Saturday, January 21, 2012

The 2011 Blichmann / Bond Holiday Newsletter

Season’s greetings to family and friends!

We totally missed sending out our traditional Blichmann / Bond holiday letter in 2010, so let's rewind a little bit...

Bob's Bifurcated Life: Bob was out of official work for the first half of 2010, but late in the summer he found a job a Caterpillar plant making parts for big yellow digging machines. That's a good thing. The position is less pure metallurgy and more general engineering stuff, which can also be a good thing. The bad thing is that it's located in wonderful Sumter, SOUTH Carolina, which is about two hours south of our home. Sumter is in the SC midlands – essentially a big swamp. It's main claim to fame is an Air Force bombing range that is open to the public. You can go watch planes blow things up, if you like that kind of thing.
Bob spends weekdays in Sumter, staying in a sort of crumby apartment we call the “Den of Squalor”. Weekends are mostly spent at home in North Carolina. Ah, the exotic double life

Bob outside the new modern
art museum in Charlotte.

Sumter, SC does have an active bicycling community, though. And it's as flat as a pancake, with the exception of maybe one hill. 2011 was a hot summer down in the swamp, and Bob really did get acclimated to cycling in the 99 degree heat. Hard to imagine for a Yooper, eh?

Some of the swamps are actually pretty cool.


Betsy and the Various Rabbits: Betsy is still working with exotic metal alloys at Allvac, and holds down the fort during the week with help from the rabbits. Her extreme knitting activities have been somewhat held in check by a nasty case of De Quervain's tenosynovitis – think carpal tunnel, only in the thumb. But she's working that out, and has nonetheless managed to produce a good number of cool knitted objects. Betsy was even the winner of the Charlotte Knitters Guild 2011 Excellence in Knitting Award in the non-professional category. Go Knitbert!

It’s an unwritten covenant in our neighborhood that each residence harbor at least two yapping dogs.
We snub our noses at convention by keeping a pair of outdoor rabbits. Our current critters are anything but your typical quiet, sedate, sit-there-and-look-cute fuzzy bunnies. High-energy, athletic, curious,
friendly, and excitable are more like it. Mr. Skippy exhibits behavior more associated with a puppy than a rabbit. His female friend, Zeela II, is a little more aloof, but still enjoys tearing around the back deck,
sometimes bouncing off the railings and walls like a hockey player. Project for 2012: engineer a way to mount a little video camera on one of these creatures.

Automatic deck sweepers,
out on the prowl.

News from the Offspring: Nart (AKA Bart, Nathaniel, take your pick) is currently a junior at UNC Chapel Hill, studying various biology-related subjects, and holds the best job title of the family: Center Manager. This stems from a part-time job supervising the sundry activities at the campus gym. Last summer was spent ridding a Florida slough of invasive plant species.

Grad student life seems to agree with Paul. He's still at Clemson, studying biomedical engineering, looking to finish up his Master's in 2012. There have been several trip to conventions to give papers and the like, so we assume that's evidence of some kind of progress.

Mary and the kids at Paul's graduation, Clemson University 2010

Parental Units: Betsy's mom is doing well up in Livonia, MI, and is involved in a dizzying plethora of
book and cooking clubs.
Bob's parents are still in the U.P. Just before Thanksgiving they ended up in different hospitals, for different reasons, on the same day. Lorraine is now finishing up rehabilitation from an emergency hip replacement, and cheerfully putting up with the crazy nursing home world of early wake-up calls, relentless physical and occupational therapy sessions, and roommates who are retired World Professional Snoring Association champions. Dale's prostate cancer slowly is catching up with him, so he’s in hospice care at the VA hospital. But he's in great spirits, and enjoys reading, smuggled in beer, and having visitors in for Packers games on TV.

Travels, etc. We hadn’t been skiing for a few years, so in March we took a ski trip to Big Sky, MT. It was great to get away to someplace with real snow, big mountains, and hot tubs. That and a few enjoyable trips to Michigan to visit family effectively burned up our vacation days.

Our one 2010 ski outing: Pine Mountain! Bob and Betsy at Big Sky

Here’s to a happy 2012!

Bob and Betsy


  • I think we’re all on Facebook in some way, shape, or form.
  • Betsy’s knitting in chronicled on Ravelry, the big, honkin’ knitting database. Her username is Knitbert.
  • Bob’s musical stuff:


Early 2012 P.S.

- Cancer finally caught up with Bob’s dad. He passed away just after the first of the year. The Blichmann family met up in the U.P. to celebrate his long, unique, and meaningful life.
- Lorraine is out of physical rehab, and has just moved into an assisted living apartment until she can gain enough strength to go back home.

And if we can keep the bugs and viruses out of our home computer, maybe our 2012 newsletter will actually be published in 2012. Imagine that.

No comments: