Tag Archives: Emma Palova blog

All about Big Birthdays

Big birthdays bring back memories of old “Czechoslovakian” birthing centers

Note: These are excerpts from my memoir “Greenwich Meridian” © 2017 Copyright Emma Palova about the Konecny family immigration saga spanning three generations.

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By Emma Palova
EW Emma’s Writings

Lowell, MI- Big birthdays. We all have them. What is a big birthday? Do you remember your big birthdays, what did you do, where, with whom and what happened?

If you can answer the questions above, without looking at photos, it was a big birthday.

Today, on March 1st, our son Jakub Pala is celebrating his 30th birthday with the slogan:

“Got 30, Jake?”

“Yes, beers.”

He was born on a chilly damp Sunday morning in former Gottwaldov, Czechoslovakia in 1987. So, says his birth certificate. Neither the city nor the country exist under those names. They are now, the city of Zlin, Czech Republic, which is part of the European Union.

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Doc Emma and Hotshot Jake in Paris, 2009

In 1987, the “Porodnice” or the birthing center was on the cutting edge with the “rooming in” accommodations for the newborns with their mothers. Before that, the babies were separated from their mothers, and the nurses brought out the babies to their mothers only for nursing. The babies were all changed, snug and clean. They were only crying because they were hungry.

Speaking ironically of the “bad communist” healthcare in former Czechoslovakia, we stayed in the hospital for a week, before we were released for home. The staff washed and folded the cloth diapers and newborn shirts in the traditional birthing centers.

I’ve had it both ways; traditional and “rooming-in.” Each was an experience to remember, as any mom can attest to that, in any country, and in any regime.
With the first baby “Doc Emma” born in April 1979, husband and daddy Ludek came to say hi to us under the windows of the “Porodnice” in Gottwaldow surrounded by pine trees.

Daddies and families were not allowed inside. Ludek had to give the flowers to the nurse, who set them in a vase on my bedside stand, along with a novel. I am trying to remember what I was reading back then. I could use it now on the “Goodreads” platform, for a book review. Just, kidding. However, I do think it was in that birthing room in 1979, that I decided I wanted to write for a living, to make other people happy.

I came home with “Doc Emma” on Easter weekend in 1979 to the smell of hot homemade chicken soup with dumplings that I will never forget, after the awful tomato gravies at the hospital.

Mom Ella made the soup, all worried about the new addition to the family house hold. We lived in a four-bedroom flat at the housing mega complex known as “Southern Slopes” or “Jizni Svahy” in Gottwaldov.

The “Southern Slopes” complex still exists and it’s growing. I witnessed that during my most recent visit to Czech Republic in January.

Eight years later, with the second baby, now regional distribution manager “Hotshot Jake,” daddy Ludek and “Doc Emma” came to say hi to the window of the “rooming-in” birthing center on the grounds of the Gottwaldov Hospital, still surrounded by pine trees.

“Oh, mom,” he’s ugly,” said “Doc Emma” throwing her big red hair around.

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Doc Em & Hotshot Jake in Caledonia

Yeah, “Hotshot Jake” wasn’t the best looking baby having the newborn jaundice, few hairs sticking out, screaming and kicking like crazy.

“Is he eating and when are you coming home,” Daddy Ludek, always practical, asked.

Ludek was all giddy, that we had a boy. He had visions of paying for a big drinking round at the pub “U Byka” aka “At the Bull” in his hometown of Stipa.

“Hopefully soon,” I answered.

The second delivery at the cutting edge “rooming in” birthing center, still in communist Gottwaldov, wasn’t as convenient as the one with “Doc Emma.”

There were seven mothers with their babies in one big room. That’s 14 bodies; I don’t think anyone had twins. We had the cribs with the infants by our beds. The nurses came in only to assist “as needed.” Whatever that means. In the morning, we all faced together the feared “rounds” known as visitation. In vain, we were hoping we would be released that same day.

If a baby was screaming loud enough that it kept awake the entire building, then the nurse would take the “culprit” with her to the nurses’ quarters somewhere down the hall, where it smelled of disinfectants.

If the babies slept after nursing, we folded the cloth diapers and the tiny shirts for newborns. We ate in the room whatever the hospital cooked for all patients. No, menu style here. I just remember, the horrid tomato soup or gravy, with the soggy dumplings sprawled all over the plate.

