Note: This is the second part of a mini-series of posts that look back at 2017 with all its joys and tribulations. It was a year of big changes and adjustments both professional and personal. It rolled in like a monster a truck and flew away like a balloon.
Living in the Midwest, April means spring and gardening. We enjoyed a late Easter after a mild winter. All along I was plugging away at my book “Shifting Sands Short Stories” that I had hoped to finish on my birthday. Since I wrote the majority of the stories so long ago, I had to rewrite some of them, based on my new experience as a journalist. It was a true labor of love.
Writing got harder once it got nice outside. Like any writer, I would procrastinate finding every excuse not to write. There were days when I’d rather do dishes than write. But as May approached I intensified my writing.
I also started walking right after Easter. I walked 1.8 miles to the Franciscan Life Process Center every day. The walk was a source of inspiration also for my therapy app.
I love May when everything blossoms. I am talking mainly about lilacs and cherries in the Lower Peninsula. I’ve only been once to the Lilac Festival on Mackinac Island in June, and once to the Traverse City Cherry Festival.
I didn’t finish my book by my self-imposed deadline. The formatting was a lot more difficult than I expected. I pushed the deadline back.
However, I knew I would have to finish the book in June because our French granddaughter Ella spends summers with us. I had to add a brand new story into the book “Orange Nights.” So, I wrote the oldest story “The Temptation of Martin Duggan” in 1990, and the newest one in 2017 for length so the name could go on the spine of the book. You have to have more than 100 pages for the book’s name to go on the spine.
I uploaded the final version on June 27 to Kindle Direct Publishing by Amazon. The print version was more complex than the kindle e-book format.
In July we took the Badger ship across Lake Michigan and did a circle tour around the lake plus visited Munising on Lake Superior. I never wrote about this because of all the social events. Mom Ella turned 80 on Aug. 23. We returned from the mini-vacation on Aug. 22.
That’s one the many advantages of writing your “Year in Review” because you get to write about something you wouldn’t otherwise get to.
In spite of the fact that we’ve been many times to the Upper Peninsula aka UP we’ve never done the glass bottom shipwreck tours to Bermuda and Hettler aboard the Fireball. It was an amazing voyage by the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.
About the featured photo
It is an old map of the Great Lakes placed in the Belrockton historical museum in Belding.
The shortlink to the first post of “Year in Review 2017” is:
Crossing Lake Michigan aboard the S.S. Badger carferry as stories like waters Unfurl
By Emma Palova
Ludington, MI – We crossed Lake Michigan aboard the S.S. Badger on Aug. 14 from Ludington to Manitowoc, WI. It was a four-hour long voyage across the 60 miles of calm waters, as we enjoyed the breeze and the sun in the lounge chairs on the bow of the ship.
By taking the car ferry, which is part of the U.S. 10 highway system across the Midwest, we sailed a piece of history. The Badger was officially designated a National Historic Landmark (NHL) in February 2016 by the Secretary of the Interior in recognition of the American transportation technology in the mid-twentieth century.
The designation is rare, making U.S. 10 one of only two U.S. highways with a ferry service connection.
We sailed aboard the 410-foot ship complete with a museum, gift shop, game & movie rooms and cafes. However, unlike the luxury cruise ships in the Caribbean, this vessel was built for transporting heavy railroad cars across the lake in 1953.
Badger has two decks below for cars, tour buses and RVs and both were full to the aft of the ship. The upper and lower passenger decks were filled with tourists and families. However, it’s not usual for passengers to Inhabit one of only 24 staterooms.
Aboard the ship, I learned the sailing lingo like the “starboard” side is the right side of the ship, while the port side is the left side.
The trip saves approximately 300 miles of driving around the lake, while providing magnificent vistas of the dunes, the lighthouses and the glistening lake.
For me, the most relaxing was just listening to the waters splash against the ship, as the sun kissed my face. The other pastime was listening to people talk about their adventures from other boats and times, as we smoothly sailed forward to the shores of Wisconsin.
Nothing inspires me more than water, whether still or in motion, being in it, on it or around it. The next best thing to water for inspiration is history. The stories like the waters or sails Unfurlin front of me.
The Badger leaves a legacy as the last coal-fired, steam-powered passenger vessel operating in the United States. The ship continues a unique and vital maritime tradition. The crew of 50 makes every effort to celebrate the heritage on board to educate and entertain the passengers.
We smoothly sailed onward to our next adventure along Lake Michigan and Lake Superior.
Washington D.D. – Growing up, you were always told that it’s impossible to be in two places at once, especially two different countries that are oceans apart. But what if that’s not true after all? What if I told you that I was in eleven countries during the course of one day and eight countries the following weekend?
