Category Archives: immigration

Day 3 #nanowrimo

National Novel Writing Month gets off to a great start

nano-2018-writer-twitter-header

Excerpts from “Secrets”- The Writer, the Nun and the Gardener

Lowell, MI – It’s already day three of the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). Today’s target goal is 5,000 words. With half of my third chapter or story done, I have passed that goal logging in 5,480 words.

Although stretching a bit beyond the target, some heavy hitters logged in 20k. I am happy with my progress since this is my first time participating in NaNoWriMo with the clear intention to get “Secrets”, sequel to my debut “Shifting Sands Short Stories” published.

It is also a double-donate Saturday to the creative project supported by major sponsors such as The National Endowment for the Arts. Here are some stats of participation:

  • Nearly 500,00 writers, including 100,000 kids and teens in our Young Writers Program.
  • More than 1,200 libraries and community spaces in our Come Write In program.
  • Nearly 1,000 Municipal Liaisons who organize in-person writing events in communities around the world.

For mor info how to donate go to: http://www.nanowrimo.org

I am delighted to share the following excerpt:

The Writer, the Nun and the Gardener

Zita touched her left cheek and ran her finger on a newly-formed pimple overnight. It will soon flare into a nasty red bump that may get infected. She smoothed her jean skirt tightly hugging her thighs covered by floral tights. Her straight brown hair was long. She always sat by the windows in any class to tame her phobias. She looked outside the window at the falling leaves. The harsh winter would come soon, and as always, she wasn’t prepared for it.

Gossip
Book cover for “Secrets” aka the Face of Gossip.

Teacher Bob was going over it again; the reproductive organs and sexual functionalities or dysfunctionalities. She had just turned down a date, and Bob was having too much fun in his sex education class.

The only reason Zita took the class was her mother Dona, who insisted on it.

“You will soon be dating, you need to know some things about your body,” Dona said.

“But, why can’t you explain it to me?” asked Zita at the suburban home in Green Heights.

When Kurt asked her out again, Zita snapped, “I am not dating yet. I am not ready.”

Kurt didn’t live far from her in the middle- class neighborhood. When they were kids, they played together, since she was the only child in the family.

“Go and play with Kurt,” Dona said.

Kurt, too, had pimples and a lot of them. He had dirty blond hair, straight nose and blue eyes. He was tall and well-built, so he was on the football team.

In the boredom of winter, Kurt asked Zita out to go to the movies. This time, Zita couldn’t resist as the days were getting shorter and shorter; she had read all the books she could.

It was busy inside the movie theater. Most people were suffering from the lack of sun like Zita was. Kurt bought popcorn and looked at her pretty figure with pleasure.

“I can buy some chocolate too, if you want me to,” he said tempting her.

“Yeah, right, you want me to be fat or what?” Zita snapped.

Ever since her hormones kicked in, Zita had trouble with weight. The constant dieting cycled with overeating.

“We can run around the hood together,” he said.

The thought of running around the neighborhood in Green Heights startled her. The people loved to gossip about each other’s diseases and faulty relationships; who had sex with whom and let’s not forget that dry drunk next door, who beats his wife.

“You want to stir the soup, ha?” she laughed.

“It will be good for your figure,” Kurt leaned toward Zita and put his arm around her shoulders.

 

Thanks to some of the sponsors of #nanowrimo. For a complete list go to nanowrimo.org

 

Copyright (c) 2018 Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

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US Magistrate judge: You are America

More than 70 immigrants naturalized at Gerald R. Ford Museum

“Write the next great chapter in the history of this country.”

Hon. Ray Kent, US Magistrate Judge

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Grand Rapids, MI – On a beautiful chilly October morning people lined up in front of the Gerald R. Ford Museum on the banks of the Grand River in downtown Grand Rapids.

But, most of them weren’t there to see the newest “In Step with Betty Ford, 100 Years” exhibit.

The future American citizens waiting for the naturalization ceremony came from all parts of the world from Burma, Bahrain, Singapore to Canada and everything in between.

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New American citizen Ludek Pala. In the background US Magistrate Judge Hon. Ray Kent.

