The USB of Golden Yolks

This is what comes of too much running around: things get forgotten. I have lost something that I cannot function without--strange, when just three months ago I had never heard of it: a USB IFC cable, that gets my pictures out of my camera and into my computer. Where did I leave it? Washington D.C? New York? Boston? It'll turn up, these things always do (hopefully while I can still remember what it is for...does everyone have boxes full of unidentified coiling objects?) Even though I am back home in Rhode Island, and want to write about the ring-necked pheasant lately haunting my bird feeder, or the new guineachicks, and the old wooden boat a friend of mine has been getting ready to launch, and the plants unfurling summer banners....I have to write only about things whose pictures I have already loaded into the computer. This is not a slow love moment; I am in a slow burn of anxiety. (I have also managed to lose a note that I carried around for weeks, from someone inviting me to come see her garden nearby. I would love to, but who are you? where are you? Because of my poor housekeeping, accidental connections are leading to accidental disconnects. But please do not send me organizational tips. I know them all. It is the doing that is my undoing.)

I am going to talk about eggs in a moment, because summer eggs are unlike anything else. First, though, I want to note a few things about my book tour. The most fascinating part of readings is always the question session. I notice that people want to talk about: 1. How do you get going again, when you've been flattened? 2. What right do you have to be unhappy if you aren't homeless and broke? 3. How writing touches hearts, connects people, and gives voice to those who haven't been able to express themselves. 4. Do you blog for free?

Well then. Yes, I blog for free. That is a small price to pay for being able to freely speak my mind. I have found it inspiring and provocative to get smart, thoughtful, heartfelt  responses to pieces I write--and quickly, too, while we're all still on the subject. Posting online does make me aware of how connected we can be; of course books do the same thing, but the voices don't carry as fast over the distance between my pages and your houses. One young writer wanted to know the difference between keeping a journal and blogging: I think of it as various drafts--journal being completely personal, intimate, rough (though many writers have kept journals hoping they would one day be published. Not me! I'm planning a bonfire of my vanities soon.) Blogging seems a step removed, and then writing for printed publication simply means more time to polish, and more people looking on and helping with the editing.

As for not being broke or homeless: that's right. I'm not. And it isn't just because I'm lucky. I had to work for a living. And I worked hard for many years, and saved money. It is a strange thing to realize that women seem to have to justify themselves this way more than men. I didn't live beyond my means (though of course now I wish I had saved more.) But the main thing I have to say about the criticism that I write from a place of privilege is this: so what? Just because my experience is not the same as someone else's doesn't make it either less valid, or less connective. It will be a sad day when readers and writers cannot reach one another, hear and see each other, across economic differences. Same for psychological, and gender, and race, and every other distinction, too.

And how to get going again when you've been flattened? That's a long discussion, and I'll post on it again at length when I can think of a picture...but it is where the eggs come in. (You thought I had forgotten, eh?) Summer eggs are exquisite beyond comprehension. It must have to do with the quality of all the fat bugs squirming around in the ground, just asking to be pecked up--all that juicy protein for the hens means a gorgeous yolk for the egg. And a diet of marigolds helps too. The eggs I buy are out of a cooler from a garden around the corner; every once in a while one of the owners is around, and I ask about the donkeys, or the peacock nesting, or the packaging on the boxes: Cleo is her daughter, and this label is a way of getting the children involved in the household activities.

I watched the ring-necked pheasant wander through my herb garden an hour ago, and he plucked all the flowers off the arugula. (Thank you; you saved me quite a bit of work.) I don't like those grocery store eggs that advertise vegetarian diets for the hens. They like bugs! They need the protein! And so do you, at least once a day, especially if you are in the slough of despond. It is nearly impossible to look into the yolky depths of a soft-boiled egg and not see the hope of a new day, sunshine, and a childlike vision of shimmering golden treasure. It is not easy to pick yourself up when you've been knocked down. But I have found that if I let myself be suffused with gratitude for the gorgeousness of the world's gifts, it quickens my heartbeat--and that's the beginning of getting going.


Karena said...

Domiique I love your writing and the Frances Palmer Bouquets are delightful!

Art by Karena

My Name is Kirsten Not Kristen said...

