Lowell, MI – I was born with history in my blood in the wee hours on Victory Day, May 9th to the cracking of the fireworks and the fragrance of the blossoming lilacs.
Before the semantics & politics of the new regime, May 9th was the national holiday in my homeland of Czech Republic.
Every year, on this day, my mother Ella lovingly says this sentence:
“I thought they were bombing, but the country was celebrating your birthday. The entire earth blossoms for you.”
Now, my mom Ella is not exactly the most humble person. She loves to show off. She takes that after Grandpa Joseph of Vizovice.
Annually, the country celebrates the anniversary of its freedom from the Nazi occupation in 1945. The holiday has been moved to May 8th based on the age-old dispute, “Who was first, the chicken or the egg?” That is the dispute over which army freed former Czechoslovakia first.
Was it the Soviet or the American army?
The Soviets freed the capital Prague on May 9th, while the Americans freed Plzen in West Bohemia on May 8th. Maybe, the switch was due to the fact that Plzen is home to the famous brewery, Pilsner.
The country boasts its love for beer, and often takes first place in consumption between the top beer consuming trio of Germany, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic.
However, in our immigration hearts, the holiday will always be on May 9th, even though we love Czech Pilsner.
So, by default, the love for history has been circulating in my blood from the first day of birth.
Our immigration Konecny saga started with the infamous occupation of the country by the Soviets in the Prague Spring of 1968. The era of hardline communism ensued after the invasion for decades to come under President Gustav Husak.
I am also the child of the 1989 Velvet Revolution led by my hero, late president Vaclav Havel who was part of the Prague Spring 1968 reformation movement.
I can trace the origins of my writing to that tumultuous time in our lives.
My paternal grandpa Antonin was the keeper of the “Chronicles of the Stipa JZD” which was the Stipa Agricultural Cooperative, while my late Aunt Martha secretly worked on the Konecny family genealogy. My grandma Anezka was a first grade teacher at ZDS Stipa and a poet.
“You can’t deny genes,” said Martha’s colleague Mrs. Fickova at the funeral wake on Jan. 11th held at the Stipa Senk.
After Aunt Martha’s death on January 7th, 2017, I started the Facebook page Ancestry Konecny on:
Every morning before I start writing, I check social media for inspiration and to get a feeling for the day.
I made me a cup of French Roast coffee and smelled the bouquet of lilacs from our gardens on the ranch. It took 20 years for the fragrant shrubs to come to their full beauty. Not quite like the historical ones on my beloved Mackinac Island, but they’re getting there.
Yesterday, my husband Ludek and I feared for the budding wisteria because of the early morning frost. We had to put out the fan to keep the wisteria, sprawling on the octagon pergola, warm.
Then, as always I gather my thoughts based on analyzing the previous day, and what I have learned from it, that is worth bringing into the future. I always remember the socialist propaganda, “Tomorrow is already yesterday.”
I pinned to the top, “Spring into the Past” museum tour 2017 organized by the Tri-River Historical Museum Network on the new museum page.
I also made sure that the 23rd annual Covered Bridge Bike Tour in Fallasburg is correctly dated for Sunday July 9th.
I looked in the mirror, after finishing most of this post, and I realized I am very fortunate, and that any victory comes at a price. I’ve come to that conclusion not from the image that I see, but by the person I reflect in my writings.
I have a head full of graying hair, a happy smile on my face, a caring husband and family, hundreds of fans and well-wishers from all over the world, and the determination of a Taurus.
My short story collection “Shifting Sands” is ready for June 1st publication on kindle and Amazon.
And speaking about karma or karmic energy.
My friends from the Fallasburg Historical Society (FHS) Tina Siciliano Cadwallader and Tracy Worthington are planning a book signing event for the “Shifting Sands” fiction short story collection at the Fallasburg one-room schoolhouse museum on June 25th from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
I’ve just found out that mom Ella is going to bake a cake for the book signing. And I have received tulips and irises from Doc Em, based in Fixin, France, and a video from Josephine & Dominik Pala of Hastings.
Life is good. As Doc Em says:
“What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.”
Everyone is invited to Fallasburg on June 25. Come and enjoy the beautiful Fallasburg Park, the pioneer village, the history and mom’s cake.
With this post, I would like to thank everyone for all the support over the years, especially my neighbor Catherine. Because only Catherine knows who I really am.
“You make me who I am.”
