Category Archives: Lent

Operation Rice Bowl

Lenten journeys

Operation Rice Bowl started on Ash Wednesday.

Parnell, MI – I picked up our Lenten rice bowl at St. Pat’s Church Parish offices in Parnell this morning right after the Friday mass along with the Little Black Book of six-minute meditations. The daily meditations booklet is my “vade mecum” that will travel with me for the next 50 days. The booklet’s cover is black without a title making it easy to read anywhere without stirring attention.

Secretary Darci Mierendorf informed they were running out of print materials really fast.

“I suppose that’s a good thing,” she said. “We’ve increased the mass attendance list to 140 names.”

Ah, the list that we haven’t been able to get on to participate in a Sunday or a feast mass, is ever elusive. By the time I open the sign-up form on Monday morning, it’s usually filled up except for the early morning masses.

Darci said that the Bishop has lifted the dispensation from Sunday masses as of Ash Wednesday. However, if you can’t get on the list after putting forth the effort, you are allowed to watch live streaming on Facebook both from St. Andrew’s Cathedral and from St. Pat’s.

We’ve been doing just that for close to a year now as COVID-19 hit during last year’s Lent.

I’ve always been fascinated by the power of the rice bowl to help the needy around the globe. For example $40 goes for infant scales to measure growth, $80 can buy chickens to provide eggs for protein and income. $120 contributes to a household garden for family nutrition.

During Lent, I embark on different journeys and the one below started on Feb. 1 and I absolutely love it. It’s my literary pilgrimige that I hope to make into a tradition.

Winter Virtual Book Festival by Pages Promotions LLC.

Blind date with a book going strong

Last night the history workshop with authors JuliAnne Sisung and Xander Cross was so informative, that I might have to buy a replay of it for $5. Loaded with information, the two authors covered so much territory that I had trouble distinguishing between the past, present and the future.

Among the many discoveries that shocked me was that YouTube can be used as a primary research tool much like digging in the attic for old letters, photos and postcards or visiting your hometown museum.

“There are two types of history,” said Sisung. “Cultural and social.”

We also found out that human nature is slow to evolve and that historic events cycle, thus the saying “history repeats itself.”

I realized that while writing my new book “Greenwich Meridian Memoir” which is set on the backdrop of two major historical events: the 1968 Prague Spring and the 1989 Velvet Revolution.

I used this opening quote to roll out the historical feast:

And history has a tendency to repeat itself as Bohemian writer, screenwriter and film director Vladislav Vancura put it:

Aren’t human thoughts and desires like a stream hidden in rain drops and in elusive feelings? They can be discarded, but they come back in a new form giving way to action. And then comes the trial of one era with the next, then comes the renewal of resources, then comes victory.

To be continued………Lenten journeys

The replay of the history workshop is available at:

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Ash Wednesday marks the start of Lent

Purple is the color of Lent

As we woke up to -14 F degree temperatures, yesterday’s snow has already hardened on the patio and the white icy cupola on the balcony continues to get bigger. The sun bathed my flowers in the sunroom and warmed up the cold tiles.

I call my sunroom a COVID-19 sanctuary that protects me from the outside world no matter the season. It offers light and shelter to the outdoor plants that I bring inside in the fall. My mom Ella brings her plants for the winter while she stays in Venice, FL.

However, in the deadbeat of winter, the COVID sanctuary takes on a special meaning as the Phalaenopsis moth orchids start to bloom in their purples and yellows bringing the sunroom alive.

By the orchid blossoms, I know we’re midway into February which means that Ash Wednesday is here. I usually go in the morning to St. Pat’s Church in Parnell to get the ash cross on my forehead, but not this year due to COVID. We didn’t get on the list of 100 people to attend the Ash Wednesday mass, so we will be watching the livestream on TV or Facebook in the evening.

Purple is the color of Lent that preceeds Easter. The tradition has it that we should be giving up something for Lent. I’d rather take on something new, which is fine too. I’ve given up a lot of things including drinking coffee. I drink a myriad of herbal teas instead; I’ve never been fond of coffee anyways. I don’t have a problem giving up meat on Fridays, as I am trying to cut down on meat too.

I tried fasting today with a growling stomach and my eyes set on wild rice soup or gumbo. Like a good catholic girl, I put the soup packets back in the pantry and boiled some broccoli. Tonight, I will make either lentils or cauliflower with eggs.

Lenten change of pace, fish for Fridays

Blue Gills

Where to get your fish

I like the change of pace during Lent. We don’t go out to eat on Lenten Fridays even though we could do a fish fry at any local restaurant. According to the Lenten traditions, we should not eat meat on Fridays. I am a fish lover; I love fish, any fish and all fish.

During winter, I get my fish from DMS Fish Supply at their monthly fish drop in Ada. The next fish drop will be on March 4th with pick up from 3 to 3:30 p.m. Check out the story “In Search of Inspiration: The Fishmonger by clicking on the following link:

You can also go ice fishing on any of the lakes in Michigan. A story is coming up.

Also in purple, the PopUp Book Shop

Pages Promotions Virtual Book Festival PopUp Book Shop

Don’t forget to join our “Blind Date with a Book” Virtual Book Festival that runs through February, visit the festival PopUp Book Shop. You must pre-register for all events including Indie author readings and workshops. We still have a lot to offer from comedy writing to creating suspense. Go to:

Stay tuned for my links to the replays of Indie author readings at the Pages Promotions Virtual Book Festival.

Copyright (c) 2021. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

Day 11: COVID-19 quarantine gives time to enjoy nature’s gifts

First walk to the Franciscans

The nature oblivious to the Coronavirus horrors is waking up from its winter’s sleep.

I enjoyed nature’s gifts during my first walk to the The Franciscan Life Process Center: daffodils getting ready to burst open, birds singing and frogs croaking in the swamp off the gravel road.

Just under two miles, the walk covers a variety of terrain and vegetation enhanced by the beautiful landscape at the Franciscan campus outside of Lowell.

The ornamental grasses were neatly trimmed and the colors of the meadow were changing from yellowish to green. I walked past the vacant parking lot to the St. Mary’s Rosary Walk.

On normal days, the center is busy with arts and music programming. People from far and near enjoy the Franciscans’ offerings: everything from painting au plain air, music instruction, community gardening, trails to retreats in the yurts or the San Pietro house.

The gardening team is usually busy with their landscaping tasks.

But today it was quiet as the silence pierced my ears and only an occasional robin broke the spell.

I spent some quiet time on St. Mary’s Plazza as one of the sisters, who was walking her mutt Pico, greeted me.

“What a beautiful day,” she said.

“Yes, it’s gorgeous.”

At that moment I realized how fortunate we were to enjoy the beautiful Friday afternoon far away from the nation’s Coronavirus hot spots.

“What is your name?” the sister asked.

“I am Emma,” I answered. “And yours?”

“I am sister Mary Paula,” she said.

There has never been a need for social distancing outside the buildings at the center surrounded by open space. I walked the way of the cross several times and I have never encountered a single soul. The same goes for the trails on the 230-acre campus, where you immerse yourself in serenity.

When I got home, my husband Ludek was cleaning up around the outdoors furnace after a long winter.

“Let’s go somewhere, it’s Friday afternoon,” I said.

“There’s nowhere to go,” he said.

There is still nature left and its bountiful gifts for us to enjoy in the times of the Coronavirus.

Tips: Consider the COVID-19 quarantine as your personal retreat away from the society’s hustle and bustle. Let it transform you.

Featured photo: the retreat yurts at the Franciscan Life Process Center.

Stay tuned for continued day by day coverage of the Coronavirus crisis.

Visit the Franciscans at:


Copyright (c) 2020. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

Lenten soups

Lent, a time to reflect

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Lent is a spiritual time of reflection for 40 days before Easter observed by Christians around the world. It begins with Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Thursday, April 18 this year.

It is marked by the color purple and fasting. On Lenten Fridays, Christians should abstain from meat and excessive drinking.

One of its traditions are Lenten soups served by many local parish communities such as The Franciscan Life Process Center. The following soups, donated by the area restaurants, will be offered on Lenten Wednesdays:

March 20th Cannonsburg Catering Potato Soup Dilly Bread

March 27th Applause Catering Broccoli Cheese Oatmeal Bread

April 3rd G RCC Culinary Program Beef Barley Cinnamon Bread

April 10th Vitale’s Ada Minestrone Extreme Garlic

With its deeply embedded traditions, Lent has inspired many of my stories and writings. My favorite soup, not only for Lent, is Mediterranean lentil soup with lemon and turmeric.

Excerpt from “Shifting Sands: Secrets”

Amora decided to further think about a night walk under the moon in pursuit of a glimpse of the giant silk moth.

In the meantime, she would do some research about the luminous winged wonder, and find a clock that wouldn’t be as noisy.

Worse even yet in the cottage living, you couldn’t release any stink either; like frying a fish on a Lenten Friday or on any Friday. Being a good Catholic, Amora made sure she never ate meat on Fridays. Unlike Margot, who both ate meat and drank on Lenten Fridays, Amora stuck to her acquired routine.

Undisciplined Amora had to build up her routine like a bee flying from a wild flower to an order trapped in her own beehive.

