Monthly Archives: October 2019

Spirited Tales: A Halloween Invitation

And now, we approach some of my favorite days of the year, days I love as a Halloween traditionalist. I have always been more interested in the mysteries of Halloween. Horror movies of the blood and gore sort and tales of axe murderers: none of this stuff interests me. These, along with sexy nurse costumes and other such frivolities, are the unfortunate things we have attached to Halloween in recent decades. As a Halloween traditionalist, my role is to help you tune into the old ways of celebrating––ways that have their roots in the older spelling of Halloween, the one with an apostrophe: Hallowe’en. This version does a better job of reminding us that the holiday’s original name was All Hallows Eve. Say it and already the mystery increases tenfold.

One of my great pleasures each Halloween, for many years now, is to write a gently ghostly story and send it out to the world via email. It’s the Convivio Dispatch for Halloween. This year’s Halloween Dispatch will go out in the next night or two to subscribers of the Convivio Dispatch, which is a different animal from this blog. If you’d like to make sure you receive the Halloween Dispatch, please subscribe right here. On that same subscription page, you will also find a link to the Halloween Dispatch from two years ago. One of my readers liked it so much she sent it off to Nowhere Magazine, and they published it there, which was awfully nice.

If you’d rather get just this next Halloween Dispatch without subscribing, let me know in the comments below. Leave your email address and I’ll send it. Or email me directly at to say you’d like the story. But don’t be afraid to subscribe… the Dispatches from Lake Worth are very few and far between, and you’ll meet an interesting cast of characters from our hometown and beyond. (This year’s story takes us all the way to Finland.)

I wish you a fine Halloween, filled with good spirit and mystery, and not so much of the other stuff.


We’re popping up at quite a few local South Florida venues in November!

Florida Day of the Dead Celebration
Saturday November 2 from 2 to 11 PM
Downtown Fort Lauderdale
We’ll be near the stage at Huzienga Park on East Las Olas, where the procession and the festivities begin. We’ll be in a tent with a pop-up shop of traditional Mexican handicrafts for Dia de los Muertos from about 2 to 7:30 PM. (Once the procession leaves and heads over to the west side at the river, we’ll start packing up, so it’s an early night for us!)

Dia de los Muertos Lake Worth Beach
Saturday November 2 from 3 to 9 PM
Hatch 1121 and Downtown Lake Worth, west of Dixie Highway
Our hometown celebration of this day means a great deal to us. It’s beautifully community focused. Find us in our usual spot in the courtyard at Hatch 1121 with a pop-up shop of traditional Mexican handicrafts for Dia de los Muertos, Christmas, and everyday. We’ll be there for the full length of the celebration. (Face painting, by the way, begins at 1:30 at City Hall, and then there’s a procession to Hatch before 3.)

Sankta Lucia Festival & Julbasar (Christmas Bazaar)
Saturday November 23 from 11 AM to 3 PM
First United Methodist Church
625 NE Mizner Boulevard in Boca Raton
Our pop-up shop will focus on traditional European advent calendars and advent candles, plus handmade Christmas ornaments and decorations from Sweden, as well as our full line of Shaker herbs & teas and more. It’s a beautiful event, complete with a Lucia with a wreath of candles on her head! Brought to you by SWEA, the Swedish Women’s Educational Association.

Harvest Makers Marketplace
Sunday November 24 from 10 AM to 4 PM
Florida Atlantic University
Boca Raton
We’ll be transitioning toward Christmas with a pop-up shop of traditional German advent calendars and advent candles from England, plus handmade Christmas ornaments and decorations from Germany, Sweden, Italy and Mexico and our full line of Shaker herbs & teas and more. Plus there’s live music almost all day: The Lubben Brothers from 11 AM to 1 PM, Rio Peterson from 1 to 4 PM. It’s going to be a good one!


Image: Jack O’Lantern pair, on the front porch, last Halloween. Seth’s is on the left; mine is on the right. That’s pretty much how our lanterns look each year.


Walk Us Through This One

It was Michaelmas a few days ago, but come the Second of October we reach an old old holiday, a feast of the Church little known today but an important one, I think; one that goes back to the Fourth Century. It’s the Feast of the Guardian Angels. While Michaelmas at the end of September celebrated St. Michael the Archangel and all his companions, this feast is of a more personal nature. Guardian angels are like that, no? They take care of us on a one-to-one level.

