores don’t have in-store bench jewelers, gemologists or repair,” Garcia says. “Calvin and Jackie wanted a mix of specialties so that we could fill every corner of need that our customers have.”
A graduate of the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), Garcia provides all in-store appraisals and is an expert in loose diamonds and colored gemstones. GIA’s scientists, diamond graders and educators are regarded as the world’s foremost authorities in gemology, and train students in how to grade and identify diamonds and colored gemstones, to learn how to look at a stone and judge its color, quality and value. Garcia’s expertise enables her to pass her knowledge on to Calvin’s customers. Providing clients with a full education on their jewelry investments is very important to her.
“Most people are familiar with diamonds, rubies and sapphires. But there is a very broad scale of different gemstones besides these,” Garcia says. “I can suggest lesser known gems and explain their origins and what makes them unique. We can tell you the whole process if you’re interested: how a particular stone is mined, cut and mounted. For customers who are definitely in the market for a diamond, such as wedding rings, we can really enhance their knowledge of what makes diamonds so special.”
Calvin’s offers loose diamonds at eight percent over cost, and will even show you their invoices to prove it. The store specializes in wedding jewelry in platinum, gold or palladium and creates a large number of custom rings for the bridal market—one aspect that sets the store apart.
One of a kind jewelry is created both from client’s own original ideas and from the jewelry designers on staff. Katherine Rudd, custom design consultant, often draws up ideas for customers by hand or with a computer. Whether for a fairy-tale wedding, loose stones or antique family pieces to be reworked, the people at Calvin’s love creating new designs. Jackie Smith is the creative force and head designer behind Calvin’s custom work, designing most of the fashion pieces.
“Calvin is open to our artistic ideas,” says Garcia. “He leaves the door wide open for creativity.” The craftsmanship and full range of services offered by Calvin’s is one of the reasons Garcia is there. “A good piece of jewelry is not just a purchase, it’s an investment,” she says. “Calvin makes sure your investment is taken care of. When a customer leaves our store, they feel comfortable and fully knowledgeable about what he or she has just invested in.”
Calvin’s Fine Jewelry is located at 3818 Far West Blvd., Suite102, and can be reached by phone at 866-794-1911 or www.calvinsjewelry.com. Store hours are Monday 10am-4pm, Tuesday through Friday 10am-6pm, and Saturday 10am-5pm.
The line of beautiful wedding rings at Calvin’s made freelance writer and confirmed singleton Shelley Seale think that maybe marriage wasn’t so bad. You may e-mail Shelley at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Growing Leaders from the Ground Up
Urban Roots Teaches Teens Life Skills, Community Action and to Eat Their Vegetables, All Through Sustainable, Organic Farming
by Melissa LaMunyon
Photography by Barton Wilder Custom Images
This lettuce was grown by
From the seed to the plate,
Urban Roots grew what you ate.
What you see is what you eat,
Grown by just fifteen kids,
Using their hands and their feet.
—Breez Smith, Garza High School
The first Saturday in July was muggy and hot. Raymundo Peña, fifteen, is leading a group of volunteers around the one-acre farm that Urban Roots leases in East Austin.
At the beginning of the five-month program, Peña was “incredibly quiet,” said Kelly Stolpman, a VISTA volunteer working with Urban Roots to develop a sustainable infrastructure for the new program. “He hardly talked to anyone,” Stolpman said, watching Peña show volunteers a row of yellow, withered tomato plants.
“Before the heat, on one lane, we had so many tomatoes, we looked like a tomato farm,” says Peña. “We’ve already harvested a lot of the tomatoes, and now most of the plants are dying already because of the night heat. This is one of the hottest summers ever, so most of our vegetables aren’t producing as much.”
Peña continues the tour, leading the group of adults to a row of yellow squash plants. “We have tons of squash. Over there we’re growing magda and tiger squash. Right here we have some more yellow squash. It’s almost the same as the tomatoes—these plants are half dead.” He then points to a group of healthy looking plants weighed down with plump, yellow squash. “These ones right here look healthy because of the onion tops we put on the ground around the plants. They help conserve water and keep the stink bugs away.”
Stopping by a row of towering okra plants, Peña says, “Okra is the worst plant ever.” He gestures to the long-sleeved shirt he’s wearing. “If you touch the leaves, they have this oil, that if it touches your skin, it makes it really irritated for a long time.”
At the end of his tour, Peña has shown the group of volunteers the farm’s composting system, the drip-wise irrigating hoses, the rows of sunflowers that lure harmful bugs away from the vegetables, and rows and rows of squash, black-eyed peas, green beans, eggplant, cucumbers, okra, peppers and tomatoes.
“That’s our little farm,” Peña says, grinning.
Something funny happened on the way to the Farmers’ Market
On a Saturday in June, a crowd five-people deep forms in front of the Urban Roots produce table at the downtown Austin Farmers’ Market. “Yeah, we’ve sold out of all our tomatoes and most everything else,” says Max Elliot, the Urban Roots co-program coordinator, nodding to the lone table displaying a modest amount of early summer vegetables.
Standing to the side of the booth, Elliot watches the three teenage Urban Roots Farm interns handling the growing crowd. “Urban Roots is really exciting for me. I’ve worked for lots of farms in central Texas; I’ve also worked on farms in Colorado and California and for community garden organizations that focus on food security, similar to the
Sustainable Food Center here in Austin.” After Elliot worked with a chapter of Seeds, an after school gardening program at Webb Middle School, he decided he wanted to do something that “would create lasting impact for young people.” And so the idea for Urban Roots was, well, planted.
Once the booth is picked clean and the crowd ebbs, intern Kayla Washington steps away from the booth to say hi to her mother and younger brother who have come to visit her at the market. Washington wants to be a chef and plans on attending culinary school. To Washington, learning about agriculture, how food is grown and where it comes from, seemed like a natural step toward her goal. “I think that learning about farming and agriculture is going to be a big part of my future.”
Urban Roots interns grow with their garden
Mike Evans met Elliot while working at The Food Project in Boston, Massachusetts, where Evans worked for six years. The Food Project, Evans says, is “generally considered, if not the leader in the field of youth development and sustainable farm programs, then it’s definitely at the top of the list. Max came to me and said, ‘Mike, I want to bounce some ideas off of you,’ and so from very early on, we’ve been working together to create Urban Roots.”
“Urban Roots is a youth development, sustainable agriculture farm program. We employ young people, teach them how to grow vegetables and to use their skills to give back to their family, friends and community. Austin’s young people have a unique need for a program like Urban Roots because they are facing very real problems in the areas of food security.”
Elliot says, “Urban Roots will train high school students in sustainable agriculture, community food systems, hunger issues, community food security and really give them a foundation in community action and give them a lot of different hands-on skills. Then the young people are going to take those skills and take the food and really give back to their communities. That’s kind of the empowering opportunity, by engaging them in service—them growing food for their community.”
Evans and Elliot bring complementary skills and experience to the table. Elliot “knows agriculture inside and I’ve worked with a similar program for years,” says Evans. Together, the two young men built Urban Roots from the ground up within YouthLaunch, an Austin nonprofit. “We’re bringing a new take, the Austin take, to these kinds of youth development and sustainable agriculture programs that are popping up all over the country.”
Evans, Elliot and Stolpman are all quick to say that Urban Roots is about sustainable farming and community food access but it’s more than that. Urban Roots was created with the intention to use agriculture to teach young people about themselves and their community. “The sustainable agriculture side is really our vehicle for how we do our work as a youth development program. We teach young people to learn about themselves, to reflect, to create goals and to grow,” said Evans.
The fifteen teens ranging in age from fourteen to seventeen were paid to work on the one-acre farm that Urban Roots leased from Hands of the Earth, a small farm in East Austin. For many of the young people, it was their first job. Stolpman recounts how, when she had her first job in high school, it was all about the money. So she expected a similar attitude from the Urban Roots teens, especially when they were learning about things like compost and predatory insects.
“Oh, a composting workshop? Big deal,” said Stolpman. “But by the end of the summer, all the farm interns were able to talk with authority about what compost is, and how the process works. One of my favorite quotes from one of the teens is, ‘I now know that dirt is dead and soil is alive.’ This clearly had become more than just a job for these teens.”
“In the spring, we had a really great crop of spinach,” said Stolpman. “And then we had that weird, late freeze. The kids were out on the farm and we were saying, ‘Okay, we’re going to cut our losses and just go home—it’s too miserable and cold.’ And the kids spoke up and said, ‘No, no, we can’t go, we have to cover this spinach, we have to take care of our spinach.’ They took ownership over that farm—they cared about what happened to those plants.”
Growing leaders from the ground up
As a youth development program, helping the young people grow as leaders is a huge focus of the program. In addition to the teens running the Farmers’ Market booths and teaching workshops on healthy lifestyles, food systems and sustainable agriculture, they also received lessons on setting goals, public speaking, teamwork, leadership and taking care of their community. The word empowerment, which is found throughout the Urban Roots literature and mission statement, wasn’t just a catch phrase for this program.
On the weekends, Urban Roots welcomed adult volunteers to work on the farm. Evans, Elliot and Stolpman would sit back and let the teens take charge. “They’d had a few different activities to help them think about leadership, but they also kind of got thrown into the fire. ‘You’ve been farming for a few weeks. Here are your tasks for the day and now you have a group of five to ten volunteers to lead, so get to it,’” said Evans, laughing. “But they did just great.”
“I was so impressed by the kids’ maturity,” said Stolpman. “On volunteer days, we told the youth that they were going to lead, and that Mike, Max and I were going to sit back and watch everything go down,” said Stolpman. “I loved watching the kids take such good care of the volunteers.”
No one thought we could make a difference
Elliot and Evans were determined that the Urban Roots program would include the YouthLaunch philosophy of “engaging youth in service” as a key element of the agricultural program. Urban Roots donated forty percent of its fresh, organic vegetables to various Austin charities. “We wanted the young people to know that they could give back to their communities,” said Evans. “The interns did this by selling sixty percent of their vegetables at the Austin Farmers’ Market and at a few markets in East Austin, and by donating forty percent to hunger-relief organizations around Austin. The proceeds from the vegetables sold cover about ten percent of the Urban Roots program costs. Texas is the third-ranking state in the nation for food insecurity (according to a study done by the U.S. Department of Agriculture) so the youth knew that part of what they were doing was making a difference in whether someone had a healthy meal one day or went hungry.”
The Urban Roots interns didn’t stop at mere donations. On several occasions they took their fresh produce to Caritas of Austin or Spring Terrace, a supportive housing community, where they prepared a meal and served the food to the organizations’ clients or residents. “This is where the teens’ Urban Roots training comes full circle; they are experiencing the holistic process of community giving,” said Elliot.
Stolpman feels that the service piece of the Urban Roots program is a large part of why the teens were able to become so personally invested in Urban Roots. “We worked at Caritas, handing trays of food to people in need,” says Stolpman. “We went to Spring Terrace and the kids actually prepared the meal themselves and then sat down and talked about the farm and the vegetables. I think it really impacted them, the knowledge that, ‘Wow, I’m making a difference and I’m just a kid.’ I can’t tell you how many times I heard that. ‘We’re just kids—nobody thought we could do anything, but now we are.’”
Food insecurity and childhood obesity
“Not only does Texas rank third in the nation for food insecurity, with sixteen percent of households labeled ‘food insecure,’” said Elliot, “the rate of childhood obesity in Texas is fifty percent over the national average. Thirty-three percent of children born here in Texas will develop diabetes. Since eighty-one percent of Texas high school students don’t eat the recommended amount of vegetables and fruits per day...the obesity statistics aren’t surprising. But with obesity being linked to chronic illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease, getting kids, especially teenagers, to create healthy eating habits is incredibly important.” But what teen wants to eat the recommended five servings of fresh fruits and vegetables a day?
“I used to eat only junk food,” said intern Steve Young. “But now that I’ve been out here on the farm and tasting vegetables and stuff, I’ve actually started to eat green peppers, cucumbers and squash, everything on the farm.”
Breez Smith’s diet has also changed completely since he started interning with the Urban Roots program. He was a self-proclaimed onion hater and “wasn’t really a big vegetable eater but kind of ate tomatoes, cucumbers and carrots.” Now he has stopped picking onions out of food, and will eat almost anything grown on the Urban Roots Farm. “Yeah, it’s crazy,” said Smith, grinning.
“This program isn’t going to just impact our fifteen farm interns. It’s going to have an impact on their families as well,” says Elliot. The Urban Roots interns were able to take home plenty of fresh produce. Smith says that his family was “very excited” about the vegetables he brought home. Young says his family appreciates not having to go to the grocery store and that because the fresh produce he helped to grow on the Urban Roots farm tastes better, his family has started eating more vegetables.
Intern Will Fleshman brought home fresh vegetables to his family, then took his Urban Roots training one step further and planted a garden. “I don’t know if I want to be a farmer, but it is good stuff to learn and I know I’ll definitely use everything Urban Roots taught me. I’ve actually planted stuff at my house. I’m growing beans and tomatoes.”
Kayla Washington is waiting until the fall to plant a garden at her home, but she planted a garden for her grandmother earlier in the summer. Square foot gardeners create a grid system with string and plant a precise number and order of plants within each square foot. One square foot, for example, is enough space for one broccoli plant or sixteen carrots. To allow each plant to receive enough sun, tall plants such as cucumbers would be planted in the back of the garden, while a low-lying squash would be planted in the front. “We learned the square foot method from Dorsey Barger over at Eastside Café,” says Washington.
Continuing to create sustainable change
Urban Roots 2.0 officially begins in the spring of 2009 (see accompanying “Resources” article for details and application information) and the impressive community support the program received in its pilot year continues to grow. Eastside Café co-owner Dorsey Barger selected Urban Roots in 2008 as one of the three nonprofit organizations her restaurant would support that year. On June 27, 2007,
when the program was still in the planning phases, Whole Foods donated five percent of net profits from its central Austin store to Urban Roots. Most notable is the annual “Eat Local Week” event that Marla Camp, publisher of Edible Austin, created for Urban Roots. This fund-raiser and event encourages Austin residents to eat locally grown food and attend local food events such as the Urban Farm Bicycle Tour, the Austin Tea Party and Small Bites of Austin.
“The dedication of the Urban Roots staff and volunteers is amazing,” Camp said. “Because of the success of their first program and how well we all worked together during Eat Local Week last year, we decided to make them the sole beneficiary of our Eat Local Week event again this year to help them grow the program.” This year’s event will be held December 6-13.
There is no doubt that the effects of the Urban Roots program will be felt by the residents of Austin for years, if not generations, to come. Using such a simple idea—the cultivation and distribution of vegetables—Urban Roots is teaching young people about themselves and the power they have to create lasting, positive change in their world.
Despite the positive influence of the interns, Melissa still hates eggplant. You may reach her at email@example.com.
Austin Farmers’ Market—Sponsored by the Sustainable Food Center, the Austin Farmers’ Market is held rain or shine 3-7pm Wednesdays at the Triangle Park, 4600 Guadalupe (between Lamar and Guadalupe), and 9am-1pm Saturdays downtown at Fourth and Guadalupe. For more information, call 512-236-0074 or visit www.austinfarmersmarket.org.
Caritas of Austin—“Fighting hunger, homelessness, poverty and fear,” Caritas of Austin offers a variety of services to people in need. Caritas is located downtown at 611 Neches St. For more information, call 512-479-4610 or visit www.caritasofaustin.org.
Eat Local Week—This is a fund-raiser and local food celebration event sponsored by Edible Austin with all proceeds going to support Urban Roots. During the week of December 6-13, Austin residents are encouraged eat local and invited to attend events celebrating local food such as the Urban Farm Bicycle Tour, the Austin Tea Party and Small Bites of Austin. Eat Local Week culminates December 13 at the downtown Austin Farmers’ Market. For more information, call 512-441-3971, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.edibleaustin.com.
Spring Terrace—This is a supportive housing community for people transitioning out of homelessness, or who meet certain income requirements. For more information, call 512-492-8980 or visit www.foundcom.org/EndHomelessness-ST.htm.
Urban Roots—To learn more about the Urban Roots program, including how to donate, volunteer and when the next batch of vegetables will be at a farmers’ market, telephone 512-342-0424, e-mail Mike Evans at email@example.com or visit www.youthlaunch.org/programs/urbanroots.php. Teens who will be fourteen to seventeen years of age on February 1, 2009, can apply to participate in Urban Roots internships. Application forms are available on the web site. Donations may be made on-line or mailed to 7756 Northcross Drive, Suite 203, Austin, Texas 78757.
YouthLaunch—This is a youth development nonprofit organization with programs that focus on three of the major issues facing young people today: NoKidding addresses teen pregnancy; Urban Roots addresses healthy lifestyles; and YPC (Youth Partnership for Change) addresses teen alcohol abuse. For more information, visit www.youthlaunch.org, call the office at 512-342-0424.
How to Unwind This Holiday Season
by Michelle Moon Reinhardt
Photography by Barton Wilder Custom Images
We all have ways to relax tucked into our daily lives. Maybe it’s an extra five minutes in the shower. Lingering over a cup of coffee on Sunday morning. Sleeping in. Reading a favorite book. A glass of wine. A meaningful conversation.
But as the holidays approach, even those small pleasures seem to be lost to the almighty holiday schedule. Every moment is consumed with social obligations, shopping and holiday traditions meant to fulfill our family’s expectation about the holidays—and our own.
“The holidays can be extremely stressful,” says Danae Rea, a certified massage therapist with the Spa at the Lake. “All the standing, carrying heavy bags, it can really have an effect on your body this time of year.”
There’s a reason that airlines tell you, “in the event of a mid-air emergency, secure your own oxygen mask before helping others.” During this holiday season, taking some time for yourself may make this season more fun for you, and more joyful for those around you.
A tonic for exhaustion
There’s nothing worse than that run-down feeling—especially when eyeing a full “to do” list. The Spa at the Lake has the perfect antidote to feeling exhausted and depleted. “A peppermint aromatherapy massage is wonderful,” says Rea. In addition, each massage room at the Spa at the Lake has an eight-head private shower, allowing the client to relax in a steamy shower after being massaged for an hour or hour and a half. “The peppermint really clears the sinuses, and with the wet steam of the shower, it’s almost like your own personal sauna. You can just sit in there and breathe and relax. It’s lovely,” says Rea.
Rea says the spa also offers lavender and eucalyptus scents, which can have a calming effect. “We customize the type of aromatherapy, depending on what the client is feeling or needing at that time,” says Rea. Massages start at seventy-five dollars for an hour and are one hundred twenty-five for an hour and a half. The shower is included in the treatment.
“During the holidays, you build up stress in your muscles, and just as you would take your car in for maintenance, it’s just as important to treat your body well,” says Rea. “Massage can relieve that stress and help the body in a healthy, preventative way.”
In addition to massage, Spa at the Lake also offers several popular body scrubs, says Rea. These body treatments may involve using course salt or sugar
to exfoliate the skin. “Body scrubs are really wonderful for the circulatory and immune system. Plus, it makes your skin glow for those holiday parties,” adds Rea. Body scrubs cost ninety-five dollars and also include a steam shower after the treatment.
“A lot of our clients come in to relieve stress and take a break during the holidays. It’s the perfect time to relax, before family arrives or before they travel to see family for the holidays,” says Rea. “It can sustain you through this crazy, hectic season.”
Treatments for weary feet
A night in stiletto heels making small talk with the boss’ wife will leave your feet aching and your whole body craving relief. The answer is 26 Bones Foot Spa.
Locally owned by podiatrist Carla Emery-Culberson, M.D., the spa offers treatments based on reflexology, meant to balance the entire body by treating the feet. The spa’s signature Thai foot massage focuses on the feet, hands and legs with a combination of stretching and massage to clear energy lines. The therapist uses a stick to stimulate reflex points on the feet that correspond to the internal organs of the body. For example, in reflexology, the balls of the feet correspond to lung function. “So if someone comes in complaining of congestion, the massage therapist would concentrate on that area,” says Allison Schoener, manager of 26 Bones Spa. She says the Thai foot massage has been handed down over generations by Buddhist monks of Thailand. The treatment lasts about an hour and costs eighty-five dollars.
Besides this unique treatment, the spa also offers a treatment called Aqua Detox, meant to cleanse the body of toxins by treating the feet in an ionic foot bath. Schoener says the feet are placed in a salt-water bath and a magnet inside the bath helps activate the saline solution, she says, and draw toxins out of the body.
Schoener says the water from the foot bath often turns dark, depending on how “well you take care of your body.” She says the treatment can be beneficial to smokers, people having trouble sleeping, and those who might suffer from aches and pains. “Everything we put into our bodies, whether we live in a polluted environment, whether we drink alcohol or smoke, how well we eat, all these toxins we are exposed to build up in the body,” says Schoener. “The Aqua Detox treatment really helps to remove those toxins.”
One Aqua Detox session costs fifty-five dollars, but 26 Bones Foot Spa offers the treatments in packages of six for two hundred seventy-five dollars. “We recommend that people have this treatment once a week,” says Schoener. “We’re not able to take enough of the toxins out safely in one treatment, so it requires several in succession.”
26 Bones Foot Spa also offers relaxing paraffin wax and aromatherapy pedicures and manicures, starting at sixty-five dollars. “Our pedicures are really relaxing, and come with a foot massage,” says Schoener. “We’ve even had clients fall asleep in the massage chair.” If you do happen to slip into dream land, no one will stare, because the spa offers private rooms for pedicures.
Warm stones release tension
“The holidays are a time when people need to be in family-care mode. However, self-care goes out the window, and yet, it’s one of the most important things we can do,” says Catherine Collett, co-owner of Myo Massage.
Myo Massage employs several massage techniques to rebalance clients and renew their energy levels, says Collett. One popular form of massage offered is the hot stone massage. “We heat basalt river stones, which are very smooth and heavy,” she says. “Then we lay them along the spine, or use them on energy, or chakra, points on the body.” Stones can also be used on pressure points to relieve tension.