“Are we going out on Friday, Amora?” Margot asked when they were gossiping on the balcony.

“We shouldn’t,” Amora said. “It’s Lent. You should know that, you’re Irish.”

They decided to go anyways to the old Irish Pub with dubious reputation in downtown. They settled at their favorite table in the corner.

“Will it be the usual two Killarneys for the ladies?” asked the waiter.

“Just one,” snapped Amora. “It’s Lent.”

“For you, mam?” the waiter looked surprised at Amora.

“No, for her,” Amora pointed at Margot.

“Slainte,” Margot smiled at the waiter. “That’s cheers in Irish.”

The waiter brought the reddish beer and a glass of water full of ice. for Amora. Margot disciplined herself and ordered fish and chips like Amora.

“At least it’s cheap,” Margot said eating her chips. “Tell me all about him.”

“Who?” Amora was shocked.

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

Mardi Gras

Grease up for Fat Tuesday

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Lowell, MI- We’re heading into the Mardi Gras weekend with Fat Tuesday coming up on Feb. 28, which is better late than never.

“Everything is going to be late and screwed up,” said my forever pessimistic husband Ludek.

He was most likely referring to the late onset of the much coveted gardening and yard season in Midwest USA.

Fasching Fenn Valley winery 1998

The Lenten resolutions, fasting and such

Tuesday is the last day when you can be a glutton, which is one of the seven deadly sins, as I have learned in a recent therapeutic meeting and from Brad Pitt’s movie, “Se7en.” That is if you are a catholic. And even if you are not, the start of Lent on March 1st, known as Ash Wednesday, can become your six-week diet program, depending on the interpretation of Lent.

That way,  you can fit into that nice spring white or green Easter dress.

The newspaper take on Lent, what do you give up?

“What are you going to give up for Lent?” was the standby question  at the newspapers  and out on the streets with the feature, “Man on the Street” before the multi-media journalism take-over.

Whoever was assigned to do this, would usually stand by the US Post Office to catch innocent users and fry them with the question of the week, and a mandatory head shot.

“Oh, I hate my photo taken,” was the common reply, and after a while. “Oh,oh. I usually give up coffee.”

And that was a standard lie, one of the seven deadly sins.

The social media have made this obnoxious “Man on the Street” feature obsolete, and substituted it with voluntary selfies and profile pics. Now, you can freely render your opinion on any platform from twitter to reddit, all the way to the new planetary system of Trappist 1.

“Hey, I love Mardi Gras, I can finally be myself,” posted XOXOX with the profile pic of  a cat.

At one point, I modified the newspaper question along with some other fine writers to, “What are we going to take on that we haven’t done before?”

The Paczki take on Mardi Gras

My American outtake on Mardi Gras is that I go either to the local Meijer store or to the Honey Creek Grist Mill and buy me some greasy Paczki (Polish donuts) and forget about all my diets and resolutions.

I could also go to the Franciscan Sisters Life Process Center and learn how to bake the paczkis, in case I  want to impress.


What I would really like to do is go to a true Fashing Karnival without having to go to Germany or to Brazil for Mardi Gras drag queens.

Mardi Gras in Lowell, ha,ha,ha

Years ago, my Lowell Ledger editor Jeanne B. laughed at me, when I asked if Lowell was doing anything for Mardi Gras.

“Are you crazy?” she laughed. “Go and ask Liz.”

Liz is the ever populist Lowell chamber director and she can be a lot of fun. Just ask the merchants during the annual Girls Night Out (GNO) events in the spring and fall. But, no fun for Mardi Gras.

“Are you out of your mind, here in Lowell?” Liz gasped for some fresh air.

Well, the Fenn Valley winery of German origin didn’t seem to think that putting on a Fashink Karnival was all that crazy. Although, they  did it only twice, and something probably happened in between.

Fenn Valley winery Fashink 1998

Ludek and I were lucky enough to hit the Fasching Karnival at Fenn Valley in 1998. That was the year when the movie Titanic directed by James Cameron was bigger than the sunken ship itself in 1912.

Check out the 2014 story when Ludek and I dressed up for the only Fasching Karnival we’ve attended so far. We dressed up as Chicagoland gangsters, only to run into more like us at the winery party.

We just didn’t have the violin case. Next time. We’re still looking for a great Mardi Gras aka Carnival or Fasching party, that is something before Halloween.

Halloween seems to consume Mardi Gras masks and costumes for whatever reason.

Go figure.

Mardi Gras crafts DIY

Celebrate Mardi Gras and DIY Mardi Gras Coin Topiaries

The big carnivals that I would like to go to:

Brazilian Carnival

Carnival of Venice

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