Category Archives: nature

Writing Away 2019

Florida retreat brings inspirations with excerpts

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Just move,” Elin encourages.

Excerpts from the “Chief”

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

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

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

Ricky looked directly at the mayor fidgeting.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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In the dark

Day four of power outage with excerpts from “Waiting for Snow”

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Lowell, MI – I have just finished cooking Sunday dinner, as Ludek ran back in the house shouting, “Everything is back on.” I could finally hear the air coming from the heating vents, as the house came alive with sounds.

During the four-day long power outage, I had to learn how to ration the energy from the generator; it was either the water pump or another appliance on top of keeping up the house temperature to prevent the pipes from freezing. I had to fill jars with water.

Even brewing a cup of tea became an unsurmountable task, because the kettle was taking too much power.

I could either use the stovetop or the oven, but not both. Then came the issue with “potty breaks” and not enough water beyond two flushes.

After a while, the oven knocked out the generator due to overload. It managed to maintain the heat in the house while we were using the woodstove as a back-up when the generator went out.

We had the last power outage of this magnitude during the spring ice storm of 2003. The generator got its test run.

This morning we ate hot breakfast at Saint Pat’s parish hall. On our way back, we finally spotted the Consumer’s trucks working on power lines near the Franciscans.

“They’re getting closer,” I said.

“Close is not good enough,” Ludek said.

Last night we returned from the new production of Phantom of the Opera at the Miller Auditorium in Kalamazoo to our house and neighborhood pitched in black. I thought I was back at the opera with the phantom lurking in the surrounding woods and singing “Angel of Music:”

“Angel of music, guide and guardian………”

The worn-out generator stopped running and Ludek had to fix it again-something about spark plugs. The house was still warm, so the generator must have been running for most of the afternoon.

As of yesterday, the Celebrations Cinemas started offering free movies for people to warm up.

I watched the disturbing news: An 82-year-old lady made it through the outage by warming up in her car, running back home for a bathroom break. In the evening, she visited with her sister.

“She’s a nun, so I joined the convent,” the lady joked.

On Sunday morning, we passed the Consumer’s restoration time of 3:30 a.m. No power.

But the Facebook posts from people getting back power were very encouraging and enlightening. The smallest tasks turned into accomplishments during the power outage.

Eight states were helping Consumer’s restore power in ice-stricken Michigan around the clock. There were more than 200,000 people without power.

“Thank you, guys.”

Friday, Feb. 8

The temperature in the house is dropping quickly; it’s down to 62 F now. It is 16 degrees outside with winds gusting at 45 mph. The weather advisory warns of large chunks of ice falling from trees and power lines; rain showers will change to snow showers and wet roads will quickly freeze.

We’ve been without power since 10:30 am yesterday, Feb. 7, 2019. During the last two weeks, we got the wrath of the polar vortex, refreeze and now flash freeze. The generator wasn’t working until now, as Ludek had to come home from work early to fix it. He brought me a large cup of hot coffee.

When the power goes out in the country, that means the water pump stops working and we’re without water as well. From the window of my writing studio, I see the snow swirling in the wind. Our spruce tree with drooping branches turned into a green tent.

At the onset of the refreeze on Wednesday, Feb. 6. I experienced strange energy. Eight minutes before the end of my yoga session with Elin, the TV screen went dark. A strange force propelled me to put on my boots, sweatshirt and jacket. I went into the gardens surrounding our country home to take photos. I shouldn’t have. The branches were cracking under the weight of ice. I started feeling dizzy and almost passed out in my little veggie and herb garden. I looked at the frozen Weigela shrub and thought of the novel “Thorn Birds” by Colleen McCullough. The main character priest Ralph de Bricassart dies in the beautiful gardens in Australia.

“Lord, please do not let me die yet until my work is finished,” I said.

Winter strengthens the silence in the country when the wind is not blowing and the branches or power lines are not falling to the ground.

The woodstove now glows with fire and warmth. I am brewing some hot tea by Health King and listening to the struggling generator outside. I realize that we remain totally at the mercy of nature. It is a humbling thought.

As the Chinese say: Water is the most powerful element because of its non-resistance. It wears a hole in a rock drop by drop, and tears away everything in front of it.

