Troutbirder II

Troutbirder II
Click on Mark Twain to jump to Troutbirders book review blog

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Leeks a.k.a. Ramps

Our neighbor, Gina, wanted to know if we would like some leeks. She had "too many," she said. Expecting the large supermarket variety from Costa Rica or some other exotic locale, I nodded "sure." "Mmmmm," I said to the young woman as she opened the bag, "are you sure those are leeks?" "I think so," she replied, "at least that's what  Fred our handyman told me. "He finds them in our woods and cow pasture." Increasingly skeptical and not wanting to risk poisoning my bride, I told her I wasn't sure what they were and would "check them out." Googling" is the operative verb as to what happened next!

It seems in the Blue Ridge area and down the Appalachian chain leeks are known as "ramps." Memories of Euell Gibbons on TV recommending the flavor of pine cones as well as Grape Nuts Flakes came flooding back. Further research revealed a few recipes and much praise of their "delicate and mild" onion flavor. Mmmmm. The cleaning process began early the next morning with visions of fantastic omelette's in mind.

Oh... they were so good. Now I can add them to the list of things to look for in the spring, like morels, that I can hardly ever find. Some time later, I asked Gina how she liked the leeks. She replied that she had "thrown them away." "You didn’t seem too sure about them," she added. Oh dear.......:(

Friday, June 16, 2017

A Fathers Day Reminiscence 6/21/09

Troutbirder & Son Ted &   Troutbirders Father

Sons Tony & Ted

Youngest Son Tony, Spouse Barb, Eldest Son Ted

Daughter In Law K  Grandchildren E & T,  Son Tony

Son & Baron The GSD

Son & Grandson birding....

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Thrillers v. Thinkers

Columbo - A Thinking Man's Detective...
Click on Mark Twain above to jump to Troutbirder II and a short exposition on Thrillers and Thinkers.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

The Arches

When Roman engineers used concrete and their famous arch to throw bridges across streams and mighty rivers, their armies and trade followed apace. This limestone bridge built in the 1860's near Stillwater Minnesota echoes that classical era.
Here in southeastern Minnesota's "Bluff County" a similar two arch bridge spanned the South Branch of the Root River. Unfortunately I NEVER thought to take a photo of it. Atop it appeared as nothing but a gravel township lane.  In the water,  both upstream and downstream, we trout fisherman called the stretch "by the arches". It's also Mrs. T and my favorite area  to walk Miss Lily...... Take a .look!
You might imagine my shock just a few years back when I approached my favorite trout fishing spot to see that "the arches" bridge had been replaced by a boring concrete structure. It's still an idyllic setting from streamside and the fishing is still very good...... but it takes a little more effort now to daydream a bit about Roman arches.  But there was the time when I and group of high school students were in Rome looking up at the Coliseum and.........

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

It Could Be Worse!

For fifty  plus years, watching hordes of hungry squirrels gorge themselves on the seeds and suet, I'd carefully placed in my bird feeders, has been somewhat of an annoyance. Initially, I used to blast them with my 12 gauge till Mrs. T and the neighbors began to look askance. Then I encouraged 5 generations of dogs to chase them off. Now, Lily has taken up that job with minimal results as there must be at least 2 large squirrel families living in the pileated woodpecker holes I left for the birds. Then, when recently I saw the following pictures a fellow birder sent me, I've  decided the problem could be much much worse.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Mother's Day Sunshines

After days of clouds and rain Mother's Day turned to sunshine.  After church I had to photograph my personal sunshine showing off her corsage from our DIL Deanne. 
About the same time our long time friends John and Joanne arrived with a special friend so we could say goodbye to her....   She was their exchange student who spent a school year here in rural southeastern Minnesota.
Her name is Anna and in a few days she would be heading back to her home in far away Ukraine. What a sweetheart.....

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

A Walk Around The Yard (Part 2)

Now that we've seen the overall layout of our mostly wildflower gardens it's time to take a closer look at a few blooms.  In mid May most of the early blooming woodland wildflowers like bluebells, bloodroot and hepatica are already  finished with their show.  Still the show must go one....
Flowering tobacco.
Yes it has better smells and more positive uses that it's distant cousin the more obnoxious kind that people smoke.....
We have two types here. One with the flowers above, the other below.
Bleeding Heart
Old time traditional bleeding hearts both pink and white. Amazingly they have adapted to the woods and scattered all over.  Now in the hundreds.....

Of course, all the spring color is not in the flowers as migrant songbirds stop by at our feeders. Here a male Rose Breasted Grosbeak checks out some sunflower seeds on the platform.
Northern (Baltimore) Orioles


Wednesday, May 24, 2017

A Walk Around The Yard

It's mid May.  Spring time in southeastern Minnesota. Feels good with things bursting out all over.  Time for a walk around the yard.  The wildflower gardens and woods of our happy little two acres.....
We've already picked up a lot of twigs and downed branches and the tractor is ready for mowing. Fortunately, a lot of the grassy lawn has been replaced with wildflower gardens. It's less work in the long run....:)
Sticks but no stones in the fire ring. Time to burn.
I was reading a biography of Winston Church who was pictured constructing a rock wall  at Chatham during the height of WWII. Naturally, I tried to emulate him (note the low wall above). However, being retired, I was nowhere under the pressure the great statesman faced at the time....
Our little picnic area and table with houseplants moved outside to be planted.
Oak Hill Drive was a gravel farm road when it's first house was built in 1959.  Later we bought that house in 1970 and there were 7 houses in the neighborhood.  In 2002 we divided our property and built a new house in the woods next door to our old house.  A blacktopped road and over 30 houses now surround us.  We had changed from a little outpost to a nearby suburb of metropolitan Spring Valley whose population is well over 2,000.
A plank atop two sawed off stumps lies along a path around the clump of bleeding hearts. Lets rest a moment and then we'll take a closer look a some of the many flowers now blooming.  Next time!

