Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Yule Blog - New Year's Eve

It is the end of another year and the dawn of a new one. I don't know about anyone else, but the year seemed to fly by for me! It is the first time in years I have not traveled on business this year!

It struck me a few weeks ago that I had not been out of the office since returning from London. It is the first year with this company (I have over nineteen years of tenure to-date) for which I can say that! Not that travel is a bad thing, but after all the travel of the last few years, how nice not to have to leave home... unless I wanted to.

Of course, I still think quite a bit about my friends that I miss back in the UK, all the good times I have had on the road, and the great things I have seen and done over the years.

To celebrate the year out, I will be attending a party with friends and ringing-in the new year with some of the dearest people I know.

Wherever you are today, I hope that you'll have a safe and happy New Year's Eve.

Don Bergquist - December 31, 2008 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

New Year's Eve

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Yule Blog - Tradition

An old friend of mine had a lovely and fun tradition, there was a special ornament (a Christmas pickle) that their Mom would hide somewhere on the tree each Christmas. It was then a contest to see who could find it first. This wasn't as easy as you might think; the pickle was green, the tree was green, there were hundreds of ornaments on the tree...

Another friend of mine would go all out. Her home was decorated! I mean DECORATED!! No matter where you looked, there was something festive. I would say that she went overboard, but that really wasn't the case... she just loved the season and loved to show it.

Our tradition was fun. Dad's siblings all sent annoying, noisy gifts to us... he sent annoying and noisy gifts to their kids. The point was to see who could come-up with the most irritating gift. I think that my aunt who came-up with the boob-tubes, I think, won. The "boob-tube" was a truly annoying toy; a clear Lucite tubes filled with glass marbles... there were diaphragm every inch-or-so the length of the tube and the only point of the toy seemed to have been to make noise as the marbles clinked their way through each diaphragm from one section of the tube to the next.

My siblings and I continued this tradition when we started having children. My nieces and nephews got the "Chirpy;" a furry little animal with light sensors for eyes - Chirpy chirped every time the light changed in the room. Mysteriously, my nephew (the youngest of the next generation) got the same gift from all his uncles and aunt one year for Christmas. Billy, the singing bass. But how many times can one hear "Take me to the river?" - Ah! It just never gets old.

I hope the tradition continues. Who knows what the next generation will come up with to annoy each other! The laser stun gun?

Wherever you are today I hope you will have a lovely day!

Don Bergquist - December 30, 2008 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Happy birthday to my niece, Theresa

Happy birthday to my cousin, Marin

Monday, December 29, 2008

Yule Blog - Preaching To The Choir

I think that if I had to pick one thing that I miss about the Christmases-gone-by it would have to be the music. The church my family and I attended was never terribly fancy; Fr. LeCarre always wanted to have a cathedral, what we had was a low-slung CBS building with painted "stained glass" panels surrounding the entrance.

And although there was no choir loft (and usually no choir) there was music and magic in the mass on Christmas. Mr. McGlaughlin became the choirmaster as lent approached and we'd go over to his house to rehearse all the great carols. We'd be standing in his living room, the Air Conditioner running, singing about the miracle of a cold winters night log ago.

Of course back then it never occurred to me that Jerusalem is at approximately the same latitude as Dallas, Texas and in a desert locale. Any descriptions of the "cold winter's night that was so deep" had to be taken as a relative description. There was probably no drifting snow in the streets of Bethlehem. But that didn't change the matter for us. Let's face it, we weren't exactly "dashing through the snow" to get to church in Miami.

But every November we'd start getting ready for the Christmas Eve Vigil and then, "upon a midnight clear" we'd stand in what passed for the apse of the plain rectangle that was our church and sing our little hearts out. I still love hearing the carols the best.

My favorite is still the one by Longfellow:

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
By
Henry Wordsworth Lognfellow
I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.
And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along the unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.
Till 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.
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.”

Wherever you are today, I hope that the music of Christmas is stays with you, all year long!

Don Bergquist - December 29, 2008 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Yule Blog – Another Ghost of Christmases Past

When I was growing up, I had a bit of a reputation of being a socializer. I would strike-off on my own when we were camping and meet people. I’d have friends all over the campground and Dad loves to tell the story of one specific trip to the Blue Ridge Mountains where they could not find me.

He relates that he made the rounds of the campground and every campsite they stopped at on the loop we were staying on, I had been there before them. They heard reports of me stopping to have breakfast with the occupants of the site.

But I come by it honestly. When I spent the time with my grandparents (that I wrote about yesterday) I was able to get out with my granddad when he made his rounds of the farm in his gas truck. Every farm (well almost every farm) we stopped at, they invited granddad in for a cup of coffee. (…and of course, in Minnesota, this would usually include some cookies, cakes, or bars…)

I was never really sure if the invites were normal, or if it was just because he had his adorable (and amazingly outgoing) grandson with him. But then, as I remember him, granddad was always a great guy that had friends everywhere he went.

Okay, perhaps this isn’t really a Christmas story other then the fact that it took place at the holidays when I was visiting my grandparents, but I have been spending the holidays thinking of family. And that is what the holidays are for anyway, isn’t it?

Wherever you are today, I hope your holidays are progressing well.

Don Bergquist – December 28, 2008 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Happy birthday to my uncle, Chris

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Yule Blog – A Ghost of Christmases Past

When I was growing-up, one of my favorite Christmases was the year my parents sent me to Minnesota to spend the holidays with my grandparents. I was so psyched for the trip. They told me I was going to Minnesota on my own and that I’d be spending time with my relatives. I thought that the holiday break would never come!

My aunt Elaine met me at the airport and it was so cool getting to Minnesota. Really cool. Cold, in fact! I was from Miami, and a kid. Stepping out of the Minneapolis Airport was an experience.

Luckily, my aunt had a coat for me that was a bit more appropriate than the jacket I had left Miami in. We headed off to get my cousins that were over with some of their friends. We found them in the back yard on a home-made ice rink. “Come-On!” They egged me on. “Join Us!” It would have been better had they told me where they were. To me it looked like a patio or something. Ice was what you put in a drink, not what you play around on in the back yard. It was the first time I had ever fallen over backward… it was not to be the last time I was to take a spill on the ice.

The other memories I have of that trip were less painful and more fun. I remember sledding down the crusher hills with my cousins from Waite Park (and having them make fun of me because I had trouble climbing an ice-covered fence in snow boots and a snow suit that were too large for me.

Then there was all the wonderful time I spent with my grandparents. Granddad was driving the gas truck by then and I got to go along with him on his route once or twice. (More about that tomorrow.)

My big adventure of the trip, however, was the day I decided that I wanted to go to the farm and I decided to walk out to it. Had I known how dangerous waking to the farm was I probably would not have done it… (Well, yeah, I probably would have.)

I learned that a couple things on that trip, Minnesota is DAMN cold in the winter, and my family has a great time when we are together. But then, that is what the holidays are all about.

Wherever you are today, I hope your holidays are progressing well.

Don Bergquist – December 27, 2008 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Friday, December 26, 2008

Yule Blog - Boxing Day

This year, for Boxing Day, I want to re-print the wonderful Christmas Story:
Yes, Virginia, There Is A Santa Clause
Eight-year-old Virginia O'Hanlon wrote a letter to the editor of New York's Sun, and the quick response was printed as an unsigned editorial Sept. 21, 1897. The work of veteran newsman Francis Pharcellus Church has since become history's most reprinted newspaper editorial, appearing in part or whole in dozens of languages in books, movies, and other editorials, and on posters and stamps. And now it appears on my blog. Merry Christmas!


"DEAR EDITOR: I am 8 years old.
"Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.
"Papa says, 'If you see it in THE SUN it's so.'
"Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?

