Friday, August 29, 2014

Top 10 Medical Condition Songs

Doctor My Eyes Jackson Browne

Achy Break Heart

How Can you Men a Broken Heart?

Bad Case of Loving You Robert Palmer

The Fever Bruce

Subterranean Homesick Blues Bob Dylan

Here Come Those Tears Again Jackson Browne

Saturday Night Fever Bee Gees

Cold As Ice Foreigner

Feelin Alright Dave Mason

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Top 10 Highlights of the Hagley Museum

1. The Hagley Museum is where the du Pont the empire began.  It all started with a little spark. Driving through the gates you can just tell, this is going to be good.

2. The visitor's center is encased in an old cotton mill purchased by du Pont. It was originally the Henry Clay Cotton Mill and later converted to the manufacturing of metal kegs for explosives.  All the machinery was powered by the Brandywine River but don't miss the exhibit upstairs of the visitors center.  You will be amazed at all the things that have been manufactured by Dupont.


3. Eleuthere Irenee du Pont came to America in 1800.  January 1st is the celebrated date of the family's arrival from France. He and his father Pierre du Pont participated in protecting the escape of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, probably not the best side to be on. Pierre was imprisoned in France but luckily he was released in tact.

The map gives you an overview of what you can see on the property.  You will really want to see it all.

4. Eleutherian Mills was the first du Pont home in the United States.  It was home to five generations of the du Pont family. It is modest in comparison to Winterthur and Neumors but elegant and tastefully decorated within. No photographs were allowed inside. 

Three of the du Pont generations that lived there are engraved in stone on the side of the house.

E. I. du P.

H. du P.

H. A. du P.

then Alfred du Pont great grandson

 Louise  Elvelonadu Pont Crowninshield the great great granddaughter (daughter of Henry A. du Pont) was the last du Pont to reside in this house and the interior decorating reflect her design and restoration.

5. The "First Office" is located a short distance from the house and contains a wall safe that was used not for money but for records. The du Ponts made their millions manufacturing gunpowder.  Eleuthere Irenee du Pont had been a chemist in France and unintentionally fell into a gold mine when he discovered the inferiority of the gunpowder being used in America. E. I. du Pont's company supplied 40% of the gunpowder used during the civil war. No photographs were permitted inside the office, you do get to go inside and tour but the garden is open for all to see.  E. I. was also a botanist.

6. Another outstanding feature on the property were the willow trees from which charcoal can be made and "blue rocks".  They were both natural inhabitants to the region and many of the buildings were constructed using these rocks. You can observe their use throughout the property.

7. Of course another key ingredient to the success of the du Pont fortune besides the brains behind it was the water from the Brandywine River.  Now it appears to be there just for looks and it is a beauty but it was the power behind the profit as well as the hard working employees which were mostly Irish at the time but Italians and other ethnic groups worked here also.

8. The barn contains an interesting collecting of vehicles that would have been used over time and their are two machines in the science section on the third floor of the visitors center that have the Dupont stamp on them. Dupont has been a long time sponsor of  NASCAR'S #24, Jeff Gordon.

9. Inside the museum you get a quick overall look at some of the products Dupont is responsible for manufacturing.  The list is extensive, here are a few.

The rest of the tour you will really need to walk or be dropped off by the bus to see demonstrations at the machine shop, how the gunpowder was made and walk up to worker's hill.  The school house and the foreman's house are highlighted up there.  Stop in the Belin Organic Cafe for something good to eat.

It is a great education and a great tour.

The Hagley Museum and Library was added to the U. S. National Register of Historic Places in 1966, that same year it became a U. S. National Landmark.District.

There always seems to be a special event going on whether it be a bike and hike, an antique car show or fireworks.  Check it out!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Top 10 More Things to See and Learn at Winterthur

The Downtown Abbey is a must see but don't skip the house tour or a chance to get lost in the Enchanted Forest.

Winterthur is the former home of Henry du Pont and my first glimpse inside the lives and homes of the du Ponts of Delaware.  Keeping the family tree straight is a challenge but I will try to connect.

