Day 14: COVID-19 quarantine brings us back to home farming

Uncertain food supply raises need for self-sustainability

By Emma Palova

Lowell, MI- Since farmer’s markets and greenhouses may not open until the COVID-19 quarantine is lifted, many are turning back to home farming and small garden plots are popping up around the neighborhood.

Altough farmers like Visser Farms are getting creative selling online and packaged fruits and vegetables for a standard price of $5 a bag to prevent direct contact.

We’re lucky enough that we each own at least three acres in Vergennes Township. Coming from Europe, we’ve always had our own veggie gardens due to the constant shortage of fresh produce on the markets. See excerpt below from the “Greenwich Meridian Memoir.”

We’ve staked our small garden approximately 15 years ago. It started out first as as an herb garden, inspired by my friend herbalist Betty Dickinson of Ionia. Whenever I walk into the garden, especially after rain, the herbs smell of a thousand fragrances. Later, we added cherry tomatoes, peppers, squash and melons.

Last year, we planted cucumbers to can our own sweet and sour pickles aka “Znojemske okurky.” We take pride in this product that reminds us of our Czech homeland. I also love my ever bearing strawberries and currant bushes. I use the red and black currant to make pies.

But it is getting late to start growing plants from seeds. My favorite Snow Avenue Greenhouse usually opens around April 20 and sells decent size plants that can go directly into the garden.

COVID-19 quarantine brings us back to home farming.

Tips

If you live in an apartment, you can still do container gardening. Many seeds on the market are specifically good for containers.

Excerpt from Greenwich Meridian Memoir

Self-sustainability in Czech villages

Other homemade products included sausages and smoked meat. The butchering of the family pig usually took place in winter and before the holidays, so there was plenty of meat on the table. Socialism with its chronic lack of basic goods, drove the need for self-sufficiency specifically in the villages and craftsmanship as well. People were forced to be more creative in many different ways. They grew their own produce; everything from onions, carrots to cabbage and cucumbers. Then they made saurkraut from the cabbage, that went well with the pork and the sausages. Cucumbers were used to make the famous “Znojemsky pickles” aka “Znojemske okurky.”

Many households in villages and towns were self-sufficient with everything homemade or home grown. National artist Joseph Lada illustrated the traditional festivities: The Feast of St. Nicholas on Dec. 6, the butchering of the family pig in the yard with onlookers, Christmas by the tall tiled stoves, autumn campfires with fire-roasted potatoes and summer fun by the ponds with the willows.

Stay tuned for day by day coverage of the coronavirus crisis and quarantine in the U.S.

Today the death toll reached a grim 10,000 milestone.

Copyright (c) 2020. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

Day 13: Holy Week in the time of COVID-19 quarantine

Reality sinks in

By Emma Palova

Today is Palm Sunday. Bishop David Walkowiak served the mass with palm branches in the empty St. Andrews Cathedral in Grand Rapids to the recorded Hosanna, commemorating Jerusalem greeting Jesus. This was the fourth Sunday broadcast without an audience, but with a 300 percent increase in TV spectators. The Pope served the Palm Sunday mass in an empty St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican. Queen Elizabeth gave a special address for the fourth time only in her 68-year long reign.

This will be a Holy Week filled with tragedy as the numbers of coronavirus cases and deaths are expected to rise again. The clergy prayed for the deadly pandemic to end.

I also watched a Czech mass on Zoom from Velehrad, California, broadcast from the Czech missionary priest’s home. There were only 23 Czech and Slovak participants from the entire world.

The surgeon general warned that the upcoming week will be our “Pearl Harbor” moment and “9/11” moment.

“Do not leave your house unless you absolutely have to,” warnings rezonated all over the TV.

The year that Easter didn’t come

Eerie Woodland Mall on Sunday.

We’re only a week away from Easter Sunday. There will be no public egg hunts or girls wearing pretty spring dresses with laces and ribbons due to the Coronavirus quarantine. There will be no Easter specials as the malls are closed. More than half of the world’s population is under a stay-at-home order.

However, a glimmer of good news arrived from the pandemic epicenter NYC that the number of coronavirus deaths has dipped.

Exploring nature, finally

Walking the Fred Meijer Flat River Trail.

Earlier in the day we went for a walk on the Fred Meijer Flat River Trail that almost abuts to our front yard. Only a gravel road separates us from the trail that connects Lowell to Belding.

Chalk art on the trail: Be Brave.

For years, the trail group worked hard to convert the old railroad bed into trail for public use. Recently, the trail has been surfaced with crushed asphalt. It took the Coronavirus quarantine for people to discover this treasure.