"VIRGINIA O'HANLON.
"115 WEST NINETY-FIFTH STREET."


VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except [what] they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! How dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest man that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding. No Santa Claus! Thank GOD! He lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

Wherever you are today, I hope you will have a great day and enjoy a moment of child-like wonder at the beauty of the season!

Don Bergquist - December 26, 2008 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Boxing Day

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Yule Blog - Christmas Day

On this Christmas day, I am forwarding to you all my annual Christmas letter! It brings with it my best wishes for a happy holiday!
Dear Family and Friends,
Wow! This has really been a fast flying year! (Has it really been a year already‽) It seems to have gone by so fast!
It’s been just over a year now since Saga and I moved back to the states from the UK and Saga has finally stopped expecting me to take her to the pubs on a Friday night.
Poor thing! You could see her working it out for the first few months after our return… “It is Friday; Daddy has come home from working all day. Now he is leaving the house. Hey! Why isn’t he taking me?” Or something to that affect.
It’s not as if we never do anything together, but unlike the pubs in London, dogs are not welcome to many of the places I go out to here in the states. I do miss this about the United Kingdom… We need dog-friendly pubs here!
Winter passed quietly for us. Mostly it was taken-up with getting used to being home and reconnecting with friends and family back here. It was nice to be able to get up into the mountains again. And the winter was mild enough to afford us opportunities even as early as January.
In February I celebrated the Chinese New Year with some friends at our favorite Chinese place over in Denver. Dim Sum, Chow Mien and Camaraderie. What a way to start a new year!
March brought with it the last of the season’s snow storms. Nothing big and exciting, but it was at least the last of it.
In April, I started getting the itch to do some gardening so I got approval from my Homeowner’s Association to do some planting and then planned my spring.
In May I planted a few new trees and some annuals in the beds out in front of my home. All of my siblings also made the pilgrimage to Kensington to see Dad and Flo and to celebrate Dad’s Birthday with him. I believe this was the first time we had all been together since November 2006.
June was a temperate and lovely month! I bought a new bicycle and did a lot of riding along the river that flows through the park across the street from my home. 
July was a time of celebrations. I made it to my friend’s birthday party for the first time in a few years; Chris’ “Pirate Party” is always high on the list of the parties to attend.
Shortly thereafter, I was off on vacation. Saga and I headed east to visit with friends at the beach house. It was a great trip and we had fun seeing all the friends and family we have had not seen in quite a while. Even my cousin Sheila made it out to the beach with her boys!
August was a really manic month. I was busy at work getting started on my new project.
We had a lovely fall starting in late September; once again I was able to reconnect with an activity I have missed over the past few years: One weekend, I packed the cameras and the dog into the car and headed out for a drive in the spectacular fall colors. Ah! It was so lovely that I wish I had had the time to spend days driving in the mountains.
But between the time I have to dedicate to my new project and the fact that gas was up over four dollars a gallon, I left the trip at a single day. But what a day it was!
In October, most of my siblings and I once again converged on Dad and Flo’s place for the annual Horseradish weekend. We spend a good part of one day digging the horseradish, and most of the next peeling, grating, and pickling it.
November… did anything happen in November? Nope. I cannot think of one thing of note that occurred in November. Well, except that I had a little remodeling project done. I built a spice rack and closed-up a pass-through between my kitchen and living room so I had a wall upon which to hang a bit flat-panel digital television.
Other than that and digging some bulb beds in the garden, if anyone knows of anything noteworthy from November, please let me know.
So, now it is December. The weather has been incredibly clement with brief interruptions of winter-like weather. It is time to get ready for the holidays and start thinking about New Year’s Resolutions.
The family are all doing well. Saga and I are fine. We hope that you are also well. I hope that Christmas 2008 finds you fit and fine and that all is right in your world.
However you celebrate and whatever you celebrate, I hope your holidays are wonderful.
Take care; Merry Christmas; Happy Holidays; and a safe, prosperous, and happy New Year!
Sincerely,

Don Bergquist -and- Saga
Wherever you are today, I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Don Bergquist - December 25, 2008 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Christmas Day

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Yule Blog - Christmas Eve

Back by popular demand... (Well okay, I got a couple requests for this story again.)

The following Christmas Story is true; and none of that namby-pamby changing the names to protect the innocent! I am telling this tale bare, unvarnished, and exactly as it happened.

Sort of...


It was Christmas Eve 1969 and the entire brood; my sister, Mary, my brothers, Denis and Chip, and I were all lined up against the kitchen wall a police line-up in miniature. Dad was doing his best Colombo impersonation as he strode back and forth before us. It seems that my parents had just discovered that someone had carved two small (practically invisible, really) notches into the top drawer of one of the cabinets. Mom was off in another room somewhere. She was "so mad she could spit tacks" as she used to say. (Something all of us would have loved to see if she could really do... but none of us ever had the nerve to ask her to demonstrate.)

"Now, here, you see," he said, "we have a dulled knife. And over there you see the notches in the kitchen drawer." Dad displayed the evidence as he explained it to us and then looked at us expectantly. We'd all seen the TV show. We knew he was waiting for one of us to crack, but we just stood there looking at him. Well... Mary, Denis and I looked at him. Chip just kind of fidgeted. The weight of the evidence was clear. There was the notched drawer. There was the newly dulled knife. The implication? One of us little people had used the knife to notch the drawer. Open and shut case. But who? Who would do such a thing?

Now, about this time, I expect that you are saying to yourself "But, Don..." which is strange, unless your name is "Don" and you are in the habit of talking to yourself, but I digress. You're probably asking yourself "Didn't your parent's see your name written all over this one? Weren't you the trouble maker in the group? Shouldn't they have known that they should at least suspect you? Have I asked enough rhetorical questions for you to resume the narrative yet?" to which I say

"You sure ask a lot of questions. Whose story is this anyway? Would ya let me tell it?"

No, but seriously! My point is that you are right. They should have known that I was guilty! They should have just naturally assumed their troubled middle son did this. But no! When we were children, our parents were idiots! My siblings and I could not believe excruciatingly dim our parents could be! We kept fearing that the men from the government would some day arrive at our door and inform our parents that they were just to nit witted to have children and we would never see them again! But that is another story. Back to Christmas Eve - 1969.

So there we are, all cool as cucumbers (you know; the little kind that they make sweet pickles out of) standing against the kitchen wall and none of us willing to speak up and claim responsibility. Dad was livid. "Okay, then" he decreed "we'll just let you sit here and think about it. When one of you wants to tell us what happened, your mother and I will be in the living room." You see, the idea was to let us think about the ways that they might punish us and have us turn against each other so that the guilty party would turn themselves in.

Dad's plan was devious enough for me to appreciate, but not good enough to trap me (uh, I mean the guilty party) into confessing. (Please note, all that I have admitted to at this point is that they should have suspected me.)

And so, we sat there. My brothers and sister probably wondering who had done it, how the guilty party would be punished, if whoever had done it would go free, or what was on TV that we were missing. The point is, we sat there each thinking our own thoughts in silence.

My thoughts were on Santa Claus. I knew that he was on his way and that he wouldn't be stopping at our house if the Bergquist children were still in the kitchen when he made it to Miami! I had to think of some way to get us out of the kitchen so that we could all enjoy Christmas. It was a selfless act, if I must say so myself. (And apparently none of you are going to say it for me...)

"Look," I said to Chip, eying my elder siblings conspicuously and lowering my voice to a conspiratorial tone, "Chip, we've got to get out of this Kitchen before Santa makes it to Florida of there will be no Christmas here. Now, I would go out there now and tell Mom and Dad that I did it, just to get us out to the kitchen you understand, but you see the laws in the state of Florida say that any kid over the age of six can be legally killed by their parents for acting this bad." I looked to my elder siblings for support. I think they just wanted to see what was going on. Or perhaps they were still thinking about what was on TV. The result is the same... not a word of back-up!

"Now, which ever of them," I continued jerking my thumb at Mary and Denis, "did this horrible thing to Dad's kitchen is in for it! They're old enough that they are goners for sure! You don't want Mom and Dad to kill which ever one of them did this, now do you?" Mary and Denis eyed each other. I think that they were following my impeccable logic and thinking that I may have hit on something. Or perhaps they were thinking that my parents' idiocy had passed down to at least one of the members of our generation.

"As I said, I'd tell them that I did this, but I can be legally killed." I said again. "Now, who do we know who is under six years old who could save Mary or Denis..."

"I'm three and a quarter." Chip said proudly.

"That's right! You are only three..."

"Three and a quarter!" Chip corrected indignantly.

"You're thee and a quarter" I amended." You're too young to be killed and since you're the youngest and the cutest they would let you get away with anything. You could tell them you did it and save Mary or Denis... Whoever did this horrible thing!"

It was a lovely plan! I was really proud of it. I was still basking in the glow of my own genius when, only seconds after Chip left the kitchen that Dad came back with Chip in tow. He explained exactly how unlikely it was that Chip was actually guilty. He was way too short to reach the knives. Wasn't able to reach the drawer. And could produce no reason he would want to do what he had claimed to have done. No, Dad, for all his lack of mental capacity had seen right through my beautiful plan. Chip was allowed to leave the kitchen and the time passed.

And I'll tell you: coming up with a Plan B wasn't easy, what with the minuscule half-life of my Plan A, with the prospect of Santa bypassing our little house on 122nd Avenue, and with Chip dancing around outside the kitchen door as if to say "Ha ha! I don't have to stay in the kitchen because I'm young, cute, and they love me!" I had to have a Plan B and I needed it now! (If for no other reason than to get out of the kitchen so I could thump my brother for so horribly spoiling my beautiful Plan A!)

I looked at my siblings, I looked at the drawer, I looked at the dog... nope, nothing there I could use. I looked at the clock. I couldn't actually tell time yet, but it seemed that it was getting late. And then I had it! It was a lovely plan. It was simple, it was elegant, and best of all it would work! There was no way that Plan B could fail!

It was, the best performance of my six-year career of being a trouble maker.

I cried! I flopped apoplectic against the kitchen wall. I threw a full-blown class a tantrum. I screamed and pointed at the general area of a point midway between my elder siblings and shouted that which ever of them had done that horrible thing to the cabinet drawer should just admit it and get it over with. Midnight mass was coming up soon and it was my favorite mass of the year and I wanted to go to midnight mass tonight. If we didn't get out of the kitchen we would miss mass and it would be all their fault.

Miraculously (and who said there are no miracles any more... it was Christmas Eve after all) I was right... it was getting late. Mom and Dad came into the kitchen, herded us into the bath, then into our Christmas Eve finery, and then off to church. The incident was never mentioned again. Santa came and stopped at the Bergquist household that night and all was, if not actually forgotten or forgiven, at least not discussed in polite company again.

And I want to go on the record once again. I didn't admit to it then, I haven't admitted to it now. I just can't imagine who did this horrible thing. Not on Christmas Eve, at least!


Wherever you are today, I wish you a Merry Christmas or a Happy Holiday of your choice.

Don Bergquist - December 24, 2008 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Happy birthday to my cousin, Elizabeth

Happy birthday to my cousin, Abigail

Christmas Eve

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Yule Blog - Get Ready, Get Set...

It is once again time for me to start the Yule Blog!

A few years ago I decided it would be a good thing to start a Yule Blog. Twelve entries in my blog on the topic of Christmas. And as it is once again the holidays, I am thinking: Why Not! Why not get sentimental and spend the next week-or-so thinking about Christmas, Christmases past and those yet to come!

So, be looking got my Yule Blog - to start burning tomorrow.

Wherever you are today, I hope that your holiday is a safe and happy one(whichever holiday it happens to be)!

Don Bergquist - December 23, 2008 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Monday, December 22, 2008

Murray Rembrandt?

A comment on one of the “Talking Heads” programs this weekend there was a stupid comment (no surprise there) that even if it were important would have made no sense. Democratic Rep. Gary Ackerman of New York, made the following comment (basically saying that the “Camelot” dreams of the kennedy’s should be allowed to die).

"Everyone knows who she is, but we're not sure what she is," he said. "You know, they're Kennedys. They're all boats, but is she a sailboat when we need a battleship?"

He accused her handlers of protecting her (a la Sarah Palin's campaign staff) from reporters. "They're kind of building a mystique and an industry around her, when we need somebody to fight.

"She has a very famous name and she's a very attractive candidate. Those are good things in politics. But it's not an entitlement. You know, one of the things that we have to observe is that DNA, in this business, can take you just so far. You know, Rembrandt was a great artist. His brother Murray, on the other hand, Murray Rembrandt wouldn't paint a house."

I guess it is a funny line in a way, but Rembrandt’s brother would have been “Murray van Rijn” (or more likely what ever the Dutch translation of Murray would be); Rembrandt was the painter’s first name! Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn. If you get to Amsterdam I highly recommend the Rijksmuseum; the Rembrandt exhibition is something not to miss.

As to the idea of Camelot and Kennedy dynasty, I don’t really care, it’s better than some dynasties I can think of… Remember: There are other Bushes out there! (Isn’t that enough to give you nightmares!)

Wherever you are today, I hope that you will have a great day!

Don Bergquist – December 22, 2008 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Happy birthday to my cousin, Rebecca

Hanukkah Begins

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Winter Solstice

The Importance of Backups

Today’s entry is a bit of free advice. It is important if you have a computer (which I assume you do as you are reading this screed) that you back it up regularly!

This point cannot be overemphasized!

I used to say this to my clients all the time when I was a consultant. I now till it to anyone who will listen. The reason is simple. “Things Go Wrong!”

I sent my PC in to be serviced recently and was somewhat surprised to see that they had decided to reformat the hard drive (and do nothing else) to fix an issue that was having with the fan that keeps the processor cool.

Why resetting the software would have been the fix to a hardware issue is beyond me, but there it is! Unfortunately, because I was not yet finished getting all the pictures from my fall travels uploaded to my photo sharing service, I would have lost all the pictures that I took for the last half of the year (…including this great photo of Dad digging horseradish…) if I hadn’t backed up my PC.

Wherever you are today, do yourself a favor: back-up your PC!

Don Bergquist – December 21, 2008 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Christmas Party

Ah! Another office party passed.

It was a good party. A friend of mine and I went to my company’s party last night and no… I know better than getting drunk at an office party. (At least most of the time… Though some of the office parties my company used to throw… but that is another story.)

This morning, I am busy finishing-up a few jobs I have around the house that need doing, and then I am working on a menu for Christmas dinner. I have a few friends coming over for dinner.

No rest for the weary…

Wherever you are today, I wish you a restful weekend!

Don Bergquist – December 20, 2008 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Friday, December 19, 2008

Driving In Snow

To quote the late, great George Carlin:

“Have you ever noticed that all the other drivers on the road are either idiots or assholes?” Everyone who drives slower than you is an asshole, everyone who drives faster is an idiot.

That’s how I feel on days like yesterday! The roads weren’t that bad… well, they weren’t once I had gotten a couple miles from the office. The on-ramp to the interstate was icy and slushy; the first few hundred yards were slushy and snowy. But well after we were on dry and clean surface we were still going ten miles per hour! What assholes!

Some idiot probably had an accident. It took me well over an hour longer than usual to get home.

Wherever you are today, I wish you dry and clean roads and smooth sailing.

Don Bergquist – December 19, 2008 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Happy birthday to my cousin, Kristie

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Soup Weather!

Gee my home smells good (if I must say so myself)! My secret?

I was up late last night making soups. I had a pot of Potato and Leek, a pot of Split Pea with Ham, and a pot of Chicken soup going all at once. My book club is coming over and I am hosting.

I love soup, and with the weather being bitterly cold, what could be better than a nice, warming bowl of soup. I hope everyone like the soup! (I hope they liked the book!)

Wherever you are today, I hope you’re staying snug and warm.

Don Bergquist – December 18, 2008 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

For Those Of You Who Have Asked…

Nope… nothing wrong, just really rushed this time of year.

I’m sorry that I haven’t been updating as often as I could, but I have been jotting notes and will update as soon as I can.I did at least finally decorate for Christmas! Well, it's a start!

Sorry for the rush.

Wherever you are today, I hope you’re having a calm and relaxing day!

Don Bergquist – December 17, 2008 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Hidden Treasures

While running though my Photographs for my periodic backup, I came across a folder of pictures that I had done nothing with. I have no idea why. They were just sitting hrere and none of them had been used.

I think this picture of my aunt’s apple orchard in production was a pretty good one, so I have no idea why I didn’t do anything with them

Wherever you are today, I hope you’ll uncover a hidden treasure!

Don Bergquist – December 16, 2008 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Happy birthday to my cousin, Craig

Monday, December 15, 2008

Well, That Wasn't So Bad!

The storm passed. I am not sure what the actual snow totals were. The winds kicked-up yesterday and so there is drifted snow against the buildings and a layer less than it had been earlier on the horizontal surfaces.

It is bitterly cold this morning. My thermometer read -12° (Fahrenheit) when Saga and I went out. Needless to say she really didn't want to venture too far from the front door. Who can blame her?

The news is saying that the roads are deceptively icy, but I am going to give it my best try and head into the office. Wish me luck!

Wherever you are today, I hope that you're safe and warm.

Don Bergquist - December 15, 2008 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Sunday, December 14, 2008

A Day Indoors

Brrr! It's freezing outside!! Our walk in the park was (mercifully) short this morning. Saga wanted nothing of it. We went outside, she sniffed here, peed there, and made a bee-line back for the house. Her shift in direction was so fierce and sudden that she nearly over-turned me with the force of the yank on the lead!

That's okay, though. That means I have plenty of time to spend working on projects indoors. (Not that I actually will... I may sit down with a nice hot pot of coffee and watch movies all day - but then, it is a good day for that as well!)

The weather outside this morning at 05:30 (Yes, I'm up at this insane hour even on weekends!) was 02° (Fahrenheit) and the weather man said in the newscast that it was only the "Current low" for the day. They are expecting it to be about this temperature all day long and then the temps are supposed to drop as an arctic front moves through some time this evening.

Meanwhile, there is a blanket four inches deep of snow on my deck and walkways (that's new snow... it reached nearly to 60° yesterday!) and it is still coming down pretty steadily out there so who knows what the total will be! Yes, as I said. It is a good day to stay inside, all snug and warm. You know what! I do believe it is soup weather! I think it is time for me to put on the cauldron!

(Well, okay, I don't literally have a cauldron... if I did, I haven't a hearth over which to cook in it anyway! But a guy can wish!)

Wherever you are today, I wish you a lovely day; stay snug and warm and enjoy the comforts of home!

Don Bergquist - December 14, 2008 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Weekend

So much for announcing my plans of yesterday. One thing led to another and by dint of checking my mail, I got dragged into a lengthy and dull process that ate-up much of my afternoon.

You see, I got a slip in my mailbox that I had a package that had to be collected at the post office. There was no further explanation. Calling the post office (when the finally answered) I was told that there was no further information available.

Argh! The next time I move, I am going to check-out the post office that my mail will come through before even putting a bid down on the property. The line really didn't look that bad. There were only a dozen-or-so people ahead of me when I stepped into line. How was I to know that each of them would average about thirty minutes at the window?

At least my post office isn't like the Thames Ditton Post Office. There a six windows at the counter instead of the two that they have in the newsagent on the Thames Ditton high street. But there are ways that my post office is like the post office in Thames Ditton; I have never seen more than half the windows in either of the two open when I was there! No way! I take that back, I did once see both windows open at the newsagent's. But I'm sure that was an aberration.

So after working my way to the front of the queue, I discover that the package I had to pick-up at the post office was a Christmas card that a friend had sent. The stamp had fallen off of the envelope (or my friend forgot to stamp it) so rather than returning it, they asked me to pay the 42₵ to collect it! Nice!

It is a lovely card, though. Lovely, in fact! A lot of work went into making it. It is almost worth the effort to get it! (I'll be sending the sender an email thanking them for the card!)

So, today I have a lot of things to finish before the big blizzard hits this evening so I suppose I should post this up and get moving.

Wherever you are today, I hope you'll have a lovely weekend!

Don Bergquist - December 13, 2008 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Friday, December 12, 2008

Holiday

I am burning a holiday day today. We get two days a year (in addition to the normal compliment of holidays) that we can declare a holiday and take off. So today is the day.

There is so much to do. I need to finish my Christmas mailing and get some work done at home. I'm planning on hanging the lights and getting the house ready for holiday entertaining. But first, having the time to finally get my journal updated... here it is! Now I am off to get things started.

Wherever you are today, I hope your day is productive.

Don Bergquist - December 12, 2008 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Happy birthday to my nephew, Eric

Happy birthday to my cousin, Emily

Happy birthday to my cousin, Chantell

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Thank You For Caring!

I may have started this blog as a way of sending messages and photos back home when I started traveling abroad a few years ago, but it has evolved into so much more.

Thank you all who have sent me email (or called me – those of you who know my number) asking what’s up with me. Gee! Ya get busy for a few days (too busy to actually get the stuff I am wringing into the blog) and I get a bunch of people asking what’s up.

A friend from Florida sent me an email asking if I was okay or if I had lost power of something. Though my favorite comment (mostly because the way it was phrased showed a level of creativity that just tickled my fancy) was the friend who asked me if I had just stopped seeing the world.

No, sorry… been busy and will try and get these random rumblings onto the blog as soon as I can. (With the blog tool not doing a spell check, I write these in Word then transfer them to the blog… just been too busy to do that second step!) I promise to catch-up soon.

Thanks for asking!

Wherever you are today, I hope that people are caring where you are!

Don Bergquist – December 11, 2007 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Snow? What Snow?

Garrison Keilor once read a poem by Margaret Haskins Durber, the poet laureate of Lake Wobegone, Minnesota. I have been reciting it (at request) ever since. A couple lines in an early stanza describe Minnesota as
Where winter stays nine months a year
And there is no spring or fall
And it gets so cold the mercury
Cannot be seen at all
I think of that every time we have a snowstorm here. I’ve spent some time in Minnesota in the winter time (but not much because I realize that I am always free to leave when I want to). I understand that once the snow flies there it is there until March.

Here, on the other hand, it is usually gone by the weekend; unless it fell of Friday that is! And that is the case today. Our snow of yesterday ended around eleven and when Saga and I went out the grassy areas of the park were still under a good half-foot or so of snow, but the paths were practically clear and the road was clean and dry. (That is except where the shade falls all day…)

There are no problems predicted with the rush hour and all is right with the world. The snow has passed and left the front range a shiny, pristine, white! Ah! I love this time of year!

