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Friday, January 25, 2013

Got Milk Door?

Do you know about milk doors? The two houses my parents have owned were both built in the 1940s, when milk doors often were part of the house’s design. My parents’ two houses each had a milk door. The first house was where I spent my childhood and I was the kind of kid who always noticed unusual things like a tiny door positioned near our side door. The tiny door was metal, and approximately 12 inches tall by 5 or 6 inches wide. Just the right scale for my Barbie doll. What magic! When you’re little, anything that is small in scale is automatically fascinating. This door intrigued me. It seemed full of potential: doll door, secret passageway, tiny peek-hole to the outside world. It was right in line with so many other small-scale things on my radar: Alice in Wonderland’s ability to shrink and then grow, tiny fairies in books, Thumbelina, the Borrowers, my dollhouse.
This morning I was thinking about milk doors. I was pouring the last few cups of milk from a gallon bottle into two glass mason jars. (You know your fridge is full of leftovers, lunchboxes and who-knows-what-else when you transfer milk to mason jars because the gallon jug won’t fit!) I announced to my kids that milk used to be delivered in glass bottles to people’s homes.
Today I looked for photos of milk doors online. A website I’d seen before ( had a post about milk doors, which led me to a piece online about home milk delivery, which existed roughly from 1860 to 1960.
The photo below reminds me of the milk doors in my parents' houses. It's not exactly the same, but the shape is similar. It brings back such a happy memory...
(Photo courtesy of GoldTrout.)
The photo below shows how this milk door is built right into the kitchen's design.
The hexagonal counter tile is original, and the whole effect is charming!

(Photo courtesy of TurquoiseBird.)
This photo below shows a delivery truck and the milkman who drove it. Today Alpenrose Diary is the only existing dairy farm near Portland, Oregon. It was founded in 1916 by the Cadonau family, and by 1918 they saw the potential of delivering milk to residential customers. The family bought a used Ford touring car and converted it into a delivery truck. The business grew and grew. Today there are five generations of the Cadonau family involved in the dairy.
Aplinrose Dairy

(Alpenrose Dairy truck. Photo courtesy of

By the time my parents bought their first house it was the mid-1970s. Milk was no longer delivered to the neighborhood, but the milk door remained. I was a young child in the ‘70s, used to modern-day supermarkets with their walls of fresh milk. It was odd to imagine a time when delivery to your home was the standard way of getting milk.

Online there are various accounts of home milk delivery. Ice boxes were used before refrigerators were invented in 1925. In 2013 most Americans would consider a refrigerator mundane, hardly novel. We are so accustomed to seeing them in every kitchen. But in its early days the refrigerator must have seemed as ground-breaking as a space shuttle! Of course, it cost nearly as much, so there was not a refrigerator in every kitchen. By the 1940s refrigerators became more affordable for many families, and by 1960 they were a staple in every kitchen. Large supermarkets offered milk to shoppers, and inevitably, milk delivery no longer was needed. By 1960, milk delivery had become extinct, even if the doll-sized milk doors remained.
I’m so glad that my parents’ houses still had their milk doors. It’s a glimpse back in time. Sure, I’m glad to live in an age when you can get nearly anything you need, anytime. Convenience is wonderful. But it’s fun to examine a different time, an era when the personal touch was seen in everyday matters. Long live the milk door!

Tall, Small or Fits All?

Sometimes the unplanned things that occur in my life almost write the blog posts for me. Take, for instance, the serendipitous timing of two moments that happened recently on two consecutive days.

On the first day I was at a museum with Roxie and we each posed on the chair below:

The next day I was rushing out the door to get the kids from school when it occurred to me that my hair did not look cool-messy. It just looked blah-messy. I needed a comb or brush and I had exactly ten seconds to fix my hair before I needed to leave. Could not find a comb! The seconds were ticking! I pawed through the medicine cabinet and at last I found a brush that would do in a pinch. It’s a doll brush (or maybe for a toy pony) but it has teeth and it does work. I gave my hair a few swipes with the brush and raced out the door.

