Welcome to the Misadventures of Widowhood blog!

In January of 2012 my soul mate of 42 years passed away after nearly 12 years of living with severe disabilities due to a stroke. I survived the first year after Don’s death doing what most widows do---trying to make sense of my world turned upside down. The pain and heartache of loss, my dark humor, my sweetest memories and, yes, even my pity parties are well documented in this blog.

Now that I’m a "seasoned widow" the focus of my writing has changed. I’m still a widow looking through that lens but I’m also a woman searching for contentment, friends and a voice in my restless world. Some people say I have a quirky sense of humor that shows up from time to time in this blog. Others say I make some keen observations about life and growing older. I say I just write about whatever passes through my days---the good, bad and the ugly. Comments welcome and encouraged. Let's get a dialogue going! Jean

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Purging Dishes in the Kitchen

With the schematic of the kitchen cabinets in my future home at hand, I’ve been a busy bee this week trying to downsize the dishes in my current kitchen cabinets. I’m on a break right now that I just used to pack the trunk of my car with some stuff to take to Goodwill tomorrow. I’ve almost taken more breaks than the amount of time I’ve logged working on my cabinets. On one break I shoveled a path through the snow to the mailbox because I hadn’t been down there in four days---the path being between the sidewalk and the back of the box because the plowed road is too icy to walk around to the front of the box. I don’t know how many days it takes for a mail carrier to ask the police for a wellness check on a senior citizen but I don’t want to find out by getting one. Actually, I say that tongue-in-cheek because I’ve been scheduling e-Bay packages for porch pickups just about every Monday and Tuesday so I’m pretty sure the mail lady knows I’m still breathing.

Also on one of my breaks I’ve been photographing things to list on e-Bay. Aside from selling art down the road, I have another month for one last big push to give one-of-kind, valuable sleepers and sentimental things with little value new homes. I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned before, but I have a large collection of Cracker Jack toys, boxes, tins and other memorabilia including a rare, unopened Cracker Jill necklace. With a few exceptions the collection has very little monetary value. The tiny plastic toys sell for $2 to $7 each but a dozen or so of my metal pieces would sell for $50 to $100 each which I'm not going to do. I struggle with the idea of putting them all in a large mason jar to display on a shelf. I have them are all in a divided fishing tackle box sorted by the dates issued and I can’t bring myself to undo all that work of identifying the various series’. Where was I going with this? Oh, ya, I made the tough decision to take all but one of my Cracker Jack tin cans to Goodwill and to sell off the boxes, t-shirts and Cracker Jill stuff leaving me with just the tackle box of toys. These were part of the things I was photographing as a diversion from thinning down my dishes. My love of Cracker Jack collecting goes back 75 years and what I'm keeping doesn’t take up much space. I even had three complete sets of Cracker Jack baseball cards and albums that I sold last summer. I’m proud of myself for letting those go. It took me several decades of hunting to pull those together.

Dishes: Oh! My! God! I’m also proud of the fact that I got my iridescent carnival glass dinnerware out of my kitchen and into the garage where I’ll try to sell it on Facebook Market Place come spring. Growing up, my mom bought a lot of stuff at the Salvation Army resale store and part of the set I have now was dishes she purchased there and we used to eat off from at our cottage in the 1940s. I added many pieces to the set so that I have a service for ten. Over my lifetime the prices for carnival glass has taken a nose dive after decades of shooting up and now I’ll probably have trouble giving them away. No one wants dishes you can’t put in the microwave or dishwasher which has killed the vintage fine china market but the death blow came from the Food Network when they popularized using plain white dishes. (And I have to admit, eating off orange carnival glass takes a strong gag reflex if you don't take the color of your food in mind when you plan your meal.) The only people buying fancy vintage dishes these days are people who repurpose them into garden art. I did separate the creamer and sugar set from the rest of the carnival glass because those I’ll probably be able to sell on e-Bay for $50. Cream and sugar bowls in any china set are still worth listing.

More Dishes: When I was a kid my mom replaced the carnival glass at the lake with Lily-of-valley dishes that were grocery store premiums in the fifties. I love those dishes but my brother and I broke a lot of them and by the time I was old enough to care about pretty things there were only a few pieces of that pattern left. So I set out to build a set with a similar pattern from the same super market premium era. 