Wherever you are, I wish you a lovely day!

Don Bergquist – December 10, 2008 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Whomp!

I cannot believe that I didn’t hear it come down… with the amount of snow we got over night, I should have heard the thudding “whomp” as it hit the ground. Saga and I walked last night as flurries were starting. It was a bit cold, but it was still clear on the roads and the ground.

- WHOMP! -

Then this morning there is about eight inches of accumulation on my deck. The walks, drive, and road were icy and treacherous, and (poor thing) Saga wanted to run back in the moment that we got outside.

No, that’s not exactly true. Because the snow was dry and flaky (instead of wet an lumpy) I got out the broom and swept a path from the door to the fence line. (Our community grounds people would not be coming until the snow ended and if I walked in the snow on my deck I would leave compacted icy footprints.) So Saga wanted to turn around the moment she hit the snow which was a few yards from the front door.

They are predicting the snow to continue until noon-ish so I am staying put and writing from home. Not for me to get out there and deal with the craziness of rush hour when the roads are this sloppy. The news is talking about accidents all over the map. Nope! Time to stay home and work today!

Wherever you are today, I hope that you are safe, warm, and dry!

Don Bergquist – December 09, 2008 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Happy birthday to my step-mom, Flo

Monday, December 08, 2008

Manic Monday

As the line from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory that I often quote goes: “So much time, so little to do. No! Wait. Strike that; reverse it!”

The problem with the end of the year is that there is so much to do to get ready for the holidays and then the end of the year and it all happens one thing after another; bing, bang, boom!

I have, let my writing in my blog slip a bit. I had planned on getting this posted this morning, but one thing happened after another and there is always something of higher priority to do! So I’m jotting some notes and will get this into the blog as soon as I get a chance to catch my breath!

And on top of everything else, I am planning on working from home tomorrow because the reports are that we’ll be getting a pretty serious snowfall tomorrow. That also means that anything I need to have done by tomorrow I need to do tonight on my way home. Great! Just Great! …as if I weren’t already busy enough.

Wherever you are today, I hope you will have a relaxing and uncluttered day!

Don Bergquist – December 08, 2008 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Sunday, December 07, 2008

A Somewhat Busy Weekend!

It has been a lovely weekend, but somewhat busy.

I took advantage of the nice weather yesterday to do a little work outside and to get some gardening chores done. This morning, Saga and I took our walk and it was immediately obvious that I needed the jacket... yesterday I had wished that I had left it behind.

Today I have a bunch of stuff inside to do and if it doesn't get too cold, I may string some holiday lights this weekend. I don't know about anyone else, but this holiday season I am not really getting into it...

I don't know why; it just doesn't feel like the holidays yet. Perhaps I just need to bake some cookies and listen to some Christmas Music. I guess I should start trying to get into the spirit.

Wherever you are today, I hope that you're feeling in the spirit of the season.

Don Bergquist - December 07, 2008 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Saturday, December 06, 2008

What A Lovely Day!

God! It is far too nice for me to be sitting inside and screwing around with my computer today! The temps are going to hit the mid-fifties today and the skies are just as blue as you could desire on a fine spring day.

Too bad it is late fall and the weather is going to get cold again all too soon. But for right now, as the saying goes: "Make Hay While The Sun Shines."

Wherever you are today, get out and enjoy yourself.

Don Bergquist - December 06, 2008 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Friday, December 05, 2008

A Toast!

Here to the repeal Prohibition in the United States!

Let's all lift a beer today and celebrate the seventy-fifth anniversary of the ratification of the twenty-first amendment! On December 05, 1933 with the ratification of the twenty-first amendment by Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Utah, the eighteenth amendment was officially repealed and the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages once again became legal.

Thirteen years earlier, thirty-six of the forty-eight states ratified the eighteenth amendment establishing prohibition in the United States:
Section 1. After one year from the ratification of this article the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within, the importation thereof into, or the exportation thereof from the United States and all territory subject to the jurisdiction thereof for beverage purposes is hereby prohibited.

Section 2. The Congress and the several States shall have concurrent power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Section 3. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of the several States, as provided in the Constitution, within seven years from the date of the submission hereof to the States by the Congress.
Thus entering a dark age in the history of the United States. What were they thinking? This was a clear pander to the religious right who wanted alcohol banned on a moral basis. The government cannot legislate morality! It never has been able to and never should have even tried.

It is interesting that this, the only amendment which made it into law based solely on pressure from a moral viewpoint, is also the only amendment ever to have been repealed. By its passage, the amendment didn't criminalize the consumption of intoxicating spirits, just their manufacture, import, and trafficking. If you could get your hands on it, you were allowed to drink it.

The twenty-first amendment officially repealed the eighteenth:

Section 1. The eighteenth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed.

Section 2. The transportation or importation into any State, Territory, or possession of the United States for delivery or use there in of intoxicating liquors, in violation of the laws thereof, is hereby prohibited.

Section 3. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by conventions in the several States, as provided in the Constitution, within seven years from the date of the submission hereof to the States by the Congress.
What I found interesting when looking into this, though, was not that some states never actually ratified the amendment but that some states actively opposed it. Though, I cannot say that I am surprised at the states that have opposed it.

For example, South Carolina actually rejected the amendment. This would surprise nobody who has ever been out there... Until recently (I do not know if this has changed) you could not get a poured drink in bars... they had to sell it to you in single or double-shot bottles. And North Carolina refused to even hold a convention to consider the amendment! (Was Bob Jones really around that long ago!?)

But, at least for now, morality has no place in the constitution of the United States and I think we should all raise a glass and drink to that one... just as my grandmother and her friends and family did back in Minnesota on the homestead in 1933. Remember to keep vigilant and prevent the constitution from ever again becoming a club for well intended but misguided busybodies! 

Wherever you are today - Cheers!

Don Bergquist - December 05, 2008 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Happy birthday to my aunt, Cecelia

Thursday, December 04, 2008

It's So Clean!

I guess it is to be expected that the light rail trains are much cleaner and the stations more well kempt than those I grew used to seeing in the United Kingdom. The rail line is only about a year old here... instead of the many (what hundreds?) years that they have been in use in London. For another, Denver is nowhere as large as is the metropolitan London area.

Even still, the difference is striking. The rail stations that I frequented on trips to and from London tended to be plagued by graffiti, collected trash in between and along the rails, and often were full of people (in a quote stolen directly from Douglas Adams) displaying all manner of bodily function, except for actual teeth cleaning.

I think of this because I took the train down to the office today. (The snowstorm made the predicted traffic sound like too much a hassle to deal with.) The trip was pretty easy to deal with. But the one thing that really struck me was how clean and new the whole system seemed. Of course this could be because it is clean and new.

Ah well, the snow is falling, and the coffee pot is calling, I had best get myself a cup and get to work. It is a good day to be indoors and busy.

Wherever you are today, I hope that you will have a great day!

Don Bergquist - December 04, 2008 - Englewood, Colorado, USA

Happy birthday to my sister-in-law, Helen

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Brr... Cold!

At least it's not wet here!

I don't remember a time when I was in London that it was this cold but there were certainly mornings that felt this cold. I suppose that had more to do with the fact that I spent all my commuting time on a bike.

The thermometer on the deck tells me that as Saga and I left for our morning explorations it was 19 degrees. Brrrr! But (in a direct analogy to the statements they make all summer in Phoenix) but it is a DRY cold! In the UK, when it was cold it was usually about 90% humidity and the cold cut right through the layers; finding the chinks in your armor as it were. Add that to getting moving on the bike at 15-20 miles per hour and you have a recipe for a blue nose!

