Thursday, July 31, 2008

My Dylan.

July 31, Willowick.

My Dylan is sick, when he coughs I cringe and I'm in pain, it's a dry cough, coming from the lungs, and his throat hurts as far as I can gather, he spent a bad night the day before yesterday, he kept waking up crying every time he coughed, now he has a fever, and that's a good thing my mother always says, it means the body is putting up a fight, I called her this morning, I called my Mom because I know she among all is the one I trust, my Dylan is sick and she says don't worry, continue doing what you are doing and he'll be fine, only watch his temperature, so I do, and I cringe every time he struggle with a coughing bout, how I cringe, how I would like to take on the hurt so he's all right.

A trailer with a view.

July 31, Willowick, Ohio (36 miles, Dudley park.)

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Circus skies.

July 30, Middlefield.

Double birthday.

July 30, Middlefield.

Today was the twins' birthday party in the big top. Jonathan and Jonary, Jorge and Carmen's youngest sons, turned five.

Gerard (far right) tries to coax his twin brothers (no use asking which is which) to blow the candle.

The Amish lesson.

July 29, Middlefield.

Middlefield is a major Old Order Amish hub and they came in droves to the shows. In the second one especially the bleachers were a sea of white hats and bonnets and soft blue-toned hues. A row of black buggies were parked outside near our trailers and I couldn't resist going over once the show started to see how they were made (beautifully.) I couldn't resist watching them walk by either, fascinated, time and again. Looking on the internet to learn a little more about them I was reminded, too, why I'd always been attracted, beyond the old times appeal: the focus on humility, on community, the non-violence, the pacifism.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Blowing a tire.

July 29, Middlefield.

I blew a tire on the way this morning, had to slow to a crawl and wait for somewhere where I could pull up to the side of the road, and of course this was a highway with no shoulder, nowhere to stop and intense traffic. I went about a mile before finding a place (Fridman had preceded me there, and Castro and the mechanics' truck followed,) a rapidly growing tail of vehicles behind me, amazing how long a mile can seem.

A trailer with a view.

July 29, Middlefield, Ohio (17 miles, Cardinal middle school.)

Monday, July 28, 2008

A trailer with a view.

July 28, Chesterland, Ohio (56 miles, Geauga middle school.)

The accident.

July 27, Greenville.

All everybody is talking about today, how Julio and Deya's eight-year-old daughter, Doricela broke her arm. It happened right after the last show, as the usual gang of circus kids was playing at pushing each other down a slope behind the trailers, pushing each other down the slope on top of a dolly, and the dolly doubled over and Doricela fell and fell badly, and next thing she's going home to her trailer and her parents are more scared than she is, she must have been so shocked she didn't even cried, said Deya, she just said it hurts, and it was Deya who was crying.
They rushed her to the nearest hospital, and we would only find out the next morning as we woke up and prepared to leave and here was Julio's trailer with chairs and hula hoops still stacked outside, and the truck gone. Dori had surgery and the family spent the night at the hospital. They arrived here later today.
In far more mundane news, after the shows we went to Wal-mart, right next to the lot, as did everybody else, we kept bumping into one or another and the parking lot was dotted with Kelly Miller Circus vans and trucks.

Doricela (in the middle) at her and Georgia's birthday party, on April 21. Her father, Julio Rosales, is at left behind Georgia.


July 27, Greenville.

Things noted: the miles indicated on the route fell way short of the actual miles traveled (the route said 48 miles.) It is so almost every day. The discrepancy is evn greater when actual miles are compared to those indicated on the official route cards the office sells us weekly.
It comes down to what we spend on fuel: around $140 twice a week to fill the truck, or close to half our paycheck. How does this circus cut a profit in these conditions when they haven't raised the entrance price since last year but gas has almost doubled?

A trailer with a view.

July 27, Greenville, Pennsylvania (70 miles, Greenville Plaza.)

Saturday, July 26, 2008

A trailer with a view.

July 26, Girard, Pennsylvania (32 miles, Girard school grounds.)

Friday, July 25, 2008


July 25, Union City.

The route paper said: Arrows to a creative lot. Expecting the worst but it came out ok, it's a tight lot again but not as extreme as yesterday, and we're facing a deliciously sounding brook.
Garage sales this morning (kids' clothes, mainly,) like every Friday and Saturday when we can.

A trailer with a view.

July 25, Union City, Pennsylvania (32 miles, Devereaux park.)

No cats.

July 24, Youngsville.

No tigers, we're packed tight on the parking lot of a nursing home, but with just a little more planning Casey's trucks could have been parked so that he was closest to the entrance with space to unload the cats.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

A trailer with a view.

July 24, Youngsville, Pennsylvania (60 miles, Rouse Estate.)

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Summer storm (strictly circus.)

July 23, Westfield.

Summer storm (domestic version.)