I loved listening to you the other day on NPR and after reading this recent post, I am suddenly craving eggs....nice summery golden ones. Love your posts!

Cristina said...

once again, thanks for the soothing way you look at life: it's cheering and inciting. (and soft-boiled eggs are mouthwatering indeed!)

CK said...

I just finished reading your new book and hope to come hear you in Boston soon. I loved your book.

I think if you go to the website of your camera's manufacturer you should be able to order a replacement cable for not too much money. I know, who knew we would have these extra bits & pieces in our lives! At least the camera cable has a purpose. Every device I buy seems to come with mysterious cables I have no use for but am afraid to throw away in case I ever do.

CLAUDIA said...

Just a quick thank you for your blog and your books. I just savored Slow Love and am now prepared to wander through summer with a clearer eye and a quieter heart!

I have a daily blog of inspiration and included one of my favorite quotations from you book this morning: www.afirstsip.blogspot.com.

Looking forward to continuing to savor your thoughts and words through this blog,


virginia said...

I managed to catch just a bit of your interview on NPR, and I enjoyed it (Fresh Air, I think?)

Lost cables - it is funny to think how our needs/necessities have changed over the years.

As to some of the challenges you've faced, no one ever has the exact same life, or responds the same way.

I love this quote, from fanaticcook, whose writing you would enjoy:

"Before you can blame an individual for their choices, you have to make sure they have the same choices as everyone else." Bix

The Buzz Blog said...

What a lovely image - a beautiful gift from nature (an egg) on a plate made by a beautiful artist and friend. Our eggs come from a cooler around the corner as well and the boys have discovered that there's nothing so yummy as a fresh duck or chicken egg in the morning!

Sue Boggs said...

Your posts are touching and beautifully written, honest without being icky.

A few weeks ago I had an experience that felt like it might have flattened me (turned out it hasn't, at least not yet) and hoped to get it down in that way.


Anonymous said...

Hi Ms. Browning!

I'm a fan from France. Thank you for your lovely, honest writing. Merci du fond du coeur.

Is there a chance you're coming to Paris for your book?


SuzyMcQ said...

Have you taken the guinea fowl plunge? They are cute beyond belief, they prefer to be called "keets" and make the sweetest sounds!

Susan C Hammond said...

Your words and topics are like liquid chocolate both soothing and decadent at the same time. Thank you!

To add to your comment on privilege, it's all a matter of each individual's perspective. We all know people who have everything but their soul is bereft. At the same time we know those who have nothing but there soul is full.

Happy Memorial Day!


Carol Keller Bass said...

Very well put. I continue to be amazed by what some people say. Were they taught no manners at all? As one who is very non-confrontational, I can only believe I would stand there with my mouth agape. It would only be later that I would be able to think of a reply. It can be frustrating at times (plus it hurts my feelings!).

You are absolutely correct about the chickens. They are not vegetarians and if someone claims they are, they must be keeping them in a cage. So sad. They love to roam and peck and dance.

Looking forward to your pictures!!

Fondly, Carol Bass

mary said...

Dominique, So hard to get going again, but there is one key element that I have discovered: one needs to pick one feet up to start the process; and then you need to put the foot down a little bit ahead of the other. It is a slow process, but growth and resurrection are hiding in the wings waiting for strength. xo

Vava (aka Virginia) said...

Eggs. Well, maybe around-the-corner eggs would sway me. Your commenters comments are (almost) as delightful to read as your posts!!! Your blog has indeed become an addiction. And the joy of blogging is it DOES allow us to enter one's home...no matter our monetary worth. Where have all the manners gone? Here's to a slow, eye-opening weekend!

Anonymous said...

More power to you!!! As a "stay at home" mom/wife, I have always admired and wondered about "independent" women like you. My sweet departed Momma always said that everyone's situation is their own, just because someone else's problems are worse than yours doesn't make yours less important to YOU. Momma and I read your magazine for years and I have piles of torn out pages of your "letters" . I have all your books and have cried every night reading Slow Love, wishing my momma was here to laugh through it with me. I tell every repair man that comes to my house that they are one of my "helpful men" and I tell my daughters that when they were little I wanted to tie them to a tree like you said one time, so I could continue gardening without chasing them around. So don't let anyone judge your situation, your book has made me feel so much appreciation and love for my home and family, I too love making a home, making muffins for my family, gardening til dark and forgetting to make supper. I think you are the most wonderful, interesting person and I am sooo sad that I will finish your book tonight. I admire you and cannot wait for your next book.

