23 June 1983
Dear Mom & Dad,
I know this letter is a little later than usual, but I kept thinking I'd wait until after such 'n such event to write so I could include that in the letter. But if I keep waiting until after all these events, it will be 3 years before I ever write. I've gotta figure some system out. I can't even remember what I wrote in the last letter so I may repeat some things.
Thanks for the cards. They came the week before my birthday. Mail is so spastic coming in and leaving that you can't depend on any schedule. I got a card & letter from Brenda and a package from Diane that got here exactly on my birthday. I don't know how they managed that. Diane sent me a pretty light purple cotton gown, but no letter. I couldn't believe it! She was probably all in a rush, as usual, and didn't have time to write it before it needed to be mailed. Is she doing OK? She hasn't written at all.
Steven got me some cologne & Angelique got me a pretty note pad for my birthday. Michael got me a Sorrento music box that I had been wanting. Are you familiar with Sorrento woodworks? It's inlaid wood into designs that they make into music boxes, serving trays, tea carts, pictures, etc. The town of Sorrento is about 30 or 40 miles south of here just on the other side of Vesuvius. I hope you're keeping that map we sent for future reference, but I don't think it's on that map.
Faye, the lady from church who kept the kids while we went to ICR course, and I are going to Saturday to Sorrento. Michael will be off all day and will keep the kids. This was his idea for me to get away for a the day so I took him up on it. Unfortunately, we will take the train down there, which means we can't buy out half of the town -- only what we can carry back with us.
Michael took us out for supper on my birthday to a restaurant near our house. We met a British couple there who are just moving in. It was so interesting to talk to them there that we ended up bringing them home with us. We visited for 3 or 4 hours. They learned some things about the States, but I think we learned more about England. They have a little girl that just turned two. They showed us their hometowns on the map and we showed them ours and Arkansas. That was fun. At least we could understand these foreigners.
By July 1 I should have all the cabinets I need. That will be nice. Now if I can just get some curtains and screens up, I might begin to feel settled.
Now is the time to get your passports. They will be good for 7 years. I know you're not ready to come yet, but nothing is as frustrating as to have your airline tickets and bags packed and still be waiting on your passports to come in the mail. It's not hard to do. The main post office should have the forms and they'll be able to tell you where you can get your photos taken; probably Mike James might do them. You shouldn't need any shots.
The kids have had their 1st three swimming lessons. Angelique swam a fourth of the width of the pool this morning with her floaties on her arms. The pool is Olympic size and is still very cold because it hasn't gotten hot yet. I don't even think it's been in the 80's yet. It should get hot soon, though. It's time for the heat, when everything and everyone melts. No one has air-conditioning. That's why Italians take siestas - to escape the afternoon heat.
The swim lessons are about 30 minutes long. It has been taking the 1st 15 minutes to get the kids calmed down enough to do anything. They are still a little afraid and the water is so cold. I go in with them.
Steven is saying some sentences now. He has said, "Planes go Bzzz," "Daddy says No," Kitty want out," "I get it," "I did it," "Hold me, please," etc. He is really into hugs and kisses and can really turn on the charm one moment and be a terror the next. Actually he's happy-going most of the time, but every now and then he can get pretty stubborn. He's gone back to going to bed real well now. Angelique is learning to read more and more. She amazes me. She likes Italy. The Italians usually call her "Angela" and Steven is "Stefano."
Our landlord brought over a big bag of plums this afternoon. He's also given us potatoes & lemons. He has a big farm. What do you do with a big bag of plums besides eat them or preserve them? You can't make plum pie or plum cookies, can you? I wonder how plum cake would taste.
If you want to see the view of the lake from our house, you had better come soon. Our landlord has started another house right behind us, between us and the lake. That doesn't make me too happy. I think we'll still be able to see it from our bedroom balcony though. Maybe some young couple with small children will move in there.
Marble comes out of the ground somehow. All the marble quarries are somewhere north of here, so we haven't seen them yet. I haven't figured out the best way to clean it yet, but everyone says if you wax it like the Italians do, then everyone slips on them. I think you just damp mop the steps and dust the windowsills with a damp cloth or sponge.
Our house has a lot of nice things, but it's far from "grand." I'd trade it any day for a our home in Fort Smith. At least I knew how to keep it clean. And I didn't have to fool with bombola gas and 220 volt electricity.
This brightly patterned tile flooring may drive me crazy before 3 years is up -- if the tiny kitchen doesn't drive me batty first. But there are a lot of nice things around here to compensate and a lot of nice people.
Our neighbor, Ann Cummings, took me today to the Fumalarie (sp?) factory to buy shoes for the kids. I wanted sandals, but they didn't have any. I ended up getting the kids some good school type shoes and me a pair of nice leather sandals. Each pair just cost £7 mille which is about $4.50 each. Diane would go crazy buying shoes there. There were a lot of brands you would recognize.
Michael is on call in the hospital tonight. I guess that's why I finally found time to write. He'll be in Philadelphia the 1st full week in July to take his Family Practice boards. He has had no time to study at all for this test. Plus the jet lag will affect him also. He should be able to pick up a few things for us that we can't get here. Toys for the kids birthdays will be on his list. The supply of toys at the Navy Exchange is very low except before Xmas, and Italian toys are very cheaply made and are relatively expensive. We will miss Fisher Price and Mattel brands and others.
My sinuses are about the same here as they were in Fort Smith. I take a sinus pill about once a week -- not too bad. It may get worse this fall when it gets wet.
Packages mail to the same address. Just be sure they are packed and wrapped well. You'll only pay postage from Arkansas to New York. Yes, you can address things to me or Angelique or Steven. (I'm trying to answer the questions in your letter in case you're wondering.) Why don't you try mailing me a Quarter Pounder with Cheese and french fries. HaHa I really miss McDonalds and other American landmarks.
It's midnight. I better go to bed. Tell Alisa "hi" and everyone else also.
26 June 1983
Well, I didn't get this letter mailed Friday. I forgot to take it to the base with me. I finally got a letter from Diane Friday. She sounded pretty good. I had just mailed her a letter, but I guess I had better write her again to answer her questions. She sent me the article out of the Little Rock paper about Jerry Jones being fired. I couldn't believe it. I bet Searcy has been a mess since then. Any new developments?
Faye and I did go to Sorrento Saturday. We had a great time. The weather was good and it wasn't very crowded. There were a lot of retired senior citizens from America there. I suppose they were on some kind of tour together. I ended up spending close to $200 for a great big hanging to go over my bed and 4 smaller items to hand around it. I managed to get it back on the train. They wrapped the big piece in bubble paper for me and fashioned a handle out of some cording. Michael wants to go back this Saturday to look at the dining tables there. I can't imagine eating off of anything so fancy everyday. I'm not sure how it would hold up to everyday use plus two small kids. We're still eating off our card table which wobbles a lot.
I am enclosing a £500 coin and bill. They are worth the same amount. They are worth 33¢ right now. This corresponds roughly to our half dollar since £1000 or "mille" as it is called is about the same as our dollar. The 500 means 500 Lire. Cinquecento means 500. This is the amount it cost us to drive on the toll road which takes us to the base. The Italians collect this particular coin since it is the only one with 2 metals. Show this to Diane and ask her if the dots on the back of this coin are Braille.
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