Saturday 31 May 2008
Delicious food and dim sum!
Yes, poor pun, I know. But CVH convinced me to try dim sum at Jade Palace on Herr Lane today. We hadn't had dim sum since we visited New York last summer, and were missing the trays greatly.
The restaurant is located in a new shopping center in an already well-developed part of town. (What was here before? I wondered.) When we entered, I was somewhat concerned, as the feng shui wasn't so good - no aquarium by the door, and the bathrooms were off the kitchen. But this is an eatery that proves a chef who really cares will trump good feng shui any day. The food was absolutely delicious. We had fried taro root, shrimp-stuffed bell peppers, curried cuttlefish, barbecue pork buns, stuffed tofu, eggplant stuffed with shrimp and pork, and fried chicken buns. Better than any dim sum we ever had in Houston or New York. I know that's hard to believe. We will go back. Recommended to any of my Louisville-area readers, although I think Jade Palace has the carts only for Saturday and Sunday lunch. One nice thing is that for the items that are somewhat unlikely to show up on the carts (such as the curried cuttlefish), they take special orders - no problem. Now if they'd only just get that aquarium installed....
After lunch, we walked around the shopping center, which is still in a state of construction (and leasing). We found a very nice outdoors outfitter there that was a combination Map - Hiking and camping - Coffee shop - Mountain Bike store. They carry maps for hiking and biking around Kentucky and major parks across the country as well as maps for around the world (the only place in town I know of that has an Afghanistan map on the shelf) and old maps. I was fascinated by maps from old issues of Harper's Weekly during the Civil War that showed various fort emplacements and troop deployments in Kentucky. They even had this print of the view of Louisville from where I work circa 1872. The store also carried a wide variety of dog hiking and camping supplies - collapsible bowls, small tents and sleeping bags, boots. We got this coat for our dog. Now I have no excuse for missing our daily walk due to inclement weather.
Modeling her new coat in her Barcalounger
We also visited Gagel's Truck Farm, where we got some more plants for our little garden. The garden is coming along pretty well; I'll try to get an update on it in the next couple of days.
Sunday 25 May 2008
Abbey Road on the River
The 2008 edition of the largest Beatles festival in the country. I have no pictures, as the batteries went dead in the camera, and although I carry spare batteries, they were dead also. Pictures wouldn't have done the event justice, anyway (unless I had one of the largest turkey leg I have ever eaten in my life), as you had to be there to hear the music. Here I'm making note of the bands that we heard so I'll be ready for them next year.
Fab Five, The Blue Meanies, and Itchycoo Park all turned in good sets. Crash Henry, a local band, performed their arrangement of some Abbey Road cuts that was awesome. Alas, it does not appear on their album. The Jukebox, from Puerto Rico, was a real crowdpleaser; the drummer had Ringo's moves down cold. But once again, All You Need Is Love was the best show we saw. They did great versions of Helter Skelter, Everybody's Got Something to Hide Except For Me and My Monkey, several Revolver tracks, Norwegian Wood as a sing-along, and a killer Tomorrow Never Knows that was an experience that you can't get by just listening to the album, if you catch my drift.
Perfect weather - the band from Scotland said we lived in paradise, and the Puerto Ricans said the sun reminded them of home. Look for us there next year!
Saturday 24 May 2008
We visted the Farnsley-Moresmen house at Riverside today. It's the site of an old plantation on the Ohio River. Out on the far west side of Louisville, it sits in a beautiful location facing the river and the forested bluffs across the water in Indiana. In the 1820's, the Farnsleys (with the help of their slaves, of course) made the location into a bustling river traffic stop (this was before there were any roads to speak of - most everything going in and out of the Midwest went on the Ohio River). They prospered, and built this impressive house. It's not quite as nice as My Old Kentucky Home; Farnsley's slave labor, though skilled, could not quite match what Judge Rowan could afford in Bardstown. On the plus side, you're allowed to take pictures inside, which I couldn't do at My Old Kentucky Home.
The view from the front porch
For some reason, I was taken by the dishes on display. There was this period place setting (you call that a knife? This is a knife!) with a napkin that looks like it probably doubled as a bath towel.
A pastoral scene on a serving plate
A bedroom water pitcher
There were lovely carpets in the house that the guide admitted were not the ones originally in the house. The 1937 flood submerged the first floor of the house, and repairs didn't start in earnest until 1988, when the county bought the house and started renovating it. But I found the carpets fascinating.
How the west side looked in January 1937
A doll set from the early 1800's
These asparagus plants were in the garden originally, and therefore had been there two hundred years. Or so we were told.
After the tour, we had lunch at Mike Linnig's, a Louisville tradition since 1925. They fry up mass quantities of seafood here in a casual environment. Apparently it was quite the place for Saturday nightlife in the twenties and thirties, but was wiped out, like much of Louisville, by the 1937 flood. After that, only the restaurant was rebuilt. The standard seafood platter will feed three very hungry people, or four if they're not starving to death, making it a pretty darn good value, if not a particularly healthy choice.
After lunch, we noticed that we were already halfway to Fort Knox, so we decided to pay it a visit. The General George Patton Museum of Cavalry and Armor is located there, and they had a number of reenactors reenacting for Memorial Day weekend. Reenacting is quite popular in Kentucky.
They have lots and lots of tanks at the museum, and if you've never been around tanks before, you might be surprised by how big they are. This monster makes a semi look like a toy. It has two sets of tracks on each side.
CVH was impressed with this bit of WW II German engineering. It reminded her of her BMW. Note the officer standing by the field HQ tent at the far right of the photo.
The driver's seat
The officer turned out to be a Nazi SS reenactor. I'm not sure why anyone would want to dress up as an SS officer, unless it's to remind us of what would probably have happened to the world if Hitler had gotten The Bomb first. But he was a nice guy, and let me take a picture of him with CVH. After this photo, he even let her make a phone call on his field telephone.
There was quite a bit of Patton and tank history inside the museum, including one of the Cadillac limosines that were used to ferry Generals around at the time. The General was killed in one of these when his driver hit another truck. If only they'd put seat belts in these cars.
And finally, they have the very model of the bullion depository that was used in the film Goldfinger. The filmmakers donated it to the museum.
Sunday 18 May 2008
Kentucky Horse Park
When God created the horse, he said to the magnificent creature, 'I have made thee unlike any other. All the treasures of the earth lie between thine eyes. Thou shalt cast mine enemies between thy hooves, but thou shalt carry my friends on thy back. This shall be the seat from which prayers rise up unto me. Thou shalt find happiness all over the earth, and thou shalt be favored above all other creatures, for unto thee shall accrue the love of the masters of the earth, and thou shalt fly without wings, and conquer without a sword.'
We went to the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington today and saw a lot of horses. In fact, it is a very horsey place. Upon arrival, we were directed to the Hall of Champions, where we got to see Cigar (1990’s Racehorse of the Decade), Kona Gold (son of Java Man), and other former big money makers enjoying their retirement in specially appointed stalls.
After they paraded by, we went by the cemetery, final resting place of a number of horses, a couple of which had very elaborate monuments with landscaping and large sculpture. Then it was on to the main show, “The Parade of Breeds”. With a title like that, I was expecting something rather dry, but it was indeed a real horse show, with some gaily decorated horses, a group of spotted horses that did an elaborate waltz around the arena, and an older fellow who did some pretty impressive dressage moves.
They have a very large barn there that is about one hundred years old. It is called The Big Barn. At one point, it was the largest barn in the United States.
Cute posters near construction sites
A bite to eat at the cafeteria (the pork stew was not bad, and there was a wide selection of dishes), and then it was into the International Museum of the Horse. In truth, it was mostly about horses in America, but it did talk about horses in Europe, Japan, and China. There was more horse trivia there than I would have ever guessed existed. I didn’t take notes, so some of the following might be a little off the mark, but you’ll get the general idea.
• Wellington took the bits out of the cavalry’s mouths at Waterloo so that they would be more frightening in a charge.
• Serious horse racing in this country predates the Revolutionary War; today’s champions can trace their blood lines back at least as far.
• In the 1800’s, towns had their own horses that ran against other towns’ horses in a rivalry similar to that of professional sports today. The towns were about a quarter mile wide, and racing these horses through town got them called quarter horses.
• The oldest extant horse handling manual was written hundreds of years before the birth of Christ.
• Rodeos were started fairly recently, by horse history standards, and were begun to give the cowboys a chance to entertain themselves.
• The last cavalry charge in battle took place during World War II, and the amazing thing is that it was successful. The Russian weather was so cold that the Nazi tanks couldn’t start, and the horsemen swooped down on them with machine guns and hand grenades.
• All the American thoroughbreds today are descended from one of three original male horses.
• Fury, of the fifties TV serial, was getting fifteen hundred dollars an episode.
• Millions of horses died in World War I, noticeably depleting the stock of draft animals and likely hastening the process of farm mechanization.
• Alexander the Great broke Bucephalus, the supposedly unbreakable horse, and rode him to victory over most of the western world.
• Man O’War died at 31, a month after his beloved trainer passed away.
The history of the horse presented by the museum starts tens of millions of years ago with little proto-horses, and ends with pictures of Big Brown in the gift shop.