After registering and relinquishing their green cards, they took seats along with their guests and filled the auditorium. The tension of excitement was hanging in the air. The Color Guard practiced their routine to the clicking of their shiny black shoes marching around the auditorium.

Dressed up to the nines, the East Oakview 4th Grade Choristers sang “The Star-Spangled Banner. Then, the Magistrate Judge Hon. Ray Kent entered with other officials and stepped up on the sun lit stage.

“I do these ceremonies three to four times a year, and it is my favorite job,” Kent said. “This is my first time doing two ceremonies back to back.”

It was also the second day that the number of naturalized citizens from Burma beat Mexico.

“There must be upsets by Burma. Go Burma, the judge joked. “We have 73 candidates from 31 countries.”

As the judge named the countries, the candidates stood up. When Kent said Czech Republic, Ludek Pala of Lowell stood up. They took the oath for new citizens and all recited the Pledge of Allegiance.

Seventy-three people equaled 73 stories reflected in their languages, color of their skin and attire.

“You are America,” said Kent. “Ninety-nine percent of Americans are immigrants or descendants of immigrants.”

Among other famous naturalized Americans, Kent mentioned Henry Kissinger, the 1973 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, who was born in Germany.

Kent also spoke about Albert Einstein as the smartest man who ever walked the earth and emigrated to the USA.

“You made the same decision like Einstein, you must be smart like him,” he said.

The numbers of naturalized Americans who made their imprint in science, technology and business were stunning. Among them are the owners of Google, AT&T and Yahoo.

The increase in population over the last 15 years can be attributed to naturalized Americans, according to Kent.

One out of four scientists are an immigrant, 31,000 have their own businesses, 76 percent of patents issued resulted from immigrants.

“You make America great,” Kent said. “We want you here.”

Kent spoke about a human chain formed by 80 strangers who saved Noah and Stephen from a rip current off the beach in Panama City.

“In that moment of need, they worked together to save other lives in the spirit of America,” he said. But, not everything is good.”

Kent also mentioned hatred in connection with the Charlottesville riots in Virginia in 1917.

“Do not hate, life is too short for that,” he said. “As Americans we’re all in this together, and when your turn comes to save Noah, join those hands. Each one of you has traveled your own road. You have different backgrounds. Hold onto your traditions.”

Kent encouraged the new citizens to practice their citizenship.

“Exercise those freedoms, they come with responsibilities,” he said. “You have the power to change this country. You exercise that power by going into that voting booth.

“If you see something wrong, say something.”

Since it was too late to register for the upcoming Nov.6 election, Pala plans on voting in future elections.

Each new citizen received a certificate of citizenship and a flag. There also was a photo opportunity with Kent, who joked that he will forego the $20 fee.

The ceremonies closed with “God Bless America” by the Choristers.

The judge’s last words to the new American citizens kept ringing in my ears:

“Write the next great chapter in the history of this country.”

In an era of detention of illegal immigrants and conversion of correctional facilities into detention facilities, the importance of citizenship cannot be understated.

 

 

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

 

 

50th anniversary of Soviet Occupation of Czechoslovakia, 1968

It is with certain trepidation that I approach the 50th anniversary of Soviet occupation of former Czechoslovakia on the night of Aug. 20 to Aug. 21, 1968.

The milestone seems unbelievable to me. It was such a pivotal moment that influenced the rest of my life. What followed the occupation changed two generations; a massive exodus fleeing from the occupied country to its Western neighbors.

Soviet occupation of Prague in 1968
Soviet occupation of Prague in 1968

There is an old cliché saying that time heals everything. Decades of other events in history may have put layers of dust over this one. But those whose lives have been touched by the invasion, will never forget.

I’ve only heard other people’s accounts of the invasion; recently a video posted on Facebook stirred my memory.

People reacted to the event in two basic ways: either they stayed in the country or they emigrated to the West. The majority stayed in the country.

My father professor Vaclav Konecny decided for the latter of the two. That is to leave the country rather than endure the regime. Fifty years later, both of my parents have certain regrets. My mother Ella more so than my father.

