Category Archives: Florida

Out of Florida

Thursday, February 21, 2019 3:14 PM

Aboard Allegiant Flight 1600 from Punta Gorda to Grand Rapids

By Emma Palova

In Air- I am leaving Florida eight days later, just like I have arrived, with the rain. In between, the sun and the full moon graced the clear skies.

On the horizon, the turquoise sea touched the blue sky in a magnificent union.

But before the full moon on Feb. 18, a strong morning tide hit the Venice Beach washing ashore shells galore and wracks wrapped in seaweed.

The perfect morning cup inside a cockle shell was hiding the jewels from the sea; small olive and bubble shells, sturdy jewel boxes and translucent jingle shells.

I spent a magnificent week in “Paradise” where the hibiscus bloomed in shades of orange, the banana trees in white and the palms rendered orange ripe figs.

The front yards were tropical gardens with “Birds of Paradise” just opening up their orange beaks.

The sunsets were a splash from an artist’s palate of yellows, reds, oranges and browns.

It’s February- Soak it up, stir an argument

Yoga instructor Elin reminded us this morning to soak up the beach life in February.

“You walked here, laid in the sand, listened to the waves,” she said. “Soak it up. It’s February.”

On Wednesday, Elin held up a large red leaf and said something about mailing it as a postcard. Since, the wind carried Elin’s words into the sea, I missed the details. For some odd reason, I thought it had to be a mangrove leaf.

I picked up some reddish leaves yesterday thinking they were mangrove leaves on the dune banks by Sharky’s. Yellow veins branched into the ripe red leaf. It resembled large grape leaves.

My hosts in Venice were my parents Ella and Vaclav Konecny of Michigan. They made fun of me because I believed in the USPS red leaf postcard program. I asked my dad to take me to the post office, so I could mail the red leaf. My mom Ella was convinced my prized leaf wasn’t a mangrove, and that I shouldn’t pursue mailing it.

“Ask Siri,” my dad said.

When I asked Siri, and she knew nothing about the mangrove leaf USPS mailing program, doubts also entered my mind.

My dad came to the conclusion that it was an April Fool’s joke. In our homeland we used the following prank:

“It’s like going to the store to get mosquito fat,” he laughed. “I am not going inside the post office with you.”

“But, it’s not April Fool’s,” I refused to give up.

I found myself in the midst of an argument over the validity of the USPS leaf postcard mailing program.

“Leave your dad alone, he needs to get some rest,” mom snapped.

“Well, maybe we can wrap up some meat inside the leaf and make rolls,” I defended my grounds sarcastically.

My dad who never gives up suggested that I ask Elin. After my last morning yoga session on the beach on Thursday, I made my way through Elin’s fans to hear it from the horse’s mouth.

“You pick up some sea grape leaves,” Elin said pointing to the banks by the beach house and take it to the post office. The postal workers get a kick out of it. A lady from my class sent out five of them the other day. The postage is under a dollar. Send it out within five days or they dry out and crumble.”

According to Elin, the post office can even put a dried out leaf in a cellophane.

“I told you, it wasn’t a mangrove leaf,” my mom persisted.

“You know they wrap up meat in grape leaves in Greece, right?” I snapped back.

Back home at the writing studio Feb. 22, 2019

Lowell, MI -That was it. I was running out of time to go to the post office, since I was flying out of Florida in the afternoon.

I wrote my address on the sea grape leaf, mom provided the stamps, and dad disguised the leaf in a sac and took it to the mailbox. Dad was convinced that I made a fool out of him.

It remains unknown whether he put the sac with the sea grape leaf in the mail, or in the trash can.

In a bizarre way, we were all right; mom with her contention that it is not a mangrove leaf, me with the sea grape meat rolls and dad with the April Fool’s prank, that he had probably created by dropping the leaf in the trash.

I’ll find out soon.

Copyright © 2019 Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

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Writing Away 2019

Florida retreat brings inspirations with excerpts

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Lowell, MI – I am getting ready for my annual writer’s retreat in Florida. Each year in February, I head down south to the Gulf coast to get some sunny inspirations for my writings.

It has become a tradition since the late 2000s to visit with my parents, who winterize in Venice. Each year brings different insights; from dolphin sightings, chats with fishermen to encounters with beach painters and sand castle builders.

Two of my favorite memories are of course from the beach. I was walking on the beach, when French-speaking tourists asked me where is the west. The sun was just setting on the horizon to our right. So, I pointed in that direction.

