Tag Archives: Greenwich Meridian memoir

writing in Hastings

Hastings, MI – We spent a week in mid January at our son and daughter-in-law’s place south of Hastings, MI. We got in after a snow storm on Sunday with a car and a truck. The roads were bad; no one did the maintenance over the weekend. But, a good neighbor plowed the driveway to the house.

On Monday, backing out of the driveway, I got stuck in an iced-up snow bank. After a while, I rocked the car back and forth out of the snowy ordeal that started right in front of the house.

The city of Hastings wasn’t much better. On our way to the North Eastern Elementary, a van was stuck in a snow bank at a city intersection. The school walking guide Doug told me that he fell on an ice puddle because the sidewalks weren’t cleared. He cleared part of the sidewalk himself.

It wasn’t that the storm was unexpected, after all, we live in deep Midwest in Michigan.

Guys with their snowmobiles have been eagerly waiting for this since December; we had a green Christmas. The same waiting game goes for the ice fishermen back home on Murray Lake.

Finally, the homemade ice skating rink outside froze, but now it’s covered with a foot of snow, but the kids went sledding.

Baby Boom of 2020s

When dropping Dominik off at the daycare at CERC and Hastings High School, we found out that babies born in 2020 were already in the daycare. The kids have been rotating rooms between red and blue to facilitate the influx. Walking to the red room, I saw babies crawling in the baby room.

I noticed a mom this morning still in her pajamas dropping off older kids with the youngest ones waiting in the van. Among seven strollers, there was a stroller for twins parked by the daycare. The car seat carriers were lined up on a shelf by the wall. The red room was already full of kids at play.

Wow, what a crop.

After a short drive on the winding road between Hastings and Kalamazoo, I walked inside the house that reverberated love, peace and warmth with the smell of coffee.

When I glanced outside the window, I saw a big pile of wood covered with snow and the outdoors furnace. An entire crew heads out into the woods to cut tree trunks.

Welcome to Michigan.

I even heard and saw birds chirping in the tree from Josephine’s window. On a day like this, I love being a writer. I get to channel stories that otherwise people would have no access to. No newspaper or TV will ever report on these seemingly ordinary things, except that there is nothing mundane about them. Each moment will never repeat itself.

I worked on the final revisions of the Greenwich Meridian Memoir. I added a chapter about husband Ludek’s escape from former Czechoslovakia via Yugoslavia in 1988. Stay tuned for excerpts.

Earlier in the morning on our way to the high school, we saw an old man bundled up walking in the roadway with a stick in the pinkish morning twilight among the roaring buses.

Why didn’t he wait till daylight? Will he be there tomorrow? Will we see the rising sun or will it be cloudy?

Copyright © 2020. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

Greenwich meridian Memoir cover

Cover Design by Jeanne S. Boss

Collage: the story behind the cover

It is said that a long journey starts with the first step.

During the entire process of putting together the “Greenwich Meridian Memoir,” that spans more than 50 years of our family immigration saga from former Czechoslovakia to the U.S., I was using a globe as a visual tool.

I got the globe probably at the old Flat River Antique Mall in Lowell when we moved out into the country in 1995. I kept it downstairs in my writing studio, but dragged it upstairs to look at it while on the treadmill.

Putting one foot in front of the other, word after word, page after page, year after year, that’s how the memoir went, often interrupted by life’s events.

After all, travel around the world made an imprint on our lives forever. However, later into the writing process, I realized the story wasn’t just about our nomadic lifestyle prompted by the political events in Czechoslovakia in 1968.

When I first asked mom for info about our immigration, she handed me two small stapled pages from a Best Western notepad with nine bullet points summarizing our life.

As I got deeper into the story and mom cooperated more, it became obvious that looking back at your past can be a painful experience.

Unlike writing fiction, writing the memoir was very emotional, at times depressing. It meant uncovering layers and layers of events, preceeded by decisions; your own decisions and other people’s decisions that impacted your own life and other people’s lives.

Decisions were lurking at every crossroad or a fork on the path to freedom. Mistakes and resentments alternated with victories and elation.

The main characters, mom Ella and dad Vaclav, were the driving forces of the immigration; I picked up two decades later when the Velvet Revolution rolled in 1989.

I found out that the main motivation for dad’s decision to emigrate was his career as a mathematician, while mom clung onto her past pharmacist job and relatives in Czech. And that’s where the characters clashed.

The Prague Spring 1968 movement was the catalyst.