Saturday, May 20, 2017

The Coldest Winter

Pulitzer Prize winning journalist/author David Halberstam (The Best and the Brightest) tells the story of the war America tried to forget but couldn't.  The Coldest Winter 
Click on Mark Twain's Picture above for my review.....

Monday, May 15, 2017

Dam It!

Baron and I had gone for a hike a few  springs back  at one of our favorite spots. It was the old iron mine ponds, now a WMA (Wildlife Management Area) called the Goethite. It's was a great place for a dog to romp and swim without needing to be leashed. I could also get in some birding. The ponds were  connected by a tiny stream.

On this particular day, however, we met a roadblock. A culvert underneath a shallow spillway connected two of the ponds, which we intended to circle. It seems some local residents had blocked the culvert with sticks and mud and then proceeded to build a small dam across the spillway. The net effect was to raise the water level in the pond by about a foot and discourage Troutbirder from continuing around the pond. He didn't want to get his new hiking shoes wet, as the spillway was covered by several inches of running water, and quite muddyBaron says, "Come on Boss! Whatcha waiting for?"
Troutbirder says, "Dam engineers!"

As you can see from the blog header,  Baron's successor Miss Lily also liked to check out beaver dams.....

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Lilac Girls

Recently out in paperback, ereader, and audio if you or your book club missed it you can easily catch up. It’s Martha Hall Kelly’s debut novel Lilac Girls. Your can check my take on this popular book by clicking on Mark Twains picture above.....

As well the link below takes you to other books reviews as well as my own....:)  This link works as of 5/10/17
Click icon for more
book review blogs
@Barrie Summy

Monday, May 1, 2017

The Zookeepers Wife

First I review the book and then the movie..... Click on Mark Twin above to see both.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Family Memorabillia

As often happens when couples reach a "certain age" they begin thinking about future prospects and choices. Our recent 50th wedding anniversary brought some of those thoughts into the open. Closets and boxes that hadn't seen the light of day for years were opened and examined.  I was informed by the management that it was time for us to begin downsizing our material possessions. Among the first items to go were my blonde baby hair from that first haircut, carefully preserved in an envelope as well as a rock hard piece of birthday cake from 1942.  
My mom and me in 1941.
When the following item appeared for discussion though, I drew the line.  My dads Uncle Paul and Aunt Christina lived on a farm in southern Minnesota. She made "rag rugs" from discarded clothing saved by all the relatives.  I was the first to use this one for "naptime" in kindergarten.  And then my two brothers and then our eldest son.  No discarding this treasure.  Methinks downsizing is going to be a long and argumentative project in this household.....:)

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Tricky Fingers

Back in the day when my first dog Max and I started upland game hunting, the pheasants and grouse had to fear my quick and accurate "trigger finger."  Max was what today they call a "designer dog" then known as a mutt. He was a Golden Retriever/ German Shorthair Pointer cross. He could flush, point, track and retrieve with the best...  That's my hunting buddy Rick to the right with his Golden....
Now a few years later having given up hunting due to a bum knee, a visit to our local clinic revealed a finger making a loud clicking noise, occasionally getting stuck and frequently quite painful.  The orthopedic lady doctor diagnosed it as a "trigger thumb."
Whoda thought, though she claimed it had nothing to do with my hunting career. Turns out relief came in the form of a steroid (cortisone) shot in the base of the thumb. And now since steroids are a no no my major league baseball hopes are gone as well.  Oh well.....:)

Friday, April 21, 2017

Spring Emergers

In the springtime, the moment when the mayflies and caddis transform from their nymphal form and swim to the surface of the stream, is indeed a magic time for the trout fisherman. As  they struggle upwards, to flutter away, they are called emergers. This is the time for "wet flies" to be cast into the stream and lifted in imitation of the real thing. It is an a special moment

Tied by Troutbirder

It is also same time when other "emergers" appear on the spring scene. Here are a few:
Showy Orchis. A now rare native orchid of hardwood forests here in southeastern Minnesota. Thick basal leaves and small spurred flowers. The lip is white. Other petals and sepals are pink or magenta. About 6 inches tall. Photo taken in Forestville State Park 5/12/08

Another emerger is the skunk cabbage. Found along stream margins and on hillsides in seepage areas. It is one of the earliest plants to appear in the spring. Yes, the fruit has a definite smell. But it is the leaves that get your immediate attention. Their leathery shine, startling growth rate, and deep, fresh green color is a force unto itself. They seem to spring out of the soggy brown litter of the forest floor, Photo also taken in Forestville State Park

Emerging from the forest on a ridge high above the Whitewater Valley in Whitewater State Park is another early blooming native flower. The Pasque Flower is a member of the crocus family. Its delicate form is a sure signal that spring has arrived.
Emergers. You gotta love them as we emerge from our winter blahs as well.