Tag Archives: Deadhead

Before and After


The camp host down the road is a Deadhead too. I determined this fact when I noticed she wore a necklace with a Grateful Dead dancing bear pendant. Every time I talked to her, I was happy to see that bear kicking its leg right above her uniform shirt.

A couple of weeks into the season, I saw she wasn’t wearing the necklace, but I didn’t think too much about it. I figured the heat had probably made wearing the necklace uncomfortable, so she took it off.

One day the Deadhead camp host came to the parking lot to pick up some day passes. She saw me making a hemp necklace and got excited.  Her necklace with the bear pendant was coming apart. Maybe I could fix it? I told her to bring the necklace by sometime and I’d have a look at it.

This is what the camp host's necklace looked like before I rehabbed it.

This is what the Deadhead camp host’s necklace looked like before I rehabbed it.

My two days off rolled around, and I decided to save money by not leaving the mountain. When the Deadhead camp host did her patrol through my campground on Monday morning, I invited her to get the necklace to me. She had it with her when she came through the campground that evening.

Hemp is a very strong, sturdy material. (If you’re unfamiliar with hemp, you can learn about it here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/11/19/hemp-2/.) However, just like most everything else, it eventually wears out. Her necklace was coming apart at the loop that slipped over a bead and held the whole thing together. I told her there was no way I could fix the loop, but I offered to take the necklace apart and restring the beads. The Deadhead camp host offered to pay me for my work, but I’m not one to take money from another Deadhead, especially a Deadhead who’s also a nice co-worker.

I thought it was going to be an easy task: tie a few knots, restring the beads in the same order they were in originally, tie a few more knots, done. Unfortunately, the job turned out to be a bit more difficult than I had planned.

My first problem what that the thinnest hemp cord I had was thicker than the hemp cord used in the original necklace. I used what I had, hoping the Deadhead camp host would like a slightly thicker look.

The second problem was that the original necklace only used one strand of hemp as the carrier (middle) cord, and I was using two strands for the carrier. I didn’t realize this until I had made four inches of very nice spiral knots. The double strand carrier cord wasn’t a problem until I started trying to string the smaller beads. My double strand carrier cord was just microns too large for the tiny holes in the little beads.

To compound my difficulties, my eyes have apparently changed and my glasses don’t help me see anything close. I had to repeatedly remove my glasses so I could do the up-close work with the tiny beads. My large, clumsy fingers did not help the situation.

Every time I tried to shove the tiny beads onto the carrier cord, the hemp frayed. I had to snip the carrier cord after every bead in order to be able to work with the hemp.

I had to take some artistic license. I quit trying to use the tiny beads carved from bone. The holes were just too small. I could work the tiny metal beads onto the necklace, but it was a struggle. I had some small metal beads on hand that I used to replace the missing bone beads.

I think the rehabbed necklace looks great! The Deadhead camp host seems to like it too. When I gave the necklace back to her, she gave me a big hug and put it on immediately. She also wrote a very nice review on my Blaizin’ Sun Creations Facebook page.

Here’s what the Deadhead camp host said at https://www.facebook.com/Blaizin-Sun-Creations-291317231259583/reviews:

Blaize rescued my favorite dancing bear hemp necklace. It was old and worn and the “clasp” was no longer working. She restrung it beautifully, retaining it’s [sic] uniqueness. I couldn’t be happier with the result. Thank you Blaize!!

This is how the camp host's necklace looked after I rehabbed it.

This is how the Deadhead camp host’s necklace looked after I rehabbed it.



Say what you will, but I’m pretty sure I manifested those people.

Exhibit  A: I’d been reading The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test for about a week. I guess you could say I’d been savoring it. Oh man–Merry Pranksters and LSD! Just a day or so before, I’d gotten to the part where the Grateful Dead became the house band at the Acid Tests.

Exhibit B: Just the day before, I pulled out the hemp and began making necklaces between collecting parking fees.  [amazon template=image&asin=B001689Y8Y] I started with whimsical mushroom pendants sent to me by a friend. The necklace-making went so well (three necklaces made in a four hour shift), I figured I could do it the three slow days of my parking lot work week. I was working on a hemp necklace when the people pulled into the parking lot.

It makes perfect sensed to me: focus on Merry Pranksters + LSD + Grateful Dead, throw in the repetitive, meditative motion of making square knots from hemp, and Deadheads are bound to appear.

