The winter of 2014 that seems to continue with endless snowflakes, rain and hail has buried our house and garden below mounds of snow.
The white stuff is everywhere. Even the dog is scared to go outside. Yesterday, the gutters broke, and water was getting into our house. The roads have turned into corridors with snow barriers. I used to complain about winters in Canada, but this is worse because of its viciousness and duration. The wind just blows through the bones hard leaving little needles inside.
I am not much of a winter person anyways. I am constantly cold. We can’t even heat the second floor of the house.
“Put on more clothes,” my family tells me.
I laugh,”It’s like taking off more clothes in a 40-degree heat when you already have on just a swimming suit.
I almost never wear slippers or socks in the house, now I am forced to wear both. And I am still cold.
Some people say winter is good for arts projects, for writing or blogging. I say winter is only good for gluttons for punishment.
On the photo, Ella was enjoying the first snow back in November. If she had only known that it was going to be “eternal” like the “eternal ice” in Chamonix.
The featured picture of Nerja on the Mediterranean Sea is where I really want to be.
Thus my question for Dr. Em after her awesome take on insomnia on the Ask page:
How do you fight off cabin fever or as the Czechs say, submarine disease?
Copyright (c) 2014 story and photos by Emma Palova
Prague, the capital of Czech Republic and a favorite tourist destination, will be hosting the first WordPress Camp on Feb. 22. The conference will put Prague among 172 other cities across six continents that have already hosted WordCamp.
As a WordPress writer of Czech origin, I am very proud that the camp will take place in the “Heart of Europe,” as Prague is often dubbed. The conference will be divided into two presentations; one for users and one for developers.
The lectures will be in Czech with the exception of two in English.
Among the lecturers, who all are big fans of WordPress, will be Vladislav Musilek, Jan Kvasnicka, Pavel Ungr, Vlastimil Ott, Peter Gramantik, Agnes Bury, Jan Bocinec, Richard Bonk, David Binovec, Tomas Cirkl, Martin Michalek, Tomas Poner, Tom Eagles, Marek Prokop a Radek Kucera.
“I started working with WordPress a few years ago, when I built my blog on it,” Kucera said. “Today, I build simple web pages for firms, and I like to learn something new. I am interested in everything around the Internet and I work in Telco& ICT.”
Agnes Bury in a lecture “Going global” will talk about how to make a WordPress site multilingual. She is the marketing and community manager for the company behind the WordPress Multilingual Plugin-the plugin that lets you make your e-commerce site multilingual, as well as plugins which let WP web developers build their sites faster without php coding.
Before joining the company, she was working as a WP freelancer. Bury also publishes a popular WordPress blog where she shares her passion and experience in WP with other fans.
The event, with platinum sponsor Wedos, reasonably priced at 390 crowns has almost sold out.
Other upcoming WordCamps, organized by communities and volunteers, will be held in major cities across USA. They’re informal forums used to share information.
For more information go to central.wordcamp.org/schedule/ or 2014.prague.wordcamp.org
Copyright (c) 2014 story by Emma Palova, photo of Prague courtesy of Ceske Narodni Listy
Mr. Greg Canfield has been named the person of the year 2014 by the Lowell Area Chamber.
“I thought only old people get this title,” he laughed.
In the past, Greg along with his wife Deb were awarded the Brick Award 2011 for bringing back to life the three buildings owned by the Reedy’s and what is now the Main Street Inn. And of course the Canfield Plumbing & Heating business running fast for the last two decades.
“Our main focus is on the plumbing business,” said Canfield.
The rough winter has been a boom for the plumbing business. “We had to pick which customer needs our help the most,” he said. “We got 100 home calls.” The biggest problem was when people were gone, and the home got flooded or the pipes froze.
The plumbing business employs 15 full-time employees, while the Main Street Inn has eight part-time employees. However, the elegant Inn nestled on the Flat River is the talk of the town, and a lifeline to downtown businesses. The lobby has new additions that are rarities today,, an old red coke machine and a phone booth.
The favorite rooms are the ones overlooking the Flat River and the Showboat. One room is dedicated to prominent late citizen Ivan Blough for his love of the Showboat, the other one is the honeymoon suite. The 1880s building has no problems with plumbing, because it’s all new. During the remodel, Canfield moved the plumbing into the walls, and found out about the second story that was on the original building.
“It was a major undertaking,” Canfield said. “We had to pour new foundations on the river bottom. The building is 98 percent new.” There are seven guest rooms, three rooms are upstairs with a spacious community room. Four rooms are on the main level, along with the lobby and a conference room. The conference room is used by various groups such as the Flat River Watershed group as well as for bridal or baby showers, and wedding rehearsals.
“The plumbing business carries us,” Canfield said. “You can’t outsource that to China. The Inn brings people to downtown area. They can walk to Backwater Cafe. People love the art shops and the antiques.”
It is one of Canfield’s many goals to make Lowell a destination town like it used to be when the Flat River Antique Mall was still operating. This will include improving parking and handicap accessibility. As a member of the Downtown Development Authority, Canfield said the DDA is looking at developers seeking assistance.
Future plans include purchasing the 12,000 square-footMoose building and turning it into a pub, a banquet hall and a hotel on the third floor.
“It will be like an extension to the Inn.”
Canfield, now for his involvement in the historic district commission and Lowell Light & Power, the Downtown District Authority, and the construction board of appeals, is the man of the year.
“I am so humbled to be along the people who preceded me.” he said.
Canfield attributes his success to being surrounded by great people. “I am surrounded by my family, my wife, co-workers and neighbors. Lowell is a wonderful community.”
Canfield said he would do it all over again.
“It’s very rewarding helping people solve their problems,” he said.
Canfield has a handful of stories about cool people who had stayed at the Inn. A lady who was suffering from terminal cancer rented the entire building for the family to enjoy and celebrate her life.
“It’s a fun way to remember her,” he said.
At a different time, Canfield saw his guests from Las Vegas walking around Lowell and skyping from computers.
“It’s very humbling to be put along other people who have received this award,” he said. “I want to dabble in other things than plumbing.
Canfield, a history buff, likes to bring people to the Lowell historic district.
” I do it for the downtown, to bring people in,” he said in a recent interview. “I care for the community.”
Since I am living an international life with most of the family embedded in the USA, while the rest is scattered in France and Czech Republic, the Sochi Olympic Games, embody a true spirit of cooperation high above their competing foundation.
“Who do you root for?” a cashier once asked me at a local grocery store after he detected a slight accent.
Most of our family members, except for our son Jake, have a recognizable accent, some more than others. Often that becomes the center of all jokes. It can be anywhere from amusing to annoying.
“Well of course I go for the best one,” I laughed. “I don’t care about the nationality.”
The Czechs both in the old country and expatriates around the world have a great passion for sports. That is for medals, trophies, but most of all for fun.
Apart from hockey, Czechs became known for their figure skating legends Ondrej Nepela and Hana Maskova, who won bronze medal behind Peggy Fleming of the United States in the 1968 Olympics in Grenoble. She was the only Czech woman to win an Olympic medal in figure skating.
Slovak Ondrej Nepela won the 1972 gold medal in men’s figure skating at the Olympics in Sapporo. His fellow countryman Jozef Sabovcik won the bronze medal in the 1984 Olympics in Sarajevo, at a time when the country was still intact as Czechoslovakia.
In my memoir “Greenwich Meridian where East meets West,” I write about the family and the country’s involvement in sports, both amateur and professional.
My dad Vaclav Konecny, former Ferris State University professor, won several swimming competitions during his studies at the University of Jana Evangelisty Purkyne in Brno. Dad taught me how to swim at an early age, and ever since swimming has become my favorite sport, if only for fun. Each year, during my March writing retreat in Venice, Florida, I swim with the dolphins in the Gulf of Mexico.
But, other than swimming, I haven’t been endowed in sports unlike my husband Ludek Pala and my children Dr. Emma & Jake. I tinkered around a bit with softball and basketball at the Hawkins Junior High School, TX in the seventies. Ludek played soccer on a team in Stipa, Czechoslovakia and coached soccer for the YMCA & Lowell Area Schools, Michigan in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Jake was on his soccer team. Daughter Emma wanted to be a figure skater, but she didn’t have enough drive, practice or coaching. Maybe it was just something on a whim like little girls who want to be ballerinas. Although as always Emma seemed pretty determined.
When Ludek built a skating rink 50 by 60 feet on a tarp one foot deep complete with barriers in our garden around the year 2000, my hopes were high up that Jake would some day be on the élite Czech Olympic hockey team or on NHL along with Alexander Ovechkin.
At the time, Jake was a student at the Lowell High School. He skated strategically well under Ludek’s training, but he didn’t take it any further. He was growing into his teens and had other interests.
“I did it for fun,” said Jake, regional distributor for Faygo.”It was phenomenal as a hobby. I used dad’s ice rink to the max.”
For Jake sports have always been a good motivator and a springboard into real life, but he never considered becoming a professional. He practiced hockey with his puck up to three hours a day. Quite often neighbor Bailey Haefner would join him for a friendly match.
“I started being really good at it” Jake said. “It came at a great time. I miss it and I’d like to perfect the skill.”
So, the hockey rink became sort of a neighborhood skating plaza for all. Winters were alsmost as hard as the winter of 2014, so it held up for months.
“I’ve always wanted to have a skating rink in my backyard,” said Ludek.
Ludek, an innovator in every sense, is very project oriented. He took the time to gather the scrap wood boards and
numbered them to create the barriers around the perimeter of the rink. He put tarp on the bottom and maintained the
surface on daily basis to keep it smooth for skating.
I don’t think I’ve ever skated on it. Then one year in February the rink melted and turned into a large puddle. Moreover, the neighborhood kids were growing up just like Jake did, so Ludek stopped building the ice rink. I asked him to build a covered swimming pool instead, but that hasn’t happened yet.
To be continued with “All my skiers.”
Copyright (c) 2014 story and photo by Emma Palova, other photos courtesy of Wikipedia, Internet
This is what true Czechs& CzechAmericans would treat themselves to while watching the Superbowl and the Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, or any other event for that matter.
The game spread would definitely include several six packs of Czechvar, the export trademark of the real Budweiser (watch for an upcoming story about the stolen trademark from its origins in Czech Budejovice), plum brandy known as slivovice, sweet & sour pickles, salami and kielbasa and a loaf of good sourdough bread.
Pictured in the photo is a Stein depicting the capital Prague, a flask of plum brandy, home-made pickles canned on our country ranch, wishing it was Hungarian salami and locally purchased at Ric’s six-pack of Czechvar crisp as horse radish.
Watch for my post Czechs & Sports in honor of the Olympic Games in Sochi
As we draw closer to the Olympiad in Russian Sochi, I keep thinking about Czech hockey. Although the Czech hockey team is not among the top three medal contenders, Canada, USA and Russia, the team has been dubbed as the best among the rest along with Finland.
The Czech hockey team won their dream “Tournament of the Century” that is the gold medal in Nagano 1998 and bronze in 2006
in Torino, Italy. The New Jersey Devils veterans Jaromir Jagr and Patrick Elias may give the Czechs a shot this time
around, according to the Bleacher Report.
“I bet the first line is Jagr, Krejci and Voracek because of 68’s familiarity with both of them,” wrote Tom Urtz Jr.
Jim Dance also commented on Bleach Reporter:
“Hudler leads his NHL team in scoring by 14pts,Vrbata is tied for the lead on his NHL team. I think there’s some back door
BS going on here.I mean really? Granted Jagr is having a great year,but a little too much nostalgia for me.”
“It’s all nostalgia for me,” I wrote.
In the old communist Czechoslovakia governed by Soviet politics, hockey was all political. Every year, the two best hockey
teams in the world, Czechs and the Soviets, were pitched against each other. The ice arena became the real political
platform and battlefield.
What could not transpire in real life, happened on ice. The two teams would beat each other to death physically with
their hockey sticks pushing each other against the mantinels. Hockey was the only way the Czechs could show their
opposition against the Soviet occupation.
“Beat them,” I could hear from the windows as I walked to the only grocery store in the 30,000-apartment
complex known as Southern Slopes in hometown Zlin.
The shouts repeated themselves as I continued to walk with a classical nasty grocery bag. Little did I know that this
classical grocery bag would make its grand appearance on the American market stage three decades later.
“Who won,” I asked breathless as I walked into the living room where everyone was sitting around the TV.
The silence was not good.
“The Russians did,” sighed my grandpa Joseph taking a gulp from a bottle.
“Are they better than us?” I asked naïvely holding a bag full of groceries.
That question continues to linger on even into the new millennium. Sometimes the Russians won, sometimes the Czechs did.
Experts would say,”Oh the Czechs played a defensive game,but the Russians played an offensive game.”
I never quite came to a resolution over this. The fact of the matter was, that we hated the Russians because they occupied
our country in 1968 with tanks. Hate may have tainted our judgment.
“You didn’t watch the hockey game?” asked a guy at the bus stop another guy. “You’re a traitor.”
Yeah, the passions ran high when it came to playing the Russians. Then in 1989 with the fall of communism in Velvet
Revolution, a lot of that passion was lost.
One year before the Olympics, I was getting groceries here in US at the Meijer store and the cashier asked me:
“Where is that accent from?”
“It’s Czech,” I said.
“Great hockey team,” he said. “Who do you root for?”
“Of course, for the Czech team,” I laughed.
The Czech hockey has been immortalized by retired goaltender Dominik Hašek. In his 16-season National Hockey League (NHL)
career, he played for the Chicago Blackhawks, Buffalo Sabres, Detroit Red Wings and the Ottawa Senators. During his years
in Buffalo, he became one of the league’s finest goaltenders, earning him the nickname “The Dominator”. His strong play
has been credited with establishing European goaltenders in a league previously dominated by North Americans.
Hašek is regarded as a future Hall of Famer by those in the hockey world.
The current Jaromir Jagr is one of a small group of hockey players to have won the Stanley Cup (1991, 1992), the Ice
Hockey World Championships (2005, 2010), and the Olympic gold medal in ice hockey (1998). This is known as the Triple Gold
Club, and Jágr is one of only two Czech players (the other being Jiří Šlégr) in the Triple Gold Club, the 15th player to
complete it out of 25 total, as of June 2011.
So, the fame of Czech hockey continues with or without the Russians.
Go Czechs go, win Sochi 2014.
Copyright (c) 2014 story by Emma Palova, photos Internet and Wikipedia
I am looking forward to 2014 in spite of its rocky & freezing start. My goals include exponential growth of followers of my online journal. I plan on diversifying the content with other writers’ and bloggers’ work.
So far, it has been a one –woman show as far as articles, photography and design.
I am using this opportunity to invite other writers and artists to display their work in my journal. I would like to add fiction and poetry. I am a firm believer in creative partnerships.I want to add more advertising, both local and national, as well as a store page in an effort to monetize the site. And tie everything close with social media.
I am also happy about completing career profiles on Google+ and Elance in search of freelance work.
I will continue writing the memoir “Greenwich Meridian” which is the principal reason behind the journal. The family immigration saga is evolving as we speak and taking its own course.
My parents Ella&Vaclav Konecny, who started the saga in mid 60s are spending the winters in Venice,Fl. Dad will be celebrating his 80th birthday this July. My daughter Emma appears to be staying in France for a while. My brother Vas lives in Paris, Michigan and my son Jake lives in Kalamazoo.
I am targeting the book for next year’s publication before Mother’s Day since it is dedicated to mom. I am aiming for traditional publication as of right now.
I also have plenty of short stories awaiting publication collected in “Glass Flowers” anthology. I wrote most of these when I was working at the Meijer store in the nineties in Grand Rapids.
So, it will be a busy new year. I celebrated my one-year anniversary with WordPress on Jan.15. Looking forward to another one.
I am learning Windows 8 & shaking sickness, flu of the North. I am ready to move down South. I am thinking about Alabama, New Mexico or Silicon Valley. It’s been rough up here this winter in Michigan. We’re totally snowed & frozen in. Life is too short to live it in a freezer. Of course as I write this I am crying. We raised two kids here, two dogs and three sets of Japanese koi fish and we had the best time in our lives up North, but as I wrote in one of my short stories “Tonight on Main”…..the old has settled in. It’s time to move on.
The most liked photo from all of my posts combined on WordPress, Google+, Facebook, Linkedin and Instagram in 2013 was the one I took of St. Patrick’s Church in Parnell, Michigan on a stormy New Year’s Eve. We were coming back from a dinner down Gavin Lake Road and I noticed the laser-like quality of the flood lights on the steeple of the church that is celebrating its 170th anniversary this year.
“We have to turn around, I got to get this photo,” I said to my husband.
The church stands like a lonely sentinel amid farms and fields in the northern east part of Kent County. It is a landmark for both the parishioners and travelers who pass by.
It was built in 1844 by Irish pioneers braving the new lands, according to Saint Patrick’s Parish history book published in 1996. I’ve written many times about this church, its preservation efforts and movement ahead with times.
Happy and successful 2014.
We always do most of the canning and pickling in August during the Lowell Kent County Youth Fair and beyond. We made more than 100 jars of dill pickles in all formats; spears, slices and whole. It is a family recipe. The pickles are sweet and sour. We also make our own marinara sauces and salsa.
“It’s a lot of hard work, but it’s fun,” says my husband Ludek.
In August, I started a WordPress blog for my sister-in-law Jarmila. She has a baking business in Stipa, Czech Republic. The blog is CJ Aunt Jarmilkas Desserts at http://jkarmaskova.wordpress.com.
As summer 2013 turned into fall, I traveled to Europe for my big trip covering four countries: France, Czech Republic, Spain and Switzerland. I was out of the USA for five weeks staying in different towns and resorts. I was most impressed by Brno in Czech Republic and the wine village Gevrey-Chambertin in the heart of Burgundy. The trip to Geneva happened by a chance because we were headed to Lausanne with my doctor daughter Emma instead.
“It was totally echec style,” Emma said.
I had to look up the meaning of echec several times. It means checkmate in chess. For a story on Geneva, Switzerland go to my post from Oct. 21.
In October, I experienced a major wine harvest in Gevrey-Chambertin delayed by at least three weeks, but with the best crop ever, according to the winemaker.
It was still sunny and warm when I got back to Michigan by mid-October.
A big moment in time came after a sleepless week in November. My sons’s baby Josephine Marie Palova was born on Nov. 21 on a cloudy morning. We stormed into the birthing center at Bronson Hospital in Kalamazoo equipped with phones, devices and gadgets to take hundreds of photos.
“Mom, this is the only time you go to the hospital happy,” said Emma.
Josephine is the fourth generation Czech-American born into the family whose members fully speak both languages, Czech and English.
And lastly to close the year in December, my brother Vas and I experienced the beauty and intricacies of social media, games and such as we played with some designs. We designed a game during the Christmas chaos. It was a relief to get a message from old country Czech Republic.
“Your cousin Olin is a grandpa,” we got the notification via facebook.
“Congratulations from Emma & Vas.”
Have an awesome 2014 and watch for a story on Great Expectations 2014 and inspiring people of the Lowell area.