Troutbirder II

Troutbirder II
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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

In Defense of Christmas Letters

So here it is time once again for that serious annual writing project as assigned to me by the English teacher –Mrs. T.  I know the rules; try not to be too wordy (clearly a tendency among us history teachers), get the facts right but don’t brag too much, and so on and so forth.  Well cutting to the chase I haven’t had a fresh idea what to write in the annual Christmas letter in years.  They are definitely easy to satirize but my duty being what it is I won’t go down that road.
Therefore I’m going with the thought that they are a wonderful tradition and if the grinches out there don't like them..... get a life.   Hereby I present the annual Troutbirder family Christmas letter (with a few minor adjustments according to FEDERAL PRIVACY REGULATIONS).

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

The Troutbirders send season’s greetings to family, friends, neighbors and fellow bloggers. 2012 has been another good year.  Barb remains cancer free and Rays heart ablation appears to have been a great success. We took some fun camping and vacation trips; pets Baron and Simba kept us well occupied.  Ray did a lot of hiking, biking, fishing and reading so he would have pictures and stories to put on his blogs.   Barb was active in Red Hats, Kiwanis, bridge, book club, church and worked for Christmas in Fillmore County, and also cooperated with Toys For Tots.  The last two items have kept her very busy,  all in the interest of providing Christmas toys for children who would otherwise  be without.
The news from Arizona is that both our son and daughter in law are working full time for a suburban Phoenix school district. She serves as a  school psychologist and he is teaching high school biology and chemistry. Our grandchildren also are working in the same school as students who happen to love reading and are doing very well. The newest is in kindergarden where his adjustment to life in America is an ongoing process.
Remembering Ted and all those who have passed on, Deanne and our friends and family here and far away, good health, good cheer and Merry Christmas.

Barb and Ray

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Washington & Jefferson Go Fishing

Reading voraciously has been a lifelong habit for me.  For enjoyment, knowledge, and sometimes retreat from the cares of life and the world.  Thus appalled by the news of the slaughter of innocents in Connecticut on Friday, I fled to Jon Meacham’s wonderful new biography Thomas Jefferson The Art of Power. I was as far as Chapter 23 Page240.  Thus –

“There was a late snow in New York in the last week of April 1790. Not long afterward President Washington became so ill that he was thought to be dying. By early June, however, the president was well enough to take Jefferson along on a fishing trip off Sandy Hook. Jefferson, ever practical and optimistic, hoped any seasickness would ”carry off the remains of my headache.” 

Guns don’t kill people. People kill people using guns. I wonder if these two founding fathers and the others who added the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution could see these type of  killings in modern America,  would they say “this is what we had in mind when guaranteeing citizens right to keep and bear arms?”  Loading a black powder musket would likely not allow someone to kill dozens of children in minutes much less seconds…..   It’s time to move on into the 21st century and deal with the problems we face now.  Are you listening Judge Scalia?  Probably not.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Death In Connecticut

I copied the following from Paul Carriers blog An Agony In Eight Fits 12/15/2012

The New York Times editorial: Death in Connecticut
Each slaughter of innocents seems to get more appalling. A high school. A college campus. A movie theater. People meeting their congresswoman. A shopping mall in Oregon, just this Tuesday. On Friday, an elementary school classroom.


People will want to know about the killer in Newtown, Conn. His background and his supposed motives. Did he show signs of violence? But what actually matters are the children. What are their names? What did they dream of becoming? Did they enjoy finger painting? Or tee ball?

