Greenwich meridian Memoir cover

Cover Design by Jeanne S. Boss

Collage: the story behind the cover

It is said that a long journey starts with the first step.

During the entire process of putting together the “Greenwich Meridian Memoir,” that spans more than 50 years of our family immigration saga from former Czechoslovakia to the U.S., I was using a globe as a visual tool.

I got the globe probably at the old Flat River Antique Mall in Lowell when we moved out into the country in 1995. I kept it downstairs in my writing studio, but dragged it upstairs to look at it while on the treadmill.

Putting one foot in front of the other, word after word, page after page, year after year, that’s how the memoir went, often interrupted by life’s events.

After all, travel around the world made an imprint on our lives forever. However, later into the writing process, I realized the story wasn’t just about our nomadic lifestyle prompted by the political events in Czechoslovakia in 1968.

When I first asked mom for info about our immigration, she handed me two small stapled pages from a Best Western notepad with nine bullet points summarizing our life.

As I got deeper into the story and mom cooperated more, it became obvious that looking back at your past can be a painful experience.

Unlike writing fiction, writing the memoir was very emotional, at times depressing. It meant uncovering layers and layers of events, preceeded by decisions; your own decisions and other people’s decisions that impacted your own life and other people’s lives.

Decisions were lurking at every crossroad or a fork on the path to freedom. Mistakes and resentments alternated with victories and elation.

The main characters, mom Ella and dad Vaclav, were the driving forces of the immigration; I picked up two decades later when the Velvet Revolution rolled in 1989.

I found out that the main motivation for dad’s decision to emigrate was his career as a mathematician, while mom clung onto her past pharmacist job and relatives in Czech. And that’s where the characters clashed.

The Prague Spring 1968 movement was the catalyst.

I wanted to express all this on the cover of the memoir using a collage of photos, postcards, mom’s African driver’s license, the Czech coat-of-arms and the globe. There is a postcard with a Vaclav Havel stamp from Czechoslovakia.

Graphic designer Jeanne S. Boss of Rockford captured all of the above on the artistic cover. Boss is the former editor of the Lowell Ledger and the Buyer’s Guide, and a long time friend.

I would like to thank Boss for all the creative work.

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

Today’s Free Taurus Daily Horoscope from Tarot.com

I love my Taurus horoscope today, as I move ahead with the Greenwich Meridian Memoir revisions. I’ve added some interesting events to the memoir about our family immigration saga from former Czechoslovakia to the USA. Watch for excerpts.

Read your free Taurus horoscope for today to get daily advice. Find out what today’s Astrology will mean for Taurus every day from Tarot.com.
— Read on http://www.tarot.com/daily-horoscope/taurus/2020-01-15

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

The three Sundays before Christmas with excerpt

The three Sundays before Christmas in Czech Republic were called: bronze, silver and gold. They were the biggest shopping days of the year. I used to go shopping to the open-air market under the giant chestnut trees in Zlin. I always bought mistletoe. I loved the old ladies from Slovakia with their embroidered linens- a lost art.

Greenwich Meridian memoir excerpt:

By Emma Palova

The yellow place mats with brown embroidery traveled with me to the USA for my second immigration in 1989. I bought them at the Zlin market under the chestnut trees. I loved that market with vendors from Slovakia and Southern Moravia. I marveled at their handiwork eligible for Etsy at any given time.

When I went back to Czech Republic in the footsteps of the past in 2013, I hurried to the market. I was amazed all over again at all the wares the merchants had to offer from far and near. Off course it wasn’t Christmas time, so the farmers didn’t have my favorite silver and gold-coated mistletoe. The coveted mistletoe is sold on the three Sundays before Christmas. Those were the only Sundays that merchants opened their doors on a holiday.

I always looked forward to those three Sundays. They were called bronze, silver and gold Sunday. And as the hype build up, so did the offered goods; that all culminated in a shopping frenzy socialist style. That meant loading up on textile durable bags to haul in stuff for the holidays; everything from Hungarian salami, sausages, smoked cutlets to silver-coated mistletoe, and better wines such as “Klastorne” from Slovakia. The most famous monastery wines are located in Kromeriz- the Archbishop’s Wine Cellars. I visited these cellars during the big trip in 2013. The walls of the cellars are covered with rare silver moulds.

