Tag Archives: collections

One man’s treasure

As I’ve been sharing with you lately, my husband and I have begun a process of simplifying our possessions. We spent the first half of our lives collecting; that’s the fun part. I think I told you that my husband collected many things, from antique vegetable and snuff cans to old cameras and photographs, and much in between. I don’t collect anything per se. I just buy stuff. Over 25 years, there has been a lot of accumulation.

We’ve had a lot of fun recently, passing our collections along to others, though we’re not sure if those who receive our surprise packages find it as fun. But it does feel good to weed out our belongings and work toward having fewer things to dust.

Yesterday, I went to an estate sale for the first time. A neighbor of ours, who died recently at the age of a hundred and something, was a collector. Yesterday morning I received notice that the sale would be happening at his house, two doors up, all day, every day for four days. I viewed the items for sale online. There were thousands.

Cars jammed our tiny street and through traffic came to a standstill. A long line formed in front of the house, while a bouncer representing the estate sale company regulated admittance.

I stood in line nearly 45 minutes to get in. I’m not sure why. Perhaps it’s human nature to want some of what so many are rushing to acquire. Mostly, I was curious—curious to see what a hundred-year-old man and his late wife might have amassed over eight or nine decades.

Everything that was ever made in silver and brass. Beautiful antique furniture. Crystal and glass in red, blue and green. Hundreds and hundreds of lamps, atop bases of ceramic roosters, cherubs, fruits and vegetables. Hundreds of candlesticks, salt and pepper shakers and bookends, and the usual trays, bowls and vases but enough of them to fill an outlet store many times over. A two-story, three car garage was full of furniture. And right in the middle of everything, amongst the vast collection of artwork, in a three-foot by four-foot frame, a portrait of John Wayne with an American flag, painted on black velvet.

I left the sale on sensory overload and without making a purchase. I began to wonder, though, why the man’s children weren’t taking all these treasures. Then I realized his children are probably in their eighties.

It seemed a little macabre to be perusing and judging my neighbor’s belongings, and I hope I’ll be forgiven for that. I wish him peace in a world without material possessions, and I hope the family benefits nicely from abundant proceeds. I do know the buyers who’ve been storming our neighborhood will go home satisfied that they’ve gotten some goodies at a bargain. So I guess it’s a win all around.

It does make me all the more motivated to straighten up around here and pass on, selectively and methodically, the treasures we’ve been blessed to enjoy for so many years, while we’re still alive.

And, if clearing out around here gives me a little leeway to purchase new treasures occasionally, say from an estate sale, then all the better. Maybe an objet d’art for the new kitchen.

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Filed under Family and Friends, Hearth and Home, Uncategorized

Eighty-six the peppers

We’re about to undertake a modest kitchen re-do and, as part of a larger initiative to reduce the number of belongings in our household, we are having to make some difficult decisions.

When we moved into our 1912 Victorian almost 21 years ago, we started filling it up with “collectibles,” a word I use loosely. Once word got out that we were collecting certain items, our friends thoughtfully and generously added to these.

My husband brought into our marriage several really neat collections, including antique framed portraits, antique vegetable cans, antique snuff cans, antique cameras, varied forms of “cheesecake” (a.k.a. antique porn), old Coca-Cola memorabilia, old cigarette memorabilia and old glass pinball machine backs. Over the years, he amassed a matchbook collection and a collection of “miscellaneous,” most of which has been displayed in our Pussycat Lounge. We also have the cork from every bottle of wine we’ve opened since 1990.

After we got married, we began collecting coffee mugs and refrigerator magnets and any and all things chili pepper. We have a chili pepper napkin holder and spoon rest, strings of chili peppers hanging on the walls, chili wreaths and wall hangings, pepper platters and pepper pitchers, table linens and tiki lights, canisters and candles, salt and pepper shakers and switch plates, mugs and magnets. It’s been fun, but it’s time for a thinning of the crop.

You know how it is. I have a friend who started collecting elephants in 1978 and, thanks to the generosity of friends, likely has more than a thousand. With my son, it’s tree frogs; my sister-in-law, it’s apples. The hard part is knowing when–and how–to get the word out politely that we’re full.

I’d like to assure our loved ones that we’re keeping a few chili treasures that we just can’t part with. The other 75 percent are being packed away to pass on to someone who will give them a loving home. Applications are now being accepted.

My husband has slowly and methodically been finding adoptive homes for a select few of his treasured collections. Don’t panic; much will remain with us, and our only child will decide the final cuts once we’ve moved on to the big flea market in the sky.

For now, our kitchen will get a mini facelift and a fresh theme. Shhh, it’s a secret; even we don’t know what it is.


Filed under Family and Friends, Hearth and Home