On the first two Saturdays of every May, a large number of foreign embassies in Washington, DC open their doors to the public from 10 am to 4 pm. This year had 42 countries from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe participating in the Around the World weekend and all 28 countries of the European Union for the EU weekend.
Since you couldn’t possibly fit in seven per hour one weekend and almost five per hour the next, planning ahead is the best approach. Thankfully, a majority of the countries are within easy walking distance of each other on or near a section of Massachusetts Avenue known as Embassy Row.
Pictured above are dancers from Estonia and a stamped passport from the cultural tour around the world embassies in Washington D.C. in May.
The enormous German Embassy is considerably off the beaten path, but the EU weekend had shuttle buses to make it easier to get there and to other groupings of embassies that are several blocks away from Massachusetts Ave.
For the Around the World weekend, the best starting point is Dupont Circle where the friendly folks from Cultural Tourism DC will give you a map showing the locations of all participating embassies, and you can also buy an official Cultural Tourism DC Passport for $5 to have stamped at each country you visit. For the EU weekend, the European Union Delegation building is within sight of Foggy Bottom Metro, and they’ll be happy to give you your map, free passport, and various other “I Love EU” goodies.
The moment you step through the door of any of the embassies, you have legally departed the United States and are in Sri Lanka, Morocco, Latvia, or whichever country owns the site. Many of the buildings are posh Beaux Arts mansions constructed during the Gilded Age by contemporaries of the Vanderbilts and Rockefellers.
Colombia and Chile both have lavish grand staircases that you can’t help but imagine a woman in a turn of the century ball gown with long gloves gracefully descending. They’re showing off a lot more than extravagant architecture and furnishings though. This event is all about exposing visitors to their culture, music, art, history, food, and people.
South Korea could be heard from a block away as the DJ blasted K-pop while visitors from all over the world grooved on the dance floor. Meanwhile, children in Botswana had the opportunity to make a colorful paper windsock before having a chance to sample a traditional Botswana’s snack. While the ginger infused pineapple juice there was delicious, most Americans were probably not adventurous enough to sample the dried caterpillars, regardless of how much protein they may have. The Portuguese Ambassador himself greeted many of the visitors to his country before they watched an informational video, snacked on delightful custard tarts with Port wine, and were given t-shirts with the statement “Portugal: 900 Years Young.”
Travelers who dropped by Morocco truly felt transported across the Atlantic. Their courtyard was transformed with large cushions placed on beautiful carpets under tents. Ladies in attire quintessential to West Africa offered small pastries similar to baklava and hot tea from a gorgeous silver teapot while live music was played. Henna tattoos were also available there for a fee.
A top destination of the Around the World Embassies for foodies was Chile. They offered samples of bread dipped in olive oil with herbs, red and white wine, mussels flavored with cilantro, several types of fruit, and pisco sour cocktails. Lovers of dance particularly enjoyed the Kyrgyz Republic. A trio of ladies periodically performed choreography typical of their country. Elements of Bollywood integrated seamlessly with movements similar to those used in belly dance with a hint of Russian influence.
In Estonia, dancers were not only performing, but inviting members of the crowd to participate and learn how to do something a little like a mix of English Country Dance popular in the 19th century and Polka. The Latvians got some entertaining reactions from sharing samples of their traditional beverages. To be fair, they did warn innocent victims that the herbal liquor called Black Balsam was very strong. Many Americans still were a little unprepared for the 90 proof liquid blending spices and pure vodka. Those visitors who are familiar with the Czech Republic’s Becherovka, on the other hand, found it to be delightful.
For those who are intrigued by a particular region but are hesitant to travel there due to safety concerns, this is a perfect alternative. As a single woman, I would not feel comfortable traveling to Iraq or Afghanistan, but I found the embassies to be charming and the people exceptionally friendly. Notably, in the Iraqi Embassy, a woman in a stunning traditional dress was selling paintings of her homeland. When she’s not painting, she’s a forensic toxicologist here in the United States. She loves the country of her birth, but she is very excited about soon receiving her permanent Green Card.
Traveling around the world gives a unique opportunity to expand a person’s horizons and help them appreciate the beauty in our differences and in similarities they may never have imagined previously. Passport DC gives the opportunity to get a bite sized vacation to countries that many people would not ordinarily think of when planning their next trip, and in some cases, countries that most Americans have never even heard of. Want to see the world but don’t want to spend hours on planes or trying to recover from jet lag? The first two weekends of May in Washington, DC make it simple. This is your chance to prove your physics teacher wrong because thanks to this event, you really can be in Europe, Asia, Africa, the Caribbean, the Middle East, and South America without ever leaving the capital of the United States.
