Troutbirder II

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

Friday, July 28, 2017

Rose Breasted Grosbeak

They are one of my favorite birds. They are not daily visitors at my feeder, but pop in and out all summer. Once a whole migrating flock stopped by to feed in the spring. More than a dozen at once.
 What a sight that was!
Three guys and a gal.             
Female Rose Breasted Grosbeak and four friends.  She apparently likes the corn for lunch...:)


Monday, July 24, 2017

Me and My Windows Upgrades

A short dose of Troutbirder Wisdom revels his notion that "new and improved" isn't always so at least to us regular members of the Curmudgeon Nation.  A recent example would be the regular Windows update to our ancient Windows7 Home Computer.   In a word, it  caused the system to fail.  I am a  long time believer in the concept of "if it ain't broke don't fix it or buy a new and better one with more gadgets".  This upgrade was done without my permission and yes they broke it.  It was more than a month in the repair shop before it was finally determined that it was Microsoft's upgrade which caused the problem. I don't know if our computer guru  finally fixed it with help from Bill Gates and Co. or not.  I still had to pay the repair costs.  What followed was almost  as bad...............
WINDOWS: Please enter your new password.

USER: cabbage

WINDOWS: Sorry, the password must be more than 8 characters.

USER:  boiledcabbage

WINDOWS: Sorry, the password must contain 1 numerical character.

USER: 1 boiled cabbage

WINDOWS: Sorry, the password cannot have blank spaces.

USER:  50bloodyboiledcabbages

WINDOWS: Sorry, the password must contain at least one uppercase character.

USER: 50BLOODYboiledcabbages

WINDOWS: Sorry, the password cannot use more than one uppercase character consecutively.

USER:   50BloodyBoiledCabbagesYouStupidIdiotGiveMeAccessNow!

WINDOWS: Sorry, the password cannot contain punctuation.

USER :  IWillHuntYouDown50BloodyBoiledCabbagesYouStupidIdiot


WINDOWS: Sorry, that password is already in use.


 It's all about trust....:(


Friday, July 21, 2017

Irish Scenes Finale

The final days of our Irish trip seem somewhat of a blur now and I didn't keep a very good record of the many interesting places we visited. Perhaps I was too enamored of our bus driver/guides blending of history and locations. Especially about the centuries of British rule, its consequences and the long division of the country into a Protestant North and a Catholic South with attendant strife. Our crossing the border into Northern Ireland was a day I well remember.  Our final 2 days in the Irish Republics capitol in Dublin was also a great highlight. 

The food and adult beverages in the Irish pubs were excellent.

Indeed. Though we didn't "pass by" the Guinness brewery, their product found my favor ...:)

One of Mrs. T's favorite venues and yes she did make several purchases in addition to the handmade wool sweater I bought at Blarney.

Being a flower gardener I was envious at more than one stop...

It didn't take a lot of imagination to see how much our two parish priests (one from Rochester and the other from Spring Valley) enjoyed celebrating morning mass whether it was in small rural churches like this or in big city Dublin...



And then on the last day in Dublin, I had to go to the library to check out a book.  The library was located in Trinity College.  The book was simply  known as The Book of Kells.
Going back to the ninth century this amazing collection of the Gospels, richly illustrated, survived Viking raiders and time.  Needless to say a world famous artifact couldn't be checked out but what a moment just to see it.  And Ireland too........

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Foggy Rainy Day in Ireland

Returning to the Emerald Isle...

Day 3- Part 2
That afternoon we continued around the Ring of Kerry, seeing the spectacular Cliffs of Mohr. Basically it was so foggy and windy I took a picture of a picture inside the museum restaurant.

Still, leaving the Mrs. shopping (what else),  I ventured up and along the narrow path, above the cliffs. Although there had to be near gale force winds, I tried to follow another couple of adventurers, who were about a hundred yards ahead of me, on the path. As you can see  there was a plume of water streaming up and over the cliff. Kind of like a firemans hose. Getting wet from the rain was one thing. Getting doused by a blast of seawater was another. I turned back.

