Chapter 33 of the Peter and Gertrud Klopp Story – Part V

Discussing Marriage at Lunch Break

Student Peter

Peter in front of the University of Calgay

On the wall of my basement room hung a timetable, a rigid what-to-do list that was to govern my life for the next seven months. On weekdays I got up at six and after a cornflakes-and-milk breakfast spent sixty minutes to have an early morning study period. Then I took the bus for my first morning class at campus. I had one hour for lunch that always consisted of the same homemade bologna and cheese sandwiches washed down with the watery coffee from the vending machine. During this time, when I managed to relax a little bit, I often met with three students on alternate days, as they all had their own schedules to follow.

On Tuesdays and Fridays I sat together with Brian Fisher, since we both attended the same afternoon tutorial class for Math 211. It made me feel very good to be able to help him with many of the questions from the weekly assignment sheets. In turn I got gradually used to the informal, casual way of English conversation. On the other days I met with two women, both married, one from Great Britain, whose husband had recently been promoted to a managerial position in an IBM sponsored business in downtown Calgary, the other Mrs. Karen Bolso, an immigrant from Norway. Both were attending the same late morning psychology lecture. In a country that was built on the skills and talents of hundreds of thousands of immigrants the voices of three individuals producing an interesting blend of Oxford English, Scandinavian and German accents were not unusual in the student lounge. All three of us, coming from Europe, had interesting stories and experiences to share. The British student, whose name I can no longer recall, had recently followed and joined her husband in Calgary and was pursuing a teaching career to get out of the house as she put it, while her husband was busy setting up calculating machines, the forerunners of business computers. Her main point of advice relating to happiness in marriage was that the two partners should come from the same ethnic and cultural background. Their children would integrate quickly with their new environment, but the parents would take a long time to adjust. “Like oil and water Canadian and immigrant spouses just do not mix,” she stated her opinion with a slightly superior air.

Mrs. Bolso, whose marriage was on the rocks, protested and said, “Well, let me tell you something. I was married to a Norwegian, and yet things did not work out at all. When I arrived as his bride from Norway, he lavished gifts on me, bought me a diamond ring and a fur coat with money he did not have. He had bought all these luxury goods on credit, even though he held only a low paying job. He could barely put enough food on the table for our two children and me. I would rather have a husband, who would show his love in a financially responsible manner. Your theory is all wrong!”

Then it was my turn to voice my opinion. I spoke quite eloquently presenting an entirely idealistic viewpoint, which, as I could see from their reaction, took them by surprise. “Even if a partner could afford the most expensive diamond ring, a fancy car, and an even more fanciful house, it would be all for naught, if love and faithfulness were not present to hold the two together.” Then I thought it would be a good time to talk about my invisible engagement ring, the story about Biene, my fiancée, who was going to join me here in Calgary next spring. After many exclamations of ‘O, how wonderful’, ‘You must be so happy’ and the like, we moved on to other topics.

For the evening my timetable allowed me one hour for preparing and eating a frugal meal for supper. Two hours of studying followed till nine, after which I granted myself a little bit of time to play and practice a few tunes on my guitar. But if I had gotten stuck in my attempt to solve a particularly difficult calculus problem, there was no time for relaxation, until I had found the solution. One evening I had been working over a thorny differential equation. Stubborn as I was when working on problem solving, I did not want to give up. It was way past my bedtime. Midnight was rapidly approaching. Finally common sense prevailed and I decided to go to bed. But the brain having been overstimulated did not want to come to rest. So many possible solutions were gliding by in front of my inner eye that it took another hour before I managed to fall asleep. Before the alarm went off, I woke up with a jolt. My body had rested, but my brain had not. I jumped out of bed, ran up to the table, grabbed paper and pencil, and before it would fade away, I jotted down the solution, which my brain had worked out correctly in my sleep. Having no coffee maker, I put an extra spoonful of ground coffee into the cooking pot, added water and brought the brew to a boil over my two-element stove to make myself a cup of strong coffee. What a life!

