24th Covered Bridge Bike Tour

On a perfect Sunday, more than 100 cyclists headed out into the Kent County country side on their chosen routes. Follow us through the day.

Fallasburg Today

Cyclists head out on a perfect day

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Fallasburg, MI- On a perfect Sunday, more than 100 bicyclists headed out into the country side for their chosen tour route ranging from 12 to 100 miles.

“It’s been our best turnout yet,” said registrar Tracy Worthington

It was a mix of regulars and newcomers. They all had one thing in common; the love for the area and the charm of the Fallasburg pioneer village.

Also new to the bike tour was Fallasburg Historical Society (FHS) board member Mark Kuzee

“I love this place,” he said.

Follow us through the day to the grand spaghetti dinner finale at the Misner House. The dinner will be served until 3 p.m.

Like us on Facebook and Twitter.

Also for more info go to our blog Fallasburg Today @fallasburgtoday.com and our website http://www.fallasburg.com.

Also check out our brand new video…

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Let freedom ring

I feel so fortunate to be living in the USA with my family. Our emigration saga from former Czechoslovakia started in August of 1968 due to the occupation of the country by the Soviet Army.

Now, there are three generations of us living permanently abroad. While most of us live in the USA, my daughter lives in Burgundy, France.

We just picked up our lovely French granddaughter Ella yesterday in Chicago. She will spend the summer with us to brush up on her English.

Always thankful for our freedoms.

More to come.

Copyright (c)2018. Emma Blogs, LLC All rights reserved.

American Dutch couple fits into Lowell community

Happy Independence Day

Watch for more immigration stories, participate in survey about what makes America great

By Emma Palova

Lowell, MI- In the beginning, leaving your homeland is like leaving a part of you behind; not to mention friends and family.

Owners of Arctic Heating & Cooling Catharine “Kitty” and Evert Bek left the Netherlands in 1977 to pursue their dream in the USA. However, their parents Anna and Gerard Sr. Schuivens left first for Grand Rapids and ended up in Lowell.

Catharina and Evert visited them in 1976 and fell in love with the USA.

“When we came to visit, we loved the openness, the opportunities of having your own business, the freedom and the acreage,” said Catharina.

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Photo by Danne on Pexels.com

The Beks lived close to Rotterdam, a big harbor city, in the Netherlands. Much like the rest of Europe, everything was crowded, tight and overpopulated.

For the first two years, the Beks lived in Kentwood and in Wyoming.

“We wanted some property and found five acres on 36th Street,” Catharina said. “We moved to a different house in Lowell in 1997.”

One of the biggest challenges of immigration is learning the language. Any immigrant can attest to that including Catharina.

At the time, Lowell Middle School was offering English classes.

“I also learned English from shopping and TV,” she said. “Evert had no problems; he learned English at work. He has always worked in the heating and cooling industry.”

Another challenge was finding a job.

Pictured above are Dutch treats: Dutch Rusks, oliebollen fritters. The wooden shoes are now used as decorations.

“I worked in an office since 16,” she said, “and I went to trade school.”

Here, she worked for an insurance company in Grand Rapids.

But, it was friends who got them through the first tough years.

“It’s hard to leave your friends, but we still have friends in the Netherlands,” Catharina said.

It took three to four years to adjust to the new life in America.

“Friends helped us settle best of all,” she said. “This is home for me now.”

Catharina said she managed to combine the good parts from the old country with the good parts from the new world.

However, everything became easier when daughter Kim was born in 1983 at the Metropolitan Hospital in Grand Rapids. Kim went through the entire Lowell Area Schools system.

“I met new people at the school,” Catharina said.

And then finally, the couple’s dream came true when they started their own business, Arctic Heating & Cooling in 1983 in Lowell.

Pictured above: licorice, Dutch pancakes and St. Nick.

Catharina works at the business as a bookkeeper.

“Having our own business and owning a home, was one of our many dreams,” she said. “Sometimes I wonder how we would end up if we hadn’t left the Netherlands.”

There are no regrets about immigration for either Catharina or Evert.

“I wouldn’t go back,” she said. “Evert feels the same way. “I love it here. We met good people and made great friends.”

They speak Dutch at home including their American-born daughter and grandson.

As far as traditions go, the Beks celebrate St. Nick on Dec. 5th.

Kitty cooks Dutch dishes like meat, potatoes and vegetables, pea soup and Dutch pancakes.

She goes shopping for spices for meatballs to VanderVeen’s Dutch store on 28th street.

“You have to have windmill cookies with coffee or tea,” she said.

A typical Dutch tradition for breakfast is a slice of white bread with chocolate sprinkles.