As I delighted at the new trail bridges, I discovered a rock with chalk art. Someone left a message of encouragement: Be brave.

Since my husband Ludek had to pick up some groceries in Grand Rapids, we stopped at an eerie scene.

The usually year round busy Woodland Mall looked like a ghost town with vast empty parking lots stretching from nowhere to nowhere.

All this was happening under the deceiving April sun. My daffodils are ready to open their yellow beauty to the world, oblivious to the coronavirus horrors.

Stay tuned for day by day coverage of the coronavirus crisis in the U.S.

Copyright (c) 2020. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

DAY 12: COVID -19 Czech video airs on cnn encourages to wear masks

CDC recommends wearing cloth masks in public

By Emma Palova

As the number of Coronavirus cases continues to skyrocket and health workers are facing a daily suicide mission, the Center for Disease Control recommended on Friday that all Americans wear basic cloth masks to prevent the spread of the disease.

However, this does not replace social distancing of six feet or washing hands. The U.S. has reached a new daily high of 1,100 deaths and a total of 273,000 cases on Friday.

Get your sewing machine out and make a mask for yourself and loved ones, or go bigger as you make it a community project.

The coronavirus crisis has brought out the best around the world. Play your part today. Make a mask.

#Masks4All

I continue to delight in the beauty of my sunroom plants, because it’s kind of dreary outside.

I am also scheduling my book tour 2020. Stay tuned for details.

So far, I am planning on launching my upcoming book “Greenwich Meridian Memoir” at the Lakeshore Art Festival in Muskegon on July 3 and July 4.

The book is now on pre-order at:https://www.amazon.com/Greenwich-Meridian-Memoir-Emma-Palova-ebook/dp/B085DD2ZR3/ref=sr_1_2?dchild=1&keywords=Greenwich+Meridian+Memoir&qid=1586018567&s=digital-text&sr=1-2

Stay tuned for day by day coverage of the Coronavirus crisis in the U.S.

Copyright (c) 2020. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

Day 11: COVID-19 quarantine gives time to enjoy nature’s gifts

First walk to the Franciscans

The nature oblivious to the Coronavirus horrors is waking up from its winter’s sleep.

I enjoyed nature’s gifts during my first walk to the The Franciscan Life Process Center: daffodils getting ready to burst open, birds singing and frogs croaking in the swamp off the gravel road.

Just under two miles, the walk covers a variety of terrain and vegetation enhanced by the beautiful landscape at the Franciscan campus outside of Lowell.

The ornamental grasses were neatly trimmed and the colors of the meadow were changing from yellowish to green. I walked past the vacant parking lot to the St. Mary’s Rosary Walk.

On normal days, the center is busy with arts and music programming. People from far and near enjoy the Franciscans’ offerings: everything from painting au plain air, music instruction, community gardening, trails to retreats in the yurts or the San Pietro house.

The gardening team is usually busy with their landscaping tasks.

But today it was quiet as the silence pierced my ears and only an occasional robin broke the spell.

I spent some quiet time on St. Mary’s Plazza as one of the sisters, who was walking her mutt Pico, greeted me.

“What a beautiful day,” she said.

“Yes, it’s gorgeous.”

At that moment I realized how fortunate we were to enjoy the beautiful Friday afternoon far away from the nation’s Coronavirus hot spots.

“What is your name?” the sister asked.

“I am Emma,” I answered. “And yours?”

“I am sister Mary Paula,” she said.

There has never been a need for social distancing outside the buildings at the center surrounded by open space. I walked the way of the cross several times and I have never encountered a single soul. The same goes for the trails on the 230-acre campus, where you immerse yourself in serenity.

When I got home, my husband Ludek was cleaning up around the outdoors furnace after a long winter.

“Let’s go somewhere, it’s Friday afternoon,” I said.

“There’s nowhere to go,” he said.

There is still nature left and its bountiful gifts for us to enjoy in the times of the Coronavirus.

Tips: Consider the COVID-19 quarantine as your personal retreat away from the society’s hustle and bustle. Let it transform you.

Featured photo: the retreat yurts at the Franciscan Life Process Center.

Stay tuned for continued day by day coverage of the Coronavirus crisis.

Visit the Franciscans at: https://lifeprocesscenter.org/

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Copyright (c) 2020. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

Day 10: COVID-19 closes Michigan schools until Labor Day

School’s out

Every challenging circumstance is a hidden opportunity.

Daniel Remenap, Superintendent of Hastings Public Schools

By Emma Palova

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced this morning that Michigan public schools will not re-open until Labor Day as the number of coronavirus cases and deaths continue to rise in the state and nationwide.

