Archive for the ‘Imagining the Impossibilities’ Category

Getting those doors wide open!

Saturday, October 5th, 2013

There is a reason for a picture of a piratical weasel (though maybe not for the fact he’s clutching a large piece of cheese) which you will discover later on.


I spent last weekend in the company of some pretty awesome women, at Ange’s “Opening Doors” workshop, over near Toulouse. This was my “bike” (MrD bought himself a super swish bike; I go away for a motivational weekend: both purchases do us good in different ways!) , using a tax rebte, birthday money (counting chickens there!) and some earnings from the summer. It was great.


I took the train to Toulouse – a lovely smooth journey, and was picked up by Ange at Toulouse station; I spent a relaxing afternoon basking in the sunshine, meeting her dogs, dozing (I had been up at 5.45 am for my train!), meeting her family from school and hanging out her washing! Then we set off for Lavaur and the lovely gite La Passerelle


Here we met properly: there were 6 participants and Ange, who is skilled in leading weekends such as this. Over several glasses of wine and a home cooked meal we bonded a little, discovering each others personalities and generally enjoying each others’ company. I won’t say much about people – respecting privacy and all that – but we were aged from 29 to 54, all Anglophones (thank goodness!),  British, French, Kiwi and Australian, with a mix of jobs including a yoga teacher and an English teacher , and we all brought different skills, insights and stories.


On Saturday morning we started by talking about an object that was precious to us, and why it said something about us. Then Ange spoke about how we all have “pirates” – those voices that have grown up with us, that we have taken on board, and allow to sit on our shoulders whispering words like can’t…shouldn’t…mustn’t…whoever told you that!…why do you think you can do that?…etc Without “blaming” people, we explored how these pirates came to be so strong, how our childhood and our life-experiences have affected how we think…and a little about how we might deal with them.


Now, while I like the “pirate” picture, I imagine these voices as rather snidey little weasels – probably from a performance of Wind in the Willows that Mr D and I saw in the theatre, where the Weasels frequently came on stage, looked shifty and made a sound I can’t really reproduce in type: a kind of “fffffffffffffffttt!” sound. I also think “weaselly” is a brilliant adjective. So I now imagine these voices as Piratical Weasels (or, possibly, Weaselly Pirates) Hence the picture at the top of the post.


These sessions were a little “deep” but we were well supplied with comfort, in the form of coffee, biscuits, chocolate and a superb lunch, cooked and delivered by a local lady. And a tiny tad of wine! In the evening we went into Lavaur to share a lovely meal in a very nice restaurant. I had some delicious duck: mmmmmmm.


The next morning was much easier, but no less searching than Saturday: we identified our “heart felt dreams” and visualised succeeding. We talked about how we would feel, and we did some bad ass Weasel Kicking!  Finally, having identified a quotation that really spoke to us, we created a piece of art work to hang at home to inspire us, to challenge us, to put the Piratical Weasels in their place. It was interesting that for me there were two quotations that spoke to me:

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams, live the life you’ve imagined!


It’s not because things are difficult that we don’t dare to do them; it’s because we don’t dare that things are difficult.


One I felt was “easier” than the other, but it was the other that called me back again, and again. The word that called to me and made me feel both scared yet ready for “battle”, the word that I would not ever apply to my life.


So I did!


This is my art work – there was some real daring going on with it too. There were certain aspects that I found difficult to do – yet, having dared to try them, I  found they are the parts that really worked. Thanks to Ange for her encouragement to “go for it”!


After the wonderful weekend, I then had the privilege of meeting Floss and her family, as they offered me a lovely family meal and a bed for the night, as my train didn’t leave until 13h on Monday. I actually ended up teaching (well, classroom assisting) with Floss as she taught at the Ecole Superieur during the morning. It was interesting seeing another teacher working and also to work with the students themselves. Thank you, Floss for the kind and generous welcome! (And Ben, and Sons 1 & 2.* Plus various animals)


And now, after a hectic week when I feel like I didn’t have time to breathe, I need to inwardly digest what I learned during the weekend, and to make a start on realising my Heartfelt Dream. My companions have offered to help me on the first steps, but I need to keep brushing those weasels from off my shoulder. One of the women there had a beautifully gallic “brush off” gesture, whenever she talked about her “pirates”: I have already adopted a similar gesture when I’m aware of those  weaselly pirates whispering in my ear

Don’t be too ambitious…perhaps you should just accept you can’t…it’s not THAT good, you know…


Get thee behind me, Weasel!


If you’re interested in finding out more yourself about Ange’s workshops you can go to her blog, Signed by Ange, and read more

* The boys do have names, but as Floss refers to them thus on her blog, I thought it best to do the same!

I (sort of) Made It!

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

All over Blogland, there are ladies – and some gents, I believe – proudly posting about their “impossibilities” made into possibilities. We chose something that we’d been putting off for weeks…months…possibly years to try to achieve by the end of January. These projects ranged from making bread through organising a basement to organising the family bookshelves (that would be a job and a half in the Dormousehold – we have books in stacks on the floor, in orange (actually pineapple) boxes made into bookshelves, double stacked on bookshelves…everywhere!) and to cross stitching a beautiful design.

I, somewhat naturally, read the initial invitation, which came from Kari, the breadmaker, over at Thistlewood Farm, wrongly – and thought we had all year to complete the challenge. As I stated in my initial post here I was going to crochet a blanket like the one Nana Disley crocheted for me many years ago

I thought I could (maybe) manage it in a year and so decided that 2012 would be the Year I Made A Blanket. Huzzah! Subsequently, I discovered that the idea of this challenge was to complete it in a month…so the blanket idea was a tad ambitious – especially as I had no idea how to crochet!!

Daunted, but game for a try, I lowered my expectations and thought I could learn to crochet. So I bought my hook and my wool and downloaded instructions from t’Internet. Hah! I couldn’t understand a word of them…I couldn’t even work out how to hold the wool, the hook and fight off the Very Bad Kittens all at the same time. I needed at least another two hands.

OK, so t’Internet is full of YouTube videos on how to crochet. I’ll use one of those, I thought. I’m better when I can see what’s happening. So I went on YouTube, and found a lovely American bloke showing me how to crochet. Although he was very patient with me, especially as I kept rewinding him, he still didn’t explain in a way I could understand, what the heck to do. He kept showing me – too quickly for me to copy – what to do, but I needed three hands – one for the hook, one for the wool and one to press “pause” at just the right time so I could see what he was doing. And the Very Bad Kittens weren’t very good at manipulating the mouse for me.

I was getting dangerously frustrated!


But then I remembered that I had a very patient friend, who crocheted. So I spent an afternoon with Margaret, chatting, drinking coffee, eating biscuits, and most important of all, LEARNING HOW TO CROCHET! In fact, while I had 10 minutes frustration at the beginning, I did soon get the hang of making a chain…and understood what the nice American bloke meant by “Juicy Loosey” (not enough tension in the wool) So we continued chatting and I happily made a 1m long chain. Then I had to learn to do something more complicated…which was OK. We decided I should go for a round doiley type thing for the first effort, which I could possibly make into a mini blanket for the cats.

So I came home, fired up and ready to go!

However, due to my incompetency, my round thing soon started to develop into a hat (I described it to one blogger as a yamulke for a squirrel) (Are squirrels kosher? I’m guessing so…) I have become a little discouraged on two counts.

1. The basic hatt-iness  of my work. Here we have the hat being worn by various top models

Here Cadbury the Camel (we bought him at CadburyWorld, hence the name) models the hat while posing on the inspiration for my original challenge.

Woburn the Bear (Yes, we bought him in Woburn, Bedfordshire…we used to live just up the road from there) dreams of winter sports while perched on a former Pannetone tin.

Pooh Bear (who used to be a monk before he became a top model*) looks out of the window at the snow, and is glad of his woolly hat. (I apologise that he looks as though he is wired up…I didn’t hide the trailing wool very well!)

* Yes, really. When I was at college, I made a habit for him out of brown felt, and he was known as Brother Pooh. There was also Sister Fluffy, another bear, but I’m not sure what happened to her. I’m not sure she was ever really comfortable in a habit – particularly as she was a he before I arbitrarily chose him/her to become a nun!


Disley the Rabbit relaxes, while wearing the hat over one ear. Disley got his name, not because he was bought in Disley, but because he was an Easter present from my brother the year we were researching our family tree. Disley is my mum’s maiden name. He’s quite a soft and cuddly rabbit, with his bottom being full of beans. (No rude comments, please)

And finally, SheepySheep wears the hat at a rakish angle. Here I think it has a slight oooh-la-la beret look about it.

My question to you is: WHO LOOKS THE BEST IN THE HAT?

2. My other reason for being discouraged is the basic impossibility of doing anything with wool during the evening, because of the inherent badness of the Very Bad Kittens.

Here is George caught red-pawed in the bathroom with my crocheting. (Note how well coordinated we are here at Dormouse Towers. The bathmats match my crocheting!!) When I tried to retrieve it, he got quite possessive and refused to let go.

This occurrs on a regular basis whenever I get out the wool – I swear he can smell it – as he comes running from whatever corner of the house he has been doing Unspeakably Bad Things in!

So, while I didn’t really realise my Impossibility, I made a start. I think I will abandon the hat, and let whichever of the top models you vote for keep it. Then I can start again on the round cat-blanket, taking a little more care about which hole I dig my crochet hook into (it was rather arbitrary) and about where and when I add some stitches to the circle (again, that was rather arbitrary. “Have I added a stitch? No? Can’t remember…Well, let’s wait and see…”)

It has been great fun being part of the Impossible people though, and I urge you to visit the five organisers, who have been doing great things, and from there to link to others who have been challenging themselves (with, I must say, more success than I) to Imagine Impossibilities!

The Cottage Market  Andrea reorganised her craft room beautifully

It All Started With Paint Linda painted a vaulted ceiling (without a ladder!) a lovely light blue.

Eclectically Vintage Kelly was the one who tackled her basement (which looks enormous!). I think we need her to visit Dormouse Towers to reorganise our cellar. We have to fit our old fridge freezer down there and it is a dimly lit grotto of fear at the moment!

The Space Between Kara lives in rented accommodation, and can’t screw stuff into her walls. Somehow she made a wonderful gallery of art work, hanging, unbelievably from just one screw.

A Sort of Fairy Tale Stacey created a fab tote bag, from,I believe, a large tea towel. Very impressive!

Thistlewood Farm and Kari, who tackles the most daunting decorating projects with aplomb, met her impossibility with making bread for the first time. Her photos of the finished loaf were quite mouthwatering!

Although I didn’t quite manage to make my blanket, and although my first foray into the world of crochet resulted in nothing more than a yamulke for a squirrel, I think I can just about award myself the “Badge of Honour”. I did learn the rudiments of crocheting and if I can find some way of corralling the Very Bad Kittens, I will continue to crochet. Maybe by the end of the year I will have fully “imagined my impossibility” – but (hush!)I doubt it!


Imagine the Impossibilities update

Sunday, January 22nd, 2012

Look!Look! Maybe I can begin to imagine it’s not so impossible after all!

After three and a half hours spent with my (very patient) friend Margaret, I have produced a useful 1m25cm long chain of crochet (George was quite interested in it last night) and a small, wobbly, not-quite-symmetrical disc of crochet (7cm in diameter at its widest point, 6 cm at its narrowest!) I think I chained a stitch when I should have just carried on going round, which has led to its not quite circular shape. I’m also not quite confident about some of the holes that I’m pushing my hook through – whether it is the right hole or not. (For those who are Real Crocheters I suspect there is a more technical term than “hole”. But it does me for now!) And if it’s not the right “hole” then I may inadvertently be adding an extra row to my disc.

HOWEVER, I vaguely know what I’m doing and intend to carry on going round and round in circles (“I don’t think you’re quite ready for corners yet,” sighed Margaret) for a while. This first effort is destined to be a cat blanket. When I’ve mastered the going-round-and-round I may be ready for corners!!

The Very Bad Kitten, George, may be a disruptive influence to this craftwork however. I got home from Ray and Margaret’s, proudly showed Mr D what I had done, stored my efforts back in its little plastic bag, put the bag on the coffee table and went to cook dinner. Within minutes George had stolen the plastic bag, and raced upstairs, trailing wool and clinking (crochet hooks) and rustling (plastic bag) He refused to let go until cornered. Then later on, as I was crocheting at the slowest speed known to man, suddenly a small, marmalade, furry creature leapt onto my lap, seized the disc in his mouth and made a swift getaway. It was only the fact that his paws got tangled in the wool that prevented George from making off with the crocheting again! During the evening, he did continue to mount commando raids from various angles, but I’d got wise to it by then, and managed to repulse all attacks! Sigh.

I’m still imagining!

Thursday, January 19th, 2012

So, people are working hard with their projects, clearing basements, learning to bake bread, painting bedrooms…all with the aim of finishing by 31st January.

What have I done towards my “impossibilty” of learning to crochet a beautiful blanket?

I’ve bought the wool and a crochet hook! Every time I look online for instructions I get freaked out by the myriad of notes about how to hold the wool, how to tie a slipknot, etc etc.

Still…every journey begins with a single step. Every crocheted blanket starts with a single slipknot. Let’s see how we get on…



…but I’ll just procrastinate a bit longer, and tidy my desk!