Sunday, September 24, 2006


September 24, Brighton.

The weather's been bad (bad for business, good for me) here in the past few days, it's been raining and overcast, but this morning, suddenly, a clear sky revealed the snow-capped peaks of the Rockies in the distance, glowing, arresting.

Almost off.

September 23, Brighton, Colorado.

The circus is doing bad and I'm leaving for France next Wednesday (unrelated.)
It seems a series of bad locations and a spell of bad weather have taken its toll. There has been shows with less than 20 people attending, and not just one. Among one of the consequences the generator is not turned on until 11 AM and turned off earlier at night, and we're not going to get paid until Sunday, instead of Thursday as usual. Last casualty to date: Mike Gorman, who was responsible for booking out of an office in California, was fired earlier this week because of the debacle.
It's off to France for me to take advantage of our wonderful socialized health care system, where everything is absolutely free, and also to teach as a visiting lecturer in photojournalism at a university in my home region of the Riviera, in the south. The probability of my traveling again with the circus next year is next to nil, as I'd be more than six-month pregnant in January and the idea of spending the last months of a pregnancy with a toddler in tow while going through the traveling circus life is not exactly appealing.
But who knows, things change in a day in our circus life, that much I've learned.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Carol's recipes.

September 16, Longmont.

Carol and Gail left yesterday. They're on their way to Branson, Missouri, then the Amish country of Ohio, and will head back home to New Hampshire by the end of the month.
Carol left me with some recipes - she used to write a food column in her local newspaper. "Three ingredients, easy, because most people don't have time for anything else." All mothers out there surely hear you (unless they are the kind that can afford a nanny and a cook.)
Only thing - she promised to send me some vegetarian ones next.

Roast beef
1 small roast beef (4-5 pounds)
1 can tomato soup
Put roast beef in bottom of crock pot, pour soup over top. Cook on low for 8-10 hours. You can add potatoes and carrots to the beef of you want a complete meal.

Quick delicious pork roast
1 small pork roast
1 can apple filling
Put pork roast in bottom of crock pot, dump on whole can of apple filling. No salt, pepper or water is needed. Cook on low for 8-10 hours. You can add veggies same as above for complete meal.

Teriyaki chicken
One pound boneless, skinless chicken cut into bite sizes
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 can orange soda (diet ok)
Put chicken in bottom of crock pot, pour on soy sauce + soda to cover meat. You can thicken sauce a little if desired by adding water+ cornstarch. Cook on low for 7-9 hours.

Gail and Carol (Sept. 15.)

"The son of my heart."

September 15, Longmont.

Jim, Circus Chimera's owner, calls Carol Stone "Mom, " even though she's not his biological mother. Carol has silver hair, and she is all softness and roundness, like the generosity and tenderness she seems to wrap around you. This is a small window on her story.
One day about four years ago Carol and Gail decided to hit the road. They were high school friends in Tilton, New Hampshire but had not stayed in touch. "Life took over," says Carol. A chance meeting reconnected them after Carol came back to New Hampshire. Both had recently lost their husbands and felt like it was time to fulfill that dream of traveling.
Between the two of them and the few trips they took beforehand they've been in all 48 states. They travel in Carol's car, with Gail's miniature Schnauzer, Bandit, in the back, stopping at whatever motel they see when it's time to fold the day. Their trip is open to improvisation, to the suggestions of a stranger met on the road. "We U-turn a lot," says Carol. But two things they always try to do: go visit Waverly United Methodist Church in Waverly, Tennessee, where Carol went when she was taking care of her husband, who was affected by Alzheimer's and passed away in 2002, and catching Jim, wherever the circus is.
Jim was the first one of some ten teenagers Carol and her husband, George, welcomed into their home over the years. They lived on a 200-acre dairy farm in Tilton, purchased by George's grandfather in 1840, and had two sons of their own. "It was a unique environment," says Carol, "there was lots of room, and always lots of work, lots of music, George loved music, and we had strong faith."
Carol met Jim when she was working part-time at a department store to complete the farm's income and the manager asked her to look for a kid to help around the store. She called the high school and they sent Jim. "He came to the farm and I put him to work," she recalls. He didn't leave until he was in college, later meeting D.R. Miller, owner of the Carson and Barnes Circus, and starting his circus career under his wing.
Before Carol left the trailer she turned around and added, "He's the son of my heart."

Thursday, September 14, 2006

The Waffle House.

September 14, Longmont, Colorado.

We stopped to get food before driving onto the lot last night. Sitting in the truck on the side of the road, the Waffle House beaming yellowish lights in a pool of darkness, the lights a feeling of loneliness, the people at the counter, a blond waitress, made me think of Edward Hopper (gone corporate.)
It also brought me back to Athens, Georgia, in the early nineties, sleepless nights at the Waffle House after a concert in town, Kris and Melissa and Matt, teaching French at the University of Georgia, fresh out of junior year at my French university majoring in English, catapulted in Athens at the height of the R.E.M. craze, the rock scene exploding, days without tomorrows, riding in the van with John and Dominic going to see a movie, jumping over potholes seating on the metal floor in the back, laughing out loud, days of insouciance, late nights at the Waffle House.

Stopping to eat (just not there.)


September 12, Loveland, Colorado.

