Legends from our own lunchtimes

Sunday, April 05, 2020

You shall have a fishy when the boat comes in.
Sunday 5th April - Australia - 5681 cases - 223 per million population


We had a blow-out in a clothes line overnight.  

One of the lines simply broke, launching a fish into the jasmine, necessitating a running repair, which I have put on the list and will get around to doing when I have time.  No, wait…..   I'll do it later.

I have come to the realisation that when I made mention the other day of repairs to rocks hanging from our clothes line and now a fallen fish, that this discussion may not be entirely in keeping with the context of  "clothes line" in many people's minds. 

For they among us who we have not yet had the opportunity to welcome to the place we call "DickyWorld" a  further explanation of how we came to be in the rock-drying business might prove to be a pleasant distraction in these times of globally enforced "nothing better to do anyway," besides perhaps fixing their clothes lines.

Here then is a tale of practical problem solving, repurposing (because that's the "now" way of saying "using") some left over wood and scrounged materials and adding a bit of cheer to our drying area to boot.


No one likes a saggy line, at least no-one round here does.  

Well perhaps one of us doesn't mind it all that much because as she quite fairly observes from time to time; she's the one that has to reach it mostly.  The prospect of leaving the hanging out to the other of us, the one who can reach easily but actually almost garrottes himself every time he walks past, would never do.  If we could find a way to keep the lines tensioned when not in use yet accessible and easy to reach for pegging stuff on, everyone would be happy.

This was a problem which occupied much of our thinking time for a considerable period and actually while travelling across several continents as it happens.  

Initially we thought a weight attached to the end of each line and a pulley to reduce friction would provide the obvious solution.  It could be simple and elegant and in evoking that "seaside context" if we pinched a couple of stones from the beach to act as the weights it could all be done and dusted one evening.   

Note:  While removing anything from a beach may appear on the face of it to be environmental exploitation or even vandalism, we have assuaged our guilt by adjusting our wills to ensure that on our eventual demise all will be returned whence they came.


"Done and dusted in one evening" - that was the plan.

A few trans-continental flights later (now those were the days!) and after a bit more jetlag and a few more cups of extra strong coffee, a light bulb moment occurred: If we were to set up a lever on the end of each line to give a bit of mechanical advantage much less weight would be required and therefore we could use smaller stones.  

As a bonus we probably had enough left over verandah floor boards tucked away to make the levers and undoubtedly there were old pulleys lying around somewhere in a box marked "pulleys for future clothes-line tensioner" that we could use.

Construction drawings were hastily prepared, somewhere over Greenland as it happens,  perhaps not in the sort of detail that those using those new fangled drawing computers would find useful, but adequate for the job in hand.



All that remained was to gather up the necessary timber offcuts and remove all the bits that didn't smell vaguely of fish.


Things went swimmingly for a while until one of us, the one who was actually home and making the mess, found that the verandah doors had been inadvertently left open, and about a thousand cubic metres of terribly fine wood dust had filtered its way through the house.  

Admittedly this did put a bit of a dampener on progress, for almost an entire afternoon but the formerly white outdoor setting probably needed a good deep clean anyway, and with one of us visiting the Big Smoke the other had that time to himself to think about what he might do differently next time.

Then the timber ran out.  

Of course I checked before I started and of course there was enough then, but when it came time to cut the final piece it turned out to be half the length of all the others.  

Only a little daunted and wondering what I'd find within it, I started anyway and kept plugging on with grinder, chisels and saw until to my shock I found Nemo, or what was left of him after the drought.  


All that remained was to find the pulley, assemble the contraption, and balance it all on a bit of aluminium angle. After a bit of fine tuning to each line, finely balancing stone size, lever length and cantilever against the required tension of the line we had the makings of a very satisfactory line tensioning system.   

In practice all of those mile-high doodles had worked to perfection.  The line is easy to pull down for use,  yet it is just weighted enough so that wet clothes on the line cause it to sag.   

In the year or so since its been complete it's weathered nicely, the jasmine on the fence has grown into it a little, and apart from the previously mentioned problem of the stones simply dissolving in the rain, and exploding fish, we've been delighted with our little school of once were Mackeral.






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2 comments

Don and Cathy Jo said...

I’ve noted a fish theme about the Midge household.....

Joan Elizabeth said...

Looks beautiful but I think the old hills hoist is practical for Ian hanging out the washing. He still does the washing as per an agreement made 45 years ago - I haven't kept up my end of the agreement to do the ironing so he wears wrinkled shirts.

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