I wanted to express all this on the cover of the memoir using a collage of photos, postcards, mom’s African driver’s license, the Czech coat-of-arms and the globe. There is a postcard with a Vaclav Havel stamp from Czechoslovakia.

Graphic designer Jeanne S. Boss of Rockford captured all of the above on the artistic cover. Boss is the former editor of the Lowell Ledger and the Buyer’s Guide, and a long time friend.

I would like to thank Boss for all the creative work.

Copyright (c) 2020. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

Today’s Free Taurus Daily Horoscope from Tarot.com

I love my Taurus horoscope today, as I move ahead with the Greenwich Meridian Memoir revisions. I’ve added some interesting events to the memoir about our family immigration saga from former Czechoslovakia to the USA. Watch for excerpts.

Read your free Taurus horoscope for today to get daily advice. Find out what today’s Astrology will mean for Taurus every day from Tarot.com.
— Read on http://www.tarot.com/daily-horoscope/taurus/2020-01-15

Copyright (c) 2020. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

The three Sundays before Christmas with excerpt

The three Sundays before Christmas in Czech Republic were called: bronze, silver and gold. They were the biggest shopping days of the year. I used to go shopping to the open-air market under the giant chestnut trees in Zlin. I always bought mistletoe. I loved the old ladies from Slovakia with their embroidered linens- a lost art.

Greenwich Meridian memoir excerpt:

By Emma Palova

The yellow place mats with brown embroidery traveled with me to the USA for my second immigration in 1989. I bought them at the Zlin market under the chestnut trees. I loved that market with vendors from Slovakia and Southern Moravia. I marveled at their handiwork eligible for Etsy at any given time.

When I went back to Czech Republic in the footsteps of the past in 2013, I hurried to the market. I was amazed all over again at all the wares the merchants had to offer from far and near. Off course it wasn’t Christmas time, so the farmers didn’t have my favorite silver and gold-coated mistletoe. The coveted mistletoe is sold on the three Sundays before Christmas. Those were the only Sundays that merchants opened their doors on a holiday.

I always looked forward to those three Sundays. They were called bronze, silver and gold Sunday. And as the hype build up, so did the offered goods; that all culminated in a shopping frenzy socialist style. That meant loading up on textile durable bags to haul in stuff for the holidays; everything from Hungarian salami, sausages, smoked cutlets to silver-coated mistletoe, and better wines such as “Klastorne” from Slovakia. The most famous monastery wines are located in Kromeriz- the Archbishop’s Wine Cellars. I visited these cellars during the big trip in 2013. The walls of the cellars are covered with rare silver moulds.

Since, it was a custom to bake every Christmas traditional small desserts, I usually went shopping for the ingredients. I always carried the same old bags that were overused with time. Sometimes, the handle on the bag broke and I had to pick up the rolling tomatoes, apples and bottles.

Shopping meant standing in lines forever; sometimes waiting for the delivery of the products. The stores ran out of stuff like whipped cream, butter and cocoa. Nuts have also been an issue, but many families had their own nuts from the walnut trees in their gardens. I remember having to crack them with my uncle before the big holiday baking.

I barely dragged the bags with groceries home to the apartment. I was glad we had that darn escalator that I had to clean so many times to keep Mr. Chromcak happy. The refrigerators back in Czech were small, so we put food outside on the balconies.

“Where do I put all this stuff?” I asked myself. “Well, first I am going to eat.”

I dropped the bags on the floor and scoured the bottom for some nugget chocolate. Sitting down in the kitchen I munched on the chocolate relentlessly like if it was the last day on this earth. That was my problem then and now; I do everything like today is the last day. True, I do get a lot done that way but I exhaust myself to the max.

Needless to say that I’ve had problems with my weight ever since I hit puberty still back in Hawkins, Texas during our first round of immigration in the early 1970s. My first period was a pain. I laid on the couch crying and twisting with spasms in my lower abdomen thinking it would never pass; it did just like most pains in life it was transitory.

I exercised and exercised some more. And I ate and ate, just like that moment when I dragged the bags inside the apartment. Mom was still at work, so I should probably get ready the dough for the pastries and desserts. But, wait first I have to unpack. I looked outside from the living room to the balcony. It was all snowy, and even though I was hot from hauling all that weight, it was freezing outside. I sorted what I needed for baking and put the rest of the groceries still in the bags on the balcony.

We had an interesting class teacher Mrs. Chudarkova at the prep school Gymnasium Zlin. Every year before Christmas, she let us go early from school, so we could bake.

“Yes, girls you can leave early today,” she smiled. “I know you have to bake to help your mothers.”

