Troutbirder II

Troutbirder II
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Sunday, April 28, 2019

Marriage; falling in love or arranged?

It seems my eldest son Ted and his new bride Deanne fell in love. Perhaps it wasn’t love at first sight since they had been in the same classrooms in our small towns elementary school since kindergarten. Then they went to high school together dated their senior year and that was it. Going off to college some distance apart in other states they remained steadfast and married after graduation. Their marriage however lasted only a few years but Deanne assures me that Ted is waiting for her in heaven where she knows she will meet him again there someday.
For Mrs. T. Now in memory care she expects much the same,, that is as long as I keep my nose clean and attend church regularly. Our beginnings though were much different. We had an old-fashioned arranged marriage. Actually, Barb arranged it. Back in the day she was teaching in a small town high school and according to Barb her single girlfriends forced her into approaching the superintendent of schools and telling him to be sure to hire an eligible single male social studies teacher. Of course not so side nor timid Barb took on the job. The man I replaced had moved on to teach social studies in Rochester Minnesota I was his replacement. You might say I was requisitioned. When she tells that two people in more recent times I say it’s probably true though she no doubt in her story left out the most important word in her requisition “that was the word” “handsome”. :-) She continued on making arrangements by on the second week in my first ever high school job. She approached my classroom with a rather sorrowful expression. It seems that on the first floor, I was on the second floor the social studies Junior high teacher was a jerk because she needed the filmstrip projector and he wouldn’t loan her his. That I have one that she could borrow me being a fellow social studies teacher. What could I do but loan her mind. After all she was a damsel in distress. Well I don’t recall if I ever got it back but I doubt it and in any case about a year later we were married. It was arranged and perhaps inevitable it seems we had both grown up in St. Paul Minnesota and had a lot in common. So the question comes up which is perhaps the best way to enter in to marriage. Arranged or to fall in love? Barb and my circumstances where the latter. She wanted a husband. And I was ready to settle down. It’s probably fair to say even on the day we were married we weren’t madly in love. My best analogy on that subject is found in the song and the movie fiddler on the roof. That was an arranged marriage if I remember right they were Jewish. Arranged marriage does in Europe were quite common among the royalty princesses marriage to princes were a matter of politics and power for the ruling families. They could fall in love but often the future Kings made either other arrangements such as divorces and or affairs. I can’t remember the couple’s names in the fiddler story, perhaps he was to Teveyhe but in any case the couple grew into a profound and lasting marriage based on love. When I go to Cottagewood she lights up when she sees me and gives me hugs and kisses and speaks of our love I do the same. When it’s time for me to go home she hangs on for dear life and begs me to take her home me. The aides and nurses then begin a diversion and I have to sneak out each and every time. Surely however love begins or grows it is the only thing that really counts in the end. Troutbirder a. K. A. Ray

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Troutbirder is "Lost" with Daniel Boone

The story begins with Troutbirder hearing reports of flooding on the Mississippi River. How bad was the flooding he wondered. So, I headed north to check out my favorite fishing landing on a widening of the Mississippi river called Lake Pepin. The small town adjacent is known as Lake City.

The route from my hometown of Spring Valley headed straight north 60 some miles through Rochester Minnesota and on to Lake City.  The highway was State highway 63, however, 63 changed its name in Rochester to Broadway so I kept on Broadway still heading north for  about 10 miles when  state 63 reappeared again in the middle of a roundabout. This was and is a fairly rare device in rural southeastern Minnesota.   Thus, I was back on 63 and arrived in Lake City to check out the floodwaters. They were quite high flooding streets in town and putting my often used boat landing under about 10 feet of water..

Turning around again intended to stop and spend the rest of afternoon bringing a Lily and myself to visit Mrs. T and all of Lily’s new friends in MEMORY Care. It didn’t work I got lost……… Using the roundabout. I had forgotten that highway 63 had disappeared and reappeared and I followed the road on which it had reappeared from. Big mistake.

I drove some miles before it dawned on me that I had never been on this road before. Well, I thought I knew I would have to go south and then perhaps a little east to catch highway 52 coming south to Rochester from the Twin Cities. Bad idea I don’t have a iPhone I don’t have a compass and the compass navigator on the dashboard wasn’t working. So now it’s raining cloudy and there are no signs telling me which way is Rochester nor any names of other towns I was familiar with. They just tell me the names of county roads I’ve never heard of so I wandered and wandered and wandered I couldn’t even jump out of the car and determine north by seeing which side of some big oak trees grew Moss or look in the sky to see which direction the sun was moving and so on and so on.  There were lots of darkened farms, no traffic. I was in the hill and valley country of Olmsted County. I could have been lost in the wilderness which I’ve been in many times in northern Canada and the boundary waters wilderness of northern Minnesota. After miles of driving I came to a new elementary school called Pine Island. I knew that town was near the four-lane highway 52 heading south to Rochester so I kept going and came to a dead end and had to turn around.   That was followed by two  small towns with names I’ve never heard of and no businesses or anything open  where I could inquire for directions. Finally, many miles later I came to a building  which I had seen about an hour before. Mmmm. I’m going in circles in an agricultural area with hills and valleys and there are no signs of anything that could give me a clue except county road numbers going in four different directions.

Then  a miracle  that is a business with lights on and it was open.  Arriving at the site, I pulled over and  went into  the Douglas bar and Grill. There were four guys, a bartender and three customers sitting at the bar and drinking beer. I tried to sidle over to the bartender quietly, but of course everybody was watching this stranger as I came in and wondering who he was. Not one to beat around the bush,  I spoke loud enough for everyone to hear and told the bartender  I had gotten  lost someplace back up the road in one of those newfangled roundabouts.  The bartender informed me well you're not the first and in any case, figures  all roads lead to Douglas and this particular bar. Showing some sympathy one of the barstool guys offered to point me in the right direction wherever I wanted to go. At that point  grateful for the help but  feeling a bit humiliated by my predicament I denied that I was really lost and never had been ever.  Then then I quoted the great frontier  explorer Daniel Boone. Back in the day Boone was asked by a New York City reporter if he had ever been lost. "Never," Boone replied," but I’ve been confused  many times. On that note we all had a laugh and  that I had been seriously confused.  Upon which I was offered a free beer and directions to Rochester straight ahead for 2 miles Rochester. And a quarter of a mile further I was in Cottagewood to visit my bride only three hours late and one beer ahead. The end.
P.S. I forgot to mention one small detail, the directional display on dashboard indication conked out at the beginning...:(

Friday, April 19, 2019

And ecumenical dialogue for Easter

Deanne and Mrs. T.
Photograph by Ray (A. K. A.) Troutbirder
A religious dialogue between an evangelical Baptist, my beautiful loving daughter-in-law Deanne and myself Troutbirder who is perhaps a skeptic or even a secular humanist. The dialogue that follows stems from my noting to  Deanne some of my favorite parts of the New Testament. Well, I have some issues with the Old as with that eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth stuff. Each part of the dialogue begins with my comments some favorite passages and Deanne’s take on those comments. Enjoy or comment on them in the comments section yourself. :-) Remember however this is not red state versus blue state stuff, nor zero sum debates but between two people who love and care for each other.

  Hi Ray!

 I'm presently at my 2nd of 3 jobs I have.  My client  was born with a rare chromosomal handicap. .  He spent the first 5 months of his life at Children's hospital.  I was blessed to start working with him when he finally came home--a little "peanut" of a boy, with a sweet smile and pretty auburn hair.  He's my dear "Billy"  I just love him to pieces and am truly blessed to know him and his family.


Speaking of "blessed,"  the Sermon on the Mount is one of my favorite chapters in the Bible (Matthew 5).  It truly makes sense that you love that chapter, as well, Ray.  From your insight on each verse, backed up by the way you have lived, one can easily see you have a deep passion (from God, I believe) to help and advocate for the less fortunate--the ones who suffer...the lost...the lonely...the disabled...the weak...the poor...the unprotected...the vulnerable...the overlooked...the forgotten.  I have ALWAYS seen Jesus in you, Ray--but reading your take on the Beatitudes, definitely added another dimension to the beauty of your soul. 

 Not that my opinion matters, but since you asked me to comment on your take on the Beatitudes, I will do so now, for you...

"Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."  I think that may mean something about depression.  And I know it saved you and Barb when Ted went there to be with God.  Thank you for saying that, Ray.  When Ted went to Heaven, not only was my husband gone but so were my dreams and my future.  That's why it took me so long to regain my footing because TED had been my footing.  I had to turn my pain, depression, and FUTURE over to Jesus or I would have never made it.  Being "poor in spirit" meant relying solely on Jesus--the only One who could heal my pain and give me HOPE again.  And He did.  From that whole heart-wrenching trauma I came to realize REALITY that we are ALL passing away...that we are all dying.  And I can't tie my anchor onto anyone or anything that is passing away. I can only tie it onto the One who gave His life for me and is preparing a place for me in eternity.  Two of my favorite Bible verses are John 3:16-17, which I'm sure you know: 16"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him."

"Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted." That also covers the previous one.  I also know I've had a share of that business in my life.  Yes, you have, Ray.  Mental illness is no respecter of persons and it has dug it's ugly claws into too many of your beloved family members.  I can't IMAGINE the anguish you've had to endure, especially with losing your beloved son.   I do so hope the Lord comforted you in those valleys of darkness and carried you in His loving arms until the sun (AND Son) shone on your face again.

"Blessed are the meek for they shall possess the earth."  I hope that's true for they deserve it the most.  You are soooo right, Ray.  Ok--here comes my fiery opinion...(watch out!wink)  It is this point that makes me righteously angry with BOTH the republican and democratic parties.  Both parties talk out of both sides of their mouths. Scripture AND the constitution are clear that ALL life is important and valuable--whether you're of the 97% who are born with no birth defects or of the 3% who ARE born with so-called defects, whether you're Christian or Atheist or Muslim, whether you're one skin color or another, whether you're heterosexual or homosexual, whether you're a woman or a man or unsure of your gender, whether you live within the  "walls" of the United States or outside the "walls" of the United States, whether you live within the "wall" of a womb or on the outside of the "wall" of a womb...ALL life is important.   And I, too, hope the MEEKEST of the meek possess the earth someday.  The last WILL be first.


"Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for justice, for they shall be satisfied."  Another core value for me and it should as well be for our country and many others.  But as a country we have failed that many times because of many things including prejudice racism, sexism, homophobia, etc. etc.    I completely agree.  And I would also add in there that this country has failed because of greed, selfishness, and disrespect for God and for our neighbor.


"Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy."  Yes indeed, the good Samaritan.  I love that story of the Good Samaritan.  Did you know that in Jesus' day, the Samaritans were looked down upon because they weren't purebred?  (That goes back to when the Assyrians conquered the northern tribes of Israel and many of the areas of those regions--AKA, Samaria became "mixed" then).  Yet, it was the "unclean" and "mixed" person from Samaria who helped the half-dead traveler on the road.  We ALL need to be good Samaritans!  The world would definitely become a better place if we did!

"Blessed are the clean of heart for they shall see God."  I'm not sure what clean means here but under my sainted mother's direction I was a long time member of the clean plate club.  Hahahahaha!!!!  I love your sense of humor!  But back to the verse,  I think "clean of heart" here means asking God to forgive us of our sins and then seeking to do what God wants.  I always think of Psalm 51 when David was so remorseful for his sins and he cried out to God, "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me."


"Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God."  The very best people in the world who follow the teachings of Jesus, and knowing what I know now, would not have volunteered to fight in Vietnam nor any of our subsequent wars.  Word war II yes--it was a fight against an evil man in system, including the Holocaust, likely the worst kind ever.  Trying to exterminate one religion by another tribe on the basis of race and religion.  I really don't think I have the right to comment on this one because I don't know much about ANY war except World War II, and I was never deeply rooted in a military family.  My dad was in the National Guard and so was Troy, but otherwise, I really don't take a side on anything with the wars (mainly because I'm ignorant--unlike you, who knows a lot). I DO respect your opinion, though, on this matter.  But back to the verse,  Jesus says that any who try to make peace shall be called children of God.  I don't know about anyone else, but I  certainly want to be a child of God so I will do all I can to be at peace with everyone.  The writer of Hebrews reiterated the statement, when he wrote, "14Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the LORD." (Hebrews 12:14). And you're more than right about the Holocaust (of the Jews or ANY other group of people) being BRUTAL, inhumane, and EVIL.  Hitler and his wicked cohorts are definitely reaping now what they sowed during their time on earth.  They were NOT children of God--and because of that, they are in a place where God IS NOT.

"Blessed are they who suffer persecution for justice's sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."  Well, justice and mercy have somewhat been covered so I will mention heaven.  I mostly believe that heaven and hell are here on earth as God gave us the ability to make choices; thus heaven is here on earth and is made by mankind's choice of love or hate. My take on the verse is that Jesus for-warned us  that anyone who follows Him WILL be persecuted-- It's a given.  And as the end draws closer, evil will continue to ramp up and will try to snuff out Jesus' commands of "Love God first" and "Love your neighbor as yourself," and also His Great Commission to spread the Good News about Him.   But we WILL be rewarded in the end for following Him, believing in Him, and for receiving Him as our Lord and Savior.  In my beloved mother's obituary it was stated that all her suffering (which can be synonymous with persecution) had been replaced with the crown of righteousness. (2 Timothy 4:7-8).  

Moving on to your take on "the kingdom of heaven"--it's interesting!  Thank you for confiding in  me, in writing, and also in person, your "beliefs" on heaven and hell.   Do you mind if  I share with you another segment of favorite Scripture verses (I have a gazillion, by the wayteeth_smile).  In John 14, Jesus is comforting His disciples.  They know He is about to die soon.  This is what He says:

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in Me. 2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with Me that you also may be where I am. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going'

5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”

6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. 7

Just as Jesus was comforting His disciples with this assurance, He also comforts ME with these promises that He's coming back one day to take me to my new Home--my permanent Home with Him (and with Ted and my mom and grandma and with YOUR mom and dad).  I can't wait!  But until that day happens, I have a lot of living to do yet here and a lot of GIVING to do yet unto others.  --NOT because my salvation depends on it but because I WANT to do it in joyful response to what Jesus did for me.   I am saved because I have a SAVIOR--and one day I will reside with Him WHEREVER Heaven is located.


So how did I do on my commentary??  Yes, I admit I'm opinionated, but hey--I DO have a mind, a heart, and a will of my own!  God made each of us uniquely--made in His image, but still UNIQUE.  I'm glad I'm unique.  And I'm glad YOU'RE unique, too, Ray.


Blessed are the...  blessed is ME!!  --To have a Savior, to have life, to have love, and to have BEAUTIFUL people in my life like you, Barb, and Ted.   I hope you feel blessed, too, Ray!!

I would love to come to church with you one of these upcoming Sundays in March!  I'm going to shoot for March 17 or March 24th.  I would feel honored to attend with you, hear the sermon, greet your fellow Spring Valley Methodists, and have Sunday treats with the friendly female parishioners.  Sounds like it would be a perfect start to a new week!  I will talk to you about it soon.

Hope you have a joy-filled weekend, Ray! 

I love you!


Sunday, April 14, 2019

Spring time robins and Barb

It Was about a week ago when the 12 foot snow drifts in my backyard had finally disappeared. I removed my snowblower from our garage where I could plug it in and start with the electric starter. Then off it went to our garden shed and I began checking out the lawn tractor. I was obviously getting ready for grass. Two days after all this, unprepared for a nighttime sleet/rain/ice/thunderstorm, with power outages all over southern Minnesota, I woke up to find a real mess. A day after  that I noted a large flock of migrating robins wandering around my backyard on top of 4 inches of snow covered by an inch of ice. This is their story.......
Well, to tell the truth, I don't know a whole lot about robins except they like angle worms and night crawlers for lunch. That for sure wasn't going to work here. I do remember though one time flyfishing though  on a forested trout stream in Montana, watching a large group of robins fly across the stream where they were catching flying insects. Now, that's what swallows and other small diving swooping dodging birds do to catch their prey rising  from the water itself. Those are small insects that fly fisherman emulate to catch the trout. This time though they were 3 inch long salmon flies, huge flies that big trout and a big awkward bird like a robin just might catch for his own lunch. And they were. I was amazed watching them do it. Actually, it's often what  senior citizens have to do when physical infirmities force us to change our lifestyles. For those robins it was adapting to a different opportunity for lunch.
Since then I've learned that robins do that adapting all the time in ways I've never seen. They go to birdfeeders. They will eat suet out of the cages that the woodpeckers  like. Some don't migrate south to leave the colder climates of the upper Midwest. Perhaps, someday further north of us, they will be found in Manitoba or Ontario or.... Even further as climate change reeks its destruction on the worlds ecosystems.
About a week ago or so on the first sunny warm day Barb and I spent time outdoors soaking up the sun. Other people with dementia joined us  and soon I did my "thing" greeted them all, tried to get them mostly  laughing, even smiling. As the aids began bringing out people in wheelchairs, we put all the chairs in a large circle so we could see each other and enjoy the day together. Too much excitement in dementia land is not always good so when that happened I proposed we do this once a week and suggested we give our new club a name. Several names were offered by the group and the winner was the sunshine club. As  the meeting adjourned I carefully had chosen not to mention that a blizzard  was forecast for the next night and it might be a while before the sunshine club could meet again. It was a good day for all and particularly for Barb who especially enjoys the camaraderie and the friendship social gatherings. The corker, however, was shortly later that same day Barb and I were standing in the luncheon area and three people came around the corner from the hallway. These were people I had never seen before because one of them was a new resident who had only been in memory care for three days. What turned out to be her daughter came rushing up to Barb saying" Oh Barb so glad to see you again," which was followed by hugs and more hugs. Her husband followed up with a friendly greeting to me and Barb. I then introduced myself as Barb's husband and wondered how they knew Barb. The woman then explained and told me that her mother was so frightened and  upset when she came to Cottagewood two days before that Barb had approached and offered to be the elder ladies friend, told her the apartments were very nice and  wondered if she could take her hand by show her around. That of course is the real Barb I've known and loved more than 53 years now..

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

An April Ditty

A Mrs. T. often reminded me on April mornings...
"Oh there you are Merry Sunshine,
What makes you rise so soon?
You scared away the little stars
And  shined away the moon.
The grass is green.
The flowers are riz!
Oh! There you are,
you blooming idiot

Okay. So I'd just gotten up and was only slightly cranky. The fact that the weather report for today the 10 of April indicates up to 8 inches of snow this after hasn't helped my mood either...:(