| Where Recherche duTemps Perdu
---- meets Kirchliche Dogmatik
This entry is purely personal, just to get me back on track to regular blog posting.
Tuesday (2-28) was a little bit of a special day. When June got up she felt somewhat better than she had in a while, and she suggested that we go to IHOP for lunch, which was definitely fine with me. That would be the first time she'd been out of the house for a while, except for a couple of doctor's appointments. Furthermore, I happened to mention to her on Monday that one of those really tiny circuses was going to be here in Smalltown, USA, (how fitting!) on Tuesday, and she thought it would be a good idea to attend it that evening. She was right. It was a great idea, and we had a great time.
Now, before going any further with the circus and all of its intriguing details, I need to take a second to clarify June's current condition. When I'm talking about her not getting out of the house, that's quite literal. Yesterday, she used her super-duper 3-wheeled walker, complete with brakes on both side handles to navigate around, but on most days she doesn't really even have the energy for that little bit. She went from the house to the truck, from the truck to the restaurant, and then reversed the process. Same thing with the circus. From the house to the auction building of the local 4H fairgrounds and back. But, as minimal as it may have been, at least it was progress and a little sign of hope for improvement (not that her life is in danger, but her physical functionality is hovering somewhere not too far from zero.)
Towards the end of this month, she has appointments coming up with the neurologist and the cardiologist. As it stands, her diagnoses are a serious case of fibromyalgia, accompanied by chronic fatigue and sleep apnea. The appointment with the cardiologist will be the first follow-up to the tests she took way back in December, which may strike you as mismanaged as it does me, and that's all I'm going to say about that matter at the moment. At home, June is usually in her recliner, and I find myself in the role of food fixer, at which I do okay, and cleaner-upper, which is not my strength. It's a point of pride for her to continue to do the laundry, about a load a day, and I'm glad that we go the new washer dryer set a while ago because it's a whole lot easier on anyone's back.
I've been hanging in, of course, but my regular depression has been amplified by the current circumstances. So, I've been in something of a malaise, trying to undertake a few serious things, but finding myself doing stuff that's perhaps not totally insignificant, but doesn't carry a lot of pressure. Specifically, I've been spitting out a lot of answers on Quora. Many of them have had to do with English grammar, which is usually neither horribly controversial nor difficult to deal with. Writing comes easily to me, and intellectually a game of Free Cell or Sudoko is more demanding than explaining subject-verb agreement. I have usually announced my responses on Twitter, but not all of them.
I have not been entirely unproductive in matters of a little greater import. For example, I have reworked the beginnings of my on-line course, Sanskrit 101, and fixed it up so that it is now available to anyone who might be interested in learning that valuable language. So far, it only goes through chapter 4 out of 14 for this first course, but I'm sure I'll be ahead of any students in getting the material up. Please be aware that my next step will be to reduce the introductory verbosity.
Speaking of such things, I've been hoping to do another Sanskrit session at the ISCA conference in Texas at the end of this month, but I haven't publicized it up to now because I'm still not sure that I'll be there. It'll depend on what will develop with June's situation. At the moment, it would be risky to leave her home alone.
Over the last few months I have been able to maintain my weekly StreetJelly show most of the time. There were a couple of Thursday evenings when I just couldn't get myself together, and for a few weeks I was fighting internet issues, but the show has gone on for the most part. In fact, for the last couple of weeks, it's been really fun again.
So, I'm planning on doing my usual show tonight (Thursday). The theme is "All Originals," and it'll probably come to you from the Prancing Pony in the town of Bree at the edge of Mirkwood. June has expressed the need to be somewhere where she can spend a lot of time in the roiling and boiling waters of a jacuzzi, and I readily assented, seeing that I always like to be out there in deep wilderness beyond the walls of Smalltown, USA, our counterpart to the Shire.
So, to return to the circus, I was particularly intrigued by the little flyer I picked up in the drug store on Monday, announcing that the Stardust Circus has one of the few remaining circus elephants. Let me clarify. Prior to announcing that they were shutting down, the Feld Family, heirs to Messrs. Barnum and Bailey, not to mention the seven Ringling Brothers (Alf, Al, Charles, Otto, Gus, Henry, and John),* had been under pressure to retire their elephants. So, I was curious to see what the Stardust Circus would offer in the proboscene department. Well, they had one extra-large African savannah elephant. Prior to the show and during intermission, he provided rides for kids around the small arena. His performance in the program was quite low key, basically swaying (i.e. "dancing") to music. The behaviors such as raising one leg is something that every elephant under human supervision is taught because it makes foot hygiene possible. (And, just in case you're wondering: No, I did not spend 10 dollars to sit on an elephants back for three minutes. I find elephants to be cumbersome and awkward to ride unless you get the good seat right behind his head. I still hope to make it back to Thailand and get a real elephant ride there.)
