Troutbirder II

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

Friday, July 19, 2019

No Fishing

I haven't  gotten out flyfishing as much in recent years as I have in the past. There were several reasons for this but  the main one initially was my slowly increasing vertigo.  Falling in a fast-moving Rocky trout stream was a recipe for disaster. As Mrs. T's dementia based wondering and agitation grew, it all fit together. Instead we took up Woodland walks. It's it was quiet... really quiet except for the birds having there spring fling. Warblers everywhere. And others almost beyond counting. What a setting. Take a look.



I don't think having a large GSD dog romping around thru the woods in front of you is standard birding technique. Still, years of upland game hunting for pheasants and ruffed grouse made it seem quite normal to me. Baron  flushed the tiny birds and they often flew in my direction as not.  I knew where to look for them with my binocs as they landew in nearby trees.


I watched carefully when he startsed sniffing the ground too carefully. Chasing deer is not acceptable. Then, as he and I learned later in the fall, investigating skunks isn't so great an idea either.
These crystal clear, cold streams, orginate from springs. This limestone (karst) region is full of disappearing rivers, caves, sinkholes and bubbling springs. Here is one in a nearby state park. Water cress is often an indicator of such a spring.
 We came a spot where two streams joined. The water   deep . Baron swam across and looked back expecting me to follow. Fortunately their  an old abandoned bridge, which carried some long forgotten road. Now it allowed  to easily reach the other side.
I did see some nice brown trout along the way.  In the meantime, we headed back to the camper. Mrs. T. mentioned something about  hot dogs for dinner. Come on pup. Time to go.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Acid Reflux



Today’s adventure story will be of a medical nature, the dreaded acid reflux, also known by some as heartburn. For me, it all began perhaps 40 some years ago when describing certain symptoms to my family care doctor he said it was acid reflux. He also noted it could be precancerous and sent me to WFMC…… World Famous Mayo  Clinic. They concurred. Thus began a seemingly lifelong regimen of famous pills both prescription, over-the-counter and other antidotes. Also there was the low acid diet which eliminated among other things tomatoes from my life. Goodbye pizza and spaghetti. In spite of all this there were still bad spots for me as when on Vancouver Island in Canada I ran out of Nexium and prescription drugs could not be filled for reasons too complicated to remember or explain. The symptoms were extreme enough that Mrs. T had to do the driving as she raced us in only two days back to the state of Washington. So it went.

Much more recently,  as her Alzheimer’s dementia began to reach the drastic stages, my physical reaction included a lot of stress. My new primary care doctor prescribed a pill for anxiety. I followed her advice, took the pills as well as  went to another visit to Mayo Clinic to check  my worsening acid reflux.

 
It was in the gastroenterology department that a day and one night at home test revealed that I didn’t have acid reflux. I asked the consulting physician how all that could be possible after 40 years of doctors and pills saying I did have it?   Mmmmm.? Will get to the bottom of it, he said Now I’m involved in the mystery but the eye, ear, nose, and whatever department will help sorted out. More tests including a camera down my throat to take pictures. A day later reporting to the consultant they had the definitive result.

“You have acid reflux” he said. I won’t be smart this fine clinic which saved my wife’s life twice different cancers and mine once from a near fatal drug reaction but I did momentarily laugh and suggested they call me when the two departments resolve their differences.

I do know that apparently Mayo sometimes withdraws all the medications from some of their patients who have mysterious ailments. Back to the starting point as it were

Conclusion: I made that decision myself to no longer taking any meds of any kind related to acid reflux and  gave up my acid-free diet as well. I no longer have any symptoms of acid reflux and enjoy my orange juice for breakfast and the occasional pizza for lunch :-) I’m sure there is a moral to this tale but I don’t know exactly what it is. Perhaps you do. In the meantime, I’m off to see my beloved at Cottagewood. The food is really good there and I eat whatever they serve and help my wife to eat as well.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Pope & Young & Me



It all started with an invitation to join Mrs. T.
and her teachers sorority for breakfast at the Pope & Young museum in Chatfield MN "What's Pope & Young," I had asked, looking for an excuse not to go. "I don't know either", she replied but Jewel said Steve is going so....