Henry Francis du Pont

Henry Francis du Pont (1880-1969) was the son of Col. Henry Algernon du Pont and Pauline Foster, that Henry was the son of General Henry du Pont, a Partner in E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company and the son of Eleuthere Irenee du Pont, the founder of E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company.

At first glance of this painting you think, uh-oh some one messed up big time trying to restore it or acid was dropped on it, vandals maybe. Then your thoughts wonder, why would they even display this painting.  Its meaning will knock you out.  It is a painting of the Treaty of Paris (the end of the American Revolution).  The British would not sit for the painting thus they are not it.  This painting was done by Benjamin West. I love it!

China set that once belonged to George and Martha Washington and later purchased by General Lee.

Winterthur was originally built on 450 acres purchased from E.I. du Pont by his daughter Evelina and her husband Jacques Antoine Bidermann. It is named after Antoine's ancestral home in Switzerland. General Henry du Pont purchased the property from Eveline and Jacques son James, in 1867. The house today was expanded by Henry F. and  has 9 floors. We only got to see one of them supposedly 17 rooms out of the 175 known to exist. I am not ungrateful and was most excited you could take pictures but I can just imagine what else is in that house.

The last piece of furniture you see when leaving the tour was okay looking until we were told it belonged to Andy Warhol.  The picture is a little blurry because we were rushed.  Who doesn't want to be part of an Andy Warhol original.  I had to take that shot!

Henry Francis was a Harvard graduate, American horticulturist, and an expert and collector of early American furniture and decorative arts.  He inherited Winterthur in 1926. In the 1920's more than 200 people lived and worked on the du Pont 2,600 acres. He was also a premiere breeder of Holstein-Friesians. The cows were the first to go after Henry Francis du Pont died in 1967.  We were told by the tram driver that 90% of milk we consume today came from this breed of cattle.

This would have been the area where these prize winning heifers roamed.

The Winterthur house was electrified in 1891.

Henry Francis du Pont was on the Board of Directors of the DuPont Company from 1915 to 1958. He was also a director of General Motors, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the New York Botanical Garden and other cultural institutions, and a trustee of the University of Delaware.

 Winterthur is situated on 982 acres, including 60 acres of naturalistic garden.

The oldest tree on the property is the "William Penn", a tulip polar.

The goldfish in the pond are enormous and real.

Henry Francis du Pont was asked by Jaqueline Kennedy to supervise the renovations of the White House.

The China room at Winterthur was specifically designed for the wallpaper Henry acquired on one of his journeys.  Walls were knocked down and doors were hidden to accommodate the collection.

The spiral staircase came out of a southern mansion.  The portrait in the picture is of the future wife of some one we all know but I failed to take concise notes and my memory has failed me. It was impressive enough for me to photograph.  That I remember. Found it online by searching the Winterthur painting collection.  The portrait is of Catherine DeVisne Browne (Mrs. Major Robert Westcott) painted by Ezra Ames.

In 2002 Winterthur’s land was placed in a conservation easement with the Brandywine Conservancy. That means it must be preserved for future generation.
If you do venture into the Enchanted Forest take a map. I am embarrassed to say we were lost for 2 hours and we had a map. We would now be your first selection of a guides.
 Henry Francis du Pont opened his house and collections in 1941 on a limited basis to those applied for tickets in writing. In 1951, the house and gardens were opened to the public and the family moved across the way to the Cottage.

According to the Museum Pieces website, this sculpture named (bird (eagle)) was made by an unknown artist but it certainly has a prominent spot in the house. You can also see if looking into the house from the outside. A question I meant to ask is whether the placement of objects remains the same as the display Henry Francis du Pont has created with his collection

The mansion is currently undergoing renovations and most of it is undercover, that was a tad disappointing but there are many other reasons to come back.  Winterthur has special events going on all the time and the gardens and landscape naturally change with the seasons. See the eagle inside the atrium.  It gives you an idea how big he is and the tarps disguise the immense size of the mansion.

I came away a huge du Pont fan. Wait till you meet the rest of the family!
Here is a link to a fun map and additional garden information.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Top 10 Downton Abbey in Delaware at Winterthur

There is still plenty of time to get your Downton Abbey fix at the Downton Abbey Costume Exhibit at the Winterthur Museum in Delaware. It ends January 4th but I wouldn't wait too long.  You don't want to miss it!

1. Arriving at the Downtown Abbey Tour you are greeted by a maid, Thomas and Mrs. Hughes. How do I know who there are? If you are an avid fan, such as I, you know their clothes and easily recognize them.

2. Here we have the dresses Mary and Cora wore to the Christening of Sybil's baby, complete with the fancy hat.  Nothing overly fashionable and us insiders know why that may be, but look at the detail and the fabrics used.  They are a bit of a step up from the LBD (little black dress).

3. Did I mention what to wear to this day trip excursion, extravaganza?  Dress proper most definitely and if you have the fancy hat, wear it.  Unless of course you want to look out of place.

4. Again all you have to do is look at the costume and you know who is stealing the scene, Cora’s mother, the American.  I can honestly say I don't remember the character’s name, she makes rare appearances but you smile and shake your head almost spontaneously and say Shirley MaClaine. She is such a talented actress. She doesn't need all those fluffy, feathery costumes to steal the show but it certainly accurately portrays Americans with money and a little splash.

5. Something the exhibit does and I really liked it was to blend some of the du Pont artifacts in with the exhibit.  Here is a photograph of Henry duPont who resided at Winterthur and another photograph of his wife Ruth and her daughter. Ruth duPont did have a lady's maid from 1923 to1932 named Juliette whom she was very fond of. Juliette married and returned to France and was dearly missed.  She and Mrs. du Pont exchanged letters until she died.

6. There are very few characters at Downton Abbey that even if you didn't like them you can relate to.  O'Brien, Cora's lady's maid was the exception. Oh that O'Brien she brings shame to the Irish race. She was down right bitter and sinister in all her daily workings.  I wouldn't want to claim her as a frenemy, let alone let her touch my personal belongings. Just looking at the sights of her I want to run the other way! She was always wearing that dress wasn't see?

7. A wedding dress? Edith?  Oh I remember now.  Poor Edith not only was she the ordinary middle child, nothing about her life is exciting and elegant with the exception of this dress.  It is exquisite. Look at that detail; make sure you check out the back in the mirror.  Remember her big scene and what she did in this dress?  The neckline could have been a little plunging but she didn't have the body for it. Sad, very sad that bereaved Edith.

8. Mary's satin engagement dress elegant yet simple as to not distract from the emotional scene.  Up close the detail is astoundingly apparent.  Mary and Matthew who? Mary and Matthew really are the center of all attention and all hopes of the future generation are attached to them. You really want to like Mary but she is so uppity and stiff but it sure got her the guy.  Matthew is the catch, handsome hero and inheritance.


9. She may not wear all the fancy dresses and may be sewn clear on up her neck but the Dowager Countess of Grantham, Violet Crawley played by Maggie Smith has to be your favorite character.  If she is not she will knock you off your high horse in no time with the latest zinger that comes out of her mouth.  These thoughts just sit on the edge of her tongue just waiting to come out.  She has not filter.  I love her!

10. If you are already a fan, go and see the exhibit, you will not be disappointed.  If you are curious, I would try and watch a few shows On Demand.  There is a question at the end of the exhibit.  What do you like most about the exhibit the History and Time Period, the Costumes or the Personalized stories.? That was tough to answer because they covered all three points with such detail.  I watch the show for the engaging stories.  I will now appreciate the history lesson of the times and most definitely pay more attention to the intricately designed costumes.  If you go don't forget to accessorize.

Well done Winterthur!

The series will begin its 5th season in January so there is time for you to catch up. I started watching the show mid-season two and season one was OnDemand.  I was catching up while watching the current season.  If you do a few marathons you may be able to knock out the first four seasons easily by January.  It is addictive though and you may start to find yourself at a loss after you reach the fourth season finale.  That is a perfect time to go and see this exhibit. If you have never watched the show and plan on it,  forget every thing I said.