Category Archives: Book of Days Calendar

Floating Worlds, or Your July Book of Days

Here’s a sentence no one has uttered for a solid couple of centuries: Tensions are high right now between Canada and the United States. Be that as it may, I have nothing but admiration and goodwill for Canada, perhaps because I have only known really wonderful people from Canada or perhaps because an awful lot of my favorite music comes from Canada. Then again, maybe it’s because Canada Day, the national holiday of Canada, typically falls on my birthday. This year, though, since the First of July is a Sunday, Canada Day falls on July 2nd. Here below the 49th Parallel, Independence Day in the States is on Wednesday, and so for a lot of folks it’s going to be a weeklong celebration. (Why work Monday and Tuesday if we’ll be off on Wednesday? And then the weekend is right after, so why work Thursday and Friday?) As for me, I’ll be working most all week, preparing for a few events happening at the end of the week––events that maybe you’d like to come to, if you are local. More on that later.

But first: Here’s your Convivio Book of Days calendar for July. It’s a printable PDF as usual, and a fine companion to the blog. This month’s calendar is designed over a sheet of suminagashi marbled paper I made back in 1995 at the Penland School of Crafts in North Carolina, just about the time that Seth and I first met. Suminagashi is a marbling process where sumi inks are floated on the surface of water and where patterns are created by your breath: by blowing gently on the water, the ink on the surface moves accordingly. By setting a piece of paper atop it, the ink pattern is printed on the paper. It’s a most lovely and organic approach to paper decoration, and one of the traditional ancient crafts of Japan.

I’ll be teaching a suminagashi workshop at the Armory in West Palm Beach on Saturday, July 7, which, as luck would have it, also happens to be the Japanese Star Festival of Tanabata. That fact, like suminagashi itself, is a happy accident… when we scheduled it, months ago, it didn’t even cross my mind that it would fall on the seventh day of the seventh month, but it has. Tanabata is celebrated by writing wishes on strips of paper and tying them to the trees… so we’ll be doing some of that at Saturday’s workshop (not to mention a little letterpress, too). It’s a morning workshop, just three hours, so you can learn a craft, make a few wishes, and be on your way by midday, leaving you an entire long summery afternoon to enjoy other things besides suminagashi. If it sounds like something you’d like to do, register here (you do have to register ahead of time, and probably the sooner the better).

The month continues through many saints’ days and at the end of the month, we come to Lammas Eve, another of the cross quarter days that usher us, by traditional reckoning of time, into a new season. Summer, though, was so late in coming this year, perhaps it’s best to say that Lammas is not so much a seasonal shift as a gentle reminder that summer is waning. Indeed, the days have been getting shorter and shorter each day since the Midsummer solstice of June… six weeks later, with Lammas, we are fast approaching the halfway point to the autumnal equinox of September. William Shakespeare, for good metaphoric reasons, chose Lammas Eve as the night that his Juliet was born, reasons we will discuss in the blog once Lammas comes. But we have a whole month of summer before that, so for now, let’s just enjoy it. To that end, here are all the events I’m involved in this coming weekend… I hope you locals might attend one or two (or three):

Real Mail Fridays: Campfire Social
Friday July 6, 2018, from 2 to 6 PM (an open house; come and go as you please)
This monthly letter writing social is at the Jaffe Center for Book Arts at Florida Atlantic University Libraries in Boca Raton. Donation: $10 at the door. This month we’re enjoying campfire-inspired foods, and we’re asking each person who comes to write a short letter of welcome to summer campers attending the two sessions of letter writing camps hosted by the Delray Beach Historical Society. Here are two info links: this one for the event’s webpage, and this one for the Facebook event page, where you can say, “Hey, I’ll be there!”

Cason Cottage Snail Mail Revolution Event
Friday July 6, 2018, 6 to 9 PM
The links above will provide information, too, for this event, a sort of After Party for the Real Mail Fridays Campfire Social. I’ll be speaking beginning at about 7 PM at the Delray Beach Historical Society’s Cason Cottage about the Jaffe Center’s Real Mail Fridays letter writing socials and showing some artists’ books… and you’ll get a chance to write a letter or two yourself. It’s a pot luck but you shouldn’t feel obligated to bring food. Just come.

Workshop: Floating Worlds (Suminagashi Paper Marbling)
Saturday July 7, 2018, 9:30 AM to 12:30 PM
And I’d love to teach you about suminagashi and Tanabata at the Armory Art Center in West Palm Beach, Florida. Advance registration is required; please register here.


The Sensual World, or Your June Book of Days

Once again from the Better Late Than Never Department, here is our monthly gift to you: Your printable Convivio Book of Days calendar, this one for June. It was a hectic close to May and it’s been a hectic start to June, and since there’s not much happening at the start of the month, I figured all right then, we would ease into this month’s calendar. In fact, the first red letter day of the month isn’t until the 13th, when we celebrate the Feast of St. Anthony of Padua.

Now my grandmother, Assunta, she would have been celebrating St. Anthony in her way from the start of the month. St. Anthony was her guy, and Grandma would offer thirteen days of novenas in his honor beginning on the First of June. She would sit there in her upright beach chair in front of the statue of St. Anthony, the one that Dad painted by hand, and mumble her prayers, prayers she would read from books sent to her by the children at the orphanage in Padua named for St. Anthony, the one she supported for years with gifts. They were good friends, in a way, my grandma and St. Anthony, but this is how we Italians are, talking to the saints that guide us, as if they are right there in the room with us.