With the release from the “Porodnice” after a week-long drill of learning how to take care of the newborn, I breathed with relief stating:
“Never again.”

Today, from a distance of 30 plus years and 6,000 kilometers, I look back at that time in “Porodnice” in communist Gottwaldov, Czechoslovakia, with a smile on my face.

The “babies” have grown up into colorful characters, fashionable, cute “Doc Emma” who resides in France, and handsome “Hotshot Jake.”

They will soon be leaving with their spouses for a big 30th birthday trip, to Bali in Indonesia. The exotic trip comes as a compliment of the ever-generous “Doc Emma.”

In the meantime, we get to watch their extensions for continued joy.

Some of you know them. They bring joy to our lives. Say hi to them when you see them out and about.

Thank you for the beautiful tapestry, called life.

Love always,

Emma

Copyright (c) 2017 Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

Happy New Year 2017

I would like to wish everyone a very happy New Year 2017. May all your dreams come true in the upcoming year. May it bring peace and love around the world.

Let it fill us with joy.

On this last day of the year 2016, known in Czech Republic as Silvester, my heart goes out to my readers around the world.

A sincere thank you to all my followers  for a very fruitful 2016 filled with deep appreciation for the passion to write.I am thankful for the ability to transform the human experience into stories.

You motivate and inspire me on my writing journey every day. You make me who I am.

Love always,

Emma

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

Finding peace in Christmas

Dreaming of a peaceful Christmas

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Lowell, MI- As we draw closer to this Christmas, which here “up north” in Michigan, is white and cold, thoughts of peace resonate inside me.

In spite of the world’s aches and pains including my own, I have been able to put myself in the Christmas spirit.

Every year, Christmas for me is different. I can’t say that I have a consistent attitude toward this time of the year. It actually runs the gamut; from being tired of the ubiquitous commercialism and exploitation of the Christian holiday to embracing it in its entirety without fighting something I cannot change.

That is human nature.

Peace in Christmas
Hometown Christmas in Lowell.

I cannot change that parents are desperate because they can’t find the latest fad in toys the Hatchables, and that some woman hoarded them somewhere in her closet.

I am sure that problem will have been resolved in the next 10 years.

I cannot change that people are dying in Aleppo and that people died in the Berlin shooting at a Christmas market on Dec. 19. I cannot change that the Russian ambassador to Turkey Andrey Karlov was assassinated in Ankara on Monday. I cannot change that electors have indeed confirmed president-elect Mr. Donald Trump as the next 45th president of the USA in spite of the ongoing protestors who are in denial of reality.

Christmas bouquet with cutout ornaments.
Christmas bouquet with cutout ornaments.

I cannot change the consequences of the above mentioned actions because I am not in any place that would slightly resemble power.

Except for one: the power of the written word.

Historically, the power of the written word and its transformation over the centuries into different media platforms has influenced the thinking of most.

The first thing that comes to my mind is the most read book in this world, and that is the Bible. According to accounts, many authors took part in composing this book.

This year, some motels and hotels took the Bible out of their room furnishings not to offend anyone. Money talks. After all travelers are of all religious denominations and atheists.

But, I took offense. What if I only wanted to read the Bible for comfort of a weary traveler or for inspiration of an inquisitive writer? Thank you for reminding me, I know I have my cell phone, tablet and a laptop with me in the various hotel rooms. I can also get the Amazon or Google talking “Bubble.”

Christmas peace
Hometown Christmas by the wood stove.

After all some stories in the Old & New Testaments are very violent.

The next thing that comes to my mind are the Greek mythology mega-works such as Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey that have inspired a myriad of films. I deeply love all of them for the magic minds behind these works.

Some stories in Greek mythology are very violent.

The third thing that comes to mind in the powerful word trio are the works of Italian poet Dante Alighieri and French novelist Honore  de Balzac.

Dante’s “Divine Comedy” with depictions of Hell, Purgatory and Heaven has inspired generations of artists.

Balzac wrote about the human experience  in “La Comedie Humaine.”

Some stories in these epic accounts are very violent.

While perusing through modern works of art or living them, I arrived along with millions of others to the following conclusion:

Hometown Christmas.
Hometown Christmas “Up North.”

Most stories in modern works depict prolific violence and human suffering.

“Why,” the public asks, “are all the stories even around Christmas violent?”

Because of the never-changing human nature.

“All the people around the world are the same,” my dad Vaclav says.

According to accounts from universities, my mom Ella’s and my own observations, my dad is a very smart man.

The overwhelming saturation of violence in the media has come to a point where some networks instituted an inspiring finale story that leaves us all with an overall good feeling that erases the previous footage of horror.

“Hail to them, because it works.”

I’d rather leave for bed with a story about a gentleman who finally got his degree at 80 or the Hungarian socialite Zsa ZsaGabor dying at 99, than with a story about a wedding party being trampled over by a tree or Kanye (the husband of Kim Kardashian)  having “some kind of a mental breakdown.”

The social media and the Internet have designed a class for a group of people who influence others: the Influencers.

Go figure.

Although, we cannot ignore the realities in this world, it is our choice what we focus on.

As we head both into the happy and sad time of the year known as Christmas, I have to quote my Gemini friend:

“Life is for the living, we’re only ants on logs.”

Live your life, don’t consume it.

 

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

1001 Days of Blogging

Annie plans to blog for 1001 days

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Lowell, MI- It is Day 395 of the 30 Day Content Challenge that officially ended last year in December.

But, Annie Conboy of Hebden Bridge, United Kingdom is still burning the midnight oil as she cranks out post #395, “Dreaming of a Peaceful World.”

Conboy is a medium and the founder of “Down 2 Earth Medium.” Her major focus is to channel for energy beings, such as angels, archangels and fairies.

Annie Conboy
Annie Conboy to blog for 1001 days.

She reached her one year anniversary of daily blogging on Nov. 15 with post #365, “First Year Done and Dusted.”

“I need to clear my head, so I can sleep,” she said in a recent Skype interview about her writing schedule.

 “It’s felt a bit strange today. I’ve done something I’m really proud of. My writing has been happening for a full year. I have written every day than just the monthly articles I started in June 2015.”

                             Annie Conboy

Before starting the challenge in November of 2015, rookie writer and blogger Conboy wrote a few pieces for Valley Life.

“Then out of cyberspace I got an invite from my lovely friend Jan to join her in a 30 day blogging challenge. And I said yes. Now I’m a year on and amazed that I had all those words inside me. I have to say I don’t feel like I’m done yet either,” Conboy wrote in the anniversary post, “First Year Done and Dusted.”

Conboy has realized the challenge came at the right time for her.

“I was invited, it felt good, I was supporting a friend,” Conboy said. “I knew there would be discipline because it was every day, and I wrote every single day.”

And when she couldn’t physically write on the computer, Conboy wrote a post on a piece of paper.

“It helped me make a commitment to me,” she said.

Like for many writers, the first challenge was to find the right time to write. Conboy chose to write as the last thing at night.

“The clicks came quickly,” she said, “as I continued through the month I was sleeping better because I was clearing up the clutter in my head. I was clearing the day of everything that had happened.”

During the last week of the challenge, Conboy felt she had acquired a distinct voice in writing that was very specific.

“If I was to continue to write, I needed a commitment, a goal,” she said. “I decided I was going to blog for 1001 days.”

“Why in the world,” I asked, “Would anyone want to take part in the challenge beyond the designated 30 days?”

I participated in the original 30 Day Content challenge along with some 600 other bloggers from around the world, including Australia. Sometimes, Bradley Will, the founder of LearntoBlog, posted the daily guidelines and the themes 24 hours early “for the Ozzies.”

But, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. I wrote posts in the morning, just like my regular writing. Every morning a new theme for the day awaited in the inbox. That part was exciting.

And the time was of the essence for the challenge due to the intensity and the synergy of the group. I felt like back at the university cramming for the final exams. Also the timing was unbeatable, since the challenge ran in a framework when all the catastrophes in this world seemed to happen, and during the Thanksgiving holiday in the USA.

To be continued………………..

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

In my winter dreams

Warm thoughts spread under full moon

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Lowell, MI- I woke up this morning at 4:30 a.m. shivering with cold. I slept covered by two blankets and it was 13 F outside. I quickly turned on the additional water heating we use on top of our wood stove and propane. It was still cold.

The forecast called for the extreme chill, coming over the North Pole from Russia, but that didn’t make it any easier. Ludek hauls in the wood before he heads off to work. That helps, I don’t have to go out to the shed in that cold.

Luckily, we didn’t cave into the Arrowhead Meadows neighborhood association’s pick of Darin, the snowplow man. Two years ago when we had the polar vortex, the snowplow man plowed, after everybody got home from work including himself.

Although, Darin didn’t plow on weekends, he managed to pound on the door on a Sunday morning to pick up his check. So Ludek finally said, “I’ll do it myself, we got the jeep.” My 1998 Jeep Wrangler, our workhorse came in handy again. Now, I call it the “Blades of Glory.”

I sat by the wood stove in Ludek’s wicker rocking chair to warm up and to clear up the sinus cold that’s been gripping me since last Friday. As I  watched the flames I contemplated today’s writing strategy.

“No, I am not going to check my e-mails, because that either makes me angry or puts me behind in writing.

“However, should I or should I not fill out a slip of paper with today’s predictions and seal them into an envelope only to read them tonight?” I asked myself.

Instead, I picked up the phone to check the notifications on Facebook. I kind of knew about the upcoming full moon from friends in Europe, but it was my Arizona friend  and owner of Beutiful Body, Mind, Spirit Nan Raden who confirmed with the beautiful pictures of the moon over the majestic saguaro cacti with the following post:

“Full moon in Gemini-on December 14th. This full moon is occurring on the cusp of the Winter Solstice, which is Dec. 21st.

“Gemini rules the mind and is mentally razor-sharp. It is inventive, playful, childlike and communicative. Gemini loves to widen your perspective by integrating information. Mercury, the ruling planet for Gemini, will be going retrograde five days after this Full Moon, right before the Winter Solstice.

“Your thoughts, ideas and how you think about life are going to deepen, while you integrate a new heart-centered awareness.

“This Full Moon in Gemini happens on Dec. 14th at 12:04 a.m. in London, England and in the Americas on Dec. 13th in the late afternoon and evening.”

According to the full post, year 2017 is the Year of Money, Miracles and Manifestation.

“With number 17 activated, you will get a preview of the leadership, abundance and immortality themes that will inspire us all next year.”

And now, Nan asked:

“How are you going to share in a way that allows you to feel happy and empowered?”

The post continued: During this Full Moon thoughts will be transmitted very quickly and effortlessly, so you want to listen in and tune in to new perspectives and your perception about life.

“Have a happy and engaging Gemini Full Moon.”

As I sat by the wood stove, of course I didn’t read the entire post. I just glanced at the beautiful photo that warmed me up. I shared it, and that was it. And I didn’t fill out the prediction slip, because predictions were already piling up in my head.

“Oh, I am going to face another long phone call, and I’ll have to deal with IT stuff. I am not going to finish the story about blogger “Annie.”

For the rest of the morning, I continued to work with my back to the wood stove sitting on the brick ledge; my mind spinning. I did all the social media marketing work, I needed to do for the day.

I took a photo of the wood stove and I posted it enhanced on Instagram with this caption:

“My work station by the wood stove, until May.”

My friend, a Gemini, responded with:

“LOL.”

And after her, many others followed.

I found a way to make a miserable cold wintry morning in West Michigan dissipate in warm thoughts, and I shared them.

And after that I discovered Nan’s Facebook post in its entirety and wrote all 779 words of “In my winter dreams.”

Well. there goes my answer to Nan’s question.

“Thank you, Nan for sharing. Thank you, Full Moon.”

For Nan Raden’s  Beautiful Body, Mind, Spirit go to http://www.beautifulbodymindspirit.com

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

 

 

 

A Haiku on “Magic”

Feeling inspired today by the Traveling Nurse’s Haiku on “Magic.”
I might try to write a few of my own Haikus.
I wrote some and illustrated them in the early 2000s and later in 2008. I feel like it’s coming back to me at full force during this busy holiday time.
I actually find reprieve in Haiku writing. Haiku to me is like an island in the midst of the vast ocean of writing.
I need to spend some time on this Haiku island to gain strength to head out back into the ocean of writing.
Sometimes, like most writers and authors, I am intimidated by my upcoming writing. I know the idea has already taken some form in my head, and it is waiting to break out.
Will it be the right time and shape for that idea?
I’ve been carrying all these ideas in me for a long long time.
I’ve also been storing the products of my ideas on the shelves of my book cases for what seems like infinity.
Sometimes, I find old stories all dusty and fading on the yellow paper. Editors demanded hard print copies back then.
As I pick those products back up, I wonder what am I going to do with them this time?
Should I wake them up and bring them to life? Like a sleeping giant or a boring midget?
I have an entire collection “Glass Flowers” (c) Emma Palova that was inspired by an important time in my life.
I am dusting that off and bringing it out into the daylight.
It’s about time for my “Glass Flowers” to be broken into endless pieces.
Copyright (c) 2016 Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

