Category Archives: immigration

nanowrimo Day 7

Mom’s timeline in Greenwich Meridian: Where East meets West saga

By Emma Palova

Looking outside the window in my writing studio, I see that the day has melted the morning surreal scenery of white cover with green grass stems sticking through it. The morning frost took down more leaves from my wisteria hanging tight onto the octagon pergola. One frozen morning glory flower managed to freeze in its red beauty in my window boxes. The sun peaked out and chased away some clouds and the darkness of an early morning.

This is the seventh day of the National Novel Writing Month #NaNoWriMo 50K challenge. I unlocked a 7-day in a row writing badge and updated my word count at 15,308 words a few minutes ago closing the writing session with mom’s comprehensive timeline from 1959 to present. Overall the timeline helps me navigate through my parents’ and my own travels between three continents: Europe, Africa and North America.

The other movement in this epic story of love and passion is between historical events that changed the map of Europe; from the reformist Prague Spring in 1968, when the Soviet tanks invaded former Czechoslovakia to Velvet Revolution in 1989 and far beyond into North America.

Some of the highlights of mom’s timeline include: fascinating visits to Egypt and the Middle East, life in Khartoum, Sudan and back to Czechoslovakia.

Mom's diary
Mom’s diary

Excerpt: In her own words

By mom Ella

At the beginning of November, my husband announced his decision that he will be leaving for Sudan on Nov. 20, 1964. I gave him my blessings and never thought for a moment that I would go with him. I continued to work in the pharmacy in Vizovice and my boss who loved to travel kept asking me when was I going to fly to Africa.

In the spring of 1965, when I finally applied for a passport and got my vaccinations, Vaclav wrote me a letter that he was coming home, because it was the end of the school year. The university paid once a year for round trip air tickets for the entire family, regardless that he had just started teaching in November. The school year in Sudan ran from the beginning of July to the end of March; it was followed by a summer break lasting three months.

Those three months were also the worse months in Africa weather-wise filled with sand storms “Habub,” rain and heat. Khartoum lies on the 15th parallel close to the equator; it is the second warmest place in the world. It’s a dry tropical country with very little rain. A road stretched 50 miles north of Khartoum and 50 miles south and dead ended in the Nuba desert.

To be continued………..

I am working on a 4,000 word description to log the upcoming book on Amazon’s kdp publishing platform.

Here is a link:

https://kdp.amazon.com/en_US/

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

nanowrimo Day 6

Greenwich Meridian: Where East meets West

Excerpt: How professor of math escaped Czechoslovakia

By Emma Palova

It’s snowing and it is freezing cold outside, as I am done with my morning writing session on day 6 of the National Novel Writing Month 50K word challenge. My shrubs in the garden are covered with snowflakes.

For my #NaNoWriMo 2019 project, I am working on the completion of the Greenwich Meridian: Where East meets West memoir about our family immigration saga from former Czechoslovakia to the U.S.

Professor Vaclav Konecny at Ferris State University.

This epic tale covers a span of more than 50 years and historic events from Prague Spring in 1968 to Velvet Revolution in 1989 and beyond that propelled the story into an adventure between three continents: Europe, Africa and North America.

Thanks to the prep work that I did in October, the research in previous years, and my parents’ accounts of their experiences, I am moving swiftly between the historic events that have formed our lives.

Here is an excerpt from chapter: “How professor of math escaped Czechoslovakia.”

Different options of escape seemed risky, because the borders were guarded against the people of the country, so they wouldn’t escape, not against some outside enemy. Soldiers and their dogs were dangerous; the life of a Czech or Slovak person meant less than the life of a rabbit. I assumed that the border patrol in other countries would be less dangerous.  

So, I decided to escape either from Rumania or Bulgaria. I diligently analyzed reports from other tourists to these countries. It was interesting that the officials were issuing quickly passports to socialist countries. I applied and to my surprise I was issued a passport in Brno on July 7, 1976. My situation became easier even though the passport was without an exit clause to any capitalist country. So I was free to travel in Eastern Europe.  I used my three-week vacation to get ready for the escape. 

Excerpt from escape to be continued

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

Nanowrimo Day 5

Mom’s sacrifice

By Emma Palova

It’s a chilly November day as I look outside from my writing studio window at my garden with the ornamental grass bed. The grass is still green and the remaining leaves are rusty red and yellow. Only the Royal Purple Smoke tree with a dedication plaque to Ella has bright burgundy leaves clinging onto the branches.

I don’t walk to the pond anymore in the back of the garden, because my beautiful koi fish are gone. An heron devoured them in September. I didn’t want to put new fish in the pond before the winter.

Mom's diary
Mom’s diary

I logged in 10,019 words earlier in the National Novel Writing Month 50K word challenge with the Greenwich Meridian memoir about our family immigration saga from former Czechoslovakia to the U.S. It was an interesting writing day as I could compare mom’s and dad’s statements about their biggest accomplishments in the USA.

My dad published more than 150 solved problems in different math journals and in the Canadian Crux Mathematicorum. But, he states that he is most proud of his lecturing style that was well understood among the students and that he was well liked.

I was surprised reading mom’s answer that for her America was a sacrifice to her husband’s teaching career. I found it on the last page of the pretty diary with yellow roses.

“I fullfilled my husband’s dream of teaching at an American university without being afraid of losing his job because of religion and going to church,” she wrote. “He was well-liked and with his diligence, at one point, he was making more money than his American colleagues. I ensured freedom for my children and my grandchildren, who have great careers and appreciate it. They thanked me for that.”

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

NaNoWRIMO Day 4 with excerpt

Greenwich Meridian continues

I am catching up on my posting, so today I am writing about Day 4 of #nanowrimo- Monday, Nov. 4. I logged in 7,523 words in the National Novel Writing Month 50K word challenge.

My father Vaclav Konecny wrote this for me in between working on his math solutions, and preparations to leave for Florida shortly after Thanksgiving.

Grand Hotel in Khartoum, Sudan

Life of professor Vaclav Konecny in Khartoum, Sudan briefly 

On Nov. 1964, early in the morning, I landed via Sudan Airways in Khartoum, Sudan. It was a beautiful area of three cities: Khartoum, Khartoum North and Omdurman separated by the River Nile, Blue Nile and White Nile. 

My future colleague Kenneth was waiting for me to give me a ride to the Grand Hotel on Blue Nile not far from the University of Khartoum. It looked like in a fairy tale; streets lined with palms, the glistening Nile with the three bridges and the British colonial style hotel. 

After three days, Kenneth helped me settle down in Pink Palace with half board. I reported to the head of the Department of Mathematics Prof. Sobhy Sidrak, who had instructed me about my teaching. He instructed me to teach Applied Mathematics; it was called Theoretical Mechanics or Math of Newtonian Mechanics.  

After moving several times, I ended up in an apartment close to the Pink Palace. I bought a very old car Ford Anglia. The administration of the university arranged for me everything I needed. My wife Eliska and children Emma and Vaclav at the time were in Czechoslovakia, so I had time to prepare for the first lecture. 

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

NaNoWriMo Days 2 &3

Completion of Greenwich Meridian: Where East meets West with excerpt

By Emma Palova

For my NaNoWriMo 2019 project, I am working on the completion of my memoir Greenwich Meridian: Where East meets West about our family immigration saga from former Czechoslovakia to the U.S.A.

I am averaging 1, 643 words a day. At some point I will have to increase the daily word count to reach 50,000 words by the end of November.

What propelled the saga ahead was my mom’s diary written in Czech in a pretty cursive spiral – bound diary with hard cover with yellow roses and a futuristic dateline: Big Rapids- Florida, 2019- 2020. My parents Ella and Vaclav winterize in Venice, Florida and mom wanted the diary back before they leave. So, I got right on it.

After writing about mom’s experience of the Soviet invasion while she was on a therapeutic spa stay in posh Carlsbad – Karlovy Vary resort in 1968, I made a firm decision that this is movie material. I will write a screenplay and see it to production.

Mom's diary
Mom’s diary

Mom’s writing is very graphic. She is so visual that she could draw the layout of their apartment in Khartoum, Sudan in Africa from their stay until 1969. I remember the large bedroom and the built-in balcony full of sand after the sand storms.

