Saturday, March 26, 2016

Zen in the art of the washing line

The grape vine has taken my washing line. Charming yet assertive, it began by twining itself around the line and shading the washing. I hung my clothes around its leaves, uncurling some of its vines gently, and sweeping them back onto the fence. By the next day, they had unfurled themselves and taken back what was theirs to start with. I humoured the vine, admired its wondrous need for sun and growth, and awaited grapes.

I was reminded of this my favourite Zen poem, written by a nun:

Ah, the chrysanthemum!
It has taken the well bucket.
I must look elsewhere for water. 

The grapes came. Birds shat grape shit on my sheets. I didn't mind much; it dried and it was just processed grape. By today, however, there was no room for washing, and so I cut the vine back.

It had its obscure revenge. I also cut the washing line.
While my flat mate stood around and sniggered, I attempted to fix it. I found a piece of good blind cord and attempted to tie it to each end of the stricken line. Now I should know about knots. I have a good friend who splices rope for a hobby, and I have had two lessons in Shibari, which is the ancient Japanese art of tying people up on battlefields. I also had a brief and inglorious career as a child in the Girls Brigade, whereby I managed to disgrace the whole of the 9th Company, by failing to brush my hair properly. I then went on to win the national Bible reading contest, which did not rehabilitate me at all, because I also failed to knit even one peggy square that was actually passably square. I don't remember knots at all in the Girls Brigade, but I am sure we did something of the sort. Moreover, I have books on the subject, particularly the New Zealand Scouting  Handbook from 1972. It teaches such useful things as what to do when you come upon a plane crash, and how to get on well with a lot of other chaps in a tent. It has a chapter on knots and one day I intend to stop laughing at the bit about the chaps in the tent and read it. Oh and, being a hipster, I have a knot tying app. This does not mean I can tie knots, but it does mean I have an app for it. Apps are great. I love apps. They are great for making me think I can do things, without actually having to do them. 

Out came the app and I tried to work out how to tie the appropriate knot. This meant peering at the instructions, peering at the cord and the line, and trying somehow to marry the two. I am pants at visual spatial thingie and when it comes to hand crafts, well see above about the dismal peggy square. However I eventually managed to attach the cord so that the line met the cord and there was now a rather weird saggy line that was part cord and part line and I can hang things off it, provided they have a sense of humour. Fortunately much of my washing is humorous (see above - those are not my underpants).

Just let me loose next time on an ancient Japanese battlefield. App in hand, knot tying skills newly honed, somewhere in this picture I am tying up my captives so they cannot escape, using blind cord and washing line and an improvised knot of my own fiendish design. If you look hard enough you may even find Wally.

1 comment:

  1. I do like that picture! There was a time I was thinking about buying up heaps of ZVEZDA Japanese plastic figures just to fight battles that looked like this. I'm here to tell you that resisting that temptation did not come easy!