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.
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- The first day of spring means new beginnings to me after the long winter. And even though everything is yellowish brown outside, I have a vision of everything turning green soon.
As I drove to a meeting this afternoon, there were still tree limbs on the sides of the road, remnants of the last winter storms with high winds.
However, by the parking lot, I found some new green stems pushing out of the hard ground. Also some trees are starting to show tiny buds and the willows branches have a sharp yellow color.
My friends at the meeting said they were excited about the afternoon because they would be outside picking sticks from their yards.
“Yes, picking sticks sounds good,” T.G. laughed. “I also have a great spring report.”
I couldn’t agree more. After long months of being trapped inside, anything outdoors sounds good.
T.G.’s spring report turned great as well. You can see it in the feature photo. T.G. has a beef cattle breeding farm. And with it spring brings calves, new life. The pictured black Angus cow just gave birth on the first day of spring to the calf by her out in the pastures.
According to T.G., this breed of cows, always gives birth to calves outside, not in the stables.
Annually, I take an inventory of the past winter and the toll it has taken on life. Some of our dearest have not survived the winter. We have lost my dad’s last living sibling, Aunt Marta. She passed away on January 7, 2017 in Stipa, Czech Republic. In February, we lost our first neighbor on Downes Street, whom we met, when we moved out into the country in 1995. That was Allegonda (Connie) Kazemier, born in the Netherlands.
The Lowell community lost a great artist, Jan Johnson, who has inspired generations of artists in the Greater Grand Rapids area.
But, I also look at the positives that have come out of this winter’s hibernation.
Winter gives me an opportunity to focus on some things that go unnoticed during the pretty live seasons of spring, summer and fall.
This may include projects that I have been procrastinating in finishing. Most of them have much to do with writing, and the development of writing projects.
But, this time I’d like to write about personal development, and by this I don’t mean weight loss or other personal gains and losses.
Over the winter, I’ve changed a lot of things in my lifestyle. I still suffer from insomnia, so I use the early morning hours to meditate and to organize my thoughts.
This gives me sort of head start into the new day. I like to go through daily readings in the morning before I start writing. It’s still dark outside, and I can only hear the fan by the wood stove humming. Sometimes, I see the Big Dipper in the northeast corner of my studio view.
I am not as dead set on goals as I used to be. As long as I get through some piles on my desk, and see sentences materialize in front of me.
I enjoy discovering new blogs. I find them a constant source of inspiration, and support. I found support in the Daily Post prompt @luck last Friday on St. Pat’s Day. As I browsed other blogs, I came across “My Invisible Illnesses.” The author among other things writes about fibromyalgia, a mysterious condition, that some docs laugh at.
Over the winter, I’ve learned to nurture my love for art so I can share it with others.
I’ve gained new appreciation for our Konecny family roots in the Konecny Saga, and I am working on how to share this so others can do their research as well.
I immerse myself in arts for reprieve and inspiration.
I still like to develop new projects on top of unfinished ones. I know it’s a no no, but I usually get back to the unfinished stuff as well.
I have discovered that the energy behind different projects keeps changing. Sometimes it rekindles old feelings, and gives them new light.
With spring I like to refocus and reign in some of that spring equinox energy. The warm sun is doing wonders on the mind and the spirit, as I pull tight jeans over the body.
I’ve increased the spiritual awareness of being and existence with the help of many of my spiritualist friends. I will dedicate a separate chapter to them, as I credit them with a lot of my improved health-being.
I am looking forward to this spring with a new set of eyes of appreciation and gratitude for simply being.
I dedicate this Spring Equinox Energy post to my son Jakub Pala.
“We did it,” said Josephine Marie Palova, at the end of a week-long babysitting sting in Hastings.
Yes, we did it. We made it through winter stronger.
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.
There is something about the month of February, you can call it atmospheric . I was thinking that even before I heard that at a therapeutic meeting earlier this week.
Maybe it’s the overall ambience of the month in between the deep freeze of January and the much coveted arrival of spring in March. If I were to pin the season to the catholic calendar, it is usually the purple time of Lent, except for this year since Lent arrives late with Ash Wednesday falling on March 1.
“Everything is going to be late this year,” my husband Ludek, a chronic complainer, said. “We’re going to have a late Easter.”
No kidding, the Easter Sunday falls on April 16 this year. But, the good news is, the trees here Up North in Michigan will have leaves, and maybe even early blossoms and spring flowers.
