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It only takes an hour to drive to Ft Worth, but of course it takes the train much longer! The train was in three cuts and had to be reassembled, plus we probably had to avoid commuter rails. Jameson and I stayed in Dallas overnight. In the morning we went to Seasons 52 for lunch. We both got salmon; he treated himself to a wild salmon filet with snap peas and some delicious-looking corn side/thing, while I had sesame salmon salad. Seasons 52 is basically guaranteed to be good!

After our meal we went to a large Half Price Books to kill time. Jameson found some music books, and I found a 1919 National Geographic! I've got this weird obsession with old magazines...I find it fascinating that things I take for granted, like toothpaste and wall paint, were new and exciting back in the day. This old magazine also had an article on Korea (as in Whole Unified Korea) that included a map...an incredibly empty map that claimed to be  incredibly detailed, haha. In the article, the caucasian writer describes the locals' fascination with his blue eyes to the point where they question his ability to see (he proves that he has good vision by shooting a dog from several yards away, which the locals promptly cook for dinner). Later on the writer is invited on a random tiger hunt that ensues when some farmers spot two tigers on a mountain from a distance. Amazing how much has changed in the last century.

Then it was back to the mall to see Sausage Party! Um...gosh, there's no good way to describe this movie. If you can tolerate dirty humor, I mean REALLY dirty, and a lot of drug references, then you'll like it! There were definitely a lot of funny parts, but I found myself blushing more often than not. Scandalous!

After the movie it was finally time for the snack we'd been looking forward to all week...Howdy Homemade ice cream!! This is a unique store in Dallas that serves ice cream made right there in the shop. Howdy Homemade employs adults with special needs, and they run the whole operation from churning each flavor to serving guests and running the register. Andy was at the counter that day, and along with a barrage of amazing ice cream samples (that I could have just stood there eating all day haha) he made us laugh with some one-liners. I hope he's a comedian on the side because his jokes and the speed at which he dealt them out was amazing! :D

There were SO many fantastic flavors to choose from! "Classic" flavors like strawberry and chocolate, more unique flavors like mango and cookie monster, and some downright bizarre flavors like hot tomale and avocado! Andy let us try many different kinds. The avocado was strange, but surprisingly good! The cheesecake was AMAZING. If I ever get to come here again I'll be getting that flavor! This time we settled on Howdy Homemade's most popular creation: chocolate chip Dr. Pepper ice cream. It was fantastic!!!

If I weren't lactose intolerant I'd have eaten a gallon. Jameson got his in a Dr. Pepper float (because if you're gonna do it, do it all the way) and I got a second scoop of carrot cake ice cream, which tasted exactly like carrot cake complete with chunks of carrot, and reminded me of autumn. Maybe the best part about this whole experience was eating our treats with golden spoons :) Thank you Howdy Homemade...we'll be back!!!

After our treat we fought rush hour traffic to reach Ft Worth. Since the train wasn't quite spotted we decided to put in our time at the gym, and wouldn't you know it, right when we finished the train was ready for us! We grabbed some groceries and went home.

Then it was two blissful days of NOTHING. On Tuesday we went to the gym, and afterward I spent much of the day working on a letter opposing an anti-circus ban being discussed in New Jersey. Like I've said, I don't want to polarize this blog, but this is how I spent my day so you'll have to hear about it :P I sent my letter to every single council member in the city considering the ban. If any of them actually read it I'd be surprised. If even one of them did, and took it seriously, then it was worth it.

The next day we went to the gym again, then went to the train to rest. I cooked and cleaned to prepare for the week. Around 5:30 we got a little dressed up for a fancy dinner! Two years ago in this city, I accidentally took us to a very nice steakhouse called Del Frisco's (there are two restaurants here with the same name; one is casual and one is not. Whoops.) Despite the fact that we were shoddily dressed, we received excellent service and THE best steak I've ever had...so we decided on an intentional meal here.

And it was just as good as last time! They had a "restaurant week" special going on, where you pay a fixed price for a salad, entree, and dessert. We both got the filet mignon (Jameson added bleu cheese, eew) and enjoyed cheesecake and chocolate mousse for dessert. It was way too dim for photos, plus in such a fine establishment I think it would have been frowned upon to take them! So I refrained ;) Trust me, the steak was AMAZING. Life is short...once in a while, it's a fine thing to indulge.

Opening day went well. We found out that there would be a Yeshiva show in Bridgeport, CT in a few months, so from now on rehearsals will feature a few changes to prepare for that. I've done one Yeshiva show before, in Brooklyn, and it was a fun experience. This time I'll miss it because I'll be out of town for my sister's wedding. Kind of convenient, as ladies aren't supposed to be performing in the Yeshiva show anyway! Here's a short clip of rehearsal. Notice how it's an all-boy cast. This is one of the requirements for this type of show.

Over the next several days, it rained. And rained and rained and rained. I don't think there was one sunny day for our entire stay.

