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July 25, 2009


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When I started going to college, in 1973, I found myself reading more and more books in the original English language, instead of translations. It caused me some confusion before I began to realize that some French words have acquired a different meaning in English. For example, 'figure' usually refers to someone's face. And 'biscuits' are cookies.

That being said... Your experience going back to your youth's stomping grounds was the opposite of mine. Every time, I go, something has changed. And I slept in my sisters's old bedroom because MY bedroom is now used by my mom's boyfriend when he's around.

These are the fluffy kind of biscuits, not cookies. One eats them with butter and jam or honey. It's the American sense of the word rather than British. No sugar involved.

Her house isn't really old stomping grounds, exactly; other than the two weeks when I was almost-two myself, it's only been a matter of a few days here, a few days there. It isn't exclusively my bedroom, it's just the one I always use.

But it's always weird to come back to that kitchen and bake there again.

Mmmmm.... homemade biscuits. You can also eat them open-face with white gravy, but I hate gravy so I don't.

I was reminded of the different meanings of 'biscuit' at the food court of Denver's airport, on my way to the worldcon. I had not had breakfast and it was almost lunch time so I took a chance at one of the burger chains. In this case, it was something called a chicken biscuit. I'm not quite sure what I had been expected, but it wasn't a fluffy doughy thing. Heck, it was food and it was cheap. (That usually is my criteria, especially during cons.)

Susan... Referring to your aunt's place as a stomping ground of your youth was indeed an inaccurate way of putting it. On the other hand, at the age of 2, didn't you stomp when walking from Point A to Point B? :-)

Seriously though... It sounds like her place is associated with fairly strong memories. Places are like that for me, some in a good way, some not so good. Still, in 2004, I revisited some of those places, and this year I went to the ones that remained. I'm not quite sure why. I guess I wanted to compare what I am now with what I was then, even though the places have changed a lot - when they still exist.

For some reason I'm checking in here at 2 AM while staying at a friend's house, so forgive me if I don't make sense. My immediate thoughts (in likely order of relevance) are:

I understand that what they call biscuits in the American South are more like what we call scones or muffins over here in England than what we call biscuits (which include cookies)*.

Susan seems to have grown 3 or 4 inches between the middle photos and the last one.

Looking into our family tree, Dad has found at least two horse thieves. Which strikes me as a crime that appears easy (it has a built in get away vehicle!) but is actually quite tricky (how do you store and sell on a horse anyway?)

* Toast, which is bread cooked twice or bis cuit ought to be a biscuit shouldn't it?

Neil... biscuits in the American South are more like what we call scones or muffins

...and I wonder if what's called a muffin is the same in America and in England.

Susan... the year of my brief experiment with contact lenses, which ended badly

What happened?

My own experiment lasted about a decade, but I eventually started going back to glasses because my peepers tended to dry up, even with modern contact lenses. The transition to full-time wearing of glasses when I accidentally threw away my contact lenses.

By the way, the French word for 'lens' is 'lentille', and is also the French word for 'lentil'.

This reminds me of one of the changes they made in the first Harry Potter book for U.S. audiences, turning scones into, ludicrously, "English muffins."

These biscuits are like scones, but less dense. They're fluffy and meant to soak up gravy or whatever, though I tend to eat them with sweets like jam since I don't favor gravy.

I don't think I've grown that much since the later pictures. Maybe an inch? I got my height fairly early.

My ancestors didn't arrive on the Mayflower or equivalent -- they were generally poor, though not actual criminals as far as I can tell, and came over as indentured servants and such, ending up as tenant farmers. It's an interesting exercise to see what a few generations can do to social class (in either direction). My grandfather is pretty obsessive about the geneaology thing and has traced some lines back centuries. And that's not even getting into my paternal ancestry, which is less documented but probably equally interesting (Castilian/Basque).

I discovered the hard way that my eyes couldn't tolerate lenses thick enough to correct my astigmatism.

I am very down on lentils ever since reading that awful book last year.

Susan... that awful book last year

Might you be referring to the winner in the Hugo's novel category?

Yes. Nipples like pink lentils. I will never forget this. Unfortunately.

Susan... If I worked hard at it, I might come up with a metaphor even less arousing, but I doubt it. Nor would I want to.

English muffins are not scones -- why would they translate them as such? Scones are definitely closer to a biscuit in flavor and texture, though the scones I've had (admittedly, in America, so who knows how they compare to the real deal) have been a little drier, more crumbly, and often have dried fruit in them.

I very much regret clicking that link and reading that disgusting description. Pity, I rather liked lentil-shaped beads. Now I may have an aversion...

My parents are on a genealogy kick again (they went on one previously when I was a teen and they decided to be Jewish, and then went on this -- ultimately futile -- search to find Jewish ancestors to somehow validate their decision), and I find it to be of very little interest, as all they're turning up is a bunch of names and dates. Bereft of any sort of biographical information, it's as interesting as the long lines of "begats" in the early books of the Bible. However, I did have a great-great-great-great-grandmother named Freelove. FREELOVE!

They thought Americans would not know what scones were. That's also why "Philosopher's Stone" became "Sorcerer's Stone" in the title; they figured Americans knew nothing about alchemy either. They may be right on both counts, but it still annoys me.

My grandfather has been digging around in old records since I was a child. I've always found it pretty fascinating. With enough digging, you connect to people who are famous and thus have well-recorded ancestry that will add lots of people to your family tree. And even census records can be surprisingly interesting just as little teasing bits of story. The possible 1/2048th Italian is my nine-times-great-grandfather, who was recorded on the census as "Giovanni Patitti, Eye-Talian." (I may have the spelling wrong on the last name -- it's been awhile.) Either he or his son was next recorded as the Americanized "John Poteete." Was he actually Italian or just, err, creative? Was John Poteete his son or him (which would affect the number of greats)? If he was Italian, what was he doing in the colonies in the 1700s? What brought him to the American South? That line dead-ends with him, alas.

And then there were the brothers who fought on both sides of the Civil War: after starting out with the South, they got captured and promptly defected and fought on the Union side. And the Primitive Baptist ministers. Even the names: who calls their poor kid Thomas Thomas? And the Cherokee line through my ancestress Rebecca Hudgins (whom I have a mid-19thc photo of; she was either half- or full Cherokee.)

And then there's the Scottish line, which goes back far enough that Macbeth is family history for me. That's probably not as unusual as you'd think; the relevant line has another family of a dozen or so children just one generation later, which as one can see from my great-grandmother means a ludicrously large number of descendants in just a few generations, and we're talking a thousand years. Probably half of Scotland is descended from them at this point.

AJ... Granny Freelove? Groovy!

I don't really know much about my family's ancestry. I think the original arrivals to New France were wealthy people, but that's about it. I know more about my wife's ancestry. The original Krinards were a bunch of brothers named Kreinert who came to America in the 2nd half of the 19th century because they had zero interest in serving in the Kaiser's military. My wife's paternal grandmother is a descendant of Benedict Arnold, who was a cousin of George Washington. There may also be a Sioux Indian somewhere in the family.

As for names... One of my co-workers is Chinese, born in Hong Kong. When she got married to her American-born Chinese significant other, they found that his family name really was his long-ago ancestor's first name, thanks to some confusion with Immigration, and that his family name actually was the same as my co-worker.


It's a shame that publishers think so little of American kids and Americans in general. I read some British books when I was a kid (James Herriot's series), and I either learned the unfamiliar words/terms through inference, asking my Mom, or looking it up in the dictionary. Books can be enjoyable *and* a learning experience.

My father discovered that one of our ancestors was a prosecutor at the Salem Witch Trials, so honestly, if that's the quality of ancestor I have, I'd rather not know more about them.

I love biscuits and sausage gravy. The best place to get it locally is Bob Evans and they kindly serve it all day.

I stopped wearing contacts when I had to wear reading glasses around my neck all the time. I have to wear gas-permeable lenses because of a scar in my left eye, so I can't try the soft lenses with the reading portion built in. The progressive glasses are not as good as not having to deal with anything, but they're better than the other options.

One of my great-uncles traced back our Layman name and the first in the US was Frederick Layman who came from Prussia to fight for the British in the Revolutionary War.

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