Stay tuned for news about my upcoming new book, the “Greenwich Meridian Memoir.” I had to sold off on publishing it due to the COVID-19 situation. But since we’re going nowhere with that, I am moving forward with publishing the memoir in August.
It is now available for preorder on Amazon. Just click on the link below:
Lowell, MI – I briefly snapped out of the quarantine lethargy, as the major automakers in Detroit have announced their tentative plans to reopen on May 18. That’s major good news for us, since my husband Ludek works in the plastic injection industry at Novaresc which serves the automakers.
However, as of Wednesday, the number of coronavirus cases in Michigan has risen to 45,054, including 4,250 deaths. The recovery total is 15, 659, and the nurses are prepared for more hard times.
The quarantine fatigue is settling in like this prolonged inevitable irritation. I sat in the car to escape the nagging irritation to the sound of Twisted Sisters’ “We ain’t gonna take it” and a bag of Dark Chocolate Medley by Second Nature and a bottle of Trilogy Kombucha.
Not only did I turn my beloved sunroom into a greenhouse with flats of plants waiting for the Michigan weather to become reasonable, but I am also engaging in more zooming and zoo rooming.
To add to my crankiness, I found out that the Wild Blueberry Festival in Paradise had been cancelled and moved to 2021. Another unknown is whether our French granddaughter Ella will be able to come and spend the summer with us.
That’s why I posted Ella’s birdhouses as the featured photo for this day. She made them at the St.Pat’s summer care program in Parnell. I hung them on my ficus in the sunroom turned greenhouse.
The good news is that I am done with the newsletters for May. It took me longer than usual, because I knew I had the time to do it and I didn’t want to reopen the new book “Greenwich Meridian Memoir” to add pictures to it, not just yet.
Below is the link to the May newsletter fresh off the presses.
The U.S. has surpassed one million cases today, three months after the first case was detected.
The COVID-19 case numbers are mind-boggling. One million cases in the USA have claimed the lives of 55,000 people. In Michigan, there have been 37,778 cases and 3,315 deaths. The peak in Kent County is expected in mid May.
As 10 US states will re-open their economies on May 1, Michigan readies to re-open in waves known as the “MI Safe Start” program.
By now, many are experiencing a “quarantine fatigue,” which drives you outdoors after six months of cold and cloudy weather. We’re finally getting some sun and warmer weather in Michigan. Just about time to pick some morel mushrooms Up North in the Manistee area.
After completing a lot of home-improvement projects, Ludek is ready to go back to work. However, we have to wait until the automobile plants in Detroit start up the production.
Earlier in the day, we drove to the ACE hardware store in town; wow was it busy. I bet owner Charlie can’t keep up with the demand. It was also the first time I could walk around sleeveless, only in a muscle shirt. I watched people walk in and out of the ACE store, and most of them had masks.
On the foreign front, the news keeps coming in as well. Direct International flights to Prague have been cancelled. Czech Republic is expected to reopen by May 15.
On the work front, I am getting more comfortable with the Kindle Create formatting tool for my upcoming book the “Greenwich Meridian Memoir” about our family immigration saga from former Czechoslovakia to the U.S.
I will be working on May newsletters. If you would like me to design yours email me via this website or my Facebook.
“Hope…is the companion of power and the mother of success, for who so hopes, has within him the gift of miracles.”
– Samuel Smiles
Greenwich Meridian Memoir project update
By Emma Palova
Lowell, MI -Following the quote above, I am hoping to launch my new book the “Greenwich Meridian Memoir” at the Lakeshore Art Festival in Muskegon on July 3 &4. At this point in time, there are no further details available about reopening the economy in waves in Michigan beyond May 1.
I am moving ahead with the formatting of the “Greenwich Meridian Memoir” on the Kindle Create platform by Amazon. I finished the front and the back matters for the book: these include the acknowledgment, dedication and intro to the book and the biography on the back.
I am including the full introduction to the book here:
Introduction to the “Greenwich Meridian Memoir”
I wrote this introduction to the Greenwich Meridian Memoir during the unprecedented time of the coronavirus pandemic, as we celebrated the Easter Triduum in front of televised services in empty churches across the nation without audiences.
More than half a billion people around the globe are under a stay-at-home order to slow the spread of the deadly COVID-19 virus. This includes my homeland, the Czech Republic. The coronavirus did not discriminate or recognized borders between the states, the countries or the continents. Time will show if this was a modern apocalypse.
Our immigration story from former socialist Czechoslovakia to the U.S. has come full circle; from one history milestone to another one.
The milestone that offset our journey across three continents–Europe, Africa, USA– was the reformist movement known as the Prague Spring 1968 under the leadership of Alexander Dubcek.
The epic story of love and desire for freedom spans 52 years at the date of publishing of this memoir. The major characters, Ella and Vaclav Konecny, are my parents, to whom I have dedicated this memoir. Mom Ella was a happy pharmacist in former Czechoslovakia, while Dad Vaclav was an unhappy mathematician in the old country.
Dad’s quest for his career fulfillment has been a constant source of inspiration for me in good and in bad times. Recently, I found out that dad was afraid in the old country of persecution by the communists due to our religious beliefs. He thought that he wouldn’t be able to fully realize his teaching ambitions.
From the humble hometowns of Vizovice and Stipa in the hilly Moravia, we traveled to exotic places such as Khartoum in Africa, to the ancient Byblos known for its papyrus and the “City of Jasmine” Damascus in Syria with the Roman Temple of Jupiter.
We were no strangers to dangers connected to travel in the Third World Countries. My parents had a few close calls: the tourist boat on the Nile capsized with all the people on board either drowning or the crocodiles ate them in the murky waters, a week after we were aboard the cruise.
Then a cable car to the second highest peak in the Alps, Matterhorn, crashed also a few days after my parents were on it.
An interview with my parents in Venice, Florida in March of 2013 revealed that the hardest trial of all was the separation from the family back in Czechoslovakia. Nothing can bring back the lost time or not being able to say the last good-byes to the loved ones, as we have recently found out during the COVID-19 quarantine.
My parents both surprised me with an answer to my question about immigration.
“Would you do it again?” I asked seated in their pretty white dining room with mirrors in Venice.
The unison answer from both was a definite no. They both added their own written accounts of the immigration experience to the memoir, which I am grateful for.
I structured the memoir in a way that all three of us tell our stories. I lead off each chapter with the storyteller part, as I remember it. Then follows either my mom’s account titled “In her own words” or dad’s experiences.
I put emphasis on the phrase, “As we remember it.”
The accounts may wary in details, but together they bring forth a cohesive picture of immigration through the eyes of both adults and a growing up kid. The immigration experience has left its scars on all four of us, but it has also transformed us.
We lived through the hardline communism and the rolling capitalism. In addition to that, we are Catholics, so we have had the religious experience that is often tied to different regimes. Religion gave another dimension to our story, since it stood at the roots of our immigration together with the Prague Spring movement.
The immigration experience touched each one of us in a different way. Here is quote from my mom Ella:
During my lifetime, I have met a lot of good people that I wouldn’t have met in Czech Republic, because of limited travel. USA has its pluses and minuses–the society is too materialistic. In Czech Republic, we didn’t make a lot of money, but we were all equal. We had basic rights: right to work, right to education and healthcare. USA does not have that. People are afraid of socialism, but they basically don’t know what it is.I lived in socialism and I will continue to live in capitalism; one must try both regimes to know what’s better.
On the other hand, we most likely wouldn’t have houses, if we had stayed in Czech Republic. The majority of the population lives in apartments, that is if they are lucky waiting it out on long lists. I wouldn’t have realized my author’s dream in the old country.
The Greenwich Meridian Memoir is by no means a treatise on either of the above- mentioned regimes, then or now.
We each were free to return back to our homeland at any point in time during the 52 years. And we have. That is our story. Come along on a journey of a lifetime.
Thank you health care heroes and essential workers for keeping us alive and fed.
Stay tuned for day by day coverage of the COVID-19 quarantine in Michigan.
Copyright (c) 2020. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.
Among a multitude of other things COVID-19 has impacted how people meet due to social distancing. Since there are no coffee shops or restaurants open, a meeting alternative is nature. Even some parks are closed in Michigan.
On a sunny Sunday afternoon, we sat on the shore of Murray Lake with a friend. I will call her Lilian. She is a pretty blonde, who usually dresses up for the smallest of occasions. Lilian arrived all disheveled, wearing her black tights and a skirt with a flashy pink sweater. Her mask has slid down her chin to the neck. She drove 18 miles so we could talk about life’s troubles outside of the contagion realm.
We didn’t hug. She rolled out her sleeping bag on the green grass. I pulled out a folding chair from the trunk, that I didn’t know I had, and set it not quite six feet apart in order to hear her in the wind.
We watched the wind whip the waves on the lake from west to northeast as a blue heron glided above the water, swiftly navigating the wind. The water in the lake had a soothing feeling on the emotions that were riding high. Even though cars and bikes kept flying on the road behind us in spite of the quarantine restrictions, we felt a sense unity in the Coronavirus isolation.
Of course, we could have talked on the phone or texted. However, some things don’t convey well via media, and this was one of them. Just the fact that we could get together helped us both relieve the tension and anxiety of the last few weeks.
“Sorry, that I look like thrash,” I apologized for my Up North orange sweatpants and a black jacket with a ripped zipper. My hair was a mess too, due to the wind and the lack of a proper haicut.
“That’s ok, I had the same clothes on yesterday,” Lilian said looking at me.
“We finally meet under these circumstances,” I said. “It took Coronavirus for us to meet.”
During normal times before the virus, we had ample opportunities to meet in the eclectic cafes or restaurants in the Grand Rapids area. Seldom, we took the advantage of our freedom to meet, until yesterday.
What will the next meeting look like?
Work front in the quarantine
On the work front, I continued with my front and back matters for the upcoming book, the “Greenwich Meridian Memoir.” I will include the introduction in one of the upcoming daily posts.
Since the COVID-19 quarantine has impacted everything around us including book marketing, I was happy to find out that May is the National Novel Promoting Month brought to us by the goodwill of the NaNoWriMo organizers.
Join us in May.
Michigan may re-open on May 1
Below is a link to a warning from Dr. Fauci about premature opening of the economy.
Gov Whitmer: “It’s better to be six feet apart than six feet under.”
By Emma Palova
Lowell, MI- It almost felt like a normal Friday: Work, journaling on Murray Lake and a dinner. Except it was a take-out due to the closing of the restaurants complying with the social distancing golden rule of six feet, as referenced by the governor.
The good news is, that there is a light at the end of the coronavirus tunnel. This morning Gov. Whitmer announced she is hoping to have some relaxing of the coronavirus limitations by May 1 in Michigan.
As time flies by even in the COVID-19 quarantine, people are getting more innovative.
My husband Ludek came across this new invention during the COVID-19 closing of the restaurants and bars worldwide on Facebook. This comes from the Czech Republic and my friend Eva from Kromeriz told me about it as well.
It’s called either a beer booth or a thirsty window. The little beer booth allows you to serve yourself draft beer or soda, in gloves of course. There’s a slot for money and paper cups. It’s a lot like our little libraries in the U.S.
I saw on the news last night that the alcohol sales have skyrocketed by 300 percent during the state lockdowns. That’s not good, according to Dr. Mehmet Oz, since alcohol lowers body’s immune system to fight diseases.
Other innovations include buying a gift card from a local hair/nail salons, restaurant or a massage, and Canfield Plumbing & Heating will match it. Just send a pic of the gift certificate to firstname.lastname@example.org
We even got a take-out from Vitale’s after the owner showed up on TV reminding us that they were originally designed for take-outs.
Geez, we almost forgot about them.
I knew I was in for a treat today when I read my horoscope this morning.
Behind your proper exterior beats the heart of a rebel. People would be very surprised to realize how offbeat you really are. Work is your favorite outlet for creative ideas and colleagues treat them with great respect. That’s because you not only propose new ways of doing things, but you have practical methods of implementing these concepts. As a result, you could get a reputation for being a mover and shaker in your desired field today. Blowing off steam with fellow visionaries may be appealing tonight. Call up some like-minded friends to share your experiences.
Stay-at-home order tightens restrictions on stores, no exceptions for golf courses, construction and landscaping
By Emma Palova
Food and medicine will be the only commodities for box stores left to sell, according to the extended stay-at-home order by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. Only four customers per 1,000 square feet are allowed with social distancing markings. Only one person from the household should be running the errands.
“We have to double down to save lives, “ Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said.
All private and public gatherings are prohibited, although recreational activities are permitted within the social distancing limitations.
As of today, Michigan has had 1,076 positive Coronavirus cases and 117 deaths.
Michigan is expected to reach peak in the Coronavirus cases this weak, as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the National Guard turned the Suburban Collection showplace into a field hospital in Detroit. The USDA will provide snack benefits for kids who were taking reduced cost lunches at school when it was session. This aid translates into $193 per child per month.
Whitmer said the state is now fighting two crisis: health and economic.
“We are in control of our fate,” Whitmer said. “The numbers represent people’s lives. If we all take this crisis seriously, we will come out of it robustly.
“This has been a hard month. This virus is holding a mirror to our society and its inequities.”
Whitmer referred to the fact that people of color have been hit the hardest with 40 percent of Afro-American deaths.
“We will come out of this having learned something, as we recover from COVID-19,” she said. “We will be working on long term solutions. It is time to intensify our efforts.”
According to Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, it is necessary to double down to slow the spread of the disease, while building up the hospital capacity. However more medical professions are needed mainly respiratory therapists and registered nurses.
“This disease is incredibly deadly,” Whitmer said. “Any exceptions would make it porous. Landscaping and golf courses are not critical infrastructure.”
The Easter Triduum starts today with Holy Thursday.
Stay tuned for day by day coverage of the Coronavirus crisis.
Copyright (c) 2020. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.
Uncertain food supply raises need for self-sustainability
By Emma Palova
Lowell, MI- Since farmer’s markets and greenhouses may not open until the COVID-19 quarantine is lifted, many are turning back to home farming and small garden plots are popping up around the neighborhood.
Altough farmers like Visser Farms are getting creative selling online and packaged fruits and vegetables for a standard price of $5 a bag to prevent direct contact.
We’re lucky enough that we each own at least three acres in Vergennes Township. Coming from Europe, we’ve always had our own veggie gardens due to the constant shortage of fresh produce on the markets. See excerpt below from the “Greenwich Meridian Memoir.”
We’ve staked our small garden approximately 15 years ago. It started out first as as an herb garden, inspired by my friend herbalist Betty Dickinson of Ionia. Whenever I walk into the garden, especially after rain, the herbs smell of a thousand fragrances. Later, we added cherry tomatoes, peppers, squash and melons.
Last year, we planted cucumbers to can our own sweet and sour pickles aka “Znojemske okurky.” We take pride in this product that reminds us of our Czech homeland. I also love my ever bearing strawberries and currant bushes. I use the red and black currant to make pies.
But it is getting late to start growing plants from seeds. My favorite Snow Avenue Greenhouse usually opens around April 20 and sells decent size plants that can go directly into the garden.
If you live in an apartment, you can still do container gardening. Many seeds on the market are specifically good for containers.
Excerpt from Greenwich Meridian Memoir
Self-sustainability in Czech villages
Other homemade products included sausages and smoked meat. The butchering of the family pig usually took place in winter and before the holidays, so there was plenty of meat on the table. Socialism with its chronic lack of basic goods, drove the need for self-sufficiency specifically in the villages and craftsmanship as well. People were forced to be more creative in many different ways. They grew their own produce; everything from onions, carrots to cabbage and cucumbers. Then they made saurkraut from the cabbage, that went well with the pork and the sausages. Cucumbers were used to make the famous “Znojemsky pickles” aka “Znojemske okurky.”
Many households in villages and towns were self-sufficient with everything homemade or home grown. National artist Joseph Lada illustrated the traditional festivities: The Feast of St. Nicholas on Dec. 6, the butchering of the family pig in the yard with onlookers, Christmas by the tall tiled stoves, autumn campfires with fire-roasted potatoes and summer fun by the ponds with the willows.
Stay tuned for day by day coverage of the coronavirus crisis and quarantine in the U.S.
Today the death toll reached a grim 10,000 milestone.
Copyright (c) 2020. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.