Thursday, January 05, 2006

Ugly Paws

My mother has lovely hands, with long tapered fingers and narrow nails, but mine show no family resemblance. My hands are ugly, fat, and short. Years of piano playing did nothing to lengthen my stubby digits. My short, wide nailbeds make my fingers look even shorter. Growing my nails long does not help because they grow out in an unattractive fan shape, requiring constant filing upkeep.

I don’t dress up my crab-like hands. I avoid rings (except my wedding ring) because they only accentuate the squatness of my fingers. Bracelets are similarly outlawed. My wrists are slender, but the jewelry draws unnecessary attention to my ungraceful paws. Careful manicures, while they do elongate my fingers, are too much upkeep. I discarded them when I began swimming regularly and continued to eschew them through my time in the military and now as a handywoman/gardener.

We tend to take very little care of the things we dislike. I find that is true of my hands. They are covered in scratches, as a result of me playing “paws” (or “claws”) with the kitties. My nails are raggedly cut short and my overactive cuticles are creeping toward their tips. You won’t find me slathering Crème de la Mer on my hands, but some lotion is necessary. I’m a compulsive hand washer and the antibacterial soap at my workplace is quite drying. I use cheap, but nicely scented lotion, to take the edge off of handling paper with sere fingers. Come winter, though, my hands need more than the usual perfunctory care.

Growing up in the humid PNW, I had no concept of dry winter air. My first winter in Virginia, at officer boot camp, was shockingly dry and cold. Constant exposure to the dry air and no time for pampering dried and cracked my cuticles. They bled each time I performed rifle manual, causing even my hardened sergeant instructors to grimace in disgust. My mother (she of the beautiful hands) sent me Neutrogena Hand Cream and cotton gloves to sleep in. My hands were saved.

This winter, my hands again show signs of the season’s mercilessly dry air. My cuticles are not affected this time. Instead, my knuckles reddened, cracked, and became sensitive to the point where it pained me to reach into my bag to grab my keys. I shopped for the Neutrogena lotion but it had sold out. Reluctant to purchase anything new, I went through the arsenal of half-empty tubes and samples in my bathroom. My hands were greasy and smelled nice, but my knuckles only became more raw. At last, I was desperate enough to buy a new product. This is what I impulsively bought:

This is simply a miracle balm. My knuckles were healed after two applications. I now put it on each morning before pulling on my gloves and leaving the house and each night before bed. (I use my cheapo lotions during the day at work.) I no longer cringe when I reach into my purse or dry my hands with rough paper towels. The balm is intended for use before and after gardening, but I now find it indispensable for the winter as well. My hands may be graceless, but they don’t hurt.

I’ll give you an updated review this summer on how well it protects against the ravages of clay dirt.

(If the picture does not display, the product is Lemon Tea Tree Gardeners Hand Balm, by Simple Scents Australia.)


Blogger SmilingJudy said...

Hmmm...good point. I have short, stubby fingers as well (once described as "Grandma hands" by a mean boy when I was in high school), but I love bracelets and rings just too much to give them up.

Oh, and two words: Burt's Bees

2:44 PM  
Blogger OldRoses said...

My mother and my daughter both have beautiful hands and feet. I have wide stubby hands and feet. No rings or bracelets for me either. No manicures becauce I can't be bothered to keep them up. After years of being able to do anything to them, this year I have finally had to resort to lotion for hands and feet. Curel is my "cure" for dryness.

3:08 AM  
Blogger Kasmira said...

My feet are just as ugly as my hands. And I have hairy toes! (I can thank my lucky stars that my knuckles aren't similarly hairy.)

10:40 AM  
Blogger Takoma Gardener said...

thanks for the tip!

3:22 PM  
Blogger Sylvana said...

It looks like it would smell nice.

I wash my hands a bazillion times a day and my skin cracks too. I found a vitamin lotion that works pretty well, but it is really greasy. Then my son insisted on my purchasing Hempz lotion one day when I took him with me to the hair salon. They had a sampler there and he really liked it. $20 for a 550ml bottle, but he had been really good, so I caved.

It is magnificent! I just use it a couple times a day. I can even use it to moisturize my leather couch! My husband has serious skin problems and he LOVES it. He's not even shy about the price tag he loves it so much.

BTW- I didn't know that you were in the military! WOW!

7:40 PM  
Blogger Garden Obsession said...

I SAW that when we were in Australia and though, "Eh, it's probably just tourist crap." Darn my hide for not buying some! I rarely need it because it's so freaking humid here year round, but a weekend in the garden or making trellises still wears my mitts down pretty badly.
I'll have to keep an eye out for some. Where'd you find it?

12:04 PM  
Blogger Kasmira said...

I bought it in the garden center at Jungle Jims

7:50 AM  
Anonymous Kristine said...

I can totally relate to the cracked hands Kasmira... Burt's Bees products work great too. And their gloves (with bees on them) are pretty cute :)

12:11 PM  
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