Saturday was pretty normal, although Jameson woke up to a leak in his ceiling. His light was full of water!! We were both tired, and I have to admit I was in a bit of a sour mood that day. But when I went onto the bandstand for the first show, there was a present waiting for me...a copy of an article published by Windjammers Unlimited, featuring the Red Unit band! A few months ago, we had circus fan Andy Bell as a guest on the bandstand, where he took photos and asked lots of great questions regarding the music and the show. He described his experience to a member of Windjammers, and they decided to print an article detailing our work on the bandstand. How awesome is that! I met the editor of the article (who was sitting in the audience), and we got to chat a bit about circus music. Thanks so much Andy for writing the article! If I can find it online or scan it, I'll post it to this blog :)

During one of the breaks on Saturday, I dropped by the animal open house. I arrived just a few minutes after the doors opened, and was surprised at how many people were already lining up to see the animals! I must have had good timing that day...right as I walked in people were cooing over the tigers, who were playfully chasing a mop.

It was very crowded near the tiger run, so I stepped away to make room for guests. Luigi the goat was posing nicely so I snapped a quick pic of his handsome self :)

The camel barn was a little less congested, so I watched this guy (is it Cody? I'm not sure) getting some serious enjoyment out of a fresh cut of bamboo.

While there I chatted a bit with one of our camel handlers and our current vet tech, Stacey. I found out that our oldest python, Diva, had passed away recently. Her body was sent for necropsy and lab testing, and while the lab testing will take about a week to bear results, the necropsy came back negative. It's quite possible that she died a natural death, as the lifespan of these snakes is 15-20 years and she was somewhere between 14-15 years old. Still, it was unexpected and sad for everyone who spent time with this lovely, sweet-tempered reptile. We love and miss you, Diva. <3

Sunday was a rare one-show day, and the show was at 3pm! Jameson and I woke up a little early to hit the gym so we wouldn't have to do it later, then after a quick lunch at the train we went to the arena to perform our last show in Ft Worth. It's been a very nice week in one of the nicest cities in Texas. We've had great crowds all week. Thank you!!

Since the train will be late getting into Austin (big surprise :P) Jameson and I decided to stay in Ft Worth for the night. We found a new kinda hipster ramen place near our hotel and decided to give it a try. We weren't disappointed! Oni Ramen's menu features traditional Japanese ramen and unique Oni-style twists. We both went traditional; Jameson got the Shoyu (soy-based) Tonkotsu ramen. It came with pork belly, bean sprouts, bamboo shoots (they were out of these so he substituted greens), and naruto fish cakes. He also added woodear mushroom.

I went with Shio (salt-based) Tonkotsu with pork belly, bean sprouts, bamboo shoots (I also substituted greens), and shredded leeks. I added a soy-marinated egg (if you've never had one of these, they're AMAZING) and black garlic oil. It was extremely delicious! I'd never had black garlic oil with my ramen before, and it added a fantastic charred taste to everything. And the pork belly was SO good, something about it was very nostalgic for me. Can't wait to eat here again! This is a very new place, so be sure to stop by and give them your business if you're in Ft Worth!

After our meal we chilled at the hotel. Tomorrow we're visiting the Ft Worth Zoo where we'll hopefully get to spend time with our dear friend Jessi (former Ringling Vet Tech!). Next up, Austin!

Other stuff:

Just a circus kid, being amazing :)

(photo courtesy Alex E.)

Throughout the week I thought I heard squeaking noises in the parking garage near the arena. One day I decided to check it out. Turns out there's a colony of bats living here!! How cute!!

...Again, I try not to post stuff like this too often. But this week it was a big part of my life. HERE is an article from Sandi Bachom, a filmaker, author, and journalist who has followed the conflict between animal lovers and the animal rights movement for years. Sandi is not just some hack (like me). She has put herself in physical danger in order to document the tactics of animal rights activists. Even if you choose not to read her words, her YouTube channel is worth a look. That's dedication, folks.

And right before I finalized this post, a carriage horse driver posted this beautiful photo along with a very heartfelt paragraph. Whatever your views on animal welfare/rights may be, let's remember that we are all human beings who deserve benefit of the doubt before accusations start flying. The more we seek out common ground, the more animals benefit from our openmindedness.

(photo courtesy Brittanny B.)

"To the woman who called me an animal abuser:

"You probably couldn't see the sweat dripping down my face this morning as you jogged by and muttered "animal abuser" loud enough that you knew I'd hear. You couldn't see the callouses on my hands. You won't ever witness the blood and tears that go into the profession that I have fallen in love with. And sadly, you're too blind to observe the connection between myself and the horses that I give my life to.

"It's nothing new, you know. You're not the first to insult me or loudly express your pity for the "poor horses" with out asking questions. Working in the Charleston Carriage Industry, I've chosen to except the ignorance of others and to be one of the lucky few in this world who has a job that I truly love. But, there was something about your facial expression, one of absolute disgust, that made me want to chase you down the street and ask you to come in and look around. I wanted you to see how healthy the horses that I care for are. I wanted to show you our logs so that you could see with your own eyes that our horses are never too hot. But most of all, I wanted you to see the passion that goes into this line work. Instead of chasing you down, I just stood there for a moment and felt badly for you. I felt bad knowing that you probably would never see just how much myself, and the others that work with these horses truly love them. I felt bad because you're too caught up in the next big controversy to see the obvious connection between the human and a working horse. But, the thing I pity you most for is knowing that you will never know just how rewarding working with animals can be. How therapeutic it is for the human mind to know that trust can be found within the heart of an animal.

"So, to the woman who called me an animal abuser....I don't want to change your mind. I don't care that you can't see the blood, sweat, and tears that I put into these horses. I won't lose sleep knowing that you are unaware of the time spent loving and caring for these horses. I just hope that next time you're jogging by that instead of muttering an insult based on nothing but lies and propaganda that you will decide to stop the person that you see and ask to take a look around because chances are, whoever it is you stop will show you just how much everyone in this industry loves and cares for the horses."


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 22nd, 2016 12:46 pm (UTC)
I found a 1919 National Geographic! I've got this weird obsession with old magazines...

Me too! I love looking back at what was the norm back then and marveling at just how far we have come in 100 years. I think about my Grandparents, who as children, did not have telephone or TV or gas powered cars. My grandmother never learned to drive a car. This is all stuff we take for granted these days.

I went to a local flea market this past spring and found a topographical map of my town from 20 years before my house was even built. I paid $1. for it. It is in perfect condition, no tears, not even discolored, it had been rolled so no creases either. I had it professionally framed, and it now hangs in my front hall.

I had a stack of Victorian fashion magazines that I had collected over the years. They dated from 1870 to 1920, I donated them to a Victorian costume museum last year. I figured I wasn't doing anything with them, and maybe someone else could enjoy them.

Stuff like that is just so cool.

PS. Thanks for the stuff about the animals. Remember, it's your blog, you can post whatever you like, if people don't like reading about it, they don't have to follow you. And if anyone gives you grief about it, pity them, for they have nothing better to do with their time than bully people anonymously on the internet.

Edited at 2016-08-22 12:47 pm (UTC)
Aug. 23rd, 2016 04:18 pm (UTC)
You're right and it's not compassion, it's "virtue signaling"; a compassionate person would not treat other people (who are also alive & breathing) that way, but a person trying to be sanctimonious -- desperately trying to feel superior -- would.

We are in a scary time of public opinion steering the ship (versus the facts -- or logic -- as they are presented here); it seems easy to turn people against one another lately. The old phrase, "Don't judge a book by its cover" or "...until you walk a mile in another man's moccasins" seems to be fading away despite how true they are.

Edited at 2016-08-23 04:19 pm (UTC)
Aug. 23rd, 2016 07:32 pm (UTC)
@theidolhands Yeah. You're right. I still feel just so shocked sometimes, when encountering activists online or when I see them in person. It's still unbelievable to me that people would attack first like that and ask questions later. And I find it astounding that legislation against circuses is considered a good thing, when all most animal rights-based laws do is put the circus animals in jeopardy...and weren't the animal rights folks supposed to be HELPING the animals?

But no one cares. It's all about money and how much power you can get from the backing of private interest groups. So I hope no one is surprised 10-20 years from now when circuses are banned and all of our animals end up like Mexico's. That is to say, dead. https://panampost.com/elena-toledo/2016/07/29/mexicos-circus-animals-are-going-extinct/

I do not want to see these animals dead, so bottom line, I'm not going to shut up about this subject. :P

Edited at 2016-08-23 07:33 pm (UTC)
Aug. 23rd, 2016 07:26 pm (UTC)
@donnad I'm glad I'm not the only one! It's pretty fascinating. But I guess people will look back one day at our lifetime and think, "Wow, those people were there for the dawn of the internet and it was such a big deal for them" haha.

I would LOVE to find such a map of my hometown! I imagine there are some at our town courthouse, in the archives maybe. Hmm!

True, thanks. No one has given me grief, it's just that I understand that the majority of people who read this blog want to "run away with the circus" and don't want that experience to be imposed on by my personal views on animal rights. But it is a part of my life and some of the activities that I do, and it strongly affects those around me, so it's going to get a mention once in a while. So, that's why I get apologetic about it...but you're right, I shouldn't.

Edited at 2016-08-23 07:33 pm (UTC)
Aug. 23rd, 2016 04:12 pm (UTC)
I have a dirty sense of humor and even the adverts for SP made me ill.

You and "Jameson" should consider getting married, you get along quite well from all these posts that I've read.

Another great post btw and it was endearing to see a genuine mourning for the snake as well as enthusiasm for bats!

Edited at 2016-08-23 04:22 pm (UTC)
Aug. 23rd, 2016 07:38 pm (UTC)
Lol! Yeah...I don't recommend it really :P

Thanks! We have actually considered it, but we both agree that that discussion should happen when we're leaving the road (unless we end up working here forever). In the meantime we enjoy each other's company :)

Yeah, Diva was much loved. I took pictures of her just a few weeks ago in Houston and people from years ago were excited to see the photos of her. It was very sad. That's the problem with show animals, they interact with a lot of people, so even if you're not her owner you can come to feel an attachment and some protectiveness. Ah well.

Bats are cute!!
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )