A day in the country

A day in the country, a true American story


EW Emma’s Writings

Keene Township- Smoked bacon, cheddar cheese, butt rub, jalapeno sausages and maple syrup, all in one place.

I stood in a line for one hour to get my share of the country goodies at the Jones Farm Market deep in the fields of the Midwest.

It was a chilly May morning with wind blowing from the west that also hauled in the smell from cows and pigs.

The line stayed the same all along due to the steady stream of visitors. Right in front of me there were three big blue striped tents and a band playing Stevie Wonder songs underneath. You would expect a country band.

Phil Jones during customer appreciation day last Saturday
Phil Jones during customer appreciation day last Saturday

The Jones Customer Appreciation Day takes place once a year always on the third Saturday in May. Speaking about killer timing: the event takes place between Mother’s Day and Memorial Day. Who doesn’t want to grill?

Moreover, four generations of owners, are right there on hand to chat in spite of the overall frenzy.

The younger ones were sporting black t-shirts that on the front read, “Where’s the beef?” With the answer on the back, “Next to pork.”

Pork is big here. It’s sold by the tons.

“We probably sell more than a ton of pork strips and steaks,” said the owner jovial Phil Jones. “Three thousand pounds of bacon and 9,000 pounds of ground beef.”

“I bet, I saw the commercial on TV,” I said referring to Jones son Lee talking about meat on the camera.

“Yes, Lee wants to be a movie star,” Phil laughed.

Great finds butt rub
Great finds butt rub

This down-to-earth man has led the meat business for the last 40 years, 20 of which he served as the Keene Township supervisor.

“You know you can do only so much in church,” Phil said in our previous interview.

“Now it seems like I am going to retire for the 25th time,” he laughed.

The last time I was at the market for a story, Phil’s wife Janet was watching their great grandchild who slept in a large meat box.

“That’s how we raise them right here at the market,” said Phil.

Most customers know the Joneses on a first name basis.

Metal Emu by Jamee
Metal Emu by Jamee

The Customer Appreciation Day has grown over the years from a small picnic to an annual event worth waiting for.

The younger son Karl was in charge of grilling. And what a meal for one dollar. One dollar here buys you, the Jones signature sausage, potato salad, sauerkraut, baked beans, and a cookie.

I browsed the booths in search of a treasure and I found a metal artist. I started taking photos of his metal welded Emu. The Emu had a belly with a pot of flowers and his tail was made from license plates.

“That will cost you $5,” he said.

“But I am a writer,” I said.

“Then, you can take all the pictures you want,” he said.

I have his business card. It states boldly, Jamee’s Repurposed metal art.

I have a knack for finding these special treats at country festivals. They range from great men to great women, and whatever they make.

Sometimes they’re weavers, soap makers and bird house makers. Artists and artisans who want to make it big, just like the metal guy Jamee and his nurse girl friend who supports him.

And of course there’s a whole different chapter to this great American story: the old car collectors with a Ford 1915 convertible on display at the grounds of the farm market. The vehicle was sort of reminiscent of a tractor.

We came here for meat and sausage & we found a special bond, something that we all have in common: love for the big country.


Copyright © 2014 story and photos by Emma Palova


True American stories

Watch for my true American stories “A day in the country” with the Jones family and  “Reducing stigma of mental illness” with Ionia County Community Mental Health director Bob Lathers.




Follow me on Emma Blogs as I enter the next 100 posts on word press.

Copyright (c) 2014 story and photos by Emma Palova

Dr. Verdier

Waiting for Dr.Verdier


EW Emma’s Writings

 In the spirit of 101 Challenge: The Commons I wanted to write about finding your feature niche II for your blog yesterday. I wanted to thank everybody for participating in the challenge yesterday. I wanted to write about the month of May being the mental health awareness month and my friend CEO of Ionia County Community Mental Health (ICCMH). I wanted to do everything yesterday.

Writing with a magnifying glass
Writing with a magnifying glass

But destiny wanted something else.