We had rain on Tuesday, grayish nothing on Wednesday, a deep freeze on Thursday along with a creepy full moon, and now we are recovering from 20 plus minus degree temperature swings as the work week finally wraps up.
My body” loves” these roller coaster temperatures, and my mind and mood swing accordingly with them.
With the sunshine on Monday, I was at a reasonable high as I met with friends at the “Gathering Place” to discuss progress in our common therapy.
“You know, this really works, let’s do it next Monday again,” T. G. as always was very encouraging.
“I have a lot more stories to tell,” said our new buddy Wendy.
And the mid-week meeting somewhere in the woods next to the old stage-coach road was also a success, all things considered.
Van Gogh painted the Starry Night in Saint Remy.
This is my story.
I do feel grateful for this overall February gap in between the novelty of the new year 2017 and the onset of spring. This February gap finally allowed me to fill the empty spaces on my huge 17-months desktop calendar with my creative work.
Along with Ludek, we made an executive decision that I will self-publish my collection of short stories “Glass Flowers” Copyright (c)2017 Emma Palova. On Thursday, I started pulling the collection of 20-some short stories together after literally years of searching the publishing “maze.”
That search included everything from participating in Writer’s Digest Annual Writing Contests, submitting my short stories to literary magazines, of which, many no longer exist, submitting manuscripts to Writer’s Conferences and of course looking for an agent.
This all-inclusive escapade involved interviews with sales people from several publishing houses that have gone the self-publishing route as well.
“You know Amazon is moving quite fast on this,” said the sales person from Author’s Publish. “We’re keeping an eye on them.”
“Thank you Mr. E. for the tip,” I concluded a series of several hour-long phone interviews after my ear almost fell off. I decided to join the self-publishing mainstream.
Stay tuned for more of my “Publishing Escapades.” Have a great weekend, and a great February. Don’t forget it’s the month of the heart and love. Valentine’s Day is on Tuesday, Feb. 14.
Also some neat events this weekend include:
“Champagne and chocolates” at the Flat River Gallery in downtown Lowell this Saturday from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Longtime artist inspires generations embedded in Lowell area
By Emma Palova
EW Emma’s Writings
Note: The IW winter series, which leads up to the International Women’s Day on March 8, features women from all walks of life who continue to inspire others in our communities.
Their positions in the society are not measured by money or the accolades they receive, but by contributions to progress and well-being of all.
Nominate a woman who has inspired you for the series.
Lowell, MI – Artist Janet Y. Johnson, 86, is an icon. Together with artists late David Davis and current Kathleen Mooney, they have created an artistic legacy for generations embedded in the greater Lowell area.
Johnson has been a staple at the Flat River Gallery & Framing in downtown Lowell with countless exhibits of watercolor and acrylic paintings.
The gallery will celebrate its fourth anniversary with the “Let’s celebrate” event with champagne and chocolates on Feb. 11 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Johnson recalls all the great years of exhibiting and painting in the Lowell area.
“They’re all realistic paintings,” said Johnson about her work.
Some of them go as far back as to the heydays of another icon, the Lowell Showboat on the Flat River in the 1950s.
“I used to sing on it, and then I painted it,” Johnson said during a recent interview at her home.
As we looked at the dark blue watercolor painting of the Showboat with strings of lights floating on the Flat River hanging in the detached studio, one could imagine the lively atmosphere on the deck.
You could almost hear the voices singing:
“Here comes the Showboat.”
Johnson sold two paintings of the Showboat and bought one back when the owner stated, that the painting should stay in the Lowell area.
Johnson has lived in the Lowell area for 57 years.
Growing up on a farm in Alto, Johnson acquired a natural affinity to all animals.
Johnson studied animal drawing at the Ringling College of Art & Design in Sarasota, FL and graduated in 1951.
Prior to that, she studied at the Kendall College of Art & Design in Grand Rapids, and worked as a publication designer for Amway in the 70s.
“It was a wonderful place to work,” she said.
Among her favorites are vivid paintings of exotic animals in circus settings.
Johnson’s most recent watercolor painting is of the Miller Circus which performed in Lowell last August after the fair. She will hang the painting of the circus at the gallery for the new February show.
According to Johnson, the circus ringmaster at the Miller Circus was connected to the Ringlings.
Johnson spent most of 2016 illustrating the children’s book “Gertie Goose.”
“It’s a story about bullying,” said Johnson.
Pat Markle, former teacher of Hastings Schools, wrote the book. This was the third project for the author illustrator duo during the last decade.
The book is available at the Lowell Arts and at the Flat River galleries for $15.
“Gertie Goose” was published by J-Ad Graphics of Hastings in 2016.
Note: This IW winter series features inspiring women from all walks of life who strive to make a difference in other people’s lives.
The difference in the society these women make is not measured by money or accolades they receive. It is measured by the progress in the society, because we as a nation cannot go backwards.
The IW series which leads up to the International Women’s Day on March 8th was also inspired by a dedication note on “365 ways to Relax mind, body & soul” from my son Jake:
“I dedicate this to my inspiring and motivational mother.” -Kuba
Nominate a woman who has made a difference in your life for this series.
Lowell woman shows passion for human rights, marches in Washington
Name: Sharon Ellison
Residence: Lowell, MI
Occupation: retired from Lowell Area Schools
Family: husband Tony, sons Steve and Tony
Interests: travelling, art
Education: bachelor’s from Central Michigan University
By Emma Palova
EW Emma’s Writings
Lowell, MI – It was a solid wall to wall crowd between the main route on Independence Avenue and 14th Street, where Lowell resident Sharon Ellison and team ended up last Saturday during the Women’s March in Washington D.C.
“We could not reach the main parade on Independence and Third Street, because it was a solid wall of people,” Ellison said. “There was no break in the crowd.”
So, instead the team made their way to 14th Street were the parade was headed.
“I felt fenced in,” she said. “There were solid walls of people all around us.”
However, in spite of the crowds, the march was peaceful, according to Ellison.
“Everyone was respectful and polite,” she said. “There were only three police cars. We were looking out for each other. I did not feel vulnerable.”
There was a woman who went into labor and an ambulance had to make its way through the crowds.
But there were also some embarrassing moments like when someone questioned why women from Michigan were at the march.
“I felt sad for Michigan, whose electoral votes were for Trump,” Ellison said.
The crowds in Washington D.C. were estimated at 250,000, while worldwide around three million protestors gathered in major cities.
Ellison and other women carried signs bearing the name of those who couldn’t come: whether live or in memory of. Ellison gathered 74 signatures including memorial signatures of late family members.
“I felt those women were with me that day,” she said. “The atmosphere was peaceful, everyone wanted to be present.”
Ellison is no stranger to the Lowell community located at the confluence of Flat and Grand Rivers in northeast Kent County known as “The next place to be.”
Ellison, who is now retired, worked for the Lowell Middle School for 16 years, and she served on the Lowell City Council for eight years.
In the 1990s, Ellison with husband Tony had a video store in different locations around town.
Ellison enjoys travelling around the world and getting to know other cultures.
However, due to the events of the previous 19 months of the presidential campaign, Ellison felt she needed to do more than just complain.
“I went to D.C. for the Women’s March out of fear of what might happen,” she said.
Fountain Street Church of Grand Rapids organized last Saturday’s trip to Washington D.C. However, the charter buses were sold out early on, so the church also organized a local Women’s March in Grand Rapids.
“By sharing our experiences, writing to our representatives and making phone calls, we’re going to keep the movement going,” said Ellison on the future of the movement.
Ellison said there is no way of going back in protecting human rights.
“If any group is marginalized, we all lose,” she said. “We can’t go back.”
Unlike at the inauguration on Jan. 20, the metro trains were packed, according to Ellison.
“We rode the metro, but we had trouble getting in,” she said. “We were met by walls of people. The best we could do was to march on 14th Street to Constitution Avenue. It was amazing, you could hear the wave of people moving.”
Ellison said she went to the Women’s March in Washington for the same reason, she ran for a seat on the Lowell city council in 2015.
“I did stand up to make a difference,” she said. “I don’t want to be just politically correct. You get tired of banging your head against the wall.”
Ellison’s biggest pet peeve are bullies in any environment.
“I couldn’t tolerate it at work, as a child, or as a politician,” she said. “We wanted to send a definite message that this is not okay.”
And it’s time for action.
“We’ve gone past words,” she said. “We have to do something. This is the upside of the downside.”
Other women present in D.C. from the Grand Rapids area along with Ellison were: Nancy Misner, Alice Harwood, Kathy Sainz, Maria Lara, Nancy Misner, Shelli Otten.