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Kentucky: Farmington Historic Home Has 19th Century Vibe

July 21, 2012 by  


It’s hard to fathom that Farmington Historic Home, replete with its late 19th century vibe of a time altogether unfamiliar today,  sits less than a mile away from the Highlands, arguably one of the most diverse and sometimes least elegant parts of Louisville.

Tucked away behind Bardstown Road at interstate 264 is what feels like an exquisite family heirloom ingrained in childhood memories or is at least reminiscent of the fading sepia toned photos of a place your people might have loved and tucked away in an old book.

After a bit of winding road and a turn off Bardstown, one arrives at a green space, not carved ironically out of an urban landscape to incorporate green back into the city, but an authentic green space the city grew clearly up around.

A quick walk yields the actual home of Farmington, an 1815 plantation house and what one envisions as the iconic log cabin that makes up part of the lyrics to My Old Kentucky Home, you know the one the young folks roll around the floor in and that gets a knockin’ at the door.

What an ideal setting for this not quite northern or southern, old school, yet hipster, Lexington meets Louisville, mash-up of a Derby brunch with white tablecloths in the garden under a white tent with the scene set by Bittner’s, the Original Maker’s Club, media sponsors with Garden and Gun Magazine, and the Dixie Design Collective? Guests oohed and aahed over ice sculptures while they drank mimosas and juleps and ate country ham and biscuits, beef tenderloin sliders, and bacon, sausage, and cheese blintzes among lots of other choices in an impressive buffet by Juleps Catering.

For this brunch at Farmington, The Historic Home Foundation’s 34th, Dr. Steven and Heather Howell hosted Todd and Lara Needham, the owners of Dullahan, who ran in the Derby. Phoebe Wood and her husband Mark hosted guests at a table as did Dick and Ardi Wilson. Longwood Antique Woods, the co sponsor, with owners from Lexington and Louisville, brought guests from Bluegrass Trust, Lexington’s historic homes preservation nonprofit, to make brunch a truly collaborative affair.

Longwood Antique Woods, in business for 19 years, built a cabin behind the Farmington home with wood that dates back to 1795 from Nicholas county. George Gatewood, the company’s president, said it uses floors from old Kentucky barns and warehouses and that can be seen all over the state. To wit, the floors are in Gratz Park Inn in Lexington, the Jim Beam Visitor’s Center in Bardstown and in Highland Cleaner’s newest “green” learning center in the Highlands.

The practice of mixing traditional and modern is a concept Speed Stodghill, an eight year member of the Historic Homes Foundation board, embraces, as Farmington seeks to host more weddings, highlight its renovated gardens and grow into an even more sought after event space. “Organizations change,” Stodghill said, “A new group of people put their own stamp on this thing,” he explained, to showcase Farmington in a way to which a newer generation can relate and participate.

Based on the guests’ smiles and the incessant photo opps in the cabin and especially in the gardens, it seems the strategy paid off. A happy crowd left the quiet green of Farmington in the morning for an afternoon at Churchill Downs that was guaranteed to be anything but.

On Infinite Love as Valentines Day Approaches

February 10, 2012 by  


I didn’t intend to be a spinster. In fact I mostly didn’t think about what we now refer to as our relationship status at all. I was a happy kid. I loved people. I had fun. I was the neighborhood welcome wagon. They called me “Busy.” I played restaurant with my blue metal cash register and poured drinks for the jet set at my parents’ downstairs bar. I was popular.

I got the most valentines in second grade. Mom helped me have Valentine’s Day parties replete with intricate Hallmark paper doilies and cherry chip cupcakes. We played “post office.” It seemed as though hearts would be aplenty in my future.

I gave David Holly a water game. I debated forever to ensure it was the right gift. We smooched in the tunnels at recess in fifth grade and people said, “Hey, if you get married you’ll be “Holly Holly.” I thought, “cute,” and that was all.

Which brings me to this, the love month, and my query: in the age of an absolute ability to be autonomous, what makes people get together in the first place, let alone stay together, or marry?

Since history predicts future behavior I asked the old people first. My dad, 70, who has been married to my mother since 1963, said he married her because he couldn’t imagine his life without her. My mom, when I told her (since it’s the first time I asked or he told), said her father told her the same thing about my Mimi, which is the most consistent answer I received in my completely unscientific and informal poll on the question “why on earth do people get married?”

