Mr. Basketmaker’s Bootcamp: Frog Pond Love

Ben started his day gathering long grass for his Ghillie suit (more on that later), with Jackson close behind.

But soon, a storm quickly rolled in. And it was the four of us waiting out the storm in Mr. Basketmaker’s workshop. We do not have a basement, nor a storm shelter (yet) so with the old farmhouse having one-foot thick walls, that is our go-to place when bad weather rolls in. So Ben got to see a dark and windy Tennessee storm up close.


Then he brought me over to the other side of the workshop, where Uncle Eric’s refrigerator is, to show me all his Sprite bottles stored on a shelf for when he gets thirsty. The funny thing is, Ben doesn’t really drink soda! He’s a water drinker. But when my Dad went to the store, he asked for some bottles of Sprite.

We soon figured out that he most likely wanted to put “refreshments” in Eric’s refrigerator so he could be, well, more like Eric I guess! Working in the shop, then taking a break and going in the other room for a cold beverage! Guess he’s really liking the workshop lifestyle!


So after the storm was done, my dad and I went back into the main house where he could do some research on his new fantasy football team and I could finish my freelance work. Ben and Eric stayed in the workshop for the rest of the day. He worked on finishing his Quiver basket (which I posted earlier) and burning his one-of-a-kind design in my walking stick.

After a full day in the workshop and a huge dinner, Mr. Basketmaker and Ben headed to the pond, redneck style of course — Eric on the lawn tractor, Ben in the trailer and a farm dog running alongside of them!


But first they needed to do some clearing, so Eric taught Ben how to use a weed wacker. (I should add that the next day he asked me if he could use the weed wacker again. I pointed him to a good location with lots of weeds!)

But the poor thing kept getting aggravated because his safety goggles kept falling out of place and down over his mouth. And Eric wouldn’t let him continue without them firmly in place.redneck-bootcamp-5-weed-wacker
After a wide path to the pond was cleared and a direct route to the pond’s edge opened up, the plan was to use a net and catch some frogs. I guess Ben didn’t get the memo because he decided to ditch the net and just hop in.

Here he is with a stick in hand — planning on nabbing either a frog or a fish like the “mountain men” do on many of his favorite outdoor shows.

He wasn’t successful. Which I’m glad for. Because both of them had the intention of making some fried frog legs with their catch! I was not looking forward to that happening in my kitchen!


Now if my sister is reading this, I did not approve of him going in this nasty frog pond! Mr. Basketmaker was fully in charge. I wasn’t allowed to make any comments… just take photos. But here, I asked him to please show me that he still had my favorite rubber boots on his feet and they weren’t at the bottom, stuck in mud! So he’s kicking up his legs to reassure me that the boots are still on!

I soon left both of them on their own and they were there well after it got dark. Occasionally, I would look out and see the large flashlight shining on Ben. I have no idea what they were doing or what they possible could be talking about. But I didn’t want to know and still don’t.

All I know is that boys (young or old) are easily amused. If you asked Ben, he would probably say that that frog pond was the best part of his entire trip!

Now I get to wash his camo clothes… again!!

Mr. Basketmaker Speaks: Woodstove’s a Fluttering

A bird in the hand is worth two in the… Complete this phrase. 

A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. 

What about two birds in a woodstove?

You see, when we moved to Tennessee, the old farm house became my shop. And in this shop there is a woodstove. This woodstove seems to be a bird nesting magnet. This woodstove has caught more birds than Fisher Price has sold baby toys. Okay, maybe a slight exaggeration, but you get my point.

Seriously, I didn’t understand moving to Tennessee meant there would be birds everywhere year round. Maybe I should say I never thought about it. Back in New England birds just weren’t around come winter months.

Last May we discovered some aggressive birds had “beaked” a hole into the side of the farm house and built a nest in the walls. These birds were black with two inch long pointed beaks. I thought I was in living in an Alfred Hitchcock movie. I felt bad for about two seconds then filled spray-foam into the hole and those birds were looking for a new home in no time.

The thing is it wasn’t long before they were showing up in my stove. I go into my shop in the morning and turn the heat on and hear the fluttering in the woodstove (that I’m currently not using). I swing open the doors and sure enough there is one of those long-beaked prehistoric birds in my woodstove. Letting this beast out to fly around and maybe poke my eyes out is not a good option. But keeping the creature in the stove until it dies is not a very good option as well, especially if Mrs. Basketmaker knew I had a choice.

So I let the beast out and duck and watch it bounce into the windows until it finally makes its way out the door. This was the case with almost all of the birds who found their way in my shop.

But on Thursday, two song birds were in my stove when I arrived in my shop. I opened the stove door, they flew to the window but they couldn’t figure how to get out. So I enlisted Mrs. Basketmaker to come out and help me get these birds out to safety. She pretty much chirped orders, told me what NOT to do and took pictures.



This bird is only thinking of one thing… FREEDOM!


The other guy preferred to hang out on the collection of basket molds.


This bird wants to get out! So I grabbed a curtain from one of the workshop’s windows, and carefully bundled him up. Very carefully! Mrs. Basketmaker is behind the camera making sure I don’t hurt him. Then onto the second bird still in the shop.


Freedom at last! And once outside, we really got to see this bird’s bright blue coloring when his spread his wings.


Then soon the bird flew up and reunited with the other bird that was waiting in the nearby tree.


Both are back together again, hanging in their tree. All is good at McSoHo. All is good. Now I need to do something about that chimney to prevent them from getting in again!

Mr. Basketmaker Speaks, or rather, What’s on Eric’s iPod?

Every now and then Lynne asks me to write something for her blog. Usually I freak out and say something like I can’t write or I have no time. 

When she started this blog I few years ago, I was Mr. Negativity telling her this would be a major undertaking to write a blog but  she did it anyway. And I continued with: Really you’re going to write four or five times a week? I told her she was crazy. Well one year later she is still doing it! And she is doing it well. I’m very proud of her and the way the blog looks. I can’t tell you how many times people tell me how they love reading it.

I love creating, if it isn’t a basket it could be something else.  So how about creating a new segment for the Basketmaker’s Wife blog? Maybe I’ll call it “What’s on Eric’s iPod”.  Now this is already false, since I haven’t used my iPod for quite awhile but I still like to flirt with music using mostly Pandora and You tube on my laptop late at night. My interest in music can be very extreme at times so I will try to keep it tamed down a notch.  Some of you out there know I have a slight man crush on Jack White. Now don’t get me wrong, I just love the way he goes about it. If I had $200, the cost of his tickets for the Ryman in Nashville, I would take Lynne in a heartbeat. 

But since I don’t, I will have to settle with the many videos of his shows I watch on Youtube. Such as this one song which was the last one played during benefit concert at the Ryman auditorium. It’s titled “Steady as She Goes.”