Troutbirder II

Troutbirder II
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Thursday, January 21, 2021

Alaskan Diary - Part III

"Ghastly grim and ancient raven wandering from the Nightly shore-
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night's Plutonian shore!
Quoth the Raven, 'Nevermore.'
Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning- little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blest with seeing bird above his chamber door-
Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
With such name as 'Nevermore.'
Ghastly grim and ancient raven wandering from the Nightly shore-
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night's Plutonian shore! Quoth the Raven, 'Nevermore.'
Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning- little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blest with seeing bird above his chamber door-
Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
With such name as 'Nevermore',"
Edgar Allen Poe

Having just had a picnic lunch along a crystal clear Yukon lake, I was discoursing to my companions on the ugliness of a large raven, who had loudly joined the conversation, while perched upon a dead pine, next to the pathway. "Not at all," noted a stranger headed in the opposite direction, picnic basket in hand. "We here in the Yukon think them quite handsome as they are our territorial bird." A little nonplussed at my own apparent discourtesy, I managed to reply by pointing out that we were from Minnesota, where our state bird was the loon. "Ah" he said nodding sagely. "We have one of those buggers on our bills. Loonies we call them," and continued on down the path. You can't make these things up.....

The road from Ft. Nelson to Muncho lake sees the landscape turn from something akin to looking like a vast gravel pit to the wild and expansive vistas that make this a mightly wilderness. The Yukon Territory: Land of the Raven
Our companions Gary and Rosie enjoying the vast vistas. The road began to rise to the heights of Stone Mountain, where naturally we saw stone sheep grazing near and on the highway.

Several grizzly bears were spotten in nearby in the ditchs, as well as a black bear trailed by her cubs. Fortunately photographer Mrs. T. kept the window rolled up.....

It was early June and wildflowers could be seen everywhere. When you see bears though caution rules against heading to far away from the roadway.
It was a rare occurence when I saw more than one car or truck at a time ahead or behind. I love this kind of driving.
Next: The Laird River and Hot Springs

Friday, January 8, 2021

Troutbirders Heroes From The Past

More than a year ago now I attended a book talk at our local library presented by New York Times best-selling author William Kent Krueger. It was wonderful and I even got to talk to him personally. His theme was how  our very early childhood experiences with books often touched and changed our lives. Particularly so when our parents read books from authors like Dr. Seuss to us.  Perhaps the following post about some of my early heroes relates to Krueger's theme.
From birth to five years of age during World War II my parents and I lived in an apartment on the east side of St. Paul. I have few memories of those years except for Connie Hansen who was my age and we played in the sandbox together on Earl Street. And on 4 July that year during the fireworks at Lake Phalen I wandered off in the night among the crowds and frightened both myself and my mother. The highlight though was several times a week when my grandpa Potthoff stopped at Basta’s bakery around the corner and brought me a Bismarck. At the University and in graduate school I chose Prince Otto von Bismarck to write one of my three plan B thesis for European history. 


Prince Otto von Bismarck was a wealthy landowner from Germany’s most militaristic State. As a young officer he rose through the ranks of the Prussian military, eventually to a leadership position in the government. He served two  Kings of Prussia who were more interested in parties and womanizing rather than the stern business of governing. Bismarck rose in Parliament to become chancellor and lead Prussia to win a series of wars, which led to the unification of more than 30 German states into a new nation called Germany. With that accomplishment Bismarck became the peacemaker of Europe by promoting cooperation and friendship among the various nations of Europe. To his credit he created the first system of social security within the German Empire and anywhere in Europe. His desire was to forestall the working people of Germany from turning to Marxist communism. It worked. It was 40 some years before FDR and the New deal brought a similar plan to America. Unfortunately, our social safety net is now at risk with the Republicans determined to trash it. And the Bismarck pastry which I still love, unfortunately, with the closing of our small town bakery will no longer be available. How sad.Bissmarck first a war hero and unifier and later the leaedeer who kept Europ at peace for decades, I like that.....

