Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Idahoax

Due to the blizzard warning (that shut down basically the whole state plus a few neighbouring states as well) we had an Emily pity-party this evening. She had been planning on going up to Morgan's for Thanksgiving but because of the storm she wasn't able to leave today. She was devastated.

And I totally know how she feels. At least, I think I do.

It's kind of like how I feel when I'm planning on Andrew coming home at 5:30 but he doesn't end up coming home until 6:00 and ends up walking through the door just as I'm screaming, "Wait until your father gets home!" because staying patient sane that extra half hour is just too much to handle.

I think that's probably how she felt when the weatherman said "Do not go outside or you will die!" (or something along those lines—it really was a severe blizzard warning; they closed the highways and everything; we ended up getting very little snow here but it did get windy and really cold).

Anyway, we ended the evening by playing Hand and Foot. Naturally, Idaho, Morgan's homestate, figured into the conversation and we started wondering about how it got the nickname of Gem State.

I explained that Idaho is called the Gem State because they are so rich in potatoes. In Idahoan patois "gem" is another word of potatoes. There's even a variety of potatoes called gem potatoes; they descend from yukon gold potatoes.

"No way!" Andrew protested.

"That's where we get the name for potato pearls," Karen asserted.

We totally had him going. But eventually he made me look it up on Wikipedia to "prove it." And so I had to admit that it was a completely fabricated. But I don't even really feel too badly about it because do you know the origin of the naming of the state of Idaho?

That was also a bit of a fabrication on the part of George M. Willing. He said that Idaho was Shoshone for "Gem of the Mountains." Yeah, it was a complete hoax. He later said he just made the word up out of thin air. The tale is known as the Idahoax.

Mr. Willing and I would have rocked the house playing Malarky (an imponderables bluffing game) together. Too bad he was born two centuries before me.

The French word for potato is pomme de terre, or "apple of the earth," which is kind of funny because in Italian (and Russian, basically) pomodoro means "golden apple," though this refers to a tomato and not a potato. But there again, food equals wealth.

Some of the playing cards we were using featured famous royalty and artifacts on them: Marie Antoinette, Henry VIII, and a parterre d'eau.

"What's a parterre d'eau?" Reid asked.

The general consensus was that it was something...water. The picture was a little staute thing but it was so small that we couldn't really be sure what it was.

"Give it to the French speaker," he said, passing the card my direction.

"Ummm...something...earth...water..." I said.

In my defense I don't really speak French.

Andrew and I stewed about it for a few minutes but couldn't come up with anything. We finally turned to Wikipedia again.

"A parterre is a formal garden construction on a level surface consisting of planting beds, edged in stone or tightly clipped hedging, and gravel paths arranged to form a pleasing, usually symmetrical pattern," we read and then skipped to the essential stuff. "The word parterre comes from French, 'on the ground...'"

"Par!?" I exclaimed, "I couldn't think of what par meant!"

It means by. Like as in par avion or like par in golf—you should be able to get your ball in the hole by the time you hit it three times. Yeah. Par.

Not that knowing that would have helped us much since the card was referring specifically to the parterre d'eau at Versailles and for some reason pictured only the chubby little cherub. We didn't even recognize it as a famous statue; Triton would have been a dead give-away. What were the card-makers thinking? That would be like having a column without a capital and then trying to guess what kind of capital it should have...I mean, how many statues of cherubs are there?

Anyway, it was a good night, even if it didn't blizzard too much. Emily was cheerful—though determined to leave at the crack of dawn in the morning. We'll have to see how the roads up north are doing. They were hit pretty hard.

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