“It’s very relaxing because the heat loosens the connective tissues, allowing the therapist to get deeper into the muscle. It’s a flowing, relaxing style of massage.”
The first thing you notice in a hot stone massage is not the hardness of the stones, but the heat itself. When used on pressure points, the hot stones become an extension of the therapist’s hands, delivering a deep warming sensation that melts away tension.
Myo Massage offers an hour hot stone massage for ninety dollars and an hour and a half for one hundred twenty dollars.
The most popular treatment by far at Myo Massage is the customized massage that uses techniques from Swedish, Shiatsu and deep tissue massage. “It’s a customized treatment that addresses whatever is bothering the client. It’s customized to address what is going on that day,” says Collett. “We match the client with a therapist that can best address their problems, whether it’s chronic pain, fatigue, stress or rejuvenation.”
Along with massage, Myo offers facials, body wraps, scrubs and luxurious whirlpool baths. At their location in the Triangle, between Lamar and Guadalupe Streets north of Forty-fifth Street, a hydrotherapy tub is available for several types of treatments. “We offer a sea weed bath, which is wonderfully detoxifying for the body. The sea weed binds with toxins in the body and can be used for short-term weight loss,” says Collett. She says Myo also offers mineral soaks and a milk and honey hydrotherapy bath that softens the skin and leaves it with a healthy glow. These thirty-minute treatments cost forty dollars.
“Leading up to the holidays, we have a lot of people coming in to purchase gift certificates for friends and family,” says Collett. “Few people take time to relax themselves and enjoy this wonderful time of year.”
If your schedule is overflowing, your to-do list too long, perhaps its time to make a date with relaxation. You may be moving too fast to enjoy the magic of the holidays.
Michelle Moon Reinhardt plans on slowing down this holiday season. That’s the plan anyway. You may e-mail Michelle at firstname.lastname@example.org.
26 Bones Foot Spa—This spa was started by a podiatric physician who oversees the procedures, including hand, foot and body treatments. 26 Bones is located at 1403 W. Forty-Seventh St. in Austin. For more information, call 512-420-8106 or visit 26bonesfootspa.com.
Myo Massage—This local spa specializing in massage and body treatments has two locations in Austin, one at 4616 Triangle Ave., Suite 407, and one at 1601 E. Fifth Street, Suite 107. For more information call 512-458-4696 (Triangle) or 512-472-4696 (East Fifth) or visit www.myoaustin.com.
Spa at the Lake—This full service hair and day spa, located in Lakeway at 900 RR 620 South, Suite A-104, offers many body treatments to unwind and rejuvenate. For more information call 512-263-7611 or visit www.spaatthelake.com.
—Michelle Moon Reinhardt
Releasing the Pain
Rolfing Manipulates Connective
Tissue to Rebalance the Body
by Karen Branz Leach
Photography by Barton Wilder Custom Images
Ten years ago, Beverly Shaw’s right shoulder began to hurt and she found herself unable to move the joint without pain.
“My motion was extremely limited, and I had spasms that were extremely painful. I remember being at Central Market, and the motion of pulling a plastic bag off the roll nearly laid me out on the floor,” she says.
At the time, she was a buyer for Whole Earth Provision Company, and the job entailed lots of lifting and carrying of boxes. “I had to do something about it,” she says.
For nearly a year, Shaw made the rounds of doctors and physical therapists, seeking relief. She was diagnosed with “frozen shoulder,” medically known as adhesive capsulitis. This is a syndrome in which the connective tissue that encapsulates the shoulder becomes inflamed, causing pain and stiffness. Adhesions, which are similar to scar tissue, may form between the surfaces of the joint, restricting movement. It can happen as a result of an injury, but also in response to repetitive stress (such as lifting and carrying a lot of boxes).
Shaw tried acupuncture, weight training, painkillers, cortisone shots to the joint and massage. She saw a neurophysiologist and, finally, reluctantly, considered surgery.
The orthopedic surgeon she consulted, Barbara Bergin, MD, of Texas Orthopedics, examined her shoulder and discussed the possibility of surgery, but also picked up on Shaw’s reluctance to go that route. She suggested an alternative therapy called Rolfing.
“It’s not something I go out of my way to prescribe, because insurance doesn’t cover the cost and most patients are reluctant to try something that they have to pay for themselves,” says Bergin. Fees for Rolfers in Austin average a hundred twenty-five dollars per session, and recommended treatment length is ten sessions (though not all practitioners insist on that number). But for some patients, those whose condition doesn’t involve torn tissues or broken bones and who are willing to foot the bill, she says, Rolfing can be helpful.
According to the Rolf Institute, Rolfing Structural Integration “is a hands-on manipulation developed by Ida P. Rolf fifty years ago. It works on the connective tissue to release, realign and balance the whole body.”
In Rolfing, the therapist manipulates tissue called the fascia. This is the soft connective tissue that surrounds muscles, bones, internal organs, blood vessels and nerve tissue. It forms a flexible web all over the body, and helps provide structure and shape to the body.
According to Rolfing theory, the fascia is distorted over time by an accumulation of injuries, allowing the body to become unbalanced. For example, if you injure your foot, your gait will change to take the stress off the injury. You’ll limp, you’ll lean to one side, and even the way you carry your head and shoulders will change. Over time, these adaptations will affect the fascia by distorting its shape and causing it to become stiffer. Even after the foot is healed, some of the distortion will remain. Through deep, massage-like manipulation of the fascia fibers, done over a series of sessions, Rolfers say they can help the tissue soften and relax, allowing the therapist to re-establish the body’s normal alignment. Or, in the lingo of Rolfing, re-establish structural integration.
There is no body of clinical research that proves the method works, though there is anecdotal evidence that the technique improves range of motion and a sense of well-being for many people.
“As a Rolfer, it’s frustrating. You can measure blood pressure to see if treatment works, but it’s hard to quantify ‘I can stand up straight and it doesn’t hurt,’” says Brian Beard, a Certified Advanced Rolfer and Rolf Movement Practitioner in private practice at the Academy of Oriental Medicine. He has worked with trainers and athletes at the University of Texas women’s golf, track and field, basketball and volleyball teams, as well as with non-athletes. Among his clients are two Olympic high jumpers, Erin Aldrich and Amy Acuff. Acuff is as famous for her 2004 Playboy cover photo, which showed off her well-aligned physique, as she is for her athletic prowess.
What science says about Rolfing
Despite the lack of clinical studies of the technique, animal studies indicate that this kind of manipulation can, indeed, change the biochemical structure of the tissue. At the first International Fascia Research Congress, held in Boston in 2007, laboratory scientists working with mice presented research that showed that stretching of injured tissues, much like what would happen in Rolfing, can reduce the amount of a chemical that causes scarring in the tissue. Also, mechanical stretching of tissue can affect the distribution of certain chemicals in tissue cells, changing the physical properties of the cell. This suggests that biochemical changes resulting from Rolfing (and other manipulative therapies as well) can change the tissue substance. So science backs up the approach, even if direct clinical proof is lacking.
According to Bergin, a patient with a frozen shoulder is a good candidate for the technique, because the pain and stiffness of the joint are related to the connective tissue that is manipulated in Rolfing. Any technique that can relax that tissue, whether it is physical therapy, massage or Rolfing, can help reduce pain and increase range of motion.
Shaw was skeptical of Bergin’s Rolfing prescription, but she decided to give it a try as a last ditch effort to avoid surgery.
She made an appointment with Beard, and was surprised by the results.
“I had heard how painful the technique was, but it wasn’t. It was less pressure even than massage. I thought, ‘This isn’t going to do anything,’” she says. Then, a few sessions into the therapy, she says she felt a hot rush down one side of her body, while Beard was manipulating another part of her body. “After that, I started to get better.”
Beard says that many patients, like Shaw, come to see a Rolfer after traditional therapies have failed. The therapy, he says, doesn’t directly heal the
injury, but it puts the body into a state in which it is better able to heal itself.
Beard says Shaw arrived for her first session with x-rays in hand, which was helpful. “If someone comes to me who has acute pain and hasn’t been seen by a physician, I ask them to get checked out by a physician first,” he says. He wants to be sure that the client doesn’t have an undiagnosed fracture or torn muscle, neither of which can be helped with Rolfing. He even referred one patient to the Heart Hospital of Austin when the person arrived with chest and shoulder pain that radiated down the arm, which is a classic symptom of heart attack.
Beard also won’t work on anyone immediately following an automobile accident. “I tell them to wait a few days or to go see your doctor first. Sometimes a brain injury or internal organ bleeding might not present for a while. Those things are definitely out of our realm,” he says.
He also doesn’t treat people who are in acute pain from other recent injuries, recommending that clients wait until the tissue is not inflamed.
He says he often sees runners who feel like they are not getting enough wind, or their gait is off or something has changed, or golfers who feel like something has shifted in their back when they swing. Rolfing can help these amateur athletes regain a sense of balance and flexibility.
Shaw’s treatment lasted about three months, and the arm was better, but not pain free, when she ended the treatments. However, the shoulder continued to improve, she says, and she has been mostly pain free for the last several years. “I was skeptical. I don’t jump into things like this, and I didn’t have much hope that it would work. I was blown away by how well it worked for me,” she says.
Rolfing for kids
Beverly Velt, a physical therapist who works with special needs kids, also turned to Rolfing for help following an injury. She says she first tried the technique back in the seventies and liked it, and was reintroduced to the technique in the nineties while she was working with kids who had cerebral palsy.
“These kids don’t get worse—their brain’s are injured at birth—but they look worse and worse because they keep growing but their muscles and nerves don’t keep up. They are prone to contractures,” Velt says. She was a partner in a group called Pediatric Therapy Services that worked with Certified Rolfer Steven Collins, and liked the results she saw in the kids that received Rolfing therapy. “We saw a relaxation in their muscle tension and reduced spasticity.”
Velt recalls a patient she had worked with for years, helping to get the girl out of her wheelchair and moving on her own with a walker. Velt referred the girl to Collins, and within a few months the girl was walking without the walker and had a much-improved gait. “I was very impressed,” she say. “Rolfing really makes a big difference for these kids, especially the ones who are able to move independently, because they can make use of it themselves. The ones that can’t move voluntarily are still helped, but they can’t actively use what he gives them.”
Velt turned to Collins for help for herself in 1996, after she broke an ankle. After weeks of crutches and limping she says, “I was shifted to the right and couldn’t get my body to shift back.” Collins helped her realign her body and move normally. “Within a session or two I was back to walking normally. Any time you injure yourself, your body adapts to that injury and you have to unadapt. That takes a long time unless you get help,” she says.
As a registered physical therapist, Velt sees Rolfing as a complementary technique. “PT can do the exercise portion, while Rolfers concentrate on the fascia tissue and structure expansion,” she says.
Collins describes Rolfing as embodiment based, a therapy that helps clients become more conscious the way their bodies feel and move. He says that part of the reason that Rolfing works for many people is that it lowers their overall level of tension. This tension, he says, is the result of the injuries and stresses that we encounter in life and accumulate in our bodies.