"Ok," I replied not too thrilled.


The breakfast was decent, the museum tour was terrific.
Pope and Young turned out to be a national bowhunters
club dedicated to conservation and record-keeping.
Similar to the Boone and Crocket club for gunners.
The museum had the history of bowhunting in dioramas and other exhibits.








Saxton Pope and Art Young are the two gentlemen who are synonymous with the bowhunting revival that began near the start of the 20th century and continued through today. The images are taken from original lantern slides from the St. Charles Family Archery Collection.


Of course, I was thrilled to relive my boyhood memories of Fred Bear hunting the polar bear with his bow and my Ben Pearson long bow. In my youth, I had proved to be an adept hunter of squirrels and rabbits. And then I couldn't help but remember my first years bowhunting the elusive Minnesota whitetail.

It all began my first year of teaching in the Valley. Several veteran
bowhunters, Don and Jerry, invited me to join them for the fall deer
season. They were my mentors in this exciting new sport. I knew there
would be no "buck fever" for me because well... I was Mr. Cool.

Several outings produced no opportunities. Then my big chance came
on a Saturday morning near Lanesboro. I had been placed at the head of a steep gully about fifteen yards above a small spring. My hunting partners fanned out to either side after advising me that any deer would surely come up the ravine on their way to the spring. I was situated behind some bushes and directly in front of a large log.

It was still not quite light when I assumed my standing position. Ready, willing, and able to take my first deer. Soon every little sound in the forest got my attention. I was sure a number of times that deer were
approaching me from behind.... only to find, upon carefully turning my
head, that it was squirrels, grouse, chipmunks and other woodsy
creatures. No deer though, for hours. Finally, after several hours, I decided
to sit down on the log, where I could still see the spring ahead and down to
my right. The bushes concealed my vantage point.



I never heard them approach me from the left. There were three deer which I saw out of the corner of my eye.
Paralyzed, I never moved. The lead deer stopped not five
feet in front of me on the other side of the bushes. Then she turned her head, lowered it slightly and stared right at me.
Now what do I do?

I swear every time I blinked she seemed to stare harder. The standoff lasted an eternity. Every time I slowly tried to stand up and get my bow ( which was
laying across my lap) into a vertical position she twitched.
Finally, I decided on Plan B. I would lift my still horizontal bow
slightly, draw the arrow, and shoot her straight thru the bushes.
At five feet, I could hardly miss. I slowly began to draw the
arrow back, reaching about half a draw, when the string
ran into a large obstacle.... my stomach.

I could have fired. Probably having the effect of a small mosquito bite. About that time I also noticed several more deer gathered around the spring. I picked out the largest and went for the stand up quick shot. At my first
motion to stand up, the deer on the other side of the bush let out a loud "woof" and immediately all six deer scattered in six directions. I never got a shot off.

I bowhunted a few more years after that but as my friends had moved on to other school districts, I found it was the cameraderie of the hunt that had been most appealing. Thus ended my deer hunting years although I continued with upland game and waterfowl but those are other stories.




Monday, July 8, 2019


Back in the day when I was growing up my father and all his brothers called it The Shakes. More recently my neurologist identified the problem simply as Benign Familial Essential Tremors. Lucky me! I call it  annoying. The Golden Years have begun. It’s clearly not fatal the experts told me and it likely won’t get worse. It did though to the point that holding my head still, keeping my arms and hands steady and drinking a cup of coffee without spilling became a major problem. Also other problems include, using a camera, holding my binoculars for birding still and even typing (now called word processing). So what to do?
The experts recommended testing various epilepsy pills. Thanks a lot. I got some bad headaches. Finally, I decided to adapt. Plainly filling the coffee cup only half-full or using a straw seemed a reasonable adaptation. Then I discovered Kwick Trip Coffee. It seems the miraculous lid has a small opening which allows the drinker to cover it with his mouth thereby preventing any spills. Amazing!
 
That was followed by a telescope sitting on a tripod for birding. And best of all my computer guru Brian added the Dragon to my computer. The Dragon quite simply listens to me talk and it types what I say. I could email and blog again.
Wow with that positive note all stop for my morning coffee and six boxed doughnuts for the ride up to Rochester and Cottagewood memory care. If Mrs. T knew of my morning diet I'd definitely be  in trouble. Actually though my real danger in the morning is not my bad diet but the fact that thousands of Iowans are racing north, passing on yellow lines darting in and out and all because there late for work at Mayo Clinic. This happens on a two lane narrow curving highway with lots of small dips. This definitely places a safe driving cautious law-abiding Minnesotans in serious danger. Of course, they do the same thing later in the day when they're anxious to get home.
Catch you later dear friends, I'm looking forward to a good day
 

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

A Foggy Morning On The Beach memoir


With thanks to Nathanial Hawthorne - "This is the forest primeval. The murmuring pines and the hemlocks,Bearded with moss, and in garments green, indistinct in the twilight,Stand like Druids of eld, with voices sad and prophetic,Stand like harpers hoar, with beards that rest on their bosoms.Loud from its rocky caverns, the deep-voiced neighboring oceanSpeaks, and in accents disconsolate answers the wail of the forest." It's early morning, cold and damp, as we walk carefully toward the distant roar of the Pacific. The forest of hemlocks is mighty and tall indeed. Strangely though, the closer we come to the beach, the trees shrink in size.

The coast is guarded by a phalanx of beached logs. We head down the beach as another couple leads the way.
Early morning, when the tide is out, is the time to find those washed up "treasures." We wander about a bit.
But today it is not meant to be. Mrs. T begins to signal its time to head back to the car.
The fog begins to clear as the sun peeks thru the forest.
In the morning light, the density of this temperate rainforest is more obvious than ever.
As my "Evangeline" and I approach the trailhead and our car, I notice for the first time, signs proclaiming the forest to be inhabited by wolves, mountain lions and bears.This is the forest primeval indeed!

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Happy days

Fond memories.
 
On our deck with Barb and Miss Lily
on a native prairie with the court jester and her Majesty the Queen
going gator hunting, with camera in Florida swamp.
With the grands
Late fall in grand smoky national Park
Checking out  Leinenkugels brewery in Chippewa Falls Wisconsin.
She gave up smoking though except for Prairie smoke native wildflowers.
Our first puppy, Max the wonder dog

 
Yellowstone National Park the bear tooth highway
 

Sunday, June 23, 2019

A new wheelchair for Barb

It's been six months since Barb came to Cottagewood memory care. Almost 10 years since Mayo Clinic's original mild cognitive impairment diagnosis. Then the Alzheimer's definition and the long slow decline followed. That decline speeded up dramatically two years ago. Two weeks ago are became eligible for hospice which falls under Medicare eligibility. The link below explains the characteristics of the final stage in this long journey. It is Carole C's blog one of life's little surprises. It is been very helpful to me and others to see what lies down the road ahead.
 

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Lily now and then

With Barb unfortunately but now safely residing in Cottagewood memory care it seems the other senior female in my life has pretty much taken over. For a number of years now I had critiqued Barb for spoiling our second German Shepherd to no end. That had never been the pattern for all the hunting dogs who resided in an outdoor kennel, as well as Baron there GSD successor. All of our previous dogs had limited indoor privileges so that they could socialize with the family. Lily is an indoor dog pure and simple who also had the run of the yard and went for long walks with the both of us. She was fed table scraps from the table and pretty much allowed to roam throughout the house and settle wherever she felt like it. Some nights I had to force my way onto  our bed to regain my spot. How things have changed. Now since I'm learning to cook  oversized meals   according to the directions on the boxes, Lily  as a result gets lots of  leftovers. Thus she is putting on serious weight. For myself with a bad case of vertigo, tramping through the woods isn't always safe for me. Unfortunately my new membership in the local fitness club isn't helping Lily at all. She is not eligible for membership

