Troutbirder II

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

Monday, December 9, 2019

Trout fishing in the desert

One might think that Arizona noted for its desert land might not be the best place to expect to go trout fishing.  Well not exactly. My son and grandson do it quite often. They just have to had north of the Phoenix area into the mountain ranges where melting snow can provide water. It's often tough hiking as the  terrain becomes steeper and more rugged but there are trout to be found. Take a look.
Son Tony and grandson Leonard camping in the Arizona mountains.
The Valley of the sun. Phoenix Desert and South to the Mexican border. North to Flagstaff and skiing Grand Canyon, mountains and Colorado.
 Ray with the Minnesota trout. A. K. A.
Pike trout. No mountains here though.

Sunday, December 1, 2019

At the Guthrie

As the Christmas season grew ever closer my beautiful daughter-in-law Deanne and I chose to join Historic Adventure and Travels tours  for a holiday bus trip to the Twin Cities..

The trip from Rochester  began with a stop at the Como Park Conservatory in St. Paul for their annual holiday flower show. Every section adjacent to the great dome had a different set of flowers highlighted. Deannes smiles showed we were enjoying them all. After that it was on to a very nice  restaurant whose name and location I can't repeat. Truth to tell the city a of my birth and youth is mostly a puzzle to me now. Then it was on across the Mississippi to the Guthrie theater for a "Christmas Carol ."

Called "a 21st century dream factory" by Time Magazine,  Guthrie boasts three stages, a full-service restaurant, pre-show dining, numerous bars and some of the best views of Minneapolis to be found in the city.



  We saw an expanded and somewhat more light hearted version of Dickens A Christmas Carol. Then the one you might have seen on TV We are all blown away at the set, the staging, the acting.... the whole production. Actually Barb and I had seen another version at the Guthrie when it first opened some years ago now. It was all good

Upon leaving the theater for the bus ride home, we all decided, it had been a wonderful beginning  to the joys of the Christmas season. What fun!

Friday, November 29, 2019

The pioneers: The Heroic Story of the Settlers Who Brought the American Ideal West

Pulitzer Prize–winning historian David McCullough rediscovers an important and dramatic chapter in the American story—the settling of the Northwest Territory by dauntless pioneers who overcame incredible hardships to build a community based on ideals that would come to define our country.

As part of the Treaty of Paris, in which Great Britain recognized the new United States of America, Britain ceded the land that comprised the immense Northwest Territory, a wilderness empire northwest of the Ohio River containing the future states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin. A Massachusetts minister named Manasseh Cutler was instrumental in opening this vast territory to veterans of the Revolutionary War and their families for settlement. Included in the Northwest Ordinance were three remarkable conditions: freedom of religion, free universal education, and most importantly, the prohibition of slavery. In 1788 the first band of pioneers set out from New England for the Northwest Territory under the leadership of Revolutionary War veteran General Rufus Putnam. They settled in what is now Marietta on the banks of the Ohio etc. etc. river

McCullough chose a small number of people who provided the leadership in this vast settlement of the Northwest Territories. They might not be so well known in the broader scope of American history but as he wrote the communities that evolved were based on the ideals that would come to define our country. For example those who lobbied the Congress of the United States then based at the very beginning in New York City that slavery not be allowed in the new territories and states. Or that public education schools and universities following the New England model would be nurtured and supported by land grants based on federal. As people flooded by the thousands into the Ohio River Valley and also came from overseas a new world was being created for settlement and trade. Trade up and down the river and even worldwide with new technologies changing transportation dramatically like steam engines and so on. It was mostly all new to me and as McCullough often does he made it personal and very interesting I definitely recommend it.






Thursday, November 28, 2019

Pilgrim Grandchildren on Thanksgiving

She, Tensae, had arrived from Ethiopia only a couple of years before. Her older brother Ethan was explaining about the Pilgrims here is part of the lesson. Today all five of my grandchildren live far away in the desert of Arizona.Tensae is a sophomore in high school. Ethan is a Freshman in college. She is an honors student and he is on a full ride scholarship. How time flies........

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Thanksgiving Tradition remembered again

It was only a few years after our marriage that my young bride, ever the bold one, decided to invite my parents and siblings from the Twin Cities to our rural home in the hinterland for Thanksgiving dinner. Her holiday culinary experience was quite lacking at the time. I must add that back in the day turkeys arrived at the supermarket with their necks still attached and the key organs still to be found inside to add to the stuffing.  While busily peeling potatoes I was asked by the lady in charge "which end do I stuff?" Dumfounded, I discovered there was an opening next to the neck. "Call your best friend Mary Ann" I suggested. And she did. Even standing some distance away I could hear gales of laughter over the telephone.  Thus, a Thanksgiving tradition was born. For decades thereafter the phone  would ring early on Thanksgiving morning with a reminder from Mary Ann as to which end to stuff the Turkey....
                                                Mrs. T on our honeymoon to the Maritimes

Monday, November 18, 2019


Over the years as a upland game hunter and waterfowl as well I had some great retrievers, there was Max the wonder dog, part golden retriever and part German shorthair. He could do it all including teach me how to hunt.
Next came Ben. He was a gentle giant who I could've easily saddled up. Of unknown origin he was very good  at flushing pheasants. He  could locate a scent and then  track the birds down. Which meant he was usually about a quarter of a mile ahead of me and well out of range.
Then came Chessie. She was a Chesapeake Bay retriever. Of course that meant I had added duck and goose hunting to my repertoire. She never missed returning a duck or goose to me out of the water. Pheasants were another thing though she could locate them flush or find them in a cornfield. Bringing them back though apparently wasn't in her contract. She would locate and then guard them till I arrived to pick  the bird up. All I can say on that point is it was easier to locate a dog than a dead bird in a corn field.
Her successor was Muffy, who was excellent in all phases of the hunting dogs duties. She was also a purebred Chesapeake Bay retriever. Why she was named after a cat I have no idea because Barb and our two boys assigned that job to themselves. And last but not least when I gave up hunting due to a bad knee we settled for a house dog. His name was Baron and the big guy was followed by our rescue dog Lily. They were both German shepherds a. K. A. Also known by Barb as German shedding dog's. They both were multi-purpose......................

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Tundra Swans

A small relapse found me once again using a cane after my knee surgery. Taking pity on me my good friend Mr. science, Gary, a former teaching colleague offered to take me down to Mississippi River to see the annual migration of the tundra Swan's. It was really cold that morning and dressing for arctic conditions I forgot my camera so some of the pictures here will reflect past visits on the same occasion.
At an overlook  in Minnesota, near the Iowa border, south of Brownsville we see some tundras and a late-season barge on the river. Across the Father Of Waters, clouded in mist, lay Wisconsin.
As   we parked along the highway,  we heard a rather loud and strange sound emanating from the river.  It was a kind of  of excited yet friendly conversation among some visitors from the tundra far to the north.
Here, we were to witness a world class event in the world of natural  wonders. Coming from the arctic , in  their thousands, tundra swans had stopped to refuel and rest, before continuing their journey to Chesapeake Bay, far to the southeast.

With the construction of the lock and dam system on the river in the 1930's, many of the natural aspects of the river have changed. One of these is the wave action of the increased open spaces. Many islands have disappeared. Because of this, many of the plants and tubers the swans fed on also disappeared. Now man is undoing the damage and helping the birds, by using dredge material from the main channel to rebuild these islands. The artificial islands providing a resting place and shelter from the wind and renewed food supplies. It’s not entirely safe for the ducks and swans who gather here though as hundreds of bald eagles cruise overhead  along the river as well.  They are always on the lookout for an easy lunch.

The  overlook provides a safe place for people to turn out to see and photograph the swans.   Previously people would park along the shoulder endangering themselves and passing vehicles. Way to go DNR and Army Corps of Engineers. We make an annual trip along the river to see this amazing sight. It never grows old.  Thanks Mother Nature!

And Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Flying Swans from Mr. Sciences "Nature Notes."

Sunday, November 3, 2019

The British are coming - the war for America by Rick Atkinson

The British are coming war for America, Lexington to Princeton,1775-1777
Abraham Lincoln said "a house divided against itself cannot stand" he was correct though it stood just barely, leaving a trail of divided families, many dead or wounded along with mass destruction and the heritage of racism. Today, we may be facing the potential of something  similar in a  more modern world of sophisticated media and other technologies, as well as unsophisticated so-called "alternate facts."
None of the above has solely been created by the con artist, liar and dictator lover in the White House but he has enhanced, used and personally benefited from many of them. For many of us this has posed a real dilemma. It began  from the start of Trump's administration. I remember thinking his words and claims were untrue, even un presidential and couldn't get worse. It has of course, even to the point of abuse of office and selling out his countries safety, security and the Constitution of the United States for his personal and political benefit. Back in the day he would be identified as  a traitor.
What to do? I'd heard enough from the so-called panel experts on cable TV. It was time to go back to the first house divided. That is to say the American Revolution and the founding fathers, many of whom survived that colonial/Civil War for independence to write the blueprint for a new nation. It's    called the Constitution of the United States of America. As the impeachment process continues in the days ahead will be hearing much of the words and meaning of that document.
As luck would have it I had just noted one of my favorite American historians Rick Atkinson had just  published the first book in  a trilogy on the American Revolution. His writing is right up there at the very top of his profession. Think of authors like Stephen Ambrose, David McCullough, Doris Kearns Goodwin and. Bruce Catton ......

