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Sunday In Germany: Spring Is Springing …

by Ken Yeager (ACS)

Well, I haven’t sounded off much lately so for your reading enjoyment, I will begin a new tome of miscellaneous (and probably boring) information. Feel free to quickly move to another article on this site rather than continuing on with my rambles.

Spring has been late this year…only now is it beginning to warm up albeit slowly, too slowly for my taste but I guess slow melting snow is better for the ground water absorption. The crocuses have blossomed around town and look very nice. I do love the look of fresh green shoots on the trees, the light green of new leaves and the tiny buds of new branches or flowers. What I don’t like is the idea of having to work in the garden. My English grandfather loved to putter in his garden but for some reason that particular gene didn’t make it into my DNA. On a nice sunny warm day there are far more pleasant things to do than work in a garden, being sweaty, on my stiff knees and grubbing in the dirt. No, I would much prefer riding my motorcycle, feeling the wind in my face and riding to new destinations. Or hitting that little white dimpled ball 150 or so yards down the green fairway and setting up for the 7 iron shot to the green. Ahhh, yes, spring has sprung and it is about time.

I’ve noticed that there is a bit more activity on this site lately and I’m glad to see it. I enjoy reading everyone’s adventures, pass and recent, and reviewing the various videos that get posted, mostly by Bob I guess. My memories of Saigon are so impressed in my little brain that when folks write about this or that, I can sort of see or remember what or where they are talking about (except, of course, my recent error regarding the location of Cholon. Oh well, it was a long time ago). Keep it up folks…I’m sure I’m not the only one who enjoys the various posts.

One of the disadvantages of our move to Alte Landstrasse is that we do not have a garage. We have a carport but no where to park my motorcycle during the winter months. My neighbor across the street was kind enough to let me park it in his garage during the summer because he leaves his car out in his parking slot. I didn’t want to take advantage of his generosity so I offered to pay and we settled on two cases of beer a month, delivered to his door by our local beverage handler. But during the winter or at least this winter, I took the bike to my local dealer and he stored it for me, for a price of course. And when it is taken out (next week), they will give it a good spring check, top up the fluids and clean it up, removing the winter coating they sprayed on prior to storing it. Temps are to hit about 60F on Tuesday of next week so its warn enough to ride for these old bones.

I wonder if many of you have thought about it, but for me, May 30th 2013 will be 50 years since I graduated from high school. 50 years !!!!! Damn, that is a long time ago and proof that we are getting older, not that these operation scars on my body don’t say the same thing. So lots of water has passed under the bridge since 1963 … couple of years in college, 3 in the army, 2 as a cop, 32 as a Foreign Service employee and 9 years of retirement, two marriages and one wonderful son. That quickly sums it up, I think.

My wife and I were talking yesterday about the recent death of a Foreign Service Officer in Afghanistan and we have come to realize that the end of our Foreign Service career ended just in time and just right. First of all, I was selected-out, meaning after 10 years and no promotion, rules said I had to go and I did…I was not quite 60 at the time. Secondly, we were in Germany when we retired, allowing us to use the last few years to acquire furniture, appliances and a new car tax free due to our status in the Consulate (diplomatic discount on the car too). Three, the timing of our retirement allowed me to avoid service in Iraq or Afghanistan (what angers me about the new (post 2001) rules of service is that it did not take into consideration those of us who served in war zones [Cambodia for me] previously or the years in hardship posts in Africa). Four, we were in Germany and wanted to stay in Germany so we had the time to do some house hunting before retiring. Five, by being in Germany after retirement and considering my last job, I was well positioned to do part-time work beginning in 2005 and for the next six summers, bring in a fair amount of income during those summer sessions. So yes, the timing of our retirement was just right as we look back on it and I consider ourselves pretty damn lucky in many ways. The Foreign Service is not a job I would look at today given the new rules and the numerous posts where family members can no longer accompany their spouse. Seems that the world has gotten more dangerous in many ways. So I am pretty glad to being living in a safe country with good gun laws and yes, we have the Neo-Nazis but not so much in this area. Most of that activity is in the former east of Germany where unemployment is still too high and where many miss the socialist policies of the DDR.

OK, enough for today. Take care and everyone be safe. Tschüß.

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