Boondoggle

Standard

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

I live in my van, which makes me a rubber tramp. I like to see places I've never seen before, and I like to visit the places I love again and again. I like to play with color. I make collages and hemp jewelry and cheerful winter hats. I take photographs and (sometimes, not in a long time) write poetry. All of those things make me an artist. Although I like to spread joy and to make people laugh, my wit can be sharp. I try to stay positives in all situations, to find the goodness in all people. But I often feel compelled to point out bullshit when I smell it. I like to have fun, to dance, to eat yummy food, to sit by a fire and share stories. I want to know what people hold dear and important, not just make surface small talk. This blog is a way for me to share stories. This blog is made up of my stories, rants, and observations, as well as my photographs.

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.

Leave a Reply