Category Archives: pandemic

DAY 15: Covid-19 quarantine

Finicky spring sun offers hope, ushers in Easter

By Emma Palova

“Hope is a thing with feathers that perches in the soul- and sings the tune without the words – and never stops at all.”

                                                            -Emily Dickinson

Lowell, MI – In spite of the grim daily statistics that more than 3,200 people have died from COVID-19 in NYC surpassing the number of people killed on Sept. 11, 2001, spring and Easter are just around the corner.

I walked to the fish pond in the back of the garden this morning and I found some koi fish left that the heron hadn’t devoured in the fall. The pussy willow showed off its silvery and yellowish catkins, while the forsythia shrub was splashed with golden blooms.

Encouraging signs in our community.

This year, I appreciate spring and the gardens more than ever. I can walk outside the house, work in the garden and bathe in the sun, before it hides under the next cloud.

I learned this morning in meditation that when the top layer of the active mind, that constantly thinks and feels, gets fixated on anxiety, alarm, dread, and uncertainty, it cannot pull itself out of its own spiral.

“Mental activity becomes useless to heal itself, just as a runaway car cannot apply its own brakes.”

-Deepak Chopra

I’ve been down on energy for the entire length of the quarantine boggled down also with physical sciatica nerve pain, that just refused to go away much like the coronavirus outbreak.

I forgot to call my amazing Malaysian friend Zurina Ariffin; she had to remind me of her existence.

We talked about cooking, which is our common hobby among others. I immediately felt better. Zurina was making cashew chicken, as she announced that the Kent District Library (KDL) will probably be closed until May.

I felt like I was getting some reprieve today as I watched the fishermen on Murray Lake with the sun glistening on the water.

I worked on the front matter for the upcoming Greenwich Meridian Memoir. It went well, although I have to regain my focus.

Stay tuned for day by day coverage of the COVID-19 quarantine in Michigan.

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

Day 14: COVID-19 quarantine brings us back to home farming

Uncertain food supply raises need for self-sustainability

By Emma Palova

Lowell, MI- Since farmer’s markets and greenhouses may not open until the COVID-19 quarantine is lifted, many are turning back to home farming and small garden plots are popping up around the neighborhood.

Altough farmers like Visser Farms are getting creative selling online and packaged fruits and vegetables for a standard price of $5 a bag to prevent direct contact.

We’re lucky enough that we each own at least three acres in Vergennes Township. Coming from Europe, we’ve always had our own veggie gardens due to the constant shortage of fresh produce on the markets. See excerpt below from the “Greenwich Meridian Memoir.”

We’ve staked our small garden approximately 15 years ago. It started out first as as an herb garden, inspired by my friend herbalist Betty Dickinson of Ionia. Whenever I walk into the garden, especially after rain, the herbs smell of a thousand fragrances. Later, we added cherry tomatoes, peppers, squash and melons.

Last year, we planted cucumbers to can our own sweet and sour pickles aka “Znojemske okurky.” We take pride in this product that reminds us of our Czech homeland. I also love my ever bearing strawberries and currant bushes. I use the red and black currant to make pies.

But it is getting late to start growing plants from seeds. My favorite Snow Avenue Greenhouse usually opens around April 20 and sells decent size plants that can go directly into the garden.

COVID-19 quarantine brings us back to home farming.

Tips

If you live in an apartment, you can still do container gardening. Many seeds on the market are specifically good for containers.

Excerpt from Greenwich Meridian Memoir

Self-sustainability in Czech villages

Other homemade products included sausages and smoked meat. The butchering of the family pig usually took place in winter and before the holidays, so there was plenty of meat on the table. Socialism with its chronic lack of basic goods, drove the need for self-sufficiency specifically in the villages and craftsmanship as well. People were forced to be more creative in many different ways. They grew their own produce; everything from onions, carrots to cabbage and cucumbers. Then they made saurkraut from the cabbage, that went well with the pork and the sausages. Cucumbers were used to make the famous “Znojemsky pickles” aka “Znojemske okurky.”

Many households in villages and towns were self-sufficient with everything homemade or home grown. National artist Joseph Lada illustrated the traditional festivities: The Feast of St. Nicholas on Dec. 6, the butchering of the family pig in the yard with onlookers, Christmas by the tall tiled stoves, autumn campfires with fire-roasted potatoes and summer fun by the ponds with the willows.

Stay tuned for day by day coverage of the coronavirus crisis and quarantine in the U.S.

Today the death toll reached a grim 10,000 milestone.

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

Day 13: Holy Week in the time of COVID-19 quarantine

Reality sinks in

By Emma Palova

Today is Palm Sunday. Bishop David Walkowiak served the mass with palm branches in the empty St. Andrews Cathedral in Grand Rapids to the recorded Hosanna, commemorating Jerusalem greeting Jesus. This was the fourth Sunday broadcast without an audience, but with a 300 percent increase in TV spectators. The Pope served the Palm Sunday mass in an empty St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican. Queen Elizabeth gave a special address for the fourth time only in her 68-year long reign.