Distortion of scale instantly makes things fascinating. And when you use two items whose scale is surprising in two days, that’s a bloggable happening. These unforeseen moments make life more fun. And when it comes to funny episodes, one size does fit all.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

One Person's Trash...

…is another’s art project!
My friend and neighbor Mara has a giant bag next to her driveway. It could fit a Smart Car in it. You buy the bag from Home Depot and fill it with trash and they come pick it up. Like those Pod cubes but instead of storing your stuff then take your trash. Genius!
We stood in her driveway chatting this morning and she was lamenting how much stuff they have awaiting pick-up. Her hubby does beautiful renovations on their house and naturally, they’ve accumulated spare pieces of wood, molding, PVC pipe and even broken pieces of concrete. Someone might come get the pieces of wood but there’s still stuff lying near the driveway.

Mara is one of the most organized people I know, so the jumble of left-overs probably drives her crazy. I tried to give her an inspirational speech. (Well, I commanded her to repeat after me, “I will not worry about a few pieces of wood.” Good sport that she is, she repeated it, although I think she was doing it just to appease me. I don’t think you can un-become who you are just by uttering a sentence your neighbor forces you to say!) Anyway, after a few minutes of this, I realized that her giant bag of trash was actually full of art supplies. The piece of plywood? Perfect for the mixed-media fence art I’ve been designing in my head. The left-over 1” PVC pipe? An excellent stem for the giant flowers I like to make with colorful Duck Tape.

We made plans for me to come over later to get some art supplies out of the trash bag. I’m excited! I’m going to reuse materials that otherwise would go into landfill. Furthermore, this is clearly the sign I was awaiting from the universe: that I should continue to ignore tedious household chores and make more art!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The Blog Log

On January first many people make resolutions, looking at the new year unfurled before them, fresh and unblemished. Resolutions may have their place but today I’m looking backwards rather than forwards. (Well, maybe some of both.) I’m looking at the blogs I’ve posted. This month marks four years since I started this blog. The blog actually keeps tabs on itself, noting how many posts I did each month and year.

In 2009 I had 31 posts.

In 2010 I went backwards to 30 (although considering that I did have another baby, 30 is not bad!).

In 2011 I had 45 posts.

In 2012 I had 64 posts.

Usually I don’t pay much attention to these tallies but I do find it interesting that I’m showing an upward trend in post totals. (Don’t tell Hubby that I’m getting wordier. He always teases me that I speak ten times as many words as he does. I always explain to him—at length, of course—that I just have so many questions and observations and ideas and that I can’t keep them in and that obviously he really loves this about me since I was no less chatty thirteen years ago and he didn’t exactly run the other way!)

But I digress (what else is new?). Back to numbers. When I contemplate my post totals I do have a thought: If I did 64 posts in 2012, that’s one post every 5-6 days. I think that’s pretty often, considering all the plates I need to keep spinning every day. But I have to laugh because a few days ago I checked out a blog written by Judy, the most prolific blogger I know (well, Mom knows her, which is close enough). She did 428 posts this year, and 445 last year! She’s a mom of four (two are grown, and two are young teens). Holy cannoli. Suddenly my personal best of 64 seems less major! But as Judy reveals in her blog, she spends an obscene amount of time each day driving her daughters to different schools and afterschool lessons. She probably stays during the lessons, and maybe this is when she blogs her heart out. Maybe blogging is her knitting, something she works on in a few spare minutes here, an extra chunk of time there, between chauffeuring stints. I’m not usually competitive with other people so it’s not that my new year’s resolution is to beat this Wordy Woman at her game. Oh, she did 428? I’ll do 600 next year! (I don’t think so. I wouldn’t even want to!) It’s just that I’m quite surprised that she did so many when, like me, she is busy with her mom duties so many hours each day.

Hey, it’s all good. Judy, you keep it up. You’re really funny and you don’t mind sharing the wacky moments that descend on you as you make your way through each day. You keep going with the blog. I won’t be close to your total and I won’t worry about it. Like me, you find humor in the zany parts of parenthood, and you want to share the silliness with anyone who needs a laugh. We’re in similar boats, and blogging is therapy, not a competition.

But I bet I changed a lot more diapers than you last year!