Lowell, MI – As the nature awakens, we celebrate Earth Day today. The first widely recognized Earth Day was held in 1970 when an environmental Teach-In group planned an event for April 22.
But every day is an Earth Day celebration to recognize the greatest resource of all, and that is our planet Earth.
To celebrate the Earth Week, I started my annual walk to the Franciscan Life Process Center (FLPC) on Monday. The 1.8 mile hike on a gravel road has been a staple of my mental and physical sanity since 1995 when we moved out into this northeast corner of Kent County in West Michigan.
I marveled at the untouched nature coming to life; plants vigorously emerging from the wet dirt from yesterday’s rains, robins hopping under the pine trees among the new ground cover.
Crisp morning air and dew covered the new grass and stems.
The area consists of preserved farmland thanks to late philanthropist Peter Wege, apple orchards, woods and streams. Wild flowers are now popping out in the woods, and morel mushrooms are around the corner, or should I say around the stumps.
I love the farm markets with the local produce starting soon with local asparagus.
Different trail systems like the Fred Meijer River Valley trails and Lowell Area trials meet here at the confluence of Grand River and Flat River. We’ve been blessed with an abundance of natural resources from the Bradford Dickinson White Nature Preserve in Lowell Township, Wege Wittenbach AgriScience center, Sessions Lake and Fallasburg Park. Hundreds of inland lakes dot the picturesque region.
The Midwest entices with its variety of seasons, landscapes, Great Lakes and diverse communities.
The Paschal Triduum started tonight with the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, and it runs through Easter Sunday on April 16.
This week is also known as the Holy Week in the catholic calendar.
The mass at Saint Pat’s included a candle vigil and procession to chapel for repose with washing of the feet. The mass with procession lasted just under two hours.
Tomorrow is Good Friday. Watch for the readings of the Christ’s passion. The Christ’s passion written by several writers has served over the centuries as an inspiration for many literary works due to its powerful message.
Mel Gibson’s 2004 film “The Passion of the Christ” stirred some controversy, unlike the 1973 “Jesus Christ Superstar.”
Follow me for more Easter coverage through Easter Sunday including Easter traditions in Czech Republic.
Copyright (c) 2017. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.
Lowell, MI- Yes, indeed. Today is Emma’s Day, according to the Czech calendar. My mom Ella gave me the name based on a novel she read a long time ago.
The guy in the novel kept writing letters to his love, always starting with:
“Dear Emma, ”
I love you.
Many years later, I would receive letters and postcards from all over the world with that same greeting in Czech:
“How are you?” mom always wrote.
I loved the name so much that I gave it to our daughter who is now Doc Emma. Emma permanently lives in romantic Burgundy, France. The romantic name originates in France.
Today is also Emma’s birthday. Every year, she has a double celebration. Happy birthday and name day, dear Emma.
My lifelong friend Eva of Kromeriz loved the name too, and she named her daughter Emma.
When I moved to America, and started going to St. Pat’s Church in Parnell, I came across another Emma, who sings in the choir, and she also has a matching great last name Darling.
And until this year, Emma was the top name for girls around the world.
And how about poet Emma Lazarus, Emma Watson and Emma Stone?
“We’re losing the first place now,” singer Emma informed me earlier in the year.
Both my husband and son wished me a happy Emma’s Day, earlier in the day. I usually get early spring flowers. This year, I got a purple primrose.
In the Czech calendar, names are attributed to each date. And people celebrate their name days much like birthdays, with family and friends. They get gifts, and a cake.
Due to the recent influx of new names, some dates in the Czech calendar double or triple up on names.
I’ve always wondered why Hallmark never really picked up on these charming name days, other than Saint Pat’s.
Name days are often based on the names of saints. For example Saint Terese Day is on Oct. 15 and Saint Mary is on Sept. 9. The wildly popular name day Catherine falls on Nov.25. Saint Martin is on Nov. 11. Saint Joseph/Saint Josephine falls on March 19.
Mom Ella’s name day falls on Oct. 5. Her real name is Eliska. She has always hated that name, so she changed Eliska to Ella. It is pretty much the same name.
Mom Ella just called me from Venice, Florida as I was writing this post. They’re getting ready with my dad Vaclav to head back up North to Michigan.
“See I gave you inspiration with that name,” she laughed.
“Thank you, mom for the lovely name.”
In many villages in Czech Republic, the Saint Days are big parish and community feasts. People bake for these feasts, butcher a pig, go dancing, and some dress up in traditional costumes. Rides come into towns.
Follow me into Easter traditions in Czech and Slovak republics.
Which traditions do you celebrate, how and why?