That Traveling Nurse

It’s Haiku Fridays, People!

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Looking for fairies
Enchanted woods and magic
Please don’t wake me up!

(In response to The Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge on Magic)

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Into Burgundy

“Climats” in Burgundy present a cultural landscape, a 2015 UNESCO world heritage site

Note: After my third visit to the wine region of Burgundy in France, I consider it to be my annual summer writer’s retreat amidst vineyards, exceptional gastronomy and the “Climats.”

By Emma Palova

Fixin, FR- On an early Sunday morning, I woke up to the ringing of the church bells and a local gentleman shouting at his dog, a lot louder than the dog’s barking.

From my studio, I heard the cars rolling down the narrow Rue Magnien that leads into the tiny wine village of Fixin. The walls around the estates magnify the sounds and funnel them into endless echoes.

Wine villages of Burgundy.
Major street through Fixin

But, just before the light broke, I could hear the chirping of the birds in the mulberry tree. The mulberry tree is the only tree that grows between the bricks in the small courtyard in front of the house.

The stone house rises three stories with “lucarnes” or windows in the roof. Sources tell me that the house was a brasserie, before getting divided. After the division, the house lost the right wing, but none of its Burgundian charm or massiveness.

Surprisingly, the house does not have an adjacent vineyard behind it. New or old vineyards in Burgundy are hard to come by, according to my daughter Dr. Emma Palova-Chavent. However, a dream to get a vineyard sometime in the future may become a reality, knowing my daughter.

The journey from the corn and soy bean fields of Michigan, USA to the vineyards of Burgundy is about 4,000 miles long across the Atlantic Ocean. After an endless flight to Paris, we took a reasonable Uber ride for 45 euros to the Gare Percy train station near the famous Lyon Station, one of seven train stations in Paris.

I have a great affinity to train travel that originates in my homeland in Czech Republic.

Typical Burgundy architecture.
Township hall “Marie” in Fixin with school.

The local train took us swiftly into Dijon, the capital city of Burgundy, a principal wine-producing area. Travelling by train in France is a great alternative to the automobile due to the efficiency of the entire transit network.

Fixin sits on the Grands Crus Route which winds from the northernmost Chenove to Remigny in the south for a total of 57.8 kilometers.

You can ride it, bike it or walk it for a unique experience of a lifetime. Whichever you choose to do, there are accommodating facilities along the way like Hotel les Grands Crus in Gevrey-Chambertin sitting directly on the wine trail.

The “Balades en Bourgogne” app offers e-guided tours highlighting off the trail locations with châteaux, churches and wineries.

I’ve experienced the magic of this wine route during my three distinct visits to Burgundy. In 2009 with a base in Nuits-Saint-Georges, then in 2013 in Dijon and now I stay in Fixin in the north part of the Grands Crus Route.

La Perriere XII century mansion
La Perriere mansion of the Dukes of Burgundy in Fixin.

The vineyards in the heat of the day are just as peaceful as they were a century ago when the monks established them. Perfect rows of wines in small plots that hug the slopes, are sometimes divided by stone walls, stone arches or by stone shelters known as “cabottes.” An occasional walnut tree oasis with a bench serves as an observation platform.

The UNESCO has recognized this complex magic in designating the vineyards of Burgundy as the “Climats,” a world heritage site in 2015 to be preserved for all mankind.

This small plot viticulture of vineyards that are terrain based create an impressive mosaic of more than 1,000 Climats lined up from Dijon to the Maranges.

Wine villages in Burgundy.
Hiking between the wine villages of Fixin and Couchey.

“In Burgundy, when we speak about a Climat, we don’t look to the sky, we keep our eyes to the ground,” said Bernard Pivot, writer and president of the support committee for the Climats.

