Getting down with the dinosaurs, another month of pet fun, antiques fever at Winterthur, holiday shopping, of course, and the enduring charisma of Brother Ronald.

Hello, dahlings!
The year 2007 ended with a bang, not a whimper.

When We Were Dinosaurs
Our ongoing fascination with dinosaurs prevails, but some of them are so ugly, you have to take a pill to look at them. Thus, the question of how to dress up a dinosaur for the holidays to make it look prettier proved irresistible during Wine & Dinosaurs Day at the Delaware Museum of Natural History. “Give the dinosaur a very hydrating facial,” suggested Jessica Moss, an aesthetician at Currie Hair, Skin and Nails. Her salon colleague, Colleen Lyons-Kemp, suggested, “Probably put a Pebbles Flintstone bone bow in her hair.”

Board president Bill Spence and vice president Amanda Konyk greeted 200 or so guests. Everyone enjoyed canapés from Gallagher & Gallagher, plus wine and micro-brews, despite the wilting autumn heat on the patio. “It’s a lovely day to show off the crown jewel of Delaware,” Amanda observed, turning up the wattage in a bare, bold fuschia dress that any dinosaur who was feeling drab would probably kill to own.

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Also stopping by were life trustee Philip B. Weymouth Jr., architect Richard Buchanan, New Castle County Councilman Bob Weiner and his wife, Cindy, Chadds Ford School board director Ed Wandersee, plus financial consultant R. David Harrison and his wife, Carol Clement-Harrison.


Pet Likes
Winki, the honorary dog, had been bathed in Kiehl’s shampoo and dressed up in a lace-edged, black velvet collar, the canine equivalent of Elizabeth Taylor, at the 50th Anniversary Gala of the Delaware Humane Society. According to Winki’s owners, Jo Ann Sears, honorary co-chair with her husband, Fred Sears, who runs the Delaware Community Foundation, “She’s endearing. That’s the word. We dressed her up as Minnie Mouse on Halloween and she didn’t even bark.” Not only that, but 10-year-old Winki, a Shih Tzu “sleeps in bed with us, right between us,” Jo Ann shared. Fellow committee members Alan and Ellen Levin maintain a similar arrangement with Travis, their golden retriever. Travis chooses sides but bunks on the floor, Alan said, and even that gets competitive as to whose side Travis chooses.

This bow-WOW affair, called Contributing to Kindness, drew 250 to The Rockwood Conference Center. Many people sported pet photos on pins or pendants. A commemorative video of the DHA’s history segued into a four-handkerchief weepie that had hair-makeup artist Patti Nelson dabbing at her eyes. Nor did felines run a slow second to pooches when it comes to the devotion of owners. Event planner Mary Christine Byrd, who owns 10 cats at her Penny Acres home, reported, “They’ve trained me well and taken good care of me. I love them all dearly.”

So where does the DHA hope to be in 50 years? Gabby asked Ken Usilton, its executive director. “Out of business,” he said. “All the homeless cats and dogs will have found homes.”

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A Rich Mix
Bob Davis
, the new development director at Winterthur, called the museum’s annual Delaware Antiques Show “one of the two most important of its type in the country.” Gabby, mindful of her manners, didn’t ask who the competitor was. Besides, this was the show’s elite preview party, where 60 distinguished purveyors of furniture, rugs, jewelry and more displayed their wares for those who are feeling flush. Bob, former vice president of development at the University of Delaware, added that he’s delighted with his new job. “I adore it. It’s only taken me 31 years to find out what I want to do.” Winterthur always has some new tricks up its old, aristocratically tailored sleeve. The Caribbean theme at Chase Center on the Riverfront—a nod to the show’s honorary chair, decorator Bunny Williams, who vacations in Punta Cana—provided an offbeat departure. We caught Sandra and Eric Cheung (he’s with Wilmington Trust, the event’s presenting sponsor) over a buffet spread that included paella and limoncello drinks.


Buy Ways
Neuchatel’s chocolate-covered potato chips, message coat hangers (“What was I thinking?”) and elegant shawls proved hot items at the opening night party for The Perfect Gift, the annual shopping spree that benefits The Christmas Shop Foundation. Message hand towels were all the rage. Republican party workhorse Kate Sullivan deliberated over two embroidered with “Someday my prince will come” and an aphorism about Mr. Right. “I’d like to hang them in my bathroom, but I’m afraid my husband will take it the wrong way,” Kate said. Chatty Marina Kaiser snapped up a teal V-neck sweater for half price ($36) from The Apple Tree in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Preview party co-chairs Susan Kelley and Lisa Davis greeted guests at the door of the DuPont Country Club. General chair Koleen Aulen later reported a run on topiary trees in the internal gift shop while Christy Fleming, the other general chair, told Gab that Hi Ho Silver’s bijoux were popular. Any trends in deluxe jewelry? we asked designer Anna Massey Biggs, whose display of earrings and necklaces sparkled like heavenly stars. “I don’t follow the trends. I make my own trends,” she said. “Either people like ’em or they don’t.”


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Handle with Care
We were thrilled when Brother Ronald Giannone, executive director of The Ministry of Caring, took time out for an interview at his empire’s 30th anniversary celebration dinner. After all, how many celebrities do you know who help the poor and don’t live in Hollywood? Brother Ronald wore a traditional brown cassock—his religious order’s wardrobe of choice—which made him stand out among the 400 or so business-attired supporters who thronged Chase Center.

So we asked, what’s the top priority for the next 10 years at Ministry of Caring? “The lack of affordable housing, a basic human right. We’re focusing on first-time ownership,” Brother Ronald said. What’s it like being Brother Ronald? “My No. 1 feeling is gratitude. After 30 years I can say I live in a caring community. Delaware is a small state with a big heart.” Brother Ronald, who’s from the Bronx, sounds like what snooty New Yorkers call “dem and dose guys.” “I’m a very lucky man because some people never see the fruits of their labor,” he said.

Michele Rollins made an engaging dinner committee chair. Six compassionate couples were singled out for their Ministry of Caring leadership. Brother Ronald received a surprise gift of a rocking chair “so he can keep on rocking.” Gabby still wondered, what makes Brother Ronald run? Scott MacKenzie, who does PR for Ministry of Caring and designed its signature hands-breaking-bread mural, supplied this insight: “Everyone has a contribution to make, and Brother Ronald is very good at finding out what peoples’ particular talents are. Next thing you know, he’ll be asking you to do something.”

Ta-ta, ’til next time. 


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