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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.

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 haven’t posted for awhile and much has happened.  We’ve had 8 house showings so far, which is great they tell us.  But now it’s been a week with nothing.  I admit to being impatient.  Also, our friends who moved to Door County from here placed their house here on the market the same time we did and they sold it last weekend!  It’s not a race, but it felt like one.  I’m so happy for them, but it makes it harder for me not to be anxious.  Last week we spent 3 days in Door County during which we met with our builder.  He pulled out a long spec sheet.  A spec sheet is a list of everything that goes into a house from septic to paint.  The builder uses it to bid out all the work. We had already made so many decisions that we got through most of the spec sheet in a few hours.  We also nailed down the last details on the blueprints and made the complex decisions about windows.  We’re going to have a LOT of windows. The next day we visited several vendors.  We picked out the gas fireplace we wanted, siding, shingles, tile for the fireplace surround and hearth, and some possible gable trims.  Al, our builder, said that we had made enough progress on the spec sheet that he thought he could send out for bids.  Then, just as soon as we accept an offer on our present house, we can call him and say GO.  If that happens before June, we could be into the new house by Christmas.  Al also had a lead on a place we could rent up there during construction.  So, now we wait and pray God sends us a buyer pretty soon.

Our present house is definitely a traditional colonial so it will take a buyer who is looking for such a layout.  It seems that everyone now days wants the open floor plan (and granite countertops).  I guess that’s it for now.  Here’s a photo of our lot overlooking a frozen Green Bay.

We received feedback on the first showing - “they couldn’t get past the wallpaper” and “Too expensive”.  It surprised me that I took it so personally.  I guess I’m not as thick skinned as I thought.  But I will be!  The snowblower is at the shop.  It will cost $200 to fix it!  At least it hasn’t snowed more than an inch.  Hope the snow holds off until it’s fixed.  The day they came to get the snow blower, the garage door opener decided to give up the ghost.  Another $135 for a new one.  Chuck saved an additional $135 by installing it himself with only 2 trips to the hardware store!  He also fell off the ladder and wrenched his knee so he’s limping around,but very proud of his installation.  He pointed out to me that the opener that broke was the one original to the house and 36 years for a garage door opener is pretty good.  They say bad things come in threes but I’m not believing it!

Today they showed the house a second time.  This time it was to a doctor who is interviewing for a job at the hospital.  They requested a “house with as many bedrooms as possible”  and they want to be able to walk from it to downtown.  Our subdivision is set back in the woods.  Most people don’t even know there are houses back here.  We’re less than 5 minutes from our downtown - such as it is.  It’s an easy walk to Walmart. Does that count? Anyway, we’ll see what comes of this buyer.  There will be an open house next week which might turn up a suitable buyer.  Until then…

The day after the For Sale sign went up in our yard, the realtor called to schedule our first showing!  Boy, were we surprised!  So this morning, Sunday, they showed the house while we were at church.  I got up early to make sure all the last details were taken care of.  When we got home from church, the only signs that someone had been here were the tire tracks in the snow.  I suppose we won’t hear anything unless the people were interested.  That’s one more step on our journey.  The snowblower stopped running on Friday and the repair people can’t take it until Tuesday.  It’s supposed to snow Tuesday through Friday so I sure hope they can fix it quickly.  We especially wouldn’t want an unplowed driveway for another showing.