As the writing moves between Africa and Europe, I marvel at mom’s experiences. Sometimes, I am even jealous like today, as I read her memories from Africa and the Middle East. We each have different memories, and I was a mischievious kid with my own agenda.

 Here is an excerpt from the chapter ” In her own words.”

I was a pharmacist, and it wasn’t that the profession was narrow and had nothing to offer, but I didn’t want to nurture vain ideas of travelling. So, Sunday afternoon trips to the dam in Luhacovice or Bystricka were the only means of breaking up the gray of ordinary days. 

The first bigger trip was our honeymoon to the Krkonose mountains with the old Tatra and mother’s comments: “I hope the poor car will make it.” 

When we arrived in Harachov, we sent a message to my parents: “We’ve arrived under Mount Blanc.” At that moment, it never occurred to me that one day I would indeed be looking at the majestic highest mountain in the Alps. 

After five years of marriage, we had two children: Emma and Vasek. I was working part-time in a pharmacy in my hometown Vizovice and my husband Vaclav was teaching physics in Brno. He would come for the weekend to Vizovice, because I couldn’t find a job in Brno and we had no place to stay there. We were on the waiting list for an apartment, that we got in 1965. We didn’t have a car or money to furnish the apartment. My husband found out that the president of the university in Khartoum, Sudan was hiring English-speaking professors to teach different subjects. Vaclav’s English was excellent and he got the job. However, I did not know about this. 

At the beginning of November, Vaclav announced his decision that he will be leaving for Sudan on Nov. 20, 1964. I gave him my blessings and never thought for a moment that I would go with him. I continued to work in the pharmacy and my boss who loved to travel kept asking me when was I going to fly to Africa. 

In the spring of 1965, when I finally applied for a passport and got my vaccinations, Vaclav wrote me a letter that he was coming home, because it was the end of the school year. The university paid once a year for round trip air tickets for the entire family, regardless that he had just started teaching in November. The school year in Sudan ran from the beginning of July to the end of March; it was followed by a summer break lasting three months. 

Those three months were also the worse months in Africa weather-wise filled with sand storms “Habub,” rain and heat. Khartoum lies on the 15th parallel close to the equator; it is the second warmest place in the world. It’s a dry tropical country with very little rain. A road stretched 50 miles north of Khartoum and 50 miles south and dead ended in the Nuba desert. 

Three rivers ran through the city: Nile, Blue Nile and White Nile. We arrived in this city in July of 1965. When we got out of the plane at the airport in Khartoum, a hot wave like coming from an oven, hit me and I couldn’t catch my breath. 

We rented an apartment from the university close to Blue Nile. The apartment was spacious with two built-in balconies, that were not screened, so the kids played there together with lizards and salamanders. The apartment had running water, a refrigerator and basic furniture- beds, table, chairs and two armchairs in light green color. There was no TV or air conditioning. The stores were open in the morning and evening and closed in the afternoon due to heat. Khartoum was a dead town in the afternoon. 

The main boulevard was lined with stores full of merchandise unlike in Czechoslovakia where we always had to stand in line for meat, vegetables and also for toilet paper.

Let #nanowrimo 2019 begin

NaNoWriMo 2019 kicks off today with excerpt

By Emma Palova

Lowell, MI – On the opening day of this year’s National Novel Writing Month 50K word challenge, I logged in 1,663 words in spite of the fact that I had to have a painful dental procedure done in Grand Rapids. I still have a numb jaw and I have trouble swallowing, kind of like those people in America’s Funniest Videos.

So, I broke up my daily writing session into two parts: morning and afternoon. My NaNoWriMo project is the completion of the Greenwich Meridian: Where East meets West memoir about our family immigration saga from Czechoslovakia to the U.S.

What helped me immensely to move this forward, was that mom Ella penned her memories in a pretty cursive in Czech in a hard cover diary with yellow roses. It has a dateline: Big Rapids-Florida, 2019-2020. Wow , and it’s dedicated to me: “To my daughter Emma.”

Mom even included a complete timeline titled “Life in a Nutshell” from 1959 to present.

Mom's diary
Mom’s diary

Here; enjoy an excerpt from chapter “In her own words.”

I was a pharmacist, and it wasn’t that the profession was narrow and had nothing to offer, but I didn’t want to nurture vain ideas of travelling. So, Sunday afternoon trips to the dam in Luhacovice or Bystricka were the only means of breaking up the gray of ordinary days. 

The first bigger trip was our honeymoon to the Krkonose mountains in the old Tatra and mother’s departing comments: “I hope the poor car will make it.” 

When we arrived in Harachov, we sent a message to my parents: “We’ve arrived under Mount Blanc.” At that moment, it never occured to me that one day I would indeed be looking at the majestic highest mountain in the Alps. 

After five years of marriage, we had two children: Emma and Vasek. I was working part-time in a pharmacy in my hometown Vizovice and my husband Vaclav was teaching physics in Brno. He would come for the weekend to Vizovice, because I couldn’t find a job in Brno and we had no place to stay there. We were on the waiting list for an apartment, that we got in 1965. We didn’t have a car or money to furnish the apartment. My husband found out that the president of the university in Khartoum, Sudan was hiring English-speaking professors to teach different subjects. Vaclav’s English was excellent and he got the job.

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

Happy Halloween

Ready for #NaNoWriMo 2019

I am as ready as I can be for the National Novel Writing Month 50K word challenge starting tomorrow Nov. 1 with my Greenwich Meridian: Where East meets West memoir project.

However, Halloween is not only followed by the NaNoWriMo blast off , but also by All Saints Day and All Souls’ Day in the catholic calendar on Saturday. I always go to the mass at St. Pat’s for one or the other to reflect and for inspiration.

Usually, the Book of the Dead is on display. An evening candlelight procession goes to the cemetery.

The feature photo is an optical illussion “All is Vanity” from Belrockton in Belding. It is hanging next to the “Face of Gossip,” which is on the cover of my new book “Secrets” from the Shifting Sands Short Stories collections.

Follow me on my NaNoWriMo journey to the completion of the memoir about our family immigration saga to the U.S.

I will be signing my new book at the Lowell Area Historical Museum (LAHM) on Nov. 15, 16 & 17 during Christmas through Lowell.

For more info on NaNoWriMo go to: https://www.nanowrimo.org/

For more info on Christmas through Lowell go to: www.christmasthroughlowell.org

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

Nano prep 2 with excerpt

Greenwich Meridian: Where East meets West

By Emma Palova

Lowell, MI – Today, during my morning writing session, I ventured into our U.S. naturalization, as well as answering the most important question for a writer.

How has America changed me?

Michigan authors at the Lakeshore Art Festival 2019 in front of the Authors Tent.

I have broadened my horizons from a naïve person with a narrow perspective on the evils of capitalism to a responsible American citizen, who votes and participates in democracy. Rather than complaining about things, I take action to change them, when possible as in the case of my authorpreneurship.

I am proud to be a part of the Michigan Authors movement sweeping the shores from Lake Michigan to Lakes Huron & Superior. See http://michiganauthors.com/

I was naturalized in August of 1999 in a beautiful ceremony at the Gerald R. Ford Museum in Grand Rapids along with 96 other people from around the world. I received congratulations from all over Michigan, because the Associated Press syndicated the story about my naturalization written by Kara Henigan for the Ionia Sentinel-Standard. Here is an excerpt from the Ionia Sentinel-Standard Aug. 19, 1999.

Ludek’s naturalization in October of 2018.

Emma Palova of Lowell, was among the new naturalized American citizens. She tells other people’s stories for a living as a writer for the Sentinel-Standard, but on this day, she shared her own tale, a tale of a dream fulfilled.

“The United States has always symbolized freedom for me, coming from an oppressed, communist country,” she said. “And it still does, otherwise I wouldn’t be here.”

Citizenship was not a necessity for her livelihood.

“It was my goal and my dream,” she said. “It is kind of a closure.”

