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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

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 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.

Last week I attended the Christian Writers’ Conference in Green lake, WI.  The conference is held on the grounds of the Baptist conference grounds, a huge place with beautiful shoreline, acres of woods, and all sorts of recreation.  I’ve been there many times before and this time did not disappoint.  I took a short story writing class from John Lehman, the original editor of a national literary magazine called Rosebud.  I’ve sat in John’s classes before and always learn something.  This time I learned the concept of “writing in scenes”, something that play and screenwriters know all about.  A scene must have at least 2 characters, each with a goal, conflict, and a conclusion that carries the story into the following scene and ultimately to the final conclusion.  It was a great week spent with other writers and old friends.  Outside of class, we attended lectures by each of the instructors in their specialized genre and expertise.  I had a one-on-one meeting with Cynthia Ruchti, a Christian radio host and author.  We discussed the possibility of putting together a book of my best D-mails for publication!  She thought it was a great idea and gave me some advice on how to do it.  I’ve written more than 350 D-mails over the years so it will take time to go through them all to choose the best ones - and then edit them down to 750-800 words!  She suggested that I attend the Write-to-Publish conference in Wheaton, Ill next June to shop it around.  One of the great things about the Green Lake conference is the accessability of the instructors.  Everyone is so encouraging and helpful that even beginners feel comfortable and excited to keep writing.  The students and instructors all had our meals together and spent free time writing and enjoying the beautiful grounds.  By the end of the week I had produced a short story, my first ever crime story!  It has been accepted for publication at an emagazine site called Lit Noir.  Here are the first paragraphs of the story:

The Sticky Key

by Cathy Conger

The night of January 11th was bitterly cold. The only light inside the music building shone through the small window of the door to Laura Olson’s assigned practice room. She was practicing Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in E minor for her upcoming senior recital, but a sticky key was driving her nuts. Middle C felt dead under her fingers.

“Oh, come on!” Laura slammed both palms down on the keys. “They were supposed to fix this crappy piano weeks ago. Thirty thousand dollars a year for this school and I can’t get a decent piano to play.” She struck the annoying key again. Nothing. It felt like the hammer beneath the key was stuck. She kicked off her woolen clogs and lifted the lid of the piano, revealing the row of hammers and taut strings. “Hope nobody catches me doing a little piano tinkering,” she said, glancing toward the door. “Hey, so what? I’m the only one anal enough to be here on the coldest night of the year anyway, and Stam won’t notice.” She looked down at the dirt her socks had picked up on the linoleum. “I’ll bet he and his trusty broom have never even been in this room.”

Laura climbed up on the piano bench and stuck her right hand down into the works of the old upright. With her other hand, she struck middle C while she watched for its hammer to move. As she suspected, it wasn’t striking the string.

“Hmm. Something must be stuck under there,” she muttered. Feeling around between the hammers, her fingers met with something squishy, like a soft, little pillow. “What the heck?” she muttered. She pulled her finger away and hit the key again. This time she noticed a little puff of dust as the hammer came down. She tried it again. Another puff. Grabbing a pencil from the music rack, she pried the thing out, only to have it elude her fingers and drop down between the hammers. On her tip toes, she thrust her hand into the works as far as she could reach and felt around. “Gotcha!” she said, when suddenly the doorknob rattled. She practically jumped a foot, nearly dropping the bag. Whoever it was started banging on the door. “OK, OK! I’m coming.” Climbing down from the bench she shouted, “Who’s there?

“It’s Dr. Sterling. I need to use this room.”

“Just a minute.” Laura tucked the small, powdery bag into her jeans pocket and opened the door. “What’s wrong? You nearly scared the liver out of me!”

Dr. Sterling pushed past her into the room. “Oh, sorry Laura. I didn’t know somebody would be here so late. Listen I’m afraid you’ll have to pack it up for tonight. I need this room.”

“Why don’t you use the piano in your office?” Laura said. “It’s a lot better than this piece of junk.”

