We are Vergil’s busy bees

We are Vergil’s busy bees. In my county I’m on the grand jury this year. Today I sit in deliberations. We are a group of 18 random citizens fulfilling a function of our society’s compact. We are all doing the best job we can within the allowances of our personal power. Even, I suppose, the alleged criminals for whose adjudication […]

I want to die poor

I want to die poor. Funny thing for an entrepreneur to say, but saying it I am. Here’s why. For those not in the know, we are Piedmont Pine Coffins and we help families with natural burials. We make simple pine box coffins, urns, and pet caskets. Since we opened in August 2013, our revenues […]

A murder of crows

A murder of crows in both senses — that’s the tale of this post. But my hand was stayed, and to good effect. Read on. A flock of sheep, a brace of coneys, a murder of crows. Well, there’s been a murder of crows in our garden the last couple of years. It’s usually about […]

Your big day, your birthday

Go big on birthdays, sez Your Coffin. Yes, if your coffin could talk, it’d tell you to do it up right for yourself when your big day comes around this year. Things in this life have an obverse and reverse, a light and a shadow. Mountains have valleys and birdsong, silence. A birthday, your coffin […]

Spider time & death-positive conferences

These are the days of the large orb weavers at Melleray Farmstead, cottage industrial home to Piedmont Pine Coffins. At dusk their webs are everywhere stretched across paths and under eaves and in corners. You root for them, except when you find them with your face in the morning. The orb weavers at the tail […]

Practice your dying breath

Practice your dying breath every day, is my advice. That way you’ll have one ready — in your back pocket or up your sleeve — in case your actual last breath goes off-script and isn’t the one you always wanted. More on that below. I’m Don with Piedmont Pine Coffins. As part of my work, […]

Monastic hospitality and green burial

Monastic hospitality links firmly with green burial – both things we’re fans of here at Melleray Farmstead, the cottage industrial home to Piedmont Pine Coffins. What’s the link? Well, we are all guests, we are all just passing. You might say that we are guests passing through this magnificent Earth. Both stewardship (in our context, […]

The Eagles!

Just in time for July 4th, here’s a post about Eagles. Not the Hotel California Eagles, but Gandalf’s Eagles and our eagles at Piedmont Pine Coffins. If you’ve ever read J.R.R. Tolkien or seen the movies based on his Hobbit and Lord of the Rings books, you know that giant eagles are his deus ex machina. Sort of. Or at least, […]

A coffin-joiner’s prayer

A coffin-joiner’s prayer O length of plank, be straight and true And form thyself to something worth An unrepeatable life on this magnificent Earth We have been making a lot of coffins lately here at Piedmont Pine Coffins. It takes about 12 hours to make one, so there be time to think. Though each box will go […]

BCS tractor review: a French kiss

This BCS tractor review involves a fateful and forceful French kiss. Read on. A BCS — “Beast” for short — is an Italian vineyard tractor with two wheels that you walk behind. Ours arrived on a truck one day last week. It’s designed for slopes and small acreage. Since it’s Italian, maybe I should say, then, […]

Late to the toxic burial party

What one Johnny from SC sent me last week makes me feel like a johnny-come-lately. For memory’s sake, we are Piedmont Pine Coffins. Since August 2013, we promote simpler, greener burial options and help families reclaim the power of caring for our own dead. But how about since 2001? Forester and biologist Johnny Stowe sent me […]

DIY coffin exemplar

This DIY coffin will open your heart. Here’s the story. Recently a certain Mark in VA wrote me in extremis. A family member was near death, and though they’d already planned for a simple ceremony with unique touches, it was all happening too fast. Could I bring a coffin tomorrow? Shortly thereafter hospice arrived at the home, checked vitals, and […]

What a good death is

A good death, I told a recent client. Your mom died a good death. “Yes, I think so. Thank you,” she said. Death is having a moment in popular culture. (To be clear, death is always having its moment, isn’t it, just not always as a media darling.) So what’s a good death, and is […]

Tiny house gross domestic product

What’s the gross domestic product at your house? Or should I say, the grossest? Our grossest at tiny-house Melleray Farmstead, the cottage industrial campus of Piedmont Pine Coffins, has to do with a toothbrush. More on that below. Visitors to the farmstead sometimes ask about hot water and bathing. The calculus behind the question is, Could I do this? Could I […]

Taking it with you

Now, that thing about taking it with you. You’ve heard the one about the miser who swore he’d take all his silver to the grave? The miser’s young wife promised, and, true to her word, settled accounts upon his timely death. She gathered the sum of his wealth and deposited the total, just before the coffin was sealed, under his folded hands. […]