The people arrived in a puff of sage smoke, with maybe a bit of marijuana in the mix.

The car was banged up, a real beater, and was hauling a battered pop-up camper. I didn’t know who the people were at first. I thought maybe they’d mistaken the parking lot for a campground (as happens fairly often). I thought maybe they were just tourists in a scruffy car, regular people who wanted to see some trees.

When the car stopped next to me, the driver had to open his door to hear my rap. (My van’s driver-side window doesn’t go down, so I’m never surprised when I see other people in the same situation.)

Are y’all here for the trees? I asked, and the driver said yes.

There’s a $5 parking fee, I said.

At that point I looked into the car and began to see.

I noticed the driver first. He had a black mark on his forehead, above his nose. He looked like a Catholic on Ash Wednesday, but having been raised Catholic, I know Ash Wednesday doesn’t come in late July.

Then I noticed the child in the backseat. She was probably three and tiny and dirty and her hair was in ratty dreads that meant her mamma had quit fighting her about brushing it. Only hardcore modern hippies have kids with hair like that.

Next I glanced at the dashboard where a lot of papers were piled up. Peeking out from the pile–upside down– I was pretty sure that was Jerry Garcia on that poster.

WAIT! These weren’t tourists. These were maybe–possibly–oh, I hope!

These were the kids!

Is that a Grateful Dead poster on the dash? I asked.

The driver said it was.

I said, There’s no parking fee!

Kids don’t charge kids, man, and these were the kids, and I’m a kid too, under this brown polyester uniform, in my heart.

The driver asked the adult in the backseat (a man younger than I am, but probably the oldest of the bunch), Do you have…something…mumble…mumble…something?

I thought they were fishing around for five bucks, but instead of money, they produced a cardboard sign featuring the words I need a miracle and an awesome drawing of a skeleton.

Hell yeah! I miracled those kids right into that parking lot!

They’d been at a Dead & Company show the night before (or maybe the night before that), and they were heading to a Dead & Company show that night (or maybe the next) but I just had to take a detour and see some trees, the driver told me.

While they parked, I got some granola bars together for them. (Being on tour is hungry work.) The granola bars were met with enthusiasm by the two men, the tiny child, and the fourth person in the party, a young woman resplendent in bold face paint and a fuzzy tail swinging from the seat of her shorts.

They weren’t gone as long as I thought they might be.

When they returned to the parking lot, I asked them how they’d liked the trees.

There were many expressions of approval and thanks.

We’d stay longer, the driver told me, but we have a date with Bobby. (That’s  Bob  Weir of the Grateful Dead, Furthur, and now Dead & Company for folks not in the know.)

I wish I could go with you! I said.

Come on, the woman said immediately. Quit your job! Come with us!

It was the perfect answer, just what I wanted and needed her to say. I’d been dreaming of running away with them from the moment I realized who they were. The last week had been hard with the heat and the bugs and the idiots, and I’d really been wanting to leave.

Turns out just being invited to go with them was enough.

I didn’t go with them, not because I didn’t want to, but because that’s not the path I’m on at the moment. Also, the last time I cast my lot with Deadheads I didn’t even know–well, let’s just say the trip was longer and stranger than I’d ever imagined it could be, from the snow of Colorado to my Southwest Louisiana homeland. Getting out of that one mostly unscathed has made me less likely to run off with strangers.

In any case, when I said I couldn’t (wouldn’t, shouldn’t) go, the older (but still much younger than I) guy stopped and looked at me, told me he appreciated what I was doing keeping it locked down for these trees. That made me feel good too, even though I’m mostly just a parking lot attendant. But yeah, I’m here for the trees, and I’m here to recognize the kids who need a miracle every damn day. (I need those miracles too, and that day, those kids were my miracle.)

The crew headed back to the car, but a few minutes later, I heard a voice say, This is for you.

The woman had returned, and while she didn’t hand me the party favor I’d been trying to manifest, (but I understand, it’s not safe to hand sacraments like that to strangers in polyester-blend pants), I was very pleased with the bundle of California white sage she presented to me.

The car left as it arrived, in a puff of sage smoke, camper trailer in tow. On the back of the trailer was a heart, inscribed inside with the words Not Fade Away, as in a love that’s real not fade away.

Don’t even try to tell me I didn’t draw those people right to me. [amazon template=image&asin=B000E1ZBFO]