Tag Archives: Emma Palova on Ionia Sentinel-Standard

25 Years in the USA III

25 Years in the USA III

Editor’s note: This is the third and last part of the 25th anniversary mini-series “25 Years in the USA.” I published the first part  on Dec. 22 on the exact date of the anniversary of our arrival to the country. I published the third part on Jan. 9th.

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Lowell, MI- While working the second shift at Meijer, I wrote the most short stories in the morning. People working at the store inspired me.

My husband Ludek and I started looking for land to build a house in 1994. We found Lowell, a small town in West Michigan. And as we drove past the old Parnell store in the middle of nowhere, I knew I was going to like it here.

USA moments
25th anniversary of arrival to the USA

“This is it,” Ludek said as he showed me the land. He built the house himself with a few contractors.

Lowell, Michigan
Hometown Lowell before the annual Riverwalk Festival.

Once we had the house, I started feeling more at home. I got us two dogs. On top of the job at the store, I started selling real estate for Westdale. That was a unique experience where I met my business guru late Larry Combs.

“How many sales phone calls did you make today?” he asked.

I lied when I said 50. I actually made more like seven or 10.

“Call whenever you can even if you’re waiting for food in a restaurant,” he advised. “I want to write a book “My friend Emma.”

American Lists
I wrote for American Lists, a Czech newspaper based in NYC.

Larry never wrote the book. He got Parkinson’s disease and shot himself.

I was  homesick and every Christmas drove to the Gerald Ford International Airport in Grand Rapids to watch the planes take off.

I was still writing for American Lists, former Czechoslovak Newsweek based in New York City out of nostalgia. I was writing in Czech. The paper does not exist anymore.

The first time I went back to Czech Republic was in 2000, and that was a mistake. It brought back memories and old friends even though it was a different country than the one I had left.

I vowed never to go back again.

“Never say never,” told me the store manager.

During my five-year long stint with the Ionia Sentinel-Standard, I finished my first book “Fire on Water” about the communist experience in 2001. Because as they say, “There are three big experiences in this world: communist, capitalist and catholic. I lived them all.

I dropped the store and real estate and commuted daily 80 miles one way to Plainwell to first paid journalism job for Kaechele Publications. It was a one man office with zero training. But, the editor was an avid photographer and taught me how to shoot.

“Don’t go into a shoot with a mindset,” he said. “Keep your options open.”

Since, 2000 I went back home three times.

“Why do you still call it home?” asked my daughter Emma. “You have lived longer in the USA than in Czech.”

Yes, I will always call it home. That’s where I was born, got married, graduated from Technical University of Brno and had our two children.

And that’s just the tip of an iceberg. I am now penning our family immigration story in “Greenwich Meridian where East meets west.”

It’s like reliving all those years since 1968 when the former Soviet Army occupied Czechoslovakia.  Sometimes I struggle with it, sometimes I cry, and sometimes I laugh. Just like in life.

About the featured photo: Ice sculptures in hometown Lowell, Michigan 2014

Copyright © Emma Blogs LLC, All rights reserved

Storefront preview

Hi to all,

I will soon be opening a brand new virtual storefront on all Emma Blogs. I will feature Czech-inspired products such as the Palinka (r) line of canned products.

The products such as the sweet and sour dill pickles are all home-made from an old family pickling recipe. The secret recipe has been handed down from generation to generation.

My mother Ella Konecny pictured in the featured photo started canning in the USA during her second immigration in the late 1970s. She didn’t like the sour taste of American pickles or the color.

She would stand up and imitate our grandpa Joseph making a grimace from the sour taste.

“See they twist your mouth,” she said. “We have to start making our own.”

Ella most likely learned how to can from her own mother Anna.

Mom and dad still grow their own cucumbers for pickling. But the weather hasn’t been great for pickles. Ella is also the woman behind the brand name “Palinka.”

My husband Ludek and I are the third generation canning these goodies in our outdoors kitchen.designed for this purpose. Because as  the Czech saying goes, “Be prepared to answer when winter asks you what you did in the summer.”

We use only fresh pickling cucumbers sorted by size and cut to the favorite spears, slices or whole. We can other vegetables like red beets and gardiniera mix.

We also make salsa and marinara sauces with either Merlot and basil or Cabernet-Sauvignon with garlic, as well as barrel-aged sauerkraut.

We plan to add more products in the future.

