Tag Archives: Spanish

Melodies play all through me.

I first titled this post “Melodies of life,” then “Melodies play in my mind…” but then I realized that music is more pervasive than that. My heart is full of melodies today. I mentioned last summer how Kate’s husband Tom would sing about everything; I asked him to make up a song for going to the Indian market and he was on it immediately and with a good will.

Now it’s Raj who sings all day, as long as he is in a happy mood. As the weeks went by and he got used to being in Grandma’s house, his mood gradually improved. But the change when his father returned from extended job training was dramatic. Until then, I think he was intuitively ill at ease, what with his nanny and father both “disappearing” and being replaced with Grandma. Once the family unit was restored he relaxed and became much less reactive. The songs increased.

His mother has created custom eclectic playlists of songs to play for the children, including many from her own childhood, when we had our favorites to sing on trips and before bed, and sometimes around the piano. From being fed throughout his whole short life by both the recorded music and the singing parents, Raj seems to have at his disposal a hundred songs to sing as medleys while he is playing.

Rug I just got for my newly refurbished closet.

He has been allowed to watch toddler videos in Spanish, which I found very educational for myself. When I achieved 500 days in a row in my Duolingo “study” a few weeks ago, I stopped; it just seemed like too much with all the world events demanding my attention. So I’ve enjoyed learning some new words and phrases by means of catchy songs (on “Super Simple” Spanish, YouTube) like “Ponte tus zapatos, zapatos, zapatos…”

At his morning naptime the parents sing to little Rigo, and I could hear them from downstairs, especially when Tom returned and took his turns in a man’s voice. “As I Went Down in the River to Pray,” was reintroduced to my own musical repertoire in this way. Other sweet reminders are “You Are My Sunshine” and “I Feel Like a Morning Star.” These melodies have comforted our souls, especially as we were repeatedly recovering from little boy noise — oh, my! The wild energy is exhausting; I’m glad the parents are young.

The family departed this morning for their new home and jobs in Panama. It’s the same daughter whom I visited in India two years ago, where I was able to be present when their firstborn arrived. I’m posting a few more stories and pictures before I move on to the next chapter of my life.

One discovery Raj led me to was manzanita berries as food. He found a funny unused plant stand in the greenhouse that he liked to sit on, and one day I found him in there chewing on something from a cup. He had collected manzanita berries from under the bush. I knew that they weren’t toxic, but I had never heard of any human eating them, so I looked them up and found an article about how you can use the unripe berries to make cider, the ripe berries in baked goods; you can even boil the seeds to make “a sophisticated drink.” No joke!

Well, if a toddler was enjoying them, and going back for more, I must sample one myself. I tried several, actually, and they do taste good, but there is not much flesh to taste! You immediately get to the seeds in the middle, which are basically three little stones filling the fruit. I hope I never am so poor that I need to survive on them.

Their last day here, when Tom and Kate were busy packing, Raj had been informed that the trip was imminent. Finally they would go to their new house in that mythical place called Panama, which he’d heard about for several months. He was as cheerful as could be, working from the essential understanding that they would be on an airplane and an adventure again. Finally he had a personal use for the phrase that he’s heard so often in the last year: “You ‘tay here, I be right back!” He told me this many times, as the move was the topic of the day.

And when in my bedroom he found a stuffed llama toy, he thought he’d like to get in my “big red bed” with it, and he snuggled there for at least a half an hour, leaving and returning with books to read, and more stuffed animals, chattering nonstop. He found a basket of Christmas cards and “read” all two dozen of them; I particularly liked this activity!

What will I do, now that it’s quiet here again? I managed to note on paper at least a couple dozen songs that I heard my grandson sing over the last few weeks, and I’ll try to create my own playlist of cheerful tunes to keep filling my house and heart. ❤

Limón in the Cazuela

The Cazuela That the Farm Maiden Stirred by Samantha R. Vamos is a delightful Hispanic incarnation of The House that Jack Built. It tells the story of a rice pudding from the farm to the table. The reader is introduced to two new words, first in English, every time he turns the page. From then on, those key words are only written in Spanish.

Before I opened the book, Mr. Glad was enjoying it and noticed that the word for lime was much like our lemon. That made me wonder what the word for lemon is.

New World Spanish-English Dictionary sits on the reference shelf here as a leftover from the days when four of our children in turn studied Spanish. Even though their father and I never did study that language that is so useful, almost essential, in California, we’ve lived here our whole lives and have picked up some vocabulary, sometimes by consulting this word book, as I did on this occasion.

The hen helps by grating the limón

I don’t know why, but my dictionary is wrong about limón. It says that it means lemon, and that if you want to talk about a lime you say lima. I found it hard to believe that this book written by a woman with a Hispanic name, illustrated by a man with a Hispanic name, with the intent of teaching 21 words, would get any wrong.

But I have a friend who is married to a Mexican man and teaches at a bilingual school, and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to ask my local expert. She wrote, “Okay babe. Limón means lime and limón agria or limón Amarillo can mean lemon. There is a lemon-like fruit called Lima limón. There are not lemons like we have here in the U.S. in Mexico.” That seemed a pretty authoritative word on the subject.

This is a picture book, an Easy Reader, so I must not forget to mention the illustrations, which as you can see from these sample pages I photographed are party-bright, full of the joy and fun of cooking together.

At the back you will find a glossary with pronunciations, in case your Spanish is rusty, and best of all, a recipe for rice pudding. What I would love to do with a young child is read the book, make the pudding together while using the English and Spanish words to talk about the ingredients, and then read the book again while the cazuela simmers.

I would rather one of my grandchildren helped me in the kitchen, while we keep the animals outdoors or in the pages of the book. But an arroz con leche pudding with plenty of crema and some zest of limón would suit me just fine.