Saturday, May 7, 2011

Mama's Stuff

Life is crazier than crazy right now with Mama's recovery, keeping up two households, a few cakes, a little catering, and the production of Havard Lane Totes to carry to the different arts and crafts festivals in the Deep South.   Several local folks made the comment yesterday that Mama was always good at 'saving' stuff and, as exasperating as it is to manipulate through the piles of it at times, it's because of her saving stuff that Havard Lane Totes are around and doing so well.  This Mama's Stuff story is being repurposed recycled reposted with that in mind...


For Mother's Day and Mama - because all her good stuff (of which I'm made) is precious to her, even though I give her a hard time about it...

There must be something about growing up in the Depression as one child of thirteen that makes a person a packrat for the rest of her life.  Mama is the ultimate packrat. She calls it her stuff -- yeah, because she can't stuff her house any fuller of it.  I went out to help Mama clean in the kindergarten the other day.  It's her building but she had graciously loaned it to me to open a day care in.  I had cleaned it out and it was ever the cutest little day care in Greene county (actually, the ONLY one for a while). 

 What I cleaned out was Mama's stuff:  fabric softener bottles, wipie boxes, 15 year old magazines never read, paper clippings, bits of string, pencil stubs.  We boxed, bagged, and hauled her stuff to the old crib that was used to store the winter feed corn in and left it there for several years.   At one point some of the brothers came home and cleaned the crib out, burning Mama's stuff.  She was incensed with them but I got the scathing tongue lashing for putting her stuff in harm's way to begin with.

The day care is closed, has been for several years.  The family has reverted to calling it the kindergarten and it is again full of Mama's stuff.  Every ribbon from floral arrangements, styrofoam meat trays, aluminum pie plates, margarine and CoolWhip tubs, egg cartons, strawberry baskets, material scraps for that quilt she's going to piece together, more magazines, Mrs. Claudia's Mississippi Press Registers, at least three years old, and Tupperware.

Everything has a purpose and at least one use. The floral ribbons are needed in case she puts flowers in the church and the arrangement needs a touch of color. The meat trays and pie plates are to set her flowers in when cold weather comes and forces them to be brought inside, never can have too much of those. Margarine and CoolWhip tubs go to Naomi's;  she's forever cooking and sending food and those won't have to be returned. The hens are laying again and she needs the egg cartons, maybe not a hundred, but they'll be handy if she does.  The strawberry baskets can magically be transformed into by a child into an Easter basket with just a chenille wire and plastic green grass.

One day, really, she will piece that quilt together but settling on a pattern has been a bit difficult.   And the magazines and newspapers need to be gone through in case there's any good recipes in them. Mama doesn't like to miss out on good recipes.  Never mind that there are adequate numbers of terra cotta and plastic trays for the plants to sit in. Those sweat and may mildew the floor.  She doesn't like her Tupperware getting away from her, the grown grandchildren still may need it even though they've all set up their own houses.

I see her blood pressure visibly rising every time I discuss the mayonnaise jar collection and its' disposal.   You'll notice I said I discuss it, the conversation is decidedly one-sided.   Empty prescription drug bottles are not even a conversation topic;  a necessary entity of Mama's stuff, their existence qualified by their small size and ability to be crammed into minute drawer spaces, purse pockets, and corners of boxes.

You would have to see all her stuff to believe the magnanimity of it. Truth be told, Mama likes her stuff.  She thrives on attaining it and is ever planning how to get more. Maybe growing up during and after the Depression her family wasn't able to have stacks, bags, and boxes of stuff everywhere and Mama's making up for lost possessions. Maybe it's comforting to her.   Maybe I'm way off base and Mama has one of those stuck behind the piano.

She could, you know.  That's where all the really good stuff is.


  1. Hi, Mary! I noticed a link to your blog on Best Southern Recipes this morning. I'm from Mississippi, too, and especially love to read cooking blogs. I have a deep fondness for baking which goes back to my childhood when I always got those little baking sets full of child-size mixes from Santa! :) Reading about your Mom reminded me so much of my late aunt. Growing up I remember she saved everything~newspaper clippings, jelly jars, twist ties, you name it~ She also pitched a fit when the family tried to clean up the clutter..also known as "her memories".

  2. Jo (Welford) LollisMay 15, 2011 at 1:09 AM

    I loved reading this post about your mom!!,,,,,She definitely left her imprint on my life many, many years ago...Reading this brought a smile to my face.

  3. Hi and Good Morning. I happened onto your lovely blog from a link to "Blushing Rose".from FB.

    I decided to share with you that my mom grew up during the Great Depression as well and does the same thing. If there was a way to share a photo , I would. Just how many pencils does one person need?; Under the coffee-table, she's got a plastic shoebox filled with pencils that sits inside a plastic dishpan with assorted pens and color markers. One of the items that I really do like is the floral tin box of my grandmother's buttons that my grandmother saved from probably every worn out coat and dress; I've moved the buttons to my house and they are displayed in a glass jar in my powder room. While I'm silently washing my hands, I look over and smile remembering as a child playing with grandmother's tin of buttons, lining up similar colors and rearranging the buttons in in whatever fashion we thought up that particular day on the lid of the "button box". That was one of our forms of play, kids did not need these high tech gadgets when we grew up.

    Please visit my blog if you have the chance. There's a post called "Tales of Wildcat", my mom's story of growing up in the coal-mining region of Pa.

  4. great read I feel like I know your family but them I live in Alabama so....yall are probably kin! LOL

  5. Is every family in the South like this? Mine is exactly like yours - call it the Depression if you will, but there's something strange about the fact that you've just written a wonderful story about MY family!

    Just came over from your most recent story about Mama and the totes and discovered this adorable, endearing story that left me in complete wonderment about the similarity among families in the South. Maybe they're all over the place but I seriously doubt it. Other family environments may be similar but Southern families are unique. You write beautifully! ;D maryb