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

This morning the door bell rang and there stood a dozen real estate agents queued up behind their fearless leader.  As they streamed into the foyer, they slipped off shoes and put blue surgical booties on their stocking feet.  After a short overview by our agent, John, they went off in all directions to study our home.  Everyone was very nice and complimented us on the good job we did staging the house.   We knew several of the agents, one being our babysitter from years ago.  I felt strange having all these strangers taking notes as they surveyed each room.  The sunroom and fireplaces seemed to be the favorite rooms.  They had toured, put shoes and gloves back on, and gone out the way they came in less than 15 minutes!  John promised the sign would go up tomorrow and we gave him a key.  On the way out, he asked about the capacity of our septic tanks - after all, these practical things matter.  Chuck and I sat down across from each other at the kitchen table and shrugged our shoulders.  ”All I have to say is that I sure hope it sells soon,” he said.  The next step will be an open house some time in the next month.  In the meantime, we can’t make any messes and have to make the bed every morning!

Friday was the big day!  Our realtor came to take photos for the real estate MLS (Multiple Listing Service) and Coldwell Banker website.  We were ready - we thought.  He walked through the house to take a look at all of the improvements we’d made in the last 6 weeks.  He was very impressed ( almost surprised it seemed).  He brought his new camera and a tripod which he set up in each room, one by one.  As it turned out, we still hadn’t cleared away enough stuff from counter tops, fireplace hearth, etc.  I followed him around with a basket to collect everything he wanted cleared.  I think this staging process is the most stressful because we just don’t live in  hotel type spartan surroundings.  I admit that we desperately needed to clear out a ton of belongings around here. However, it’s not my nature to live in a hotel room.  Anyway, he then traveled around the house with camera to make a virtual tour.  That will be interesting to look at.  As he was about to leave, I asked, “Where is the for sale sign?”  He said it wasn’t ready yet.  It seems that a special sign support must be used in the snow.  I was disappointed.  I wanted to see the sign go up to cap our 6 weeks of work.  Oh well.  On Wednesday he is bringing his whole sales staff to tour the house so all of them could knowledgably show the house.  Maybe he’ll bring the sign then. The photo shows our realtor with camera.

My Mom and Dad resting at the kitchen table

My Mom and Dad resting at the kitchen table

Realtor told us to paint neutral!

Realtor told us to paint neutral!

boxes, boxes, boxes

boxes, boxes, boxes

more boxes for the storage unit

more boxes for the storage unit

It's a sunroom again

It is a sunroom again after years as an office

new sofa

new sofa

Stained glass window replaced with clear

(Stained glass window replaced with clear)

I have been lax about blogging for the past few weeks because of all the work getting our house ready to sell.  My parents came out from Pittsburgh to help and have a visit.  Since they are in their 80’s, we gave them less strenuous tasks.  Dad, however, insisted on doing all sorts of strenuous things.  While they were here, we packed everything that the realtor told us needed to be gone in order to stage the house.  Consequently, there were stacks of boxes in the garage bound for the storage unit.  I lost count of how many vanful’s of stuff went to Goodwill!  Then there were the various items we sold on Craig’s List.  The storage unit we are renting is now full of all the things we want to move to our new house.  Mom and I worked for days organizing my sewing room.  She thinks I could open a fabric shop! She may be right.  I sent 12 large Rubbermaid totes full of fabric to the storage unit and organized everything else in 14 more. It looks so nice in there that I don’t want to mess it up by sewing!

Painting  became a major project, but first wallpaper had to be stripped.  What a ghastly, nasty job!  We had pieces of sticky wallpaper all over the place after steaming the paper off.  Our baseboards are mostly dark stained wood and were really beat up after 36 years in the house.  Dad spruced up all those baseboards.  I continued to clean up and organize the basement.  The new sofa and loveseat we had ordered for the new house arrived in the middle of all this wrapped in plastic.  Since we had given our family room furniture to our daughter and son-in-law, we decided to unwrap the plastic and give ourselves something to sit on!  The new furniture is beautiful, by the way.

Yesterday I organized all my yarn and knitting supplies into giant ziploc bags, leaving out several projects to work on. That just leaves the front coat closet to clean out.  I know there is a mammoth video recorder from the 1980’s in there!  So today the painter is finishing touchup painting all over the house and refinishing some doors.  He painted 3 rooms this week as well.  The carpet cleaners just finished so there’s furniture piled all over the place. My husband and I have been cleaning the crystal chandeliers.  We’ve taken the smaller ones apart to wash but the 2 big ones are a different story.  I learned how to do it from an innkeeper where we stayed last summer.  I’d commented on how sparkly her big chandelier was.  She told me that to clean it you place a sheet of plastic and old towels on the table under the chandelier, turn off the lights, and fill a spray bottle with a mixture of warm water and isopropyl alcohol.  Then spray the whole chandelier.  When it is done dripping, it will dry sparkling clean!

Tomorrow we’ll place the furniture back in the rooms, set out the accessories, vacuum and put away all the paint brushes, tools, etc.  Friday the realtor comes to take photos of the interior to put on their website.  Before he leaves, he’ll put the sign in the yard.  It still hasn’t hit me emotionally that after 36 years, we will be leaving our home, the home where we raised our five kids.  Maybe when it stands empty and the moving van is pulling away, I’ll let myself cry.  The big stained glass window with our initial in the center that we had an artist make when we built the house has been removed, replaced with a clear window, and crated.  It’s a part of our home we are taking with us to the next one.  I really hope the house sells soon though, so we can get on with our plans to build our retirement home in Door County, Wisconsin. I’ll keep you posted.

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Emptying family room leaves us with little seating

14

Stained glass window gone

15

Trundle bed gone in purple bedroom

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Bare bones bedroom

To see remaining photos:  go to www.flickr.com/photos/congerfamily

After living in the same house for 36 years, we have decided to move from our home in central Wisconsin to Door County, Wisconsin for our retirement. Chuck plans to retire in August of 2014.  One year ago we purchased land on a high bluff a few miles south of the charming town of Egg Harbor, overlooking Green Bay.  Our plan was to build our retirement home on it.  So far, we have finished a house plan and chosen Portside Construction as our builder.  The plans have undergone many changes and probably will undergo a lot more, but we are happy with the plan.  It is a 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom open concept home with a walkout basement (which we have no plans to finish).  So our living space is all on one level - something my creaky knees will appreciate as I age.  The best part of the house is the view!  The entire lake side of the house will be glass.  The next best part of the house is my very own, big sewing studio!

So we have begun the journey.  Of course the downside is that we must leave the town where we have lived and worked for 38 years.  We have many blessed, old friendships here, good neighbors, a wonderful church family, and all the memories surrounding raising our 5 children here.  We built our present two story, 5 bedroom, colonial home in 1977.  Many made many changes and improvements to the house over the years.  It feels comfortable and just fits us, like an old slipper.  A few months ago we hired a realtor, our friend John S. to help us sell the home.  Little did we know what a huge job that was going to be!  He recommended that we remove all the clutter (also known as my beloved memorabilia, photos, and comfy furniture) and try to make the house a neutral space for perspective buyers to imagine themselves living in.  Imagine 36 years of accumulated “stuff”!  Imagine how much of that “stuff” has to be sold, given away, packed for the new house, or just junked.  The hard work we anticipated.  The emotions we’ve been experiencing we did not expect.  Why wouldn’t a buyer like my wallpaper?  What’s wrong with the color scheme I spent long hours developing?  What do you mean we have too much furniture?  What’s wrong with our art work?

Right after the Christmas tree came down, the project began.  The first thing we did was walk through each room with a critical eye, making lists of what needed fixing, what needed new paint, what furniture had to go, etc.  Before it got really cold, we had a crew come to wash all the windows inside and out.  After New years,flooring installers came to tear out the well worn carpeting  in our master bathroom and laundry/mud room and lay the new vinyl flooring I had chosen.  Wow!  What a difference!  And we are just getting started. When we built the house, we had a large stained glass window made for the landing of the stairway.  Since it was very special to us, we decided we wanted to move it to our new house.  Also, it had a big letter “C” in the center which we thought the new owners might not appreciate.  The carpenter came, removed the window to a sturdy wooden crate, and covered the opening with plastic and brown paper until the new, custom window arrived.  The plastic is keeping a surprising amount of the cold air from coming in.

Two of our daughters helped us tackle the basement while they were home for the holidays.  We collected LOTS of trash, organized and packed a lot into Rubbermaid bins, and separated out the furniture and stuff that needed to be hauled upstairs and either taken to the storage unit or to Goodwill or sold on Craig’s List.  I went through clothes we’d been storing down there for…well, I don’t know what for.  I cleaned off shelves of paint cans, old camping equipment, toys, seasonal decorations, etc.  It was liberating!

January12th our third daughter and her husband arrived to help us with the next step on the journey.  We hired 2 hard-working teen boys as well.  We rented a storage unit and a U Haul truck.  My daughter, the organizer, led the way with a roll of masking tape and a marker.  She’d ask me what I wanted to do with each box or piece of furniture.  Then she’d slap a piece of tape on it that had either an S for storage unit, a C for Craig’s List, or G for Goodwill.  The boys carried an amazing amount of things (some very heavy!) to the garage (that’s either up a flight from the basement or down a flight from upstairs!).  Meanwhile my son-in-law kept them directed and expertly packed the truck.  Thank God the temperature outside was in the 30’s - unusual for January in Wisconsin - because they were outside all day and the doors were open too!  The next day the temperature dropped into the teens and all were very happy the outdoor work was done.

January 13th:  Chuck and I assembled a microwave cart.  The realtor said that we needed to clear as much off the kitchen counters as possible.  Our big microwave took up a lot of counter space so is now on a cart along with the coffeemaker.  We moved the kitchen table and chairs around as well.  I had my Dickens Christmas village displayed year round on a long, high shelf in the kitchen.  I took it down and wrapped each piece carefully in bubble wrap (it took over an hour!) .  Meanwhile Chuck was setting up my desk in the library to accommodate both of us on one computer since he had to empty his office in the solarium in order to make it look like a solarium again.  He managed to consolidate his 4 drawer file cabinet into one bankers box (his mobile office now) and pack everything else-which was A LOT- into boxes that went to the storage unit.  He’s not quite done yet but it’s coming along.

January 14th: The cleaning lady came today and couldn’t believe all the empty shelves and open space.  She made the dust and trash disappear and mopped up all the dirty boot prints from the kitchen floor.  Then out in the garage, she spied all the things we are selling.  It seems that her bachelor son has just bought his first house and has nothing but a bed, a desk, and a TV.  She chose quite a few things for him.  The garage looks more bare and we have made enough money to pay for a night’s stay in Door County!

My parents are coming for a 2 week visit on Thursday.  They are willing to help us pack some boxes and do touch up painting, etc.  Bless their hearts!  I will post some photos as we go along.  Until next posting…