Ring

Last night I got home from work, had a smackerel for dinner, and really, really wanted to stay inside where it was warm and my new/old couch was comfy, to catch up on Call the Midwife, as if I haven’t watched 700 episodes of it this week already. I can’t believe they killed off Barbara.

Instead, I got on my hatty and coaty and grabbed a bottle of Prosecco-y (or as I now call it, a bottle of migraine) and headed to the home of the neighbor I had never met, as she was having an open house.

As you know, because I never hush about it, I live in an old mill neighborhood that’s on the National Register of Historic Places (so is my vadge). All the houses are exactly the same—except for one stretch we call Snob Hill, with TWO-story millhouses. Fancy TWO-story ones.

Anyway my neighbor on the next block bought her house in January of this year and she started an Instagram called MyMillhouse. Someone here found it, ya buncha stalkers, and said to me, “Isn’t this your neighborhood?” Naturally I started following MyMillhouse myself, and she’s done things like knock down walls to expose the other fireplaces (there are three. Only one of mine is exposed). (Let’s have a knock-down party!!)

She started announcing on Instagram that she was having an open house, and I decided I should go, as I’ve been dying to meet her and didn’t want to seem insane by just, you know, knocking on her door and asking if I could have a piece of pizza.

I can’t believe I mentioned that yesterday and no one said anything about it in the comments.

As I pulled up to her house (yes, I drove. It’s a block away. Look, it was COLD. Who are you, Tenzing Norgay, over there? You’d have driven, too.), this young couple was also pulling up, and I say young but they are probably in their 30s, which at this point is young and oh very young why did you leave June this time?

“We wondered if we should bring something,” the wife said, eyeing my Prosecco.

“We’ll all go in together and say we brought it as a group,” I assured them, their old maiden aunt in sensible oxfords.

Anyway, it turns out I love that couple, and we are all best friends now, and I plan to move in with them and be their Alice in nude hose and Keds. Except I won’t clean.

The other news is that I love the owner of the millhouse, who showed me all around her exactly-like-mine-but-not house, and oh my god let’s talk about her front door.

She and I both have our original front doors. And see this thing on mine?

See the box? It’s on the National Register of Historic Places. Bah.

See how there’s an outline on the front of my door, an outline of what was once a beautiful Art Deco doorbell ringer? It goes with the box on the back of my door.

THE MY MILLHOUSE WOMAN STILL HAS HER FRONT DOORBELL PART.

All I can think of is the day whoever lived here said, “Ima just rip this beautiful ringer off the door.” WHY. Where was I when this happened? Was I 9 and feeling a sudden cold chill of revulsion while reading Little House books in Saginaw?

Naturally, because I’m an asshole, which is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places, I rang the neighbor’s said intact doorbell with the couple I made best friends with. Also, sorry, Chris and Lilly, for cheating on you with another couple but y’all are in Disney World and this is what happens.

Oh, it made the most lovely, chingy noise!! I want the lovely, chingy noise at my door! Come and ching on my door! We’ve been waitin’ for youuuuu.

But here’s the thing: The reason this was an open house was it was an open house for members and people interested in the Greensboro Historic Preservation something-or-other (chairwoman: my vagina), or some name like that, and everyone at that thing was into old houses, and if you think there weren’t 700 ideas for where I could get my old front of my doorbell back…

Oh my god it was great! I heard about everyone’s old houses, and old-house renovations, and there were other neighbors there too (one couple from Snob Hill, with their elbow-length gloves and monocles) (they have my favorite house in my hood, actually, other than mine).

So now I have a new goal. FIND THAT DOORBELL FRONT.

The hostess of the party and I exchanged digits, and I was told about the next meeting of the preservation society which I am so going to, and right now I kind of feel like George Bailey.

“I’ve been nominated for membership in the National Geographic Society.”

I guess what I am saying to you is I am glad I got off the couch and traveled one block to my neighbor’s open house, and now I am on the hunt for my doorbell and stay tuned for many excruciating posts about finding feeling fingering and forgetting that doorbell and

you

are

welcome.

Love,
June

74 thoughts on “Ring

  1. I stampeded over to Instagram and followed mymillhouse also. I loooove her dogs. This will be so much fun to follow. I love following you and all of your crazy shenanigans, pretty Joon. Thank you for thirteen years of not blogging. I have been in an out but always in now. You are the most entertaining writer I know of. (Is that a preposition I’m ending with? Rules I long ago forgot!)

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  2. Ive already followed her and approve of her and everything she is doing. I can’t wait for her to rip up that carpet !

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  3. I live in a 120 year old house and know the quest.

    I tracked down a newel post lamp in the dark days pre-internet and I will be buried with it.

    Still no pull plates on some of the pocket doors because one cannot rush things.

    Your ching plate is out there.

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  4. smackerel -Winnie the Pooh ,my favorite , till they started the newer cartoons where there is scary stuff in them.

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  5. I have quite a few houses in my neighborhood that I really want to see the inside of! I’ve definitely been tempted to knock on the door & ask for a tour.

    The local preservation group should be interesting. I really need to see about what is available in our area, as we have quite a few different historic neighborhoods (including mine) with various requirements/rules/planning.

    If you have a photo of her original doorbell, I can ask in some of the restoration groups that I belong to if anyone has one or suggestions to find a replacement. Some of the people have things that are never listed anywhere because they have curated collections of other items, but when someone requests them, they offer the item for sale! There are also websites that don’t come up in the average search, but have good inventories.

    I have been picking through antique/thrift/junk shops (Iowa has tons!), yard sales, local sale sites, & various online salvage stores (including eBay) trying to find some of the missing pieces for my 1912 Craftsman. I’ve had decent luck finding some items relatively inexpensively that need some paint/polish but are otherwise in good shape & others that are going to be more work, but are original to the era/house style. It’s an ongoing project.

    I just looked for “Art Deco Door Bell” on eBay & I found these 2. There are some other nice options too, but these seemed to be a similar shape to the outline in the paint.

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/Genuine-Art-Deco-Door-Bell-Push-Button-Brown-Bakelite-Sky-Scraper-Style-/153683592163

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/ORIGINAL-ART-DECO-VINTAGE-BAKELITE-ELECTRIC-DOOR-BELL-PUSH-PRESS-BUTTON-/372821152109

    I have found some really interesting & completely random items on eBay. I love when I can find a great deal too!

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  6. Lovely post, pretty June.

    We’re now outside of DC where there is a vintage building salvage yard. If Mother Nature ever figures out a dial setting other than freezing rain, I’m happy to go dig for you, just let me know. I understand if you want it to be something you find though!

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  7. I love old homes! I had one in Phoenix – but foolishly sold it in a fit of I’m not sure what. So now would like another and homes in Phoenix are selling for millions more than I can afford. So. Maybe I will have to move back to NC. I think it is wonderful that you have that adorable place and it is on the National Register too! It is so cute as a button! I hope you can find the doorbell! And how fun if you dig out those fireplaces! Wow.
    Loved this column… but missed something about the drunk next door… or do I say – the drinker…lol

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  8. Oh, how fun to discover new friends AND launch a search for the elusive doorbell. Also, too, does your new friend realize that she may have some new random followers on Instagram? Assure her that we are mostly normal.

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  9. I hope you find your doorbell. Back when women’s consciousness-raising groups were meeting in one another’s houses sitting cross-legged in skirts without underwear and with hand mirrors, perhaps they could’ve helped you find yours.

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  10. I think that’s kind of touching that the drunk wanted to pay for his pizza slice with the bottle return coins in his pocket. I would have given it to him, too. Just this ONCE made clear. But what if you never have any money for pizza and you see your single neighbor get a whole box of fragrant cheesy spicy pizza all for herself and you’ve got these dimes in your pocket and she’s sort of a nice woman and why not give it a shot. Especially if the alcohol has blurred your boundaries a bit.
    I was going to mention it yesterday, too, but stuck to the appreciations for your labors. I am touched by your heart over and over again. How did that go? You are one of life’s pleasures? Treasures? Whatever. Bless you.

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  11. If your neighbor wasn’t so drinky perhaps he could afford his own dang pizza. Life choices, people!!
    How fun to have a new, interesting group. They seem like my kind of people! Even though I live in a new house, I built it to look old, but it’s not as charming as a REAL old house. I follow mymillhouse on IG too. That woman will rip up carpet any day, any time. She rocks.

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  12. Oh how I loved meeting you last night; the woman in the blue car I wave to every time I’m walking my dogs.

    I’m looking forward to spending porch time with you. On a side note, if I find my doorbell missing, #iknowwhereyoulive. ❤️🤣

    On a side note, I don’t see the Doorbell of our dreams on this site anymore, but there are some amazing other treats on there to drool over.
    https://www.hippohardware.com

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  13. Any chance your original doorbell ringer is somewhere in the garage? I guess you could always ask the seller if he remembers what happened to it.

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  14. The key to the front door, and back door, of the house where I grew up in Atlanta was a skeleton key. We never looked the door unless we were away overnight. I think that house was built in 1947.

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  15. Oh- and in college I had a mn old wooden resteraunt booth in my dorm room. I got it for being a long-time, devoted employee when they remodeled they gave me one. Anywho, word got out about my booth. Girls in my dorm used to knock on my door and say ‘I just ordered a pizza, do you mind if we eat it in your booth.?’ I allowed it and graciously accepted a piece of pizza as a thank you. Hello, freshman 15! In the adult world though- that pizza sharing is a little odd and reverse of my dorm thing, but it reminded me of that.

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  16. Oh this is such fun. How awesome that you made friends with the couple. Those poor folks in Disney are now plotting how to win you back. Guessing you can expect a t-shirt: ‘my fav couple went to Disney and all I got was this lousy t-shirt.’

    I too love looking at other people’s houses. Years ago my mom and I went on a house walk at Christmas. I think it was a church fundraiser. So fun to see the inside of people’s beautiful homes and how they decorated for Christmas.

    Good luck with the doorbell search. I feel like nowadays with the internet’s help- everything can be located!

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  17. I’m just so ding dang happy you enjoyed her open house and are now friends.
    I love both your houses and it’s fun to follow her renovation.
    Good luck with the doorbell search!

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  18. Good for you for getting out of your comfy house and going to the open house to meet the neighbor and make new friends. The bonus was being nominated for membership in the National Geography Society. You know it is just for explorers. Now to go exploring for your new old doorbell ringer.

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  19. I would have loved to be at that party. Love old houses, vintage stuff, etc. I hope you and your new friend have fun antiquing and scouting for vintage house treasures. I’ve had her IG bookmarked since you first mentioned her, and love her red door.

    There is a house in my neighborhood that always does pretty lights, and I’d drive by and just sit and look at them. One night they came out and invited me in to their party, where there was a woman I knew of from college. It was fun, and nobody was a freak, just a nice group that liked to cook/drink together.

    My condo is in a 1922 brick brownstone bldg, and my front door has those push buttons in the lockset. I trained myself to not ever push them, cause then, locked out, though I do have the key. Even have the little skeleton key for my bathroom door which is never closed.

    Barbara dead. Sad…

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    1. I LOVE Salvage Dawgs! I would love to go to Black Dog Salvage. Architectural Salvage places are far and few in between here in Southern California.

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  20. I started stalking MyMillhouse after it was mentioned in the comments and holy cats! I loved watching the process. The doorbell search is sure to be fun.
    There was a moment when I read about the pizza doorbell ringer and thought, surely not. No way. That’s just insane that someone would do that. I glossed over it and now I am shocked but not really. That neighbor doesn’t seem to think that he oversteps any boundaries is what it seems like. I am sorry that you have to deal with that. Home is supposed to be your place of peace and I feel like I would never be able to fully relax if I were in your shoes.

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    1. Beth from the woods,who has a large dog, a couple guns and the keys to my car for protection...keys not in my fist...in my hand as I run my hardest to the car to get away. says:

      It’s the baseball bat she keeps behind the door that makes her safe. The mace in her purse and the killer Edsel, wait that may be Millhous or Eyeriss.
      Also too, she has a recording of a bear growling.
      And the guy who drinks next door , knows no bounds…which seems to be the norm with most heavy drinkers.

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  21. I wonder if a person could record a chingy doorbell on her phone and then make it her ringtone. If I knew how to do this, I might accidentally turn the comment into advice, but I don’t.

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  22. First, I want to commend you on offering to share the wine as a group thing. That’s a really nice thing to do in a world that lacks everyday acts of kindness.

    Also, I nearly choked on my coffee with the first (my vadge) of today’s missal.

    I love to see other people’s houses. One day when I came back from a run I told my daughter “I wish everyone would leave their drapes open so I can see how they style their living room when I’m running by. It’s not like I run fast, I have time to look.” And she said “because that’s not creepy or anything, mom.”

    Losing Barbara killed me. She was so freaking sweet, and so perfect for Tom, and the loss to Nurse Crane… well, clearly it’s not just a TV show to me.

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    1. I feel the same way about open drapes. Back in Seattle, I livd in a stupid 1960s apartment building with my then-boyfriend (if he were still my bf I might have mentioned him from time to time) but we lived in a beautiful neighborhood. We were broke, so for entertainment we’d walk around at dusk and stare in rich people’s houses.

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    2. I love to go in other people’s houses. With their permission of course. I learned that the hard way (kidding!). But seriously, when my son was young, we used to attend a lot of real estate open houses. It was free entertainment and I got some good decorating ideas. One day, we were walking through a neighborhood that was not our own and there was a house that had their front door wide open. So my son, who was about 5 years old, just walked up the steps and into the house. I chased after him and apologized to the homeowner who was a little confused as to why a kid and his mom just barged into their house. I asked my son why he went into a stranger’s house and he said, “The door was open and that means it’s an Open House.” I mean, he wasn’t wrong but still.

