Someone Else’s Words


*Oh, and if some of your relatives got Kindles for xmas, don’t forget all my Goldport Press novels and one of the collections are on sale! Also, go to MGC and read Kate’s post.  Warning, DO NOT DRINK ANYTHING while reading it, or your monitor will be Wassailed.*

It’s late, there’s two beasts to roast (not the boys) and I have spent the last two days cleaning and setting up (late minute travel and illness make the holidays so much fun) so I haven’t written in two days and I’m starting to get the shakes.  Besides, I have a character to kill.  So if I get the beasts in the oven soon enough (we’re mountain time, so it’s not 8 yet) I might get two/three hours to lay down words.

Which is why I’m going to leave you with someone else’s words.  In this case Giovanni Guareschi in a story called “Men of Goodwill.”

It involves the parish priest, Don Camilo and the communist mayor, Peppone, who are in the middle of a heated political time.

Typos my own.  It starts with “Christmas was approaching and it was high time to get hte figures of the Crib out of their drawer, so that they might be cleaned, touched up here and there and any stains carefully removed.  it was already late, but Don Camilo was still at work in the presbytery.  He heard a knocking at the window and on seeing that it was Peppone went to open the door.”

There’s the body of the story I can’t copy because plagiarism but they talk while Peppone is co-opted into paining the figures — and then —

“”I feel as if I were in Jail,” [Peppone] said gloomily.

“there is a always a way out of every jail in this world,” replied Don Camilo.  “Jails can only confine the body, and the body matters so little.”

The baby was now finished, and it seemed as if His clear, bright coloring shone in Peppone’s huge dark hands.  Peppone looked at Him and he seemed to feel in his palms the living warmth of that little body.  He forgot all about being in jail.

“My son is learning a poem for Christmas,” Peppone announced proudly.  “every evening I hear his mother teaching it to him before he goes to sleep.  He’s a wonder!”

“I know,” agreed Don Camilo.  “Look how beautifully he recited the poem for the bishop!”

Peppone stiffened.  “That was one of the most rascally things you ever did!” he exclaimed.  “I shall get even with you yet.”

“There is plenty of time for getting even, or for dying,” Don Camilo replied.

Then he took the figure of the ass and set it down close to the Madonna as she bent over Her Child.  “that is Peppone’s son, and that is Peppone’s wife, and this one is Peppone,” said Don Camilo, laying his finger on the figure of the ass.

“And this one is Don Camilo,” Exclaimed Peppone, seizing the figure of the ox and adding it to the group.

“Oh, well! Animals always understand one another,” said Don Camilo.

And though Peppone said nothing he was now perfectly happy, because he still felt int he palm of his hand the living warmth of the pink Baby; and for a time the two men sat in the dim light looking at the little group of figures on the table and listening to the silence that had settled over the little world of Don Camilo, and that silence no longer seemed ominous but instead full of peace.”

Merry Christmas to those who celebrate it, and may we animals always understand each other and be at peace.



121 responses to “Someone Else’s Words

  1. Merry Christmas Sarah, hope you feel better today.

  2. …there’s two beasts to roast (not the boys)…

    I love this blog.

    Grand and Merry Christmas to ALL!!

    • I am hiding out, she won’t be able to capture me.

      • Oh, I know where you are. I just wonder how you got over the gate to the storage room in the attic. Come on out. The roasts are in the oven, and later there will be two kinds of eggnog. (Alcoholic, for older son and I and virgin for the wim– er… for my husband and younger son, who don’t like alcohol.) And there are cookies. Coconut macaroons even. And there WILL be flan.

        • Darnit, by the time I could fly there, the flan would all be gone!

          Seriously, hope you and yours have an awesome Christmas!

          • Didn’t you used to be an Alaskan Bush Pilot?
            watching Modern Marvels’ program about Alaska reminded me of you.

        • Um. Hm. Did you say — flan?


          If any comes up missing, it wasn’t me. Not at all. The dimensional gate is turned off, and the time machine is locked up (do ya know what kind of trouble I’d get into, parking the time machine at Sarah’s? So, couldn’t be me.

          Probably an emperor of undead sorts. Or a wallaby.

          • I blame the wallaby. The pouch, you know.

            • Sadly, these days I must eschew flan as keeping the diet low-carb is essential to staying attached to my feet — and a footless wallaby is a sad thing to see.

              This seems a good opportunity to convey my imminent departure from this community. The last two weeks have entailed Beloved Spouse undergoing abominable surgery, the elderly father passing away and with the new year comes a new job with commute that precludes any but the mildest participation in these discussions. So with medical bills to pay, an estate to execute and an accounting system to master I think I must protect my own health, which includes routinely sleeping more than five hours a night.