From there it was back to Killarney by going up and over the coastal mountains. The rain continued, abated very briefly, then resumed. Then as we gained in elevation a dense fog set it in . Not good.
Now let’s cut to the chase here. The roads in Ireland are, by Minnesota frost heaved standards and pothole abundance, very well maintained. They are, however, very very narrow with no shoulders at all. They also seemed characterized by an inordinate amount of curves.

On the point of mountain roads, Mrs. T is not too fond of looking over the edge, thousands of feet down as occasionally happens when we are in the Rocky Mountain West. Panic attacks are a problem. Thus, on this day, I had the window seat and she was working a Sudoko with careful attention never looking up.

As I looked out the window, searching thru the fog for a lake far below, I noticed a "safety barrier" on the edge  of the precipice consisting of small  rocks piled about 6 inches high. No shoulder. No real safety barrier, a rain slicked highway in the fog and what seemed to be an excessive speed given the conditions. We were about a  foot from the edge. Then it hit me. I’d seen the like of this before. It was watching the so-called "History Channel," whose newest hit then, among all its recent non- historical "reality shows" and schlock was "IRT: Deadliest Roads." The Ice Roads Truckers were now driving over the Himalaya Mountains on a road which kills about 400 people per year!. No, I don't have any pictures of my views out the window of the bus. I was too busy praying. And NOT thinking of Lisa who is allegedly the sexiest trucker alive.

Well,  as I mentioned one my initial post, the tour group consisted of  several Minnesota parishes of my spouses Catholic faith. Perhaps, it was the combination of  their prayers, our numerous visits to famous churches and shrines along with  our drivers 36 years of driving experience that we obviously made it safely back to our hotel. The Irish adventure would continue. 

Sunday, July 16, 2017

History Lesson 101

All right. Listen up. I can't help it. Once a history teacher always a history teacher. On July 16, 1945, near Almogordo New Mexico, American scientists, in celebration of an equally momentous day   July 16 1941,  successfully tested the first atomic bomb. That previous bomb was born those  few years earlier in St. Paul Minnesota. Ok Ok so its my birthday. That was rather lame.

 Yesterday my anti coagulant clinic nurse called to tell me my INR recent blood test score was between 2 & 3.  Actually, she said I was "perfect". I asked her if she would repeat those exact same words to Mrs. T. At  75 Birthdays like that help to keep a guy  going....:)



Wednesday, July 12, 2017

The Ring Of Kerry

Day Three - On a rainy windy morning we headed off from Killarney to tour the fabled Ring Of Kerry. This mountainous peninsula faces the stormy North Atlantic on Ireland's western coast. Until recently peat had been Ireland’s major source of heating and cooking fuel. Peat is essentially, given a few million more years, future coal. We stopped that morning at Kerry Peat Bog Village to see a reconstruction of a long past lifestyle. The village centered around the hand digging of peat and the other attendant occupations associated with it. The dark piles, next to the cottages, are peat.

Later we stopped at one of the many local inns, where good food and the inevitable shopping venue were located.
The "mountains" here are low, perhaps two to three thousand feet, largely denuded of trees. They do, however, offer spectacular views of lake and seascapes.

Our first stop at sea level provided, for us Midwestern landlubbers, a rude awakening. The rollers coming in had to be around fifteen feet high. Except for a possible winter storm on Lake Superior, it was more ferocious than anything I’d ever seen.
The wind was..... well take a look.

The Ring Of Kerry - a scenic Irish highlight.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

No! I didn't kiss the Blarney Stone

Day 2 Continued.
After our visit to Waterford Crystal we wound our way to Cork, Blarney and on to Killarney for a two night stay. Blarney is a small village dominated by a castle and the famous stone. The kissing procedure involves a long climb to the castle venue, laying on your back while a burly Irish gentleman, holding your ankles, lowers you into a hole in the ground, where now upside down, you may kiss the fabled rock. Wearing skirts is not recommended for the ladies. Mrs T, to my surprise recommended we skip this event on two grounds: (1) it was too long and too wet a climb up the castle , and (2) I was way too loquacious and full of b.s.  as it was and didn't need any further encouragement in that area. I accepted her reasoning, knowing full well that the alternate two hour shopping spree at the woolen mill in the village was where her heart was really at. So went shopping.
Her mission was to find scarves for gifts to friends. My secret mission was to find her a sweater.
Ignorance in action on my part. I quickly discovered that machine made woolen in Ireland or father afield is considerably less quality (and price) than handknit in Ireland. I went for the later. Paid for and shipped to the States.  She has been  more than a little pleased with it over the Minnesota years as and important part of her fall and spring attire! The heck with the Blarney stone!
A quick lunch and we were on our way to Killarney. The tomato bisque soup was scrumcious