.......... Rick Atkinson is an American historian who began his writing career as a highly successful newspaper reporter who later turned to writing mostly military history. . For those of you that slept through those boring history textbooks and lectures in high school the British Are Coming will bring it all to life as s only Atkinson can. For those of you that know the story because you liked history to begin with   this will not be the story that you thought you knew. I doesn't have the romantic of all those paintings and legends. For those of you that love historical fiction please be careful because this book feels like historical fiction but it isn't. It's based on  well documented research which you can check in the back of the book. All your senses will come alive as you read what really happened. The smell, sound  and scenes will come alive as you read and yes the emotions's as well.

Many historians guess that the American colonists were divided into about three equal groups You'll meet those who just wanted no part of this awful Civil War, and the Patriots will put everything on the line to create their own Republic, and the Tories who remained loyal to the king and Empire
This was indeed our first house divided. More people as a percentage of the total population died in this war than any other with the exception of the one Pres. Lincoln feared.
In summing up the this wonderful book I'm having a hard time choosing   appropriate  descriptions.  Perhaps masterpiece, classic, poetic, cinematic and God forbid prophetic. This divided people long ago in spite of almost impossible odds created a new nation based upon their acceptance of common goals and  a structure of government which divided power into three equal branches, to make sure that no single group or person  could be all powerful nor subservient to foreign interference and bribery. From The very beginning that Atkinson wrote so poignantly about, generations  kept the promise. Now it's our turn. To disagree without being disagreeable nor demeaning each other. Focus on our common goals which should allow us to do something we seem to have forgotten. Compromise. King George III might had tried that with better results.....

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@Barrie Summy

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Minnesota In The Fall (updated)

This time of the year I'm reminded every day how Bluff Country in particular and Minnesota in general can be spectacular. Bluff Country is the name we attach to the unglaciated portion of southeastern Minnesota. Having been missed by the glaciers, that flattened and scoured out the many lakes of our state, the topography has been bisected, by its many streams, into deep valleys. Southwestern Wisconsin and northeastern Iowa have a similar landscape. For the fisherman, it's trout stream country with very few lakes. In the fall it comes alive with color. Take a look,,,,, With thanks to my all time favorite.... John Denver
Almost Heaven, Minnesota
Golden Prairies

Blue Green Forests
Father Of Waters
Life is Great here
Older than the valleys
Younger than
Gitche Gumee
Fresher than a breeze.

And may your "Country Roads" be just as beautiful as we enjoy our fall season here in Bluff Country


Friday, October 11, 2019

Home again

One week after Barb's funeral I entered Olmsted community Hospital in Rochester Minnesota for a total knee replacement. That was followed by a three-week stay in Spring Valley Minnesota's nursing home for rehab. Now Lily and I are back home together for the long haul. I expect to be driving again in a week or so and fully functional within a month. Adapting to my new normal will no doubt take longer but it will be done though I only know this for sure, some doors will be close behind me and others will open. Time will tell. For certain I will continue my two blogs and reconnect with old friends and make new ones.
Ray A. K. A. Troutbirder

Sunday, September 15, 2019

The October horse

This is the final volume in the Masters of Rome series and covers the time from Caesar's search for Pompey in Egypt to the battle of Philippi, which marks the end of the “liberators” and the beginning of the final rise of Octavian to Augustus. It is a book as much about Octavian as it is about Caesar..

 The current volume recounts Julius Caesar's final years, focusing on his involvement with Cleopatra, and his final campaign in Spain. As Caesar's fame and power grows, so does the discontent of the Roman elite. Perhaps, if they had the benefit of reading McCullough's works, they could have seen how the pressure of the ever-expanding sphere of Roman influence, and the reforms instigated by Marius, required the focus of a single, brilliant man to steer its vision. However, to the powerful men of the capital city, who have watched the power of the Roman Senate erode from absolute, to merely advisory within a single lifetime, his ascendancy is percieved as a grave threat to their cherished way of life.

So this long time fan of Colleen McCullough grabbed this book as soon as he saw it on sale at Goodwill. I do love Roman history and read the entire series Masters of Rome. What a clinker for me. Maybe just because I’ve entered my golden years but the endless complexity of the genealogy and names previously mentioned in her series was just playing too much. The drama was exciting. The characterizations interesting. The confrontations seem true and on and on. But the fact is while I knew the plots and what it was all about I couldn’t keep track much of the time of who was talking and even sometimes about what. I started skipping parts which I never do and thought the book would never end. Sorry about that fans of this wonderful writer but he seemed tired and inattentive to making the story flow for me.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019


Dear friends it is with great sadness that I inform you Barb left Cottagewood for her final reward last night September 10 at 2 AM. She appeared the last several to be calm days calm and composed. Tony was with me and Deanne appeared the next morning. Today the three of us met Jim hindt the funeral director and later father Mahreddy of St. Ignatius parish for Saturday’s mornings wake and eleven o’clock service.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Saying Goodbye

As those of you who are my long time blogging pals know Mrs. T. (Barb) is in Cottage wood memory care and now under Heartland Hospice authority a private business for Medicare.  She is safe, comfortable and quietly waiting to meet our son ted again who is with God. Our youngest son Tony who teaches High school science in Arizona, flew up to say goodbye to his mom several days ago.  We are now just waiting  sharing  reminescences, laughter and tears.


