Tuesday, June 30, 2009


June 30, Merrimac.

Renzo, "almost eleven," is one of Armando's sons. He works in his father's equestrian act and helps with the horses.
He is pictured with Dusty (down,) Wantana and Queenye.

A trailer with a view.

June 30, Merrimac, Massachusetts (44 miles, a field.)

The elusive sault.

June 29, Pepperell.

Yesterday Renato finally caught it, "the elusive triple somersault."
The news traveled among the circus trailers fast.

Monday, June 29, 2009

A trailer with a view.

June 29, Pepperell, Massachusetts (56 miles, town field.)

In bloom.

June 28, Plainville.

This the season of long lost friends.
My friend Mary Beth and her family visited today from Providence. We last saw each other fifteen years ago in graduate school at the University of Missouri in Columbia. She was a mentor, an inspiration, she still is. That, and something rare just happened after all these years, the burgeoning of a kinship only hinted at, envisioned maybe but never fulfilled, a kinship of vision, and heart, something unexpected, and all the more beautiful for it.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

A trailer with a view.

June 28, Plainville, Massachusetts (64 miles, town park.)

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The potential tourist.

June 27, Sandwich.

We're in famed Cape Cod.
I'd always wanted to see Cape Cod but somehow, in all my travels around the country, in so many years of being East and West and here and there I've never done it.
Until now. Yet playing in Cape Cod with the Kelly Miller Circus hardly counts for a visit, much less on a Saturday, when there is no time to do anything as the shows are early, unless the upscale market around the corner qualifies as a tourist destination.

Elisha's bequest.

June 27, Sandwich.

Slowly the little circus from Hugo, Oklahoma has made its way to the cradle of America.
We stopped to get gas right by the wooden sign that says "Welcome to Plymouth, the Hometown of America, founded 1620."
So it's back along memory lane again, taking frantic notes in U.S. history classes at the Charles V English Institute in the old Marais neighborhood in Paris with a captivating professor by the unfortunate name of Mrs. Coit. The Mayflower, Cotton Mather and the Puritans, the first Thanksgiving, the beginning of the end for Native Americans, the blossoming of my fascination with America.
By all measures it hasn't waned.
By our trailer there is a small wooded cemetery by the side of the field called Tobey Cemetery. I went there as soon as we arrived, Dylan and Nicolas in tow. There are about twenty graves, the oldest dated 1789, and one that stopped me: "In memory of Elisha son of Mr Peleg & Mrs. Elizabeth Lawrance he died Oct. 24 1810 aged 5 years 3 mons. 7 days."

A trailer with a view.

June 27, Sandwich, Massachusetts (38 miles, Oak Crest Grove.)

Friday, June 26, 2009

Elephants and tigers and bikes.

June 27, Pembroke.

A lot of people with a lot of children came out this morning to mill around the circus and watch the animals, and as John Moss half-mockingly remarked there is always some kids more interested in Dylan and Nicolas' bikes than watching elephants and tigers.

A trailer with a view.

June 27, Pembroke, Massachusetts (38 miles, ball field.)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Stop sign.

June 25, Berkley.

Nicolas cried "horse!" I glanced out the door.


June 25, Berkley.

Dylan got a home haircut today.
The result turned out to be as choppy as the process.

A trailer with a view.

June 25, Berkley, Massachusetts (11 miles, Berkley Common.)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Horse rehearsal.

June 24, Middleboro.

A trailer with a view.

June 24, Middleboro, Massachusetts (42 miles, high school grounds.)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Gray humor.

June 23, Mendon.

No doubt to match the mood and tone of the weather we've had Tavana found a quote from Versace, of all people, to put on the route slip this morning:
"For me the summer will be pure gray - mother-of-pearl gray, very pale gray."
After hearing on the radio that much of the rest of the country is sweltering in dangerous heat and humidity, the weather around here started to feel downright joyful, Versace enlightenment or not.

A trailer with a view.

June 23, Mendon, Massachusetts (39 miles, Gift Barn grounds.)

Monday, June 22, 2009

A trailer with a view.

June 22, Spencer, Massachusetts (41 miles, O'Gara park.)

Saturday, June 20, 2009

A lot of miles.

June 20, West Springfield.

One hundred and ten miles and a full day of work ahead.
Everybody deserves a day off.
Fridman flew to Chicago on Thursday to pick up a truck for the circus bought (the one that pulls the tent broke down a few weeks ago) and drive it back here. As of this morning he's somewhere in Ohio.
I drove with Lucky and Vickie, all highway, no problems.

A trailer with a view.

June 20, West Springfield, Massachusetts (111 miles, Eastern State Expo.)

Thursday, June 18, 2009


June 18, Saugerties.

As far as my mother is concerned, this patch of New York state is hallowed ground (here's to you, Mom.)
The 1969 Woodstock Festival, the seminal cultural point of the sixties, took place on a dairy farm in Bethel, not far from here. Saugerties is where the Woodstock 94' music festival, held on the 25th anniversary of the original festival, took place.
In honor if my brother, Patrick, who idolized him, I named my first son Dylan. It is an indirect tribute to the spirit of the festival for Bob Dylan, whose lyrics and music embody so much of the era, didn't actually perform at Woodstock.

A trailer with a view.

June 18, Saugerties, New York (37 miles, sports complex.)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A trailer with a view.

June 17, Napanoch, New York (47 miles, Napanoch Valley Mall.)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The days.

June 16, Washingtonville.

It hasn't rained yet today.
We left New Jersey and a lot of my friends behind. Kristine came back to visit on Sunday; we talked and laughed late into the night.
Days are back to the Mom routine, struggling with a difficult Dylan, watching Nicolas add new words every day and assert himself more every day, the rhythm of the shows, of the kids, the ebb of the news on the radio during the morning drive, a little of the world reaching me inside my Mom bubble, doubling my circus bubble, out here on the American road.
In France people are getting ready for the mass migration to les vacances, the sacrosanct month-long summer vacation, and they'll even find a way to go on complaining.
It's mostly sunny there.

A trailer with a view.

June 16, Washingtonville, New York (58 miles, school grounds.)

Monday, June 15, 2009


June 14, Pequannock.

There seems to be no end to the rain.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

A trailer with a view.

June 14, Pequannock, New Jersey (94 miles, Greenview park.)

Stinky business.

June 13, Plumsteadville.

Our trailer is swimming in dirty water, as we're all parked sardine-style around the tent on a lot smaller than a football field, with the elephants to one side and the horses on the other, making for a nice stinky home on wheels.

Friday, June 12, 2009


June 12, Plumsteadville.

The fire department.

June 12, Plumsteadville.

We are parked on the volunteer fire department grounds and this morning one of the volunteers gave all the kids a tour of the firehouse and trucks. The circus is part of their efforts to raise money for the department, which gets no public funds.

Renzo, Dylan and Sammy.

No progress.

June 12, Plumsteadville.

It would have been hard to make it easier to recycle in Pemberton: the trash bin was fifty feet away from the recycling bins, clearly marked in big red letters, and circus people passed them by as they entered the lot.
This morning the trash was filled with cardboard boxes and other recyclables.
It's hard not to be discouraged.
There is no progress on having the sponsors or towns bring recycling bins to the lot either.

A trailer with a view.

June 12, Plumsteadville, Pennsylvania (66 miles, fire department grounds.)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

A trailer with a view.

June 11, Pemberton, New Jersey (53 miles, municipal building grounds.)

An accident.

June 10, Mullica Hill.

Dylan fell and cut his head open this morning. He was running and running, being a typical three year old, and Fridman was telling him to stop, and then we heard a thump, and a cry.
We cleaned the wound and tried to close it, hunched on the floor of the employee's bathroom at a nearby pharmacy, a screaming Dylan and a squirming Nicolas making a ruckus, and then got thrown out and headed to the nearest hospital, as it was clear the two-inch-long and deep cut above his ear required more than band-aids.
He got four stitches and no anesthesia, and I couldn't look, just hold on to his arm and try to comfort him.
He just cried.
I would have screamed my head off.
I had planned to go back and visit Mary Ellen, Ed and Jessica in Delaware today before they'd come over for the second show. We ended up having a picnic in front of the trailer.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A trailer with a view.