“I left behind my sick parents against my beliefs,” she said. “That haunted me until the day they died. All those years, I felt guilty.”

The invasion suppressed the Prague Spring liberalization movement led by Alexander Dubcek, and substituted it with hardline communism or dark era of totality.

Those who stayed paid the price. No one could leave the country without exit visa.

Those who left illegally could not return without persecution.

Freedom truly isn’t free. It never has been.

“I think our modern history shows us that freedom isn’t a gift, which the powerful fight for to giveaway; it can be obtained and defended only by those who work to obtain or defend it.” late president Vaclav Havel in his speech on Victory Day May 8, 1994.

 A half-a-century of Czech expatriates living outside the old country well beyond the Velvet Revolution in 1989, has shown their adaptability and assimilation into other cultures.

Our own immigration story has been molded by the 1968 Soviet invasion. At the time, my parents left from Sudan, Africa for Canada, and eventually to Hawkins, Texas where dad taught math at Jarvis Christian College.

The story got more complex, when mom Ella decided to return to Czechoslovakia in 1973 followed by dad. The return was both a nightmare and a mistake, as my dad later recollected it many years later. He left Czechoslovakia again in 1976, and after a battle for emigration visa mom joined him in 1980.

It wasn’t until December of 1989 that I was able to leave the country for the USA for good. I became an American citizen in August of 1999 at the Gerald R. Ford Museum in Grand Rapids.

Looking back at this chronology of now historical events, I have to ask myself if I would do it again, much like I have asked my parents.

“Yes. I would do it again. I have no regrets; my entire family is here and I consider this country to be my home.”

The other question that people either ask me or I ask myself, “What is it that I miss about the old country?”

I do miss my friends from school and the university. Whenever, I miss the food, I just cook it myself. My son Jake was naturalized earlier this year, and my husband Ludek will become an American citizen on Aug. 22, 2018 in Detroit.

However, life is not just a chronological sequence of events or it shouldn’t be.

“How would our lives be different if we stayed in the old country?”

Those questions remain hanging in the air unanswered. I don’t expect any answers to them anytime soon or ever.

When I published my book “Shifting Sands Short Stories” last summer, I realized I would not have been able to do that in Czech Republic. If for nothing else, I wouldn’t have been able to do it because of language barriers. There are no English language publishers. Either way, it would have to be translated.

We adhere to Czech traditions and customs, mainly during Christmas and Easter. Our adult children Emma & Jake are fully bilingual. Jake is teaching his kids Czech.

I laugh when I say, “I am 99 percent American and one percent Czech.”

That one percent means; Vaclav Havel remains my hero and we speak Czech at home.

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

Writer’s surprises, all in one day

Moving forward with author’s events in West Michigan

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Lowell, MI- It’s unbelievable what all can happen in one day; even if it is a Monday.

WGVU Morning Show with host Shelley Irwin

First, I opened my inbox, and there was the response from host Shelley Irwin of the WGVU Morning Show.

“I get to share stories in a talk show format,” she wrote. “I would like to interview you at a time frame of your convenience.”

So, we are scheduling the time frame for the TV segment about my book “Shifting Sands Short Stories.” I thought it was a radio segment. I freaked out when I found out it was also TV.

As I went into the panic mode, Mr. Self-Doubt introduced himself into my writing studio; what am I going to say and wear?

I jumped on the dreaded treadmill that I have been neglecting because we have a special visitor here. That is our French granddaughter Ella.

I felt like Oprah, who started exercising two days before her birthday. And to make up for the excellent Sunday pork schnitzels, I dined on vanilla SlimFast tonight in front of the computer screen.

“That’s great mom,” said my son Jake about the TV interview. “It’s easy.”

“Yeah, how many times have you been on a live TV show?” I asked Jake, the business man, who made the schnitzels.

“The main thing is you have to know what you’re talking about,” he said. “You know the buzzwords.”

I like to think that after almost 30 years in the writing business, I can offer insights,  rather than buzzwords.

And the Monday goodness continued when I discovered the best kept secret on the lakeshore.