“The number of challenges is long, but the school districts have been planning for it,” she said.

It will be up to the 900 school districts and 56 ISDs to do the heavy lifting associated with remote learning outside the brick and mortar structures.

The public schools closure impacts 1.5 million Michigan students in k-12 grades.

The parents reacted with mixed feelings on Thursday.

“It’s a shock,” said Jakub Pala, father of two in the Hastings Public Schools (HPS) system. “It’s bittersweet. It’s a disappointment for the kids.”

On one hand, the parents get to spend more quality time with their children, but on the other hand the kids are deprived of social activities.

“I feel sad, Domik was supposed to graduate,” Maranda said.

The adjustment to the new way life requires creativity and outside the box thinking from the parents and the teachers.

“We are doing stuff outside, enjoying this nice weather,” Maranda said.

Due to the coronavirus outbreak, Maranda had to put on hold her kids’ entertainment business “Little Dreamers Sleepovers.”

Follow Maranda on https://littledreamerssleepovers.com/

She’s hoping for the business to rebound in the summer.

The districts will provide resources to the families such as chrome books and hot spots for the Internet, according to John Hemboldt, Grand Rapids Public Schools, superintendent.

HPS superintendent Daniel Remenap stated in a letter to parents on April 2:

Here is what I do know, and I will promise. We will continue to feed our families (as long as we are able.) We will have a graduation ceremony for our seniors…it may be in July, heck maybe August, who knows right now, but we WILL hold a graduation ceremony.

I will promise also that I will fight to be sure most decisions are made locally, by the district and by our families. Also we will do ALL we can do to meet the individual needs of each student given these challenges.

I will also promise this; we will come out better than ever when this is over. Every challenging circumstance is a hidden opportunity. We will use this to improve our focus and remind us what is truly important at home and at school. I hope this also reinforces the important and challenging work our teachers do every day.

“This is a public health crisis,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive. “Do not leave your house unless you absolutely must.”

Michigan is on the upslope of the coronavirus crisis with 1,000 cases a day, according to Khaldun.

“We must do very well with social distancing,” she said. “No one is immune. It’s an executive order; stay home, stay safe.”

Other parents, today, took their children fishing; the mom was wearing a mask and blue latex gloves.

Many took to the trails with their bikes.

Stay tuned for continued day by day coverage of the COVID-19 crisis in Michigan.

Copyright (c) 2020. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

Day 9: COVID-19 as Catalyst

Coronavirus brings us closer together

“When I am writing, I am trying to find out who I am, who we are, what we’re capable of, what we feel, how we lose and stand up, and go from darkness into darkness.”

Maya Angelou

Lowell, MI- Together we can accomplish anything. We will get through this together. Each one of us has a part to play.

How many times do we get to chat simultaneously with people from Florida, Oklahoma , Minnesota and Michigan?

I did for the first time earlier in the day via video chat Zoo room app. I connected with familiar faces, and I am so grateful for technology with all its whims.

https://zooroom.chat/

Today marks the beginning of Camp NaNoWriMo. It’s a great platform to start or finish your writing projects.

https://nanowrimo.org/what-is-camp-nanowrimo

Coronavirus quarantine survival tips

How many times in the past have you complained, that you don’t have time for anything? Now you do.

Ludek Pala works on isolating and putting up drywall in the laundry room.

Find a home improvement project. Finish what you have started years ago.

Learn something new: cooking, baking, writing poetry, painting.

Go outside and take pictures of spring arriving.

Offer to help others with their struggles; it will ease your own.

Keep a journal.

Live, love and laugh.

Copyright (c)2020. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

Day 8: COVID-19 quarantine in Michigan

Glimmers of hope

According to Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the social distancing measures appear to be working.

The daily increases in Coronavirus cases may be slowing down as a result of mitigation efforts on all fronts. However, the Coronavirus pandemic remains very serious as close to 300 people have died in Michigan.

Going into the eighth day of the COVID-19 quarantine in Michigan, the news of a possible slowdown of the spread of the virus comes at the right time. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer plans to announce whether the schools will reopen on Thursday.

I have only 30 more pages to correct in the Greenwich Meridian Memoir manuscript.

My parents should have arrived back in Michigan this evening.

My husband will be putting up the drywall in the laundry tomorrow.

I have a virtual meeting scheduled for Wednesday. I am signed up for Camp NaNoWriMo starting tomorrow.

From my Taurus horoscope:

Keep your cool as you put one foot in front of the other, taking small but impactful steps that move the needle forward.

