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On Pens and Needles
 
 

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As a writer, needle artist and photographer, I invite you to share my pursuits with me on this site. Among other things, there is a weekly post called “D-mail” that examines the spiritual meaning in current stories, both personal and news events.  I invite your comments at  cathycongerblog@gmail.com

“The act of putting pen to paper encourages pause for thought, this in turn makes us think more deeply about life, which helps us regain our equilibrium.”  N. Platt

Yesterday we were notified by our realtor that the lady from Arizona who was debating between our house and another in Wisconsin Dells which is a foreclosure has made an offer on the other house.  This is really getting old!  But God is good.  He knew how low I was feeling and he sent me some encouragement.  Today our realtor called to ask if she could show our home on Sunday morning!  Please Lord, let this will be the one.  If we wait much longer, building costs will go up and it will become too cold to start the new house.  They say that interest rates are going to go up some time in the next year.  So we clean the house, water and trim the garden, and pray.

So summer has whizzed by already and I have not taken time to post anything.  For that matter, I haven’t given much time to writing in any form.  A Lake Superior vacation with our immediate family at the Apostle Islands in Bayfield, WI in July, several trips up to meet with our builder in Door County and enjoy the more lake activities, and a week in Pittsburgh to visit my parents and siblings  and POOF!, the summer was over.  I sewed clothes and quilts for my grandchildren but didn’t get as much quilting done as hoped.  The muscles in my pelvic region and low back have been very tight and painful for months, making it hard to walk, ride in the car, and especially climb stairs.  I had several cortisone injections, which haven’t helped a whole lot (and cost $3,000 a pop!).  I did find a massage therapist I like and an anti-inflammatory gel that helps.

We maintained the house and yard in case someone wished to tour our house.  Fortunately, it hasn’t been a drought summer this year - until recently.  Nevertheless, we still had to weed and drag hoses around.  The favorite question to us has been, “Have you sold your house yet?”  The answer is “no”.  However, we are closer than we have been for the last 6 months.  A prospective buyer came to look about 2 1/2 weeks ago. We were so excited when she came for a second look.  Now her agent has told us that she is debating between our house and one other.  Nearly 3 weeks since she began debating, we are still waiting for her answer.  Talk about stress!  Whatever patience I have comes from God because I’m not a naturally patient person.  So many, many people are praying for our house to sell, that I have to believe it will come about - but in God’s timing, not mine.  I have purchased things for the new house.  I’ve shopped online for light fixtures, rugs, a headboard for the guest bed, lamps, end tables, and more.  It is so much fun to imagine our new house on the bluff overlooking Green Bay!

My other project this summer has been to change the way I eat.  My doctor recommended I read The Anti-Inflammation Diet by Dr. Barry Sears.  It’s also known as The Zone Diet.  It is based on the science of glycemic loads of foods.  To stay healthy and prevent not only heart disease, diabetes, and cancer, but autoimmune diseases like mine (fibromyalgia), you must stay within the “zone”.  The zone is the balanced place where the proper amount of insulin and cortisol are secreted in response to nutrients we eat.  It is a diet high in fruits and vegetables and low in carbohydrates and gluten.  Low fat protein and dairy as well as foods high in Omega 3s are a big part of the balance.  I cleaned out my pantry of so much unhealthy food that I have 3 empty shelves!  Chuck is doing the diet with me.  That helps, but it is still a huge lifestyle change and I am finding it hard.  We both are way overweight so it was not a choice to do it or not.

That is all the catch-up I can write now. There are oodles of photos from our trips which you can find at

www.flickr.com/photos/congerfamily

The sale-of-our-house journey took a new direction this week.  After 3 months of no action on showing the house, we had a meeting with our realtor.  It was time to stir the pot.  To make a long story (and meeting) short, we were asked to consider dropping the price of the house by $12,000.  It was heartbreaking.  But it was time to fish or cut bait and we decided that a lower price was better than staring at a for sale sign for who knows how many more months.  Ours is a paper mill town with very little turnover in workers.  The only folks able to buy our house are in management, medicine, or those few looking to buy up in the current buyers market.  On Monday we handed our realtor the signed papers authorizing the price drop.  Two days later we got a call to show the house!  Someone looked at it this afternoon.  It had been so long since we had a showing that the major cleaning we did when we first listed the house needed to be repeated. Chuck and I worked for 2 days in the yard weeding and watering.  Chuck cleaned the garage.  Because of work, he wasn’t able to get the lawn mowed for the showing.  Today - all day- I cleaned the house, put away things that we had allowed to stack up.  I even did touch-up painting.  I had to wash sheets and change 2 beds because company had slept in them.  Sweaty and in pain from all the bending and lifting, I cut hydrangeas for a vase on the table, washed up, and went to Perkins for supper while the house was being shown.  So all we can do is pray that these people will be the ones to buy or at least dropping the price has stirred the pot.  In the meantime, we’ve made appointments to meet with cabinet and flooring people in Door County.  We need to speak with our builder to see when the cost of materials will go up too.  The good news is that our bank had the land and plans appraised and have given a green light on a mortgage.  The wait goes on.

Note: This photo is not for our property; it just represents our Price Reduced situation.

I am so excited about the kitchen plans for the new house!  It took 4 long hours of work with the designer but it was worth it. As soon as I figure out how to post the drawings, you’ll get to see them.  Yesterday I sent for some lamps for the sofa table and the diningroom sideboard from Overstock.com.  I am slowly buying dark blue dishes and mugs to go with the red set I already have.  The kitchen colors are dark blue with splashes of red and yellow so I decided my red dishes, which I love and which are in good condition, would work fine with the addition of dark blue to match. Until we sell this house, I am distracting myself with purchasing little things for the new house. I found a chaise I like for the sitting room in our new master suite.  It has a very soft upholstery which comes in brown but has no arms.  The other one I saw had arms but only came in seafoam green.  Can’t decide.  This wouldn’t be a small purchase so I’m letting it percolate in my mind for awhile.  Next week the kids and grandkids are coming for our annual vacation in Bayfield,WI.  Lots to do this week to get ready.

Sadly, no one has shown an interest in buying our house yet, so we wait a little longer.  In the meantime, plans continue on the new house!  It’s been over 10 years (we remodeled our 1977 kitchen at that time)  since we have had to think about kitchen design.  With the opportunity to build a new kitchen from scratch, I have a chance to plan the latest efficient gadgets for it.  Even better, I can have a convenient place to store everything I need!  A wise friend advised me to take inventory of my present kitchen, getting rid of the things I never use and listing everything else.  With that done, I sketched out a general cupboard, appliance, and island design.  The evening before we were to meet with the cabinetry people, I took my inventory and began to virtually put everything in its most convenient place.  When we got to the cabinetry shop the next day, we sat down with a decorator and a kitchen designer and began to make sense of all I’d written.  We changed quite a few things and added substantially to the size of the island.  I chose wide, deep drawers, instead of cupboards, to store my dishes, pots and pans, and casserole dishes in.  On one end of the island, I designed a baking center, complete with a cupboard for my mixer which, when opened, pops the mixer up to counter height!  The kitchen cabinets will be white shaker.  The island will be dark wood Shaker with a Formica calacatta marble top.  The other countertop will be a Formica Navy blue surface with white subway tile back splash.  Both baths will have Shaker cabinets.  The vanity in the guest bath will be painted a beachy, mint green, while master bath cabinets will be white. It took nearly 5 hours to plan out the kitchen, bathroom cabinetry for 2 bathrooms, cabinets for the laundry room and mudroom, and the built in shelving for the living room.  We designed a half wall between the diningroom and four season room.  On the diningroom side we designed wine storage shelving.  On the four season side will be bookcases. I’m doing the laundry room with white cabinets, a retro turquoise countertop and red washer and dryer!  The mudroom will have a white wood locker design on one wall with a black counter along the adjoining wall for setting down things you bring in from the car.  The mudroom colors will be kiwi green and black, designed to be cheery during the long winter. We came away from the shop exhausted but I feel wonderful about our decisions.

Next stop was the flooring and tile store.  It’s a good thing that the decisions we made there aren’t set in stone, because since then I have changed my color schemes completely.   We did nail down a beautiful blue tile for our fireplace surround.  They told us that it was going to be discontinued soon so we ordered what we need this week. The hearth will be calacatta marble.  Because we only need a relatively small piece of marble, we are keeping our eyes peeled for just the right remnant at the stone places.

At Door County Interiors I had seen a sofa table I really liked, but I thought I would look for one that had more storage.  Well, as far as I can tell after hours and hours searching online, there is no such thing in the finish I want.  So we went back to Door County Interiors and bought the sofa table (and it turns out that this table is being discontinued so I’m glad we did).  I decided that I can store things in baskets on the shelf at the bottom.  The cool thing about the table is that the top is hinged like a drop leaf table to give you an oval top perfect for buffets.  Then I saw an end table that goes with it perfectly!  All in all, it was a very productive weekend.

The builder is getting permits now, which can take awhile. At this point, we have plenty of “awhiles” .  Once again, we are in a holding pattern until our house sells.  There doesn’t seem to be anything left to pick out for the new house except back at the flooring store, light fixtures, and the design for the walk-in closet in our bedroom.  I have purchased some things online, such as the headboard and nightstands for the guest bedroom and yards of red tartan plaid fabric to make a duvet cover for that bed.  It took me hours online to find that plaid fabric!  I bought 3 lamps at Home Goods and a rope wrapped round table at a nautical store.

This weekend we’re heading to Minneapolis to shop at IKEA for closet and pantry fixtures and to celebrate our son-in-law’s birthday.  I wish I had photos to make this house-building journey more fun to follow.  Rest assured that as soon as the bulldozer revs up to break ground on the new house, there will be lots of photos.  If you’re curious about the house we are selling, go to www.trulia.com  and look for the house at 510 Bruce Lane in Wisconsin Rapids, WI.  If you know anyone who might be interested, send them to that website or they can call Coldwell Banker in Wisconsin Rapids. We’ve had sooo much rain that my husband can’t keep up with the mowing.  Weeds are growing, well like…weeds!  Keeping the house picked up and cleaned all the time is getting old, but I don’t mind if the house sells.

Minnesota farm after a thunderstorm

Minnesota farm after a thunderstorm

Boe Chapel St. Olaf College, Northfield, MN

Boe Chapel St. Olaf College, Northfield, MN

Puffins nesting on Haystack Rock - Cannon Beach

Puffins nesting on Haystack Rock - Cannon Beach

Sundown at Cannon Beach

Sundown at Cannon Beach

Oregon coast on rainy day

Oregon coast on rainy day

Oregon Coast near Cannon beach

Oregon Coast near Cannon beach

Oregon coastal highway

Oregon coastal highway

view of beach from Oregon coastal highway

view of beach from Oregon coastal highway

Estuary on rainy day - Oregon coast

Estuary on rainy day - Oregon coast

Oysters for lunch anyone?

Oysters for lunch anyone?

My son and his wife at U of Oregon

My son and his wife at U of Oregon

Sweet Cheeks Vineyard near Eugene, OR

Sweet Cheeks Vineyard near Eugene, OR

After the storm - Minnesota

After the storm - Minnesota

Pacific coast - Cannon Beach, OR

Pacific coast - Cannon Beach, OR

My grandchildren

My grandchildren

Snow covered Long's Peak viewed from my son's balcony

Snow covered Long

Fountain in rose garden in Portland, OR

Fountain in rose garden in Portland, OR

A rosebud in Portland

A rosebud in Portland

Sun through the clouds over Long's peak

Sun through the clouds over Long

The first week of April, we flew to London to spend a week with our youngest daughter.  She is a masters student at the University College London in archeology.  She was to go to Turkmenistan for 5 weeks in May so we wanted to see her.  We’d never been to London before so I wanted to see everything!  Of course we only had one week, but we managed to pack an awful lot into that week.  It was unseasonably cold there so we missed out on April blooms.  I still haven’t sorted through the 800 photos we took, but when I do, I will post the best of them.  All the walking nearly did me in.  We took the red double decker bus around the city to get the lay of the land.  We took a boat trip on the Thames river.  We took a coach bus tour to see the countryside in the Cotswalds and in Stratford Upon Avon.  We had high tea at The Dorchester Hotel.  We saw The Lion King in the West End and heard Handel’s Messiah at an Easter Sunday concert at St. Martin in the Field church.  We went to Windsor castle one day and the British Museum and British Library another day.  We toured the Tower of London and Westminster Abbey.  We toured Churchill’s underground bunker from WWII.   Everything is very expensive but it was fun just to walk around in Harrod’s.  Our meals were simple, often something we picked up at the grocery store.  Of course we had to have fish and chips one evening.  We really got the hang of navigating The Tube as we traveled all over London. Our hotel was near our daughter’s apartment which made it convenient to meet her.  I learned a great deal and saw the things I had only dreamed of seeing.  A wonderful trip was had by all!  Back at home, we have been watching via Netflix, a British TV series called New Tricks.  It takes place in London.  What fun to recognize places we had been as we follow the TV characters.  Photos to come.

