Sunday, April 20, 2014


April 20, Mount Vernon.

The Kelly Miller Easter Egg Hunt was this morning and Dylan won the Most Real Eggs category - and I lost his prize money. He had woken up early, at six thirty, and I ended up having to drive to get coffee with him just to pass time until the light was back on and the day started. Later there was a lunch at a restaurant right there on the airport grounds, and the traditional Easter Bonnet contest, duly won by Jacob and his bike/skate park hat entirely made of cardboard boxes.
The rest of the day off (the other day off will be for Mother’s Day but the circus will be too far to join then) was spent fixing this and that on the PT Cruiser under a hot sun.
I've decided to go back tomorrow morning and not tonight; the kids have not missed any school other than the delayed trip to Peru and the hours are precious.

Good business.

April 19, Moutn Vernon.

This is the first time Kelly Miller has played here that I can remember and there is no sponsor, but both shows are full and business is good.
I feel sick and do not take any pictures.

A beautiful morning.

April 20, Mount Vernon, Illinois (61 miles, Outland Airport.)

The circus is here for two days and tomorrow is off for Easter as always.
The day is beautiful. It is sunny, and there is a cool breeze this morning as we stop at a Pilot gas station upon arriving in town and I go get groceries while Fridman goes on to the lot on the other side of town. Walking on the store parking lot, holding on to Dylan and Nicolas’s hands, I tell them how beautiful the day is, because it is, right this moment. Later in the afternoon I will feel sad, and sick with a sinus infection, but right now the day is beautiful.

Last week end at the circus.

April 18, Mascoutah, Illinois (152 miles, Svene park.)

We’re here for the last week end before summer, and I remember this town, how to get to the lot, the lay of the town.
I park on the school parking lot across form the field where the circus is and there is a playground and Sammy and Liam and the kids run out.


April 1, 2014, Columbia, Missouri (345 miles.)

Just back from a week in our old home, Kelly Miller Circus. More later: hundreds of pictures to download and process, the result of a bad decision (not to take my computer with me on the road.)
The trip back from Arkansas was rather uneventful but for Nicolas having perfect timing for throwing up, waiting for the car to be stopped and I to run around it to open his door as he did. He turned seven today; I rode with the circus caravan up to Little Rock, the route slip said "Happy birthday to Argio and Nicolas."
It was good to be back home; it is good to be back home.

Last day.

March 30, 2014, Malvern, Arkansas.
Double trouble this morning.
First an incident on the jump smack in downtown Hot Springs involving an angry sports car driver and a show vehicle, and later Fridman pulled over by the cops in relation to it although he had no part in it, then a soaked field where we should have played, an abandoned drive-in movie theater field that now belongs to the Lions Club, and Mike’s and Armando’s truck bogged down, the ensuing wait and socializing while the crew figures out where to relocate and how to get the trucks out.
We ended up at a far better location than our intended spot, on a shopping plaza parking lot along the main street, nice and dry and within walking distance of many amenities.
This is our last day at the circus for now. We are leaving tomorrow.

Friday, April 04, 2014


March 29, Hot Springs Village.

Brown jacket (Zaia.)

March 29, Hot Springs Village.

Rings (Nicolas.)

March 29, Hot Springs Village.

The red balloon (Fridman and Sammy.)

March 29, Hot Springs Village.


March 29, Hot Springs Village, Arkansas (Boys and Girls Club, 55 miles.)

It is surprising how quaintly resplendent downtown Hot Springs is. Surprising too is how fast one goes from spender to squalor. From magnificent old bathhouse mansions to abandoned buildings and decrepit homes in just one block.
It was hot and humid last night and it is crisp and cool this morning.

Back (Rebecca.)

March 28, Glenwood.

Juggler (Nicolas.)

March 28, Glenwood.

Mud show.

March 28, 2014, Glenwood, Arkansas (rest area along highway 70, 22 miles.)

We had rain on and off all day yesterday, sometimes heavy, and this morning a deep fog covered everything along the road. There was yet another torrential downpour just moments ago, and the dirt lot along state highway 70 has turned into the usual muddy mess, large ravines of soaked red clay, pools of water where the soil cannot absorb any more.
My eye is doing much better, restored to its normal state of seeing at last.
We are planning a small celebration  after the shows for Nicolas’ birthday either tomorrow or Sunday with the Moss family. He turns seven on Monday but we will be traveling back to Columbia then.
(Later.) This is not a rest area but a field of dirt next to the rest area and it has become a mud bowl after more torrential rains that started right before the second show. AS Fridman stepped out of our quarters to go to doors we stared at a brownish lake stretching in all directions; the tent was flooded, a realm of mud and water.
Tomorrow should be sunny and breezy and we are on pavement.

Lines (Amina.)

March 27, Mount Ida.

Lines (Amina.)

March 27, Mount Ida.

The Ouachita National Forest.

March 27, 2014, Mount Ida, Arkansas (fairgrounds, 53 miles.)

