Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Buttons, Beaches and Ham

I've been off-line for a fortnight which is the Hundred Year War-duration in blogging terms yet strangely enough I didn't miss it.

Sometimes my fingers absent-mindedly typed out something on Mum's Christmas tablecloth but Dad's computer - newly available in broadband - wasn't tempting me.

It must Location blended with varying amounts of Hard Work and Self-Designated Break Times that lure me back. We'd arrived home in Flemington last night and it was only after hanging out two loads of washing, doing a workout and weeding the front and back gardens that I found myself back in the study. Officially it was to find the Christmas decorations box to start de-bauble-ing the house but somehow the monitor switched itself on and I was instantly hooked.

It got me thinking, however. Not about the things that most people enjoy (such as blogging or reading blogs, or you wouldn't be here; or chocolate, sleep-ins and hugs) but things that everyone else seems to like except me.

Such as buttons. Like circus clowns and Nicolas Cage, they've always given me the creeps.

I honestly don't know why, but my earliest memories are of intensely disliking any knitted jumper (or cardigan) that featured buttons and avoiding them where possible ever since. Yes I have button jeans and shirts and jackets but they're always very discreet and never ever the feature of the garment.

This is a dislike I've kept a secret and barely acknowledged myself but it rose up again like a burp with bile in it when my mother dragged out a plastic crate full of the infernal items. She was sorting through them to sell for her local gigantic garage sale fundraiser, putting pairs, fours and sixes onto white cards as sets. A worthy intention yet I could barely make eye contact with her or finish a conversation when the card table in the good room was covered in buttons. The maddeningly torturous click-click-click of them as they touched each other meant that it was time to head out for a walk so that the sight, sound and idea of them were far away.

Even including this photograph makes me feel a bit squeamish. Buttons scream 'Cardigan' as well as 'Old Fashioned', 'Cranky Nanna', 'Nerdy' and 'U-u-u-u-u-ugly'. There's no fairness in these reactions, but they're how I do respond when buttons enter my psyche (which isn't very often).

Driving, on the other hand, is a necessary evil. Life in Flemington usually means that I can walk or tram my way to the city and back and the 'ol magna only gets a trot when it's time for the weekly grocery shop or to see friends who selfishly live outside our postcode. Then I can grit my teeth, stay extra alert and keep my hands at ten-to-two on the wheel.

Having family in South Australia means that the Big Drive occurs at Christmas and usually one other time throughout the year. 650 km of boredom, ceaseless engine noise and arse-sweating onto greasy old pie and pasty crumbs does not a relaxing day out make. Admittedly Love Chunks drives most of it only requiring me to drive the middle third when he needs a wee, a read of the paper and to fiddle about trying to find the best local ABC to hear the cricket.

As he relaxes I feel my neck and jaw tighten as I nervously flick my eyes from side to rear-vision mirrors, wondering if the tailgating Toyota Landcruiser behind me will just get it over with already and pass or if the meandering Mazda in front will eventually decide if they want to stick to 70 or 110km for the next hour.

It probably doesn't help that our car - now looking like a toothless old lady with a back hubcap missing - contains a dog, a rabbit, heaps of presents, several suitcases, three human beings and is decorated on the outside by ten thousand fluttering dead and dying locusts.

If truth be told, I'd be happy to live a well-off Manhattan lifestyle of 'Taxi....!' if money and location permitted.

Driving often involves arriving at a beachy destination. Beaches and me rarely gel unless near-drowning, blistery sunburn and a sand-filled crotch are considered positives. Swimming isn't any better: once I've waded in and got over the shock of the water hitting my girly parts first and then my boobs second I somehow scrape my pathetically-soft feet on the rocks, have sea weed wrap itself suggestively and determinedly around my waist and blink away salty tears of agony when I dip my head in and get my eyes wet. And that's all before I scream, "Something just touched my leg!" and thrash the water to white foam in my haste to get the hell out.

