Tag Archives: Czech Republic

Four Years on WordPress

Trip from Czech homeland marks 4th anniversary of blogging

By Emma Palova

Lowell, MI- On board Air France flight 1383 from Paris to Detroit, I was watching our route leaving the shores of Europe on Jan. 15, 2017, as I realized it was the fourth anniversary of my writing on WordPress.

ew-anniversary-2x-4-years
500 posts Four-year anniversary

It was all so fitting, because I started blogging on WordPress in 2013 to promote my memoir “Greenwich Meridian” Copyright 2017 Emma Palova. I named the book Greenwich Meridian to depict our family immigration saga between the East and the Western hemispheres over the last five decades. The memoir tracks the Konecny family migration between former Czechoslovakia and the USA from 1969 through present.

Reaching higher with WordPress after four years.
Reaching higher with WordPress after four years.

The journey of blogging parallels my writing path through life almost identically. I don’t remember a period in my life not writing.

At first, it was writing letters to my mother Ella when she immigrated to the USA for the second time in 1980 to join my father Vaclav Konecny. Later, when I arrived in the USA in 1989, I embarked on a professional writing career as a journalist and correspondent for regional and Czech media, based in Michigan, New York and in Prague.

I followed Earnest Hemmingway’s correspondent footsteps.

Writing much like my husband Ludek have been my lifelong companions in good and in bad times, as expressed in our wedding wows in 1978 in Stipa, former Czechoslovakia at the Church of Saint Mary.

Writing has helped me survive major life crisis, like in 2008 when Ludek and I had to part due to the economic crisis in the first decade of the millennium. At that time, Ludek worked in Prarie du Chien, Wisconsin, while I stayed in Michigan to save our house. In the winter of 2008-2009, I wrote the screenplay “Riddleyville Clowns” Copyright © 2009- 2019 inspired by a hometown clown parade in Lowell that celebrated 175 years of the town’s establishment.

Writing has been the fuel of my life. Writing for me is like a fountain or elixir of life, when everything else around me is arid, dry and angry.

Instead of turning to violence and despair, I turn inside, meditate and feel into the overall emotions of the surrounding world. Then, I transform these powerful outside forces into a stream or an avalanche blanketing all with a soft cover of love, like a mother covering her child.

Transforming violence into love.
Transforming violence into love. A sculpture at LaCoste in Provence.

Today, as I write this 500th post on the WordPress publishing platform, I am thankful for the 1,066 followers and the future ones to come.

I also would like to thank all, who never stopped believing in me.

At the end of last year, just before I have reached the 1,000 followers mark, I realized that I have completed a second degree thanks to the WordPress (WP) Blogging University, the support happiness WP engineering team, my family and my beloved readers.

“Congratulations, honey. You have another degree,” said my husband Ludek. “It was just like back when you were in school in Brno. I had to be constantly quiet.”

I wanted to quit just as many times as I did while working on my bachelor’s degree at the Technical University of Brno from 1982 to 1986 in former Czechoslovakia. My path on WordPress was constantly jeopardized by the lack of finances and understanding of the principles of freelance blogging.

I plan on finishing my second degree on the WordPress publishing platform with a blogging directory and an app for the thesis.

Of course, in the meantime the memoir Greenwich Meridian has become the first part of the Konecny Saga (c) copyright 2017.

Thank you. You make me who I am.

Love always,

Emma

Copyright © 2017. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

27th Anniversary of Velvet Revolution

Masses commemorate 27th anniversary of Velvet Revolution in Czech Republic in  march for freedom

By Emma Palova

Lowell, MI- I watched the live stream from the demonstrations commemorating the 27th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution in Czech Republic with mixed feelings as they turned into protests against the current government. That is mainly against the third president of the Czech Republic, Milos Zeman.

Only yesterday hundreds of college students walked out against the President-elect Donald Trump in the USA following high school students’ and citizens’ protests across the nation.

In a time of political unrest all over the world, I attempt to dissect everything impartially. I don’t know if it is always possible to be totally without any bias because I don’t live in social isolation.

“Milos into the trash,” reverberated the crowds marching from the Prague Castle Square known as “Hradcany” across the Manes Bridge over the Vltava River and onto the Wenceslas Square. A stage was set up by the King Wenceslas statue for a concert for freedom in the evening.

At times the crowds used the 1989 slogan of the Velvet Revolution, “It’s already here,” That was a reference to the movement started by students in memory of the death of Jan Opletal by the Nazis in 1939.

ew-vaclav-havel-head

“We don’t want another totality,” was the message for the Nov. 17, 2016 events. “It’s already here.”

“It was always here, then and now,” I say while watching the history repeat itself.

I was still in Czechoslovakia in that critical period of time from Nov. 17 to Dec. 10, when the communist officials including former president Gustav Husak resigned under pressure.

A democratic coalition and an economic forum led by former dissident Vaclav Havel replaced the dictatorship.

I was finalizing my emigration to the USA to join my parents and my husband, who had already left the homeland for Austria in 1988.

I dedicate a few chapters in the Greenwich Meridian © memoir to this difficult time in my life, when I was living alone with my kids. My grandfather Joseph Drabek was already in the hospital dying from lung cancer.

In those 23 days from Nov. 17 to Dec. 10, 1989, I learned more than I have learned in all the schools: past and present, physical or virtual.

I’ve learned that a change in the society is possible as long as enough people want it, and if they are willing to stand behind their beliefs in face of adversity by taking action.

The 1989 demonstrations for freedom from the communist dictatorship spread across the country. I was standing together with thousands of others on the town squares in the cold November nights, sporting the tri-color ribbons on the lapel of my coat.

My friend Zuzana was watching my two-and-a-half year old son Jake in the stroller, while her boyfriend was speaking from the podium.

We all took part in the change. It didn’t happen by itself. And it didn’t happen overnight. It started with the political movement for the reformation of the communist party known as the “Prague Spring” in 1968.

The Velvet Revolution was 21 years in the making since the Soviet tanks invaded the country to punish the reformers including Havel. Even in prison, Havel, known as the poet of democracy, never gave up.

I’ve learned that anything is possible including my highly improbable exit from the politically torn Czechoslovakia.

I’ve learned that we are stronger than we think, and that we have to make decisions that will impact other people, as well.

Speaking about decision-making.

I was standing on the brink of freedom, with exit visa in my drawer, shaking with cold and not just from the November night, but from the things to come.

The CTK Czech Press Office covered the demonstrations in Prague.

To be continued……..

Copyright © 2016 Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

In nature’s harmony

Hunting season 2015 opens strong, artist inspired by hunting

By Emma Palova

Lowell, MI- Today is the opening day of the firearm hunting season in the Midwest. It will last until the end of November.

It may or may not mean anything to big city folks, but out here in the country it is a big deal.

Some school districts like Portland schools in Ionia County close for the opening day, so kids can go out and hunt with their dads.

Although I am not a hunter, I have so many friends, both female and male, who are hunters that I had to post this to honor their passion.

The first who comes to my mind is my artist hunter friend Linda Kropf Phillips of Lowell. Inspired by nature and hunting, Phillips has created a line of slab wood paintings “Natures Serenity.”

Natures Serenity
Natures Serenity art by Linda Kropf Phillips and Jerry Kropf @fallasburg.

The second hunter is a long-time friend from former Czechoslovakia,  Miroslav Hlavenka.  He now resides in Montreal, Canada. Hlavenka is an awesome chef a la naturelle.

Both are hunting now, as I write this post that could also be called “Living in harmony with nature.”

Annually, the sports hunting industry fuels the economy in many ways from direct hunting permits, & gear to indirect sports hunting tourism.

Hunter Miroslav Hlavenka.
Miroslav Hlavenka with his deer and a dog.

And the experts predict a good hunting season due to unseasonably mild weather.

“The deer had a lot to feed on,” said TV sports commentator.

This morning opened strong with clear skies and 50 degree temperatures. Hundreds of hunters in camouflage headed out into the woods.

As I drove to an appointment through the country, I could see cars parked by public hunting lands.

One opening day, I actually headed out into the Lowell State Game Area and joined a local hunter for a great experience, and a great story.

Archery hunting.
Some hunters’ gear.

We always took photos of proud hunters who brought their deer in at the various newspapers that I have worked for.

Phillips of Lowell is already in  Upper Peninsula with four guys determined to get their deer.

We postponed our interview for IW Inspiring Women series until Phillips returns in December.

Phillips fascinates me that she is both an avid hunter and a very apt nature artist and she shows that off in  “Natures Serenity.”

She was one of the first artists at the Fallasburg Village Bazaar last year.

Hlavenka used to hunt already back in former Czechoslovakia. He picked back up his passion in Quebec, as he heads out into the woods.

Nature' Serenity.
Deer art by the Kropfs.

Back in Czech Republic, hunters and public at large celebrated the hunting season with the annual Hunter’s Ball in the winter months.

The hunters wore their green uniforms and made hunter’s goulash for the occasion. It was either venison, boar and rabbit stew or steaks with potato dumplings and red cabbage.

There is something about hunting that’s inherent to human kind. That’s how we survived in the first place all the earth’s elements, agriculture came later.

Whenever I see deer in my garden feasting on apples or turkeys running in the cornfields, there’s joy in my heart, that peace will prevail.

With the upcoming Thanksgiving next week, there is a lot to be thankful for.

Driving through the woods and the fields on a beautiful sunny November morning, crossing the Thornapple, Grand and Flat rivers, I realized how grateful I am for the surrounding nature, for the harmony, for the fall abundance and the co-existence of it all.

Send me a picture of you and your deer and I will post it on my Emma Blogs, LLC portfolio of sites.

Watch for a recipe for Hunter’s Stew coming up.

Also in the works are stories in the IW Inspiring Women winter series. They have the logo of the orchids.

Copyright © 2016 Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

Budweiser wants to rebrand to ‘America’ for the Olympic summer

Surprise me not this summer

Well, I am not surprised considering the fact that they stole the trademark Budvar or Budweiser from Czech Republic and forced the country to export its Budvar under the name of Czechvar. It can be found in specialty stores around the USA. It hasn’t even sat on the same shelf with Budweiser.

Budvar or export Czechvar has a bitter distinct flavor. You get a headache after drinking two Budvars. It definitely isn’t sweet like America Budweiser. You don’t get a headache after drinking 10 Budweisers that taste like yesterday’s water tinted with yellow artificial food coloring. Budvar originates in the Bohemian town of Ceske Budejovice. The town has been brewing Budvar for the last 700 years under the Royal decree aka edict.

Beer Czechvar
The export version of Budvar or Budweiser in the USA.

Stay tuned for a story “Of stolen trademarks” on http://emmapalova.com

And check this out for more info before the story:

https://g.co/kgs/SgQ88

Budweiser wants to cement its reputation as the quintessentially American beer, by rebranding itself simply as “America” this summer.

Source: Budweiser wants to completely rebrand itself to ‘America’ this summer

Copyright (c) 2016 Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

Happy Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day ties to Greenwich Meridian (c) memoir

By Emma Palova

Lowell, MI- Every year on Mother’s Day, I think about my mom Ella Konecny. That is why I dedicated “Greenwich Meridian” memoir to her. I hope to finish the book within the next few months.

Mom Ella Konecny, the pharmacist
Mom Ella Konecny, the pharmacist

Actually people have been already asking me about the memoir that covers our three-generation immigration saga. I had to put it on hold while I was establishing my Internet presence and my business Emma Blogs, LLC.

Now, that I feel well grounded I am picking back up both fiction and memoir writing.

My mother Ella is both funny and sad. She likes being the center of attention at anyone’s birthday party even at my own. I have a birthday tomorrow, one day before the official Mother’s Day. May 9th was also a national holiday in Czech Republic.

Whenever we gather around the dining table, she stands up and starts telling a joke or whatever she can think of. Ella takes that after my grandpa Joseph Drabek. Her maiden name is Drabkova. The -ova ending to Drabek, is the female linguistic twist to the male version of the name.

Mom, a former pharmacist, is witty, progressive and quickly understands new things like working on blogging projects.

“Do you have to work until you finish it?” she asked on Friday when she brought over birthday gifts early.

Happy Mother's Day
Happy Mother’s Day

“Yes, mom. You have to finish a task otherwise you won’t know where you stopped and you might lose it,” I answered.

“Sure. That’s what I thought,” she nodded.

Other than just mentioning info technology, Ella hates it. Both mom and dad are refusing to get a smart phone. That drives my son Jake nuts.

“I want to send them photos of the kids,” he said. “This is crazy, they are fighting it so hard.”

“You can’t force them,” I told him. “They will resist it even more.”

Ella is an awesome cook. Ever since she retired from Ferris State University, biology department, Ella improved her chef skills by 100 percent. Not, that she was a bad cook before, but mom just didn’t have the time.

“What do you want me to make?” she always asks before we come to their home in Big Rapids.

Mom Ella with me on the Venice peer, 2014.
Mom Ella with me on the Venice peer, 2014.

“What do you want me to bring over?” she asks before they come  for a visit to our house in Lowell.

So, I have the privilege of picking from a wide menu of choices; anything from Moroccan beef, Stroganoff beef, Chinese to Czech dill sauce with dumplings.

I like to pick kebabs any style.

Mom Ella is a very sensitive person. She cries over both man-made and natural disasters. Mom cried over the oil spill in the gulf that destroyed a lot of marine life. She cries over the situation in Syria. She cries over our lives.

When I see her cry, I cry too. It’s somewhat of an emotional synergy.

She is generous all around; in church, with the family, close and distant and in the developing countries.

She’s getting fragile. Ella will turn 80 next year.

I can’t believe it. My beautiful and kind mother is aging. Last year, she had skin cancer removed from her face. Before that, she underwent countless surgeries, both successful and unsuccessful.

“Everybody lies to me, because it’s easy, I am old,” she said the other day. “Old people get lied to.”

As years go by, Ella is getting more stubborn. She does not want to reconciliate the discord with her only sister Anna, who lives in Czech Republic.

“Mom you should make up with your sister,” I said.

“She doesn’t want to make up with me,” she snapped at me.

Ella and dad have always strove for perfection and to fit in with the most. That may have been hard on them. Ella has a perfectly clean house where everything has its own spot.

She gets upset with me because not everything in my house has its own spot. I like to move things around. I sometimes leave dishes behind.

Ella is very vocal about my life; that I could have done a lot more with it.

“We were at this concert where Ferris students played,” she said Friday. “Can you imagine how those parents felt when they have such successful and serious kids?”

We each have things that bother us. We cover it up, hold it inside or we talk about it.

At a certain point, we have to come to terms with anything that’s depriving us of living a life to its fullest extent.

Mom has given me life and all the tools to live it.

Thank you, Mom.

Yours forever,

Emma

Cover photo of tulips by Emma White Darling of Parnell, MI.

Copyright (c) 2016. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

 

Memoir highlights Czech & Slovak Easter traditions

Easter evokes memories

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Lowell, MI-In my memoir “Greenwich Meridian,” I write about Czech and Slovak traditions that I have witnessed while living in Czechoslovakia with a touch of nostalgia. Some of them disappeared along with the old regimes, but most have survived mainly in villages and small towns preserved by enthusiastic small groups of people. The traditions are reflected in festive costumes for the holidays and special events, in music, dance, food, and customs specific to each village and town.

We lived in Zlin, Moravia, which is the central part of former Czechoslovakia embedded in traditions. Both as a child and an adult, I lived and visited with my grandparents in Vizovice, a treasure trove of traditions.

cousin Bronislav Pink
cousin Bronislav Pink
Czech & Slovak Easter kraslice
Czech & Slovak Easter kraslice

Easter celebrations in Czech and some other European countries are longer by one day, and that is Monday.
We have always indulged in lavish preparations for the long Easter weekend. That meant having enough meat, desserts, eggs, and beverages for three days. There were long lines just like before any major holiday. I spent a lot of time standing in lines and listening to what the old broads had to say.
“I am not going to tell him how much I spent,” a woman  wearing a scarf and a fluffy skirt shook her head defiantly.
The other one with an apron over her dress smelled of burnt dough.
I thought, she must have burnt her kolache, a traditional festive pastry with plum butter.
The broad leaned closer to the first one and whispered something into her ear. Then they both laughed, until their bellies and chests were heaving up and down. I learned a lot standing in lines. The longer the line, the more I learned.
So, the culmination of it all is Easter Monday known for its “schmigrust,” an old whipping custom.

Traditional Czech festive costumes.
Traditional Czech festive costumes.

On that day, early in the morning ,large groups of boys and young men head out into the streets with their braided knot-grass whips or oversized wooden spoons decorated with ribbons. The day before, they spent many hours skillfully braiding their whips out of willow twigs or scouring the house for the biggest wooden spoon.
The boys go door to door, reciting traditional Easter carols like “Hody, hody doprovody,” asking the lady of the house for painted eggs. Then, they whip all the present females in exchange for decorated eggs and ribbons. Single women, and girls tied ribbons on top of the whip. I always wondered about the whipping custom, long before I ever set my foot out into the world. One day, grandma Anna finally explained it to me.
“It is supposed to resemble the whipping of Christ before he died,” she said.
“But, grandma that’s evil,” I cried.
Grandma just shrugged, and turned away. Later in life, I knew better than to question a tradition.
The elders in the group were offered shots of plum brandy, usually home made or acquired through bartering. Even family members took part in this ritual. Uncles and cousins were invited inside for coffee, festive desserts such as kolache, shots and meaningful conversation.
On a good year, and especially when I was a teenager, we got anywhere around 100 passionate revelers. Sometimes, I ran out of ribbons. The boys and young men, competing against each other, took pride in the number of ribbons they got. The craft stores had to stock up with meters and meters of ribbons, plain or embroidered. The hens, of course, felt obligated to produce more eggs.

Happy Easter 2016 to all.

Copyright © 2016 Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

Lost in Brno- Czech Republic

I am running with this story now that Brno has become the 27th place in the world to visit out of 52 this year, according to New York Times.
I am very proud of this city. It has completely revamped itself from its communist mantra lasting until 1989. It is en par with the great cities of Vienna, Geneva, Prague and Budapest.

The architecture in the downtown area of Svoboda’s Square and the pedestrian zones is Art Nouveau, Empire and Neo-Classical. These styles are visible on the building of Janacek’s Academy of Music in the university district adjacent to the main square.

I was born in Brno, graduated from the Technical University of Brno in 1986 and I visited this gem in 2013. My friends live and work in Brno. I cherish the memories in my heart. Enjoy this city as much as I have.

emmapalova

Lowell, Michigan

I have safely returned home after travelling around several European countries including France, Spain, Czech Republic and Switzerland.

This is the eighth installment in my adventure travel series when I decided to step back into the past to fuel my memoir “Greenwich Meridian, where East meets West.”

Lost in Brno- Czech Republic

I had one entire day on Sept. 25th  to relive it all in post-revolution Brno, while my friend Jane worked her post-revolution work for  an Austrian firm.

“Just follow the tram tracks into town,” she said.

Now, that was easier said than done. Brno was and is a pulsing metropolis that has cleaned itself up, so it is completely en par with Prague, Paris and Geneva. As I got into town, I found myself caught in an entire web of pedestrian zones surrounding a big park; they all seemed to lead onto Jost Boulevard.

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My story-If I could turn back time

Turning back time to ranch in Vizovice

By Emma Palova

Lowell, MI – The January Daily Post writing prompt “If I could turn back time” hits close to home as I am writing the second half of the family immigration memoir “Greenwich Meridian.”

Whenever I sit behind the computer and think about the past, it evokes an entire spectrum of memories ranging from excellent to poor.

If there was a time machine, I would return to two big eras in my life. Chronologically speaking, first I would go back into the late 70s and mid-80s.

Clock work hardware.
Clock work hardware.

It was a tumultuous time in my life. In not even a decade, I managed to get married, have a first-born daughter Emma, finish prep school Gymnasium Zlin, work at a veterinarian institute and finally complete bachelor’s degree at the Technical University in Brno. I got my first car as a present from parents for graduating. It was a black Skoda Rapid LS, the sports version. What I didn’t manage to do was to get a driver’s license because of all the other studying. I regretted that later in my life when I came to the USA in the nineties.

So, why would I want to return to something as intense as the marriage while studying bundle?

There is one great reason that threaded through all that time. And those were my grandparents Anna & Joseph Drabek. They lived in Vizovice, Moravia, that is the central part of Czech Republic.

My grandpa bought a house in 1979 on the outskirts of Vizovice because he was sick of living in a tiny apartment overlooking the château park. He called the dilapidated dwelling “ranch.” It had the lucky street number 111.

Prague astronomical clock
Old Town Square in Prague with horologe.

That completely struck harmony with my husband Ludek and I, since we were sick of living in the massive apartment complex “Southern Slopes” that housed more than 30,000 people. These massive apartment complexes that sprang all over the Czech Republic were known as “Building successes of communism.”

People desperately tried to escape those modern concrete successes. Most often they escaped into the local pubs and breweries. The luckier ones had cottages and dwellings in the country. Thanks to my grandparents we were among the lucky ones.

And the beautiful years on the ranch ensued. It was an epic time.

Every weekend, we packed up Emma in a portable baby carry on, boarded the morning bus to Vizovice and for a while we forgot all about living in a concrete box at the concrete fort in Zlin, then Gottwaldov.

To this day, I hold Vizovice close to my heart. I went to kindergarten and first grade there and I made many friends on the street. I call them my “street friends.” We still meet when I go back on rare occasions usually for funerals.

Classic plum brandy known as slivovice.
Classic plum brandy known as slivovice.

Later with my husband, we made friends together in this plum brandy capital of the world surrounded by the Carpathian Mountains. Yes, this city in the Walachian region rich in folklore, boasts the headquarters of the liquor giant “R. Jelinek” established in 1894. The plant spurts out 100 proof plum brandy into the whole world. The liquor is known for being able to “knock out everything that’s bad in you.” That covers bacteria, bad thoughts, habits, flu and earaches.

One moment at the ranch really stands out in my memory. As we were cleaning the house, we found 20-year old canned pork steaks that the owners Bohacovi left. The pork had beautiful pink color. I remember my mouth watering.

On Sunday, I opened the jars, sniffed and tasted the meat. Perfect. I made the best breaded steaks in my life. We all ate them and waited into the night for a sickness that never came.

A true CzechAmerican treat Budweiser in a kriegel.
A true CzechAmerican treat Budweiser in a kriegel.

There were countless episodes of searching for grandpa who loved to wander off into the local watering holes. His best excuse was that he was going to get some beverages and groceries so we can make lunch and dinner.

That Saturday in the heat of the summer, there was not a drop of water to drink on the dried out premises.

“Where is grandpa,” asked Ludek working on the bathroom. “I don’t have anything to drink.”

I was hand washing the universal cotton cloth diapers and Emma’s baby clothes in a bucket in the front yard, while grandma Anna was resting on a wooden bench. Grandma suffered from Parkinson’s disease. She spent most of the day laying on the bench that grandpa made for her. Baby Emma was sleeping in her carry-on.

“That beastie, I bet he’s at the hotel,” said grandma with a sigh.

blog Brno harvest kolache 025
Socialist successes- apartment mega complexes that surround Brno.

She was referring to the local hotel with a restaurant known as the “People’s House” with the following inscription, “Equality, freedom, fraternity.”

I always wondered why the hotel had in its coat of arms the slogan of the French revolution. No one could answer my question.

“Ludek can you please go to the hotel and get grandpa to come home?” grandma requested.

“Okay, I’ll be right back,” Ludek hurried away hiding his ulterior motives.

As my stomach growled, I had a strange feeling that afternoon.

Grandma dozed off and I headed to the kitchen to figure out what we’re going to eat. There was some salami and old “rohliky” or Czech croissants, already chewy like a gum.

“Okay, we’re just going to have to wing it this time,” I thought to myself as I made some chewy sandwiches.

Minutes changed into hours and the sun started its path down the horizon.

“Emma, you’re going to have to go and get them,” grandma said struggling with the sandwich. “I’ll watch Emma.”

It wasn’t the first time or the last time that I had to drag out of the hotel the twosome.

I found both of them in great joy downing their 10th beer “kriegel” along with shots of brandy.

“Grandma says you gotta come home,” I begged. “We’re hungry and thirsty.”

“Come and have one with us and then we’ll go home,” grandpa laughed.

“You promise?” I downed the “kriegel” filled with Brod beer from nearby Uhersky Brod.

That was the best case scenario when they would finally agree to go back to the ranch as the dusk set in.

And I write about all this and much more in the memoir. I want to finish the memoir this year.

Part II If I could turn back time……Living in Canada coming next week.

Copyright © 2016 Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

26 years in America

Celebrating 26th anniversary of arrival in USA

By Emma Palova

Lowell, MI- It’s been 26 years since we’ve landed at JFK on this day, Dec. 22, 1989. The long flight from former Czechoslovakia finally ended. We took the Czechoslovak Airlines flight (CSA). People were still smoking on jets back then.

I was exhausted with two children and from the previous night ride to the Prague airport.

Me and Al Capone in America.
Me and Al Capone in America.

It was a journey into the unknown, although I have lived in the USA in the 70s. My parents were waiting for us at the frozen airport. I only had a Benetton denim jacket on and I was freezing. I was still sporting long hair and jeans from Austria.

We spent the night at a friend’s house in NYC. And then a long trip to Big Rapids, Michigan ensued. Any water tower that we passed, my son Jake wanted to climb on it. Also he insisted on sitting in my lap over and over despite the fact that he had to be buckled up.

“I’ll make you a chock for you to sit on,” said my dad.

The windows of the gray station wagon have frozen up. We were like in an ice cave from the film Elsa. That increased the claustrophobia in me, as well as anxiety.

We finally arrived on Christmas Eve in Big Rapids. We picked up my brother Vas from his trailer with an enormous flood light in Roger’s Heights.

Mom had the festive supper ready ahead of time. The Czech traditional fare for Christmas Eve is mushroom or fish soup, fried fish and potato salad. And of course traditional Czech pastries. The only choice of fish back in Czech homeland was carp.

wpid-wp-1423063976918.jpeg
Czech homeland

We opened presents and all I could think of was if I could go to bed. Dad turns on TV and there’s the Rumanian revolution. I just have escaped one, the Velvet Revolution. I participated in it on frigid town squares including Wenceslas Square in Prague. I shouted along with two million other people:

“Havel na hrad.”

That translates as, “Havel for president or Havel to the castle.”

I finally laid in bed thinking about all of this.

“What’s ahead of me?”

My husband received immigration visa to Montreal, Canada. I had to make decisions again what to do, “Stay or leave?”

We moved to Montreal and we lived in that great cosmopolitan city for three years. In 1993 we returned to Michigan. I took journalism classes at the Grand Rapids Community College.

In 1995, we built a house outside of Lowell in Vergennes Township and that sealed it for us.

Traditional Czech Christmas pastries.
Traditional Czech Christmas pastries.

The details of all of this are in my memoir “Greenwich Meridian” that I have to complete. It is my goal to pick it back up in January 2016 and to finish our story.

I wish happy holidays to all.

 

Copyright © 2015 Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.