Too many 'everythings'

By Marion Tucker-Honeycutt | Jun 18, 2020

After eight-plus decades of living all over the country from the North Woods of Maine on the Tucker Farm, where I was raised by my Grampa Roy and Grammie Mabel Tucker, to Cape Cod, to the Berkshires of western Massachusetts, back to Maine — this time Belfast where I graduated from high school — then back to the Berkshires (which I think of as my second home) for 14 years, down to Florida, to Utah, to California for 10 years (about 9 ½ years longer than anyone should), to upper New York State and finally back to Belfast 40 years ago, you’d think I wouldn’t have accumulated much stuff. “A rolling stone gathers no moss,” right?

Not so. I have "stuff" from all places. And after buying my house out here in the country 30 years ago, the longest by far I have ever stayed put, I could furnish a "stuff-store."

A few years ago, I got addicted to eBay. My weakness was all-things-kitchen, dining room. And old stuff. Teacups are a favorite. English bone china and eggshell porcelain. Dishes: ironstone and flow blue. Lead crystal in anything. Cobalt blue and ruby red glass. My windows are hung with sun-catchers.

My kitchen and dining area furnishings are a collection of shabby chic, from a Hoosier-style cabinet filled with tureens and black-rimmed white enamelware that matches the pullout work surface of the cabinet. The kitchen table is a Hoosier "baker’s table" I inherited from a lady who bought it in 1919.

I collected, one by one, Le Crueset and similar enameled cast-iron fry pans and pots. I ended up with many different colors, from their “flame” through blue and red, yellow and even brown as I would snap up the ones either people weren’t watching close enough or not the popular color, for pennies on the dollar. They made a colorful collection hanging in my kitchen and all of them cost less than one new LeCruset pan would have.

When things started overflowing the Hoosier hutch, a breakfront and another tall cabinet, I built a shelf over the double windows in the dining area that holds tea pots, French porcelain sauce dishes, Bavarian plates, etc.

And that’s just my kitchen/dining area. The rest of the house is just as stuffed. And I used to use it all, what with my large family. Come holidays and birthdays and other special occasions, like real English tea parties, there are settings for all different themes. But now, the kids and then the grand-kids have all grown up and married and have their own homes. (I have my fifth and sixth great-grandbabies due this summer.) The dinners and parties are put on by them and I get to go to their homes and not have to do anything but make the gravy.

But my house is still stuffed. The old proverb, “A place for everything and everything in its place,” is at the breaking point. I have more "everythings" than I have "places." There isn’t a flat spot to put another teacup on. And I’m finding the younger generations have different tastes and aren’t interested in bone china and crystal, and "ruby red" and "cobalt blue" are a foreign language.

So time to start clearing out. A daunting prospect. I couldn’t even see a starting place. Then my dear daughter came to the rescue. She spent two entire days in a whirl like those professional organizer gals you see on TV. She is a no-nonsense gal and had no mercy: "You really do not need this anymore, Mom. Which pile? Goodwill, storage? We cleared out clothes, too, including dry cleaning all my woolens which I wear almost exclusively come winter. This includes sweaters I had also collected on eBay. I have seven or eight all-wool vintage Scandinavian style sweaters from England that I got one by one that added up to less than one cost when new. She dry-cleaned them all with dry-cleaning sheets you use in the home dryer, then vacuum-packed them and stored them in the basement.

She convinced me to designate all my vintage LeCruset for Goodwill. I have a nest of black cast iron fry pans that I now use almost exclusively, so I shut my eyes while she took down all the colorful pans and put them in the Goodwill box. And so it went. Boxes for Goodwill, bags and bags of stuff for the dump, some things that my niece said she’d like to have, etc.

But I sit here and look around and I still could open a shop. I still have too many "everythings."

So I’ve made myself a couple of rules to follow. One is Grammie Tucker’s: “It isn’t a bargain if you don’t need it.” The other is: “One thing in, two things out.” Hopefully, that will result in slowly weeding more stuff out.

Wish me luck.

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

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Comments (1)
Posted by: Judith Inman | Jun 24, 2020 09:54

This article is wonderful, I’m probably about your age, haven’t moved around as much, but have been a collector for years.  Now, I’m trying to get my life down to just basics, not easy!  My kids and grandkids occasionally will take something, but not enough!  Time for eBay, I guess!



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