Befriend the Ides of March

Last year for Valentine’s Day, guests came to our house dressed as as history’s greatest lovers.  My husband and I were Harold Godwinson and his handfast wife, Edith SwanNeck.  Our daughter Bea came as Petrarch, Father of Humanism and victim of unrequited love.  The guest list also included Sonny and Cher, Marge and Homer Simpson, Clark Kent and Lois Lane, The Little Red-headed Girl, and Narcissa, to name a few.

This year, the day of our Valentine’s Day party fell upon February 12th, so we decided–what the heck!  We would celebrate the birthday of Abraham Lincoln, our favorite president.  In the costume room we found top hats, stovepipe hats and a couple of wigs, which we cut into strips for beards.  Decorating was easy; everything with a face, like the bust of Diana the moon goddess and our storyteller dolls, sported a beard and top hat.  Lincoln Logs were the centerpiece, and we put 203 candles on the birthday cake (just kidding! We used numerals 2-0-3).   We had rolls of Lincoln pennies for pitching or playing poker, a big portrait of Abe to play Pin the Wart on the President, and all the fixings to build pretzel log cabins.  We never got to half that stuff, but we did get to hear a seven-year-old guest (Go, Sylvia!) read a moving excerpt from the Gettysburg Address.

This month, I’m booked for St. Patrick’s Day, but am planning ahead to next year, for my Ides of March party.  If you’ve read Shakespeare, you know a soothsayer forewarned Julius Caesar about his assassination on March 15th, telling him to “Beware the Ides of March.”  So we will have to commemorate the event, of course, with a toga party, B.Y.O.B. (bring your own bed sheet).  We’ll eat Roman fare, and I am fortunate enough to have musician and storytelling friends who will tell stories (Roman myths) and sing for their supper.  I might even rent a temple for the day.  (It’s been known to happen.)

The calendar is full of odd and interesting holidays. International Talk Like A Pirate Day, Fruitcake Toss Day, Pi Day (on 3/14, of course).  And one of these years I will celebrate National Barbie Day–come as you aren’t.  Guests could dress each other up as Zombie Barbie, Office Slut Barbie, Star Trek Nerd Ken or maybe Trailer Trash Ken.

I try to do in my writing what I do with my parties—people them with quirky characters, and create an interesting backdrop.  In The Keeper of the Crystal Spring, a historical novel co-written with my sister, the village of Enmore Green is populated with affable eccentrics like Edwin MoonCatcher, Agilbert PigWife, and Thurgood GiantKiller.

For deliciously quirky characters, read Jonathan Safran Foer.  He deftly uses humor to tell serious stories, as in Everything is Illuminated and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.  I also highly recommend the movies based on those novels.

And next October, go to someone else’s Halloween party, but the following week try hosting your own All Saint’s Day Bash.  In your writing and in your life, if you have a choice, try taking the road less traveled.  Befriend, rather than beware The Ides of March.

All words and images copyright Naomi Baltuck.

Click here for more interpretations of Cee’s Odd Ball Photo Challenge.




  1. Looks fun–I’m always down for any excuse to dress up–last Halloween I went with “Elmo the Barbarian”; cross between the little red guy my kids love on Sesame Street and plastic sword bearing Robert E. Howard character. Your Caeser reference has me thinking maybe Macbeth next year.

    1. Hi Carl, it’s harder than you think to find people who are willing to dress us. We have a room in our house dedicated to costumes, so if someone comes without one, we can always play Barbie and dress ’em up. I love the hybrid costume idea–last year for a school spirit day Bea went as a ninja historian. As for MacBeth next year, definitely yesssss! Very classy. Thanks for stopping by.

  2. Mary Brugh says:

    Oh, Naomi, I miss your parties! I was just wondering if I knew any Roman tunes.

    1. Dear Mary, we miss you, especially at party time, when you always had a story or a song to share.

  3. Sue Grizzell says:

    Hi Naomi, so glad to find your blog. I agree, hybrid and/or unexpected costumes are the best. Loooong ago I helped out a costumeless housemate, dressed the burly bearded fellow with stuff from my theatre days: rabbit ears from B’rer Rabbit, pinafore from Raggedy Ann, pregnancy pillow from a 12th cent. bawdy, etc etc, voila, Expectant Rabbit. I do miss them parties.
    VERY glad to see you are still going strong and surrounded by loved and fun ones! xx

    1. HI Sue. What a great costume idea! Dressing up friends is as much fun as the partying afterwards–kind of like playing Barbie, only for real. So good to hear from you. I hope you are well. Thanks so much for stopping by.

  4. Hi Naomi!,
    Your parties sound like so much fun! What great ideas! Don’t forget we’ve got the Summer Solstice, Earth Day, Secretary’s Day… Oh, I’m looking on the calender and there are tons! Thanks for the great ideas! =)

    1. Those are some great ideas for parties. I’d love to do a Summer Solstice. A long time ago we had a Midsummer Night’s Dream party, where we decorated all the bushes and trees with twinkle lights and came dressed as fairies and elves. Guests told us that an older couple down the block had pulled up chairs and were watching the parade of winged and pointy eared creatures and fairy princesses heading down the street to our house. Of course we had music and told fairy tales.

  5. john malone says:

    I enjoyed this post partly because it coincides with the one quality that others say marks my writing: quirk! I have a blog somewhere devoted to this topic: ‘The Wallah Of Whimsy’; if you can find it, if you want to find it, if you have time to find it, it is worth a read 🙂

    1. I look forward to reading it! Thanks for stopping by.

  6. magsx2 says:

    I haven’t been to a costume party in years, they were always a lot of fun. It sounds like everyone has a great time at your parties. We just don’t seem to have them anymore here in OZ or if they are around there certainly isn’t too many. Good on you for coming up with something a bit different. 😀

    Thank You for your visit over at my blog.

    1. Some friends need to be conditioned, but get used to the idea. Others jump in head first. Hey, I love your blog! Lots of fun, really varied, and full of surprises. I just finished watching the oldest salsa dancer in the world on your blog. Thanks for stopping by.

  7. john malone says:

    I’m impressed: you actually found ‘The Wallah of Whimsy’ and one I had forgotten about, ‘I Know A Magician’: if you had a hat, I’d put a feather in it; if I had a hat I’d take it off to you 🙂

  8. Madhu says:

    What fun party themes! Wish i lived close by!

    1. We do have a lot of fun, and there is always room for one more.

  9. George Weaver says:

    This is just too much fun. What a delightful spirit you have. I am vowed to return as your child. It could happen. I’m old enough. 🙂

    1. You just made me laugh aloud! When I saw the name of your blog, She Kept a Parrot, I had a feeling I would appreciate your spirit, and I was right. Thanks so much for stopping by.

  10. Madhu says:

    Nominating you for bthe Liebster award! You are one of my top 5 fledgling blogs! Click on my link for details

    1. Dear Madhu, thank you so much! I feel so honored.

  11. Nae's Nest says:

    Love the picture. One question, does the child trim her own beard, or do her parents do it for her?

    1. Ha! Good question! Thanks so much for stopping by and following my blog. I have just been reading yours, and look forward to more posts.

  12. mj monaghan says:

    You have such a love a life. Always interesting what you will be up to. Those are some interesting and fun parties you must have, Naomi!

    1. We really do have a lot of fun, butiIt helps to have adventurous friends who enjoy playing along. Thanks for stopping by.

  13. 12kilroy says:

    What a wonderfully quirky idea. (Of course, what can one expect from someone who’d choose costumes like Harold and Edith?)

    It’s the details that make it.

    I mean – if you have authentic food and entertainment … it takes it to a whole new level. It becomes something that should be.

    1. We do love as much authenticity as possible, with costumes, cuisine, only natural fire and candle light, and background music to lend atmosphere. As a storyteller, I can call upon colleagues to bring stories and music of the place and era When we turned our house into a Viking Longhouse, we had a wonderful evening of music and Norse myths. We ate salmon, reindeer stew, lingonberries and herring, among other dishes,and drank ale and mead. It was transporting.

  14. KC says:

    Ok, where do you live and who do I have to kil…I mean “relocate” 😉 to live next to you?

    I’ve loved dressing up and “playing pretend” all my life. In college, I found the SCA (society for creative anachronism) and my first thought wasn’t “Hey, I can help recreate the arts and crafts and history of medieval times!” it was more “Yay, I can play dress up with a big crowd, and not look weird!”.

    Then I found live action role play, and my fate was sealed. *laughs* Vampires and werewolves and faeries, oh my! I just love freaking the mundies…

    I’m legally 42, but you probably know how much -that- means in real life.
    If I knew anyone locally, I would still be Larp’ing…I still do some SCA, but camping is hard with RA. *sniffles* So, lacking all other form of silly expression…I just dress funny! My ears (a pink leopard cat ear headband) are so much a part of me now, I think no one would recognize me without them. I also rock the pink-and-black and occasionally leopard print look. So 80’s. Layers of fingerless gloves, leg warmers, fake walmart black converse with pink leopard print laces…you probably get the picture.

    Anyway, my fingers are running away with me again. Love your ideas, and your liiminal definitions of party occasions. I’d say have fun, but I think that’d be preaching to the choir!

    1. Dear KC, oh, how I wish you lived next door to me! What parties we could have! I love fantasy themes, but history, with authentic cuisine and costume, by natural candlelight, with authentic music playing in the background (I have built a nice collection of CDs and cookbooks from other times and places), is my favorite thing to recreate. We have a room dedicated to costumes from all eras, and shelves in the storage room with wooden bowls and spoons, old-fashioned utensils and serving dishes, Viking goblets, etc. It is nice to know that you are out there in your leopard ears and Converse. I suspect that perhaps we were born to the same litter and separated at birth. I am so glad to have found you again!

  15. KC says:

    That…has to be one of the sweetest things anyone ever said to me. And I think I agree. Sooo…since I can’t kill your neighbors and move in, I guess we’ll just have to have the internets to prowl together. *grin*

    And once I have my own place again (a recent setback has stranded me at my parents mercy for the time being >^<) I will whimper at you to help me plan parties of my own! Although I must admit to being somewhat short on people to invite, atm. But that's fixable, with time and a lot of luck! Oops, left the "p" off. 😉

    Sending a mew and an ear-lick for luck…and thanks again for the compliment! *lix*

  16. frizztext says:

    surprising party, Naomi! “… Ides of March party. If you’ve read Shakespeare, you know a soothsayer forewarned Julius Caesar about his assassination on March 15th, telling him to “Beware the Ides of March.” So we will have to commemorate the event: We’ll eat Roman fare, and I am fortunate enough to have musician and storytelling friends who will tell stories (Roman myths) and sing for their supper. I might even rent a temple for the day…”

  17. Amy says:

    That is a fun, fun party!

  18. list.Ly says:

    I am in fact grateful to the owner of this website who has
    shared this wonderful post at at this time.

  19. Cee Neuner says:

    Wonderful entry for this week. Thanks for playing.

    1. Hi Cee,
      I really enjoy this challenge in particular! Guess this odd ball has found her place!

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