Monday, August 29, 2011

Common Miracles, week #16: Callouses

“Rejoicing in ordinary things is not sentimental or trite. It actually takes guts. Each time we drop our complaints and allow everyday good fortune to inspire us, we enter the warrior’s world.”
– Pema Chodron

How completely ordinary are callouses? When I think about callouses, I immediately think of my Grandpa Goerlitz, who truly had the most calloused hands I can remember. As a child, his hands scared me a little. When I see callouses now, I think about the work that was done to acquire them. Grandpa knew a lifetime of hard work, and he handed down that legacy, in spades. (To take a peek at what my parents are up to, check this out. To me, my parents ARE opportunity in the saying by Thomas Edison: “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” Grandpa's callouses didn't fall too far from the tree... so to speak.)

When I first started catering, I got a few blisters and small callouses from repetitive knife work. When you're peeling potatoes to feed 150 or chopping carrots and onions for soup for 50, or 100, it can kind of wear on your hands (to put it mildly). After a couple of years, I stopped getting blisters, but the callouses--one in particular--remained. When I stopped catering (more than five years ago now), I wondered to myself how long it would take to regain my non-calloused status, or whether I was stuck with it (that one real callous on my right index finger) for good... Sure enough, it didn't take long for it to go away and my soft skin to return. But, it also doesn't take much to get it back, go figure. It's almost like the callous is lurking there, just under the surface of my skin, and the slightest lengthy time with a big old chopping knife will bring it back to life.

Today I made sauerkraut, a sure sign of love as I am not a sauerkraut fan. Husband definitely is a fan, and when my girlfriends and I make pierogies each winter, I love to make him a little batch of his own with potato and sauerkraut. I have high hopes that the whole "homemade" aspect will change my thoughts on sauerkraut, that something about the cabbage will just be SO much better because it will be from cabbage we grew... I will keep you posted on that.

It was a lot of cabbage (I think about 10 heads worth, all told). I chopped it all by hand... the food processor tends to turn the cabbage into tiny shreds, no matter which attachment I use. So the solution was one head at a time, and my big old knife... and what do I have on my right index finger now? My beautiful callous is back.

I love it. My thumb keeps rubbing over it and happy memories of my old catering days keep popping up (helping out in those memories is the fact that interspersed with the sauerkraut, I've been making a bunch of cookies for a work event this week... many things going on in the kitchen makes Sher a happy girl...).

I love this reminder of something I really enjoy doing, still. It's an odd little celebration, to be sure, but it's mine, and I'll take this callous for as long as it stays.

To join the Common Miracle project, or see how it got started, go here.


  1. many nosy questions! How long did you do catering? Did you get into it because you loved to cook? Why did you stop?

    Your parents sound amazing...would love to hear about them :-)

    I love sauerkraut, but not the smell of it cooking LOL!

  2. There is a lot of love in that sauerkraut!

    I too have pretty fond memories of my dad's hands. (your grandpa) His fingers were huge because he grew up milking cows by hand.

    Those hands did have more experience than most. He was never afraid of work... which is what kept him going into his 90's. He enjoyed his cows and as long he was able he fed his critters thru the cold winters it kept him with a reason for living.

  3. Maybe you should invent kitchen gloves...I find fewer callouses these days...I always remove my rings before a major shovel job and of course have never chopped up 10 heads of cabbage!

    You are also your father's think you are making sauerkraut and don't even love it? Sheesh!

    You probably will love your own product...there is magic in using your own and putting in all that work.

    Bless your heart.

  4. I have gardening callouses! And I'm proud of them, (although when they split, it hurts). It's a simple act of recognition from the body "you do hard work here, so let me put up some extra protection...".

    I want to know more about your catering past, as well!

  5. I love the questions, Janet and Chel. I have been thinking of writing some kind of a background story to how this blog came to be/life path, blah blah blah, and maybe now is the time! Thanks for the push... stay tuned.


  6. Yes, Grandpa had very large hands...I think there is something genetic about it besides the cow milking...I can still see his hands in action...he had very identifying movements that you didn't see others do. He'd slap his knees or punch one hand into the palm of the other. I can see them folded into one another too.

    Your father will tell you that I look at men's hands...I love his and find few that look that fine!

    Oh, I am way off the subject of callouses...


Blogger Template By Designer Blogs