10 Sept 1983
Sat afternoon

Hello,

How are you all? Has the hot, dry spell ended yet? It is still warm here, but not just real hot. At 4:30 PM here it is 77F here in the house. It is probably 85F or so out in the sun. Nights are very comfortable here now. We've had showers every week or two. I understand they usually expect a dry month in July or August, but it wasn't too bad this summer.

Florence was great! It's a nice clean and orderly town compared to Naples. We got there Saturday morning about 10:00 AM after spending Friday night in a hotel next to the Autostrada about halfway between here and there.

We saw a lot of famous paintings and sculptures. By the time we left, Steven was saying, "Oh, there's a statue!" The kids did well.

The "Ponte Vecchio" (old bridge) is famous the world over for its gold and jewelry shops. In the 1300's it was rebuilt and dedicated to goldsmiths. Of course, we had to buy something gold off the bridge. I bought a gold tri-chain necklace for about $76.00. I was expecting it to be $176 or $276. I couldn't believe it.

Florence is also famous for its leather products and Florentine trays, plates, etc. I bought a beautiful leather purse by a famous Italian designer for a beautiful price -- for the designer, not for the purchaser. I paid about $55.00 for this purse that would cost about $100.00 in the States. Michael bought a leather belt. We bought a Florentine tray and fan that I think I'll hang on my dining room wall.

The food was good in Florence, except for the bread. Naples bread is better. Theirs was coarser and tasted like that had left the salt or sugar or something basic out of the recipe. It was that way in every restaurant.

We left Florence before 10:00 AM Monday morning and drove to Pisa. On the way we passed an airstrip where a plane was dropping parachutists. There were about 15 of them jumping. We stopped (as did all the Italians) and watched them float to the ground. Angelique and Steven thought that was the best part of the trip. They were so fascinated.

By the time we got to Pisa, we were all very tired. We had walked all over Florence. As soon as we came out of the tunnel looking over the valley onto Pisa, I could see the Leaning Tower. Even several miles away you can tell that it really leans. We climbed to the top of that dude. Michael's legs and mine were so weak and shaky after we got to the top. Of course, we were carrying 30 extra pounds a piece (the kids) and we had just spent 2 days walking in Florence. At the top was the only place Steven got cranky. He was so tired and I couldn't let him out of my arms because there wasn't sufficient railing up there and the place leaned so much. Even walking up the stairs inside the tower you could tell you were leaning. Angelique bought a small replica of the tower in a shop on the bottom floor of the tower.

From Pisa, we drove on to Siena for a late lunch. Siena's Piazza (like a town square, only usually round) del Campo is just as it was in medieval times. All the region still uses their various coats of arms and such. We didn't have time to go into the castle or palace or whatever it was, but we ate pizza in the piazza in front of it. Afterwards, the kids chased the pigeons around.

We grabbed a snack and Coke in Rome on the way back about 8:00 PM and changed the kids into their pajamas. We left there about 8:30 PM and got home about 11:00 PM. The kids slept until 9:00 AM the next morning. It was a couple of days before we all felt rested again.

Angelique started school Wednesday at Paddington. When I got there to pick her up at noon, they were lining up on the playground with their hands behind their backs getting ready to march back inside. Her teacher, Mrs. Stagenda, said Angelique was very sweet. Apparently some kids didn't have as good a time their 1st day as Angelique did. I asked her what her favorite part was. She said, "Everything."

According to a test Michael brought home with him one day last week, Angelique is reading on a 3rd grade level. I can't believe some of the things she can pick up and read - very smoothly. She rarely uses her finger to follow the line of words. Now what do I do with her?

Steven was saying the days of the week yesterday in the grocery store. I had no idea he knew them. I guess he learned them from one of our children's videotapes. He kept leaving out either Wednesday or Thursday, though. He's got a birthday coming up soon. I'm not sure what to do for that. Just a few friends, I guess.

Michael brought home an Amana Touchmatic II microwave Tuesday. It works just fine. We're slowly getting more civilized here. Our wall units came Wednesday. Michael had to put them together 3 times before he had them the way we wanted them. Our curtains and rod came yesterday. Michael got them up this morning. Our living room actually looks decent now. Now I just need some pretty things to put on these wall units. And screens on the windows.

I'm glad the pictures and tapes got there. This is sort of a semi-rural, semi-suburb area where we live. There is litter all over the roadsides. Look at the pictures again. Michael just came back in from picking up the trash from out in front of our house. The hills and mountains start about a mile or two inland from our house. They are really pretty mountains. Italy is just pretty once you get away from trashy Naples.

I'm glad Kem and Brenda may be getting a house. Is that a nice neighborhood? How big is it? I wrote them and asked Kem to send me a police whistle. Can you also ask him to send me an Art Appreciation book from Harding? A new one if he can get one. I don't know if they are still using the same one we used in class or not. The one we used will be fine or whatever he can get. If the enclosed check isn't enough money for Kem, let me know. If it's more than enough, tell him to put it on my account for next favor.

Michael said Uncle Glen's ulcer could be due to all the stuff (tubes & tests) he's been through.

I don't understand the "Greatest Show On Earth" thing, so how could I explain it to the kids?!?

It is possible that we may get a phone before Christmas. Don't hold your breath, tho. We've paid our money for installation and have been told we'll get one in 1-3 months. But I know some people who were promised the same thing 9 months ago. They don't have theirs yet. Who knows. They charge for every phone call here and don't care if they make a mistake on your phone bill. You still have to pay what they say you owe. There is no disputing it.

This is clearly not the Land of the Free. The government confiscated all the privately-owned campers in this region and gave them to Pozzuoli residents who had to move out of their homes because they were declared unsafe due to all the earthquakes in that region. Can you believe that?

Gotta run.

Love,

Jeannie


HI GRANNY LEE Angelique drawing of sun
AND PAPAW.
SCHOOL IS FUN.
I MISS YOU.
COME SEE ME.
LOVE

Angelique drawing


On the back of Angelique's letter and drawing, Jeannie wrote the following:

This is Granny Lee holding a flag in her backyard. Mama drew the flower and Angelique colored it with her markers. In the lower right hand corner is a kernal of corn in the dirt.

[Angelique was 4 years old.]



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