Ever the Bridesmaid…

Frau Bienkowski hasn’t managed to marry me off yet, which is a pity since she likes a good wedding. She’s always talking about William and Kate’s and is the first to know about the appearance of a new photograph of Prince George.

She’s interested in failed marriages too. Like those of former president, Christian Wulff who, scandalously, separated twice. And she thinks it’s high time his successor, Joachim Gauck marries his long-term partner. After all, Frau B says, she accompanies him to most official events.

source: Creative Commons Robbie Dale www.anonlinegreeworld.com

source: Creative Commons Robbie Dale http://www.anonlinegreeworld.com

Luckily for us both, our appetite for wedding-related stories has recently been whetted by living vicariously through my sister, who got married in Philadelphia in July.

Frau B was there every step of the way.

She was thoroughly briefed on the suitor. And on how he met my sister.

(“Everything is possible online these days!” she had said approvingly)

She knew all about  the navy bridesmaid dresses, which we ordered online for $25. She knew my sister was making her own wedding cake. And she had a good knowledge of the guest list too.

Ever the stylist, she worried about how I would wear my hair on the day. She suggested I get the same cut I had last December.

I have documented my fear of hairdressers here before. Believe me, they get worse when you cross the Atlantic. My cutter had scraggly blue hair and dreadful manners. She refused point-blank to cut the shape I wanted, instead insisting, “It’s 2014  dude. You sister is getting married! Try something new.” She also accused me of frequenting “old lady salons.” (She’s right obviously; hip salons don’t have libraries attached.) I ended up with a stupid cut. Relieved I wasn’t the bride.

Frau B was also privy to my pre-wedding music-related woe.(PWMRW; primarily affects  amateur musicians, according to DSM X)

I had brought my violin back from Dublin at Christmas after my sister hinted she might want my (other) sister and me to play during the ceremony.

Things were going okay at first, though I hadn’t played in years. My fingertips were getting tougher and I was playing halfway in tune. Then one night, when I was doing my floor exercises (as you do) LSB tried to step over me to get to the couch.

Except he tumbled over my open violin case instead. I watched as if in slow motion as he landed, knees first on top of the instrument.

Snap. Crack. An expletive.

I twisted out of my yoga pose faster than you can say “downward dog” in time to see my E string spring loose. Then the A string. Then the bridge collapsed. It was all very traumatic.

Source: Wikipedia

Source: Wikipedia

I had to bring it to the Geigenbaumeister. He fixed it for €10 and told me he’d had a Stradivarius in earlier that week. Frau B told me I’d got lucky. She was right. Could have been much worse. Could have been a collapsed Stradivarius bridge.

When I visited her last week, Frau B said: “Tell me everything about the wedding. Then show me the pictures.”

I told her that my sister was objectively the most beautiful bride there’s ever been.

That the wedding took place in a medical museum which boasted among its displays a gigantic colon. (Available for guests to view before dinner).

That everyone survived the violin duet.

That the cake was spectacular.

That my tough big sister had to try really hard not to cry during the (self-written) vows.

That I had to try even harder.

When I showed her the pictures,  Frau B said. “My! What long hair your sister has got!”

Familienfest: Part 2

There was barely time to change out of my wet shoes after the hike, as Tante Hortensia had called for the first choir rehearsal for tomorrow’s mass to take place before dinner.

One of the most charming features of the monastery at Kistenhof is the number of amenities which are tucked behind a neat row of modest-looking doors. Without really exploring, I discovered a library, swimming-pool and church.

At five thirty-five, I opened the door labelled “church”and discovered to my dismay that I was late. The Schultz family was already gathered around the piano, singing the Schubert Mass in four-part harmony. Tante Hortensia was conducting with passion and warning that even the most beautiful music performed too slowly becomes “kitchig”. “You’re an alto like me”, whispered my mum as we found a spot behind the sopranos and in front of the tenors.

My Tante Hortensia is amazing. For as long as I can remember, she has been directing all musical operations at Schultzfest events. She is vesatile and perfectionist in equal measure. The children’s choir of ca 1997, of which I was a part, performed a song about toilet paper (aptly named Klopapier) which she accomapinied on guitar. The performance was word-and-pitch-perfect. Now, fourteen years later, in a monastery in a remote German valley, she was just as exact as then.

There was much ado about where Tante Hortensia should stand. She complained that some memebrs of the choir weren’t watching her, and that as a result, the ritardandos weren’t being observed. Certain members of the choir retorted that the person in front of them was obstructing their view. Efforts at re-positioning enjoyed some success but were hampered by the constraints of the altar.

The rehearsal concluded with the arrangement to meet for a brief runthrough at 9 am the following morning.

It was now time to dash back to our respective quarters to get ready for dinner. I leave you with a picture of my mother and me just before we entered the dining hall. More to come, depending on demand.