Tag Archives: Mamaw

The Year of the Slop Bucket


Mamaw kept the slop bucket under the kitchen sink. The bucket, the ritual, it was all curious to me. I didn’t understand it, how waste thrown at the edge of the garden was going to help that garden grow.

It was a just a mess and extra work for Mamaw. She’d have to get the bucket out from the cabinet, walk it down the back porch stairs all the way to the garden, and sling it. Splat! Just more debris on top of the shriveled up, rotten stuff from days before. The sight, sounds, and smells I remember well like so many other things with her including the bright green leaves from the radishes poking out nearby. Mamaw would help me pick and wash those pretty red root vegetables. I liked everything about radishes: their color, size, taste and special little spot. They were located in their own mini garden at the edge of the big one. That small garden, like Mamaw, was there just for me. The two gardens, the slop, Mamaw, and me were all there together under the persimmon tree.

Black and squashed, most of the ripe, fallen persimmons looked like the old rotting waste that lay at the edge of the garden. Sometimes, Mamaw would collect a bunch of just ripe persimmons and make a pudding. It was old people’s food, but I liked it. It was sweet and something you couldn’t by at the store. I only wanted the crunchy corner pieces, but I’d eat some from the middle if I had to. I liked watching her make it. That wooden masher and colander were vintage, like her and her food. Taking a bite out of Mamaw’s pudding, I’d think about the black smashed persimmons down by the garden and the decaying slop. It was honest, real, that decay and growth. Even though it seemed strange, I knew where it came from. It was as authentic as anything I’d seen in my young life.

This past year, 2015, was the year of the slop bucket for me. It was real, raw. Stuff got dumped on me and I dumped stuff. I discovered mini gardens still growing. I found comfort with the decay as I enjoyed the sweetness of life. I’m getting my hands dirty again and sinking my teeth into my truth and relationships. Mindful of the cycle, growth and death, I’m living like I want to die, with dirt underneath my fingernails and a bit of my husband’s flesh between my teeth. There’s more dumping to come in 2016. I’ll shed more layers and choose to become more vulnerable as I let go. It’s real work with so much more to be done. I’m rolling up my sleeves and salivating cause 2016 is going to be a bumper crop!

Swimming in the Shucking Tub

Mamaw as a young woman

Mamaw as a young woman

Have you ever felt the universe opening up just for you? A sense of being in the hand of God as you learned the meaning of life? A fleeting moment of overwhelming peace when you felt light as a feather? I had such an experience when I was 3; although, it wasn’t until recently that I fully embraced it, that oneness.

My experience took place at my mamaw’s house. I was just enjoying her company when I told her that I wanted to go swimming. Mamaw went over to her remnant drawer, pulled out some ribbed white cotton, and opened up her sewing machine to make me a little bathing suit. I sat watching her work with her wrinkled, but feminine, strong hands. Watching her always had a soothing effect on me.  It was amazing how she could make anything. She took such care with everything she made.  After she cut the last thread, I changed into my new bathing suit. Together, we walked down the back porch stairs and outside into the hot summer day.  Mamaw rinsed out the galvanized steel tub that we used for shucking corn.  She filled the tub with water, placing it near her white swing. I jumped right in.  As Mamaw sat there in the sun, I went swimming in the shucking tub.

My mamaw gave me the gifts of love, peace, joy, and inspiration — all wrapped up in one afternoon:

a love of crafting handmade gifts using what is available,

doing things to bring another person joy,

taking care with the details to show love,

peace from devoting untold hours to working with my hands,

an appreciation for watching my hands grow older and stronger,

an enduring love of sunny days and green grass, and

an affinity for the sound of running water.

By showing me such love, I received complete validation — I mattered.  I was worthy and cherished — special. Mamaw’s handmade bathing suit, and all it symbolized, inspired me to find my life’s purpose in doing creative work. I’m forever swimming in the shucking tub.