That came as a surprise from the strict woman who wore a dark reddish brown wig. Mrs. Chudarkova could have been around 45. I considered her an old woman at the time.

To be continued…….

The feature photo is of small Christmas desserts by CJ Aunt Jarmilka on http://jkarmaskova.wordpress.com

You can still order them from her bakery; email j.karmaskova@seznam.cz

Copyright (c) 2019. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

Reviews on Amazon, Venice book fair

Hello everyone,

Thanks for writing reviews that will help the ranking of my books on Amazon from the Shifting Sands Short Stories collections. I need to reach 25 reviews for basic ranking.

This is the main link to writing reviews on Amazon. The reviews do not have to be long.

https://www.amazon.com/author/emmapalova

You can basically just state what you did like about the book, what you didn’t like about the book and what stayed with you and why.

If you click on the stars, it will take you to customer reviews, and you will see examples of  a few reviews.

customer reviews

I am in the process of planning my book tour for 2020. Let me know, if you want me to come to a specific place or event.

I will be in Venice, FL for the book fair and writer’s festival on March 20 & 21. It is also my writer’s retreat.

I am looking for an author to share a table.

Contact me with questions about my new book Greenwich Meridian: Where East meets West, or any other questions. The book will be available for pre-order in January.

Copyright (c) 2019. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

Happy holidays with excerpt

Wishing you a peaceful holiday season, as I continue to work on the Greenwich Meridian memoir about our family immigration saga from former Czechoslovakia to the U.S.

Based on a request from Mary Lacy, a vendor of M&M Prescious Gems at the Lowell Area Historical Museum, I decided to add two more chapters about living in socialism.

Below is an excerpt from the Greenwich Meridian memoir:

The Good and the Bad

The socialist system had its own way of getting at you by creating mysterious “profiles.” It was a compilation of background checks that ranged from, whether you were a member of the Communist Party or not, to how many volunteer hours have you worked on a community project like building a nursery.
If you went to church, your profile would state that, and it went against you when you applied for jobs or to universities.

My profile was “speckled” because we had returned from the U.S. for Czech President Gustav Husak’s amnesty in 1973. Even though, it was an official amnesty for political victims of the 1968 Prague Spring, like us, it served more as a punishment and a showcase of what can happen if you screwed over the regime.

The profiles also took into account your mandatory volunteering at different community projects and brigades. The communists must have used some sort of a scoring point system; the worst part was that they took into account your entire family. For example, if you came from an agricultural family that used to own large parcels of land, that went against you, even though the communists took all the land in two major nationalizations in 1945 and in 1948. If you were a former business owner, that wasn’t good either.

Among interesting events at workplaces were birthday celebrations. My husband Ludek described a typical birthday when the celebrant brought in a bottle of plum brandy and poured everyone from each department a shot. After work, the celebration continued at the local pubs. There was a lot of birthday celebrations throughout the years. For the 50th birthday, you always got a fancy watch.

During national holidays, the factory workers would steal anything and take it through the gates without being checked because there were so many of them leaving at once for the parades. So, the parades were known as the “March of Thieves.” The parades actually started inside the factory.

On the matter of overtime, one individual was selected to punch for all, who waited somewhere behind the gates. The huge factory complex known as Svit and ZPS spanned several blocks in Zlin, and it was built during the Thomas Bata era in the 1940s. It employed 10,000 workers per factory. Svit was the shoe factory started by Bata, while ZPS was the mechanical engineering factory. The shoe factory mainly employed women, while ZPS employed mostly men.

Both were the major employers in Zlin, and people worked there for generations. In socialism, everything was planned accordingly into one- year plans, five -year plans and 10- year plans. All the companies had to strive to fulfill the plans to the highest percentage for bonuses at the end of the year, called the 13th salary.

To be continued…Socialism perks through ROH

Subscribe or email questions about living in socialism or any other questions or comments: 

Copyright (c) 2019. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

E-newsletter

Greenwich Meridian: Where East meets West
New autobiographical novel on its way to pre-order on Amazon. .

Emma Palova’s author news 
 
With Christmas just around the corner and the shopping frenzy on, I am pleased to announce that I have completed the new autobiographical novel “Greenwich Meridian: Where East meets West during the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo.) I have, however, decided to add two more chapters based on a recent conversation at one of my book signing events.  
Vendor Mary Lacy asked me, if I was ever afraid living in a socialist country. I had to really think hard about the answer to the surprise question. So, it occurred to me that many of my fans will be interested in the same topic. 
“What was it like living in socialism?” 
I was born in socialist Czechoslovakia and lived there during the hardline years of communism in the 1970s and 1980s. Living in socialism meant being careful on a daily basis about what you said and to whom. However, only political activists like late president Vaclav Havel faced repercussions and ended up in jail. The system had its way of getting at you by creating “profiles.” 
If you went to church, your profile would state that, and it went against you when you applied for jobs or to universities. 
Please email me with your questions about socialism at emmapalova@yahoo.com
 
Reviews and a book tour 

Why write a review? 
 
All authors need reviews, and basically not just authors. But Amazon requests at least 25 reviews for authors to get any ranking, so then Amazon algorithms can start working in the author’s favor. 
 
I haven’t been able to reach that magic number, even though it doesn’t seem high. Prior to publication, I sent out pdfs to reviewers. 
 
And I will do that again with the new book. Just email me for pdfs.

Below is a link to my books from the Shifting Sands Short Stories collections: book 1 and book 2 Secrets. Books make a great Christmas gift.

You can also post a review there.
 
http://www.amazon.com/author/emmapalova 
 

New book tour 2020
 
I am in the process of planning a new book tour for 2020, which I am very excited about. 
 
Why come to a Michigan author event?  
“Michigan Authors are sweeping the shores of the Great Lakes from Lake Michigan to Lake Superior and Lake Huron in a new wave of renaissance in literature.” 
                                                                                       - Emma Palova 
 
You’re supporting local authors who write from Michigan with Michigan settings. 
You will get an autographed book by a live author. 
You will get insider tips from the publishing industry. 
You will learn about the writing process; from an idea to a book. 
You will leave inspired. 
 
Happy holidays to all.

Emma Palova
Dec. 9, 2019

Email Emma to subscribe to the E-Newsletter at emmapalova@yahoo.com

Copyright (c) 2019. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

30TH ANNIVERSARY OF vELVET REVOLUTION IN CZECHOSLOVAKIA

By Emma Palova

Lowell, MI – On this 30th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution in former Czechoslovakia, I am including an excerpt from the Greenwich Meridian: Where East meets West memoir about our family immigration saga. The epic tale of passion and love takes place on the backdrop of two major historical events: Prague Spring 1969 and Velvet Revolution 1989.

Thirty years ago, I was standing on Wenceslas Square in Prague along with 500,000 other people, ringing my keys and listening to the future president Vaclav Havel. It was cold and I was shivering; not just from the November chill, but from the events of the last 10 days. These 10 days shook the world.

“Havel to the castle,” was the overwhelming response of the crowds chanting for Havel to become the next president of free Czechoslovakia.

Excerpt from Greenwich Meridian memoir

On the day of the General Strike, Monday, Nov. 27, the wave of citizen activity crested after a week of protests and manifestations. Across the country, people stood at major squares, sporting tricolor ribbons, waving flags and ringing their keys to symbolize the end of the Stalinist model of socialism.

I took the train to Prague to join thousands on Wenceslas Square. I still thought I was dreaming and that I was going to wake up after a long dark night. I had to pinch myself to feel the pain to make sure this was happening. But I could hear it happening around me, in me, everywhere. My heart was beating fast, as I had to fight the crowds and overcome the old claustrophobia. That day I saw Havel in person.

The General Strike from noon until 2 p.m. was a political referendum that did not hurt the economy. Approximately half of the population joined in the manifestations around the country. Only minimum percentage were not allowed to participate in the strike; others made up for the lost time at work. The referendum joined all members of the society representing its demographics: students, factory workers, farmers, artists, athletes and scientists determined to change the course of history for this small country in Central Europe.

The people have spoken and the demands of the Citizens’ Forum were being met. The state department of culture released all films and books from the special “safe” for prohibited material.

The rest of the political prisoners would be released, as one of the major demands of the Citizens’ Forum. The university students were nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for their courage and bravery during the 10 days from the onset of the Velvet Revolution on Friday Nov. 17, 1989.

The article about the leadership role of the Communist Party would be dissolved from the constitution. New laws allowing for freedom of speech, gathering, press were in the works.

A new Democratic Forum of the Communists was formed denouncing the 1968 invasion of armies of five states from the Warsaw Treaty. The reporters, who were against the invasion, were reinstated in the Association of Reporters.

In Brno, the Committee of Religious Activists, showed support for the demands of the Citizens’ Forum.

Vaclav Havel received the German Book Prize at the National Theater.