July 23, Westfield.

More summer storms and we're vacating the lot after the show tonight, another fun mud ballet to come.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Bogged down.

July 21, Westfield.

The lot was soft from previous rain and nearly everyone got stuck driving in this morning, including us. An hour later a big storm hit. It's going to be fun getting out of here in two days (this is a two-day town.)
Other news: Little Sisters Priscilla and Jo left this morning. Jo is due back at a religious retreat in Quebec until next year, and Priscilla is going back to the Little Sisters of Jesus congregation North American headquarters in Baltimore. They are hoping to get back on the road next year at some point; ce n'est qu'un au revoir.

A trailer with a view.

July 22, Westfield, New York (56 miles, North Lake Recreation Center.)

Monday, July 21, 2008

Trailer stoop talk.

July 21, Springville.

We had to park and wait this morning upon arriving as the crew had to take out log barriers to the lot so we could get in. An occasion to say hello and chat around the trucks, and for the babies to run around as if they owned the place.
I've noticed that Latino men are extremely chatty (and Fridman is no exception,) like the North African men of my childhood in France who sat on the stoop of their apartments or on the town square benches and talked the summer afternoons away, it seemed (while the women worked away in the home?) Only here in the circus the talking is done leaning on trucks or trailer hitches.
Stoop talk, circus style.

A trailer with a view.

July 21, Springsville, New York (47 miles, Firemens' grounds.)

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Flying in.

July 20, Alexander.

Circus lines at the Flying-J dumping site on the route this morning.

A trailer with a view.

July 20, Alexander, New York (62 miles, Firemen's park.)

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Niagara Falls.

July 19, Youngstown.

Niagara Falls is just 12 miles away. I wouldn't have traveled any farther to go see them, dreading the tourist trap (and it is,) but it was worth the short trip, if only for the internet search on the formation of the falls, and always the wonder at the power of nature, dwarfing us back to our proper place in the universe.

A trailer with a view.

July 19, Youngstown, New York (62 miles, Veterans park.)

Friday, July 18, 2008


July 18, Sweden.

Sweden is not the map, it's just not there. Two miles up Route 19 there's Brockport, where we went shopping this morning, and that is on the map.

A trailer with a view.

July 18, Sweden, New York (32 miles, Elks Lodge.)

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Travels with Kelly Miller.

July 17, Lima.

In the course of two days we drove through Vienna, brushed past Verona, went through Geneva and ended up right in Fridman's home town, Lima.
Things forgotten: the 2008 programs finally arrived last Saturday. Better late than never. And a few days before a young guy named Jeremy joined the circus; he works as a prop guy and drives one of the small trucks.
He's an enigma: nobody joins the circus unless there is something wrong in their life, they're either drunks or addicts, or they're running away from someone or from the law (Chimera in 2004, and the guy took off with Olga's truck,) or they might be circus wannabes, as circus people call those who are not from the circus but love it and want to be a part of it. Jeremy doesn't appear to fit either of these profiles, he's neat and well-kept, even handsome, seems rather sophisticated, he's always courteous, happy, he doesn't make any trouble. He also has a laptop; in short he looks more like a frat boy than a runaway. So people in the circus are wondering.
I was thinking he's a "spy" from some animal rights group, but he also might have been sent from Ringling to snoop around. John Ringling North II, Kelly Miller's owner, has lost a lawsuit to Ringling over the use of the name as advertisement, and it is believed Ringling regularly sends people to spy on Kelly Miller, passing as audience.
Jeremy says all his family has died, he's alone in the world and having recently lost his job he decided to take off with the circus. I hope none of it is true.

A trailer with a view (before the storm.)

July 17, Lima, New York (84 miles, on Rt 15A 2 miles north of town.)

In bloom.

July 16, Fair Haven.

We're on the shore of Lake Ontario. A glimpse of the lake going to the playground. Across from the trailer, summer gardens.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

No horses.

July 16, Fair Haven.

A sign on the interstate ramp in Syracuse: Pedestrians, Bicycles, Horses Prohibited.

A trailer with a (sporting) view.

July 16, Fair Haven, New York (47 miles, Cayuga Street park.)

And all the Rosales, or close: Jared (Carmen and Jorge's son,) Brett (Julio's son,) Julio, Gerard and Jonary (Carmen and Jorge's sons.)

Frontseat drivers.

July 15, Southwood.

Soon they're driving the truck (on a trip to the grocery store.)

The farm.

July 15, Southwood.

All along those country roads small farms, and I happen to be reading We Were the Mulvaneys, by Joyce Carol Oates (on loan from Vickie,) which is set in upstate New York, on a farm, and the yearning for that life, living on a farm, working the land, working with animals, and I wouldn't last a season for sure, although getting up before six o'clock I have training at, but the chores in hot and cold and wet and damp, the calloused hands and aching back and sore shoulders, I wouldn't last long probably but the yearning is real and there isn't a farmhouse I pass that I don't want to stop and knock on the door and say, will you take me in?

A trailer with a view.

July 15, Southwood, New York (48 miles, Southwood park.)

Monday, July 14, 2008

Vive le cheese and les idées.

July 14, Camden.

Today is le 14 juillet, or Bastille Day, or my turn to feel proud of la patrie.
So vive la France and let's forget about colonialism, empire-craving, delusional Napoleon, the Vichy regime and the Algerian war to remember instead the declaration of the rights of man, the ideas of égalité and fraternité, Montaigne and Descartes (which I'm due to study again per earlier blog entry,) Victor Hugo and Baudelaire and Rimbaud, Racine and Moliere, Colette et ses chats, and Foucault. I'm only a tad biased thinking that the richness French letters has scant few rivals, bien sur.
But most of all hooray for the 365 cheeses, fresh baguettes and two-hour lunches.

A trailer with a view.

July 14, Camden, New York (64 miles, Manley field.)

Sunday, July 13, 2008

A trailer with a view.

July 13, Norwich, New York (85 miles, fairgrounds.)


July 12, Canajoharie.

The town looks like it has had better days, and then there is beauty, wild flowers growing in unexpected places in the cracks of buildings of no consequence.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Bon appétit.

July 12, Canajoharie.

We came down out of the park, and into farmers' landscape again, into the Mohawk valley.
There was a farmers' market within walking distance and on the right day, new potatoes and fresh eggs, sweet peas and young carrots, all organic bien sur, we got ourselves a local lunch: petits pois a la francaise (peas cooked with lettuce, onions and parsley, with salt and pepper and a dash of sugar,) sauteed potatoes with garlic, onions and the thyme I cut on North Creek lot two days ago, sunny-side eggs. Voila.

A trailer with a view.

July 12, Canajoharie, New York (55 miles, 101 Erie Blvd.)

Friday, July 11, 2008

No Swimming.

July 11, Speculator.

Another resort village in the Adirondacks. We're parked right across from Lake Pleasant and the Speculator Beach ("Closed, No Swimming.") It is too cold to enjoy them.

A trailer with a view.

July 11, Speculator, New York (34 miles, Speculator Ballfield.)


July 10, North Creek.

There was an accident along the route and we had to make a detour we did not know where. Some went left and some went right and all eventually found their way back on to the final destination. For us it meant we could stop at a bakery we like back in Glens Falls and get coffee and bread.

A glorious morning.

July 10, North Creek.

A glorious morning, awaking from so many a heavy night, and the air crisp and clear, the landscape, the colors, sharp, fresh, like a jolt, the way all the senses take it all in, and the smells in the air, no part of this a photograph could attempt to tell, and words similarly fail, the moment is to be lived, for the memory of it is to be but a faint illusion, the memory fails just as quickly.
A glorious morning, a glorious day unfolding, cool and clean as if a giant hand had swiped the horizon anew.

A trailer with a view.

July 10, North Creek, New York (55 miles, Ski Bowl Park.)

The philosophy lesson, infinitely delayed.

July 9, Granville.

This morning as we were preparing to leave I saw Jorge Rosales throw a big used cardboard box into the bushes at the edge of the field we were on. Not a big deal, just another one of those people who throw trash outside the window of their car or on the street, but it led me to ponder again what it is that makes people behave badly or irresponsibly when they think they can get away with it. Is man fundamentally good or bad?
Back to the philosophers, to revisit my long-forgotten high school lessons.
One day when I have the time.

A trailer with a view.

July 9, Granville, New York (26 miles, Firemen's carnival grounds.)

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

A trailer with a view.

July 8, Glens Falls, New York (40 miles, West Glens Falls Fire grounds.)

Monday, July 07, 2008

A swimming pool!

July 7, Hoosick Falls.

This circus season has been rather kid-friendly so far. Two out of three towns we travel there is a playground nearby, and sometimes right next door. Today there was even a swimming pool.
It's hot and humid but the trailer is shaded by a big oak, and what a difference that makes.

A trailer with a view.

July 7, Hoosick Falls, New York (18 miles, Mill Street field.)

Circus red and blue.

July 6, Berlin, New York.

There was a BBQ/potluck tonight to celebrate the Fourth.
Little Sister Priscilla and Jo also arrived earlier in the day and were on hand to help grill. They'll stay with us for two weeks; they travel with only their truck, having sold their trailer three years ago to John Moss when they decided to go lighter, and slower too, after a lifetime on the road with the circus.

Georgia, Casey and Natalie's daughter, running running after the bubbles, with Lucky Eddie (from left,) Ariel and Vickie (Kelly Miller Circus' owner, John R. North II, is barely visible next to Ariel.)

