Troutbirder II

Troutbirder II
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Tuesday, December 22, 2020

The Golden years


Today I was in a shoe store that sells only shoes, nothing else. A young girl with green hair walked over to me and asked, "What brings you in today? I looked at her and said, "I'm interested in buying a refrigerator." She didn't quite know how to respond, had that deer in the headlights look.


 I was thinking about old age and decided that old age is when you still have something on the ball, but you are just too tired to bounce it.


 When people see a cat's litter box they always say, "Oh, have you got a cat?" I just say, "No, it's for company!"



Employment application blanks always ask who is to be called in case of an emergency. I think you should write, "An ambulance."



The easiest way to find something lost around the house is to buy a replacement.



 The sole purpose of a child's middle name is so he knows when he's really in trouble.


 Did you ever notice that when you put the 2 words "The" and "IRS" together it spells "Theirs?"


 Aging: Eventually you will reach a point when you stop lying about your age and start bragging about it.


 Some people try to turn back their "odometers." Not me. I want people to know why I look this way. I've traveled a long way and a lot of the roads were not paved.




Ah! Being young is exciting but being old is comfortable.


 Lord, keep your arm around my shoulder and your hand over my mouth!


 May you always have:


Love to share,


Cash to spare,


Tires with air,


And friends who care.














Sunday, December 13, 2020

Cats and dogs

Cats and dogs

Well, dear fellow bloggers, it seems as though my prediction that icy cold Minnesota weather and my vertigo would limit my nature photography and blogging. Thus Troutbirder has ventured into more personal domains and even the occasional rant. Today I present cats and dogs. A somewhat controversial subject.

As the picture shows dogs are well disciplined by their masters. Cats on the other hand are either brave or foolish in the face of a potential enemy. Also wildly independent.
I begin by noting Mrs. T and I had a beloved house cat for 18 years named Simba. Previous to that two other cats named Tiger and a black cat named after a black revolutionary.  Unfortunately, both were run over by a neighbor on the road behind our house chasing endangered birds. We also had four hunting dogs and two German shepherds, Baron and now Lily.
As this picture indicates German Shepard dogs and other breeds can be organized into teams. As individual they would have a much more difficult time and often can't survive without humans. But working as a team they can be dangerous predators killing large animals like deer. 

It seems a librarian and I disagreed about the merits of dogs and cats. She would relentlessly prove the superiority of cats over dogs in hundreds of ways. A typical example was that dogs had Masters. Cats had staff. My response to that was the fact that dogs were domesticated somewhat earlier than cats. Thus cats were closer in their behavior to the wild. Cats for example are great and skillful predators. Killing mice in a useful manner and endangered birds to the detriment of that species.
 Our experience with giant Baron and Simba was relatively peaceful. They often slept in the same room and basically tolerated each other. When Simba was sitting on the sofa or a chair she would whack him with her paws. He tended than to go someplace else to lay down. And the other hand when Simba jumped down to the floor Baron began his herding/chasing act so Simba would jump up to higher ground so she could take a defensive position. They never got To a cat/dog fight. :-)

Dogs are much less predatory except when in packs. So as the cat advocate continued to educate me on the superior merits of felines, I finally retaliated. It seems likely I pointed out that in case I was walking in the woods and died of a heart attack, my loyal dog would lick me trying to save me. After that proved fruitless he would likely remain at my side for a long period of time guarding my body. On the other hand, in the same circumstance involving you and your cat I would give your beloved cat a maximum of an hour before it would start eating you. In that manner, unfortunately, I rested my case.

Thursday, December 3, 2020

D day June 6, 1944 the climactic battle war II nice Stephen Ambrose with a brief message from Troutbirder to the ladies and a few men as well

Stephen Ambrose is one of those American authors who turned history books and those boring high school history texts into readable and exciting history/stories that the general public came to like and read as bestsellers.. They even told where there accurate information came from without all of those footnotes that slowed the excitement down. Many were turned into movies again because the words made the deeds and the people come alive Ambrose's specialty was including the broad views of the events and the consequences but the focus was on individuals whether they be famous heroes like Thomas Jefferson and Meriwether Lewis in Undaunted Courage or the little & unknown people who had their own stories to tell.  This was made possible because he read their letters and diaries and often when possible spoke to them individually.   D-Day book has the facts and figures of largest events/and projects ever created by several nations at war but the stories ordinary ranks told the  to the author that makes it real and brings it alive. 