My husband Ludek was naturalized last year in October, also at the Gerald R. Ford Museum. Ludek takes his citizenship very seriously, and always asks me about candidates, proposals and follows the debates.

The story about his naturalization appeared in the Lowell Ledger on Oct. 24, 2018.

At his ceremony, magistrate Hon. Ray Kent congratulated the new citizens with these words:

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

That statement is still ringing in my ears as I write this chapter of the memoir. Ludek has already voted in the last school election. Voting is a privilege. Back in communist Czechoslovakia, we could only vote for one party- the Communist Party. It defeated the purpose of voting at all.

Tomorrow I will dive into the tentacles of the Velvet Revolution in 1989, led by dissident playwright late Vaclav Havel.

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

NaNO prep

Proud to report that I am in the prep phase for the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) 2019 at full speed. During the month of October , I logged in 12,195 words. My goal is to complete the Greenwich Meridian: Where East meets West in November and follow up with revisions.

It is a memoir about our family immigration saga from former communist Czechoslovakia to the US.

NaNoWriMo is a great tool for any writing project that you may have. First of all, it gives you daily accountability of writing by logging in daily word count. The challenge is to write 50,000 words in the month of November.

I had to do a lot of prep work, because I also have author events in November with my new book “Secrets” from the Shifting Sands Short Stories series.

I will be at the Lowell Area Historical Museum during the Christmas through Lowell tour on Nov. 15, 16 & 17 signing my books. So stop by to pick up an autographed book. I will be offering writing and publishing tips, as well.

Locally, my book is available at Springrove Variety in downtown Lowell.

I am extremely excited about this Christmas event. I’ve done it before with my first book “Shifting Sands: Short Stories.” I was at the Red Barn Market with other vendors including my daughter-in-law Maranda, who has “Little Dreamers Sleepovers” party business.

I would still like to get in one more author’s event before the end of this year. And what a year it has been. Watch for my post “Year in Review 2019.”

For info on NaNo go to: https://www.nanowrimo.org/

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

Dad professor Konecny

Contributor Profile

I found my dad Vaclav Konecny’s contributor profile for the Crux Mathematicorum math magazine of the Canadian Mathematical Society on the Internet yesterday.

20181220_1412326910501251751484398.jpg

I am including it in one of the chapters of the Greenwich Meridian: Where East meets West memoir. The title of the chapter is: Contributor Vaclav Konecny.

Below is a link to the pdf.

ContributorProfile_36_5 Konecny

Dad still contributes to the magazine, either by proposing math & geometry problems or by solving them. He received an honorable mention as one of the six problemists of 1996, who had participated in one-third of the solutions for the year.

My Escape from Czechoslovakia

Another document of great value is his letter: “My Escape from Czechoslovakia” dated Nov. 18, 1976 to the Department of State in Washington D.C.

As a true mathematician, dad, in great detail, describes his journey through various border crossings between four different countries. He even describes his alternative plan. Here is an excerpt:

I made two plans:

  1. To get from Eastern block through some check point
  2. To go to Bulgaria-Micurin- and swim to Turkey. I exercised a lot for this purpose and I was well prepared.

But plan one worked out okay.

Law-abiding citizen Vaclav

What fascinates me the most about his escape story is that he used any means necessary to get to his target; that is a Western country that would give him visa to re-enter USA.  My father is a law-abiding citizen who never breaks any rules. And he definitely never breaks his own tough rules, forged by the years spent at the Archbishop Seminary in Kromeriz.

However, in his escape journey, he had to resort to lying and deception. Dad even came very close to breaking traffic rules in Yugoslavia.

“I went as fast as the traffic rules allowed to Belgrade. I was stopped by police there, but they let me go even if it were just in the opposite direction to Sophia. I reported to Mrs. Julia Cardozo-Neitzke, U.S. Consul on July 27, 1976. No embassy wanted to issue me visa, but after enormous effort of the U.S. Embassy I got German visa.”

His Contributor Profile closes with the following statement:

“Vaclav’s sincerest hope is for world peace.”

Thanks dad for so much inspiration.

Note: Dad Vaclav and mom Ella currently winterize in Venice, FL. I will be joining them for my annual writer’s retreat in February.

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