Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Holiday Letter, 2007

It’s been a while since the last family newsletter, and a lot has been happening. For one, we’ve joined the ranks of the Empty Nesters a couple years earlier than expected.

P is a sophomore down at Clemson University. He’s studying biomedical engineering, or at least that is his track so far. He has been active marching tuba in the Tiger Band, along with joining as many orchestras, big bands, and jazz combos as he can. Sounds like a minor in music to me. He does get to perform at most football games, including various Peach and Chicken bowls. He is in a great scholastic honors program that takes them on various trips under the guise of international study. Not sure how much of that happens, but they end up doing and seeing a lot of good stuff. On last summer’s England/ Ireland/ France trip, Paul apparently volunteered to be the one designated to finish everyone else’s requisite pint of Guinness. In May he will be off to Turkey for a couple of weeks and will be back in time to tour with the Carolina Crown Drum Corps for the rest of the summer. He missed last summer due to the Euro adventure. Crown has a great video up on under Happy Holidays. The tour schedule is online at in case you are interested in catching a great performance.

N has been having his own high school adventures. This fall he started attending the North Carolina School of Science and Math, a state-run residential school up in Durham, NC for juniors and seniors. He lives in this cool old hospital that has been converted to dorm rooms. The school is really competitive to get into, and is filled with other brainiacs like himself. The school sends everyone home for a long weekend each month, and N has a spot on the Unicorn Express charter bus that drops off at a local shopping area, which helps a lot with the 3-hour (each way) trip. Unicorn = school mascot. Last summer he spent a week working on a Habitat for Humanity house in rural South Carolina with the youth group from church. N and Bob rode with the NCSSM team in the New Bern MS150 bike event. Next issue: college selection.

Betsy continues her quest into the mysterious world of hard-core knitting. Gardening has been reduced to checking the yard to see which plants are losing the natural selection battle with the drought. It may be time to try desert plants here. Church teams (committees are out, teams are in) and working on R&D projects while managing capital projects are other distractions.

Bob is back to riding bicycles again, after a number of low mileage years. He and N even ventured into a few local mountain bike races. One ended abruptly for him in a fairly spectacular faceplant-style crash. He got away with a minor concussion, a handful of stitches in his chin (beards are good), a fairly scraped up face including a black eye, and a dented helmet. How does the commercial go?
Entry fee for Over 40 Men’s Rookie Category $15
Insurance CoPays for ER, Cat Scan, etc $1700
Healing fast enough to speak at your parent’s 50th Anniversary seven days later: Priceless.

Bob has been playing bass with a blues-rock trio out of Shelby, NC. The Ned Lucas Band performs 3 or 4 times a month, which is plenty. The glamorous parts: the driving around alone late at night, and the third hand smoke. And helping Ned haul around his 475 pound Hammond organ.

In Upper Peninsula news Bob’s parents moved to a more comfortable single story house in Iron Mountain just a few weeks ago. The Cass Ave classic foursquare is on the market.

Pet news: The rabbits, Bruno and Petey, seem to be surviving without their main keeper, N. When you’re a rabbit, your mood is easily improved with the occasional treat like an apple core or a handful of weeds. The bunns were not too keen on our record heat wave last summer. Too many 100-degree days in a fur coat. But they are lovin’ this cool Christmas weather. The fish, well, they all croaked.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Carb O' the Week - and a Warning

Not sure if this qualifies as a true Carb. But it does contain at least some actual Chex, so it can't be too far off, even if said Chex had a suspicious orange hue.
I purchased this bag o' snax while driving home from a "smoky dive"gig the other night. A guy just gotta munch on something if he expects to stay awake driving alone at 3:00 in the morning. Note the subtle hints like Hot 'n Spicy and The Hottest Ever!. "Yeah, right", I thought. Well, they weren't kidding this time. Not Jalapeno hot, but seriously hot nonetheless. The bag is even on fire - look at those flames!
I can say they did their job.

Fish Report

Current number of fish = zero.

The final fishy resident, Peugeot, bit the dust. He (she? it?) was spared the indignity of the Final Flush, and instead is buried in the back yard next to our most prized lawn ornament, the lifiesize cast concete brain. Or under the brain. I forget.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Domestic Activity

Grandmother W loved mothballs. She even loaded her cedar chest up with them. For decades. Eventually the cedar chest ended up with us. It was exiled to the attic for years, with the lid open through heat of summer and cold of winter. It was refinished, and sanded inside as well as outside. It was sprayed with products claiming to remove odors. The mothball outgassing has never diminished, decades after the last mothball was dropped in. So every fall the woolens get spread out on the deck rail to air out before wearing. And we remember Grandmother W.

Yesterday was also the day for round one of fig preserve making. Despite the drought we had a reasonable crop of figs this year. They all come ripe at the same time, and you don't want to eat that many fresh figs at a time--they have side effects. This year we got smart and prepped and froze the fruit until a more convenient time (like when it was less than 104F out) to make the preserves and do the canning. Batch one is complete--used this recipe. Have another load of frozen figs, but we seem to be out of half pint jars, had to press a couple of full pints into service... Guess they are all full of wild blackberry pancake topping that we thought was going to be jam. Fire up the griddle.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Fish Report

Current number of fish = 1.

Sidewinder Sock #1


Here it is at the completion of knitting, before the massive grafting operation has taken place. Is it really a sock? It reminds me of the skin taken from an animal, an oddly shaped flattish piece that's not quite the shape you would think it should be. I had concerns about how it was going to fit.


And a miracle occurs after 140 stitches of grafting! It fits perfectly, and is comfortable. Ya never know with unconventionally designed wearables. This one's a winner. Time to cast on for #2 as my left foot is jealous.

Yarn: Opal Hundertwassers in Silver Spiral

Pattern: Sidewinders by nonaKnits

Mods: added a third small short row gusset (16-20-16) just before last row to fit my generous calves. Also used K F&B increases as my lifted increases were tight. KnitPicks Options #2 needle, 32", 7-8 wide size.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

How to turn a Rabbit into a Unicorn

N's little box was held hostage at the mailroom over last weekend, but first thing Monday he cashed in the package slip and got The Hat! Seems it was a hit, we think he wore it all day at NCSSSSSSM. The school mascot is a unicorn. Custom knit by BlichMa from 100% soy yarn, "Pure". Used most of a ball in garter rib stitch. Carried a fine clear elastic thread along for the first inch as the yarn had little memory. Ears and horn Caron Simply Soft.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Newest Member of the Fam

Welcome to W, our new cousin and nephew. It's been a long wait, but he sure looks happy to be with Alice and Shawn. And seems quite proud of his first three teeth with more reported to be on the way!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Krispy Kut

N got a haircut. At Krispy Kut. 

It must be cool. The black eye and face scrapes were in full bloom when he went--he got credit for being in a fight, and when he tried to correct that assumption they thought he had a motorcycle accident instead of a mountain bike incident. It was that kind of place.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Titan Arum

The World's Largest and possibly Stinkiest flower bloomed at UNCC last Sunday. We failed to follow this phenomenon as closely as we should have, and didn't manage to get ourselves over there right away. The dead corpse aroma lasts for less than 24 hours, and was long gone by the time we arrived on Wednesday. In fact, the spike collapsed about an hour after we checked it out. Here's N with the remains of the Titan Arum, and a link to the whole story.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Dill Pickle Socks plus an update from Roy

Embossed Leaves Socks from Interweave Knits Winter 2005, also in new book.

Yarn: Fleece Artist Merino in Moss

Started: 6/30/2007

I smell dill pickles when I look at this yarn!

In non-knitting news we finally heard from Roy. His group travelled to London last Friday, and stayed through late Monday, not the best timing from a parent's perspective. Here's what he had to say:

"Sorry, I didn't have any internet access in London. We saw Tower of
London, the Churchill war cabinets, three walking tours (Jack the Ripper,
National Gallery, Beatles). Spent a lot of time riding the Tube.

5 of us went to Wimbledon yesterday. They stopped play a lot, but we got
in and we got seats right on top of court 13, where we saw Ivanavok and
Davydenko play. We got back into the queue and got into Centre Court in
time to see Serena Williams play a set. She had a bad temper.

But the way back took 5 hours. We had to back to the hotel bc we checked
bags, and then get back into Victoria. When we finally got to Brighton,
the Falmer train had stopped running, so we had to walk down to the casino
to catch the bus. We got to see four and a half sets total, but it was
just cool being at Wimbledon."

Sunday, June 24, 2007


B.O.B. and N are now officially entered in the MS150 ride out of New Bern, NC. We’ll be riding with Team NCSSM, a group based out of N’s new school. This is their 3rd year fielding a team.

