Troutbirder II

Troutbirder II
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Sunday, February 16, 2020

Death In Connecticut

Eight years ago now. Has anything changed?
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.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

No ordinary time

No ordinary time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt the home front in World War II by Doris Kearns Goodwin
Doris Kearns Goodwin is one of America’s premier historians. Two time winner the Pulitzer Prize for history writing as well as many other awards. Often seen on television as a history consultant she has done it all in her field. Her study of Lincoln’s political skills in Team of Rivals showed how that skill could be an honorable one and help to save the nation. Turned into a movie it also won an Academy award as well as her second Pulitzer Prize. 
  Her first Pulitzer was No Ordinary Time. In the setting of the home front in World War II It tells the story of the marriage so unusual it almost defies description. We learn of an affair, a broken but patched up marriage and then most remarkably  what they did together and apart which changed and brought a nation into its modern form and and opened the door to world leadership. 
   Above all else though the book is an intimate characterization of the Roosevelt’s and all the people they met and interacted with during the most destructive war ever. But but what a cast of characters! Some world famous and others not Page by page, chapter by chapter it all becomes more personal. And then perhaps like me you will be saying wow! Their relationships, the successes and failures, the foibles etc.Public and private details and anecdotes weave a story you will never forget. I loved it all. Finally though  my minded drifted to our present leader in Washington and I felt immeasurably sick.......

No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II by Doris Kearns Goodwin - Used (Very Good) - 0684804484 by Simon &

Saturday, February 8, 2020

A very good Valentines day in dementia land

I had received an invitation to a luncheon with music at Cottagewood memory care in Rochester where my wife Barb was a resident. Perhaps with music my special Valentine and I be able to dance. When I got there, Barb had a new friend to go along with us. Her name was Nancy. Nancy Nancy and Barb apparently  held hands, on a regular basis.  Barb  regularly reassured her when  Nancy cries that everything was going to be all right. She had also promised to be the matron of honor for a somewhat confused lady who believed she was going to be married at the end of the week although she later changed her mind when she announced she didn't have a boyfriend yet. Several other residents and another couple  sat together for Valentines lunch at a big table after I cleared with the authorities that this was okay and seemed no danger to anyone. I also consulted with the pianist who was providing the music and asked if she could play some slow music after lunch, preferably waltzes, so Barb and I could dance. All I could think of was the Tennessee waltz. She then volunteered that she had many other waltzes in her repertoire. In the meantime, she was playing golden oldies from the 50s. . At other tables everybody seemed to be having a good time. I encouraged our group to guess the songs  from the 50s and so we played name that tune  and also the the name of singer. It turned out people  with dementia beat  those without soundly in that game. Some bad jokes on my part, more fun and  then we heard the Tennessee waltz and maybe it was Patti Page. Barb and I lead the way onto the dance floor. Alone at first and then several other "mixed"married couples(caretaker and resident) joined us. Finally, Barb and I danced around the corner into the kitchen area where a bunch of people in wheelchairs were being watched by a number of the aides. In a somewhat loud voice I told them that they were missing a party next door and though I couldn't guarantee any free beer they were welcome to join us. Some of the aides began rounding up people from other areas in wheelchairs and brought them to join  the dance party.  Here they held hands with those in wheelchairs and they "danced" also. Towards the end as some of the smiling laughing people began to sit down from exhaustion, one of the big shots showed up with the camera and took pictures of the  crowd. Later, I asked for copies and told them with their permission I might advertise their wonderful institution by putting those pictures on my blog. Unfortunately, because this facility is part of a giant corporation and they have lawyers, there are some "privacy"issues involved in that . So eventually, I had hoped to get an edited picture of me and my beloved dancing through the night at our best Valentines day ever. Of course it didn't happen but on this upcoming February 14 Valentine's Day the memory for me will be as strong as ever Ray

Friday, January 31, 2020

Killing Rommel and saving a bird

KILLING ROMMEL by Stephen Pressfield

The Long Range Desert Group was a real British commando unit of World War II. 
The LRDG fought against Rommel and the Afrika Korps in the North Africa campaign of 1940-1943. They drove unarmored Chevrolet trucks, in which they carried everything they needed—petrol, ammo, food, fuel, spare parts—to strike hundreds of miles in the rear of the German forces, crossing deserts and “sand seas” that not even the native tribesmen dared venture into.

Killing Rommel is the story of one fictional mission (though others like it took place in real life), an attempt to infiltrate the Afrika Korps in the field and eliminate its invincible general.

Books have a way of becoming more, and different, than you think they will when you start to read them. Killing Rommel became more about its narrator, a fictional British lieutenant named Chapman, than about the raid itself. Chapman’s story was about the kind of fighter we don’t have any more—like Capt. Miller (Tom Hanks) in Saving Private Ryan– the citizen-soldier who takes up arms reluctantly and wishes only for the day when he can lay them down in peace but who proves, under fire, to be the equal and even the superior of troops and officers who have trained their whole lives for war.

Yes, I was totally drawn into this story and you might enjoy how it happened
"Recently, the new editors of the Minnesota Ornithological Unions, Minnesota Birding magazine asked their members to submit "Real Stories of Minnesota Birders." So I did. It was a post from Sept 23, 2008 titled "Bird Rescue." Imagine my surprise when reading the March/April, 2011 issue of the magazine I came across a story titled "Baron to the Rescue." While somewhat abbreviated from the original, I recognized the hero dog immediately. Here's the original post......

I was sitting in my reading chair in the living room, deep into Steven Pressfield’s new novel, "Killing Rommel." The LRDG (Long Range Desert Group) was about to set out on their desperate mission, as new 8th army commander Bernard Law Montgomery was attempting to hold the line against Afrika Korps, less than 80 miles from Alexandria. There was the thump of heavy artillery and ooops... it was something that just hit the window. I rushed outside to find Baron (my GSD) mouthing a tiny bird. "Drop it," I ordered. Like a good soldier he complied.
I picked up the tiny creature stunned but still alive (barely). Walking into the garage I found a rag and placed it and then the bird into an empty beer cooler. With a cat in the house and a curious dog that followed my every move, I determined the safest temporary refuge for the bird was to place it into a empty  cooler.Heading back into the house, I found my trusty Peterson birding book and began searching for an identification. Probably a warbler I thought. I had narrowed it down to several LBJ’s but nothing conclusive. I decided to wait an hour or so and then check to see if the bird was still alive. I took the cooler out into the garden and carefully opened the lid. The bird had previously been laying on its side barely breathing. Now to my utter astonishment, it was sitting perfectly upright with a "I just woke up and where in the heck am I" look about him. I took several pictures. Here he is looking at me in mutual astonishment.

Then he tried to fly but kept crashing into the side of the cooler. I carefully picked him up and set him on the ground. We looked at each other for a few seconds . I took another picture.

Then he just flew away into the woods. When I downloaded the digital pictures I saw the conclusive proof. He had pink legs. It was an ovenbird. The first one I had ever seen....."
Later,  I received a comment about my post from a lady who belongs to a group who during there morning walks in downtown Rochester, Minnesota, counts and sometimes rehabs birds who have crashed into the windows of tall buildings.  The most numerous victims tend to be ovenbirds, who being a "woodsy" species tend to be unfamiliar with the dangers of big city life.

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@Barrie Summy

Monday, January 20, 2020


I’ve  done a lot of  story telling. That began in the classroom and particularly  in the latter years and  a two hour combined history/English class called Humanities with my teaching partner Fran. Then when we both moved to the middle school hoping to do something similar I was able to trash the typically awful history textbooks and we focused on blending in reading  stories, mostly historical fiction. So here's my story for today, it's titled THE TRIBE OF MARAUDING POSSUMS.

