You may remember our attending a great concert in October by Fernando Varela, a superb tenor from our area discovered by the famous David Foster. Fernando happens to have a beautiful wife named Susan who is a fabulous singer in her own right. We attended their concert, titled “Some Enchanted Evening”, at the Savannah Center last night with our lawyer friend Gail and Suzanne’s mom Ruthie and were blown away.
Fernando sings in the same style as Andrea Bocelli and Josh Groban; he has a powerful tenor voice and his Italian was outstanding. Susan has the voice of an angel, and she and Fernando sang several love songs, some solo and some duet, that were world class.
Fernando and Susan had a terrific orchestra on the stage with them, the star of which was a violinist, Jessy Daumen, who played two beautiful solo accompaniments to Susan’s vocal solos. (Her green-tinted violin was most unusual.) Most of the orchestra members appeared to be college-aged, with a few younger and several older, but they were all highly accomplished musicians. It was a very special evening. Our good friend Lynn Walker, a long-time friend of Fernando, even arranged front row seats for us. Thank you, Lynn!
While w-a-l-k-ing in t-o-w-n with Rudy and Gretchen, we saw this humongous “golf cart”. It really does max out on the limit of what you might think a golf cart should be. I couldn’t find the rest of the 18-wheeler’s rig… it was probably too big to drive through the streets of The Villages. What a beauty! (Gee, I wonder what the owner did for a living…)
Professional polo has resumed here in The Villages. It’s a seasonal sport, and we have a very nice polo grounds with two fields and a first class grandstand. I knew nothing about the game until our neighbors Jan and Bob, who used to own polo ponies and even competed in that demanding game, gave us an introduction to the sport. A polo match consists of six chukkars; a chukkar is a 7 ½ minute period of play. You can see the ball in this photo just inches off the ground almost under the black horse.
The polo chukkar has no relation to the Chukar Partridge (Alectoris chukar), a Eurasian gamebird in the pheasant family. The Chukar Partridge is a rotund (I’ve always liked that word) bird with a black gorget. A gorget is a patch of colored feathers at the throat or upper breast of a bird. They are generally found only on male birds, and are thought to be status symbols or aids in attracting females. We don’t have partridges here, but I’ve always been fond of this bird. More about gorgets in a few…
The Chukar was introduced into North America as a game bird from populations collected in Afghanistan and Nepal, and feral groups live in the Rocky Mountains, Great Basin, and high deserts of California. The national bird of Pakistan, the Chukar is a symbol of intense, and often unrequited, love, and was considered to be enamored by the moon and said to constantly gaze at it. They are also the namesake of the Idaho Falls Chukars, a minor league baseball team in the Pioneer League and associated with the Kansas City Royals. The ball club was started in 1940, when they were called the Russets. (Don’t you think being named after a game bird is better than being named after a potato?)
Now, back to gorgets… this is for the history and military buffs. The other meaning of gorget is that part of medieval armor that was designed to protect the throat against sword and arrow attack. (G marks the spot.)
The gorget became less useful with the introduction of muskets and rifles firing bullets that could easily penetrate contemporary armor, and it developed into an ornamental or ceremonial badge, as seen in this painting of Colonel George Washington in 1772, and symbolized his commission as an officer in the Virginia Regiment.
Today, gorget patches are found on the collars of British general officers’ uniforms, and the Finnish army and Chilean military police still use metal gorgets with their ceremonial uniforms. The gorget (upper right in this photo) has also been reintroduced as part of protective body armor by the US Army and Marine Corps to protect against blasts from improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Military trivia note: the Marines’ Modified Tactical Vest (MTV) shown here weighs 30 lbs.
Suzanne keeps working hard to whittle down her list of people signed up for readings, and even gave one today on Easter, but it seems that whenever she completes two readings, three more new people sign up. So if you’re on her list, please try to be patient. She will be doing readings by Skype video after we head out on tour in May, so you may be getting an email or phone call to set that up.
Today we were wandering around Lake Sumter Landing, which has many beautiful buildings made to look like late 19th/early 20th Century homes and businesses. The entire Villages development is also known for changing the flowers out in public areas on a quarterly basis to ensure they look fresh and tidy. We passed a lady with her 30-something daughter who was apparently visiting from Miami. The daughter was taking a picture of these flowers when she exclaimed, “You know, Miami is dirty, but this place is really weird.” We have heard The Villages called many things, 99% of the time complimentary, but this was the first time we’ve ever heard it called “weird”. Can flowers be weird????