Recent Discovery: the Diary of a Noble Woman

In a previous post, I lamented the lack of philosophical writings for women. A collection of ideas where the chief goal was to empower, embolden, and other em-words like that there.

But was it true? Did we really lack such writings, or was I falling into a “poor me” mentality, as satisfying as it is lazy? I had to find out.

My trip to the library produced mixed results. The reading materials were plentiful and the cold brew coffee sold in their cafe (only $3.95) was lovely. The problem, as I saw it, was that the writings focused too much on what was wrong with women. They came from a premise that we were broken. Battered down and weakened.

After two hours of disheartening research, I bought another cold brew and headed home.

That was when my trip took an interesting turn.

It was at the corner of 7th Avenue and Camelback Road — a thrift shop I’ve never seen before: Flo’s Treasures. Naturally, I stopped. There’s nothing like the musty aroma of discarded clothes and kitschy items to soothe a troubled soul.

After telling Flo (for I assumed the red-haired lady at the counter was she) that I was “just looking, thanks,” I set out to do just that.

Thrift store

I will spare you the details of the treasures I saw, it is enough to know they provided a pleasant diversion. But there was one in particular that caught my interest. Lord knows why.

It was a small stand with three drawers, very old and not in good shape. In fact, none of the drawers opened, no matter how I hard I pulled. I walked away, but kept finding myself drawn back to it. Finally, I asked Flo for details.

“Oh, that,” she said, waving her hand dismissively. “That came from an estate sale I gone to ages ago. It was an old lady’s house. Purty sure it’s the only thing I got left of hers.”

“Did you know the woman?” I asked.

“Goodness, no. I’m never told and I never ask. To own the truth, I don’t right ‘member where the sale was. Not from round here, anyways.” She must have seen something in my eyes, for she added, “If you’re liking it, I could let it go for… say… $20?”

I worked her down to $14.50, plus two chocolate truffles from the jar she kept behind the register.

Once home, I set upon opening the drawers. It wasn’t easy. No doubt you can see the damage it incurred, especially the bottom drawer. I fear by the time I reached it, excitement made me reckless.

Drawer unit

And what was the cause of my excitement?

In the top two drawers, I found what looked to be — could only be — someone’s personal journals. Yellowed and aged, written by a woman I presumed, though the handwriting was terribly difficult to read. I confess, at first glance I thought them to be in a foreign language, but after careful study, I realized it was indeed English.

What’s more, the first few pages I managed to decipher caused my heart to leap with joy, for it seemed possible — nay, it was highly probable — that this was the writing I was seeking!

This woman, whoever she was, however low her marks in penmanship must have been, this woman was an intelligent, thoughtful, philosophical woman. A woman of noble spirit, who sought to live a life of high principles and honor.

In short, a woman who was proud to be a woman!

Who was she, this mysterious female from an unknown time, in an unknown location? We may never know. Our only clue is that she signed all her entries (sloppily) with the initials, MA.

MA 2

It is my pledge to you, dear readers, that as fate has placed these documents into my hands, I will do my utmost to decipher and present MA’s manuscript to you, for your own edification. I have been working day and night (well, a few hours in the day and occasionally at night when I’m having trouble sleeping, but other than that, just the few hours) and already I have a couple paragraphs to offer you.

Along with this, I will include something from the third drawer, which I have yet to tell you about. For that, my friends, was the greatest treasure of all!

In the third drawer were recipes! Handwritten recipes with her own notes and edits!

Truly, my heart is full.

I present these delightful words to you, my friends. May we use them to grow in knowledge, strength, and better cooking, as we read that which our mysterious MA put to paper.

Let us begin, shall we?

Book One

Gratitudes

  1. From my grandmother, who never attended school past sixth grade, who married at age 15, I learned that education is not a prerequisite for wisdom, that there is pleasure in simple living, and when life disappoints, there is much to be said for a cup of tea and homemade cookies;
  2. From my mother, my dear mother, I learned patience and fortitude, that one’s wholeness can never be found in others, but in service to others one can find meaning, that friendship between lovers is sublime, that fashion should be a tool, never a master, and if a woman wants to wear white after Labor Day, she darn well can and who’s going to stop her?;
  3. From my childhood babysitter, I learned life is filled with both joy and sorrow, that trust is easier kept if never broken, that no amount of beauty will ever bring self-worth, for beauty is both fleeting and temporal, but the right shade of lipstick can boost your mood just the same;
  4. Finally, from my God(ess), I am granted breath, health, reason, and an awareness of my own mortality, indeed the best gift, as I must use my time wisely, enjoy the good things as they come, and know the bad things, in time, will pass.
    For all these things, and for many more, I am eternally grateful.

From MA’s Recipe Drawer:

Grandmother's Coconut Oatmeal Cookies

  • Servings: makes about 3 dozen
  • Difficulty: easy like Sunday morning
  • Print

These are light, crisp cookies, perfect for serving with afternoon tea

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats (regular or quick, not instant)oatmeal cookies
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup unsweetened shredded or flaked coconut
  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter
  • ¾ cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup 
 

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees; line two baking sheets with baking parchment.

In a large bowl, stir together flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, and coconut. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan, place the butter, sugar and syrup. Heat over medium heat, stirring, just until the butter is melted. Pour the warm ingredients over the dry ingredients and stir thoroughly with a wooden spoon.

Using a tablespoon, form dough into small balls and place on cookie sheets, 2” apart. Flatten with the bottom of a glass or your palm. Bake for 8-10 minutes until golden and starting to brown at the edges. Use a metal spatula to flatten the cookies further while still warm. They should be fairly thin.

Let cool for a few minutes before moving them to a wire rack.

Note from MA: A little lemon or orange zest makes a nice variation.
Note from me: Another option is to add about 1/3 cup finely chopped pecans

Author: C. J. Hartwell

Christi lives in Phoenix with Husband, Son, Daughter, and Dog. She enjoys moonlit walks on the beach, but as she doesn't live anywhere near a beach, she's usually in bed by 9:30.

22 thoughts on “Recent Discovery: the Diary of a Noble Woman”

  1. Love this post, dear CJ! And the drawer is very cool. I can’t imagine how excited I would have been finding those letters and recipes. Thanks for always lifting up the female persuasion too!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. All right. You win. I’ll say it. DESTINY! DESTINY! NO ESCAPING THAT FOR ME!
      (Sorry, my obsession with Young Frankenstein can slip out at the oddest times.)

      You know, this post feels a little like unleashing my invisible friend into the world. And she can be a real pistol, so I expect it will be fun. Hope you enjoy the ride. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

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