Saturday, December 31, 2005

New Year's Eve

Greetings on New Year's Eve 2005!

This evening will be spend with friends at The Kings Arms. There will be pints of ale, conversation with friends, and fun for all. At midnight there will be Champaign toasts, confetti cannons and wishes for a good year. I am psyched!

My coworkers from the states are to arrive this afternoon, there is a pot of stew going and I have nothing planned for today other than doing some laundry, reading, and chilling-out in preparation for tonight's festivities.

2005 has been a great year. I have spent time here in the UK, I still have a job that I love, and I have built and maintained a wide circle of varied friends. When it comes right down to it, I could ask for more, but I don't really want for anything. In the words of the old Joe Walsh song:

Lucky I'm sane after all I've been through
(Everybody sing) I'm cool (He's cool)
I can't complain but sometimes I still do
Life's been good to me so far!

I hope you can't complain on this, the last day of 2005 wherever it finds you.

Don Bergquist - 31-December-2005 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

Friday, December 30, 2005

Reflections on the End of the Year

A friend of mine once told me that he made sure to always kiss his wife on the stroke of midnight every New Year's Eve. His family had the superstition that whatever you are doing when the year ends you will do frequently in the year to come.

I guess this is a good thing to hold on to. It is kind of sweet to think of the two of them kissing so that they are guaranteed many pleasant stolen moments in the new year.

This year, I plan to end the year with a toast. Probably with a pint of Tangle Foot, in The Kings Arms. Ending the year with a proper pint of British ale, in an English pub, with friends around to assure that I will be doing it often throughout 2006 sounds like a great idea to me. (Whether or not it assures that there will be many more pints in the coming year, it still sounds like a good idea.

Of course, it means that if successful, the year will also be a wet, cold, and dank one. But I suppose that is the price one pays!

I hope that you are making spectacular plans for your New Year's Eve. And on the off-chance that my friend's superstition is correct, make sure that you are doing something you love with the people you want to be with when the ball drops!

Don Bergquist - 30-December-2005 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Winter Wonderland

Perhaps it is just that I was not here this late in the year last year, perhaps it is that they are going all-out this year... I do not know. But I do not remember Hampton Court Palace being this decked out last year.

I remember them having the Ice Rink and I remember them lighting the facade, but I do not remember it being this dazzling last year.

My friends Dave and Dave (both of whom work at the palace) told me that it was this lit-up last year. There is a carousel this year, that is new, but the rest, they say was there last year.

Whatever the difference is, it is lovely and walking past it last night to get to the Kings Arms, I could not help but notice how lovely it looked as I walked across the Thames River bridge. I had to take this picture to share with everyone.

I hope that your holiday season, wherever you are and whatever season you celebrate, continues to be joyous and bright!

Don Bergquist - 29-December-2005 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Return to The Kings Arms

It is almost as if I never left!

I got to The Kings Arms last night after getting to the house and unpacking.

I was hot, tired, and road weary. But soon after I got there my friends showed up and it was old home week. We exchanged Christmas gifts and had a wonderful time catching-up. (Of course, the festivities were accompanied by plenty of ale.)

Oh well. It's good to be back in the UK!

I hope where-ever today finds you, it is with the people you want to be with and doing the things you want to do!

Don Bergquist - 28-December-2005 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

Tuesday, December 27, 2005


Two days ago (on Christmas Day) I was sitting in my shorts, sandals, and tee-shirt out on my neighbor's porch, drinking wine, chatting and exchanging Christmas greetings.

I am now sitting on a plane somewhere south of Iceland and looking at a news feed that is showing on the video screens on the plane. (Well, not now... now I am writing on my PDA my blog entry to be uploaded when we land... But a short while ago I was!)

The forecast for London for the next few days included no fewer than tree mentions of snow. Snow and Ice, Snow Flurries, and Heavy Snow through the night on Thursday!


Why, again, did I decide that I like this place? Not only will it be cold, but it is a wet cold. The kind that slices through any clothing you may care to heap on!


I hope you are warm, dry and comfortable wherever you are today!

Don Bergquist - 27-December-2005 - on Northwest Flight 32 - Somewhere over the North Atlantic

Monday, December 26, 2005

Boxing Day

I just love the phrase "Boxing Day."

When I first heard it I assumed it was the official pugilistic holiday.

