Troutbirder II

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

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

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?"

Thursday, November 8, 2012


A few bucolic scenes from  Bluff Country.....   Pictures courtesy of ace local photographer Mrs. T.
Definition of BUCOLIC
1: of or relating to shepherds or herdsmen : pastoral
2 a: relating to or typical of rural life

Monday, November 5, 2012

Retired Teachers

So what do teachers do upon retirement?   Here, our friend Jewel, a former middle school colleague of mine, has  uplifting moments on the bucket of a front end loader.  She is on her way up to some eaves on one of her and Steves farm buildings that need painting.  Mrs. T, also a retired teacher, took these photos. Her  focus these days seems to be more along the lines of keeping Troutbirders “Honey Do List” up to date….

Friday, November 2, 2012

The Lady Bunnys Slippers

In 1972 we were staying at a lake cabin near Grand Rapids, Minnesota. A local nursery had Showy Pink Ladyslippers for sale. They are Minnesota's State Flower. I bought two. Fortunately that summer the DNR's "Conservation Volunteer" magazine had an article on how to build a small artifical bog. The plan basically showed digging a pit, lining it with plastic, filling it in with equal parts of soil and peat. Then planting your orchids. The picture above shows what it looked like when completed. The orchids took hold, were carefully nurtured and slowly, very slowly gradually increased in number and size. 
These gems were the pride of my rapidly growing flower gardens. They stood along the fence in the backyard shaded by our mighty oak trees. By 2003, the year we built our new house in the woods, they had increased to several dozen beautiful specimens. As part of our contract in selling our old house, the new owners agreed that I could take any plants with me, as they were not interested in gardening. Limited time and physical stamina (I was helping build the house that summer) meant only a few could be moved next door. Naturally, the native orchids were the first priority. A new bog was built in the North Woods and the transplantation was accomplished with much trepidation. 
 That winter I began to evolve the plans for both the North and South shady gardens. I worried about my lady slippers. The Showy Pinks were hopefully safe in their new bog and the Large Yellows had been placed bareroot in the South Woods.
Only time would tell.... native orchids are notoriously difficult to transplant.  What a relief when spring revealed that all the native orchids had survived their abrupt move without a hitch.  Things were going well when we left in late spring for a camping trip to the Blue Ridge in Virginia. We had a great time touring Gettysburg battlefield, Washington DC, Williamsburg and the Great Smoky Mountains. Upon our return to Minnesota though, we found that disaster had struck.  I had failed to poke enough hole's in the bottom of the bog's liner. Heavy rains had filled the bog during our absence turning it into a lake. Half the Showy Pinks were drowned. The survivors looked pretty sick but I hoped for the best.  Slowly they began to revive. There were about ten survivors.
 Previously that spring my visiting grandson, who was just a toddler then, had spotted "the Easter Bunny" hopping about the yard. The bunny was a visitor from the neighbors rabbit hutch.  It was July and I was checking things out in the North Woods.
Several white rabbits were scampering off across Oak Hill Drive returning to their home. I found all the Showy Pinks nipped off at ground level. Each and every one never to return. The Easter Bunnies are no longer on my list of favorite animals.   Since then I have looked in various catalogues for replacements. At one hundred dollars a plant I can't justify replacing them . Since they are now being replicated by laboratory means and as the price is slowly declining, the day will come. In the meantime, I admire my large yellow ladyslippers which continue to do well….


Sunday, October 28, 2012

Home Front

Now back on the home front a big thank you to all those who commented and called wishing me well on my recent hospitalization. The complex technology available to modern medicine is amazing to say the least.  More familiar and less amazing was the simple explanatory diagram the cardiologist drew on the whiteboard in my hospital room. As a former teacher that was something I knew how to do...:) Oops DJan commented the diagram makes no sense. Absolutely. The circles are where the veins enter the left and right atrium. That's where they found the short circuits. They interrupt the electrical pathways by burning (cauterizing) them. Simple huh... like finding a needle in a haystack.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


No no. Its not a tall tale or fabrication. It's a
  heads up to my blogging friends. I’ll be doing day long tests at the WFMC (thats World Famous MayoClinic ) tomorrow and then a cardiac “tune-up” on Thursday at St. Mary’s hospital in Rochester.  It’s called an ablation which will deal with my A-Fib (atrial fibrillation) probem. In laymans terms the engine is very good but the electrical system is misfiring and annoys me no end. I expect to be back on line next week firing evenly on all cylinders…J