My mom had lily-of-the-valley in her yard and wore the fragrance and I can’t see a bouquet of lily-of-the-valley without thinking of the gentlest side of Mom’s personality. She could be a hardcore disciplinarian, too, and to this day my brother and I still argue over which one of us she loved best. I think it was my brother because he gave her three grandchildren and all I gave her was poodle grand-babies. Back to the dishes, though, I’m keeping my lily-of-the-valley dishes plus some vintage diner dishes and some olive vintage Fenton glassware that all blend together. The diner dishes I use when I’m alone because I can throw them in the microwave and dishwasher. Heck, I could throw them against a wall and they wouldn’t break. Not that I'd ever do that, but I have dropped a few on the floor. I used to have a whole set of for ten of the diner dishes but I downsized them after my husband died to just four place settings, plus extra cups, pitchers and serving pieces of all sizes. The pitchers and platters will go on e-Bay soon. Mid-century style furniture making a comeback is helping to make diner dishes popular again. My brain hurts from downsizing decisions. At one point I even went online thinking I’d get rid of ALL my dishes and start over with a brand new set. It was fun looking but in end the end I recognized the shopping was just another diversion for avoiding what I didn’t want to do and that was letting go of more of my memories attached to my dishes and green stemware, most of which were bought one piece at a time while combing antique malls, flea markets and estate sales. ©

This is the carnival glass I moved to the garage and it came out of the glass front cupboard below. Of those three pieces still left, the center one is all I'll be keeping because it belonged to my mom. The other two are just staging for when the house goes up for sale.

 


 
The two boxes of vases at the top of the cabinet up above will end up in my new laundry room. (x-florist that I am, these vases are what's left after last summer's purge from an entire cabinet of vases that I had in the garage.) Before this week's purging that top shelf was filled with vintage diner pitchers and serving dishes. The photo below shows the only pitchers and serving dishes that made it through the purge. 
 
 














  





The photo above is of another cabinet in my kitchen and, yes, I have far more cups than I'll ever need but, what can I say, I can't bare to get rid of the lily-of-the-valley ones that I rarely use, and the others I do use. One of the boxes at the top one holds some cut glass dishes my mom used whenever my folks had a party. The other box holds some pressed glass party dishes that made it through the purging of the Hoosier cabinet that I sold last summer. That Hoosier was entirely filled with pressed glass. And last but not least the hardest purge of all was letting go of my green Fenton stemware and plates (below). I'm only keeping two sizes out of five. But that box of Fenton in the garage won't be going anywhere until I actually see my new home. They've tweaked the laundry room footprint so much since giving me the schematic that I'm not sure how much stuff will fit in the cabinets above and below the folding area. My head hurts from thinking about all this! 

Good bye beautiful Fenton! I will miss you.

35 comments:

  1. I am always amazed at the things you have collected. I think of all the crackerjack toys I threw away. Your dishes are really quite lovely and hope you can find good homes for them.

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    1. I started collecting Cracker Jack when I was a kid but I didn't do it in earnest until I met my husband. It started as a joke. We'd go into antique malls and he'd come out with hit ticket stuff so I decided I'd hunt for the cheapest things I could find...thus Cracker Jack attracted my attention. And like any collectible if you get into deep enough you buy the books and start learning its history which adds to the thrill of the hunt, when you find the rarest pieces.

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  2. It was a good thing you started downsizing and selling things as early as you did. You have more stuff than anyone I ever knew of. Wow!

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    1. That long wind up to moving into the CCC was one of the main attractions to that particular place. It gave me a goal and a deadline to accomplish what was needed. The pandemic and the auction house going out of business sure has made it more complicated but with any luck I'll get to where I need to be buy move in. Sell art is going to be my biggest hurl to come and is not going to be easy.

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  3. I hope all this is causing you to revisit a lot of lovely memories.

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    1. It is and that's why I'm documenting all my downsizing projects in my blog because collecting has been a huge part of who I am/or was. I'm kind of afraid of who I'll be without having an interesting house to visit. It's not like I can point to photos of kids and grandkids and think, "These are my pride and joy."

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    2. P.S. Most collectors---and I'm no exception---can tell you where the things they collect came from, what the day was like, etc. And since Junk Hunting days were always days off from work the memories objects invoke are good ones.

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  4. I am always amazed at all the stuff you have. Your home must be huge to house it all! I thought I had a lot of downsizing to do, you make me feel lazy Jean!

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    1. 1,600 square feet that I'm downsizing to 1,000. We had a lot of stuff but most of it was very small stuff that fit in collector, bug boxes that sat on library book shelves. Plus a glass front showcase for the things that wouldn't fit in bug boxes (which are 1"x10"15" and we had a couple dozen of them. All organized). My bigger Cracker Jack stuff had a shelf in our spare bath where it was on display. Another shelf had a collection of 1940s sand toys that I'm keeping. A third shelf had vintage seashell souvenirs. The last shelf had bath towels. Bath is now empty of all that and staged for the realtor.