Just finishing Caesar's the Gallic wars, the English version, I realized that the first sentence pretty much covered it all. I came, I saw, I conquered. Little did I realize that my former student and now cleaning lady, Stacy Lex Tart would involve me in a tribal war as well. She had turned the vacuum cleaner off as the canister was filled with our German Shepherds dog hair. Also known as a G. S. D. According to my wife, those initials stood for German Shedding Dog. Stacy was telling me about a very elderly friend of hers, who lived in a trailer home but had been sleeping for weeks with Stacy and her husband. Why is that? I asked. It was because a bunch of opossums had invaded her trailer home home, especially at night destroying things in her kitchen and even building a nest in her bathtub. Needless to say she was very frightened. I urged Stacy to investigate the problem further and if she found where they were hiding out they would be easy to dispatch. Meaning they’d be playing possum and easy to whack over the head with a baseball bat or something similar.  Looking very appalled it turned out my former student was a pacifist at heart. 

It became quickly apparent that having put my pheasant and goose hunting days behind me was not sufficient enough excuse for avoiding the job. I was trapped.  And being trapped reminded me that my dairy farmer friend Steve had given me a spare live trap he had used to eliminate some raccoons tearing up feed bags in his barn.  Perfect!

Thus the next morning Sir Ramond du Lancelot ventured forth to rescue the elderly fair maiden in her small castle. Leaving Princess Stacy to arm the device with cat food  our intrepid hero we outside to look for signs of the intruders. Aha! A trail led to a den in a wood pile and from there to the dryer vent into the castle. A patch of screen was used to secure the entryway. The culprits were either trapped inside or kept out.

Afterword:  The next morning Stacy reported one tropped and released followed by two more.  Neighbors began showing up and wanting to borrow my trap. Apparantely they were common throughout the area. I suggested that the bird feeders were the likely attraction.  Eventually I got my trap back….

Tuesday, December 31, 2019


This book is a fascinating true crime story with many diverse topics and connections. The reason I originally picked that up was that I thought it was about fly tying and trout/salmon fishing. Actually just for examples it includes information about the Berlin Symphony Orchestra, the competition between Darwin and a rivalry over who developed the theory of evolution and the Rothschild families errant son who used his vast fortune to privately build a complementary Museum to the British Museum of Natural History etc………….

Edwin Rist is the feather thief. Was he a young man, too easily indulged by parents, and full of obsession? Was Edwin a detached manipulator? Was he autistic? Or did he fake autism to get out of prison? What we know of Edwin Rist is that he is a talented flautist. He is an expert fly tier. And, he’s a convicted thief, having ripped off the Tring Natural History Museum of 299 rare and valuable specimens. Edwin is also pretty remorseless about his crime.

Actually, a little of this and some of that adds up to a really fascinating story. I like that!

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Tongue In Cheek

R.E previous post titled "Troutbirder's Favorite Recipes." I think I need to go back and reread the chapter in the manual "How To Write Blog Posts" titled "Tongue In Cheek Satire." Obviously, judging by the majority of kind and generous posts I'd received so far.... I missed the mark. Lets start with the facts. I do have that cookbook. The titles of the recipes are real. I did hunt deer, pheasants, ruffed grouse, ducks and geese. I do not hunt/fish nor eat carp, coots(mudhens), muskrats, crayfish, opposum, skunk, racoon, woodchuck, beaver, snipe, or anything akin. For certain, in the golden age of my youth, I had killed and brought home some squirrels. Skinned and proudly presented to my city raised bride, (who had already demonstrated a certain degree of skepticism toward any meat not approved by the Department of Agriculture and wrapped in plastic), Mrs. T asked "what are they?" After explaning to her the conclusion was "they look like rats and I refuse to cook them." Thus ended my career of bring home for table use anything exotic found in my South Dakota cookbook......

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Troutbirder's favorite recipes- a December 2015 retrospective

Faced with my own poor record in learning how to cook for myself and today being Christmas day   I decided to  attend the free community dinner at the Methodist Church. It was great. Later perusing the word recipes I found the following link to some of my favorites that were on my book review blog. You can take a look at them by double-clicking on Mark Twain and myself in the picture at the top of this page