Lowell, May 9th 2017
Copyright (c) 2017 Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.
These are the things I found delightful today, so again this is no ordinary or gray Friday even though it was cloudy.
This morning during my routine inspirational check-up on the social media, I found a delight:
The Ability Weavers store offers hand-woven rugs by adults with all abilities right in my hometown of Lowell. They also offer rug weaving classes.
Their motto is:
“Weaving with a purpose.”
I am planning a visit downtown Lowell soon to the newest venues dotting the Main Street along with the blossoming trees. Follow me for the spring outing on Main.
But before the Ability Weavers, I delighted in Google Doodle Cheese Doodle, celebrates Marie Harel, the inventor of Camembert Cheese.
After all, who doesn’t like a great piece of cheese. Nothing beats Camembert. I can eat entire wheels of it straight from the cheese maker in Camembert, Normandy.
More in the lines of gray, but definitely delightful was the poem by Emma White Darling in memory of her friend of 40 years.
Darling painted beautiful tulips to accompany the poem.
Here it is:
Eulogy for a Friend
So many moments we take for granted,
because we assume there will be so many more.
They say don’t assume
because tomorrow is never promised.
We know this is too true when a dear friend is suddenly taken.
May choirs of angels escort you into paradise, dear Hermie.
We rejoice your suffering wasn’t prolonged but we miss you already
and imagine our world as less without you.
passionate advocate of the working man,
tireless caregiver to the elderly,
and so much more.
Through a lens of loss, we view our many memories.
It breaks us to realize no more memories will be made
and causes our tears to flow like water.
It’s hard to get our hearts and heads around a future without you, dear friend.
Softly, gratefully we cradle the gift of friendship that was
I wrote this also in response to the Daily Post prompt @gray Gray
Thank you Emma White Darling for sharing your talents with us.
Copyright (c) 2017. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.
Lowell, MI -I am working on a big project through May. That is transferring my short stories from more than two decades to digital platforms , because I cannot stand unfinished things. I am doing this because I also think I might drop dead, before the short stories see the light of the world.
I’ve been lying to myself that I cannot get my fiction published because I don’t have the time and I have to make money, and more lies. Then, finally my eyes and heart opened, along with other denials about breaking stereotypes and much more.
The good old “what if it is not good enough” question kept resurfacing.
“Good enough for what?” I ask.
“Of course I can get these published,” I realized. “Now, is the best time ever with everything going digital.
“The world is changing and I have to change with it.”
“But, wait a minute,” I say, “I have been changing, only in a different way beyond the known margins.”
“Hey!Isn’t that part of the definition of an “outlier?”
The “outlier” word sounds so ugly. I admit, I had to look it up.
And of course the search rendered among others, on Amazon Malcolm Gladwell’s book “Outliers: The Story of Success.”
What the heck, now I got to buy Malcolm’s book. And I finally caught myself in action. Wait a minute, Palova. Stop. That is how you constantly get sidetracked from your goals; searching for more information.
“Get back on track, woman.”
“Thank you, my inner voice.”
I just got trapped in a labyrinth of other people’s thoughts and actions, much like the heroes of my short stories in “Glass Flowers” get entangled in a web of doing other things; like marketing, promoting and enterprising.
By getting the scripts on digital platforms, I will finally break the deadly cycle of denial that I cannot get my fiction published.
Have I lived like an Emu with my head in the sand or an “outlier?”
This was written in response to the Daily Post prompts @Denial and @Outlier, as well as an inspiration to the daily Taurus horoscope.
Note: This is the first installment in the Inspiring Communities series featuring men and women who inspire us in our communities to help other people achieve well-being in a money-driven world. Nominate a person who has inspired you.
Local businessman helps install water filters on Haiti, where water is the Elixir of life
By Emma Palova
EW Emma’s Writings
Lowell, MI- At the best, a running water system on the forgotten island of La Gonave off Haiti consists of a cistern tipped upside down with a hose that leads through the window inside a hut.
However, most often you will see a container full of dirty rain water known as the municipal well. The villagers haul water in buckets on donkeys or on their heads.
Usually when tested, the water is full of coliform bacteria, which causes cholera, according to Lowell resident and business owner Evert Bek.
Bek was part of a team that installed water filters in Haiti at the beginning of March. The project was spearheaded by the Lowell Rotary Club.
“There is no running water on the island,” said Evert. “There is no electricity, no bathrooms, people live in huts. They use rainwater collected in cisterns.”