“The nervous system gets locked into higher and higher levels of flight-or-fight response, causing increased muscle tonus (residual muscle tension) and immune system impairment,” says Collins. As the fascia is softened and relaxed, the underlying muscles also relax, causing a cascade of effects that lower the flight or fight response and improve immune response and a sense
Choosing a Rolfer
Not all Rolfers are created equal, says Collins, and prospective Rolfing clients should take the time to shop around. “I think my patients would tell you that Rolfing doesn’t hurt. Some Rolfers hurt the hell out of their clients,” he says. If that happens, it’s okay to tell the Rolfer to stop or to change the amount of pressure, and it’s also okay to find another Rolfer. “Call the Rolfer and say ‘Here are my goals.’ Interview the person and don’t be afraid to move on if you don’t like what you hear. Personalities and techniques vary. Be proactive. You are paying for a service and should get what you want.”
Karen Branz Leach has been writing about healthcare for more than twenty-five years and is thinking about seeing a Rolfer for her own shoulder pain. You may e-mail Karen at email@example.com.
Brian Beard—Certified Advanced Rolfer and Rolf Movement Practitioner. He's the only person in Austin that appears on the list of practitioners put out by both the Rolf Institute and The Guild for Structural Integration. He practices at the Academy of Oriental Medicine at Austin, 2700 W. Anderson Lane, Suite 204. For more information, call 512-467-0370, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Guild for Structural Integration—The Guild is dedicated to the traditional teachings of Ida P. Rolf and conducts training for Rolfing. Its web site offers a way to find practitioners in Texas, five of whom are located in Austin. For more information visit www.rolfguild.org.
Rolf Institute of Structural Integration—The institute was founded in 1971 by Ida P. Rolf. It’s headquartered in Boulder, Colorado, and its schools are the only ones to certify Rolfers and Rolf Movement Practitioners. Its web site offers a search device for finding Rolfers and nine are listed in Austin. For more information visit www.rolf.org.
Sandy Collins, RN, BSN—Certified Advanced Rolfer and Rolf Movement Practitioner, 3939 Bee Caves Road, Building A, Suite 1. For more information call 512-327-9824, e-mail email@example.com or visit www.sandycollinsrolfing.com.
Steven Collins—Certified Advanced Rolfer, 3939 Bee Caves Road. For more information call 512-327-9824.
Kathy Purvis—Certified Rolfer and Rolf Movement Practitioner, 4701 Westgate Blvd., Suite A-102. For more information call 512-698-2962, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.klpurvis-rolfing.com.
—Karen Branz Leach
Om for the holidays
by Carla Birnberg
It’s that time of year again. For many, exercise is shoved to the bottom of the to-do list beneath myriad holiday related tasks. If you’re a regular reader of this column, I like to think you’re less likely to skip entire workouts but may find yourself confronted with a time-shortened routine. You are, perhaps, more drawn to a quick sweat-inducing sprint than a ninety minute, slow, soothing yoga session.
This holiday season I vowed to change that for myself and I invite you to join me. I decided to no longer create a more wound up Carla, by virtue of a frenetic workout session, and chose to add a stress-relieving activity to my rushed repertoire: meditation. I’ve always acknowledged the value of meditation, I simply hadn’t made space for it in my workouts. I’d erroneously assumed that, even for beginners, meditation would have a steep learning curve and be time consuming. This month I learned I’d been entirely wrong in my assumption and, in the spirit of Om For the Holidays ’08, wanted to share with you my newfound knowledge.
Before starting I want to explore exactly what defines meditation. I knew my mental image of a blissfully chanting monk to be more stereotype than reality, but I’d no clue what the reality was. I quickly found much of the information focused on what occurred in the brain during meditation. This made complete sense. If my goal was to lessen holiday stress stemming from an inability to turn off my brain, then inside the cranium was a natural place to begin.
Our brains serve as the hub of our body’s activities. They adapt to demands placed on them by adjusting electrical impulses to meet our needs. If these impulses were placed on a spectrum: REM sleep would be one end, daytime alertness on the other, and slower activities, like daydreaming, would fall in the middle. When we meditate we are, in essence, slowing our brainwaves from full tilt to mid-spectrum.
This calm state, or alpha brain activity, triggers tremendous physical relaxation yet doesn’t impact one’s awareness in the same fashion as sleep. This in-between condition is precisely why we don’t emerge from meditation feeling groggy, as can happen post-nap.
Armed with that knowledge and a list of the four crucial elements to successful meditation, location, body position, mantra and breathing, I was ready to get started.
Location—I chose to use the same space repeatedly in an effort to link that location with my new, Zen mentality. More important, however, is a space where you won’t be disturbed and where you can manipulate the lighting. Somewhere quiet and, I learned the hard way, not filled with distracting sights. The longer one meditates the less small distractions matter, but as a beginner I required a dark, silent setting.
Body position—Initially, à la my monk image, I tried meditating on the floor using pillows. Not surprisingly, I discovered there can exist a too comfortable meditation position. My first attempts practically lulled me to sleep and helped me realized the reason comfortably erect is often used to describe meditation posture. I switched to a chair until I could create a floor position which allowed me to consciously meditate and relax. A position where I felt calm yet not close to sleep.
Mantra—Admittedly, I’ve been known to mock the notion of a mantra. There’s just something verging on comical, to me anyway, about chanting a thought or phrase repeatedly. Sort of like how, when you say any word over and over, it begins to lose its meaning. (Try it using the word fork. I’ll wait.) That is to say I scoffed at mantras until I attempted to meditate without one. Even in the serene setting I’d created, my brain quickly zoomed back to the worries of my day. This distracted state, often referred to as monkey mind, is precisely the reason new meditators select a word, image, phrase or feeling upon which to focus during their practice. When I began focusing on my mantra it provided me a way to redirect my attention when my exceedingly active monkey mind attempted to wander.
Breathing—The final piece to my meditation puzzle was, for me, the most pivotal. Controlling my breath made all the difference in my reaping the benefits of meditation. The mental image of exhaling my worries while inhaling calm, tranquil air allowed me to virtually feel my blood pressure lowering. It’s suggested one inhale deeply through nose, hold your breath for a second or two, and exhale slowly through your mouth. This breathing pattern is one I’ve already returned to, during nonmeditating times, to alleviate holiday stress.
I’m aware this all sounds too simple to be true, but it’s not. Ten minutes a day, unplugged from the outside world, and tuned into oneself is all it takes. In this brief amount of time I became more focused, patient and self-aware. I also gained insight into how to control my stress during nonmeditating times. I rapidly found myself addicted to my new Zen pursuit. What began as ten minutes once a day quickly transitioned into ten-minute sessions both morning and evening. Admittedly there are more advanced methods and approaches to meditation, but isn’t that what next month is for? Let’s meditate our way through the holiday season, first. We have all of ’09 to set and achieve our loftier fitness goals.
Carla and her secret mantra wish you a happy holiday season. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Daily adult recess may have life-saving benefits
by Karen Branz Leach
In my reading this month, I’ve discovered a new excuse for running outside to play instead of working at my desk: vitamin D. In fact, I vote for the right to an adult recess every afternoon as a way of lowering American healthcare costs. Here’s why:
Recent studies have implicated vitamin D deficiency in breast cancer, colon cancer, depression, Type II diabetes, metabolic syndrome and heart disease. That list sounds like a review of the diseases that have been linked to sedentary lifestyles—diseases that are on the rise in the United States, a nation of couch potatoes.
The link here is that our primary source of vitamin D is our own skin, which manufactures the vitamin when exposed to sunlight. If you spend most of your time indoors, and you cover up your skin when you go out in the sun (either with clothing or with sunscreen) you may not be getting enough sun exposure to manufacture a sufficient amount of the vitamin. If you are dark-skinned, you are at even greater risk than your pale-skinned friends; the melanin in your skin that protects you from sunburn also inhibits your ability to manufacture vitamin D.
The link between breast cancer and vitamin D deficiency was first noticed in epidemiological studies that showed that rates of breast cancer were higher in the north than in the south. This difference was most striking in African-American women in northern states, who had the highest rates of breast cancer in the nation, higher even than African-American women in southern states. Eventually, some bright researcher figured out that the difference might have to do with lack of vitamin D, because women in northern climates who are dark-skinned have difficulty manufacturing a sufficient amount of it.
Recent research has born out that hypothesis. Low levels of vitamin D increase a woman’s risk of breast cancer, and the lower the level the greater the risk and the more aggressive the cancer.
Research published this year indicates that vitamin D deficiency is also common in colon cancer patients and, again, the lower the level the more aggressive the cancer. One cancer study recommended supplements of as much as one thousand international units (IUs) daily.
A 2004 study showed that vitamin D supplements help combat Seasonal Affective Disorder, a depression that occurs during winter months. Reinhold Vieth, PhD, of Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, gave test subjects either six hundred IUs or four-thousand IUs daily, beginning in the summer and continuing through the winter. Both groups saw improvement in their depression symptoms, though those on the higher dose saw more improvement.
“Taking four thousand IUs may sound like a lot, but there has never been a single reported case of toxicity at levels up to twenty thousand IUs a day,” John Cannel, MD, head of the Vitamin D Council, a nonprofit group of concerned citizens that study the nutrient and believe many humans are needlessly suffering and dying from vitamin D deficiency, told WebMD.
“Your body takes in about that much from sunlight by spending twenty minutes outdoors during the summer. The problem is what happens in winter, when sunlight is in shorter supply,” Cannel says.
According to the Vitamin D Council web site, the nutrient is not technically a vitamin. Its metabolic product, calcitriol, is actually a hormone that targets over one thousand genes in the body. The web site states that vitamin D deficiency has been implicated as a major factor in seventeen varieties of cancer as well as heart disease, stroke, hypertension, autoimmune diseases, diabetes, depression, chronic pain, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, muscle weakness, muscle wasting, birth defects, periodontal disease and more. These researchers do not advise you to start taking the supplement without talking to your doctor. If you suspect you may have a deficiency, ask for a blood test to check your level, which should be at least twenty-four nanograms per millilitre (ng/mL), though the Vitamin D Council suggests a level of fifty to eighty ng/mL. If your level is below that, ask your doctor for a recommendation regarding supplements. Or, even better, make sure that you get at least twenty minutes of sunlight a day, exposing as much skin as possible.
Concerned about the risk of melanoma from too much sun exposure? Information presented in the 2006 meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology suggests that regular sun exposure, even over a lifetime, isn’t the culprit in melanoma. Intermittent, intense exposure, especially if it leaves you badly sun burned, is more likely the cause.
So twenty minutes of sun a day won’t increase your risk of melanoma, but will likely give you most of the vitamin D you need to prevent other cancers.
So how do you find the time in your day? Take a walk at lunch, when the sun is at its highest, especially during the winter, when your vitamin D stores are at their lowest. Pack a healthy lunch and have a picnic, or just eat an apple while you walk. Even if you don’t have access to a green space, it’s better to be outdoors on a city street than inside.
If you can’t make it outside during daylight hours, take a supplement (after checking with your doctor). By the looks of the current research, it might just save your life. Though I still think adult recess is more fun.
Karen Branz Leach has been writing about healthcare for more than twenty years, and has always believed that sunshine has magical properties. You may e-mail Karen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How to get your event listed: We prefer that calendar listing information be submitted by using the form on our web site at www.goodlifemag.com. Second choice is to e-mail the essential details to email@example.com. Or fax it to 512-474-5725. Or mail to PO Box 4400, Austin, Texas 78765. To be considered for inclusion, items must be received by the 15th of the month for the following month’s events. Listings are free & are published on a space-available basis.
Mondays, Wednesdays & Fridays 7pm free Rides from Nelos Pro Cycles: No charge, no registration, just show up at 3010-H W. Anderson Ln. for rides of 20-25 miles. Details: 338-0505.
Wednesdays 7am free Meet South Austin (Westgate area). Routes vary, often at Veloway, South MoPac. Structured training ride. Details: Gerry King 462-9484, 443-2728 <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
Wednesdays 6:30pm free Dripping Springs Ride: Meet at intersection of RR 12 & Fitzhugh Rd. (CR 101) for out & back ride to Pedernales State Park along Fitzhugh Rd. Fast pace (18-20 mph). Call to make sure ride is on. Details: Michael 476-5355 ext. 1146 <MichaelS@tsta.org>.
Saturdays 8am Ride the Veloway & South MoPac Loops: Most Sa except on monthly organized biking events, groups including HillCountryOutdoors.com meet at the Veloway parking lot just before 8am. Look for Jim Fahrnkopf in his orange Honda Element. Details: 921-9882 <email@example.com>
Saturdays 8:15am Intermediate Road Ride: The Austin Flyers sponsor this friendly ride averaging around 17 mph with some hills & regrouping points. Roll out 8:30am. Cue sheets are available from ride leaders at start of ride or on our web site. Bicycle Sport Shop North, 10947 Research Blvd. Details: <firstname.lastname@example.org> www.austinflyers.com.
Saturdays & Sundays: Georgetown Cyclopaths ride from various starting locations around Williamson, Burnet & Bell counties. Details: E-mail Lu Shannon <email@example.com> to get weekly ride updates, www.cyclopathsoftexas.com/rides.
Sundays 7:45am Intermediate Road Ride: The Austin Flyers sponsor this 17 mph average, 30+ mile drop ride. Roll out 8am. Cue sheets are available from ride leaders at start of ride or on our web site. Ride route may vary slightly from week to week. Leaving from the Bicycle Sport Shop, 517 S. Lamar. Details: <firstname.lastname@example.org> www.austinflyers.com.
Sundays 8am free Rides from the Veloway: Rides of 30-40 miles start from Veloway on La Crosse Avenue off South MoPac. No charge. No registration. Just show up to ride. Details: 338-0505.
Sundays Dec. 7-Dec. 28 9am Austin Flyers Weekly Mountain Bike Rides: The Austin Flyers will host an intermediate & advanced group mountain bike ride every Sunday thru November at various trails in the Austin area. For intermediate & advanced riders. Barton Springs Greenbelt leaving from the Bicycle Sport Shop, 517 S. Lamar. Details: <email@example.com> www.austinflyers.com.
Dec. 6 Sa $25 solo, $40 family (2 or more) Eat Local Week Urban Farm Bicycle Tour: Discover Austin’s local food-producing gems on a family-friendly bicycle tour. Stops at urban farms, school & community gardens, the Edible Austin Tea Party & more. Farm & henhouse tours. Sample local beverages. Win prizes including a fully outfitted cruiser bike. Details: 441-3971 www.edibleaustin.com.
• 9am 14 Mile Option Departs Bicycle Sport Shop, 517 S. Lamar.
• 9am 24 Mile Option Departs Sunset Valley Farmers’ Market, Toney Burger Center, US Hwy 290 West.
• 10am 10 Mile Option Departs downtown Farmers’ Market, 4th & Guadalupe.
Dec. 6 Sa 9am free New Sweden Shuffle: Come shuffle along with us. We’ll have shuffles of 20, 44 & 59 miles thru the New Sweden flatlands northeast of Austin. Meet at the Dessau Middle School on Dessau Rd. between Parmer & Howard Lanes. Details: Kevin 989-9457 www.austincycling.org/rides.html.
Dec. 6 Sa 9am free San Saba Loops: Meet in Burnet at the Burnet Middle School on Main Street (2 blocks north of the RR 963/US 281 intersection & 1 block east of US 281) for a joint ride with Highland Lakes Bicycle Club with rides of 24 to 54 miles. Ride thru rolling cedar & oak-covered hills with wide open ranch land views all the way to Lampasas. Watch for the dry washes, which are fun to ride down, but can be rough due to occasional floods that wash away the pavement. Details: Sue & Joe 996-9031 www.austincycling.org/rides.html.
Dec. 7 Su 9am free Devil’s Backbone: Join us for the classic Devil’s Backbone ride. Distances of 27, 43, 52 miles. Ride River Rd, then take a jaunt up the stunningly beautiful Devil’s Backbone. Meet in the rear of the public parking lot near Gruene Hall in Gruene. Take I-35 to exit number 191, turn west on FM 306. After 1.5 miles, turn left on Hunter Rd which takes you to Gruene (note: do not turn left on FM 1102, East Common Street, which is before Hunter Road). The parking lot is on the left, just before Gruene Hall. Stay for lunch afterwards. Details: Frank 246-7482 www.austincycling.org/rides.html.
Dec. 7 Su 9am free Weir Lost: Official loops of 30 & 53 miles that pass thru the big cities of Jonah, Walburg & if you don’t get lost, Weir. Plenty of options for shorter rides. Meet at the parking lot at the girl’s softball field in Old Settlers Park in Round Rock. From I-35 take Exit 254 east; follow Route 3406 3.4 mi., cross CR 1460 (3406 becomes 113/Kyphen Rd.) go another 2.3 miles, turn right onto Aten Loop. Take the first right into the parking lot. Details: Kevin 989-9457 www.austincycling.org/rides.html.
Dec. 13 Sa 9am free Liberty Hill Loops: Meet at the Liberty Hill Elementary School on Loop 332, just west of downtown Liberty Hill. These 25- & 50-mile intermediate level rides follow quiet back roads over the picturesque Jollyville Plateau with a few moderate hills. Pedal thru places like Joppa, Andice, Oatmeal & Mahomet, but don’t blink or you’ll miss them. Bertram is the water stop on this ride. Details: Jess 345-0254 www.austincycling.org/rides.html.
Dec. 13 Sa 9am free Old San Antonio Road: Meet at Williams Elementary School at Mairo & Blue Valley Dr. (1 block east of South First Street & 6 blocks south of William Cannon) for a select-your-own-distance ride of up to 55 miles. The relatively flat out-and-back route goes thru Buda, Kyle & the thickly wooded Blanco River Valley to northern San Marcos. Details: Frank 246-7482 www.austincycling.org/rides.html.
Dec. 14 Su 9am free Krause Kruze: Kruze along the quite country roads of Burnet, Blanco & Travis counties & finish with a dip in the famous (or soon to be so) Krause Springs. Rides include an out & back 12 mile family ride that turns around before the first big hill. Other rides of 23, 43 & 60 miles include plenty of hills & fantastic vistas of the Colorado & Pedernales River valleys. Bring plenty of water, especially on longer rides where water stops are limited to the first 23 miles of the ride. Rides start at the Spicewood Elementary School in Spicewood. From the ‘Y’ (US 290 & SH 71 intersection) in southwest Austin, follow SH 71 25 miles to the flashing light in Spicewood. Turn right on Spur 191 & follow 0.7 miles to the driveway for the elementary school on the right. Details: Ira 323-5414 www.austincycling.org/rides.html.
Dec. 14 Su 9am free Longhorn Caverns: Meet in Bertram at Bertram Elementary School on FM 1174-243 a half-mile north of SH 29 on the right (parking lot is behind the school). Go north on Hwy 183 to Hwy 29. Go left on Hwy 29 to Bertram. Intermediate level rides of 29, 45 & 52 miles. The 29-mile route loops clockwise from Bertram to Burnet. The 45-mile route goes to Longhorn Caverns State Park & back. The 52-mile route completes a larger loop on beyond the Caverns & passes thru Burnet twice. Details: Frank 246-7482 www.austincycling.org/rides.html.
Dec. 20 Sa 7pm $12.50 Austin Cycling Assn. Holiday Party: Come celebrate another year of cycling in Austin & Central Texas. This year’s part is at Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve on Loop 360, 805 N. Capital of Texas Hwy. Catering by Dagar includes meat & vegetarian options. BYOB. Details: www.austincycling.org.
April 10-12 F-Su $40 2009 Easter Hill Country Bicycle Tour: The San Antonio Wheelmen invite you to join them for three fully-supported days of riding in the Texas Hill Country. The rides & entertainment are designed to appeal to the largest possible cross-section of riders. In 2009, all rides will start & finish in Kerrville, with each day offering multiple options at distances ranging from about 20-100 miles. All rides are fully supported with rest stops at strategic intervals along the routes supplemented by roving SAG vehicles. Details: www.ehtc.com 210-289-8905.
$2 for 2 Wheels: Partner with Bikes for Goodness Sake Foundation in giving the children of our deploying soldiers a brand new bike & helmet for Christmas. Just $2 from 50,000 people gets 600 children a bike, helmet, safety lesson & a memory of their first bike. Please donate at www.BikesFGS.org.
Austin Cycling Assn. Hosted Rides: This new program sets up group rides at a pace & distance designated by a trained ride leader. Listings for these group rides will be published in Southwest Cycling News & on the ACA web site. The idea is to provide a way for you to find a ride that’s right for you & a group of like-minded cyclists. All rides are rated on a scale of A thru E. A & B rides set a pace of 16-18 mph or faster. Rides rated C thru E set a slower pace of less than 12 mph to 16 mph & include more scheduled rest stops. On C thru E rides, the ride leader will bring up the rear at the slowest pace & will help with flats. Hosted rides may be scheduled for any day of the week & at any time, starting from points designated by the ride leader. Details: To find a ride suited to you, visit www.austinrides.org/ridedev.
Austin Ridge Riders Mountain Bike Club: The area’s largest & most active mountain bike club is a nonprofit membership organization that promotes awareness of safe & environmentally conscientious off-road bicycling. The club performs community service, hosts fun rides & races & works for trail access. Meetings are held 9am on the 2nd Sa at various trails, providing rides, trail work & chance to socialize & network. Details: Mark Henneke 698-4381 www.austinridgeriders.com.
Austin’s Yellow Bike Project seeks volunteers during shop hours to help work on bikes. No mechanical skills required. A project again this year is to get donations of children’s bikes that can be fixed up & given to local elementary school children & volunteers to work on the children’s bikes are needed as well. The main shop—using only human power—was relocated to 12th Street & Webberville Rd. & isn’t open yet. (View the video about the move on our web page.) The Satellite Shop is located at Treasure City Thrift, 1720 E. 12th St., near Chicon. The Satellite Shop hours are M 3-6pm, Th 4-7pm F 6-9pm & Sa 11am-3pm. M & Sa hours are bilingual. Details: Details: 457-9880 www.austinyellowbike.org.
