I too love this word Critical writing prompt because it describes me so well that I could cry over everything.
But, maybe I am just nostalgic over the bygone summer that went by hard and fast. Blitzkrieg, they call it in military terms.
I could list 50 million things that I did not manage to do this week, but instead I will list things that I have accomplished.
I delivered 5 copies of my new book Shifting Sands Short Stories to Schuller’s Books at the Meridian Mall in Lansing with my daughter Doc Emma and my buddy Ella on Monday.
Schuler Books is an independent local store in Midwest Michigan that accepts books from independent authors on consignment. They also give advise on how to publish a book.
The book will be available after Labor Day in both the local author and the fiction sections of the bookstore. It is now available at Schuler’s Books in Grand Rapids and at the KDL libraries.
We enjoyed the atmosphere of a real bookstore at the Chapbook Cafe that was alive with chatter. Doc Emma bought the “Trolls” book hot seller for Ella’s trip back to France.
It was our last road trip for a long time, as it rained happiness on us all the way to Lansing and back. Before heading out, we had breakfast at our favorite joint, the Backwater Cafe by the Lowell dam.
We got that done just in the nick of time before their next day flight to Paris.
Now, it’s all back to normal at our New Era ranch. The fall is upon us with its abundance and glory. The crop of fall birthdays is amazing. It seems like everyone whom I am related to was born in September.
Yay. What a way to start the majestic autumn.
Stay tuned for Summer Flashbacks: Pirates of the Great Lakes aka Circling Lake Michigan.
My next book signing of Shifting Sands Short Stories is set for Sept. 16 & 17 from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Fallasburg one-room schoolhouse museum during the annual Fallasburg village bazaar and Fall Fest for Arts.
Be sure to stop by and visit with us in the autumn glory of Fallasburg.
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.
In between story circles, a story of transformation with excerpts
For the last week since June 20, I’ve been posting about the stories in Shifting Sands Short Stories collection that span more than two decades as part of the Storyteller 2017 book campaign.
Thematically and chronologically, I have divided the stories into three circles: early years of immigration with stories Danillo, Honey Azrael, & The Temptation of Martin Duggan.
The second circle of stories from retail experience includes: Tonight on Main, Therese’s Mind, Boxcutter Amy, Orange Nights and the Death Song.
The third circle of stories is from the media business; both print and digital.
These stories include: In the Shadows, Iron Horse, Foxy, Riddleyville Clowns and Chatamal.
Transformation during the crisis of mid-2000s
My husband Ludek left the state of Michigan to work in Wisconsin in 2008-2009. We were separated by Lake Michigan, and 500 miles deep into the Midwest America. Locals say that Wild West begins in Prairie-du-Chien on the Mississippi River, where Pere Marquette and Joliett arrived. On a few occasions, I took the Amtrak train “Empire Builder” to LaCrosse to visit with him.
At the time, I was writing for the local newspaper and for regional magazines in the Grand Rapids area. But, that wasn’t enough to make me forget the absurdity of the situation. This was the second time in life that we were separated.
I turned to more writing like a Magnet. I got the idea to write the “Riddleyville Clowns,” a short story from a hometown parade featuring clowns to celebrate the town’s founding anniversary.
I wrote some of the copy aboard the “Empire Builder” train.
Here is an excerpt from the “Riddleyville Clowns”
The harvest moon has just started to light up the entire loft apartment on Main Street. The brick walls softened with blue shades, the pressed tin ceiling was illuminated, while the river was like a silver thread lined with black banks.
Still resisting to get up and go check out the old steamboat, Kip tossed in bed watching the ceiling. He looked up at one of the walls.
Flabby blue pants, a yellow camisole, wide red band and a big red plastic nose topped off with a wig were hanging in the corner. Down below were big red shoes with a tongue sticking out and large-fingered gloves.
Kip walked to the window. Below, a large flock of geese and ducks, had buried their heads deep to sleep. He could hear them fighting over bread thrown down from of the other lofts. Kip walked to the boat.