The team installed 80 water filters which are cones filled with sand and stones from the local sources. Each dwelling paid 35 cents per water filter.
It takes 10 gallons of water to get the filters started before using as safe water supply, according to Bek.
Bek was astonished at the living conditions on Haiti, located only 709 miles from Miami. Most recently, Haiti was hit by hurricane Matthew on Oct. 4, 2016, and the country still suffers in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake in 2010.
A typical dwelling is made of cement, it has a dirt floor, one room. And it accommodates anywhere from two to 10 people.
During the week-long stay, Evert said, he only saw meals cooking outside twice.
“One day we had beans and rice, the next day we had rice and beans,” he said. “The laundry is done outside by hand.”
Usually, the huts are scattered all around with a church as the center point. The team stayed in the village of Pikmi.
“We had to have a translator,” said Bek.
The island, which has no industry, was conquered by the French in the 1600s. The official language is Creole, which is a French African dialect.Their guide and translator was a self-taught man, who called himself Day Day. People use small motorcycles as transportation, but they mainly walk. It is not uncommon to see three to four people riding a motorcycle.Old pick-up trucks are left wherever, when they stop working.
The land is just clay and rock, because the top soil eroded as the forests were harvested unlike in the neighboring Dominican Republic.
“The island sits on a bare rock,” said Evert.
Approximately 100,000 people live on 287 square miles.
Weekly, there is a village market, where animals are traded. Charcoal on the island is used as a cooking fuel. However, there are no tools to fix anything.
In contrast to the overall living conditions, the population wears discarded t-shirts bearing losing sports teams’ logos, peddled by different organizations from the USA.
Kids and adults walk around with non-working phones.
“It’s a status symbol,” said Evert. “There is a lot of corruption in the country, you got to be ready to get your valet out to get anything done.”
Churches have done a lot of work on the island in schools and education. Kids go to schools in uniforms, and there are orphanages in good condition.
According to Evert, the big unknown remains the economy on the island even once the water problem is solved.
“You have water and then what?” he said.
There are a lot of unfinished houses on the island due to lack of materials and finances, and corruption.
A typical banker sits outside with a duffle bag of money on the corner of gravel streets. He holds dollars in one hand and Haitian Gourdes in the other hand.
If you go into a “store,” you will not get any change back.
“I learned the hard way,” laughed Bek.
The team stayed in a guest house with water and kitchen, leased through an organization based in Saranac.
“I like to help out,” he said. “Be grateful for what you have.”
Featured photo is of a Wednesday market on the Haitian island of La Gonave.
If you want to help contact your local organizations. This water filter installing project was through the Lowell Rotary club at http://www.lowellrotary.og
This post was also written as a response to the Daily Post prompt @elixir Elixir
Lowell, MI- In light of the March 1, “Big Birthdays” post, I find this, “When I am 64,” by Debra Kolkka of Brisbane, Australia post very enlightening.
And I discovered that the story behind the “Bagni di Lucca and Beyond” blog is even more inspiring. Two friends, Debra and Liz, who live in Brisbane, Australia, started blogging about their houses in Italy to inform tourists.
Much like for the rest of us, Deb’s and Liz’s blog has grown into a passion building upon their colorful careers in fashion and retail.
Watch for a story on blog discoveries around the world. Visit with Debra and Liz in Brisbane for cosmopolitan inspiration.
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.
In an awesome Hollywood showdown in the style of Miss Universe, we found out that the real winner was the picture “Moonlight” not the wrongfully announced La La Land.
Presenter Warren Beatty said he wasn’t joking.
In a bizarre altogether Oscar Night, the end was more stunning than the styles of the dresses, predictions or the creators.
As the saying goes, life itself is a story.
Thank you Hollywood and Jimmy Kimmel for a night to remember.
The fairy tale night had a happy ending for all the previous complainers, and for some strangers on a Hollywood tour just passing through the Oscar night ceremony, and bumping into amused stars. Some of them appeared to be scared for life.
Jennifer Aniston involuntarily gave up her cool shades for a tourist lady.
Wow, how dare you Jimmy, take my shades.
Denzel Washington gave his blessings to a pair to be wed in July.
And of course the wrong announcement of the Best Picture 2017. Well, it all worked out to the immense happiness of the stage called the “world.”
Thank you all for so much fun.
Copyright (c) 2017 Emma Blogs, LLC. All rrights reserved.