Intermediate Spanish on Aisle Five
I took up Spanish on my own.
Mind you, living in South Florida, there are some obvious benefits that would not happen if you lived in some less diverse area.
I had five years of French in Junior High School and Senior High School. It has been long enough that most of that is long gone, save the pronunciation of certain Spanish words. I use that Back of The Throat R that the French do, and my Spanish “Ere” are no where near a trill like you would hear on the streets of Ciudad de Mexíco or Buenos Aires.
After the year or so of using Duolingo, watching Spanish Language TV, and listening to Spanish Language radio, I’m firmly ensconced in the Intermediate Spanish realm.
That is to say I speak good Plaza Sésamo. Get too complex and I am happy to look itup.
I’m lucky though. The friends I have that are not Bilingual are willing to help by giving me things to listen to and to read.
I’m also highly “Project Driven” as would be expected from a Project Manager.
We have a lot of little projects to finish here at the little house on the quirky little island known as Wilton Manors, Florida.
Quite a few projects actually. Way too many.
Recently we took on wiring the yard with low voltage lights.
Being who we are, those low voltage lights have to be LED lights. Have to be as in It Is Under Pain Of Death That We Are Green And Use LED Lights.
Truly. Over the top.
But the nice thing is that they use practically no power to do what the security lights that are there do with old fashioned Incandescent bulbs.
The existing bulbs are 110 Volt, 40 Watt. Two of them. On full, that is 80 watts. The equivalent is running at 1/10th the voltage and 1/4th of the wattage – a total of 1/40th of the current to make the same light.
If my math is correct.
But first, we have to get the things. That means a trip to The Big Box Home Improvement Store of your choice.
We did hit both. Bought the gear we thought we needed.
The transformer was already here. That was found online. Light bulbs and fixtures were at the big box stores along with the wire we needed.
One of the things I’m doing to learn Spanish is watch some kid’s shows. Ones for a pre-teen audience. Why? Because the sentence structure is just about where my own Spanish is at. Never mind that the songs that they put in these shows with all those flashing lights and images are guaranteed to be an ear-worm to be stuck in your head to come out at inappropriate moments.
So here I am, all 6 Foot 4 of me, walking down the aisles of the big box store quoting lines from a song that an elementary school kid would recite.
“Vamos Herramientas! Lets Go Tools!”
I spot the hand tool aisle. We could use some parts to the electric drill…
I’m told I have lost my mind…
Brinco Salto, Si Vamonos!
No Hay Que Tardar!
Y a Reparar!
Leap Hop, Yes we go!
There is no delay!
And to repair!
And I am trotting through the big store with this song on a loop inside my head as I go past the paint, ceiling fans, sprinkler parts and find the low voltage lighting.
And I realize that I’m stuck in a silly song that doesn’t quite sound right in my native English.
Then again I have never seen that TV show, Handy Manny, in English. There are some shows that I have never seen in English, only in Spanish.
Who can resist a story where a sarcastic blue hammer is telling a baby blue whale to go back into the sea?
We grab more treasures to be buried in the yard.
Some black wire for low voltage use only.
Another two lamps that promise to light my palm tree.
A “straight hoe” that brings some childish giggles at the name.
Everything gets into the cart as I stand there like a toddler reading the words off the box out loud. After all everyone would want to hear a child say their new words, why not a full grown adult with a new toy of a new language?
“Contenido del paquete! That means Package Contents!”
I hear a quiet groan, then, “Great, can you grab this?”
“Sí! Voy a ayudar! Yes, I am going to help!”
“Here, have the instructions. They’re in Spanish too!”
So I’m now being distracted with a parts explosion and installation instructions on how to install a post lamp in the yard. Pretty simple actually.
But it gives me a new world of words to learn.
Cable de la lampara – Fixture Wire
Advertencia – Warning
Precaución – Caution
As strange as it sounds, reading the words off of the wall helps a lot, and those boring installation instructions that we gloss over turn out to be a trove of new Palabras – Words.
I find myself reading the Spanish on the shelves first for the challenge promising myself I won’t read the English.
We go through checkout and get home. As we’re relaxing and cooling down for the afternoon, I pick up another piece of reading and dig down deep. It’s the instructions for how to assemble, mount, and install a ceiling fan!
How exciting, huh?
Take the learning where you can. If you don’t have anyone nearby who can help you with your new language, don’t be afraid to look in unorthodox places. After all, Radio Martí broadcasts news from the US Government all in Spanish, and while propaganda is never balanced, it can help you learn, especially when you have a live link here.
Ahora, donde está mis instrucciónes?
Now, Where are my instructions?
Oh! And that blue whale? Of course the 10 hand tools and the people of the little beach town made a thing out of available fabric and sticks and were able to save the baby whale by walking it down the beach to the sea. Because that is how things end in a happy little kid’s show in Spanish.