Still Here

The month of May has flown, hasn’t it? And with not a word from me. I’m still here, though, quarantining at home, doing well. Each day is full, what with working from home and tackling some dormant projects and adapting to the cat’s new feeding schedule. She seems to require meals beyond her traditional breakfast, dinner, 9:30 snack, and midnight snack. Now there is also lunch, the 8:30 snack that precedes 9:30 snack, and the 2 AM snack, too, should I be up that late. Most nights I am.

Most of the projects I am working on I am not quite ready to talk about. At least one of them I’d classify as something I never thought I’d ever do, and yet here I am, doing it, and it’s been a bit all-consuming in the nighttime hours when I am not working.

Another is something I’ve been doing for work, since March, I think: it’s a live broadcast each Wednesday at 3 PM Eastern time on our Facebook page. It’s called Book Arts 101: Home Edition––a weekly ramble through the book arts, craft, design, and whatever else drifts through my head. The broadcast this Wednesday will be about that place where the book arts intersect with the culinary arts, and I’ll be talking a lot, I’m sure, about the things that influence me to write this blog. The fact is Book Arts 101 is unscripted and only loosely planned and most weeks I do it by the seat of my pants. Seth likes to show me bloopers of live news casts just before each episode. I do have a healthy dose of stage fright before each broadcast, but the fact is that 3:00 comes and there is nothing to do but click “GO LIVE.” Each week I promise I’ll be there, and so I do it.

And so tonight I have nothing to remind you of, no holidays, no holy days. I just wanted to check in, say hello, how you doing? Very well, I hope. If you can join me Wednesday at 3, I’d love it if you could. You can watch the video later, too; it’s usually posted to our Facebook page right after the live broadcast ends. You can also view the first eight broadcasts in the archive that’s kept at the Facebook page of the Jaffe Center for Book Arts. Clicking that link now makes me realize I wear an awful lot of plaid. So be it.

Image: Some of the books that have had a major influence on me (and this blog), as well as one of my first handmade books: U Cutto: An Old Family Recipe, which I printed and bound in an edition of 65 copies in 1996. The title reflects my grandparents’ regional dialect. They were Italian, but the language they spoke was Lucerine, an Arabic influenced dialect from their region of Puglia.

 

Bees Abuzz, or Your May Book of Days

Here is your printable Convivio Book of Days calendar for May. Cover star: one of the many bees that love to gather nectar from an unidentified wispy flowering tree in our back yard. Stand near it, and you can hear the activity. With all that’s going on in the world, still the bees simply buzz and go about their business. Pure and simple: reminders like this are good. And I will leave you with that, and wish you the very best.

Visit with me each Wednesday! We broadcast Book Arts 101: Home Edition via Facebook Live from the studios of Convivio Bookworks each Wednesday at 3 PM Eastern Daylight Time. You’ll find the live version at the Facebook page of the Jaffe Center for Book Arts, but then I post it to the Convivio Bookworks Facebook page soon after the broadcast is done. Each episode runs about 30 minutes. Last week, it was a love letter to Lake Worth, our home town. This week, the plan is to get back to basics, back to books, and back to some early influences. Each episode is an unscripted ramble through books and craft and whatever else crosses my mind, all based in the things I find at home. This Wednesday will mark the sixth broadcast. You can find the first five at our Facebook page, but also archived at the homepage of the Jaffe Center for Book Arts.

Be healthy, stay home if you can. That’s what Seth and I are doing. I’ll write as often as I can.

 

Spring into Summer

April is ending, May beginning, and we reach the opposite spoke of the year that we were at last fall when October was ending. We step lightly into summer with the start of May, not by the almanac, but by traditional reckoning of time.

The Celts called this time Beltane (pronounced bowl-tan-a). Nowadays, this night is known best as May Eve and Walpurgis Night, named for St. Walpurga. In Germany, it is Walpurgisnacht, famed for being a night when witches gather. Gathering, however, is not in the cards this Walpurgis Night for anyone, save perhaps the occasional mob protesting social distancing and the temporary closure of hair salons. They can do what they want (and they will, with little regard for others), but for the more logical amongst you, may I suggest marking this night of transition simply, peacefully, at home, and with great respect for each other and the planet. It is a night of higher vibration, after all, for with it, we reach the halfway point between spring equinox and summer solstice. So why not distill the essence of the traditional celebrations and welcome them into our homes?

So. Here are my suggestions: First, it is traditionally a night to spend outdoors. May I suggest the backyard? Bonfires are traditional, so maybe light a candle, taking the best care with it, of course. In Scandinavia sparkling wine is traditional, as is gravlax, a smoked cured salmon. We happen to have the sparkling wine and the smoked salmon on hand. Perhaps your pantry holds some, as well. And if not, well, hopefully there is something celebratory to be found there.

These are days, for sure, where we do the best we can. There is nothing at all wrong with that. Traditions are wonderful, but what counts most is what’s in the heart. If social distancing means you are celebrating alone tonight, know that we are celebrating with you. Stare up at the moon, stare up at the stars; we’re looking at them, too.

Image: The Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh. Oil on canvas, 1889. [Public domain] via Wikimedia Commons.