The old white steamboat known by the locals as the Showboat, all decked out for tomorrow, was swaying in the wind and the water. Swinging over the white railing, he checked out the shaft by the stairway leading all the way to the upper deck. It was dusty, but he could see the lid that opened up on the deck.
Kip quickly attached a rope to a rusty hook. He also had to cut out a plank at each deck level to make the shaft passable. He noticed on the walls of the shaft old posters of vaudeville acts that took place on the boat in the depression era.
Kip climbed up and opened the lid right behind the ship’s black chimney. In the moonlight, he could also spot a dilapidated amphitheater with grass growing over the sea walls and the island of cattails up the stream. Wind howled again through the river corridor. Kip wrapped his wind jacket tight around him and gazed toward Main Street. A tribune was set up right by the Riverwalk promenade for tomorrow’s parade.
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.
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.
Lowell, MI- In light of the March 1, “Big Birthdays” post, I find this, “When I am 64,” by Debra Kolkka of Brisbane, Australia post very enlightening.
And I discovered that the story behind the “Bagni di Lucca and Beyond” blog is even more inspiring. Two friends, Debra and Liz, who live in Brisbane, Australia, started blogging about their houses in Italy to inform tourists.
Much like for the rest of us, Deb’s and Liz’s blog has grown into a passion building upon their colorful careers in fashion and retail.
Watch for a story on blog discoveries around the world. Visit with Debra and Liz in Brisbane for cosmopolitan inspiration.
Trip from Czech homeland marks 4th anniversary of blogging
By Emma Palova
Lowell, MI- On board Air France flight 1383 from Paris to Detroit, I was watching our route leaving the shores of Europe on Jan. 15, 2017, as I realized it was the fourth anniversary of my writing on WordPress.
It was all so fitting, because I started blogging on WordPress in 2013 to promote my memoir “Greenwich Meridian” Copyright 2017 Emma Palova. I named the book Greenwich Meridian to depict our family immigration saga between the East and the Western hemispheres over the last five decades. The memoir tracks the Konecny family migration between former Czechoslovakia and the USA from 1969 through present.
The journey of blogging parallels my writing path through life almost identically. I don’t remember a period in my life not writing.
At first, it was writing letters to my mother Ella when she immigrated to the USA for the second time in 1980 to join my father Vaclav Konecny. Later, when I arrived in the USA in 1989, I embarked on a professional writing career as a journalist and correspondent for regional and Czech media, based in Michigan, New York and in Prague.
I followed Earnest Hemmingway’s correspondent footsteps.
Writing much like my husband Ludek have been my lifelong companions in good and in bad times, as expressed in our wedding wows in 1978 in Stipa, former Czechoslovakia at the Church of Saint Mary.
Writing has been the fuel of my life. Writing for me is like a fountain or elixir of life, when everything else around me is arid, dry and angry.
Instead of turning to violence and despair, I turn inside, meditate and feel into the overall emotions of the surrounding world. Then, I transform these powerful outside forces into a stream or an avalanche blanketing all with a soft cover of love, like a mother covering her child.
Today, as I write this 500th post on the WordPress publishing platform, I am thankful for the 1,066 followers and the future ones to come.
I also would like to thank all, who never stopped believing in me.
At the end of last year, just before I have reached the 1,000 followers mark, I realized that I have completed a second degree thanks to the WordPress (WP) Blogging University, the support happiness WP engineering team, my family and my beloved readers.
“Congratulations, honey. You have another degree,” said my husband Ludek. “It was just like back when you were in school in Brno. I had to be constantly quiet.”
I wanted to quit just as many times as I did while working on my bachelor’s degree at the Technical University of Brno from 1982 to 1986 in former Czechoslovakia. My path on WordPress was constantly jeopardized by the lack of finances and understanding of the principles of freelance blogging.
I plan on finishing my second degree on the WordPress publishing platform with a blogging directory and an app for the thesis.
Of course, in the meantime the memoir Greenwich Meridian has become the first part of the Konecny Saga (c) copyright 2017.
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.