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We had Monday off thankfully.
Jameson's parents took us to a place called Eataly. It's like an entirely Italian grocery, featuring handmade breads, pastas and desserts, imported candies and sauces, and deli sections selling rare cheeses and cured meats. It was pretty amazing!

On the second level was a restaurant section. We enjoyed a delicious Italian lunch. I had the squid ink pasta with mussels and it was fantastic.

After that we ran a few errands, then took the dogs to a nearby dog park. Mo had to go in the small dog section (he gets defensive with big dogs) and Addison in the main park was distracted by his whining and barking. Still, she seemed to enjoy herself :)

The next day we had two shows. Jameson's parents took us to Little Goat, one of our favorite Chicago restaurants, for brunch. I decided to be adventurous and try the This Little Piggy Went to China: a cheddar sesame biscuit with Szechuan sausage, two eggs, gooseberries, and a zesty chili sauce. It was delicious and the sauce made my tongue tingle!

The shows went well, although attendance was lighter.

The next day we ate breakfast at home then did the two shows. During the break Jameson and I went to a new Mexican restaurant near the arena for some tasty tacos. Crowds were still light but better than I expected for the day before Thanksgiving.

We had Thanksgiving day off! Well, the band did, but many performers were called in to participate in Chicago's Thanksgiving Day Parade! Great job everyone!

Jameson and I woke late. Mrs. Boyce insisted on preparing the traditional meal herself, so we contented ourselves with watching holiday movies and playing on the internet. And snacking :) Dinner was ready around 6, and it was amazing. A farm-raised turkey stuffed with lemons and wrapped in an herb-soaked cheesecloth. Two kinds of savory stuffing. White and sweet mashed potatoes. Oven-roasted Brussels sprouts. And more! I don't know how she did it! No photos because it's Thanksgiving :p For dessert there was pumpkin pie cake.

I was so grateful to have a real Thanksgiving meal with the Boyces. On the road, you can't expect to see your family very often much less spend time with them on the holidays. It's just the nature of the job. So although I couldn't be with my own family this time, it was a special privilege to spend it with my boyfriend's family. Thank you guys for opening your home to me. It was a great Thanksgiving and a memorable two weeks spent in Chicago with you!

The next day, right back to work with three shows. The day went fairly quickly and we had good crowds, but I was very tired at the end of the day. Between shows several Ringling peeps got together to hold a craft fair. There are so many people on our show who have creative talents like glass etching, painting, knitting, jewelry making, and more. Stuff was selling pretty quickly!

Saturday was mostly normal too. We had our 400th show! Good grief!! And as the day went on, a rumor began to circulate that Taba (tiger trainer) had brought a baby tiger to work! He has done this before, to get the young animals used to people.

During intermission of the second show, I was walking toward the dressing room when the Ringmaster went rocketing past me, tearing off his costume. I was confused but kept walking, and encountered Alan (sound tech) outside the tiger trainer's dressing room, muttering something about having to "check the wires in there" (there are no wires in there). I put two and two together and followed him in. And this sweetie was right in the middle of the floor.

This is Jasmine, a six month old white tiger cub. Ricardo (Jasmine's handler) instructed us to stand or sit at the edges of the room to give her some space. A few seconds after I entered the room the Ringmaster burst in behind me in costume tights (I guess he'd been told he couldn't play with the cub in costume, hence the big rush to undress!) Jasmine was very rambunctious and kept trying to nip at hands, feet, her leash, everything. She was very excited by all the people in the room. One by one we were give a turn to have a photo with her, and touch her if we wished. For some of us she behaved very well. For others she was bitey and grabby, trying to play. A few times when there was a lot of movement or noise she got nervous and started growling. But for the most part, she seemed to understand that she would not be harmed, and she was in a very playful mood.

When it was my turn I was delighted when Jasmine walked directly up to me, staring into my eyes. I wanted to make the "friendly" tiger noise (chuffing) but was too captivated. The trainer said, "Don't move!".
"Ok!" I stuttered, and held still as she licked my knee, gave my hand a curiosity bite with her already-huge teeth, and flopped down right in front of me. Cuteness overload.

I can't believe that this cutie will someday weigh around 600lbs and stand taller than a man...
Soon we all had to go back and finish the show. But I was so, so grateful for this experience. How many people can say that they've seen or pet a tiger cub? It was very generous of Taba and the other tiger trainer to take time out of their day to monitor us as we visited the cub, and to open their dressing room to visitations. Thank you so much Taba. This was amazing!

Many circus folks got to visit Jasmine throughout the day. Here are some of their photos. Enjoy :)

(photo courtesy Jameson)

(photo courtesy David S.)

(photo courtesy Karlee H.)

(photos courtesy Damian P.)

(photo courtesy Michael K.)

(photo courtesy Kenny S.)


Sunday was kind of a bittersweet day. Jameson's parents had already left for St. Paul by the time we woke up, but they left us some souvenirs from the Chicago Symphony shop and lots of yummy leftovers. I'm not sure I've ever felt so spoiled! At the arena, we said see you down the road to several of our wonderful Australian dancers, and to Chase, one of our funniest clowns. I've gotta say, working with Chase has been a pleasure. I'll miss seeing his talent at work in the show, and all of the little show moments we had together. Thanks for sharing your amazing self with us Chase. See you down the road!

(photo courtesy Ramiro Z.)

Once the last show was over, Jameson and I returned to the apartment. We'll stay for one last day, then drive to Indianapolis for the last week of shows. How time flies...

Other stuff:

Our Mongolian athletes and acrobats playing with cymbals...omg...

(photo courtesy Claudia)

I think we've been in this dressing room for too long.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 2nd, 2015 03:15 pm (UTC)
Oh my gosh she is SO CUTE. AHHHHHHH!!!!
Dec. 2nd, 2015 03:23 pm (UTC)
I couldn't even handle it!
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )