Sunday, April 29, 2012

3KCBWDAY7--Never Say Never

Today's topic:

Crafting Balance Are you a knitter or a crocheter, or are you a bit of both? If you are monogamous in your yarn-based crafting, is it because you do not enjoy the other craft or have you simply never given yourself the push to learn it? Is it because the items that you best enjoy crafting are more suited to the needles or the hook? Do you plan on ever trying to take up and fully learn the other craft? If you are equally comfortable knitting as you are crocheting, how do you balance both crafts? Do you always have projects of each on the go, or do you go through periods of favouring one over the other? How did you come to learn and love your craft(s)?

I am a knitter, not a crochet-er.  I can do enough crochet to edge a sweater and I once made a red acrylic hat, which nobody wears.  Also, there was that time a few years ago when I was seized by the urge to work with a hook and so I crocheted an outrageous number of wash clothes, which we still use because we can't seem to wear them out. But really, I don't crochet.

I try not to be closed minded about crochet.  Over the years, one thing I have learned for sure is that I only think I know where I'm going next.  When I started quilting, I was sure that I would never want to learn applique (HA), never embellish anything with embroidery (oh, but I still love that turkey track stitch that I used on my applique pigs), and never stoop so low as to machine quilt one of my precious quilts (except maybe for the ones I actually wanted to finish in my lifetime).  For knitting, I knew that I would never bother with lace or intarsia (the intarsia thing is still true, due to an unfortunate experience early on with an afghan that was supposed to feature little scottie dogs) or with anything that had to be knit on size 13 or larger needles (the adorable dumpling bag I made a few years ago went much too fast to count, you know).

But for sure I have no present intention of further exploring crochet. To that end I was very careful not to look at the amazing granny squares someone was making at the yarn knitting shop last week. Therefore, it was in no way a revelation to me that a person could use such beautiful color combinations and such fine and pleasantly woolly yarn to make a crocheted object (actually, an increasingly large stack of crocheted objects) that I might find appealing, and I am definitely not considering whether any part of my stash might be suitable for such an endeavor or whether I could find a really nice crochet hook in just the right size. I am not interested in learning, if only because I couldn't possibly fit another craft inside my head.  I'm very limited that way. Not gonna do it.  Not gonna do it.  Wouldn't be prudent.  Not at this juncture.


Saturday, April 28, 2012

3KCBWDAY6--Skill Building

Today's topic:
Improving Your Skillset
How far down the road to learning your craft do you believe yourself to be? Are you comfortable with what you know or are you always striving to learn new skills and add to your knowledge base? Take a look at a few knitting or crochet books and have a look at some of the skills mentioned in the patterns. Can you start your amigurumi pieces with a magic circle, have you ever tried double knitting, how's your intarsia? If you are feeling brave, make a list of some of the skills which you have not yet tried but would like to have a go at, and perhaps even set yourself a deadline of when you'd like to have tried them by.
Hmmmm. The only way I can answer this is to say that I like to think I'm on my way. If crafting-- in my case at the moment knitting, spinning, and weaving -- is a road, then I want it to be a very long road that I can travel for years and years. With knitting and spinning in particular, I'm comfortable enough with my skills that I don't feel like a rank beginner any more. At the same time, there are tons and tons of techniques and secrets left to learn or explore more thoroughly and I like that, since I will probably get bored and quit if I think there's nothing left to learn.

On my "To Learn" list for the near future are double knitting (this is a new one for me; I downloaded Extreme Double Knitting and I'm looking forward to testing out the techniques on some hats for my kids), more lace stuff (I've got the beginnings of Bridgewater on my needles, which is more of a major lace thingy than anything else I've knit so far), and color work (I've done some of this before, but I'd like to get much better at it; I've got a hat, mittens, a bag, and a sweater all on my knit list for this year). For spinning, I still enjoy spinning whatever fluff looks good to me, but I would like to get better at spinning a nice soft worsted singles and intentionally choosing a fleece or some fiber for a particular project, spinning a yarn that is suited to the project, and then actually finishing that project. In weaving I'm a total newbie; everything is wide open here.

On a totally unrelated topic, here is a little guy who needs to stay exactly the same for just a little bit longer. I know that T-Ball is all about giving kids enough skills that they can eventually start playing baseball, but there's not much that I love better than watching the beginning of a T-Ball season.

We start, of course, with eight 5 and 6 year olds. Put them all together in the field. Make sure at least 4 of them are crowded around the pitcher's mound, since that's where just about everything is hit.

Then we wait . . .

and wait . . .

and wait . . .

until someone finally hits the ball near us and we tackle it, because this is really so exciting that we can't stand up any more. Sometimes the other guys who are in the field tackle the ball at the same time and we get a little scrum going while we sort out who is going to actually pick the ball up and deal with it.

Whoever wins the ball gets to throw it to, or at least somewhere near, first base. This usually wakes the first baseman up, but it's a bit of a crap shoot whether he will catch it or chase it or duck to get out of the way.

After we do this for a while, it's time to bat.





Finally we connect with the ball instead of beating up on the Tee. And then we run, although sometimes we forget to go right away and the coach has to remind us. Hopefully we confine our running to our own field, but some of us forget to turn left at second base and occasionally end up playing a different game. Eventually we have run all the way around the bases and back to home plate. Then it's time to ask dad, who is coaching, if we can go see mommy for a few minutes because we think she might have snacks.

Later in the season, we know the drill. We hit the ball instead of the tee (mostly), we learn to let one of our teammates field the ball if it's closer to him, and we get better at staying with the team when we're not batting, even if we still wave to mom during the game. The sense of chaos is gone and it is clear that we've been schooled in the basics of playing a team sport like baseball. It's still cute to watch the game, but now it lacks the sense of randomness that kept the parents giggling at the beginning of the season.

I know we can't keep them unskilled and unschooled forever, but this is one part of childhood that I'm in no rush to part with.

Friday, April 27, 2012

3KCBWDAY5--Something a Little Different

p.s. It wasn't really that kind of day.  Mostly.  

Thursday, April 26, 2012

3KCBWDAY4--Just How Seasonal is My Knitting?

A Knitter or Crocheter For All Seasons?As spring is in the air in the northern hemisphere and those in the southern hemisphere start setting their sights for the arrival of winter, a lot of crocheters and knitters find that their crafting changes along with their wardrobe. Have a look through your finished projects and explain the seasonality of your craft to your readers. Do you make warm woollens the whole year through in preparation for the colder months, or do you live somewhere that never feels the chill and so invest your time in beautiful homewares and delicate lace items. How does your local seasonal weather affect your craft?
Well, again, I should be working but here I am blogging. I think what I should do is fill my Urgent--To Do list with things like knitting and blogging and looking at stuff on Ravelry, and then I might get distracted by work and end up doing that instead. I'm sure it can't fail any more miserably than my current system.

Today's distraction has been the KCBW topic for today.  Originally I thought I would just dash off a post about how I'm not an obviously seasonal knitter and go on my way.  Then I read the part about looking through my finished projects and explaining their seasonality and I thought "Oh, good.  An excuse to look at Ravelry." And so I did.  I took a good long look at my projects and then I thought I might just jot a few down to see if I could identify any trends.

Several hours later, I had copied out a list of the project types and the month they were started and finished in.  I have about three years of projects on Ravelry, so my list covers all of  2009, 2010,  and 2011 and has a little of 2012 thrown in.  It was really hard to identify trends from my handwritten notes, though, so clearly the next step was to make a table for all of this information.  Once I had a table, of course, it was a piece of cake to start sorting the table by this, that, and the other thing.  And then it was a matter of a mere 45 minutes to an hour to look over the data and summarize the trends.  Pffffft.

Here's what I learned.

1. I am exceptionally good at looking industrious while avoiding my work.

2. Some knit items demand strict adherence to seasonal trends.

  • Hats, gloves, and mittens are entirely seasonal.  They are started only between October and March, with 2/3 of them being started in October and November when the cold weather kicks in.  They are always finished in the cold season too.
  • Gloves in my world are subject to the additional requirements that they must be started in October and finished in November, although I don't knit too many gloves so the data might be  weak.  
  • Socks, which have made up over 1/3 of my knitting in the last three years,  are knit pretty much year round, although they are for some reason NEVER EVER started or finished in February.  Why?  WHY????
  •  My sweaters are fairly seasonal; over 50% are started in the September or October, right when I want to start wearing them, although finishing patterns are entirely random.  Sweaters for kids and babies, though, are random.
3. Most of my seasonality revolves around how much I am knitting at a particular time of year.  I knit more in the fall and winter than in the spring and summer (although if you were to examine my spinning habits, you might find an explanation for that).  
  •  January (11 items), October (10 items), and April (7) are my big months for starting projects.  February, May, June, and September are the months when I am least likely to start new things (3 starts in each month over three years). 
  •  Finishing up, which is not as concentrated in time as starting, occurs most often in February (8 projects completed), March (8), October (8), January (7) and November (7).  May (3) and September (2) seem to be months when I am largely incapable of completing anything. 
  • Comparing starts and finishes, it looks like January and October are big knitting months for me. Early spring is also a pretty knitterly time (lots of finished in March followed by lots of starts in April?), but May and September look like knitting duds as far as I can tell: nothing started, nothing finished, and I'm not sure if I'm always in the middle of knitting something in those months or if I'm busy doing something else entirely.
Other things I was surprised to learn:  the number of projects has been fairly consistent from year to year.  In 2009, I started 18 and finished 17, in 2010 I started 20 and finished 21, and in 2011 I started 19 and finished 21.  For this year, I have started 9 (a little ahead of schedule?), but have finished 7, and since we are 1/3 of the way through the year, this puts me on track to finish 21 items again.  Weird.  Also, the vicious sock knitting bender of 2009 (12 out of 18 projects) is over, and they now represent only 25 -30% of my knitting.  More recent years have also seen an increase in the variety of items I knit (hats, mittens,  sweaters, and socks have been joined by gloves and shawls, plus the Afghan of Eternal Knitting).  

Unfortunately, if I keep up with all this analysis and blogging about knitting, I will have to give up the knitting itself in order to make way for actual working time.  Since my job pays for quite a bit more than my knitting habits, I think the choice is clear. Must go!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

3KCBWWC--In Which I Invoke My Wildcard Privileges and Craft My Ideal Day

It starts off like this:

Me spinning on the dock during a vacation; I always bring a spindle
because they pack better than my wheel does.

Dock, water, sunshine, cool breeze, a favorite spindle and, even though you can't see them in this picture, the rest of my family hanging out nearby fishing, drawing, reading and telling each other how nice it is to take a break from the TV and computer.  Also, the fiber would be a fabulous color and would draft easily and spin up into the ideal springy and even worsted weight yarn.

A little later a select few of my friends--along with some new and interesting people that they brought with them to liven up the party-- would show up with their knitting baskets, a picnic lunch, some tasty snacks, a manicurist, and a masseuse.  We would settle our backsides into the very comfy adirondack chairs arrayed on the covered porch, put our feet up, and while away the afternoon with knitting, munching, and chit chat.  Periodically, one of us could take a break from all the fun and enjoy a quick massage or some nail work.  The manicurist would do such a good job smoothing away the rough spots on our hands that we could all start working with silk and never need to complain about it snagging on us.  Plus, the nail polish would dry instantly--no wasted knitting time here-- and not chip for at least two weeks.

Later in the afternoon, the mail would be delivered by a postal worker who also delivers ice cream right to the porch.  In the mail would be a shipment from the Way Cool Fiber of the Month club, which I forgot I signed up for, and an envelope full of Instant Teleport tickets to see the ellen show.  When we got there, it would be a special ellen show dedicated to how cool knitting and spinning are.  We would win lots of prizes, just like the audience always does, but  they would all be knitting and spinning related and  even if I didn't get the biggest prize, because that would be selfish, I might get the second or third biggest prize because it is my ideal day, after all, and who doesn't love winning a prize?

See, here's a prize.  I won it just the other day, which was really fun.
My prize might even be a Schacht Sidekick wheel, which I would never buy for myself but which I'm sure I would enjoy receiving for free, and since they fold for travel, I might be able to start bringing it on vacations so that it wouldn't have to be just me and my spindle on a the dock, even though that's really fun and relaxing too.  One of my other prizes might be an all expense paid trip to a knitting and spinning retreat where my new wheel would really come in handy.

After the show, I would go home to find that my husband had made a gourmet dinner and that my kids had cleaned up the house and were really looking forward to washing the dinner dishes.  We would all settle down to watch some TV together, and everyone would agree that what they really wanted to watch was a period movie set in England and no one would change the channel on a commercial, get distracted by The Game,  and "forget" to change it back.  During this time, I would finish at least one major project and instead of teasing me because I seem to knit all the time, my family would marvel at my skill and my daughter would tell me that all of her friends thought it was so cool that her mom could knit.

Just before bed, I would weigh myself and discover that I had finally lost those last five (ok, 15) pounds of baby weight.  I would also have grown and inch or too--just enough that my daughters can no longer call me "shorty" or "shrimp"  or "mini-mom."  And when I looked in the mirror I would discover that my hair had developed exactly the amount of wave/curl that I always thought it needed.  The few streaks of silver would still be there though, because I earned them and there's not that many of them anyway.

I probably wouldn't want to go to sleep because who wants a day like this to end, but eventually --after a few more (mistake free!) rows on my next project-- I would drift off and I could relive the whole perfect day in my dreams.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

3KCBWDAY2 - Photography Challenge Day

Well, in for a penny, in for a pound as the saying goes.  Here is today's knitting and crochet blog week topic:
Today challenges you to be creative with your photography, and get yourself in with the chance to win the photography prize. Taking interesting photographs in this instance isn't about flashy cameras or a great deal of technical know-how, it's about setting up a story or scene in a photograph and capturing something imaginative. Your photograph(s) should feature something related to your craft, so that might be either a knitted or crocheted item, yarn, or one of your craft tools. One example of setting a scene would be to photograph a girl in a knitted red cape walking through the woodlands with a basket of goodies, as in the Red Riding Hood tale, or you might photograph a knitted gnome hiding among the flowers in your garden. Photo editing is permitted for competition photos. 

And double HA!!

Creative photography is not my greatest strength.  It took me most of the day to figure out what I wanted to do.  Here is the backstory.  I have been spinning a bunch of fluff that I picked up from Hope Spinnery at Rhinebeck this year.  It started off looking like this:

Over the course of a week, it began to look like this:

As I was plying the red stuff, it reminded me of raspberries, possibly because we had a whole container of them sitting in the fridge.   Then I decided that the blue stuff was a pretty good imitation of blueberries.  The yellow, then, would have to be old bananas since it certainly wasn't the color of the ripe bananas on the counter.

And so Fruit Sally was born.

It turns out she's very keen on photography and will pose endlessly.  The banana, of course, is her phone and during one emotionally fraught conversation, she willingly exhibited a range of emotions that would put Kristin Stewart to shame.

She also likes to goof around with Picassa, so we had to make more than one collage.

I couldn't let this shot be buried in a collage, though.  It is her Carmen Miranda pose.  Naturally.

In case you are not partial to fresh fruit, here are some older shots of Emma's gourd people modeling the preemie hats I made in the fall.  

This post turned out to be every bit as time consuming as I hoped it wouldn't be, but therapeutic nonetheless.  I was suffering the bizarre side effects of discovering, post shampoo, that my daughter had used my comb to chop up the bath melt that we bought at Lush last week.  This might not have been a huge deal, but she didn't bother to wash the comb afterwards, which only makes sense since she didn't bother to wipe the bath melt crumbs off the antique table she used as her cutting board, and also failed rinse the yuckamuck out of the tub when she was done.  An odd way to start my day.  Maybe that's why I just coudn't get into the rhythm of working today.  Yeah, that's the ticket . . .

Monday, April 23, 2012

This Post is Not on My To Do List

I'm not supposed to be writing this post.  I also wasn't supposed to spend the first 3.5 hours of my morning poking around the computer and taking pictures of my knitting and spinning and I definitely wasn't supposed to join a blog week.  I was supposed to shuffle my kids off to school and spend the first hour of my personal day plying six bobbins of yarn and then I was supposed to reluctantly transition into my work day, which I would spend alternating between the diligent pursuit of a finished work product and the secret rebellion of playing Angry Birds instead of working.  

It wasn't supposed to snow, either, but it did and are we really surprised that this bizarre winter was going to depart without defying expectations one last time? Now it's a snow day here, even though we are a solid month into spring, and everyone with kids knows that a snow day exerts a mysterious power that wreaks havoc with all prior plans. 

Want proof of the snow?  Take a look:

That's the new barn as it looked this morning when I walked the dog (before that sheet of snow on the roof slid off in a single mass and landed in a heap on the ground).

Here is the chicken coop.  The chickens, as always, were surprised by the snow.

They will be even more surprised (again and again and again) when the blanket of snow/slush that is stuck in their overhead netting starts to fall through the netting one large, wet clump after another.

Unfortunately for my snow deprived children, there will not be enough snow to sled or even play in.  It's mostly poorly disguised slush and not at all fun to be out in.  So this winter still ranks as an abject failure on their Entertaining Weather Scale.

Just in time for this colorless day is the first topic for the Third Annual Knitting and Crochet Blog Week.  Much to your delight, I have decided to take part in this and I will be spending this week responding to the prompts given at  Here is the jiggy for today:

Colour is one of our greatest expressions of ourselves when we choose to knit or crochet, so how do you choose what colours you buy and crochet or knit with. Have a look through your stash and see if there is a predominance of one colour. Do the same with your finished projects - do they match? Do you love a rainbow of bright hues, or more subdued tones. How much attention do you pay to the original colour that a garment is knit in when you see a pattern? Tell readers about your love or confusion over colour.

Well, let's see.  Here is a collage of my most recent yarn, either purchased, spun, or knit.

Color choices for me are largely visceral.  I'm lured to intense colors much more than to pastels.  I definitely prefer blues, reds and pinks and the more, the better.  I almost never choose solids.  Even where something I am knitting (like colorwork) really calls for the sharp contrast that solids can provide, I'm much more likely to choose heathered yarns than true solids.  I understand that the final product will show lots of color interest and I love looking at pictures of colorwork done with solids, but I can't stand looking at the solid colors themselves, so they don't make it into my shopping cart unless I'm shopping for a very particular project and I'm being very disciplined.

I am not at all scientific when I choose a "palette" of colors for a project (I can't even call it a palette without using the snarky quotation marks--I'm just not artistic enough for the idea of a "palette" in my "work" to be taken seriously).  I start off meaning to make intelligent color selections, but after a while I get muddled and decide to just knit the damn thing and hope for the best. Even though I spent a lot of years pulling together multiple colors and fabrics for my quilts,  I am not adept at visualizing multi-color combinations, which means that I'm usually surprised by the end products of multicolor rovings spun and plied into yarn or by the overall look of a project like the sleeve of my Serape sweater (row two, extreme left pic), even  when it comes from a yarn combo (row two, pic 3) that I can see perfectly well (I even know to weight the appearance of the yarn pile so the colors are represented in the same proportions that they'll be used in for the project, and I'm still surprised).

Here, of course, is my Nemesis:

Brown. In the right shade (I like to think of it as chocolate, naturally) it's not a bad color for me to wear, but I'm not sure I could knit with it for very long before I started to resent its brown-ness. This is too bad because I have about 5 pounds of hand processed (by me--I'm kind of invested in this pile of fluff) brown fleece that I intend to spin this summer and knit into an extra large sweater for El Husbando. My feelings about brown* are one of the reasons that I have no clue what to do with the skein of yarn pictured above. The little booger (little nothing, that's 600 yards of worsted weight alpaca) just doesn't speak to me, mostly because it is so very . . . brown.

I'm sure I have more to say about color, but if I don't do some work soon, I'll get in trouble with somebody, though I'm not sure who.  Off we go!

*Also, I went to Cornell.  The school colors are red and white and when we used to play against Brown--where the uniforms are a very poor advertisement for the color-- we poured all of our intelligence and maturity into cheering "Our team is red hot! Our team is red hot! Your team is brown. Your team is brown."  This kind of training definitely influences a person's attitude towards color. 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

A Surprising Plan

I love it when my kids surprise me.  

Actually, this is a lie.

Some of the surprises they think up make me want to close the shades and hide in bed for the rest of the day.  That thing last month with the Mystery of the Vanishing Loom Parts?  Very surprising, but not in a good way.  Losing their grip on the Wii remotes so they fly up to ceiling and smash the CFLs in the recessed lights?  Same thing.  And every time they decide they are really and truly going to finally make ink from all the walnuts in the yard, my skin gets itchy all over because I know what I will end up with is three misplaced hammers, a lot of walnut lingy on the mud room carpet, and  plastic bags full of moldy nut parts lying around for months until we finally conclude that the ink is a no go this year.  Again.

But this week I was pleasantly surprised.  Isabel's teachers offered the class an extra credit service project.  Working on their own time, the kids could choose a worthy cause and raise money (or collect stuff, etc.) to support the cause.  They have to document how they chose the project, how they are going to support it, and a bunch of other stuff, all of which earns them extra credit towards their grade.  

This assignment came home in February and I periodically asked Isabel what her group was going to do.  She would answer that they had a bunch of ideas but that they hadn't picked one yet.  This is a perfectly respectable answer at the very beginning of a project, but after two months of this stuff, I began to suspect that we were looking at a walnut ink kind of project: plenty of good--if undeniably vague--intentions, but no results.  I figured spring vacation from school would be the ideal time for the girls to set up their project, but when Isabel spent the first part of it in bed sick and the second part of it on the couch whiling away the hours until 3:00 when she could watch TV, I knew we were sunk. She made plans to go see one of her friends, but only for two hours and Isabel didn't even pretend that they were going to start their service project. 

But they did. After several phone calls and conversations, their date expanded from two hours to six hours.  There was some Skype (failed) and then some speaker phone involved so the girls could confer with their missing teammate.  Then there was a heap of computer time and even some door-to-door canvassing.  And at the end of it, the girls had a team name, a flyer, an on-line participant page, an Actual Plan, and (surprise!) their first donations.  

They are collecting money for Action Against Hunger to feed people in Africa.  Their team is called kids4kids365 (very catchy, no? 365 is the amount they hope to raise:  it takes a dollar a day to feed a kid, so this would be one year's worth of food; also, there are a whole whack of other groups called kids4kids, so some adjustments had to be made to their initial --and not-so-original--name). They even have a video that Isabel's friend put together:

  If you are interested, you can check it out here.  And if you really want to surprise me, try making a donation.

In a less pleasant surprise, my knitting groove is fizzling. 

I finished these socks for Isabel. 

 I didn't like the stitch pattern because it just wouldn't stick in my head and I was tied to the chart all the way through both socks.  Also, I don't love the yarn/pattern combination.  And I don't really like the green in the yarn.  The upshot is that I was really pleased to send them packing, although I have to admit that I despise them less now that I see them on some feet.

To make up for my Green Sock Woes, I have been knitting this sock:

I love this yarn (knit picks felici; it's the same 75% wool/25% nylon combination that has been so durable in the other KP sock yarns I've used, which is my favorite thing in a sock yarn).  I really like the colors, too, except for that particular shade of thistley purple, which does nothing for me emotionally.  It's a good thing that I like the yarn because I knit the foot of this sock twice before I realized that it was going to be a top-down sock, not a toe-up sock.  Somewhere in the blue stripe on the heel I messed up the eye of partridge pattern, but I would have cut my hair off before I ripped so much as a stitch of this third/first sock back again, and I am just pretending that the diamonds are supposed to be stripes on that part of the heel. Visual interest, you know?

I'm alternating between working on the sock and working on this:

It's the Summer Flies pattern in Dream in Color Classy, Dusky Aurora.  See how I capitalized all of that?  I'm really happy with the Pattern and the Yarn, and you should just be thankful that I restrained myself from EXPRESSING MY DEEP AND ABIDING LOVE IN ALL CAPS because I like this stuff enough to start shouting about it.  I'm considering buying a fourth skein because Summer Flies will take over 1.5 skeins and unless I get a fourth skein, I won't have enough yarn left to knit another project like this one. Or maybe I should get a whole bunch of skeins, because I could spend a lot of time wearing a sweater made out of this stuff. 

I've been spinning too, but my bobbin-in-progress pictures inevitably fail to capture the inner beauty of the yarn.  In theory, I should finish the next skein this week and be able to post a picture of the final product, but I'm sure that some other project (cleaning the mud room/kitchen/garage? working?  raising my children?)  will hijack my time, so don't hold your breath waiting for it. 

Speaking of which, my plans for this morning included lots of spinning and lots of drum carding in preparation for more spinning, but here it is 11:30-ish and I'm squandering my time again.  Off I go.

Sunday, April 8, 2012


My heart broke a little bit tonight. Our first house--the house that we left so eagerly almost eight years ago so that we could build our big house on our big chunk of land--was sold to someone new. It was on the market just long enough to tease us with the idea of going back: back to our old house and our old neighborhood and a bit of our old life. I think I'm smart enough to recognize that what I want most of all is to feel the simplicity of that old life again. My children (only three of them then) were small and sweet and there was so much time to spend with them. I wasn't working much and I didn't need to. We went to parks and playgrounds and had lunch with friends. We picked pumpkins and painted pictures and built a lot of things with blocks. I know there was more to it than that, but I don't remember those things. When I think of my old house, the rooms are filled with sunlight and memories of my tiny children and for the first time in eight years the pain of giving up that house and parting with those years is sharp. I know that my memories were not sold along with the house, I know that going back wouldn't make life any simpler, and I know that home is more about my people than about my place. But each year our lives seem to get a little more complicated and overwhelming; for a few days last week the possibility of going back to the place that held those years was terribly comforting and the loss of that possibility has made my heart ache.