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Spring Prairie flowers in Bluff Country

On Saturday Mrs. T's nephew Ray Junior came down from the cities to visit her at memory care  in Rochester. Later that afternoon because he had indicated an interest in Prairie wildflowers I took him South for a ride along the Iowa Minnesota border. It was a very special place. We saw some rare and very rare wildflowers. This year the flowers were relatively late because of the two long and too cold spring weather this year. The first pictures are some scenes from my point-and-shoot camera and the second batch is from my photography mentor Mr. Science who quite simply is a world class photographer and Prairie expert. I hope you enjoy.
Among the prairie wildflower connoisseurs native orchids  are often the top prize to photograph. In this case two cars and six people were cautiously checking the ditches   for a  very rare orchid specimen  in Minnesota and Iowa. It was the white lady slipper as luck would have it Barb's nephew Ray, a complete novice, spotted them. The other group, keeping an eye on us and looking for the same thing, quickly caught up. These orchids are protected by law but there is a certain secretiveness involved here  as occasional  lawbreakers are known to exist. These are people who dig orchids up and usually kill them off as they are very difficult to transplant successfully
. Thus some become endangered or even extinct.

White lady slippers and the somewhat larger and less rare yellow lady slippers
 
From the same area taken by Mr. Science (Gary)
 
Prairie Phlox
 
Prairie smoke
 
 
White lady slippers
 
Shooting stars
 
Cream Indigo
 
The following pictures were taken several years earlier of Baron and a very large patch of shooting stars. If you compared to the first pictures taken this year you'll note that the area is much more wide open  meaning there on lots of shrubs and little trees sprouting up all over. This is because the local conservation agency had not deliberately burned this area to defeat the shrubs and allow the wildflowers to thrive in nature this process would have been continued by lightning storms. For the photographer it's also much more difficult as you have to scrounge through the thickets to find the wildflowers.
Baron among the shooting stars. My big guy  fondly remembered
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Friday, June 7, 2019

Lily Waiting For Lunch

So Spring Valley has seven places to eat out. That includes one truckstop, several breakfast lunch caf├ęs, a pizza place  and a couple of franchise fast food operations. That's all okay on occasion but on a permanent basis, I don't think so!.  Thus I've been learning how to cook. On that subject not totally without some experience and skills. There is always old standbys like cooking over campfire in the wilderness or on picnic outing's. Then there is the old standby grill located on our deck. Back in the day in our first home we had a Ben Franklin fireplace/stove. It was like cooking over a campfire in the Minnesota winter. Then there  is the kitchen. In that area I am almost a complete novice. I have a lot to learn.
As you can see in the above photograph where this Lily is watching me work in the kitchen, She does not look very optimistic. My frequent supper disasters have fairly frequently led  to some unplanned addition's being added and mixed in with her dog kibble. What's a good dog got to complain about? :)
 

Monday, June 3, 2019

Woodland Wildflowers

The year was 1970 and that summer Barb and I, after several years of renting, purchased our first home. It was in a small wooded subdivision with about 10 homes, approximately 1 mile East of Spring Valley, Minnesota. To close the deal I persuaded the seller to include an extra several acres to meet his price. In the year 2000, Mrs. T noted that a tuck under garage and a very long driveway to the state highway might be too much for a soon to retire couple. That summer we split our 3 acre property in half sold the old and build new house our woods. That house  sits comfortably amongst some very large oak trees   with very little lawn to the mow and  lots of woodland wildflowers and hostas mixed in…. Spring was very late this year and I haven’t had much time for any tending. Still that was the idea to begin with reduced lawn upkeep and  letting the wildflowers  go wild. Come on along then, let’s just go take a look.:)