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Waterford Crystal

Day 2 - The next morning we found ourselves winding thru small towns and villages, back down to the coastal highway, heading south along the Irish Sea. Our bus driver ,Joe, doubled as tour guide, entertaining us with numerous stories and jokes, as well as current and historical background. We were on our way to the city and county of Waterford.
President Kennedy had visited his ancestral home at Dungastown, New Ross near here. A statue of him in the harbor and a reconstructed "famine ship", the Dunbrody, mark the place where millions of Irish emigrants tried to escape the ravages of the potato famine.
We quickly arrived at the world famous Waterford Crystal Factory for our first tour of the day.
It would be a big understatement to say I’m not very knowledgeable in area of the "home decorating arts" Several visits to the Chicago Art Museum's floor on that subject often found me quickly bored. Still, there was hope, because "artists tours" thru small towns in southwestern Wisconsin often left me enthralled watching glassblowers do their thing. As we began our tour of Waterford Crystal, I quickly realized this was my place......

The new high-tech facility exclusively produces 40,000 luxury hand-crafted crystal pieces using traditional artisan methods in addition to serving as a laboratory for innovation and modern design. Unfortunately, the ups and down of the business cycle have left much of Waterford Crystal production in other venues such as Germany and the Czech Republic. Still, here we would see a wonderful retail showcase and how each individual piece of crystal is created by highly skilled craftsmen using unique and traditional methods.
Waiting for our guided tour to begain Mrs. T and I wandered about thru the combination history/retail showcase. I was looking for that something special to buy the Mrs. Ah there it was. A crystal harp. Just perfect to go with our imaginary grand piano. The price tag was.... 64,000 Euros. At about $1.40 American for a Euro....just a little out of our price range. "Would you settle for a new table setting?" I asked the Queen. "You think we can afford one these teacups?," was the instant reply.
Then they called for us to join the guided tour. Whew! Come on along!

As the tour ended we returned to the retail area. Perhaps a Waterford Crystal Beer Stein would be in order, I thought. Not a chance!
She didn't buy the whole setting!

Sunday, July 2, 2017

The Land of Saints and Scholars Day 1

Day 1. Arriving in early morning, after an overnight flight from the Twin Cities, we went south along the coastal expressway towards Glendalough in County Wexford. Leaving the four laner, we headed up into a beautiful hill and valley country. The narrow but well maintained highway passed small scattered woodlands, and rock walled fields teeming with flocks of sheep. It took a little while to get used to being on the "wrong" side of the road as this picture reveals.

Our destination was the famous St. Kevin's monastary revealing the early origins of Christianity on the island. It dated back to the 6th century. The monastery sat on a hill overlooking a beautiful valley. Take a look.....
The monastery at Glendalough was enclosed within a circular wall. Unlike Benedictine monasteries, Celtic monasteries embraced entire families; men, women, their children and animals lived in the outer walls, while the celibates lived within the inner walls. In these worlds within the walls, they prayed and worked together in unity with all creation. The cathedral was destroyed by the English in the 14th century.

This very early Christian history of Ireland was a revelation to me. From hence came the saints and scholars, who traveled to England, France, Germany and beyond to help Christianize and bring learning to much of Western Europe.

Reflecting back now on this 2010 trip, I recall that the idea for it came from Mrs. T.'s "bucket list." Initially reluctant because I was somewhat aware of the Irelands tragic history. It was our bus driver/guide who leavened the trip with both honesty and humor and who helped make the trip such a joy.  The fantastic scenery didn't hurt either as we loved every minute....:)