I was invited to give a cactus presentation to the Highland Lakes Green Thumb group in Marble Falls last week. I had some interesting stops along the way and a fun surprise at the end of my talk which had a connection to Muleshoe. But of course, you’ll have to read to find out what it was! Ha.

On my route down to the Hill Country I pass through Sterling City. I saw an unusual yucca bloom in front the the Dairy Queen and decided to stop for a picture in hopes of identifying it later. Most yucca blooms have flowers up and down a single stem. I had not seen one in this shape before.


On down the road I go through San Angelo. Lo and behold, I pass another yucca! So, of course, I had no choice to but stop and take its picture, too.


The owner of the place of business where this  yucca grows happened to come out of the office about the time I pulled up. I introduced myself and my purpose for stopping, and Amber Pitcock graciously toured me around their xerically landscaped office building yard. We discussed the plant’s identification, used her phone plant app and came up with  Yucca rostrada , also called beaked yucca.

Amber’s  phone rang while we were discussing the yucca, and it turned out to be her daughter and son who were at their ranch working with show steers.  I caught the sound of a few panicky sentences on the other end of the phone and Amber’s serious comments followed, including “Can she breathe? Can she walk? Is she bleeding?” Amber gave me a side look and smiled and said, “Sorry. My daughter just got run over by a steer.”

Turns out the steer probably knocked the twelve year-old down and then walked over her, stepping on her shoulder. Not that it didn’t hurt, but Mom calmly assured the older son that she was forty minutes away and couldn’t help them very quickly anyway, and the fact that the daughter was not seriously hurt, well, everything was going to be okay. I had to smile; to this West Texas woman, this was all in a day’s work, much like mothers I know in Muleshoe.

My route to our house on Lake LBJ where I would stay also passes by Melvin, Texas, a tiny town of 179 citizens, according to the 2010 census. On previous trips, I would pass the city marker on Hwy 87 and look down the side road leading into the town which is visible from the highway. I say visible; there’s not much to see but round grain storage bins and an elevator. My curiosity got the better of me on one trip, so I turned off the highway to investigate. Dirt streets and sad falling down buildings, but a big feed store and the grain bins were  busy.


Fast forward to a rerun of  the TV food show, Good Taste with Tanji,  which featured a meal at Jacoby’s Feed and Seed in Melvin. Well,  on this trip I had not eaten lunch when I got to Melvin, and knowing now that a good meal could be had at that feed store, I decided to give it a try.


I think the chicken fried steak was the meal spotlighted on the Tanji show, so that’s what I ordered. And then the waitress set before me this plate of food that would have fed Coxey’s Army, as my mother used to say! The steak was nice and tender with no gristle, so I chowed down. But I did ask for a to-go box. And no, that black dot on the toast is not a fly!

screenshot of foodIMG_3313

The next day was my presentation, which went well. Forty-plus people showed up at the Marble Falls Public Library for the talk, a good group.


I took some starter plants to give as door prizes, so everyone was asked to put their names on a slip of paper for the drawing. After the talk, I answered some questions and then drew the names for the door prizes. When I pulled out the last slip of paper, I looked down and saw the name. Linda Tanksley. What? I know a Linda Tanksley! Sure enough, there she sat at the back of the room having fun watching my reaction to her surprise visit. For those of you not from Muleshoe, Linda and I taught at the high school together before her family moved to Brenham,  so yes, we knew each other.


We caught up on each other’s lives and enjoyed the short visit. She bought a copy of The Bright Lights of Muleshoe and had a new plant to take home. And I got a fun encounter to tell a story about. What a deal!

I then drove to Kyle to see AJ, Erin, Maya, and Ben for a quick visit and supper, which was a good idea until the car air conditioner started blowing hot air! It’s about a 90 minute drive to AJ’s from Marble Falls, and it was 105 degrees that afternoon, so it no doubt just worked itself into a heat stroke. I managed to survive with the windows down, had a good visit and supper with the family and left Kyle in time to beat the sunset driving back to the lake. But when I left the house, just to see what would happen, I turned the A/C back on, and it worked! By then it was only 100 degrees, and the car had had a chance to cool off, so there you go.

When I got home the next day-and the air conditioner worked like a champ, thank you, Guardian Angel !-and toured that same cactus bed I had just shared in the power point presentation, I discovered I may well have one of the beaked yuccas I was fascinated with on the trip! I always thought it was a Dasylirion texanum, a sotol.  I had always wondered why it was growing taller than the sotol I do have. Apparently it is not old enough yet to have bloomed, which would make it easy to identify,  even though it’s pretty big by now. But I will continue to be patient and hopeful that one of these days I will come out and be surprised by that triangle of flowers.


It could happen!

Thanks to Amber Pitcock for helping me identify this yucca, letting me wander around her yard, and sharing the kids and steer story, and Linda Tanksley for attending the meeting!