Troutbirder II

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

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Keep On Truckin......

So it's been some  few weeks now since a book review or our vacation or nature wanderings being posted. . Other kinds of wandering have involved 911 calls and stays at Mayo's St.Mary's hospital in Rochester in the  meantime.  The excitement of the "Golden Years" as they say. Our motto remains the same. "We're a Team and We keep on Trukin".....   

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Elephants Ears

A friend who is a gardener, not a big game hunter in Africa, gave me a bag of them this spring. They were small dehydrated looking tubers that looked more dead than alive. I threw them in the retired plot in front of the porch hoping one or two survived so I could see what they looked like.
A couple made an appearance in late May and then some more and more and we had some heavy rains. And they grew and grew.....
and grew some more...

I think this project may have gotten a bit out of hand....:)

Thursday, August 23, 2018


I think the squirrels should be doing well this coming winter as it appears we will  have a world record acorn crop this year. Daily sweeping of the deck has already produced bucketfulls of the fruit. I've slipped on them several times.   And the ricochet shots off the roof in the middle of the night were more than a little annoying. Still we love our white and burr oak trees. Almost as much as our beloved butternut..... The Juglans cinerea.  It produces drooping clusters of sweet nuts which are used in baking. The oval kernel is tender with sweet, oily, buttery flavor. The butternut or white walnut is one of the hardiest nut trees. A North American native, the nut has a rich, buttery flavor used in baking, confections, and eating fresh. The attractive, light golden wood is used for paneling and furniture. Its nuts are also valuable as food for deer, squirrels, and birds.  A few years ago   early that fall I raked together the fallen nuts and placed them on the sun deck to air and dry. A few weeks later they were placed in a basket and left on the deck for further airing. My intention was to shell them around Thanksgiving time. Imagine my surprise when I checked on them later to find that every single one had disappeared! Who would sink so low as to take such an item from a person who had carefully gathered the harvest for the winter? I was appalled. I figured that the perpetrators had brought a box and dumped my treasure into it, leaving the basket as a sick reminder of their crime. To say I was ticked would be somewhat of an understatement. Reporting the loss of my nuts to the police or the insurance company didn’t seem to be the way I wanted to go either (he chuckles to himself). So life goes on and their were many other fall chores to finish. One task was to cut down a dead quaking aspen which loomed over my garden. Chain saw in hand I headed out into the woods. The tree was about 60 feet tall. Now aspen is a very soft wood but after I notched it and made the final base cut, it went down very quickly. Rather too quickly, I thought, until I realized the tree was hollow. And there to my huge surprise was the mother load of butternuts. All safely stored away for the winter. How sweet it was! I’m not a revengeful person at heart but property rights must be respected and these nuts were mine!
Well, as they say, "all’s well that ends well." I used the vise in my workshop to crack open the nuts. They were so sweet. Not holding a grudge, I made sure the squirrels were well fed that winter with corn and sunflower seeds. Hmmm. Maybe I should go back and read the Count of Monte Cristo. Is revenge really a dish best served cold..?

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Who waz dat?

It was late August in 2010 and our little cuddly puppy had grown in two years to a gentle giant. He had free range in our 3 acre wooded plot.   Who was that in my wildflower garden?
Oh! Its you. By far the biggest GSD any had ever seen.
Baron! The canine gardener and my best buddy.
Actually, he is in charge of the organic fertilization department.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Deer Attack

With my supervisors permission I was finally able to retire from my duties  as the family Christmas Letter writer.  The ending of that duty had its genesis in the following post I wrote way back in 2009. Progress comes  slowly here on Oak Hill.  The letter was replaced this year by a photograph/card featuring the Grandchildren. Photography is Mrs. T's department....


I’m sure most drivers, at one time or another, have had to fill out a car accident report for the insurance company. In the division of labor at the Troutbirder home, writing Christmas letters, filling out reports and questionnaires is my job. Here is part of an accident report (which included a diagram I had to draw)  I was asked to fill out for Mrs T. These are her words.

