Tuesday, 11 Dec 84
Dear Mom & Dad,
I hope you are well. Surely, this will get to you before Christmas.
Aren't these the most beautiful kids you've ever seen! These are their school pictures. We are very pleased with them. Angelique insisted on wearing the shirt because it had Minnie Mouse on it. Jeannie tried to convince her that Minnie Mouse would not show in the picture. She came home from school the day the picture was taken and said she asked the photographer to be sure he got Minnie Mouse. We thought surely they didn't do that. We were surprised when we got the pictures. Angelique wasn't surprised at all. It was exactly the way she expected. They are sure growing up fast.
The post card [above] is from La Maddalena. Since I am trapped here without my computer, I have no reason not to write. I think my hotel is shown in the picture, but I'm not sure which building it is. It sits right on the waterfront.
La Maddalena is a little island, probably about the size of Capri. It sits just off northern Sardinia. I flew out of Naples on a cargo plane this morning. It flies to Olbia on the island of Sardinia. Then I rode a bus about an hour to Palau where I caught a ferry that takes 20 minutes to get here. The picture in the post card was taken from another island, where the U.S.S. Orion is home based (home ported?).
The country-side that the bus went through is just beautiful. There are lots of interesting rock formations similar to the foreground in the post card. Some are big hills. There were a few olive trees, grape vineyards, sheep, and goats, too. The land is very similar to that which is east of Athens, Greece.
There are about 2,000-2,500 Americans here. The clinic is a few blocks from my hotel. The military facilities are much worse than we have in Naples. They have worse supply problems than we do. At least I'll be home for Christmas.
The reason I have to be here has to do primarily with politics inside the military. There are supposed to be 2 doctors at the clinic here. One of the doctors that was assigned here made the wrong person mad and they tried to kick him out of the service. The C.O. in Naples and the captain over him (in London) thought they had the problem solved (or at least out of their hands) a couple months ago when the psychiatrist in Naples said that this guy was unfit for duty. He was returned to the States, but after being evaluated there, they sent him back! Well, that was a surprise to everyone here. Then they weren't sure what to do with him. They couldn't return him to La Maddalena (only because of politics) and they couldn't court martial him, because of lack of evidence.
Meanwhile, this doctor is working at Pinetamare (and doing just as good a job as everyone else). His family is in the States. He doesn't want to get out of the Navy. So, he sits waiting for the red tape to be processed so that he can get another assignment (in the States). But, until he leaves, Washington won't send a replacement doctor to this island. So ... the doctors from Naples have to come for 10-day blocks. However, not all the doctors. My turn comes up every 7th time. I hope this will be my first and last trip here, but I doubt it. I have been in long enough to know that it will take weeks to months to get this settled. I've been told that it is costing the Navy $5000 a month just to supply this doctor with room and board in Naples. Plus about $1500 a month to send us to La Maddalena. Government waste!
I bought a cassette player similar to a Walkman last week to help keep me from going crazy here. I also brought several books & tapes on Evolution. Starting next month, I am going to teach class at church on Evolution vs. the Bible. It will not be easy, but it will be fun.
I checked in at the clinic late this afternoon. Afterwards I went shopping. There are lots of neat shops near my hotel. I bought Steven some Duplo blocks (a train set) and I am looking for a clock for Angelique. I had hoped I could get a music box for Jeannie, but I haven't seen any.
We all did fine while Jeannie was gone on her shopping trip. She really had a good time. She came back with lots of nice things. She left last Monday morning (3 Dec) at 6 AM. She got back about 9:30 Friday night. She went to the town in northern Italy where Anri figures are carved. They all got to see the factory. Jeannie said it was worth lots more than they ask for that stuff. She was impressed. They spent most of the trip in Munich, West Germany, at the Kris Kringle market. She came back with all sorts of Christmas things. She ate at McDonald's once. The last night they spent in Florence.
Monday and Wednesday nights the kids spent at the Sigle's because I was on call. Monday night I didn't get home till 2 AM and Wednesday night I got home at 4 AM. I did get to go to John & Faye's on Wednesday from 5 to 8 pm to be with the kids. Thursday afternoon I took a long nap. The kids were tired, too.
Steven was sick & vomiting at Faye's on Wednesday afternoon. Now that was when it was hard to leave him with someone else. But, there was no other choice.
We all went to John & Faye's for supper Thursday night. John came to the house after I got the kids to bed & stayed till about midnight playing with the computer. He is getting one as soon as Sears can get it here. He is real excited about it.
I was so busy with the kids that I had little time for the computer while Jeannie was gone.
We sent a videotape last week. I hope you have it by now.
Yesterday afternoon while I was at work, Jeannie & the kids made me some chocolate chip cookies to bring along.
Sunday morning the temperature was 36º at our house. The landlord finally got the heater working in our house. Finally, the radiators get too hot to touch. However, it is still too cold in the house.
Did you have an ice storm? The newspaper here showed a scene from Little Rock with the trees covered with ice.
We had tapes Sunday night. Ron had a flat tire. We pumped it up with a bicycle pump.
We got a package from Diane last week and one package from you.
I am very tired and need to get to bed.
We will miss you at Christmas. I hope you have a nice Christmas. I'm sure it will be different and difficult without kids and grandkids there. Have fun anyway!
We love and miss you. (When are you coming?)
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