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New Bedford, Massachusetts

November: Domesticity

Martha, Martha

The November theme was Domesticity. Rachel acquired two Martha Stewart works, the Housekeeping Handbook and the Cooking School. She felt Martha set the bar way too high for housekeeping, but valued her clear instructions and the absence of talking down in both volumes. She had occasion to reorganize her kitchen so she could find the tools needed, and thereafter found much new enjoyment in cooking. For the first time, she hosted Thanksgiving dinner! Cooking had previously been a hit or miss activity in a childless household with two adults working at home and pitching in as needed. She addresses with some discomfort the modern movements which disapprove of women working outside the home, then adds:

“[I] wonder how these ladies would feel knowing I’d chosen an ex-con for a teacher, was secretly squeezing a few business trips into my schedule, and had every intention of stocking up on liquor each time I crossed the county line … for the braised ribs, of course. Perhaps the real reason I’d chosen Martha Stewart … was the fact that her drive, intelligence and unapologetic ambition allowed me to preserve some small part of myself ….”