Austin’s Yellow Bike Project Needs Help With New Headquarters: The City of Austin has granted a 5-year lease for a ¾-acre site adjacent to Simms Elementary School, at the intersection of 12th St. & Webberville & Springdale Rds. The 51st St. shop was decommissioned June 30. Until the new shop is ready there will be extended hours at the Treasure City location. Volunteers, professional assistance, building materials & money are needed—$250,000 to fund site work & construction, of which more than $100,000 has already been raised. Donate on-line using PayPal or by mail to yellow Bike Project, 1307 Leona St. Austin 78702. Details: www.austinyellowbike/org/webberville_shop.htm.
FrankenBike: This bike swap meet, usually held once a month in Austin, is open to anyone who wants to buy, sell or trade bicycles & bicycle related gear or parts. Check web site for location. Details: www.myspace.com/frankenbike.
Please Be Kind to Cyclists (PBK2C) Project: This is a grass-roots campaign & nonprofit organization committed to awareness, fairness & justice to cyclists. PBK2C works to bring bike related issues & accident information to the community. Show your support by creating an account & spreading the word to everyone you know. This is one way to stay informed of what happens in the cycling community, what our government is doing to improve our position in the roads, our rights, education & infrastructure. Details: pbk2c.org.
Share the Road License Plates are available from Texas Department of Transportation & your local county tax assessor-collector’s office at standard plate price plus $30. Each plate sold raises $22 for bicyclist & motorist safety & education programs developed to save lives. Details: Texas Bicycle Coalition 476-7433 biketexas.org. Web site includes a downloadable PDF form for ordering plates.
StreetCycling: Driver’s Ed for Cyclists: Every cyclist who takes to the road has the same rights & duties as a motor-vehicle operator. As such, it is imperative that learning to ride involves more than just learning to balance. Training includes your legal rights & prevention techniques that will help avoid 95 percent of the crashes experienced by cyclists. Taught by instructors certified by the League of American Bicyclists. Details: 345-1154 www.streetcycling.org.
Sun City Cyclists: Georgetown Rides: Interested in daytime group for weekday & weekend rides around the Georgetown area? Visit suncitytxcyclists.org. Details: Scorchy Smith 512-868-2131.
Texas Capital Area Tandem Society (TxCATS) is Austin’s tandem bicycle club, with membership that includes 75-plus tandem teams & a mission for tandem enthusiasts to ride together. No dues. Team-hosted rides conducted thruout the year. Details: Dale Kruger 512-217-1280 <firstname.lastname@example.org> www.txcats.org.
Veloway Getting New Crown Jewel: Hill County Inline Club is raising funds to construct a new covered bench area at the Veloway this fall. The funds will augment a grant from the Austin Parks Foundation to start & complete the new sheltered benches. There is now a single 10-foot bench at the entrance. The new benches will quadruple the capacity & provide much-needed shade, as well as a safe place to enter the path without having to stand in a traveled area. All donated funds go directly to this project. Details: www.hillcountryinlineclub.com.
Violet Crown Sports Assn. Meeting: Chartered in 1981 by a group of local cyclists, the membership is made up of both recreational & competitive cyclists. Meetings are generally held 1st M each month, Mangia Pizza on Mesa at Spicewood Springs. Pizza 6:30pm, meeting 7pm. Details: www.violetcrown.org <email@example.com>.
Free Fishing in State Parks: Texas Parks & Wildlife wants to encourage more people to get out & enjoy the great sport of fishing. It has waived the normal fishing license & stamp requirements for anyone fishing inside the property boundary of a Texas state park. Details: 389-4800 www.tpwd.state.tx.us/fishboat/fish/programs/familyfish.
Tuesdays 6:30-8:30pm $5 Austin Floorball Club: Floorball is a fast-paced team sport that is described as a safe version of floor hockey. It’s played indoors, on foot, using lightweight plastic sticks & a whiffle ball. Rules are easy to learn & there is no physical contact. Great coed game. Basic floorball stick is provided. Bring sneakers. First time free. Virginia L. Brown Recreation Center, 7500 Blessing Dr. Details: Jeff Morris 542-0316 www.austinfloorball.com.
Tuesdays 7:30pm Austin Roller Hockey: New players are needed for pickup games each Tu night at Bartholomew Park courts on E. 51st St. (about 1.64 miles east of I-35, past Berkman). All skill levels welcome & equipment needs are minimal. Gloves & shin- or knee-pads advisable. Some wear helmets, some don’t. (No games if it rains.) Roller hockey is fast, fun & a great workout. Details: Rob 627-1343 www.austinrollerhockey.com.
Nia Technique: Fusion of dance arts, martial arts & healing arts into an energetic & fun fitness program. Experience this exciting fitness program at one of the nation’s original studios created to highlight Nia. $15 or NiaSpace class card. Classes every day at NiaSpace, 3212 S Congress Ave. Details: 443-3013 www.NiaSpace.com/calendar.
Daily: Seton Cove offers massage 7 days a week. Massage helps facilitate connection between body, mind & spirit. Let one of Seton Cove’s massage therapists relieve your stress thru the healing power of touch. $35 for 30 minutes, $65 for 60 minutes, $90 for 90 minutes ($5 discount for Seton Cove members). Preregistration required. 3708 Crawford. Details: 451-0272 to schedule appointment. <firstname.lastname@example.org> www.setoncove.net.
Wednesdays 2-5pm Walk-in Acupuncture & Stress Management Service: Donation-based. Northwest Counseling & Wellness Center, 12335 Hymeadow Dr. Ste 400. Details: 250-9355 <email@example.com>.
Dec. 3 & 10 W 7-9pm free Gateway to Recovery: This 2-part workshop presented by Mary Boone, LMSW, LCDC, is held 1st & 2nd W each month, explores what addiction is & its effect on the family. No registration required. Austin Recovery, 8402 Cross Park Dr. Details: Carmen 697-8528 <firstname.lastname@example.org> www.austinrecovery.org.
Dec. 6 Sa 2-4:30pm $35 Holiday De-stress Restorative Yoga Workshop: In the midst of the holiday season, it’s easy to get caught up in all the shopping, eating & time with friends & family. Take a couple of hours to reconnect with yourself & unwind. Appropriate for all ages & fitness levels. No yoga experience needed. Instructor: Amy Pancake. Austin Kula Yoga, 2415 Exposition Blvd. Details: 442-3334 www.austinkulayoga.com.
Dec. 7 Su 10am $125 Massage & Meditation: In this developmental & rejuvenative workshop, we explore bodywork as a therapeutic & meditative path. You will learn a number of important meditations: breathing, basic focusing, meditation with awareness in motion & practice working at “interface.” Lauterstein-Conway Massage School, 4701-B Burnet Rd. Details: 374-9222 www.TLCschool.com
Dec. 7 Su 2pm free Ayurveda Central Texas Academy Open House: Your health, your community, your life. Ayurveda is an ancient traditional East Indian approach to balanced, holistic living. You will be able to meet with the Academy’s founders & instructors & get more in-depth information on living Ayurveda & the possibilities the Academy offers you. Austin Yoga School, 1122 S. Lamar Blvd. Details: 459-9113 www.ayurvedacentraltexas.org.
Dec. 11 Th 7pm free Massage School Holiday Open House: Join Lauterstein-Conway Massage School for its holiday Open House. We will be giving away holiday gifts, providing school & admissions information & free chair massage. Reserve your seat. Lauterstein-Conway Massage School, 4701-B Burnet Rd. Details: 374-9222 www.TLCschool.com
Dec. 13 Sa 10am free Healing the Wounds of Grief, Loss & Addiction: Recovery is a journey that can take us to new & unexplored places in our souls. This workshop will help you become aware of how grief & loss often keep us from connecting fully with the world around us & experiencing the joys that recovery can offer. Divorce, death of a loved one, life changes that often feel like the end of our world, can sometimes become the beginnings of new ones. Part of a monthly workshop for the recovery community 2nd Sa each month. Registration not required. Austin Recovery, 8402 Cross Park Dr. Details: 697-8528 <cwilson@AustinRecovery.org> www.AustinRecovery.org.
5 Austin-Area Hospitals Recognized For Quality Cardiac & Stroke Care: The American Heart Association & American Stroke Association have recognized 5 Austin-area hospitals for performance in treating cardiac & stroke patients using the association’s Get With The Guidelines program. The 5 facilities are among the more than 500 hospitals featured in an advertisement in the recent “America’s Best Hospitals” issue of US News & World Report. The honored Austin-area hospitals are Seton Medical Center of Austin, University Medical Center at Brackenridge, Heart Hospital of Austin, North Austin Medical Center & St. David’s Round Rock Medical Center. Details: 433-4041 www.americanheart.org/getwiththeguidelines.
American Cancer Society’s Video Community: SharingHope.tv will help connect cancer survivors, their friends & family members thru the sharing of user-generated videos, photos, music & artwork. It allows users to create an account & upload content to tell their cancer stories. Visitors to the site can share or find hope & inspiration in the fight against cancer. Details: 659-4687 www.SharingHope.tv.
Austin Regional Clinic Offers Resources on its web site that will help the Greater Austin community navigate thru the confusing claims of complementary & alternative therapies. In addition to the extensive information on herbs & vitamins, it also covers diet, exercise, fitness, nutrition & allergy & immunology. Details: Heidi L. Shalev 421-4811 www.austinregionalclinic.com/special/natural_standard.htm.
Be a Hero: Learn CPR: The American Heart Assn. CPR program teaches you to save lives. With basic CPR training, you can keep a friend alive while EMS rushes to the scene. Details: 1-877-AHA-4CPR.
Free Chiropractic Care for Veterans of Afghanistan & Iraq: Rick Dowell, DC, of Central Chiropractic has answered the call of the International Chiropractic Assn. & is offering to care for 1 full year for any US military veteran returning from overseas deployment to Afghanistan & Iraq as they strive to recover & restore their lives physically, mentally, emotionally & spiritually. 3001 N. Lamar Blvd. Suite 201. Details: 477-1020 www.central-chiropractic.com.
HART Program: Announcing Waterloo Counseling Center’s HART Program; HIV/AIDS Responsive Therapy to provide talk therapy to individuals or families living with HIV/AIDS; fees based on sliding scale to go as low as free; home, off-site & hospice visits; bilingual counselors available. 3000 S. I-35, Ste. 315. Details: 444-9922 www.waterloocounseling.org.
Helpingpatients.org is an on-line database to help patients without prescription drug coverage gain access to user-friendly information about more than 1,400 medicines offered free thru patient assistance programs sponsored by the pharmaceutical industry. People who need help in obtaining medicines can go to the web site, complete an on-line form & receive a list of programs for which they may qualify. Details: Claude Gruener 479-5080.
