“Hands are the windows to a man’s soul.”*

December 31, 2011

Last night at our CHS’71 high school classmates’ New Year’s Eve Eve party, most had left, and Bob was in rare storytelling form. He was entertaining a few of us royally with tale after tale, and the clock was ticking away. I knew I should probably go home – I was fading a bit – but because his stories were interesting and because I didn’t want to miss anything, I stayed put in my chair on Chris’s enclosed back porch. I was seated directly across from him. It was getting close to 11 when, almost without a breath between his last story and this, he looked directly at me and said abruptly, “So Cherye, what have YOU done in your life? Tell us some of YOUR stories!” The question shocked me – came out of nowhere – so I blurted out the first thing that came into my head, “I don’t know! Nothing! I don’t have any stories!” (Story is practically my middle name but there I was, 40 years after high school graduation without a credit to my name). I did laugh at the thought of it; we all did, and we moved quickly onto the next thing.

Earlier in the evening, at the party, I guess I was talking about a recent dish I had fixed for our B&B guests because the subject of whipped cream had come up. When I lamented the fact that whipped cream loses its oomph after just a little while, Barbara told me a tip about putting just a bit of unflavored gelatin into it so that it retains its shape. “Cool,” I thought, and I determined that I would never do it the old way again. Well, since I’m like a little kid about trying new things (well, some new things), this morning I whipped some that I had in the fridge to go on the top of a small homemade pastry tart w/ caramelized apples that I would be serving at breakfast time. Since I was sort of creating the “sweet thing” to be served for today as I went along, I decided that the whipped cream needed a little spiffing up in addition to the gelatanized body that it would have. So I grabbed the pure orange extract, as well as the pure vanilla, then also decided a bit of orange zest would give it just what it needed. Ummm. I tasted it and was glad I had done the little bit extra. It hadn’t really been necessary, but it was nice. And I do want that little something, that blessing of the small bit of nice-ness to come out in whatever my hands find to do. I think it’s what makes the difference.

So I did serve this to one guest, the husband, who in addition to the series of hellish problems encountered on their marathon, hours-long, car ride from BWI across the bridge yesterday, had to turn around to make the TWO-way trip AGAIN this morning. ….But I didn’t serve it to his wife, who needed the “zest” of a chat and coffee much more than she needed it in her tart topping. Because that, is, I think, what makes the rest of the difference.

Hands are the windows to a man’s soul.
Watch in-car videos of race drivers enough, and you’ll see the truth of this statement…A driver’s hands should be relaxed, sensitive, aware. Much information is communicated through the steering wheel of a car; too tight or too nervous a grip wil not allow the information to be communicated to the brain.
They say that senses do not operate alone, but rather are combined together in a special part of the brain that creates a picture of the body as a whole…To voluntarily restrict one channel of information is foolish for a racer; to allow information to flow unfettered is divine.

* The Art of Racing in the Rain, Garth Stein, pp.201-202.

If I had had my wits about me last night, maybe I could’ve answered Bob’s question. What have I done? Hopefully, my hands have done a life-long series of small, sensitive things – here a little, there a little. And it’s all added up. So. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

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