If men are from Mars and women are from Venus & you Venusians have gotten this far, I'm sure you're already saying this is not a book I would ever consider seriously reading, some of you have even told me when I reviewed dog books like Marley  that you won't read them because the dogs always die in the end that's often true. My personal analogy to all of that is for a long time I wouldn't read books about the Holocaust for obvious reasons, but I did teach about it in my history classes and later when I found out there were more than at few deniers who said it never happened, I began to read many books about  it. So we must  never  forget so it never would happen again. but it has in several cases like that of my grandson Leo' Leo who was born in the country of Rwanda where a Holocaust did happen and the Western nations said it would never happen again were wrong mostly because it happened in Africa  and who cared/? &our lame duck President called a bunch of shithole  countries 

Okay I was invited to join Spring Valley ladies book club probably because of what I read which is I will try anything and I do so. I suppose I'm known for more than one reason as their diversity guy .

Give -Day a chance, you might not totally like it because war is hell as a famous Civil War general said but above and beyond that right now you need to read it right and I'll tell you why here and now we are in a democracy the worst form of government Churchill once said except for all the rest. these governments rests on the notion of the rule of law above any leader. They always have a

form of the Constitutional law            whereby the people vote and choose their leaders

     This book is based on the oral histories of 1,400 men who were involved in D-Day. The majority of the book deals with one 24 hour period. Midnight, June 5/6 until midnight June 6/7. I learned about D-Day growing up. Mostly this was facts and figures. I have seen several movies about D-Day. Some were good. With the exception of a few names such as Roosevelt, Churchill, Eisenhower, and Montgomery I didn't know the people involved in one of the most historic events of the 20th century. In this book you get to meet and know some of the men who were there. Citizen soldiers as Ambrose refers to them. They were the children of the Great Depression. For many of these men it was their first time in combat. I call them men but many were teenagers. In this book you meet a 15 year old (he lied about his age in order to enlist) and a 16 year old. No matter their age they were men. This is not an easy read. It is full of military terms and acronyms. I often had to flip to a map in order to try an orient myself to the events taking place. I am glad I was reading the hardback version so that I could do this easily. There were many times in the book when the horrors of war were vividly brought home. Many of the soldiers, sailors, and airmen who were involved suffered grievous wounds and continued to fight. Even those who did not suffer a physical injury saw things that stayed with them and can only be described as a living hell. They did not come as invaders. They were there to liberate. There have been many movies about D-Day and they can be entertaining but to really learn about this day in history and appreciate the men who made this happen I would recommend reading this book. And as I found the book at Goodwill and began reading it was perfectly timed simultaneously  with our countries recent decline. When I watched the evening news and realized that for four years the man who lived in the White House revered dictators who challenge freedom in the world called our soldiers losers and suckers and after our recent exercise of democracy challenge the very principle of people voting and the norms around peaceful exchange power .yes D-Day can perhaps remind us as far back as the colonists who risked  all to be free with their own nation0r  0r or other crises be they war or depressions 0r recent election where a  majority voted out the  liar  and con artist who subverts  the constitution at every opportunity  he tried to take the election out of the hands of the   voters by  falsely claiming fraud.  And so ever alert be it on the beaches   of Normandy we defend constitution so help us god

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Wednesday, November 11, 2020



Sara Paretsky    Fallout

I do read most genres but of late especially thriller/detective stories. As to authors it's particularly English ones like Conan Doyle and P. D. James and most recently Steve N. Lee. For American authors  the list would be very long but for me at the top you would find Minnesota guys, especially Jack Sanford and William Kent Krueger.  

Recently browsing for bargains in our local Goodwill store I ran across best-selling author Sara Paretsky whom I had never heard of before  bought her A. V. Warshawsky novel. Fallout What an eye-opener it was.

I dislike novels that introduce an avalanche of characters in the first chapter.  Then when you start reading chapter 4 you have to go back to chapter 1 to figure out who is who. Sure enough that's what I found in the first couple of chapters Annoying! I continued on however the being  of stubborn German ancestry. :-) Not knowing nor remembering who did what and why chapter after chapter I was quite confused. However as feisty in your face Chicago detective Ms.V. I.  Warshawsky stirred up the natives  of Lawrence Kansas I was learning to identify some of the characters and  actually becoming hooked. On top of all that being a retired history teacher myself it was evident to me that  the author  knew that subject very well. It seemed as the plot began circle around people possibly dying, or  murdered by viruses much reference was made to the Spanish flu which killed many in the pandemic during and after World War I. Keep in mind this book was published  three years ago before our present pandemic catastrophe. It was all too familiar at this point and I was hooked. My conclusion and recommendation simple. Warshawsky private detective is a woman the author Paretsky is a feminist. And so for that matter am I. If you’re not bothered by too many characters read it . If you are bothered read it anyway. It’s really good because the author is really smart. A steadily deepening historical nightmare that ends up implicating pretty much everyone in sight in a multilayered coverup. Whodunit purists may be frustrated at the absence of a single villain to blame, I read this book  a few weeks ago .Paretsky set  a complex who dun it in the middle  of  multiple disasters. Based on the characterization of the books protagonist I will conclude the author like me is a feminist' The multilayered disaster of deaths surounded by the spanish flue pandemic was adroitly resolved in Fallout . I hope to do the same by voting in  4 days next Tuesday along with millions of other Americans.

