The Fourth Day of Christmas – Onion Cats and Squinzano Dogs

Today is the Fourth Day of Christmas. In the song we meet the calling birds, or are they collie or even coaly birds? Several definitions abound. I have decided they are calling birds, calling out their tales, stories and other fine lines. I am in the process of writing up tales of the cats found at Casa Mare, Cipolla, Puglia. Cipolla means onion in Italian, hence ‘The Onion Cats’. I have decided that the follow up tales are likely to be based on the dogs found in Squinzano a town in the same region of Italy. The name Squinzano sounds faintly threatening to my ears and I think the Squinzano Dogs may have a slightly ‘edgy’ set of personalities. Definitely gives me an excuse to keep going back for ‘research’ purposes. 

The long winter nights are a traditional period for the telling of tales, light hearted or ghostly so……

My challenge for you today is to tell a tale in one of the following formats or styles:



Nonsense verse

Children’s Stories or Tales of the Unexpected


The Spotify play list for this post is here

By the way today 20 new legs arrived, which means 40 legs have been delivered already

Update 11.50 my Twitter story…
Squinzano Sam saw a fight.  Two dogs, paws drawn; a whirl of hair, fangs and dust.  A huge Mastiff, Panettone Pete, entered; saved the day.

Update 12.38 – Haiku
Calcanium deep
Hair dust murderous intent
Summer memory

Update 14.19 – Nonsense verse
Squinzano Sam a duplicitous mutt

With paws down
Fought tooth and claw
To ruin his town
Panettone Pete, massive mastiff
Called for Leone
With bag and net
To catch the phoney
Pete shouted ‘get ze bag Leone’

Update 19:10

Squinzano Dogs – A Children’s Story for Adults

If you look at a map of Italy, the country is shaped like a boot.  Way down in the heel of the boot, in a region called Puglia is the town of Squinzano.  Like most parts of Italy the local people like to think they are in charge, but in reality it is the animals that have the measure of the place.  In some parts of Puglia it is cats or geckos but in Squinzano it is the dogs that have the upper hand.  Our tale takes place one day last summer.

Squinzano Sam was a particularly moth eared mutt who seemed to leave a trail of dirt, dust and stray hairs wherever he went.  He had a nasty reputation for double crossing, dirty tricks and generally trying to control the town with acts of duplicity, daring and intimidation.  Squinzano Sam hung around the town square near to the town hall which doubled up as library and ‘Pronto Socorrso’ .  This was high summer; heat reflected off buildings and at mid-morning the streets were almost empty.  In common with most of their compatriots the Italian locals had left their winter houses and moved like some nomadic tribe to their castles in the sun; their beach villas.  During these times there was less food to be found by the Squinzano dogs; communal bins did not overflow, leaving poor pickings for the feral creatures.

A small right hand drive car pulled up outside the Pronto Socorrso and four Inglese climbed out.  They peered at the signs on the walls attempting to translate.

“Definitely an emergency department; but only part time.  It says someone should be in attendance from 11.00 onwards,” said a woman in shorts and a T-shirt.

As she spoke a pale girl in a flowery dress, stood looking miserable and dropped her bag to the ground.

“It’s OK I’m just hot and I hurt.  If I could marry a snowman right now I’d be happy” she said.

An old Italian cycled into view, ceremoniously parked his bike against the wall and started talking to the woman in shorts.  After much muttering about bleeding from the ears, temperatures and specialists he declared that the group should go immediately to the ‘Ospidale in Brindisi’.  The group climbed reluctantly back into the sweltering car and left.

Squinzano Sam shifted his head, flicked first one eye and then the other open, sniffed the air and started to raise his body from the shade of the tree in the square.  Then he saw movement; Mad Rex, a scrawny terrier whippet cross had seen and scented the same thing.  Then as if from nowhere, dropping down from a roof, the strangest of creatures, not a plain black and white cat; but a marmalade orange cat, known locally as the Tangerine Jellicle sprang onto the pavement.  All three had their eyes on the same trophy, the bag dropped by the girl with the flowery dress.  It smelt of foccacia. 

Tangerine Jellicle and Rex raced to the bag; attempted to rip it open and then started to scratch at each other.  Sam hung back, watching, secretly he was very tired following a night out with his bitches the night before; but eventually could resist no more.  Hair and dust flying in all directions, a gnashing of teeth and whimpers of pain drew more dogs and cats into the area to see what was going on. Panettone Pete a huge mastiff came around the corner and waded in to try and sort out the argument..  Then Leone a small cat, with petite features moved carefully round the edge of the group.

Tangerine Jellicle cried out, “grab ze bag Leone.”

Eventually the animals had fought for and collected bits of the prize; Panettone could be credited with having crushed the fight.  Indeed Panettone had saved the day but the toll on all of the animals had been high.  In the street was a mess of fur, hair and bits of flesh from each of the creatures.  As the street cleaner swept up there were bits of Panettone, Tangerine Jellicle and bits of ze bag Leone had rescued.

“You are fantastic for clearing that lot up,” said the man with the bike.

“It’s nothing,” said the street cleaner, “a mere Zuppa Inglese, a triffle.”
With sincere thanks to……
Richard P-S also known as @tettig, @isemann and @josordoni for joining in the challenge, you will see I have threaded your ideas into mine.

NorfolkKitchen, The View from Cullingford , @Goodshoeday, @essexgourmet , @MartinCampbell2, @LivinginPulia and @downatheel for the various culinary and other references which I hope you will recognise


Posted on December 28, 2009, in #12DCP, Italy, Onion Cats; Haiku. Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.

