Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Amazing Goose

Riddle:   You push your car up the way until you get to a hotel.  There you go bankrupt. What’s going on?

I have a big weekend coming up.  Our nephew (my husband’s sister’s son) is getting married on Saturday in a big church wedding.  His fiancee is charming, sweet and funny, so this is wonderful.  Then Sunday is Michaelmas and we are throwing our annual big pot luck dinner.  There is a medieval superstition that if you eat goose at Michaelmas (the Feast of St. Michael and All Angels) you won’t want for money for a year.  We’ve been doing this almost as long as we’ve been married (thirty-three years); a friend introduced us to the custom.  Interestingly, it seems to work.  It doesn’t make you rich, it just stops the fiscal emergencies.  Before Michaelmas goose, if we got five hundred dollars in the bank, the car had a six hundred dollar breakdown; after Michaelmas, if we got five hundred dollars in the bank, the car had a four hundred and ninety dollar breakdown.  We’ve added our own touches to the celebration: we sing “Amazing Goose, how sweet the flesh, that saved a wretch like me; I once was broke, but now I’m flush, I’m saved from penury.” And we recite a serious prayer to Michael the Archangel.  Then we feast.  Because geese are getting very expensive, I’m only roasting two this year, and we’re cutting back on the guest list.  Fortunately the flesh is very rich and it doesn’t take much to make a serving.  I stuff them with whole cloves of garlic, chopped onions, and whole green grapes and roast them in a hot oven, basting often so the skin comes out crisp.  Delicious!

Hint:  The car is silver, even the wheels.

The counted canvas (a counted cross stitch pattern worked on canvas instead of fabric) turned out to be beyond my capabilities, I kept getting lost in the many color changes, making error after erro.  So my stitching partner has taken it over.  She was just going to do one rose (the pattern is a bouquet of pink and red roses) so it would be easier for me to continue it myself, but she got the bit between her teeth and is going forward with it.  I may reclaim it, but I’ve gone off onto an old painted canvas that will be a Christmas stocking and am very pleased with my progress on it.  I’m feeling somewhere between guilty for not reclaiming the roses and relieved that it’s going so well with her – what I’m after is a fine new seat for the antique English occasional chair, more than the experience of stitching it.  On the other hand, I wanted the work to be mine.

Another hint:  The hotel is in Atlantic City.

This afternoon I am going to a place called Perspectives which is a charity that works to bring families back together after one or both (very often there is only the mother) has been incarcerated or in treatment for drug use or other serious problems.  The children attend classes to help them catch up to their grade level and learn other skills.  In my case, cooking.  I will be working with a professional chef and several other volunteers to teach the children how to cook and serve a simple, nourishing meal.  I’ll probably learn at least as much as I teach.

Final hint:  Near the Boardwalk.

I’m starting to look forward to Magna cum Murder, a mystery convention that has moved from Muncie to Indianapolis, Indiana.  It’s not a big gathering, but the panels are often superb, it’s extremely well organized, and Mattie Coleman should be there selling fancy hats. 

Answer:  You’re playing Monopoly.


Linda O. Johnston said...

Love your description of the Michaelmas geese and what they've done for you, Monica!

Monica Ferris said...

The problem with geese - in addition to their cost - is that you get less meat per pound of bird than you do with turkey. They don't have that immense breast the turkey does. But it's all dark, flavorful meat, very tasty.

Anonymous said...

Maybe you could use your Perspectives experience in a future book -- maybe Betsy could teach knitting or cross stitch. Just a thought.

Monica Ferris said...

Good idea, anonymous - maybe I could do it for real, teach something simple - or give a class in creative writing.

Monica Ferris said...

Last week someone suggested I use the Fontanini Christmas pieces in a mystery, and I've been thinking about it ever since. I know I could write a short story about a woman who collects them . . .

Betty Hechtman said...

I look forward to hearing about your teaching experience with the kids.