Tough drive last night from Vail to Loveland, north of Denver. We crossed the Rockies, culminating at the Vail pass at 10,666 feet, the I-70 a seemingly endless succession of uphill and downhill parts, the truck struggling to haul the 13,000 pounds trailer, down to second gear going up many a times, 20, 25 miles an hour maybe (the dashboard lights are still out so I have no idea how fast, or rather slow, I'm going,) the truck heating up going up, the brakes heating up going down, and that for a hundred miles.
The baby blissfully asleep through it all.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Drops of heaven.

September 9, Vail, Colorado.

The circus is at Ford Park in Vail, and I discovered the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens on a walk between rain drops yesterday. At 8,200 feet in altitude it is one of the most elevated botanical gardens in the nation.
It rained steadily all day, and today it is gray and threatening. Rain, cool weather, so wonderful after months of sunshine without a break, dry and hot. It is in the lower fifties, heaven.

One line.

September 6, Grand Junction.

I'm a walking belly ache.

Thin thread.

September 5, Grand Junction, Colorado.

Two hundred miles in one shot last night, retracing our steps all the way back to Grand Junction along mountain roads, highway 40 West, 13 south to I-70. The last show was at 4:30 PM so we got an early start, but that meant driving smack in the middle of nursing-and-getting-to-sleep time for Dylan, adding to the stress of the trip. He finally calmed down and was down the whole way, but getting him to sleep again after nursing upon arriving lasted close to two hours, I exhausted by the trip, falling asleep while he wouldn't, struggling against fatigue and frustration.
The joys of circus traveling are wearing thin these days.

Sunday, September 03, 2006


September 4, Steamboat Springs.

Cardinal photojournalist's mistake in the entry on the new performers how joined us in Salt Lake City (check and recheck your info.)
Svetla is Gino Terrablanca's daughter, not Andrea and Lyubomir's.
Many apologies.


September 4, Steamboat Springs.

This morning I stole an hour away from the circus, away from the baby, away. I went to the mountains, to a Steamboat Springs landmark called Fish Creek Falls, a short enough excursion so that I could be within easy return should I need to.
I went in search for peace and quiet, nature, and were it not for the throngs of people reminiscent of the Champs Elysées on a Saturday afternoon during the annual spring sales and the chopper hovering above, the picturesque little falls would have given me just that.
After ten minutes of walking on one of the trails starting at the falls I finally found the peace I'd come looking for, among the beautiful birches, my favorite trees, silence, precious silence, not that silence of Simon and Garfunkel fame but the utter silence of the forest, not even wind in the branches, only my own breathing and my footsteps disturbing it. And at the same moment the smell of the forest, transporting me in a second's time thousands of miles back home to the Alps in France, in one breath thousands of miles away, to the peace you find after hours of hiking, high up in the mountains, alone with your thoughts and the wonder of nature, in utter happiness.
It was but a minute before the chopper was back and people appeared on the trail again, the precious silence shattered, but that minute was like a glass of water for a desert hiker.

Friday, September 01, 2006


September 1, Steamboat Springs.

What didn't feel like much at the beginning of the season is starting to weigh on me now.
Each time we move, and this week it has been every two days, having to wake up to a restless baby in a cramped trailer, the mess of the trip disconcerting, putting everything back in place one more time, one more time, the trailer lopsided more often than not, having to change him and feed him and entertain him in a danger zone of corners and nooks, afraid he'll bump his head every inch of the tiny, crowded way, feeling trapped. Maybe it's the end of the season approaching, the accumulated fatigue; maybe it's the growing, ever more demanding baby; or the weariness, compounded by the pregnancy.
Suddenly I am longing to be at home in one place.

Steamboat Springs.

September 1, Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

I always liked the name. Steamboat Springs.
It sounded exotic, as if it didn't belong where it was, more reminiscent of the marshes of southern Louisiana, say, than the mountains of West. It had always goaded my imagination. I was not disappointed this morning when Dylan woke me up and I looked out the window on to the mountains around. There's no mistaking we're in Colorado now, the mountains are finally there, green, beckoning, the air cold, cold even in the warmth of the sun as the morning gets late, the spruce, the fir, the peculiar aromas of altitude. There are mountain bikes on people's cars, a Jeep passing me as I was walking with the stroller with a "Life is Good" tire cover on its back.
And the green, the green, I feel my lungs come alive again, my eyes drinking it in, can't get enough of it. Somehow I had always assumed that the Rockies were as dry as the mountain ranges of California or Utah. I'd driven through Denver, Boulder, and up to highway 80 on my way to a photo job in Logan, Utah, and that's as close to the Rockies as I'd ever ventured, not wanting to go back then, disappointed, longing for the Alps at home and their baby green slopes. Steamboat Springs has finally proven me wrong.

Simplify my life.

August 31, Craig, Colorado.

Confirmation of the teaching job at a university in southeastern France, my home, I had discussed with the director in the spring. But with the new situation created by the surprised pregnancy I'd like to be teaching in the fall rather than spring of 2007; I'll know on Friday if that's going to be possible. Starting to think about all there is to do before going, the paperwork, the cats, packing for a year for two, and then the question of whether we can find somebody to drive the trailer during the rest of the season or whether I'll need to drive it back to Dallas before flying overseas. Obviously the former would simplify my life a tad.