Here you put on a pair of gloves and a hat and you're all snug and warm. Tomorrow is supposed to be even colder... perhaps with snow. They are saying the temps this time tomorrow are supposed to be in the low teens. But that would be out at the airport which tends (on cold days, that is) to be a bit warmer than it is up here in the piedmont. At least we didn't get the snow that was predicted for this morning... Saga didn't fight the walk and the rush hour should be relatively uneventful.

...and speaking of rush hour, I suppose I should get out and do it to it...

Wherever you are today, I hope that you have a wonderful day!

Don Bergquist - December 03, 2008 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Too Cool!

It is just too cool, the way the weather changes here in Colorado!

Just two days ago we were in the second day of a two-day snowstorm that dropped around six inches of snow on us. The parking area and the road that runs past my condo were both ice covered. The high temps hovering right around freezing.

Today it is supposed to be nearly sixty degrees out there and the ice is gone, the snow on my lawn is all but disappeared. It was a nice snow (not one of the ones we are used to getting late in the season where snow is measured in feet rather than inches... but nice nonetheless) but today it is gone.

Tomorrow is supposed to be thirty degrees colder and we have the possibility of snow! Yeah! Oh, and the weekend is supposed to be nice again.

I love this weather!

Wherever you are, I wish you pleasant and enjoyable weather!

Don Bergquist - December 02, 2008 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Monday, December 01, 2008

What!? It's December!? Already!?

I cannot believe that it is already December! Where has the time gone? I'm caught-up in the throes of the end of the year activity. In addition to getting things done at the office, there is the planning for getting my Christmas gifts packaged-up and sent out... there is the production and mailing of my Christmas Cards.

This time of year is special and I love it but it can be so busy. What with the baking, the entertaining, the correspondence and the mad dash to get presents into the mail so that they make it to their intended recipients in time.

There is so much to do... What a busy time of year. Luckily, I have lots of friends who remind me (constantly - but I am not complaining) to take time out for myself. We all need to remember to take time for ourselves.

So, wherever you are today I hope that you take a moment to remember what the holidays are really all about.

Don Bergquist - December 01, 2008 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Sunday, November 30, 2008

It's Going To Be A Long Winter!

Just how much time can one spend watching movies? I've nearly been bested this weekend. The snow and ice are still on the roads and the roads are still crowded with the holiday weekend shoppers so there is no real desire to get out and go anywhere.

I made some calls, wrote a letter, and did some reading yesterday and then settled in and watched a couple movies on the tube. (Can it really be called a "tube" when it is just an LCD panel? Ah, well! I'll let that pass if you will.)

Today it is supposed to be a bit better, the weather has cleared a bit, but it is still too cold out to spend much time out there. So, other than a bit of household chores, and a couple letters I need to get written, I suppose it is another day for movies and television; relaxing on the couch, petting the dog.

Wherever you are, I hope your Sunday is a warm, cozy, and laid back one.

Don Bergquist - November 30, 2008 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Saturday, November 29, 2008

White Saturday

It's a cold, wet, white morning.

Saga and I ventured out this morning and explored the winter wonderland before sunrise. The cloud cover prevented the sunrise from being anything spectacular. So I was not excited about being out that early.

It was cold and wet so Saga was not excited about being dragged on a walk around the lake. She kept running to the end of her lead toward home, but after she'd worked out that we were walking the standard route, she quit the futile run and resorted to just casting furtive glances over her shoulder to the north; toward home.

There is no plan for the day; it's another good day to do nothing. I think we'll dig deep into the DVD library and find something I haven't seen in a while!

Wherever you are today, I hope that you will have a lovely day!

Don Bergquist - November 29, 2008 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Friday, November 28, 2008

Black Friday

Of late this day after Thanksgiving has become commonly known as "Black Friday." But far from being as ominous as it sounds, this is a good day (or rather it should be a good day for) for retailers; the day that makes or breaks them; the day that leaves them in the red or moves them into the black for the year.

At the risk of sound crotchety, it was not always so... at least it was not always so obviously so! I remember when This day was the start of the Christmas Season, not just another day in a season that started before Halloween; a day for an orgy of shopping.

This morning at five when the local news started, there were already stories about how there were no parking spaces at the local stores and malls. The local stations had their traffic 'copters to show that parking lots were overflowing.

Not that the economy doesn't need people getting out there and spending money, it is just that the season is so much more than that... or it should be. So, I am hunkering down as a sort-of existential protest. I am not leaving my home today except to walk the dog, take a walk in the park and perhaps to go out to dinner tonight. Other than that, I am not getting out into the craziness. If that was what it was like at 05:00 this morning, I can only imagine what it is like now that everyone who was sleeping off the turkey dinner this morning what it must be like now!

Wherever you are, stay safe and happy... if you are out in the mess today, have a great time at it!

Don Bergquist - November 28, 2008 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Day

Happy anniversary to my folks, Denny and Flo

Happy anniversary to my brother-in-law and sister, Corey and Mary

Travel

Over the River and
Through the Woods
by Lydia Maria Child

Over the river and thru the wood,
To grandfather's house we go;
The horse knows the way
To carry the sleigh,
Thru the white and drifted snow, oh!
Over the river and thru the wood,
Oh, how the wind does blow!
It stings the toes,
And bites the nose,
As over the ground we go.

Over the river and thru the wood,
To have a first-rate play;
Oh, hear the bell ring,
"Ting-a-ling-ling!"
Hurrah for Thanksgiving Day-ay!
Over the river and thru the wood,
Trot fast my dapple gray!
Spring over the ground,
Like a hunting hound!
For this is Thanksgiving Day. 

Yeah... I never really understood this song. For one thing, it was that whole snow reference - not really helpful in Miami, now is it?

Besides that, with Mom, Dad, and my siblings and I all living in Miami and Grandfather's house being in Minnesota, there was no way we were going there for a meal, no matter how fantastic a meal it might be, on Thanksgiving day.

For a while, my family had the habit of getting together for the holiday at some mutually convenient place. We went to Orlando once, and Pigeon Forge another year... That was a cool tradition. But as we got more and more far flung, this became unworkable.

So my travel today will be by telephone. I'll be calling my family before heading off to a friend's house to share dinner with friends. Traditions sometimes change. But I suppose that the holiday and its meaning stays the same.

Wherever you are today, I wish you peace and happiness with friends and family on this Thanksgiving Day.

Don Bergquist - November 27, 2008 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Turkey

And of course, there is the perennial argument about how to roast the turkey. Over the years I have had the turkey a number or ways from Fried to Slow Roasted to Stuffed with other animals.

True! Turducken is an interesting New Orleans treat my brother and his wife introduced me to one thanksgiving. Basically, you stuff a chicken. Then you take the stuffed chicken into a duck. You then stuff that into a turkey. It is actually quite good.

Fried turkey is good, but you can’t fry a stuffed turkey. Besides, it’s not as if with all the butter, cream, and eggs that go into preparing the traditional Thanksgiving meal one really needs to look for ways to make it more fat laden!

But by far, my favorite way (and the way I have always preferred) is the way my mom used to make it. You butter the inside of a grocery bag (back then there was not the choice of paper or plastic, they were all paper… PLEASE DO NOT USE A PLASTIC GROCERY BAG FOR THIS RECIPE!) Then pop your stuffed turkey into the bag, seal it, toss it into a shallow, open roasting pan and roast it as you would normally. (See yesterday’s recipe for timing.)

Besides this recipe being really easy and making the moistest turkey I have ever had, it is also good because the pan is ridiculously easy to clean and you can toss any remaining stuffing (that didn’t fit in the bird) into the bag and it cooks up so nicely.