“Fallasburg looks like a war zone,” a friend posted on Facebook from the nearby Kent County park.

Others posted that the weather outside and the power outage are romantic, conducive to a simple life before technology. I can see the romance in the ice encased landscape, in the burning wood that was chopped from the trees above the hill over the railroad tracks and in the cup of tea.

As neighbors, we’re used to helping each other in times of need such as this. The garbage hasn’t been hauled away for two weeks in a row. Last week, we were without postal service. The Internet is not working. The school has been out for 10 days. The politicians say that the kids won’t have to make up for lost time. The Consumers gave us no restoration time for power.

Time in all its dimensions is often the subject of my stories. Most recently, I wrote a short story “Waiting for Snow.” Last year, an exhibit at the Franciscan Sisters showcased “Waiting for Spring.” Now, I could write “Waiting for Power.”

My brother Vas, who lives in Paris, MI, complains that he’s constantly waiting for something.

“Wait till Hell freezes over.”

And there is actually a community in Michigan that is called Hell. I’ve never been there. When the snow and ice are gone, I might swing over there to check it out.

Everything is relative to time and in time.

Excerpt from “Waiting for Snow”

It was January in the new year of the Earth Pig, and there was still no snow on the ground. Green stalks of grass and weeds were peeking out of the ground and laughing in the wind at the parked snowmobiles with no riders. Other equipment too was idling.

The eager machines just sat still waiting in the front and backyards. Mother Earth was refusing to cooperate on one side, on the other she released her wrath on the coastal states.

The Midwest was sleeping its winter dream dipped into deep dry freeze and after the holiday blues. A man in the tiny community of Paris put some water in his coffee maker. The year-round Christmas tree was still lit and cast colorful lights on the modest kitchen with a broken cabinet underneath the kitchen sink. He stored a bucket with a rag there for his chores; now this was a habit from the old country in Europe.

The first morning cigarette of the day was the best one. He deeply inhaled and let out the smoke in gray circles. One wall of the mobile home was an entire mirror divided into three separate sections. He often walked to the mirror wall to look at himself. But just before looking in the mirror, Colin had to look outside. He pulled aside the checkered racing flag that was covering the window overlooking the front yard with a view on Paris Road.

Colin had to move through a set of obstacles to get to the window. These were large train layouts taking up the entire living room. Colin’s mom called it a fire safety hazard, so would the firemen.

The green and yellow grass lacked the coveted white cover. Colin carefully stepped outside on the wooden steps to make sure there was no snow. He went to the green snowmobile with the new permit and a full tank of gas.

Paris sat on an extensive trail system close to a county park. The community had a motel, a pizza parlor and a general store “Papa’s;” all located on the trail.

Colin, always wearing a train conductor’s black hat, called himself “The Trainman.”

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

Reprieve

There is no Reprieve from writing. Call it passion, obsession or both.

The writing demons in my head woke me up early in the morning, somewhere between the night and the day.

The persistent insomnia caused by the flow of ideas perpetuates itself from day into the night and vice versa. It is a dream come true for any writer; that is fluent writing time without blocks.

It is especially important now as I am moving into the publishing finale of my “Shifting Sands Short Stories.”

It is in this quiet time without outside disturbing energies, that I manage to write the most. Plus, I have the rest of the day to reflect on the morning production to improve it and carry it forward.

Just to illustrate how early this morning’s start was is that when I checked the Daily Post prompt for today @reprieve around 6 or 7 a.m. there were no responses yet. As I write this some five hours later, there were 64 interpretations of the “reprieve” prompt.

I find the reprieve theme very fitting before the Memorial Day long weekend. It will be a good quality time spent grilling, gardening and at my favorite spot on Murray Lake.

On Monday, I like to go to the Memorial Day parade in Lowell to honor the veterans at the Oakwood Cemetery.

Sexton Don DeJong makes the cemetery a place to observe history with his historical cemetery walks. DeJong has compiled the cemetery info into several books over the years. Watch for more stories.

wpid-20140708_185948.jpg
Boating on Murray Lake in Michigan.

I am grateful for this much-needed time off for all of us to restart again.