June 10, Mullica Hill, New Jersey (25 miles, fairgrounds.)

After the rain.

June 9, Bridgeton.


June 9, Bridgeton.

There was an arboretum and the kids and I went walking around after the big storm this morning.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

A trailer with a view.

June 9, Bridgeton, New Jersey (38 miles, Dutch Neck Village.)

Monday, June 08, 2009

A trailer with a view.

June 8, Mays Landing, New Jersey (53 miles, park.)

Sunday, June 07, 2009

King's Wok.

June 7, Bayville.

The show was sold out tonight, and we had big crowds on all shows both days. A circus folks wisdom that circuses do well in poor economic times is true so far for Kelly Miller, and we're all crossing fingers that things go on just as they are.

Beachwood shopping center.

Carvel bakery.

June 7, Bayville.

Route 9.


June 7, Bayville.

Liquor store, among two businesses still open, Beachwood shopping center.

Getting older.

June 6, Bayville.

Today was Fridman's birthday. We had a BBQ with Lucky and Vickie and Castro over and my friend Kris also came down from Jersey City with her sister, Liz, to celebrate with us.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

A trailer with a view.

June 6, Bayville, New Jersey (80 miles, Beachwood shopping center.)

Concession stand.

June 5, Carney's Point.

Another sister.

June 5, Carney's Point.

She answered the phone and said hello and fourteen years disappeared the instant I heard her voice.
Her name is Mary Ellen and that summer a friend and I, both on our first journalism internships, sublet a room from her in Mendenhall, just over the state line from Delaware.
I've been hoping to find her again for fourteen years, I've wondered how she was and whether her boyfriend, Ed, was still around, whether she bought and renovated the house with the big "mother tree" in the backyard as she'd hoped, how her daughter, Jessica, had done and what her granddaughter, Chelsea, had grown up to look like, she was almost two and Mary Ellen would bathe her in the kitchen sink, we would sit out on the screened porch and sip tea, we would go on long walks in the big, magical park not far from the house.
Memory of joy, running in a field of tall grass on a sunny afternoon.
My brother died shortly thereafter and the summer was over.
She did buy the house, it's a dream and she's hanging on, the economy is hurting, Jessica is still a challenge, Chelsea is fifteen and living with her father with her brother, Tyler, who's twelve. Jessica moved back with her mother a year ago with her four-year-old, Portia.
And Ed, Ed did move in with her.
He was a keeper, she said.
So is she.

Friday, June 05, 2009

A trailer with a view.

June 5, Carney's Point, New Jersey (38 miles, YMCA.)

Thursday, June 04, 2009


June 4, Parkersburg.

The drive from hell.
Tent truck problems, yesterday, today, truck dies, Castro tries, truck dies again, Castro tries again, and again, and again. A waste of money, a heap of headaches.

A trailer with a view.

June 4, Parkersburg, Pennsylvania (53 miles, Minch park.)

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

A trailer with a view.

June 3, Dallastown, Pennsylvania (72 miles, parking lot.)

Little sister of my heart.

June 2, Westminster.

Sister Priscilla came by in Olney for a short visit; she leaves today. She has been a peaceful presence all along my circus years, she was family before we met.
She and Sister Jo, who finishes a long religious retreat later on this month, are anxious to start traveling again, Priscilla told me. They hope to be on the road soon, not full-time as they were all of their life until now, but at least for parts of the year, or as much as they can now that they're older (Priscilla is my mother's age, seventy-seven, not bad for a traveling gal.)
I'm looking forward to running into them, here or there or anywhere.

More on Sister Priscilla, from an April 18, 2006 post.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

A trailer with a view.

June 2, Westminster, Maryland (31 miles, Carrol County Agricultural Center.)