      The bigger gas station stuff that my husband collected had a three stall garage with two full walls to display it in front of plus a showcase for the smalls...all very show room style and very clean and orderly.

      I worked ten years at a large floral shop where I was in charge of displaying merchandise and seasonal window displays changes. You don't need a lot of space if you know how to display stuff properly.

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  5. I am still amazed at all the stuff you have collected over the years. The more I read about you getting rid of the more I feel that I need my cupboards to be almost empty. Most of the stuff I still have (I have been mildly purging but nothing on your scale) hasn’t been used for many years, which is a shame, The thought was always : "but I might break it if I use it”. I have no idea what will happen to it when I’m gone. Perhaps I should clean a few display cupboards and kitchen cupboards, wardrobes and closets too? It would probably make me feel good, I’ve heard decluttering stuff declutters the mind too.

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    1. I have made downsizing mistakes. Like last summer I downsize the pots, pans and baking things in my kitchen and I gave away my pie pans thinking I'd never use them. Then a neighbor came over last fall to give me a bag of applies they'd just picked and I already had my winter bag of apples in the refrigerate that I keep just in case I can't get to the store through the snow and I'm starving which is the only time I'd eat a raw apple. I like apple pie but, guess what. No pie tins. So I googles "how to make an apple pie without a pie pan" and found a recipe using a cookie sheet. Every week I put making a pie on my 'Job List'. LOL

      I don't know about decluttering stuff also declutters the mind too because I've never thought of my stuff as 'clutter'.

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  6. Good thing you have experience with selling your stuff, I wouldn't know where to begin, although, I do not have all of the wonderful collectables that you have. It takes time and talent to put it all together for sale and you sure sound like you know what you are doing! Hope you get lots of $$$ for your treasures. Glad you had so much fun gathering it all in the first place - a life of treasure-hunting memories! Good for you!

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    1. We had booths in antique malls and spent a couple of summers being vendors at large outdoor antique fairs and I've been selling on e-Bay 20 years. You can't help but learn a few things.

      The stuff I'm down to selling now doesn't have as much value as what I was selling when I started, but that's the way I planned it. That way, I figure if I run out of time it won't matter as much if I end up giving stuff away.

      The collecting is in my blood, when I'm too old to know better I'll probably be the old lady who hoards packets of sugar in her nursing home room.

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  7. Oh gosh ... you are getting down to the nitty gritty. I had ten sets of dishes and 200+ cookbooks. Downsizing IS a tough emotional roller coaster chore. Glad you have great photos of everything! Keep up the good work!

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    1. Wow, ten sets of dishes sounds like you and your husband did a lot of entertaining back in your heyday. Downsizing is hard at our age because you know you're that much closer to dying. I don't like that aspect of letting go.

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  8. Well it looks like we may be downsizing much sooner than I expected. Our main home is a family farmstead where my husband was born and raised. It seems that a family member wants to buy the place, so we might be using our 2nd home as our main place. It's only 1300 sq ft but is very near our daughter and her family (that's why we bought it in the first place). We've been living in lots of space and lots of built-ins and lots of closets and a big basement with floor to ceiling storage. Lord have mercy. I guess it's time to dive in! It helps knowing that there are many others, like you, who are in the same situation.

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    1. Does your husband have mixed feelings about leaving the family homestead? My husband would have loved to own the farm land where he grew up (the house and barn was destroyed in a tornado.

      Sounds like you've got a bigger job ahead of you than I had. The good news is that spring is coming and auctions are very popular and easy to do in farm country...not allowed where I live.

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    2. Yes, my husband has had some reservations in the past about selling. A very dear nephew wants to raise his family on the farm, though, and it's a great spot for families. Our kids are long gone, plus, our one and only grandchild is near the smaller home. She's grandpa's girl, and we already watch her at least 3-4 days per week. Today, I told my husband that we always knew the time would come when we would need to simplify...we just didn't know when. I'm going to try to look at the process as a huge adventure. God help me ;)

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    3. I can tell you from personal experience that having a dear relative take over a beloved piece of family history (in my case our family cottage) is the best of both worlds. I get to visit whenever I want.

      Make your 'battle plan' and enjoy the adventure.

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  9. This reminds me of an incident from my husband's army days. One of the senior wives, very happily married and who had traveled and acquired a lot over her husband's years of military service, had made a will detailing which of her daughters and daughter-in-law would receive what on her death. She was determined that if she died first and her husband remarried - "That woman will never get her hand on my prized china."

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    1. That's really funny but it reminds me of something that happened when my mom died. She had earmarked certain things that she wanted various people to have when she died. When she did die my poor dad was worried he'd be living in an empty house. So we ended up waiting for our to get our items from mom until after my dad died...17 years later.

