Last fall, my friend Pat McFadden and I ginned up her home workshop to make wooden games to sell at Artclectic at University School of Nashville. Over the course of the year, Pat has ridden that creative momentum to make several pieces of beautiful outdoor furniture, including two custom garden benches and my beloved Chippendale … Continue reading Swing Time Special
Sunday is the day my neighbors, family and friends fling garbage at my front door. Actually, I'm making the situation sound trashier than it really is. The truth is I've invited them to bring me the wretched refuse of their kitchens teeming with spent coffee grounds, vegetable peelings, and leftover casseroles, because my chickens will … Continue reading Sunday Supper is for the Birds
Among all the pickled okra and scroll-saw-carved logos of SEC teams at the recent Monteagle Mountain Market for Arts & Crafts, one Tennessee craftsman was selling what appeared to be not-very-good bird feeders. Upon further inspection of the wooden boxes, my 12-year-old realized they were actually ingenious carpenter bee traps. "The 45-degree angle is the … Continue reading Happy Bee-Day to You
I haven't read much about parenting, because, I've been busy... parenting. But I once heard a family counselor cite a study that showed life's happiest memories coincide with the presence of three things: Dad, fried food, and an element of danger. While the speaker didn't say as much, I assume the data correlate to a … Continue reading Elements of Danger
I took a break from constructing my garden gate to attend the annual home studio sale of ceramicist Christina Cohn. Christina started making plates, mugs, planters and jewelry a few years ago, using a kiln in her basement. It has been a delight to watch her work mature and to see her confidence grow along … Continue reading My Favorite Mistakes
Thank you to the Nashville Scene for featuring Buttercup's reflections on being a middle-aged mom in construction college with a bunch of men. Boys will be boys, but what happens when the blue humor in the workshop goes beyond the pale? Find out in this week's "Vodka Yonic" column.
These days, there is no shortage of discourse on the merits and shortcomings of founding father Thomas Jefferson. On the one hand, he was a champion of the rights of man; on the other, he had a complicated relationship with unpaid labor. Far be it from me to sally forth into an exegesis on Jefferson's … Continue reading Meditations on Monticello
Building products can be surprisingly beautiful. For example, I have an affinity for stainless steel drywall mud pans, which make sleek containers for floral arrangements. A tool caddy of old wooden bubble levels occupies a place of privilege in my house, alongside my favorite local art. And there's a stretch of half-round gutter floating around … Continue reading Mind in the Gutter
The more time I spend working on the repair and maintenance of houses, the more I see firsthand that water is the enemy. Water is sneaky. It trickles from chimneys and drips from plumbing hoses. It scoots under flashing and slides down walls. In certain cases, it has the audacity to enter through the door—especially … Continue reading Pitch-Perfect Porch
What a delight it was to walk into the Building Construction Technology classroom at Tennessee College of Applied Technology in Nashville -- my alma mater where I spent 16 months with a herd of men -- to find the workshop filled with girls! Organized and led by the women of Turner Construction Company, the inaugural … Continue reading Introducing Girls Who Build!