My second hero’s name is Teddy. His face along with that of Lincoln, Washington, and Jefferson can be seen on Mount Rushmore. My grandparents put Theodore’s name in the middle of my father’s names. My dad was born in 1909 and I have the same middle name and named our first son Theodore. His legendary story can be found in many good biographies and history books. Both he and Lincoln were Republicans and two of our greatest presidents. I parted ways with the an acquaintance  after he called my hero a R. H. I. N. O. (Republican In Name Only). Insult my heroes at your own peril.Oh and beside leading the charge up St Juan Hill, winning the Pulitzer Peace prize , seeing the Panama canal built, being a coyboy in NORTH DAKOTA HEAD OF POLICE  IN NEW YORK CITY, BROKE UP MONOPOLIES,     AND WAS THE FIRST PRESIDENT TO FLY IN AN AIRPLANE. HE ALSO WA A GREAT WRITER OF BOOKS AND MAGAZINE ARTICLES


Sir Lancelot of the lake. It is no accident that our son Ted’s middle name was Lance and so is my eldest grandson Ethan’s. As you may recall Barb’s mission was to raise our two sons in the Catholic faith. My mission was to do my best to mold them with strength of character, bravery and good morals. Sir Lancelot was King Arthur’s number one knight of the roundtable. He rescued fair damsels in distress from dragons and all danger. He was the bravest knight of them all. So when our friend Stacy told me of the elderly lady staying in her home at night because of  a marauding pack of a rat-like opossums taking over her trailer home in Spring Valley’s slum district, what could I do but try solve the problem? Actually I did with the help of my large raccoon trap. Our eldest son Ted climbed out on a four story ledge to bring to safety a student  inside while a drunken crowd of college students below taunted the young man to jump into his death below.  Ted also, also pulled a   high school friend to safety from in the middle of the St. Croix River. And then her youngest son Tony and his wife brought 2 children to America from Africa and later from Haiti shortly after the earthquake where she was found after three days still alive but buried under the rubble of a collapsed orphanage. And B. T. W.   I still like to open and close car doors for ladies even though it doesn’t seem to be very fashionable anymore.
Last but not least is Julius Caesar. I read his book, though not in Latin, titled the Gallic wars. Veni, Vidi, Vici.  I came. I saw. I conquered. He was indeed the greatest Roman of them all. Future empires named their rulers after him. The German Kaiser. The Russians Czar. And others. My son named after Marc Anthony (Tony) , Whose eulogy of Julius Caesar Shakespeare began with the words “friends Romans, countrymen lend me your ears. I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him. The evil that men do lives after them;. The good is oft interred with ...” He was loved by his men, set goals and achieved them and changed a failing Republic into an empire that lasted for over 500 years. And of course my favorite summer month July is named after my hero.
Again I’m reminded of what William Kent Krueger said in his recent appearance at the Spring Valley library, that the stories and legends of our youth often sets for us as young children the goals and ideals that help to make us who we are. I believe that can be true for all children if they have good role models and heroes to worship. It is unfortunate that today many of our children’s role models are  celebrities including singers and some athletes who are worthy only of our disgust………My mom led  me to read books as a young boy and there I found my heroes including Lou Gehrig Boy of the sandlots and all American football player Doak Walker of SMU a Methodist like me.💪  

Saturday, January 2, 2021

Geography Quiz

It's been quite a few years now since Barb MrsT and I  went over to our friends, Steve and Jewels, farmhouse to pick them up . Fact is both Steve and Barb have since gone to a better place. Back then we had headed off to Pikes Peak. It’s a fairly long drive from Bluff Country (southeastern Minnesota) but we left early in the morning. We stopped for lunch at a Red Robin before arriving at our destination about 1:30 in the afternoon. From the top we looked out over a vast and beautiful landscape. Take a look.
Later, after dinner at Brietbach’s, the oldest restaurant in the State, we headed home arriving there about 9:00 P.M. the same day.
The test question is "how did we do it in one day?" I’ll give one hint: Yes, it’s true, I did get a speeding ticket ( 73 mph in a 55 mph zone). It’s not a regular practice on my part as this was the first ticket in several decades. There are no prizes for answering the question correctly except for the knowledge that you are in the top tier of American geographers. Did you know that Iowa has its own Pikes Peak? It was Named after the same explorer, and that theirs was there first? That’s right, as Zebulon Pike was moving westward, he stopped in Iowa, and the place where he viewed the area from a bluff high above the Mississippi River is now named after him. He identified the bluff, about 400 feet above the Father of Waters as a good site for a potential fort. Perhaps then it looked like the following painting when he was there. That's the Wisconsin River entering across the valley.