Hope for Heroes: Free Counseling for Military Families: The Samaritan Center for Counseling & Pastoral Care has been awarded a $301,805 2-year grant to provide confidential, professional counseling services at no charge to military personnel &/or their family members who are struggling with a wide range of mental & behavioral health needs as a result of service in Iraq or Afghanistan. Applicants must live in Central Texas in the area bounded by Georgetown to the north & San Marcos to the south, including Cedar Park, Leander & Bastrop. To make an appointment or for more information, call the Samaritan Counseling Center. Details: 451-7337 www.sccset.org.
Lifeline Provides Free Bilingual Case Management Services for Women Experiencing Unplanned Pregnancies: Marywood Children & Family Services, a private social service agency, offers services to pregnant women & their families in Central Texas. Client services include education & information about prenatal care, child development, connection to community resources & developing personal resources for a better life for both mother & child. Call to schedule an initial appointment. 4029 S. Capital of Texas Hwy. in Brodie Oaks Plaza. Details: 472-9251.
Local Expert Named Fellow of the International Lactation Consultant Association: Barbara Wilson-Clay, co-founder of the Texas Chapter of Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies & the nonprofit Mothers’ Milk Bank at Austin, has been named a Fellow by the International Lactation Consultant Association (ILCA). This is the highest honor bestowed by the organization. The Fellow of ILCA program was instituted to recognize leaders & mentors in the field of lactation consultation. Those selected have made significant contributions to the profession of lactation consulting & to their professional organization. Wilson-Clay holds positions of leadership & serves as a volunteer & role model for others. Details: Gretchen Flatau 494-0800 www.mmbaustin.org.
Lung Health & Quit Smoking Hotline: The American Lung Assn. offers free access to nationwide call center that provides answers about lung health from trained healthcare professionals or referrals to local medical facilities & specialists. Topics: asthma, emphysema, chronic bronchitis, COPD, influenza, pneumonia, lung cancer, sarcoidosis, tuberculosis, air quality, allergies; & tobacco & smoking cessation. All calls handled by registered nurses, registered respiratory therapists & quit-smoking specialists. 7am-6pm M-F or submit questions at web site. Details: 1-800-548-8252 www.texaslung.org.
Online Organ Donor Registry: The Texas Department of State Health Services has launched a revised on-line organ donor registry to make it easier for Texans to register as organ, tissue & eye donors. Web site has information about organ donation & instructions for registering online. Registration on-line takes less than 5 minutes. Donor information is protected. Only authorized organ procurement organizations & tissue & eye banks can access registrant information. Details: 458-7400 www.DonateLifeTexas.org.
The Seton Family of Hospitals’ GoodHealth.com: The web site offers Central Texans a complete on-line medical encyclopedia, healthy recipes from HEB, weekly fitness tips from RunTex, up-to-date healthcare news, a healthy living event calendar & much more. For everything Central Texans need to know about mind-&-body, fitness & nutrition. Details: www.goodhealth.com.
Two New Community Blood Centers Open: The Blood Center of Central Texas strives to provide the opportunity to save lives to every eligible blood donor in Central Texas. Two new community blood centers have opened to better serve donors in those areas. Details: 206-1108 <email@example.com> www.inyourhands.org/cbc.php.
• Cedar Park, 920 N. Vista Ridge Blvd. (at FM 1431)
• Georgetown, 1015 W. University Ave. (Wolf Ranch Town Ctr.)
Tuesdays 1-3pm Tai Chi Class with Guy Forsyth: Free with a purchase at the café. Donations appreciated. Ruta Maya Café 3601-D S. Congress. Details: 707-9637 www.rutamaya.net.
Austin Ki Aikido Center: 1st class free. $60 for 4-week introductory course & $80 a month thereafter. Japanese martial arts training for mind, body & spirit offers 6-week introductory program that affords new students the opportunity to experience the range of teaching available & to determine how well classes meet their individual schedule. In keeping with the cooperative nature of the dojo (training hall), all instructors are volunteers. 8312 Burnet Rd. Ste. 107. Details: 459-9249 www.akac.org.
Tuesdays & Thursdays 12:30-1:30pm Taiji Qigong: A moving meditation for health & well-being. Relax & renew during your lunch break. 5515 Balcones Dr. Details: 420-9310 www.taohealthcenter.com.
Wednesdays & Thursdays free Zen Meditation Group: Seton Cove, an interfaith center for spiritual formation & renewal, invites silent meditation for 30 minutes & then discussion of Zen writings. Beginners encouraged to attend. Donations accepted. 3708 Crawford. Details: 451-0272 <firstname.lastname@example.org> www.setoncove.net.
• W 7:30-8:30am
• Th 5-6:30pm
Wednesdays 6-7pm Meditation, Prayer & Quiet Contemplation: Each week features a different aspect of both Eastern & Western spiritual traditions. Many spiritual books, inspirational music & helpful tools for devotions & contemplation are also available for your personal enrichment. The Summit Lighthouse of Austin, 1714 W. Anderson Ln. Details: 459-4135 www.summitlighthouse.org
Thursdays 7-8am free Prayer & Reflection: Seton Cove invites you to give yourself time for holy & mysterious thoughts as we share discussion & silence. Donations accepted. 3708 Crawford. Details: 451-0272 <email@example.com> www.setoncove.net.
Fridays 7:30-8:30am free Contemplative Prayer: Seton Cove invites you to spend an hour in group contemplative silence & sharing to help keep your soul alive. Seton Cove, 3708 Crawford. Details: 451-0272 <firstname.lastname@example.org> www.setoncove.net.
Sundays 5-6pm free Zhongtian Yiqi Meditation: A nonmoving qigong practice that trains the mind. As this practice quiets the mind, one is able to return to the beginning, to connect with heaven, earth & all of humanity. No experience necessary. Academy of Oriental Medicine at Austin, 2700 W. Anderson Ln. #204. Details: 492-3034 <email@example.com> www.aoma.edu.
Sundays 5-6pm free Zhikr-Sufi Chanting: Sufi Order of Austin welcomes beginners for chanting together, with readings & Sufi stories. Call before coming. 8400 Flagstone Dr. Details: Jan Stoddard-Smith 206-0227 <firstname.lastname@example.org> or Xvarnah D’Obrenovic 892-0584 <email@example.com> www.towardtheone.com.
Austin Zen Center: Soto Zen Buddhism, in the tradition of Shunryu Suzuki Roshi & San Francisco Zen Center. Daily meditation offered as well as classes, retreats & more; both beginners & experienced practitioners welcome. 3014 Washington Square. Details: 452-5777 www.austinzencenter.org.
Monthly Austin Duathletes Club Run: The Austin Duathletes meet monthly at RunTex Riverside for a coached track, hill, or tempo workout. Details: Panther <firstname.lastname@example.org> www.austinduathletes.com.
Mondays 6:30pm free Austin Runners Club Monday Night Run: Meet for weekly group run with various paces. Distance is 4-5 miles & hilly. Carry your own water. Murchison Middle School parking lot, 3700 North Hills. Group leader Matt Swinney. Details: Matt <email@example.com> www.austinrunners.org.
Wednesdays 5:30 & 5:45pm free Barton Creek Greenbelt Runs: Hill Country Trail Runners meet 5:30pm for Gazelles, 5:45pm for Slow Pokes, at Hill of Life. Gazelles run 7-10 mile loops, Slow Pokes take the 7 mile loop. There is no drinking water on the trail. Water crossings on a seasonal basis. Details: Gazelles: <firstname.lastname@example.org> Slow Pokes: <email@example.com> www.hillcountrytrailrunners.com.
Wednesdays 6:30pm free Austin Runners Club Group Run: Meet at Schlotzsky’s Deli, 5105 Balcones Woods Dr., for runs of various paces & distances. Group leader Cheri Woldt. Details: Cheri <firstname.lastname@example.org> www.austinrunners.org.
Saturdays 7am free Austin Runners Club: Al’s Ship of Fools Morning Run: Meet zero-mile marker on Town Lake Trail, south shore by gazebo at Auditorium Shores, just west of the 1st Street Bridge, for a run of various paces & distances, some on Town Lake Trail, some in hilly residential areas. Group leaders Al & Sandy Cumming <email@example.com> Details: www.austinrunners.org.
Saturdays 7am Paul’s Twenty-Six-Two Long Run: Meet Lake Austin Asthma & Allergy Clinic, 2203 Lake Austin Blvd. Note: Runners should not park in that lot, but park nearby & meet in the parking lot. This is a beginner’s long run group that takes in distances of 5 to 20-plus miles. Group leader Paul Carmona. Details: <firstname.lastname@example.org> www.austinrunners.org.
Dec. 5 F 7:30pm McDonald’s Lights of Love 5K: Join this inaugural event presented by Temple-Inland. Includes both a chip-timed 5K run for competitive runners & a family friendly event for all ages. Fun starts 5pm with music for kids by the Biscuit Brothers, giant tent full of games, arts & crafts, & photos with Santa & Ronald McDonald. Post-race snacks & music by the Austin Jazz Workshop. Race starts 7:30pm. All proceeds benefit the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Texas. Mueller Hangar, off Airport Blvd. Details: 472-9844 www.mcdonaldslightsoflove.org.
Dec. 6-7 Sa-Su 7:30am Run Like the Wind: This 3 mile run, with or without a dog, also includes distance runs from 3 hours to 24 hours, including relays. Benefits the Schrodi Training Fund, overseen by Animal Trustees of Austin, to help owners who can’t afford the cost of training to be able to train & keep their dogs rather than turn them over to rescue groups or shelters. 3-mile runs start 7:30am, 8:15am & 9:30am, depending on pace. Multi-distance race starts 11am. Lee Mannix Center for Canine Behavior, 6901 Old Bee Caves Rd. Details: Sam Voltaggio 626-2763 www.lmccb.com/RunliketheWind.htm.
Dec. 6 Sa 8:30am Lifetime Reindeer Run 5K: This is a fast course thru the streets of North Austin, part of the Toys for Tots program. Come help Marines give children happy holidays. Details: Brad Davison 350-9178 <email@example.com> www.lifetimefitness.com.
Dec. 7 Su 7:30-8am ARC Decker Challenge Half-Marathon, Half Marathon Relay & Double Decker Marathon: The Austin Runners Club hosts its 30th Annual Decker Challenge. This famously hilly race will be held at Decker Lake, with rural scenery & high-quality technical fabric race shirts. All finishers will receive a medal. Options for half or full marathon. Water stops every other mile, with portable toilets along the course. Marathon starts 7:30pm, Half Marathon & Relay start 8am. 7311 Decker Ln. Details: http://decker.austinrunners.org/ARCDeckerInfo.html.
Dec. 7 Su 8:15am Brown Santa 5K & Kids K: The Travis County Wellness Committee & Austin Runners Club hosts these events at the Travis County Expo Center with proceeds benefitting the Brown Santa program. 5K starts 8:15am, Kids K 10am. All participating kids will get a T-shirt & medal upon completing the race. A Wellness Fair & Expo will take place in the Expo Center banquet hall. Details: 854-9584 www.tcsheriff.org/brownsanta5k.html.
Dec. 13 Sa 9am Jingle Bell 5K for St. Judes: This is the 16th annual 5K to support the St. Judes Ranch for Children, a program providing shelter for young children. Race begins & ends in Landa Park, New Braunfels. Post-race festivities include food & beverages with prizes & entertainment. Come with your jingle bells on. Details: Scott Wood 830-708-2991 www.nbrunclub.com.
Dec. 13 Sa 10am Born to Run XC Fun: All school-age children are invited to run Cross Country Fun. Start times 10am for 14 year olds & older and in increments afterwards for younger kids. 5-7 year olds will run 1K, 8 & older a full mile. Details: Sunshine Webster 639-0978 www.runtex.com/web/2-2260.asp.
Dec. 14 Sun 9am Jingle Bell 5K Benefitting MADD: This year the event has moved from downtown to The Domain, featuring a great route & more festivities than ever. Details: Jackie Collett 445-4976 www.maddjinglebell5k.com.
Jan. 1 Th 11am Resolution Run 2009: This certified 5K winds thru the Brushy Creek neighborhood, with chip timing. Doughnuts & coffee before the race & black-eyed peas, bananas, oranges, bottled water, coffee & hot chocolate after the race. Awards to winners in all age groups & correct-size T-shirts to all early registrants. 16321 Great Oaks Dr., Round Rock. Details: Mandy Lancaster 694-1446 www.resolutionrun2009.com.
Wednesdays 6:30pm Hill Country Inline Club: This nonprofit recreational fitness skating club encourages all levels, promotes skating & provides a safe, fun environment for skaters. Join us for the Weekly Back to Basics Skate. Veloway at Slaughter Creek Metropolitan Park, 6401 W. Slaughter Ln. Details: Nicole Fisher 292-9942 www.hillcountryinlineclub.com. Read a story about inline skating at www.goodlifemag.com/archives/2007/10-07/10-07_Get-Rolling.pdf.
Thursdays Dec. 4-18 5-7pm free Austin Skiers Happy Hour: Come mingle, socialize & have fun with old & new friends who are ski & sports enthusiasts. Wind down at this month’s elegant & classy destination. Cru Wine Bar, 11410 Century Oaks Terrace
Ste 104. Details: 339-9463 <firstname.lastname@example.org> www.austinskiers.org.
Dec. 9 Tu 6:30pm Austin Skiers General Meeting: The Austin Skiers December general meeting will be our annual Christmas Party. Meet friends & enjoy the spirit of the season. Free drinks & appetizers. Visitors welcomed. Riata Clubhouse, 12357 Riata Trace Pkwy. Details: 317-0014 <email@example.com> www.austinskiers.org.
Daily: Heart of Texas Overeaters Anonymous: 12-step program for compulsive overeaters, bulimics & anorexics. No dues, fees, or weigh-ins. Multiple meetings every day thruout Austin. Details: 327-2802 www.main.org/hotig.
Wednesdays 6:30pm free Hepatitis C Support Group: Patients & their families welcome. Hyde Park United Methodist Church 4001 Speedway. Details: Pam Seboldt 894-0646.
Fridays-Saturdays noon Al-Anon: Help for Families & Friends of Alcoholics: Why be alone? 601 Braker Ln. Details: For other meeting locations & times call 441-8591 www.texas-al-anon.org.
Fridays 6-8:30pm free Navigating Breast Cancer Together: Breast Cancer Resource Center of Austin provides this orientation program to give women newly diagnosed with breast cancer & primary support partners the information, tools & support needed to successfully navigate the breast cancer experience. Details: 472-1738 ext. 100 for reservations.
Saturdays 9am Compulsive Eaters Anonymous-HOW: 12-step program to help individuals recover from food addiction. Faith United Methodist Church 2701 S. Lamar, Alpha classroom. Details: Ana W. 912-7872.
Dec. 6 Sa 5:30pm free Lupus Foundation of America: Austin Support Group: Printed information on Lupus & Lupus-related disease offered, occasional guest speakers & open discussion of Lupus-related topics. Refreshments provided. Parking garage slip validated. Seton Medical Center, McFadden Conference Room, 1201 W. 38th St. Details: 653-4134 www.lupus.meetup.com/125/.
Adult Dyslexia Support Group: Usually meets 6:30-8:30pm 3rd Tu each month. The Scottish Rite Learning Center of Austin, which provides therapy at no charge to children with dyslexia & training for educators & therapists in Central Texas, formed this support group. The purpose is to share ideas, experiences & resources. Meetings will be facilitated by a clinical psychologist or clinical social worker. 1622 E. Riverside Dr. Please RSVP: Details: 472-1231 www.ScottishRiteLearningCenter.org.
Alamo Celiac, Gluten Intolerance Group: A support group for those with celiac disease & those on a gluten-free diet. Cambridge Towers, 1801 Lavaca. Details: Francie Kelley 301-2224 <firstname.lastname@example.org> alamoceliac.org.
American Cancer Society helps people with cancer & their families in every Texas community via a toll-free number 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Details: 1-800-ACS-2345 www.cancer.org.
Austin Lupus Support Group: Usually meets 6:30-7:30pm 1st Tu each month to provide support to patients & families. Also works to educate community & fund-raise. Gateway Church 7104 McNeil Dr. Details: Patti 217-6826 www.freewebs.com/austinlupus/home.htm.
Cancer Survivors Network: Located on the American Cancer Society’s web site cancer.org, the network unites people across the country, providing cancer survivors & caregivers with personal stories & discussions. Explore & contribute to Expressions Gallery, a compilation of survivor’s stories, poems & songs; start a personal home page, or find cancer information tools & databases. Details: 1-800-ACS-2345.
Captioned Media Program: Nonprofit program provides free-loan, open-captioned videos to deaf & hard of hearing. Open captions, like subtitles, provide info contained in the audio track. More than 4,000 videos available, Hollywood films, special interest & educational videos. Program is administered by the National Assn. of the Deaf & funded by the US Department of Education. Register & order videos online or from catalog. Details: 864-585-1778 (voice); 864-585-2617 (TTY); 864-585-2611 (fax) <email@example.com> www.cfv.org.
Phone Training for Speech-Disabled: Speak Up Texas!: Outreach program sponsored by Public Utility Commission of Texas. Increases awareness & use of Speech-to-Speech relay services. Training shows how to use operator to give as much help as necessary during a phone call when at least one person has speech disability. Overcome the fear of not being understood while using the phone & learn how to communicate more effectively. Works on communication strategies, skills & articulation. Services provided under contract with the PUC. Details: 1-8-SPEAK-UP-TX (1-800-325-8789) toll-free <firstname.lastname@example.org> www.speakuptexas.com.
RunTex Walking Program free: 10-week, self-paced program to lead people to activity & create a lifetime habit. Program eases you into walking & gradually increases the length of time & number of days spent walking. Visit RunTex web site at www.runtex.com, click on the link for “Walking Program,” & print out form. Color in each activity box as you complete it. When you’ve colored in all boxes, take form to RunTex for a prize.
Volksmarch: The Colorado River Walkers web site lists several self-guided walks you can take year-round in Austin, Georgetown, Pflugerville & Round Rock. All start at prominent public places & cover well described routes. Details: Stephanie Menteer 832-8546 <email@example.com> www.coloradoriverwalkers.org & click on the link for “Year Round Events.”
Tuesdays & Thursdays 8-9am free Women’s Walking: Women’s walking is part of the Las Mujeres program. We will warmup at the studio, go for a little walk & then stretch. Low-impact, slow workout. This class is geared toward ladies of all ages. If you feel out of shape or haven’t worked out in some time, this is the class for you. EsquinaTango, 209 Pedernales St. Details: 524-2772 <firstname.lastname@example.org> www.esquinatangoaustin.com.
Saturdays 10:30-11:30am $12 Salsa Aerobics: Move to the fun beat of Salsa Aerobics. Learn sexy footwork & flirty hips while you sweat. Available to all ages & all levels. $40/month. EsquinaTango,209 Pedernales St. Details: 524-2772 <email@example.com> www.esquinatangoaustin.com.
Women’s Self-Defense Classes: Turn fear & reactivity into an effective survival response. Simple & powerful movements help you learn awareness & avoidance skills, mental & emotional conditioning & escape strategies. Contact for dates & times. Austin Martial Arts Academy at The Hills Fitness Center, 4615 Bee Cave Rd. Details: 327-2900 www.austinmartialarts.com.
Monday-Thursdays $10-$15 Integral Yoga Hatha Classes: Classes consist of asanas (yoga poses), deep relaxation, pranayama (breathing practices), chanting & meditation. integral Yoga is suitable for complete beginners & is taught in an easeful, highly meditative manner. Students are guided to a deep level of physical & mental well-being, vitality & relaxation, promoting flexibility, strength & health. Instruction by Karly Branch, Karuna Kreps & Vimala Devi at ATMA Studio Centre, 1700 Ashby. Details: Vimala Devi 797-0018 www.netingenuity.com/yoga.
• M 5:30 & 7:15pm
• Tu-Th 5:30pm
Tuesdays-Saturdays: Hatha Flow & Vinyasa Yoga: With Pamela Brewer. Free with a purchase at the café. All levels. Bring a mat, some provided. Ruta Maya Café 3601-D S. Congress. Details: 707-9637 www.rutamaya.net.
• Tu & Th 9am
• W & F 8am
• Sa noon
Wednesdays Dec. 3-Dec. 31 7-8:15pm $15 (or pay what you can) Yoga for a Healthy Back: Yoga exercises to strengthen & stretch the low back. Remedy Center for the Healing Arts, 4910 Burnet Rd. Details: 452-6623 <firstname.lastname@example.org> www.austinyogaforhealth.com.
Wednesdays & Saturdays W 6pm, Sa 4:30pm $8 Yoga Classes with Nina Perales: Stretch, bend, breathe, sweat & smile. Nina will open your body & open your soul as she shares epiphanies of her day & challenges you to some strengthening yoga. Classes accessible to any level of experience & tends to be more movement & flow. Drop-ins welcome. All levels, all ages, all hearts, all minds. EsquinaTango, 209 Pedernales St. Details: 524-2772 <email@example.com> www.esquinatangoaustin.com.
Thursdays Dec. 4-18 11am-12:15pm $15 (or pay what you can) Yoga for Strong Bones: Yoga exercises to benefit those with (or at risk for) osteoporosis. Remedy Center for the Healing Arts, 4910 Burnet Rd. Details: 452-6623 <firstname.lastname@example.org> www.austinyogaforhealth.com.
Thursdays 6:30-7:45pm Hatha Yoga: Emphasizes building strength, increased flexibility & developing balance. Students of all levels are welcome. Breath, flow & adaptation of asana are emphasized to bring ease & a challenge to your asana practice. The Hills Fitness Center, 4615 Bee Caves Rd. Details: 327-4881 www.thehillsfitness.com.
Sundays 6-7:15pm pay-what-you-can to $15 All Levels Yoga & Meditation: Beginners welcome. Remedy Center for the Healing Arts, 4910 Burnet Rd. Details: 452-6623 <email@example.com> www.austinyogaforhealth.com.