Other Dutch specialties include Gouda cheese, a Dutch Rusk with pink or blue sprinkles when a baby is born.

“Dutch people love licorice in all shapes and forms,” Catharina said.

On New Year’s Eve, she makes oliebollen. They are fat balls or fritters, deep fried with raisins and served with powdered sugar. A typical beer is Heineken and egg nog liquor Advocaat.

They became naturalized after five years.

On the theme of the recent immigration crisis, Catharina said she doesn’t agree with separation of families.

“I don’t agree with mothers being separated from kids,” she said.

Over the years, the Beks have built up their business with repeat customers.

“We’ve been lucky,” she said. “I feel that I do fit in and that I am a part of Lowell.”

Catharina also works part-time at the Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce.

Both Catharina and Evert are known for their community involvement.

 

Copyright (c) 2018. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

 

Creative streak

Several things are happening in my creative life.

I am getting ready to shoot the missing scene for the “Guardians of History ” at Fallasburg video with Tina Siciliano Cadwallader.

So, far the “Guardians ” @Fallasburg are looking good.

I am working on a brand new assignment for the Buyer’s Guide about the important topic of immigration.

I am no stranger to this highly political issue. On the contrary, our family has been dealing with it since 1968. According to Time magazine, it was a year that changed a generation.

The second immigration story is about successful local entrepreneurs of Arctic Heating & Cooling from the Netherlands, Kitty and Evert Bek.

“We are lucky, we have a successful business, we made a lot of friends and we fit in,” said Kitty. ‘It was our dream to come to America. ”

Watch for both stories in next week’s Independence Day edition of Buyer’s Guide and on my blogs.

Also next week, I will be featured in the print edition of the Grand Rapids Magazine as a local author.

“That was my dream to become an author, “Emma said. “I would not have been able to do that in Czech Republic.”

I will have a summer book signing of Shifting Short Stories @LowellArts. TBA

Always follow your heart and your dreams.

Copyright (c) 2018. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

Summer Solstice 2018

Welcome summer

By Emma Palova

Lowell, MI – Today is my favorite day of the year. It is also the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, known as summer solstice. I woke up this morning to a striped sky with orange, white and blue and to a cacophony of sounds; the nature sounded to me better than any symphony in this world. Ludek left at 6:05 a.m. for work in nearby Grand Rapids in full daylight.

It is my morning ritual to wish him a good day on the doorstep into the garage. I make a point to do this in the deadbeat of winter, as well as in the beauty of summer. I may have missed maybe two mornings sleeping in.

Then I continue my morning with yoga, treadmill or a walk to the Franciscan Sisters , meditations with coffee and tying myself to a chair in the studio to write. I missed the solstice last year, as I was wrapping up the formatting of my new book “Shifting Sands Short Stories.” I could not believe it, when I found out from the evening news that it was indeed the summer solstice. It stayed with me for the rest of the solar year. I felt cheated.

Most often people ask me, “What inspires your writing?”

I do have to say that it is definitely nature and its seasons.

I had to make up for that this year. The saying goes, that real stories are in “what you have missed” or “what is not there” and “what is not said.”

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On this day, the Earth’s axis is most inclined towards the sun.

I felt better when I saw at the Franciscans that the grass hasn’t been cut yet.That’s what I missed last year, the first grass cutting.  I drove there instead of walking because of a new assignment that is very close to my heart and to the nation’s heart: immigration.

The meadow was delightful in the sun’s direct rays, as the grasses and wildflowers swayed in the breeze. The Japanese lilac tree was in full bloom as well as the ornamental dogwood by the tower. I discovered a birdhouse made from Michigan license plates inside the lilac tree. Hundreds of spirea shrubs were in full maroon bloom.

Earlier in the morning at my hideout on a nearby lake, I took photos of the local heron resident on the swampy shores and hundreds of lotus blooms.

I would never want to miss this longest day of the year again. I will keep it in my heart forever. I will savor the fragrances of the meadow,  and all the sounds of this first day of summer.

The Sizzlin Summer Concert Series in Lowell is now in full swing on the Riverbank, and the Farmer’s Market is open.

Life is good.

It’s been hot and it’s been cold, so far. But, it’s summer in Michigan on the Great Lakes. And I am ready for it.

 

Copyright (c) 2018. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

 

 

Guardians of History

My newest venture, filming @Fallasburg. I wrote the script to the “Guardians of History “ video. I enjoyed every second of making this video with Ludek Pala, and the entire team. Thanks to all of you.

Fallasburg Today

I am so excited about our new video “Guardians of History.”

Here is a sneak preview on You Tube:

https://youtu.be/DKw3aEQrzS420180509_1059491048618129.jpg

Copyright (c) 2018. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

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Guardians of History script

I have just finished scripting the video “Guardians of History ” for the Fallasburg Historical Society.

We’re shooting tomorrow on location at the Fallasburg pioneer village.

I am very excited about this.

Stay tuned for the release.

Copyright (c) 2018. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

 

87th Annual Writing Competition

Writer’s Digest Writing Competition deadline is today

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Lowell, MI – My latest news is that I submitted a short story for the Writer’s Digest Annual Writing Competition right on the deadline today, June 1st.

It has many advantages. That’s how I accumulated short stories for my first book “Shifting Sands: Short Stories.” Sure, you have to pay the $35 entry fee, but you have content enough for a book.

There are nine entry categories including: script, stage play or television/movie script.

The poetry fee is $20. I’ve been a subscriber to the Writer’s Digest for at least 20 years. It’s essential for writers.

What I do like about the magazine that it is entertaining and full of advice.

I’ll keep you posted on the results. You still have time to enter.

Copyright (c) 2018. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved

Taurus clarifies content & goals

Parents get involved in memoir to move it along

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

I am supposed to consolidate my position and clarify my goals, according to today’s horoscope for the determined Taurus.

I especially like the quote from Bruce Lee: “Absorb what is useful, discard what is useless, and add what is specifically your own.”

That’s a pretty heavy quote that has inspired this entire post. To answer the last part of it; I am refining the content of the Greenwich Meridian memoir about our family immigration saga.

Inspired by Stephen and Owen King’s cooperation on the latest “Sleeping Beauties: A Novel”, I asked my mom Ella to write two chapters for the memoir. I would not be able to write them, because during mom’s second time around in the USA, I wasn’t with her. I was still back in Czechoslovakia.

I  wrongfully called Chapter 13, “First years in America.” And surely mom struggled with that, because it was her second time around from 1980 to present. After more than an hour on the phone, we clarified that.

During mom’s writing process, dad discovered a precious document; his bio when he was applying for jobs. It was stored away in old luggage in the basement, where I would have never found it.

This document, probably from the 1970s, and my parents’ involvement will help move the memoir along. For months, I struggled with it. I got stuck halfway through the manuscript.

Actually, my mom’s Narcissism and my own, sidetracked me, that I completely forgot about dad.

“He started the whole immigration,” she said. “I didn’t even know what the word meant before 1968.”

For me, this is a huge lesson that I have learned.; clarify, consolidate and cooperate on your writing projects.

http://www.tarot.com/daily-horoscope/taurus

Copyright (c) 2018. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

Born on May 9th with excerpts

Birthday and freeing of Prague

Excerpts from  memoir Greenwich Meridian: Where East meets West

The Tide of immigration from former Czechoslovakia started in 1968 with the Soviet army occupation.  A massive exodus followed in protest of the action by the Soviet Union government. My father  professor Vaclav Konecny was part of the movement.

As I continue to write the memoir in May, I will start with its festivities .The month of May was very poetic and romantic. With the entire country in blossom, the major holidays included Mayday and Freedom Day on May 9th when the Russians freed Prague from the Nazi occupation. in 1945. The new regime moved the national holiday to May 8th, when the American army reached the famous beer town of Pilsner in Western Bohemia.

May also serves as athe stage for the biggest music event of the year, the Prague Spring International Music Festival, started by president Edward Benes in 1946.  The festival is a tribute to the famouse Czech composer Bedrich Smetana. He is best known for his symphony Vltava inspired by the major Czech river that runs through Prague.

To my biggest regret, I’ve never been to Prague Spring. The 1968 political movement was also called Prague Spring.

The month of May is dedicated to Saint Mary in the catholic church. We used to sing Marianne hymns by the little chapels and in churches decorated with white hydrangeas and dahlias every evening at 6 p.m. It was a month for first communions, pretty white lace dresses and ribbons.

But, May had its dark side according to the lore; it wasn’t a good time to get married. Legend has it if a couple gets married in May, one of the partners will die early.

Were there weddings in May? Probably.

However, a big part of the population was superstitious partly due to Czech literature and its great authors. Some of the biggest ones who wrote about May were Karel Hynek Macha and Jaromir Erben.

May is known for opening of the beer gardens under the beautiful lilac blossoms.

I remember our neighbor Mr. J had a big old lilac tree that had both purple and white blossoms. I was always puzzled by that, since you really only saw one color or the other. Many years later someone told me that Mr. J had it  grafted.

To be continued

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