I first heard of the feast of St. Stephen (the day after Christmas) being called boxing day about fifteen years ago when I first went to Canada on business around this time of the year. They celebrate Boxing Day as a public holiday although, nobody could tell me why or what it was all about.

Having done some research, apparently nobody else really knows what it is all about either. The link at the top of this entry will take you to the Wikipedia entry on Boxing Day.

I do however know what this boxing day is about. This Boxing Day is about thirty-six hours long! Following my tradition of getting onto the London time zone before I go there, I awoke at 01:00 AM (MDT) so I could say that I slept in. That would be 08:00 AM London Time.

I used the extra time this morning to spend time with Saga, finish packing, spend time with Saga, watch some TV, and spend some time with Saga. It is now just ten in the morning and I know that I am going to miss her when I go to the UK. Oh well...

I do not anticipate much problem sleeping (if I can get over the fact that I do not sleep well on planes) because I have upgraded myself (using my frequent flier miles) to first class. I also have a book that I found in my library that I (surprisingly) have never read!

Well, I have just over an hour until the van arrives to take me to the airport. I guess I had best get ready to go.

(...and spend some more time with Saga!)

I hope that wherever you are today you are having a great Boxing Day!

Don Bergquist - 26-December-2005 - Lakewood, Colorado

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Merry Christmas!

George Bush has all but ruined my favorite Christmas Carol.

For years, my favorite Christmas Carol was the Henry Wordsworth Longfellow poem set to music: I Heard The Bells. When the president quoted the poem last weekend in his press conference and used it as an assurance that the war on terror - or whatever he wants us to call it these days - is valid I was livid! How could he despoil such a wonderful tune with such lovely words by using it to justify his unprovoked attack on Iraq?

Damn it!

The war continues to be a war in search of a justification. At least, I thought, it would keep him from using the attacks of 09/11/2001 as justification of the war. Never to fear! He did that too - only a couple sentences later.

I guess I should take a hint from the carol, this too will pass. The wrong shall fail!

This Christmas finds me packing for another trip to London. I leave tomorrow morning for an extended trip to the Thames Ditton Office. I look forward to spending more time with my friends in the United Kingdom. I had dinner last night (and the two nights before as well) with some friends here as a sort-of bon voyage celebration. Today has nothing more in store than to call family, finish packing and write thank you cards. I guess I will drop them in the mail at the airport tomorrow.

In the spirit of the season:

I Heard the Bells
on Christmas Day

I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play
And mild and sweet the words repeat,
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

I thought how as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had roll'd along th' unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And in despair I bowed my head:
"There is no peace on earth," I said,
"For hate is strong, and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men."

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men."

'Til ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime,
Of peace on earth, good will to men!

It is Christmas Day once again. I wish you all a Merry Christmas or a happy holiday of your own choice and a Happy New Year!

Don Bergquist - 25-December-2005 - Lakewood, Colorado

Saturday, December 24, 2005

When is Christmas?

Until the late '60s or early '70s, my family and our community attended church in one of two places. Sunday morning church convened at the Concorde Theatre on Bird Road. Any other service was held in the rectory, which was out in the farm country east of the old Tamiami Airport. Our parish priest was a man from Malta named LeCarre.

Father LeCarre always seemed old to me because he was older than my parents. (Of course, thinking about it now, I must be older now than Father LeCarre was when I knew him.) Things to know about Father LeCarre include that he always drank Ginger Ale. He kept cats in the rectory and that he had a wonderful sense of humor!

At some point, the young Don made the mistake of telling the priest that we were at church to celebrate Jesus' birth. A good theory, it would have been a better theory had it actually been near Christmas and not the middle of August at the time!

Father LeCarre, as I recall just chuckled and told me that Christmas was in December and that we went to mass every Sunday to learn about all the wonders God hath wrought and to give thanks to God for all his good gifts to man. All would have been well (and, incidentally, there would be no story) if only I had taken the old priest at his word. However, the young Don Bergquist (like the one he grew into) was not one to be dismissed with a brief introduction to the facts.

"But we are at church, so it must be Christmas." I insisted.

I was a long way from being able to understand the concept of a universal syllogism. (We go to church every Christmas. It is Christmas. Therefore, we will go to church. This is a universal syllogism. However, from this logic we cannot construct the following conclusion: We go to church every Christmas. We are at church. Therefore, it is Christmas.) Father LeCarre just laughed and told me Christmas is December 25.

Again, this story would be at an end would but that I had just taken the information and processed it. But no! We go to church on Christmas...

"We're at church because it is Christmas today, right?" The young Don asked Father LeCarre while his daddy was helping some of the churchmen carry the altar into place and the women of the church placed the candles and various paraphernalia for the service.

"No, today is not Christmas. Christmas is in December. The 25th!" Father LeCarre responded.

This exchange went on for weeks and eventually Father LeCarre decided to launch a preemptive strike. As the young Don Bergquist walked past him out of church offering a hand to shake, Father LeCarre refused to release the grip. "When is Christmas?" he asked once he had my attention.

Pulling my thoughts together, I wondered if it were, in fact, that day. But to be on the safe side, I said "December 25th?"

"Right!" Father LeCarre said giving my hand one last gentle squeeze before releasing me.

The strange thing (to the young Don Bergquist) is that the same thing happened the next week. And the week after! It became something of a habit. For years we no longer said, "Hello" or "How are you doing?" the ritual greeting between Father LeCarre and I was:

Father LeCarre: "When is Christmas?"

Don: "December 25th."

It was a warm and a much loved ritual that continued the throughout remainder of our friendship. Father LeCarre retired to a parish in Marathon, down in the Florida Keys. Many years had passed when once afternoon I answered the door. Now a teen, I opened it to an elderly person who was vaguely familiar. When the ancient, Maltese voice croaked out "When is Christmas?" I knew and old friend had come to visit.

It has been years since I have thought about Father LeCarre. Dad reminded me of this story the other day when I was chatting with him. Thanks Dad! Thank you Father LeCarre!

I hope that you have a Merry Christmas which, by the way, is tomorrow!

Don Bergquist - 24-December-2005 - Lakewood, Colorado

Friday, December 23, 2005

A Christmas Story

Christmas Eve is nearly here again and I have been asked if I am going to post my annual story again. It is the story of Christmas Eve 1969 when my brothers and sister and I spent much of the evening in exclusion in the kitchen.

I will not be posting the entire story again this year, but the link above will take you to the story as posted last year. I hope you enjoy it.

Merry Christmas!

Don Bergquist - 24-December-2005 - Lakewood, CO

Monday, December 19, 2005

An Open Christmas Card

Christmas Greetings to all!

Wow! What a year it has been! The year started with me working on a project that took me to Thames Ditton (a suburb of London, England) on a fairly regular basis. I have been to London four times in the past year and am about to get back there. I have been temporarily assigned to that office and will be there for most of the First Quarter.

I got to see all of my siblings at least once this year. Mary and Corey are doing well and have weathered the hurricane season (at least in Apollo Beach) well.

Denis, Helen and the Kids are also doing well. Two of their three are now in college so only Andrew made it up to Minnesota when I was there for Horseradish Time!

Chip and Allyn and Eric have made it up to Dad's place both times I was there. Eric is growing like a weed and turns eight this December.

Dad and Flo are also well. Dad had a Transient Ischemic Attach this fall. He is on the mend and showing very few after affects of the incident.

My life this year has been busy both socially and professionally. The travel to London has been great and I am looking forward to my next trip. I have made some good friends in London that I am looking forward to seeing again.

I started a blog last year that I post my photographs and observations while traveling (or indeed at home) and will be keeping it up this year as well. Anyone interested in following my adventures can read all about them in my blog at

For those of you who met Kathy when we were in dating, she and I have had a parting of the ways. It was for the best. I am back on the market. (but not selling myself too aggressively. It will be a busy year.

I hope that you all have a great year and that you will stop by to see my blog and drop me an email when you can.

The coming year promises to be every bit as exciting as the last. I know that I will be spending at least the first month-and-a-half with working out of the Thames Ditton office, spending time with my mates at the pub and generally having a good time in the United Kingdom. I may even celebrate my birthday there this year. I hope to visit some more of Europe on the weekends of this trip. I'll be taking my cameras so watch for more pictures to be posted as time allows!

God bless and keep you in the coming year!


Don Bergquist - 19-December-2005 - Lakewood, Colorado

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Tea Party

When we were kids, we used to go and visit my grandparents at their house in Minnesota alternate summers. One year we would go see them, the next we would go somewhere else, Mammoth Caves, Washington D. C., The Blue Ridge Mountains, etc.

On the years that we went to Minnesota, one of the family rituals was that we would get grandmother to retrieve the key to her china cabinet (a great, ancient oak and glass cabinet that took up most of one wall in the dining room) and get out the whistling tea cups. Grandma would make some Grape Kool Aid, pour it into the little tea cups and serve it at the dining room table. Her table always had a white lace table cloth on it which made us feel that we were having tea some place really fancy!

As opposed to our house that rarely had a table cloth on the dining room table (it was too easy to ruin a table cloth by doing homework at the dining room table. One pen fight and there would be ink all over the place.

The wonderful thing about these tea cups was that little tube you
see running down the side of the cup.
It leads to a small hole in the bottom of the base. What happens is when you sip your tea (or Kool Aid) from that side of the cup, some air is also drawn up from below the cup. The brief interruption of that stream of air by the liquid passing over the open upper end of the tube makes the cup issue a pleasant soft chirping sound, similar to a bird chirping.

We would finish our "tea" and ask for more. As many times as we could. I am not to this day sure whether it was the amount we were drinking or our contest to see who could make the cups chirp the loudest that finally end the tea parties. My guess in retrospect is the later.

I hope that your day is your cup of tea!

Don Bergquist - 18-December-2005 - Lakewood, Colorado

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Shoot the Moon

This week, I wanted to wish my step mom, Florence a Happy Birthday. Hope you enjoy your special day, Flo! I hope that you and Dad make the most of it. Go, do something nice for yourself.

This afternoon, I took my new camera out to test-out the telephoto lens. I am going to have to use my tripod more. I can tell now that I need to use my tripod more.

This picture was taken using my 300 mm zoom lens. The problem is that with the camera set to automatic, it sets the aperture at its widest point so that it can take the shortest exposure possible. Big aperture, narrow field of focus. Hence, all the attached pictures have either the moon or the branches in focus. In order to get them both in focus I will need to wind down the aperture to its smallest setting and compensate with a longer shot. This will not be possible with the camera hand held.

I hope your world today is clear and in focus for you!

Don Bergquist - 10-December-2005 - Lakewood, Colorado

Sunday, December 04, 2005

On Why I Would Make A Horrible Parent

I knew it would happen, I have weenied-out!

I thought that I could hold-up, under the constant onslaught, I caved. I have no idea how Dad and Mom did it! They had four to deal with and I have only me and I still couldn't hold my position! I crumpled like a stale taco!

I am, of course talking about my incessant internal child who has been begging and pleading with me to buy him a new camera. A couple weeks ago, I wrote about how I was always complaining to myself that I never buy myself anything. (See: "Morning In Florida" - 17-November-2005 in the November Archive.)

After listening to the internal whining for a bit over a year, I have finally capitulated. (Capitulated?!? Hell, I caved!)

I purchased myself the camera I have been looking at. I even went myself one better and got myself a nice set of zoom lenses to go with it. To be fair, I would never have done so had I not been so good of late. (No, Really! I have been doing the dishes, and taking out the trash without an argument, and when I tell myself to go to bed, Pfthth! I go! And I get no lip on the subject!)

So I bought the Pentax Digital SLR that I have been wanting. I found it on sale and had a $100 off coupon that allowed me to afford the lenses as well. I looked at one lens (I need a fairly good telephoto lens to do some shots that I want to do but they are all pretty expensive.) the one that I found first was about $300.00. I then found this set of two for about $200.00 and could not resist.

Okay, and there was an ulterior motive. My friend Michael (who is, admittedly, a much better photographer than I) has a really nice camera. I have kidded myself the camera is all I need to be as good as he is.

I have decided to rationalize this purchase by calling it my Christmas gift to myself. So if you see me, don't tell me! It's a surprise.

Be nice to yourself today!

Don Bergquist - 04-December-2005 - Lakewood, Colorado

Friday, December 02, 2005

Have another day!

The number of times I look out this window in an average day and think to myself: "I should take a picture of that..."

Well, it's really quite limited, actually!

I sit on the eastern side of the building and have a view of the eastern plains (or as we affectionately refer to them; "Kansas."). The only time I have anything interesting to look at out this window is early in the morning when hardly anyone else is around and I can see the sunrise without the lights in the office on to reflect my own visage back at me.

This morning was an excellent day for a sunrise. The fact that it is payday does not hurt either.

I have a busy weekend ahead of me. I have to finish my Christmas Gifts (I am making them this year - no more details in case you are on my list) and get them into the mail.

I hope you have a great weekend!

Don Bergquist - 02-December-2005 - Denver, Colorado