PHOTOS: Have you spotted a bluebonnet like this before?

Contributed by Donna Williams

Does a bluebonnet of any other color smell as sweet? Or photograph as nicely in your family picture for that matter?

Contributed by Donna Williams
Contributed by Donna Williams

American-Statesman reader Donna Williams snapped a few photos of what she called “albino bluebonnets” in her backyard in Bulverde, which she calls “the front porch of the Texas Hill Country.”

Williams wrote of the striking white bluebonnets:

This 114-year-old picture shows bluebonnet photos are nothing new

“The rare, albino white bluebonnets are an anomaly created by Mother Nature and are the result of a mutation in one of the genes responsible for producing the blue pigment. If pollinated from nearby blues, they will most likely produce blue blooms next year. To produce white flowers, an egg with the white mutant gene has to be fertilized by pollen with the same mutant gene. Guess you can tell that I am pretty excited about finding these in my yard this year and I have been researching to learn about them!”

Austin veterinarians report increase in rattlesnakes biting dogs

Austin veterinarians have reported an increase in the number of dogs bitten by rattlesnakes this year, according to KVUE.

Jim Holcomb of Hill Country Animal Hospital told the station, “The snakes are coming out of hibernation, they’re cranky and are more likely to strike when other times they might try to avoid that.”


The story does not offer any specific figures to back the claim.

If you live in an area that is especially populated by rattlesnakes, some veterinarians recommend the Red Rock Rattlesnake vaccine, which helps dogs develop antibodies that can neutralize rattlesnake venom. Dogs have to be 16 weeks old to receive the vaccine. Although it can help slow any effect the venom has, it is still important to get your dog to the vet immediately if you suspect it has been bitten by a rattlesnake.

READ: Texas family’s toilet-snake surprise leads to discovery of dozens more

According to the Houston Chronicle, the recent hotter than usual weather has at least one upside: rattlesnakes rattle when its warmer, serving as the perfect warning for you and your best friend.

Austin Fire Department video shows lieutenant getting pie in the face

The Austin Fire Department had some fun with a well-known prankster at one of its fire stations recently.

While Austin fire Lt. Jerry Cohen gave an on-camera interview for the 100 Club of Central Texas, a firefighter sneaked up behind him and hit him square in the face with a pie tray full of shaving cream.

AFD posted a video of the prank to its Facebook today with the caption, “This is what happens to you when you’ve pulled this prank on others a few too many times!”

“Jerry is notorious for doing this to others, especially a fellow firefighter named Jack Morrissey who has since retired,” said Michelle Tanzola with the Austin Fire Department.

Cohen is clearly a good sport. “I deserved that,” he said with a laugh.


Austin’s Richard Overton, oldest living veteran, gets standing ovation at Spurs game

“Military City” honored one of Austin’s own last week during a San Antonio Spurs game.

During Thursday’s Military Appreciation Night, Richard Overton was presented with a custom camouflage Spurs jersey with his name and the number “110.” Overton, who served in the Army during World War II, is the oldest veteran in the U.S. at 110 years old. The Austinite was all smiles as the crowd of fans, military members, players and coaches gave him a standing ovation.

And no trip to the AT&T Center would be complete without a photo op with the team’s Silver Dancers.

Overton has lived in east Austin for about 70 years with his family, who recently set up a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for around-the-clock home care for him. In January, the Statesman reported that the campaign had exceeded its initial donation goals. As of this writing, the campaign has raised more than $167,000 with a goal of $200,000.

In 2013, Overton got to meet then-President Barack Obama. The veteran celebrated his 109th birthday with burgers and cigars in 2015.

PHOTOS: Richard Overton, country’s oldest WWII veteran

Take a look inside this West Lake Hills mansion with a ‘waterfall’ pool

Courtesy of

We all have dreams. Less traffic in Austin. A new iPhone. All of those are attainable, but here’s something that you’ll have to cough up a pretty penny to afford: An oh-so-gorgeous house in West Lake Hills. Look at that view you can stare at from those nice black chairs. Gorgeous. It also costs $6.8 million.

But the place sure is fancy. Take a look at those “artisan” walls. Don’t the fish look gorgeous as they try to swim above you while you sleep? What if they fall out of the wall and hit you with their slimy scales? But, you can see downtown from the window.

Courtesy of

And look at the beautiful negative-edge pool against the clear night sky.

READ: UFO houses, Tesla charging stations and 385 acres: What $9.24 million gets you at one Austin ranch 

Courtesy of

But hey, if you’re independently wealthy or have a trust fund, you can buy the place. It has 4,736 square feet of interior space opening up onto another 1,310 square feet of outdoor space. It apparently sits on one of the highest hills in the area with great views of the Hill Country and the city skyline. And with manicured lawns and mature oak trees, you’ll have the privacy to live happily ever after overlooking Austin.

RELATED: Austin-area housing outlook bright for 2017 

Woman finds ‘teeth’ in barbacoa tacos in Pflugerville

Are those… are those teeth?

That was one woman’s question after she found what she thought were teeth in barbacoa tacos ordered at Pflugerville restaurant El Rincon. According to San Antonio’s KENS5, Courtney Aguilar took to Facebook to share a picture of the tacos saying, “When you order barbacoa tacos but get teeth instead.”

The restaurant has since responded saying they get their barbacoa from a vendor. The vendor in turn responded clarifying that what the woman saw was actually cow lips.

OTHER BOVINE NEWS: Video shows runaway cow charging toward Temple officer

The San Antonio Express News’ food writer Mike Sutter confirms, “The reality is this: Barbacoa is a rough business. It starts with a whole skinned cow’s head, wrapped in burlap and baling wire and buried in a smoking hole in the ground overnight. In the morning, somebody with a sledgehammer opens up that skull and the harvesting begins: all the fatty and lean soft tissue from lip to crown. Sometimes the brains, sometimes the eyes, sometimes the tongue if it’s not being held out for lengua.”

Take a taco tour of Austin

Here are some of the Texas vanity plates rejected in 2017 so far

Vanity license plates are fun. But, if the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles has anything to say about it (and it does), not too fun. According to Houston’s ABC13, around 300 license plates have been rejected in the first two months of 2017.

Traffic on West Cesar Chavez Street in this view looking west from North Lamar Boulevard on Wednesday February 8, 2017. JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Here’s a list of proposed plates you won’t be seeing on a car anytime soon:

  • SLAY-N
  • WTF*87
  • SLO AF
  • D3Z NUT5

Instead of trying to creatively work the phrase “deez nuts” onto your license plate, you could consider putting your money toward a plate sponsored by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, the proceeds from which go to support the state’s environmental efforts.

Or you could reapply next year.

Is Austin home to millennial ‘slackers’? Yes, but not as much as other Texas cities

The Pew Research Center found last year that the current generation of 18-to-34-year-olds (millennials) are more likely to be currently living with their parents than to be living with a spouse or significant other, or living alone or with roommates, for the first time in 130 years.

From Flickr user Elizabeth Hahn. Used with Creative Commons license.

Apartment search site Abodo took that Pew data and found that 34.1 percent of millennials across America are still living under mom and dad’s roof. To understand why, Adobo looked at 16 metropolitan statistical areas (cities with populations over 1 million people) that exceeded the national average.

The results? Austin isn’t as much of a slacker city as you might think.

Related: I’m a millennial. I don’t need your participation trophy.

The Austin-Round Rock area landed at the bottom of Adobo’s list at No. 40, with 22.3 percent of the city’s millennials still living at home. That’s 11.8 percent below the national average. And, just 8 percent of Austin’s millennials are unemployed, compared to the 10 percent national average.

Austin millennials are also raking in more money than the national average, whether they live at home or not; those living at home took in $1,314 a month, while those living on their own or with other people took in $2,329 a month. Unsurprisingly, the housing market in Austin isn’t kind to millennials. They pay almost $200 more than the national average in median rent.

More: When it comes to this list of heavyweights, San Antonio is way ahead of Austin

The area with the highest population of millennials living at home is the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, Fla. area, with 44.8 percent of that area’s millennials living at home. The largest contingent of stay-at-home-kids in Texas is in the San Antonio-New Braunfels area, at 36.2 percent.

When it comes to this list of heavyweights, San Antonio is way ahead of Austin

The San Antonio Riverwalk is a great place for a stroll — or to sit down and have some drinks. Statesman file photo by David Kennedy

The great taco war between Austin and San Antonio may have ended in an uneasy truce, but there is an arena (perhaps related) in which San Antonio is clearly outclassing its rival to the north: Fattest Cities in America.