3rd Annual Writer’s Rendezvous in Ludington, July 21

I’ve been looking for writers’ and authors’ events in Michigan for years. But, it was only yesterday at the Ionia Free Fair that I found out about the Writer’s Rendezvous in Ludington.

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Author Emma Palova

It is my parents’ favorite place on the Michigan lakeshore. They’ve been going to Ludington ever since they moved to Big Rapids in the 1980s. We immigrated to the USA from former Czechoslovakia based on the 1968 Soviet occupation of the country. I am writing a memoir “Greenwich Meridian: Where East meets West” about the family immigration saga.

Annually, my dad Vaclav celebrates his birthday on Stearns Park Beach.When we couldn’t find a hotel, I told my mom Eliska:”There must be something going on.”

“There’s always something going on there,” she said on the phone in the heat of the Sunday afternoon.

While searching for a hotel on mom’s smart phone, dad came across “some kind of a writing conference.”

 

I refined the search this morning and found out that the 3rd Annual Writers’ Rendezvous featuring more than 20 Michigan authors will be this Saturday, July 21.

I was ecstatic, hoping to get in at the last minute. Barry Matthews from the Ludington Arts Center immediately responded that there is some space left for $25 for half a table.

“Yes, I am in and I can’t wait to meet the other authors and visitors.”

The goal is to bring cultural and literary perspective to the lakeshore, according to the Visiting Writers group.

Ludington has always inspired me ever since I visited the town in 1990 around the 4th of July holiday. The visit inspired one of my first articles I have written for a publication in the USA. It was also the only time I wrote in my native Czech language for the Czechoslovak Newsweek. I had a regular column for the biweekly newspaper. In spite of the longevity of the print paper, it never made it to digital format.

I remember this opening line of the lead paragraph.

“Thousands of red, white and blue petunias lined the Ludington Ave on the back drop of the shimmering blue waters of Lake Michigan.”

I went back many times; most recently last year in August for a voyage on the Badger across Lake Michigan.

Now, I am getting ready for it all. I’ve been told a million times; you’re not ready.

Other than the treadmill and Slimfast, I ordered books, brochures and posters for my upcoming author’s events.

Epilogue Books

And finally from a Facebook friend, I found out about a new local book store in Rockford.

“Shockingly nostalgic entrepreneur opened a book store next to my law office, wow. There is hope,” Genie Eardley, owner of Eardley Law, PC posted.

The name is Epilogue Books.

That’s what life is about: adventures, surprises on Mondays, shocking entrepreneurs, the joys and pains of technology, our lovely French granddaughter Ella and family get togethers on Lake Michigan.

See you at the Writer’s Rendezvous this Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

I will be offering writing, marketing, PR and publishing tips, and of course my book “Shifting Sands Short Stories.”

For more info on the rendezvous go to:

https://www.ludingtonartscenter.org/literary-arts.html

It is also available locally at Schuler Books in Grand Rapids and Lansing. It will be available at the Michigan News Agency in Kalamazoo, and hopefully at Epilogue Books in Rockford.

The long road to resilience

You can pick up an issue of the Grand Rapids Magazine City Guide at your local bookstore or newstand to find out more about me.

My book is now available on Amazon Prime special for the next 30-some hours at a discounted rate.

I encourage readers to buy the book, print or Kindle, ahead of time for signing and discussion. I will have print copies available at my station inside the Ludington Area Center for the Arts located at 107 S. Harrison St.

Amazon print

https://www.amazon.com/Shifting-Sands-Short-Stories-stories/dp/1521130226X

Kindle

https://www.amazon.com/Emma-Palova/e/B0711XJ6GY

ISBN

9781521302262

Connect with Emma Palova on Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/emma.palova.9

Emma on Twitter

 

 

 

Copyright (c) 2018. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

American Dutch couple fits into Lowell community

Happy Independence Day

Watch for more immigration stories, participate in survey about what makes America great

By Emma Palova

Lowell, MI- In the beginning, leaving your homeland is like leaving a part of you behind; not to mention friends and family.

Owners of Arctic Heating & Cooling Catharine “Kitty” and Evert Bek left the Netherlands in 1977 to pursue their dream in the USA. However, their parents Anna and Gerard Sr. Schuivens left first for Grand Rapids and ended up in Lowell.

Catharina and Evert visited them in 1976 and fell in love with the USA.

“When we came to visit, we loved the openness, the opportunities of having your own business, the freedom and the acreage,” said Catharina.

american flag clouds flag flagpole
Photo by Danne on Pexels.com

The Beks lived close to Rotterdam, a big harbor city, in the Netherlands. Much like the rest of Europe, everything was crowded, tight and overpopulated.

For the first two years, the Beks lived in Kentwood and in Wyoming.

“We wanted some property and found five acres on 36th Street,” Catharina said. “We moved to a different house in Lowell in 1997.”

One of the biggest challenges of immigration is learning the language. Any immigrant can attest to that including Catharina.

At the time, Lowell Middle School was offering English classes.

“I also learned English from shopping and TV,” she said. “Evert had no problems; he learned English at work. He has always worked in the heating and cooling industry.”

Another challenge was finding a job.

Pictured above are Dutch treats: Dutch Rusks, oliebollen fritters. The wooden shoes are now used as decorations.

“I worked in an office since 16,” she said, “and I went to trade school.”

Here, she worked for an insurance company in Grand Rapids.

But, it was friends who got them through the first tough years.

“It’s hard to leave your friends, but we still have friends in the Netherlands,” Catharina said.

It took three to four years to adjust to the new life in America.

“Friends helped us settle best of all,” she said. “This is home for me now.”

Catharina said she managed to combine the good parts from the old country with the good parts from the new world.

However, everything became easier when daughter Kim was born in 1983 at the Metropolitan Hospital in Grand Rapids. Kim went through the entire Lowell Area Schools system.

“I met new people at the school,” Catharina said.

And then finally, the couple’s dream came true when they started their own business, Arctic Heating & Cooling in 1983 in Lowell.

Pictured above: licorice, Dutch pancakes and St. Nick.

Catharina works at the business as a bookkeeper.

“Having our own business and owning a home, was one of our many dreams,” she said. “Sometimes I wonder how we would end up if we hadn’t left the Netherlands.”

There are no regrets about immigration for either Catharina or Evert.

“I wouldn’t go back,” she said. “Evert feels the same way. “I love it here. We met good people and made great friends.”

They speak Dutch at home including their American-born daughter and grandson.

As far as traditions go, the Beks celebrate St. Nick on Dec. 5th.

Kitty cooks Dutch dishes like meat, potatoes and vegetables, pea soup and Dutch pancakes.

She goes shopping for spices for meatballs to VanderVeen’s Dutch store on 28th street.

“You have to have windmill cookies with coffee or tea,” she said.

A typical Dutch tradition for breakfast is a slice of white bread with chocolate sprinkles.

Other Dutch specialties include Gouda cheese, a Dutch Rusk with pink or blue sprinkles when a baby is born.

“Dutch people love licorice in all shapes and forms,” Catharina said.

On New Year’s Eve, she makes oliebollen. They are fat balls or fritters, deep fried with raisins and served with powdered sugar. A typical beer is Heineken and egg nog liquor Advocaat.

They became naturalized after five years.

On the theme of the recent immigration crisis, Catharina said she doesn’t agree with separation of families.

“I don’t agree with mothers being separated from kids,” she said.

Over the years, the Beks have built up their business with repeat customers.

“We’ve been lucky,” she said. “I feel that I do fit in and that I am a part of Lowell.”

Catharina also works part-time at the Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce.

Both Catharina and Evert are known for their community involvement.

 

Copyright (c) 2018. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

 

Summer Solstice 2018

Welcome summer

By Emma Palova

Lowell, MI – Today is my favorite day of the year. It is also the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, known as summer solstice. I woke up this morning to a striped sky with orange, white and blue and to a cacophony of sounds; the nature sounded to me better than any symphony in this world. Ludek left at 6:05 a.m. for work in nearby Grand Rapids in full daylight.

It is my morning ritual to wish him a good day on the doorstep into the garage. I make a point to do this in the deadbeat of winter, as well as in the beauty of summer. I may have missed maybe two mornings sleeping in.

Then I continue my morning with yoga, treadmill or a walk to the Franciscan Sisters , meditations with coffee and tying myself to a chair in the studio to write. I missed the solstice last year, as I was wrapping up the formatting of my new book “Shifting Sands Short Stories.” I could not believe it, when I found out from the evening news that it was indeed the summer solstice. It stayed with me for the rest of the solar year. I felt cheated.

Most often people ask me, “What inspires your writing?”

I do have to say that it is definitely nature and its seasons.

I had to make up for that this year. The saying goes, that real stories are in “what you have missed” or “what is not there” and “what is not said.”

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On this day, the Earth’s axis is most inclined towards the sun.

I felt better when I saw at the Franciscans that the grass hasn’t been cut yet.That’s what I missed last year, the first grass cutting.  I drove there instead of walking because of a new assignment that is very close to my heart and to the nation’s heart: immigration.

The meadow was delightful in the sun’s direct rays, as the grasses and wildflowers swayed in the breeze. The Japanese lilac tree was in full bloom as well as the ornamental dogwood by the tower. I discovered a birdhouse made from Michigan license plates inside the lilac tree. Hundreds of spirea shrubs were in full maroon bloom.

Earlier in the morning at my hideout on a nearby lake, I took photos of the local heron resident on the swampy shores and hundreds of lotus blooms.

I would never want to miss this longest day of the year again. I will keep it in my heart forever. I will savor the fragrances of the meadow,  and all the sounds of this first day of summer.

The Sizzlin Summer Concert Series in Lowell is now in full swing on the Riverbank, and the Farmer’s Market is open.

Life is good.

It’s been hot and it’s been cold, so far. But, it’s summer in Michigan on the Great Lakes. And I am ready for it.

 

Copyright (c) 2018. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

 

 

Taurus clarifies content & goals

Parents get involved in memoir to move it along

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

I am supposed to consolidate my position and clarify my goals, according to today’s horoscope for the determined Taurus.

I especially like the quote from Bruce Lee: “Absorb what is useful, discard what is useless, and add what is specifically your own.”

That’s a pretty heavy quote that has inspired this entire post. To answer the last part of it; I am refining the content of the Greenwich Meridian memoir about our family immigration saga.

Inspired by Stephen and Owen King’s cooperation on the latest “Sleeping Beauties: A Novel”, I asked my mom Ella to write two chapters for the memoir. I would not be able to write them, because during mom’s second time around in the USA, I wasn’t with her. I was still back in Czechoslovakia.

I  wrongfully called Chapter 13, “First years in America.” And surely mom struggled with that, because it was her second time around from 1980 to present. After more than an hour on the phone, we clarified that.

During mom’s writing process, dad discovered a precious document; his bio when he was applying for jobs. It was stored away in old luggage in the basement, where I would have never found it.

This document, probably from the 1970s, and my parents’ involvement will help move the memoir along. For months, I struggled with it. I got stuck halfway through the manuscript.

Actually, my mom’s Narcissism and my own, sidetracked me, that I completely forgot about dad.

“He started the whole immigration,” she said. “I didn’t even know what the word meant before 1968.”

For me, this is a huge lesson that I have learned.; clarify, consolidate and cooperate on your writing projects.

http://www.tarot.com/daily-horoscope/taurus

Copyright (c) 2018. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

Plotting new year’s courses

I have just glanced at my Jan. 19 Taurus Horoscope to see if I am on track. Without the Blink of an eye this is what I found out.

I have enrolled in Spanish classes together with Ludek. I will be teaching ESL English as a Second Language and writing classes in the Grand Rapids area. My new column about Czech heritage is coming up in the Western Fraternal Life Herald, based in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

My next book signing of Shifting Sands Short Stories will take place at the LowellArts downtown gallery on Main Street on Feb. 3 from 1 to 4 pm. I will be offering tips on how to start and finish your book in 2018. Sign up on Facebook @emmapalova to win a free book.

For more info on the Western Fraternal Life Association and the Fraternal Herald monthly magazine go to:

http://www.flains.org

This is my horoscope for today.

You may be intrigued by the prospects of enrolling in a course of study today, but you’re determined to specifically learn something that can contribute to your material success. Although your practical …

Source: Taurus Horoscope for January 19, 2018

Copyright (c) 2018. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

One last look “Year in Review” III

Note: This is the third and final part of the mini-series “Year in Review” that looks back at 2017 with all its joys and tribulations. It was a year of big changes and adjustments both professional and personal. It rolled in like a monster truck and flew away like a balloon.

Lowell, MI – I physically bid farewell to 2017 on New Year’s Eve in Belding, and welcomed the new year looking out at the frozen Candlestone golf course with a pine forest in the background. I was trying to imagine why someone left their underwear in the woods, as the comedian Billy Ray Bauer cracked a joke before we toasted to the new year.

However, it is only today, that I can give a final closure to last year finishing the series, as I start the new year with hope, gratitude and love. I will highlight some of the biggest events in the second part of the year.

August

The Czech Heritage

On the first Sunday in August, we always attend the Czech Harvest Festival in Bannister with dances, songs and food. It has become a tradition that annually connects us with the old country, now Czech Republic. It is the only place that I know, that plays three anthems before the beginning of the festival: American, Czech and Slovak.

My mom Ella turned 80 on Aug. 23 and she had a great celebration at Naval’s Mediterranean Eatery in Big Rapids.

I had no idea my parents Ella & Vaclav had that many friends that could fill up the entire restaurant. I write often about them, since they are the major characters in the memoir “Greenwich Meridian, where East meets West” about our immigration saga. Owner Naval even made her a big wedding cake that could feed 80. I found out that you don’t lose friends as you get older, you make more.

September, October & November

Emma’s book signings & local scene

I continued my book signings of Shifting Sands Short Stories into the fall tying them to many local events at different venues. This was very efficient. In September, the Fallasburg Historical Society held their third annual Fallasburg Village Bazaar. I had my second book signing at the one-room schoolhouse which was very well attended. I was at the Girls Night Out at the Sweet Seasons Bakery & Cafe, and then at the Lowell Arts Gallery in downtown Lowell. In November, I was at the Red Barn Market during Christmas through Lowell.

Pictured below are people from the local Lowell scene: former mayor Jim Hodges in the story series “Inspiring Communities, Loyal public servant. Fallasburg Historical Society vice-president Tina Siciliano Cadwallader with Tracy Worthington, Patricia and Annelyse Dlouhy from Sweet Seasons Bakery & Cafe and book signing at the one-room schoolhouse.

The disaster months

Unfortunately, this was also the time for most disasters both in nature and in the society.

Over the years, I have been able to track many catastrophes, natural and man-made, to the last months in the year. The end of August started the stretch of hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria bringing devastation to millions.

I was impressed how fast the famous on the US entertainment scene came together to raise $44 million in a telethon for the victims of the catastrophes.

Sadly enough proliferating nature’s anger was also men’s anger.

That was the Las Vegas shooting on Oct.1, followed by 8 killed in terror violence by a man in a pickup truck who plowed into people on a bike path in New York City and a man detonating a pipe bomb in the New York City subway.

The famous who left us in 2017

As the year rocked to its final days, we accounted for all who have impacted our lives.

I was deeply touched by the death of teenage idol David Cassidy, rock superstar Tom Petty, Mary Tyler Moore, Jerry Lewis and countless others.

On the Czech scene, it was mainly late actor Jan Triska who emigrated to the US during Czechoslovakia’s communist era. He died after falling from the Charles Bridge in Prague. He was best known for his appearances in The Karate Kid Part III, Quantum Leap and The People vs Larry Flynt directed by fellow countryman Czech American director Milos Forman.

I am pretty sure most of us can Relate to these losses and events.

I would like to thank the many followers, fans, and the hosts of my book signings and wish everyone a great 2018.