Saturday, August 31, 2019

A new book on Troutbirder II

As I’ve mentioned before I’ve had to give up many of my outdoor nature adventures due to a variety of minor but annoying disabilities including including benign essential tremors and vertigo. Thus, I’ve taken up some new hobbies such as learning to cook in the kitchen instead of the wilderness, attending two different churches on alternate Sundays, reconnecting with old friends and weeding my gardens the old-fashioned way by hand and coloring  books for adults. Speaking of books and cooking I recently purchased two cookbooks and for my a national once a month book club I’m reviewing one of the cookbooks. You can read the exciting details and even see a new flower in the process by clicking on Mark Twain above to jump to Troutbirder II.

Sunday, August 25, 2019


Actually this is not about the rock 'n roll musical back in the day. This is about Mrs. T's German Shepherd dog Lily. A. K. A as  a G. S. D. Barb always said that those latter initials actually stood far German shedding dog. Here's the proof from yesterday August 24's single day  combing done by myself. Case closed.
Okay all of my hunting dogs as well as Baron the huge German Shepherd were kenneled outside with an entrance to our unheated garage and a comfy doghouse. Lily rescue dog which she  is has lived indoors with outside privileges surrounded by an invisible fence around the whole property. One very lucky and sweet dog I'd say.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Residential school closes


A recent story in both the Minneapolis and St. Paul newspapers caught my eye. The headline in the Minneapolis Star and Tribune stated end of an era for troubled boys. St. Paul’s century old boys totem town closes. I was there for two years while an undergraduate student at the University of Minnesota. Basically as a volunteer supervisor/playground director every weekend. I got 2 college credits in the process as well as improving my resume to achieve my goal as a senior high history teacher.

Boys Totem Town  was a residential program for up to  adolescent boys age 14-18 who had been committed by the court to treatment for committing offenses and demonstrating risky behavioral concerns in the community. I learned a lot in my two years there and some of it stood well when it came to discipline issues in the my own career. I also think the reason for closing was well-founded. With better methods of dealing with delinquency have  less and less incarceration. Keeping families together, community support and so on as well as much less serious behavioral issues all were making a difference. At closing there were only two boys still in the facility.. That’s a good sign.

In a roundabout way the nostalgia that this newspaper item brought up reminded me of an interview I had with my principal in my first high school job in small town rural Minnesota. I would be teaching senior Social studies meaning my classes would be17 and 18 year olds. I was 22. In a fatherly manner to a young rookie teacher he noted my experience with delinquent boys that small town farm girls were not without their wiles. Be careful he noted and I did. What he didn't warn me about was a bunch of unmarried female colleagues. That included one who later boasted that following her girlfriends suggestion she admonished the superintendent to hire a single male to replace the departing senior social studies teacher. Or in her own words she had requisitioned me. I had no chance whatsoever. It was all for ordained.
Two retired teachers on their 50th anniversary

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Locked out

No, not the house, nor the car, nor the computer. It's my damn  E blog owned by Google who won't let may into my very own Troutbirder and Troutbirder II. And if you don't think the like of Google, Amazon and a few other corporate mega giants aren't about to take over the world you are sadly mistaken. I expect a bill for zillions of dollars to soon be extracted from my savings account. However, this is round two of this particular crisis within the past two years. With the help of a former student of mine and owner operator of Spring Valley Tech Solutions LLC I will be able to submit a book review to Troutbirder II on Caesar's immortal the Gallic wars which opened with the words Veni, Vidi, Vici.  I came, I saw, I conquered.

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Remembering Baron: the puppy years

I had given up hunting upland game and waterfowl do to my increasing vertigo. Mrs. T informed me that walking in the woods, sloughs and plowed cornfields and falling with a loaded shotgun was not a good idea. The days of hunting with my retrievers were over. It was time to move in a different direction. The pups name was Baron. He was destined to be a giant GSD and my best buddy ever.
Puppy vignettes
C'mon Boy
he grew fast becoming my unafraid gentle giant
At ease while guarding our property
First time camping
First swim
I got worried but they finally stood up