Admission to the circus was free for children. Of course, the entrepreneurs collected the equivalent amounts easily in elephant rides, plastic toys, light sticks, mouse ears, nachos, drinks, and snow cones, and how in the world can I forget those pink and blue clouds of cotton candy? It's amazing how much money parents wind up spending to keep their children from feeling left out. Not that I blame them, and by "them" I mean both the youngsters and their significant adults.
June and I were sitting on the front plank--"bench" if you want to stretch the term to include planks nailed onto the occasional post. We were probably the only adults there without little ones, but, since I'm still such a child when it comes to circuses and such, I did not feel particularly conspicuous, except for a few brief moments that I'll tell you about shortly. I might mention that I didn't have my camera along, so the few pictures that even came close to useful came from my flip phone.
Come show time, the sales staff turned into the performers. It seemed as though they were all related, hailing from some corner of South-East Europe, which I could not identify any further. The middle-aged, somewhat heavy set, lady who sold the nachos turned into the beautiful Someone (I didn't catch the name), who balanced flowers, dish sets, and swords on her chin while she climbed up and down a ladder. The gentleman who had sold the light sticks performed tricks with spinning tops of various sizes and served as the one and only clown; he was responsible for the moment of conspicuity which I'm saving for a little later in this account.
The most talented of all the show folks was the young man who had sold me a snow cone earlier. He was the center of three performances: 1) juggling clubs, rings, and hats, 2) holding his balance while standing on a stack of boards, each one of which was separated from the one be below it by a rolling can, and 3) doing clever unicycle stunts alongside his brother.
Other than the elephant, the only animal present was a lovely pony who walked a slalom line between traffic cones and raised his forelegs together in salute. I guess one can think of him as a "two-trick pony." Then again, given how close-up everything was in the barn, everybody could see how cute he was, and I think that was the best part about his act for everyone.
As to the clown, he made two appearances. Due to the need to change quickly between activities, he never wore full clown attire. He had on a different shirt, a red hat of uncertain shape, and a very slight amount of clown-like make-up. In his first appearance, he came out with a whistle in his mouth, on which he blew incessantly and got the two halves of the audience, on opposite sides of the small arena, to clap in rhythm with him and each other. Then a girl in her early teens came out with one of those large cardboard fan-like slap sticks, designed for maximum noise and minimum effect, spanked him on his south end, and told him to keep quiet. The plot developed along predictable lines. Neither June nor I thought that the humor rose to its full potential, but the children around us sure loved it.
The second clown act also took place before intermission. He began by tossing potatoes up in the air and catching them with a fairly large two-pronged serving fork, the kind one uses to get a joint of roast beef out of the oven. Having demonstrated his skill, he now handed a potato to someone in the audience who lobbed it at him, and he speared it. He did this for about a dozen times, ranging over the various areas of the bleachers, usually with success. I think I was the third or fourth person, and I must confess that I may have been responsible for his muffing the play. Despite my best effort, I probably did not put enough of an arc into my toss.
A few minutes later, when it appeared that his act was about to come to a close, he trudged back to me. This is the point when I began to feel somewhat conspicuous. Of course, if you know me personally, you know that I don't have a problem with being conspicuous, and that, when it comes to communicating in "clown," I'm pretty fluent in that language. He handed me another potato and backed up a littler farther than the previous time. I felt as though my arm and aim came through for me that time. But no. The vegetable slid right off his fork.
No, wait! I got another chance.
He handed me yet another "potato." I would like to go on record that my throw was perfect that time.
Whoops! What happened now?
The sly clown never even stuck out his fork, but let the potato bonk him on the hat. Everyone laughed, and I watched with amazement as he strode back to me one more time, reached in his pocket, and handed me a little sour-apple flavored sucker. I held it up and doffed my hat as he made his final bow to the applauding crowd.
The message of the sucker was, of course, clear. As David Hannum said in observation of the folks who were shelling out their money to see P. T. Barnum's exhibit of a fake petrified giant, "there's one born every minute." (It is now generally accepted that Barnum was not the originator of that celebrated phrase.)
If I sound as though I'm promoting Circus Stardust, I guess it's pretty close to that, though obviously not for any reciprocal considerations. Which leads me to one final note: The whole show was geared to young children, deserving a G rating. It contained no suggestive matters, nor any foul language. How rare is that nowadays, even for so-called "family entertainment"?
That's it for today. Just some purely personal things that I'm trying to use to get back into the pace of doing my blog regularly.
Next time some reflections on the topic: "Kings and their Wars: Where do You Look for Help?"
*There was also a Ringling Sister, named Ida.