Monthly Archives: October 2020

Enter Hallowe’en

Hallowe’en! It’s late as I write this, past midnight, and we’ve just finished watching Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas. Haden, the Convivio Shopcat, who had spent the evening atop the bookcase in the print shop, has a way of knowing when movies are over. She strolls in usually as the credits are rolling, which was the case tonight, and she leapt up on the desk during the haunting Nightmare instrumental music, making Seth and me both shriek at the same time. She likes doing that, too. The film rolled from credits to DVD bonus feature, and we got to see something we had never seen before, even though we’ve had the DVD for years: the short film of the original Nightmare Before Christmas poem that Tim Burton wrote, narrated by Christopher Lee, and Haden stayed to watch some of that, too, and there, above, is the photograph Seth snapped, and now here we are, you and me, at this late and witching hour. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

This is a Hallowe’en house if there ever was one, and Haden, I think, appreciates the pumpkins and the orange lights, orange like she is. She revels in that warm orange glow. Once Seth hangs the black paper bat mobile from the pendant lamp above the kitchen table, as he does each Hallowe’en, she will revel in the bats, too, and we will, no doubt, find her often on the table, beneath them. The bats that dangle low will brush her ears on occasion, making them twitch, which only reminds me of the poem Hist Whist by e.e. cummings and its line about “little twitchy witches and tingling goblins.”

As holidays go––and you know me, I love them all––Hallowe’en is one of my favorites. I remember every costume I wore when I was a boy: astronaut, scarecrow, Charlie Chaplin, hobo. The hobo was an old standby. When we couldn’t figure out what I would be, Grandma would start to sewing patches on my CPO coat, Mom would put a beard on me with makeup, and we’d pull a crushed hat from the closet. Then off I’d go, trick or treating. And maybe we love Hallowe’en so as adults because it is filled with vibrant memories like this.

We’ve got a busy few days ahead as Hallowe’en ushers in All Saints Day and then, on the 2nd, All Souls Day: Dia de Muertos. Our time of remembrance of those who have come and gone before us continues through to Martinmas on the 11th of November. I’ll write more about these things as they unfold. For tonight, though, a simple wish for a warm and spirited Hallowe’en. And if you’ve not received this year’s Convivio Dispatch for Hallowe’en (it would’ve come to your inbox as an email late last night), I’ve figured out a way you can read it without being a subscriber. It’s magic. All you have to do is click here.

Happy Hallowe’en from all of us at Convivio Bookworks: Seth, Haden, and me.


Spirited Times Await

If you, like me, enjoy tuning in to the mysterious nature of Hallowe’en, read on, for I’ve got two good things to offer you in the coming days: a live witching hour event on Zoom, and a spirited tale to read. (Oh, and a sale… so I guess that’s three good things!)

First, the spirited tale. Before there was the Convivio Book of Days blog, there was the Convivio Dispatch from Lake Worth. I began the Dispatch, o so many years ago, as an email marketing tool… but soon realized that in that form it didn’t interest me all that much. And so instead of telling subscribers about things they could buy, I began writing about my neighbors. The Convivio Dispatch soon evolved into a vehicle for stories, most of them set here in Lake Worth, and mostly true. (I think of the Dispatch as an exercise in creative nonfiction; an analysis of past Dispatches has shown that approximately 80% of each is nonfiction. What remains is up to you to classify.)

Be that as it may, what you need to know is that the Convivio Dispatch is a whole other animal from this Convivio Book of Days blog, and that each autumn, I am given the honor of writing my favorite thing each year: the Convivio Dispatch for Hallowe’en. A spirited tale always, sometimes ghostly, sometimes just wrapped in mystery. I’ve been working on this year’s Dispatch for weeks now, and in the coming days, we approach Hallowe’en, and then it is time to send the Hallowe’en Dispatch out into the world. It arrives as a simple email in our subscribers’ inboxes. Simple. No website, nothing to click. You simply pour yourself a cup of coffee or brew a bit of Irish Breakfast (sweetened, with a touch of cream), then sit, open your email, and there it is.

This year’s Hallowe’en Dispatch revolves around a coin that Clarence, the Bridge Tender, found last month on one of his walks near the lagoon after September’s King Tides. My neighbor, Earl, is pretty certain it’s from the Santa Margarita, the legendary Spanish galleon that went down off our coast in a hurricane in 1595. She’s never been found, the Santa Margarita, but Earl has had some legendary experiences of his own involving the ship. So many mysteries, so close to home, yet this year’s Hallowe’en Dispatch takes you from my ancestral homeland in Southern Italy to Mexico, Manhattan, Lima, and points beyond (perhaps the Great Beyond).

To get the Convivio Dispatch for Hallowe’en, you’ll need to subscribe. It’s free, it’s easy. Subscribe by clicking here. The Dispatches are few and far between, I promise, so you won’t get a lot of clutter in your inbox, and of course you can always unsubscribe, too, just as easily.

And now for that live Zoom event:  it’s my (mostly) weekly live chat about the book arts and craft and design with the Jaffe Center for Book Arts, usually on Wednesdays at 3 PM Eastern, but this week on Thursday evening at 8 PM Eastern. We’re looking at some of the spookier books in the Jaffe Collection, and it felt more proper to do this once night had fallen. We’re calling it Book Arts 101: Witching Hour, and to watch the live webinar, you’ll have to register ahead of time by clicking here (also quick and easy to do). Should you not be able to watch live at 8:00, video from the broadcast will be posted by Friday morning to the Jaffe Center’s Vimeo Channel.

These mysteries usher in a time of remembering our beloved dead––all who have come and gone before us. It’s a time I’ve always treasured, from when I was a little boy, and still do to this day. I hope you’ll join me on this journey from Hallowe’en to Martinmas, through the Dispatch and Book Arts 101, and through the Convivio Book of Days blog, too, as I share these stories and the ways my family keeps the channels open as we shift our thoughts toward winter.


The photo above is of a house on Lakeside Road here in Lake Worth; one of many celebratory homes Seth and I found tonight as we walked home from downtown. I’d be remiss, too, not to mention that we are indeed running a sale right now at the Convivio Bookworks website. Typically this time of year you’ll find Convivio Bookworks at the local street fairs for Dia de Muertos in Lake Worth and Fort Lauderdale, but this year they both are canceled. So for now, an Autumn Sale to encourage you to stock up on the artisan goods you may want for the coming dark months: artesenias from Mexico for Dia de Muertos, advent calendars from Germany and advent candles from England, Christmas goods from Germany and Sweden and Italy. Here’s the deal: spend $75 and you’ll get $10 off your order plus free domestic shipping when you use the discount code STREETFAIR at checkout. That’s a savings of $18.50 in total. Or, as always, free domestic shipping when you spend $50 (no discount code required for that). Thank you for supporting small businesses and artisans––you are supporting real people and real families when you do, and your transactions really matter. Shop here now. We all really appreciate it.


A Sale Instead of a Street Fair

We’re approaching Hallowe’en and soon after, Dia de Muertos, Day of the Dead. It is the time of year when we traditionally remember those who have gone before. Normally, you’ll find us at two very big events in South Florida around now, as we set up shop at the street fairs for Dia de Muertos Lake Worth and Florida Day of the Dead in Fort Lauderdale. Both celebrations are such great fun and such beautiful events that bring our community together. This year, due to social distancing, these gatherings won’t be happening… so instead of finding our artisan goods at a street fair, we thought we’d offer you a sale, instead. It’s an opportunity for you to stock up on all you might need for Dia de Muertos and Advent and Christmas, too, with our Autumn Sale. Here it is (click on the picture to make it bigger!):

Save $10 off your purchase when you spend $75 or more at our website, plus free domestic shipping. That’s a substantial savings of $18.50. Use the discount code STREETFAIR when you check out. 

Click here for our catalog pages, which are filled with traditional artisan goods for Dia de Muertos from San Miguel de Allende, Quintana Roo, Jalisco, and other parts of Mexico. You’ll also find traditional sparkly Advent calendars from Germany to count down the dark nights toward Christmas the month of December (as well as Advent candles from England), and an abundance of artisan goods for Yuletide, too: all made by hand in Germany, Sweden, Italy, and Mexico. Plus lots of great stocking stuffers: fir balsam pillows from the Sabbathday Lake Shaker Community in Maine, plus their full line of herbal teas and culinary herbs. Our new line of beautiful embroidered protective face masks, made by an extended family of artisans in Chiapas, Mexico, also make great stocking stuffers.

So, while we won’t see you this year at Dia de Muertos Lake Worth or Florida Day of the Dead, or at the Sankta Lucia Festival or at the Christkindlmarkt, either… a big sale like this is perhaps the next best thing. Please support small businesses and artisans: your transactional support at uncertain times means the world to real people who make real things. We all appreciate it, honest. Don’t forget to use the discount code: STREETFAIR.