The worst Thanksgiving turkey I ever made was the year I had to work… I was working in Memphis and we had a number of Canadian clients so we had to staff the call center. For 4-hours work, we got paid time-and-a-half and got two vacation days exchange. I had friends I had invited for thanksgiving dinner so I did all the prep work the night before, all the veggies were ready to cook; the turkey was stuffed and ready to pop into the oven.

So that morning, boiled the giblets while eating breakfast and then moved them into the ‘fridge. I popped the turkey in to roast before I headed into the office. I was therefore surprised when I opened my apartment door after work and noted the distinct absence of roast turkey aroma. It would have been good to have turned the oven on before I left! Here’s today’s tip for the perfect roast turkey: TURN THE OVEN ON!

Luckily, the grocery store on the corner had not yet closed for the holiday. I zipped down and bought a prime rib, roasted it and served that for the holiday.

Wherever you are today, I hope that you will have a great day and a great holiday!

Don Bergquist – November 26, 2008 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Stuffing

Of Course, no turkey day is complete without the stuffing! Everybody has their favorite stuffing, of course, and I am no exception. Mom’s stuffing was good, but I have made my own adjustment to the recipe.

Ingredients:

1 Stick Melted Butter
2 Cups Diced Onion
2 Cups Diced Celery
1 Pound Mushrooms Sliced
1 Cup Wild Rice (Cooked as per package directions and cooled)
1 Pound Bulk Breakfast Sausage (One year, in deference to a vegetarian friend I made it with one of the vegetarian sausage replacements and it wasn’t bad, but…)
¼ Cup Fresh Parsley chopped
10-12 Cups Bread Cubes (Mom would use the dry bread cubes ready-made… I like to use my own using a hearty whole-grain bread)
2 Raw Eggs
1-2 Cups Stock (Turkey is best, but you can use chicken or vegetable stock if you don’t have any turkey stock.)

Method:
In your largest cast iron skillet (or large, heavy bottomed frying pan) melt the butter slowly until hot enough to sauté.

Cook the wild rice, drain it and add it to a LARGE mixing bowl.

Sauté the onions and celery until translucent. Transfer the vegetables to the mixing bowl leaving the butter in the pan. Mix with the rice.

Sauté the mushrooms until they start to release some of their liquid (a few minutes). Transfer the contents of the pan into the mixing bowl. Mix with the existing ingredients in the bowl.

Crumble-fry the sausage. Drain it and add it to the vegetables in the mixing bowl. Mix to incorporate.

Add the Parsley and bread cubes to the bowl. Mix to incorporate.

In a separate bowl, beat the eggs. Add the eggs to the mixing bowl. Mix to incorporate.

Slowly add the stock (mixing the stuffing as you go) stop when the stuffing is wet but not gloppy. (That’s a technical term. The stuffing should wet throughout but not sodden enough to collapse.)

Stuff the turkey until full (but not packed too tightly) and roast as you normally would. (I usually guestimate about 20 minutes per pound, but start checking it at about 12 minutes per pound. Using a meat thermometer, you want the thigh to reach 180° internal temperature, the breast should be about 170°.)

Wherever you are today, I hope you’ll have a lovely day and a happy holiday!

Don Bergquist – November 25, 2008 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Sides

Today I am going start a series on Thanksgiving Dinner.

I love this time of the year. The time I spend with my family; the food, it's a great time of year! It was one of the few times of the year we ate in the dining room rather than at the kitchen table. Most of the rest of the year, the dining room was where we did homework; clearing the mountains of paperwork Mom and Dad stored there to one side so that there was room for our schoolbooks.

Every year, my mom would dig her good china out of the cabinets it was stored in. We'd spend hours cleaning the silver and washing the china. The table would be spread with the orange, brown, and gold table cloth. It had an autumn cornucopia motif. We'd spend hours cleaning the china, crystal and silver and then set the table.

Most every other day of the year meals were served out of the pots and pans they were cooked in; or in the case of our Friday fried fish dinners off the newspaper they were drained on. But on the big three (Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter) and selected other rare occasions, meals were served out of honest-to-goodness serving dishes! There was a gravy boat, a soup tureen, and an assortment of plates and bowls of all shapes and sizes to accept a variety of side dishes.

And side dishes there were for Thanksgiving! Olives (Black and Green!), mashed potatoes and gravy, and stuffing! There was usually corn, and beans, and salad of some kind. Yum! And each had its own serving dish. There was a small oval plate just the right size to hold a can of jellied cranberry sauce (always served in a gelatinous cylinder and still showing the ridges of the tin can... that's how we knew it was "fresh!") and of course the huge platter that was barely large enough to hold the main event: The turkey.

It would have been nice to eat off the good china more often, but really, the stoneware was eminently more practical.

Wherever you are today, I hope that you have a great day!

Don Bergquist - November 24, 2008 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Aah!

What a lovely feeling doing nothing all day!

I guess my blog must be getting a bit dull, On weekends all I want to do is to go for a bike ride or a walk in the park with the dog. And during the week I am too busy at the office to really get out and do any world-seeing... so in the past year my blog title has become more figurative than literal.

How different from four years ago, when I started the blog because I was going to be traveling regularly to Europe. But there is, I suppose a lot of things I could be discussing in the blog. For example, the current political situation. What the hell is going on in Washington!?

When did it become advisable to reward a company for poor performance? The "Big Three" auto makers have an almost perfect track record in recent years of building cars that people don't want (or can't afford) to buy. But now, all of the sudden, we have to send them BILLIONS of dollars to keep them solvent. And they expect that they will keep building the same cars that nobody wants or needs. There is a reason Japanese cars are so popular in the US!

I hope that we will see some responsible behavior out of congress... now that the congress is more central than it was a few years ago, and skewing a bit left of center, perhaps they will start to watch out for the common man, rather than the CEO. If the little guy cannot afford to buy a product then all the money in Washington will not support an industry for too long.

Forget supply-side economics, let's look at demand-side economics. Sure, we can't buy what isn't available, but they can't sell what we can't afford to buy!

Wherever you are today, I hope that you have a great day!

Don Bergquist - November 23, 2008 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Quiet Saturday

No plans, no obligations.

Saga and I took a leisurely stroll through the park just after sunrise; not really a choice on my part. It is not possible to move faster than a stroll with her stopping ever few steps to thoroughly sniff-out things.

I have no plan for the day so i may do a little housework, a bit of reading and just chill for the day. How lovely to have no plan and nothing to do!

Wherever you are today, I hope you will take time for yourself.

Don Bergquist - November 22, 2008 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Friday, November 21, 2008

Lost In A Fog

What a lovely morning to have chosen to take off. I love it when the weather is changing!

This morning as Saga and I took our early morning outing there was no way to see the other side of the street, let alone the park. The aftermath of our cold front (that dropped frozen mist and sleet on us during the rush hour yesterday morning) is a fog bank that has blanketed the front range this morning. It was in the high teens as we made for the park at five. Needless to say, Saga didn't want to spend a lot of time outside, the fog was that penetrating, thick fog that clings to everything and makes you feel the damp and the cold.

Later, when the sun was up and it was a bit warmer (in the low twenties) Saga and I went for a walk again. The fog was beginning to burn off. You could at least see the trees across the park now. The the grass all had a thick coating of frost. It reminded me of an early-winter day in London. I was transported to all those nights crossing the village on foot or on my bike after an evening at the pub.

I had to shake my head to get rid of the image of the churchyard. It was interesting; four years ago today I set foot in England for the first time. I think of London often but to realize as I was walking through a very London-Like fog on the anniversary of my first visit and see the striking similarity... Odd.