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  23. I love that doorbell story!

    Count me in when/if you decide to knock some walls down. I’m the Queen of Demolition, but I totally suck at rebuilding or putting things back together again. Who knows what else we’ll find behind those walls? Maybe shiplap!

    On pins and needles, waiting for your Insta page, documenting your doorbell search.

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  24. I am also impressed that you just dagone DO STUFF. If I don’t have to go, I usually don’t. This might be because my time is all taken by everyone else, so when I get a free minute I keep it!

    Good luck finding your bell…

    Lovely post, lovely June!

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  25. This was a lovely post June. I so totally did want to grill you about Pizza Slice Incident (did they offer to buy the slice? Eat in or To Go? Is this a neighborhood thing?) but didn’t want to derail or detract from all the congratulations comments on 13 years of blogging.

    So. What now with the pizza?

    But also & even more importantly….. Why did they kill Barbara? Why?!?
    Fun fact: the actors playing Trixie & Rev. Tom (The Honorable) have a baby girl together irl?

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    1. REALLY? I did not know that! I could tell Trixie was pregnant because she was constantly standing behind flowers all season. And her face got the chubs.

      I mean. I ordered pizza. I’d worked hard all day and was exhausted and could not wait to sit and, oh, watch Call the Midwife, when

      KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK

      the neighbor who’s bad to drink (that narrows it down) at the door. “Can I have a piece of pizza?” He begins counting out the change in his hand. Okay, first of all, there are like 8 slices and the pizza was $

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      1. Ding dang it. Sent before I meant to. Anyway, it’s at least $2 per slice, motherfucker, but okay with your dimes. Anyway I GAVE him a piece but from now on I’m just not answering the door. JESUS. Not that Jesus wouldn’t answer the door. He also wouldn’t take the loose change, because stigmata.

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        1. Stigmata! Dead!
          June you’re so sweet to answer my typo riddled comment (I swear I didn’t mean to upspeak at the end of the sentence about the baby!). Blame today’s crap grammar & typing on me waking up with a migraine (brain you’re an ass). Also I get ridiculously anxious commenting on your blog because you’re such a talented writer, you know, like, grammar stuff, and I am… well… haphazard might be a descriptor. And then my anxiety just cause mistakes to multiply out of the ether… and then I flog myself and swear to return to lurking. Anywho. You’re a doll June.

          Yup. Baby! I love it when actresses get pregnant irl but not the character’s lives cause I adore the camera and costuming contortions the shows go to hiding the tummy bump. Coats. Bigger coats. Sofa consoles with knIck-knacks. Big purses held just so. Love it!

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  26. Loved this post. As soon as I saw that box… I knew. My grandmother had one of those door bells and push-button light switch for the porch light. I loved both items in my grandmother’s house, I may have gotten a smacking or two for continually ringing that door bell. Should I save the “This Old House” and “Old House Journal” magazines for you? I now live in an old house, but it was new back in December 1976. I love restored historic neighborhoods.

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    1. Dear Tee:

      YES.

      Also, Dear Paula: A package came from you yesterday and I feel like maybe it’s my romance magazines and it is all I can do to wait to open them.

      Also, back to Dear Tee: My grandmother similarly had those push-button lights and I loved them.

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    1. Let’s picture this. You have an open house. A woman arrives whom you’ve never met. She begins taking photos of your house. THEN POSTS THEM TO HER WEBSITE.

      Does the woman seem insane, or at least boundary-challenged? Yes. Yes, she would. Also, she has that hair.

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  27. That all sounds wonderful! My house is boring but I plan to just keep hold of it until it becomes vintage. When people talk about 90s era builds with breathy indignation: “oh my God they got rid of the polystyrene coving and gas fire” I can smugly say “of COURSE they’re untouched at my house”.

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  28. Lovely post Coot.
    I admire that you go to this gs where you dont know people. My little town had their candlelight tour last weekend. I didnt go. It was dark outside and I didnt know anyone and it was cold and did I mention. I didnt know anyone?
    I had one of those on my Kitchen door on the Money Pit. I got the replacement at Restoratiin Hardware back when it really was Restoration Hardware.

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    1. Ps sorry for the grammatical shit show of a post. My phone auto corrected and I didnt correct the auto correct.

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  29. This is so exciting! Everyone needs a mission in life. World peace. Preservation of the planet. Doorbells. And you made new friends!

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  30. Now I’m hearing the theme to Three’s Company, but it’s “come and knock on my vadge. We’ve been waiting for you.”

    WHY do people move into classic old houses and mess them up?

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