Anonymous said...

I have been moved this week by hearing your NPR interview, which took me to your blog and your book....your writing resonates in a million ways with my heart. The final sentance of this blog is so true; I too have been flattened and daily remind myself that an "attitude of gratitude" is a choice that is in MY control, and I have so much to be grateful for.

david terry said...

Dear Ms Browning,

A few responses:

1. Your comment regarding chickens who've been sentenced to a vegetarian diet reminds me of a cat-loving friend's telling me that, during the 80's (she'd gone to Harvard and afterwards stayed in Cambridge for ten years), there was a absolute epidemic of blind cats......all of which turned out to have militantly-vegetarian owners, who were wildly over-informed and hyper-educated on just about every subject you-could-name... except (unfortunately so, if you were one of their cats) Taurine deficiency.

Futher delineating the specific demographics of the owners provides some grimly predictable amusement (particularly if you've ever lived in a liberal, university town such as Cambridge).

2. As for this criticism of writers who write from some supposedly priviledged perch?....you'e exactly right (i.e., women get this treatment a LOT more than any male writer), and I've thought about the topic, myself.

Go to the blogs by (or, even more revealingly, the Amazon "readers reviews") Vicki Archer and/or Ed Ward.

Vicki (who's published two books) lives in St. Remy de Provence and blogs about her days. Ed (who's published 3, I think, books and is the regular rock&roll critic for NPR's "Fresh Air") lives in Montpelier (which is to say, ALSO in Southern France) and.....guess what?....Blogs About His Days.

Vicki's comments are, I'm sorry to say, absolutely chock-a-block with snarky variations on (to bluntly paraphrase the genre) "Who do you think you are?...you rich, self-absorbed bitch. Who CARES what you think? Stop WRITING!!!"

I'm always more than a bit appalled at this business of telling someone (andit seems to me that this is always directed at female writers) to "stop writing your stupid books!". Why don't some people just stop reading, if they're so "offended"?

The same brand of savage-sniping was levelled at that NYC woman (I can't recall her name)who began a blog and, fairly recently, turned it into a book...concerning her experience after being losing all of her money.

By contrast (and not to suggest that Ed Ward doesn't deserve plenty of praise and encouragement), Ed never seems to get anything except variations on "You go! Great job! You're really living the good life, man! Have another bottle of Cote de Rhone for me!!"...

Oh, enough of this topic (althoughI could go on by comparing reactions to Donald Trump's "success and, say, Martha Stewart's??). Suffice it to say that I wouldn't be the first to have noticed that Americans are remarkably ambivalent in regard to successful women who've made a point of directing their own lives and work.

Incidentally?...I'm sitting in an 18th century hotel in Granada, towards the end of a ten day, "Let's celebrate your brithday!" visit to this town and Cordoba....all of which is rather unmistakably a consequence of having married a Rich Doctor. An Unedifying situation, I suppose.....but it IS, still, very pleasant.

In any case, your posting hit a nerve with me. I'm glad I don't blog, because the letters would be, I expect, very wince-making.

Thanks again for the good writing,

David Terry

F said...

We lived in Panama for two years, out in the country side where life still goes on without electricity and cars. My neighbor ladies would tell me that I shouldn't buy my eggs in town. They were old and the yolks were sad. They would bring me one or two eggs at a time from their hens; their pollo de patio. These chickens had free range of the yard and produced the most beautiful eggs. They had bright, high sitting yolks, of a deep marigold yellow; completely different than the store bought eggs. If you didn't wash them they would last weeks sitting on the counter; unless of course the cat got to them. Somehow he discovered he could knock the egg box off the shelf and lap up the gooy rewards.

If he was around when I was cooking I'd put the shells down for him to lick before tossing them into the compost. These days, back in Indiana, he distains any offer of eggshells. Even the roadside stand's eggs are not good enough for him. Our cat is right. The eggs from our Panamanian neighbor ladies were just better.