Troutbirder II

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

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.

Monday, April 17, 2017


No, not the kind that happens in local cattle barns..... It was a some years ago now that Mrs. T. and I,  along with our good friends Gary & Rosie, were doing a "whale watching and glacier" tour out of Seward Alaska. It was a balmy 72 degrees that mid June day. The water, though, was extremely cold and when the cruise boat picked up speed and you went onto the outside deck it was downright cold.

We approached the face of the glacier carefully as big chunks of ice floated by us. Finally, we stopped and as I leaned on the railing, camera at the ready, I figured we were at least a safe several city blocks distance away.

I saw the ice chunk fall as I clicked my camera. Then there was an astonishingly loud "BOOM." People literaly jumped back. The captain then told us that the piece of ice was about the "size of a skyscraper," and we were a safe "half a mile away." It was some minutes before a wave splashed against the side of the boat.

How could I have been so mistaken, thinking we were much closer to the glacier than we actually were? The reason is simple. It was so huge.
The size and power of Mother Nature's forces seem much of the time as overwhelming. Think hurricanes like Katerina, the  flooding in the Red River Valley on the North Dakota - Minnesota border or the unbelievable amounts of snow burying the city of Boston that  year.
And yet. And yet for thousands of years the activites of humankind have changed and in some cases overpowered Nature itself. Take, for example, the disasterous agricultural practices in the ancient Mediteranean world. Those practices enhanced a major climate change in the area. The result was that a fertile agricultural area became far less so. And the world's greatest desert drastically expanded north - the Sahara.
Much closer to home, Glacier National Park might soon need a new name.
The Montana park had 26 named glaciers fifteen years ago , down from 150 in 1850. Those few that remain are typically mere remnants of their former frozen selves. Just one  of many, this one photographed in 1911 and 2005.
Today gone....

and in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence the well bribed charlatans and flim flam con artists of the carbon lobby keep up their propaganda campaign of denial.....

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Weapon of Mass Destruction

My middle grandson was given a component of a weapon of mass destruction by a friend of mine. Carefully constructing an exposition of the circumstances for this blog,  I mistakenly  published it on my book review blog Troutbirder II.  To see it  just click on Mark Twain above to make the jump....:)

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

The Greater Journey - Americans in Paris

So on a blustery Minnesota afternoon last January I whipped up some Ham and Three Bean soup for lunch and plunked down in my recliner for a quiet afternoon of reading. For further details click on Mark Twain above to jump to Troutbirder II.
Well I didn't read ALL afternoon...:)

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Customer Service

Oh sure. It's been a crummy day already. A State of Minnesota Department farmed out  Customer Service to a business in Denver, Colorado......ugly. :(

My all time unfavorite (besides the usual annoyances) was the time I bought a new computer which didn't work.  I called help and talked to "Fred" who happened to live in India and spoke the King's English. After an hour or so of trying to get my new computer to open he admitted it didn't work and he would send me another new one.  He needed my address. I gave him our P.O. Box Number. " I need your physical address," he stated.  The conversation which ensued for over an hour consisted of me trying to explain the meaning of Box Number and him demanding something called a physical address. Finally, understanding his problem I told him that Fillmore County, Minnesota was probably the last place on planet earth that didn't have street addressess....

Monday, March 27, 2017


video Lily  and I have been working on this one too.

Of course, there is the Hiker in Glacier who prays, "Dear Lord, please let this be a Christian bear." To the hiker's amazement, the bear drops down on its belly, bows its head, prays, "Dear Lord, bless this meal I am about to receive..."

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Recent Visitors

πŸ’—πŸ’—πŸ’—πŸ’—And so my son and two male grandchildren came to visit from a warm State far away.  Personal locations & other details have been censored in the past for obvious reasons.  One example was some years ago when my then six year old grandson had been allegedly arrested in Alabama for drunk driving from his home over a thousand miles away. They wanted money to bail him out.  I assume I was somehow culpable.
We had a grand time visiting malls and museums in the Twin Cities.  The timely arrival of a small snowstorm added to the fun.  Minnesota snowfun that is....:)  Take a look.
It had been a while since son Tony made a Minnesota snowman......
Grandpa Troutbirder can't get the snowblower started so ace honor student  and future hoops star "L" volunteers to shovel the drive way clear
Of course Grandma can't let the 4th grader do all the work.
It was sometime later that morning when late sleeping sophomore "E" appeared on the scene, ice daggers in hand.  Sad to say a snowball fight ensued and it was sometime before peace was restored. The following days saw several visits to the Twin Cities. We'll save that for another post....:)