As I walk the winding path through the Climats, in the distance a church steeple in Couchey shimmers with yellow and blue tiles. Only the bell tolls the time. The time has stopped here in the vineyards and the watch seems unnecessary.

I bend down to pick a bluish purple small grape, the Pinot noir grape variety of the region of Burgundy deeply embedded in the red soil. As the sweet juices touch the palate, I realize that thousands of years of hard work have gone into this one grape to bring it to perfection.

And that this second is the same as it was one thousand years ago when the monks established the vineyards.

Church of St. Martin, Fixin
Church of St. Martin, 1172 in Fixin .

The monks, the Valois Dukes of Burgundy, the wine merchants and wine growers, have all carried the wine tradition over the centuries.

On the horizon to the left, I see the magnificent seat of Dijon nestling in a valley with all its museums, archaeological abbey, the Palace of the Dukes of Burgundy and the gourmet restaurants.

Walking from one wine village to the next, is like being born again with a new view on the world.

During my different stays in Burgundy, I noticed that some little things have changed, while the most remain the same. It’s that same stability that we constantly seek around us, no matter where we are.

Burgundy wine caves in Fixin
Burgundy wine caves

Among the changes are: more bilingual tourist stations and chambers in the villages, greater use of the wine trails via bike tours, walking and hiking.

However, the steady constant vibrates in the romantic wine villages with stone architecture, in the gastronomy and in the exceptional Crus wines.

The Climats have given us the high quality wines sought after around the world. These include: Montrachet, Romanee-Conti, Clos de Vougeout, Corton, Musigny, Chevalier-Montrachet, Chambertin and more.

Unique and fragile, the Climats, vineyards of Burgundy, are our heritage, one that must be protected and passed on. Their inscription on the UNESCO World Heritage List as a “cultural landscape” is part of this objective. This is a commitment that has been undertaken, and witnessed by the community of nations, to respect and to preserve the “Outstanding Universal Value” of the Climats, as “combined works of nature and man.”

[Article 1, paragraph 3 of the Convention of World Heritage]

 For more information on the Climats go to www.climats-bourgogne.com

For more information on Burgundy go to http://www.burgundy-tourism.com

For “Balades en Bourgogne”: a collection of trails app go to Google Play or Appstore.

To be continued

 

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

Czechoslovak Harvest Festival

Harvest Festival celebrates Czech traditions

By Emma Palova

Bannister, MI- No matter how long I’ve lived in North America, I still sometimes miss my home country, the Czech Republic.

It’s hard to pin point what exactly am I missing? My whole family, except for daughter Emma Chavent, lives here in Michigan. Although, we don’t have family reunions, we often visit with each other. We all speak the Czech language including our youngest granddaughter Josephine Marie Palova. She was born in Kalamazoo in 2013 to American mother and to son Jake.

Czechoslovak Harvest Festival.
The Czech & Slovak dance group.

So, it isn’t just the language that I miss. Sometimes, I think it’s the food. But, that can’t be right, both my husband Ludek and I can cook any Czech meal. We usually cook Czech food on Sundays.

The perfect Czech Sunday meal are either schnitzels or pork, cabbage and dumplings.

Every August, we go to the Czechoslovak Harvest Festival held in Bannister, MI.  ZCBJ Lodge #225 in Bannister organizes the annual event.

We do this to remind ourselves, our kids and grandchildren of our Czech origins. French-born Ella Chavent enjoyed the festival for the first time. She has never seen the traditional Czech and Slovak festive costumes or the dances.

Czech festival in Bannister.
Czechoslovak Harvest Festival.

Ella marveled both at the dances and the music. She loved the full Czech fare that consisted of ham, fried chicken, mashed potatoes, dumplings, cabbage, cucumber salad and Czech desserts.

As in most countries, the food and the desserts are the pride of that particular nation. The ZCBJ Bannister lodge volunteers have cooked the delicious spread since 1976. Although somewhat modified, the food carries the Czech staples of dumplings, cabbage and cucumber salad.

The dance troop celebrated 40th anniversary under the leadership of Diane and Tom Bradley. Another group played the accordions, a common instrument for the Polka music.

Every year, I am flabbergasted by the dedication of the organizers to the Czech culture. Although, they are of Czech origin, most of them have never visited Czech or Slovak republics. Their meticulous research has brought them closer to the country located in the heart of Europe, thousands of miles away from the American shore.

Czech & Slovak dancers at the Harvest Festival in Bannister.
Czech & Slovak dances at Harvest Festival.

The dedication also shows in the compiled recipes in the Czech anniversary cookbooks. Most recipes are in memory of loved ones.

A Polka brass band accompanies the mass at the Cyril & Methodius Catholic Church. The dance troop also dances polka and other Czech dances.

What makes the Czechoslovak Harvest Festival even more special is the fact that such events are dying out in the old country as the older generation passes on.

“Lodge Michigan #225 has been fortunate to have members who willingly give of themselves, who live not in the past, but rather use the past to build for the future,” the festival program reads.

“Vitejte holka na Dozinky,” Tom Bradley greeted Ella in Czech.

I used to worry about the future of this Czech event that annually takes place in the middle nowhere, not close to Lansing and not close to Grand Rapids.

Since yesterday, I don’t worry anymore. I saw young blood everywhere; from the dancers to the accordion players. Among the visitors were a lot of young people, who probably have never seen anything like the traditional costumed dances.

The event closes with a dance for the public inside the ZCBJ Lodge. The lodge itself is a feast for the eyes. It has a traditional stage for the Polka band. Paintings from Czech history decorate the walls of the 1916 hall.

Thanks to all the volunteers for keeping the Czech tradition in Midwest alive.

The next Czechoslovak Harvest Festival in Bannister will be held on Aug. 6th, 2017.

For more information visit www.zcbjbannister.org or find them on Facebook.

You can also rent the hall for events. Contact Ann VanDeusen at 1-(989) 534-1862.

To join the Western Fraternal Life go to http://www.wflains.org

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

Anna

Popular name brings back memories

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Lowell, MI- As I was checking Facebook for messages, I came across a greeting card for Anna from the group Czechoslovak Friends on Facebook. The greeting card wished well to all the girls and women who carry this beautiful name.

In the Czech calendar each day is dedicated to a certain name, known as “svatek” or saint’s day. July 26th is Anna’s day. The name Anna has a very special meaning to me. I write about it in the memoir “Greenwich Meridian where East meets west.”©

Anna & Anna Drabkova
Front row from left to right: grandparents Anna & Joseph. Top row: Sisters Eliska and Anna.

Our family celebrated Anna’s day to honor three great women: Grandmother Anna Drabkova of Vizovice, aunt and godmother Anna Chudarkova of Zlin and paternal aunt Anna Tomankova of Otrokovice.

However, not everyone thought they were great.  But, time changes everything.

I spent all the summers with grandma Anna and my grandpa Joseph; first at their old dwelling “chalupa” near the river Lutoninka and later at their ranch no.111 on a hill.

Grandma Anna accompanied me to the first grade at the Vizovice Elementary School in mid 1960s. At the time my parents and brother Vas were in Sudan, Africa. Dad Vaclav Konecny was teaching physics & mathematics at the University of Khartoum.

Wallachian town Vizovice was a paradise during formative years for the future writer. My first memory goes back to Vizovice. I remember chasing after our neighbor farmer Vlada for whatever reason, as I fell on the crushed asphalt path leading to the river Lutoninka and the wheat fields.

I hurt my knee. A little trickle of blood came out of the scratched skin. I couldn’t get up and I desperately reached out to Vlada.

“Wait for me, wait for me,” I screamed.

Farmer Vlada kept on walking. I finally got up, turned around and ran back to the “chalupa.”

“Babiiiii, babii, I am hurt,” I whined.

“That’s nothing,” said grandpa Joseph without looking up from the sewing machine that he was just repairing.

“Look here,” I cried pointing at my first wound.

Anna bent down to me and patted me on the head and then on my hurt knee.

“Come on little one,” she soothed me.

Grandma Anna was the youngest of seven children. Some of them died prematurely. She was taking care of her two single brothers, farmers Frank and Joseph. The brothers owned the family field called “Hrabina” close to the famous plum brandy plant “Jelinek.”

The field was a fraction of what they used to own prior to the 1948 socialization of private businesses and farms.

Both grandparents spent endless hours working in the fields after work and on weekends. They worked at the local shoe factory Svedrup. Grandpa Joseph as the lead machine maintenance man.