Copyright (c) 2017. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.
Lowell, MI- I am not Irish by any stretch of imagination, no matter how deep I dig in the Konecny family roots in my immigration saga. But, I love St. Patrick’s Day when everybody is Irish on March 17, no matter where I am.
I totally disregard news media claims that it costs $38 to celebrate Saint Patrick with green beer, corned beef and cabbage.
Believe it or not, the Czech calendar has this saint down for February 19, by the workings of some troll in the pre-press department of the Balousek Tisk.
I have to laugh at this mistake without evil or spite.
Below is a poster for local St. Pat’s celebration in Smyrna still going strong tomorrow on March 18. Same time, same place, same Irish fare.
I was born in Czech Republic (old Czechoslovakia), and we vaguely knew of Saint Patrick, because it was completely overshadowed by the Feast of Saint Joseph on March 19.
As I permanently started adopting American traditions as part of my new life, I came across Saint Patrick more and more. I definitely cemented the Irish tradition when we moved next to the communities with Irish legacies that is Parnell and Canonsburg in northeast Kent County, Michigan.
My journalism trek through the regional media helped strengthen the tradition as well. My first official Irish story was in Plainwell for the Union Enterprise. It was a lighthearted story about a woman of Irish origin, who each year celebrated her Irish heritage with Bailey’s, and by baking soda bread and making some Irish stew. She invited me for some Bailey’s and cake in her Irish decked out house.
I wrote about the Irish tradition again for the Ionia Sentinel-Standard. I drove my jeep in a snowstorm 30 miles northeast into the Irish community of Hubbardston, and wrote about the Irish pub, Shiels Tavern and the Irish store owned by Pat Baese, The Celtic Path. Shiels used to be a “speakeasy” during the prohibition.
On several Saint Patrick’s Days we tasted the tavern’s version of stew, soda bread and green beer. The Irish Dance Troupe under Baese’s tutelage has always danced at the tavern and at the regional fine establishments.
For the Ledger in Lowell, some fun-minded individuals sent me over to the Irish Larkin’s pub next door to get a photo of the owner Mike toasting with green beer. It worked out excellent for all sides. Mike still has the pic from the Buyer’s Guide.
One of the most shocking St. Pat’s events, was the Saint Pat’s parade in Chicago in 2002. We drove to Chicago for the Czech celebration of the Feast of Saint Joseph. It was a big deal, because in Czech, every other man’s name is Joseph.
Since, we were already in Chicago, we decided to go the annual Saint Pat’s parade.
Wow, speaking about coincidences. Not only was the Chicago River dyed green, but among the green ubiquitous hats, I spotted tall metal frames and people pressing against them. Then, I noticed snipers on the rooftops. We had to go through security to get to one section of the parade.
“What’s going on?” I asked my husband.
Well, it was nothing less than the former president George W. Bush marching in the parade with firefighters. That was the only time I saw a sitting president, shortly after 911.
When I think of it today, other than the fact that the sales of green beer were limited, it was quite brave of W. to march out there, among the Chicago liberals and freethinkers.
Back to the reality of 2017, and its precipitating circumstances in view of tomorrow’s Saint Pat’s party in Parnell, hosted by Knights of Columbus.
We became members of Saint Pat’s Church of Parnell in 2014. Our son Jake got married at the church in 2014, our grandson Samuel was baptized there and granddaughter Ella went to Saint Pat’s summer school in 2016 with the hopes of going back this year.
Like many families in the area, we have become a part of the Saint Pat’s greater church family located in the tiny unincorporated village of Parnell.
And what I love even more about the Irish, and being catholic, is that we got pardoned from Friday’s Lenten abstinence from meat and drinking.
“Saint Patrick is our patron,” explained Father Mark Peacock apologetically last Sunday.
So, let the Luck of the Irish ring
And to hook my Saint Pat’s Day post to the Daily Post prompt Luck @luck.
It only occurred to me, after I had submitted my resume for the position of volunteer manager for the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park about three hours ago, that it is a sign of luck.
I first submitted the app and resume to the human resources yesterday, but it came back with, this message could not be delivered.
I worked on it some more today, and I hit the send button on my screen today around noon.
International Women’s Day theme 2017 encourages to Be Bold For Change
By Emma Palova
EW Emma’s Writings
Hastings, MI- The screen on all my devices says Wednesday, March 8. Today is International Women’s Day. Every year on this day, I think about the women in this world, both privileged and underprivileged.
I think about the progress we have made since the suffragist movement for the women’s right to vote in the early 1900s. I also think about the progress we have yet to make.