Jim Royal (center, with an Obama 08 shirt) surrounded by various generations of circus people.

A trailer with a view.

July 6, Berlin, New York (26 miles, athletic field.)

No gods, no country.

July 5, Pittsfield.

Nothing makes you feel more like a stranger than a national holiday.
Nothing makes you feel more like an outsider than your children growing up to speak a foreign language.
Dylan has started saying words in English, words he picks up from other circus children, and here I am, the least patriotic of French women, cringing at the thought that one day he'll go to school and there complete the process of his immersion in the American culture and idiom. Every mother does it, I imagine, thinking that your children are somehow like you, or should be, when they are somebody entirely different from you, their own person, their own world.
Still, the thought of having my children talk to me in English is hard to swallow, surprisingly enough. I used to think of this country as my own more than France, to feel utterly at home here, surrounded by my American friends, reading in English, dreaming in English, rejoicing in everything American, from the 24-hour diners to the cellophane-wrapped bread.
And then I had kids. Thinking back on this notion of identity, I realized that my belonging was as removed as the profession I'd chosen, a choice not likely coincidental. Photojournalists, and journalists in general, are one step removed from the reality they cover, always, and that's why it fit me so well and I loved being a photojournalist in this country so much.
That's what I slowly came to realize on that long trip over from the coast a few days ago.
I am not am American and I never will be, no matter how much I love it here and how comfortable I sometimes let myself feel. I am not much French either after all those years far away from my own country; as with most expatriates I am of nowhere - and that is not so bad. My children can choose to be of a place, and it will be up to them where that is.
But then if they go to school in this country there is the issue of the pledge of allegiance, and that one three-letter word in there. They'll speak English, Spanish and French fluently, navigate through three different cultures and people, and hopefully many more, but if I can have a say in it they won't swear to a god I don't believe in, much less each and every day with their hand on their heart, no matter how symbolic they tell me it only is. I'll try and teach them to respect all the religions men have so beautifully devised, as I do, and to cherish the good they stand for and inspire us to do (I'll leave the bad for when they're old enough to be disillusioned,) but it will be up to them to have faith when they grow up to think for themselves - and think freely and creatively but always critically, if I have done a good job.
I'll take the flag (after all it's theirs,) but I take the separation of church and state very seriously.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Traveling day.

July 4, Pittsfield.

Travel day on Independence Day, and pouring rain in the morning, followed by drizzle all along the three hour drive. We started late because almost all of the semis and circus trucks had to be pulled out, last night's thunderstorms and this morning rain had made the field soggy.
Otherwise it was an uneventful drive, the way we like it.

A trailer with a view.

July 4, Pittsfield, Massachusetts (165 miles, 50 South Street.)
(I need to wash the windows again.)

Smells like a rose.

July 3, Merrimac.

Ah, the fun of dumping black water tanks on the road.
The twice-monthly ritual of dumping the toilet tank is always a chore; this one started out badly, got worse, then landed safely. We left in search of a dumping place as soon as we arrived on the lot, and ended up driving all the way to the ocean, seven miles away in Salisbury Beach, to find it. Any further and we would have driven into the water. The place was the Salisbury Beach State Reservation, a public park, full for the holiday.
On the way we tried a wastewater treatment facility here in town ($25 and not even a hose to clean up,) and an RV park called The Beach Rose. This was a different kind of RV park: one that couldn't accommodate "big rigs," as the manager (owner?) told us, not even along the looping driveway to turn around and head out (we had to stop traffic to back up into the street.) Up until now our trailer had been considered a modest medium size at 29 feet; trailers must have been shrinking to make up for the gas hike, no doubt.
Attention ambitious campers: avoid The Beach Rose on highway 110 in Massachusetts.
Or was it because we had Oklahoma plates and spoke with an accent?

A trailer with a view.

July 3, Merrimac, Massachusetts (16 miles, Stevens field.)

The joys of traveling with laundry.

July 2, North Andover.

Ah, the fun of doing laundry on the road.
We always make sure we randomly choose days where the laundromat is old and tired, but nothing beats today's pick. Four dryers out of seven were out of order, three didn't even have a door anymore, and the remaining ones took 30 minutes to leave your clothes damp. Half the washing machines didn't work either. It goes without saying that laundry carts and folding tables were not an option.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

A trailer with a view.

July 2, North Andover, Massachusetts (36 miles, middle school.)

A day off.

July 1, Townsend.

Days off have a special significance in the circus. Here's how the day off went: wake up at 5:30 AM, drive for two and a half hours; set up the trailer, unhitch the truck, work on repairing broken water heater (Fridman;) watch/play with/scold/change/wash the kids, one of which doesn't take a nap all day (Nicolas/me;) crash as soon as the generator shuts off, at 10:30 PM. Days off have a special significance in the circus, they mean do all the work you do any other day, and then some.