Sterling looked at the open piano lid. “What do you think you’re doing to this `piece of junk’?”

“I discovered a sticky key. Really annoying, so I thought I’d see what the problem was.”

“You’re supposed to report things like that to the music secretary. I’m surprised at you. A senior should know not to tinker with the schools’ instruments. Gather up your things and run along now. I’ll report the problem to the secretary in the morning.”

Pg 2

“But, I…”

“Good night, Laura.” Sterling interrupted, crossing his arms like a scolding parent.

Laura shrugged her shoulders. “OK, then. Let me quick get my clogs and my backpack.” Throwing her coat over her arm, she slid carefully past Sterling to the door. “Well, good night, Dr. Sterling.”

“See you in class tomorrow,” he said as he closed the piano lid. “Oh, Laura.”

“Yes?”

“ You didn’t find anything in there, did you?” His suspicious tone on top of his odd behavior was beginning to give Laura the creeps.

“In the piano? No sir. Didn’t get the chance,” she said, trying to sound nonchalant. No sooner had she pulled the door closed behind her than she heard the lock turn. “That was weird,” she thought, a chill running through her body. “Something funny’s going on.” Her heart was pounding as she took the little bag from her pocket and examined it by the light in the hallway. It was a plastic bag about two inches square with what appeared to be some kind of white powder inside. Peering more closely, she noticed a split in the seam. Most of the white powder had leaked out in her pocket.

“This must be where the puff of dust came from,” she murmered. “I wonder what this stuff is…and how did it end up under the hammer of a piano?” It suddenly occurred to her where she’d seen a bag just like this - police shows on television. “Oh my God!” she gasped. “Cocaine.”

to find out what happens, watch for The Sticky Key at www.Lit Noir.com

My heart was warmed and my cynicism reduced by two different, but connected, stories written by Allison Engle, in the June edition of American Patchwork & Quilting magazine.  As a quilter who makes every effort to check out the quilt shops in any new place I visit, I can tell you that quilters are good people.  Quilt shop owners are among the friendliest and most helpful of business people anywhere.  Need some quilting direction or wisdom?  Feel free to ask a shop owner or, for that matter, other quilters who happen to be in the shop to buy or take a class.  Just passing through but need directions to the state highway or a recommendation for a good place to eat?  Just stop in the local quilt shop.  They’re just as pleased to help a non-quilter as they are us afficienados.

Quilters equally return that helpfulness and loyalty to their shop staff.  We quilters do really regard each other as family - particularly in smaller towns.  Ms Engle wrote that after an F-4 tornado leveled the town of Ringgold, Georgia in April 2011, the town took awhile to recover from the shock.  When everyone in town has lost everything, who do you turn to for help getting back on your feet?  For several days, Gloria Black, owner of the Sew Bee It quilt shop in Ringgold couldn’t even bring herself to go look at the pile of rubble that had been her 4,00 square foot business, but her loyal staff and friends did.  They soon arrived at the site and began to rescue muddy, wet bolts of fabric, strewn yarn, thread notions, and shop samples.  When Gloria did arrive, she was overwhelmed by what they had already cleaned up and by her customers, who were providing food and hot coffee to the volunteers.  Gloria’s landlord immediately set about rebuilding the shop, which re-opened on August 1st, only 3 months after the devastation. Employee Martha Steele said, “We’ve gotten our old customers back and more new ones, including travelers to the area who have followed the re-building process on the internet. It just shows you that in the worst of times, you can count on the quilting family.”

In another part of Ringgold that April day, Jeaneane Hullender, a Sew Bee It customer, and her husband lost their home, barns, trees, fences, and even four cows.  But the possession she mourned the most was a quilt she had made from blocks hand-stitched by her deceased mother-in-law. The quilt could not be found in the rubble.  It had simply blown away.  Then that September, one month after Sew Bee It’s re-opening, Jeaneane received a phone call from Marcia Barker, who had found the quilt in her pasture in Riceville, Tennessee, 50 miles northeast of Ringgold!  The only reason Marcia knew who to contact was because Jeaneane had sewn a quilt label on the back of the quilt (like all of us quilters have been told to do), embroidered with the following: Stitched with love in memory of Nita Hullender  1916-2009.  Not owning a computer, Marcia called her sister in Florida and asked her to “google” the name Nita Hullender. From that they were able to track down Jeaneane’s address and phone number.  What a reunion that must have been!  On top of that, Marcia had cleaned the quilt such that you couldn’t see any evidence of its muddy flight to Tennessee.  Jeaneane’s quilting friends washed and ironed the yardage in her fabric stash recovered from the mud.  A local dry cleaner - whose business had probably just re-opened - cleaned the remainder of her quilt collection, that had been rescued, free of charge.  A group of California quilters collected money for Jeaneane to rebuild her sewing studio. Quilt designer Anne Sutton, having read that Jeaneane lost all her patterns, sent replacements and a box full of fabric!  I must agree with what Jeaneane told reporters, “This has really shown me the bond among quilters.”  Yep, quilters are good people.

HAPPY NEW YEAR from the CONGERS !

December was so chock full of activities this year that this letter had to be postponed, but here it is! As always, the holidays flew by. Our children and grandkids (except Pete and Lindsay) were able to be here for Christmas. The house rocked! (literally!) Let us share with you a recap of 2011 for the Conger clan.

January- We traveled out to Pittsburgh to be with Cathy’s family while her father underwent surgery to repair an aortic aneurysm. We thank God that it was a huge success and he has a new lease on life. Cathy stayed 2 weeks to help nurse him back to health.

She also tackled an advanced knitting class, making a cabled wool vest and deciding that she should stay in the intermediate class for awhile longer!

February- We took a 10 day winter vacation to New England where we spent time on the coast of Maine visiting Cathy’s college roommate and her husband in Saco. We’d never been to the ocean in winter before! Then we drove to New Hampshire’s White Mountains to enjoy the snow and sights, staying at the famous Sugar Hill Inn in Franconia. Check out our vacation photos at www.flickr.com/photos/congerfamily .

March- We traveled to Longmont, Colorado to spend a week with Michael, Kim, Katie and Andy. Michael is working very hard in his second year of a PhD program at the Leeds Business School at Colorado U. Kim teaches on the faculty of Colorado State U in Ft. Collins. Longmont is halfway between. Michael has had several opportunities to present his academic papers at conferences and Kim has been able to continue her research. Katie, now 4, is in pre-kindergarten and Andy, now 2, is a little linebacker (Packers naturally)! Life is a rat race for them, but we were able to spend a day together driving up to Estes Park in the Rockies. They enjoy a striking view of the Rockies from their apartment. Mostly we got to hang out with (and spoil) the grandkids. (see photos on Flickr site)

April – Cathy was commissioned by our church to write a one act play for the Good Friday service. It was about the experiences of Simon of Cyrene and his two sons on the day Simon was forced to carry Jesus’ cross. The actors were magnificent and it was a very moving drama. Spring was late in Wisconsin. We still had some snow for Easter!

May- Cathy was excited to attend a 3 day quilt conference in Eau Claire, WI, which featured 3 of her favorite quilting instructor/celebrities. She learned several new techniques and was so excited to concentrate on quilting again that she came home declaring 2012 her “year to quilt”. Rachel’s husband, Mike, earned his doctorate in educational psychology from the U of Minnesota. Congratulations Dr. Mensink!

June- We flew to New York City, staying in Times Square while Chuck attended an emergency medicine conference. Fortunately we saw quite a few of the sights (see photos on Flickr site) the first two days because on day 3, as we were about to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, Cathy fell on a sidewalk and broke her left leg (although she didn’t know it was broken)! She didn’t want to go to the hospital so carried on until we got back to the hotel. The next 3 days she stayed put with ice on her leg. We were able to borrow the hotel’s wheelchair to get across Times Square to see How to Succeed in Business starring Daniel Radcliffe of Harry Potter fame. We also managed a carriage ride through Central Park. The flight home was miserable. After diagnosing a tibial plateau fracture, her orthopedic surgeon put her in a full leg brace with zero weight-bearing for 12 weeks – a long, hot 12 weeks!

July – All the children and grandchildren came for our fourth annual family vacation in Bayfield, WI on Lake Superior. It was a scorching hot week but we enjoyed swimming (Katie has learned to swim) , sailing, good food, and birthday celebrations for Katie and Andy. As a bonus, we got to see two Tall Ships that sailed into our harbor. The clan was housed in a third floor walk-up condo except for Cathy and Chuck, who got a first floor single at the last minute. Cathy didn’t want to miss out on any of the fun upstairs so each day, the men carried her and her wheelchair up three flights and then back down at night. Despite that and Katie and Andy not understanding why Grandma couldn’t play, it was a fun week for everybody! (more photos on Flickr site)

August- For Chuck’s 62nd birthday, the two of us we went to a lake resort in Elkhart Lake, WI (this place had an elevator) for the weekend. What a beautiful place! (see photos of Flickr site) And Cathy got to swim at last as she was allowed to remove the brace to float in the pool. Heaven! When we got home, we had to drive Laura to O’Hare. She took a leave of absence from her U of Minnesota job to spend August and September in Merv, Turkmenistan on an archeological dig. You might remember that she worked on that dig last summer as well. Her applications are in for graduate school in archeology and we’re keeping our fingers crossed that she will be accepted for fall. In the meantime, she shares a third floor apartment in St.Paul with 2 girlfriends, sings in her church choir, and dog sits Ole, Rachel and Mike’s yellow lab.

September- To celebrate getting her brace off, Chuck took Cathy back to Colorado to visit the grandkids since she barely got to play with them in July when her fracture was fresh. Rachel’s husband, Mike, accepted a post-doctoral fellowship position at Northern Illinois U. However, since they had no time to sell their house in St. Paul, MN and Rachel has an excellent job at Como Park Vet Clinic as medical manager, Mike went off to Illinois and Rachel stayed in St. Paul. However, it is only for 1 year and Mike gets home 2 weekends a month. Before he left, they took a second honeymoon to Belgium. Then in October, they went to Oslo, Norway for a conference Mike attended.

October- We returned to Pittsburgh to visit Cathy’s family for a week, enjoying the breathtaking, fall color at their mountain retreat. We attended an Octoberfest and took some amazing photos of the colors, which we put into a book for Cathy’s parents for Christmas. Out in Oregon, Peter and Lindsay celebrated their first wedding anniversary with a trip to New England. After a tough time of unemployment, Pete now has a good job in the office of a shipping company and Lindsay is in accounting at a department store chain. Sadly, October also brought sorrow with the tragic death of Lindsay’s father. While Peter has put in his application and has finished night classes to prepare to go back to school for a masters in education at U of Oregon, he says he may have to put it off a year due to the stresses of his father-in-laws death on the family. They are, however, moving to a bigger apartment next month and plan a trip this winter to Mexico. Hallelujah!

November-The way we alternate holidays, this was the year that our married kids spent Thanksgiving with their in-laws. Laura flew out to LA for Thanksgiving with college friends and to interview at UCLA. Andrea could not get home either, so when Chuck discovered he was scheduled off for Thanksgiving weekend, we decided to drive to Indiana to have turkey with Andrea and celebrate her 35th birthday. We had not been there (Indiana U at Bloomington) since we helped her move into her apartment last year. We ate out and generally relaxed and had fun together touring the campus. This is her second year of a PhD program in dance anthropology. She’s had numerous opportunities to present academic papers at conferences, teach classes at the university, be a guest choreographer and do research. Now that we have experienced what PhD programs are like with Kim, Mike, Michael and Andrea, we realize how demanding they are – especially the first 2 years. Just imagine- soon there will be five more doctors in the Conger clan!

Chuck continues to enjoy his job in the ER in Waupaca, WI, despite the 50 minute commute. He’s looking at retirement in 3 years. This year, one of his job perks was receiving a new I Pad, which he is having way too much fun with! This year’s home project was to clean out the basement and make it useful for storage and recreation. Since April, we’ve cleaned out 35 years of junk (filled a big dumpster!), had a carpenter come partition it into 2 storage rooms, the furnace room, and Chuck’s workshop. We’ve finished the remaining space as a rec room with a big play area for grandchildren and exercise area for us. Chuck worked hard for 6 weeks painting, carpeting, and wiring to get it ready for the kids at Christmas. Cathy was in charge of organizing and putting everything in plastic bins for storage. She repaired and scrubbed up all the toys we’d saved from our kids plus those she bought on Ebay. The result was all worth it when Katie and Andy went deliriously wild in their new play area!

Chuck’s current challenge is recovering from shoulder replacement surgery. You may recall that he had the right shoulder replaced a few years ago. It was so successful that when the arthritis pain in the left became too much, he was eager to go through the procedure once more. The surgery was on January 11th. He will be off work for 10 weeks, the last 2 of which we will spend on a Caribbean cruise!

Cathy continues to write, quilt, knit, and do photography. Unfortunately, the broken leg played havoc with her fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, necessitating lots of physical therapy and pain management. She’s trying to get her strength back by swimming. If you don’t already do so, check back to this blog periodically to follow her writing and photography. She’s looking forward to a writer’s retreat next month at Green lake, WI ,when she will do nothing but meditate and work on writing projects for a whole week. We are also in the planning stages of a trip out west in May to take Cathy’s parents to see the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Pike’s Peak and Bryce Canyon. Speaking of trips, please accept our open invitation to come visit us any time! We know exchanging Christmas cards has become expensive (thank you to all of you who sent us greetings and photos!) but please send us an email. We’d love to know what you’re up to!

We all are facing tough financial times, a crucial election, and uncertainty in unfolding global events. Fear and stress can become overwhelming without a solid faith in our mighty God, who knows the future and has it under control. Turn to Him. His line is never busy. We pray that you will have a happy, healthy, and prosperous new year and that, as God is willing, you will stay safe through the storms and find warmth and strength in your loved ones.

Love,

Chuck and Cathy

conger@wctc.net or cathy@cathyconger.com

Michael and Kim Conger

804 Summerhawk Dr. Apt 10304

Longmont, CO 80504

michael@congerclan.com

Andrea Conger

956 E. Hillside

Bloomington, IN 47401

andreaconger@gmail.com

Peter Conger and Lindsay Stamsos

711 SE 11th Ave. Apt 37

Portland, OR 97214

peterconger@gmail.com

Mike and Rachel Mensink

1335 Mackubin St.

St. Paul, MN 55117

rachelconger@gmail.com

Laura Conger

77 N. Oxford St.

St. Paul, MN 55104

lauraconger@gmail.com

My daughter Rachel and her husband, Mike, were able to take a “working” trip to Oslo Norway this fall.  Looks like they were having fun!

This is my son, Michael, his wife,Kim, and my 2 little sweeties, Katie and Andy

BROKEN LEG IN BROOKLYNLast week Chuck and I flew to New York City for a week. He had a medical conference to attend and we had a whole bunch of sightseeing, shows and eating adventures on our itinerary. The first day we took the Circle Line ferry boat tour which circumnavigates the island of Manhattan. The three hour tour was very informative and we saw a lot of the city that way. It was hot and humid the whole week but never really rained except for that night. It poured rain while we made our way to dinner and back on the subway. Of course, New York is a walking city but the subways are safe and efficient so we took them whenever possible. But boy, it was sweltering on the subway!

Each day Chuck was at his conference from 7 am to 1 pm. Then we took off to see the city. The second day we went to the Museum of the City of New York and to the Vanderbilt Conservatory Gardens in Central Park. The gardens were so lovely and peaceful tucked away in the midst of noisy traffic and huge crowds. We also visited some stores on 5th Avenue, including FAO Schwarz, and then made our way to a unique Italian restaurant/market called Eataly. It was recently opened by Mario Battalli, one of the Food Channel’s Iron chefs. Crowded and loud, it was bedlam (New Yorkers don’t seem to mind) but the food was delicious and it was fun to walk around and see all the Italian ingredients for sale.

The third day we visited the oldest district of Manhattan, the South Street Seaport. From there we were going to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge to spend time in Brooklyn and have dinner at Grimaldi’s Pizza. We were about to ascend to the bridge when I tripped on uneven pavement and went down hard. I wrenched my left knee pretty good. We were in front of a little market so Chuck went in to get a plastic bag of ice to put on my knee. A lot of people stopped to offer assistance. We have been told for years that New Yorkers are an impatient, cold-hearted lot, but we found people were very friendly and helpful everywhere we went. Anyway, we parked ourselves on a nearby bench until the ice had numbed my knee pretty well. I was able to bear weight on the leg with minor pain if I held onto Chuck’s arm and walked with my leg hyperextended. Thinking that it would get better, we decided not to attempt the Emergency Room scene and after stopping at Grimaldis pizza for dinner, Chuck helped me hobble back to Times Square via subway. By the time I got back to our hotel, I knew it wasn’t going to get better soon. Chuck had 3 more days of meetings so we decided to buy some crutches and stick it out. Chuck had to go all the way to Greenwich Village to buy them. Our 40 story Times Square hotel owned only 1 wheelchair! In order to get to a taxi or get anywhere in the hotel, I had to use the wheelchair and it came with a security guard attached! I quickly shaved our extensive plans to eat at fun restaurants, go to several museums, wander Central Park, go to the Top of the Rock (Rockefeller center) and attend 2 Broadway shows. Instead, we ate take out food, Chuck went to Cirque de Soleil at Radio City Music Hall by himself, we took a carriage ride through Central Park, and were able to see How to Succeed in Business because our seats were on the main floor (the theater was less than a block from our hotel so the security guard for that day decided to just push me in the wheelchair down the street to the theater and right to our seats!) Fortunately, we had already done some fun things before I fell, so the week was not a bust. The trip home on the airplane was tough but people were very accommodating. Then we had a 3 hour drive home from the airport in Milwaukee. I crawled up the stairs to our bedroom while Chuck unpacked and started the laundry. Home at last.

Yesterday I saw my orthopedic surgeon, expecting that he would tell me I had torn a ligament in my knee at worst. However, the X-rays showed that I have a tibial plateau fracture! There are two bones in your lower leg, the tibia and the fibula. The tibia is the larger of the two. Where it connects to the knee, it’s surface had 2 knobs. I fractured one of the knobs, thus displacing the cartilage at that juncture. It will require surgery to fix. They may have to do a bone graft and he said screws are involved (icky). He sent me to the hospital for a CT scan and we are to see him tomorrow to schedule surgery. He said they usually don’t do surgery for 5-7 days following the injury anyway, so I’m glad I didn’t try to get treated in New York. In the meantime I am taking pain pills and laying low. The new crutches have been killing my neck, wrists and arms. I’m so unstable using them that I’m scared to death of falling. Once more, I am so grateful we kept Chuck’s parents’ wheelchair as I will be living in it once again for quite awhile and it will save us some rental money. I’m also glad we made a downstairs bedroom out of my sewing room three years ago. Chuck moved furniture out of the way in that room, the library, and the family room. We also moved the kitchen table and the stuffed chair around so I have more room to negotiate the turns in the wheelchair.

Our oldest daughter, Andrea, will have fulfilled her obligations in Minneapolis by the end of next week and she has agreed to come home to help until school starts for her in late August. My goal is to be able to travel to Bayfield July 15 for our week-long family vacation. All of the kids and grandkids are coming and I have been looking forward to that week for a year! Chuck called the place where we are renting a big condo (on the third floor!) and was able to get the two of us a small condo on the ground floor of the same building. God is so good. I didn’t really know why, but I had decided not to sign up for any writers conferences this summer. Now I know why!
Keep us in your prayers. I am feeling pretty discouraged about becoming dependent and all the rehab ahead of me. Pray for Chuck. He has a lot on his plate with his ER down one doctor and now having to care for me (and the yard).
We’ll keep you posted.    Love, Cathy

p.s. For those who have been following my D-mails on this blog, I want to let you know that because of my accident, there may not be any D-mails for the foreseeable future until I feel up to writing again.  I hope to post photos on the blog though so check back from time to time!

 

Presidential Proclamation–National Day of Prayer

 Washington, DC (MMD Newswire) May 2, 2011 — Throughout our history, Americans have turned to prayer for strength, inspiration, and solidarity.

Prayer has played an important role in the American story and in shaping our Nation’s leaders. President Abraham Lincoln once said, “I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go. My own wisdom and that of all about me seemed insufficient for the day.” The late Coretta Scott King recounted a particularly difficult night, during the Montgomery bus boycott, when her husband, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., received a threatening phone call and prayed at the kitchen table, saying, “Lord, I have nothing left. I have nothing left. I have come to the point where I can’t face it alone.” Dr. King said, in that moment of prayer, he was filled with a sense of comfort and resolve, which his wife credited as a turning point in the civil rights movement.

It is thus fitting that, from the earliest years of our country’s history, Congress and Presidents have set aside days to recognize the role prayer has played in so many definitive moments in our history. On this National Day of Prayer, let us follow the example of President Lincoln and Dr. King. Let us be thankful for the liberty that allows people of all faiths to worship or not worship according to the dictates of their conscience, and let us be thankful for the many other freedoms and blessings that we often take for granted.

Let us pray for the men and women of our Armed Forces and the many selfless sacrifices they and their families make on behalf of our Nation. Let us pray for the police officers, firefighters, and other first responders who put themselves in harm’s way every day to protect their fellow citizens. And let us ask God for the sustenance and guidance for all of us to meet the great challenges we face as a Nation.

Let us remember in our thoughts and prayers those who have been affected by natural disasters at home and abroad in recent months, as well as those working tirelessly to render assistance. And, at a time when many around the world face uncertainty and unrest, but also hold resurgent hope for freedom and justice, let our prayers be with men and women everywhere who seek peace, human dignity, and the same rights we treasure here in America.

The Congress, by Public Law 100-307, as amended, has called on the President to issue each year a proclamation designating the first Thursday in May as a “National Day of Prayer.”

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim May 5, 2011, as a National Day of Prayer. I invite all citizens of our Nation, as their own faith or conscience directs them, to join me in giving thanks for the many blessings we enjoy, and I ask all people of faith to join me in asking God for guidance, mercy, and protection for our Nation.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-ninth day of April, in the year of our Lord two thousand eleven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fifth.

BARACK OBAMA


Wisconsin’s new governor, Governor Walker, has caused a great deal of controversy with his proposed budget cuts.  I do understand that the state is in financial trouble and cuts in spending are needed.  I would not want to be the one responsible for choosing what to cut, nor do I have a lot of creative ideas on how to save money for Wisconsin.  Even though I don’t live in southeatern Wisconsin, I was angry that Governor Walker refused to accept the federal money to build light rail between Milwaukee and Madison, a project that not only would have helped transportation but would have created hundreds of new jobs.  The recent brouhaha about limiting the rights of state employees, teachers and nurses to collectively bargain and requiring them to pay more toward their pensions and health care coverage as well as cutting medicaid eligibility has been front page news.  I am still working on digesting that issue.  However, today I received a disheartening letter that I can identify with personally, both as a citizen and a poet.  The letter (see below) states that Governor Walker intends to decommission the committee that selects and supports a state poet laureate and cut the funding.

I can remember when the poetry community of Wisconsin rejoiced over the creation of an official Wisconsin Poet Laureate by Governor Thompson.  My friend and outstanding poet, Ellen Kort, was named our first poet laureate.  She traveled and worked extremely hard to create poetry events and to promote the understanding and enjoyment of poetry all around the state, including schools and prisons.  She was followed by an equally outstanding poet, Marilyn Taylor, who continued to further education about poetry.  More special poetry events were created.  Last fall, I was proud to be at the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets meeting when our third state poet laureate was announced, again a very talented poet I have known for some time, Bruce Detlefson.

It seems that Governor Walker has decided that eliminating the state poet laureate, and thus the $2000 funding of the position, is necessary to help trim the state budget.  But why does Governor Walker have to stop naming a poet laureate?  He should continue to support this position and allow private citizens and organizations, like the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets for instance, to fund the position. I realize that this blog’s readership is small, but I want to encourage those of you who are reading this right now and agree with me to let Governor Walker know that we still want a poet laureate!  Why must the fine arts always be the first to be cut when times get hard?  Music, art and literature don’t support life but they surely make life worth living!  Stand up and support the arts with me.    Cathy Conger 

The following is the letter I referred to above from Les Smith, president of the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets: 

Dear Fellow Poets and WFOP Members,

As you may or may not be aware, our new governor has opted not to continue the Poet Laureate Commission and has ended its annual $2000 funding, effective immediately. Please note that this does not strip Bruce Dethlefsen of his post as Wisconsin Poet Laureate. Bruce was named to that position as one of the final acts of the previous governor, and his term as Poet Laureate would continue for the full two years. Without a Poet Laureate Commission, however, there will be no one to review or appoint new Poets Laureate after Bruce’s term ends. Consequently, the Poet Laureate Commission has decided to continue its own existence, and its members are currently in discussion with possible umbrella organizations to give them a home. They’ve promised to reveal more information once things are settled.  

Obviously, they are committed to continue naming new Poets Laureate in the future, with or without governmental approval. There are wrinkles to be considered, however, so they are being careful as they move forward. For further details on the Poet Laureate Commission’s situation, I refer you to this post on Cathryn Cofell’s Facebook page,  http://on.fb.me/he32af, or to Jane Hamblen’s statement on the Verse Wisconsin Facebook page.  As for the WFOP’s role in this, you may recall that we have donated more than once to a fund to support the program permanently, and that we have given further to meet added expenses incurred by our Poets Laureate. The WFOP board intends to continue that sort of support in the future, believing that is your desire. (We will, of course, report to you any such giving, and will bring any large expenditures before the membership for a vote, as always. Given that the annual honorarium has been ended, I suspect we may wish to contribute to that fund when the need comes up early next year.) 

In closing, I would like to speak personally about the situation. On the one hand, I might credit Governor Walker with making this decision in keeping with a no-nonsense attitude toward budgeting. On the other, I suspect that he could have found some way to continue the program, even if he felt funding was unwarranted. From what I have learned of his history, however, I suspect that the governor does not view the “liberal” arts with a friendly eye. Personally, I would suggest that you spread the news of his decision now, far and wide, while the topic of his budget bill is hot. Whether people agree or disagree with that bill, I believe most will see this decision to discontinue the Poet Laureate Commission as an unnecessarily frugal, if not downright foolish, abandonment of Wisconsin’s arts community.  Thank you for your time and efforts on behalf of Wisconsin poetry. 

Sincerely, Lester Smith

President, Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets (www.WFOP.org)