Sunday, July 31, 2005

Pirates And Indians And Dancing, Oh My!

Fun weekend, this. We actually got out and did things for a change. Saturday was the 6th birthday party for a friend of N.'s, which had a pirate theme and was held in the recreation center of the city historical house/aquatic pavilion/farm/park complex. A very nice place that we could tell was custom-made for expensive weddings. The kid's mom had handed out these cutesy party invitations on the last day of school back in June. Each invitation was printed on aged-looking parchement paper in gothic text with cute pirate-y wording, then rolled up, tied with a gold cord and placed in a small bottle with a few seashells, some blue sand and corked shut. Very fancy for a 6 year old's party, and the kid's mom handed out about 50 of the things. N. was looking forward to this party, so we said we'd go.

Well, the day of the party we went to the place at the stated time (1-5PM was the time frame) and got there about ten minutes after one. We were the first ones to arrive, so we helped set up and chatted with the parents while the kids played. The parents and the kids were dressed in pirate gear, pirate decorations, a pirate ship cake...very well done and fun. About two hours later only one other couple + kid had showed, and we were feeling VERY sorry for the family that had obviously spent a good deal of money and planning on this party. Yet the kids were having a blast, running around having balloon swordfights courtesy of the dad who was making balloon animals and swords, bless his heart. Finally around 3:30 more people showed up until most of the 20 or so tables were taken. They had a quick scavenger hunt, played several games and had each kid make their own bandana using pirate stencils and fabric markers. The only flaw was that whether planned or unplanned, the reservation time on the building ran out before the kid could open his gifts. Parents, take note--ALWAYS leave plenty of time for the poor birthday kid to open his presents, which for the birthday child and the guests is the highlight of the day! At any rate, N. loved it and had a great time.

Today was fun, too--we went to the Southern California Indian Center Pow Wow, which this year was held at the Pomona Fairgrounds in one of the huge, air-conditioned buildings! Yay for a/c! Usually they have the pow wow the last weekend in August, outdoors, with little to no shade. Pow wows include LOTS of lengthy dancing in heavy regalia. Not good in summer. Today we got to sit and watch a fair amount of the dancing, which had N. VERY entralled. Many louds drums, chanting and fancy regalia. All the people there were smiling, laid back and taking the time to enjoy.

She also loved the booths with the natural animal bits and pieces--skins, bones, teeth, etc.--that Indians use in their decorations, drums, flutes, regalia, etc. We pointed out the different animal skulls (possum have REALLY impressive teeth, by the way), bones and hides. We were pleased that N. handled the materials carefully and showed the animals the respect due. We also got to indulge in one of the greatest meals ever, Navajo tacos. That's a nice chunk of Indian fry bread topped with refried beans, ground beef, lettuce, tomatoes and cheese. Impossible to eat neatly, but then everyone ELSE is covered in it too, so heck, who cares if you've got refried beans decorating your entire left leg. Loads of very cool drums, flutes, dreamcatchers, handbeaded jewelry and too much other cool stuff to list. The dancers outfits, or regalia (it's not Halloween, NEVER call it a 'costume') were incredibley ornate, and I noticed that after all that heavy duty dancing not a feather, bead or bit of anything from the dancer's outfits were on the floor. That's what comes of handsewing everything on your outfit yourself. We got N. a story book on rabbit the trickster since she loves bunnies, plus a desert animal sticker book, a couple of handmade beaded bracelets for her and I and some decorations to hang on our Ren Faire costumes--rolled tin jingles (technically for a Jingle Dress) and some lovely white carved bone feathers. N. kept staring at the people in their regalia and grinning like she was seeing movie stars. As we were leaving, she asked me if she could say hello to one of them, a teenage girl in a beautiful purple Shawl Dancer dress. The girl was very nice and spoke for a minute to N., who for ONCE (Hallelujah!) did NOT have to explain her Cherokee name, spell it, repeat it 5 times or correct people who insist on calling her 'Naomi', which is NOT her name. N. gave her a hug as the puzzled but smiling teenager looked over her shoulder at me. I just smiled back, shrugged, and told her, "She just really enjoyed the day and wanted to thank someone!" All the way out N. kept saying, "I LOVE Indians!" Which gave passersby a grin.

Best Tshirt of the day, among many: Front--"Got land?" Back--"Thank an Indian". Problem is, now N. wants a Jingle Dress and to learn traditional Indian dances. The dress I can manage to make no problem, but finding someone around here to teach the dancing I'm SURE will be a pain. Should be fun, though!

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