Since, it was a custom to bake every Christmas traditional small desserts, I usually went shopping for the ingredients. I always carried the same old bags that were overused with time. Sometimes, the handle on the bag broke and I had to pick up the rolling tomatoes, apples and bottles.

Shopping meant standing in lines forever; sometimes waiting for the delivery of the products. The stores ran out of stuff like whipped cream, butter and cocoa. Nuts have also been an issue, but many families had their own nuts from the walnut trees in their gardens. I remember having to crack them with my uncle before the big holiday baking.

I barely dragged the bags with groceries home to the apartment. I was glad we had that darn escalator that I had to clean so many times to keep Mr. Chromcak happy. The refrigerators back in Czech were small, so we put food outside on the balconies.

“Where do I put all this stuff?” I asked myself. “Well, first I am going to eat.”

I dropped the bags on the floor and scoured the bottom for some nugget chocolate. Sitting down in the kitchen I munched on the chocolate relentlessly like if it was the last day on this earth. That was my problem then and now; I do everything like today is the last day. True, I do get a lot done that way but I exhaust myself to the max.

Needless to say that I’ve had problems with my weight ever since I hit puberty still back in Hawkins, Texas during our first round of immigration in the early 1970s. My first period was a pain. I laid on the couch crying and twisting with spasms in my lower abdomen thinking it would never pass; it did just like most pains in life it was transitory.

I exercised and exercised some more. And I ate and ate, just like that moment when I dragged the bags inside the apartment. Mom was still at work, so I should probably get ready the dough for the pastries and desserts. But, wait first I have to unpack. I looked outside from the living room to the balcony. It was all snowy, and even though I was hot from hauling all that weight, it was freezing outside. I sorted what I needed for baking and put the rest of the groceries still in the bags on the balcony.

We had an interesting class teacher Mrs. Chudarkova at the prep school Gymnasium Zlin. Every year before Christmas, she let us go early from school, so we could bake.

“Yes, girls you can leave early today,” she smiled. “I know you have to bake to help your mothers.”

That came as a surprise from the strict woman who wore a dark reddish brown wig. Mrs. Chudarkova could have been around 45. I considered her an old woman at the time.

To be continued…….

The feature photo is of small Christmas desserts by CJ Aunt Jarmilka on http://jkarmaskova.wordpress.com

You can still order them from her bakery; email j.karmaskova@seznam.cz

Copyright (c) 2019. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

Reviews on Amazon, Venice book fair

Hello everyone,

Thanks for writing reviews that will help the ranking of my books on Amazon from the Shifting Sands Short Stories collections. I need to reach 25 reviews for basic ranking.

This is the main link to writing reviews on Amazon. The reviews do not have to be long.

https://www.amazon.com/author/emmapalova

You can basically just state what you did like about the book, what you didn’t like about the book and what stayed with you and why.

If you click on the stars, it will take you to customer reviews, and you will see examples of  a few reviews.

customer reviews

I am in the process of planning my book tour for 2020. Let me know, if you want me to come to a specific place or event.

I will be in Venice, FL for the book fair and writer’s festival on March 20 & 21. It is also my writer’s retreat.

I am looking for an author to share a table.

Contact me with questions about my new book Greenwich Meridian: Where East meets West, or any other questions. The book will be available for pre-order in January.

Copyright (c) 2019. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

Happy holidays

Join us for the best Christmas party in the area this evening from 6 to 8 p.m. @Fallasburg.

Fallasburg Today

Old-fashioned Christmas in Fallasburg

Fallasburg, MI – Come to the best Christmas party in the area complete with music, a Christmas buffet, libations and a bonfire. Bring a friend to enjoy the old-fashioned atmosphere.

