Chapter 32 of the Peter and Gertrud Klopp Story – Part III

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Biene’s Engagement Ring

 Her Half-Day Cultural Activities

On one of these half-days my letter with the engagement ring arrived. (Its incredible odyssey has been described in a previous post.) Biene having no idea what it contained and filled with joyful anticipation placed it prominently on the mantle piece. She did not want to open it until all her work was done. This way she would enjoy reading the latest news from Canada in the peace and quiet of her room.  The morning hours crept by at a snail’s pace. Finally the moment had come, when she could open the letter. I thought it would be best to let her describe her reaction upon finding the engagement ring in the envelope, about which we both had given up hope of ever seeing it again.

The Ring

The Engagement Ring

O Peter, if I had opened it any sooner, I would not have been able to do any work. Now I was by myself, and it took me a very long time, until I had recovered from the joyful shock. I was totally unprepared for this! Now your ring is on my finger and I have to keep looking at my hand, because I can hardly believe it. And how accurately you have chosen size and form as if we two had bought it together! Is it not like a miracle that your letter with its precious content after a journey half  around the globe finally landed in my hands? How did I yearn for it in June and then later again, when you thought it could arrive by surface mail! And now it has come so unexpectedly! Will it always be like this with us? I keep thinking of the quote from Bodelschwingh you had given to me in Michelbach, ‘To learn to wait is our merit …’. Ever since I love you, Peter, even waiting fills me with joy. All I do is for you, and all I experience, I experience in thought with you. It is unimaginable how much inner peace and how much strength you have given me after all these years, in which I had been torn and  tossed to and fro by feelings as if I had been living in a labyrinth. Now it seems to me as if I have found the right way. No, it is actually not like that, for I know that I found it through you …

As hard as her daily chores often were, they did not diminish her enthusiasm for the care she was able to provide for the children. Having received much love during her childhood, she was able to pass it on to the Lande children. In fact the close relationship with them aroused feelings of tender anticipation of the not too distant future, when she would be looking after our own children in the land of our dreams in Canada.

Every once in a while, she granted herself a little treat and went out to immerse herself into the British cultural environment. When she attended a performance by the internationally renowned Bolshoi Ballet, which happened to be in Manchester on its tour throughout the United Kingdom, the dancers and the music enchanted her such that in her imagination I was sitting next to her just like on our rendezvous at the opera in Wuppertal and with this romantic image on her mind she no longer felt alone among all those strangers in the theatre.

On rare occasions she went out to dine sometimes alone, sometimes with a friend. With all the work that Biene had to do, there never seemed to be enough food for her on the dinner table. Indeed, at times she was so hungry that she often resorted to eating candies, which was certainly not helping to keep her teeth in good health. The dentist in town paid for by the generous medical program, which included foreigners with a work permit, took care of many a cavity in her teeth.

Like me at my road trip through Canada, she was sometimes puzzled by certain customs, peculiar expressions and idiomatic expressions. One day while waiting for her meal to arrive in an East Indian restaurant, she was looking at the little trays, which the waiter had placed in front of her on the table. One of them particularly attracted her attention with its dark aromatic liquid, which Biene thought to be an appetizer. After all this was an exotic eatery, and while she did not recognize what it was, good manners and etiquette required that she at least tried and tasted some of these mysterious substances. The saying ‘When in Rome, do as the Romans do’ may have also prompted her to reach for the teaspoon and dip it into the liquid that appeared to her as most appetizing. The strong piquant flavour was not altogether disagreeable. However, when the observant waiter saw the young lady from Germany sample another spoonful, he came rushing to her table and discretely said, “Excuse me, Miss. The items are not hors d’oeuvres, but rather condiments for the main course you had ordered.”

condiments (3)

Some other time she went out to dine with her friend Susan. They had ordered a glass of wine to complement their meal. As they happily savoured the delicious food, the waiter came by their table and announced in a tone that was supposed to convey his appreciation for his customers, “The drinks are on the house.” Biene pondered on the meaning of his puzzling remark. In her mind she visualized drinks being placed somewhere on top of the restaurant. But she was smart enough not to ask any questions or make a silly remark, as I had once done on my trip with Adolf through Canada. Susan clued her in later saying that the waiter meant that the drinks were free this evening.

15 comments

  1. Edda · November 10, 2017

    Wenn ich Eure Geschichte lese, ist es mir so manches Mal aufgefallen ,Peter, daß ich genauso wie Biene reagiert, genau ihre Formulierungen gewählt hätte! Diese Begeisterung für alles, was Euch beide betraf,die ganze Kraft, die Biene so wie Du für alles aufbrachte, muß ich immer wieder an Euch beiden bewundern. Und das ist ganz sicher auch heute noch der Fall, denn ich stelle es mir bei Euch so ähnlich wie bei uns vor: Man muß nicht immer einer Meinung sein, es kann auch ruhig mal richtig krachen. Egal-das kommt überall vor. Hauptsache ist aber, daß einer für den anderen da ist, so abgedroschen das auch klingen mag!..Dieser Ring mußte doch wirklich wieder bei Euch auftauchen, er gehörte einfach zu EUCH! Und wie glücklich Biene dann war, ist so schön zu lesen..

    Wenn Biene eines genug hatte, dann war es Arbeit, genug zu essen allerdings nicht so richtig, wie ich diesem Blog entnehme..Da mußte ja wohl ab und zu so ein süßer Seelentröster sein!👍Verstehe ich vollkommen..😉
    Dieter meinte übrigens, daß ich sicher damals das Angebot des Kellners , “Die Getränke gehen aufs Haus” , deutlich unverschämter ausgenutzt hätte..😏🙊
    Bis zur nächsten Fortsetzung herzliche Grüße!
    Edda

    Liked by 1 person

    • Peter Klopp · November 13, 2017

      Liebe Edda, deine Fähigkeit, dich so in unsere Geschichte hinein zu versetzten, dass du ihren zukünftigen Verlauf voraussehen kannst, ist geradezu unheimlich. Nun gab es bei uns tatsächlich ein paar mal richtig Krach, und zwar viel eher als man bei unserer Liebesgeschichte erwarten würde. Doch will ich nichts verraten. Das würde der Geschichte ja die Spannung nehmen.
      Immer wieder muss ich dein Schreibtalent bewundern. Wenn du mal ein wenig Zeit hast und deine großmütterlichen Pflichten ein klein wenig vernachlässigen kannst, fang doch einfach mal an, eure Geschichte niederzuschreiben. Herzlichen Dank für deinen lieben Kommentar, liebe Edda!!!

      Like

  2. Pure Glory · November 10, 2017

    So good to hear the ring finally arrived. Living in an unfamiliar culture can make for many funny mistakes. I am enjoying your story.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. arv! · November 10, 2017

    I was just wondering if the host didn’t provide enough food for your beloved as she would be hungry. “On the house” incident was amusing. I suppose this wouldn’t be a occurrence in Germany which is why Biene was surprised and unaware

    Liked by 1 person

    • Peter Klopp · November 12, 2017

      At least in the 60’s, when Biene was in the UK, there seemed to be a problem with putting enough food on the table. The quote by Sommerset Maughan at the beginning of the chapter says it so well: When in England, eat three breakfasts. Thanks dear Arv for your kind comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. corneliaweberphotography · November 10, 2017

    Peter, can you hear a big sigh? That’s me. Finally the ring got on her hand, I knew that all the way along, but it took way too long.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Peter Klopp · November 12, 2017

      Yes, I can hear it in my mind, dear Cornelia, all the from California. Thanks for your touching comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Ann Coleman · November 11, 2017

    I’m sorry to hear that Biene often didn’t have enough to eat! That’s very sad. But I did have to laugh at the description of eating the condiments in the Indian restaurant! It is so easy to make a mistake like that when in another country or culture. And I’m thrilled that she finally got the ring!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Peter Klopp · November 12, 2017

      Thank you, dear Ann, for your kind comment on Biene having not enough food in the Lande household! That’s why I chose the quote by Sommerset Maughan flor Chapter 32: When in England eat three breakfasts.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. sidran · November 21, 2017

    Happy to see the ring reaching its destination.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Bun Karyudo · December 31, 2017

    Yay! The ring made it at last! It had quite the epic journey. Incidentally, I had to laugh at Biene’s confusion over the phrase “on the house.” It reminded me of an occasion some years ago when a foreign friend of mine was somewhat shocked by my mother’s description of me. My friend had confused the expressions “absent-minded” and “out of one’s mind”!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Peter Klopp · January 1, 2018

      Standing with a student friend at the bus stop, I remember saying, ‘There he comes’. My friend asked, ‘Who?’ I answered, ‘The bus!’ This embarrassing moment can only explained by my German language background. The German language has three genders and bus happens to be masculine and all pronouns have to agree with the noun being used. So much for the language lesson tonight! Haha!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Bun Karyudo · January 3, 2018

        Oops! That must have been a little embarrassing. Still, I imagine the experience meant it was a mistake you never made again.

        Liked by 1 person

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