I can hardly see the screen. Yesterday, I couldn’t see at all. I couldn’t write. The screen was dipped in a faraway 3=D mist. Google was floating somewhere in a distance.

I barely made it back home from town with my medication as I couldn’t see the oncoming cars.

I went to see the eye doctor this morning. Eyes are the second most precious asset that I have.

“What brings you here on a Friday,” asks the eye doc.

“I couldn’t see yesterday, it was creepy,” I said.

The eye doc conducts a thorough exam and says:

“Putting something in front of the foggy lens is not going to solve your problem,” he said. “You have cataracts in both eyes at a young age. It’s very progressive.”

“Does it run in the family?”

“Most definitely,” he said.

“I need to see Dr.Verdier,” I said.

“You know him,” asks the eye doc looking at me through his spectacles.

“I wrote about him,” I said. “He travels around the world fixing eyes.”

“Did you write that article about him on the Orbitz plane,”asks the eye doc.

“I did.”

“Then you know he’s worth waiting for,” says the eye doc.

The first consult appointment with Dr. Verdier is on Aug. 22. I still have to write. I have a book deal in the making, but I need to see.


Copyright © story and photo by Emma Palova

Mom Ella & aunt Anna

Two sisters still at war

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Writer’s note:

This is part of the 100 Posts & beyond series

Today is a big day. As I write to the rhythm of the rain, morning chirping of the birds and to the frantic panting of my dog and husband, I still have my feet wet from the patio. I had to move the phlox and the moss roses from the garage out into the rain.

It’s May 9th, it’s my birthday. I was born on the national holiday in former Czechoslovakia. On that day, the nation’s capital Prague, the mother of all cities, was freed from the Nazi occupation by the Soviet Army. That was the end of World War II.

Many years later, I was born in the wee hours at 4 a.m. to parents Ella & Vaclav Konecny. My mom woke up to the cracking noises of fireworks announcing the anniversary of the victory.

“I thought it was war again, but then I realized those were fireworks celebrating your birth,” she said to me this morning as she wished me a happy birthday. “The whole nation celebrated.”

Czech Capital Prague
Czech Capital Prague

Mom says that to me every year, as the nature too celebrates the awakening after long winter.

“The nature blossoms on your birthday,” she says. “You always had the day off and a parade.”

Birthday blossom
Birthday blossom


The above note is one of the many reasons why I dedicated the memoir “Greenwich Meridian where East meets west” to my mother.

 100 Posts & beyond

This post is inspired by Anton Chekhov’s “Three Sisters” and the constant friction that I have witnessed between sisters in this world.

Mom Ella & I
Mom Ella & I


Mom Ella and aunt Anna

As I watch people drop like flies around me, I realize how time is going by fast. I like the inscription on the clock in the living room, “Tempus fugit.” That’s why I bought that pendulum clock as one of the first things when I arrived on this continent in 1989 for $110. Not that I had that kind of money. I just wanted the clock so bad, that I probably borrowed money for it. It announces the time by boldly striking every full and half hour. My husband Ludek still has to wind it by hand much like the clock that the in-laws had at home in the old country.

“They probably wouldn’t even let us know if she’s dead,” mom said. “You write the wedding invite. She’s your aunt and godmother.”

We bought the card that had written “Sisters” in the sand on it in Venice, Florida.

“I’ll pay for her air ticket, but not for him,” Mom said angrily. “Anyna won’t be able to translate that. She’s not going to come anyway.” Anyna is a slanderous nickname for the pretty name Anna.

Mom was referring to my uncle whom we once fancied as “Jean” rather the ordinary Czech John. We took that from the French movies that we had devoured like crazy in old Czechoslovakia.

That was more than quarter of a century ago before the big family dispute.

“But we don’t even know if he’s alive,” I argued. “I’ll just write it and we’ll see.”

Unintentionally, we sent the invite off without any contact numbers or addresses. Subconscious at its best.

“Write it again,” mom said last week. “This is her last chance to make up with me.”

To be continued as part of the ongoing series 100 Posts & beyond

Copyright © 2014 story and photos by Emma Palova

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