Monthly Archives: October 2017

Here Comes Halloween

Tuesday night brings Halloween, All Hallow’s Eve, one of my favorite holidays. Looking back over the years, I find it strange that it is a holiday I’ve written so little about over the course of the history of the Convivio Book of Days, but I think I know why: Each year, I write a ghostly tale for the Convivio Dispatch, which is something much older than this blog. The Convivio Dispatch is an occasional plain text email that goes out to the world, often late at night, and very often it is a story. It has been this way since 1998, when the first Dispatch went out. It was known back then as the Red Wagon Dispatch, a reflection of our former press name, Red Wagon Press. Those were simpler days. I remember being amazed that I could click “Send,” and my words could be delivered to all 35 people on my mailing list.

These days the numbers are higher, for which I am grateful, but the delivery gets muddled in a barrage of media shouting for our attention. And though I have tried once or twice to meld together the Convivio Book of Days blog and the Convivio Dispatch, when it comes right down to it, I find that I rather like having the Dispatch as it is: a story that arrives in your inbox, and that is that. No pictures, no video links, just words that you can read if you want.

And so for weeks now, off and on, I’ve been writing this year’s Halloween Dispatch. This has become a bit of a tradition, this full immersion in writing a story, and I realize this is why I’ve yet to write extensively about Halloween on the blog. Perhaps writing extensively about Halloween will have to wait for the real book version of the Convivio Book of Days. Meanwhile, if you’d like this year’s Halloween Dispatch, which so far seems to be about two of my great-grandmothers, the great jazz-age Florida architect Addison Mizner, and the old Lake Worth pioneers whose graves are beneath a trap door under the stage at the Norton Museum of Art, then please, subscribe to the Convivio Dispatch email list now. And if you’d prefer to just get this one story and no other Dispatches, then just send me an email and I’ll send it to you when it’s finished. You can reach me to ask for the story at (I think you’ll have to copy and paste that into the address field).

Have a fine Halloween.

Image: That’s John & Millie, my dad and mom, at a neighborhood Halloween party, sometime in the 1960s.



Little Ghostthings, or Your October Book of Days

It’s October, and here is your Convivio Book of Days calendar for the month. It’s the month of Halloween and tricks-or-treats, so for this month’s cover stars we went back to 1987, when the photo above was taken. That’s my nephew John as a little ghostthing. He would’ve been just about 4 years old there. We started our kids out young on the trick-or-treating and kept them going into the night as long as they could stand it. He and his brother Nick did pretty well each Halloween. We lived in a neighborhood with not many kids. One result was that neighbors for years were surprised to hear their doorbells ring on Halloween night. This resulted in a few things that could not be erased from memory (like the man who yelled out, “We can’t come to the door; we’re naked.”), but mostly it resulted in some of the best Halloween loot ever: whole Toblerone bars at times, or at others, the jumbo size candy bars you’d get in a movie theater. And always a pretty good haul of cash (“We don’t have any candy. But here’s 5 bucks.”)

I loved Halloween then as I loved Halloween when I was a kid and still I love Halloween. These days we are home as the kids come to us. Every year I worry we won’t have enough candy (and every year we have way too much left over). And once Halloween passes, we bring out our Day of the Dead decorations and plan on baking Pan de Muertos, Bread of the Dead. Halloween gives way to All Saints Day on the First of November and then to All Souls Day, the more populist of the two, on the Second. Our thoughts through all this shift underground, just as the trees shift their focus underground, too, growing roots rather than leaves. Our remembrance of all who have passed continues on to Martinmas on the 11th of November. And this is part of what I have come to love about Halloween, too, and perhaps especially: the mystery and the remembrance.

We’ve been adding lots of fun new items to our catalog pages for Dia de los Muertos, all of them made by hand by artisans in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. This is where these traditions are born, and it is right, we feel, to support the endeavors of these traditional artisans––this is the Convivio Bookworks business model in a nutshell. New items are still arriving, and we offer free shipping on your order of $50 or more (not bad, eh?). Order through our website and we’ll ship to you in plenty of time for Dia de los Muertos, or come see us at any of these upcoming pop-up markets local to Lake Worth:

Sunday October 29, 2017 from Noon to 7 PM
Jaffe Center for Book Arts at Florida Atlantic University
777 Glades Road, Boca Raton, FL 33431 (follow the blue & white MAKERS MARKETPLACE signs on main FAU campus roads)

Saturday November 4, 2017 from 4 to 9 PM
Hatch 1121 at 1121 Lucerne Avenue, Lake Worth, FL 33460 (the old Lake Worth Shuffleboard Courts)

Come say hello to us! Wishing you all a fine autumnal month.
John & Seth