Just cross the Covered Bridge into the 1850s Fallasburg pioneer village. You will step back in time enchanted by the magic of the holiday season. The one-room schoolhouse will be decked out for Christmas for you to enjoy.

The public is invited to the “Christmas in Fallasburg” party on Saturday, Dec. 14 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the one-room schoolhouse. The party will be topped off by a roaring bonfire at the Fallass Field across from the schoolhouse. You can’t miss it. You will be able to hear it crackling into the crisp night, as it melts the snow around it.

Holiday music provided by Hawks & Owls, libations, refreshments and the famous Fallasburg Christmas…

View original post 90 more words

Czech festivities with excerpt

Holiday traditions bring food to the festive table

By Emma Palova

Lowell, MI – Since we are in the holiday spirit, I wrote about the holidays and festivities in my Greenwich Meridian memoir today back in the socialist era of former Czechoslovakia.

Many households were self-sufficient with most everything home raised and home made. A staple of the holiday season was the butchering of the family pig, so there was plenty of meat on the festive table.

Below is an illustration by Czech national artist Joseph Lada of a holiday tradition.

20191213_130329-36598716800705068157.jpg

Here is an excerpt:

However, a big tradition centered around the parishes stayed intact- that is the feast of the saints, to which the churches were dedicated to. In our case, it was the Feast of Saint Mary in Stipa on September 8th. These feasts or pilgrimages were much like homecomings or festivals in the U.S. The entire families gathered for the feasts for an opulent celebration of the saints. In many cases, animals were butchered and ladies baked the famous pastry-kolache or strudels. A dance took place at the local hall on the night before the feast. This often turned into a brawl, as people got drunk on plum brandy. Carnival rides always came into town with booths and paper roses. I loved these paper colorful crepe roses on wires; I wish I had kept at least one. Other booths sold gingerbread hearts of all sizes for all hearts.

In traditional pilgrimage places like Hostyn, the booths were set up all the time and opened for the season with hundreds of religious and non-religious items.

That brings me to celebrations of holidays in general. In villages like Stipa, many people raised animals for meat: rabbits, pigs, geese, turkeys, chickens and ducks. That was the primary source of meat for the holidays. Most meat was roasted, served with sauces or sauerkraut and dumplings. Pork and chicken were often fried into wiener schnitzel. Salads or vegetables were not as common as in the U.S. due to their year-round shortage. Soups were always a part of a holiday meal, mostly beef or chicken. In some households, people made their own noodles.

As a rule, women baked for the weekends all sorts of pastries, some for breakfast. But there was also an abundance of pastries on the market; at the bakeries, coffee shops, patisseries and in grocery stores. Among the most famous were “rohliky” or bread rolls in the shape of a crescent, some even came with poppy seeds. And bread was always good, whether baked round with hard crust or in loaves.

Other products made also at home were 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.

The shortages in socialism drove the need for self-sufficiency specifically in the villages and craftsmanship as well.

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.

The Czech Republic enjoys distinct seasons: mild winters, early springs, hot summers and moderate autumns.

To be continued….

Copyright (c) 2019 Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

 

Happy holidays with excerpt

Wishing you a peaceful holiday season, as I continue to work on the Greenwich Meridian memoir about our family immigration saga from former Czechoslovakia to the U.S.

Based on a request from Mary Lacy, a vendor of M&M Prescious Gems at the Lowell Area Historical Museum, I decided to add two more chapters about living in socialism.

Below is an excerpt from the Greenwich Meridian memoir:

The Good and the Bad

The socialist system had its own way of getting at you by creating mysterious “profiles.” It was a compilation of background checks that ranged from, whether you were a member of the Communist Party or not, to how many volunteer hours have you worked on a community project like building a nursery.
If you went to church, your profile would state that, and it went against you when you applied for jobs or to universities.

My profile was “speckled” because we had returned from the U.S. for Czech President Gustav Husak’s amnesty in 1973. Even though, it was an official amnesty for political victims of the 1968 Prague Spring, like us, it served more as a punishment and a showcase of what can happen if you screwed over the regime.

