I feel as if I have been in hiding. No new posts in three weeks, almost four. I have been teaching the usual classes, going to the usual meetings, supervising the usual after school study hall, tutoring the usual kids who need some extra help, doing the usual house work, cooking the usual meals, sleeping the usual 6-7 hours a night. Maybe I am just really tired. Maybe my thyroid med isn't doing quite what it should be. Maybe it's the let-down at the end of the school year. Maybe the end of the exchange with my Frenchies. Who knows? But with so much writing that has to be done, correcting papers, writing exams, writing progress reports, there is no time left for writing for fun. But I am about to shake off all that have-to writing as summer vacations quickly approaches. June 6, here we come.
Speaking of June 6, I have made the acquaintance of a gentleman who landed on Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944. Mr. Ed Chappell came to speak to my French exchange students and to my 8th graders in April.
He told us his story of the landing in Normandy. He also served in the Pacific, as I found out when I talked to him on the phone a few nights ago. I came home with a few leftover euros in March and decided to send them to him along with a thank you note for talking to my kids. See, he is headed back to Normandy and to Omaha Beach for the 70th anniversary. Robin McMahon, a fellow French teacher and woman I greatly admire is taking Mr. Chappell, another WWII veteran, and some high school kids for the celebration. They have been tirelessly raising money for the trip for the past several months. I volunteered to go along with Ed, assuring him that I could be his translator and that I would keep him out of trouble (ha!). His daughter is going with him, however, and he hinted that there are several women in line before me who have also volunteered to go over with him. Alas, I will just have to wait until he returns to hear all about his adventures. He has promised to spend the euros I sent on something delicious. What a wonderful man. What an honor it is to know him.
I also invited Mr. Joe Collie to come speak to the students.
Mr. Collie was recently awarded the French Legion of Honor medal (established by Napoléon Bonaparte in 1802 and first awarded in 1804) for his service during WWII in France. He explained his landing in Marseille and the journey that took him into Germany.
I have heard of Mr. Collie for years because his grandchildren attend my school and I helped his daughter-in-law make plans when the whole family went to Normandy for a visit. I had not had the privilege of meeting him, however until he came to talk to us. Another great honor. Both of these men said that they are not heroes. They were doing their job. Yes, they were doing what they were trained to do, but history has proven them to be heroes, with or without medals.
This is a painting done by Mr. Collie in 2007 as a tribute to the region and his memories.
The kids thoroughly enjoyed meeting him and having the chance to ask him questions. He is an excellent teacher and speaker. An American hero.
I did take a personal day and headed up I-40 to the mountains to visit Mama Mildred for Mother's Day. I got to spend time with her, my siblings, my niece, nephews, and great-nephews. I persuaded my sister Moo to make her broccoli-cauliflower salad. Moo is a pretty good cook herself. I finally watched as she prepared the dressing and plan to make it myself this morning to take to a cookout tonight.
Moo's Broccoli-Cauliflower Salad
1 head of broccoli, cut into small florets
1 head of cauliflower, cut in small pieces
Sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
3 Tbsp Duke's mayonnaise
3 Tbsp lemon juice
3 Tbsp white granulated sugar
Wash and prepare the broccoli and cauliflower (see photo above for size of pieces).
Make dressing by mixing the ingredients together until smooth and sugar has dissolved. Taste and adjust, if necessary. It can be made sweeter or tangier, according to taste.
Add dressing to salad. Stir. Add shredded cheese and stir. Cover and refrigerate for several hours before serving. (You can serve it immediately, but it's best if it sits for a few hours.)
Bon appétit and Happy Memorial Day weekend to all, especially to Mr. Ed Chappell, Mr. Joe Collie and the heroes who have served our country and kept us free!