22 June 1983
Dear Diane, Bill, & Laura,
I thought about just writing "Thanks" on a card and mailing it to you since there was not a letter in the package ... but I thought again and decided to write.
THANK YOU! for the pretty gown. It will be very nice this July & August & September when it gets so hot with no air conditioning. Yes, I love the color and it fits just right. It arrived in the mail exactly on my birthday. Good timing! Mail is so unpredictable around here. You can't really count on anything arriving on time coming or going.
Michael got me a Sorrento music box for my birthday that I have been wanting. Do you know what Sorrento woodwork is? It's the inlaid woodwork that makes pretty designs on such things as music boxes, serving trays and carts, small tables, etc. The town Sorrento is about 30 miles south of here. I'm eager to go down there to see what else they have in their workshop.
We went out for supper the night of my birthday at a restaurant nearby and met a British couple who are just moving in here. We ended up bringing them home with us. We had such a good visit for 3 or 4 hours. I think they learned some things about America, but probably not as much as we learned about England. Tell Laura that at McDonald's in England a cheeseburger, fries & shake would cost about $6.00. Can you believe that? Italy has no McDonald's. We'll have to go to France or Germany to get a Quarterpounder. But there are other good things to eat here.
About a block and a half from our house I can get fresh bread that is baked in huge round loaves - hard on the outside, soft inside. Next door to that is a Salumeria where I can buy fresh "Mozarella di Buffalo." It comes in balls about 3" in circumference down in a bag that is full of watered down buffalo milk. Very good - better than our processed kind.
Our household goods came a couple of weeks ago. By July 1 I should have enough cabinets to put everything in. The few that came with the house were just not enough. I still won't feel settled until I get curtains up. Right now we just close our shutters. I hope we can get screens up soon. I'm so tired of dining with the flies and sleeping with the mosquitoes. The Italians seem to be able to live in harmony with the dust and insects. Since I can't do much about this dust that blows across the Mediterranean from the Sahara Desert, I guess I'll just battle the insects as my main project. There are snails and lizards out in our yard. I haven't seen any inside yet. Would you believe our house has fleas? I'm so tired of these bites. Today I washed all the bedding, vacuumed all the rugs & furniture and sprayed flea spray everywhere. I think I'm still getting bit.
The kids are taking swimming lessons. Tomorrow will be our 3rd lesson. I think Angelique may be about to catch on and relax in the pool. Steven will calm down whenever Angelique does. The water is very cold which doesn't help any. Today has been our warmest day in the last 2 or 3 weeks. It was probably 75-80 degrees F. It still gets cool at night so this Olympic-size pool is still cold.
If you're gonna come see the view of the lake from our house, you better come soon. Our landlord has started a new house right next to us, between us & the lake. I didn't appreciate that at all. But perhaps someone with young kids will move in. Our closest neighbors have 2 boys, ages 9 & 10. They play well with our kids, but I still wish there were younger ones nearby. There's a new house that will be finished in about a month next door. Soon we'll have all kinds of neighbors.
Michael plans on getting a VCR soon. What kind is yours? We'll get a VHS Panasonic Portable and possibly get the camera later. If your system is compatible to this one, could we talk you into sending us some tapes? We'll be glad to return them & pay postage. Italian TV leaves a lot to be desired. Boss Hogg is not very convincing with an Italian accent. Neither is Archie Bunker. There are a lot of American shows & movies with Italian dubbed in. Tell Laura we get Scooby Doo & Tom and Jerry & Might Mouse in Italian. The Smurfs & Sesame Street are on sometime in Italian, but we haven't found them yet.
Can you believe I'm driving a standard car now? We bought a very nice 1981 Fiat 131S. It's metallic bronze, looks very nice and drives well - even for me. I think it may even get us to Holland next Spring to see Susan Combs Krumrei.
Earlier this month we ordered some Swedish wall units. There are 3 sections that will hold our TV, Stereo & VCR plus plenty of books, knickknacks, etc. I ordered them in walnut even though I could have gotten them in TEAK for the same price. I hope I don't regret that choice for the rest of my life. I was afraid I'd never find anything else teak in living room furniture that I could afford. I'm not brave enough to mix styles and wood. I'd do it all wrong. Anyway, they will still be pretty and solve a lot of storage problems. They won't be here until August.
Now is the time to apply for your passport. It will be good for 7 years. It's not difficult to do, but you need to get it done. It's very nerve racking to have plane tickets and suitcases packed, but still be waiting on passports to come in the mail. It should be easier for you to do in the summer time rather than during school, wouldn't it? I see and hear of things every week that I think you'll enjoy when you come. Encourage Mother to go ahead and get theirs, also, please.
Steven is talking in short sentences now. You have to listen carefully to catch some of them. He has said, "Planes go Bzzz," "Daddy says 'No,'" "Kitty wants out," "I get it," "I want it," "Hold me," etc. He can charm the socks off of you one hour and make you pull your hair out the next. Angelique is reading more and more & drawing some rather "exotic" pictures. I can't think of any other term to describe them. Maybe "strange." They are both doing fine. They both love to listen to tapes and ride "cycles" outside. Angelique is wanting a bicycle for her birthday. That may be all she gets since the toy supply here is very limited. The base carries very little except at Xmas time, and the Italian toys are very cheaply made. I haven't seen any Fisher Price or Mattel out shopping.
Michael says to tell you we can buy paper & pens here to mail to you if you can't find them there to write us a letter. Let me know if you need that service.
It's almost midnight so I better get to bed. Write when you can. Oh! Did you get to Disney World? It seems so long ago since I talked to you I can't even remember for sure if that's where you said you were going. Let me know what you are up to. Even trips to the dentist and hardware store are exciting news when it comes in a letter from home.
Ask Laura to write Angelique & Steven. They'd love it.
P.S. The Italian kids want to call Angelique "Angela" and Steven "Stefano."
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