              Keep the hearth fires stoked, the kippers smoked and know that one day the wallaby will return. Until that day, so long and thanks for all the fish.

              • *Waves, virtual hugs* Darn, we’ll miss you. Drop in when things get better and we’ll keep you in our thoughts. Condolences on the loss of your father.

                • Thanks — me Da had decided a week earlier that it was time to enter the hospice program, so it was no shock. In fact, I wonder whether it wasn’t their delivering the hospital bed two nights before that didn’t do for him.

                  It seems appropriate to take this opportunity to note the following fact:

                  13 surprising things that happened on Christmas Day
                  By Kyle Smith, NY Post
                  1990: Test-driving the quasi-Internet. The first Web page, on the first Web server, using the first Web browser, got its first hit when British software consultant Tim Berners-Lee tried out his new system for linking computers. Berners-Lee spent 1991 flying around the world trying to convince people to link to Web browsers.

                  Happy 24th anniversary, y’all.

                  • My wife decided to enter Hospice five days before she gave up the ghost. Somehow they know. My hope, well wishes and prayers for your wife ride on this post. May you receive every possible blessing at this time. And, do not become a stranger here. This blog has something comforting about it that will help in keeping things in perspective. I know it has for me.

                  • If only because he’s so darn good at ducking and weaving. I wonder if he’s considered running for office, as opposed to running from it? 😉

                    • Don’t you dare even suggest it.

                    • But you would make such a nice Congressman’s wife; I can see you now with a glass of wine in one hand, and a cracker with a bit of mystery glob on it in the other, explaining to your fellow political spouses how; no your husband really didn’t mean to insult the President/Speaker/AtGen, that pun was totally unintended.

                    • I fled the home of my youth, in part, to get away from that.

                      Besides what makes you think I could ever be a diplomat? Oh! that word.

              • Take care of you and yours, sir. We’ll miss ya, and not just because some of us have horrible aim when we’re sober. *grin*

              • *hugs* Do know that there are prayers and thoughts of well wishing for you and your wife. Take care of the home front first; we’ll be here.

                Condolences for your loss.

              • We’ll be here for you any time you manage to pop back. But do it on your own schedule. Things will settle out eventually. Hopefully sooner rather than later. I wish you the best of luck.

              • Take care. Best wishes to you and yours. You’ll be missed around here. But for all you know, we’re all just multiple personalities of a very fast typist.

              • Sorry to hear that, RES. Your comments here have reminded me of the despicable evil delight and playfulness of a good pun, of the need for both sharp minds and good humor, and…
                dagnabit, man.

                Sorry that real life has given you what seems like a bad hand lately. Here’s hoping that you win through to your surprising yet inevitable triumph over current problems, and that you’re back again sooner rather than later.

          • Do you know that I can’t read the word, “flan” without flashbacks to the Courage the Cowardly Dog episode with, “Flantasy Flan”?


          • Hmmm, I haven’t made flan in . . . several years. I may have to borrow Mom’s Corningware loafpan and make a batch. Afer we finish the cookies, pumpkin bread, and three kinds of cake (ginger, stained-glass, and lemon bundt.) And the two kinds of cranberry salad, and the second pan of dressing that someone (and NOT me) decided was needed. Thanks be it’s going to be so cold we won’t need the ‘fridge – we can set everything out on the . . . back . . . pati— Never mind. Into the ‘fridge it goes.

      • Christopher M. Chupik

        Ah, so *that’s* what roast beast is!

  3. Merry Christmas to all, and may all your roast beasts come out medium rare (at least that’s how I like mine).

  4. Merry Christmas! — Much better than a “non-denominational winter celebration” 😉

  5. Two roast beasts, one for each boy I assume.
    But what will you and Dan eat?
    BTW, Wal-Mart sells salt cod in some of its stores. In-store only, and not in your area dang it. Will keep looking.

    • They used to in our area, but the hispanic population receeded in La Grande Salida, so they stopped.
      Dan and I shall the whipped cauliflower and the brussel sprouts. And the cookies.

      • Do you do the brussel sprouts in horseradish cream sauce? (best I have ever had & I love brussel sprouts)

        • Horseradish cream sauce? Sounds intriguing. Rich with a bite, maybe?

        • No. I bake them in the oven in olive oil and garlic.

          • I add a touch of vinegar, bacon, and onion.

            As for Eamon’s comment just above – I have never done anything with a horseradish cream sauce. My experience with mixing horseradish with anything has been less than stellar (and I like horseradish).

