Summer has come and gone, the nights are longer and there is a chill in the air. The yellowing larch trees carry the distinct message of autumn in Montana. Our artists will be gathering tomorrow to share their work at the Brand Bar Museum. I'm sorry that I discovered too late that the format I created for the artists in my last Letter on the computer didn't survive on smart phones, so the images of artists' work floated off on their own. To remedy that, I spent a day learning new tricks to make it work. Please see the new version here by scrolling down to the artists on that page. I am grateful to the Ovando folks who gave me names of other favorite artists, which I have added there: LaVonne Jorgenson's pottery and Andrea Morgan's Rooster Arts.
The biggest end-of-summer event in the valley was the 56th Annual Helmville Rodeo, known as “the biggest little rodeo in Montana.” Helmville is our nearby sister town and Ovando families often stretch across both. The town empties out for that event, though less so this summer with many Covid-risk people staying behind. Howie Fly took dozens of excellent photos of the event back in the 1960s, when he was also a participant! We worked together to put them into a video last year and he has given me permission to share it. It’s a fun video with music and the photos capture the skill and daring of the bull and bronc riders. I've uploaded it to YouTube so you can watch it here.
Here is a bit of stray news that you may have missed.
As the pandemic drags into its eighth month, people are zooming all over the place. Pricey conferences and concerts have gone virtual and many are free, as well as no room-and-board costs since they come to your living room and you can scrounge your own fridge while watching.
I always appreciate the double-hatted medical professionals who find time to serenade us. The National Virtual Medical Orchestra is an ensemble made up of 50 doctors, nurses, first responders, and medical students from medical orchestras across the country formed in May by John Masko. Some of the orchestra’s musicians are helping to lead the response to the coronavirus, while others have had their specialties virtually shut down by the pandemic.
Here they perform Puccini's Nessun Dorma.
History may not record this ground-roots flowering of talent around the world from living room to living room, but we can let them live on in our own hearts and memories. It is the hidden gold of the pandemic.
Meantime, those irrepressible Cubans are at it again! Making happy music together from different locations in the streets of Havana and around the world. Here they give us a lift with a lively rendition of Guantanamera.
I heard that the annual rummage sale in Downtown Ovando was a success. It reminded me of an afternoon decades ago when my friend Barbara Cross and I decided to go through our boxes stored in their garage in Julian, California. Nobody likes this job so we thought it would be more cheerful if we did it together. We’d open a box each and hold the things up and one would say to the other, “You know, I really like that” or “I really could use one of those!” and at the end of the day there were about the same number of boxes but we had just exchanged everything! A memorable event. A favorite Carol Burnett sketch captures this rummaging perfectly. Here she is with Betty White.
My offering of youthful talent comes this week from two Chinese children, ages 10 and 7. They wowed their Talent Show audience with this performance of "You Raise Me up."
Now to all creatures great and small. Capt. Tom Moore, recently knighted, is followed here by an unlikely recipient of another honor, the PDSA Gold Medal, that goes to….are you ready for this?...Mahawa, the hero rat, for his life-saving work in Cambodia detecting landmines. He won’t be knighted by Queen Elizabeth but his work is much appreciated in that country. Since World War II, this organization has honored the contribution of animals, even to this lowly but heroic rodent. Meet Magawa, the HeroRat.
If you look up at the evening sky in the southeast, you will see reddish Mars, at the closest it will be until 2035. Bright Jupiter and nearby Saturn shine in the south to southwest during dusk and early evening. They will be in conjunction throughout the Fall. Exactly between them, invisibly, is Pluto.
Blazing in the eastern pre-dawn sky is Venus, just below majestic Leo the Lion. To the upper right of Venus, you can see Leo's brightest star, Regulus.
In 1603, an out of work actor named Thomas Dekker published a pamphlet with a peculiar name: "The Wonderfull Yeare." It was peculiar because it recounted the death of Queen Elizabeth and the second arrival of the plague in London, after its first devastations in 1592. All less than wonderful surely. William Shakespeare lost three siblings to the plague as well as nieces, nephews and fellow actors. But worst of all, he and his wife Anne lost their son Hamnet. This fact is rarely mentioned, but the depth of his suffering in that plague may have led to the power of plays written during and after that time. Once the Globe Theatre reopened, some of Shakespeare's greatest tragedies were performed: “Othello” in 1605, “King Lear” in 1606, “Macbeth” in 1606, and “Anthony and Cleopatra” in 1607.
Fittingly, the Blackfriars Playhouse in Staunton, Virginia opens with great care in the midst of the current pandemic to perform "Othello" to an appreciative audience of starved theatre-goers. Here is a glimpse of the project.
For Jazz lovers, I return you to Peter Sprague and his musicians for a concert devoted to the music of the Beatles. I've discovered that the link changes after the live concert so you may have missed the last one with Pat Metheny. It's a treat to get these concerts for free from top rate musicians and get to see a recording studio close up. Now you can play it in the background while you do chores or relax. Hope the link works this time.
In closing, I take you back to a special encore to Paul Winter's Autumn Equinox concert, which leaves us with images of his two horses, Nicky and Lucky. It is beautiful to see creatures running wild and free in this constrained and congested year of 2020. Hope for the future! It is short:
Please take care and be well!