Lowell, MI- I am working on e-newsletters; as I look outside my writing studio window, I see snow on the ground.
However, definite signs of spring are here. The spring theme dominated at the 40th Home and Garden Show in Grand Rapids at the DeVos Hall this weekend.
The fragrance of tulips and daffodils was in the air as hundreds of people browsed through the packed hall.
I marveled at the CNC sewing and embroidery machines; how skillfully they stitched an image and a message into a piece of cloth.
“That’s the only way I could do it,” laughed a woman next to me.
Also the upcoming March 23 Lowell Expo is close to the heart as more than a hundred of local vendors and organizations showcase their work at the Lowell High School.
My fellow history lovers from the Fallasburg Historical Society will be side by side with the Lowell Area Historical Museum located inside the cafeteria.
My favorite are the bucket rides by the Lowell Light & Power crew.
On a personal note, I am moving ahead with the publishing of my second collection of short stories “Shifting Sands: Secrets.” Copyright (c) 2019 Emma Palova.
I am on target for April/May publishing. The new book, a sequel to my debut “Shifting Sands: Short Stories” will be available for preorder on Amazon. Both the cover and the anchor story “Silk Nora” were inspired by the Belrockton Museum in Belding. The “Gossip” photograph can be found on the third floor of Belrockton. The museum is open on the first Sunday of each month.
Aboard Allegiant Flight 1600 from Punta Gorda to Grand Rapids
By Emma Palova
In Air- I
am leaving Florida eight days later, just like I have arrived, with the rain.
In between, the sun and the full moon graced the clear skies.
horizon, the turquoise sea touched the blue sky in a magnificent union.
the full moon on Feb. 18, a strong morning tide hit the Venice Beach washing
ashore shells galore and wracks wrapped in seaweed.
perfect morning cup inside a cockle shell was hiding the jewels from the sea;
small olive and bubble shells, sturdy jewel boxes and translucent jingle
I spent a
magnificent week in “Paradise” where the hibiscus bloomed in shades of orange,
the banana trees in white and the palms rendered orange ripe figs.
The front yards were tropical gardens with “Birds of Paradise” just opening up their orange beaks.
The sunsets were a splash from an artist’s palate of yellows, reds, oranges and browns.
It’s February- Soak it up, stir an argument
instructor Elin reminded us this morning to soak up the beach life in February.
walked here, laid in the sand, listened to the waves,” she said. “Soak it up.
Wednesday, Elin held up a large red leaf and said something about mailing it as
a postcard. Since, the wind carried Elin’s words into the sea, I missed the
details. For some odd reason, I thought it had to be a mangrove leaf.
I picked up some reddish leaves yesterday thinking they were mangrove leaves on the dune banks by Sharky’s. Yellow veins branched into the ripe red leaf. It resembled large grape leaves.
My hosts in Venice were my parents Ella and Vaclav Konecny of Michigan. They made fun of me because I believed in the USPS red leaf postcard program. I asked my dad to take me to the post office, so I could mail the red leaf. My mom Ella was convinced my prized leaf wasn’t a mangrove, and that I shouldn’t pursue mailing it.
Siri,” my dad said.
When I asked Siri, and she knew nothing about the mangrove leaf USPS mailing program, doubts also entered my mind.
came to the conclusion that it was an April Fool’s joke. In our homeland we
used the following prank:
“It’s like going to the store to get mosquito fat,” he laughed. “I am not going inside the post office with you.”
it’s not April Fool’s,” I refused to give up.
I found myself in the midst of an argument over the validity of the USPS leaf postcard mailing program.
your dad alone, he needs to get some rest,” mom snapped.
maybe we can wrap up some meat inside the leaf and make rolls,” I defended
my grounds sarcastically.
My dad who never gives up suggested that I ask Elin. After my last morning yoga session on the beach on Thursday, I made my way through Elin’s fans to hear it from the horse’s mouth.
“You pick up some sea grape leaves,” Elin said pointing to the banks by the beach house and take it to the post office. The postal workers get a kick out of it. A lady from my class sent out five of them the other day. The postage is under a dollar. Send it out within five days or they dry out and crumble.”
According to Elin, the post office can even put a dried out leaf in a cellophane.
told you, it wasn’t a mangrove leaf,” my mom persisted.
“You know they wrap up meat in grape leaves in Greece, right?” I snapped back.
Back home at the writing studio Feb. 22, 2019
Lowell, MI -That was it. I was running out of time to go to the post office, since I was flying out of Florida in the afternoon.
I wrote my address on the sea grape leaf, mom provided the stamps, and dad disguised the leaf in a sac and took it to the mailbox. Dad was convinced that I made a fool out of him.
unknown whether he put the sac with the sea grape leaf in the mail, or in the
bizarre way, we were all right; mom with her contention that it is not a
mangrove leaf, me with the sea grape meat rolls and dad with the April Fool’s
prank, that he had probably created by dropping the leaf in the trash.
Venice, FL- The morning tide washed ashore treasures galore: large speckled cockles, coquinas, calico scallops, whelks, sturdy white jewel boxes, twisted conches, translucent jingle shells in shades of orange, olive and bubble shells.
The yellowish cocquina and turkey shells were still attached holding on tight to each other. The mollusks have long jumped out of the shells digging themselves into the sand.
The warm westerly wind combined with the cold Norte whipped a white foam on top of the waves breaking and crashing to the shore.
The perfect morning cup of jewels hiding inside a large cockle shell was still filled with water. A skilled paddle boarder navigated the wild waves falling only once, and climbing back up again. A sailboat rocked in the waves.
A dead seagull found its resting place on the beach. A trio of pelicans delighted in the wind flying ten feet above the water.
A slippery wrack of branches and seaweed washed ashore will serve later as a buffet for the birds. Wrack communities are native to Florida beaches; it is stuff cast ashore by the sea.
The encounters on the two-mile long morning walk on Venice Beach range from brief hellos to “How long are you going to stay?”
People walking on the beach were not only couples or families, but often a parent with an adult child. Life on beach takes on a different rhythm; time constraints disappear.
The beach walk has inspired the last story in Shifting Sands: Secrets, a sequel to Shifting Sands: Short Stories.
Feature photo: The perfect morning cup of jewels
The perfect morning full of jewels washed ashore still filled with sea water.
To be continued
Copyright (c) 2019 Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.
Venice, Fl- On Valentine’s Day, I went to the beach to live deliberately.
It was 50 F in the morning, and I was still like an ice cube after arriving in the sunshine state from the frigid North. I did yoga with Elin on the Venice Beach including the “palm tree” pose to honor the new palms on Venice Avenue.
I breathed in the fresh air coming from the Gulf waters and watched the seagulls fly over my head.
The lady doing the “cat and the cow” pose in front of me was wearing socks with the following verbiage on the bottom of each sock: “If you can read this, bring me a glass of wine.”
We parked in front of the beautiful Venice City Hall built in the Mediterranean Revival style much like the rest of the historic and Venetian theme districts.
One of my favorite joints in the bustling downtown is Croissant & Co., a French artisan bakery magically transported from Paris.
Even the mousse desserts were decorated for Valentine’s with ornate words in pink and red. My dad professor Vaclav Konecny, who never drinks coffee, ordered café de la maison or house coffee. Mom Ella tried their tarte d’apricot or apricot pie and I had salmon and spinach quiche. My dad with a gift of gab greeted the bicyclists in front of the bakery, and to his great surprise they spoke French.
“He’s a charmer,” said the clerk at the Green Parrot gift shop.
Back at the condo, I noticed figs on the palm and the orange hibiscus blossoms.
It warmed up by 22 F in a few hours.
“ It would take three days to warm up in Michigan,” mom said.
On the beach
Digging my feet deeper into the sand, it felt cool from Wednesday’s rain. On a perfect day, the blue Gulf waters touch the blues of the sky in a magnificent union.
This blues symphony harmonizes with the rhythm of the waves.
I thought the slight breeze from the South should have a name like Zephyros signifying it’s softness, while reflecting the turquoise waters. Water erosion has washed some of the beach away while creating a bank that wasn’t there during my last visit in 2016.
I watched the beach goers with their sifters in search for the elusive black shark teeth. They usually emptied the small cage full of broken shells, but no shark teeth. The sifter rents for $7 an hour at Sharky’s boutique. It seems to me like a very zen thing to do: the water goes through the sifter, takes with it smaller parts and leaves in fragments of shells. If you’re lucky, a three-prong black shark tooth might be among them.
More seasoned hunters appeared by the Sharky’s Pier. This is where hundreds of fishermen cast lines with bait into the water attracting both dolphins and sharks.
I’ve seen schools of dolphins usually around noon lured by the bait. Mom and dad have seen dolphins in the morning at the jetty again with fishermen throwing lines.
Back at the pier, a kid caught a baby shark and proudly showed it off for a photo op. Then, he threw it back into the water. The kid with the shark scene reminded me of the white Egret with its yellowish beak showing off in front of cameras by the light posts on the pier waiting for his reward. If the heron doesn’t get its shrimp, he flies off.
One evening, we walked on the pier to watch one of the magnificent sunsets. It looked like an artist tipped his or her palette with the yellow in the middle and the oranges, the reds and the browns running away from it; the yellow explosion was flanked by the shades of blue on top and bottom.
Sunday surprised me with crowds; hundreds of people flocked to the beach with everything you can imagine.The sandy shore speckled by beach umbrellas, parasols and tents looked like a circus, only without animals.
If a colony of seagulls found a spot in between, they would invade it.
It’s not unusual to hear French or Russian in this area with authentic restaurants.
Join me this afternoon at@LowellArts gallery from 1 to 3 pm. I will be signing copies of my book “Shifting Sands Short Stories” during the Captured photo exhibit. Come and chat about your writing projects. We are experiencing renaissance in literature. It’s a great time to be a part of this movement.
While touring with my book around West Michigan, we have discovered the “Creative Endeavor”project at the Michigan News Agency (MNA)in Kalamazoo. In order to keep authors writing, MNA does not keep any profit from the local author book sales.
I will be writing more about this initiative. My son discovered this while looking for the Grand Rapids Magazine.
“To encourage our Creative Endeavor Project Writers, we will sell your books as a pass through and return all of the money to you, the authors. The News hopes this will encourage our writing communities to strive to do your work.”
For more info about this Creative Endeavor project go to:
Ft. Lauderdale, FL- Sipping coffee at a Turkish café on the corner of Sunrise and N. Ocean boulevards in Ft. Lauderdale with my daughter Emma, I found life easy.
This writer’s break from the northern vortex in West Michigan was different from the previous ones.
First of all, I changed bodies of water;that is the Gulf of Mexico for the Atlantic Ocean. Then I changed company. We all went with our adult children and the grand kids.
We stayed at an Art Deco villa five minutes from the beach. It gave us the opportunity to explore the Atlantic Ocean up close and personal.
And for the writer in me it was also good to compare the two shores; that is the Atlantic and the Gulf coast.
The weather was marvelously warm in the 80s with equally warm waves of the Atlantic splashing the beaches. Surfers were abundant unlike on the Gulf, where the waves are not big enough for surfing.
On the downside of the Atlantic, there were less shells and no shark teeth hunters. However, the lifeguards were on full duty and warned of rip currents. Our fellow traveler Maranda almost got caught in one. The lifeguard warned us with his whistle.“Always swim with the current to get out of it, never against it.”
The sounds of the waves rocked the youngest ones to the best nap in the world: on the beach.
Just listening to the ocean and watching the white combs as the waves crested was the best meditation in the world. Enhancing the motion and the sounds of the ocean were the freighters anchoring off shore. These lit up at night.
South Beach, Art Deco & Miami Yacht Show
A pretty nerve-wrecking drive south on Collins Ave and onto Ocean Blvd. took us to South Beach and the Art Deco district.
On the cusp of the 30th annual Miami Yacht Show running from Feb. 15 through Feb. 19, we drove past hundreds of yachts-in-water for sale on the Indian Creek Waterway. Yacht brokers were just building entrances to the yacht in-water displays on 1.2 million square feet.
Art Deco district
As a civil engineer by trade and a history buff, I was fascinated by the chic historic Art Deco district. Sitting in the South Beach neighborhood within a short walking distance from the beach, the colorful historic buildings span three basic architectural styles: 1920s Art Deco, Mediterranean Revival and MiMo or Miami Modernist architecture.
In search of Cuban fare & Daiquiri cocktails, we ate at Mango’s Tropical Café.
The beach scene beyond the Lummus Park featured colorful Art Deco lifeguard stands and the hottest fashion trends such as the thong swimwear.
Las Olas, Venice of America, Ft. Lauderdale
We took a pirate boat ride on the Intracoastal Waterway lined by million dollar homes and mega yachts of the rich and the famous. Captain Kris took us past Steven Spielberg’s mega yacht equipped with three-quarter of a full length movie screen.
Knowledgeable about the lives of the famous, Chris told us the story of the founder of Phillips 66 petroleum company after whom the famous Grille 66 & Bar on the waterway has been named.
Then came the story of entrepreneur Wayne Huizenga known for Blockbuster Video, Waste Management & AutoNation.
We visited this small town of 6,000 north of Ft. Lauderdale twice for its walkable shopping district, the pier and snorkeling opportunities. It is full of small beach motels, unlike its high-rise neighbors.
I marveled at the sign for the local Farmer’s Market open from December through May.
In Michigan, we get first produce in June.
I will treasure timeless moments spent in the coarse sand, on the waves of the Atlantic, on the veranda of Ocean 2000 of the Pelican Resort and Valentine’s dinner on the deck of the Sandbar Grille.
However, we bargained with her for the best price for our Budweiser and Corona swimwear.
“You girls will never have to buy a drink for yourself on the beach,” she noted with a deep hollow laugh. Emma noticed her turquoise colored earrings in the shape of balls from the smallest to the big one.
Or maybe the real rube was the obnoxious bad pirate Barnacle Bill who stole our key to the treasure aboard the Bluefoot Pirate Adventures.
At the Aruba bar, women sported heart-shaped Valentine shades, and Publix was overflowing with heart-shaped balloons and cakes.
During this brief break from the freezing cold, we marked Mardi Gras, Valentine’s and Ash Wednesday, as well as the Greek Festival weekend in southern warmth and hospitality.
Alligator Alley, Everglades
However, I would be remiss, if I didn’t mention our 123 mile long drive from Ft. Lauderdale to Ft. Myers through the Everglades area of South Florida.
The freeway I-75 from the east coast of Florida to the west coast is appropriately called Alligator Alley, as it cuts through the Everglades for 80 miles.
I noticed hundreds of white egrets congregating on the palm trees by the river fenced off from the freeway to protect the endangered Florida panther.
According to popular lore and crime movies, dead bodies are being disposed off here at the Alligator Alley. You will find no traces of anything. What the alligators didn’t get, the birds and the panthers will. It’s called balance in nature.
Well, our time on the Atlantic Ocean came and went like the afternoon tide. But, it washed ashore thousands of precious memories.
And I close this “Notes from Ocean 2018” account with the words of the Frontier airline captain.
“Join us. We’re flying like crazy from the tip of North America to the tip of South America.”
I have named my book campaign Storyteller2017 because I am so excited about this epic year full of big changes.
Follow me on my journey from writer journalist to author of Shifting Sands Short Stories to be released on June 30 on Amazon.
I started writing short stories in grade school in Stipa, Czech Republic when I won a short story contest with a story from a summer camp in Texas under the tutelage of Czech language teacher Mr. Dolezal.
But, a more coordinated and structured effort came with the creative writing program at the International Correspondence Schools (ICS) in Montreal, Canada, 1990-1993.
The first circle of stories was inspired by the early years of immigration from our homeland former Czechoslovakia to Canada, and then to the USA. During that time I wrote short stories that I now call the first circle: Honey Azrael, Danillo and the Temptation of Martin Duggan.
For 3.5 years, we lived in Montreal, and I went to the French language immersion school COFI. The French classes and the students inspired the story Danillo. I transported the character and the setting to the shores of Lake Michigan and to one of the apple farms.
The common elements in the first circle of short stories are the powerful forces behind immigration. These are loneliness, being homesick and the fear of the new strange culture. The main character Danillo longs to go back to his home country, as he struggles to assimilate into the new American culture.
Honey Azrael depicts a woman chemist Vanessa who is no longer in love with her first husband, Rudi. She loves her collection of beetles more than she loves Rudi.
In the Temptation of Martin Duggan, the couple who left Czechoslovakia due to the 1968 invasion of their homeland by the Soviet Army, tries to desperately fit into the small pretense culture of a small university town close to Lake Michigan.
Here is an excerpt from Danillo:
Dragon fly trapped to the ground.
“He came with the warm southern winds, and the birds. On the first spring day, Danillo was 23. Young and strong, with a body designed to love. It was a body pure and perfectly cut for any woman. The skin covering his muscles was tight. The color of Danillo’s skin was the color of the sand that he was standing in.
He was half dreaming, subconsciously perceiving the light spring wind. From the vantage point, Danillo could see the green water coming in and out of the small bay. Each wave washed away some sand from underneath his feet, like small grains slipping away from his brief life. He felt cold and the chill surprised him. Danillo was counting the endless waves, as well as his years.
This was his third birthday Up North, as he learned to call it from the locals. He never quite understood the expression Up North. Every spring, he came to the beach to watch the winter birds arrive from the South.
To be continued………in the Storyteller 2017 series leading up to the release of Shifting Sands Short Stories on June 30.