Lowell, MI-I am always inspired by the annual Earth Day which falls on April 22, although some countries observe this during the spring equinox.
It’s not just about planting trees around this time of the year. The celebration of Earth Day is a wholesome awareness and appreciation of where we live and how we live.
I live in the country in West Michigan and love every moment of it. I am surrounded by farmers and their love for the land. Living close to nature gives me the fuel to create. I do plant trees in honor of new life coming to this Earth.
It’s a Czech tradition to plant a tree for every newborn. We planted the royal purple smoke tree for Ella in 2010.
In 2014, we planted a flowering willow tree in honor of Josephine Marie Palova.
Later, that year we planted a magnolia for Samuel Chavent.
This year we will plant a flowering cherry blossom tree or any flowering tree or shrub that does well in clay soil to honor Dominic born in August of 2015.
Our favorite gardening place is near Fennville, the Huntree Nursery. Here we get our currant bushes, that are a great source of vitamin C.
I am always humbled by the sign in front of the Wittenbach Wege Agriscience Center in Lowell, Michigan that reads:
May Peace Prevail on Earth.
“Look deeper into the nature and you will understand everything better.”
Lowell, MI- The “Fallasburg Today” blog with the Lovecraft theme by Andre Nores is up and running with three initial posts, a Facebook page plug-in and a twitter page @fallasburg.
The Fallasburg Historical Society (FHS) is celebrating 50 years of historic preservation of the 1830s village founded by John Fallass.
I consider it a sign of times that the quaint pioneer village nestled in the northeast corner of Kent County is now marketed on WordPress and on social media.
In an effort to bring awareness to the village, the FHS president Ken Tamke and the board asked me for some technology help last week.
I share their passion and love for history and I live three miles away from the Fallasburg Park. And I love nature at its best.
I embraced the project with fervor because of the dates of the upcoming First Annual Village Bazaar set for Sept. 19 and Sept. 20.
We had a good start: a Facebook page with 245 likes, a website www.fallasburg.org and the excitement of all.
I did the twitter first and then the blog and connected all that. My unifying theme has been “bringing the village alive” so the name “Fallasburg Today.”
Today, there is a live discussion on Facebook and twitter is starting up. People and other organizations like Whites Bridge Historical Society are interested in what is happening at the Fallasburg village.
They are sharing the posts on Facebook and tweeting.
I am a deep believer in progress otherwise we would still be walking and living in caves.
Lowell, MI -I must say I am at a loss with today’s blogging assignment #7 to create an event, whether virtual or real.
I’ve been thinking about WordPress Camps for some time. But, I live in the Midwest, and other than Chicago, I can’t seem to find a hub for bloggers.
Come on fellow bloggers step up. Where are you?
I know I can create an event with a long stretch of imagination. I am inclining towards a virtual blogging event, maybe a weekly or biweekly discussion on a theme that will attract attention and not disputes and complaints.
I have some friends around here who are on Goodreads. That’s it. Of course I haven’t searched high and low either.
I tried the Coffee Cake Internet Discussions page on my EW Emma’s Writings and I did not get a lot of response. But, I wasn’t advertising or marketing it either, and as a new blogger I didn’t have that much time.
All of the above seem like excuses for not creating an event. This is my goal. After the virtual event weekly or biweekly depending on interest, I would like to create a “reality blogging” event in a manageable dimension. That is with or without an avocado dip, on the couch or at Ella’s Coffee & Cuisine with or without the Kardashians.
Any ideas on either the format of the event or the subject?
Copyright (c) 2015 Emma Blogs LLC. All rights reserved.
Lowell, MI- Two years ago, on this day, I published my first post on WordPress. It was my author’s bio that I had later moved into About section. I introduced myself in a story with an author’s photo.
One hundred and ninety-six posts later, I am grateful that I had chosen the WordPress platform. It was a pure coincidence. I wanted to like and comment on the Hawkins Chamber of Commerce in Texas, and I was directed to the press site.
I wanted a blog anyways after Writer’s Digest suggested that every writer should have a blog or a website. At the time I started writing memoir “Greenwich Meridian” and I needed the exposure.
And I fell in love with WordPress for its finesse, sophistication, the variety of themes and the community in general. I found Rumanian colleagues Valeriu dg Barbu and Cristian Mihai, French photographer redstuffdan and many others, whose work I admire. They inspire me in my writings.
I started learning the ropes. Coming fresh from the print media, it was very different. I must say that I like new things, and this was right up my alley.
The constant challenge of change, new themes, new ways of posting, the speed and the prompts delight me.
I feel like I am being pulled deeper and deeper in. Like today’s prompt in The Daily Post “Connect the Dots,” Open your nearest book to page 82. Take the third full sentence on the page, and work it into a post somehow.
While sitting in a folding rocking chair in front of the wood stove, I reached into the library and grabbed “The People’s Chronology” and the third sentence on page 82 is entertaining in itself. For once I got lucky.
It reads: “Canon of Medicine by the Arab physician Avicenna (Abu Sina) follows the thinking of Aristotle and Galen but is so well written and organized that it will be a major influence on medical thinking for centuries.”
I couldn’t ask for a better prompt.
Ironically in my Internet discussions, I asked, “Where will the Internet take us?”
Today I realize the real question is, “Where will we take the Internet?”
I took it to the next level. In July, I started my writing and blog design company on WordPress, Emma Blogs LLC. It is a portfolio of 10 blogs that covers a range of topics from health, outdoors, homes to brides and farming suited for advertising, whether affiliate or traditional.
“Great articles you post on your blog, I have shared this article on my twitter.”
I find the happiness engineering support team very helpful at times when I pull her from my head.
And as I ask in my story interviews, “What don’t you like about so and so?”
Off the top of my head, I really can’t think of a single thing that would stand out that I don’t like about WordPress. I might think of something later as I toss in the bed in the wee morning hours with my chronic insomnia.
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.
“This is it,” Ludek said as he showed me the land. He built the house himself with a few contractors.
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.”
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
Note: This is the last part in the “Three Sundays of Christmas” series.
By Emma Palova
EW Emma’s Writings
Gold Sunday is the last Sunday before Christmas which this year falls on Dec. 21. By then all good housewives have their baking & cleaning done according to Czech traditions. Before I started writing and blogging, I could make up to 10 different Christmas desserts including vanilla crescents, “nutty baskets,” chocolate “rohlicky” and” Ischel mini-cakes.”
As a student at the prep school Gymnasium Zlin, we would even get time off for baking.
“As long as you’re keeping the tradition going,” Russian language professor Chudarkova used to say.
That reminds me of the opening day of the hunting season here in Michigan where some schools get the day off. I always baked long into the night, and I filled the pastries on Christmas Eve. Back in the old Czechoslovakia I had no helpers. Many years later in the USA my son Jake assisted me by rolling out the dough standing on a foot stool.
Gold Sunday is time to get your Christmas fish for the big evening feast known as “Bountiful Eve.” The town squares in Czech Republic are home to merchants with live carp. For years during Christmases of the past I went shopping for the best carp ever sporting a net bag, so the carp can breathe.
Large wooden vats carried carp from ponds in Southern Bohemia. The carp trade dates back to feudalism and to the royals who granted the rights to do this. I regret that I’ve never seen the carp ponds in Bohemia.
The live carp and then the butchering of it on the morning of Dec. 24 have been the subject of stories, legends, photographs and calendars much like the day and the evening itself.
I will remember one carp story forever. One family got so attached to their live carp, they could not bring themselves to butcher it. They took the live carp to a nearby brook and released it into the shallow water. The carp probably didn’t make it, but they felt better and from then on they purchased fish filets from a well-know store in hometown Zlin and that was Rybena.
I think my uncle John butchered ours. The family usually placed the carp in a tub. One year I put the tub outside on the apartment balcony. When I went to check on the fish next day, it almost froze. I had to smash the ice and resuscitate the fish.
So, the Christmas Eve menu in Czech Republic consists of breaded fried filet of carp, potato salad, mushroom or fish soup and the great cookies.
In later years, non-carp lovers substituted the carp for salmon filets. We stick to the tradition and I buy either cod or other white meat fish. I make tons of potato salad with our own pickles.
Stay tuned for the big story ” 25 years in the USA.”
The third Sunday before Christmas in Czech Republic is bronze Sunday. On that day all stores open their doors to shoppers, and the Christmas markets begin on the major squares in towns. The town squares shine with decorated Christmas trees to the nines.
The timing coincides with the four weeks of Advent. I’ve noticed the same trend here in the USA. Area communities such as in Honey Creek, Cannonsburg decorate and light their Christmas trees around the same time, so does Lowell in Michigan prior to the annual Santa parade held this year on Dec. 6th.
Small stores like the nickel and dime store Springrove Variety in Lowell are open on Sundays starting Dec.7th from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Typically, this is the time when you get your mistletoe coated with white or gold for Christmas at the markets. The parasite plant that brings abundance and love is a must in European households.
To stay warm, the markets offer mulled wine with cinnamon sticks, grog or rum with tea, and hot beer. At this time of the year, I bought some of the most beautiful crochet linens.
But, probably the biggest of all Christmas traditions is the holiday baking that starts around this time.
The most famous pastries with almost a sacred quality are vanilla crescents and Linz sweets. Baking takes place at least two weeks ahead of time so they soften by Christmas.
The aroma from baking with vanilla and nuts fills the homes with that special holiday atmosphere. And as my facebook friend and real life cousin Marta Krajcova posted, and I quote:
“I love the smell of vanilla as it bakes in the crescents, it fills the house,” she wrote. “We’re almost done.”
I will feature the recipe on the new Travel & Food page on http:// etravelandfood.wordpress.com
Note: The Straits tales continue from Nov. 19 under the title of the Tale of Three Cities. Come and explore the magic of the Straits of Mackinac, its history and lore.
Mackinaw City, MI – I usually make my base camp in this town south of the “Mighty Mac,” which is the longest suspension bridge in the USA. Maybe it’s because of the fear of crossing the bridge that sways in the wind over the Straits of Mackinac. This is where Lake Huron joins Lake Michigan.
Not long ago, the bridge authority designated some employees to transport the fearful drivers across the bridge for additional $5. Even truck drivers take advantage of the service.
I have visited the Straits area in all seasons and I’ve done everything from swimming, hiking, skiing, shopping, studying history, bird watching, smelling lilacs to bar hopping.
What keeps me coming back is the unique combination of nature and human achievement, much like the NASA area. The Mackinaw Crossings village was added to the human achievement side recently.
In spite of the hotels, souvenir and fudge shops, as well as high speed ferries to the Mackinac Island, the three communities are not the usual tourist traps.
The Mackinac Island is one of few inhabited islands in the North with 200 year-round residents, a school and the Town Crier. There are no motor vehicles allowed on the island, only horses, bicycles, feet, skis and snowmobiles. Even old ladies ride their snowmobiles to the Saint Anne Church.
Saint Ignace on the north side of the bridge is a gateway community to the Upper Peninsula and further to Canada. It’s already a charming “Yooper,” a new word that made it into the dictionary designating anyone who lives in the UP (Upper Peninsula.)
The orientation in Saint Ignace is easy, either you continue on Highway I 75 to Sault Ste. Marie and Canada or you hang a left onto Highway 2 along the lakeshore to inland UP and to the amazing Tahquamenon Waterfalls. Soo with the locks for the tankers is only 40 miles away.
What binds these communities together is the rough weather. Sometimes they still have snow in May.
But, it’s a paradise born to be loved with its lighthouses, shipwrecks, maritime Icebreaker and bridge museums, endless snowmobiling trails, hand-crafted breweries, pasties and smoked whitefish.
Here, the nature at its best leaves you in awe and keeps you coming back.
Mackinaw City, MI -This is a story about three communities located on the Straits of Mackinac in Michigan. The Straits are a narrow waterway that separates Michigan’s Upper and Lower peninsulas.
But the Straits connect two of the Great Lakes, and that is Lake Michigan and Lake Huron.
The USA’s longest suspension bridge the “Mighty Mac” spans the five miles over the Straits. The steel construction swings in the wind. It connects the communities of Mackinaw City on the south side and Saint Ignace on the north side.
The area is magnificent as it combines human skill with nature’s beauty. It is rich in history and folklore. It is the most visited tourist location, and a nature lover’s paradise.
There are forts on both the Mackinac Island and the Mackinaw City, and an abundance of romantic lighthouses.
Local specialties include pasties, smoked whitefish and fudge.
One day is not enough for the entire area. So, you have to make a decision about your base camp. Saint Ignace is cheaper, but you pay the $4 fee to cross the bridge.
The most expensive is the Mackinac Island, some seven miles from the peninsulas. Three ferries will whisk you to the island in season for $18. My preferred time to go is off-season, because of the availability and the price of hotels. And the crowds are smaller.
Off season is somewhere around mid October until April. The colors are still beautiful in October, and the weather is nice around 60s Fahrenheit.
For a story on the Mackinac Island in winter go to the travel page on EW Emma’s Writings.
The stay in the new Bridge Vista Beach hotel in Mackinaw City at the beginning of November cost $69. The hotel has magnificent vistas of the bridge, the Straits and the island.
However, many establishments do close for the winter. So, check ahead of time who is open.
A great restaurant open year round other than the mainstay Keyhole Bar in Mackinaw City is the Pancake Chef. The local specialty the northern pasty beef or chicken is tasty and hearty. They also have local brews.
Many souvenir and fudge shops stay open. Marshall’s Fudge offered some 60 flavors.
To be continued….
Copyright (c) 2014 All rights reserved Emma Blogs LLC
One hundred fifty years ago, life was much simpler. There was no television, no Internet, and the only kind of Apple you could buy in stores grew on a tree.
Visitors to Historic Bowens Mills on the last weekend of October are able to feel as if they’ve been transported back in time to experience what life was like during the Civil War era.
Children can sit in the antique desks in the oldest one room school in Barry County to be taught about American history by eighty-four year old Virginia Alles, dressed as Abraham Lincoln. Alles enjoys giving pennies to young visitors, telling them it’s a picture of her.
One of the highlights of the weekend for her this year was meeting a couple of descendants of actual Confederate soldiers. Next to the school-house, Dave Rowgo makes hairpins and honey dippers on a wood lathe fashioned from a 1920’s toy woodworking set and the treadle of an old Singer sewing machine.
Ladies spin wool into yarn and weave cloth outside the tiny Plank House where families lived as long ago as the 1840’s. Elizabeth Barker shows chemistry in action by making soaps in a variety of scents in the Bowens House, and music lovers can’t resist a stop to hear the live bluegrass in the Trading Post.
If you play an instrument, you can even join in! A couple of the best demonstrations in the village are the mills themselves. Fresh, sweet apple cider has been made on the press here since soldiers were going off to fight the real Johnny Reb instead of just reenactors. The delicious results of the press can be bought by the glass or by the gallon. A cup of their hot cider with a homemade doughnut is the perfect thing for a cool fall day.
As delightful as all the other diversions are, the highlight of the weekend is by far the battle. The Third Michigan Federal troops go up against Confederate forces from Virginia and North Carolina across the field, taking shelter behind trees and fences. They try to change the battle slightly each year for repeat visitors; the North may win one day while the South come out victors the next.
For true history buffs, the fact the Third Michigan uses a cannon whose barrel and fittings were made in 1861 and was actually used throughout the Civil War is especially exciting. From the homespun crafts to live combat, Bowens Mills’ Civil War Weekend can’t be beat for an old-fashioned good time.
Copyright (c) 2014 All rights reserved Emma Blogs LLC