Sitting out is worse. Unless I bring a tent thingy, there's no shade anywhere and a rashie, wide-brimmed hat and Factor 30 merely slows the inevitable roasting of my fluorescent skin to a barely discernible sizzle. When the afternoon breeze springs up it enables the sand to coat my Anti-Cancer Council-coated extremities but not before scouring them raw. Woe betide if I forget to shake out my towel before wiping my face on it......

Here's my older brother Rob being a ham whilst carving the ham on Christmas Day. Like fully-intact prawns, boiled pumpkin and pate, I can not stand ham. Flaccid, pink, salty - not unlike myself after a 'fun' day at the beach.

Everyone else at the Christmas Day table - and for the rest of the week - goes nuts for the stuff, somehow finding room to cram it onto their plates next to Dad's weber-roasted chicken (that's worth a plate load all on its own), turkey roll, fresh prawns (de-headed and no poo pipes), gravy and vegetables. Why? Who wants a clammy slab of raw-looking jelly rubber on the nicest day of the year...? I know I know - you all do.

Staying at my parents meant that I didn't have access to the Age newspaper and couldn't fathom why the Adelaide Advertiser has to feature a colour photograph of every single reporter for every single story (here's Eliza Northington, Lifestyle Reporter. Lifestyle reporter? Do we really need to know what she looks like?) and would therefore watch the ABC news if I remembered.

It's summer time now, so politicians and spokespeople are outside more and when the great outdoors are involved, so are the blowflies. One's buzzing around the room as I tap this out and will be allowed to live in peace but if it dares lands on my face then my hands are a blurred frenzy of distracted dance moves and waving until it buggers off again.

To see someone speak to the camera with a fly crawling on their face makes me feel ever so slightly nauseus. When it is idly walking around the tear duct and then wanders, buzz buzz buzzing down towards the edge of the mouth and then up to the nostril I'm sickenly hypnotised..........

Someone told me that it is a big 'no no' to brush away a fly during an interview because it distracts the viewer from the message but I instead sit there in disgust and a tiny bit of agony thinking 'Get it off get it off get it off get it off get it off get it off get it off get it off get it off get it off get it off get it off get it off get it off----- oh thank god we're onto sport now. Wonder what the fly guy was talking about?'


River said...

I'm with you on the flies on faces thing. I've been known to change channels just so I don't have to look at it. But a fly in the room? Especially a blowfly? I can't let that live, no way! Hunted and killed, toot sweet! Can't have them landing on my chocolate or in my coffee. UGH!

I LOVE buttons. My kids spent hours sorting and playing with my button jar on rainy days.

Mmmm, weber chicken....

Hannah said...

Welcome back, Kath! You might not have missed blogging (and more power to you for that! I'm rather envious of your ability to disconnect) but I sure missed you :)

Also, quite in agreement with you over several aspects of your post. Buttons bore me, I really really dislike the water and don't even own swimmers, and driving - yes. Necessary evil. Would like a personal driver indeed!

drb said...

I would have loved to sort out the crate of buttons. The buttons in your pic are quite lovely. How did you cope with Sapph button bangle?

Our tastebuds must have evolved from the opposite ends of the spectrum - ham and prawn heads are my favourite food. I am in fact addicted to ham.

Plastic Mancunian said...

G'Day Kath,

Buttons? That's a strange thing to creep somebody out. I'm not bothered either way to be honest.

Thankfully, since the UK is small copmpared to Oz, the longest distance for me over the holiday period is 75 miles. Nevertheless, due to our total inability to be able to cope with snow, such journeys can be arduous.

There are times when I would love to celbrate Chrsitmas in the sun.




Baino said...

Hahaha . . you know they actually 'teach' police not to clench their buttocks when driving because it tenses the body up? Where do buttons come from. I have them but I've never sewn a button on in my life. Ham? Got mine free from work so yeh, we had it hot on Christmas Day, it was pretty nice with an apricot glaze actually. My best girlfriend actually has a rather pretty necklace made solely out of buttons.

franzy said...

Jeez, who brought Kath on holiday? What a wet blankeAAAAAARRRRRRGGGGGGHHHH!!!!!

Totally with you.

650kms? The sign said 730 or so! That Magna must have some serious wheels ...

Lynne from South Aust said...

Welcome back Kath. I've missed you. Ham? Take it or leave it. It's overrated. Buttons. Love 'em. I bought my granddaughter a pack of over 200 brightly coloured shaped buttons and she calls them her "treasure". But I also like cardigans. Sorry!!

xxx said...

very entertaining reading your christmas tale, thank you :)

Kath Lockett said...

Hmmm. See, I told you I was weird.....

Vanessa said...

Welcome back Kath! Firstly, I adore buttons. So pretty! Although not so much on clothing, I love to use them on scrapbooking pages.
We have bbq eggs and fresh ham for breakfast on Christmas Day. I can take it or leave it the rest of the day, but I love our weber turkey.
Beaches, aaahhh Summer. Having lived in both SA and Vic though, you have to experience WA beaches to appreciate the beauty. Crystal clear water and pure white sand. I love the crusty, salted feeling of a morning or evening at the beach.
I am exactly the same with flies on faces on tv. I scream at them to wave them away and change channels to avoid the agony.
Driving, well we live in WA so you gotta love a long drive to get ANYWHERE. I do love to settle in for a long drive though and am planting the seed for a Nullabor trip in the near future. Takes me back to a childhood journey made every second Christmas.
Ok, so now we need a post of al the joy Christmas and holidays brings you or I will be thinking Ba Humbug all day haha

drb said...

Hey Kath,
Maybe you are suppressing some memory on choking on a button or having one lodged in your nostril?

deepkickgirl said...

Strange about the buttons. I LOVE LOVE LOVE buttons. Especially different eclectic buttons on the one item of clothing. I bought a cardi (yikes!) in Noosa last year which is gorgeous green with lots of different brownish buttons around the neckline. I just adore it.

I like swimming but prefer a nice warm pool. Have love/hate relationship with beaches/sand. Can't stand the Sydney beach experience but love it on holidays. The beach on the private island at the Evason Resort in Phuket where we stayed three years ago was heavenly.

Ham! My sister got us a 10kg ethically raised monster of a thing this Christmas. I'll be happy to never see another ham as long as I live. I don't mind them in principal but I'll take bacon any day of the week... or speck... or roast pork... or pork ribs. Basically any other type of pork product.

Jackie K said...

Hi Kath,
How dare bloggers take holidays?? The nerve!
Agree on the beach. Posted similar thoughts recently myself - I only got the beach once I went to Italy and Greece. Ohhh, soft pebbles, non-stinging sun, no flies, lying on mats instead of towels, and frappes on ice? Sure, I can like the beach when it's like that!
Quite like buttons.
Love cold hame thick-cut on toast with hot english mustard every morning after Christmas until it's gone.

Benjamin Solah said...

Am also not a fan of beaches, or large bodies of water for that matter.

Anonymous said...

Happy new year, Kath! And your brother looks like a real sweetie.

Anonymous said...

That was me - don't know whether it's Blogger comments or my ancient browser that's malfunctioning. Helen (Balcony)

JahTeh said...

It's a funny thing but with knee replacements I find it very difficult to walk on sand so I haven't been swimming in sea water for years. When I have money, I'm putting in a lap pool, heated and undercover at the back of the house, up and down swimming without fear of leg touching things is my idea of heaven.

Pandora Behr said...

Was sitting here chuckling knowing I did almost the same trip... it wasn't that bad - but I spose I do it on my own and not with a dog and a rabbit in the back.

Ham off the bone is okay -and it has to be fresh - but I get your point about the stuff from the deli counter at Coles.

Welcome back. You've been missed.

Melissah said...

I'm an interior designer from Melbourne, Australia - I loved your blog, I found it very inspiring. This is all new to me but I have just set up my own blog
You may like to check it out because I had so much fun doing it. It's got a bit of everything fashion, interiors, food, travel spots - hopefully you will find something in there that you like.
Thanks for providing me with such great entertainment!