Countercultural coffins and urns

In a radio interview I did recently, here are words that came out of my mouth: We always wanted to be countercultural — in an ADMIRABLE way.  Revelatory. Never knew I thought that till that moment. Really, the things a soul will pronounce on when you’re distracted by wires and microphones. I was referring to the […]

Decline and fall of the Romaine Empire

At Melleray Farmstead, cottage-industrial home to Piedmont Pine Coffins, there’s a big garden with a deer-proof fence. Go to market with lettuce? Yes, please, that’s the dream. But that was before the decline and fall of my romaine empire. For new readers just joining in, we operate on 32 pleasant acres of fields and woods […]

The outhouse joke

The outhouse joke. Recently, when coffinworks visitors Marshall and Donald toured our place, it called to mind their growing-up years on a dairy farm in Iredell County and the following outhouse story: My father had an outhouse with two seats. One day one of the hired hands went down to use it. Well he was […]

The freedom to hoist one sail

I am ever and still caught in the breeze of a smile I once saw. The smile of a certain young monk. For new readers, we are Piedmont Pine Coffins. We help families do more affordable funerals, naturally. In our work and in our life, we take some inspiration from monks and monasteries down through […]

Spilt milk: a monastic lesson for activists

It was during the time I left teaching to make coffins that our Dexter cow had her first calf and began to give milk. For readers just joining, we are Piedmont Pine Coffins. We make our boxes with hand tools and take our inspiration from farmsteads and monasteries through the ages: self-sufficiency, hospitality, and a […]

What’s the use of profit?

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again here, then maybe pipe down. I want to die (and live?) poor. But Piedmont Pine Coffins is a business, and the purpose of a business is to generate profit. What are the uses? B-corps, donations, foundations, community action, and the rest. I’ll let you read up on […]

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 […]

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 […]

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, […]

Ringo’s Kingdom

We lost a good one last Sunday at Melleray Farmstead, the cottage industrial home of Piedmont Pine Coffins. Ringo — our great Great Pyrenees — got a foot caught in the fence as in a trapper’s snare. A crappy way for a noble one to go out, and not the good death I’d always imagined for her. […]

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, […]

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 […]

A dirty joke on me

Here’s a dirty one for you. Turn away if you must from the tail end of the cow at Melleray Farmstead, the cottage industrial campus for Piedmont Pine Coffins. However, since readers of the GBCB tend to be open-minded, not to mention good-looking and intelligent, I expect you’ll take it all in dirty stride. But […]

The Wattlebee Project

Piedmont Pine Coffins and Melleray Farmstead had visitors Mel, Michael and Emma this past weekend from The Wattlebee Project near Adelaide, Australia. They’re on a study-travel tour of, well, the world. India and Nepal are next, part of a walkabout intended to gather ideas for a project they want to start back home that revolves around […]

Why use pine, plus bonus ruminations

Why use pine, in seven reasons, as follows. Most are poetical, as you’ll see. First is for green burial: Pine degrades quickly in contact with earth and water. This trait is great for ashes-to-ashes, dust-to-dust. The second is for business. Pine is not expensive. The last five – the five senses of taste and touch, etc. – […]