Sunday, June 20, 2021

The Wages Of Being A Dork

 I love fireworks.  I mean I LOVE fireworks. Any and all fireworks, from paper poppers (not a party cracker  but a little tissue paper thingie that you can throw at people to be annoying, and when it hits them there is a tiny little explosion) to military grade reports and everything in between.  Hell, give me a sparkler to run around with and I am a happy bunny ffs.

This is pretty much me right here.

Yesterday was Sumas Community Day, which kicks off a couple of months of rodeos, horse shows, baseball tournaments, greased pig scrambles and mutton busting.  It all begins with a car Show and Shine, and a little community parade which is, frankly, adorable, and consists of decorated tractors and fire engines, vintage farm equipment, people in convertibles and people dressed up as Heaven knows what, or just whole families wandering along waving, come one, come all. 

 Most of the drivers carry huge bags of candy and shower the audience with the stuff if the little kids make that "toot toot" gesture that looks like a power salute.  The drivers will blow their horns, run the sirens, rev the engine, and the kids get bonked in the head with lollipops and everyone loves it.  Fun fact:  more farm equipment than you'd expect have horns!  Like harvesters!  I guess...there are places in the world where this kind of thing is necessary.  And that old steam powered farm equipment will take the shingles off the roof when they cut loose with the steam whistles, man.

In the evening around 10:30 there is a fireworks display in the sports arena.  We here at Rancho FirstNations have the best seat in the house right from our front porch, and I have a nice old park bench set up for sittin' and sippin', and we just 'lax back and watch.

Well, the Biker does.  I stand up and scream like a madwoman after every particularly impressive burst.

I will also shout "SET SOMETHING ON FIRE" when there is too long a lag between displays, and other helpful advice, like "PULL YOUR THUMB OUT!" and my personal favorite "COME ON YA CHEAP BASTARDS, IS THAT IT??"

Now I am not the only person in town by a damn stretch who is doing this, so I don't feel like the Lone Idiot.  This year there were people standing on their roofs, and lots of kids out running around town with sparklers and bottle rockets, and they all had something to say, loudly, as did their parents.  And you can hear the crowd at the sports grounds cheering like Romans watching an elephant eat a Christian.  It's a fantastic time, and yeah, you do feel like a community after all that.  We're still small enough for that, thank God.

This morning I am croaking like a toad.  My voice is shot.  I pride myself on my 'Sustained Yee-Oo! Of Approval', a sound that comes right up from my toes and impresses everyone who hears it with how cool I am and how much they want to be just like me when they grow up.  You can literally hear it all over town, I've been told.  This makes me very proud.  It also makes me talk funny the next day.

This year the City display did not last for the usual 45 minutes.  We had to set up fireworks display donation sites in all the stores, and between that and Covid the city could only afford 15 minutes, and it was bought locally in standard 'Big Display' cartons that you purchase on one of the NA reserves nearby and then smuggle out.  Luckily, the farmers just down the road (and just out of city limits) laid down a couple grand and bought five Big Display cartons, along with a couple of big reports and a 'Special', which is that huge, final, rooty-toot firework that just dazzles and amazes you, and so Christmas was saved!   We got our full 45 minutes, and it was really, really cool.



Our little towns' claims to fame are twofold. 

1. The flavor of our drinking water - this is no lie.  It's actually up on our 'Welcome to Sumas' signs (Voted Best Tasting Water 2000)  although what that standard is and who they're comparing it with, like Flint, Michigan or the bottom of a flooded mine I do not know, but apparently our Mayor thinks this is a big draw.  

2. Our rodeo events and horse shows.  We're part of the amateur rodeo circuit, and so the horse and bull riding is particularly raw.  I've never attended.  The Biker attended once because he knew one of the riders, and he lasted long enough to see the dude get thrown, then split.  Not a big fan of blood sport here at Rancho FirstNations.  Not even the kid events, like mutton busting and greased pig scrambles.  It's just crude amusement at the expense of someone else's (or some animals') discomfort.

I have no idea what the horse events consist of, because I am uninterested in horses.  I am in the minority.  The whole town turns out for them, and people come in from all over the map to compete in, I don't know, dressage or roping or whatever the hell you do.  Maybe they dress them in costumes or something.  Maybe it's a Ponyplay event.  If so, my decision to stay home is particularly sound, because ew.

All during those events the town is inundated with tall, thin old men with serious spinal issues, wearing checkered shirts with pearl snap buttons, belt buckles the size of salad plates, Wranglers, and cowboy hats.  Their wives are either vast, fat things with legs wrapped in ace bandages, or sunburnt twists of pepperoni, and really repping for their 'All country all the time' thing with red-check shirts, red bandanas,  ponytails and high-heeled cowboy boots - it's a thing that's hard to describe to a non-American. Think of it as the highly feminized version of what their husbands are wearing, and add a gold crucifix necklace.  

       Imagine this lady, only she's sixty, super suntanned, and that dress covers her knees.

No matter what they're dressed like, they spend money like crazy, and everyone benefits.  They all stay in immense travel busses on the grounds and they do whatever they do.  

Come nightfall, the ladies all settle in with the Bible, or maybe 50 Shades of Grey, and their husbands come into town and just chuck down the booze at the local (outdoors-mountain-hunting themed) bar like they'll never make booze again.  And those old tore up cowpokes get to partying some hard out in the beer garden, too.  They don't drink no Ketel One or Blue Agave or cinnamon flavored Jack - they drink Man Booze.  The Famous Grouse.  Canadian Club. Johnny Walker. I mean damn, do they drink that shit.  And then they'll walk on back to the grounds, right down the middle of the street, playing up, and that's how it goes for a couple of weeks.  It is a real, 21st century rootin' tootin' sure nuff Old West Town.  No matter the fact it was founded on gold and not cows - it roots, and it toots, and guns are fired, and rotgut is consumed, and the womenfolk hold down the homestead.

And I do garden tours!


ProximaBlue said...

That sounds like how I would describe Omak. So not too different from their except not as hot and dry. My current dog hates fireworks. We have to drug her its so bad. Our previous dog loved them! I'd never seen a dog like firecrackers as much as she did! She would watch out the window, her eyes bright and her tail wagging every time one started up from the guy across the street.

Mistress Maddie said...

You had me at sittin' and sippin' toots! I love it and I love sparklers too.

Now that you mentioned has me thinking of the cowboys and bucky's there. I should come for a visit. I wouldn't mind meeting some of those rodeo folk...those men are sexy....and I ride fricking side saddle girl! Yippppppppppeeeeeeeeeeee!

Jon said...

"Greased pig scrambles and mutton busting"? You folks certainly know how to live..! Jx

Steve. Because 'Steve' is almost as nice a name as 'Paul'. said...

Melanie Reynolds: It IS a lot like Omak! It's the same size and has the same feel, only not as remote. And there's rain. Do they still do the 'Stampede' event there? Talk about blood sport. We were motorcycle touring years ago during Stampede week and the conversations we overheard in all the places we visited was like "It was so gnarly! He broke his pelvis in four places, man!" like this was the most fantastic thing ever. We were kinda creeped out.

Steve. Because 'Steve' is almost as nice a name as 'Paul'. said...

Mistress Maddie: All your dreams would come true here, baby! The guys that compete are young and hungry and hard as fuck. I think you'd come through like a hot desert wind and feet them off their sweep! Now you do know that there is such a thing as The Gay Rodeo, right? Here's a link:
The Texas Gay Rodeo is supposed to be the most badass, from what my little birdies tell me.

Steve. Because 'Steve' is almost as nice a name as 'Paul'. said...

Jon: Those are kids events. Mutton Busting is sending some poor little grade-school kid out with a lasso after a really bitchy sheep to take it down and calf-rope the poor wooly fuck in a certain amount of time. Greased Pig Scrambles are when you have a piglet and you cover that sucker with a goodly amount of lard, and then cut it loose in the ring along with a whole crowd of little kids who have to catch and pin the pig for a ten count to win...something. A scholarship to Harvard. I don't know. All I know is that it traumatizes the pig and a lot of the little kids. This shit needs to go by the ways as far as I'm concerned.

Z said...

The town firework display used to be set off at the bottom of our garden. It was over the river from the park, where paying punters had the best view. We had second best, so my parents always had a massive party that night. So yes, I love fireworks too. The other exciting bit was the Burning of the Golden Galleon. I was told they took the scruffiest boat on the river and set fire to it and I spent my childhood worrying that they'd pick ours. I was lied to, of course.

We also had the best water, from our own well. Immensely deep artesian well (I can't remember the depth, too late to ask my ma) and it was pure and lovely. The only water that's ever come close was in Dehra Dun, in the foothills of the Himalayas. That was so good that I threw caution to the winds and drank it, rather than bottled water that I drank everywhere else in India.

ProximaBlue said...

Yes, it was canceled last year but I saw something recently that the stampede would be back on this year. I have friends that grew up on the Spokane rez that loved to go every year. I don't know who started the stampede or if it has any cultural significance only that it's a popular event among Indigenous and Hispanic Americans. I used to love going to Powwows with my friends when we were growing up. It was easy to take the bus down to the Spokane powwow when it was at Riverfront park for many years.

Steve. Because 'Steve' is almost as nice a name as 'Paul'. said...

Z: The little town I grew up in also had the reputation as having the best tasting water in the tri-county area. Turns out? That was due to an unusually high arsenic level. Made it taste nice and sweet. God only knows what's been laid down in my bones from that shit. And the very sound of a 'Burning of the Golden Galleon' makes me yearn for the wherever that shit happens, because it sounds OUTSTANDING!

Steve. Because 'Steve' is almost as nice a name as 'Paul'. said...

Melanie: As I recall there was some pioneer - way back when significance associated with the Omak Stampede. My grandparents were yearly attendants - they would go up to the Dalles and watch the dipnetters, grab some salmon, hit Bagby Hot Springs and take the waters, and end it with the Stampede. Those were different times, and people didn't seem to mind the toll taken on the horses or the people involved. Here I am, Native American, and I'm divorced from all that stuff, so I can't cast judgement. I can say that when we visited Omak and went to the Mexican restaurants, I saw my first Breyer models of riding Bulls. And was very impressed with the reknowned Breyer attention to detail, and the...danglage. *ahem*. Every restaurant had a shelf running around the room full of Breyer Bull Figures, and they were...mighty. And mighty distracting, to tell the truth!