These kids ran away with the circus…

I’m so proud of the first class of students of Camp Carnival RVA! This was the first circus arts camp of its kind ever in the state of Virginia. Every day for two weeks, these kids got to “run away” from home and join a variety of instructors who taught them the ins and outs of circus skills. Don’t worry, their parents/guardians dropped them off and picked them up at the end of each day.

One day, I was driving to the arts camp with my family in the car. Our six-year old asked, “Where are we going, Daddy?”

I said, “To my workshop.”

She said, “Where you build things?”

Then my wife chimed in and said, “Yes, where Daddy builds jugglers!”

I love Sarah’s answer. Myself and several other circus arts instructors had the privilege of building young circus artists. What a joy to share our passions with the younger generation and see the future of variety arts innovating and flourishing.

Here in Richmond, Virginia, there happens to be a large enough contingency of variety artists to sustain a camp like this. Heidi Rugg from Barefoot Puppets taught puppetry. Heather Bailey of Host of Sparrows Aerial Circus taught silks and aerial. Seasoned clown performer Christopher Hudert taught clowning. Natalie Kane of Circular Expressions led the students in hooping. And yours truly got to teach juggling and diabolo workshops. The day camp consisted of classes in the various arts and culminated with a demonstration of skills for the parents on the final day of camp.

Enjoy some pics of camp!

Vintage Richmond in the Public Domain

I love Richmond, VA history. I especially love finding old photos showing the way things used to be in this lovely east coast city. Some things have changed dramatically and some things have stayed mostly the same.

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I just found out from smithsonian.com that the New York City Library recently made nearly 200,000 photographs, documents, posters, and sheet music digitally available for public use. We can easily search the collection and quickly download the articles. There is a box you can check when you search to search only public domain articles, which means you can use those images for whatever use you like. Click here for the entry site to search anything. Click here for the Richmond, VA stuff I found.

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Both buildings are now gone, but used to be at 14th and Franklin. The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Print Collection, The New York Public Library. “Exchange Hotel and Ballard House, Richmond, Va.” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1875. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47d9-7d83-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99
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Another look at the Ballard House and Exchange Hotel

Many of these images have already been online, but this site makes it easy to search for and download what you’re looking for. I found duplicates of some files over on the Library of Congress site, but there could potentially be some previously “undiscovered” or little known digital images in this treasure trove. If you’re familiar with historical photos of Richmond, VA, I’d be curious to know if you see anything new in the New York Library collection when you search “Richmond, VA.” Try searching other related phrases too (like “Richmond”, “Richmond, Virginia”, “Church Hill”, etc). I’ve certainly found a lot of fun ones that I’ve never seen before.

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Elizabeth Van Lew, the Union spy who lived in Church Hill (at the current location of Bellevue Elementary School) is seated on the right. Manuscripts and Archives Division, The New York Public Library. “Elizabeth Van Lew with her nieces, brother John, and servant on main mansion grounds.” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1862 – 1901. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47e1-4433-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99
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The Libby Hill prison
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View of the James River and Richmond, VA.
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View from Gambles Hill Park (up the hill from Tredegar Iron Works and near the current site of the Richmond Folk Festival). You can see the Christopher Newport Cross in the distance, which is now located on the Canal walk down the hill and east a bit.
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A very overgrown grassy St. John’s Church stereograph
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View from Libby Hill Park

Can you find any new pics that you haven’t seen before? Who loves RVA history?!

The National Gallery of Art

IMG_2403529px-Woman-with-a-balance-by-VermeerIt’s a shame that we have lived in Richmond, VA for the past six years and it was only a few weeks ago that we took our first trip to the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. Just 110 miles away, this treasure of a museum has got to be one of the greatest collection of things common to the people of America (and the world, for that matter – they don’t check your citizenship at the door). It is free and open to the public.

My vocation as a traveling speaker/juggler is busiest in the Spring, Summer, and Fall. But the months of November through January slow down for me (of which I am thankful). These are our family “summer” months, if you will. So my first free Saturday of this period (just a few weeks ago) was a perfect time for a family day trip to D.C.

Usually traffic is real bad between Richmond and D.C., but we sailed the entire way to near downtown D.C. We found free parking at a park that is a short walk from the National Mall (East Potomac Park/Hains Point).

We walked through the main building of the Smithsonian on the way to the National Gallery of Art. Kezzie liked seeing the “princess castle.”

Then we made our way to the Gallery of Art. They have works by Picasso, Rembrandt, Monet, Cassatt, Raphael, Vermeer, Botticelli, Van Gogh, Titian, and many more. I loved many of the landscapes and Biblical art. My favorite was Vermeer’s Woman Holding a Balance. The light coming through the window, the Mary-like figure staring at a balance, and the painting of the Last Judgement of Christ behind her on the wall – it all makes for tremendous art.

Here are some pics (and art) from the trip:

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Joyn the Journey

IMG_1606This is a shameless plug for my wife’s blog (Sarah Joyner). She just updated the blog with some summer pics and a list of Kezzie’s favorite things. Enjoy!

http://joynerjourney.blogspot.com/2013/09/here-it-is-month-our-family-waits-for.html

The Comfortable Funky Tree




Sarah and I found this tree at a quiet park south of Richmond and near the centuries-old “Citie of Henricus”. I wonder how many people have stopped to enjoy the hammock feeling of this unique natural wonder.

Christmas with Carolyn






Sarah’s Mom, Carolyn, visited us all the way from Denver, CO. We had a great time walking the streets of Richmond, VA and taking a few pictures along the way. Sarah and I have lived here for 2 years and pass some of these tourist sites all the time. It takes an out of town visitor coming to get us to stop and see the great sites that are right in front of us everyday! We have pictures of the Old City Hall (in classic Gothic architecture), Sarah and Carolyn at Cafe Keturra, and Jesse and Sarah in front of the Virginia State Capitol building.

Spiritual Shots in Richmond

Last night, Sarah and I went to Bottoms Up Pizza in the Shockhoe Slip area of downtown Richmond for something called “Spiritual Shots.” It is a forum for people to discuss matters of faith in a bar setting. Run by a Christian organization, Spiritual Shots features interesting topics each month such as “Suffering”, “Sex”, “Hell”, “Science and the Bible”, etc. The speaker is a local pastor (there are two that usually rotate back and forth) and they get 30 minutes at the mic with the topic. Then, the floor is completely open to questions, challenges, debating, and dialogue. Though many Christians come, there are also people who are not Christians and I’ll just say that sometimes, the discussions get pretty lively. Meanwhile, everyone is treated to complimentary pizza and water (you can purchase drinks and food for yourself at the bar beyond the complimentary stuff). If someone feels uncomfortable asking a question in front of everyone, then they can jot it down on cards provided and turn it in at the end. The speaker will then follow up with those questions via e-mail. The topic last night was about suffering. The issue discussed was the atheist claim that so much injustice and violence has been done in the name of religion. Instead of writing about it here, I’ll let you listen yourself. You can hear some of the messages (not the Q/A afterwards, unfortunately) at the following website: http://www.spiritualshots.com/spiritual_shots.html#audio

Joggling the Richmond Half-Marathon

Let me start with a confession. I do not run much. I signed up for this half-marathon as a spontaneous, last minute whim because my wife was doing the full and I was tired of watching people do half-marathons and thinking (“I could do that”). So, without any training or stretching (except the biking that I often do), I got up and ran 13.1 miles. Or rather, slowly jogged. And yes, I was able to juggle the whole time (with a few drops – let me explain)….

This was my first half and the furthest I have ever joggled (or even ran, for that matter). I made it all the way to just shy of the 11-mile marker without a drop (nor did I stop for water, bathroom, or to walk). Then it all fell apart. I dropped about 4 times in miles 11 and 12 because I started to walk a little and got my cadence off. I realized that walking and juggling is harder than joggling (for me at least). There is not a consistent rhythm. It was also hard to get back to running and juggling after having walked. Nonetheless, I picked up and kept going after the four drops and I finished strong with a jog and a run for the last half-mile. Finished in 2:33. My goal was 2:30. Had a great time. Sarah and I are enjoying limping around the house and neighborhood.

I must also make another confession – I love the attention and cheering I get for being a joggler. I do not know if I could do these races without joggling (or without some sort of batman suit or tutu). I love the rush of hearing all those bystanders cheer for “the juggler” (or even the remarks from other runners – which range from praise to jealousy). The cheering sends chills through me and it gives me enough boosts to make it through the race successfully.

What a day. I think I could do this again.