Tag Archives: Parnell

Summer with Ella in America

Goodbye Ella

By Emma Palova

Lowell, MI- As our time together with Ella winds down, I write this with deep sadness in my heart.

Today is Ella’s last day at the Early Fives summer program at St. Patrick’s School in Parnell. I went into my husband Ludek’s experiment with butterflies in my stomach.

“Ella will stay with us this summer and you will fly back with her to France,” Ludek said back in May.

“Wow, slow down I got to work,” I said surprised.

Ella will be going to the first grade in the wine village of Fixin in Burgundy, France after the summer break in the USA. In six years, we’ve seen her six times, when she came for brief visits with her mother Emma.

“That’s the price you pay for immigration,” I said to Ludek and my friends.

And that’s when Ludek came up with the idea of having Ella here to capture the time gone by over the years, as she was growing up.

It wasn’t just the ocean of time that separated us. It was all the little things that we missed. All the firsts that had gone by: the first steps, first words, first hugs, first laughs and first tears.

I’ve never imagined that I could miss someone else’s tears or laughs.

But, the reality is different.

“I will miss your laugh,” said former publisher Val at the Ionia Sentinel-Standard when I left the paper for good in 1993.

“How about her work,” snapped the editor also Val.

Ella has grown from the toddler that we took with us to the beach in South Haven back in 2011 to a smart and sassy girl with an artsy flair.

“Why do you get angry,” I asked her the other day in the car on the way back from school as the Queen rocked & rolled to full blast.

“Because sometimes you annoy me,” Ella said pouting.

“Really, so no more crepes or ice cream for you,” I said.

“No, sorry.”

We missed all the sorries, too.

“Sorry, grandpa,” Ella apologized after refusing to follow another one of Ludek’s orders.

However, time apart brings along appreciation, deeper love and understanding.

“I miss my mommy,” Ella cried one afternoon after school as she hugged Emma’s graduation picture hanging in the living room next to Mona Lisa.

“I am sure she misses you too,” I said.

“I want to be with her,” Ella continued.

“You will eventually,” I said trying to comfort her.

But, Ella was inconsolable. The persistent little girls cried hours into the night.

“Alright, you’re flying back with her to France tomorrow,” I said to Ludek.

 

The next day was a brand new day.

“Will I see my friends today?” Ella asked on our way to school with Queen blasting in the background. “Tell me one of your stories.”

And I started telling her the story of Scheherazade and the mean king, and the story of the guy with the expensive McLaren automobile who ran a red stop sign.

“Tell me the story about the bracelet and Jake’s wedding ring,” Ella demanded more storytelling.

Ella loves the music of Queen after a Picnic Pops concert at Cannonsburg in July.

“I am like Freddie Mercury, I want it all,” she laughs as we go back home.

Throughout these six weeks, I’ve learned several big lessons. I learned that stories are soothing and healing. I learned that food which reminds you of home is comforting. I learned that the jittery music of Queen can bring on the atmosphere of home. And that the school environment is good for kids.

So, whenever Ella got homesick, I made French crepes and opened a jar of “cornichons.” We call them dills, here in America.

And I spent a perfect day with Ella doing the “Back to School Shopping” rut that was so new to me. Finally, Ella got her ears pierced at the Piercing Pagoda at the mall.

And I told her my endless stories on demand.

I will keep telling them, until I can’t speak or write anymore.

Goodbye, my friend. It was brief, but it was. It really did happen that you were here in America.

I need to assure myself.

Note: Most of my relationship stories appear in the “Greenwich Meridian” (c) memoir, as well as ethnic and travel stories. I hope to finish the memoir for publication my Mother’s Day 2017.

 

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

Advertisements

Happy Saint Pat’s

Saint Pat’s Day

Happy Saint Pat's from the EW team on http://emmapalova.com
Happy Saint Pat’s from the EW team on http://emmapalova.com

This is one of my favorite writing themes. And that is Czech names in the calendar. Each day is dedicated to a different name. Of course some are more popular than others. Probably the most widely celebrated name day is March 19th which is Joseph’s/Josephine’s day.

Since Joseph is a very popular name in Czech, everybody celebrates much like Saint Pat’s here in the USA. It doesn’t mean that the day is an official holiday, but it is very similar to huge Saint Pat’s celebrations in Chicago and Canada.

And even though they don’t color their rivers green or march in parades, March 19th is still a big deal. Usually women bake for the day, and plum brandy known as slivovice flows freely, even at work.

The men sit in pubs and other public hospitality establishments. Other names like Emma have been incorporated into the Czech calendar from other countries. The name Emma originates in France.

A lot of names come from Russia like Sasha or Sergej or from other surrounding countries like Poland and Germany.

Czech calendar with name days.
Czech calendar with name days.

In many cases, there are more than one name dedicated to each day because of the influence from the Western countries. There are cards for each name day. That’s a lot of cards.

Among the most popular modern names for men are Jakub and Luke, even though it keeps changing constantly. For women I have yet to find out. But it also could be Katerina and Marta.