But the morning wears on. I have a number of things I want to accomplish today and can't start them until I post this and get moving so I will say good morning to you and wish you a good day.

Wherever you are, I hope your day is clear and fine!

Don Bergquist - November 21, 2008 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Happy birthday to my Cousin, Grainne

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Let Sleeping Dogs Lie

Eventually, she decides that Daddy is just not leaving so she can go back to the living room and get on with her arduous schedule of sleeping. I'd say "cat napping" but as she is a dog, it may offend her!

One of the cool things about the breed that Saga belongs to is that they are equally happy getting out and being active with you or assuming a position, balled-up on the couch and napping all day. They are either hard-working herders or they are couch potatoes! Either way, it's all the same to them.

Saga loves getting out and taking a walk (assuming it is not too cold or wet) and when we return, she is perfectly happy to ball-up on the couch or on her bed by the front windows, and just snooze the day away. What a wonderful life.

It's funny; when I go down for my second cup of coffee, her head lifts inquisitively. Is Daddy on his way to get me a snack? is the obvious question that had drifted lazily through her head. Seeing me come back almost immediately, she barely stirs the next time I head down.

If I fail to come down any time soon, she'll come up and see what Daddy is up to. We have our "Work From Home Day" routine... and I am happy with it. I also get to go out for a walk with her at lunchtime... I'm sure she likes this too. But the operative part of a "Work From Home Day" is the "work" part and I suppose I have put that off long enough, so I should get to it.

Wherever you are today, I hope that you will have a good day!

Don Bergquist - November 20, 2008 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Book Club Night

Well, I finally finished the book. It's not as if it was really a hard read, just a depressing read.

My book club read Disgrace by J. M. Coetzee this month. It was interesting, if somewhat depressing. The story is that of a professor in Cape Town, South Africa who leaves his post in disgrace after an affair with a student comes to light.

It was interesting because I have been to the areas that are the settings for the story and I enjoyed seeing them as the setting for a novel. It was depressing because it brought to mind all the uncomfortable feelings I had while there.

Don't get me wrong, South Africa is a beautiful place and the people there (for the most part) were lovely people. I had a great time there. The racial tension (even this long after the fall of apartheid) was palpable and it made me uncomfortable to watch things happen blatantly that haven't been acceptable in the US since the sixties.

It was clear to me from the beginning that the novel was meant to be an allegory of the state of South Africa race relations since the de Klerk government ended apartheid and fell to the government of Nelson Mandela. Tonight's discussion should be a good one.

Wherever you are today, I hope that your day is a good one.

Don Bergquist - November 19, 2008 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

What The…

Okay, it is going to be nicer in Denver today that it is in South Florida!

As I sit here at five o’clock the news has just announced that it is already nearly 60° outside and we are headed for a high near 80°! It is really nice outside! I had a light sweater on as we walked… The stars were shining with the half-moon beaming along. The skies are nearly cloudless and it is supposed to be an absolutely lovely day! I am so tempted to play hooky! But no, there is a lot to do and next week is a holiday so I guess I had best get into the office.

Ah… what a hassle it is being a grown-up some times!

Wherever you are today, I hope that you’re having a lovely day.

Don Bergquist – November 18, 2008 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Monday, November 17, 2008

Feeling Better!

Thanks for the email, guys!

I am feeling a lot better. It's amazing how great 20-hours of sleep in a day makes you feel!

Saga was wonderful... she would come in periodically to check-up on me (or perhaps she was there all along and I only noticed in those few occasions I was conscious. The few times I made it outside it was lovely out yesterday.

This morning I have a dental appointment and so I am doing my writing from home. That's good... I am feeling a lot better but don't want to push it! As soon as I have put-in my eight hours I expect I'll be climbing under the duvet.

Wherever you are today, I hope that you'll have a great day!

Don Bergquist - November 17, 2008 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Out Of Commission

Well, I had thought that I had dodged the bullet and gotten out of the office before I caught the cold (flu?) that one of my coworkers was walking around with, but starting last night I started feeling pretty cruddy.

This morning I got out of bed only because I had to... Once Saga and I had taken a walk, I went back to bed. I thought I was going to feel better after sleeping 'til noon, but now that I am vertical, I am thinking of nothing but getting horizontal again. So I'm off to bed again.

Wherever you are, I hope you're feeling well.

Don Bergquist - November 16, 2008 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Happy anniversary to my cousins, Michael and DeeAnn

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Brrr!

Hey, kiddies, it's flippin' cold out there!

My thermometer outside read 10°(Fahrenheit - that's -12.2222222° Celsius). Needless to say, Saga didn't want to spend a lot of time exploring this morning. We'll head out again a little later on as the temperature rises a bit.

But this is one of the things I love about living in Colorado! Down here where most of us live (six thousand feet and below) it will snow one day, and the next day be lovely. It is supposed to be up around 70° again by the middle of the week.

If I want the snow, it is falling up in the mountains. The slopes are lovely! The white and green blankets that can be seen from down here shine in the first light of the morning.

I have no big plans for the day. Tomorrow is supposed to be the nice day of the weekend... so I suppose today is a bookkeeping and house cleaning day. Tomorrow, perhaps a bike ride... the paths should be clean and dry by tomorrow.

Wherever you are today, I hope your day is a lovely one!

Don Bergquist - November 15, 2008 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Friday, November 14, 2008

First Snow

They've been playing up the fact that this morning's storm is the first snow storm of the season. It is cold and blustery outside and Saga decided that she really didn't want to sniff-out everything in the park this morning. It was to wet and cold!

What a difference from a year ago. One year ago this morning I was waking up in Isandlwana, South Africa. It was a lovely place and a very moving place, once I learned the history of the defeat of the British at the hands of the Zulu at Isandlwana. (The movie Zulu - through which I have still not been able to sit without falling asleep - is about the battle the next day at Rorke's Drift, a few miles away.)

Last year it was hot and muggy, though the scenery was lovely. I was struck by how dark it gets there at night. There are practically no lights once the sun goes down! This year, I am sitting in the warmth of my home in Lakewood watching the first snow of the season fall. It's coming down pretty steadily, but because we had such a warm week up until last night, there is little accumulation other than on the grassy areas. Still... It is a good day not to have to be out and about!

Wherever you are today, I hope that you are warm and cozy!

Don Bergquist - November 14, 2008 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Such A Morning

Why is it I so rarely have a camera with me in the mornings when I walk Saga?

Not that I had the time to sit through the exposure time this morning. the moon breaking through the clouds as we walked this morning cast an amazing glow across Saga, me, and the entire park. It wasn't quite "the lustre of mid-day" as described in A Visit From St. Nicholas but it was pretty close... The park positively glowed!

Saga, of course, decided that she needed to go way off the paths... Nothing interests her here on the path, I suppose. By the time we got home, the moon had gone back behind the cloud banks and all was dark again. I suppose I should post this and get to the office... it is another busy day for me today.

Wherever you are today, I wish you a lovely start to your day! 

Don Bergquist - November 13, 2008 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A Busy Morning

How is it that Saga can always tell when it is going to be a busy morning for me?

It seems that the more I have planned to do at the office in the morning, the more time she wants to spend wandering aimlessly about the park. Of course, she doesn’t go about it as if it were aimlessly. Oh, no!

She is just a bundle of energy, bolting this way and that, going about sniffing and snuffing hither and thither. This morning I have to get in and reload all my programs on my PC… does she not understand this? But how can I be upset? She is so damn cute as she wanders determined to sniff and check-out everything in the park. I can spend a few extra minutes to enjoy her company!

Wherever you are today, I hope you’ll take a few minutes out of your busy schedule to spend time with someone special to you!

Don Bergquist – November 12, 2008 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA