How many dinner plates, coffee and tea cups, platters, bowls, linen tea towels, books, kerosene lamps, etc., do I need?

How many do I have? I don’t even know.

In my kitchen, I have my everyday dishes in the kitchen cabinets. This includes a half-dozen metal-porcelain spatter-ware plates because I like them for breakfast use. Tucked away in a hutch is a set of Blue Dragon Rice pattern fine china for special dinners. Stacked in the bottom shelves of my step-back cabinet is a tall stack of antique white ironstone plates along with matching dishes like soup bowls. Matching tureens are on open display on the top shelves and around the kitchen along with my flow blue collection and some Wedgwood and Sandwich Glass. I have at least a dozen tablecloths, most of which I haven’t used for years.

I have different cups and mugs designated for different drinks. I have a “bear mug” I brought back from Kodiak. It’s strictly for hot broth. I have cups with lids that are for hot chocolate. Tea cannot be taken from a mug but only from antique porcelain. Coffee does not go in tea cups but in sturdy old vintage mugs. And milk doesn’t taste good in any of them. Milk must be in glass.

I have a particular penchant for glassware, particularly crystal and stemware in ruby red, amberine and cobalt blue. They line shelves in the step-back cabinet and kitchen sink window, where they double as sun-catchers. My living room windows are lined with other colored glass sun-catchers and rainbow-throwing crystal prisms.

I have several kerosene lamps throughout the house. They serve two purposes. They remind me of my wonderful early childhood days on my grandparents’ farm and they come in handy during power outages, which are common come winter. (Back during the infamous 100-Year Ice Storm in 1998, I was without power for 17 days. With my lamps and wood stove, I was able to stay put rather than leave the house.)

A quick glance up from my PC shows my most treasured porcelain tea cups lining a shelf on the step-back cabinet. Others are tucked away; that includes a particular favorite for tea cups: a hand-painted Nippon “Egg Shell Porcelain” tea cup, so delicate you can see your hand through it. (Japan was known as Nippon before World War II.)

I like colanders. I have all sizes and colors hanging in the kitchen. With a glance up as I write this, I can see seven. Really? Do I need seven?

Let’s not even mention books. There are bookshelves in every room except the bathroom. I could start a library.

And so it goes throughout the house.

I do use and enjoy all the stuff regularly myself. Some years ago I read an article that posed the thought that we should use our “treasures” not just for company but for our own enjoyment.

The premise is that we should value ourselves as important as “company.”

“Why not?” I said to myself. And so I developed the habit.

All this accumulation crept up on me in the 30-plus years since I bought my house out here in the country. I have lived here more than three times longer than I have lived anywhere else in my life. Since I was taken off my grandparents’ farm up north, I have lived from coast to coast, shore to shore, and in between. Moving every few years always meant weeding things out. Living here for over three decades and having more room than I need has resulted in accumulating a lot of stuff, much of which is not “necessaries.”

I look at “tiny houses” online. I note the four dinner plates, two cups, etc., not to mention the 7-foot-wide rooms and crawl-into sleeping lofts. I could never do it.

A small cottage would be more practicable. My house isn’t that big but more than I need at this stage. Especially as it would require paring down at least by half. But I love my place.

So I need to get serious about weeding out. The problem is how to differentiate between what is necessary and what really isn’t? Besides, aren’t some unnecessary things, like a hand-painted eggshell porcelain tea cup or the memories that go with a bear mug from a visit with family in Kodiak, necessary on their own level?

Marion Tucker-Honeycutt, an award-winning columnist, is a Maine native and graduate of Belfast schools, now living in Morrill. Her column appears in this paper every other week.