I have just glanced at my Jan. 19 Taurus Horoscope to see if I am on track. Without the Blink of an eye this is what I found out.
I have enrolled in Spanish classes together with Ludek. I will be teaching ESL English as a Second Language and writing classes in the Grand Rapids area. My new column about Czech heritage is coming up in the Western Fraternal Life Herald, based in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
My next book signing of Shifting Sands Short Stories will take place at the LowellArts downtown gallery on Main Street on Feb. 3 from 1 to 4 pm. I will be offering tips on how to start and finish your book in 2018. Sign up on Facebook @emmapalova to win a free book.
For more info on the Western Fraternal Life Association and the Fraternal Herald monthly magazine go to:
You may be intrigued by the prospects of enrolling in a course of study today, but you’re determined to specifically learn something that can contribute to your material success. Although your practical …
Lowell, MI – I was born with history in my blood in the wee hours on Victory Day, May 9th to the cracking of the fireworks and the fragrance of the blossoming lilacs.
Before the semantics & politics of the new regime, May 9th was the national holiday in my homeland of Czech Republic.
Every year, on this day, my mother Ella lovingly says this sentence:
“I thought they were bombing, but the country was celebrating your birthday. The entire earth blossoms for you.”
Now, my mom Ella is not exactly the most humble person. She loves to show off. She takes that after Grandpa Joseph of Vizovice.
Annually, the country celebrates the anniversary of its freedom from the Nazi occupation in 1945. The holiday has been moved to May 8th based on the age-old dispute, “Who was first, the chicken or the egg?” That is the dispute over which army freed former Czechoslovakia first.
Was it the Soviet or the American army?
The Soviets freed the capital Prague on May 9th, while the Americans freed Plzen in West Bohemia on May 8th. Maybe, the switch was due to the fact that Plzen is home to the famous brewery, Pilsner.
The country boasts its love for beer, and often takes first place in consumption between the top beer consuming trio of Germany, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic.
However, in our immigration hearts, the holiday will always be on May 9th, even though we love Czech Pilsner.
So, by default, the love for history has been circulating in my blood from the first day of birth.
Our immigration Konecny saga started with the infamous occupation of the country by the Soviets in the Prague Spring of 1968. The era of hardline communism ensued after the invasion for decades to come under President Gustav Husak.
I am also the child of the 1989 Velvet Revolution led by my hero, late president Vaclav Havel who was part of the Prague Spring 1968 reformation movement.
I can trace the origins of my writing to that tumultuous time in our lives.
My paternal grandpa Antonin was the keeper of the “Chronicles of the Stipa JZD” which was the Stipa Agricultural Cooperative, while my late Aunt Martha secretly worked on the Konecny family genealogy. My grandma Anezka was a first grade teacher at ZDS Stipa and a poet.
“You can’t deny genes,” said Martha’s colleague Mrs. Fickova at the funeral wake on Jan. 11th held at the Stipa Senk.
After Aunt Martha’s death on January 7th, 2017, I started the Facebook page Ancestry Konecny on:
Every morning before I start writing, I check social media for inspiration and to get a feeling for the day.
I made me a cup of French Roast coffee and smelled the bouquet of lilacs from our gardens on the ranch. It took 20 years for the fragrant shrubs to come to their full beauty. Not quite like the historical ones on my beloved Mackinac Island, but they’re getting there.
Yesterday, my husband Ludek and I feared for the budding wisteria because of the early morning frost. We had to put out the fan to keep the wisteria, sprawling on the octagon pergola, warm.
Then, as always I gather my thoughts based on analyzing the previous day, and what I have learned from it, that is worth bringing into the future. I always remember the socialist propaganda, “Tomorrow is already yesterday.”
I pinned to the top, “Spring into the Past” museum tour 2017 organized by the Tri-River Historical Museum Network on the new museum page.
I also made sure that the 23rd annual Covered Bridge Bike Tour in Fallasburg is correctly dated for Sunday July 9th.
I looked in the mirror, after finishing most of this post, and I realized I am very fortunate, and that any victory comes at a price. I’ve come to that conclusion not from the image that I see, but by the person I reflect in my writings.
I have a head full of graying hair, a happy smile on my face, a caring husband and family, hundreds of fans and well-wishers from all over the world, and the determination of a Taurus.
My short story collection “Shifting Sands” is ready for June 1st publication on kindle and Amazon.
And speaking about karma or karmic energy.
My friends from the Fallasburg Historical Society (FHS) Tina Siciliano Cadwallader and Tracy Worthington are planning a book signing event for the “Shifting Sands” fiction short story collection at the Fallasburg one-room schoolhouse museum on June 25th from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
I’ve just found out that mom Ella is going to bake a cake for the book signing. And I have received tulips and irises from Doc Em, based in Fixin, France, and a video from Josephine & Dominik Pala of Hastings.
Life is good. As Doc Em says:
“What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.”
Everyone is invited to Fallasburg on June 25. Come and enjoy the beautiful Fallasburg Park, the pioneer village, the history and mom’s cake.
With this post, I would like to thank everyone for all the support over the years, especially my neighbor Catherine. Because only Catherine knows who I really am.
“You make me who I am.”
Lowell, May 9th 2017
Copyright (c) 2017 Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.
May 1st traditions in Czech Republic & around the world
By Emma Palova
EW Emma’s Writings
Lowell, MI – Every year, I observe May 1st as May Day in the renaissance Czech tradition with warm memories of the socialist past. If I close my eyes, I can still see the parades, the tribunes and the socialist propaganda with the slogans and the banners on the backdrop of the blossoming lilacs. The socialist patriotic hymns were blasting from the loudspeakers.
May Day pole tied with ribbons signifies love and spring.
May Day pole with ribbons in Bannister, Michigan
Today, Czech Republic still celebrates May 1, as an official holiday with a day off to commemorate the union manifestations in Chicago in 1884. Only this time around, without the parades or the slogans.
May Day is also known as International Workers Day, and protests are scheduled in Chicago for today with displays around the country in reaction to policies proposed by President Donald Trump.
But most of all, May Day, was a great day off known for its official opening of the beer gardens, and the infamous “march of the thieves.”
The organized labor from the factories marched in the parades, while some individuals used the opportunity to steal from the gated factories because of less supervision. Therein the name “march of the thieves.”
First and foremost, May is the month of love, not just labor.
And I write about all this in the memoir “Greenwich Meridian” with a light heart and a smile on my face with a touch of nostalgia.
I admire the old Czech country for being able to keep both the old socialist holidays, take on new ones, and tamper with the most important holiday of all that is the liberation of the country from the Nazi occupation in 1945.
New politicians with new agendas changed the date of the liberation of former Czechoslovakia from May 9th to May 8th based on the controversy who really liberated the country, whether it was the Soviets or the Americans. The question at hand; who was the first and where?
Having lived in many countries around the world, our family always honored the holidays of that particular country, otherwise we would have time off all the time.
Looking at my calendar last week for a summary, I found amusing that Canada also has Easter Monday off as an official holiday, just like the Czech Republic.
However, any holiday can take root in any country as I have witnessed in my hometown of Vizovice.
I remember our neighbor bus driver Mr. Hlavenka in Vizovice, used to celebrate Fourth of July by taking the day off in the old socialist era.
I’ve always wondered, how did he know about Independence Day with all the propaganda against American capitalism.
But, May 1st has deep agricultural connotations as well. People gather wildflowers and crown a May king and queen, weave floral garlands, and set up a maypole.
They also have bonfires to encourage the fertility of the land and animals in the coming year.
It is fascinating how different traditions and believes take roots in different countries, and how they continue to evolve.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
“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.
Cover photo of tulips by Emma White Darling of Parnell, MI.
Copyright (c) 2016. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.