Boondoggle

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Some days I make hemp necklaces while sitting in the parking lot. On weekday afternoons, it’s usually slow enough to get some work done between collecting parking fees from the drivers of cars that pull in. By the number of comments I receive, my handicraft is at least as interesting as the trees.

One day, several people (including my boss) thought the bright blue and red hemp I was working with was wire, even though the hemp cord’s not nearly as stiff as wire.

One old woman must not have believed me when I said it wasn’t wire because she reached out to touch it. She didn’t ask permission, just reached out. I drew the cord closer and closer to my body, and she just kept reaching. I suspect if I had lain the cord across my bosom, she would have gone ahead and felt me up in the process of fingering my materials.

Oh! I exclaimed. You’re just going to touch it?!(My implication was not You only want to touch it? but You’re just going to touch it whether I want you to or not!)

Yes! she said, and she did!

I was in a state of disbelief, and my slow brain couldn’t even get it together to say, Back off! or Don’t touch me! or Excuse me? or simply No! This stranger thought it was ok to touch my things, things sitting in my lap. Not ok, lady! Not ok!

But she did it. She reached out and touched my hemp cord. I don’t think she even know her behavior was offensive.

The big question when people see me working on a craft project is, What are you making?

A flat answer of a necklace is meant to discourage conversation. I can’t sell the necklaces in the parking lot, so I don’t much want to talk about them.

Another old lady saw me working and said, Boondoggle!

What? I asked. I was really confused. I thought boondoggle was related to snafu. My hemp wasn’t in a knotted mess. Everything seemed ok.

That’s what it’s called, the old lady said to me.

It’s macramé, I told her.

Same thing, she said and wandered off. (At least she didn’t touch me.)

I looked up the definition of boondoggle. This is what I found, according to http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/boondoggle:

Simple Definition of boondoggle

  • : an expensive and wasteful project usually paid for with public money

    Full Definition of boondoggle

    1. 1 :  a braided cord worn by Boy Scouts as a neckerchief slide, hatband, or ornament

    2. 2 :  a wasteful or impractical project or activity often involving graft

      Did You Know?

      When “boondoggle” popped up in the pages of the New York Times in 1935, lots of people tried to explain where the word came from. One theory traced it to an Ozarkian word for “gadget,” while another related it to the Tagalog word that gave us “boondocks.” Another hypothesis suggested that “boondoggle” came from the name of leather toys Daniel Boone supposedly made for his dog. But the only theory that is supported by evidence is much simpler. In the 1920s, Robert Link, a scoutmaster for the Boy Scouts of America, apparently coined the word to name the braided leather cords made and worn by scouts. The word came to prominence when such a scout boondoggle was presented to the Prince of Wales at the 1929 World Jamboree, and it’s been with us ever since.

The woman was a bit confused. I wasn’t braiding. I wasn’t working with leather. I wasn’t a Boy Scout. But I don’t think she was implying my project was wasteful or impractical, so I’ve decided not to be mad at her.

  • The 16 inch necklace on the left is made from black and green hemp and has a simple pendent I made. The stone is serpentine, which is believed to help one feel more in control of one's spiritual life and the aid meditation. It costs $16, including postage. The necklace in the middle is 20 inches long and made from black and purple hemp. The stone is amethyst, which is believed to support sobriety; guard against panic attacks; and dispels anger, rage, fear, and anxiety. It costs $18, including postage. The necklace on the right is 20 inches long and made from brown and black hemp. The pendant and the accent stones are carnelian which is believed to stimulate creativity, calm anger, promote positive life choices and remove fear of death. This necklace costs $16, including postage costs.

    I took this photo showing some of the “boondoggles” I’ve made. All are for sale. The 16 inch necklace on the left is made from black and green hemp and has a simple pendent I made. The stone is serpentine, which is believed to help one feel more in control of one’s spiritual life and to aid meditation. It costs $16, including postage. The necklace in the middle is 20 inches long and made from black and purple hemp. The stone is amethyst, which is believed to support sobriety; guard against panic attacks; and dispel anger, rage, fear, and anxiety. It costs $18, including postage. The necklace on the right is 20 inches long and made from brown and black hemp. The pendant and the accent stones are carnelian which is believed to stimulate creativity, calm anger, promote positive life choices, and remove fear of death. This necklace costs $16, including postage costs.

About Blaize Sun

My name is Blaize Sun. Maybe that's the name my family gave me; maybe it's not. In any case, that's the name I'm using here and now. I've been a rubber tramp for nearly a decade.I like to see places I've never seen before, and I like to visit the places I love again and again. For most of my years on the road, my primary residence was my van. For almost half of the time I was a van dweller, I was going it alone. Now my (male) partner and I (a woman) have a travel trailer we can pull with our truck. We have a little piece of property, and when we're not traveling, we park our little camper there. I was a work camper in a remote National Forest recreation area on a mountain for four seasons. I was a camp host and parking lot attendant for two seasons and wrote a book about my experiences called Confessions of a Work Camper: Tales from the Woods. During the last two seasons as a work camper on that mountain, I was a clerk in a campground store. I'm also a house and pet sitter, and I pick up odd jobs when I can. I'm primarily a writer, but I also create beautiful little collages; hand make hemp jewelry and warm, colorful winter hats; and use my creative and artistic skills to decorate my life and brighten the lives of others. My goal (for my writing and my life) is to be real. I don't like fake, and I don't want to share fake. I want to share my authentic thoughts and feelings. I want to give others space and permission to share their authentic selves. Sometimes I think the best way to support others is to leave them alone and allow them to be. I am more than just a rubber tramp artist. I'm fat. I'm funny. I'm flawed. I try to be kind. I'm often grouchy. I am awed by the stars in the dark desert night. I hope my writing moves people. If my writing makes someone laugh or cry or feel angry or happy or troubled or comforted, I have done my job. If my writing makes someone think and question and try a little harder, I've done my job. If my writing opens a door for someone, changes a life, I have done my job well. I hope you enjoy my blog posts, my word and pictures, the work I've done to express myself in a way others will understand. I hope you appreciate the time and energy I put into each post. I hope you will click the like button each time you like what you have read. I hope you will share posts with the people in your life. I hope you'll leave a comment and share your authentic self with me and this blog's other readers. Thank you for reading.  A writer without readers is very sad indeed.

2 Responses »

  1. In Girl Scouts we called them ‘lanyards’. I looked up ‘boondoggle’; it seems that the term can be used to refer to lanyards and also to a variety of other objects made with similar stitches, like the work you do. So the lady knew what she was talking about.

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