Things are looking up. Spread hope around you.

Copyright (c) 2020. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

Day 7: COVID-19 quarantine in Michigan

By Emma Palova

Facing the possible extension of social distancing until April 30 per CDC guidelines, I continue to plug along on making the corrections to the Greenwich Meridian Memoir manuscript. I am on page 201.

I have also signed up for Camp NaNoWriMo starting April 1. Try it; it’s a good platform that keeps you on track with your writing and publishing projects.

https://nanowrimo.org/what-is-camp-nanowrimo

While fine tuning the manuscript, I came across some interesting paragraphs about waiting which I consider relevant during this time of Coronavirus shutdown.

But most importantly, I want to offer hope based on what I have learned in this morning’s meditation about “Hope in Uncertain Times” by Oprah & Deepak Chopra.

Hope increases with gratitude. List five things you’re grateful for today. These are my five things that I am grateful for today:

1- time to write 2- chicken burrito from Taco Bell 3- a story about museum intern Darcy Stubbs for Fallasburg Today 4- my parents’ arrival in Elizabethtown, KY from Florida 5- my blood pressure finally came down after three weeks

https://fallasburgtoday.org/

Excerpt from Greenwich Meridian Memoir:

Waiting in socialist Czechoslovakia

You spent a lot of time waiting around for anything and everything, quite often it was in lines for desirable items like bananas or meat.

 The grocery stores were small with only a limited amount of shopping baskets, so you waited for the shopping basket, then you waited inside the store at the dairy counter for cheese, and at the meat counter for meat, you waited in a line for the cash register and you waited for the bus to get home with your groceries. There you waited for the elevator to get to your apartment.

Copyright (c) 2020. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

Day 6: COVID-19 quarantine in Michigan

Stay at home, save lives

By Emma Palova

On the fifth Sunday of Lent, I watched the mass broadcast on TV from the empty St. Andrew’s Cathedral in Grand Rapids due to the Coronavirus quarantine.

Televised mass without an audience from St. Andrew’s Cathedral Cathedral in Grand Rapids.

I do my daily Lenten readings from The Little Black Book 6-minute meditations and in shock I came across this reading for March 28, that I somehow missed.

The bubonic plague in Oberammergau

When an outbreak of the bubonic plague began to spread in the 17th century, the people of Oberammergau prayed to be spared. They vowed that the whole community would, every 10 years, stage a massive production presenting the story of Christ’s death and resurrection to the world. The town was spared from the plague, and the tradition of the Oberammergau Passion Play was born. It’s first performance was in 1634.

The Passion Play is scheduled for this year from May 16 to Oct. 4. It is performed on an open stage with seating for nearly 5,000 spectators. Members of the 1,700 cast must be Oberammergau natives, or have lived there for 10 years. The play lasts a whole day, with a three-hour break for lunch. The play is performed five times a week for several months.

But, on Thursday, the organizers of the play- which has a cast of some 2,500 and can feature 900 people on stage at once- announced they were canceling this years edition, because of the Coronavirus pandemic. The first of the 103 daylong performances had been scheduled for May 16.

Historically, the human kind has been plagued by diseases from the bubonic plague, tuberculosis, Spanish influenza to Coronavirus, to name just a few.

The least we can do is to quarantine ourselves to protect others from the spread of the virus.

Tips:

Learn something new. It’s Sunday, cook up a storm.

Join a video chat room at:

Zoo room

You can also participate in #StayHomeWrimo creative initiative by the National Novel Writing Month organizers.

Copyright (c)2020. EMMA Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

Day 5: Creativity offsets COVID-19 anxiety

Perfection: All the shades of white

By Emma Palova

Lowell, MI – I have found out that creativity battles the anxiety invoked by the Coronavirus shutdown the best.

Facing the dark stats, how do I wake up inspiration from its gloomy dream? First of all, I had to turn off all the devices I own. Next I am trying to push out of my head all the images of suffering and exhaustion I’ve seen over the last two weeks.

I have to substitute the negative with the positive; easier said than done. I have to transform and focus on the light with its different shades.

I found relief again in the “Hope in Uncertain Times” meditation with Oprah & Deepak Chopra. I can see light instead of darkness.

You can also participate in NaNoWriMo’s initiative to keep your sanity. https://nanowrimo.org/stayhomewrimo

You can sign up for @Camp NaNoWriMo starting in April. It helped me finish my writing projects.

Also watch for my kindle giveaway of Shifting Sands: Short Stories on Amazon.

Featured photo: Perfection: All the shades of white.

Copyright (c) 2020. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

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