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Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Beautiful Tundra Swans

It's that time of the year again, mid to late November when Mrs. T and I  head down to the "Big River". The Mississippi River that is where we witness one of those true wonders of nature.  There, the Mississippi National Wildlife Refuge provides a safe haven for millions of migratiing waterfowl each fall. We, however, always have a special target in mind. Migrating from their summer breeding grounds in the northern Arctic, tens of thousands of beautiful large white birds, wend there way south to stop, rest, and refuel on the Mississippi River near Brownsville, Minnesota. They pause here, usually for a few weeks, before turning southeast, heading for their wintering grounds on Chesapeake Bay. They are the beautiful Tundra Swans.

Here, on a backwater  we see hundreds of swans and ducks. In the distance, beyond the screen of trees, a barge is moving down the main channel of the river. With Wisconsin in the distance, perhaps a mile away, we can see many more. Sometimes, huge "rafts" of these birds seem to turn the entire river white. When we step out of car, the sound of their vocalizations is almost deafening. Some are even close enough to us to get a picture. On occasion a few fly over us, but I'm not a skilled enough photographer to get a decent picture. Another wonder can occur; on some visits I've counted well over several hundred Bald Eagles. If the sun is out and thermals rise above the bluffs, we can see them "kettle." They form a spiral rising almost out of sight. Late migrating white pelicans also use this river highway. Awkward looking on the ground, they are magnificent soaring aloft as they head south to the Gulf.

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 have also disappeared. Now man is undoing the damage and helping the birds by using dredge material from the main channel to rebuild these islands. Here you can see one of the many artificial islands providing a resting place and shelter from the wind and renewed food supplies. Way to go DNR and Army Corps of Engineers!

On November 15th the official estimate was ten thousand swan in the immediate vicinity. Some years we have seen upward of thirty thousand. The only thing I have ever seen to compare to it is the annual migration of sandhill cranes into the Platte River Valley in Nebraska.


Sunday, October 25, 2020

Harvest Time

The  corn harvest is nearing completion now. From here, on Oak Hill in southeastern Minnesota, all the way west to the Missouri river in South Dakota, the precious golden grain finds its way from the fields to its ultimate destinations. That is into the nations food supply or via ethanol to try and help slake our seemingly inexhaustible need for liquid power. I was bringing in the last of the squash from the garden that afternoon when the phone call came. A neighborly invitation to ride along during the harvest.Golden waves of grain lie peacefully in all directions to the horizon.
But giant monsters roam free here
Devouring and spitting out all that lies before them. I get to ride with along. The sense from the inside is akin, perhaps, to piloting a jumbo jet down a runway or guiding a string of barges downriver. It is almost other worldly.
The machine steers itself using Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) technology, although pilot Greg must make the turns at the end of the rows himself. He also must be carefully watching ahead for errant rocks and holes in our path. There is also the occasional crackling of the radio intercom asking for the latest on- the- go test results for "moisture content."
A tractor with hopper pulls along side and corn is transfered from the combine into its bins while we are moving. Not a second can be wasted as as there is still much to do. Everyone keeps an eye on the weather though today is especially gorgeous.
Greg stops to check out something which is plugging up. He quickly resolves the problem. Greatgrandpa Bob drives the Cat with hopper
Corn is transferred from hopper to semi for the trip to the elevator.

Grandpa Dick makes those runs. I ask where son Rick is and find out he is working on getting things ready to fertilize the fields when the harvest is complete. The GPS technology will also guide fertilizing this fall and next springs planting. A narrow band of fertilizer will be laid down and next spring the seeds will be planted within an inch of the target row. Amazing !

Rising above the surrounding countryside the elevators.
The corn is weighed and transferred into the elevator. Each step is carefully calibrated and measurements taken.
With all the fire and fury of this fall's political campaigns, it was remarkable how little discussion was heard during the debates of the issues connected to American agriculture. The survival of America's family farms. Corporate takeover. The promise or folly of converting food into fuel. Pollution and floods. But for this day, I was happy to have been invited along, watching these hard working people help to feed the nation and the world. Your comments are always welcome if you can find the spot...... way down below. Grrrrr.

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Prairie Flowers

I live in Bluff Country. An unglaciated disected portion of southeastern Minnesota filled with valleys, hills, farms, small towns and most importantly beautiful spring fed trout streams. Only a short distance to our west, the prairie begins sweeping  across southcentral and southwestern Minnesota, all the way to the Black Hills of South Dakota. Mostly cornfields and soybeans now, here and there lie a few vestiges of the original prairie.....

Monday, September 28, 2020

Trout Fishing Newbie

I am occasionally asked how I got started tying trout flies. When I first came to teach in the only county in The Land of 10,000 Lakes without a lake, I wasn’t ready to give up fishing. Going after stream trout was the only solution. I did, however, have a bamboo fly rod, which I inherited from my father. I had previously used it strictly for bass and pan fishing. The lure of choice on those northern lily-pad lakes was the little cork poppers with the wiggly rubber legs.

I quickly set off to teach myself how to become a trout-fisherman. It didn’t take long to learn that I would need some real trout flies. I bought a nice selection at the local Kmart. They were gorgeous. Bright reds, yellows and greens and even purples, mixed delicately with shiny silver tinsels and golds. How could any self-respecting fish turn down such an offering? Although I rarely caught my limit of ten, I usually managed to catch a least a couple.

It might take all day but my young bride was so proud of my ability to bring home a couple for the frying pan. This, of course, was in the days before "catch and release" became the proper approach to preserve the species.

It was a beautiful June morning, when about noon, I had decided to give it up. The fishing had been especially tough that morning and I had only one ten inch brown to show for my efforts. As I came around the bend I saw another fisherman landing a very nice trout which he quickly released. He saw me approach and waved.

"Nice brown," I ventured.

"Ephermellia," was the reply.

"Say what?"

"You know. Nymphs. They’ve been hot all morning," he explained as I approached.

"How you doing?" he added.

"Well,  I lost a couple and caught a brown, but it’s been tough going."

"Whatcha been using?" he queried.

I showed him my fly box.

"Those sure are purty. Got em at Kmart didn’t you?

"I sure did. How’d you know?

"I work there. Actually, I’m the manager. I have to admit though those flies are more intended to catch fisherman than trout."

And with that he showed me several boxes of the most drab and ugly collection of brown and/or gray flies you could imagine.

"I caught maybe 50 to 75 this morning on these. Turned them all loose though. It’s just for fun. You’ll have to learn how to tie your own." He then gave me about a dozen of his sure fire flies and sent me on my way.

I later bought a "How To," book and a fly tying kit. I still shop occasionally at my long gone mentors’ store, fondly remembering his lesson. As in life, perhaps,  the most gaudy isn’t always the best.
On the Lamar River, Yellowstone National Park, 1979. And a cutthroat trout.

Yes, I had a lot to learn judging by those hip waders a volunteer fireman gave me. The rocks in the western streams were covered with algae which made them as slippery as greased bowling balls.  Eventually,  I even learned about proper chest waders with felt on the bottoms of the boots for better traction.  Today, with achy knees and less balance that I should have, I don’t fly fish as much as I used to, still the memories are all  strong as ever from those glorious days of yore…..:)

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Craigs List

It was time to downsize, I thought.  Simplify really.  At a certain stage of life those thoughts cross ones mind.  Mrs. T wasn’t sold on the idea but with a garage and shed full of unused stuff, my time, at least had come. She suggested a “guys” garage sale. I wasn’t convinced there’d be a lot of interest plus I never went to garage sales myself. I already had too much junk…..

It was then that a friend suggested I try something called “craigslist.”  I didn't know Craig but the fact that it was free easily swung me over.  Now several months  and some six hundred dollars later,  in pure profit,  I’m minus  among other things, two electric trolling motors, a balky chain saw, a wall safe, a kerosene lantern, a hundred canning jars,  a Zeiss Ikon 35mm camera, a giant Christmas cactus, a set of golf clubs, Mr. Coffee Espresso etc….  And one item withdrawn from the market at the express wish of my son.  Therein lies the tale.

It was Christmas Eve 1949. My cousin Prudy and I stood proudly in front of the Christmas tree, in my grandma’s house in St. Paul, holding up our presents for all to see. Mine was a 027 gauge Lionel electric train. It doesn’t get any better than that. Thus began a lifelong interest in trains.  
When my sons were young I built a fancy layout on an old ping pong table with switches, train stations, a mountain and tunnel made out of Styrofoam, in other words it had everything. Neither son seemed  to impressed. They were too busy with the outdoor life and school activities.  I played with it myself except when a friend, the high school physics teacher, brought out his American Flyer 07 train.  More recently I mentioned my new found success and interest in Craigs List.  “You can’t sell that train Dad. It’s a family heirloom. I love playing with it….”   This all came as news to me. Needless to say the train and all the trimmings is on it's way by mail to Arizona.  Well maybe the grandchildren  will play with it....:) Some years later know from the original post and with Mrs. T gone to her final reward, I continue with the downsizing project. At the rate its going another 50 years or so the job should be complete!

Sunday, September 20, 2020


In 1960 as I graduated from high school in St. Paul  the first trees were identified with the Dutch elm disease. The  trees over arched most of the city streets& sheltered all.  Ten years later Minneapolis  and St. Paul lost virtually all of their street trees. Crews had removed tens of thousands of diseased elms to slow the spread . All to no avail .Eventually elms throughout the state were under attack & only a scattered few in the woods here and there survived.  I live on Oak Hill Drive in SpringValley, Minnesota and a large tree died in our woods this summer, so without looking close I assumed that it was an oak tree. Wrong. It was an ELM. Age &comon sense mean I don' cut down huge trees any more . A local tree service did the job that elm tree must've been around the hundred feet tall. Take a look.

The last of the iconic Giant elms fell in my woods
and on the same day another giant fell. Supreme court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Her landmark decisions opened up a new world of   opportunity for those previously excluded. 

Towards a more perfect union with equal justice for all. My son & family

Saturday, September 12, 2020

River Boat Captain

Fifty Five and Alive teaches one should be at least one car length behind the car in front of you for each ten miles per hour your going.   This is safety planning ahead for an unexpected stops or evasive maneuvers.  It’s the same way on the Mississippi when your piloting one of those long river barges.  Or as I explained to granddaughter Miss. Tensae  who was operating a giant screen simulator at the River Museum in Dubuque, Iowa, “it takes a mile to stop this puppy so you need to plan ahead.  Let’s not hit any bridges.”
She was a natural,  with her Dad and older brother watching in the pilot house, we breezed all the way downriver to St. Louis quite safely.....

Saturday, September 5, 2020

Passions and poetry

Passion and poetry

the passions of our life can come at most any stage. My first as doubtless is true for most boys was my mom. I’ve often been struck in reading war novels upon recognizing their impending death the young warriors most often cry out for their mothers. I was always a mama’s boy till the day she died. She was a saint and my role model for values and behavior. I didn’t always live up to her standards in many areas but I knew she would be disappointed when I had done wrong. She brought me to the St. Paul library when I was three years of age. There in the children’s room began my lifelong love of books which continues to this day as a great passion. Reading a lot I believe made a writer out of me and a storyteller as well. Those abilities were rewarded in high school by all my English teachers with praise and recognition. I live for that praise today through the venue of my blogs and book reviews. Since I do that for free it obviously is a passion that rewards itself. Hobbies can also develop into  passions and the following poem by author Robert Trevor is an example from my own life. I'm going trout fishing in the woods today. Would you like to come along?

These small valley's are carved by spring fed streams. Limestone bluff on one side, hardwood forest on the other. Feel how cold the water is. The trout thrive here.

Insect hatches often come off the riffles. Trout feed on them. But not today. I'll fish the quiet pools and deep edges along the banks. It so quiet here in the woods. I rarely see anyone else. Let's sit on the bank and listen. Sometimes a doe and a fawn can be seen coming down for a drink.  In the spring there are warblers everywhere. Well, the fish weren't biting today. Still, I don't think our time was wasted. Do you?

I must add that I loved my teaching career best but fly fishing was my favorite outlet. People would occasionally as me what the attraction was and I had a hard time putting it into words.  Famous Michigan Judge and fifties novelist Robert Traver (Anatomy of a Murder) said it best.....

I fish because I love to. Because I love the environs where trout are found, which are invariably beautiful, and hate the environs where crowds of people are found, which are invariably ugly. Because of all the television commercials, cocktail parties, and assorted social posturing I thus escape. Because in a world where most men seem to spend their lives doing what they hate, my fishing is at once an endless source of delight and an act of small rebellion. Because trout do not lie or cheat and cannot be bought or bribed, or impressed by power, but respond only to quietude and humility, and endless patience. Because I suspect that men are going this way for the last time and I for one don't want to waste the trip. Because mercifully there are no telephones on trout waters. Because in the woods I can find solitude without loneliness. ... And finally, not because I regard fishing as being so terribly important, but because I suspect that so many of the other concerns of men are equally unimportant and not nearly so much fun.”