Another fellow surmised that people like the security of tradition. They do it because their parents did it and their parents and so on. It’s just the right thing or at least the next thing to do. You know the order: college, marriage, white picket fence, kids. He had just seen Fiddler on the Roof, by the way, and I sang “If I Had a Rich Man” to him, to his delight, but I don’t really mean it. I imagine such an arrangement requires too much of a tradeoff for people like me who find compromise especially taxing.

However, despite financial independence, gender equality, and the power to connect virtually in less than a minute across continents, and despite the sturm and drang of relationships, the fact is some people still find a person they simply do not want to be without. And it works.

And some people don’t. And it works.

Here’s why. Love manifests in a million different ways. Love of country, one’s fellow man, dedication to a life’s work, a commitment to an aid effort, to solving a mystery, to leaving a legacy, to following where your heart leads that is not necessarily to another person, but to a place or a cause.

The truth is there really may not be a lid for every pot. The danger for pots without lids though is their contents very well may boil over into wacky adventures and project launches and incredible friendships and collaborations they pour so much of their energy into that only an equally energized soul can distract them from their mission. My cup is so full I have to keep sharing it as best I know how. Hearts, you see, are aplenty after all.

And love is infinite. Happy Valentines Day!

Original post over on nFocus – on the Louisville Social Scene.


Food: On Singing the Body Electric

January 3, 2012 by  


For a thin woman who eats mostly standing up or in her car, I think about food a lot. Several friends are incredible cooks and all are especially social, thus our gatherings are full of food and laughter and joie de vivre. We count ourselves lucky, acknowledging it as we individually and collectively commit time and energy to causes we care about to say “thank you” and “how can I help?”

So while some of my thinking about food is focused on the next place for a gourmet potluck or reservations for 20, mostly I think about ways to raise money and food to feed people that don’t have any. My epitaph may say “I told you peanut butter could feed the world.”

In the interim, Blessings in a Backpack, Inc., announced December 19 that in 2012 it will feed 35,000 students in kindergarten through fifth grade in JCPS who qualify for the federal free and reduced lunch program thanks to “a bunch of people moving forward,” according to Stan Curtis, Blessing’s progenitor and, well, Stan the Man. What began with Roosevelt Perry more than six years ago as the dream of a paralegal at Wyatt, Tarrant and Combs named Missy Hammerstrom was in 43 schools and feeding locally over 6,000 kids each weekend during the 2011 school year. Additionally, Blessings is operating in about two-thirds of the US, Canada, and South America. So when I say anything is possible if you think it is, I can back that up.

While the world lost Missy to cancer over a year ago, her legacy is thriving. She and Stan are visionaries. My wish for anyone who cares about making an impact is to get on the ground floor of a project and witness it expand at the hands and feet and minds of people who are committed to making a change. “We arrived at this destination through a lot of plotting and conniving, but we got here,” Curtis said. “When America hears about this declaration of war on childhood hunger” the momentum will prove unstoppable. That kind of passion is a thing to behold, and perhaps not as hard to find as one may believe. In fact, once you’re open to seeing it, my money is on it finding you.

As the new year dawns I am filled with excitement and anticipation about the projects and the people who will find me. I think my lesson today and long term is simply to stay open; to embrace possibility; to emulate Tina Fey and the magic of improvisation to say ‘Yes! And….’ to what life offers me and to ride fearlessness on the back of a crocodile like the Goddess Akhilandeshvari.

I look forward to seeing Junior League Louisville refine its BeFitBeFine initiative for the health and wealth of kids and families through its urban garden project and several others. It will be great to watch what various organizations do to increase access in all parts of the city to healthy food and knowledge about good nutrition. I can’t wait to see the strategy employed to motivate people to get fit and lift us out of our ranking as one of the unhealthiest places to live, with some of the highest obesity levels in the country.

Like Irene Cara in Fame, I’m singing “The Body Electric” in 2012. May we all realize even an eensy bit of our potential to grow and to give and to help each other be stars.


I sing the body electric
I celebrate the me yet to come
I toast to my own reunion
When I become one with the sun
And I’ll look back on Venus
I’ll look back on Mars
And I’ll burn with the fire of ten million stars
And in time
And in time
We will all be stars

The original post is over on nFocus Louisville.