Sunday, March 19, 2017

The Murder Room

Ok time for True Confessions---- My high school English teacher required 12 book reports and I conned her into giving me six for reading The Complete Sherlock Holmes.  I still occasionally delve into the thriller/mystery genre both fictional and non.  My favorite author is P.D. James.  The Murder Room is non fiction subtitled The Heirs of Sherlock Holmes Gather to Solve the Worlds' Most Perplexing Cold Cases.  Your can find out more by clicking on Mark Twain above....:)

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Life After People

TWO HUNDRED FIFTY YEARS AFTER PEOPLE: The Gateway Arch in St. Louis, its stainless steel body corroded and rusted, finally gives way.
A few years back I happened to be watching The History Channels ten part series "Life After People ." The premise is, what does planet earth look like after people all (for some unknown reason) disappear? A day, a year, a hundred years etc. later. It ain't good folks. Mother Nature, not always so  benevolent, ( think Hurricane Katrina) takes over.

The next day, I decided to return to the Big Woods in Fillmore County, Minnesota. My purpose was to recheck some White Ash trees in hopes of verifying a potential state size record. The only problem was, Mr Woodsman (me), with the assistance of Mrs. T (the photographer), got lost. I turned up the wrong Minimum Maintenance Road, and then the wrong driveway. Well, they do tend to all look pretty much the same in the deep woods. Based upon the relatively shiny new mailbox at the entrance, the farmstead had only recently been abandoned. Mother Nature had moved in.....

"Sic transit gloria mundi" is a Latin phrase that means "Thus passes the glory of the world". It has been interpreted as "Worldly things are fleeting." Indeed.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Deer Hunting With Jesus - Rereviewed

My first book review from 2009.  More relevant than ever......
Click on Mark Twain above discussing books and politics with Troutbirder.

Monday, March 6, 2017

On Wisconsin On Wisconsin.....Not!

It seems a few years back, as a rookie birder, I joined a group in the small Mississippi river town of LaCrescent, Minnesota for a Sunday afternoon outing. Introducing myself to the small group waiting in the parking lot of a local convenience store, they gave me a friendly welcome and then noting my University of Minnesota Gopher cap someone asked me how my football team had done the day before. It turned out the entire group of birders was from Lacrosse, Wisconsin across the river. Talk about a loaded question! My Gophers had ignominiously been demolished for the twelfth year in a row.... My response was simply to take off my hat to demonstrate my balding pate and point out that the last time the Gophers had been to the Rose Bowl I was a student at the U in the early sixties and we should now focus on birding and leave football behind.  With laughter they all agreed and we had a great outing that day....:)
And then last night in the final regular seasons game for the Gophers mens basketball team once again....

Badgers dominate second half, end Gophers' eight-game winning streak

Big second half extends Wisconsin's dominance over Gophers, ending their win streak at eight. That's it.
Enough is enough..... Troutbirders revenge!
Scott Walker ultra anti worker/union radical conservative
Mark Dayton Centrist Democrat Farmer/Labor Party Progressive
Go Gophers

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The Patriarch

Son of an Irish immigrant,  he wanted acceptance from the ruling elite WASP/s.  He never quite made it though a son became President of the United States.  Alleged but not a liquor smuggler he craftily became a multi-millionaire bear on the stock market, isolationist, appeaser, movie mogul, head of the S.E.C. in the Roosevelt administration, Ambassador to the Court of St. James, anti-Semite, misogynist, womanizer, devoted father, etc. etc.  You can read my take on all this and more by clicking on Mark Twain above. 

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Winter Visitors

Here are some of the birds that visit southeastern Minnesota in winter. We've had temps in the sixties lately with most of the snow melting.  Tonight the forecast is for a blizzard so winter bird watching isn't over yet.    Photography by my friend and birding mentor Mr. Science (Gary)  Enjoy!

Red Bellied Woodpecker

Mourning Dove

Bald Eagles were not known to winter here forty years ago. Now we have them nesting and staying in our neighborhood....:) The egg laying begins in late February and early March

Pheasants are no longer common here as fence lines and wetlands for habitat are gone.

You can see Gary's blog Nature Notes at