The profiles also took into account your mandatory volunteering at different community projects and brigades. The communists must have used some sort of a scoring point system; the worst part was that they took into account your entire family. For example, if you came from an agricultural family that used to own large parcels of land, that went against you, even though the communists took all the land in two major nationalizations in 1945 and in 1948. If you were a former business owner, that wasn’t good either.

Among interesting events at workplaces were birthday celebrations. My husband Ludek described a typical birthday when the celebrant brought in a bottle of plum brandy and poured everyone from each department a shot. After work, the celebration continued at the local pubs. There was a lot of birthday celebrations throughout the years. For the 50th birthday, you always got a fancy watch.

During national holidays, the factory workers would steal anything and take it through the gates without being checked because there were so many of them leaving at once for the parades. So, the parades were known as the “March of Thieves.” The parades actually started inside the factory.

On the matter of overtime, one individual was selected to punch for all, who waited somewhere behind the gates. The huge factory complex known as Svit and ZPS spanned several blocks in Zlin, and it was built during the Thomas Bata era in the 1940s. It employed 10,000 workers per factory. Svit was the shoe factory started by Bata, while ZPS was the mechanical engineering factory. The shoe factory mainly employed women, while ZPS employed mostly men.

Both were the major employers in Zlin, and people worked there for generations. In socialism, everything was planned accordingly into one- year plans, five -year plans and 10- year plans. All the companies had to strive to fulfill the plans to the highest percentage for bonuses at the end of the year, called the 13th salary.

To be continued…Socialism perks through ROH

Subscribe or email questions about living in socialism or any other questions or comments: 

Copyright (c) 2019. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

E-newsletter

Greenwich Meridian: Where East meets West
New autobiographical novel on its way to pre-order on Amazon. .

Emma Palova’s author news 
 
With Christmas just around the corner and the shopping frenzy on, I am pleased to announce that I have completed the new autobiographical novel “Greenwich Meridian: Where East meets West during the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo.) I have, however, decided to add two more chapters based on a recent conversation at one of my book signing events.  
Vendor Mary Lacy asked me, if I was ever afraid living in a socialist country. I had to really think hard about the answer to the surprise question. So, it occurred to me that many of my fans will be interested in the same topic. 
“What was it like living in socialism?” 
I was born in socialist Czechoslovakia and lived there during the hardline years of communism in the 1970s and 1980s. Living in socialism meant being careful on a daily basis about what you said and to whom. However, only political activists like late president Vaclav Havel faced repercussions and ended up in jail. The system had its way of getting at you by creating “profiles.” 
If you went to church, your profile would state that, and it went against you when you applied for jobs or to universities. 
Please email me with your questions about socialism at emmapalova@yahoo.com
 
Reviews and a book tour 

Why write a review? 
 
All authors need reviews, and basically not just authors. But Amazon requests at least 25 reviews for authors to get any ranking, so then Amazon algorithms can start working in the author’s favor. 
 
I haven’t been able to reach that magic number, even though it doesn’t seem high. Prior to publication, I sent out pdfs to reviewers. 
 
And I will do that again with the new book. Just email me for pdfs.

Below is a link to my books from the Shifting Sands Short Stories collections: book 1 and book 2 Secrets. Books make a great Christmas gift.

You can also post a review there.
 
http://www.amazon.com/author/emmapalova 
 

New book tour 2020
 
I am in the process of planning a new book tour for 2020, which I am very excited about. 
 
Why come to a Michigan author event?  
“Michigan Authors are sweeping the shores of the Great Lakes from Lake Michigan to Lake Superior and Lake Huron in a new wave of renaissance in literature.” 
                                                                                       - Emma Palova 
 
You’re supporting local authors who write from Michigan with Michigan settings. 
You will get an autographed book by a live author. 
You will get insider tips from the publishing industry. 
You will learn about the writing process; from an idea to a book. 
You will leave inspired. 
 
Happy holidays to all.

Emma Palova
Dec. 9, 2019

Email Emma to subscribe to the E-Newsletter at emmapalova@yahoo.com

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