“Oui, merci,” they shook their heads laughing.

The other one is from Sharky’s Pier. I walked on the pier boardwalk to watch the sunset.

It was getting increasingly dark in the orange glow on the Gulf side, but the shore was glistening in silver with the rising moon in the east. The contrast between night and day was striking much like the characters in my stories. Some are dark and shady from the very beginning like chief Will in the story “Chief” from my new book “Shifting Sands: Secrets.” Copyright (2019) Emma Palova. Other characters like manager Ricky go awry with time. Some characters shine bright throughout the story like the Belrockton matron Doris in the story “Silk Nora.”

Nature with its changing faces has always inspired me, as long as I can remember.

A heart and a cross made from sea shells overgrown by beach grasses is a close third runner up in the circle of inspirations.

“Start asking yourself questions,” one of my former editors said.

Many years later, I ask myself: “Who made that statement in the sand and for whom? How come it lasted?”

Then, there are golden nuggets from the Floridians who have never left sunny Florida.

“You mean to tell us there is snow on the ground in Michigan?” guys asked me in disbelief.

“Plenty of it. We have to stake the driveway for the snow plowing,” I said.

I am looking forward to chatting with my parents about out immigration saga, now spanning three generations.

I love yoga on the beach with Elin Larsen and hundreds of her followers. Her DVDs help me get through Michigan winters.

“Just move,” Elin encourages.

Excerpts from the “Chief”

And now this mess just before the holidays. In earlier years, he would light up to fight off the anxiety. He couldn’t even do that anymore. Nervously, he tapped his fingers against his thigh. He noticed he needed new pants.

Ricky in the meantime was staring blankly into the Monday rain on Main Street. The rain mixed with a few snowflakes, and his short drive to work was awful. And he wasn’t a good driver either. His strategy was as always to wait out until the other side spills out all the information putting him at the advantage. But this time it was taking longer than usual. Ricky was afraid of eating the whole pencil. Plus, he had a long day ahead of him with a meeting in the evening.

“I got a letter,” said the mayor pulling out a folded sheet of paper.

Ricky looked directly at the mayor fidgeting.

“Did you want to read it to me, Carl?” asked Ricky, “or you just want to tell me?”

The mayor too knew how slick Ricky ​was from previous dealings​ with him. He decided to be careful this time.

“It’s about the chief,” he said softly.

Of course, Ricky should have known right from the get go that it was about the police chief. The other day when he was getting a haircut at Salon 111, he overheard a conversation from the neighboring chair.

That was another bad habit in his portfolio: eavesdropping coupled with gossip.[EP1] 

“The chief was trying to change something in a file and he got caught,” said the cute redhead hairdresser leaning over the head of the lady in the chair fluffing her blonde hair.

“What was he trying to change?” the blonde raised her eyebrows looking at herself and at the redhead in the mirror.

Both of them stared into the mirror, as if the answer was inside that piece of glass.

Ricky rubbed his forehead, as he tried to chase away that scene from the salon from his mind. He knew it was going to be a long day and a long week in Riddleyville when the salons and the bars start buzzing with tidbits from the city hall.

“What about him?” Ricky looked up at the mayor. “He called in sick or what? I know it’s Monday and he worked the Ladies Night Out and the weekend. I don’t have a problem with him calling in.”

As always Ricky was trying to steer the conversation in his preferred direction.

“Somebody else can fill in for him tonight at the meeting,” he said. “I’ll take care of it.”

Copyright © 2019 Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.


Notes from Ocean 2018

Seaside Inspirations

By Emma Palova

Ft. Lauderdale, FL- Sipping coffee at a Turkish café on the corner of Sunrise and N. Ocean boulevards in Ft. Lauderdale with my daughter Emma, I found life easy.
This writer’s break from the northern vortex in West Michigan was different from the previous ones.
First of all, I changed bodies of water;that is the Gulf of Mexico for the Atlantic Ocean. Then I changed company. We all went with our adult children and the grand kids.
We stayed at an Art Deco villa five minutes from the beach. It gave us the opportunity to explore the Atlantic Ocean up close and personal.
And for the writer in me it was also good to compare the two shores; that is the Atlantic and the Gulf coast.
The weather was marvelously warm in the 80s with equally warm waves of the Atlantic splashing the beaches. Surfers were abundant unlike on the Gulf, where the waves are not big enough for surfing.

On the downside of the Atlantic, there were less shells and no shark teeth hunters. However, the lifeguards were on full duty and warned of rip currents. Our fellow traveler Maranda almost got caught in one. The lifeguard warned us with his whistle.“Always swim with the current to get out of it, never against it.”
The sounds of the waves rocked the youngest ones to the best nap in the world: on the beach.
Just listening to the ocean and watching the white combs as the waves crested was the best meditation in the world. Enhancing the motion and the sounds of the ocean were the freighters anchoring off shore. These lit up at night.

South Beach, Art Deco & Miami Yacht Show

A pretty nerve-wrecking drive south on Collins Ave and onto Ocean Blvd. took us to South Beach and the Art Deco district.
On the cusp of the 30th annual Miami Yacht Show running from Feb. 15 through Feb. 19, we drove past hundreds of yachts-in-water for sale on the Indian Creek Waterway. Yacht brokers were just building entrances to the yacht in-water displays on 1.2 million square feet.

Art Deco district

As a civil engineer by trade and a history buff, I was fascinated by the chic historic Art Deco district. Sitting in the South Beach neighborhood within a short walking distance from the beach, the colorful historic buildings span three basic architectural styles: 1920s Art Deco, Mediterranean Revival and MiMo or Miami Modernist architecture.
In search of Cuban fare & Daiquiri cocktails, we ate at Mango’s Tropical Café.
The beach scene beyond the Lummus Park featured colorful Art Deco lifeguard stands and the hottest fashion trends such as the thong swimwear.

Seaside Inspirations

Las Olas, Venice of America, Ft. Lauderdale

We took a pirate boat ride on the Intracoastal Waterway lined by million dollar homes and mega yachts of the rich and the famous. Captain Kris took us past Steven Spielberg’s mega yacht equipped with three-quarter of a full length movie screen.
Knowledgeable about the lives of the famous, Chris told us the story of the founder of Phillips 66 petroleum company after whom the famous Grille 66 & Bar on the waterway has been named.
Then came the story of entrepreneur Wayne Huizenga known for Blockbuster Video, Waste Management & AutoNation.

Lauderdale-By-The-Sea

We visited this small town of 6,000 north of Ft. Lauderdale twice for its walkable shopping district, the pier and snorkeling opportunities. It is full of small beach motels, unlike its high-rise neighbors.
I marveled at the sign for the local Farmer’s Market open from December through May.
In Michigan, we get first produce in June.

Fond memories

I will treasure timeless moments spent in the coarse sand, on the waves of the Atlantic, on the veranda of Ocean 2000 of the Pelican Resort and Valentine’s dinner on the deck of the Sandbar Grille.

And yes, we did also meet some Rubes, like the clerk at the Beach Shop.

However, we bargained with her for the best price for our Budweiser and Corona swimwear.

“You girls will never have to buy a drink for yourself on the beach,” she noted with a deep hollow laugh. Emma noticed her turquoise colored earrings in the shape of balls from the smallest to the big one.

Or maybe the real rube was the obnoxious bad pirate Barnacle Bill who stole our key to the treasure aboard the Bluefoot Pirate Adventures.

At the Aruba bar, women sported heart-shaped Valentine shades, and Publix was overflowing with heart-shaped balloons and cakes.

During this brief break from the freezing cold, we marked Mardi Gras, Valentine’s and Ash Wednesday, as well as the Greek Festival weekend in southern warmth and hospitality.

Alligator Alley, Everglades

However, I would be remiss, if I didn’t mention our 123 mile long drive from Ft. Lauderdale to Ft. Myers through the Everglades area of South Florida.

The freeway I-75 from the east coast of Florida to the west coast is appropriately called Alligator Alley, as it cuts through the Everglades for 80 miles.

I noticed hundreds of white egrets congregating on the palm trees by the river fenced off from the freeway to protect the endangered Florida panther.

According to popular lore and crime movies, dead bodies are being disposed off here at the Alligator Alley. You will find no traces of anything. What the alligators didn’t get, the birds and the panthers will. It’s called balance in nature.

Well, our time on the Atlantic Ocean came and went like the afternoon tide. But, it washed ashore thousands of precious memories.

And I close this “Notes from Ocean 2018” account with the words of the Frontier airline captain.

“Join us. We’re flying like crazy from the tip of North America to the tip of South America.”

Copyright © 2018. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.