  1. The playlist in words for those without SpotifyFlorence + The Machine – I'm Not Calling You A LiarThe Clash – London CallingKat DeLuna – Calling YouMelody Club – Destiny CallingDire Straits – Calling Elvis – Radio EditAlkaline Trio – Calling All SkeletonsKiss – Calling Dr. LoveSophia Somajo – Stockholm CallingMaryJet – CallingFightstar – Calling On All StationsTrain – Calling All AngelsSenses Fail – Calling All CarsBob Marley & The Wailers – Three Little BirdsAmon Amarth – Cry of the Black BirdsKate Nash – BirdsRegina Spektor – Two BirdsMGMT – Of Moons, Birds & MonstersFrida Hyvönen – BirdsEels – I Like BirdsRay LaMontagne – Winter BirdsDoves – Birds Flew BackwardsMiles Davis – Birds Of ParadiseLondon Metropolitan Orchestra – Arrival Of The BirdsRyan Adams – Night Birds

  2. How appropriate that you talk of cats in your post. One of ours had to go to the vet twice yesterday (and is now still at the vets on a drip and a catheter, poor young boy). Now pondering the task you have set us. R

  3. Flames consume cold stone,call to the spectres within.Castles deserted.Tribal gatheringDraws memory from the fogs.Ecstasy is bold.

  4. Received as a tweet from @isemann we have:…Despite local belief, Rex, hardest & most unimaginatively named dog in Squinzano, was not insane. He had a certificate to prove it.

  5. and a follow on to the Panettone Twitter story…Panettone turned to Squinzano. You want something? No,just watching &remembering. But the bitches wear you out. PP smiled.They sure do.

  6. and a twitter winter love story.Midnight snow,my snowman waits,coal eyes blazing.I blink,twigs brush my face. A snow kiss,sigh like a snowflake.The sun rises,my love dies.

  7. It is a terrible thing with Twitter, punctuation has to go right out of the window!

  8. the winter love story as haiku… Snowman coal eyes blinkkiss evanescent as snowflakemy love melts away

  9. The winter love affairMy snowman loves me madly.My snowman loves me truly.My snowman thinks I’m really sweet,Although he calls me Julie.My name is Lynne, not Julie,I tell him all the time.He says it doesn’t suit me,And worse it doesn’t rhyme.He winks a little coalblack eye,He stands on tippytoes.He blows a kiss, a snowflake kissTo land upon my nose.I won’t be here for everHe sighs and looks awayWell, you’re a man, I told himThey never ever stay.Now snowflakes come each ChristmasBut blow away, its true.They make me think of Snowman loveAnd build my love anew.

  10. OK.. the winter love story as Short Story…Nancy looked up from her doll. “Lynne, why does Grandad call you Julie?”I smiled slyly. “You wouldn’t believe me if I told you. It would make you shudder and give you nightmares…” Nancy hugged herself. “No, I wouldn’t get nightmares. I never get nightmares. Even when it is really spooky outside and the trees tap on the window, I don’t get nightmares.”“Well if you are sure? Come closer then, and I will tell you about my snowman.”“One day, my 17th birthday, the snow had been falling all afternoon. It was thick and crunchy, and I decided to make a snowman. I gathered the snow, and made a tall snowman. He had pieces of coal for his eyes, and the breast feathers from a robin made his soft red mouth. I found strong twigs for his arms, and dressed him in my father’s coat and hat. He looked splendid, not fat and jolly, but tall and debonaire. He looked as if he would take me dancing. It was getting dark, but the moon was full, and I stood under the apple trees and admired him for a long time. As I turned away to go inside, I heard the wind soughing in the branches above me. “Julie… “ they whispered. “Julie….” I walked down the path and still the sound followed me “Julie…” I was far from the trees now but still I heard “Julie…” I turned. It couldn’t be the wind. The snowman stood lonely and still under the tree where I had been standing. Strange. I was sure I had built him over near the fence.I turned again and walked towards the house. “Julie.” The name sighed gently in my ear. I couldn’t turn. I felt the chill sharp edge of a twig on my cheek. “Julie. My Julie.”“My name is Lynne…” I swallowed and licked my lips, suddenly dry. “No. You are my Julie.” I turned. My snowman looked at me, the coalblack of his eyes burned into mine. A kiss brushed my cheek, soft as the down of a little bird. I couldn’t look at him, I felt my heart pounding in my chest. It was as if I had known him for ever.“Who is Julie? “ “You my love, you are my Julie. You will always be my Julie. I will follow you and find you wherever you may be”.I whirled and ran to the house. I could not love this man, he would be gone before we had any chance of happiness.Night fell fully, the moon set, the clouds came in from the sea. The snow faded away, and with it my dreams.I woke in the morning to clear skies, and a green field. No more snow. No more love.I dried my tears over the next few years but never forgot my snowman. One day I was invited by friends to join them at a winter ball. A cousin was visiting, and they asked me if I would make up the party so that he would have a dancing partner. I dressed in my best, and he came to help me out of the carriage. I looked at his bright black eyes, and his cherry lips, and my heart stopped. He smiled and took my hand.”I turned and smiled at Nancy. “And he has always called me Julie.”

  11. Oh! Love the dogs short story! So clever to weave all the bits in 🙂

  12. A mere limerick-ish effort from me:My friend Farctum’s a rum’unShe’s got us chasing her dreamsCounting legs, leaving kissesCreating animal mixesIt’s more fun than answering memes!

  13. Glad I could help. Nice work. @Isemann

  14. A new story just arrived from @antoniablue, via twitter:No longer a landlubber, reduced to seablubber. My midfriff drifted below deck.

  15. From @ange1ina via twitterAs midnight beckons, it's hard to find/inspiration for jet-lagged mind. Perhaps tomorrow will inspire, but for now, I'd best retire

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