This will be a Holy Week filled with tragedy as the numbers of coronavirus cases and deaths are expected to rise again. The clergy prayed for the deadly pandemic to end.

I also watched a Czech mass on Zoom from Velehrad, California, broadcast from the Czech missionary priest’s home. There were only 23 Czech and Slovak participants from the entire world.

The surgeon general warned that the upcoming week will be our “Pearl Harbor” moment and “9/11” moment.

“Do not leave your house unless you absolutely have to,” warnings rezonated all over the TV.

The year that Easter didn’t come

Eerie Woodland Mall on Sunday.

We’re only a week away from Easter Sunday. There will be no public egg hunts or girls wearing pretty spring dresses with laces and ribbons due to the Coronavirus quarantine. There will be no Easter specials as the malls are closed. More than half of the world’s population is under a stay-at-home order.

However, a glimmer of good news arrived from the pandemic epicenter NYC that the number of coronavirus deaths has dipped.

Exploring nature, finally

Walking the Fred Meijer Flat River Trail.

Earlier in the day we went for a walk on the Fred Meijer Flat River Trail that almost abuts to our front yard. Only a gravel road separates us from the trail that connects Lowell to Belding.

Chalk art on the trail: Be Brave.

For years, the trail group worked hard to convert the old railroad bed into trail for public use. Recently, the trail has been surfaced with crushed asphalt. It took the Coronavirus quarantine for people to discover this treasure.

As I delighted at the new trail bridges, I discovered a rock with chalk art. Someone left a message of encouragement: Be brave.

Since my husband Ludek had to pick up some groceries in Grand Rapids, we stopped at an eerie scene.

The usually year round busy Woodland Mall looked like a ghost town with vast empty parking lots stretching from nowhere to nowhere.

All this was happening under the deceiving April sun. My daffodils are ready to open their yellow beauty to the world, oblivious to the coronavirus horrors.

Stay tuned for day by day coverage of the coronavirus crisis in the U.S.

Copyright (c) 2020. 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: https://lifeprocesscenter.org/

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

Day 9: COVID-19 as Catalyst

Coronavirus brings us closer together

“When I am writing, I am trying to find out who I am, who we are, what we’re capable of, what we feel, how we lose and stand up, and go from darkness into darkness.”

Maya Angelou

Lowell, MI- Together we can accomplish anything. We will get through this together. Each one of us has a part to play.

How many times do we get to chat simultaneously with people from Florida, Oklahoma , Minnesota and Michigan?

I did for the first time earlier in the day via video chat Zoo room app. I connected with familiar faces, and I am so grateful for technology with all its whims.

https://zooroom.chat/

Today marks the beginning of Camp NaNoWriMo. It’s a great platform to start or finish your writing projects.

https://nanowrimo.org/what-is-camp-nanowrimo

Coronavirus quarantine survival tips

How many times in the past have you complained, that you don’t have time for anything? Now you do.

Ludek Pala works on isolating and putting up drywall in the laundry room.

Find a home improvement project. Finish what you have started years ago.

Learn something new: cooking, baking, writing poetry, painting.

Go outside and take pictures of spring arriving.

Offer to help others with their struggles; it will ease your own.

Keep a journal.

Live, love and laugh.

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

Day 5: Creativity offsets COVID-19 anxiety

Perfection: All the shades of white

By Emma Palova

Lowell, MI – I have found out that creativity battles the anxiety invoked by the Coronavirus shutdown the best.

Facing the dark stats, how do I wake up inspiration from its gloomy dream? First of all, I had to turn off all the devices I own. Next I am trying to push out of my head all the images of suffering and exhaustion I’ve seen over the last two weeks.

I have to substitute the negative with the positive; easier said than done. I have to transform and focus on the light with its different shades.

I found relief again in the “Hope in Uncertain Times” meditation with Oprah & Deepak Chopra. I can see light instead of darkness.

You can also participate in NaNoWriMo’s initiative to keep your sanity. https://nanowrimo.org/stayhomewrimo

You can sign up for @Camp NaNoWriMo starting in April. It helped me finish my writing projects.

Also watch for my kindle giveaway of Shifting Sands: Short Stories on Amazon.

Featured photo: Perfection: All the shades of white.

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

Day 4: COVID-19 isolation tool

“The single biggest threat to man’s continued dominance on the planet is the virus.”

— Joshua Lederberg

We continue to stay at home per Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive order due to the Coronavirus pandemic as the U.S. takes the lead in the number of virus cases in the world-100,000- and counting. We are allowed to go outside for walks but minimize our trips to the grocery store.

“Remember, this is an order, not a recommendation,” Whitmer said in a virtual town hall meeting on Thursday evening.

Personally, as a writer, I am used to isolation; it’s the only way to get anything done. I finished making corrections to 150 pages of the Greenwich Meridian Memoir in the afternoon.

My tips:

If you ever wanted to write a book, now is a good time to start. If you want to finish your book, now is a good time to pick it back up.

You can make an outline and write two to three chapters or you can write a short story. The inspiration is all around us as well as in us waiting to spill out into the world.

Using your creativity is the best way to battle containment. Watch for excerpts from the Greenwich Meridian Memoir- how mom Ella battled with loneliness in Texas during the first immigration from former Czechoslovakia.

To be continued…

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

Day 3: COVID-19 shutdown

By Emma Palova

Weighing in on the positives of the coronavirus pandemic: in search of humanity

In spite of the state shutdown, and shows like the Lowell Expo not happening this weekend, I see positives of the coronavirus shutdown in Michigan.

I pay more attention to the good things around me: my flowering orchids and amaryllis. My husband Ludek can get caught up on stuff rather than wining that he never has time to do anything around the house.

Our son Jake is homeschooling the grandkids and loving it.

I talk more to my daughter Dr. Emma, who is on the frontlines of fighting  COVID-19 in France. Before the outbreak, I never heard from her. My brother calls me more nowadays and I return his phone calls.

I finished the FallasburgToday newsletter at https://mailchi.mp/065459a763c2/springtime-in-fallasburg. Check it out and visit Fallasburg during this shutdown. We are allowed to go outside for walks and visit parks.

There is goodness coming out of this pandemic. The pandemic too shall pass and we’re in it all together. 

I think in this isolation we find a common bond- humanity and we recognize the need for each other.

I spoke with Dr, Emma Palova- Chavent about the Coronavirus pandemic this morning.

Dr. Emma Palova-Chavent on the frontlines of fighting COVID-19.

“We’re treating COVID-19 as triage,” she said.

She stressed that the social isolation is the most important and effective tool in the battle against the COVID-19 spread due to the resilience of the virus. It can live on surfaces up to seven days outside of the human body unlike the HIV virus. It has yet to be determined if the Coronavirus can be airborne.

France has reserved up to 50 percent of hospital capacity for COVID-19 patients after observing outbreaks in Italy and China. The remaining 50 percent is reserved for cardiac emergencies, chemotherapies and births.

“We’re behind them like two weeks,” she said.

According to Chavent, the USA and France, as well as other countries have taken late confinement measures.

The isolation must last at least two to three weeks to be able to assess the drop in new cases.

However, not every patient gets tested and most are not hospitalized. Patients with risk factors such as diabetes are more likely to get tested. Any low number of cases is an indicator, that infected people have not been tested, such as the Russians.

Ultimately, the death caused by the coronavirus results in respiratory failure.

“We’re not able to untubate people,” she said.

The outbreak should definitely not to be underestimated.

“It’s a highly infectious illness.

Hang in there. Stay at home. Stay well.

Featured photo: Melinda Cosgrove of Snow Avenue Greenhouse at last year’s expo in Lowell.

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

Day 2: Fighting COVID – 19 on all fronts

Dr. Emma Palova- Chavent in full protective gear against the COVID-19 virus fighting on the front line in ER in France.

The battle against the Coronavirus at home in the USA continues with more than 40 percent of population under the Stay-at-Home order as the number of cases rises. The World Health Organization (WHO) warned that the USA  could become the new epicenter of the pandemic.

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

Day 1: Tracking the Covid-19 shutdown

Fighting fear, anxiety and boredom during the three-week shutdown

Note from Emma Palova:

I will be tracking the COVID -19 shutdown in Michigan for the next three weeks in this series, in order to offset people’s, and my own worries about unemployment, boredom and anxiety by providing resources and tips. The good news is that spring is here inspite of the Coronavirus shutdown of 43 percent of population in the U.S.

Day 0: Monday, March 23, 2020

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued a stay-at-home executive order on Monday at 11 a.m. for the next three weeks effective at midnight on March 24.

In the evening, we watched Steven Soderbergh’s “Contagion.” Released in 2011, the movie tracks exactly what we’re experiencing now with the Coronavirus outbreak.

At times, I did not know if I was watching the movie or the news on TV.

Heeding all the warnings of the worsening Coronavirus pandemic, I am staying at home and making the final corrections to the upcoming book “ Greenwich Meridian Memoir.”

Thanks, to editor Carol Briggs, for editing the manuscript that covers more than 50 years of the Konecny family immigration saga from former Czechoslovakia to the U.S.

There has been a wave of cancellations of shows and events including the West Michigan Women’s Expo, Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce Expo and the upcoming Spring into the Past historic tour in early May.

I fear for my parents who have decided to travel from Florida back to Michigan this Sunday. It’s a 1,500 mile trip across four states.

I fear for my daughter Emma, who is a practicing ER doctor in France, where the spread of the Coronavirus is as bad as in the USA.

One member of our extended family has already been diagnosed with the Coronavirus.

In face of these challenges, I found consolation and strength in several things; the televised mass from the St. Andrews Cathedral sponsored by the Grand Rapids Diocese. Bishop David Walkowiak served in an empty church.

Deepak Chopra released his “Hope in Uncertain Times yesterday.” The link to the free meditation is https://chopracentermeditation.com/store/product/156/hope_in_uncertain_times_streaming

Ludek painted our basement in warm earthy tones on his fist day on unemployment due to the COVID-19 shutdown.

The COVID-19 Unemployment website is:

http://www.michigan.gov/uia

We will be making our own homemade hand sanitizer. Watch for recipe.

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