            • “My experience with mixing horseradish ”

              Well that right there is your problem. You never need to ‘mix’ horseradish, just grind it and pile enough on top that you can’t see the original food.

              • So, really, we can just hand you the whole root and let you gnaw away?

                *makes a note*

              • Dear lord, no, laddie. You have to add some vinegar and salt to release the flavor and bring da heat.

                The trick to it is draining the liquid so that it doesn’t run down your wrist whilst you eat your sammich. Which is why some people blend it with mayo (or other dressing) to get enough thickness so the bread doesn’t get all soggy.

                My solution is to build the sandwich fresh, using crusty bread and eat it quickly, but that doesn’t work well with a box lunch.

        • One recipe that worked quite well for me was Brussels sprouts cooked in the drippings left after sauteing scallops in butter, lime juice, and lime zest. I’m not a fan of the sprouts and I liked the result.

  6. Merry Christmas to all, and to Fed the Fred, come on in and have some hot chocolate, foe Pete’s sake!

  7. There’s a Jamaican restaurant up town that has salted cod, but Sarah says, “Jamaican salted cod? Not the same thing, at all!”
    Merry Christmas, everyone.

  8. REASON has a post up about the Christmas Truce in WWI. Worth reading, in and of itself, and worth niting that the High Commands on biths sides were seriously concerned that the Common Soldiers might not put aside such peacful feelings and attack when ordered.

    May the Top Men ALWAYS be plagued by such fears.

  9. We’ve all got a few Christmas stories. Here’s one of mine.

    I had an aunt when I was young that didn’t like Christmas. Oh, I don’t mean that she was anti-Christian, atheist, or any other sort of thing. Aunt Sal preferred the original meaning, she said, with no presents and no trees, no Santa, and no jolly whatsoever.

    “Merry Christmas!” she’d say, her jaw jutting out like a battering ram, a challenging gleam in her eye. Woe be unto the soul that questioned her on it, too. Aunt Sal took to debate like a contact sport. I always wanted to say something, but Mother did not allow backtalk. I also wanted to give the old biddy a good punch in the nose for maligning Santa Claus, whom I knew was a right upstanding soul, and a good Christian, too!

    “Merry Christmas to you, too, Sally May,” Mother would murmur. Serenely. Like nothing whatsoever out of the ordinary had occurred. This of course would wind up Aunt Sal even worse. It would go on like that all December long. If my aunt was a rusty old battleaxe, Mom had to be a stiletto. Maybe even poisoned.

    Things came to a head one season at the usual family Christmas at Grandma’s. Cars parked up and down the street, in the yard, for fifty feet in either direction (and we car pooled, too). We probably could have fielded a football team with a full bench, two soccer games, and a baseball game with full concessions, all packed into a little half-dug in house and a postage stamp yard.

    Either by right of age, or as I preferred, meanness, Aunt Sal had one of the few chairs staked out in the living room all to herself, as none of the infants would stay on her lap without screaming bloody murder (infants can sense murderous instincts, I suspect). This makes them smarter than kittens.

    Kittens, I tell you. Little Constance, all two feet long and giggling of her, was terrified of all things feline. Dogs? No problem. Chowzilla suffered in patience being the chew toy and trampoline, but cats were utterly unimpressed with her. So of course her father brings home a kitten for her third birthday. What can I say? He married in, and Constance’s mother, bless her, had about as much sense as the Lord gave baby ducks. Good people, give you the shirt off their backs, but they had blind spots. As I suppose we all do.

    Nameless kitten in a room full of *huge* people, noisy, just snatched away from home and mother and siblings… Of course the little fuzzball was a bit scared. Which is why it tried and finally succeeded in escaping the playpen with the kiddies, up the curtains, over the food table, down across someone’s pants, under the stove (hot!), and finally under a chair.

    “It’s a rat! Kill it!”

    “No it’s a cat!”

    “Kill it!”

    “Shut up Edith! Where’d it go?”

    And nobody knew. Little Constance pronounced herself satisfied that the little terror was gone, crying “Pup, pup!” and giggling. To this day, she giggles. Smart girl, I’ve no idea how, but that giggle… *shakes head* Anyway. It’s hard to mount a search when the open space in the house is limited to breathing and squeezing by until you can find a porch or a flat spot free so you can put down your plate. The kitten would probably hide until all the people were gone, they said. And everyone proceeded to gossip and eat and pinch cheeks as the tall people tend to do to the shorter people around the holidays.