Along the way we saw the Kentucky Derby trophy that Secretariat won, and the boots Ron Turcotte wore that very day.
CVH at the Secretariat monument
And I finally found out why, in Ben Hur, every time the chariots made a lap around the coliseum, the officials marked it by tipping a metal porpoise. It’s because the Romans believed that Poseidon created the horse and drove him out of the sea!
There was an Academy Award nominated film about horses, and a Farrier’s shop, where you could see the various types of horse shoes and even get your horse shod, were you so inclined.
The Horse Park employees are rather passionate about horses, so should you ask one of them a question, be prepared for an involved answer.
There’s a prominent memorial to Man O’War near the entrance to the park; he is interred there, along with one of his sons War Admiral (who you may remember from Seabiscuit). For some odd reason, this grave is a popular place to hold weddings. We also passed the grave of John Henry, who died last fall, obviously a beloved animal, since people are still leaving flowers at the gravesite. He lived at the park for twenty-two years.
Saturday 17 May 2008
Friends of the Animals
There were a lot of dogs there, some quite big
This morning I volunteered at the Kentucky Humane Society's annual fund raising 5K walk and run. I delivered water to walkers, runners, and their dogs. Most of the dogs were walkers, and didn't make it the full five kilometers (especially the little ones like miniature Dachshunds), but there were some Dobermans and other large breeds that seemed to cover the distance. We had a couple of plastic baby pools set up for water loving dogs. A few just dipped their feet in, some plopped right down, and one actually swam laps - he was absolutely hilarious.
Most dogs were happy to be there
But some were feeling feisty
I was a beautiful day, and hundreds and hundreds of people showed up with their dogs. After the walk, there were all sorts of dog related activities, such as an art contest for the dogs (I didn't see how this was done, but I believe it involved the use of large pieces of paper, water-soluable paints, and a lot of paw activity), a pet trick contest (the dog that could read came in second), a dog-owner look alike contest, and many more.
I was also a good day for kite flying, so I tried out my new horse kite that I got for my birthday. It is so cool! It really looks like a horse galloping in the sky! I also got my big (75-foot) dragon up; usually a crowd pleaser, but here the dogs didn't care for it too much.
Saturday 10 May 2008
Tea for the Tillerman
Well, actually, not tea, but a variety of herbs and vegetables. This morning I rented a tiller, tilled compost into our garden, and started planting food. For me or just the rabbits remains to be seen.
Slim pickins at the Bernheim plant sale
We started out by running down to the plant sale at the Bernheim. We visited this sale last year, and got a lot of good herbs. But this year we were disappointed to find very little there at all. So we came back to town, and went to the plant sale at the Louisville Nature Center. Now, that was a plant sale. The Nature Center folks themselves were only selling some "native plants" (also known as "weeds"), but there was a nice lady selling lots of herbs and peppers and tomatoes and things, so we grabbed up a bunch of those and brought them home to plant.
Into the ground!
Buffet line for the squirrels
Sunday 04 May 2008
Today some dear old friends from Houston came to visit. They had been here in Louisville since Thursday night on a "business trip". Apparently, this business involves box seats for both the Oaks and the Derby, as well as some nice meals. They had dinner at The Grotto, Chef Howerton's restaurant. We met Chef Howerton at the Kentucky Arts & Crafts Fair last year, and I use his retail products. They ate at the Brown Hotel, famous for where Louisville's official dish, the Hot Brown, was invented, and they ate at the Oakroom (regular readers will know that this is one of our favorite restaurants). We were green with envy. Except for the Hot Brown part; if you come to Louisville, you can easily skip that. The legend is that the Hot Brown was hurriedly thrown together from kitchen leftovers after a late night dance. It looks about as appetizing as its name.
We took them to breakfast at Proof, the restaurant at the combination hotel and contemporary art gallery known as 21c. The food was good, and the art was the usual stuff you see in contemporary galleries - that is, humorous, often unintentionally so. But the best part was when the women went to the ladies' room. I kept hearing them laughing and laughing. Figuring something was up, I went into the men's room. Sure enough, the mysterious large mirror that I had been wondering about in the hall was a "two-way" mirror, so that when you're in the restroom, you're watching people walk by in the hall (same for the women). And the mirror above the sinks had all these eyes looking around and blinking at you. This was worth the trip alone.
After we ate, we showed them some of Louisville's outdoor beauty: Cave Hill, the Belvedere, Waterfront Park, the Falls of the Ohio, the George Rogers Clark Memorial Bridge, the Big Four bridge (which erupted into a spectacular fire the next day; I saw it coming back from lunch), and Old Louisville. Then we all went to see the local production of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play Doubt. It's a very tightly written play, and deserves its accolades. A good time was had by all.