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  10. Isn't amazing how we end up with so much stuff over time

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    1. I think of that often as I'm downsizing that each thing I have represents one transaction, thousands of decisions. Most people move more than I did so they get rid of stuff at various stages in life, but I didn't do that.

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  11. You've brought back my collecting days, which I compressed into a few years. Then, after I'd nearly filled the house (who has dishes sitting on their washing machine or under the bed?) I started selling. I wish every now and then that I had some of the really glorious pieces still with me, but in truth, I still have some beauties and I rarely really 'see' them, even though they're in plain sight. I need to give them another good lookover one of these days.

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    1. Glad to see you posting, I've been wondering about you given the weather coming out of Texas.

      Dishes have been a popular thing to collect even for women who don't consider themselves collectors because dishes are functional. I've never had any under my bed or on the washing machine so you win today. LOL

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  12. Oh, Lord, I feel overwhelmed just reading about all you're doing! I'm impressed by how well you're handling the whole thing.

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    1. You won't be impressed when you see my mini-meltdown in Saturday's post. LOL

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  13. Those aren't breaks. Those are just switching to another task. A break requires a couch and your choice of book, tea, or other diversion!

    I'm a dish junkie too and at some point I will have to do as you are -- I have several vintage patterns, plus a couple of what I call "good" patterns and then the turkey and Christmas dishes.... I don't ever want to see them go and shipping china is pricey. But at some point, essential. And that doesn't start the china cabinet.... I wish the kids were into my stuff.

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    1. You're so right! Books and tea are breaks.

      You have great dishes and you entertain a lot so it makes sense to keep what you like. Shipping costs makes selling dishes online really HARD. I'm hoping Facebook Market Places does better. It's worked good for what I've tried so far.

      Speaking of shipping I just bought four more bowls on e-Bay to match my diner ware only in a smaller size than I already have. The shipping cost more than the bowls...$17 vs $15. They are replacing some yellow ones I used every day for cereal.

      I remember some of your cottage dishes that I lusted after.

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  14. You are making remarkable progress at The Purge! Bravo! It is hard to Let Go of some things, but once we do, I find that I rarely, if ever, even think about them again. Diner Ware is the only thing that still sells at the Antique Mall, Fine China and Fine Glassware does not, you can't even give it away. I Purged my Kitchenware during the Big Move and kept mostly my Jadeite, which I Love and use, pretty sturdy stuff that old Fire King Ware. As for Mugs, well, you know my infatuation with Starbucks Mug collecting... and I've Purged most other Diner Coffee/Tea Cups, which I had a huge Collection of at one time and now only kept my few favorites. The Bowls we use most tho' are plain White but with various raised patterns, it is easier to eat off plain White dishes/bowls, I don't know why?

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    1. I only have one Fire King dish and I debated purging it but I've been making Jello in it since I was a kid. It's my Jello dish and I couldn't let it go. I let go of all my political mugs except my Obama Birth Certificate cup and I used to have twenty from Ford on up. didn't figure it would be a good way to meet new people to serve them coffee in those but I do miss them. If I ever get back to Junk Hunting again---and I can see that happening after I get settled---I'm going to look for Starbucks cups. I have one and love it.

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    2. I never was 'into' Branded items, but with Starbucks Mugs I don't know why, I just Love the Brand and the Logo and their Mugs... I couldn't tell you why the Appeal is so strong? *LOL* I had to laugh about you meeting new people and serving them in Politically Incorrect Mugs... I wouldn't be able to resist, but then, I'm Mad as a Hatter like that, people's reactions amuse me, even if it's not a Positive reaction. *winks* I know, I'm a Natural Born Troublemaker, my Rebellious Streak never went away I suppose...

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    3. I love Starbucks because the company has such a socially responsible business model and it doesn't hurt that they've become a target of right wing extremists.

      I never minded serving coffee in politically incorrect mugs when my husband was around to debate such things but I don't think fast enough on my feet anymore to defend my opinions. Plus I live in a Red County and I'll be living more dense than I've ever done before.

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  15. My mother had four Fenton wine goblets like the one in your last photo. They were a treasure as I recall. I didn't know carnival glass is what it is. I had no name for it, but recognize it from my childhood. We didn't have any but other families did.

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    1. Never knew anyone else who had Fenton. I still love it. Drinking wine out of colored glasses, though, is not the same as drinking it out of clear.

      There are lots of different kinds of carnival glass...some even were prizes at carnivals. I had one of those that I won when I was a kid. The blue (and ruby) ones like what are left in my cabinet at one time sold for big bucks.

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