    Well, almost everyone. There *was* one spot of calm in the house. It wasn’t the bathroom- too many infants needing diaper changes and whatnot. It wasn’t the bedroom- I think Washington was crossing the Delaware to smite the Redcoats in their sleep (oh, like y’all didn’t have weird games when you were kids, too). It definitely wasn’t the kitchen. The kitchen is where the best gossip goes on, and us kids were banished so’s we’d not swipe the dessert before the meal was over.

    Aunt Sal managed the near impossible by having a clear space of almost six inches in any direction. Newspaper open wide to the horoscopes, comics, and word puzzles section, horn-rimed glasses low on her nose, and utterly uninterested in any of the hogwash being bandied about at the men’s table nearby. Nobody bothered Aunt Sal and that’s the way she liked it.

    I still would like to have known how that cat got into her lap undetected. People were actually *looking,* you know. But there it was, calm as anything, dead-to-the-world asleep when the last few of us were cleaning up and washing the dishes late that evening. There was a little tag that the kitten had been chasing attached to her flea collar. It was near unreadable as far as I could tell, but there was a “P” on there. Probably “From ‘P’” for Papa, to Constance.

    When we got home that evening, Mother and I hatched a plan. ‘Twas an evil, wicked plan, and I don’t regret it for an instant. But we’d have to be quick. A sturdy cardboard box lid and a bag of kitty litter were wrapped up with the gaudiest ribbon bow that could be managed on short notice. Hot pink and lots of curly ribbon! And a tag that read:

    “To: Perdition the Cat.

    From: Santa Claws.”

    I wanted to sneak into the house and leave it on her bed, Godfather-style. So of course we did not do that. We rang the bell. Aunt Sal was not pleased with being called on so late, but what could you do? Christmas, ya know.

    “I believe you forgot something at Mother’s,” mine said.

    “Absolutely not. I do not forget- is that a Christmas present?”

    “Read the tag, sister. She’ll have to be taught to use it, though.”

    And for the first time in my short life, my aunt Sal was speechless. She took the gift, went back inside and shut the door without saying goodbye. Normally, that’s bad manners, but I suppose we give her a bye on this one.

    “That was sneaky.”

    “Yes, it was.”

    It had to be, she said, because her sister was so very stubborn if she gets a chance to get her back up about something she will never back down. But cats don’t care about Christmas. They don’t care what anyone thinks about Christmas, but they do accept gifts (tribute, I would argue). What works for cats doesn’t usually work for us, though.

    A Merry Christmas to me doesn’t mean what it did to Aunt Sal. Or a lot of other folks in the world. But chances are, whoever’s saying it probably means well enough by it, and that’s good enough for me.

    Merry Christmas to all y’all, Hoyts and Huns and Hoydens. Merry Christmas to Fred the Fed and all the lurkers, too. Merry Christmas from coast to coast and around the world, in the many ways it is celebrated… And to all the cats, too, who got a Christmas tree and ornaments to play with. Take care, y’all, and be safe.

  10. In high school, I read all the Don Camillo stories I could find. Somehow, never came across that one.
    Thank you.

    • The complete Don Camillo is now available on Kindle:

      If you haven’t read them, hurry.

      • That too. You know, I always thought I liked them because the setting was SO MUCH like the village of my childhood. But Dave Freer likes them too. I think they’re just good writing.

        • When I lived in South America for a year in high school I read about 6 books in English total. One of them was a Don Camillo book. One of my fellow students was reading it for an English essay.

          Merry Christmas to you all.

      • The Kindle edition you linked has a different translator than the original US editions. Look for the 2014 comments.

      • One should be careful about ‘complete’ when it comes to Don Camillo translated into English.

        I was introduced to Don Camillo when I was graced by a dear friend with a copy of one volume of stories obtained from England. I fell instantly in love with the stories. On reading the introduction I discovered that it was the first in a new project to finally translate the entireity of Don Camillo into English. Yippee.

    • It’s in the Don Camilo Omnibus. The one with red cover. Available where fine Amazons roam.

  11. Christopher M. Chupik

  12. Merry Cristmas to all, and to all… I’ll finish that just as soon as I de-cat the turkey!

  13. to borrow the post at MG :
    Merry non-denominational seasonal festival, Y’all
    I r visiting the parental units and soon all my siblings sorts (oldest female sort to show tomorrow)

  14. Oh my, Don Camilo, the Little Priest. Have not read those stories in a very long time(50 years?). Always the staunch anti-communist of the old church. He would be horrified to see where “his” church has gone since his time in its trenches.

  15. Love those stories. Thank you – and Merry Christmas, good tidings to one and all.

  16. I found this at Ace’s recently and reread today. On not giving up.

    Damn, there sure is a lot of dust in the air suddenly.

  17. Where’s RES? Has he left the blogosphere, changed names or G-d forbid died?

    • Heh. First time I’ve been able to visit in weeks. Left the blogosphere, I guess. Thanks for asking.

      See note above detailing multiple life-crises (mostly other people’s lives, abutting my own, and forgetting to take note of Daughtorial Unit, after thirty-years underfoot, moving out to her own apartment) that are strongly indicating I ought give up one of my remaining bad habits. Especially one prone to costing much sleep, a pleasure which has been in short supply of late.

    • No. He’s been a wee bit busy. Oh, I see. He’s below.

  18. Now to your Lord sing praises
    All here within this place
    And with true Love and Brotherhood
    Each other now embrace.
    This holy time of Christmas
    All others doth deface.

  19. Merry Christmas!

  20. BTW, I’m running a free promo through Saturday. The whole thing has been a fiasco with Amazon taking 30+ hours just to approve the changes (new cover), typos in the description, and the new cover not showing up on the product page, so I haven’t really promoted it, but “Free” apparently has its own adherents. I’ve finally broken into Canada, India, and Japan (1 each). But it’s the Germans who really love freebies….

    But so that others can learn from my mistakes, don’t plan on all the elements falling into place in time for any kind of deadline. “I’ll debut a new cover in time for Christmas and have a free promo” is a really, really dumb idea, no matter how good it sounds.

    Plus, automatic updates are not really automatic, and there’s no good manual way to force them either. Nothing I did would let me get my own update (including deleting it from my cloud library and repurchasing it). But a very helpful support person at Amazon pushed the changes through on my account for me in short order, so at least I know the product is correct, even if the image is wrong. (Which also affects PC Kindle reading programs.)

    I don’t even want to think about how long it will take for changes to embedded ads to take. (WP makes its own copies of the image, which you can’t access, so who knows if they will EVER change).

    So my advice to everyone else: Take the time to get it right the first time, and then don’t touch it ever again, lest you totally lose your mind for a week.

    • Been there, done that. I planned to have promos going every day till new year. I’ll have to get one up tomorrow. Sigh.

      • You’d think the could update their servers with at least the speed with which they can ship you products. And get things to go simultaneously.

        • Doc, I happen to work for the company that supplies the technology Amazon used to build its’ IT stack from, and have to pipe up here with at least a partial defense.

          1. Amazon has a server farm with a number of physical servers somewhere around six figures. Each of those physical servers represents x number of virtual server instances, which means you have pushing 7 figures of those.. Any changes you make to the data has to be propagated to all the others. Even at microprocessor speeds, this is a non-trivial exercise time wise.

          2. Doc, when you logged in to Amazon, you connected to a particular one of those virtual servers. Until you logout / close your browser (not necessarily just the tab / window), the session you established there is yours and will not be reestablished / cache refreshed while you are using it. If you give it a few minutes of inactivity, it will catch up… but its’ definition of inactivity is not yours. 😎

          3. Meanwhile, your updates went into a queue to be processed / propagated. Until that update hit the server instance your session is using and the cache refreshes, you won’t see your changes like that image update. Until all the servers are updated, someone else logging in may or may not see your updates. 2 and 3 are why you get warned it will take time and schedule in advance.

          4. It’s Christmas. Let’s just say that those poor servers are having the cybernetic equivalent of the clerks at Macy’s and they’re working as fast as their circuits will let them. I’m surprised they’re even allowing updates this week that weren’t scheduled a week in advance. High traffic volume is going to slow down the updates mentioned in 1, 2, and 3 even more.

          • I know, it’s just a tad frustrating that all updates aren’t grouped together as they go through the system. Some happen faster than others (Changing the product description via the Author Central page goes MUCH faster). I’ve looked at it through two different computers on my end.

            But I do understand some of the issues. I think I described it elsewhere as trying to push a whale off the beach. You can’t do it all at once.

      • And who the hell returns a free book? Japan and India. They are on one report and off the graph. Bizarre.

        • YES.
          Though I’ve returned some free books under “I don’t want this on my kindle.”

          • I guess that’s easier than deleting it from the device and then from one’s library. Although I wonder, since there’s no DRM on it, how many have backed it up through the USB cable before “deleting” it.

            (I know that DRM is evil, but some people are just scummy, while thinking they are so smart.)

  21. Merry Christmas to all!

  22. c4c

  23. Q: what do you get if you eat tensil?
    A: Tensilitis

    Ok, just had to pass that on, Merry Christmas y’all.

  24. I have been thinking about this carol for some weeks. I just looked it up and listened to it again. In the spirit of Human Wave: