Whitsun, or Your May Book of Days

Here’s your printable Convivio Book of Days calendar for May, finally! Our cover star this month is a sleepy seamstress on Whitsunday morning. She and I have a lot in common: neither of us gets enough sleep at night. If I was a seamstress, I’d be falling asleep in my work, too.

My grandmother was a seamstress and did piecework at home during the Great Depression, earning 35 cents for knitting a dozen woolen hats. Mom remembers her sewing blouses, too, during those lean years when Mom was a little girl. Grandma would sew the blouses on her sewing machine, a blouse and matching belt, and it was my mom’s job, together with her older sister, Anne, to turn the blouses right side out again when Grandma was done piecing them together. Years later, when I was a boy, Grandma made some of the shirts I wore. I wish I had them now. One of them was a pale green western style shirt (western as in American West) with pearl snap buttons and a print fabric of cowboy hats and covered wagons and horses. Another was a plaid flannel button up shirt (which no doubt set the course for the rest of my life –– someone at work once made a poster about a print we had available for purchase and it read as follows: Please inquire with anyone dressed in plaid or sporting a handlebar mustache; he was the one with the mustache, and me, I’m the one who almost always wears plaid).

Be that as it may, I imagine Grandma was sometimes a sleepy seamstress, too. She loved to stay up late into the night, which is probably the source of my own night owl tendencies. I love working in the quiet spell of night, as I am this very night. As for Whitsunday: it is another name for Pentecost, which this year comes on the 19th of May. With it, Eastertide will come to a close. It is a day that always brings to mind my friends at the Sabbathday Lake Shaker Community in Maine, for my first Whitsunday there was a very blustery one, one where the clothes on the line take on life as they billow in the breeze, and the talk at Sunday Meeting was all about Holy Spirit and Holy Ghost, about ghosts and gusts, and breath and inspiration, and all this was firing connexions through my head that took me back to Professoressa Myriam Swennan-Ruthenberg’s Italian class and the day she talked about the Italian word respiro (breath) and its root relation with ispirazione (inspiration) and I have never thought of inspiration, nor Pentecost or Whitsunday, the same since. I was dumbfounded by connexions, bowled over, and I love when that happens.

And so it is May, well into it, and we are fast on the approach to summer. By traditional reckoning of time, in fact, summer has just begun with the month’s changing, and the next spoke on the Wheel of the Year will be midsummer, in June, around St. John’s Day. Our Grand Opening at the new Convivio Bookworks shop in Lake Worth Beach is set for that very time, so if you’re local, please mark your calendars. We’ll be celebrating on Friday June 21, Saturday June 22, and Sunday June 23. Times to be announced. It’s a magical time of the year and we will tap into that spirit as much as we can that weekend.

We’ll also be open this Saturday from 11 AM to 5 PM for last minute Mother’s Day shopping, or whatever sort of shopping you need to do. The new shop is at 1110 North G Street, Suite D, Lake Worth Beach, FL 33460. From I-95, exit 10th Avenue North eastbound; make a left at the first traffic signal onto North A Street, then at the first stop sign, turn right onto 13th Avenue North. Cross the railroad tracks and turn right again onto North G Street. We’re a couple blocks down on your left side in a blue-roofed building. Plenty of street parking on G Street and there are a few spots in our little parking lot, too.

Mamma loves a sale and at our online catalog right now, you may use discount code BLOSSOM to save $10 on your $85 purchase, plus get free domestic shipping, too. That’s a total savings of $19.50. Spend less than $85 and our flat rate shipping fee of $9.50 applies. CLICK HERE to shop; you know we appreciate your support immensely. And yes, you may use that $10 discount when you visit us in the store, too!

Image: “Syerske Pinsemorgen” or, in English, “Sewing, Whitsunday Morning” by Wenzel Tornøe. Oil on canvas, 1892 [Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons].


Open Shop Days for May

Well, here it is, the start of May (May Day, no less!) and I don’t have your Convivio Book of Days calendar for the month ready yet. It should be coming in the next few days. Meanwhile, I do want you to know about two days of open hours at the new Convivio Bookworks shop here in Lake Worth Beach: the next two Saturdays (Saturday May 4 and Saturday May 11), we’ll be open from 11 AM to 5 PM. There are some great new things in the shop, and some smashingly good gift ideas for Mother’s Day for all the moms in your life. If you’re local, we hope you’ll come by. We’d love to see you. Click on the image above to make it large enough to read all the details.

We’ve also got a proper grand opening in the works for you, and our plan is for a Midsummer Celebration on Friday June 21, Saturday June 22, and Sunday June 23. There will be shopping and printing fun and a tasting event featuring lots of the fine Scandinavian foods and beverages that we carry, and who knows what else we’ll come up with.

For now, though… it’s back to work on that calendar! I’ll be sure to let you know when it’s ready.

A Single Rosebud

Apologies are in order: I’ve not had much time to sit and write this month, and already it’s not long until the Walpurgis Night celebration we discussed in the previous post. That holiday comes next week, as April shifts to May. But it’s St. Mark’s Eve as I sit and write this, and with the rising sun on April 25, it will be St. Mark’s Day. It is the day in northern climes when most migratory birds are thought to arrive and it is a day to utter blessings upon the newly-sewn springtime crops. (I must apologize, too, for putting the incorrect date for the occasion on the Convivio Book of Days calendar for April, where St. Mark’s Eve is listed as April 25, and St. Mark’s Day as April 26. In fact, the Eve is on the 24th and St. Mark’s Day is on the 25th.)

In Venice, a city watched over lovingly by St. Mark from the Basilica di San Marco, thousands of rosebuds will be exchanged, a custom emerging from a tragic old love story: Many centuries ago––the eighth century, to be precise––there lived in Venezia a humble troubadour called Tancredi, who fell madly in love with the doge’s daughter, Maria. Maria was equally enamored of the troubadour, but her father was not at all pleased with this. A man of so low a social standing (a troubadour, pfft!) wooing the doge’s daughter? It would never do for the doge.

A wiser man would have despaired, but Tancredi, he mustered up all his passions and instead, went off to prove his worthiness, off to war in a distant land, in hopes of returning triumphantly, thereby impressing his potential future father-in-law. Tancredi proved heroic and victorious through each battle, but alas, his return was not meant to be, for just before he was to come home to his beloved Maria and his beloved city, the troubadour was mortally wounded in one last fatal conflict. His good friend Orlando rushed to his side as Tancredi fell, dying, upon a rose bush. And in his final moments on this earth, far from his intended, Tancredi plucked a single rosebud and gave it to his friend, begging of him one last favor: to bring the flower to Maria. Orlando did just that. She received the blood-stained bloom, and the news of her love’s fate, on St. Mark’s Day, the 25th of April, and that night, she died upon her own bed, holding Tancredi’s rosebud, a symbol of love eternal. And to this day, in memory of the troubadour and the doge’s daughter, rosebuds are exchanged in Venice on the Festa di San Marco.

For dinner on St. Mark’s Day, most Venetians will eat a simple dish: risi e bisi in the Venetian dialect: a risotto of rice and peas with pancetta and onion, in years past brought with great ceremony to the doge. Peas as a symbol of spring, rice for abundance. The day marks, as well, Liberation Day throughout Italy: the Festa della Liberazione. It is a national holiday, marking the day in 1945 that ended the Fascist regime and the Nazi occupation of Italy.

St. Mark is, of course, one of the evangelists, and he is credited with writing the Second of the four Gospels. He is often depicted writing or holding his Gospel, but he is also symbolized by a winged lion, which is thought to come from his description of St. John the Baptist as “a voice crying in the wilderness.” The wings come from Ezekiel’s vision of four winged creatures as evangelists. He lived for many years in Alexandria and was martyred there, too, but his relics were stolen from Alexandria and brought to Venice in 828, where they are enshrined at the basilica on St. Mark’s Square… where so many rosebuds will be exchanged today, symbols of love eternal.

It’s still spring and at our online catalog right now, you may use discount code BLOSSOM to save $10 on your $85 purchase, plus get free domestic shipping, too. That’s a total savings of $19.50. Spend less than $85 and our flat rate shipping fee of $9.50 applies. CLICK HERE to shop; you know we appreciate your support immensely.

We make small improvements to our new shop every week. Currently, we are building a staircase to the loft, and we’re planning a proper Grand Opening for Old Midsummer in late June (in fact, please go ahead and put the weekend of June 21, 22, & 23 on your calendar). I’ll keep you posted about it here and on our Instagram and Facebook pages (@conviviobookworks). We don’t have regular hours currently, but until we do, if you’d like to come shop or just see the place (or us), we welcome you to come visit by appointment. Email us to schedule a time. The new shop is located at 1110 North G Street, Suite D, in Lake Worth Beach, Florida 33460.

Image: The flag of La Serenissima: the Republic of Venice, with the image of San Marco as a winged lion, holding his Gospel.