30 Aug 1983
Tues Afternoon

Dear Diane,

Thank You! Thank You! Thank You! The video tape came yesterday (29 Aug) and it was wonderful! Michael brought it home yesterday afternoon. We interrupted Sesame Street (borrowed from some friends) to watch the reunion. I couldn't believe all the shy & giggly people in our family! Maybe by Thanksgiving and Christmas everyone will be more relaxed in front of a camera. The most amazing thing to me was everyone's Southern accent! I couldn't believe how different it sounded. I guess I've been hearing every other accent here except that one. Now I know why everyone here comments on my accent. I didn't realize it was so different from everyone else's here. (Does that make sense?) My neighbor, Ann Cummings, walked in while the tape was playing. She commented on how "normal" everyone was dressed and how "orderly" they went through the line. (Italians dress weird to us and they've never heard of waiting in a line.) Anyway - Bill did an excellent job. Maybe next time he'll get more cooperation from his "stars." I would have thought Brenda would have "clammed up," but she did fine. I guess that comes from all her speech classes. Kem's & Bill's commentaries were great. I think Mother was avoiding the camera and trying to keep her back to it. Is that right? Was Daddy using cue cards on his final little speech? Laura was just Laura all over. I like her hair cut. Does she? Is it hard for her to take care of? Brandon was cute. We still haven't figured out what he was saying on the tape. Michael & I watched it again last night after we watched "Firefox" after putting the kids to bed. Angelique told me today on the way home from Camp Volcano that she wanted to watch Laura & Granny Lee before watching Sesame Street after nap time. She'll be up soon to watch it.

Angelique has 2 more days of camp. School for her starts next week after we get back from Florence this weekend.

You said on the tape you haven't gotten any letters from me since you got back from Florida. You should have gotten at least 2 - maybe 4 (I can't remember exactly). In one I told you about Pompei/Mt. Vesuvius & sent a postcard from there. In another I told you about the opera in Rome. Haven't you gotten those yet? You probably have by now. If you haven't, you'll probably get them sometime in the next three years. I hear all kinds of stories about families in the States getting 6 letters at a time after no news for weeks or getting a letter dated a year or two ago. The mail system is just not real reliable over here. We got your tape pretty quick, though. I was surprised about that.

I cracked up when I read your 20 Aug letter about giving blood. Michael thought I was crying and came in to see about me. He laughed when he read it, too. I guess you'll never grow up, Diane. (Ha Ha) I'm sure it wasn't funny at the time it was happening. Was your blood pressure low or was it just the thought of what had happened that made you faint? Did it make you queasy to write this letter about it?

Anyway, your letter got here Thursday (25th) or Friday (26th), I think, and the tape came on Monday (29th). I hope things have calmed down at your house. Maybe getting into the ol' school routine will help.

This letter looks a mess. I can tell when I'm under pressure by looking at the letters I write. Yesterday I was fine. Today - 3 days before we leave for Florence - I've got a hundred and twenty-one things to do before Friday. I wish I had thought to get a few of them done yesterday. Silly things like - 1. get car washed, 2. get oil changed, 3. take a letter from Michael's command by housing office stating that we need a phone desperately, 4. go make final payment on wall units that have just come in and set up a time for them to deliver them, 5. check at Exchange daily to see if the Amana microwaves that are 50/60 cycled, 110/220 V, have come in 'cause when they come in there will only be a dozen or two and will be gone (sold) in a matter of hours, 6. go by Paddington school & pay Angelique's registration fee which should have already been done, 7. hopefully get about 6 inches cut off my hair - the ends are all ragged again, 8-121, etc., etc. All this on top of taking Angelique to camp Wednesday & Thursday at 10:00 and picking her up at 2:00 PM and bringing kids home for naps. Cooking & housekeeping will just have to wait. I guess. I guess laundry will have to be done before we leave.

Friday afternoon we'll leave here as early as Michael gets off and drive to Rome and spend the night there. Hopefully we'll get to Rome before dark & get in a real quicky sightseeing tour (if not some other time). We'll get up early Saturday and drive on to Florence. Spend Sat. & Sunday night at a hotel that the USO got reservations for us. Michelangelo's "David" statue is there (Florence), Botticelli's "Birth of Venus" painting and several other art objects you would readily remember from art appreciation class. Florence has good leather products and lace work as well, I believe. I hope the kids won't get too bored. I've shown Angelique some of the statues & paintings from out of our tour books and she seems interested somewhat. I've pointed out the different ways people think Jesus may have looked ... i.e., one has curly hair on baby Jesus, another has almost no hair, etc. We've talked about taking a big piece of stone and chiseling it into a statue, etc. Maybe she'll do o.k. Maybe not. Steven's moods sort of follow hers on things like this.

Last Saturday we went to Cuma which is about 15 miles from our house and stayed about 1 1/2 hours. Cuma is the earliest Greek ruins in Italy dating back to 800 B.C., I believe. We saw a couple of old temples and the caves the people lived in. They actually lived under the mountain. It was kind of an eerie place.

After we left there, we went to the NATO beach. They wouldn't let us in the water because it was too polluted that day, but we played in the sand and ate a picnic lunch there. It was nice. That night we left the kids with a baby sitter and Michael & I went out to eat with Vic & Sandy Sharp. He is an Internal Medicine doc at the hospital. They are real nice. The restaurant we went to was great, too. The cannelloni was wonderful!

Yes, I have picked up a few new Italian recipes - some easy, some not so easy, but you'll have to come try them first. I'm not going to send these recipes across the ocean - you'll have to come get them!!! So get your passports - NOW!

Michael's parents are planning to come in March. That's a cheaper month to come, but the weather will still be lousy. I'd suggest late April, May, June, September or early October. July is hot. August is impossible - every Italian takes their vacation in August. Ninety percent of everything closes down and the traffic is outrageous. Avoid August at all costs. Anyway, just come. Either this next year or the next. Actually we'll take you any time. Just come.

I'm glad you got your "colors" done. I'm surprised you are a winter. I never did get around to having it done. I can't figure out which season I am and neither has anyone else. Alisa thought I might be a summer, but no one else thought so who thought they know all about it. I think I just don't belong.

Thanks again for the tape. "Firefox" was good. We'll be watching for the others to arrive.



Tues Nite

P.S. We all just watched the reunion again. Steven got excited every time he saw one of our family. He even said, "Unkie Annie" (Uncle Lanney). He kept saying, "Where's Papaw?" "There's Papaw." "Where's Granny Lee?" "There's Granny Lee!" etc. He knew everyone in our family the second time around. The 1st time he was just astounded. Bill was funny with "Of course, it's running. I wouldn't be talking into the microphone if it weren't running." Or something like that. Steven & Angelique both smile big when someone said something direct to them.

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