Troutbirder II

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

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


Tuesday, June 12, 2018

A Few Yellow/Orange flowers

Yes we were very busy this spring with these yellow flowers taking over our front lawn.  And inspired by my oldest grandsons bumper sticker, "MAKE AMERICA GREEN AGAIN" MS. T. and  I attacked them with a vengeance the old fashioned way by digging them out one at a time.  No 24D herbicide for use. We've also been slowly getting rid of turf (lawns) by encouraging native woodland wildflower beds.  A few highlights follow .....

Yellow Lady Slipper (a native orchid)

Last but not least, on the edge of the woods,  the somewhat rare but very vibrant yellow/orange Hoary Pucoon.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Cold Mountain

As noted in my previous review of Varina Charles Frazier is an excellent writer of historical fiction. Looking for more I found his first best seller Cold Mountain. Published twenty years ago I read it recently. For more click on Mark Twain above.  Troutbirder II is my book review blog....

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Monday, May 21, 2018

Up North (with John Sanford)

There was a time when the phrase "up north" meant going to a mom and pop resort for a week or two of a fishing vacation in Northern Minnesota. That tradition has faded quite a bit over the years. Today, fancy resorts with tennis courts, golf courses, computer game rooms and "conference centers" dominate. Ah for the good old days.
Here I am checking out the beach with my Aunt Pearl and my mom (on the right) sometime during WWII.

A few years later, can you believe the striped pants my mom made me wear. The cabins were always "rustic." But what fun. I was an only child in those days as my little brothers didn't show up till I was almost nine...

This sudden dash of nostaligia may have been inspired by my perusing my childhood picture album on a rainy day yesterday. I'd just finished another John Sanford thriller. As typical the setting was in Minnesota.   The images of long past fishing lakes "up north" kept flashing through my mind. They are far away in time and distance but not in memory. Farm Island, Ball Club, Potato, Sawbill, Mantrap, Battle Axe, Lida, Hoot Owl, and on and on. Those were the days my friends.....

Saturday, May 12, 2018

The Path

"Do not go where the path may lead,
go instead where there is no path
and leave a trail" Ralph Waldo Emerson

The nature path led me to fishing, hunting, camping, gardening, hiking, biking, dogs, canoeing & wilderness adventures. It even returned me to the classroom as, for example, here I'm speaking to a group of seniors in Apple Valley, Minn. about birding.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018


Think you know pretty much about all the key famous people in the American Civil War? Think again & read my review of Varina  the teenager who married a much older widower and rich planter who took up politics, went to Washington, played an important role in several administrations and later became President of the Confederate State of America.  Click on Mark Twain above to check it  out.... It's an amazing story

Friday, April 27, 2018

Lonesome Prairie

With the last of the snow and ice finally gone from our small acreage I look to the delayed emergence of the spring wild flowers in our oak and pine woods. In the meantime a quick look at our tiny restored prairie from last late summer and fall. The bank along our east facing subdivision road proved to be to much work to keep weeded or mowed. A three years effort in this sunny patch turned it into a mini prairie. Take a look.....


Saturday, April 21, 2018

Winston Churchill: A Quick Riposte


Some years back, I briefly reviewed Volume II of William Manchesters astonishing The Last Lion trilogy. This is biography at its very best. The life of Winston Churchill has been covered perhaps hundreds of times. Manchester brings him alive as no one else has ever done. Of course, Churchills personality and foibles were unique. Here are a tiny sample of his quick wit in action.

Isadora Duncan the famous dancer was seated next to Churchill at a dinner party

Duncan - "Just think Winston if George Bernard Shaw and I had a child. With my talent and beauty and his brains....."
Churchill -" but what if it was the other way around?"

Lady Astor was the first woman elected to the Parliament replacing her husband upon his ascension to the House of Lords. . She was known as a fierce debater. There is a famous exchange between Winston Churchill and Lady Astor when they were both staying at Blenheim Castle. The two politicians had been at each other's throat all weekend when Lady Astor said, "Winston, if I were your wife I'd put poison in your coffee." Whereupon Winston said, "Nancy, if I were your husband I'd drink it."

Churchill was a guest at the White House in 1942 planning war strategy with Roosevelt. His bedroom was in the upper family quarters where, believe it or not, there were shared baths. Never known for his modesty, political or personal, he was late to bed and late to rise. At home, he often dictated to his secretaries while immersed in a bubble bath. Returning to his room, nude from a bath, he met Roosevelt in his wheelchair coming down the hallway. The president, embarrassed for Churchill, tried to apologize. Churchill, always quick on the uptake, replied "as you can see, the Prime Minister has nothing to hide from the President."

The scene is the mens bathroom outside the chamber of the House of Commons. Churchill enters the empty facility but is followed shortly thereafter  by lead of the Socialist/Labor party Mr. Atlee. Upon seeing Atlee, Churchill moves to the far end of the bank of urinals.
Atlee: "Feeling rather standoffish today are we Winston?" he asks amiably.

Churchill: "Well, considering you socialists want to nationalize it, every time you see something big" was the reply.

He was a wit indeed. Here's another, after he left office:
“The Americans will always do the right thing… after they’ve exhausted all the alternatives.”

Playwright George Bernard Shaw invited Churchill to the premiere of a new play, enclosing two tickets: “One for yourself and one for a friend — if you have one.” Churchill wrote back, saying he couldn’t make it, but could he have tickets for the second night — “if there is one.”

Unfortunately, they don’t make Conservatives like that man any more with the possible exception of William Buckley........:)

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Secrets of the Snowy Owl

A very interesting video tracking a snowy owl who heads back home to the frozen North in Canada....

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Snowy Owl Rescue - Part 2

So there we were. A beautiful but injured snowy owl in the ditch. And we had advice from two nature centers to capture it. Now came the scary part. Bobbi rushed home to get some clothes baskets, blankets and heavy gloves. Injured or not the bird was a powerful raptor. We had to be careful to not injure the bird any further nor subject ourselves to sharp talons or beak. The operation went unexpectedly smoothly. Snowy tensed but did not resist. Into the clothes basket she went. Then we placed the basket in the back seat, covered it partially with a blanket, to keep the bird calm and headed off to Rochester, Minnesotas Quarry Hill Nature Center for further instructions.
There Snowy was placed in a more appropriate pet carrier to be transported to the University of Minnesota School of Veterinary Medicines famous Raptor Center in St. Paul. We headed North.....

Their motto is, "Ensuring the health of raptors and the world we share." We certainly hoped so... It is, in fact, a internationally renowned education facility which trains students and veterinarians from around the world to become future leaders in raptor medicine and conservation.
We were told at the Center that starvation with injury cases are tough but their was hope. We’ve called their hot line several times and no final determination has yet been made. Still, we’re glad we could help and now know that our friend Snowy would not die alone in a ditch. She is being given every chance to survive.