Operation Rice Bowl

Lenten journeys

Operation Rice Bowl started on Ash Wednesday.

Parnell, MI – I picked up our Lenten rice bowl at St. Pat’s Church Parish offices in Parnell this morning right after the Friday mass along with the Little Black Book of six-minute meditations. The daily meditations booklet is my “vade mecum” that will travel with me for the next 50 days. The booklet’s cover is black without a title making it easy to read anywhere without stirring attention.

Secretary Darci Mierendorf informed they were running out of print materials really fast.

“I suppose that’s a good thing,” she said. “We’ve increased the mass attendance list to 140 names.”

Ah, the list that we haven’t been able to get on to participate in a Sunday or a feast mass, is ever elusive. By the time I open the sign-up form on Monday morning, it’s usually filled up except for the early morning masses.

Darci said that the Bishop has lifted the dispensation from Sunday masses as of Ash Wednesday. However, if you can’t get on the list after putting forth the effort, you are allowed to watch live streaming on Facebook both from St. Andrew’s Cathedral and from St. Pat’s.

We’ve been doing just that for close to a year now as COVID-19 hit during last year’s Lent.

I’ve always been fascinated by the power of the rice bowl to help the needy around the globe. For example $40 goes for infant scales to measure growth, $80 can buy chickens to provide eggs for protein and income. $120 contributes to a household garden for family nutrition.

During Lent, I embark on different journeys and the one below started on Feb. 1 and I absolutely love it. It’s my literary pilgrimige that I hope to make into a tradition.

Winter Virtual Book Festival by Pages Promotions LLC.

Blind date with a book going strong

Last night the history workshop with authors JuliAnne Sisung and Xander Cross was so informative, that I might have to buy a replay of it for $5. Loaded with information, the two authors covered so much territory that I had trouble distinguishing between the past, present and the future.

Among the many discoveries that shocked me was that YouTube can be used as a primary research tool much like digging in the attic for old letters, photos and postcards or visiting your hometown museum.

“There are two types of history,” said Sisung. “Cultural and social.”

We also found out that human nature is slow to evolve and that historic events cycle, thus the saying “history repeats itself.”

I realized that while writing my new book “Greenwich Meridian Memoir” which is set on the backdrop of two major historical events: the 1968 Prague Spring and the 1989 Velvet Revolution.

I used this opening quote to roll out the historical feast:

And history has a tendency to repeat itself as Bohemian writer, screenwriter and film director Vladislav Vancura put it:

Aren’t human thoughts and desires like a stream hidden in rain drops and in elusive feelings? They can be discarded, but they come back in a new form giving way to action. And then comes the trial of one era with the next, then comes the renewal of resources, then comes victory.

To be continued………Lenten journeys

The replay of the history workshop is available at:


Copyright (c) 2021 Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

Lowell Social District opens this Friday

Press release from the City of Lowell.

This Friday is it!

Lowell, MI – The Showboat City Social District opens Friday, Feb. 19th at 4:00 p.m. Bars and restaurants within the Social District have a special permit with their liquor license to sell alcohol in Social District cups. You can take that drink and walk outside within the District area to drink it. There will be fire pits in select areas where you can warm up and chat with friends.

The Showboat City Social District runs along Main Street from Washington Street to just west of New Union Brewery. It also includes Riverwalk Plaza, Veteran’s Park and the parking lot by it, Monroe Street from Main Street north to the alley behind the businesses on Main, and Riverside Drive and N. Broadway Drive to the alley behind the businesses on Main. Monroe Street will be closed to vehicle traffic during District hours. Social District hours are Monday-Friday 4:00-10:00 p.m., Saturday noon-10:00 p.m., Sunday noon-8:00 p.m.

You may not bring your own beverages to drink in the District, nor may you refill your District cup from alcohol purchased from other sources. Only alcohol purchased from a participating establishment in a District cup is allowed.

Participating businesses with permits include Big Boiler Brewery, Flat River Grill, Larkin’s Saloon, Main Street BBQ, New Union Brewery and Sneakers. Look for the Social District signage at each location. Worried about the trash? Cups will be recyclable and recycle bins will be placed throughout the Social District to give you an easy opportunity to keep it clean.

Lowell Police Department will add additional coverage in the District during open hours, as well. Let’s enjoy this opportunity and be respectful of each other and our City. Maintain distance, drink responsibly, have a designated driver and keep our City clean. Cheers!

Copyright (c) 2021. Emma Blogs, LLC.

Ash Wednesday marks the start of Lent

Purple is the color of Lent

As we woke up to -14 F degree temperatures, yesterday’s snow has already hardened on the patio and the white icy cupola on the balcony continues to get bigger. The sun bathed my flowers in the sunroom and warmed up the cold tiles.

I call my sunroom a COVID-19 sanctuary that protects me from the outside world no matter the season. It offers light and shelter to the outdoor plants that I bring inside in the fall. My mom Ella brings her plants for the winter while she stays in Venice, FL.

However, in the deadbeat of winter, the COVID sanctuary takes on a special meaning as the Phalaenopsis moth orchids start to bloom in their purples and yellows bringing the sunroom alive.

By the orchid blossoms, I know we’re midway into February which means that Ash Wednesday is here. I usually go in the morning to St. Pat’s Church in Parnell to get the ash cross on my forehead, but not this year due to COVID. We didn’t get on the list of 100 people to attend the Ash Wednesday mass, so we will be watching the livestream on TV or Facebook in the evening.

Purple is the color of Lent that preceeds Easter. The tradition has it that we should be giving up something for Lent. I’d rather take on something new, which is fine too. I’ve given up a lot of things including drinking coffee. I drink a myriad of herbal teas instead; I’ve never been fond of coffee anyways. I don’t have a problem giving up meat on Fridays, as I am trying to cut down on meat too.

I tried fasting today with a growling stomach and my eyes set on wild rice soup or gumbo. Like a good catholic girl, I put the soup packets back in the pantry and boiled some broccoli. Tonight, I will make either lentils or cauliflower with eggs.

Lenten change of pace, fish for Fridays

Blue Gills

Where to get your fish

I like the change of pace during Lent. We don’t go out to eat on Lenten Fridays even though we could do a fish fry at any local restaurant. According to the Lenten traditions, we should not eat meat on Fridays. I am a fish lover; I love fish, any fish and all fish.

During winter, I get my fish from DMS Fish Supply at their monthly fish drop in Ada. The next fish drop will be on March 4th with pick up from 3 to 3:30 p.m. Check out the story “In Search of Inspiration: The Fishmonger by clicking on the following link:


You can also go ice fishing on any of the lakes in Michigan. A story is coming up.

Also in purple, the PopUp Book Shop

Pages Promotions Virtual Book Festival PopUp Book Shop

Don’t forget to join our “Blind Date with a Book” Virtual Book Festival that runs through February, visit the festival PopUp Book Shop. You must pre-register for all events including Indie author readings and workshops. We still have a lot to offer from comedy writing to creating suspense. Go to:


Stay tuned for my links to the replays of Indie author readings at the Pages Promotions Virtual Book Festival.

Copyright (c) 2021. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

Virtual Festival souvenirs

The “Blind Date with a Book ” virtual book festival dances into its third week in February as the freezing temperatures plunge below normal and another weather advisory awaits us tonight..

Over the weekend, childrens’ authors read from their books last Saturday followed by the spinning “Wheel of Happiness” for the lucky ones who won some prizes. To soothe the disappointment of those who didn’t win, there is good news; the wheel will spin again tonight with Young Adult genre authors.

You can connect with all the Indie Authors via the festival PopUp Book Shop by clicking on the link below:


However, if you have purchased an Indie Author book from a different sources, it is probably not signed. Check out the shop to request a limited commemorative book plate signed by the author.

“It’s a nice souvenir from the festival,” said organizer Diana Plopa.

For a complete schedule of events go to:


There are more workshops coming up as well. #ppvirtualbookfestival

And I got wind of another wacky wild festival coming up this summer. Watch for more info.

Copyright (c) 2021. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

Happy Valentine’s Day

Have a great Valentine’s. Treat yourself and your loved ones to some good food and sweets or a trip to the wineries of Grand Traverse area. Stay tuned for a story. “Grand Traverse Rediscovered.”

Featured cake by


Lake Huron trout and caviar.

Great Lakes fish provided by DMS Fish Supply of Midland, MI. For more info about DMS click below:


Copyright (c) 2021 Emma Blogs, LLC.

Blind Date with a Book

Moving right along through February, the Winter Virtual Book Festival organized by Pages Promotions, LLC has covered genres from action and adventure to inspirational fiction, with non-fiction, poetry, short stories and memoir, in between. We’re in for a night of mystery on a freezing Monday evening.

Indie authors read from their books while readers match up the right book with its author for bragging rights on Facebook. Then Diana Plopa spins the “Wheel of Happiness” for great prizes donated by the authors.

You have to be present in the Zoom room to win. If you happen to find a gold, silver or bronze ticket in your book, you’re in for more prizes such as Kindle Fire without ads and more books and swag.

Speed dating

PopUp Book Shop

Visit our PopUp Book Shop during the festival at:


Excerpt from “Greenwich Meridian Memoir”

Here is an excerpt of what I read on Friday evening from my new book “Greenwich Meridian Memoir”, chapter “The Haves and The Have Nots.” This reading was five minutes.

Everyone had the right to work. There was no such thing as unemployment. If you were unemployed for more than six weeks, you went to jail. Since the economy was regulated and planned, there was always work, whatever work and any work at any given time. However, if you wanted a good job, you needed connections or my mom’s long arm.

That was balanced out by having to stand in long lines for basic items such as toilet paper and laundry detergent. However, college education was free, along with healthcare for all and free daycare. 

Travel was a different ball game based on your profile.  We each had a profile ever since we were old enough to join the Socialist Youth Union at the age of 14. The profile also contained information about your parents. Then volunteer hours on socialist projects were added to the profile. At 18, you were expected to become a member of the Czechoslovak Communist Party and get your red membership card. Soon the profile info started to add up in your favor or against you. 

Certain things were unacceptable like if your family was a member of the bourgeoisie, royalty or if they owned land, you would definitely go nowhere. Based on the bizarre profile criteria, if they were good, you could go to Yugoslavia or maybe somewhere west, if you got the exit visa. 

If your profile was bad like mine, because we left the country illegally for the USA, you sat at home. The profile thing continues to puzzle me to this day. 

Like in Hitler’s Germany nothing was ever forgotten or forgiven. That was in an era before computers. The whole socialist machinery was like a self-fulfilling prophecy. You always got what you didn’t wish for, but somebody else wanted it for you. 

“Oh, we just wanted the best for you,” a voice would say. 

“How do you know what’s best for me?” I asked. 

“Socialism never sleeps,” the voice would persist. “We know what’s best for the country. Look at all the improvements in the last 40 years.” 

Banners hung on buildings proclaiming the “Building Successes of Socialism” and the bright future for the socialist youth like me. 

Bringing up properly the communist youth was very important to the regime, which feared intellectuals. On the other hand, the system put the working class known as proletariat on a pedestal. The most famous slogan was: “Proletariat of all countries, unite.” I think it was a Lenin quote.

Interestingly enough, some five decades later Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg achieved the same goal without the communist or socialist propaganda of uniting.  Four billion people now volunteer their information on the Facebook social media platform. I don’t think the communists realized that you cannot force unity or freedom. Just like you cannot force or enforce peace. 

Yet, thousands in Czech Republic now still yearn for the old socialist regime that provided certainties such as: shelter, food, water, jobs and the sun in the morning, and the moon at night. 

The communists even claimed they could command the rain and the wind. I know they couldn’t, but the fact they claimed that showed their infinite arrogance deeply rooted in the propaganda. 

But there were also true communists like our late neighbor. And I will change his name for all purposes. Let’s call him Mr. Rudi Vlk. Rudi, in his early 40s, went through political school while working. He never missed a communist party meeting. Rudi lived the party philosophy. He studied the Marxist-Leninist traditions and its pillars. He never cheated, lied or stole. But, in the process of it all, he got ulcers. 

Needless to say, that honest communist Rudi was in the minority. Most people who joined the party had an ulterior motive. This labeled them as career communists like my second removed Uncle Henry. 

There were other career communists in the female ranks as well. Many teachers became communists to protect their teaching jobs. Although communists did not like the intelligence class, they were fond of socialist education free of any religious influence. All religious schools shut down, along with the confiscation of the church estates. 

To climb up on the company ladder, you had to be a member of the communist party. There were no discussions about that. Uncle Henry went through the same process as Rudi, only he lied, cheated and stole for the benefit of the party and his own. 

The two breeds of communists hated each other, even though they often sat at the same tables, and in the same meetings. Aunt Anna’s favorite joke went along the following lines. A man and a woman have a discussion in a coffee shop. 

“I know you,” says the man. 

“Oh, yes? How?” asks the lady. 

 “We slept together,” the man answers. 

“Excuse me, sir,” she turns red. 

“Yes, in the same meeting last week in the boardroom,” the man laughs. 

Register for tonight’s readings: Mystery


Pictured in the Zoom screenshot are authors: Diana Plopa, Emma Palova, Donny Winter, Jared Morningstar, Kate Mc Neal and Andrew Smith.

Copyright (c) 2021. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

First festival weekend

Blind Date with a Book

Rolling into the first weekend of the Winter Virtual Book Festival organized by Pages Promotions, LLC, we’ve covered genre from action and adventure, non-fiction to memoir. The theme of this festival is “Blind Date with a Book.”


You pick an event by clicking on the caption below, and register on Zoom.

The participating authors read from their books without revealing the title. The screen shows scrambled covers, and it’s up to you to find the perfect fit.

If you match up the author with the book, you get the bragging rights on social media. Please use the hashtag #ppvirtualbookfestival.

Wheel of Happiness

Diana has given out a lot of prizes spinning the Wheel of Happiness, and a lot more is to come during the month of February. If you win a book, check it for the gold, silver or bronze ticket for major prizes.

If you don’t attend, you can’t win. Invite your friends, fans and family and cast the authors’ event on your TV.

PopUp Book Shop

Visit the festival PopUp Book Shop to meet your next favorite book. It will be up only during the festival month. So do not procrastinate.


Register on Zoom

Don’t forget to register for tonight’s poetry and short story readings at 8 p.m.


Copyright (c) 2021. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

A snowy Friday evening with Indie Authors

Join us this snowy Friday evening for some literary fun at the third Virtual Book Festival organized by Pages Promotions, LLC.

The evening will feature memoirists with the theme “Blind Date with a Book.” You can try to match up the reading with the right book for bragging rights.

So far, we’ve had so much fun while spinning the Wheel of Happiness for prizes galore.

The non-fiction authors from last night crushed it. They were: Caroline Topperman, Angela Verges, Erik Bean and Kelly Bolton.

Below is a link to register on Zoom.


Copyright (c) 2021. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

Festival Pop Up Book Shop

Check out the Pop Up Shop during the Pages Promotions Virtual Book Festival open in February.

The idea for the PopUp Book Shop was simple.

“I wanted to make it easy for readers to find the books they fell in love with at the Blind Date events,” said festival organizer Diana Plopa of Pages Promotions, LLC.

The PopUp Book Shop is a single URL that connects readers with everyone at the Festival.

“By making it easier, I am hoping that more readers will buy Indie Author books, ” said Plopa.


The virtual PopUp Book Shop will only be on the website until the end of the Festival. It will go away on March 1.

Just like in a regular bookstore you search by genre.

“Hopefully this will spur people on to buy rather than procrastinate,” said Plopa.

For those who books from different sources, book plates with authors’ signatures are available.

Find your next favorite book. Meet your next favorite author at the festival. Tonight will be a night of horror and the paranormal.

Copyright (c) 2021. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

February Newsletter

Love is in the air

 Happy Valentine’s Day

As I look outside my studio window, I see snow falling on my lovely garden. The hydrangeas now have white caps and soon they will look surreal like in the summer and fall, except they won’t have any green leaves. Considering that we live in Michigan and it’s the end of January, it was inevitable. And a lot folks wanted it.
At times it seemed like in one of my short stories “Waiting for Snow” from Shifting Sands: Secrets where the main character Colin is literally praying for snow so he can use his toys.
On the contrary, I always hope for a miracle that somehow, we will skip snow. The only things that carry me in the deadbeat of winter are warm visions of Valentine wishes, roses and chocolates. However, no warm Florida this year still due to COVID-19 and since I often travel around Valentine’s, I don’t want to miss sending love wishes to my parents. Ella and Vaclav. They are the main characters in my new book “Greenwich Meridian Memoir.” Dad usually buys us a box of chocolates and flowers.

The memoir is an epic story about our emigration from former Czechoslovakia to the USA spanning half a century and two generations.

Winter virtual book fest

But this year something new popped up on the horizon. It’s the third Virtual Book Festival featuring more than 50 authors in February. The theme is “Blind Date with a Book” organized by Pages Promotions, LLC.
It is the brainchild of author Diana Kathryn Wolfe-Plopa.
“Since the advent of COVID-19, and all the in-person book festivals being cancelled, I wanted to find a way to help other authors connect with readers,” said Plopa, “and to help other authors connect with readers, as well.”
Plopa said she’s always had a passion for the Indie Author and this was one more way to show that spirit.
“Just because we’re Indie doesn’t mean that we’re “less than” the trad authors,” she said. “We deserve the same level of promotion and engagement as they get…the only problem is we have a much smaller budget. So that’s why I decided to go virtual.”
Plopa has held physical festivals in the past, so this seemed like the next logical step.
And the idea for the theme came from watching old clips of the old Dating Game TV program on YouTube.
“I thought it would be a fun, different, and kinda wacky way to introduce authors and their books to readers in a way that might capture their attention and get them to buy,” Plopa said.

Join us by clicking:
http:// #ppvirtualbookfestival https://www.facebook.com/events/153849246500703 http://www.pagespromotions.com/virtual-book-festival.html#/
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 like snowplows and snowblades was idling too.
The eager machines just sat still waiting in the front and backyards. Mother Earth was refusing to cooperate on one side, on the other side she released her wrath on the coastal states.
The Midwest was sleeping its winter dream dipped into 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 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 with a welded miniature of the Eifel Tower. 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.”

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