My mom remembers as a girl coming in from outside on warm June days just like this and wandering through the house, wondering, “Where’s my mother?” and there she would be, with Mamam, the neighbor, the one who delivered my mom soon after the doctor had left the house because he didn’t think the baby would be coming any time soon. She was like a second mother to my mom, Mamam was, and she and Grandma would be in the house, these June days, reading and reciting before the statue of St. Anthony, saying their novena. Grandma would read the prayers out loud in Italian, and Mamam, who didn’t know how to read, would say the response. She’d catch a glimpse of my mom, little girl that she was at the time, and wave her in. “Come on, Millie, come pray with us.” Just what a little girl wants to do on a warm June day. But she was seen, and now she was stuck there. It was too late to turn away. And so my Mom would sit there, too, with Grandma and Mamam, saying “Pray for us” in Italian after each petition to St. Anthony. There was no turning away from the old friend.

This would go on each day through to St. Anthony’s Day on the 13th. I imagine not many people do this anymore. For me, a little boy watching my Grandma sit and pray on her beach chair by the statue in the yard, it was always a Grandma thing, something that all the grandmothers I knew did. Then again, all the grandmothers I knew as a child were Italian. I remember the first time I met the grandmother of another boy I knew, a grandmother who was tall and who spoke proper English. I was a little taken aback. It was just plain weird. Like the time in 1970 when my grandparents went back to Italy and came home again with photographs in color. Color? Italy, to me at 6-years old, was sepia-toned.

But I digress. Back to the calendar. June is the month of Old Midsummer, of William Shakespeare and his Midsummer Night’s Dream. It is, as well, the month of Bloomsday and Juneteenth, all days that have some literary connection. It was Ralph Ellison who titled a novel Juneteenth, a name taken from the obscure June holiday that commemorates the formal and official end of slavery in Texas, and Bloomsday is of course based on the work of James Joyce, who wrote about the day’s adventures through Dublin of a character named Leopold Bloom in his novel Ulysses, and now, each 16th of June, people all over the world call down his memory. If there is a cover star of sorts on this month’s calendar, it would be Kate Bush, who recorded a song in 1989 titled “The Sensual World,” a song that is steeped, too, in James Joyce’s Ulysses and in Bloomsday, based as it is on the closing passage of the book, a soliloquy by Molly Bloom, Leopold’s wife.

So many words on our lips––prayers and plays, novels and soliloquies–– in a month of beauty. With June we welcome summer by the almanac. We embrace the gentle time of year, the sensual world. Go, enjoy it.


Robert Herrick, and Your May Book of Days

Welcome May! Here’s your Convivio Book of Days Calendar for the month. It looks a bit different than usual, but it still prints on standard US Letter size paper. I was in an analog mood when I designed this month’s calendar: I wrote it out with pen and ink. You get my less-than-stellar handwriting and you get a misspelling or two to boot.

And since it is May Day, Margaret next door asked me to share this with you. She says you should read it aloud.

Corinna’s Going a-Maying
by Robert Herrick

Get up, get up for shame, the blooming morn
Upon her wings presents the god unshorn.
See how Aurora throws her fair
Fresh-quilted colours through the air :
Get up, sweet slug-a-bed, and see
The dew bespangling herb and tree.
Each flower has wept and bow’d toward the east
Above an hour since : yet you not dress’d ;
Nay ! not so much as out of bed?
When all the birds have matins said
And sung their thankful hymns, ’tis sin,
Nay, profanation to keep in,
Whereas a thousand virgins on this day
Spring, sooner than the lark, to fetch in May.

Rise and put on your foliage, and be seen
To come forth, like the spring-time, fresh and green,
And sweet as Flora. Take no care
For jewels for your gown or hair :
Fear not ; the leaves will strew
Gems in abundance upon you :
Besides, the childhood of the day has kept,
Against you come, some orient pearls unwept ;
Come and receive them while the light
Hangs on the dew-locks of the night :
And Titan on the eastern hill
Retires himself, or else stands still
Till you come forth. Wash, dress, be brief in praying :
Few beads are best when once we go a-Maying.

Come, my Corinna, come ; and, coming, mark
How each field turns a street, each street a park
Made green and trimm’d with trees : see how
Devotion gives each house a bough
Or branch : each porch, each door ere this
An ark, a tabernacle is,
Made up of white-thorn neatly interwove ;
As if here were those cooler shades of love.
Can such delights be in the street
And open fields and we not see’t ?
Come, we’ll abroad ; and let’s obey
The proclamation made for May :
And sin no more, as we have done, by staying ;
But, my Corinna, come, let’s go a-Maying.

There’s not a budding boy or girl this day
But is got up, and gone to bring in May.
A deal of youth, ere this, is come
Back, and with white-thorn laden home.
Some have despatch’d their cakes and cream
Before that we have left to dream :
And some have wept, and woo’d, and plighted troth,
And chose their priest, ere we can cast off sloth :
Many a green-gown has been given ;
Many a kiss, both odd and even :
Many a glance too has been sent
From out the eye, love’s firmament ;
Many a jest told of the keys betraying
This night, and locks pick’d, yet we’re not a-Maying.

Come, let us go while we are in our prime ;
And take the harmless folly of the time.
We shall grow old apace, and die
Before we know our liberty.
Our life is short, and our days run
As fast away as does the sun ;
And, as a vapour or a drop of rain
Once lost, can ne’er be found again,
So when or you or I are made
A fable, song, or fleeting shade,
All love, all liking, all delight
Lies drowned with us in endless night.
Then while time serves, and we are but decaying,
Come, my Corinna, come, let’s go a-Maying.