Yes, in modern societies we get equal education like men in any given field, at any given time. The difference is in what happens after schooling, regardless the continent we live on.
I am not a feminist by any stretch of imagination, but I do have to admit after years in the labor market, I have to say:
“It is still a man’s world.”
Years ago, the pretty blonde character Amanda from the TV series “Melrose Place,” said it the best, as she was in vain climbing the company ladder.
“The big boys will let us go only so far.”
That is not to say that I haven’t met women in top positions as editors, publishers and business owners. I am an Internet entrepreneur with a big love for the free business spirit. And I know other women who own businesses like Nancy DeBoer, owner of Station Salon in Lowell.
But, even then, there is a missing fraction of an inch, that missing gap why Hillary Clinton didn’t become the first female president of the USA last year.
The movement for women’s rights is not always just about money and equal opportunities. It’s more about a woman’s positioning in the society.
Maybe, it’s because our primary role is to take care of our families; at first children and then aging parents or grandparents.
“What do you like about being a woman?” I asked babysitter Heather before I left for a meeting on this very windy morning.
“Being a mom,” she said laughing, “a man can’t say that.”
And yes, I braved the 50-mile winds to drive 40 miles to a meeting, only to find out there was no power. There was no meeting and tree limbs blocked the roads. I ventured into the local KDL library in hometown Lowell to finish writing this International Women’s Day post because I couldn’t get home due to a fallen tree in the road.
No matter how brave we are, at any given stage in life, we will always be the primary caregivers. The society relies on us in any country around the world to take care of what really matters, at a time when it matters.
On daily basis we drive cars, buses, use public transportation, order food in restaurants, pay for it, pound the keyboards, stand in front of cameras and lead in meetings and speeches.
We are teachers, nurses, doctors, babysitters, high-lo drivers and construction workers.
But, first and foremost, we are moms, sisters, grandmothers, aunts and girlfriends looking out for each other in a fellowship.
This global fellowship is called womanhood.
As I have recently and gratefully found out, we also have to take care of each other. If we don’t do that, no one else will do that for us. We get together, whether in knitting or gardening clubs, to encourage each other.
So in essence, the 2017 theme “Be Bold For Change” has always been with us for the last 100 years since the Soviet Revolution.
A prologue quote to one novel says:
“May you live in changing times.”
In the popular winter series “Inspiring Women” on EW Emma’s Writings that leads up to the International Women’s Day, I have written about women from all walks of life. They have always stood boldly in the face of adversity, without expecting any rewards.
Hiker Babe Gail Lowe walked in memory of her daughter Becka 4,600 miles on the North Country Trail (NCT) to commemorate her life in 2014.
Since the establishment of NCT in 1980, only five men have completed a thru hike of the trail and Lowe was the sixth person, and the only woman in the USA.
NCTA executive director Bruce Matthews said Lowe’s hike elevates the awareness of the North Country Trail.
“It fires people’s imagination and makes the trail more accessible to women,” he said. “It expands the horizon. It is unusual to complete it in one season.”
Matthews said solitude is part of the trail experience.
“We hope it inspires others to hike the trail,” he said.
Fellowship with women at home and around the world is the key to overall well-being and peace.
Helping women in the Third World countries is the primary mission of the SowHope organization based in Grand Rapids.
“If you want to make a difference in this world, seriously consider helping impoverished women. Helping women is the key to unlocking poverty,” said SowHope director Mary Dailey Brown.
On this day, women are also gathering around the world to protest the status quo of inequality and the violation of women’s rights to decide about their own health.
For more info go to:
For more posts about Inspiring Women go to:
Hiker Babe walks 4,600 miles in memory of daughter
Lowell, MI- Big birthdays. We all have them. What is a big birthday? Do you remember your big birthdays, what did you do, where, with whom and what happened?
If you can answer the questions above, without looking at photos, it was a big birthday.
Today, on March 1st, our son Jakub Pala is celebrating his 30th birthday with the slogan:
“Got 30, Jake?”
He was born on a chilly damp Sunday morning in former Gottwaldov, Czechoslovakia in 1987. So, says his birth certificate. Neither the city nor the country exist under those names. They are now, the city of Zlin, Czech Republic, which is part of the European Union.
In 1987, the “Porodnice” or the birthing center was on the cutting edge with the “rooming in” accommodations for the newborns with their mothers. Before that, the babies were separated from their mothers, and the nurses brought out the babies to their mothers only for nursing. The babies were all changed, snug and clean. They were only crying because they were hungry.
Speaking ironically of the “bad communist” healthcare in former Czechoslovakia, we stayed in the hospital for a week, before we were released for home. The staff washed and folded the cloth diapers and newborn shirts in the traditional birthing centers.
