The Caterpillar has discovered a new favorite Christmas song. It's a traditional villancico, or Spanish folk carol, called "Los Peces en elRío." It has a bouncy tune and interesting lyrics. As this site points out, there aren't any bells ringing or kings visiting in this song. It's more about Mary accomplishing the mundane tasks of motherhood, while the fishes in the river are gulping with excitement about the Savior's birth.
At first I wasn't sure if I liked the words. According to this source, they point out the contrast between the businesslike mother and the joyful fish. But the lyrics are growing on me.
Being a folk song, the verses vary. I like this recording, because it includes the part about Mary washing diapers and hanging them out to dry. Everyone appreciates her privilege of holding and kissing Baby Jesus, but even he needed diapers, and someone had to wash them. A mother's job, for sure.
Other verses show her combing her hair and taking long walks. While mothers all know it's difficult, we know we must take care of ourselves to keep up the strength to care for our families. In this song, I see Mary as a good example of a new mother, balancing the demands on her time and body. And the fish drink in the wonder of it all.
There's no way to know the origins of this song, but I imagine a group of Spanish women doing their washing in the stream. They comfort each other through the drudgery by pointing out that even Mary had to wash diapers. The burbling brook and its curious fish inspire a light-hearted song. Enjoy!
The week before Thanksgiving, the milk started to taste funny. Various members of the family blamed each other for leaving it out too long, and choked it down anyway. But when we sat down to dinner the day Grandpa O arrived, and Rollo's glass of milk came out all curdled, we couldn't ignore it any more. There was a problem with the refrigerator.
Careful measurement with thermometers of varying reliability revealed that the fridge was 10-15 degrees warmer than it ought to be, even at the coldest setting. I called repairmen, but none could come for a whole week. What would become of my Thanksgiving feast supplies? Then Grandpa O came to the rescue. He offered to give us a new refrigerator as an early Christmas gift.
We did some research and some shopping. In the meantime, we relied on our extra freezer. It kept the turkey safe, and provided buckets of ice to keep the refrigerator a bit cooler. A couple of things spoiled, but most stayed in good shape. I took the two and a half gallons of curdled milk and tried my hand at making cheese. It was mostly done before I poured it out of the jugs, actually, so it was pretty easy. We were having a sunny cold snap, so I chilled the cheese outside. I served this Queso Mostly-Fresco with tacos one day, and everyone ate it.
Finally we chose a new fridge, with delivery promised . . . on Wednesday. The same day the repairman would have come. We kept drinking juice and buying one gallon of milk at a time, and didn't eat breakfast cereal for over a week. When D2 came home from school every day, he asked if the new refrigerator had arrived. When the big day came, he helped me move things out of the old one. The delivery men had it all set up before lunch time, and said we could use it right away. It was so beautiful and clean, it almost seemed like a shame to put things inside. But we did, quickly. The boys were thrilled to come home to a new refrigerator, to have milk in the house again. Have you ever heard small children being excited about a major appliance? While dismaying, this was a good gratitude-building experience.
The feast was a success. But Rollo still wasn't grateful to eat cereal for breakfast.