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

 

 

Freeze takes asparagus for Mother’s Day

Freeze takes away asparagus for Mother’s Day

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Lowell, MI- I walked into Bob Kietzmann’s farm on Grand River Drive yesterday, in the wake of the bad news of Monday’s frost damage to Michigan asparagus.

The barn was empty with all but a scale and a can with the label touting asparagus for $2.50. Empty yellow caddies were laying all around. There was also a black notebook, the Kietzmann’s Asparagus Ledger for people to sign off on their purchases. The sale of asparagus at the farm has been based on an honor system  since it started 24 years ago.

20170511_175907_001
Saranac asparagus farmer Bob Kietzmann

Usually, there are yellow boxes loaded with firm green stalks of asparagus, people digging in and picking for the best ones, and a bunch of recipes on the table. The bustle lasts well into mid-June on a normal year..

And the week of Mother’s Day is always the busiest time for asparagus, according to owner Bob Kietzmann.

It didn’t take too long for Kietzmann to arrive on the vacated barn scene. Yes, there wasn’t even a sales sign off the busy road that parallels I-96, near the Lowell exit.

“Can we help you?” asked Kietzmann.

“Sure, I want some asparagus,” I said.

“Well, the good guy up there arranged that we won’t have any, until next week,” said Kietzmann tilting his hat as he squinted into the late afternoon sun. “Mine froze too.”

We walked into Kietzmann’s sunlit office to chat about the asparagus that has been damaged by the frost. Kietzmann estimated he lost approximately 20 percent of his crop.

“It’s really hard to say,” he nodded.

Three years ago, kids from the Saranac FFA (Future Farmers of America) planted 50,000 crows of asparagus over four nights on a six acre parcel.

“It takes six years for asparagus to be profitable,” Kietzmann said.

However, asparagus is a fast growing plant. It can grow anywhere from two to three inches overnight at 50 to 60 degrees.

“It grows best at night,” said Kietzmann.

We took a ride into the nearby asparagus field. Kietzmann pointed out the translucent asparagus stalks damaged by the frost wilting into the ground.

The good news is that the first and second pickings were early this year at the end of April due to warm weather.

“Anything that is in the ground didn’t freeze,” said Kietzmann. “We already had two rounds.”

On a good harvest day, one picking is in the morning around 7 a.m. and the other one is at 6 p.m.

The picking height of asparagus is from seven to 10 inches, and there is hardly any waste.

Kietzmann started picking wild asparagus in the ditches along the road as a kid dreaming of a day when he would have a ½ bushel for himself.

“I’ve been picking it since I could walk,” he said.

Well, that day came after years of milking cows and building farm equipment.

“We’ve picked asparagus in the snow in May,” he said. “We’ve only had three year like this with the frost damaging the asparagus.”

And Kietzmann loves meeting customers from all over Michigan.

“I have guys come in here buying asparagus for their mothers,” Kietzmann laughed. “They’ve never even tasted asparagus.”

Some customers ask for asparagus bunches like they find at the stores.

“Well we don’t have that here,” he said.

The rider for picking asparagus has two blades that cut the asparagus in two rows and throws it in the bin. Now, due to frost, asparagus will have to be sorted from the damaged stalks.

By July, the asparagus plants tire out or fern out.

“Then it’s done for the year,” he said. “I spray for weeds after we’re done picking.”

At Heidi’s farm market stand on M-50, there was some asparagus from Hart still left,  that was cut last Sunday.

Luckily, the shortage is only temporary, until next Monday.

Temporary

The annual asparagus festival takes place in Hart, Michigan on June 9, 10, & 11.

http://www.nationalasparagusfestival.org/

For more info on Heidi’s go to www.heidisfarmstand.com

Copyright © 2017. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

Spring fishing for relaxation

Relaxing into the outdoors

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Lowell, MI – I am working on exploring new methods to alleviate mental distress  as expressed in the article, “Easter Fishing.”

I will take it one step at a time: First I will find the patience for morel hunting (May 2 article), second I will learn how to fish and golf and thirdly I will take on boating.

But, for now I have to get out my kayak, and hit the waters of my beloved Murray Lake.

We’re getting a one day break from the rain and cold, according to forecasts. But, who knows?

What would you do with that one awesome daybreak from the cold, wind and the dark in your life?

