Loosen the belt.

Another weekend, another million calories. I think I know what our staff member Birgit is talking about when she speaks of “the Fellowship 20.” I don’t have room for 20 more pounds, but I think they’re going to try to make me take ’em just the same.

This weekend was our Fall Color Extravaganza, in which the Fellows trekked north for a weekend of fellowship in and around the Charlevoix area, where our director has a summer home. It’s a cherry farm, actually, with orchards and a lakeshore and land galore. Which was good, because one of the activities was skeet shooting, and all but two of us missed. (Vahe winged one and Alan hit a bull’s eye). Pictures to come, once I figure things out.

Yes, figure things out. It’s a new blog! It’s Movable Type! What do you think? Many kudos, props and huzzahs to J.C. Burns, who waded into the world of cascading style sheets and gave me this very cool look. As I said last week, I’m hoping this new format will fit my life a little better. Pluses for both of us include a comments section; you are encouraged to leave as many as you wish. For now, I’m not requiring names and e-mail addresses, but, as always, they’re encouraged. I will warn you that I saw my spam soar when I started leaving blog comments, so if you want to leave a phony one — “not@yet.com” is a popular choice — feel free.

Back to the weekend: Our Friday stop was Black Star Farm, a winery on the Leelanau peninsula that’s trying to establish itself as both a tourist destination, retail operation and oenophile’s landmark. Based on the vintages we sampled, they have a shot. (It’s mostly whites, but some very nice chardonnay and riesling.) The owner tells a great story about the local farmer who was going broke with his pear orchard; the only buyer he had was a baby-food company, which was paying him about a penny a pear. So they worked out a deal where the winery affixes bottles to the budding pears, rigging them to the trees so that they grow inside the bottle. At harvest time, the bottle/pear is picked, the detritus shaken out, the bottle cleaned and sterilized and filled with pear eau de vie, an 80-proof spirit. It’s sold with this lovely Bartlett pear bobbing around in the bottom. It really sells the package.

And the farmer clears $5 per pear. There’s gold in them-there yuppies!

There’s nothing like a local agribusiness lesson accompanied by fine wine and followed by a lavish dinner in Sutton’s Bay. It’s times like this I really feel bad for my colleagues back in the Fort. Really, you guys. It’s like a knife in my heart.

Posted at 7:57 pm in Uncategorized |

12 responses to “Loosen the belt.”

  1. Sherrie Wall said on October 5, 2003 at 9:46 pm

    Help! The new style looks great, but I can only read the two-thirds on right side. The left is hidden by the left hand column.

    Otherwise, keep up the great work. I try to make time for you every day, and follow some of the links. They are usually to things I would never have found (or had time to find) on my own.


    332 chars

  2. Nance said on October 5, 2003 at 9:53 pm

    Thanks, Sherrie. For now, try dragging the window a little larger.

    66 chars

  3. Paul said on October 6, 2003 at 12:37 am


    11 chars

  4. Mindy said on October 6, 2003 at 7:50 am

    Looks terrific, but a tad harder to read even with my glasses. Sorry to see that most of this year’s archives ended up on the cutting room floor. Nice to see when stuff was updated, too, and I know I’ll enjoy the comments section.


    239 chars

  5. John Ritter said on October 6, 2003 at 7:58 am

    The new format is okay except the pictures seem distorted. Kate looks tiny and Alan looks old.

    95 chars

  6. Nance said on October 6, 2003 at 8:37 am

    Mindy, the archives are coming — this is still a work in progress. As for you, John — everybody loves a kidder! Alan may be old, but when the apocalypse comes, I want him in my camp. He can build stuff AND shoot.

    214 chars

  7. Bob (&Hannah) Johnson said on October 6, 2003 at 9:34 am

    We have no problem with the new format. We are using Netscape 7.1. Well now that you have been to Bronner’s and no doubt you have been to Santa Clause, IN., you have only to travel to North Pole, Alaska to complete the triad…..

    231 chars

  8. mgolden said on October 6, 2003 at 11:09 am

    I tried to post this at a little after Six this A.M. and it didn’t take. I’ll try again now (8:14).

    I like the look. I was a bit skeptical about the changes but it came out very nicely. I’m still a little leery of the comment vs email thing.

    There’s no reason in principle why cooler climates couldn’t produce decent white wine. Look at Germany. I’m very happy to see wine making spread. The French have been doing the pear-in-the-bottle thing for years. I always thought of that kind of thing as a gimmick and most eau-de-vies I’ve had have made my eyes water. And I’ll guarantee you it isn’t a quarter after nine here in California.


    659 chars

  9. Maggie said on October 6, 2003 at 11:14 am

    I like the new blog. How did you get it to stay looking like your old site? I want to start a blog, have looked into MT, but noticed that every MT site looked the same. Plain, dull and boring. But not yours! I’m glad you were able to keep most of your old look, but please do tell how you did it.

    Also, will you still have the “what I’m reading” section?


    372 chars

  10. Melissa said on October 6, 2003 at 11:58 am

    Welcome to Blogsville! Looks great. I like the calendar. Yes, I miss the book-du-jour also.

    Can we still e-mail you, or are you preferring comments via the blog now? Not that I would have anything to say I wouldn’t want the world to read. But I might want to send you a Christmas card 🙂

    292 chars

  11. Alex said on October 6, 2003 at 12:16 pm

    I think it looks fab. A queer eye couldn’t have done it better. The only drawback is that the links in text are so muted that I thought I’d suddenly gone colorblind.

    Used to love going on wine-tasting roadtrips around Leelanau. Not for the Michigan cherry wine, which was almost uniformly awful. Rather, there are few places more beautiful (and worry-free) for driving around with a buzz.

    391 chars

  12. Nance said on October 6, 2003 at 12:46 pm

    Thanks for the feedback, all. By all means, you can continue to e-mail me (and I’ll be adding a link somewhere on the page today). Comments, I suppose, are for things you want to share with the rest of the class, while e-mail is for more private communication. At least that’s the way it seems to work elsewhere.

    314 chars