Copyright (c) 2019. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

NANOWRIMO DAY 25

Greenwich Meridian: Where East meets West memoir with excerpt

Black Friday Countdown

Shop for book 1 and book 2 from the Shifting Sands Short Stories collections this Friday through Dec. 4. Save up to 60 percent. Click this link: https://www.amazon.com/author/emmapalova

Amazon Review of Secrets

In her own unique style, Palova transports us in “Secrets” Part II of Shifting Sands. She exposes a local scandal in “Chief”. “Faustina” details a relationship lost…or is it? Palova shows us the hard line between fact and rumor in “Secrets in Ink.” My favorite, “Silk Nora”, takes us to small town Belding, Michigan at the height of WWI. A lost love is found again. I could go on with my little snippets from the dozen plus short stories in this book, but I think you’ll want to curl up and read for yourselves.

Translation

I finished translating mom’s memories from her first stay in the U.S. until 1973 this morning. Mom Ella captured three years of her life on 12 pages written in a pretty cursive.

When I compare my account of those years spent in Hawkins, TX as a kid to hers as a disappointed housewife, I begin to understand the mechanism of immigration.

From her lines, I could feel all the emotions:

Excerpt: Bittersweet memories

I planned the return home at the end of the school year in June. In April, Vaclav received a letter from his friend in Toronto, who was also in Sudan, with a newspaper clip from a Czech newspaper published in Toronto. There was a note for me in the letter, advising me not to return back to Czechoslovakia, that the amnesty wasn’t working the way it was supposed to. The newspaper article was about a person who had returned back to Czechoslovakia; at the airport he was taken into an establishment unofficially called “Introduction into citizens’ life.” I read the article at least 10 times and I determined that it was propaganda against Czechoslovakia, and that the press exaggerated everything. Deep inside, I doubted, that it could be true. 

At the beginning of May, I asked Vaclav if he could buy us tickets to Czech. He was very unhappy, but he knew that he couldn’t keep me any longer in Texas. Although Vaclav refused to return with us, he bought the tickets – with a heavy heart. My desire to return back home was stronger than my love for him. I also firmly believed that he wouldn’t stay by himself in the U.S.A. and that he would return to us. 

The scene from the Prague Airport repeated itself at the airport in Dallas; tears, wailing, remorse; I questioned why I had to go through all this again, why couldn’t we return from Sudan home to Czech. This tearful farewell spoiled the joy of my homecoming, and had yet to find out what was in store for me. Finally, after three years, I was leaving Texas, that I never liked. 

Copyright (c) 2019. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

NANOWRIMO DAY 24

Greenwich Meridian memoir continues with excerpt

By Emma Palova

Lowell, MI – I continued this morning with the translation of mom’s memories of our fatal return to Czechoslovakia in 1973 following the presidential amnesty to political prisoners such as us. We fell into this category for illegally leaving the country in 1970.

Excerpt: Presidential amnesty, fatal return to Czechoslovakia in 1973

In her own words

The kids went back to the school in the fall for their third year in Hawkins, Texas. Vaclav liked his job at the college, so everything continued in the same rhythm including my light work as a housewife in our household. I was homesick, I missed my country, my friends and my job at the pharmacy. I didn’t expect any changes and I didn’t try anything new either, I fell into despair firmly convinced that nothing would ever change. 

Home in Vizovice, Czech Republic
Vizovice, our hometown in Czech Republic.

However, a change came; one that I would never expect. As the new year 1973 arrived, Czechoslovakia was celebrating the 25th anniversary of communism known as the “Victorious February” or the 1948 Czechoslovak coup d’etat. In that year, the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia with Soviet backing assumed the undisputed control over the government of Czechoslovakia, marking the onset of four decades of communist rule in the country.

The Czech coup of 1948 had extensive consequences in the Western world.

President Gustav Husak issued an amnesty to political prisoners who illegally left the country and were tried for it. That meant that we could return back home to Czechoslovakia without the risk of going to prison. I could not believe that God heard my prayers and that I could return back to the homeland. 

Within two weeks, I received approximately 10 letters from Czechoslovakia with newspaper clips about the presidential amnesty. I was determined to return to Czechoslovakia with the kids with or without my husband Vaclav; this wasn’t the life for me in Texas. I was extremely happy and immediately responded to all the letters stating that I was going back home. 

To be continued…..

Note: Watch for Black Friday countdown deal on Amazon for Shifting Sands Short Stories book 1 and book 2. Books make a great gift and a great souvenir from Michigan.

Stay tuned for pre-order information on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/author/emmapalova

Black Friday countdown deal on Amazon for Shifting Sands Short Stories.

Copyright (c) 2019. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.