Yes, a recent WalletHub study of 100 of the most populated metro areas in the United States — which is populated by the FATTEST PEOPLE IN THE WORLD, WalletHub shames us with immediately … pssst, put down the doughnut, they’re looking at us … — has San Antonio-New Braunfels tipping the scales at No. 14. Hey, who needs to Riverwalk, when there’s all those places to stop for a cold beer or a frozen margarita?

Austin, perhaps thanks to all those fit people you see along Lady Bird Lake, is a comfortable No. 71 on a recent list of “Fattest Cities in America.” Statesman photo by Ralph Barrera.

Austin-Round Rock — tacos, barbecue and cupcake trailers notwithstanding — is comfortable at No. 71. Not bad, but not as cooly thin as hip destinations Miami (No. 77), San Francisco (No. 93), Colorado Springs (No. 96) or Seattle (No. 100 … must be all that coffee).

But San Antonio, don’t hang your heads on your double chins just yet — you are NOT the fattest city in Texas. No, that dubious honor goes to the McAllen-Edinburg-Mission metro area, which came in at No. 4 in the study. The news gets worse for McAllen, though. Analysts put the border city at No. 1 for “most obese adults” and “highest percent of physically inactive adults” and at No. 2 for “highest percent of diabetic adults.”

Other Texas cities ranked in the study are: the Houston metro area (No. 17), El Paso (No. 22) and the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex (No. 25).

And what cities beat out McAllen for the top 3 spots? That would be No. 1 Jackson, Mississippi; No. 2. Memphis, Tennessee; and No. 3 Little Rock, Arkansas.

Another recent WalletHub study put Austin at No. 22 for “Best & Worst Cities for an Active Lifestyle.” San Antonio sank into the “worst” part of the list, at No. 84.

Love books? Austin ranked best Texas city for readers

If you’re a book lover and you live in Austin, you’re in the right place, according a Texas book publication.

Lone Star Literary Life ranked Austin the No. 1 “bookish destination” in Texas. The publication noted Austin’s ties to the poet O. Henry (he lived here in the 1880s) and the “Philosophers’ Rock” sculpture at the entrance of Barton Springs Pool, which represents authors J. Frank Dobie, Roy Bedicheck and Walter Prescott, who used to gather at the pool for “Austin’s first literary salon.”

Red Carpet Books operates a popular booth along Congress Ave for people to shop for bargain prices during the Texas book Festival Saturday October 17, 2015. The Texas Book Festival celebrates 20 years bringing as one of the largest and most prestigious literary festivals in the country. The annual festival features over 250 nationally and critically recognized authors, exhibitors, live music, local food trucks, family activities, and countless opportunities to meet authors and fellow book lovers on the Texas State Capitol and surrounding grounds.

Another top reason why Austin’s great for readers? The Capitol City is home to the Texas Center for the Book, a nonprofit which supports promoting literature and literary programs throughout the state. Austin’s status as home to several universities is also a statement to its literary prowess: The University of Texas alone has 17 libraries, plus the Harry Ransom Center, which is home to the archive of Nobel Prize-winning author Gabriel García Márquez. Austin is also home to 20 public library branches offering books and education to citizens, and the new Faulk Central Library is set to open in May.

Of course, the list also mentions the Texas Book Festival which takes place in the fall in and around the Texas State Capitol. The festival, founded by Laura Bush, recently hosted appearances by Jenna Bush Hager, Lois Lowry, Diane Guerrero, Maria Semple and more award-winning writers and authors.

The marquee at BookPeople during a book signing event with Bruce Springsteen on Thursday December 1, 2016. JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

And a ranking of Texas book-friendly cities wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Austin’s bounty of independent bookstores like BookPeople, BookWoman, Malvern Books, Resistencia Bookstore, South Congress Books, Austin Books & Comics, MonkeyWrench Books, and Brave New Books. BookPeople, Austin’s largest independent bookstore, hosts more than 300 events every year, hosting authors and visitors like Bruce Springsteen, Hillary Clinton, Kenny Rogers, Wendy Davis and more.

PHOTOS: Bruce Springsteen at BookPeople in 2016

Austin’s not the only bookish area in Texas—also ranked in the top 10 (in order) are Houston, Dallas, Abilene, the Permian Basin, San Antonio, Fort Worth, the Rio Grande Valley, El Paso, and Angelina and Nacogdoches counties in East Texas. See the full list of “Texas’s Top Ten Bookish Destinations” here.