For those not familiar with the concept, the MS150 is a fundraising bike ride put on by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. There are rides in locations all around the country. They are two-day affairs, covering roughly 150 miles. The rides raise tons of money - it’s a big chunk of the National MS Society’s funding. It’s a really good cause.

Various BlichClan members have ridden in MS150 rides in the somewhat distant past. Once the kids started marching in high school band and running cross-country, the ride (and cycling in general) became much harder to schedule. B.O.B. and Roy started riding on a tandem when Row was in 3rd grade. They rode 5 years in a row, earning “Lifetime Rider” jerseys. If these jerseys were not, umm, MAL-designed, they would have been dubbed “the coveted Lifetime Rider jerseys”. I guess they could be viewed as cool in a retro kind of way. Maybe. Maybe not. Roy likes them. But bubbles and racing stripes? Makes me think, “fast ‘n’ fizzy”.

There were several years when the whole family did the ride. This was a fundraising challenge, because there is a $200 per person, not per family, minimum. The last time we rode (picture on right), the parental units were on one tandem, and the offspring on another. I can only imagine what it must be like riding on the back of a tandem that was being captained by Roy. N must be fearless. But since I’m writing this in the back seat of The MiniVahn that is being DRIVEN by Roy, I think I have a pretty good feeling what it must have been like. Hoy!

These MS150 rides were all “Breakaway to the Beach”, which went from Rockingham, NC to Myrtle Beach, SC, stopping overnight in Florence, SC. This ride was 75 miles the first day, and 85 the second day. There was an option to do 100 miles on day one – left from just down the street from our house. Only did that one year, though. The last 10 miles were on a big, wide highway, and you were pretty much guaranteed a wicked headwind coming off the ocean. The sea breeze, you know. The Breakaway to the Beach was getting more popular every year. The last year we rode, they were pushing 2000 entrants

This New Bern MS150 is NOT a point-to-point ride. It does loops out of New Bern. It’s somewhere near the ocean, so it must be flat, right? Maybe I’ll ride the fixed-gear bike. That is, if I ever get my new fixie wheels back from the shop. Of course, B.O.B. pulling up to a 75 mile ride on a fixed gear is just ASKING for a wicked, all-day headwind! And now that I think about it, a big tailwind might not be much better – I don’t think I can spin 150 rpm for 75 miles! But seeing that these rides start and end in the same place, things should even out. Guess I’ll drag my normal road bike along, just in case. Not sure how many people enter. They draw a lot of people from the Raleigh area.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Carb O' the Week

1) More pancake goodness from Bill's in Green Bay.
Raisins. Nuts. Mmmm...
2) No picture (eaten too fast), but C whipped up a post-Father's Day breakfast on Sunday: Multi-grain waffles, with raisins and shredded carrots. Needless to say, they were awesome!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


Squirrels could easily become a common blog feature, mainly because they are our 7th or 8th favorite animals. They are hard to avoid in real life, so why not include them here?

On your right is a photo of a rug. The kind of rug that gets put just inside the entrance to, say, the buildings where you work. There is usually some 3rd party business whose job it is to rotate these rugs every week or so. This particular rug was spotted where we happen to work. It presents us with solid evidence that somebody, somewhere, at sometime clearly associated SQUIRRELS with SAFETY. That is just plain hard to even imagine. Ever seen a cautious squirrel? I think that's rather unlikely. Have you ever personally squashed a squirrel who had just made an quick, poorly thought out, unnecessary, and likely fatal decision? A decision that was, say, 180 degrees WRONG? Bet you have.

Maybe Safety Rugs-R-Us has a point: have you ever whacked a squirrel who was playing a saxophone at the time? I think not.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Fear No Carb: carb o' the week photo

Time to introduce our first regular feature.
What's all this about carbs being the root of all evil? Nonsense! Carbs, and to some extent peanut butter, are what makes life as we know it work. Mentok the Mindtaker consumes carbs. Everyone should.
We traveled over 1000 miles to bring you this fine carb photo. These pancakes come from the fabulous Bill's Restaurant and Pancake House in Green Bay, WI. Yes, they are bigger than your head. Don't even consider ordering a full stack unless you just finished a century bicycle ride, an Ironman triathlon, or the endurance event of your choice.
Watch this spot for future Carb O' the Week photos!

Trial entry

Welcome to the BlichBlog!
Look for knitting news.
Look for mountain bike ride/race/crash reports.
Look for guest posts by Bruno and Pete.
Look for Carb O' the Week postings.