Henry David Thoreau (allegedly) said: “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.” But not our Al B!

Life as we know it

Al B of Hartland writes: “My hometown is centrally located, as long as you live near it.

“There are a number of centrally located cemeteries in the area.

“I visit cemeteries regularly. I visit friends and relatives there. I honor strangers, and ancestors I never knew. I appreciate the veterans. I’ve often done radio shows from cemeteries. They are peaceful places, with birds singing. I’ve hiked around graveyards. I’ve birded them. I’ve wondered about all the stories that are buried there. I’ve hoped that the great accumulation of tears and regrets is buried under an avalanche of merry moments and happy days.

“Henry David Thoreau said: ‘Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.’

“A robin sang a beautiful song in a neighborhood graveyard: ‘Cheer up, cheerily, cheer up.’

“I sang along.”

BULLETIN BOARD NOTES: We have not been able to locate that alleged Thoreau pronouncement in any credible source. We did locate credible allegations that it is a misquotation of Thoreau.

This is what Thoreau wrote, in the “Economy” chapter of “Walden”:

“The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation. From the desperate city you go into the desperate country, and have to console yourself with the bravery of minks and muskrats. A stereotyped but unconscious despair is concealed even under what are called the games and amusements of mankind. There is no play in them, for this comes after work. But it is a characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things.”

See (and smell, and hear) world (responsorial)

Tuesday’s Bulletin Board featured another note from Al B of Hartland: “I cranked open a window of the house and inhaled the joy of the day.

“Chorus frogs called, sounding like thumbnails being run down the teeth of a comb. Chickadees made their chick-a-dee-dee calls. Research has found that the number of dee-dee-dees that a chickadee gives is an indication of its level of concern in response to a perceived threat. A few dees, and the bird is not overly concerned. A longer string of dees is an alarm for other species that a predator is near.

“The day was as soft as sunshine when an eastern phoebe returned to my yard during the first week of April. As it perched on a tree branch, ready to hawk insects, it wagged its tail.

“As the phoebe demonstrated the amazing art of flycatching, robins, down-to-earth birds, looked for worms. They may look like they are listening, but they are watching for worms. It wasn’t just the early birds who were hunting. The late birds searched for food, too.

“A kestrel perched on a utility wire near the road. Kestrels eat mostly large insects, but eat a lot of mice and voles, too. American kestrel populations in the U.S. have dropped by nearly half over the last 45 years.

“In ‘White Room’ by Cream, the lyrics say: ‘In the white room with black curtains near the station. Black roof country, no gold pavements, tired starlings. Silver horses ran down moonbeams in your dark eyes. Dawn light smiles on you leaving, my contentment.’ Starlings flew in and mounted an attack upon the suet. The suet disappeared quickly under the assault of the beaks of starlings, starlings far more ravenous than tired.

“If you want to see the world, look out a window.”

We presently heard from Mattzdad of Rochester: “Al B of Hartland’s comment today put me in mind of how much I enjoy my own window on the world.

“I am retired, and my big comfortable reading chair faces our three-window bay window here in Rochester. I thought about how I also use my window. He likes to watch the birds from his, and I enjoy seeing my world go by every morning and knowing that all is right with my world. Today I noticed D. No. 1 backing out across the street and heading in to the Mayo Clinic to work. D. No. 2 walked along holding her umbrella as she caught the 7:25 bus to take her downtown, also to work at the Mayo Clinic. About the same time frame, C. backed out in the red pickup and headed out for her work day.

“Radio announcer predicts rain within the hour, as the showers have just moved east from Mankato and are headed our way. I anticipate the pitter-patter of raindrops on our skylights that will announce Mother Nature’s rain arrival in our neighborhood.

“As I started to settle in to read my printout of today’s BB, J. happened to drive past on his way to coffee with his former working friends. Our little corner of the world settles down from there until a Radon service truck pulls up at the FOR SALE/Sold house across the street and a working man goes in. New neighbors are expected any day now, as the SOLD sign has been up a couple of weeks and the steady flow of service trucks has been ‘fine tuning’ the house to become somebody’s new home.

“I can’t see the birds from where I sit, but from my kitchen table earlier, I did watch the birds (wrens? sparrows?) working over our suet feeders on the south side of the house. I am not much of a bird identifier, but I do know a few of them and always enjoy whatever I see.

“Ah, yes, I hear the rain just starting. . . .’

See world
Photography Division (responsorial II)

Monday note from Lulu of Hudson, Wisconsin (somewhat repeating the note in Tuesday’s Bulletin Board, also sent Monday by Mrs. Patches of St. Paul): “The flowering tree in the final photo submitted by Mounds View Swede in today’s Bulletin Board is a dogwood; they are not winter-hardy in this part of the country, but they bloom in abundance in eastern Pennsylvania, where I come from. I have flown over hillsides covered with the white and pink flowering trees, preparing to land at the nearby airport.


“The only equivalent around here is the ornamental crab apple, which blooms a little later than the dogwood.”

Life (and death) as we know it

A recent note (in this fast-changing season) from Kathy S. of St. Paul: “Subject: So you think you’re having a bad day.

“This is the view outside my ground-floor apartment; friends in a similar situation once described their house as looking like Beirut.



“Last night the pipe, etc., had snow on them. The current owners of my building are trying to correct years of lousy drainage and bad decisions or neglect, which have led to a pool of water somewhere under my apartment. They don’t know how to fix it yet, but I seem to live in Ground Zero.

“When I moved in, I was on shots for mold and mildew, and this is probably why my allergies have gotten worse since I moved here. But I hope that fixing the foundation will make my home more healthful, and I’m coping as best I can.

“So imagine my reaction today, when I heard that neighbors are harassing the building manager because they’re ‘bothered by the noise,’ etc. I figure I have best whining rights in the whole ^&*%!!! building, and you don’t get to whine unless you have a suggestion to make.

“Meanwhile, I will accept prayers, etc., from those who are good at it — like my late grandma, who grooved on the rosary. She (legally blind) used to hit the crossing light by her house on Nicollet in Richfield, and then start across the street to church with her little white cane — assuming that cars would stop for her. Grandma figured she’d take a chance on being hit, until aunt Edith stopped that by pointing out how badly a motorist would feel if he killed her.

“I think I got some of my spunk and ethics from Grandma — who I hope is asking someone ‘Up There’ to fix this mess.”

Matinee Idle (Vol. 1, No. 108) (responsorial)

Mrs. Patches of St. Paul: “Wonderful story of Rod Carew and Konrad Reuland.

“I passed it along on Facebook!

“The Washington Post published a story about Prince Harry of Great Britain. The accompanying pictures were a small timeline of his life, so far. One picture showed him throwing out the first pitch in New York on June 26, 2010, for the Mets/Twins game!”

170419bbcut-princeharryCAUTION! Words at Play!

From Tim Torkildson: “Subject: From Torkildson’s Dictionary.

NAPPOSECOND (noun): The time it takes between thinking about taking a nap and actually falling asleep in your recliner. A very brief moment.”

Unstuck in time
Or: Not exactly what they had in mind

Donald: “Subject: How quickly time passes.

“An article in Monday’s edition of the paper west of St. Paul (Page A9) analyzed the problem some drivers have in navigating intersections with flashing yellow turn arrows. The piece contained this statement: ‘Flashing yellow arrows were approved for use in the mid-2000s. . . .’

“Talk about ‘time-travel’!”

They were out there!

The Doryman of Prescott, Wisconsin: “Subject: Funny, huh?

“For some unknown reason, I just remembered driving on Robert Street back in the late ’60s while listening to WCCO. Boone & Erickson were ‘killing it,’ as usual, and almost every car I met or passed had drivers and passengers laughing their heads off. Some of us even waved at each other.

“Early example of distracted driving?”

BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: No doubt. And speaking of distracted driving . . .

We saw a great electronic billboard over Highway 52, just north of Rochester: “Don’t let your last words be a text.”

We glanced up at it, smiled, and then got right back down to the business of driving.

Band Name of the Day: Fix This Mess

Website of the Day: 

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