All that is now torn away. There is no crime greater than violence against children, no sorrow greater than that of a parent who has lost a child, especially in this horrible way. Our hearts are broken for those parents who found out their children — little more than babies, really — were wounded or killed, and for those who agonized for hours before taking their traumatized children home.
President Obama said he had talked to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy of Connecticut and promised him the full resources of the federal government to investigate the killer and give succor to his victims. We have no doubt Mr. Obama will help in any way he can, for now, but what about addressing the problem of guns gone completely out of control, a problem that comes up each time a shooter opens fire on a roomful of people but then disappears again?
The assault weapons ban enacted under President Clinton was deficient and has expired. Mr. Obama talked about the need for “common sense” gun control after the movie theater slaughter in Aurora, Colo., and he hinted during the campaign that he might support a new assault weapons ban, presumably if someone else introduced it.
Republicans will never do that, because they are mired in an ideology that opposes any gun control. After each tragedy, including this one, some people litter the Internet with grotesque suggestions that it would be better if everyone (kindergarten teachers?) were armed. Far too many Democrats also live in fear of the gun lobby and will not support an assault weapons ban, or a ban on high-capacity bullet clips, or any one of a half-dozen other sensible ideas.
Mr. Obama said Friday that “we have been through this too many times” and that “we’re going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics.”
 When will that day come? It did not come after the 1999 Columbine shooting, or the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting, or the murders in Aurora last summer.
The more that we hear about gun control and nothing happens, the less we can believe it will ever come. Certainly, it will not unless Mr. Obama and Congressional leaders show the courage to make it happen.


Friday, December 14, 2012

Moose On The Loose

Hello, Boss
I can't come to work today.   A moose was born on my front lawn and the  Mama won't let us out the front door!  We’ll not exactly but the baby moose was born on a residential yard in Anchorage Alaska.  The homeowner did provide mom and babe some water and per the advice of the Alaskan DNR waited patiently till the moose family moved on two days later….
The above story is true as verified by Snopes.  Urban legends had the story in Michigan and several other states….:)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Dreaming of a White Christmas

We haven't had a lot of snow in recent years over the holiday season. Actually I've been dreaming of a white Christmas lately. Looking out the bedroom window this morning ..... Good Grief!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Smalltown Parades

As a followup on the previous post of parades in "smalltown" America here are the Troutbirders three grandchildren in smalltown Arizonas holiday season parade...
Well, maybe not so "smalltown" judging by the size of the crowd....:)

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Smalltown America

We were on our way to see the annual fall congregation of waterfowl along the mighty Mississippi. The view I had in mind required us to pass through a sleepy rivertown in northeastern Iowa.  You know the kind that has only one stop sign in the whole town. It was the afternoon of Halloween. Can you tell as we waited to cross "Main Street?"

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Bow and Arrow

As a youthful hunter I took up the bow. And came close to setting the worlds record for missing close up shots of deer. After a few unsuccessful years, I gave it up and stuck with my hunting dogs, upland game , geese and duck hunting.  What goes around comes around they say. And so it has come to pass that as a historian and former bow hunter I return  to the bow and arrow.
At Agincourt, English Archers wiped out the cream of French knighthood with their longbow arrows. At the Pope and Young museum in Chatfield, Minnesota, I saw the history of American archery displayed very vividly. And in Email hoaxes I’ve  noted that a picture of a huge  dead mountain lion had been claimed to prove that the animal had been killed by a bow hunter in at least fifteen states. The message being on the unreliability of such so called  email “proofs.”   It is with some trepidation that I now share with you an email message on the subject of the battle of Agincourt and it impact on us over 600 years later!

"I never knew this before, and now that I know it, I feel compelled to send it on to my more intelligent friends in the hope that they, too, will feel edified. Before the Battle of Agincourt in 1415, the French, anticipating victory over the English, proposed to cut off the middle finger of all captured English soldiers. Without the middle finger it would be impossible to draw the renowned English longbow and therefore they would be incapable of fighting in the future. This famous English longbow was made of the native English Yew tree, and the act of drawing the longbow was known as 'plucking the yew' (or 'pluck yew'). Much to the bewilderment of the French, the English won a major upset and began mocking the French by waving their middle fingers at the defeated French, saying, See, we can still pluck yew! Since 'pluck yew' is rather difficult to say, the difficult consonant cluster at the beginning has gradually changed to a labiodentals fricative F', and thus the words often used in conjunction with the one-finger-salute! It is also because of the pheasant feathers on the arrows used with the longbow that the symbolic gesture is known as 'giving the bird’.

Of course, another version of this story is that Winston Churchill, a world renowned historian, knew well that it took two fingers to draw the English longbow. Thus he used a more accurate symbol. The one that came to stand for victory….

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Love Lights A Tree

Even though my little point and shoot camera wasn’t up to the job, the recent Love Lights A Tree ceremony in Spring Valley was very impressive. As a crowd of friends and supporters watched, our friend Steve did the job of honorary tree lighter on the giant tree next to the tourist information center.  A large number of named luminaries surrounded the tree and were labeled with the names of people lost, survivors and currently battling cancer.
As a two time cancer survivor (cervical and breast) Mrs. T had a candle in her honor and as well as many for Steve who is currently taking on pancreatic. Here is Steve and wife Jewel along with the Troutbirders Ray and Barb having a sidewalk lunch a few years ago in the port city of St. Malo, Brittany France. Those were the days my friends….

Monday, November 26, 2012

A Tale Of Two Ears

When my faithful hunter and companion Muffy had to be put down due to kidney failure, Mrs. T and I decided she would be our last dog. I had stepped back from upland game and duck hunting and we planned to travel a lot upon our retirements. Good plan. Maybe not. After years of having hunting dogs we missed those loyal companions. A year later we decided to take the step. After some skepticism on her part, my view for a companion/guard dog prevailed. It was to be a GSD (German Shepherd Dog). His name was Baron. It was a whole different ballgame from my hunting dogs. He proved to be very intelligent but also very willfull. I thought well he is German. Stubborn comes naturally. The fact that I spoiled him rotten didn't help either.

Having no previous experience with German Shepherds, I was a little slow on the uptake. It was several months before I realized something wasn't right. It was his ears. They drooped. Consulting the internet, I found out that six months was about the time they would standup. "Ok," I thought. Patience is a virtue.

We visited our sons family in Colorado that summer. There Baron met Hercules. They had a great time playing together. Time passed. Mrs T. thought droopy ears were "cute". I didn't think so.

Finally, at about six months, they reached what I called the half-mast stage. More months passed with no improvement. I consulted our vet. I consulted the lady who did dog training and had three German Shepherds. Desperate, I consulted the internet. There were many suggestions. Many were "hairbrained." I chose curlers. I bought a pack, some tape and maybe memory failing me some glue. His ears were going to stand up or else!!!!

And the next morning, prepared to begin his  "treatment," I let him out from his kennel into the snow for his morning romp. He ran off to do his business and upon returning sat down proudly in front of me in the snow. There it was. He had done it all on his own.

Baron. Loyal friend. Guard dog. Explorer. Hiking companion. And member of the pack.




Thursday, November 22, 2012

Tundra Swans

A crowd people were gathered along a new overlook in Minnesota, near the Iowa border, south of Brownsville. Across the Father Of Waters, clouded in mist, lay Wisconsin.
As Mrs T and I parked along the highway,  we heard a rather loud and strange sound emanating from the river.  It was a kind of  of excited yet friendly conversation among some visitors from the tundra far to the north.
Here, we were to witness a world class event in the world of natural  wonders. Coming from the arctic , in their tens of thousand, along the Mississippi river, tundra swans had stopped to refuel and rest, before continuing their journey to Chesapeake Bay, far to the southeast.

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 also disappeared. Now man is undoing the damage and helping the birds, by using dredge material from the main channel to rebuild these islands. The artificial islands providing a resting place and shelter from the wind and renewed food supplies. It’s not entirely safe for the ducks and swans who gather here though as hundreds of bald eagles cruise overhead  along the river as well.  They are always on the lookout for an easy lunch.

The new overlook provides a safe place for people to turn out to see and photograph the swans.   Previously people would park along the shoulder endangering themselves and passing vehicles. Way to go DNR and Army Corps of Engineers. We make an annual trip along the river to see this amazing sight. It never grows old.  Thanks Mother Nature!

And Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Flying Swans from Mr. Sciences "Nature Notes."

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Prairie Flowers

We live in Bluff Country. An unglaciated disected portion of southeastern Minnesota filled with valleys, hills, farms, small towns and most importantly beautiful spring fed trout streams. Only a short distance to our west, the prarie begins sweeping  across southcentral and southwestern Minnesota, all the way to the Black Hills of South Dakota. Mostly cornfields now, here and therelie a few vestages of the original prairie.....