"I was driving at the legal speed, east on Highway 16 in the early evening. I noticed a deer emerging from the woods and running to cross the road in front of me. Slamming on my brakes I came to a full stop. Unfortunately, the deer did the same thing, right in front of me. Whereupon, the deer turned to face my car, lowered it’s antlers and charged right into the grill  and left headlight causing all the damage. The deer then fled the scene of the attack back into the woods."

 Somewhat of a skeptic by nature, I barely managed not to question the veracity of this eye witness account. Here are a few similar accounts from  from car insurance files.

 "I parked beside a hedge in a local country lane to go fishing, but when I returned to my car I found that two horses had chewed it causing considerable damage"

 "I was waiting at the traffic lights when a wasp went down my right trouser leg. It made me put my foot on the accelerator and smash into the car in front"

 "I couldn’t put my foot on the brake because my credit cards were wedged under it."

 "My car was hit by a sofa when I was driving home last night"

 "A cow fell off the cliff and crashed right onto the top of our van, which was on the highway"

 "The gentleman behind me struck me on the backside. He then went to rest in a bush with just his rear end showing."

 "I pulled away from the side of the road, glanced at my mother-in-law and headed over the embankment."

 "In an attempt to kill a fly, I drove into a telephone pole."

"The light pole was approaching. I was attempting to swerve out of the way when it struck the front end."
Yes, the last example also belongs to Mrs. T.  I was there when the accident  occurred.       Unfortunately, I was asleep on the passenger side and didn't witness the actual attack.       We had made    a   stop at  Wal-Mart off the I-90 freeway in southwestern  Minnesota.
I think I've got to make a serious attempt to get out of my family writing role. " I don't  do fiction very well !!!!

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

My first "Designer Dog"

In the days before Designer Dog" became the rage and very expensive they were known as "Mutts" and not so pricey.  My grandchildren have several Labradoodles...  Our first dog back in the mid sixties was a cross between a Golden Retriever and a German Shorthaired Pointer. His name was Max.
Max flushed, retrieved, point and pretty much taught me how to successfully hunt pheasants and  grouse. He did it all. 

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Shooting Stars

Actually our little point and shoot cameras don't work well for taking  nighttime photos of fast moving targets like meteors.  During the daytime, out on the prairie, the wildflower paparazzi (Mrs. T.) can point and shoot lots of shooting stars. Take a look....
One very large GSD (Baron) and thousands of small Shooting Stars on the virgin Hayden prairie near the Iowa - Minnesota border....




Friday, July 27, 2018

Someone Very Special

It was my birthday, July 16th. A gorgeous day and we decided to go for a hike.  Mrs. T and Lily led the way as we followed the local bike trail though a prairie like park in our town. On the way we ran across an unexpected sight. Several Turks cap lilies. They are a native wildflower which because of mowed ditches in our rural areas have become quite rare.
And so we had several "lilies" in the same area..... A week later with the arrival of our daughter in law Deanne from the Twin Cities, we all all decided to go for a prairie wildflower ride in search of  Turks Cap lilies a rare flower and any other types we could find.
And there they were as we found several patches along an old abandoned railway right of way.
 Later, we visited a nearby State Park and located some more midsummer prairie flowers.
Pale Coneflowers
Her name is Deanne and she is indeed someone very special to Mrs. T. and myself.  
Our daughter in law she was a steadfast pillar of love and support in our son Ted too short  life.  And now ours as well.  Standing with grace and courage in spite of the travails life has cast upon her, she brings hope and joy to all who know her.
 She visits us regularly in our "golden years".   And and then there is love and laughter and smiles……

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Destiny of the Republic.

A book review on my other blog (Troutbirder II) .   Believe it or no it's not about the current disaster occurring in the White House. We go back to the age of the Robber Barons and learn the true story of an American President who is basically killed by his doctors.  Click on the picture of Mark Twain and me having a friendly conversation above for more details...

Monday, July 16, 2018

Long Way to Go Troutfishing

And so son and young grandson left the dessert and came all the way to southeastern Minnesota to visit and go troutfishing. Of course they had to go canoeing on some larger rivers before checking out the spring creeks for fishing

Then there was an invitation to our friends and neighbors Dick and Sharon  for supper and a chance to check out Dicks new Ranger.....

Our son,  being a biology and chemistry teacher, meant there would be some specimens collected including fireflies and other critters.
We also took some trips to check out other flora and fauna including the much (since I was a youth) modernized St. Paul Como zoo....
I'm sure the highlight for the novice young fly fisherman was catching them which he and his dad did a lot of.....

You catch them, then you have to learn how to clean them.  The eat em part comes easy


Thursday, July 12, 2018

A Small United Nations

The names will be anonymous because this is the internet.  Our youngest sons family lives far away in the desert country of the American southwest.  There are five children now.
Our son born and raised in Minnesota.
His wife born and raised in North Dakota
Their oldest son born and raised in North Dakota and Minnesota. Next year a Senior.
Eldest daughter adopted from Ethiopia in Africa. Next year 9th grade.
Second son adopted from Rwanda in Africa. Next year 7th grade.
And then   two years ago a double addition. Twins. A boy and a girl. 
Next post:   Grandson number two comes to Land of Sky Blue Waters to learn how to fly fish for trout. He claims they're hard to find in the dessert where he lives....:)

Monday, July 9, 2018


It was July and Mrs. T.  was off playing bridge.  I decided it was time to check out  some garden flowers,  when a rare inspiration hit me.  Surprise the lady of the house with some bouquets, an
art form I had never tried before. Okay, take a look and try to hold back the spontaneous laughing! btw the wall hanging on the living room wall in the background is from my mom many years ago. I can still see her in the rocking chair busily stitching or knitting or whatever the technique used was called...

She was quite pleased. I've been wondering if they have a "beginners division" in the county fair next year? Probably not....:)

Friday, June 29, 2018

Revisionist History

"Give me Liberty or Give Me Death" Patrick Henry once said to the House of Burgesses but definitely not to me, though we did have a somewhat testy verbal exchange in Williamsburg that day. For details click on Mark Twain above to jump to my other blog.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Minneapolis Institute of Art

Our morning wonderful tour of the newly restored Minnesota State Capitol was followed  by lunch at one of St. Paul's best Italian restaurants, Cossettas. A favorite eatery and market place of ours located a short walking distance from the XCell Energy Center the home ice of the Minnesota Wild.

 Our afternoon stop would be the Minneapolis Institute of Art.
It had been some years since I had visited there.  I had fond memories of taking senior high English and history students there for field trips. We had created an interdisciplinary  Humanities course for a two period  two credits of English and History. Literature, art, music, science and history are were considered. The English teacher and the History teacher (me) shared the classroom and the  students. A phone call to the Institute would identify our unit focus such as the Renaissance.  A docent would lead a tour of the collection tailored to our subject. Perfect!!! 

Sunday, June 17, 2018

A Massive Restoration

For these two lifelong residents of Minnesota a first time tour of The North Star State Capitol was long overdue. We took the daytrip with our friends at Heartland. The trip also included a visit to the Minneapolis Institute of Art. We get off the bus and head up the walkway to the Capitol.

A quick look back  down the park like Mall towards the "Saintly City"..... St. Paul.
This landmark building, designed by Cass Gilbert and built in 1905 was looking somewhat shabby by the 21st century. What followed was a$310 million , 3+ year restoration and renovation. We had gone to see the results. All decorative art, murals, and paintings were restored to original patters and colors. New public spaces including galleries were added along with exposing limestone basement walls etc.
Of course our tour guide filled us in on the architecture, art and history.
In the peoples house looking at the chamber of the State legislature.  It was a great morning seeing our capitol  restored to its awe-inspiring glory.
Next: The Minneapolis Institute of Art