Anna was a seamstress, who also worked at Svedrup until she got a heart attack.

That day, the family forgot to pick me up from kindergarten.

 

To be continued….

 

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

Frail times

Small frail things matter

“Do small things with great love.”

Mother Teresa

By Emma Palova

Lowell, MI- I have just found out that small things matter, that destiny  exists and that life is frail.

Three times in life I had close calls when death was reaching for me with her long arms.

Once, I almost drowned even though I am an apt swimmer, not like Michael Phelps but close. Just joking. I feel lucky when I can swim  a 50-meter pool once and not the butterfly style.

The second time I almost got killed in a car driving on a rural route from one small town to another small town in northern Michigan.

Ella by her computer station in her girl's room.
Ella’s time in America.

The third time I fell down straight on my face due to low blood pressure, heat and dizziness from medication at the height of summer on July 14th.

A one-night stay at the Metro Hospital on M-6 cost us $10,000. My husband Ludek also spent one night at what we call “Hotel 6” with heart problems. That also cost us $10,000.

We came out of there alive unlike our neighbor Ted aka “Teddy Bear” who never made it out of “Hotel 6” after a 2-year struggle with leukemia.

“At least he lived it up,” said my daughter-in-law Maranda Palova.

No matter what you call it whether living it up, bucket list or living your way because you think you’re going to die soon, you can’t escape destiny.

Ella Chavent with one of the teachers at St. Pat's.
Ella Chavent with one of the volunteers at St. Pat’s.

And yes life is frail at all its stages.

I am breathing again freely with new wisdom. I found out why I didn’t die in any of those close calls.

It’s my French granddaughter Ella Chavent, 5. She will turn six in September. Ella is staying with us for the summer. At first I had butterflies in my stomach. I worried about this international experiment not knowing where it will take us. We didn’t know Ella that well because we’ve seen her in six years only six times.

Ella’s parents left for France last Friday taking along her two-year old brother Sam.

“Did Sam leave?” she asked me.

“No, he’s living under the roof in the attic,” I said seriously but laughing out loud afterwards.

And we’ve played that joke ever since. Ella keeps telling everyone that her brother lives in the attic. That simple joke broke the ice when Ella started crying for her mami  after coming home from St. Pat’s summer school.

Our international family clan on July 4th under the pergola.
Our international family clan on July 4th under the pergola.

Normally, I hate Mondays but this time I didn’t. I took Ella to school in the morning. She carried her tart cherry pie for her friends. If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t have made that cherry pie. I would normally not go to St. Pat’s Church.  I would just lounge around all Sunday morning.

But, with Ella going to a catholic school, I felt compelled to go to church. Ella wouldn’t go either, but she wanted to see her friends from school.

After dropping her off this morning, I felt an urge to drive to Smyrna to see if  the work on Whites Bridge replica has started.

Instead, there was a stronger pull to go home. I kept looking around over all my stuff; things that I used to think mattered so much.

At first I wanted to do the laundry, so I went upstairs to pick up Ella’s clothes. Picking up stuff off the floor in what was my daughter’s room in the nineties, I realized there’s a greater cause than just dirty laundry.

Without taking down Emma’s posters from the white walls, I started re-doing the room Ella style. I cleared the shelves for her souvenirs from the Ionia Free Fair and from Picnic Pops fireworks and concert, that she enjoyed so much over the weekend.

In the corner of the room, I created a work station for her. Our neighbor Catherine Haefner gave Ella a “computer” with books and a tape. Ella tested it out at the open house for Katie Haefner.

Then I went to the balcony to water the flower boxes. I looked at Ella’s little garden made inside a cut off milk jar. Her chicks and hens started already growing.

Next to Ella’s miniature garden is a bigger black square pot with mums. I forgot to water them during the June heat. So, the flowers died. I wanted to pull out the plant and throw it out. Something wouldn’t let me.

I looked closer at the plant after watering it thoroughly for the last three weeks. With all the rain we had, I found new buds coming out on the leafy stems.

To me, the new buds symbolize new blood and a fresh new outlook on life.

There was a reason why I didn’t die in one of those close calls.

Thank you universe.

Note: This story ties into the earlier post “Immersion English” or “International Experiment” found at https://emmapalova.com/2016/07/14/international-experiment/

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