I’ve had it both ways; traditional and “rooming-in.” Each was an experience to remember, as any mom can attest to that, in any country, and in any regime.
With the first baby “Doc Emma” born in April 1979, husband and daddy Ludek came to say hi to us under the windows of the “Porodnice” in Gottwaldow surrounded by pine trees.
Daddies and families were not allowed inside. Ludek had to give the flowers to the nurse, who set them in a vase on my bedside stand, along with a novel. I am trying to remember what I was reading back then. I could use it now on the “Goodreads” platform, for a book review. Just, kidding. However, I do think it was in that birthing room in 1979, that I decided I wanted to write for a living, to make other people happy.
I came home with “Doc Emma” on Easter weekend in 1979 to the smell of hot homemade chicken soup with dumplings that I will never forget, after the awful tomato gravies at the hospital.
Mom Ella made the soup, all worried about the new addition to the family house hold. We lived in a four-bedroom flat at the housing mega complex known as “Southern Slopes” or “Jizni Svahy” in Gottwaldov.
The “Southern Slopes” complex still exists and it’s growing. I witnessed that during my most recent visit to Czech Republic in January.
Eight years later, with the second baby, now regional distribution manager “Hotshot Jake,” daddy Ludek and “Doc Emma” came to say hi to the window of the “rooming-in” birthing center on the grounds of the Gottwaldov Hospital, still surrounded by pine trees.
“Oh, mom,” he’s ugly,” said “Doc Emma” throwing her big red hair around.
Yeah, “Hotshot Jake” wasn’t the best looking baby having the newborn jaundice, few hairs sticking out, screaming and kicking like crazy.
“Is he eating and when are you coming home,” Daddy Ludek, always practical, asked.
Ludek was all giddy, that we had a boy. He had visions of paying for a big drinking round at the pub “U Byka” aka “At the Bull” in his hometown of Stipa.
“Hopefully soon,” I answered.
The second delivery at the cutting edge “rooming in” birthing center, still in communist Gottwaldov, wasn’t as convenient as the one with “Doc Emma.”
There were seven mothers with their babies in one big room. That’s 14 bodies; I don’t think anyone had twins. We had the cribs with the infants by our beds. The nurses came in only to assist “as needed.” Whatever that means. In the morning, we all faced together the feared “rounds” known as visitation. In vain, we were hoping we would be released that same day.
If a baby was screaming loud enough that it kept awake the entire building, then the nurse would take the “culprit” with her to the nurses’ quarters somewhere down the hall, where it smelled of disinfectants.
If the babies slept after nursing, we folded the cloth diapers and the tiny shirts for newborns. We ate in the room whatever the hospital cooked for all patients. No, menu style here. I just remember, the horrid tomato soup or gravy, with the soggy dumplings sprawled all over the plate.
With the release from the “Porodnice” after a week-long drill of learning how to take care of the newborn, I breathed with relief stating:
Today, from a distance of 30 plus years and 6,000 kilometers, I look back at that time in “Porodnice” in communist Gottwaldov, Czechoslovakia, with a smile on my face.
The “babies” have grown up into colorful characters, fashionable, cute “Doc Emma” who resides in France, and handsome “Hotshot Jake.”
They will soon be leaving with their spouses for a big 30th birthday trip, to Bali in Indonesia. The exotic trip comes as a compliment of the ever-generous “Doc Emma.”
In the meantime, we get to watch their extensions for continued joy.
Some of you know them. They bring joy to our lives. Say hi to them when you see them out and about.
Thank you for the beautiful tapestry, called life.
Copyright (c) 2017 Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.
Lowell, MI- We’re heading into the Mardi Gras weekend with Fat Tuesday coming up on Feb. 28, which is better late than never.
“Everything is going to be late and screwed up,” said my forever pessimistic husband Ludek.
He was most likely referring to the late onset of the much coveted gardening and yard season in Midwest USA.
The Lenten resolutions, fasting and such
Tuesday is the last day when you can be a glutton, which is one of the seven deadly sins, as I have learned in a recent therapeutic meeting and from Brad Pitt’s movie, “Se7en.” That is if you are a catholic. And even if you are not, the start of Lent on March 1st, known as Ash Wednesday, can become your six-week diet program, depending on the interpretation of Lent.
That way, you can fit into that nice spring white or green Easter dress.
The newspaper take on Lent, what do you give up?
“What are you going to give up for Lent?” was the standby question at the newspapers and out on the streets with the feature, “Man on the Street” before the multi-media journalism take-over.
Whoever was assigned to do this, would usually stand by the US Post Office to catch innocent users and fry them with the question of the week, and a mandatory head shot.
“Oh, I hate my photo taken,” was the common reply, and after a while. “Oh,oh. I usually give up coffee.”
And that was a standard lie, one of the seven deadly sins.
The social media have made this obnoxious “Man on the Street” feature obsolete, and substituted it with voluntary selfies and profile pics. Now, you can freely render your opinion on any platform from twitter to reddit, all the way to the new planetary system of Trappist 1.
“Hey, I love Mardi Gras, I can finally be myself,” posted XOXOX with the profile pic of a cat.
At one point, I modified the newspaper question along with some other fine writers to, “What are we going to take on that we haven’t done before?”
The Paczki take on Mardi Gras
My American outtake on Mardi Gras is that I go either to the local Meijer store or to the Honey Creek Grist Mill and buy me some greasy Paczki (Polish donuts) and forget about all my diets and resolutions.
I could also go to the Franciscan Sisters Life Process Center and learn how to bake the paczkis, in case I want to impress.
Lowell, MI- As we draw closer to this Christmas, which here “up north” in Michigan, is white and cold, thoughts of peace resonate inside me.
In spite of the world’s aches and pains including my own, I have been able to put myself in the Christmas spirit.
Every year, Christmas for me is different. I can’t say that I have a consistent attitude toward this time of the year. It actually runs the gamut; from being tired of the ubiquitous commercialism and exploitation of the Christian holiday to embracing it in its entirety without fighting something I cannot change.
That is human nature.
I cannot change that parents are desperate because they can’t find the latest fad in toys the Hatchables, and that some woman hoarded them somewhere in her closet.
I am sure that problem will have been resolved in the next 10 years.
I cannot change that people are dying in Aleppo and that people died in the Berlin shooting at a Christmas market on Dec. 19. I cannot change that the Russian ambassador to Turkey Andrey Karlov was assassinated in Ankara on Monday. I cannot change that electors have indeed confirmed president-elect Mr. Donald Trump as the next 45th president of the USA in spite of the ongoing protestors who are in denial of reality.
I cannot change the consequences of the above mentioned actions because I am not in any place that would slightly resemble power.
Except for one: the power of the written word.
Historically, the power of the written word and its transformation over the centuries into different media platforms has influenced the thinking of most.
The first thing that comes to my mind is the most read book in this world, and that is the Bible. According to accounts, many authors took part in composing this book.
This year, some motels and hotels took the Bible out of their room furnishings not to offend anyone. Money talks. After all travelers are of all religious denominations and atheists.
But, I took offense. What if I only wanted to read the Bible for comfort of a weary traveler or for inspiration of an inquisitive writer? Thank you for reminding me, I know I have my cell phone, tablet and a laptop with me in the various hotel rooms. I can also get the Amazon or Google talking “Bubble.”
After all some stories in the Old & New Testaments are very violent.
The next thing that comes to my mind are the Greek mythology mega-works such as Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey that have inspired a myriad of films. I deeply love all of them for the magic minds behind these works.
Some stories in Greek mythology are very violent.
The third thing that comes to mind in the powerful word trio are the works of Italian poet Dante Alighieri and French novelist Honore de Balzac.
Dante’s “Divine Comedy” with depictions of Hell, Purgatory and Heaven has inspired generations of artists.
Balzac wrote about the human experience in “La Comedie Humaine.”
Some stories in these epic accounts are very violent.
While perusing through modern works of art or living them, I arrived along with millions of others to the following conclusion:
Most stories in modern works depict prolific violence and human suffering.
“Why,” the public asks, “are all the stories even around Christmas violent?”
Because of the never-changing human nature.
“All the people around the world are the same,” my dad Vaclav says.
According to accounts from universities, my mom Ella’s and my own observations, my dad is a very smart man.
The overwhelming saturation of violence in the media has come to a point where some networks instituted an inspiring finale story that leaves us all with an overall good feeling that erases the previous footage of horror.
“Hail to them, because it works.”
I’d rather leave for bed with a story about a gentleman who finally got his degree at 80 or the Hungarian socialite Zsa ZsaGabor dying at 99, than with a story about a wedding party being trampled over by a tree or Kanye (the husband of Kim Kardashian) having “some kind of a mental breakdown.”
The social media and the Internet have designed a class for a group of people who influence others: the Influencers.
Although, we cannot ignore the realities in this world, it is our choice what we focus on.
As we head both into the happy and sad time of the year known as Christmas, I have to quote my Gemini friend:
“Life is for the living, we’re only ants on logs.”