CROP Hunger Walk

Earlier this year, I volunteered my way into a two-day training event related to my day job. While there I met another volunteer who noticed how good I was at organizing the tables and handling last minute issues. When I told her I like doing this kind of thing: setting up tables, stuffing packets, getting people to the right classrooms, etc, she said she had the job for me and would be in touch.

A few months later, I am now helping her and a team of volunteers organize the 2014 Austin CROP Hunger Walk. CROP stands for Communities Responding to Overcome Poverty. CROP hunger walks are community fundraising events sponsored by Church World Service, and international relief, development, and refugee resettlement agency. More information can be found at

It’s exciting to me to see everything that goes into organizing a race or walk and even more exciting to meet the people I met in the kick off meeting. Bill Renfro led the meeting and is the founding member of CROP walk. He also, with the help of Martha Loer founded the Capital Area Food Bank. Martha also designed the food banks logo. In a sea of Church of Christ and Lutheran church representatives I got to meet the new Assistant Field Director for the Lousiana and Texas region, Rev. Susan Lassalle, a disciple! She literally just got into town and is on the look out for a Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) to call her new church home. What a lovely lady to chat with.


The Sam’s Workout

We buy groceries once a month, a third of which is bulk products from Sam’s Club. It’s easiest for me to do the Sam’s Club run on my lunch break so I tend to go into turbo mode. It’s a 15 minute drive from my office, and I usually have to stop at the credit union too (or Target or a gas station), which limits my shopping time to 30 minutes at the most.

Why would this be a workout exactly?

The “we need this every month” list:

  • Gatoraide (24 pack of 20oz. bottles)
  • Water (48 pack of 8oz. bottles)
  • Dr. Pepper (32 flat of 12oz. cans)
  • OJ (2 pack of 59oz. bottles)
  • Milk (2 gallons)
  • Apple Juice (2 2packs of 96oz. bottles)
  • Cereal (2 pack)
  • Diapers (148 count)
  • Wipes (768 count)

The “annual rotation” of needed supplies list:

  • Toilet paper (45 rolls; we buy every three months)
  • Kleenex (8 pack; we buy every two months)
  • Cascade (85 count; we buy every six months)
  • Garbage bags (33 gal 120 count; 13 gal 180 count; we buy once a year)
  • Paper towels (18 count; we buy every three months)

By the time I’ve picked up the drinks I’m easily pushing 50 lbs around in a cart at a safe but fast walking speed. Then there’s all the lifting involved too. The Dr. Pepper is usually stacked 4-5 feet off the ground and they prefer you place as many items as you can on the conveyor belt when checking out.

Then there’s the long haul back to the car, up a steep heel all the way at this particular location, then loading up the car too. I feel the burn after one of these workouts!

Interested in buying in bulk? I started out by setting aside $10-$20 each month and started a rotation. I would buy garbage bags one month, then toilet paper the next month, then Kleenex the next, and so on. It’s very rare that we need all of these items during the same month.

After that I started looking at what we were using the most. Milk is the real deal for sure. We were going through a gallon of milk a week. The Sam’s Club location I go to sold gallons of milk for $.50 cents cheaper than our local grocery store so I pick up 2 gallons every 2 weeks. The $2 I save on milk for the month more than takes care of the gas driving to the Sam’s.

Another big hit, my oldest takes a daily regimen of Claritin (and yes it had to be the name brand in his case) to keep his allergies and asthma at bay. I was shelling out $40 every month to Walgreens – at Sam’s Club I get a 40 day supply for $27. 

North Run Photos

This is the final segment in my photography project. The North side of my office is unknown territory, so again I was worried I would not find five interesting things along the way. But as it turned out I did find a few…

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Artwork on the side of a shop

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The other side of the Austin State Hospital Cemetery. An interesting fact about this place…see the handful of grave stones? It’s an odd illusion – the cemetery is nearly to capacity; the bulk of the grave stones are merely flat slabs of concrete impressed with the patient’s ID number that can not be seen from the road. The maintenance department has spent years researching patient records to tie names to each one.

