As you may have seen from my postings the last few months, I am in the midst of a major project for cleaning up and doing some remodeling here at the house. We moved into it in 1994, so we’ve been in the house going on 25 years. In that amount of time, you accumulate stuff.

Right now, I’m working on my 12th trip to the Goodwill trailer. Each trip has averaged about 5-6 bankers boxes or kitchen trash bags full of stuff. I’ve also brought in the junk hauler once and filled up half a truck, and living in Santa Clara, we have an annual haul away by the city where we put a good amount of stuff out on the curb to have it magically disappear.

I’ve also been sending stuff out with the weekly pick ups, both recycling (because an old copy of a Java 4 manual has zero value) and as trash (because that copy of Adobe photoshop 3 won’t run on any computer within 2 miles of this house).

It’s a lot of work, but it’s been worth it. We have Laurie’s cookbooks out of storage, and the room where they used to be stored is now my office.

There have been surprises, and there is no bigger surprise than three boxes of China.

Three Boxes of China

I loved my mom dearly, and not only were we family, we were good friends (most of the time), but Mom had very specific worldviews and tended to not want to hear opinions that differed from them. One of those involved china.

When Laurie and I got married, the china discussion started. We needed to have settings of China, because all married couples had to have china. My response was simple: it was a waste of money, we didn’t need it, and we’d never use it. This discussion went on for about three years before Mom got tired of asking, and she simply told us to pick out a china pattern because she was buying us china.

So we went out and looked at china, and we picked a pattern, and we gave it to my mom. My mom’s response, of course, was to complain that we’d picked one of the most expensive patterns. My response to that was to tell her we didn’t really need the china, so don’t bother buying us any.

That went over as well as you might imagine.

So, starting the next Christmas, we started getting sets of china, until we ended up with 8 full settings, one per year, plus some serving plates and other bits and bobs. And every Christmas we would thank her for the china, because that’s what polite people do. I did try to suggest after four servings that in our household that was enough and she could stop.

That went over as well as you might imagine.

So we have eight servings of china that have never been used, spent a couple of years in a cabinet in the dining room until we wanted the space to be useful and boxed it back up and donated off the cabinet. We also have a few settings of Christmas holiday china, which were Mom’s and which as she got older she made sure it was expected I would take with me at the end of one of my trips and make my own. I suggested I really didn’t need it.

That went over as well as you might imagine.

So that’s two boxes of china that have been in storage for many years and never used. Here’s the weird thing: when digging out the storage room and going through all of the boxes, I found three boxes of china. And opening them up to check on whether anything was broken and to count the servings, I found…

I found a third set of china, multiple servings, in a pattern I don’t recognize. It’s not one Laurie recognizes either. Neither of us has a clue how we ended up with three settings of china. It’s not from her family. It must be something I acquired from mom along the way, but we’re both dumbfounded at where this china came from.

This, kids, is why you shouldn’t let boxes of stored stuff sit for decades without going through them and doing away with the crap. Someone might break into the house in the middle of the night and leave random boxes of china settings in your house.

The china seems to have enough value that giving it to Goodwill doesn’t seem like the right choice. The patterns are no longer made, of course. We are investigating places, most of them online, that buy china and sell individual pieces to people who have sets and have broken a plate.

That, of course, implies taking everything out of the three boxes, doing an inventory, wrapping it all in bubble wrap and packing for shipment, and doing all of the work needed to get quotes and ship and wait for the inevitable breakage in transit, and…

Which I’ll do at some point or another, but for right now… Those boxes are going — yes — into storage until later in the year when I’ll have more time to deal with this.

Or — maybe I’ll wait until my neighbors are gone for the day and sneak the boxes into their garage and stick them in their pile of boxes. That might be easiest of all.