20 thoughts on “Chapter 33 of the Peter and Gertrud Klopp Story – Part V

  1. It’s great that our brains carry on after we’re asleep, processing and problem-solving. Once the facts have been fully assimilated, I’m a believer in “sleeping on things,” knowing that most times, when I wake up, the solution will have presented itself.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It was very interesting to read about the beginning of your studies, dear Peter and how you managed with a good discipline to find solutions. I’m pretty sure that you were quite successful later in your job. Have a Happy New Year, regards from still “warm” Hamburg, Mitza

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, dear Mitza! My Canadian colleagues always commented on my work with stereotypical remarks like this, ‘Peter is driven by his German work ethics. Happy New Year from a part of Canada that is being plagued by one snow after another!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Mit was für einem Mut und einer Ausdauer Du immer alles in Angriff genommen hast, Peter, geradezu verbissen hast Du Dich in viele Probleme..Es ist immer so spannend, Deinen Weg nachträglich mitverfolgen zu können. Für alles mußte eine Lösung gefunden werden, Du warst (bist) wirklich sehr hartnäckig😉.. Deine Meinung zu Liebe und Partnerschaft ist natürlich die einzig richtige gewesen und auch die hast Du ehrlich vertreten. 👏👏😊
    Wir wünschen Dir, Biene und Deiner ganzen Familie alles Liebe und Gute für das kommende Jahr !!
    Herzliche Grüße von uns aus Sottmar!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Als ich mich gestern zur letzten Bestrahlung des Jahres im Kelowna Krankenhaus aufmachte, hatte ich noch schnell diesen Post veröffentlicht. Ich konnte es kaum fassen, dass er so viel Anklang gefunden hatte. Ich dachte, wer will sich schon zur Weihnachtszeit mit altmodischen Gedanken über Ehe und Treue beschäftigen.oder über Lösungen von Differentialgleichungen nachlesen. Zu meiner größten Überraschung hatte ich mich geirrt. Du hast mich mit deinem lieben Kommentar sehr erfreut.
      Nun bin für die Jahreswende ein paar Tage bei meiner Biene. Meine Behandlung macht gute Fortschritte und ich sehe der Zukunft mit Hoffnung auf vollständige Heilung entgegen. Auch dir und deiner wunderbaren Familie alles Gute und Gottes Segen für 2018!


  4. I think the point you made about the importance of love and faithfulness in a marriage was a good one, Peter. The opinions of the British student, on the other hand, I find far less convincing. I know of many happy couples who do not share a common ethnic and cultural background and many unhappy couples who do. What seems far more important to me is the compatibility of their individual personalities and the degree of love and respect the partners have for each other.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Bun, this has been a joyful surprise for me on New Year’s Day to find all these detailed and thoughtful comments. For each of the last five posts you had something remarkable to say. On one point, I am inclined to differ. Having taught math (including calculus to a college bound class) for more than 30 years, I have rarely encountered a student with difficulties in math EXCEPT those who did not receive a solid foundation in the primary grades.
      Before I drove this morning to Kelowna for further treatment, I read all your comments to Biene. She could see how happy I was to have you who appeared to have disappeared from the blogging horizon back among my interested followers. Thanks again, Bun! Best wishes for you and your family for 2018!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you, Peter. I greatly enjoyed being able to catch up with your and Biene’s story again. I’m afraid I’d been so busy in the run-up to the end of the year that I hadn’t had the chance to pay a proper visit before now.

        As to your comments on mathematics, you may well be correct. I can’t remember a time when I haven’t been terrified of math. This anxiety may well have interfered with my ability to develop a thorough grounding in the subject. It didn’t help that some of my teachers at elementary school became visibly irritated when asked questions. Perhaps they weren’t very confident in their math ability either.

        Liked by 1 person

      • You zeroed on the key problem. Elementary teachers enter the profession with little or no training in the proper methodology of math instruction. They often pass on their own insecurity to their students. I also firmly believe that without the basics (by rote if necessary) children are ill prepared to be successful and to enjoy any higher level math.


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