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

The Golden years


Today I was in a shoe store that sells only shoes, nothing else. A young girl with green hair walked over to me and asked, "What brings you in today? I looked at her and said, "I'm interested in buying a refrigerator." She didn't quite know how to respond, had that deer in the headlights look.


 I was thinking about old age and decided that old age is when you still have something on the ball, but you are just too tired to bounce it.


 When people see a cat's litter box they always say, "Oh, have you got a cat?" I just say, "No, it's for company!"



Employment application blanks always ask who is to be called in case of an emergency. I think you should write, "An ambulance."



The easiest way to find something lost around the house is to buy a replacement.



 The sole purpose of a child's middle name is so he knows when he's really in trouble.


 Did you ever notice that when you put the 2 words "The" and "IRS" together it spells "Theirs?"


 Aging: Eventually you will reach a point when you stop lying about your age and start bragging about it.


 Some people try to turn back their "odometers." Not me. I want people to know why I look this way. I've traveled a long way and a lot of the roads were not paved.




Ah! Being young is exciting but being old is comfortable.


 Lord, keep your arm around my shoulder and your hand over my mouth!


 May you always have:


Love to share,


Cash to spare,


Tires with air,


And friends who care.














Sunday, December 13, 2020

Cats and dogs

Cats and dogs

Well, dear fellow bloggers, it seems as though my prediction that icy cold Minnesota weather and my vertigo would limit my nature photography and blogging. Thus Troutbirder has ventured into more personal domains and even the occasional rant. Today I present cats and dogs. A somewhat controversial subject.

As the picture shows dogs are well disciplined by their masters. Cats on the other hand are either brave or foolish in the face of a potential enemy. Also wildly independent.
I begin by noting Mrs. T and I had a beloved house cat for 18 years named Simba. Previous to that two other cats named Tiger and a black cat named after a black revolutionary.  Unfortunately, both were run over by a neighbor on the road behind our house chasing endangered birds. We also had four hunting dogs and two German shepherds, Baron and now Lily.
As this picture indicates German Shepard dogs and other breeds can be organized into teams. As individual they would have a much more difficult time and often can't survive without humans. But working as a team they can be dangerous predators killing large animals like deer. 

It seems a librarian and I disagreed about the merits of dogs and cats. She would relentlessly prove the superiority of cats over dogs in hundreds of ways. A typical example was that dogs had Masters. Cats had staff. My response to that was the fact that dogs were domesticated somewhat earlier than cats. Thus cats were closer in their behavior to the wild. Cats for example are great and skillful predators. Killing mice in a useful manner and endangered birds to the detriment of that species.
 Our experience with giant Baron and Simba was relatively peaceful. They often slept in the same room and basically tolerated each other. When Simba was sitting on the sofa or a chair she would whack him with her paws. He tended than to go someplace else to lay down. And the other hand when Simba jumped down to the floor Baron began his herding/chasing act so Simba would jump up to higher ground so she could take a defensive position. They never got To a cat/dog fight. :-)

Dogs are much less predatory except when in packs. So as the cat advocate continued to educate me on the superior merits of felines, I finally retaliated. It seems likely I pointed out that in case I was walking in the woods and died of a heart attack, my loyal dog would lick me trying to save me. After that proved fruitless he would likely remain at my side for a long period of time guarding my body. On the other hand, in the same circumstance involving you and your cat I would give your beloved cat a maximum of an hour before it would start eating you. In that manner, unfortunately, I rested my case.

Thursday, December 3, 2020

D day June 6, 1944 the climactic battle war II nice Stephen Ambrose with a brief message from Troutbirder to the ladies and a few men as well

Stephen Ambrose is one of those American authors who turned history books and those boring high school history texts into readable and exciting history/stories that the general public came to like and read as bestsellers.. They even told where there accurate information came from without all of those footnotes that slowed the excitement down. Many were turned into movies again because the words made the deeds and the people come alive Ambrose's specialty was including the broad views of the events and the consequences but the focus was on individuals whether they be famous heroes like Thomas Jefferson and Meriwether Lewis in Undaunted Courage or the little & unknown people who had their own stories to tell.  This was made possible because he read their letters and diaries and often when possible spoke to them individually.   D-Day book has the facts and figures of largest events/and projects ever created by several nations at war but the stories ordinary ranks told the  to the author that makes it real and brings it alive. 

If men are from Mars and women are from Venus & you Venusians have gotten this far, I'm sure you're already saying this is not a book I would ever consider seriously reading, some of you have even told me when I reviewed dog books like Marley  that you won't read them because the dogs always die in the end that's often true. My personal analogy to all of that is for a long time I wouldn't read books about the Holocaust for obvious reasons, but I did teach about it in my history classes and later when I found out there were more than at few deniers who said it never happened, I began to read many books about  it. So we must  never  forget so it never would happen again. but it has in several cases like that of my grandson Leo' Leo who was born in the country of Rwanda where a Holocaust did happen and the Western nations said it would never happen again were wrong mostly because it happened in Africa  and who cared/? &our lame duck President called a bunch of shithole  countries 

Okay I was invited to join Spring Valley ladies book club probably because of what I read which is I will try anything and I do so. I suppose I'm known for more than one reason as their diversity guy .

Give -Day a chance, you might not totally like it because war is hell as a famous Civil War general said but above and beyond that right now you need to read it right and I'll tell you why here and now we are in a democracy the worst form of government Churchill once said except for all the rest. these governments rests on the notion of the rule of law above any leader. They always have a

form of the Constitutional law            whereby the people vote and choose their leaders

     This book is based on the oral histories of 1,400 men who were involved in D-Day. The majority of the book deals with one 24 hour period. Midnight, June 5/6 until midnight June 6/7. I learned about D-Day growing up. Mostly this was facts and figures. I have seen several movies about D-Day. Some were good. With the exception of a few names such as Roosevelt, Churchill, Eisenhower, and Montgomery I didn't know the people involved in one of the most historic events of the 20th century. In this book you get to meet and know some of the men who were there. Citizen soldiers as Ambrose refers to them. They were the children of the Great Depression. For many of these men it was their first time in combat. I call them men but many were teenagers. In this book you meet a 15 year old (he lied about his age in order to enlist) and a 16 year old. No matter their age they were men. This is not an easy read. It is full of military terms and acronyms. I often had to flip to a map in order to try an orient myself to the events taking place. I am glad I was reading the hardback version so that I could do this easily. There were many times in the book when the horrors of war were vividly brought home. Many of the soldiers, sailors, and airmen who were involved suffered grievous wounds and continued to fight. Even those who did not suffer a physical injury saw things that stayed with them and can only be described as a living hell. They did not come as invaders. They were there to liberate. There have been many movies about D-Day and they can be entertaining but to really learn about this day in history and appreciate the men who made this happen I would recommend reading this book. And as I found the book at Goodwill and began reading it was perfectly timed simultaneously  with our countries recent decline. When I watched the evening news and realized that for four years the man who lived in the White House revered dictators who challenge freedom in the world called our soldiers losers and suckers and after our recent exercise of democracy challenge the very principle of people voting and the norms around peaceful exchange power .yes D-Day can perhaps remind us as far back as the colonists who risked  all to be free with their own nation0r  0r or other crises be they war or depressions 0r recent election where a  majority voted out the  liar  and con artist who subverts  the constitution at every opportunity  he tried to take the election out of the hands of the   voters by  falsely claiming fraud.  And so ever alert be it on the beaches   of Normandy we defend constitution so help us god

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Wednesday, November 11, 2020



Sara Paretsky    Fallout

I do read most genres but of late especially thriller/detective stories. As to authors it's particularly English ones like Conan Doyle and P. D. James and most recently Steve N. Lee. For American authors  the list would be very long but for me at the top you would find Minnesota guys, especially Jack Sanford and William Kent Krueger.  

Recently browsing for bargains in our local Goodwill store I ran across best-selling author Sara Paretsky whom I had never heard of before  bought her A. V. Warshawsky novel. Fallout What an eye-opener it was.

I dislike novels that introduce an avalanche of characters in the first chapter.  Then when you start reading chapter 4 you have to go back to chapter 1 to figure out who is who. Sure enough that's what I found in the first couple of chapters Annoying! I continued on however the being  of stubborn German ancestry. :-) Not knowing nor remembering who did what and why chapter after chapter I was quite confused. However as feisty in your face Chicago detective Ms.V. I.  Warshawsky stirred up the natives  of Lawrence Kansas I was learning to identify some of the characters and  actually becoming hooked. On top of all that being a retired history teacher myself it was evident to me that  the author  knew that subject very well. It seemed as the plot began circle around people possibly dying, or  murdered by viruses much reference was made to the Spanish flu which killed many in the pandemic during and after World War I. Keep in mind this book was published  three years ago before our present pandemic catastrophe. It was all too familiar at this point and I was hooked. My conclusion and recommendation simple. Warshawsky private detective is a woman the author Paretsky is a feminist. And so for that matter am I. If you’re not bothered by too many characters read it . If you are bothered read it anyway. It’s really good because the author is really smart. A steadily deepening historical nightmare that ends up implicating pretty much everyone in sight in a multilayered coverup. Whodunit purists may be frustrated at the absence of a single villain to blame, I read this book  a few weeks ago .Paretsky set  a complex who dun it in the middle  of  multiple disasters. Based on the characterization of the books protagonist I will conclude the author like me is a feminist' The multilayered disaster of deaths surounded by the spanish flue pandemic was adroitly resolved in Fallout . I hope to do the same by voting in  4 days next Tuesday along with millions of other Americans.

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Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Beautiful Tundra Swans

It's that time of the year again, mid to late November when Mrs. T and I  head down to the "Big River". The Mississippi River that is where we witness one of those true wonders of nature.  There, the Mississippi National Wildlife Refuge provides a safe haven for millions of migratiing waterfowl each fall. We, however, always have a special target in mind. Migrating from their summer breeding grounds in the northern Arctic, tens of thousands of beautiful large white birds, wend there way south to stop, rest, and refuel on the Mississippi River near Brownsville, Minnesota. They pause here, usually for a few weeks, before turning southeast, heading for their wintering grounds on Chesapeake Bay. They are the beautiful Tundra Swans.

Here, on a backwater  we see hundreds of swans and ducks. In the distance, beyond the screen of trees, a barge is moving down the main channel of the river. With Wisconsin in the distance, perhaps a mile away, we can see many more. Sometimes, huge "rafts" of these birds seem to turn the entire river white. When we step out of car, the sound of their vocalizations is almost deafening. Some are even close enough to us to get a picture. On occasion a few fly over us, but I'm not a skilled enough photographer to get a decent picture. Another wonder can occur; on some visits I've counted well over several hundred Bald Eagles. If the sun is out and thermals rise above the bluffs, we can see them "kettle." They form a spiral rising almost out of sight. Late migrating white pelicans also use this river highway. Awkward looking on the ground, they are magnificent soaring aloft as they head south to the Gulf.

With the construction of the lock and dam system on the river in the 1930's, many of the natural aspects of the river have changed. One of these is the wave action of the increased open spaces. Many islands have disappeared. Because of this many of the plants and tubers the swans fed on have also disappeared. Now man is undoing the damage and helping the birds by using dredge material from the main channel to rebuild these islands. Here you can see one of the many artificial islands providing a resting place and shelter from the wind and renewed food supplies. Way to go DNR and Army Corps of Engineers!

On November 15th the official estimate was ten thousand swan in the immediate vicinity. Some years we have seen upward of thirty thousand. The only thing I have ever seen to compare to it is the annual migration of sandhill cranes into the Platte River Valley in Nebraska.