Category Archives: Convivio Dispatch

Autumn Glow, or Your October Book of Days

We are well into autumn now. It is October, the Feast, today on this second day of the month, of the Guardian Angels, and this evening, with the setting sun, comes Sukkot in the Jewish calendar, a holiday known also as the Feast of Tabernacles. A lot of the holidays / holy days that are not in my own family’s tradition are things I experience peripherally, and this is the case with Sukkot, which I associate with citrus. In particular, it is the fruit called etrog that is part of the Sukkot holiday. It is a very thick skinned citrus with an intoxicating fragrance. I’ve only ever held one etrog, but the experience stuck with me, for scent is a great portal to memory, is it not?

And so this year this is how October begins, with angels and intoxicating fragrance. It is for us a time of birthdays, too: Seth’s birthday was on the 30th of September, and my mom, she turns 94 today on the 2nd. At least we think so. We always celebrated on the 3rd, but a few years ago documentation surfaced that suggested we’d been celebrating on the wrong day and that Mom was actually born on the 2nd. And yet stories persist that really support the idea that she was born on the 3rd, for her middle name is Rosaria, bestowed upon her because she was born on the Feast of the Madonna del Rosario… which is on the 7th, but is often moved to the First Sunday of October, and in 1926, guess what? The First Sunday of October was on the 3rd. Anyway, our policy now is pretty much to just celebrate both days. Things were no different with her father: we celebrated Grandpa’s birthday on the 23rd of November forever, but looking back at records, the 21st may have been more accurate. So. What can you do? Perhaps there are benefits to a nonchalant approach to things like birthdays.

Be that as it may, I am here today mainly to bestow our monthly gift upon you: it’s the Convivio Book of Days calendar, this time for October. Cover star: the beautiful barns at Chosen Land, the Sabbathday Lake Shaker Community in Maine, with a maple in the foreground, glowing golden. Appropriate for so many reasons: 1) no place does autumn quite like New England; 2) Seth and I were visiting Chosen Land this very time of year two Octobers ago (and that’s when I snapped that photo); and 3) it is the month of Hallowe’en, a most spirited time of year, and I don’t think I know of any place that is so attuned to the spirits of those who have come and gone quite so much as Chosen Land. The Shakers were and are very welcoming to the idea that the spirit world is quite adjacent to the physical world, and mysteries run deep there. These are the things Seth and I like to tap into as this beautiful month unfolds and as we approach Hallowe’en at its close… which ushers in all the Days of the Dead that follow, through early November, to Martinmas on the 11th. The calendar will serve as a good companion to this blog, and to the annual Convivio Hallowe’en Dispatch from Lake Worth… and if you’d like to receive that story, please subscribe here. (The Convivio Dispatch is a whole other animal from the Convivio Book of Days Blog; it is a very occasional newsletter… but more often than not it’s not a newsletter at all and most definitely more of a story––essentially it is me, writing creative nonfiction.) If you don’t get it in your inbox already… well, I do think you’ll like getting it.

IN THE SHOP
October comes and we are closer to the height of our red letter days in the wheel of the year, the ones that brighten the darkness: Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead), and Advent, the precursor to Christmas. We heartily believe in the value of both: of remembering those who came before and keeping those channels open, and of a slow approach to Christmas. Please take a look, if you will, by clicking here. You’ll see pages devoted just to Dia de Muertos and to Advent, and to lots of other things… oh, and that’s my mom you’ll see there, the birthday girl herself, at the top of the page, fishing from a row boat, circa 1950.

Our very best wishes to you this golden October and these autumnal days. Please stay safe, please stay well, please treat each other as you would hope to be treated. Much love involved.

 

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 mail@conviviobookworks.com 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.
John

 

COME SEE US!
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.

 

A Halloween Invitation

Here comes Halloween! It’s a favorite celebration in this house, perhaps emanating from a love of pumpkins and apples and celebrations by dark of night. My interest in Halloween lies in its old traditions. In some places, for instance, it was known as Nutcrack Night, for it was a night for roasting nuts and using them to predict the future. Halloween has long been associated with conjuring and magic, perhaps because of its connexions with things of mystery. Its purpose as All Hallow’s Eve is to usher in the Days of the Dead that follow: All Hallows or All Saints Day on the First of November; All Souls Day on the Second. We keep the dead in mind especially at this time of year, clear through to Martinmas on November 11th.

One of the best things about Halloween, I think, is that everything is turned topsy turvy. The kids are out at night, ringing the doorbells of strangers, begging for treats. We wear costumes and masks so others don’t necessarily know our identities. And we carve lanterns out of pumpkins. How wonderful is that? That’s an old Celtic tradition, though back then and there in Ireland it was turnips that were carved. When the Irish began coming to America, pumpkins presented a great big orange glowing alternative. We’ve not gone back since.

Each year for Halloween for, oh… many many years now, I’ve written a gently ghostly story and sent it out to the world via email. It’s the Convivio Dispatch for Halloween. This year’s Halloween Dispatch will go out tonight 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. And if you’d rather get just tonight’s 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 mail@conviviobookworks.com to say you’d like the story. But don’t be afraid to subscribe… those particular emails from me are very few and far between, and you’ll meet an interesting cast of characters from our home town of Lake Worth.

Have a fine Halloween, filled with good spirit.
John

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

Real Mail Thursdays: Dia de Muertos Social
Thursday November 1 from 2 to 6 PM
Jaffe Center for Book Arts at Florida Atlantic University’s Wimberly Library
Boca Raton
We’ll have a mini pop-up shop of traditional handmade goods for Day of the Dead made by our artisan friends in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.

Florida Day of the Dead Celebration
Friday November 2 from 4 to 11 PM
Downtown Fort Lauderdale
We’ll be in the Craft Crypt at Huzienga Park on East Las Olas in our own tent with a pop-up shop of traditional Mexican handicrafts for Dia de los Muertos from 4 to 7:30 PM.

Dia de los Muertos Lake Worth
Saturday November 3 from 3 to 10 PM
Hatch 1121 and Downtown Lake Worth, west of Dixie Highway
Our favorite! Find us in the courtyard at Hatch 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.

Harvest Makers Marketplace
Sunday November 11 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 and Mexico and our full line of Shaker herbs & teas and more. Plus there’s live music all day: Rio Peterson from 10 AM to 1 PM, Ella Herrera from 1 to 4 PM. It’s going to be a good one!

 

Image: One of last year’s Jack O’Lanterns, on the front porch. This one is by Seth. It’s got his trademark toothless smile.