Believers back in the Fourth Century and for many centuries beyond would build altars in their homes on this day in honor of their guardian angels. Do they exist? Well, that is a matter for each of us to decide. I have more than once felt protected in ways that may just be coincidental but that also seem strangely beyond coincidence. Both situations involved automobiles. There was the time Seth and I were driving north through Georgia through incessant rain and found ourselves, in a strange slowdown of time, on the other side of an accident that involved multiple vehicles. It was all intense calmness and Jane Siberry was singing “Old Man River” or “Swing Low Sweet Chariot” and I managed to drive us around the chaos outside our bubble as it all unfolded. Seth had been thinking of his grandparents at the time and later said he felt serenely protected. And on my own, there was the random driver years ago who pulled in front of me on the road and slowed me down just long enough to protect me from the driver at the intersection ahead of us both who blew through a stop sign. He certainly got an earful from me as he pulled in front of me, but were it not for him, I would have been broadsided by the car that did not stop. It does seem at times like I get through life with a measure of help from people just like this. What if it’s always the same person? A guided meditation many years ago, on this very subject, revealed a name to me: Pedro. Since then, I have a feeling it is Pedro who watches over my blunderings and intercedes when necessary.

As we learnt at Michaelmas, angels appear in belief systems throughout the world: all the major religions and then some. They typically appear as bright and shining beings, winged… but I don’t think that’s necessarily the case. I think they blend in with the rest of us, doing their work as needed. Perhaps driving slowly in cars and getting in our way, when necessary.

My mother, whose birthday we always celebrated on October 3rd, seems to actually have been born on the 2nd. I don’t know what was going on in that house she grew up in, but there were all kinds of mix ups about birthdays. This latest one was revealed to us only recently. If she was indeed born on October 2nd (and official records seem to suggest she was, despite a lifetime of October 3rd birthday parties), then she was born on the Feast of the Guardian Angels. That’s a pretty good date to enter this world, I’d say. My dad, too, had an angelic connexion: he never went by his real name––he found it a little too ethnic when he was a boy––but his parents named him Angelo, which, of course, is Angel. He comes from a long line of Angelos and Angelas and even Arcangelos and Arcangelas.

No matter your beliefs about angels, one thing is certain: they are a constant, even today, in our culture. Paintings, films, stories, songs. Jane Siberry captures the guardian angel spirit best, I think, in her song “Calling All Angels.” The original was a duet with fellow Canadian k.d. lang, recorded for Jane’s 1993 album When I Was a Boy. It is perhaps Jane’s best known song, and yet she never made an official video for it. It has, however, been recorded numerous times on mobile phones during concerts, and this year, I’ve found a new version to share with you. And so here is Jane Siberry with k.d lang singing “Calling All Angels” at the Secret Society in Portland, Oregon, December 6, 2014. That was St. Nicholas’s Day… but that’s another story, for another time.

Image: When you get right down to it, angels figure in so many of my favorite things. Here’s a detail from a Shaker gift drawing by Sister Miranda Barber, 1848. The Shakers who made drawings like these believed they acted simply as the medium through which the images were sent from heaven… hence the idea that the drawings were gifts.



Autumn, and Your October Book of Days

Welcome to October. Here’s your Book of Days Calendar for October. Cover star: a swamp maple in New Gloucester, Maine, with ruby red leaves, pure essence of autumn. This is something we just don’t get much of here in Lake Worth. So if you are in a place where this happens, enjoy fully.

Here in Lake Worth, the weather has taken a definite shift. It’s not so much cooler as it is less humid, and this is nice, this is our version of autumn. There are pumpkins in the market, not the ones that grow here, but the ones that have to be trucked in from the North. Our pumpkins are delicious but not much to look at; sometimes green, sometimes beige, they’re called “calabaza” and they taste a lot like a butternut. I’ve sent pictures of our calabazas to friends up north who grow pumpkins and typically the initial response is a gasp. “That’s a pumpkin?” We love them all the same, though it’s true, our calabazas cannot hold a candle to a big Connecticut Field jack o’lantern pumpkin or a red Rouge vif d’Etampes or a ghostly blue green Jarrahdale. And so a hearty thank you to all the farmers who send their beautiful cucurbitas here to South Florida. We appreciate it. Really. For while we don’t get your beautiful foliage, we do enjoy the pumpkins.

We’re shifting into high gear here preparing for Dia de Muertos, beefing up stock and adding new artisan goods from Mexico, too. We have lots more to add to the website, but if you’re ready to start shopping, know that we offer free domestic shipping when you spend $50, and even if you don’t, our flat rate shipping is only $8.50, and that’s not so bad, either. Here’s a quick link to our catalog. Enjoy!