Monday, 9 Jan 84

Dear Mom & Dad,

I got your 28 December letter today. Also, we got a letter from Jeannie's folks today. All I can think about is getting the lot in Searcy. I hope we are doing the right thing in investing most of our savings into this lot.

I'm sorry that I didn't tell you sooner that we were interested in it. Actually, I thought it would take longer to get it. I didn't even think about you and Rex getting things rolling so fast. We have gotten so used to waiting till "tomorrow" for things to get done, that I forgot how quickly things occur in the States.

It is very unlikely that we will ever build on the lot. We want the land to invest in. The price seems reasonable. We have seen the land (sort of). On the videotape Bill Woolly made at Thanksgiving, it shows Rex's lot. We watched it several times tonight to see what our lot looked like. Of course, it was scenes from a little distance. The land is reasonably level with a few trees. We could see the big brush pile on it & a telephone pole on it.

We surely can't lose money.

Mail (even 1st class) has been very slow the last few weeks. We were surprised that our letter to Rex & Velma about the land didn't get there till after Christmas.

We got a videotape Friday with Christmas in Searcy. Only Diane, Bill, Laura, Kem, & Brenda were there. It was fun to watch them open our presents.

We have a package at the post office here to pick up from Searcy. We will get it tomorrow. That is one of the disadvantages of working at Pinetamare.

The Cummings came back from the States on Friday.

I was on call all weekend but didn't get paged. That was nice. our Panasonic PK-957 video camera -- 7 Jan 1984

Saturday morning I bought a videocamera & a portable VCR. You better find someone with a VCR (VHS) that will let you watch a tape. We will probably send you one before long of the kids. Better yet, go buy a VCR.

Sunday night (last night) we had tapes at our house. We also had 4 men off a ship here. They are members of the church. One of them was baptized yesterday afternoon. Counting kids, there were about 27 people here. The food was good & everyone helped clean up the mess.

Yesterday morning it was 32. That is the coldest yet for here. It still gets up to about 50F every day. The temperature this morning was 52F. It has been raining all day & always seems to get warmer every time it rains.

Did I tell you that 2 weeks ago it was so clear that we could see snow on the mountains north and west of here? I took Angelique to where she could see it. She begged me to take her to play in the snow. It was hard to convince her that it would take hours to get to what we could see so well.

I'm glad we are out of the country. People in Canada don't have any worse weather than yours during the holidays.

I'm glad Becky got to go to Harrison for Christmas. I'm glad they got there & back safely.

Angelique is just about to outgrow her car seat. It is tough to get her in it, especially if she is wearing a big coat.

Since we have a phone & can talk to you, I don't feel quite as far from Arkansas. Please let us know how much it cost per minute so we can tell other people who we would like to call us.

That is almost funny about Martha. I'm glad it happened to some other doctor & not to me.

Just in case you haven't yet gotten my last letter, we did get your presents. It was fun having another Christmas. I guess we will have another one tomorrow evening. I hope I can get it all on videotape of the kids opening them.

What color is your new carpet?

Our heating system is working fine. The oven works fine except the temperature doesn't match the setting.

I cooked steaks out on Saturday. I bet it was too cold for that in Arkansas.

The Christmas tree did not take too long to decorate. It is not as full as Christmas trees we have had before. You will see when we send pictures. There were a lot of gaps in it. It came from the Alps of northern Italy.

We have not gotten a phone bill yet, so we have no idea what it will cost. Matter of fact, we haven't gotten an electric bill yet.

At the clinic (& hospital) we see people from all branches of the service. All medical care is free, including drugs (even aspirin). Civilians who work for the government are entitled to care but have to pay for it. We have several retired military (not at Pinetamare) who also get free care.

Jeannie & I think your idea of seeing London, Paris, & Italy sounds like a more reasonable and relaxing trip. You could enjoy northern Europe more during a warmer month in another year.

I am not sure how Dan is doing in his practice in Searcy, and we have no idea where we will set up practice. If Dan wants me when I get out of the Navy, we will probably go to Searcy.

The pin we gave you for Christmas is ceramic. It is from Capodimonte. I'm sure it would be very expensive in the States, but was reasonable here. The trays were from Florence. We got them while we were there. I am crazy about the chicken pitcher. We have one exactly like yours.

I will let Rex & Velma know what & when to do about the land. We will send Rex the money soon. If possible, I will try to arrange something so you won't have to go to Searcy unless you just want to.

We look forward to your coming. Just tell us when & where to pick you up & we will be there.

Lots of love,

Michael, Jeannie, Angelique, & Steven

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