I can’t believe how I let this blog fall behind.  I am so sorry.  I had been writing about the sale of our house and building the new one. But to tell you the truth, there hasn’t been enough action to write about.   When we started this journey, I had no idea that it would become so frustrating.  Since I wrote last, they have shown our home a handful of times.  After the snow melted, we planted a lot of flowers, spruced up the screened porch and brought the lawn back from winter damage.  It’s been hard to wait while plans for the new house progress.  Once you make the decision to move, your heart is in the new place already and it’s difficult to be on hold.  Everything for the new house has been decided, bids are in and accepted, and they can start digging the foundation any time- that is, as soon as we sell this house.  We were nervous that when the bids came in and were totalled up that it would be over our budget.  Good news - the projected cost is well within our budget!  I admit that keeping this house cleaned up and ready to show is getting OLD!  I have been praying for patience to wait peacefully for God’s timing.

Picking out siding and shingles and woodwork, doors, bathroom and kitchen fixtures, flooring, etc. has really been fun.  This weekend we are meeting with the cabinet people to start a plan for the new kitchen.  I have purchased a few lamps and light fixtures as well as fabric for duvets for the 2 bedrooms.  last week in an antique shop, I found the sweetest picture of 2 little girls saying grace over their tea party food.    The colors make it perfect for the new kitchen.

I may have a different perspective once we are into the nitty gritty of building, but right now I believe the waiting is the hardest part.  Packing to move will be a challenge of course and I wonder how we will say goodbye to 36 years of friends.  In the meantime, I am trying to keep the rabbits and chipmunks from chewing up my gardens!  And then there’s all this rain!  Last year we prayed for rain as the drought killed off everything.  This year we’re worried about flooding. There’s always something.

It’s Palm Sunday 2013 and I have cabin fever something awful!  The 2 feet of snow that surrounds me is no longer as beautiful as it was a month ago.  My winter coat is so dirty but I dare not take it to the cleaners yet.  It’s still too cold.  I guess that is why no one has wanted to tour our house.  It’s been nearly 2 weeks since we showed the house.  Next week we go on vacation.  I have very high hopes: first that spring will be here when we return and secondly that a buyer wants to buy OUR house.  It seems that most young couples are looking for a more modern home with an “open concept and granite countertops”.  If I hear those words one more time, I’m going to scream!

However, I am a glass half-full kind of girl so I’m concentrating on some good news.  Last week we went to Door County to meet with our builder.  He had completed drawings for us (except now we’ve had to change the garage around to fit the setback restrictions and allow room for the drainage field).  We picked out the gas fireplace we want and the tile for its surround and hearth.  We also chose shakes for the siding, shingles and shutters and nailed down our window choices (we have a LOT of windows).  It felt good to move forward on the new house.  The more choices we make, the quicker they can break ground and begin to build when this house sells.  On Friday we went to Wausau for a doctor’s appointment for me and did some shopping afterwards.  I found the exact glass candle lantern I wanted for the new livingroom at TJ Max!!  Up until now I’d only seen them at upscale furniture stores for $120 and this one was $30.  Little things bring me joy.

While I wait impatiently for spring, I decided to write a poem about it.  I hope you enjoy it and Happy Easter!

SPRING IS NEVER LATE

Spring has sprung but not ‘round here,

not for squirrels and starving deer.

Impatience asks this every year,

“When will the songbirds reappear?

And for that matter, leaves on trees,

daffodils and bumble bees,

hyacinths and April showers?”

If only I had special powers,

I’d cause the sun to melt the snow

and make the dandelions grow,

but I cannot; when will I learn

the seasons come, each in their turn?

While resurrection germinates,

the promise of rebirth awaits

when buds burst forth to celebrate.

God’s promises are never late.

I read these witty sayings this week.  So great!

Earth without art is just “Eh”.

Let’s eat Grandma.  Let’s eat, Grandma.  Commas save lives!