 

Palinka (R) line of canned goods such as the sweet and sour dill pickles made from an old family pickling recipe.  The prices will be $6 per pint and $9 per quart. The gift packages of three different varieties in a wooden carved Michigan box will be $39.99 Stay tuned for the official opening on all Emma Blogs soon.
Palinka (r) line of canned goods such as the sweet and sour dill pickles made from an old family pickling recipe.
The prices will be $6 per pint and $9 per quart.
The gift packages of three different varieties in a wooden carved Michigan box will be $39.99
Stay tuned for the official opening on all Emma Blogs soon.

 

I will also present  my blog design and writing services in an app Emma Blogs format coming soon.

Let me know what you would like to see in this big marketplace by emailing me at emmapalova@yahoo.com

Or you can comment on any of the sites of Emma Blogs. These are:

http://farmcountryblog.wordpress.com

http://etravelandfood.wordpress.com

http://placeathome.wordpress.com

http://eheatlhandbeauty.wordpress.com

http://greatoutdoorsandgolf.wordpress.com

http://editionemma.wordpress.com

http://cjkarmaskova.wordpress.com

I am looking forward to this new venture.

Sincerely,

Emma Palova

http:// emmapalova.com

.

 

Saint Patrick Festival 2014

Saint Patrick establishes traditions

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Parnell, MI- I love this Irish unincorporated settlement in the middle of nowhere. I got hooked on it almost 20 years ago, when we were looking for a place to build a house. We found it right here in northeast Kent County, Michigan, some 6,000 miles away from home in former Czechoslovakia.

“I am going to like it here,” I said to my husband Ludek as we drove past the white country church and the old general store.

I can easily list all the establishments in Parnell. There are the Saint Patrick’s Church and school, the cemetery and the Parnell Grocery store.

The parish with its parishioners cement Parnell as they have for the last 170 years. The annual Saint Patrick Festival is the biggest event of the year in the community. It always takes place at the end of June far from the actual feast of Saint Patrick on March 17. But, the weather is better, although unpredictable.

Maranda Lynn with Josephine Marie Palova
Maranda Lynn with Josephine Marie Palova

Over the years, the festival weather has been from jacket cold to bikini hot.

We found out about the Irish festival early on through channels in Lowell. We’re not Irish by any means, but we lived in Montreal which has a big Irish heritage. We went to the Saint Patrick’s parade there which was complete with bagpipers in skirts.

Saint Patrick festival has become a family tradition, a homecoming when we all get together. My daughter Emma Palova-Chavent usually flies in for Saint Patrick Festival from France.

Dave Simmonds’ bluegrass band Easy Idle that played on Friday festival nights inspired her wedding music and dance back in 2009.

This year, the Conklin Ceili Band played on Friday night. Even without closing my eyes, I could see Michael Flatley and his troop dancing to the Irish band.

I can’t dance the jig, but I can certainly appreciate it.

The Las Vegas night, preceded by the auction, takes place on Saturday nights. I tried my luck a few times and I’ve always lost.

The big get together day is Sunday. After the mass, it’s time for the popular chicken dinners. My parents Ella and Vaclav Konecny always come from Big Rapids to share this special time.

I am not a chicken lover, but the grilled chicken with mashed potatoes, corn, cole slaw and apple sauce is delicious. And the desserts baked by the parishioner women are awesome.

“I don’t have to cook,” mom said victoriously.

Moreover, Saint Patrick parish festivals started popping up around Michigan, according to mom.

“We had one last week in Big Rapids and it raised $18,000,” Ella said.

Much like back in 1850 when the chicken dinners started, I introduced my future daughter-in-law Maranda Lynn Ruegsegger to the tradition.

“I always had to work,” she said. “I am excited.”

Longtime parishioner Ed Donahue said the chicken dinners evolved into the three-day festival. Donahue has been in charge of the dinners.

“It’s a lot more than a fundraiser,” Donahue said.

It is more than a fundraiser. Freelance writer Maryalene LaPonsie received the Dorothy Award after the 5K run Friday for enduring hardship. LaPonsie has been raising five children as a single parent after her husband Tom passed away last year.

Maryalene LaPonsie receives the Dorothy Award.
Maryalene LaPonsie receives the Dorothy Award.

“I think the festival weekend may have breathed some new life into me,” LaPonsie wrote on Facebook. “I feel better than I have in a while. Hopefully that will carry over to tomorrow when the alarm goes off.”

LaPonsie wrote that she was honored to get the award.

“The only reason I can persevere is because of you my friends,” LaPonsie wrote. “You who pick me up when I fall, you who cheer me on when I despair, you who rush in when I falter.”

Saint Patrick parish festival is definitely more than a fundraiser for the church and the school. It is bonding time for families like ours and Irish descendants far away from home.

 

Copyright © 2014 story and photos by Emma Palova