Blowing out the candles around the state, A Day Without Art raises money and awareness, and vino goes to the dogs.

Hello, dahlings! The who’s who gather
for a couple of birthday blowouts, and
one that’s not. An art auction for AIDS
Delaware has soul. Fancy dog collars dress
up Canine Partners For Life.

Birthday Blowouts
Gabby, that lady of a certain of age, would like to be considered a Cougar. When it comes to birthday parties, she would like to be a guest of Gen-Xers. But she gets invited to the A-list shindigs of Silver Foxes and Gray Panthers instead. This is a good way of finding out somebody’s real age, among other things. Here’s who blew out the candles in November:

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Actually, Ozzie Kincannon of Hockessin didn’t blow out the candles at his 80th birthday bash because he balked at having a cake. But the 130 or so who convened for the lavish buffet lunch at University & Whist Club in Wilmington all sang “The Birthday Song” over fresh fruit and such, undeterred. “The guest list was a mix from the art world and ex-Hercules employees, plus skiers and Ozzie’s lunch cronies,” according to Ozzie’s wife, Margaret Kincannon, a local sculptor. Among the bold-faced names who attended: Mary Page Evans, Fred Carspecken, Debbie Hudson, Joe DiPinto, Peg Tigue, Bert Melloy, Diane Teeple, Alice Hupfel, Susan Brynteson, Dick Dayton, Scott Hubbard and Joe Hatch, Tom and Maria Keane, Judy and Bill McCabe, Lynn and Harry Glaze, Don and Martha DeWees, Alice and Bill Doneghy, and Bart and Betty Robbins.

“Isn’t it nice to be off-duty for once?” Drew Fennell, co-hostess with her partner Lisa Goodman, asked Gabby at George Meldrum’s 60th birthday celebration. Gabby is never off duty. How else would we hear about lifestyle guru Martha Stewart’s purchase of an old farmhouse on Rt. 100, via Unionville resident Marina Kaplan, a guest? According to Marina, Martha’s new digs are “red brick with lots of chimneys.” The low-key country set who make up most of the local population are a tad nervous about a major celebrity moving in. Folks got used to native painter Andrew Wyeth of Chadds Ford, but they’re apprehensive that any nouveau riche types buzzing about in helicopters could disturb the peace. “Everyone’s biggest fear is that Martha will try to redecorate Hank’s,” Marina quipped—a reference to the no-frills eatery that’s a local tradition. FYI: Martha is chummy with Brandywine Conservatory chairman Frolic Weymouth, who perched her on his carriage at Point-to-Point in 2006. Now they’re neighborly.

Birthday boy George, who’s senior program and policy analyst for Nemours Health & Prevention Services, served cocktail napkins that said, “I live in my own world, I know people there.” The Reverend Wayne Wright, Episcopal bishop of Delaware, gave the blessing. Carin and John Rollins, Kimmie and Peter Fulweiler, Lyn Doto and Bill Montgomery, Sue Lunger, Kathy Sherwin, David Walsh, John Gardner and Tim Whelan, Patrick Carroll and Steve Powers were among the 50 well-wishers.

“Somebody asked me if I was a lesbian when I walked in. I love men. I love men. I love their mystery,” the voluble Kate Sullivan explained during “A Day Without Art,” a fundraiser for AIDS Delaware that drew gay couples and straights alike to Costa’s Restaurant in Wilmington. Kate—in shoulder-grazing pearl earbobs and a pre-owned Blackglama mink shrug she’d snapped up for $200 at Monkey Business in Chestnut Hill, Pennsylvania—may have missed the bid on a nude painting for hubby Larry Sullivan, who was home nursing a herniated disc, but she looked, as ever, superchic.

Lately, AIDS Delaware advocates have been a peripatetic bunch. John Baker, executive director, remained impassioned about his eight-day trip to Johannesburg, South Africa, this fall, where he visited squatters’ camps for Carryou Mission, arranged by St. Peter’s Church in Lewes. A sister walk for AIDS Delaware, to benefit the camps, is scheduled for the last Sunday in September here. Philip Cross, AIDS Delaware’s chair, was still gushing about his Dublin visit in November, where he and his fellow tourists enjoyed tea with the Gaelic president “in a big Georgian mansion.” John Gardner, general manager of DuPont Theatre, had itchy feet, too. As AIDS Delaware’s 2007 honoree, self-effacing John skipped any accolades, since he and partner Tom Whelan were off to the Big Apple to catch “Cyrano de Bergerac” and “Xanadu” on Broadway.

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“You have to stay overnight to absorb everything in the silent auction,” observed artist Maria Keane, who contributed a digital composition called “Night Blooming Ceveus” to the lineup of 121 items. Maria was a prompt departure, too, planning to rise bright and early for the Milton Poetry Festival on Saturday.

“Are you sure that dog can breathe with a choker around it?” Mike Martin of Newark teased Jennifer Kriesel, director of development for Canine Partners For Life, at CPL’s 10th annual Wine Auction and Dinner. Though CPL’s perfectly behaved service dogs were in full supply in the ballroom of the DoubleTree Hotel in Wilmington, Mike was referring to Jennifer’s clever homemade necklace, which featured a beige cloth pooch as a pendant.

Theme dressing was the order of the night, as guests donned whimsical dog collars to complement their black-tie optional attire. So we salute Bud Lee of Greenville, among others, who took home the prize for Best Macho Bling in a silver-studded Playboy-motif collar. His adorable squeeze-toy award will go to the Lees’ grand-dog, Dixie, an English bulldog owned by Jennifer and Carter Lee, we learned through Bud’s gorgeous wife, Valerie Lee.

Jane and Chris Witham of Hockessin, who arrived with Bud and Val, were decked out in red-white and green-white fur-fluffed collars from Concord Pet, with bright, blinking biscuit pins that dogs wear when they’re out walking, Jane said.

Tory Diffenderffer, a sponsor with her husband, Rich, looked festive in a glittery red elasticized collar that came from Critter Beach at the shore. Then there was pull-out-all-the stops Brian Kent of Fairville, Pennsylvania, dressed as the Duke of Kent in a red grosgrain collar with ivory lace and a regal jewel while his wife, Dorothy, as the Duchess of Kent, sparkled in a similar vein with a rhinestone ornament. “Oh, yes. I’m royalty. Kiss my hand,” Dorothy told Gabby.

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That hoary expression “putting on the dog” was raised to new heights by the 32 Labrador service dogs on hand. Denim, a four-month old female was every furry inch a star in a tulle jester’s ruff from Whiskazz and Pawzz in Hockessin. She was handled by Mary Fertig, volunteer companion coordinator for CPL. Alex, a CPL demo dog, went Santa Claus-y, color-wise, in fuzzy red and white.

Meanwhile, a few canine pets in absentia were honored by proud owners. Computer whiz Merle Shao of Newark displayed a cellphone photo of Puddles, her four-year-old Maltese, during appetizers and drinks. “Actually, Puddles was my son’s dog, but he got it in the divorce,” Merle giggled, a reference to her 20-something’s split with a girlfriend.

Ta-ta, ’til next time.

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