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Most of the North side was a subdivision but two homes had out of the ordinary vehicles parked on the street.


Some may call it a storm drain but I prefer to look at it as a creek bed.

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Day Spring Chapel

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I loved this statue outside the Fonda San Miguel restaurant.

From completing these runs outside my usual territory I’ve learned why I love my usual running routes so much – it’s shady. All the other routes were in broad sunlight and either flat or consisted of one giant hill. Still, I did enjoy the change in scenery.

West Run Photos

This is the third installment of my photography project – running in four different directions and taking pictures of at least 5 interesting things I find. I must admit, I was very nervous about this one, after all I know what’s to the West of my office building…more state office buildings. I was pleasantly surprised at what I found along the way.


The Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired has a wonderfully remodeled campus which includes this sign on their main building. It may be “Braille for giants” as a friend noted once but I think it looks cool. An interesting tidbit about the coolness of this place – last year they entered their first team (of completely blind students) into the First Lego League robotics national competition and kicked some ass!

Sunshine Community Garden 3 Sunshine Community Garden 2 Sunshine Community Garden

The Sunshine Community Garden is just what the name implies, a collaborative project created by members of the community, who share both the maintenance and rewards of the garden.They also have a library available and regular plant sales. Recently volunteers built a few raised beds for gardening accessibly.

DARS Office Park 2 DARS Office park

The Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services has a nice and shady courtyard area beside the Criss Cole Rehabilitation Center.

Criss Cole Statue

And speaking of the Criss Cole Rehabilitation Center, they have a wonderful statue Judge Criss Cole, their namesake, who lost his sight while serving as a Marine during World War II. As a member of the Texas House of Representatives from 1955 to 1962 and the Texas Senate from 1963 to 1970, he was instrumental in improving services for all people with disabilities.

The Triangle Slew

The Triangle is an apartment complex built a few years ago on top of prime real estate. The $1300/month efficiency kind of place. I climbed up to a bridge that I drive by every day but never knew what was on the other side. Some may call this a park, a pond, or a water feature, but basically it’s a slew that was created from building the base of the apartments.

South Run Photos

Part two of my running photo project comes from the South side of my office building.

candle cactus
Candle Cactus – I do not know the official name of this cactus, but it commonly known as “Candle” cactus. A former co-worker of mine would cut pieces off, let it dry completely out and then use it as a pedestal to display geodes. When it dries out it appears like a cylindrical wood lattice.

Hyde Park Baptist's bricked in rose window Hyde Park Baptist Church
Hyde Park Baptist Church and Rose Window – This massive church is hard to pass by with out ogling at it. The rose window is from their old chapel and sadly bricked up. Unfortunately most ecumenical insurance companies require that your glass windows be covered with plexiglass OR you have to use colored plexiglass as the material for your stained “glass” windows.

Avenue F sidewalk
Narnia – I found myself running up on a shady character in the neighborhood several months ago and decided to take a turn down a different street. Lo and behold I found Narnia – shaded the whole way to the point where I turn around and double-back.

gabled house
Home – Along Narnia’s pathway I came across one of the many well-manicured lawns and this wonderful house with character.

decorative iron gate
Artistic gate – Another street I decided to take on a whim came with this great iron gate.

private pond
Private pond – Also along Narnia’s pathway is a private pond on yet another well-manicured lawn. This property is also a certified natural habitat, right in the middle town!

Shipe Park


Shipe Park – I love Shipe Park the most. We would take Chatterbox here to play after my neonatal appointments with Hugs. It has two pools, swings, basketball, tennis, and a playscape. When I run by it I always wonder what Chatterbox and Hugs are up to.

Fork Sign outside Hyde Park Bar and Grill
Hyde Park Bar and Grill – For the South Run Photo finale I have the Hyde Park Bar and Grill’s giant fork sign. It’s murder to have to run passed this place, wonderful smells!

East Run Photos

While I change up my running routes periodically, I stick to the same neighborhood near my office. As a photography project, I thought I might run in four different directions of my office and snap pictures of at least five interesting things I see on the route.

From my familiar east side route I found the following:

Elizabet Ney Museum

Elizabeth Ney Museum

Austin State Hospital Cemetery

Austin State Hospital Cemetery

Pride of Barbados

Pride of Barbados – these plants have been popping up all over Austin. They take full sun and are drought resistant. And I love the colorful blooms.

The Peddler Bicycle Shop

The Peddler Bicycle Shop – one of the best bike shops in Austin.

large metal rooster

Giant metal Rooster – these too have become increasingly popular, and not just roosters but armadillos, flamingos, and longhorns.

mosaic of a tree in concrete

Mosaic laid in the concrete of a walking path.

What’s in My Locker

I am fortunate to have access to a shower/locker room in the building I work in. This works out so well since the best time for me to fit in running is during my lunch breaks. When the temperatures start reaching into the 90’s and above, my lunch breaks get earlier and earlier in the day.

What do I keep in my locker?

running gear
yoga mat
jump rope
resistance band
dumb bells
bug repellent
My locker


My maternal great-grandparents were Irish; my sons and I have inherited every once of their Irish skin…yep we are as pale as pale could get with out actually being albino. We burn, peel, and are still pale. That coupled with my paternal grandfather having skin cancer as well as several friends and co-workers has made me the sunscreen fanatic.

Before every run and before playing outside, everyone gets lathered up with sunscreen. With the recent changes in federal law regarding sunscreen labels, I thought it would be a great time to write about the best out there while we’re in the height of summer. However, I came away almost more confused than I was before the new laws. I would always go with the highest SPF I could find and usually stuck to the “baby” friendly labels so the whole family could use it.

We had been using our local grocery store’s (HEB) brand, HEB Solutions Sunscreen labeled for kids, SPF 70+, tear-free, waterproof, and sweatproof. While looking for a replacement we selected the same brand, labeled for baby, sensitive skin, SPF 60 broad spectrum, and it’s supposed to dry as a powder, thus not leaving you with the greasy feeling. I thought that would be a good thing…no…it’s not a good thing. It doubles the application time because you really have to work it across your skin, it has a wonky smell to it, and when you do start to sweat, you get a nasty residue on your skin. Let me be greasy from now on!


Two articles I did find somewhat helpful are ASK THE EXPERT: Would it be better to use a product that combines insect repellent and sunscreen, or two different products by Pierre George, MD and How to Choose the Best Sunscreen – and Use It Well by Renee Despres. My take-away is that something is better than nothing, don’t skimp on coverage, and reapply frequently.

Locker #5

Locker #5
The infamous keeper of locker #5; no one knows her name, but knows what she looks like. She’s the one who showers with out drawing the curtain so the water pools into the floor. She’s the one who uses spray-on sunscreen that leaves a dangerously slippery mess on the floor in front of my locker. She’s the one who leaves a fine layer of talcum powder on the one bench in the locker room. She’s the one that hogs the one outlet and sink in the restroom even though there’s a line of us waiting behind her. Locker #5, on behalf of lockers #1-4 and #6-30, we have had it with your inconsiderateness and wish upon you a severe case of athlete’s foot.

Running Lessons Wrap Up 21-25

#21 Do not assume the driver stopped at the stop sign will wait for you to cross.

#22 Do not assume the driver will stop at the stop sign.

#23 Do not assume the pecans will crush under your feet. They can become improv roller skates at any moment.

#24 Austin, TX is diverse and “weird” (city slogan is “Keep Austin Weird”) enough that I can wear my WindXtreme headwear like a hijab and no one stares.

#25 Do not attempt your usual run after donating blood. I had not been able to run in a week an half; I was so excited to finally get back out but couldn’t figure out why my heart was racing and I felt so awful…I was so excited I actually forgot I had donated blood the day before.