I am looking forward to new horizons.

http://roughfish.com/content/easter-and-cure-mental-distress

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

Earth Day 2017

Celebrate Earth Day

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Lowell, MI – As the nature awakens, we celebrate Earth Day today. The first widely recognized Earth Day was held in 1970 when an environmental Teach-In group planned an event for April 22.

But every day is an Earth Day celebration to recognize the greatest resource of all, and that is our planet Earth.

To celebrate the Earth Week, I started my annual walk to the Franciscan Life Process Center (FLPC) on Monday. The 1.8 mile hike on a gravel road has been a staple of my mental and physical sanity since 1995 when we moved out into this northeast corner of Kent County in West Michigan.

I marveled at the untouched nature coming to life; plants vigorously emerging from the wet dirt from yesterday’s rains, robins hopping under the pine trees among the new ground cover.

Crisp morning air and dew covered the new grass and stems.

The area consists of preserved farmland thanks to late philanthropist Peter Wege, apple orchards, woods and streams. Wild flowers are now popping out in the woods, and morel mushrooms are around the corner, or should I say around the stumps.

I love the farm markets with the local produce starting soon with local asparagus.

Different trail systems like the Fred Meijer River Valley trails and Lowell Area trials meet here at the confluence of Grand River and Flat River. We’ve been blessed with an abundance of natural resources from the Bradford Dickinson White Nature Preserve in Lowell Township, Wege Wittenbach AgriScience center, Sessions Lake and Fallasburg Park. Hundreds of inland lakes dot the picturesque region.

The Midwest entices with its variety of seasons, landscapes, Great Lakes and diverse communities.

For more info on the trails go to:

www.traillink.com

Land Conservancy of West Michigan

www.naturenearby.org

Wittenbach/Wege Center

http://www.lowellschools.com

Franciscan Life Process Center

http://www.lifeprocesscenter.org

 

Copyright © 2017. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

First day of spring

Reigning in the spring equinox energy

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Lowell, MI- The first day of spring means new beginnings to me after the long winter. And even though everything is yellowish brown outside, I have a vision of everything turning green soon.

As I drove to a meeting this afternoon, there were still tree limbs on the sides of the road, remnants of the last winter storms with high winds.

However, by the parking lot, I found some new green stems pushing out of the hard ground. Also some trees are starting to show tiny buds and the willows branches have a sharp yellow color.

My friends at the meeting said they were excited about the afternoon because they would be outside picking sticks from their yards.

“Yes, picking sticks sounds good,” T.G. laughed. “I also have a great spring report.”

Spring equinox
Spring equinox signifies new life.

I couldn’t agree more. After long months of being trapped inside, anything outdoors sounds good.

T.G.’s spring report turned great as well. You can see it in the feature photo. T.G. has a beef cattle breeding farm. And with it spring brings calves, new life. The pictured black Angus cow just gave birth on the first day of spring to the calf  by her out in the pastures.

According to T.G., this breed of cows, always gives birth to calves outside, not in the stables.

Annually, I take an inventory of the past winter and the toll it has taken on life. Some of our dearest have not survived the winter. We have lost my dad’s last living sibling, Aunt Marta. She passed away on January 7, 2017 in Stipa, Czech Republic. In February, we lost our first neighbor on Downes Street, whom we met, when we moved out into the country in 1995. That was Allegonda (Connie) Kazemier, born in the Netherlands.

The Lowell community lost a great artist, Jan Johnson, who has inspired generations of artists in the Greater Grand Rapids area.

But, I also look at the positives that have come out of this winter’s hibernation.

Winter gives me an opportunity to focus on some things that go unnoticed during the pretty live seasons of spring, summer and fall.

This may include projects that I have been procrastinating in finishing. Most of them have much to do with writing, and the development of writing projects.

But, this time I’d like to write about personal development, and by this I don’t mean weight loss or other personal gains and losses.

Over the winter, I’ve changed a lot of things in my lifestyle. I still suffer from insomnia, so I use the early morning hours to meditate and to organize my thoughts.

This gives me sort of head start into the new day. I like to go through daily readings in the morning before I start writing. It’s still dark outside, and I can only hear the fan by the wood stove humming. Sometimes, I see the Big Dipper in the northeast corner of my studio view.

