Tuesday, January 3, 2012

So I Have All This Stuff

Two months ago, I wandered into an antique/gift shop next to the place where I get my hair done. As I looked around, I saw some green dishes and serving pieces that looked very similar to a small cabbage-shaped soup tureen I had bought in Tennessee this past summer. I don’t need the green dishes, but I asked the owner how much they were. She said she had really only bought them to accessorize the cabinet they were sitting in, which was for sale, but she would sell me the whole set for $28.00.

The cabbage soup tureen

I decided I really should talk to my husband first, not because of the amount of money involved, but because he’d have to live with them, too.  My husband didn’t have any major objections, but he did ask the obvious question, “Where would you put them?”

So while I pondered this problem, weeks went by. John started to organize some financial records and noticed he didn’t have all the statements for our savings account. “I keep them up here,” I said, pointing to the cabinet over the baking center. This led to a round of moving the statements to his files, shredding old duplicate checkbooks, and otherwise clearing out the closet. Suddenly we had room for the green dishes. 

What I didn’t have was $28, what with Christmas and all, at least not until the end of December. No rush - the store owner hadn’t intended to sell the dishes anyway, and if she did sell them to someone else, I knew it wasn’t to be. 

In the meantime, as John brought down Christmas ornaments from the attic, he decided to take stock of what else was up there. Some of what else was up there was cardboard boxes with glassware that had belonged to his mother. “Why are you holding on to that stuff?” I asked. “Because the appraiser told me it was antique,” he replied. 

“Well, maybe we should bring it down from the attic”, I said. (Danger! Danger, Will Robinson!) “Oh, you know what else is up there? Those dishes your mom gave me.”

I was referring to a set of 8 place settings of Mikasa Fruit Panorama that my sister-in-law had given her mother about twenty years ago. My MIL took offense at the gift (something of a hobby of hers) because she already had dishes, and never opened the boxes. So when MIL moved from her house to a retirement home, she gave me the dishes. I had intended to use them, but they wound up in the attic with her other possessions, and whenever I thought about getting them down, it seemed like too much trouble.

The cleared out space over the baking center would be perfect for the Mikasa, however. As for the antique glassware, it could go in the big armoire that is cluttering up the living room and serving no useful purpose. Well, it held a few of the Christmas decorations, but they are now in plastic tubs in the attic with their buddies.

As for the green dishes, in the big Christmas decoration reorganization, I freed up shelf space in the mudroom. I had a hair appointment this morning, so the plan was go back to the shop and buy the green dishes, if they were still there.

But yesterday John decided to bring the boxes down from the attic. “How many do you want me to bring down?” he asked.

“How many are there?” I asked, picturing maybe three boxes of crystal. “Ten or twelve,” he replied.

Oh, dear. When I said to bring the boxes down from the attic, I thought we were talking about maybe 16-24 glasses, not every bit of kitchenware MIL had ever owned. Now I remembered why the boxes were up in the attic to begin with.

We settled on bringing down six boxes to start with, not counting my Mikasa dishes, and to go from there. I quickly discovered that the boxes labelled “Antique Glassware” should have been labeled “collectibles that are currently popular but may not be 13 years from now”, and ones that were unlabeled should have been labelled “miscellaneous kitchen debris collected by an 80 year old woman who never threw anything out”, and “miscellaneous knick-knacks with which you can clutter up every surface in your house.” That’s why the boxes were in the attic.

Once the first few boxes came down, however, it was clear they all needed to come down. The boxes are disintegrating, the items in there are speckled with black coffee ground like matter that my husband assures me are roach droppings, not mouse droppings (I have roaches in my attic, what a comfort), and my husband actually let me add a few items to the box we were filling for Goodwill.

Some of the items, it turns out, are big platters, serving bowls, and a punch bowl. They will not fit in the armoire. My husband wouldn’t give them to Goodwill. My shelf  space in the mudroom may be gone. John did suggest we could get more plastic tubs and put anything that doesn’t fit in the armoire back in the attic, but I wonder how happy he will be to do that if I bring more dishes into the house.

I didn’t even look in the shop when I went for my haircut today. Maybe the green dishes are all gone to a good home anyway, one where their new owners don’t have quite so much stuff.

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