I could drive again this morning; the swelling is almost gone and my eye feels like it’s nearly back to normal.
I enjoyed crossing the Ouachita National Forest, although most show drivers surely didn’t as it is mountain roads, the infamous “hilly and curvy” of the circus route. The town we are playing today boasts 917 people. I enjoyed the drive, reconnected with my morning ritual of driving meditation and gazing. The forest was beautiful, of course, even under low stormy skies, even with the banal poverty, the crappy yards, the dirty junk, the dilapidated everything - and there go I but for the grace of our circus job and blind fate.
It started raining hard shortly after we made it to the lot, yet another fairgrounds lot, surrounded by pine forest, beautiful if you don’t have to live there.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

A bad eye.

March 26, 2014, Mena, Arkansas (fairgrounds, 80 miles.)

At about three o’clock this afternoon I started feeling pain in my left eye and rubbed some white gunk out if it. By the time the first show was over, my eye was swollen shut by the gunk and the pain was palpable.
That’s when I thought I ought to see a doctor.
I’ve had eye infections before, but one so fast and furious. I had one in the last months of Nicolas’ pregnancy and it took two weeks to become this bad. There was no urgent care in this town and by the time I called all clinics around were closed so the only option was the hospital, unfortunately. Fridman asked Jeremiah to drive me and off we went, only to realize the hospital was right around the corner behind the woods. A lot of waiting (“A patient just died so the doctor will be with you in just a little while,” sort of put things in perspective, or made me want to run off, I’m not sure,) four minutes of washing my eye with warm water and a prescription for antibiotics and drops for what the doctor called “a heck of an eye infection” later Jeremiah picked me up again and I was back home, wondering if the $971 bill was a sign I should have bitten the bullet overnight.
But eye infections scare me, and being already deaf, the risk of a damaged eye tends to loom like a real problem. So I’m grateful for Obamacare and that we are now fully insured.
Today the eye still hurts and the Elephant Woman look is still there, but that was to be expected.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Contorsionist (Zaia.)

March 25, Nashville.


March 25, 2014, Nashville, Arkansas (Learning Center, 41 miles.)

Late call this morning and the kids are wide awake for the whole jump and it's a giant muffin for them and coffee for me at a gas station in Locksburg, population 711.
Down the street, on the high school announcement board, "God Bless." Separation of church and state comes hard in some parts of this country still.

Down the street, on the high school announcement board, "God Bless." Separation of church and state comes hard in some parts of this country still.
The mundane beauty of the Arkansas back roads in the early morning, again. Blinding sun, again.
Reading with the kids, French documentary children’s magazine for Dylan, school book for Nicolas. We have settled into Fridman’s quarters in the old shop truck, outfitted with bunk beds, one now a dinette table too, and a shower we share with Jason, a new recruit to the circus. It’s cramped and uncomfortable but we’re cosy. There is no toilet but I stopped at an RV place on the way down from Columbia to buy a porta-potty for emergencies and the kids. It feel alike old days when I came to visit Fridman on Carson and Barnes for the week end when they traveled through the Midwest and I was working as a photojournalist at The Jacksonville Journal-Courier.


March 24, Ashdown.

Show girl (Emily.)

March 24, Ashdown.

The sun is up.

March 24, 20124, Ashdown, Arkansas (high school grounds, 73 miles.) 

With the sun it feels like we're finally back at the circus, back home. The kids play outside after a quick reading session, then join Nathan and play ball and practice juggling; the grounds are neat and dry, I sit down with a book.
The jump went fast this morning despite being blinded most of it as we head due east on state highway 70. We get breakfast at a gas station right off the lot, donuts and croissants, bad coffee and an annoying door chime.

Same old.

March 23, Idabel, Oklahoma (corner lot, 41 miles.)

Same lot as always, beautiful in quiet way, except today it is also soggy, making for the usual slow parking ballet and attached inconveniences.
I stay off the lot so as to be in the way.
It is chilly, even though it would have seemed balmy just a week ago in Columbia, and maybe it is because I am away from what has become my home I feel unhinged, or maybe it's the chill. I feel a little sick all day and sleep for most of it, before going to see the second show. The kids are playing video games at Sammy's house, then at Nathan's.
The tractor trailers have left bug scars in the field, there is a pool of water by our door, good thing I thought of bringing the rain boots.
After the shows and Fridman's work hitching the trailers we go out to eat and find ourselves back at the circus at the Chinese buffet restaurant.

Goign down.

March 22, 2014, Hugo, Oklahoma (fairgrounds, 485 miles.)

I left Columbia a little after seven this morning. It was dark and cold. I had to stop at Lake of the Ozark to check the pressure on the tires after the light went off on the dashboard, scaring me, and kept stopping periodically throughout the trip to recheck them as the light came coming back on. We made it to Hugo at the end of the first show, at five o'clock, and there was Marcos' truck, and there was Tavana at the office door, and there was Rebecca as we made our way to the back, and the whirlwind of familiar faces in the mud and rain and the descending night.