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Remains of the Edmund Fitzgerald

In case you missed it the following link will take you to my alternate semi-literary blog Troutbirder II, where I did a review of a book about the sinking of the Great Lakes freighter The Edmund Fitzgerald.;postID=1215543655223839414.
 The reason I mention this is because a recent mini vacation to the Soo Locks at Sault St. Marie, Michigan brougth a startling reminder of the tragedy of the "Fitz" on Lake Superior. Here's the story.....
We, the Troutbirders and friends John and Joann, were touring a docked former Great Lakes  frieghter, now converted to museum. We saw the inner layout of the giant ship which had hauled (among other things) iron ore from Minnesota mines to steel mills in the east.

And then among all the memorabilia I saw it. The great ship had gone down before reaching safe harbor not to far from where I stood. There were no survivors except lifeboat #2
 right in front of me......

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Spirit of Fall

As you can see on a recent hike my beloved began collecting leaves. I never know what that woman will come up with next.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Storm

On the evening of July 1, 2011 a severe
storm ripped through St. Croix State Park and
surrounding areas.
Along with a deluge of rain, winds in excess of
60 miles per hour struck the park. Pockets of
wind estimated between 80 and 100 miles per
hour uprooted and snapped trees across the
Approximately 11,000 acres had at least 50%
damage to the trees , and
9,600 of those acres lost 75-100% of the trees.

Park roads, trails and facilities were blocked
and damaged extensively by this storm. St.
Croix State Park was closed to the public for
two months to prevent endangering any park
visitors.  Of 197 park buildings, 74 experienced tree damage.
The roads and trails in the park
were blocked in many locations by
walls of fallen trees. The initial
clearing of roadways leading to facilities
took crews two weeks to accomplish. Clearing
of trails lasted through August, with extensive
work by chainsaw crews and backhoes.
Mother Nature has dealt a catastrophic blow to one of Minnesota most prized and popular state parks.
The volume of timber down is enormous. If left
the trees would become a very serious wildfire
hazard and a breeding ground for forest pests
and diseases. Contracted logging through strictly
regulated timber sales is still going on in the Park a year later.  We went our for a ride on the eastern portions of the park  to take a look.  Come on along...


The damage was extensive in significant areas  of Minnesotas largest state park. But after taking a look I'm confident that the cleanup has reduced much of the future fire danger.  Areas will change from forested to savanha and even prairie. There were more diveristy of habitat but it will still be a beautiful place.....

Thursday, October 11, 2012

St. Croix State Park

On the Minnesota Wisconsin  eastern border lies the beautiful St. Croix river. The St. Croix River was one of the original eight rivers to have significant portions placed under protection by the National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 1968.    

Today it remains the Wild and Scenic River closest to a major metropolitan area in the country.  A clue in that direction would be the presence of eastern timberwolves in Minnesotas largest state park which likes astride the river for 21 miles. All of this only an hours drive from the Twin Cities.  We were lucky enough to spend a few days camping there recently with our friends Gary and Rosie. It was mid week mid Sept. and the park, with hundreds of campsites,  had very few campers. The weather was perfect for long hike and Baron got to go with us and even sleep in the camper. He was a very good boy .
Here, he is taking an early morning walk with Gary.

Mrs T. and Baron take a hiking break along the river.  One of my objectives on this trip was to survey the  damage from a tornado and huge storm, with straight line winds over a hundred miles and hour, which hit the park over a year ago. Thousands of acres of trees were downed, roads blocked and many buildingsdestroyed. Fortunately,in this case,   the park was closed due to political bickering. Minnesotas state government, except for emergency and police services was closed so their were no fatalities in the park. I'll show pictures of what happened in my next post....

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Prairie Trail

 The big guy (Baron) and I average a several mile hike at least every other day in spring, summer and fall. Occasionally we are joined by Mrs. T. Here is one we took in August. The small woodland   sunflowers   were spectacular. Baron, of course likes to investigate everything. Especially a hole in the ground with interesting smells