I am not as dead set on goals as I used to be. As long as I get through some piles on my desk, and see sentences materialize in front of me.

I enjoy discovering new blogs. I find them a constant source of inspiration, and support. I found support in  the Daily Post prompt @luck last Friday on St. Pat’s Day.  As I browsed other blogs, I came across “My Invisible Illnesses.” The author among other things writes about fibromyalgia, a mysterious condition, that some docs laugh at.

Over the winter, I’ve learned to nurture my love for art so I can share it with others.

I’ve gained new appreciation for our Konecny family roots in the Konecny Saga, and I am working on how to share this so others can do their research as well.

I immerse myself in arts for reprieve and inspiration.

I still like to develop new projects on top of unfinished ones. I know it’s a no no, but I usually get back to the unfinished stuff as well.

I have discovered that the energy behind different projects keeps changing. Sometimes it rekindles old feelings, and gives them new light.

With spring I like to refocus and reign in some of that spring equinox energy. The warm sun is doing wonders on the mind and the spirit, as I pull tight jeans over the body.

I’ve increased the spiritual awareness of being and existence with the help of many of my spiritualist friends. I will dedicate a separate chapter to them, as I credit them with a lot of my improved health-being.

I am looking forward to this spring with a new set of eyes of appreciation and gratitude for simply being.

I dedicate this Spring Equinox Energy post to my son Jakub Pala.

“We did it,” said Josephine Marie Palova, at the end of a week-long babysitting sting in Hastings.

Yes, we did it. We made it through winter stronger.

 

 

Copyright © 2017. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

Stormed out

Mother Nature shows her way leaving devastation behind

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Hastings, MI- As I drove north to Lowell through the Barry County farmlands on Wednesday, 54-mile wind gusts were throwing the small orange Dart across the country road. Broken limbs and twigs were hitting the dancing car in the wind.

The forecast didn’t sound as bad as it was, otherwise I would have stayed at the “Pala fortress” near the Yankee Springs Recreation Area.

We stationed ourselves at the “fortress” for a week-long stint last Saturday to watch the grand kids. Our son Jake with wife Maranda took off to Bali, Indonesia to celebrate his 30th birthday.

Early spring storms in the Midwest on the Great Lakes can be vicious with freezing rain and power outages lasting for days. These however make for beautiful waves and vistas on the nearby Lake Michigan.

Above photos of the March 8th storm damage in the Lowell area are by Amanda Schrauben of Lowell.

The featured photo by Bob Walma shows waves sweeping over the Grand Haven lighthouse on Wednesday. The pier and the boardwalk were completely covered by water all day, according to friends living in Grand Haven.

Right off the bat near Hastings, the traffic lights swaying in the wind went out. I was holding on tight to the steering wheel to keep the car on the road.

When I got out of the car at a gas station on the I-96 freeway, I almost got swept away. The wind picked up grains of sand and whipped them into my face.

The weekly meeting was cancelled due to power outage, and I couldn’t get to my home base Lowell office because a tree had fallen into the roadway.

“The office is closed, they have no power,” a friend hollered into the wind.

Neighbor Catherine had already reported a power outage on Tuesday, with the new one on its way. To make things worse, the forecast called for more freezing temperatures overnight, and we did not have the house in Lowell wintered for another freezing spell.

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Hastings Public Library

I finished the International Women’s Day post “Be Bold for Change” at the Lowell KDL library yesterday, one of few places left in the area that still had the Internet.

I drove back to Hastings in worsening conditions, wondering if I should turn back, but I had nowhere to go, since the power was out at the Lowell home as well.

Some roads were completely blocked with trees in the way. When I finally got to the “fortress”, I couldn’t open the garage door, so I knew the power was out here as well, some 50 miles down south from home.

Moreover, the Consumers predicted that the power in both places, at the Hastings fortress and at the Lowell home, would be out until Saturday.

“I got to go back to Lowell to get the generator,” husband Ludek snapped angrily at me, because our lines of communication went bad, and we missed each other’s calls.

“Why doesn’t Jake have a generator here in this Hicksville, anyways?”

Probably for the same reason we didn’t have one for 10 years at the Lowell home, until the April freezing rain in 2002 knocked out the power for five days. That year, we almost froze to death.

Back in Lowell on Downes Road, Ludek and other neighbors couldn’t get to the houses because of fallen wires across the roads, and a fire truck blocking the way.

Ludek pioneered the way to the houses using the neighbor’s backyards, in spite of complaints.

“Hey, you can’t walk across that wire,” yelled a firefighter at this relentless man.

Swearing, Ludek loaded the generator, let the water out of the pipes, and headed back to Hastings.

Meanwhile, the kids and I were eating cold meatloaf with mashed potatoes just as the lights went back on.

“Why did they say the power wasn’t going to be up until Saturday?” Ludek continued to swear at Consumers as he made his grand entrance.

“You live in the boondocks,” I said. “You gotta have a generator.”

Luckily, we made it out alive and with roofs over our heads at both places, cars and garages intact. Ludek reported a semi-truck knocked on the side by the Caledonia exit off the I-96 freeway.

This morning at the Hastings Library, I went through the Facebook reports from friends in Lowell.

“I am cold,” neighbor Catherine wrote. “No power until Saturday, please don’t let that be true.”

The local Meijer store had no electricity but stayed open. There were even waves on the tiny Stoney Lake.

The wind gusts uprooted trees, knocked down roofs, sidings, glass doors and created havoc across Michigan. Close to 600, 000 people were left without power.

“Thousands of people are without power,” said the Consumers recorded message last night. “We have no more restoration information.”

It was one of the biggest storms in the last 25 years, according to meteorologists.

There are several upsides to this windstorm of 2017, such as that I get to know my local libraries.

Yes, kids. March is the reading month. And libraries are very cool. Visit them always, not just during storms. They are here for us to embrace for work and for fun.

Thank you Hastings and Lowell libraries for staying open.

 

Copyright © 2017. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

IW Inspiring Women- Artist Linda Kropf Phillips

Dear friends,

I am bringing back the popular IW Inspiring Women series for the winter. The series carries the logo of the enigmatic orchids which come in a thousand of varieties, each bringing joy with her own beauty. Much like the women in this world.

Orchids in full bloom
Enigmatic orchids

In this series I bring to you the stories of women who inspire others with their character, actions and the love for what they do. As daughters, mothers, grandmothers and wives, they all make a difference in their own way.

All of them juggle different responsibilities; to themselves, to the families and to the society at large.

Their value is not listed in dollars they bring to the economy, but in their contribution to bettering the lives of other people.

Meet artist turned hunter Linda Kropf Phillips

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Lowell, MI- I first met artist Linda Kropf Phillips, owner of Natures Serenity, at a little known bazaar in the historic village of Fallasburg two years ago.

She was manning the booth with her brother Jerry Kropf. Most people in the area know the name Kropf, as the well- established owners of the Kropf apple orchards.

“Are you related to the Kropfs?” was one of my questions during a recent interview with Linda.

Natures Serenity
Artist Linda Kropf Phillips with first sketches.

“Which ones?” she asked.

“The apple farmers?”

“My father was the carpenter in the family,” Linda said.

It was her father Bob Kropf ,who not only inspired Linda, but who also taught her perfection in glass etching of gun cabinets and everything else in business, like reasonable pricing.

“My dad challenged me,” she said. “I worked in his wood shop for 20 years at Murray Lake. He taught me a lot of woodwork. I taught myself glass etching on china and glass cabinets.”

Yes, there was no challenge too big for Linda to handle, whether it was the etching of a standing bear and a partridge flying over his head, or other intrinsic scenes from nature.

Linda Kropf Phillips
Linda Kropf Phllips hunting Up North.

“I found a picture of a standing bear in a magazine,” Linda said.

One of her first drawings was a sketch of the GI Joe doll. Some four decades later, Linda easily found the pencil drawing at the house.  And it was not just the doll, but also some sketches of the Beatles.

Linda started drawing when she was 11 years old. Growing up as a 4-H girl and doing rodeo, she loved to draw horses.

She went to the Alton country school from 1964 to 1968 prior to going to the Lowell public schools.

“I rode my horse to school,” she laughed.

But, sometimes it was mom Jan Kropf who played the bus driver loading up the kids in a car and hauling them to school.

Archery hunting.
Linda Kropf Phillips prefers to hunt with bow & arrow.

Linda graduated from the Lowell High School in 1976, and she received the perfect graduation gift.

It was tuition for one year at the Kendall College of Art & Design in Grand Rapids. She had already taken advanced ceramics and design classes in high school. In sixth grade, Linda also took art classes from local artist Jan Johnson.

Four years ago, Linda started her Natures Serenity line of artwork on slab and drift wood.

“I love being outside, hunting, taking pictures of nature and kayaking,” she said.

While kayaking on the Flat River on the morning the Whites Bridge in Smyrna burnt, Linda found pieces of driftwood and metal from the bridge down the river.

She painted the covered Whites Bridge on a piece of driftwood and hung it on the metal from the bridge. First the driftwood had to dry out and Linda coated it with three to four coats of polyurethane to preserve them.

One of the early trophy deer.
One of the early trophy deer.

The two pieces sold at the Danish Festival in 2014 in Greenville with half of the proceeds going to the “Rebuild Whites Bridge” organization.

Artist Linda is also an avid hunter, who annually heads out into the woods in the Upper Peninsula with her husband Scott. Naturally, she would not reveal their “sacred hunting grounds” somewhere northwest of Marquette.

Scott has been hunting for the last 45 years, while Linda started hunting 11 years ago. Before that Linda rabbit hunted with her brother. She took her first deer with a gun, when she was three months pregnant in 1986.

For Linda, family always comes first.

Artist Linda Kropf Phillips with family.
Artist Linda Kropf Phillips with family.

 

“I started going with Scott with my camera and took my artwork with me,” she said. “We go during the gun season hunting for bear, and I bow hunt for deer.”

Naturally, Linda who took up bow hunting three years ago, is inspired by the great outdoors and what it has to offer. Her booth at the Dec. 3 Rogue River Arts Show was an amazing display of nature’s scenes on wood. Everything from deer, fowl, fish, Queen Anne’s lace to footprints captured on a wooden slab. Some of the artwork boasted 3D imagery in detailed foliage and branches during different seasons.

“I like the fall, so bow and arrow wins,” she said. “I feel safer.”

One of her scariest experiences was while hunting on the ground.

“I had a wolf behind sniffing at me,” she said. “I was nervous. I thought it was just a squirrel crinkling again.”

Well that “crinkling squirrel” turned out to be a 157 pound black bear. But, these adventures do not prevent Linda from going “Up North” to hunt in the “sacred land.”

Deer art by the Kropfs.
Deer art by Jerry Kropf.

“We stay in a camper, 10 days at a time depending on the weather,” she said. “Sometimes it’s two hours to the closest processor.”

And back home in Lowell, the dinner always features some wild game, whether deer, bear, fish or fowl in the form of burger, roast or steaks.

“We have deer all the time,” Linda said.

Most recently, based on popular demand from the less macho side of the population, Linda added to her wildlife art portfolio paintings of chickadees and cardinals.

 

“It runs the gamut from deer, moose, bass and I added flowers, “she said.

Natures Serenity artwork is available at Bodacious in Rockford and at Pinky’s Place Antique & Artisan Market in Grand Rapids.

Her busy art show season starts in July with the Fourth of July Artist Show in the UP, Lake Odessa Arts in the Park on Aug. 5th, Danish Festival on Aug. 19th & Aug. 20th and Rockford on Sept. 10th

The last show of the season is always the Rogue River Arts & Artisan Show on the first Saturday in December at the Lowell High School.

Linda Kropf Phillips Natures Serenity artwork can be viewed at lindakropfphillips@Facebook.com.

Nominate a woman who has in any way inspired you this year or in the past. In the IW women’s series, I have featured artists like Kathleen Mooney, entrepreneur Station Salon’s owner Nancy DeBoer, hiker Gail “Chosen” Lowe who has hiked all five national trails in the USA, Lowell Area Chamber director Liz Baker, former Lowell city clerk Betty Morlock, trail developer Carolyn Kane, founder of SowHope Mary Dailey Brown and many others.

E-mail Emma via the contact page or on Facebook at emmapalova@Facebook.com

 

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