Thursday, April 30, 2009

Last pictures.

April 29, Rising Sun.

We finally got to do the group picture for the 2009 program today, and as we had decided to include everyone, not just the performers, there were more than 60 people to line up. Later I also took a picture of John Ringling North II, Kelly Miller Circus' owner, who is here with us, to include in the program along with a short bio he's written.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A trailer with a view.

April 29, Rising Sun, Indiana (53 miles, Riverfront park.)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A trailer with a view.

April 28, Madison, Indiana (50 miles, church grounds.)

Monday, April 27, 2009

Myrna's back.

April 27, Brownstown.

This is Myrna's home town. She's here visiting.
It's good to see them again, her and her battered Suburban, even though she wasn't exactly easy to get along with when she was with us. Funny how absence makes people dear, the way dead people's bad traits tend to fade out once they're buried.

A trailer with a view.

April 27, Brownstown, Indiana (49 miles, fairgrounds.)

Sunday, April 26, 2009

A trailer with a view.

April 26, Shoals, Indiana (69 miles, community high school grounds.)

Saturday, April 25, 2009


April 25, Tell City.

Our favorite day of all: garage sale day.
Found shoes for Castro, a winter jacket for Dylan that should fit him easily before he's ten, toy cars and used movies, and the little old-model Radio Flyer tricycle I've been dreaming of.

A trailer with a view.

April 25, Tell City, Indiana (59 miles, 7th and Humbolt Streets.)

Friday, April 24, 2009


April 24, Oakland City.

This was a circus Mom's dream lot: we were literally surrounded by whoops, a cornucopia of whoops, all the kids were out all day, and mine are out and so am I.

A trailer with a view.

April 24, Oakland City, Indiana (45 miles, Wirth park.)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

A trailer with a view.

April 23, Odon, Indiana (42 miles, N. Davies Athletics field.)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


April 22, Spencer.

A trailer with a (later) view.

April 22, Spencer.

Earth day.

April 22, Spencer.

I remember this town well from last year because we found a recycling center here that took everything, not just soda cans and plastic bottles, and in the middle of rural Indiana that was surprising.
On the route slip this morning Tavana wrote: Happy Earth Day! How green are you?
Since this day last year I've been thinking about asking the Kelly Miller Circus to take a relatively small step that could have big consequences, that of arranging with the sponsors or the towns to have recycling bins brought on the lot in addition to dumpsters. This would in effect mean a small village takes up recycling at the same time.
Small steps.
We are already pretty green without knowing it in the traveling circus business. Living in a trailer uses more than three times less water than conventional house living, at least in the U.S., thanks to toilets that don't flush and small water tank capacity. You turn the tap off when your water is counted (as you should whether or not it is.) A reduced living space also means lower electricity use, not to mention there is no light at night. Of course all this is counteracted by our driving diesel-belching trucks, and is probably more than unwelcome for many of us. Still it gives a glimpse of a lifestyle that carries a much smaller footprint, to use the current buzz word, with little sacrifice.
Small steps.
It will require a lot more than small steps to heal our planet and promote a sustainable lifestyle. In an interesting piece in The New Yorker a couple of weeks ago David Owen also pointed out that to get the economy going again will mean turning the clock on efforts to do just that: "(Obama's) commitments to economic recovery and carbon reduction - to bringing the country out of recession while also reducing U.S. greenhouse emissions (...) - don't pull in the same direction."
In other words the freedom to live in McMansions out in the suburbs, drive to your heart's content, take extra long showers and light up the house like a Christmas tree while you go shopping for stuff you could have bought used although really you don't need them at all will be difficult, and immoral, to maintain if we want future generations to enjoy our world as much as we do, albeit not as unconsciously.
The small steps may require big jumps.

A trailer with a view.

April 22, Spencer, Indiana (33 miles, fairgrounds.)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


April 21, Jasonville.

We've had rain every day for longer than any of us can remember now.
Josie was saying it looks like the rain is following us.
Spring time.
To make things worse the rain today kept shifting in intensity so that you had to keep changing your windshield wipers' speed too or you'd soon hear those annoying squeaks (I'm lucky that the truck has an adjustable system rather than the kind that lets you choose between nothing and full throttle.)

A trailer with a view.

April 21, Jasonville, Indiana (48 miles, 220 S. Meridian Street.)

Monday, April 20, 2009


April 20, Clinton.

Yolanda Luna turned thirteen a few days ago and had a birthday party under the big top today. She's Manuel Luna's daughter from a previous relationship; her mother, Marixa, who is Romani and part of a Peruvian circus family, is a childhood friend of Fridman's.
I remember Yolanda from the first year I went to visit Fridman on the road with the Carson and Barnes Circus. Manuel and Marixa were performers at the circus as well and Yolanda worked in the show the way children of performers often do.
I remember a little girl perched on a pony, looking like a porcelain doll in her frilly costume. I remember a little girl holding on to the reins with a fierce determination in her eyes as elephants, camels, horses and a slew of performers swirled around.
That was seven years ago.
Blow, blow your candles.
Her cake was decorated with Hannah Montana.


April 20, Clinton.

We got a tad lost this morning, barreling straight into more than twenty miles of U-turn.
Family news: Nicolas went the whole day without his pacifier yesterday. It was as easy as simply not giving it to him and he went to sleep just fine too.
For my part I'm still struggling to get an appointment to have a breast ultrasound after my first mammogram, taken at the start of the season in Brownsville, turned out inconclusive. It is difficult to get doctors' appointments on the road, and the difficulty is compounded in this case because documents have to be released and sent in time. And yesterday one of my teeth started hurting to the point that my entire mouth now aches (it even hurts when I'm talking, surely a blessing in disguise) so the health department outlook is slightly wanting at this point on my circus life's road.

A new baby.

April 20, Clinton.

It's a girl and she weighed seven pounds six ounces.
Natalie and Casey's baby was born early in the afternoon yesterday and everybody is fine (Lucky Eddie won the weight contest this time.)
We're expecting them back soon.

A trailer with a view.

April 20, Clinton, Indiana (59 miles, Sportland park.)

My ninja.

April 19, Marshall.

Dylan wants to get his face painted all the time now (thank you Adilson and Gilda for obliging. Fav: Spiderman.
Today he turned into a ninja.

Immigration and other news on the ring and the road.

April 19, Marshall.

The route said 54 miles.
Once again the home office was slightly off in its mileage approximation. This one felt as if it would never end.
Fridman drove the mechanics truck and I tailed along as the last of the circus caravan as Wesley is off to an immigration hearing, along with his wife, Bernice, a member of the extended Perez family who works at the doors.
Last week it was Marcelino and Josie who were gone to attend to their immigration process; they should be back today. Courtney has been doing the part of the audience member auditioning for the equestrian act with Armando and the Fernandes family; she is still recovering from that nasty sinus and eye infection and not performing her web act.

A trailer with a view.

April 19, Marshall, Illinois (86 miles, Mill Creek park.)

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Steve and Tiifany.

April 18, Shelbyville.

My friend Tiffany and her husband Steve came by unannounced yesterday from Jacksonville, about an hour away north.
She appeared at the whoop. It was so good to see her, and all the better for the surprise.
And Steve did the unthinkable, pushing Nicolas hard on the swing, and he loved it and loved it when he'd never wanted me to give him more than a whisper of a shove before. Dylan was in seventh heaven too, swinging high.
There's a great Dad in waiting.

Before the visit.

A trailer with a view.

April 18, Shelbyville, Illinois (57 miles, Shelbyville Lake.)

Friday, April 17, 2009


April 17, Litchfield.

The new artists of the Kelly Miller Circus 2009 season.

Steve and Ryan.

April 17, Litchfield.

Steve and Ryan in the sink act.
They also dig for gold.


April 17, Litchfield.

Raul's juggling act.
He also does a clown act with his poodle.


April 17, Litchfield.

Patricia Luna in one of her acts.
She also works with her husband, Manuel, in an aerial motorcycle act, and presents Natalie's dogs.

The Flying Fernandes.

April 17, Litchfield.

Renato and Adilson.

A trailer with a view.

April 17, Litchfield, Illinois (73 miles, Lake Lou Yaeger.)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

A trailer with a view.

April 16, Nashville, Illinois (37 miles, fairgrounds.)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Perspective #2.

April 15, Percy.

No water.

April 15, Percy.

No water on this lot either.
The last time that happened, a few weeks ago, I remember thinking how far it is you can stretch a gallon of water when you know it's the last.

Old Streamline mine.

April 15, Percy.

The name says it all (that's when you're glad you're only staying one day.)

A trailer with a view.

April 15, Percy, Illinois (50 miles, old Streamline mine.)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Same it's not.

April 14, Waterloo.

Same lot as last year, even though we're officially playing another town.
Forgotten and now old news: Raul joined us when we were in Hugo. He does a juggling act this year in addition to his clowning "elephant act" with his dog.

A trailer with a view.

April 14, Waterloo, Illinois (35 miles, Monroe County YMCA.)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter traditions.

April 12, Festus.

Today we have the day off and were also treated to free food, the third annual Kelly Miller Circus Easter Lunch event, after the egg hunt in the park across the street.

A trailer with a view.

April 12, Festus, Missouri (41 miles, West City park.)

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Plunder Palace.

April 11, Farmington.

I drove back to Ironton to take pictures of a flea market I'd spotted (we were locked in yesterday.)
The place turned out to have a name, the Plunder Palace, and sell "everything," according to owner Jerry Turner (far left,) in the used-up business eighteen years.
And twenty miles turned out to be a bargain to find God among tin cans.

A trailer with a view.

April 11, Farmington, Missouri (21 miles, Engler park.)

Friday, April 10, 2009


April 10, Ironton.

Same lot as last year - memories of Dylan playing flechero with Casey and Natalie as they parked behind us, arriving late after Casey's truck broke down. We're stuck in the back and can't leave the lot so we won't be able to go back to the café where Dylan broke a pottery and they didn't charge us for it, or go see the house of my dreams downtown, as planned.
After a night of violent storms there were the usual excavation this morning. All hail four-by-four transmissions.
Also, in the news this morning, I learnt that the town of Mena in Arkansas was hit by a tornado last night; three people were killed and the town badly damaged. We played Mena last year just a few days after another small town in Arkansas where similarly violent storms and tornado warnings kept us up all night.

A trailer with a view.

April 10, Ironton, Missouri (31 miles, Lions Club grounds.)

A man with a purpose.

April 9, Potosi.

Filet mignon.

April 9, Potosi.

Because we're been freezing our arses these past few days (it went down to minus something on Monday night) we at the Kelly Miller Circus have been given the royal treatment: the generator is on every night.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

A trailer with a view.

April 9, Potosi, Missouri (34 miles, fairgrounds.)

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

A trailer with a view.

April 8, Sullivan, Missouri (32 miles, Eagles Club grounds.)

Odd ball.

April 7, St. James.

We froze our arses yesterday.
As it got better in the afternoon Eric Fernandes, Jason (in the back,) Armando and one of the crew guys took to the courts in between acts.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

A departure.

April 7, St. James.

The Cainan family left this morning for home in Paris, Texas, as Natalie's baby is due in just a week.
I'm looking forward to seeing the three of them plus one soon.

A trailer with a view.

April 7, St. James, Missouri (58 miles, Nelson Heart park.)

Monday, April 06, 2009

The remains of the night.

April 6, Houston.

Today is John Moss' birthday; the Moss family threw a small party last night in their trailer. The Fernandes were there and also Courtney, who is recuperating from a bad sinus infection and has not been able to work for two days now.
John got a birthday sticker from his eldest son, Johnnie, that read "I'm the Boss."

A trailer with a view.

April 6, Houston, Missouri (67 miles, C of C grounds.)

An old friend's fight.

April 5, Ava.

My friend Lisa lives in Republic, a small town near Springfield, Missouri, an hour away from here. The last time we saw each other was fourteen years ago. I drove along deserted Ozarks roads to visit her and her partner today (the church parking lots were full.)
Lisa was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis last year after a doctor's visit to treat what she thought was a tendinitis.
She later realized she had had MS symptoms since her early twenties: tingling sensations in her limbs, difficulty swallowing sometimes, piercing pain to one side of the head, all misdiagnosed, telltale dots that nobody knew enough to connect. Because the disease was detected so late in her life, she says, it is now more difficult to slow its progression.
Lisa has had to quit her job. On bad days she has trouble moving around and cannot walk without a cane, and is sometimes in excruciating pain. Simple tasks become overwhelming even on good days. But she is the same as back when she was my boss at the annual photojournalism contest held at the University of Missouri-Columbia, when we worked together bent over slides for hours on end; she's funny and quick and warm, and so is Carol, her partner of many years.
They told me the story of Lisa's struggling with MS, and also that new drugs that are able to stop the disease, not just slow it down, are available in Europe but remain without the reach of MS patients in the U.S. for lack of FDA approval, despite having been proven safe and effective. The talk show host Montel, who has MS, goes to Europe regularly to get treatment, they told me. He's wealthy and can afford it but for the majority of MS patients, like Lisa, stopping the progress of MS' debilitating symptoms remains unattainable. Lisa and Carol think it's all part of a conspiracy by the pharmaceutical companies to keep the MS patients' community milking cow going, making lots of money for their labs.
The wanted to come see the show but Lisa started feeling pain in her shins and they had to relent.
Maybe next year, she said.
How will she fare next year if she doesn't get the drugs she needs?

Carol (seated) and Lisa at the kitchen table.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

A trailer with a view.

April 5, Ava, Missouri (59 miles, fairgrounds.)

Saturday, April 04, 2009


April 4, Mountain Home.

In the circus parking lot there was a car all decked out in bumper stickers, one of which read:
After the last tree has died, after the last fish has perished, after the last river has been poisoned we will realize that we can't eat money.
Cree proverb.
Who said Arkansas was a backward state?

Friday, April 03, 2009

Out of order.

April 3, Mountain Home.

On highway 62 outside of Ash Flat.

A trailer with a (finished) view.

April 3, Mountain Home.

An hour and a half later - and a better reflection of what we'll see out the window for the next 40 hours or so (we're staying in Mountain Home two days.)

A trailer with a view.

April 3, Mountain Home, Arkansas (57 miles, across from Arkansas State University campus.)

Thursday, April 02, 2009

It's a boy!

April 2, Ash Flat.

On the route slip this morning:
IT'S A BOY! Congratulations to Armando and Natalia!
(and to Tavo for winning the weight contest!)

Norberto was born early yesterday morning by cesarean. He weighed eight pounds even.

A trailer with a view.

April 2, Ash Flat, Arkansas (84 miles, next to Tri-County supply.)

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Let them have cake.

April 1, Heber Springs.

Nicolas circus birthday cake today with all the show children in attendance, and some of the Moms too. The party was almost scuttled by road mishaps; Raul's fuel pump went south outside of Little Rock and two hours went by before we could hit the road again, leaving Castro behind to do his wonders. We barely had time to go get the cake when we finally arrived.
It was the perfect lot to have a party, there was even a wooden picnic table by the trailer, and the sun was with us. Fridman spent the rest of the day changing the brake pads on the truck for it sounded like metal against metal on the way down the hill this morning - and it was.
Raul and Castro didn't make it here until almost show time.

Nota bene: I love it that the kids get all excited about the idea of a cake but don't actually like it. They'll kill for an apple but won't touch sweets, I like to think because I've made it a strict rule from the beginning not to give them any, in spite of the vocal indignation of almost everyone around me (including my own mother, who should know better.)
Then again I need only remember how long it'll be before they start school to know when that will end, and my Mommy-knows-best self-congratulations with it.

A trailer with a view.

April 1, Heber Springs, Arkansas (98 miles, fairgrounds.)