With love,

Emma

The links to the first two parts of the series “Year in Review” are:

Year in Review part 1….. https://wp.me/p34jQ1-UhW

Year 2017 in review II…….. https://wp.me/p34jQ1-V4G

Link to Bannister Harvest Festival and ZCBJ/WFLA Lodge:

http://www.zcbjbannister.org

Shortlink to Inspiring Communities “Loyal public servant” is:

https://wp.me/p34jQ1-SzS

Copyright (c) 2018. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

Genius dad

My dad is my genius with excerpts from “The Temptation of Martin Duggan” in Shifting Sands Short Stories

The Genius in both my heart and my mind is my father professor Vaclav Konecny.  His genius and inspiration was Albert Einstein. Dad genius following another genius.

My father Vaclav has been my inspiration and a role model over the years. It’s not that he has always been physically present in my life. At times, he was as distant as the Atlantic Ocean and the sky over it are vast.

For many years he lived in the USA, while I was living back in former Czechoslovakia.. He taught math at Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Michigan well into the mid 2000s.

His influence never ceased. He was my firm constellation in the sky. I love looking at the sky, and thinking of the constellations as people in my life. He was my brave Perseus when he left Czechoslovakia in 1968 to “conquer” other countries that appreciated his talent more. He had to behead many “Medusas,” ugly heads of jealousy before he got to his beloved small town university.

EW Fermat's last theorem
Fermat’s conjecture in Arithmetica.

His genius manifested itself in hundreds of solved math problems in math journals around the world and hundreds of proposed ones. Dad says it is more difficult to propose a problem, than to solve one.

It was thanks to him that I have learned what Fermat’s Last Theorem is. The theme how to solve Fermat’s Last Theorem or conjecture was always on the table when friends came over to my parents house.

My father knows how to entertain even a stranger using his impeccable logic as a steady guide. Once he had to go to a party where he knew no one. He ran into a dentist.

“Dad, what did you talk to him about?” I asked.

“What else? We talked about teeth,” he laughed.

I remembered that forever. Once you know the profession of a stranger at the party, you talk about it, unless there is a better theme.

It wasn’t just the math genius in him, but also the artist. During critical times in my dad’s life, he turned to painting. He painted in oils scenes from the Candadian Rockies, Niagara and my favorite “Cacti at Night” on black velvet from the Saguaro National Park near Tucson, Arizona. He also painted a Dutch windmill.

Dad is also a great handyman who can repair just about anything around the house. He calls the closet full of tools in their Venice condo, his “workshop.”

He served as an inspiration for the short story “The Temptation of Martin Duggan” in my new book Shifting Sands Short Stories.

Excerpts from “The Temptation of Martin Duggan”

“After years of traveling between Europe and the USA, Martin and Rose settled down in a small university town not far from the big lake. And that was Rocky Rapids, a humble town that suited Martin well. Idyllic and charming.

The only violence in this town on the Rocky River was stirred by the students jumping from their dorms or frat houses. If dreams come true, they came true here for both Martin and Rose.

Martin was a well-respected and accomplished professor of math with the post-doctorate title from the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon. Martin considered the trek from the territories of Canada to the US Midwest inevitable.

He took great care not to participate in anything that would jeopardize the projected path of success and content, such as union strikes. As computers emerged on the scene, Martin acquired another degree in computer science and reached a tenure with the university. He got Rose a job at the university as well.

The noise from the students packing up their notebooks and leaving the classroom stirred Martin up from his flashbacks to Africa. He looked at his watch. It was time. He carefully packed his own carefully prepared lectures, and put everything in his light gray briefcase with a shoulder strap.

He walked to his gray Chevrolet, the only brand he trusted over the years. Just like everything else Martin had ever owned, it was perfectly clean. He didn’t forget to grab a bottle of cold diet Coke from the machine.

Driving through Rocky Rapids was a balsam on his nerves. The town was neat and clean too with a few banks, a video store, a car dealership and a long gone Spartan grocery. Rose used to shop there, when they still loaded groceries into cars back in the 1980s. As a remnant of the past, there was a Bear furniture store, a drive up restaurant and a Dairy Queen by the city park with the creek.

It could have been a perfect day, in a perfect life in a perfect town of one perfect professor and a perfect couple.

 

Copyright (c) 2017 Emma Blogs, LLC. All Rights reserved.