Chicago river turns green on Saint Pat's.
Chicago river turns green on Saint Pat’s.

Also each church has a patron saint. The most popular ones are Saint Mary’s. They have their own feast celebrations such as Saint Mary’s in Stipa that celebrates the feast on September 12th which is Mary’s day.

The communities celebrate the patron saints with wakes, carnivals and fairs. Different carnival companies come to towns, and the feast is preceded by a dance.

Locally, in Parnell there is Saint Pat’s Church that celebrates the feast last weekend in June. It is a major fundraiser for Saint Pat’s School.

It usually features a polka band on Sundays and chicken dinners. The dinners are very popular, and people come from all over. The parish women bake desserts, and there is a display of old cars, 50:50 raffle and cards on Friday and Saturday nights.

Of course there is a beer tent and an auction. The patron feasts are important to all the parishes as a way to celebrate the saint.

For more info go to stpatrickparnell.org

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

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

Favorite photo 2013

New Year’s Eve photo attracts most attention

By Emma Palova

EW Emmas Writings Journal

The most liked photo from all of my posts combined on WordPress, Google+, Facebook, Linkedin and Instagram in 2013 was the one I took of St. Patrick’s Church in Parnell, Michigan on a stormy New Year’s Eve. We were coming back from a dinner down Gavin Lake Road and I noticed the laser-like quality of the flood lights on the steeple of the church that is celebrating its 170th anniversary this year.

“We have to turn around, I got to get this photo,” I said to my husband.

The church stands like a lonely sentinel amid farms and fields in the northern east part of Kent County. It is a landmark for both the parishioners and travelers who pass by.

St. Patrick's Church in Parnell, MI
St. Patrick’s Church in Parnell, MI

It was built in 1844 by Irish pioneers braving the new lands, according to Saint Patrick’s Parish history book published in 1996. I’ve written many times about this church, its preservation efforts and movement ahead with times.
Happy and successful 2014.

Copyright (c) 2013 story and photo by Emma Palova

Parish Festivals

Parish festivals bring families together

Much like in the USA, many festivals in Czech Republic are tied to churches and their patron saints. We’ve just experienced a great St. Patrick’s parish festival here in Parnell last weekend. For the first time we could all enjoy it together as a family. It was a family reunion at its best.

My daughter Emma Palova-Chavent arrived from France on Tuesday prior to the festival with her daughter Ella. And my parents Ella and Vaclav came from Big Rapids. To my big surprise even my brother Vas peddled on his bike 75 miles from Paris, Michigan to Lowell for the festival. My son Jake came for the chicken dinner from Kalamazoo.

Polka dance at St. Pat's Parish Festival last Sunday.
Polka dance at St. Pat’s Parish Festival last Sunday.

I was also mildly surprised by the $3 admission charge to play in the Las Vegas tent. My daughter and I always lose a lot more than just $3. We all went Sunday to the festival to enjoy the chicken dinner and mainly the polka music by the Diddle Styx Polka Band.

It felt almost like back home in Czech Republic during the Saint Mary’s Pilgrimage days in September that will now be held on the brand new Marian Square in front of the medieval church. Both Czechs and Germans love to listen, sing or whirl a polka.

We always came to visit with my in-laws for the Marian festival in Stipa, along with other family members.  I write about this in my memoir “Greenwich Meridian,” because the church has quite often inspired me for its opulent baroque interior with a beautiful organ. My uncle Tony used to play the organ. I was married in that church, and funeral masses for most family members were held there.

The Pala and Konecny families enjoy chicken dinner at the parish festival.
The Pala and Konecny families enjoy chicken dinner at the parish festival.

Most women in the village including my mother-in-law Julie baked and cooked up a storm for the Marian festival, as the families got together from far and near. We usually had schnitzels, which are breaded pork chops, and mashed potatoes with home canned compote. For dessert, we had the traditional “kolache” pastries filled with plum butter and cottage cheese.

There was a dance on the night before the festival Sunday, much like here in Parnell. I can think of only a minor difference between the two events. Carnival rides always accompanied the Marian feast, while classic car and antique car show embellish St. Pat’s festival. We didn’t have raffles or auctions, but we had colorful paper roses on wires from the carnival caravans as souvenirs from the Marian festival.

Saint Mary's church in Stipa, Czech Republic during Marian pilgrimage days.
Saint Mary’s church in Stipa, Czech Republic during Marian pilgrimage days.

The Marian event in Stipa is officially called a pilgrimage, because originally people made pilgrimages to a small chapel with one of the oldest statues of Virgin Mary in Moravia that stood in place of the church. We made a pilgrimage once from our Zlin apartment to the Marian church in 1978 when I was pregnant with my daughter. We walked approximately seven kilometers across the Southern Slopes and along the narrow roadway to Stipa.

Pilgrimages are still common in Europe to places like Fatima in Portugal and Lourdes in France, as well as Hostyn in Czech Republic.

Copyright @2013 story and photos by Emma Palova