A Ray of Sunshine in French: A message from Jean-Marc
"Unfit mother" in French + A Celebration

Accidental Cassoulet -- an update

1-Mas des Brun wedding anniversary

The regular edition, with bells and whistles, will be back next week. Photo of our home, from our 20th wedding anniversary, in 2014. Truly A Good Year for Jean-Marc.

Dear Readers,

If I ever wrote a cookbook or a memoir I would call it Accidental Cassoulet. And if I have one regret in my life it is this: not to have cooked from scratch from the age of 12 (when I was a wiz at grating cheddar cheese on a flour tortilla and grilling it in the oven. But one day I started a kitchen fire in our trailer, putting an end to any culinary prowess.)

When I was 14 years old and living in a condo in Carefree, Arizona my mom took me to a naturopathic doctor after I passed out in World Geography class (while giving a speech. I would pass out at one more speech, in college, and again at an airport checkpoint, which makes me realize today that blood sugar wasn't the only culprit. Anxiety has been there all along).

Nowadays, I realize that if I had followed that naturopath's advice to the T, 34 years ago (eat frequently, eat nutrient-dense foods) I might have avoided a lot of soucis, including self-medicating with alcohol. And I might have avoided skin cancer, because when you care about what you put into your body you care about your body). But these difficult experiences have led to a greater understanding and compassion for others.

I do believe, as Hippocrates said, that food is medicine. But if I break my arm, I will go to the hospital. (And I believe that some forms of depression are akin to breaking every bone in your body. And yet, my husband went to work today.)

I'm not sure where I am going with all of this information, except to bring you some sort of update. No, things are not much better. But some things are stronger. Things like faith, hope and marriage. Jean-Marc will get through this. He continues to ask for your prayers.

Meantime, Hippocrates, I'm making accidental cassoulet again today. (Is it an accident the second time around?). I've gotten into the habit of making a roast chicken (setting the chicken on a bed of potatoes and carrots and onions in their jackets). We eat this for dinner. Then, on day two, I put the leftover potatoes into a glass Tupperware for salads, later--some of the chicken, too, depending... Then I add white beans (soaked overnight, then boiled in water, strained) to all the roasting pan juices from the chicken. There are usually bits and pieces of garden rosemary, from the stuffing. I swirl all this together (having left the carrots, which are by now carmelized). 

Food is the way to a man's heart, they say (and to his health...). But they don't talk enough about a man's mind. Thank you, Jean-Marc, for being so open about your struggle. So many pieces of the puzzle of our 22-year marriage have come together in the past two weeks. The roller-coaster ups and downs. At times I have felt my stomach tighten when the train we are on creeks to the top of another mountain, only for my insides to (feel like they'll) drop out when we are hurled over--and now speeding down the opposite slope!

Jean-Marc, the day that I realized that it wasn't you steering (overconfidently to the summit or fearfully to the bottom of the sea), I found perspective and empathy. And the day that you realized it wasn't you steering--but a mood steering--you found the courage and the determination to fight for the wheel.

I have always hated roller-coasters. They make my teeth chatter. They hurt my head. They have been known to come apart in mid-air! They test all of my preconceived notions about preconceived notions. But I will stay on this ride and share seats with you until we reach level ground--and beyond! This isn't a decision. And it is more than a promise "for better or for worse". And because I've lost the direction of this letter, I'd better add, This is much more than Accidental Cassoulet!

Is this, finally, the mystery of love? 

*   *   *


Who looks like they are petrified? And who looks like they have won the French lottery? Jean-Marc and I taking our vows, in 1994.

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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety