What do you do with eight Rosenthal cup plates?
Old Folks Home: There are other, more euphemistic names for the place where I'm moving, but I've torn away the scrim of kindness. This may be the last breakfast I'll have on my back porch. Already the Queen Elizabeth rose, grandiflora, has turned into a tall, august Queen Mary with a family of big blooms almost ready for the scattering. One eager branch on the weeping cherry tree has changed into a golden waterfall. The tomato plant at the foot of the garden has a huddle of Big Boys whose red coats shine like lanterns. They should have been picked yesterday, but sometimes I entertain a friend on the back porch.
Following a pattern for special days, I've had breakfast of orange juice from a thistle-pressed glass and croissant with jam made from red raspberries I picked in my garden in June. A square of cream cheese had been on that Rosenthal cup plate, gift from a generous friend, now gone, who thought eight was better than one. Whatever does one do with eight beautiful Rosenthal cup plates? Store them in the cupboard and wash them twice a year with special loving. Be glad they're not turkey platters.
Breakfast over, now I'll make a list of treasures I'll take to my new home. Of course, I'll take these favorite dishes and linens. And Aunt Beck's cherry table where I'm writing. It has a charred triangle just where it can't be covered with a place mat. Aunt Beck used this table at least once for an ironing board. Was she ironing an embroidered petticoat, or a corset cover, or her man's starched white separate collars?
Of course, I'll take the Japanese hibachi which I bought in a secondhand store in Kyoto. The well for charcoal is lined with copper and is surrounded with little drawers for the condiments. But I do not use it for cooking. It holds magazines in summer and houseplants in winter. Once I was asked if it was an old sewing machine without the treadle. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I see the wood with its fascinating whorls and soft patina probably made by applying palm oil - not from a palm tree but from rubbing with the underside of the worker's hand. Yes, I'll take the hibachi.
And I'll take my four-piece dressing table. The center table has a big beveled mirror over it and a separate chest of drawers on either side. My special friend built this for me before we were married. What were his thoughts as he hand-carved the mirror frame during the long evenings when we were miles apart?
Then there's the music picture. It reminds me of the summer I spent in Rome. At an antique shop, Guiseppe showed me a huge hard-bound hymnal. Originally it was the only one in the church. It rested on a lectern and an altar boy turned the pages, leaving his thumbprint on the lower corner of each page.
I chose a page with an unusually beautiful illuminated letter. ''Agn' dei'' Today - Yesterday - Tomorrow. Guiseppe carefully cut the page from the book and rolled it in stiff paper. That is how it came to hang on my wall.
On the opposite wall is our 25th wedding anniversary bouquet painted in oils by the mother of my best friend. Mary Pedlow never had an art lesson. Except for a little china painting, she had never done any artwork before she was 40. With her family grown, a new life began for her - studying the old masters and painting in oils, watercolors, and pastels. When she was in her 80s, she was having one-woman shows in many art centers from the Atlantic to the Mississippi. She loved art museums, but she thought all beauty was not locked up there. Beauty could be in a glass of jelly or a tiny pinafore. Those were the days before McDonald's and Jordache. I never thought that that flower picture would turn into a white elephant. ''Who'll buy my violets?''
And . . . and . . . and . . . hold it! My new home is about as big as a birdcage. Already my treasures are bulging out the window, and the door won't close. Space! Space! I'm having claustrophobia.
The word ''space'' puts me on top of Pikes Peak. It is our honeymoon. We're there to watch the sun rise. We huddled together in the cold dawn and looked out over amber (not yet) waves of grain and purple mountain majesties. We watched an orange beach ball peek over the horizon. Up - up - up.
I know what Katherine Lee Bates meant when she wrote ''America the Beautiful.''
One last look before we left the mountaintop. An eagle rose from a tree far below. It flew higher and higher. Always I'll remember the picture as the eagle flew across the sun. It did not take its nest with it.
So I'll put my treasures in my memory chest where they can't be stolen or broken. Off I'll fly to new friends and new adventures.