Friday, February 24, 2017

geese vs pies

At the funeral reception last Sunday, a life celebration they called it, people were instructed to keep it short and sweet, no more than five minutes and no tears. And everyone took longer than five minutes to express why they adored the guy. And everyone choked.

A gruff old dark somewhat off-putting man of substantial weight and lumbering movement rose the steps to the stage and said, "I've probably known Bill longer than anyone else in the room." How presumptuous, all of us have known Bill most of our lives. He continued, "We met in late 1950's when we were both working on advanced degrees at Berkley."

You win.

He went on to say that his his sister, or Bill's sister urged him not to relate this story because it's too damaging to their characters and it turned out to be the best story of the day. He took us back to a time when not everybody had freezers, instead they used a town ice house were space was rented enclosed in cages secured by small locks. The man spoke of hunting trips that bagged quite a lot of birds. So many they had to be stored in an ice house. Getting to their locker they had to pass other lockers filled with farm food prepared and frozen, like a very large assortment of pies. They were college students with a superabundance of geese and a paucity of pies. They picked the locks and to assuage their guilt they left a goose in exchange for a pie.

When the dark old man choked he became human and vulnerable and sympathetic as a little boy.

On the drive home I mentioned neither the speaker nor Bill majored in economics and it showed. A goose for a pie is a terrible lopsided exchange. It should be more like ten or fifteen pies for a goose. I made my statement but didn't defend it. Others tried to explain why that was a reasonable choice.

You cannot buy a goose just anywhere. Right there is a specialty thing. The last one I saw at the general grocery store I think was $60.00 frozen and that was not a whole goose. This is Whole Foods territory, and Tony's Market and Marczyk will be even more expensive. Whole Foods uses Kristina's Natural Ranch Market for their geese. Here is their goose page, $150.00 for 10-13 LBS and $120.00 for 7-10 LBS.

That's not so bad if you're imagining preparing a fantastic and memorable meal. Something to keep in mind.

That's what I'm talking about driving me out of my mind visualizing the guys dropping a whole goose to compensate for their pie theft. They know that's a sin. But that's pie with extreme penance. Extreme interest at extreme usury level. Extreme atonement. Pies are $10 or $11.00 usually. They should have left a goose and taken fifteen pies.

Everyone thought I was being comical.

But I'm glad that I bothered checking. Because it led me to Maple Leaf Farms Duck site. Their page for whole ducks shows roasted duck but they're selling raw ones. They're priced whole at $16.00 to $22.00.

Now that is reasonable.

And you think, oh man, shipping is going to be a drag. You must buy a lot of product for the shipping to be worth it. They ship in Styrofoam containers with dry ice and that right there seals the deal for me right now. I need dry ice. Now. I'll buy it just to experiment with the dry ice. I want to use it to refill my Sodastream canisters.

One last thing about that life celebration. A slide display ran on loop as people mingled before and after, recycling some two hundred photos thereabout so that the man's entire life is recalled in photographs including groups of family and friends and all those years doing things together and involved with each other's projects and trips together, and although I did notice some faces repeating in the photographs, faces of people no longer alive, not a single photograph with me. And I realized I don't really count for that much.

There were a lot of young women that I never met. They all turned out to be nieces. All nieces and no nephews. All of them, some eight or so, each one wanted so much to express what made their uncle so fantastic. Their stories revolved about time spent together in all that goes into a hunting trip together and all the time spent in direct contact in duck blinds. That was his way of having a great relationship with each one of them. The lesson I took from that is to try to find such activities and make the most while there is time.

15 comments:

Lipperman said...

I agree that you can't buy a goose just anywhere. And you can't buy a wild goose anywhere, because that's against the law. But sometimes you can't give one away, either. After shooting a limit of Canadas, I would gladly trade one for a home made pie!

Sixty Grit said...

We sometimes had goose and plum pudding for Christmas. Appearing in the role of Tiny Tim, my younger brother.

I have a nearly 17 year old cat that is snoring. It is lunchtime. Makes me wonder if he is a schnorrer.

Where is CL? I have a question about ethyl N-2-Diisopropylaminoethyl Methylphosphonothiolate.

Or maybe I was thinking of Ethyl Mertz. One can't be too sure these days.

ricpic said...

"We met in late 1950's when we were both working on advanced degrees at Berkeley."

To which my silent response (if I were in the audience) would have been, "Go shove your advanced degree."

Sixty Grit said...

There once was a time that UCB was a good engineering school. I have worked with plenty of PhDs from there, several of whom were decent human beings.

Now, not so much.

Trooper York said...

I saw a flight of geese flying over Brooklyn yesterday. A sign of spring?

I read somewhere that some geese have stopped migrating as there is enough food for them here in the Northeast and it has stopped being so called. I wonder if that is true.

XRay said...

You tell good stories, Chip.

ricpic said...

Troop - The geese in my part of the woods stay put through winter. And they sure don't look as though they're missing a meal.

Sixty - He could have said, "...when we were both students (or grad students) at Berkeley." What bugged me was the covert bragging in the phrasing "working on advanced degrees." Lots of people do it, in fact feel driven to do it. It's human, all too human and as such shouldn't piss me off...but it does.

Sixty Grit said...

Ah, I understand. There is a woman I interact with who insists on being called "Doctor". Bitch, unless you can write me a prescription you ain't no doctor! But I don't actually say that otherwise she would goosestep all over me and invade my Poland.

Chip Ahoy said...

Humblebrag, we were poor students working on advanced degrees. He elaborated a bit. The speaker was working on his doctorate and Bill was working on his masters.

See? Off-putting. And behind all that is a little boy who cries when he recalls something tender that gone forever. It was really quite a remarkable display.

The dark fat old man mentioned Bill's father was head anesthesiologist at a hospital in L.A. but nobody mentioned what that meant. Bill's dad was an important person and their family lifestyle impressed visitors. One told me they stayed at a low sprawling ranch home in the desert that belonged to the daughter, Bill's sister, a wedding gift from their father. They entered a large open room with a veritable ocean of camelhair carpet where they met Bill's dad dressed formally. It was a formal situation, the guest felt a bit uncomfortable. Everyone was dressed for the visit, this was not a casual thing. Except Bill. Bill dressed from Goodwill. Always ripped jeans and blown out sneakers, some goofy or exotic t-shirt. Bill looked like a character completely out of place by 100% in his own sister's home. He always looked like a homeless person. One person told me, "They have some kind of arrangement with the help to never be seen yet they take care of every meticulous detail. We never did see anyone. We tested by leaving a cigarette butt on the lawn not near the chairs we were sitting and the next morning it was gone. Somebody picked it up. Again, unseen."

Both the dark fat old ugly off-putting speaker and Bill have backgrounds of impressive wealth. But you wouldn't know that by looking. It takes listening over time to even know that because all the imagery throughout says otherwise and all the stories are humble like this one. His story with braggadocio elements and his off-putting manner are actually authentic gentleman holding back a very great deal. Of all the stories he could tell about his amazing background they all choose instead to talk about hunting and this guy talked about picking locks and stealing pies instead. I understood how much he was holding back, how utterly obnoxious he'd sound were he to really get into the things that excites him because he'd sound like he's bragging his butt off when he's actually just being excited.

Evi L. Bloggerlady said...

There is a big difference between wild geese and farm ones.

Wild geese are not bad eating, but they are small and have to be cooked just about perfectly to be edible. There is about a nano second between under-cooked and over-cooked/shoe leather with a wild goose (ok, I exaggerate, but not by much).

ampersand said...

The value of goose vs. pies depends of the price of goose in the fifties. I only had goose once in my life when I was a kid. It must have been reasonably priced or my parents would never have splurged. Nevertheless once the fat was cooked out what was left was
barely adequate to feed the family.
Back then Turkey cost as much as you can get it for today. However back then it may have taken a whole day's wage to buy one.
I once ran across an ad for lobster tails around Christman 1958. 3 for 49 cents.

MamaM said...

Their stories revolved about time spent together in all that goes into a hunting trip together and all the time spent in direct contact in duck blinds.

Which is another version of a goose for a pie story, seen and told in retrospect with the experiences and time spent seeming more and more meaningful until they "popped up" and were perceived as significant. To my way of thinking,"to be present" is another way to describe the direct contact offered; as he appeared to been present to himself and those he invited to his duck blind.

I regard activities as the venue for what shows up and happens when someone is present, checked in, at home with themselves and ready to share.

Since I'm not sure whether I'm being invited into a duck blind with these posts, or when a pie is being traded for a goose, I'll second the "You tell good stories" comment, and enjoy the pie.

rcommal said...

Among my very favorite memories as a very young child (let's recall that I was born in early 1961 and was cursed with a talent for awareness and memory from the start) and well into my late elementary-school and earliest junior high-school years are those spent with my dad's family--his parents, my uncles--on a rustic piece of land in the Midwest (now known as flyover country, but not then, at least not to me). It was there that I spent a time with my paternal uncles (the younger of whom was getting ready to enter high school, and the older of whom was navigating his first year post H.S. grad. With them, I spent a lot of times in duck-blinds, walking through woods both not looking *and* looking for game, and not just fishing but also cleaning and gutting the fish that we caught and then cooking them on an open fire for which tinder, kindling and logs had to be gathered.

Old=school babysitting, in other words. For which I have always been grateful.

I suppose one could call that old-school babysitting.

rcommal said...

...was getting ready to enter high school, and the older of whom was navigating his first year post H.S. grad [when I was born].... TBC,

rcommal said...

Then there was my mom's family, the farmers. My mom was raised on a farm in the Midwest, as were both of her parents, but most notably her mother, on account of the fact that a good chunk of my gram-gram's siblings started out being raised on a farm in the Old Country. I spent a lot of time at the farm, too.

From my perspective, I've got good reason to be pretty damn annoyed at folks who keep acting as if I don't know shit from shinola, when, in fact, I do.

There's a reason why I've sayin' "and not or" for, oh, literally several decades now, and way before I encountered any of you.