The featured photo: The Luxembourg Embassy in Washington D.C. Grand Duchess Charlotte of Luxembourg stayed after the Nazis invaded her country in WWII.
Now this was a brassy happening Brassy in Washington D.C.
Coyright (c) 2017 Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.
WordCamp comes to Northeast, brings technology evolution
Lowell, MI- Since one of my goals for 2016 was to stay up to date with technology, I would like to go to the WordCamp in Philly from Dec. 2 to Dec. 4.
First of all, the camp is close to home and I’ve never been to Philly or to a WordPress Camp. That in itself is very exciting for me.
I have recently completed a large Podcast Website project for Americas Community Voices Network (ACVN) based in Tampa, FL with founders Ronald & Donald Brookins. It was a very interesting project on the cutting edge of British developers changing under continuous development.
I finished one phase of the project during a recent stay at my daughter Emma’s house in Fixin, FR. The Internet in my studio wasn’t working half of the time, so I had to use my son-in-law Adrien’s studio overlooking the wine village.
Church in Fixin, Burgundy.
Inside the bastid. A large living and dining room with French doors into the garden.
The view from the window of the vineyards or the “climats” of Burgundy was awesome and inspiring.
Even though, I arrived back at home in Grand Rapids on Sept. 6 with a smashed computer screen, I still feel inspired by the stay in France. Travel has always fueled my writing, design and photography. It doesn’t matter if I go three miles east from my home to take photos in Fallasburg, Lowell or 4,000 miles to Paris, or even to visit my brother Vas Up North in Paris, MI.
I keep my eyes open for new angles, new stories as everything changes in the flow of time. Whenever I look at the grandfather clock that says “Tempus Fugit,” I get scared. I am afraid of time. The clock was one of the first things I bought here in the USA in 1990.
Now, we don’t even need watches anymore because we have cell phones. Long before cell phones, I never had a watch. I didn’t want one. Not wearing a watch has sharpened my sense of time and dimensions.
I was comfortable using the clocks on church and cathedral towers. While hiking in Burgundy, I used the church steeples to orient myself in the “climats.”
This morning, I discovered the news about WordCamp on Facebook and I got a kick out of the fact that the after party “A Night at the Museum” will be at the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia.
My husband Ludek and I organized “A Night at the Museum” Thanksgiving party at the Lowell Area Historical Museum in 2012. Ludek wanted to alleviate the stress on women during the holiday season.
What a great coincidence.
Last year in November, I participated in the 30 Day Content Challenge by Learn to Blog. On Day #3 I posted the following article:
“Thoughts on fear in the wake of Paris attacks.” And that was the end of my blog on Gateway Media. Some corporate brass didn’t like my thoughts.
While respecting both, my passion and fear of time, I love history. I always have. All the history, I don’t pick and choose. So, Philadelphia is the perfect location for an all time history lover and a technology user.
“What I should like to do, Van Gogh writes to brother Theo in Paris in 1889, is to go there as an inmate patient at the end of the month or early in May…let’s try three months to start with, and we’ll see how it goes..it is very likely that I am yet to suffer much.
Vincent van Gogh self-portrait created in Saint-Remy de Provence.
Van Gogh painted the Starry Night in Saint Remy.
The landscape of St.Remy is very attractive and I shall gradually become acquainted with it.”
Vincent Van Gogh
By Emma Palova
EW Emma’s Writings
Saint- Remy de Provence, FR- Leaving our beloved bastide near Cheval-Blanc behind, we headed further south for Saint- Remy, a city that proudly carries Van Gogh’s heritage with its Saint-Paul asylum.
We drove through alleys of stately plane trees lined by olive and almond groves, cypresses and cornfields at the foothills of Alpilles that have all inspired the master of post- impressionism.
Saint- Remy, whipped by mistral from the Mediterranean Sea, bustled with tourists.
A large painting of Van Gogh’s self-portrait without the straw hat greets the visitors at the 18th century Hotel Estrine. Van Gogh’s museum is located inside. He created more than 150 paintings during his stay in Saint Remy.
My French granddaughter Ella, 6, immediately recognized the famous painting.
“Our teacher showed us that,” she said all excited.
The French nation has immortalized its artists and scientists with busts, sculptures, in schools, museums and gardens scattered all over the country.
However, the lively town of Saint-Remy did not partake in any of Van Gogh’s pathos, who also painted the gardens of the asylum. Hundreds of boutiques, souvenir shops, bistros and cafes vibrated with l’art de vivre, known as the art of living prevalent in France.
Throughout our stay in Provence, our ladies “international squad” sampled this l’art de vivre on every corner of the tiniest streets, in regional dishes, in gourmet cafes, and in the Provencal architecture of churches, bastides and mairies.
All French city halls carry the motto of the French revolution: liberty, equality, fraternity.
To this day, it remains a mystery to me, why the People’s House aka Lidovy Dum in downtown Vizovice, Czech Republic, has the French national motto engraved in its coat-of-arms.
After exploring local shops with Provencal herbs, yellow and blue linens, lavender soaps, perfumes and candles along with the l’Occitane line of body products, we found a reasonable restaurant on Boulevard Mirabeau.
Fashionable Bistrot des Alpilles sits on the Mirabeau loop around the medieval city with the massive Roman catholic church Collegiale Saint Martin as its anchor.
“You should try their local soup,” said daughter Emma.
Wherever my writing takes me, I always make it a point to sample the local fare and drinks. In Provence, the regional dishes feature different variations of fish soups depending on where you are. It is the royal bouillabaisse in Marseille and fish pistou in the rest of the region, ratatouille or vegetable stew accompanied by a glass of pink wine from the local caves. Desserts in France always include an assortment of cheeses or you may opt for gourmet café.
So, the entree cassoulet de poisson was a natural choice for me with a glass of the house wine, the “Lovely IGP Alpilles”, 2015.
Daughter Emma chose the lighter sweet aperitif Kir. The kids of course had the syrup –dissolved- in- water fruit concoction that I despise from my childhood years in Czechoslovakia.
As I write this, I realize that I haven’t tried the “Eau de Vie poire”, the water of life pear liquor or the pastis.
“It’s nasty,” Emma said about the pastis liquor made from licorice.
At the adjacent newsstand, I bought “Van Gogh in Provence” English Edition booklet with photos of major paintings created during the master’s stay in Arles and Saint-Remy.
As we embarked on the long road up north back to Fixin, we got stuck in the traffic jam, called “bouchon” in France due to the returning vacationers from the Mediterranean resorts.
“They all go for their vacation at the same time to the Med,” Emma said. “They use the only highway that goes from north to south, the A7.”
But being stuck in a “bouchon” in France is not necessarily a bad thing, because it’s another opportunity for more sight- seeing and treats for the palate. We stepped out at the Aire- de- Montelimar rest stop and I bought the real French white nougat with hazelnuts, the local specialty from Montelimar. At first Ella refused to taste the nougat.
“I don’t eat that.”
“Ella, you’re like an old person,” I laughed. “Don’t be afraid to try something new.”
“It’s delicious,” she said.
In the Lyon “bouchon” I admired the renaissance buildings on the banks of the river Rhone, reminiscent of the Prague riverside on Vltava. Emma pointed out the Museum of Confluence built on a peninsula in the river, where the Saone meets the Rhone.
“I love being stuck in traffic,” said sarcastically our driver Selene. “Give me some coke, please.”
Hundreds of cars stood still on the major Paris bound thoroughfare going through downtown Lyon, pop. 2.2 million. Only the colorful trams crossing the bridges and the boats navigating the Rhone were moving.
To the right, I noticed a girl waterboarding on the massive turquoise-colored river that originates from the Rhone glacier in the Swiss Alps.
The boat pulling the girl was full of young people having the time of their lives, while the nervous drivers drummed their fingers on the steering wheels. We were melting in the late afternoon heat in front of the tunnel.
Thanks to the obsolete infrastructure in Lyon dating back to the advancement of the automobile, I finished reading the Van Gogh booklet intended for the transatlantic flight home to Chicago. Two hours later, the youngsters were still waterboarding on the Rhone.
“Thank you Lyon, Mr. Van Gogh and Doc Emma for great entertainment, as always.”
Notable mention for Van Gogh lovers:
Van Gogh in Europe
The Estrine Museum in Saint-Remy de Provence is part of Van Gogh Europe, a vast European project associating places and museums concerned with the life and work of the painter.
The objectives of the Partners of Van Gogh Europe are to value the life and works of art by Vincent van Gogh by developing cultural, educational and touristic projects of the highest quality.
I am back home in the USA from a writer’s retreat in France. Follow me on EW Emma’s Writings on http://emmapalova.com for stories from Provence, Burgundy and Paris. Pictured is Paris from a rooftop bar in the historic Le Marais quarter. To the right is the flashing Eiffel Tower. Every full hour the Eiffel sparkles in lights along with the blue beam that illuminates parts of Paris near the river Seine.
The fabulous panoramic “Les Nympheas” paintings inside the L’Orangerie Gallery were a gift from Claude Monet to the people of Paris.
Stay tuned for stories from Provence, Burgundy, Jura region and Paris on EW Emma’s Writings on http://emmapalova.com.
Villages of the Luberon Mountains Continued from Provence most beautiful villages at By Emma Palova EW Emma’s Writings Provence, FR- After a morning writing session on Sunday in the large Provença…